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An Angel in New York: Gary Vaynerchuk

angel_investor_gary_vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk has been a businessman since he was 8-years-old, beginning with the 7 lemonade stands he managed in a single neighborhood.  A few years later, he started selling baseball cards, and in high school, he became a wine connoisseur and marketer while working at his family’s liquor store.  Now 36, Vaynerchuk has invested in several companies, appeared on an array of media programs and is working toward owning the New York Jets.

While in college, Vaynerchuk recognized the importance of e-commerce, which pushed him to launch Winelibrary.com in 1997.  He was still working at his family’s store and, with this development, helped grow the business from $3 million to $45 million by 2005.

In 2006, Vaynerchuck created Wine Library TV – his high-tech equipment consisted of a flip camera and a NY Jets bucket.  He was soon boasting over 100,000 “Vayniacs,” a label coined by his fans, who were attracted by his straightforward wine reviews that have a knack for debunking wine myths.  He also started the flash sale website Cinderella Wine, which sells one wine per day for an extreme discount.

Wine isn’t Vaynerchuck’s only expertise.  His video blogging fame began in 2005.  Now up to around 1 million followers, he’s been called a “true social media trailblazer.”  With the help of his brother, AJ, Vaynerchuck co-founded VaynerMedia, which helps Fortune 500 companies find and build their social media presence.  Companies include Green Mountain Coffee, PepsiCo and the NY Jets, among others.

Vaynerchuk has also found time to write, publishing 2 books in less than 5 years.  Crush It! Why Now is the Time to Cash in Your Passion, which hit the shelves in 2009, was listed on both the New York Times’ and Wall Street Journal’s bestseller lists in its first few weeks.  The book teaches readers how to “crush it” in the business market, according to Vaynerchuk’s own personal philosophy.  A few years later in 2011, he published his second book, The Thank You Economy, which discusses the relationship between social media and business.  It also landed on the New York Times’ bestseller list.

Investments:

Facebook
Twitter
Adaptly
Tumblr
AdVerify
Airtime
AppStack
BabbaCo
Birchbox
Basno
Cozy
Curio Road
Food52
Circa
Brit + Co
BarkBox
Excelerate Labs
Fancy Hands
Dataminr
Grand St.
Graphicly
Handmade Tea
One
Couple
Panna
Path
PrePlay
Prosodic
Thuzio
TaxiTreats
Sponsorfied
RebelMouse
Tonx
Venmo
Uber
Viatask
Yardsale
9GAG

Expertise Areas:

Wine, Personal and Business Branding, Public Speaking, Social Media, Writing, Blogging, Entrepreneurship, Investing, Consulting, Marketing, Consumer Internet, Mobile and Small to Medium-Sized Businesses.

Boards/Advisor:

HubSpot
Quirky
Turntable.fm
Spreecast
DISQUS
Graphicly
Forrst
Social Tables
Buddy Media
Trippy
Voxy
TastingRoom
SocialAdditive!
K2 Media Labs / AppFund

Get to Know Gary Vaynerchuk:

Twitter
Blog
LinkedIn

Memorable Quotes:

On Twitter’s ROI:  “People ask me about the ROI of Twitter and I say, ‘Do you think I got a million-dollar book deal because of my good looks?’”

On small businesses:  “Think global even when you’re local.”

On taking chances:  “I beg you to take a shot.  Roll up on that hot chick in a bar and ask her out.  On that good looking dude, and ask him to get coffee.  On your business idea, and make it happen.  Because, being 50, 60, 70, 80 or 90 and having regrets that you didn’t swing the bat, that’s the worst.  Our bat is in front of us.  Take a swing.”

On social media use:  “How do you find time to engage on the social web?  You make a decision.  The end.”

On social media:  “Don’t pull the ‘19-year-old dude’ move on social media.  You should never try to close on the first transaction.”

On business opportunities:  “As we all become the Jetsons, all the business opportunities are in acting like the Flintstones.”

On the world:  “The world isn’t black and white.  All the magic is in the gray.”

On being a business leader:  “Embracing the chaos, the nimbleness and the things that you can’t control is the complete definition of a leader that’s going to be able to navigate through the chaotic, never-predictable business world.”

On taking chances:  “I have no understanding as to why, when you’re 18 to even, let’s say 30, you wouldn’t try to make what you’re passionate about work for you…The question really becomes, what’s going to happen when you’re 70-years-old and you look back at your life and you’re like, ‘Why didn’t I try?’  There’s going to be a regret factor…That tastes a lot worse than going for it, because that’s when you’re most alive.”

For more information on startup funding and investments, visit our funding section.

About the author: Emily Roland

Emily is a recent graduate from The University of Mississippi with a bachelor’s degree in print journalism. While at Ole Miss, Emily worked at The Daily Mississippian newspaper, most recently as editor-in-chief. She is currently focused on copy-editing at AlleyWatch.

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