Michael Lazerow is a New York-based serial entrepreneur and angel investor whose love of startups and success in media companies can be traced back to his days in college.
It was during his sophomore year at Northwestern University that his first startup, University Wire, was founded. U-Wire, now owned by CBS Corp., is an Associated Press-type network of over 700 student-run publications that covers campus news and student issues. In 1997, after selling the startup to the student membership organization, Student Advantage, he joined their management team and helped Student Advantage become a leading marketing and media company in the college market. During his time on the team, the company grew to 300 employees and brought in more than $80 million in annual revenue.
Immediately following his departure from Student Advantage, Lazerow began work on GOLF.com, a golf media property that was funded by leading venture capital firms and media companies, including The New York Times Co. and NBC Sports. In January of 2006, it was purchased by Time Inc. — a deal that generated an impressive 800% return on his initial investors. As part of the acquisition, Lazerow became the general manager of GOLF.com and GOLFONLINE.com for Time Inc. for one year.
With his commitment to Time Inc. complete, he left the company in 2007 to open Lazerow Consulting, which helped internet-based media businesses finance, launch, manage and grow their companies. It was during this time that Lazerow and his wife, Kass, founded Buddy Media, a social media marketing management software company of which he was founder, chairman and CEO. Launched in October of 2007, Lazerow and his wife sold Buddy Media to Salesforce.com for $689 million by August of 2012. The company is now part of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
Since January of 2010, Lazerow has funded all his personal tech investments through Lazerow Ventures. The fund, which he manages with his brother, John, and wife, Kass, has invested in several high profile venture firms and companies. Investments include Facebook, Tumblr, Buzzfeed, Domo, Bitium, ChatID, eVenues, Have to Have, Namely, Lerer Ventures and Mesa Partners.
His work in the investment and startup communities has led to several industry recognitions. In 2011, Lazerow was named Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year, and considered “Digital A-List” by Ad Age Magazine. Fortune Magazine recognized him as one of the “40 Under 40” and he won the Leader of the Future Award, given by the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute in 2012. Most recently, Lazerow was ranked No. 1 on Business Insider’s “Silicon Alley 100.”
Aside from investments and startups, Lazerow actively works with nonprofit organizations Cycle for Survival, charity: water and Donors Choose. For the last few years, he has reached out to people through his website to donate to charity: water in honor of his birthday.
Lazerow has both a B.S. and a M.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University.
Founder and Investor at Lazerow Ventures (Founded in 2010)
Advertising, Consumer Internet, E-Commerce, Education, Fashion, Hospitality, Real Estate, SaaS, Social Media, Blogging Platforms, Identity Management, Search Marketing, Billing and Venture Capital.
Savored sold to Groupon for an undisclosed amount
Buddy Media sold to Salesforce for $689 million
University Wire sold to Student Advantage for an undisclosed amount
GOLF.com sold to Time Inc. for an undisclosed amount
Tumblr sold to Yahoo for $1.1 billion
E-Commerce, Strategic Partnerships, Digital Marketing, Digital Media, Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Online Advertising, Sales and Mergers.
Blogs, Twitter & Websites:
On choosing the right market: “Pick a large market with room for many large winners. Choosing a good market can make up for a lot of operational mistakes. Choosing the wrong market can turn the game of business into a game of roulette in which each chamber has a bullet.”
On the importance of hiring the right team: “Your business model is your race horse. Your people are your jockeys. And, the difference between a winner and a loser is usually not the horse, but the person riding it.”
On budgeting finances: “Entrepreneurs love to turn on the gas before the business model is fine-tuned. This is a mistake. Spend as little money as possible as you try to find your business model.”
On not hesitating: “So let me make it simple for you — the best time to start a business is TODAY. Not tomorrow. Not in two weeks. Not after you get promoted, pregnant, married or your MBA. TODAY! You’re not getting any younger. Your life is not getting any simpler.”
On finding the right co-founder: “You should start a company with someone whose strengths are your weaknesses, and whose weaknesses are your strengths. Divide and conquer together. And, trust each other.”
On having perspective in the start-up world: “There’s no easy ride, no easy win. It’s about whatever you do, doing it in a way that you can appreciate the ride, which is sometimes hard.”
What Lazerow Ventures looks for in investments: “An awesome management team, live product with scaling revenues or happy users and awesome lead investors.”
Why he doesn’t recommend custom social apps: “Apps are not the silver bullet to cure all social media issues you may have. Apps must be incorporated within a larger social media strategy, instead of being the sole focus.”
The strong, non-stop work ethic he learned from his grandfather, who died at age 97: “He was literally washing his car when he died, and we all basically cheered, because we thought, you know, that’s a great way to go.”
On staying motivated in an early-stage startup: “Once you get a little success early on, that’s what fuels your fire. So, entrepreneurs can get a hundred ‘no’s’ and then one ‘yes,’ and all of the sudden, you’ve forgotten about those hundred ‘no’s’ and it’s about that one deal which kind of propels you forward.”