Hello, my name is Joe. This post is all about me because can you really know someone after reading just 160 characters in their bio that are usually self-serving and don’t communicate the big picture at all?
THE EARLY YEARS
I was born and raised in Normal, Illinois. No, it is not weird there. It’s a lovely college town (Go Redbirds!) in the middle of the state, it’s worth a stop if you’re ever feeling like an old-school road trip down Route 66.
THE COLLEGE YEARS
I spent my undergraduate years in Chicago, at DePaul University. There I “studied” advertising, film, and took a few business courses. Most of my time and effort, to be honest, was devoted to my extracurricular activities. I was a member of an all-male a Cappella group and acted as president for my Junior and Senior years. Don’t think east coast style a Cappella, with the suit and tie thing, we were much more down to earth and in it for the sorority parties, or so we told ourselves. I was involved with athletics as VP of the Blue Demon student fan section and was part of the scrimmage squad the Women’s team used to practice with. I had a radio show for two years, The Afternoon Snack with Rich and Joe. I worked at an on-campus job to pay rent. I mentored incoming freshman students my Senior year, and perhaps most importantly I fell in love with big cities.
THE YEAR IN CHINA
I’ve always been a big traveler and wanted to live abroad. What better time than after undergrad when you have no responsibilities are a glass three-quarters full type of person. I moved to Shanghai, China, where my older sister was living at the time and spent a year there. I worked in sales/marketing for a small interior design firm. Again, I filled my spare time with extracurriculars. I coached basketball to grad school kids, tutored English students, which is everyone in China, started doing Standup and Improv, and got to travel a bit around mainland China, it’s a big place if you’ve never been.
THE EARLY STARTUP YEARS
I had my fix of living abroad after just 12 fast months, thanks in part to a long-distance relationship, but that story is for another Medium post. On second thought, it’s more of a campfire shooting the shit kind of post. I digress. I moved back to Chicago and fell into a Content/Copywriting gig at a small and little known, at the time, company called SpotHero. Much like I drank the kool-aid of big-city-living while at DePaul, at SpotHero I drank, no, I chugged, the tech startup kool-aid. I cut my teeth at SpotHero in all things startup marketing. I owe a lot of my early career success to the founders and current VP of Strategy there. Big shoutout to SpotHero.
THE QUARTER LIFE CRISIS
After SpotHero I took my talents across town to a DTC early-stage startup, Interior Define. I loved working with a product closer to my interests and building a team from scratch. Still, something was off after a couple of years there. New York City was calling 🙂
Remember, I really really like big cities. To me, and many other people around the world, NYC was and is the greatest city in the world. I wanted a taste of that before I had the responsibilities of a partner and children. I heard that NYC is better when you’re young, I can now confirm this. After a hard decision, a breakup after a long term relationship (another campfire story), I packed my bags (I had two left after selling everything), found a roommate on craigslist in Brooklyn, and set sail (via a Delta Airlines flight from ORD to LGA) for the Big Apple!
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THE NEW YORK YEARS
I made it, Mom! The big city!
After exploring the city for a few months I landed with, you guessed it, another early-stage brand 🙂 This time, it was the luxury sneaker brand, Koio. The timing was in my favor and took over as the Director of Marketing. My extracurriculars have been taken over by the city of New York. It really does have it all. Restaurants, nightlife, museums, parks, something new on every corner. Yes, Covid-19 has set us back, but just give us time. New York City will always be New York City. I’m sorry Austin, Seattle, insert any other second-tier city, you have a lot of catching up to do. New York City did not become New York City in a year, and it will take a lot more to take it down.
To take over the world, duh.
Kidding, I do not have the personality for that. As it stands now (September 2020) I want to make Koio a thing. Yes, we’ve had some early success, raised some money, hired some more people, but I really want to see Koio through. At SpotHero and I/D, I left before anything big really happened. I’m all in on Koio. After that, who knows. Another early-stage startup, perhaps a larger brand like Nike, or Airbnb, Venture Capital, moving to LA and taking a run at Hollywood? I’ve thought about all these things. They’re fun to think about, but for now, they are just thoughts. I’m all in on team Koio 🙂
Have questions about my story? DM me @JoeFromNormal.
Thanks for reading!
Joe from Normal
This post was last updated in September of 2020.