Jason Saltzman is the CEO & Co-Founder of Alley. He talks with Dania Hammad about building a post-business incubator and shared workspace for entrepreneurs. Alley deals with early-stage companies and with several of the largest companies in the world by bridging the resource gap. Smaller companies have little to no resources and no way to grow. Larger companies have tons of resources but don’t know how to deploy them. In the end, it’s the startup world that is going to be their future.
Alley officially opened its physical doors in 2012, but the company has around for eight years. “I think what the media does, in a bad way, is glorify entrepreneurship. and they make it seem like everyone is an overnight success,” he said.” But it took me 10 years to look like an overnight success! In reality, it’s the grit and the grind. Everything it took to get here was a bloody mess. But all the media focuses on is the $1 billion exit, or the unicorn — when there’s like 80 unicorns out of millions of companies. And most of those fail. So, there’s a story that’s just not being spoken about.
“I’m an advocate of telling the truth, especially in business. Yes, we’re not the largest company in the world and yes, we’ve only been around eight years, but it was a bloody war to get to this point. And I know that every company that I interact with and the thousands that have been here since we started has a story of that ilk of ‘Holy Shit! Like I have to go through bloody hell to get to where I am.’ And we have a bunch of those. There’s a lot of stories out of the reality of how we grew the business.”
On Making Mistakes
Soooo… Jason has been self-employed since he was 17 and has built 20 companies of which approximately 90% of them have failed. He would say that while statistically speaking he is a huge failure, but that it’s not so much about value but about keeping on, keeping on, while learning from your mistakes. “Those are the lessons you learn that make you shift and weave and bob to make something work,” he added.
And all that moving and changing and grinding has definitely paid off. Here is a telling note from the NYPost.com December 16, 2014 article:
“Jason Saltzman, 36, the founder of Midtown co-working space AlleyNYC, recently tallied up all the delivery food he’s ordered into his office in the past few weeks. He averaged $20 per meal, sometimes three meals a day — including baked clams from Pizza Italia, egg whites from Guy & Gallard, and his “cheat day” splurges of a bagel with cream cheese from Murray’s Bagels and chicken lo mein from Chef Yu — his absolute favorite meal. The total? $1,800 a month.”
That’s $21,600 per year. And that was four years ago.