TheBridge profile: Erika Mozes
Name: Erika Mozes
Current city: New York, NY
Current job: Co-Founder & COO, Hyr
Past job: Public Affairs Exec - McDonald's, Coca-Cola, GSK, Johnson & Johnson
Q. Favorite spot for a coffee meeting? Chanson in Flatiron. You can always find a good table, great coffee, and you can hear the person you are talking to!
Q. Describe one way how a skill you learned in a previous job helped you in your new job. Throughout my 20's I was a political staffer; issues manager, press secretary and communications director. That training was invaluable in preparing me for the pressures and work ethic needed to build a company. As a political staffer, particularly in spokesperson roles, you get used to drinking from a fire hose. And as a startup founder that is part of everyday life. Having been trained in the art of keeping everything together when you don't know what is being thrown at you has helped me tremendously! More, when you work in politics there is no 9-5, same same with being a founder. This, coupled with how I learned to network, makes me believe that political staff are poised to be excellent founders or early stage startup employees.
Q. Job advice in three words? Don't give up.
Q. How are you (or your company, org, nonprofit) currently bridging the gap between politics and tech? At Hyr, we believe in leading the conversation on the future of work. Over the next number of years, governments will catch up to the way people want to earn, in particular around the independent contractor model. That said government does not need to find a solution on their own. Businesses can solve gaps; particularly how independent workers can earn traditional workplace benefits while choosing to work with more flexibility. That is what we are trying to solve at Hyr - where workers can pick up flexible shifts at traditional businesses (like restaurants and retail), on their terms, earn quickly and earn points towards benefits.
Q: Last time you were completely unplugged? My co-founder and I are partners in life and business. On the middle date between his, and my, 40th birthdays we went cat skiing in Fernie, British Columbia. We actually didn't realize we would be totally unplugged until we started going up this remote mountain in the cat (a cat is the machine they use to groom ski hills). We had a moment of panic, but then completely embraced not being plugged in for 5 hours as we shredded crazy pow. And in good news, the business kept running for those hours!
Q: Best advice you received? I was at a summit for female founders listening to Joanne Wilson. At the time we were raising our seed funding. She gave the advice of not letting VC's be disrespectful or waste your time. If you are in a meeting with a potential investor and they are telling you all the reasons why they don't believe in your business model, or are disrespectful - don't have to stay. They are not buying in. Pack up your stuff and leave. Your time is too valuable.
Q: What can Silicon Valley (cough, cough New York) teach DC? That not all problems need to be solved by regulation. Businesses, particularly tech businesses, can help to solve issues quicker and sometime much better. Instead of working against something new, governments can work in parallel with innovative businesses. I find the default reaction by governments is to automatically ban something new - for example when I worked as a political staffer and they banned the use of Facebook by government employees. Today can you imagine a politician without a presence on social media?
Q: How do you unwind from work? Working out. Some of my best ideas I come up with at a class. I'm a very avid Classpass user :).