Jon El Kordi-Hubbard
(BBA, Entrepreneurship, ’13)
(BBA, Entrepreneurship, ’15)
Q & A:
- What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
JEKH - My favorite class at Hofstra was the Capital One Entrepreneurship Challenge course taught by Dr. Richard Hayes. Having the opportunity to create and run a business on campus was an invaluable experience. Add to that the chance to pitch in front of Capital One to secure funds, and it’s the total package. You get to learn how to become an operator, how to build team culture, how to complete basic fundraising, how to manage inventory, how to acquire local press, and so much more. Special shout-out to all of the DormDelivery team members and customers that made that so much fun!
MAX - My favorite professor was Professor Braun in the film department. His class was so much more than watching movies, as everyone explained it to be. He really taught us to pick apart movies for themes, subtext, and artistic style through layers of the film we didn’t even know existed. I still use lessons taught in that class in my everyday life, even though I don’t work in anything related to film at all!
- What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
JEKH - My first job after Hofstra was as a data analyst at The NPD Group, a global market research firm that boasts clients like Amazon and Walmart. The most valuable thing I learned there was the importance of being data-informed when it comes to big-picture decision making, rather than analysis paralysis, which can hinder progress. Looking for macro trends that are influenced by micro levers is a philosophy that I still carry with me today.
MAX - My first job after college was interning for two different venture capital funds simultaneously. The most valuable thing I learned during my time with both firms was that simple communication in everything. I reviewed thousands of pitch decks from startups looking to raise money from these firms, and the ones that could clearly articulate their business and goals were the only ones that got a meeting with our firms.
- What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
JEKH - My specialties include advertising, analytics, and performance marketing. After The NPD Group, I joined the Digital Insights team at DDB Health, a healthcare advertising agency that creates inventive ad campaigns for patients and healthcare professionals. The experience of leading digital strategy for Celgene and AstraZeneca (among others) launched my interest in advertising as a method of connecting people with brands they know, love, want, and need. This was a great arena to master my digital skills with some of the most impactful pharmaceutical brands around.
From there I co-founded Hell’s Creative, a boutique paid media agency in NYC, with Max [Bidna] (They are crushing it and hiring; check them out!), launched a new product and service lab Craft + Logic and participated in the prestigious XRC Labs accelerator program as a founding team member at Terra Kaffe. All made possible by the people I met and lessons I learned at Hofstra.
MAX - I kind of backed my way into working in advertising. After spending so much time in the finance world helping companies raise capital, I learned that no matter how much money you invest in a startup, if they don’t have a proven marketing channel to increase revenue consistently, they will fail. So I called Jon, who knew advertising really well, and we put our heads together to build something different from any other agency that could help those early-stage companies increase revenue consistently. To date, we have worked with 80 companies and helped dozens of them achieve millions of dollars in sales directly from our strategies.
- What advice would you give Hofstra students?
JEKH - Take full advantage of the clubs, lectures, professors, and competitions that Hofstra offers on campus. These are great avenues to learn from and hone your skills before entering the world of work!
MAX - Three simple rules of advice to follow: (1) Get as many internships as you possibly can that give you real hands-on experience. Even if you have to work for free, make it work. You will find is so much easier to land a job after college having done two or three internships when everyone else did one. (2) Think twice about your major. I highly recommend majoring in something that has a hard skill set attached to it. It will be much easier to get a job when you graduate, and you will need less training on the job when you get one. (3) Party! Yea that’s right, enjoy college! Have fun, make friends, do everything you can before your 9 to 5 kicks in.
- In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
JEKH - Opportunity.
MAX - Engagement.
- What led you to make the decision to start your own companies?
JEKH - At the time, I felt that I had maxed out my learning potential at DDB and was ready to go out and build as an operator. I had successfully acquired an array of tactical digital skills (SEO, SEM, Paid Social, SQL, Data Viz, etc.) working closely with Fortune 500 clients. In one way, it was the least scary decision I’ve ever made, as I was confident in my ability to create business outcomes in a variety of industries through marketing and advertising.
MAX - I’ve always wanted to; it was just a matter of finding the right opportunity that I knew I had the skillset to succeed at. Thankfully I landed on something that combines a few of my different skillsets, namely finance, sales, and marketing.
- What do you love most about your jobs?
JEKH - One of the things I love most about entrepreneurship is seeing the direct results from your work. In the case of Terra Kaffe, selling out of our inventory was a huge milestone; with Hell’s Creative, it was helping the SMBs increase their revenue; with Craft + Logic, it’s helping companies like Bluelene launch with innovative new products. In each of these cases, it’s time we’ve directly spent impacting and working on/with these businesses. Seeing growth and positive customer interactions are some of the best feelings out there!
MAX - I have to agree with Jon here again. (Haha, maybe that is why we are such good friends?) I love the direct impact we have on our clients. I can’t imagine there is anything more fulfilling for me than handing a report to a client that says you spent $10K this month on ads and made exactly $40K this month as a direct result of those ads.
- Can you describe your experiences as being part of Hofstra University’s NextGen Advisory Board and how returning to the Hofstra community has made you feel?
JEKH - Being a part of the NextGen Advisory Board has been a great way to help students think through potential business ideas while also creating strategies and tactics for those with startups. Returning to Hofstra always has a mixture of nostalgia and excitement. It’s wonderful to see the entrepreneurship community continuing to grow year after year.
MAX - Jon and I founded the Entrepreneurship Club together and grew it to over 50 regular members during our time on campus. Giving back through the opportunities that the NextGen Advisory Board provides for us is just a natural progression of the original goal when we started the club: to create more Hofstra entrepreneurs.
- What advice would you give current students who want to become entrepreneurs?
JEKH - If you have an idea, don’t be afraid to build a prototype and try to acquire some initial users/customers. Hofstra is a great test environment for you to explore your entrepreneurial side, whether it be a product or service. Get out of the building – pitch and build!
MAX - Find an existing entrepreneur, be it on campus or on Linkedin, and message them to offer your services. Finding a mentor to work under for even just a few months is a great way to learn before diving in yourself. You’ll probably learn more in those few months than any class you will ever take. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty!
Jon El Kordi-Hubbard is founder and CEO of Craft + Logic, a product lab that builds tech and content to tackle consumer problems. He was a co-founder of Hell's Creative LLC, a growth-marketing agency in NYC, and was a digital strategist for DDB Health, a global advertising agency that focuses on creating compelling campaigns for healthcare professionals. Prior to that, he founded College Startup Magazine, the nation's first website that highlighted entrepreneurial students from around the globe. At Hofstra, he was president of Hofstra University Start-Ups and an executive board member of the Hofstra American Marketing Association, and he conducted a thesis on how workspace design affects entrepreneurs. He graduated in December 2013 with a BBA in Entrepreneurship and a minor in Information Systems.
As a founding member of Hofstra University Start-Ups in 2012 and as a former president of the club, Max Bidna is thrilled to be back supporting the Hofstra Entrepreneurship community through the NexGen Advisory Board. While at Hofstra, Max walked on to the golf team but left after a couple of seasons to pursue his business drive. He completed six internships at various investment funds and startup accelerators. After a brief stint helping early-stage companies raise capital as an investment banker, he founded Hell’s Creative, a digital advertising agency in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC. The agency has served more than 80 companies in the last two years, helping many of its clients achieve millions of dollars in sales from their advertising campaigns. He currently serves as CEO.