(BBA, Finance, '15)
Co-Founder and CEO of PadLink, Partner at Long Island Content Creations
Q & A:
What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
My fondest memory at Hofstra was competing in the Hofstra CPXi (now Hofstra-Digital Remedy) Venture Challenge, which is an entrepreneurship competition on campus. My team spent months preparing our idea and pitch for this competition. The knowledge base that I gained from this experience was immense and was my first real exposure to entrepreneurship. As a finance major, I worked with two engineers and a graphic designer. I realized the true importance of being able to properly communicate with others from different backgrounds and specialties. Teamwork in any situation is powerful in order to successfully reach an end goal in all areas of both business and life.
Most of all, the excitement from working on the project and the pitch allowed me to realize my true passion for entrepreneurship. If you have the opportunity to compete or even watch any entrepreneurship competition at Hofstra, in New York City, or anywhere, I would highly recommend it!
What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing learned in that position?
My first job was as a financial analyst at Wells Fargo. Although I only stayed at this position for a year and a half, I learned how important it was to be doing something that I loved.
I was striving to be a leader and make an impactful change. While there were opportunities at Wells Fargo to continue to move up from the analyst position, I didn't feel like it was the right place for me. I realized how important it was to find my passion in life and what is it that makes me truly happy every day. The most valuable thing I learned is to find a job that brings you happiness so much so that it no longer feels like a job!
What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
While working in the field of entrepreneurship, I am fortunate to gain experience in many different areas of business. Running two businesses has led to both successes and failures, which have allowed me to pivot in multiple ways in order to make these businesses work. One of the main driving forces behind a lot of my decisions, and my specialty, is data analytics. For both PadLink and Long Island Content Creations, I focus on how we can provide the most value to our customers and best analyze their current position. I have learned that whether this data comes from social media, Google Analytics, research, industry information, or in any other form, the ability to turn data into real time solutions is extremely powerful.
What advice would you give Hofstra students?
Take classes that interest or challenge you in different ways. I also recommend getting involved with organizations and clubs on campus. It's important to get out of your comfort zone, as many others will tell you. Even more so, the experience and network you gain from these organizations becomes extremely beneficial in the future. By taking steps like these, you will open up new opportunities you didn't know existed.
In addition, if you have the ability to take advantage of amazing things that New York City has to offer, such as all the entrepreneurship events they have, I would highly recommend it.
In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
Prior to founding and becoming CEO of PadLink, you were a financial analyst. What inspired you to transition full-time to entrepreneurship?
I have always had a passion for entrepreneurship. While being a financial analyst was definitely rewarding, I was looking to do something new, where I would be further challenged. I wanted to have more of an impact, which is sometimes overlooked at large companies.
The ability to "make something of nothing" and start from the ground up was exciting and a challenge I was ready for.
How did the idea for PadLink originate?
Our story starts in 2013, when Andrew Schaeffer, a student at Hofstra University at the time, found himself in a difficult rental situation. Upon moving into his new house off-campus, he realized that the property had a few issues that he wished he was aware of before signing the lease. Unfortunately, this was his first experience renting off-campus and he didn't know enough about rental procedures and lease agreements to protect himself. A lack of basic tenant knowledge, combined with an owner's need to lease a property can often lead to issues, especially in the world of college housing, where tenants are often inexperienced.
After Schaeffer and I spoke, we decided to take this experience as an opportunity to bring more transparency to the college housing market. We worked together on the idea, and became the co-founders of PadLink, an online platform for off-campus housing that aims to make the housing process safe, reliable, and easy for everyone.
What makes PadLink different from other residence search websites?
PadLink is unique for a few reasons. We deal only with student housing and focus on making the relationship between universities, students, and landlords stronger. On our website, tenants can find properties (known as "Pads"), and landlords/property managers can communicate through our messaging platform, schedule appointments, handle maintenance requests, answer quick questions, and upload important documents. Further, landlords can easily view all of the Pad details in their dashboard. We have also developed features to make the off-campus housing market more secure, such as by verifying the owner of each Pad on our website. Vist us at PadLink.com to learn more."
What is the new company you have recently launched?
I am also a partner at Long Island Content Creations, a tech and media services company. We specialize in the following services: website design and development, SEO/reputation management, content creation and branding, social media marketing, business-tech integration, and mobile development.
Our mission is to build a digital formula to bring the greatest ROI we can to each client we work with, regardless of the type of business. We realize the importance of the ever-advancing technology-driven world we live in and have set out to disrupt it! Visit us at LIContentCreations.com to learn more.
Andrew Marks graduated from Hofstra University with a bachelor's degree in finance, summa cum laude, in May 2015. During his undergraduate career, Andrew was the president of ALPFA (Association of Latino Professionals for America), where he developed a strategic plan to reconstruct the executive board and the club's operations. In this role, he mentored other students to help them reach their fullest potential through interpersonal communication development and career-building activities.
Andrew's interest in entrepreneurship led him to place third in the Hofstra CPXi Venture Challenge (now the Hofstra-Digital Remedy Challenge); he worked with a team to create a sterling engine made completely from recyclable materials. Andrew also enjoyed playing on Hofstra's club baseball team, helping the team win the Club Baseball World Series.
Upon graduation, Andrew spent a year and a half at Wells Fargo as a financial analyst in New York City. Currently, he is the co-founder and CEO of PadLink an off-campus housing online platform, and a partner at Long Island Content Creations, a tech and media services company. He is also the vice-chair of the NextGen Advisory Board at Hofstra University's Center for Entrepreneurship and an alumni advisor to the ALPFA Hofstra chapter. In his spare time, he enjoys investing in the stock market and playing baseball.