New York City’s most non-tech/tech savvy entrepreneurs, veteran clothing brand owners, and iPhone users with sarcastic wit get technical with me about the Push For Pizza app, dropping out of college, Apple temporarily “banning” them from the app store, and solid self-teaching. Max Hellerstein, 20, and Cyrus Summerlin, 19, are no longer the fresh-faced fashion lads who graced our cover when they were 16 — they’re more so seasoned professionals making smarter decisions. And well, they are still kind of fresh-faced.
I’m hanging out at their shared office space with the advertising agency Mother and witnessing a very competitive ping pong match between Cyrus and Will. Since Max is entertaining me in conversation, it’s hard to say who won.
0:01 Nicole: You ready?
0:01 Max: Yeah.
0:02 Nicole: Cool.
0:04 Max: So what we can do is I can answer some questions and then like Cyrus can come or Will can come or one of them to answer some more.
0:10 Nicole: So all three of you are..
0:12 M: We’re co-founders. I have a lot of the finance stuff, like business related stuff. Cyrus heads up marketing and then Will does all the development.
0:23 N: So I’m interested to know why your clothing business is done. That’s done right?
0:29 Max: Correct. So at the current time, Cyrus and I were in a situation where we were doing the fashion thing for about three years and we grew to the point where we found ourselves kind of like ‘what can we do next?’ There was so much obligation in fashion that it would have been irresponsible to pursue both ventures and so we were able to actually sell the old company and move on from that.
0:55 N: Were you guys satisfied with the outcome of doing fashion?
0:58 Max: Oh for sure, we learned so much about sales and learned a lot about that whole world of creating a brand and a name that really can’t be taught in a textbook and that you just learn. You know you learn from manufacturing and a whole bunch of other things, so we learn a bunch about just that whole industry and how that industry can apply to many other things because fashion is very much like a lot of other things in a weird way.
1:21 N: What do you think you guys were able to carry over from that into what you’re doing now?
1:25 Max: So a majority of our business: A. is sales, so we’re constantly talking with pizzerias and working with pizzerias to sign-up on our platform and a majority of that time spent in sales. We use to wholesale apparel to other stores when we were in fashion, so majority of sales is similar to that. And I think the idea of creating a brand is really important for us because we were just really good at that with fashion and our ability to translate being a brand in fashion and doing it in the tech space was a bit easier to translate than most people
because we had that experience.
2:00 N: So was it the three of you doing clothing or was it just you and Cyrus?
2:01 Max: So just me and Cyrus. Will is a childhood friend of mine, who came to me with the idea last December of 2013.
2:10 N: And you guys were totally for it when he brought it up?
2:14 Max: Yeah, so Cyrus and I thought about it and we were like ‘yeah, this an interesting idea like we actually do pizza’ and we were doing fashion at the time. Then after launching our video and launching the product, we realized how the demand was and it made us even more of believers that that this could not only be reality but something that many people use. And so we exited with the fashion brands because this was kind of becoming more of a day job for us. At first it was hard to believe, but then we were kind of convinced as we saw our own project unfolding.
2:51 N: What steps did you take to build the app? Did it start off as an app?
2:56 Max: So it started as kind of a web thing that we would be able to order pizza really easily on a website and that kind of transformed into an app because we realized people can already order pizza so easily off of a website or any other platform. We wanted to create a real experience, and so we actually went and built out a whole app with the help of obviously, Will, the original CTO and the original co-founder and our other two co-founders Dmitri and Graham, who are all developers and have experience in computer science to build where we are right now.
3:26 N: Was this at all a ‘we’re high, let’s make something’ idea?
3:31 Max: No, no, no. So the video was more of a pitch for a brand to solve a problem that a lot of people have and its you know what you want and you don’t want to go through the steps to get it. The way we do it now is kind of silly and we’ve kind of created a new way to do it. Sorry about all the sound I hope is okay.
3:46 N: No it’s cool. The iPhone voice memo app is super good.
3:48 Max: Okay great awesome.
3:51 N: So how many months has it been, like six or seven?
3:54 Max: So we launched last August, so we are still babies. We are in month seven, month eight.
4:04 N: You guys got crazy reception from the [inaudible].
4:07 Max: Yeah, so the launch was very successful for us. It went viral. It got covered in almost every major news outlet and really it took us to the next level. The product wouldn’t be… apparently the mic is good. Did you wanna move upstairs?
4:23 N: We could if you want. [The move upstairs break.]
4:29 N: Where were we last?
4:31 Max: You asked me… I don’t know.
4:34 N: You guys got a lot of reception.
4:35 Max: Oh yeah, we got a lot of reception and we were covered by a lot of major news outlets and then those news outlets turned into more news outlets and the next thing we knew we were on TV. A lot of people were talking about us and were really excited about us in general and kind of our future. Then conversations began with our investors and otheroutlets and other platforms and we learned a lot in that process of just meeting new people and learning how to pitch to somebody with more money than you and learning how to stay lean and strong throughout the process because it is very stressful trying to convince others of a dream you may have that some others may not agree. It’s very much like a music artist, like with a really hot song and it’s about convincing everyone that you’re not only one hot song and that you’ve got an album coming and…
5:24 N: And that there will be a roll-out.
5:27 Max: Yeah, a roll-out that is successful and invaluable for them in the long term. Oh Sean [Editor-in-Chief] is calling me right now.
5:31 N: Yeah, I told her to call you.
5:33 Max: Hey Sean, what’s up?…How are you?…Yeah long time, no see, exactly… Oh damn, okay…Okay, let’s do it… Derek, I’m sorry, can you go on Facebook right now and get… talk to this kid named… and open a new tab. [out of range, background]. Sorry so you were saying?
6:41 N: Are you expanding right now or are you just waiting for things to be stable enough to expand?
6:50 Max: Expand as in what?
6:50 N: Your team.
6:52 Max: Oh, so the team right now is approximately six and we’re growing everyday. We’re actually hiring some people right now, so I don’t know if this is gonna publish by the time we’re ready.
6:59 N: Like interns?
7:00 Max: Interns, no. We’re actually offering some paid positions as well.
7:02 N: What positions?
7:04 Max: We’re looking for brand ambassadors. We’re looking for people in social marketing and social networking, I mean just social media in general. Media people.
7:12 N: Tweet-by-tweet.
7:12 Max: Yeah, to do more active kind of outreach in terms of like our brand voice and Cyrus answers those questions better than I do, but I’d be happy to have him talk to you guys about what we’re doing with that. I’m kind of head-up more sales and we’re going to be bringing on some more sales people very soon too. So it’s going to be interesting to see how that works out.
7:31 N: Any content people, like writers?
7:35 Max: Writers right now are not something that we really need just because copy for us,… we get a lot of support with that from Mother, our kind of original investor.
7:45 N: Why do they sound so familiar to me? Feel like I was just reading about them?
7:49 Max: So they’re pretty notable, I mean they’ve done a lot of work for a lot of big companies, so I’m not surprised if you heard of them. I had not heard of them before working with them, but I just knew the writer had a really cool office, so that’s all I knew before, but I’m always impressed by the work that I see here because they’re always doing some really cool stuff.
8:10 N: Were you always interested in tech/did you go to to school for anything in the tech field?
8:13 Max: No, I never had any kind of experience in tech. I just always had a knack for creating things and I think that ‘s kind of a shared trait among all the founders. We’re all experienced in one thing or another with something we’re all just really kind of good at. Mine being more sales and the business side of things. Cyrus is good with outreach and connecting dots. Will, Graham, and Dimitri are all great developers, who had experience at some of the biggest companies in the world like Google, Yahoo, Fog Creek [Software] and they’ve been awesome. It’s just kind of an awesome dream team that we work with — we’re all very young and dedicated to building this.
8:53 N: How happy are you with the app?
8:56 Max: Very happy. The app is in a really great state product wise. It’s probably our best version yet. You know, pizza builders are awesome, people love it, but there’s always room for improvement and we’re always looking for feedback from users on what is working, what isn’t. Even on top of that really right now it’s about…
9:13 N: Do you have it on your phone?
9:14 Max: Yeah, yeah for sure. Simplifying the process even more and making it…
9:17 N: My phone is fucked up. I was trying to download it but…
9:20 Max: Oh yeah, please do.
9:21 N: I dropped beer on it.
9:22 Max: Oh shit.
9:24 Max: Yeah, so it’s really cool. The way it’s works is you actually build a pizza, put in your address, and add a pizza.
9:32 N: So you guys have two options: pepperoni and plain?
9:35 Max: No actually, we have a bunch more, so I’ll show you that right now: Add new address. One second, I just gotta put the address in here. Cool, so I want pepperoni and sausage, you know, add pizza, go to your card. I like pepperoni, but I just want one, so we’re going to do pepperoni and sausage, go to checkout. Cool.
10:02 N: And it picks up pizzerias near where you are.
10:04 Max: Yeah, near me. So it got Mario’s, Pino’s, Tommy’s. Mario’s seems to be the highest rated. So then you think ‘what kind of tip do I want to give him,’ and if we like the guy or not then 18%. Cyrus what’s the coupon code right now? So if you put in ‘pizza,’ which is this promotion that we’re doing, I believe it’s 15% off. Wait, why is it not? Oh I’m not putting it in caps, sorry. Apply that, cool. If I hit that it would go to my card and order the pizza right now, but I already ate pizza today so…
10:44 N: You avidly use the app?
10:44 Max: Of course, always. Can’t order pizza without it. It’s my new way of doing things.
10:51 N: So people can do reviews on the pizza or just rate?
10:54 Max: Sorry, yeah so they can’t rate right now because essentially that’s not something that we’re advertising to do. We’re not a review platform at the end of the day, we’re just an easy ordering platform, so we’re working on a review aspect of it, but for us that’s not really a focus for us product wise.
11:10 N: What do you think makes you guys different from other platforms where you can order pizza from?
11:17 Max: So traditionally pizza is ordered by calling the phone, which is the way it is and kind of has-been and our goal is to kind of make you re-think of that a little bit and kind of change up your routine a little bit because when people order pizza, which they do for groups or an individual or whoever you are, you’re ordering pizza for something and you’ve been to an event where pizza is served. We’re just trying to make it easier for the people who had to order those pies without having to talk to anybody and know where it’s going.
11:44 N: So what about those apps, like Grubhub?
11:47 M: So those are different because those require you to go through an entire menu, you know what I’m saying, you have to go through an entire menu to find what you want and most of the time people already know or they don’t know what they want and we’re going to bet on the case that you do know what you want; that’s a pizza and we can have that ordered to you in less than 10 seconds as opposed to having to put in all your information on the other.
12:08 N: What did you go to school for?
12:10 Max: I didn’t go to college, I only went to high school. I went to college for two weeks, I don’t know if that counts.
12:16 N: It does.
12:16 Max: It does? Oh, cool. So I got my degree there for two weeks. I went to high school at Fashion Industries with… I met Cyrus in middle school at BCS [Brooklyn Collaborative Studies], like that place a lot.
12:31 N: I know a couple of people that went to Fashion Industries.
12:35 Max: Yeah, it’s kind of… everybody always knows somebody that goes to Fashion Industries in New York. I was like it’s only like either really good or really bad, but I went for marketing and I almost didn’t get in. As a matter of fact, not only did I not almost get in, but I almost didn’t go and I think that life would’ve been a lot different had I not gone there because I had a lot of time and opportunity to learn about things I wouldn’t have otherwise learned about and high school was a really fun time for me — I’m not going to make this all about my experiences in high school, but high school was a lot of the reason why I was able to experience, participate, and do a lot of the things I was able to do and kind of get my early start or our early start in fashion,which could take to where we are now. And so Will went to Stuy and then went to MIT and took some time off from MIT to pursue this project. Dmitri went to school in… where is Dmitri from again Cy, I mean Will… Santa Cruz and he was at MIT and took some time off as well and Graham was over at Brown and so he left Brown to pursue our project and work beside us. And Cyrus went to Midwood and then to SVA for a year and came to jump on with this and then Derek was at St. John’s and graduated and is now helping us full-time, so it’s pretty sweet. We have a nice little team that works very well.
13:43 N: And everything is cohesive, you guys pretty much inspire each other?
13:48 Max: Right, you work in a team so there’s always going to be different opinions, but at the end of the day a team is where you get the most work done as well. But I’m going to let Cyrus talk for a little bit now. I think he should pitch in. You wanna talk Cy? Cy is shy. We’ll talk some more. Let’s go.
14:11 N: I’m going to eventually get him to talk whether that’s at the shoot or whatever.
14:15 Max: Oh yeah, he will talk. Sometimes you gotta beat ‘em up.
14:16 N: I’ll beat ‘em up. So what’s the hardest shit you guys have had to go through so far?
14:22 Max: Oh man, there’s a few things. You mean where have we gone really wrong and learned from?
14:29 N: That too. Anything.
14:33 Max: Good question. Okay well, I’ll tell you this: Basically we had an issue where Apple actually pulled us off the app store for a little while because we had this issue where they noticed something in the app that they didn’t comply with, meaning that they said it needed to be changed. We fought it not being changed because it was a feature that was details, to where is this going, right. Where isthis train leading us to? How big can this be? What’s the opportunity?
17:14 N: So do you guys have like a six month plan on the app?
17:21 Max: Yeah, so right now it’s about New York City and New York campuses and being local because something we learned earlier on was that we immediately came out of the gate. And for us it was ‘oh shit, we’re national’ and everybody thinks they can get pizzas, but we don’t have pizzerias everywhere, so national coverage all though amazing for us was not very helpful at the same time because you get yourself in a situation where ‘oh shit we’re covered nationally’ people can’t use the app they’re gonna delete it. What we had to do was completely 360 and say fuck that we’re gonna be super local now. Completely change our product to make it work better and have more options and so now we have completely gone local and we launched on 4/20, no coincidence. Now we are kind of attacking New York one day at a time, one pizzerias at a time and attacking campuses like NYU, Columbia, Pace, Hunter, all the places that I probably should’ve gone to school…joking.
18:18 N: How do you think the people are taking it?
18:20 Max: Oh they love it. I mean you’re talking about giving people free slices for downloads, like people love free pizza. If I we’re not the founder of the app and I was walking down the street and some guy said ‘if you download my app I’ll give you a free slice of pizza,’ I’ll be like ‘hell yeah.’ And you might go as far as saying ‘actually I’m gonna use this shit because I like pizza and I’m going to remember these guys giving me free pizza.’ So that’s sweet.
18:41 N: What’s the easiest thing so far in terms of your business?
18:45 Max: Talking about it. No, I’m joking…not talking about it. Showing up.
18:53 N: That’s the first step, right?
18:55 Max: Yeah, that for me as a founder, not to get into a deep discussion here about what makes somebody a good member of a company or business, but showing up is my favorite thing because I’m good at it and that’s what I take pride in. As for ease that doesn’t really answer that question. Ease for me, nothing has been “easy.” We are our own demographic, we are our own age group in a sense we are marketing to ourselves. So using my mentality when applying a lot of logic to what we do everyday at Push for Pizza is easy just because of the fact that we are our own value. Does that make sense? So we’re not selling to like 45-year old men.
19:37 N: Yeah and it’s not like you’re assuming what people want.
19:42 Max: Exactly, everybody loves pizza.
19:44 N: And you’re not like an older guy from a marketing company whose like ‘well maybe kids will want this.’
19:49 Max: It’s like we know because we are our own target and it’s like why don’t we…let’s just kill it because we can sell to ourselves basically. Why would I like this? I look at what we’re doing and I say, whenever we approach a marketing concept, ‘how would we react?’ because keeping it real is all us. Especially in the tech industry there’s a lot of people who are very shallow and very fake and also those who are very genuine — we like to think that we are one of the more genuine kind of companies. It’s a very cliché statement to make because there are so many companies that say that and so many industries say ‘well you gotta watch out for the fake people,’ but…
20:24 N: Well I mean people can tell, like millennials especially when they’re given like marketed bullshit.
20:29 Max: Sometimes. I think sometimes we get played. We get played a little bit.
20:33 N: I feel like we’re coming to a point where we’re..
20:35 Max: Getting smarter. We’re definitely getting smarter for sure. I can tell you I am just one of those people who can kind of see through shit, but I know a lot of people who don’t and kind of fall into it and really at the end of the day that’s just the company doing a really good job of educating you on something that you don’t know about.
20:53 N: Very true. Why did you name the app Push for Pizza? Very simple, very straight to the point.
21:05 Max: Yeah, I mean, you’re telling the audience for me. It’s simple. You want it to be fun, you want to get it in one line, two, three words and you want to have an acronym for it; PFP. I mean it’s sweet. The domain was available. Had that domain not been available maybe we wouldn’t have been “Push for Pizza,” who knows. I think, unfortunately, nowadays people even rely on the domain name being available to name a company because your web presence is everything. Yeah no, what else would it have been? That’s my opinion is what else would you have named this company and if you can think of a better name which I have yet to hear please tell me.
21:49 N: I’ll think of one. I’ll tell you at the shoot (laughs).
21:55 Max: Exactly and Push for Pizza is a cool idea because you know you talk about the future and you talk about where this could go and maybe it could be “Push for ‘X’, “ meaning is it
push for alcohol, is it push for pussy, is it push for weed, is it push for whatever?
22:14 N: Push for pussy?
22:14 M: Push for anything other than pizza right. The opportunities are endless. You never know, right now it’s about pizza, but in the future we’ll see.
22:33 N: You guys might add cheesy bread?
22:36 Max: That would be cool. Well, the thing is, okay keep this in mind, when we pick something to add it has to be something you can get at every single location because the way our app works is you are building your order before…that’s why we’re so different. That’s another point I should bring up: We’re going to assume wherever you order from and what you’ve ordered they’re gonna have, meaning if you put sausage on your pizza we’re pretty much 99% sure that every pizzeria, unless they’re Kosher, is gonna have sausage on there. So we’re going to take the bet that when you build a sausage pizza that there’s going to be a place that puts sausage on their pizza in your area when you order. Bread sticks we don’t know. Mozzarella sticks we don’t know, they may not have them and what we don’t want is you to built it, you’re all excited and about to order and then it says ‘Er sorry, this place doesn’t have ‘x,’ you’re just like ‘what the fuck, I can just call and get this, why would I use this app.’ That for us is the scariest thing is having a user getting on there and being disappointed and so every user experience has to be comfortable and flow as it should and that’s what we’re doing.
23:44 N: So for you as someone without a tech background, you’re obviously self teaching?
23:50 Max: Oh yeah, so we’re learning, I mean everyday learning. This is school and fun.
23:57 N: So just showing up and what’s the process of self-teaching yourself, are you guys researching and reading?
24:03 Max: So for self-teaching very important things are like except being projected told no and told that your idea is not what you thought was the most amazing idea in the world because everyday we have this idea that we think is gonna be the next whatever. Learning to be responsible about how you think about things and managing your time. I can tell you when we were doing fashion it was not nearly as ‘we need to be here at this time to do this’. It was more like ‘oh cool we just made some money sweet. That’s sweet, Let’s get to the office. Let’s go downstairs.’ Our office was downstairs, so it was like let’s get to work now or we could sleep til noon. And now it’s like we show up at nine, 10 every morning not because we have to but because there’s this feeling of we wanna come in and get work done and we want to leave here at five feeling like ‘wow, today was a good day and today we got a lot done. I’m speaking for our team here, but I think everybody kind of is in that mindset. And we have ping-pong and free drinks and cafe. It’s a good time.
25:05 N: It’s pretty chill. How old are you guys?
25:08 Max: I turned 20 April 13. Cyrus is the baby of the group now. Cyrus is only 19.
25:18 N: Happy belated.
25:19 Max: Thank You. When’s your birthday?
25:19 N: August 25.
25:23 Max: Oh your birthday’s coming up. We gotta get you some pizza.
25:23 N: Word.
25:24 Max: And this is dumb cliché stuff, but I really believe that a lot of people have huge egos in tech and it’s important to be super, super humble with everyone you meet. The most valuable people I’ve met have been super down to earth with no ego instead of being like ‘I’m important as fuck and yeah you should know who I am, but I don’t need to tell you that.’
25:57 N: That’s interesting. I think that’s like the case in a lot of industries with egos running shit.
26:04 Max: Yeah, you know, I think that in the music industry, I hate to go back to that, like it’s different. Like you have to have an ego, in my mind, to be able to own it in the music industry because without an ego in the music industry everyone’s gonna look at you as basic and too humble.
26:17 N: But that depends right, you know because there are certain levels. And there’s a difference between being confident and…
26:24 Max: Yeah, it’s a bit of a broad statement. A better way to describe this is, I don’t start my day thinking ‘oh my god, who am I going to run into today to talk about Push for Pizza with, who’s gonna see that Facebook post that I posted, who’s gonna see this, who’s gonna see that.’ For me and for a lot of us basically, you start your day by saying ‘alright today I’m going to do X to accomplish Y and hope that this will bring us to our next level’ and everyday is a progress as opposed to everyday is showing off. I don’t show off. We don’t show off. We could show off this office, we could take photos down- stairs saying ‘look at our office, look at what we got, look who’s here with us, look at this,’ but we don’t do that. That’s really not what we’re about and a lot of people are surprised we don’t do that because we’re so young and have accomplished a lot for our age, but we’re just getting started. We’re from Brooklyn, so you know.
27:24 N: Where in Brooklyn are you guys from?
27:25 Max: So I lived in Red Hook for about eight years then moved to Park Slope and Cyrus is from Park Slope and now we live together there.
27:32 N: Oh you guys don’t live far from me.
27:33 Max: Oh where do you live?
27:34 N: Flatbush, Beverly Road, like the Q [train].
27:36 Max: I like Flatbush. We’re looking at some apartments over there. It’s cool.
27:40 N: Why are you guys trying to move?
27:42 Max: Lease is about to be up. Yeah it’s unfortunate we’re about to get kicked out. No I’m kidding, the lease is about to be up and gotta move somewhere…
27:49 N: Do your parents live in Brooklyn or family?
27:51 Max: Yeah, so my father lives in Brooklyn and my mother lives in the city and Cyrus’s family lives in Park Slope.
28:00 N: What do your parents think about what you guys are doing?
28:03 Max: My mom is kind of like my best friend, both my parents are very good friends for me. My mom has been very supportive and so has my father, but my father has kept it a little bit more structured, you know. I think once he saw the launch and the press stuff, he took it a lot more seriously.
28:22 N: Yeah, before he was…
28:23 Max: Before, we were successful and that wasn’t really it. It’s not really about the money for them, it’s more about the structure, you know you could be whoever making all this money, but if there’s no path, what are you doing? You know you could get a little bit of money and be cool, but ‘where are you going’ and for us we’re setting ourselves up for that worst case scenario if this doesn’t work; don’t get me wrong it crosses everybody’s mind. I’m sure you think about that with A.R.T.S.Y. I’m sure you think about it with other things, like what if this doesn’t work then what do we all do. We have gained so much knowledge that this has proved it’s value 10x what we’ve gotten from it cause I’m not rich. None of us are rich, like we do well for ourselves, but by no means or by any standards am I in any place where I’m set. And it’s not good to get comfortable.
29:12 N: And you know failure is just a part of it. If you’re not feeling you’re kind of dead.
29:18 Max: I’m just out here, you know. I used to be way more out in terms of going out and going to parties and sneaking into events and trying to be that dude that’s never on the list, but always on the list kind of thing — but that didn’t work for me. I didn’t like that. I didn’t like being around people who tried to be on that stage, like for me I’d rather be behind that stage cashing the check, you know. So that’s what all of our mentalities show.
29:40 N: That’s interesting.
29:42 Max: I don’t like being the face of things. For me, it’s too much pressure, it’s too much anxiety, I’m slightly insecure amongst other things.
29:52 N: Aren’t we all?
29:53 Max: We all are, right. Slightly awkward. You know, we deal with things all the time.
29:58 Cyrus: I’m ready for my interview.
30:00 N: Ready?
30:02 Max: Now he wants to talk, so I gotta leave, let him talk, let the man talk. Give ‘em a 16 Cy. Spit a 16.
30:08 Cyrus: Okay. Came up in the game, straight up through the ruckus, crazy white boy going ham like cold cuts.
30:16 N: Okay. I see an alternate career.
30:23 Max: [To Cyrus] Hey man, so I got an email back from them and they’re ending their semester, so they’re not doing it again until Fall.
30:28 Cyrus: Oh shit.
30:31 Max: He said reach out through the blip. There’s like a blip portal or something like that. [Some more talk off mic.]
30:43 N: So how are you?
30:45 Cyrus: I’m good. How are you?
30:45 N: I’m good.
30:47 Cyrus: Sean is too good for us?
30:49 N: No, she had a meeting.
30:50 Cyrus: I remember when we were shooting around with her at the gym.
30:54 N: Word. That’s crazy.
30:55 Cyrus: She couldn’t even come and see us?
30:56 N: She said she had another meeting and was running late.
31:02 Cyrus: Whatever, yeah she’s always running late.
31:03 N: Remind me what age you were when you were on the first cover.
31:06 Cyrus: 16
31:08 N: 16, shit. So how different do you think you are now from that first cover?
31:13 C: Not very.
31:14 N: Not very?
31:16 C: No.
31:16 N: You are.
31:18 C: Maybe, I look a little different. No, not really. I’m still a smart ass, but yeah I’m glad you guys are here.
31:26 N: So you think you’re more knowledgeable about start-ups than you were at that time?
31:32 C: Yeah, I mean if you want to call our clothing business a start-up, I guess.
31:36 N: You wouldn’t call it that?
31:38 C: I guess, I would maybe. I think “start-up” gets thrown around a lot these days, everything is a start-up. I mean some people still think Uber’s a start-up.
31:47 N: Really?
31:48 C: A lot of people do. Yeah, but for sure I know more about business stuff now. Just from talking to a lot of people who wanna give you money, but won’t until they see the business stuff to put it simply, but yeah for sure.
32:12 N: Have you guys gotten any attractive offers that you have to turn it down because it wasn’t necessarily the whole package you were looking for?
32:23 C: I mean Max and I sold 3-6-7 productions, which was our umbrella company for all our fashion brands and I mean we just took the money and ran, you know what I’m saying. No, I’m just kidding. Yeah, we sold that. It was a good deal. I mean we just wanted to get out of fashion because, I don’t know if Max talked about this, it’s just full of bullshit. You know everyone and their mom has a clothing line now.
32:49 N: It’s true. T-shirt, hats.
32:53 C: This is the only conceited ‘I’m-the-shit’ thing I’m going to say: We were the first to do all over print t-shirts and you can go on the Complex article.
33:08 N: Are you sure?
33:08 C: Yes, the Kaleidoscope t-shirt. We did it first that’s all I’m going to say.
33:14 N: Do you miss doing fashion?
33:15 C: No, not at all. I hate it. Hated it. Too many politics, especially in New York.
33:22 N: Elaborate on the politics.
33:23 C: Yeah, it’s like high school, you know. Streetwear is all about ripping off stuff, so you can’t really take it that seriously at the end of the day and there’s some people that just take it way too seriously. So if you even come remotely close to ripping off their rip off, they get all pissed off about it, but at the end of the day there’s really no premise that you can cling on to.
33:46 N: So what’s the best shit you took away from doing fashion?
33:51 C: That’s a good question. Probably the backend stuff. A lot of people come up with the idea ‘oh I’m gonna start a clothing line,’ but then the orders start coming in you have to start fulfilling shit. That’s a whole other ball game. Paying taxes built up to my eyes, so it’s kind of like you grow up a little bit.
34:23 Max: Listen, thank you so much for doing this. I appreciate it. I’m really excited about it. Let me know about the shoot with Sean. He got the rest of it.
34:27 N: Later.
34:30 C: But yeah, definitely learned a lot, for sure.
34:34 N: But you totally satisfied that chapter…
34:37 C: Oh yeah hung out. Never going back.
34:41 N: Do you have a background in tech at all?
34:42 C: No, none of us do. Well, except the developers, they all do, but Max and I no. Just learn some new stuff everyday.
34:54 N: Self-teaching.
34:53 C: Yeah. Life experience taught.
35:00 N: What apps have you downloaded recently?
35:03 C: What apps have I downloaded recently? I honestly don’t download a lot of apps as weird as that might sound. I’m not a heavy app user. I use probably Snapchat the most that’s my favorite app next to Push for Pizza.
35:21 N: Why Snapchat?
35:23 C: I just like sending pictures. I like messaging through picture. That’s cool.
35:30 N: It’s definitely a cool concept.
35:31 C: How about what you’ve downloaded recently?
35:37 N: That’s a good question. Probably Tidal. Try out the free trial.
35:39 C: What do you think about it? It’s bullshit, right. It’s stupid.
35:43 N: Yeah, I mean I definitely enjoy having a user-friendly experience and listening to random shit that I think of and just type in and it pops up, but I don’t know about paying $19.99.
35:53 C: There’s a lot of things that do that.
35:53 N: Yeah, that’s true.
35:56 C: For free.
35:58 N: It’s not as user friendly as they advertise it to be.
36:02 C: Yeah, it was really way over hyped.
36:07 N: And basically because of the faces of the company.
36:11 C: Yeah, Jay Z’s got his little army together.
36:16 N: Yeah, and they’re making hella money off of it, I’m sure.
36:19 C: I just don’t think it’s gonna do that well.
36:21 N: You don’t think so? We’ll see, I guess.
36:23 C: We’ll see.
36:26 N: So what makes you think that Push for Pizza is the next big thing in food and tech?
36:35 C: I never said that.
36:39 N: I think so.
36:40 C: No, I’m just kidding. I just think this stupid, stupidly simple concept is what really draws people to it. I mean some people think it’s a joke when they first hear about it. And I, when Will the developer first came to me with the idea, was like ‘okay. I didn’t really take it that seriously, but then I had like a really busy night going on and I wasn’t thinking about dinner and I was like ‘oh yes, this Push for Pizza thing let’s try it out.’ And the first time I used it it was literally just push a button, don’t even think about where your food’s coming from. Your meal, your next meal and it’s like revolutionary it’s life-saving, especially like busy college kids or the busy mom. You don’t have to think about where your next meal is coming from, you just push a button. You don’t have to get on the phone and talk with anyone. You don’t have to go through Grubhub menus. It’s just stupidly simple.
37:34 N: So what are some kinks you guys have to work out in the last six months or so?
37:39 C: I mean we kinda jumped in this whole food ordering tech thing head first with really no prior experience, so we’ve learned a lot we learned something new everyday. But most importantly it’s about restaurant relationships and maintaining those, which are super important because without them your app doesn’t work. So that’s really [oddly cuts off].
38:07 N: So when you reach out to this pizza companies they have room to say yes or no right?
38:09 C: Yeah the pizzerias, yep.
38:11 N: So have you come across any pizzerias that just weren’t with the shit at all?
38:15 C: Yeah, I mean we try to go with the people that already do online ordering just so we don’t have to educate them about it. Cause Grubhub and Seamless, god bless them, they did the hard work of converting the old crotchety pizzeria owner of accepting this new ordering wave. And so we just come in and say ‘Hey this is why we’re better than them. Sign up with us’ and it usually works out in our favor. But you’ll get the occasional ‘Oh, I already have like six or seven of these. I don’t need another one,’ but at the end of the day it’s still another order coming in that probably we wouldn’t otherwise get.
38:54 N: So you use it every single time you order a pizza?
38:58 C: Do I? Yeah, I mean I’ll kinda be an asshole if I didn’t.
39:05 N: You would definitely be an asshole. So what are some misconceptions about you as young people with a business? What do people assume about you?
39:22 C: Misconceptions? I mean Max and I have always dealt with ageism cause we’re young. People just think you’re young, you’re inexperienced like ‘I can’t really trust you.’
39:38 N: Yeah like what do you guys know.
39:39 C: Yeah, but I will say, I don’t if you’re familiar with “Spray Ground.”
39:42 N: Spray Ground?
39:45 C: Yeah the backpack company. They make all the really cool all over print. You’ve definitely seen it maybe like the shark mouth backpack, the gold brink backpacks, so that was like one of our first consultant gigs, you could say, so we worked with them when they were just starting and they, like the owner DBD, David, he just didn’t care about our age at all. He was just like ‘I like your ideas. I like your vision. Just come work with us.’
40:16 N: Shoutout to the believe that believe, right?
40:18 C: Yeah, I mean it wasn’t all fun times at Spray Ground, but they took a chance on us and that’s respectable and so I really think it’s all about what you have to offer and if it’s worthy of some small attention then age doesn’t matter.
40:38 N: What do you think, because you know that cliché shit about ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ like you guys did the fashion thing, which I’m sure led up to this point, you guys had to do that first in order to make a transition.Do you think that there are other things you guys could possibly venture into after tech?
41:06 C: I mean I have no idea. If you asked me like two years ago if I would be making a fucking pizza app, I would have not believe you. So I honestly have no idea, who knows? I mean Max and I are always looking for cool new things to do, so I mean who knows what we’ll be doing in the next five years. I don’t.
41:24 N: Don’t even know what I’ll be doing tomorrow.
41:27 C: Yeah, pretty much that’s how we roll, but it’s fun. It keeps things interesting.
41:33 N: Have you met any cool people in tech based off of being involved in the world now?
41:40 C: Yeah, I met the guy who started Reddit, Alexis [Ohanian]. He was a super cool guy. And Adam Lisagor, the guy that made our video. He’s kinda of like the go to start-up video guru. Max and I are like really close with him. He’s like fam I guess you could say. So he’s definitely a pleasure to have worked with and have met through this journey, but yeah still meeting new people everyday.
42:17 N: Do you guys have any like tech influences whether you have met them or haven’t met them yet?
42:22 C: Yeah, Elon Musk. He was a founder of Paypal and he started Telsa motors, they make the all electric sports cars. He’s a super cool guy.
42:38 N: Have you met him?
42:40 C: No, I wish. He’s one guy I look up to.
42:43 N: Why?
42:45 C: He started Telsa Motors, which is electric cars. He’s a big believer in green energy. He started Solar City as well, which is the largest solar panel provider. He founded SpaceX, which is like one of the only private companies to go into orbit and he’s creating re-usable rockets. I mean I’m all about environment conservation and stuff like that and so he does a lot for that in my mind and admirable. And I really want a Telsa so that’s another reason.
43:18 N: What’s your personal motto that you run by that’s kind of helped you along the way professional and personally?
43:29 C: Living as if you’ll die tomorrow.
43:30 N: Living in the moment.
43:31 C: Like getting hit by a bus at any moment. Cause you know those MTA drivers, you know how many times I almost got clocked in the head with a side mirror cause I’m kinda tall you know.
43:40 N: Or a cab.
43:42 C: Or a cab, yeah. It’s a dangerous world out there. You just gotta act on instinct. Go with the gut. That’s probably my number one.
43:50 N: I’m always scared that someone is gonna like push me in the train tracks.
43:54 C: Yeah, you gotta stand next to the pole, the pillar there.
43:57 N: Word. Live like there won’t be a tomorrow.
44:02 C: Yeah just like Kendrick whispers in that song. Sweet.
44:11 N: So have you gotten a lot of family/friend support?
44:16 C: Yeah, I mean support as in?
44:19 N: Usually there’s this social conditioning of following a linear path: going to high school, going to college, graduating, getting a corporate job, having a family. You guys are obviously not doing it that way. You’re self-starters, you’re making your own shit. Were your parents thrown off at all or did they have the same mindset?
44:47 C: No, I mean both my parents are pretty A.R.T.S.Y. I guess you could say so they don’t really believe in the common norm, but of course my mom was like the right motherly thing to say was ‘yes, you should go to college,’ but I mean, Max and I didn’t drop out for Push, we dropped out for our clothing business, so.
45:13 N: Yeah, he told me that he dropped out after two weeks. That’s a record.
45:21 C: Yeah, he did that. I stayed for a year.
45:24 N: Where were you going?
45:24 C: I went to SVA for film. School of Visual Art.
45:28 N: Is that in California?
45:31 C: It’s on 23rd and 3rd. Yeah it was fun. I really liked it. It’s a good school, but I just had other shit going on and I couldn’t focus on either, so I gotta pick. I pick the money.
45:43 N: It’s all about the money. It’s all about the motherfuckin’ money. So would you go back?
45:51 C: Would I go back to college? No.
45:51 N: Just for the hell of it. No?
45:55 C: Yeah, maybe when I’m like 45 and I don’t have anything else to do and I’m just like fuck it I’m bored, I’m gonna go learn film history. Yeah, but not in the near future. How about you where did you go to college?
46:11 N: I graduated last May.
46:13 C: Nice. Where from?
46:14 N: I went to University of Hartford, West Hartford.
46:18 C: Cool. I was just in Fairfield this weekend. Fairfield University.
46:23 N: Gotcha. So I’m back home now.
46:25 C: Nice. How did you get linked up with A.R.T.S.Y.
46:28 N: Do you know who Jordan is?
46:30 C: No.
46:32 N: He’s the video producer.
46:35 C: Yeah I have to give them credit. I mean Sean been… it’s not easy to do this.
46:40 N: Not at all and I’ve been on the team for two years.
46:43 C: Yeah what keeps you going?
46:43 N: What keeps me going? Welp, this is what I’ve always wanted to do I’ve always wanted to work for a magazine. Always wanted to write. Always wanted to be a creative that wasn’t controlled by a top corporate head. I didn’t want anybody telling me ‘oh you should write like this or do this like this.’ I wanna do my own shit. So I went to high school with Jordan and I saw that he was a video producer for the company, so I hit him up like ‘oh are you guys looking for writers’ and that’s how it started.
47:17 C: So it’s just kinda like a hobby or …?
47:18 N: No I’m doing it full-time.
47:20 C: That’s great.
47:23 N: Yeah, just living the dream.
47:28 C: Yeah I feel ya. No it’s great. You’ve been asking great questions that means something. Some people just ask the normal: ‘when did you start?’ ‘Where you gonna go in five years?’
47:42 N: Oh I hate that five year question. I’d rather say like six months because who the fuck knows.
47:48 C: Exactly, such a dumb question.
47:50 N: I mean I started off as a regular staff writer then I moved up to copy editor, now I’m the managing editor.
47:56 C: How many writers are there at A.R.T.S.Y?
47:59 N: There are about seven to eight writers.
48:02 C: That’s awesome. And it’s still going print?
48:06 N: Well you know we’re digital, but we just started using this third party company to print. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Blurb.
48:15 C: How is it, how do they work?
48:17 N: Blurb you just upload the files for publish.
48:29 C: How much is it per issue?
48:30 N: It’s like $21 on Blurb.
48:33 C: 21 dollars?
48:34 N: Because it includes shipping and…
48:36 C: Well who the fuck is gonna pay that, no offense.
48:39 N: That’s true. There are quite a few people that have been buying it though.
48:41 C: Really?
48:42 N: I guess it’s because we’re shelving out quality material.
48:43 C:That’s pretty impressive.
48:46 N: This is a mock of the one we drop today.
[Nicole opens Music Issue mock on laptop].
48:58 C: But I mean hey, if you have people buying it, fuck it.
49:04 N: We’re digital you know what I mean. The print is just for people that really want to vibe to it because we don’t really make profit off of that.
49:12 C: The hipsters. I need the physical copy. That’s dope. Yeah, I mean I always fuck with the layout. Who does that?
49:25 N: Gerardo Mendez. He’s the Creative Director. So we have three different covers: Dave East, The Skins, and J57 with all the same content in it.
49:45 C: And us?
49:45 N: Next.
49:48 C: We’re gonna be on the cover again?
49:49 N: Yeah for the Tech issue.
49:51 C: Who else did you interview?
49:54 N: Some other tech companies like Swig, BF+DA…
50:01 C: But we’re gonna be on the cover?
50:04 N: Yeah.
50:06 C: Good, fuck yeah. You should put Pushy on the cover, fuck us. Do you know who Pushy is?
50:11 N: Who’s Pushy?
50:13 C: Have you not looked at our Facebook page?
50:15 N: I have not gone on your Facebook page to be honest with you.
50:22 C: Maybe for the cover issue I think it should be Pushy. We’re boring compared to Pushy. So this is Pushy, he’s our mascot.
50:35 N: Oh that’s dope.
50:35 C: He’s a giant slice of pizza. He’s much more interesting to look at.