We talked to Mareza Larizadeh of pulsd about his business platform and he had the following to say:-
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded pulsd.
Mareza Larizadeh: I started off in finance at an investment bank (Merrill Lynch). Then, I joined DFJ ePlanet Ventures, one of the first global private equity firms. That led me to Stanford Business School, after which I started a venture-backed recruiting platform called Doostang, which we sold after 6 years to Universum Global.
I founded pulsd because I love New York City and wanted to make the city more accessible to New Yorkers. Our mission is to democratize fun in New York City. More here.
How does pulsd innovate?
Mareza Larizadeh: Our company is a marketplace; we bring together businesses and consumers in New York City. We look at what our members are purchasing and go after more of those – and related fields. When we first started the business, we would be selling 2 bagels and 2 coffees for $6; now we work with higher-end restaurants and have gone into other verticals including events, spas, fitness, and general recreation/hospitality.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Mareza Larizadeh: the virus has decimated Pulsd’s business. Before March, 40% of our revenues came from in-person dining at restaurants, 40% came from events, 10% from spas, and 10% from fitness studios – we saw all of this wiped-out overnight. So we pivoted slightly into parallel businesses – takeout from restaurants, kits from event partners that could be delivered to homes, and general delivery. We’re about experiencing the city from outside your apartment; we had to now help people experience the city inside their apartment. Thankfully, as the city has reopened a bit, we’re doing more of what we started pulsd for.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Mareza Larizadeh: The greatest lesson learned here is that where there is a will, there is a way. We didn’t have to lay anyone off, even though our revenues initially plummeted by over 90%. Thankfully we had some savings, and some of the team made some big sacrifices. I’m very proud of the whole team that we managed to keep all of our employees during the toughest job market on record.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and pulsd in the future?
Mareza Larizadeh: My wife is great at calming me down. We’ve had some dark days – when your sales fall from $25,000/day to $250/day. This, too, shall pass. She’s very good at that.
My business partner Vikram Joshi (Founder & CTO), is also fantastic. We work very well together. I always say that while we sometimes don’t agree on how to get from A to B, we always agree that B is the right destination, so we figure it out.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Mareza Larizadeh: Any company going after the NYC hospitality market can be seen as a competitor. We hire great people who are committed. It is hard work, especially given COVID and the fact that we have never raised any financing.
Your final thoughts?
Mareza Larizadeh: This too shall pass.