By Zac Levin
Sep 1, 2017
It was a cold April day when I got on the flight from Newark to San Antonio. Sitting at the window as the plane approached over Interstate 35 I looked around trying to find the desert I believed Texas was. The tree canopy and all-around green was not something that featured in my (British) imagination of Texas. Four months later I arrived, and Hurricane Harvey made landfall just a couple days later.
Spending my first Thursday in the city going between grocery stores trying to find bottled water was an interesting moment to reflect on where I’d come to, my “we’re not in Kansas anymore moment.” Over a lifetime living in the UK the most extreme weather event I could remember was that time it snowed two inches and London shut down for a week. San Antonio ultimately escaped, but seeing the outpouring of sympathy around the city for the victims in our state and beyond has been an empowering experience of community.
I majored in Chinese at Cambridge University in England. While I was there, although my family was from London, they moved to New York. This left me, in my senior year, looking for jobs in America. I knew the outline of what I wanted, and what I didn’t want. I knew I loved startups and wanted to learn more from hands on experience, I also knew that I wanted to learn about America and live in a part of America that was very different from New York City. At the same time working for a year in an investment bank in Beijing as well as at the Bank of England in London taught me that I did best in more unstructured environments.
These observations led me to Venture for America (VFA), a two-year fellowship program for recent grads who want to work at a startup and create jobs in American cities. VFA works across the country in 18 cities from Providence to San Antonio, New Orleans to Detroit. Once you’re admitted to the program VFA runs a “match” portal to help you find the right job, and to help employers find the right people. On the first day of Match, Bret reached out to me, and six days later I was on a plane coming to Texas for the first time in my life.
At Jungle Disk I am working as Chief of Staff to the CEO (Bret Piatt). The role encompasses many different parts and allows me to get to learn the business from the inside out, looking at strategy, sales and product development. At the same time I’m involved in supporting Bret in some of his other ventures such as Cyber Talk Radio and Cast Tech High School. I am excited to be part of a team working out how we can better serve our customers in our core data storage and security business.
Now is a particularly good time to be joining, as we are innovating and adding products to offer our clients an entire security suite to help them secure themselves in an increasingly volatile world. Helping small businesses secure the data they need to stay on top is a missions we can all get behind!