A first-generation American and native of New York City, Jeremy Ruch founded Bandalier in 2017 to connect growing tech companies in urban hubs with talent situated in other parts of the country. Prior to starting Bandalier, Jeremy was the second hire at a FinTech start-up, Bond Street, and an associate at Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC. He graduated Duke with a major in public policy.
What inspired Bandalier?
“It was really a combination of two things; One was the fact that I experienced the problem we’re trying to solve first-hand at Bond Street when I was building a sales team. It was amazingly difficult to hire for these roles–expensive to fill them in New York City, an incredibly competitive market with lots of startups hiring for the same roles. I would have been a user of Bandalier myself had it existed at the time, and I spoke to lots of start-up veterans who felt the same way.
The other was the realization that we had the opportunity to employ thousands of Americans in areas where access to opportunities in tech isn’t necessarily widespread. That felt like a problem worth solving.”
Favorite thing about working at a startup?
“My favorite thing has got to be watching the company and its people grow. I enjoy being able to work with my team to decide on the type of environment and culture we want to develop. I even love the basic things; Bandalier moving into a larger office space, for example. I love seeing people develop new skills and grow professionally as well. If you look at a startup relative to any larger company, people take on new roles much more quickly. At a startup, you’re given more responsibility rapidly. A company changes significantly more quickly when it’s in that “startup phase” than any other stage and I enjoy watching that and being a part of it.”
What has this experience taught you?
“I think the biggest thing I’ve learned–which is probably obvious to most people–is that people are incredibly complex. At the end of the day the ultimate success or failure of any business, especially a company like Bandalier, is the people. The processes that we put in place and the culture that we incubate rely heavily on our employees.
When you start a business you think about things in a very linear and structured way; ‘Okay, we’re going to do this, this, and this. We’re going to hire students and recent grads and we’re going to have a process by which people can go and work for our clients. We’re going to have this clear path of upward mobility and growth.’
We’ve been fortunate in that a lot of it has worked exactly the way that we thought it would. But it’s also true that everyone is totally different and motivated by completely different things. So even though we want our structure to work for 100 percent of our employees, realistically, it only works for 80 percent. Maybe that other 20 percent are motivated by something completely different. So the challenge is figuring out how to accommodate for the other 20 percent and present them with the same opportunities for motivation and growth.”
Why choose Binghamton over any other city?
“When I first had the idea for Bandalier, I explored lots of different cities I thought made sense as a venue to prototype Bandalier’s business model. The cities I looked at all had one thing in common; they all had very large pools of fresh talent and they all had growing tech scenes. What I found special about Binghamton was the passion for revitalization. I heard a lot about this desire to cultivate the same sense of energy and growth that existed a few decades back when IBM was headquartered here. Not to mention, I met incredibly talented sales leaders like Matt Scanlon who has his home here and is dedicated to raising his family in Binghamton. I think there’s a false perception among many growing tech companies that the only place they can find talent is in tech hubs like New York City and San Francisco. We’re showing that this simply is not the case–it’s 2018, and we can help them identify and deploy sales talent all over the country in places they might never otherwise have looked.”
Where do you see yourself in five years?
“In short, I hope we’ve stayed true to our mission of creating A New American Workplace where we’re connecting people all over the country who are really talented with tech companies that can use their services. I’d like to expand to cities besides Binghamton, and also see us eventually providing services besides customer service and sales.
My dream is a world where somebody can walk into one of our offices with a resume and say ‘Here; this is my skill-set.’ and we can help match them to a company, or several companies, that can use their talents.”
What motivates you? What’s your drive?
“What motivates me most, honestly, is watching the process of people growing; growing their skill sets and watching them learn how to be successful in sales. One moment that always gets me excited is when an employee gets their first closed demo. To me, that means that somebody came in here, maybe having little to no sales experience, and now we’ve just given them a skill that won’t only allow them to grow at Bandalier but will also prove extremely useful irrespective of how their career evolves.”
If you could say one thing to people thinking about starting their own business, what would it be?
“Make sure you care about what you’re doing. That’s absolutely the most important thing. We’ve gotten really lucky in a bunch of ways–we’ve been fortunate to build a great team and we’re targeting a growing market successfully. Yet there are so many things that you have to put up with; so many things that can go wrong and at any given time can seem impossibly complicated. However, what has kept me going is the genuine belief that Bandalier is adding value to the world. If I didn’t believe that, it’d be very easy to walk away. I think that fundamental belief that your business matters, no matter how small it is or how significant the hurdles may seem is essential.”