David founded what is now Hycrete, Inc. in 2002, when he joined his family’s specialty chemical company. His family has been involved in inventing and manufacturing novel specialty chemicals for over 30 years. David still works closely with his family in both research and development and manufacturing. David is a leader in sustainable construction.
SM: Let’s start where your story begins. Where did you grow up and what was your family like?
DR: I grew up in New York City as a third generation Bronx kid. I went to North Carolina for college and then came back after college. I was in finance with different Wall Street stuff and the moved to one of those two year analyst programs. After that I moved to a venture capitalist incubating firm based out of New Jersey.
I was on the US traveling fencing team for a while and tried to make the 2000 Olympics. When the US did not qualify a team for the Olympics I applied for Business School and ended up going to Columbia where I currently guest lecture frequently.
After Columbia I basically started up Hycrete. My family has been in the specialty chemical business for 30 years. My grandfather led the innovation of several pretty cool technologies. One was solid rocket fuel where he got an award for the T3 rocket by NASA. He was instrumental in the development on the heat shield of the Apollo series which is most notable on the Apollo 13 when it came through orbit. He also worked on some materials used on the Space Shuttle Columbia.
SM: How much exposure did you have to this business when you were growing up?
DR: A moderate amount. When we went over to his house he had a pool table in the basement which we could never play pool on because he was always mixing chemicals on the pool table. I was the oldest boy grandchild and I grew up very close to him. He was always showing me things and was very hands on. I spent my summers with him at his country house.
SM: With that background it is interesting that you went into finance. What drove that?
DR: My dad was a Wall Street guy. My father helped my grandfather get financing to build his company. He was the managing partner of the largest municipal finance law firm. He would represent the State of New York or cities and authorities. He would help get the financing together to build parks and subways.
SM: How big was his company?
DR: It was dedicated to niche markets for the department of defense and NASA. It was not huge in terms of revenue. They did very high end, niche projects.
SM: What year was it that you decided to found Hycrete?
DR: It was in 2002. I tried starting another company in Business School which was a B2B ecommerce company. It failed.
SM: How far did you get with that company?
DR: It was a pre-revenue business when it closed its doors. We did not raise capital. I would argue that we had a product and a solution. It had to do with selling ads over the Internet.