A Passion for Building a Business from the Bottom Up
Avi Horowitz Talks About the Excitement, Hard Work, and Huge Possibilities of Working for a Start-Up
At Lander College for Men, where Avi Horowitz graduated in 2003, he played tennis with his Judaic studies rabbi and had a close relationship with one of his finance professors. Both men became trusted mentors.
“In most colleges, you wouldn’t get that chance to get to know your professors and have them know you and act as guides to your future,” says Horowitz, 40 and married with three children. “I remember it was 9/11 and we were all in class and in shock, and in walks our finance professor, covered in dust. He had walked from Wall Street, where he worked, to class. That’s a role model.”
While many of his classmates went on to graduate schools, Horowitz headed straight for the business world. He discovered that start-ups are his passion, for the combination of hard work and huge possibilities.
“Start-ups are exciting, you aren’t a cog, the things you do matter,” he explains. “You’re building from the bottom up so you do everything — accounting, reporting, equity management, run payroll, HR. It’s a seat-of-the-pants excitement.”
So far, Horowitz has been an integral part of three. The first was in the entertainment division of a telecom business, later sold to cable giant Liberty Media. Horowitz, a New Jersey native, wasn’t interested in relocating to the company’s Denver headquarters. Instead, he began working in the trust division of Morgan Stanley, where he stayed for nearly four years. Still, he pined for the energy of another start-up. One day, a friend rang him to say, “’I need someone to be a senior finance person at our start-up,’” recalls Horowitz. “He didn’t have to ask twice.”
This one was SecondMarket, a financial technology platform, later scooped up by Nasdaq. After that merger, he was recruited by a start-up called Bread, an e-commerce lending business. In December 2020, Alliance Data bought it for $450 million. Horowitz remains at Bread today as head of financial operations, while it is being integrated into the much larger Alliance Data.
As a member of the first graduating class of Lander College for Men, Horowitz thinks of the school as a start-up that became a great success. “I took a chance on them and they took a chance on me,” he says, fondly. “Because I didn’t get lost in a huge, impersonal university situation, I had the luxury of getting to know myself. I learned that if you treat people right, they succeed. And if they succeed, you succeed.”