Approximately 2,300 miles separate Michigan State University from Los Angeles, California. 2,300 miles from home, Broad College alumni Jeremy Redman (BA Accounting ’12) faced many challenges adjusting to his new life on the West Coast – the greatest of which was finding MSU connections to connect with as he built a new life.
Scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for Spartan connections, Redman realized that he was spending more time looking at a screen than he was talking with like-minded professionals. “When I first moved to LA, I didn’t know a soul. It was just too time consuming searching through 500+ connections, but I began thinking there has to be others out there like me, others that would like to connect with fellow Spartans and alumni,” Redman said.
Frustrations with the lack of connections and feeling far from home, Redman had a new idea: a social network specifically for college alumni who share an alma mater looking to connect, find mentors, and build personal and professional relationships in new cities. Redman launched AirFive in August 2016 with those goals in mind – and has already seen success in Los Angeles, with plans to expand to other cities and open to other schools in the coming year.
“I love nothing more than grabbing coffee and reading the room, reading the person across from me,” said Redman. “There’s no substitute for in-person meetings and with AirFive, there’s a technological gateway to meet in-person, and to establish real, meaningful connections. It all starts with your fellow Spartans,” he said. He admits to once driving over six hours to have coffee with a San Francisco Spartan, only to drive back home when they finished.
Redman always had an entrepreneurial itch. A Lansing native, he started his first sales operation at the age of 11. “It was kind of like an ongoing garage sale. I made $3 for every item I sold. I hired my stepbrother and a neighbor to help me sell, giving them $1 a piece when they sold an item,” he said. After graduating from Broad, he honed his business acumen working for EY before transitioning to more creative start-ups and moving to LA. It was then that he took the risk to launch AirFive.
“There is nothing more professionally challenging than risking everything you have on a venture,” Redman said, “The mental barrier of working 16 hours in a day for no pay check, no monetary gain in hopes that one day you’ll be proven ‘not crazy’ and sell it for $100 million.”
The launch of AirFive may have felt like a challenging risk to Redman, but he says it comes as a great intellectual reward after the effort he put into his career, beginning his freshman year at Michigan State. “Getting my diploma from Michigan State and Broad has been and always will be the greatest accomplishment of my life,” he said. “The Broad School taught me the ‘why’ is what matters most – a concept I exercise every day. If you understand ‘why’ within any given problem, you can deploy that ‘why’ into other areas, other disciplines, or other problems. This is why I am constantly asking questions, owning a big picture mindset and challenging assumptions,” he said.