Do what you love: you can’t fake it

When Andrew Kessler went on a promotional tour for his first book, Martian Summer, which documents his three month stint in mission control for NASA’s Phoenix Mars mission in 2009, he experienced how difficult it was to attract people to an event. This struggle led him to found his own company, Togather: a tool for smarter event marketing.

Kessler sat down with us for this edition of Do What You Love — a series that showcases the entrepreneurs behind startups and emerging companies. Here’s what he shared:

I went to Berkeley for university. I studied math. I love problem solving. I think I’m just like everyone else: a simple, gratification-seeking monkey. Solving problems feels really rewarding for me. You’re given a bunch of tools and you have to solve something. To me, [math] feels really creative. But I didn’t keep going, I’m not smart enough to be a good mathematician…

Togather is events software. What we do is position content for events and help event organizers and producers drive audiences to those events. Then we have data around the people who are attending.

I’m really interested in cultural events and bringing events to people. I think we’re so lucky here in New York City because we have all this access to things, but making and putting on [events] is so hard. That’s really what inspired Togather.

I was on a book tour for a book that I wrote, and I would have a hundred people show up one night and zero people turn up the next night. I thought a lot about why that was happening and how hard it was for the event producer to find the right audience who cared. I didn’t want to ever go and speak to an empty room.

I think we’re all scared of a lot of stuff. You have to acknowledge that what you’re doing is a risk and you have to confront it. The thing that will stop you is being in denial of how hard it is or how challenging it is. But if you deny it, it will conquer you. It’s about getting up and doing the work everyday and keep moving forward.

You can’t fake it. I mean, maybe you can and I just can’t. You have to really care and feel strongly about what you’re doing, or else you’re doing the wrong thing and you should do something else.

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