Have You Ever Had Someone You Sat Next on a Plane Reach Out?
Here is the story and basically, the only thing I want to share this week. It is a reminder to always be connecting. Here is a message I received this week.
I wanted to thank you.
For what exactly? Possibly everything.
You may think you do not know me because, in truth, you barely do.
However, we did cross paths almost a decade ago on a flight from New York to Utah in January 2013. To put this in context I am currently 21 years old, so at the time I was 12 years old and in 6th grade. I was headed out to ski with my family in Canyons, Park City and we sat next to each other on the flight. For what felt like the entire plane ride we had an extremely intellectually stimulating conversation where you treated me like a full-blown adult and explained to me all of the super interesting entrepreneurial projects you were working on, one of them being Voto and another an Ipad case enclosure company. I remember being wildly fascinated, as it was my first exposure to the world of entrepreneurship. I grew up around a very business-savvy family but never had I have met someone so passionate about a business the way you were. Your passion about Voto filled the plane and I remember thinking that you will either be the next Mark Zuckerberg (who at the time was the only other entrepreneur I knew of) or perhaps you were full-blown crazy for trying to pitch a 12-year-old on your dream. But I remember deeply appreciating how you treated me like an adult and did not dismiss me as a child but rather spoke to me as a potential user of your platform and trying to understand what I enjoyed the about the internet and other social media platforms at the time. At the end of the flight, you handed me your business card with the word Voto written on the card (see below) and we then went our separate ways.
Once back in New York I remember making all my friends download the app and we were all hooked and thought we were the first new users on what was going to be the new Instagram (which was also somewhat relatively new at the time).
Over time my use of Voto died out and I, unfortunately, forgot about our encounter.
Fast forward over 9 years later and I just came home from college (after my sophomore year) for the first time in a couple of months and saw that my room was cleaned up and weirdly a bunch of old business cards were laid out on my desk (from a drawer I always threw them in), and low and behold I saw your card and it dawned on me that our encounter may have greatly impacted my life trajectory.
For context: I now work somewhat within the startup ecosystem, working as an investment strategy intern for a large endowment focusing primarily on the venture aspect of the portfolio. Looking back on how I got here (a long story involving a long-shot venture financing play) I started thinking about how had I not met you that day, and the seeds of entrepreneurship not have been planted, whether my fascination with venture capital would have ever taken hold.
After finding your card and doing some research to see where you currently are, I was thrilled to see that you were able to come out on top via your various exits and subsequent angel investments, and that is incredibly awesome to see.
The reason I wrote this email is because I believe strongly that it is important to express gratitude to those who have helped you become who you are. I wanted to thank you for implanting the notion that anything is possible at such a young age. I am confident that it played a subconscious role in developing me into the person I am today. Thank you.
All the best,
Elan Jay Wolfset
Here’s how I responded
Elan! I actually remember well that flight because I loved how curious you were. Voto reached its max in 2013 and then it became Instafluence and then Disney bought it. What a wild ride my life has been since that plane ride. Ironically I am writing this while flying on plane home from Austin, where I was at a crypto conference.
Your thoughtfulness to reach out and share this means the world. I think back on the many people who influenced my childhood and had passion for their work and hobbies. I remember those moments as clear as you describe meeting me. I tried to thank many of my mentors and old bosses over the years. Now I want to spend the rest of this flight just saying thanks to a few people, just as you did in messaging me today.
I am in New York on the 19th-24th of June and would love to take you to lunch or dinner if possible?
Elan replied with
That is amazing. I can't believe you remember the flight. It is really great to reconnect all these years later. I would absolutely love to do lunch or dinner. I live in Manhattan and I will be around that week (I assume that is where you are visiting). How does lunch on Sunday the 19th sound? Really looking forward to catching up.
Yes let’s do that time on Monday! Can’t wait. Any connections in your family to the Winklevoss twins?
Was in Austin all week at Consensus and I just ended up eating brisket at Cooper’s every day.
And a friend made me this bolo.