story by Joe Mindak
photos by Christopher Amaral
Hoboken is a town that is constantly redefining its identity. From the heady days of serving as Manhattan’s idyllic nature getaway to the rough and tumble longshoremen, and from a booming industrial town to the current climate of young professional residents, few cities have seen such dramatic, sweeping change as Hoboken.
Now a new shift has been steadily growing under the radar over the last few years—Hoboken’s emerging Technology industry. We can certainly look to Stevens Institute of Technology for fostering such a fertile environment of innovation. Meanwhile ongoing initiatives over the years—such as well as Aaron Price’s Tech Meetup, which has steadily increased in membership and popularity—have maintained a cutting-edge atmosphere on the west side of the Hudson.
Now people are noticing—big people. Those people are asking themselves a very serious question: could Hoboken become the next great Technological Hub?
If Marc Lore has his way, the answer will be yes. To prove he’s serious, Lore has just put 40,000 square feet of new office space and 250 employees right here in Hoboken to make it happen.
There’s a chance you may not have heard of Marc Lore yet, but you will.
Lore started his first company by disrupting an industry, and he’s about to do it again. After growing weary of the grind of the banking industry, he launched a company called The Pit, which essentially created a daily pricing reference source for sports trading cards—a kind of “stock exchange” for the trading card industry that he wound up selling to Topps in 2001. While it may be a bit old for a breakout year in baseball, 30 is a decent age to sell your first business to the top player in an industry.
“If you’re going to situate a company in the New York area, I can’t think of a better place than Hoboken.”—Marc Lore, Jet.com
From there Lore shifted his focus to diapers. The idea grew from his own family’s frustration of keeping up with the ever-necessary stockpile of goods you need to cater to your babies—not just diapers, but all the essentials that went with raising kids. He joined with longtime friend and business partner Vinit Bharara to develop a visionary system that offered urban parents a low-cost alternative to ship products directly to their homes. The key to success was keeping the shipping cost down while making the mommies and daddies who were buying the items happy. Through advanced customer service, like sending personalized thank you notes with shipments or making special deliveries to Moms that called in a panic, they adhered to a simple plan—make sure the customer is happy.
Obviously this created a very loyal following—enough business to sell their service to Amazon for $545 million. Through proactive customer service, they built a business that sold to one of the biggest names in contemporary commerce for over half a billion dollars.
Now Lore wants to take on Amazon—and he wants to do it from right here in Hoboken.
Meeting with Superman
He’s very quick to clarify that he’s not necessarily out to compete with Amazon though. He’s just looking to be the best in his new industry—which happens to be in the same space as Amazon.
Simply put, Lore wants to “crush it.”
As Lore explains, “starting a business in any industry against anyone, you should always want to ‘crush it.’” And that’s just what he intends to do.
Walking into the offices of Jet.com, super heroes greet visitors at every corner. From Batman to Thor to Superman, there are posters and giant cutouts throughout the office. Each team at Jet is split up into groups and each group falls under the designation of a super hero.
Super heroes are always confident that they will come out on top… that they can take on anything and win. It’s not a cocky arrogance but simply a clarity of vision and an absence of fear.
That’s the feeling you get when you sit down with Marc Lore.
Lore has been making all sorts of headlines while causing quite a stir—and he’s just getting started. He has been able to secure over $200 million in investment dollars before the site has even launched, which is unheard of in the industry. His reputation for success helps, but that success is built on the demonstrated execution of innovative ideas.
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