Kass Lazerow, Buddy Media
I met Kass a few years ago and was immediately taken under her spell. Our mutual friend, Howard Lindzon, was in town and we all got together for dinner at Da Umberto in Chelsea with Kass and her husband Michael. Lots of wine and conversation and we were fast friends. Her energy, smarts and sheer drive is inspiring.
On one hand I am surprised that nobody has written a piece on Kass before ( although maybe they have ) and on the other hand my gut tells me there are more women like Kass out there that we never hear about.
Kass has been competitive she since came out of the womb. Playing tennis competitively through high school and then off to Dartmouth where she spent four years continuing on the tennis circuit and adding golf to her repertoire and of course the occasional game of beer pong just because she liked to win.
She grew up in the Washington DC area and returned home after graduating. She loved marketing and was convinced that being a marketing consultant was the way to go. Landing a few jobs as a consultant paid the bills but she never loved it. In 1995, she found herself doing tech consulting for large corporations eventually building a website for a large company literally using manuals to figure out how to write code. Love how she convinced them that she could do it although she really had no idea how to write code but she knew the value that the internet was going to bring. One day she was talking to a marketing consultant inside her fathers law firm where Kass described the beauty of the internet and how she saw the world changing and he hired her on the spot, doubling her salary and had Kass put together biz plans to market to their customers. She outsourced the work and began to create and build marketing for law firms in the area.
At this point, her husband, Michael and business partner comes into the picture. Michael’s brother, Andrew, was Kass’s best friend growing up. She spent countless hours in their house eating them out of house and home. Reconnecting with Michael at a wedding and then falling in love was not in the cards. Michael was living in Chicago working on his own company and a long distance relationship was not easy but she was in love. Kass decided that she would apply to graduate schools, consultant agencies and digital arms of the big ad agencies in Chicago and see what sticks. Landing a job at Leo Burnett in the division called Giant Step she took the job as the head of business and marketing development to drive sales. Building websites for large companies that were just realizing that they better get into the internet game. She didn’t love the team environment there and particularly how the women treated each other. It was like hazing. If you intimidate the other women they would just get pissed off. Smart women were just considered too aggressive. She took a look around the environment and left.
Michael had just sold UWire, his company and needed to complete that process working for the company that bought him out. Both Kass and Michael were golfers and Kass wanted to find a way to post their handicaps easily. So she started a company called Golfserve which allowed her to build content around golf where people could post their information. They moved back to DC where she began to grow the company syndicating content nationally and eventually Golfserve became Golf.com. Michael joined her at Golfserve and during that time they got married, had a baby and raised money to grow Golf.com. That is a feat in itself. Raising money around an idea where there really is nothing there yet and you happen to be engaged to the other partner is not easy but they did. Creating a team at Golf.com that she wanted to call her own was the best incentive. She remained the COO from the inception until 2006, having a second kid along the way, before selling the company to Time Inc.
Kass had to stay at Time Inc for six months before vesting and Michael had to stay for a year. They moved to NYC and she decides to take a back seat for a while researching ideas on what to do next as a mother with two kids and an entrepreneurial spirit. It isn’t easy running a company, having a family and trying to make friends too. There are so many compromises and what is usually compromised is your own personal time. It becomes difficult to find your identity. Forcing herself to sit back in the insanity of everything that has happened over the past few years from the growth and selling of a company and the growth of a family, she gets pregnant again while on the pill. How the hell did that happen? At this point, both Kass and Michael decide to launch Buddy Media.
Kass was hesitant about jumping in with three kids in tow but Mike just wanted her to help him start the company and get the foundation down and she agreed. He knew he needed her and made her the COO and she never left. Talk about bait and switch. There are now 120 employees. Buddy Media is a top SaaS company for major corporations providing them a platform to maximize their branding, social media and marketing strategies.
What Kass talks passionately about is that women are the caretakers that were told by generations before us that there are choices that they didn’t have that we do now and somehow because of that we are supposed to be good at everything. Where is the balance? She enjoys the “aha” moments of being a mentor with the younger women teaching them what to sweat and what to let go. Working towards a common goal as women as long as there is not hazing but there is camaraderie. Making sure that life is about balance and family comes first. That is how the company works even for the men. As Kass said, "We need to work hard to create time for ourselves so that our daughters learn that important lesson of balance, balance, balance."
Kass has had quite an interesting whirlwind career. Following her passions, rolling up her sleeves and starting a company ( or two ), working with her husband who is a total partner in work and play and being a mentor to the women that work with her everyday who can learn how Kass has actually been able to do it all, one day at a time.