41 Entrepreneurs Share Their Unusual Hobbies

May 21, 2015

10:00 am

Hobbies are activities, interests, and pastimes that we tend to undergo for our pleasure during our free time. They are fun and we easily obsess about them because they are our escape from the stress and pressure of startup life. Bill Gates, for example, collects rare books. Mark Zuckerberg kills and eats his own food. Tech.Co cofounder and CEO, Frank Gruber, plays the Ukelele.

We all have them. Sometimes we take them for granted. But they are an essential component of a working person’s downtime and an integral part of the daily building blocks of startup leader’s success strategy. Most entrepreneurs are very tactical about their free time. In the startup life, every minute of every day counts. So here’s how some startup founders and entrepreneurs choose to spend their downtime:

Fayez Mohamood, CEO of Bluecore

“I practice yoga 2-3 times a week, regardless of schedule or travel. I normally do a Hot Power Yoga class, which is a variation of Vinyasa yoga in a room heated to 90+ degrees with fluid sequences that work on core building, upper body strength as well as plenty of isometric poses. There is always something new that you learn in a yoga class even if its the same pose you do day after day for many years. The idea of the journey being the objective is something that is implicit in yoga, and this embodies a amazing ability to be patient and focus on the long term. With all the success stories that seem to happen overnight, there is an element of impatience in startups that can distract teams from the long term.”

Roy Morejon of Command Partners

“As the president and founder of a growing crowdfunding startup, a newlywed and father of a 17 month old daughter, finding free time is tough. My hobby is disc golf. It’s free(which is always nice) and it allows me to enjoy nature playing on one of the many disc golf courses Charlotte, NC has to offer.  It also allows me to get my steps in to hit my Fitbit goal.”

Kurt Uhlir, Founder of Sideqik

“I am a certified alligator handler and survivalist. As a former stuntman, sometimes I need to get out of the office to recharge. You’ll often find me out on a trail for a good long hike, off the grid or helping with unexpected situations that many shy away from.”

 

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Glenn Cipolla, Vice President and Senior Partner at INTAP

“Surfer, organic gardener, blues harmonicist, Chef — they keep me very busy.”

Rahul Modi of Blink

“DJ-ing (I have an eclectic taste in music ranging from house to Bollywood to rap/hip-hop) and Bhangra (Formally trained, competed nationally, and held a captain position). Helped overcome shyness or any initial fear of public speaking.”

Simon Ensor, Managing Director at Yellowball

“My main hobby is surfing. Pretty cliche but always like the idea as a kid but never really did it, then tried it a few years ago and was hooked. Now every holiday I go on is usually centred around surfing. Probably the only place where I manage to escape a tv screen, laptop or my phone!”

 

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Image Credit: Michael Daes/Flickr

 

Katie Fang, Founder of SchooLinks

“Reading books on the beach (since we’re located in Sunny Southern California), traveling, and volunteering time to various charities.”

Jonathan Poston, President of Yiveo.com

“I enjoy foraging for wild mushrooms, caving, kayaking, ice climbing, rock climbing, snorkeling, mountain biking, and surfing.”

Baldwin Cunningham, CEO and co-founder of Partnered

“Photography has always been something that I’ve loved and just never quite had the time to pursue. It’s just been only recently that I bought a decent camera, took a few classes and really started putting time into it. The results have been partly on my Instagram but mainly my dog’s Parker that now has 14.5k followers and is now quite the celebrity as a ‘Dog of Instagram’. I’m not one to take life too seriously and it’s a fun side project I enjoy outside of running my own business.”

 

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Luke Marchie, Co-Founder of Majux Marketing.

“Playing guitar and vocals with a few bands. I’m currently a member in some fashion with around 4 different music projects which range from cover bands (the Doors, the Grateful Dead), to wedding bands (solo as well as full bands), and Irish Folk band, as well as an original family band I play with in Brooklyn.”

Frankie Tollinche, Founder of Lokalie

“Even though I enjoy every water support out there from diving to windsurfing, my favorite all time hobby is paddle boarding. It is a moment where I can enjoy everything that’s around me from dolphins, turtles and manatees swimming next to me.”

Richard Kline, Founder of Legal Marketing Pages

“I collect original comic book art from the Silver Age of Marvel fandom. I have collected since the 80’s when I was in elementary school. I stopped collecting for a brief bit when I went to law school but started back collecting in the early oughts. Its a great hobby because I get to hang my art collection on the office walls.”

 

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Laura Kassovic, CEO & Cofounder of mBientLab

“Our hobby is death defying, adrenaline pumping, and pure fun. Rock climbing is for the soul as much as it is for the body. Climbing has enabled us to create a business and somehow remain sane in the process.”

Daniel Abrams, CEO of Masslight

“I started playing ultimate frisbee about five years ago, mostly because the movement of the disc seemed quite beautiful. It was also good exercise. But there was a benefit I never anticipated. It turns out a lot of software engineers play ultimate and we’ve hired some of our best engineers as a result.”

Anthony Franciosi, Founder of Ant’s Organic Marijuana

“I really enjoy snowboarding and being out in nature, as it is where I feel the most at-ease. Spending time being active outdoors also helps me think up new ideas and inspiration for my business. Another major hobby of mine is cooking with the same approach I take with organic marijuana cultivation. I try to use only organic, health-conscious cooking methods, as well as the best natural ingredients. Being active and eating healthy helps me balance my work and personal life to the best of my abilities.”

James Fong, Cofounder of Listia

“Muay Thai everyday to let off some steam.”

 

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Mike Scanlin, CEO of Born To Sell

“My passion and #1 hobby is travel and hiking. Been to 70 countries so far and since launching the business I’ve hiked to the base camp of Mt. Everest, Machu Picchu, bottom of the Grand Canyon, Zion Narrows River Hike, and others. In all cases I was never offline for more than about 36 hours (yes, you can get a cell signal from bear base camp Everest; helps if you’re on a ridge and not in a valley), so I was able to keep up with responding to customers. I actually solved some customer support issues at 17,000 feet in Nepal.”

Sam Rosen, Founder and CEO of MakeSpace

“Exercise is a big part of my life. I work out 5-6 days a week, and 3-4 of those days I try and CrossFit. I particularly love the camaraderie and competition involved, but also look to balance that intensity with a mindful yoga class, spin, or go on a nice daybreak run on the off days.”

Sam Franklin, Founder and CEO of Greenvelope

“Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest (affectionately coined the PNW or Upperleft USA) I grew up spending the vast majority of my recreational time outdoors. To this day, I focus so much better and am entirely more productive when I press “Pause” on work to get out and do something active. I rock climb in the evenings 3 times a week, try to fit in yoga either in the morning or at lunch about 5 days a week, and when I’m not working or traveling I love to get out on the rivers for an early morning of fly fishing.”

 

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Herman Heller, CEO of Runbook

“Being Dutch, I grew up learning a lot about sailing and I would call myself a sailing man. Sailing is all about knowing where you want to go and figuring out how to get there- it’s a lot like founding and running a business. You have to navigate through unknown waters and I’ve learned it’s better to avoid rough waters instead of confront them. Sometimes you go with the wind and sometimes you tack against it- both ways are equally exciting and will bring you to the next level, which is where you want to be.”

Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO Mavens & Moguls

“I started learning Tai Chi & Qigong about 10 years ago and have gotten progressively addicted over the years. I now know the choreography of 2 different forms of Tai Chi and I absolutely love it. It is a way to both relax and focus. I even guest teach when the regular backup cannot be there.”

David Gelbard, CEO of Wellzilla

“When I got my start in private equity, there was the notorious Monday morning meeting, which was the dreadful day when I had to present my investments to the entire firm. It was so nerve-racking to speak for those few minutes that I decided to do something to eliminate the nervousness. That’s how I got into doing stand-up. What went from being a remedy for anxiety led to an incredible passion of mine – getting people to laugh and be happy. I’ve performed at Comedy Cellar, New York Comedy Club, and Broadway Comedy Club.”

 

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Stephan Goss, Founder and CEO of Zeeto

“I started playing Polo about two years ago. I play on a team four days a week and recently purchased two horses.”

Ksenia Rostova, CEO of inSelly

“Being a startup founder involves a lot of stress and hard work. So, having a hobby that demands concentrations and thus helps to forget about the ongoing tasks is a must. For me, such hobby is cake baking. It’s very much of a meditation, when you weigh, pour, mix, feel the aromas. And it’s also an extremely rewarding experience to turn a set of formless ingredients into an awesome looking cake.”

Lori Cheek, Founder and CEO of Cheekd

“Happy Hour Scrabble! As a word obsessed child (always the local Spelling Bee Champ at my elementary school in Kentucky) and a spelling obsessed entrepreneur, words have always been a huge part of my life.”

 

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Sean Dudayev, CoFounder of Insure Change

“Every founder needs a hobby to keep themselves sharp and for me that hobby has been Boxing. Aside from being a great stress reliever, it helps me stay healthy and maintain the stamina necessary to work long hours. It also mentally prepares me to do battle daily in the startup war zone. Boxing was my first love prior to business so not only does it keep me fit but it’s
that particular skill that has been wired into a part of my self worth.”

Andrew Bagrin, CEO and founder of My Digital Shield

“My favorite hobby is kite boarding, it is by far the coolest sport out there and has all of the right ingredients. First of all it’s very high adrenaline, it requires all of your focus both mentally and physically. You don’t have time to think about work at all. You are in the middle of the water which is a fire pit for cellphones. In short, you are fully consumed by an adrenaline filled adventure with limits that are only as far as you push them.”

John Turner, CEO of UsersThink

“My main hobby, and the one that keeps me sane, is dancing. I actually got into dancing due to a previous job (an e-commerce site that catered to dancers), but it’s been a fun activity that’s helped me keep my cool with my startup.”

 

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Warren Packard, CEO and Founder of Thuuz Sports

“I’ve played the drums for 35 years and have played in rock bands pretty much every year in this span. I’m currently in a neighborhood band called ‘Undercover’ and we play publicly about four times per year at various events. We’re currently getting ready to play at a local college for a summer evening concert series.”

Megan DeMarco, Marketing Director of AcousticSheep LLC

“We (my husband, Jason Wolfe and I) are part of the Central PA Mushroom Club. We like walking, but as hopeless multi-taskers and goal-oriented people, we have to have a purpose to taking a walk. So mushroom hunting works out perfectly for us. It’s about the thrill of the hunt for elusive edible mushrooms, which we usually end up not eating out of an abundance of caution.”

Lindsay Gaskins, Founder and CEO of Marbles

“I love spending my weekends taking in the outdoors. I grew up hiking and camping, and now I’ve carried that on with my own family. Getting away from everything wired on the weekends helps me recharge for the week at the office.”

 

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Dahna Goldstein, Founder of PhilanTech

“To try to stay in shape, I run. As a startup founder, it can be hard to prioritize exercise, and squeezing in runs is less time consuming than going to the gym. Running is great exercise, but not my favorite activity, so I try to keep it interesting by using a running app to draw pictures with my routes.”

Charles Teague, Cofounder and CEO of Lose It!

“I play hockey on Thursday nights with some buddies from the area. It’s one of the few things outside of work and family that I try to consistently make time for. It is a great combination of exercise, camaraderie, and competition that is a great way to get a break from the stress of startups.”

Chris Johnson, Cofounder and CEO of Uncubed

“I practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu weekly, make homemade mead (honeywine) and love to chop wood to use for heating my home.”

 

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Roberto Milk, CEO of NOVICA

“I played competitive soccer when I was younger and I still play soccer, actually had the game of my life last Sunday night, scoring 5 goals to win 8-6 in a high scoring game. I became really good at soccer in Peru playing in alleys in the 4th grade. Now, I’m the coach for my son and daughter. I’ve coached them since they were 5 years-old, they are now 9.”

Rickard Hansson, CEO and founder of Incentive

“I’m not sure if craft beer counts as a hobby, but I was determined to make it mine. That’s why I got involved with a couple guys on a craft brewery in my native Sweden. Right now, we have an IPA, a Brown Ale, and an American Pale Ale.”

 

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Samantha Daniels, Founder of The Dating Lounge

“I collect vintage handbags from the 60s and the 70s- designer and whimsical bags. I started collecting right around the time I founded my first business, my matchmaking business 16 years ago. I loved handbags and I decided to reward myself with one each time one of the couples that I set up got married or had a great milestone.”

Adam Boalt, Founder and CEO of LiveAnswer

“I’ve loved fishing since I’ve been a child and find that being on the water is where I get my best ideas. And now drones too!”

 

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Vladimir Babarykin, Cofounder and CEO of SpatialNote

“I study and teach an internal Chinese martial art called I Liq Chuan, which we also call martial art of awareness . It is not that well-known as aikido, karate or tai chi. Nevertheless, thousands of people practice it in several dozens of countries, with the most established regions being the USA and Russia.”

Nancy Lublin, Founder and CEO of Crisis Text Line

“I’m an avid Hello Kitty collector.”

Lisa Besserman, Founder of Startup Buenos Aires

“My hobby is playing the guitar and writing music. It’s a fun little escape from the day to day chaos of running a business, and allows me to tap into my creative side by playing and composing music. Some of my best ideas have occurred while playing music, and it’s definitely become one of my favorite hobbies.”

 

Lisa Besserman

 

What is your hobby? Tech.Co wants to hear from you. 

Image Credit: Flickr/Kit

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Camila has been heavily active in South Florida’s tech startup community, where she is a co-host of a local radio show called pFunkcast. Camila previously worked at Greenpeace International and the Organization of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in various communication roles. A proud Brazilian who spent most of he life in Peru, she is passionate about traveling and documentaries.

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