Interview by Derek Grosso
After completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Cincinnati, Jerry Tsai moved to Las Vegas with Teach For America where he taught 4th grade in a high-need, low-income community. He stayed on staff in the Las Vegas Valley as a fundraiser and, in 2011, returned home to Columbus to help the founders of Acceptd build their startup company. He’s been happily doing that ever since, supporting the account relations and sales teams as Vice President.
Name: Jerry Tsai
Company and Job Title: Acceptd Inc, Vice President
Neighborhood: Grandview Heights
What’s the story behind Acceptd? And what makes it an exciting company to work for?
Acceptd was created to help connect artists and arts opportunities. We are honored to serve the arts community through innovative technology that connects musicians, dancers, singers, thespians, visual artists, and film-makers with opportunities at universities, colleges, summer festivals, competitions, symphonies, orchestras, and much more across the world! Acceptd is an exciting company because we are constantly innovating and challenging the status-quo. It’s a fun, energetic team that is working hard to provide opportunities for the arts community with unwavering excellence.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, where would you be?
I would probably be doing something in the non-profit sector.
Tell us about an upcoming initiative that you’re passionate about.
An upcoming initiative outside of work that I’m particularly passionate about is a social enterprise called EmpowerBus. EmpowerBus is creating corridors to employment and family stability by providing dependable workforce-ready citizens with dignified, reliable, and on-time transportation to/from work. We’re currently focused on launching our pilot MVP (minimally viable product), which will serve clusters of New Americans in Columbus and get them to and from employment opportunities at a distribution or manufacturing center in the central Ohio region.
What gets you up in the morning?
I’m driven by the opportunity to find dreamers and help make their dreams come true. That’s what gets me up in the morning!
What role have mentors played for you?
I’ve had some amazing mentors, bosses, teachers, older friends, and colleagues who have guided me and shaped me into the person I am today.
Explain some of your work-life balance challenges and how you achieve success in spite of the hustle and bustle?
I think that the notion of “work-life balance” infers that there must be a 50-50 split or a 60-40 split. For me, I don’t see it that way. Instead, I see my life as a soundboard where sometimes I want/need to turn up the bass and turn down the treble. Or sometimes I want/need both the bass and the treble turned up. Or some other kind of combination in order to get the right sound at that point in my life. When I approach it this way, the hustle and bustle of life is all just one awesome soundtrack!
What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
I like to workout to unwind. For me, that means Crossfit (I go to Crossfit Grandview) in the mornings during the week and recreational sand volleyball on Mondays after work.
What’s the coolest thing about Columbus right now?
There are a lot of cool things happening in Columbus right now. For me, I’m excited to see how welcoming Columbus is towards people from all types of backgrounds. It’s also great to see so many young professionals coming to Columbus to build a career and advance our city!
What are three things that you think Columbus needs (or wish Columbus had)?
1) Public Transit that rivals major metropolitan cities like NYC, Chicago, and DC. 2) A large body of water nearby (an ocean & beach) – not sure if there’s much we can do about this. 3) More funding support for the entrepreneur space.
If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
The “pulse” of Columbus is growth & innovation! Columbus is a growing city that is on track to nearly double in size in the coming decades. New businesses are coming to our city regularly and coming because we are a welcoming community filled with enthusiastic innovators!