(Founder Stories) How Michael Bloomberg Got His Start: “I Brought You A Cup Of Coffee”

Before he became the three-time Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg made billions running the financial information company bearing his name. But it might never have happened if he hadn’t been fired from Wall Street during the early days of his career. The Mayor and Bloomberg LP founder dropped by our TechCrunch studio to discuss all this and how he is working to turn New York City into a high tech hub with Founder Stories host, Chris Dixon.

After leaving Salomon Brothers, Mayor Bloomberg started his own business because “nobody offered me a job, I was probably too proud to go look for one, and I said well why not start your own company.”

A hands-on founder who studied engineering, Mayor Bloomberg remembers spending “every Saturday at an engineer’s barn up in Connecticut” physically helping build the hardware (pointing out this was before PC’s and the internet) and flying to Chicago to tackle related infrastructure repairs. If anything broke he says it remained that way until he could catch a flight.

Mr. Bloomberg’s efforts paid off three years later when he sold “20 terminals” to Merrill Lynch through relationships he developed by bringing coffee and tea to their employees. He tells Dixon “when I would see somebody sitting in an office trying to read the newspaper at 7:00 in the morning, I would go in and say, ‘Hi, I am Mike Bloomberg. I brought you a cup of coffee. Can I talk to you?’” His persistence paid off.

Reflecting on those first three years, Bloomberg says, the first year, “you don’t think about the downside, the second year is the difficult one, the third year you see that light at the end of the tunnel.”

Looking ahead, the Mayor recognizes that “intellectual capital” is crucial for making New York a world-class tech center and says “the business strategy, if you will of New York City Government is not to subsidize companies, not to pay for people to bring jobs here, it is to invest in parks and cultural institutions and better public schools and lower crime to get the best and brightest to want to live here.”

Make sure to watch the entire interview to hear additional insights, including Mayor Bloomberg’s advice for founders looking to secure office space.

Episode II of this interview is coming up.

Past Founder Stories interviews, with leaders from Birchbox, Eventbrite, and Kickstarter are here.