Daniel Zaltsman and Erick Szentmiklosy
This article is a part of our encyclopedia, and is editable by you. Edit ➜
No early career info added yet...
The Haiku Guys & Gals
Daniel started The Haiku Guys & Gals in . They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: 
Q: How did you get started on The Haiku Guys & Gals?
People always ask us if we’re poets or writers. The short answer is yes, but it wasn’t always that way. In our adolescent years, we both wrote poetry here and there but individually decided we were pretty bad at it. Erick even failed poetry class in high school. Erick comes from Hungarian and Colombian parents, grew up skateboarding, listening to rock, and reading Henry Miller in Dover, NJ. Daniel was born in Saint Petersburg, emigrated to the US and grew up in Cliffside Park, NJ performing in Russian plays, ballroom dancing, and playing counter strike.
Both of us grew up in lower-middle-class households and our journeys crossed at freshman orientation of Montclair State University. We spent most of our time studying at the library and going on vision quests. Our studies, like our interests, intersected - Daniel’s Marketing and Sociology and Erick’s Mathematics and Philosophy. Later these would serve as foundations for running our business.
During senior year, we wanted to start a business but had no idea what business to start or how to go about it. Inspired by a late-night dazed encounter with a stop sign, we developed a logo that replaced STOP with START. Shortly thereafter, our friend Zach came back from a keynote by Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS Shoes, and was reeling about how inspired he was by the story. A lightbulb went off: we should interview entrepreneurs and share their stories on the internet as inspiration for other people to START going after their dreams. But how would we find these entrepreneurs?
> We can’t stress enough how valuable starting on the street was for our future success. Not only did we develop a key network of future collaborators, clients, and fans, but we also perfected the way we would go to market with it.
Our momentum halted when Erick moved to Florida right after college. We stayed in touch while we held our first jobs out of school - Erick at an investment bank and Daniel at an NYC social media startup. In Florida, Erick bought a vintage Royal Typewriter at a thrift store to write letters to his friends back home. Turns out, writing letters on a typewriter is frustrating and he began writing haiku instead. During a brief visit to NYC for Christmas break, we thought it would be cool to breathe some life back into START and go out on the streets of Brooklyn to find entrepreneurs. We figured a lot of them live there.
We didn’t want to be “those guys” on the corner asking pedestrians for a minute of their time, especially with the sufficiently weird question: “Excuse me, are you by any chance an entrepreneur?” The best way to get people to stop and talk to us would be by offering something for free. But what would be interesting to offer such that folks would actually stop for one and also not cost us a ton of cash? Erick had the typewriter with him and suggested a Free Haiku since he was writing them anyway. Cool and interested people would see our Free Haiku sign and stop by to ask for one. Everyone else would keep walking by, we wouldn’t bother with them.
When a person walked up, Erick asked for a topic and got to writing. While they were stuck standing there waiting, Dan would tell them about START and ask if they were, by chance, an entrepreneur and interested in doing an interview later in the week. One day, a guy who was jogging by stopped and said, “Hey, this is cool. Would you come to do this at my festival?” We said yes, he gave us his email address and ran away. He didn’t even get a haiku. That was Jeff Krasno, the founder of the Wanderlust Festival, and he was the impetus for us moving from doing interviews to performing haiku at events.