Running a business can be like guiding a racehorse: If you see an opening to get ahead of the crowd, sometimes you just have to seize the opportunity.
That’s exactly what the cofounders of the private aviation company Wheels Up, Bill Allard and Kenny Dichter, did on Thursday when they got a call from Ben Sturner, chief executive of Leverage Agency. He represents American Pharoah and the horse’s owner, Ahmed Zayat, and he was looking for a business willing to pay for a last-minute sponsorship during the Belmont Stakes race last weekend.
Allard said Sturner placed the call at 7 a.m. By 8:15, the deal was done. The two have known each other for years.
The timing, of course, was fortuitous: Millions watched American Pharoah become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978. And as the horse streaked to victory, viewers noticed a certain corporate logo: Wheels Up’s name appeared on the jockey’s pants leg. Allard said Zayat also wore a hat with the company’s logo on it during media appearances. Even though Wheels Up is New York-based, Allard helps anchor the company from his Cohasset office.
He declined to disclose financial details of the arrangement or to say whether it would continue.
“We looked at this as a historic opportunity,” Allard said. “We knew they were talking to other companies, [but] if we could act quickly and nimbly we could preempt the other companies that were considering it.”
It turned out to be a particularly busy week for Dichter, Wheels Up’s chief executive. He was in Boston on Wednesday night to promote his other venture, a luxury fitness equipment business called TechnoHome. More than 200 people packed Montage, the Back Bay furniture store, that night for TechnoHome’s launch party.
Guests sipped cocktails made from Avion tequila and mingled with Neiman Marcus models while they checked out an Italian-made high-end elliptical machine, treadmill, and recumbent bike. (The machines are made by a company called Technogym.)
TechnoHome’s CEO and cofounder, Larry Gulko, a former top executive at Cybex International in Medway, said his new company is trying to line up celebrity ambassadors. Some of them could be famous athletes. No word yet on whether any of them will be horses.
A new gig for M.L. Carr
In M.L. Carr’s final season as coach of the Celtics, the team had 15 wins and 67 losses — the worst record in franchise history. Let’s hope he’s better at running a fantasy team than a real one.
Carr is joining Realtime Brackets, a Boston fantasy sports start-up, as a business adviser. Realtime Brackets debuted during March Madness and picked up 13,000 users of its mobile app, which gave basketball fans the unusual option of changing their picks mid-tournament, or even mid-game.
A user who correctly predicted the outcome of a game after it tipped off received fewer points than someone who nailed the pick before the tourney, but the idea of allowing people to change their selections was to keep them engaged longer.
Now, the company is hoping to create fantasy games for other sports and leagues with the help of Carr, who, to be fair, had a much better career as a player, averaging 10 points per game over 10 seasons in the NBA and ABA.
Couple signs Giving Pledge
The real estate business has made Longmeadow resident Harold Grinspoon a very rich man — and now he’s decided to give most of his wealth away.
Grinspoon, 85, and his wife, Diane Troderman, 73, are the third Massachusetts couple to sign the Giving Pledge, created by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett to persuade the world’s wealthiest people to donate most of their fortunes to charity.
If you’re a person of great affluence, “you have to ask yourself a question: What are you going to do with your wealth?” said Grinspoon, who founded Aspen Square Management, “and I’d like to do something meaningful and creative with mine.”
To date, he has put $390 million into his Harold Grinspoon Foundation, which so far has distributed $170 million. He says that, upon his death, most of his remaining assets will go to philanthropy, too.
Grinspoon’s giving is mainly focused on Jewish causes. His foundation runs programs such as PJ Library, which distributes free books and music with Jewish themes, and JCamp 180, which supports Jewish summer camps.
The first Massachusetts couple to sign the Giving Pledge were Bill and Joyce Cummings, who own Woburn-based Cummings Properties. Seth Klarman, president of the Boston hedge fund Baupost Group, and his wife, Beth, have also signed on.
‘World’s toughest job’ wins
Imagine a job posting that calls for expertise in medicine, finance, and culinary arts. You’ll be on call 24 hours a day. No vacations. And the workload goes up — not down — during the holidays.
The job from hell? More like the job of mothers worldwide.
The Boston advertising agency Mullen Lowe bet big that its video spoof on a job interview (in which real candidates are interviewed for a so-called job with the above requirements, only to be reminded of what their moms do for them) would draw tears from viewers.
The client, card maker American Greetings, was mentioned only in passing — but the four-minute video became an Internet sensation, with more than 24 million views on YouTube since it was released in April 2014.
As a result, the agency last week won the Grand Effie, one of the most desired prizes in advertising, for its “The World’s Toughest Job” campaign.
About a dozen Mullen Lowe employees trekked to New York on Thursday for the Effie Awards, where they claimed their prize.
Among the key people involved in the ad were creative director Jon Ruby and associate creative directors Blake Winfree and Andrea Mileskiewicz.
“The reaction we get when we show this to people, they either cry or they give us a round of applause,” said Mullen Lowe senior vice president David Swaebe.
“Everyone loves their moms.”
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