Natalie Kaminski is the Co-founder and CEO of JetRockets, an award-winning software, web, and mobile application development company. With over 20 years of experience in the technology industry, Natalie is a dynamic and resourceful web and mobile technology entrepreneur. She is also the Co-founder of OneTribe, an online app that helps businesses automate their time off management policy.
In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran interviews Natalie Kaminski, the Co-founder and CEO of JetRockets, about how to build and scale tech-enabled companies. They also talk about the effects of the war in Ukraine, the history of goBaby, and strategies for building great partnerships with clients.
Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:
- [01:40] Natalie Kaminski’s childhood and her experience living in Russia, Ukraine, and Israel
- [11:23] How Natalie migrated to the US and joined the IT industry
- [18:12] Natalie’s experience starting and growing her own business — and the challenges she faced
- [23:47] Strategies for building great partnerships with clients
- [25:01] How moving to the US has impacted Natalie’s life
- [27:33] How to decide which client projects to prioritize?
- [30:11] The history of goBaby
- [31:56] How has the Ukrainian war impacted JetRockets?
- [49:15] Natalie talks about her new business, JR Ventures, and her involvement in the Hampton community
Resources Mentioned In This Episode
- Natalie Kaminski on LinkedIn
- Igor Alexandrov on LinkedIn
- Alexey Solilin on LinkedIn
- JR Ventures
- Sam Parr on LinkedIn
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John Corcoran 0:00
Okay, today we’re talking about building and scaling tech-enabled companies. So if you have a tech-enabled company, or a software tool, or something like that you want to build and scale, you want to listen up today. My guest today is Natalie Kaminski from JetRockets and I’ll tell you more about her in a second. So stay tuned.
Welcome to the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, where we feature top entrepreneurs, business leaders, and thought leaders and ask them how they built the relationships to get where they are today. Now, let’s get started with the show.
John Corcoran 0:34
Alright, welcome everyone. John Corcoran here. I’m the host of the show and the Co-Founder Rise25. And you know, each week, I get to talk to smart CEOs, founders, and entrepreneurs of all kinds of companies. We’ve had Netflix we’ve had Kinkos, YPO, EO, Activation, Blizzard, LendingTree, Quicken Redfin, and Grub Hub, go check out the archives, lots of great episodes in there for you. And of course, this episode is brought to you by Rhys 25, my company where we help B2B businesses get client referrals and strategic partnerships were done-for-you podcast and content marketing, got lots of resources on our website, Rise25.com, go check it out there, you can also email us at support at Rise25.com, sign up for our email list because we’re about to launch version 2.0 of our client dashboard platform, which I’m really excited about. So definitely sign up for our email list there. All right now, Liam, I’m excited to have you here today. First of all, you’re the CEO and Founder of JetRockets. You’re the co-founder of OneTribe, we’ll explain what those are, in a moment. 20 years of experience in the technology industry, you’ve lived all over the globe, got a really interesting background in terms of where you came from, where you’ve lived, and how you ended up currently in New York, and I’m excited about that. But first of all, I love to ask people about how they were as a kid, and any entrepreneurial hustles that they had. But you actually were born in what was the Soviet Union in Russia, and ended up going from Russia to Ukraine, to Israel to the United States, and you had to contribute to your family from a young age. Tell us a little bit about that upbringing. And what that was, like for you working to contribute to your families didn’t have a lot of resources back then.
Natalie Kaminski 2:06
Well, first of all, Hi, John. Very good to be here. Thank you for having me. And yes, you’re absolutely right. I’ve you know, I’ve moved quite a lot to being a kid. And even you know, during my few years in the Soviet Union, we’ve moved a lot from one place to another. So you know, I always joke and being during my childhood, I was an entrepreneur, because during the 12 years of primary education, I’ve had to switch nine schools. So I had to adapt and adjust to a lot of new kids and a lot of new environments. And I kind of became very adaptable, which
is, I added it up for me once, it was six schools before I hit my first year of high school.
John Corcoran 2:41
Wow, but for you, it was a culture shock was so much greater, because you’re going from country to country and within countries.
Natalie Kaminski 2:52
Absolutely. I mean, learning the language and kind of you know, and you know, kids can be mean, and you have to adapt, you have to adjust and, you know, I guess the good thing is that coming out of it, I Really I can find myself I can be comfortable anywhere in any environment. And that’s, I think, that’s a great entrepreneurial skill to have.
John Corcoran 3:11
Yeah, what did your parents do that you led you to move so much?
Natalie Kaminski 3:15
Um, so really nothing to do with their jobs? It was just because they were just moving from one place to another in search of better opportunities. Really, that’s that’s what it was. Like, often, I often get asked, was your father in the military? And, like, No, he wasn’t. We’re just looking for a better place to be.
John Corcoran 3:35
What are your memories of growing up in Russia? And then Ukraine?
Natalie Kaminski 3:41
Oh, God. So I do remember, you know, even though I left, the Soviet Union fell apart when I was 10 years old, but I do remember quite a lot about what it was like, and it was not a happy place. Let me tell you that much. You know, I very clearly remember walking to a grocery store with my mom, and seeing just shelves full of seaweed. Nothing else. See if he can’t imagine. I can see what it’s like all day.
John Corcoran 4:10
Had those laughs
Natalie Kaminski 4:12
Yeah, like cans and cans of seaweed. That’s all they had. And so there wasn’t food available? No, there was no food. I mean, there was a time when there was this coupon system, where the government would provide you with coupons to be able to go and buy certain amounts of certain foods. So for instance, you know, for each family, depending upon the family size, you will you will receive a certain love allows for the month, right so we had that in like three coupons for bread and five coupons for milk and that’s what we had to deal with. You know, it was it was not not fun, not pretty. I also, you know, I also was a member of the Pioneer organization that was part of, I don’t know if you’ve seen these old Soviet photos with children wearing kind of like grabbed handkerchiefs around their neck.
John Corcoran 5:00
Oh, no, I haven’t thought to look it up.
Natalie Kaminski 5:02
Yeah, the Younger Pioneers organization, so I was a member of that. And you know, we have to decide very weird like brainwashing level of stuff like how we are dedicated to the Communist Party and how we you know, what to work for the betterment of the future. And oh, another fun fact is that, I remember when I was in second grade, we were told, very detailed stories about how poor American children suffer from lack of food, and, you know, all the terrible things that have taken place in the United States, apparently, at that time. And I remember writing letters to my, you know, kind of like, counterparts in quote, unquote, America, of how you know, you guys should fight and become Soviet country, and then things will get better for you. So, you know, so I remember lots of brainwashing being a child, so yep, exactly. That was me. Yeah.
John Corcoran 6:01
Got a picture here holding up a picture of these kids.
Natalie Kaminski 6:06
- So that was just a couple of years before I became part of them.
John Corcoran 6:10
Yes. Wow. Wow. What is it like for you? I know, it’s hard. You know, I’ve got kids and it’s hard. Sometimes your kids don’t always listen to you. But you know, to walk into a whole foods now with your kids. And see that array of food. I mean, there’s got to be times where you say to your kids, guys, when they were you know, when I was a kid I went into I remember distinctly going into grocery store with there was nothing but seaweed on the shelf.
Natalie Kaminski 6:37
I, you know, funny, you should bring this up. I actually remember when we moved to the United to Israel, my mother and I, we emigrated to Israel, in 1990. And the first thing but got off the plane, and we were met by our relatives. And on the way from the airport to the apartment, they suggested that we stopped by a supermarket to pick up some basic groceries. And I clearly remember walking into a store. And I remember the kinda like, my mother’s face. And I remember myself going like, all my mouths dropping, it’s like, how is this possible to have so much of things readily available, if like anything like I couldn’t even I’ve never even seen a banana until I was like, pan. So I do remember those times. And frankly, I do sometimes have to remind my girls and I have two daughters, ages 17 and nine, that, you know, they’re very, very fortunate, very lucky. I mean, I have to be honest, I I’m very grateful for the fact that they didn’t have to experience these hardships, and that they do take certain things for granted. I’m okay with that.
John Corcoran 7:51
Yeah, it’s such a, it’s a whole longer discussion, right. Like, as entrepreneurs, you know, you go through those tough days, and it may mold you into who you are today. And, and part of us wants to spare our children from the challenge, the difficulty, the pain of of experiencing that themselves, while at the same time, knowing that that’s what made us who we are, right?
Natalie Kaminski 8:17
Absolutely. That’s this, you know, that’s this constant challenge that I have to struggle with, between being super happy that my girls can pretty much you know, they have no hardships, thank God, but at the same time, exactly, making sure that they grow up to be appreciative and hardworking people who will be willing to push themselves forward to achieve it.
John Corcoran 8:39
All right, so you said at 12, when you had your first job, which was to support the family, what was that job?
Natalie Kaminski 8:45
So I got a job at a local and I’ve lived in a city called batea, at the time in Israel, and I got a job at a local flower shop. And I was making arrangements and I was also a delivery girl. So I was just taking the flowers and delivering the, you know, the orders. And frankly, I think, you know, often thinking back I believe that the the owner of the store, the woman who hired me, she just you know, she didn’t really need me. It was really, quote unquote, like a charity case, right? She wanted to help and she you know, I came to her and I asked for a job and she gave me one. And I remember her son, you know, he had she had an older son who was driving a car at the time and he was actually taking me in his car to the delivery address and I will be the one to take the flowers up the stairs to the apartment for instance, just so that I can earn the tip right and it was just so like thinking back at that moment they didn’t realize
John Corcoran 9:46
what it meant later later that you realize that that was probably the case.
Natalie Kaminski 9:49
Yeah, absolutely laser that they realized that now I’m very grateful to those people and they gave me this opportunity. Right and I and really that money made made the difference. Yeah, that money that little money that that was Making that allowed us to buy extra groceries or paying electricity bill that month? You know, the times were really tough. We just moved to Israel. My mother was working as a cleaning lady, my stepfather, you know, had a hard time finding a job as well. And it was very tough time.
John Corcoran 10:16
I’m assuming you moved to Israel because your family was Jewish? Yes. What kind of religious persecution did you experience either in Russia or Ukraine? If at all?
Natalie Kaminski 10:29
Yeah, not that much, frankly. Actually. Well, you know, it’s funny because my father is Jew. But my mother is Russian. And in the Soviet Union, I remember being called a Jew a few times, because that’s what they cared about who your father was, but in in Jewish traditions as the mother, so when actually moved to Israel, suddenly I was being picked up for not being a Jew. So I’m like, come on.