Photo: Trace Cohen
Brian Cohen has one rule for all his children:They must start a company by age 26.
When Cohen was younger, that’s what he did. He and his wife created a tech PR company together. Their clients included big players like IBM, and the firm was eventually acquired.
Since then, Cohen has become a mentor to other entrepreneurs and the chairman of NY Angels. Cohen was the first investor in Pinterest.
A father of three, Cohen is helping his children hit the ground running. He’s cofounding a company, Launch.it, with his middle son, Trace.
“Time’s running out for my sister,” Trace joked when we asked him about his father’s entrepreneur-by-26 rule. “Luckily I started a company when I was 18.”
Trace cofounded BrandYourself when he was a student at Syracuse University. The company has since raised $1.5 million in funding to help people control their Google search results. Trace resigned after graduation; many of his shares were purchased during the company’s latest financing.
With Launch.it, Trace and Brian are giving PR people a chance to be journalists. Right now, PR people spend a good portion of their time pitching press releases to publications; much of their news is never seen.
Instead, PR people and brands can use Launch.It to write the product news themselves. Readers vote up the most interesting stories, like Reddit.
Trace and Brian want Launch.it to become the biggest database of “all things new.” Launch.it resembles Kickstarter in that it helps products get off the ground. But instead of financing them, it brings awareness to them. It’s a brilliant aggregation of free content; the challenge will be making notoriously boring press releases interesting to read.
Despite what could be an awkward family dynamic, Trace and Brian Cohen make a good team. Trace says he and his father hardly ever fight — he can only remember storming out on him once growing up. “We have a saying in my house, that my dad is never wrong but he’s not always right,” Trace jokes of his cofounder.
While Brian is what Trace calls “the wisdom,” behind Launch.it, Trace is the young blood who’s well versed in social media. Meanwhile, his father can barely tweet.
The pair are already getting results. Thanks in part to Brian’s connections and a winning New York Tech Meetup pitch, Launch.it has already convinced 15 PR agencies to partner with it. The Cohens have also secured a partnership with Consumer Electronics Association. Next week they’ll be publishing articles for each new product released during CEWeek. If that goes well, they’ll be greenlighted to work with all the products that launch at CES in Las Vegas.
Brian conceived Launch.It a few years ago but says he needed his son to make it a reality. Trace is happy to join him. “I’ve always wanted to start a company with my Dad,” he says.