David Freedman is the co-founder of Freestar. Freestar helps website owners monetize their sites. People typically start a website because they’re passionate about a topic, but when it comes to monetizing that website, most of them don’t know how to navigate the confusing world of digital advertising. They also may not want to invest in an ad ops team or other hires they need in order to maximize potential, like data scientists and engineers. Freestar partners with site owners to provide all the resources and expertise they need.
What part of Arizona do you call home?
I currently live in Chandler.
How did you get started as an entrepreneur?
I started in elementary school. Kids were becoming obsessed with jawbreakers, and I saw an opportunity. I asked my mom to take me to the candy store. I bought about 30 jawbreakers and started selling them to kids at recess. I sold my entire bag the first day and made about $10. I thought I was a millionaire.
What sparked an initial interest in entrepreneurship?
I was born into a family of entrepreneurs. My dad had a men’s clothing store in Philadelphia that he started when he was 23. Growing up, I would work on the weekends and holidays with him. Later on, my mom grew frustrated with the lack of places to buy clothes for me, so she opened a boys’ clothing store.
How did you come up with the idea for your current business?
The idea happened while running Tempe12, a bikini calendar featuring ASU girls with a 3.0 or higher. Originally the revenue model was to sell ads in a printed calendar. I launched a website but didn’t know how to make money off of it. I got introduced to Chris (my partner in Freestar) who implemented an ad server on the site. Back then it was pretty new technology. We started A/B testing different strategies and the website quickly became a major revenue source. We learned we were better at monetizing than we were at editorial, so we consulted for numerous websites to do the same for them. Then two years ago Chris and I decided it was time to create our own business around this expertise, so we raised money to create the technology and hire the talent we needed.
What is your favorite part about running a business?
Controlling my own destiny. We’re experiencing extreme growth right now (over 200 partners, with more being added every day) and that’s so gratifying. If you put in the hard work, it pays off.
What was the biggest challenge in executing this idea?
Finding qualified talent to help achieve our goals.
How long have you lived or worked in Arizona?
I moved to Arizona in 2000. While the Valley has grown tremendously over the past 17 years, I don’t think the tech or entrepreneurial scene is as strong as people make it out to be (yet!).
If you could only describe your city with one word, which word would it be?
What’s your favorite thing about living in Arizona?
The outdoors. From hiking to golf, it doesn’t get much better.
What’s your least favorite thing about living in Arizona?
People are a little too laid back sometimes. While I’m pretty relaxed outside of work, when it comes to getting a job done, I think some people lack the tenacity to attack each and every day.
In what area do you think Arizona still has a long way to go?
We need to better position the state as a hub for entrepreneurship.
The foodie scene is growing bigger and bigger by the day here in Arizona. What is your favorite place to get breakfast in your city?
Morning Squeeze is typically where Chris and I will meet before going into the office.
What’s your favorite place to grab lunch?
Salut Kitchen Bar.
What’s your favorite dinner spot?
What’s your favorite place to work in your city aside from your office?
My house. I’m not a big fan of working at coffee shops or other public spaces. I like being in my own place where I can focus.
Best place for a meeting over drinks?
What is your favorite memory from Arizona?
A hot air balloon ride over Sedona last year.
What is something about living in Arizona that only a local would know of?
It’s not all desert! Not even close.
Any tips for new Arizona residents?
Go to Havasupai Falls. It’s one of the most spectacular and breathtaking places I’ve ever visited.