Haymakers For Hope - Financiers Fight for a Noble Cause

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Rank: Senior Neanderthal | 5,732

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For all the talk of private equity and hedge funds as exit opps here on WSO, one interesting route that often goes overlooked is the non-profit path.

Too often non-profit and charitable work gets lumped into one of two camps:

  1. Something for liberal arts students
  2. Something you've got to do to round out your b-school apps

Well, I'm here today to obliterate this false dichotomy.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Myerson, the founder of Haymakers For Hope, a truly awesome charity that combines amateur boxing and the fight to end cancer. He's an ex-Goldman Analyst with a truly unique story to tell. Read on to learn more.

Before I jump into the Q&A, let me give you a brief background on the charity. Haymakers For Hope is a an official 501(c)(3) charity organization that began in the fall of 2009, when co-founders Julie Anne Kelly and Andrew Myerson embarked on the grueling training process to compete in the New York City Golden Gloves boxing tournament.

Julie and Andrew decided that the grueling physical, mental, and emotional test of competing against the country's best amateur boxers wasn't enough. They also wanted to raise money for cancer research, making the tournament an opportunity to literally fight for a cure. They partnered with Dana Farber and the Jimmy Fund to create a website for donations with all donations going to the charity. By the end of the Golden Gloves tournament, the pair had raised around $5,000 for cancer research.

From there, they went on to formally found Haymakers for Hope in which they hold amateur boxing tournaments with all ticket proceeds going towards the fight against Cancer.

Without further ado, here is my Q&A with the founder of H4H, Andrew Myerson:

TheKing: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where'd you grow up and where'd you go to school?

Andrew: My name is Andrew Myerson and I was born in Boston, MA. I grew up in a small town about 20-30 minutes outside of the city called Dover, MA, and went to college at University of Pittsburgh in their undergraduate business school. After Pitt, I moved back to Boston to take a job with Brown Brothers Harriman, where I worked for 1.5 years, and then was offered a job at Goldman Sachs in Asset Management which required me to move to NYC. I was with Goldman for about 4 years and then left to grow Haymakers for Hope which I started while working there in 2010.

TheKing: Have you always been interested in volunteering and charitable work?

Andrew: I've been into mixing entrepreneurial pursuits with charitable work since high school, when I started a free baseball camp for local kids in my town. To graduate HS everyone had to volunteer for 40 hours, and I wanted to make as big of a difference as I could, so I started the camp and ran it for a couple of weeks in the summer of my junior year. The feedback I received was so positive that I continued to run the camp the next year as a senior. After that I was involved with the Big Brother Big Sister program, and iMentor before I co-founded Haymakers for Hope and started raising money for cancer research.

TheKing: What made you enter finance out of college? Was it always a field you were interested in or did you view it as a means to an end?

Andrew: I actually wanted to get into trading because it was fast paced and seemed like a very exciting area to start a career. Having started a small business in high school, I found entrepreneurial pursuits fascinating, but lacked the idea that I wanted to work on until Haymakers.

TheKing: Tell us a little bit about your charity, Haymakers For Hope. How'd you come up with the idea? How does it work?

Andrew: Haymakers for Hope is now a 501c3 non-profit and we organize high end charity boxing events with the proceeds going towards cancer research and awareness

It started in 2010 when my friend Julie Kelly, a cancer survivor and winner of the 2009 women's NYC Golden Gloves at 132 lbs, approached me about training with her for the 2010 NYC Golden Gloves. We realized that the training timeline for boxing was very similar to the timeline of a marathon, where you train for three to four months, and then perform on your big day.

We thought that if millions of people raise money for charity while running, why can't we do the same while training for our fights.

Since both of us grew up in the greater Boston area, and Julie received treatment from Dana Farber and the Jimmy Fund, we approached them about fundraising on their behalf. We told them if they put up a website, 100% of the donations would go right to them. Once the site was up, the donations came in faster than we expected, and after the fights we decided to put on our own charity boxing event.

The first event raised about 190K and shortly after I left GS to grow the NPO full time. Basically we take guys like yourself who might have never put on gloves in their lives, sign them up with a gym, and let them train for 4 months all the while they raise money through donations and ticket sales to their big night.

TheKing: How do you go about finding participants? The concept is great, but I imagine it can be tough to find people to sign up to fight.

Andrew: You'd be surprised, we have between 24-30 slots, and in our last two events have had around 100 people sign up for each event. We started by using my business contacts, friends, social media, and flyers and now we count on our former fighters to help us recruit their family and friends.

Over the training process we put a lot of time equity into each of the participants, by meeting them in the gyms on a weekly basis, answering any questions they might have, helping them pick out gear, and setting up their fundraising page so we hope that at the end of the program they want to tell others about what a great experience they had.

TheKing: It's really refreshing to see someone exit his banking job for something other than private equity. At what point did you decide to Goldman Sachs to pursue your charity full time? Did you foresee this as a possibility when you started the charity?

Andrew: No, not at all! I realized that I wanted to do this full time about a month before the first event. I was taking a day off to meet with people in Boston about the event, and it was one of those perfect spring New England days and I thought to myself I could get used to spending my days like this, when I got a call from someone within the firm offering me a big promotion to a new group and I turned him down on the spot.

TheKing: Do you have co-founders? If so, how'd you meet them? What is their role in the charity?

Andrew: Yes- Julie Kelly who is a cancer survivor and two time NYC Golden Gloves champ. Ironically we met in NYC at a boxing gym even though we grew up in neighboring towns. She still has a day job, but helps out as much as she can.

TheKing: How does your work running Haymakers compare to your work at Goldman Sachs?

Andrew: It's very different. It actually took me a long time to get used to the change of pace. I was used to getting in at 6:30am with a couple hundred e-mails waiting in my box, and a very fast paced work environment. When I left it took me a while to realize I didn't have to get up at 5am, or hit refresh on my inbox or sit at a table in my apt waiting for something to happen, I could enjoy the day a little and work more at night if it worked better for me. I find that I probably work just as hard, but in a totally different way.

TheKing: I see you've got an event in NYC on November 8th, tell us a bit about the event. What can attendees expect to see? Where can they buy tickets?

Andrew: We're very excited about it, we have guys fighting from a lot of wall street firms including Goldman Sachs, Citi, Credit Suisse, and Nomura to name a few. It will be held at the Roseland Ballroom on November 8th and tickets are available on our website at http://haymakersforhope.org.

TheKing: Do you have any advice for current finance professionals looking to get more involved in volunteering and charity work? Any tips on how to balance charity work with the grind of finance?

Andrew: I would just say that if there is something you're passionate about, you should try to carve out an hour a week if possible to do it.

_______________________________________________________

As I said earlier, Haymakers For Hope is one of the coolest charities I've heard of and it's something that just about everyone on WSO could be interested in. If you'd like to check out more about the charity, here are some helpful links:

  • November 8th Event in NYC

Comments (10)

Oct 9, 2012

thanks for doing the interview king! much appreciated

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Oct 9, 2012

To add: if you'd like to check out more about the charity, here are some helpful links:

Haymakers' Home Page

November 8th Event in NYC

General Donations Page

Also, if anyone has any follow-up questions about the charity or for its founder, Andrew, leave them in the comments. I should be able to do some follow-up if we reach a critical mass of questions.

    • 1
Oct 9, 2012

Interesting. Just saw on Facebook that a guy I went to high school with is doing this to raise money. Pretty novel idea.

Oct 9, 2012

Thanks for the interview. Reminds me of Fight Night at Wharton. a ton of fun...

Oct 9, 2012

i think this has massive potential. i already know a couple of banker types who have entered into fights to raise funds for charities (one African children focused, the other related to poverty).

sounds like a cool concept.

Oct 11, 2012

Which bank has the best fighters?

Jul 24, 2013

Sorry, but where's the interview? For me, your post ends with "Read on to learn more.", then the comments...
Some technical glitch?

Jul 24, 2013

I saw this a while ago, and thought it was very intriguing. Thought about setting something like this up where I am, although I think I might be a little past my prime when it comes to getting in the ring...

Jul 24, 2013

Similar to Bengal Bouts at Notre Dame, too. I hear you Angus, I'm past my prime too, although I got punched in the face frequently even when I was in my prime. At least it was for a good cause.

Jul 24, 2013
Comment
rufiolove:

When evaluating whether or not to post something on WSO, I think to myself, "would an idiot post this" and if the answer is yes, I do not post that thing...

    • 1

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