Tue 20 Sep 2016 | By:

An Interview with Adam Segal

Founder & CEO of Cove

adam segal interview

Adam is the founder and CEO of Cove, a DC-based startup on a mission to empower individuals to pursue and achieve when, where, and how they choose through its network of convenient locations.

Adam’s vision for Cove is to enable a lifestyle that fits work into your way of life, and not the other way around. He is focused on expanding Cove to new markets with an incredible team of nearly 100 full- and part-time teammates.

Adam holds a BA from Amherst College, an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, and an MPA from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

In this interview, Adam shares insightful thoughts about entrepreneurship and running a non-traditional coworking space that promotes flexibility, convenience, and productivity. He also shares about his experience as a business owner and how he handles business mistakes.

His advice to anyone starting a business:

Pound the pavement. The idea of being an entrepreneur is really cool. Turning that idea into something tangible is really hard work, and it’s a lot of work.

Keep reading for more of Adam’s entrepreneurial insight. And when you’re ready for a close-up on the moves Cove is making, be sure to follow him on Twitter!


What ignited the spark in you to start a business? Where did the idea for Cove come from?

The idea for cove came from a personal need. I had worked from home as well as a traditional office setting, but found myself gravitating to more non-traditional work settings like coffee shops. As I look around, I saw that others enjoyed and appreciated a similar environment. So my co-founder and I set out to create a productive space that combined people and productivity.

What is unique about Cove? Is there a competitive advantage that you have over the rest?

Our objective is to help people cultivate a lifestyle by creating neighborhood workspaces that enable you to choose when, where, and how you work. We want to change your relationship with work. At cove, we are not about a dedicated office or desk—we are focused on flexibility, convenience, and productivity, all in the neighborhoods in which you live and play.

In your experience, what is the best way to find your ideal customer? Are there any mistakes that our readers can learn from?

No business can solve the needs of every person; so play to your strengths. What audience would most benefit from your product or service? Define them, find them, and tell them all about your product or service.

As a business owner, what is your greatest fear and how do you keep it under control or harness it?

Starting a business is one giant fear. But after the first six months, you realize quite quickly it is not worth focusing on the fears. If I let my fears take over, I would never accomplish anything. My focus is all on solving organizational challenges that arise and providing a great service.

What does a typical day look like for you? Is there something you make a point to do each day?

A strong mix of meetings, calls, real estate tours, and being on location. Most days, I try to get some sort of exercise in—if I don’t, it doesn’t feel like a complete day.

Who has been your greatest influencer along your entrepreneurial journey? How did they shape Cove?

My team. From my cove colleagues, to my co-founder Jeremy Scott, to our Board, to our investors. They are the greatest influencers on cove and my personal journey. I’m fortunate to have a group of people that believes in cove’s mission as much as I do, and they challenge me to push the limit on what we are able to accomplish and produce.

Cove has grown immensely from day one, and collectively we have created something not only people want, but something they need.

Have you faced any failures with Cove? How did you overcome it?

Every month, we face new and exciting challenges at cove. We started with two people and have grown to nearly 100 full- and part-time teammates. I always tell my team that a mistake is not actually a mistake the first time—it’s a learning. We try to have learnings, but never mistakes. Learnings are an important part of any growing business.

How do you stay focused on a day-to-day basis? Do you have a key motivator that keeps you going and fighting the good fight?

Running a startup is hard. When hiring new candidates, we find that people often glorify the startup life. From afar it often sounds cool, and exciting; and don’t get me wrong, it is. But it’s a lot of work, too.

My team and I stay focused on growing the business because we know people are counting on us. We see our members coming in every day, and we need to continue adapting to their needs and their feedback. Cove’s team and community is what keeps me motivated and working hard every day.

What was the best piece of advice you have ever gotten from another business owner or someone you admired?

80% of life is just showing up.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs, who have a business idea but don’t know where to get started?

Pound the pavement. Like I said earlier, the idea of being an entrepreneur is really cool. You have an idea, or create a great concept. But actually turning that idea into something tangible is really hard work, and it’s a lot of work. Once you get started, the idea and concept becomes far less important than doing.

About Ryan James

Half hardworking hermit, half avid adventurer, Ryan founded Startup Savant to simplify entrepreneurship and pay it forward by donating a portion of all revenue to support children's education via DonorsChoose.org.