Read my short bio here: ** About John Exley **.

WHY I STARTED THE X FACTOR: read ** the whole story here **.

With this blog, I hope to share what I am learning with the world. That’s why I started ‘The X Factor’ – to study the patterns of those who are successfully starting, building, and investing in startups. ‘The X Factor’ is that tough-to-describe element that sets apart the leader from the followers. The ‘distinguishing component’ might be different across every successful artist who has become a leader in her craft. With this site, I want to help you discover ‘The X Factor’ that will serve as a catalyst for your own success story.


I love God, my family, & my friends more than anything in the world. In three words, I am: loyal, compassionate, and dedicated. I think my background is somewhat unique: I was homeschooled by my mom until the 10th grade, am a born-again Christian, and grew up in the small town of Bristol, NY but spent much of my teenage years playing basketball in Rochester’s inner city.

My personality is founded on my love for helping people: I love connecting with people and having unforgettable experiences with the people I love. God is my foundation, relationships are the center of my happiness, coffee (which I always double-cup) can be my fuel, technology is my muse, traveling = my source of discovery, fashion is my self-expression, and helping others is my cup of tea.


Meanwhile, I am a senior ‘Interdisciplinary Engineering & Management’ student at Clarkson University in northern New York. I was President of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization at Clarkson for 3 semesters, and I loved every second of it. As President, I helped organize Clarkson’s first ever Elevator Pitch competition (author and serial entrepreneur Mike Michalowicz gave the keynote address). I also spoke on several panels at the National CEO Conference in Chicago during my junior year.

During the spring 2010 semester I studied abroad in Singapore at National University. In the fall of 2010 I studied ‘International Business & Trade’ at American University as part of the ‘Washington Semester Program‘. That November, I traveled across China (from Beijing to Shanghai to Hong Kong) with 14 other students, visiting companies and learning about the business and political culture.

In March 2012, the Washington Semester Program interviewed me to catch up on the aftermath of my experience in D.C. (thanks Chloë Troia!).


People. It is what sparked my imagination with technology in the first place – the idea that I could maintain relationships on a much grander scale, while also forming new friendships with almost anyone in the world. For example, the Internet has torn down barriers and made it much easier to learn from, have conversations with, and even become friends with successful leaders.

I am obsessed with staying in touch with my friends and family. Nevertheless, it is not always easy to. It is this problem – finding better ways to manage your relationships and remember who you know – that is always on my mind and will often keep me up late into the night.


Everything I worked for the past few years led me to one startup: Hashable. In fact, my journey to interning at Hashable this past summer is a pretty crazy story (detailed in full here). The summer changed my life. I was a User Support and Community Management intern, and I helped organize two events for interns in NYC that Hashable sponsored (*first event summary here).

We had around 120 interns attend each event, and brought in some very successful entrepreneurs as speakers (including my heroine Rachel Sklar of Change The RatioAlexis Ohanian of RedditDina Kaplan of Blip.tv, and Christina Cacioppo of Union Square Ventures). I spearheaded a partnership with the NY Creative Interns and scored sponsorships from the likes of TechStars NYMeetupShelby.tv, and Zaarly (*second event summary here).


After helping YouNow Founder/CEO Adi Sideman launch his startup onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco (story and video here) and demo onstage at the New York Tech Meetup (video here)… and then graduate from Clarkson… I’m now back in NYC. I joined up with Mike Yavonditte and team once again at his new startup, YieldMo, where we are rethinking advertising and monetization on mobile.

I don’t know what will come next, but I promise to make a more concerted effort to share the story of all that I’m learning right here on The X Factor.

Shout out to the girl who inspired me to write…