Entrepreneur Finds Success in Unusual Ways
Michael Napoliello launches newest venture, SkyBridge Private Air
A native Jersey boy, Michael Napoliello grew up in a modest household where â€œhot dog Wednesdaysâ€ and â€œmeatloaf Fridaysâ€ were family tradition. As far back as he can remember he wanted to start his own business.
He began by making sandwiches in his motherâ€™s kitchen and selling them to lifeguards and policemen until he was cited for not having a permit.
â€œThey told me theyâ€™d throw me in jail the next they saw me,â€ recounts Napoliello, â€œSo I borrowed a wig and a dress from my grandma and sold them like that, hassle-free.â€
As a high school senior in 1983, he and the man who would become his longtime business partner, Jason Moskowitz, started an arts and leisure newspaper that covered the Jersey shore. With $60 between them, they published 10 issues their first year and profited $600.
â€œWe thought we were the kings of the world,â€ says Napoliello.
Fueled by their success, the tenacious teenager knocked on the doors of Fortune 500 companies and top advertising agencies on Madison Avenue, and landed accounts that grossed $10,000 by their fifth year. Upon a clientâ€™s suggestion, they began expanding ways to target the beach crowd through guerilla marketing beach parties and surf contests which grew into field marketing ventures across the country.
In 2000, they sold the company to one of the Madison Avenue agencies Napoliello first contacted in the early 80s. â€œThe sale is considered the largest deal of an event promotion/field marketing agency to an advertising agency in the country,â€ he says.
Today Napoliello is a virtual Renaissance man with a range of businesses including V2V, an acquisitions and development real estate company worth $200 million; InSymphony Private Capital, which focuses on real estate development, financing and investments, and Gallery C, an art gallery specializing in building the careers of contemporary California artists. If thatâ€™s not enough, Napoliello is also financing a fashion line and producing a movie.
His latest entrepreneurial venture, SkyBridge Private Air, was born out of frustration over commercial travel.
â€œI had three meetings in one day,â€ recalls Napoliello. â€œNone of the commercial airlines could accommodate me. And when I tried to charter a private jet I found they either wanted to sell me a plane or force me to pay an expensive membership fee.â€
Napoliello began mapping out ways he could improve the industry.
â€œWe needed a company that focused on enabling people to fly on demand without the cost of membership or ownership; a service that flies you to your commitments without becoming one of them,â€ he says.
The response from the private jet customers they initially targeted was so positive they were able to raise a national advertising campaign at the end of their first month in 2002. Now itâ€™s a $10 million business that caters to the likes of Pedro Martinez, Robert Plant and Colin Farrell.
As an active philanthropist, Napoliello is a major donor at several Southern California museums including LACMA, where he is a member of the Collectorâ€™s Committee. He also serves on the Dodgerâ€™s Advisory Board and has published best selling books on real estate, fine arts & poetry.
In his downtime you mind find Napoliello in the ring at the boxing club he owns, Church Street. â€œBoxing keeps the blood circulating and keeps you from getting your ass kicked in business,â€ says Napoliello. When asked how he finds the time for everything he says, â€œHow can you not find the time? There are a lot of hours in the day. You canâ€™t write the Great American Novel, or build the Great American Dream in an eight hour work day.â€
Going against the grain is what Napoliello attributes to his dexterity and multifaceted success. When everyone was selling their real estate in the 90s, he was buying; while everyone is currently showing international art, Napoliello is focusing on California artists.
â€œI donâ€™t want to be doing what everyone else is doing,â€ he explains. â€œThereâ€™s an essential part of my persona that figures the crowd is wrong. As soon as thereâ€™s a critical mass, thereâ€™s an attraction to the other side. Vision is one thing, but action is what separates the men from the boys. I canâ€™t imagine living another life.â€