It’s about empowering people to build confidence and feel good, not knocking anyone down. Don't be an a**hole.

FAVORITE DISH: Anything with tzatziki. I WANTED TO BE THIS WHEN I GREW UP: Gynecologist. SOMETHING THAT MAKES ME GO "AWW": When I hear how a couple met - I love a meet-cute!

Sam Karshenboym

Creating solutions with empathy

THE JOY OF DESIGNING SOLUTIONS. For Sam Karshenboym, COO at 305 Fitness, being an entrepreneur is constantly seeking opportunities to solve problems. Whether that be at work or in his personal life, the constant search for creative solutions means never being stagnant. “I had never been one to fit within a mold or follow a singular path,” he says. He recalls job hopping, from being an assistant to TV producer Shonda Rhimes to working at the New Yorker, and recognizing when to move on from each position is key to growth.

“I’ve finally landed myself in a position to help solve problems and fill needs, and it’s fun to be in a position where that opportunity comes to me all the time,” he says. Milestones he’s proud of at 305 include setting up a scalable payroll system and managing studio build outs on his own. “As an operator and problem solver, I’m constantly being challenged and forced to grow as we face new and changing obstacles over time,” Sam says.

CELEBRATING INDIVIDUALITY. Sam recalls a relatively smooth experience coming into his gay identity. Growing up in northern New Jersey, he faced a couple of high school bullies freshman year, but by senior year founded his high school's chapter of the Gay-Straight Alliance. His family - conservative Russian-Jewish immigrants - didn't know and it wasn't until college that he gained the courage to come out to them.

As he progressed in his career, Sam began to realize: being gay mattered, and it was a formative part of his life experience. “I realized that being gay helped me acknowledge that everyone has a uniqueness and individuality to be celebrated, just as I was a unique individual,” he says. Being gay also helped him realize the importance of not expressing judgment just for learning about who people are.

“Life is what you make of it. It's so freeing when you break the mold of conformity,” Sam says. He remembers a recent summer, when he went to a Pride party with a date. At the end of it, he felt a certain excitement about the guy that he couldn’t quite place a finger on. “It was curious to me, why did going to the party with him leave such an impact? I later realized that at the party, as I was bouncing around from room to room, while others were content to stay in their groups, he was just as comfortable bopping around. It's such a small example, but being with someone who shared the same values reminded me to embrace - not squash - who I truly am. There's no "right" way to be!"

Times are changing, and people being knocked for simply being themselves will hopefully eventually go away or at least diminish over time, Sam says. In the meantime, he encourages everyone to be the leader of that change. Lead by example because it matters, he notes. The rest will follow.

Order your own copy of the Gaingels 100, today! Our mission is to encourage greater representation and create a more diverse, equitable, and accessible venture capital ecosystem. Elevating the stories of the most inspiring amongst us is one of the ways in which we do this.

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Presented with Pride Here is the first collection of one hundred incredible and inspiring LGBTQIA+ venture-backed entrepreneurs featured in this year's Gaingels 100.