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This Army Vet Went From Low-Income Childhood To Silicon Valley CEO
Sonny Tosco, 30, knows how to hustle. It’s a skill that came in handy during his time at West Point, his six years of service as an Army operations officer, and most recently in his role as CEO of Limelight Mobile, a social platform that lets users source real-time images from anywhere in the world.
Tosco sat down with Task & Purpose to share what drives him.
His roots reach back to one of California’s many low-income immigrant families. Growing up, he knew the only way he could attend a top-tier school was through a scholarship, and that knowledge drove him to perform exceptionally well. In 2002, Tosco was accepted to West Point.
“My transition from academy life to active-duty service in the Army wasn’t without its challenges,” Tosco said. “My first unit was a dud; cynicism and distrust ran rampant in the ranks. Because I was disillusioned, I began exploring entrepreneurship during off-duty hours.”
Tosco moonlighted as a bouncer and seriously considered opening a nightclub. However, a second assignment to a significantly better unit, along with three deployments in short order, drew his attention back to military service.
A rapid series of personal tragedies, to include the loss of both his parents, a close friend, and a miscarriage with his wife, compelled Tosco to reevaluate his career and transition out of the military in 2012. The rugged adjustment, followed by a brief stint in sales, was marked by depression and stress.
“I finally hit my breaking point one night and almost took my life when I realized how little purpose I had,” he said. “I made a commitment that night to only do meaningful work from that point on, and decided to bring Limelight to fruition.”
Seizing every opportunity is a habit Tosco honed early in life. That hustle came in handy as he put in sweat equity to build his dream.
“I made it my goal to go to an event or meetup every night, sometimes two per night, to be able to grow out my network and tell the story of our product,” said Tosco. “I would commute up to two hours for these events five, six days a week. My team of eight had to adopt that mentality early on and it became ingrained in every team member.”
Today, Tosco is raising seed funding for the app, and has built something he’s truly proud of. Now in its second version, Limelight App is sticky enough that a robust 35% of all users log in on a daily basis (as compared with 5% for the majority of new social platforms).
“Now that we have a beautiful app that’s connecting with people, we’re working to grow our user base,” said Tosco. “I was fortunate to connect with Don Faul, U.S. Naval Academy ‘98 and former Chief Operation Officer of Pinterest, and his advice has definitely helped guide our team through uncharted waters.”
Faul advised Tosco that no two products will take the same journey to find the right product and market fit. He also encouraged Tosco to leverage his military experience in leadership and systems building.
Tosco has discovered that in startups there will always be some type shortfall in terms of personnel, resources, or time. He credits Limelight’s success to his West Point education in psychology and systems engineering.
“Understanding how people work and how to build great organizational structure has been key,” he noted. “Tech is here to stay, and will be a future literacy. I always advise veterans to educate yourself and learn how to program.”
Tosco also advised transitioning service members to link to a cause greater than themselves in order to stay motivated.
“I try to advance the veteran entrepreneur cause because I believe we have the leadership and character intangibles that are missing from many organizations,” he said. “Find what drives you, what your purpose is, and as I’ve done with Limelight, set an example for veteran success after the military.”
DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran announced on Monday it had captured 17 spies working for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and sentenced some of them to death, deepening a crisis between the Islamic Republic and the West.
Iranian state television published images that it said showed the CIA officers who had been in touch with the suspected spies.
In a statement read on state television, the Ministry of Intelligence said 17 spies had been arrested in the 12 months to March 2019. Some have been sentenced to death, according to another report.
One of the few things that aggravates your friend and humble narrator more than hazelnut flavored coffee is Soviet apologists.
Case in point: A recent opinion piece in the New York Times claims the Soviet space program was a model for equality, noting the Soviets put a woman into space 20 years before NASA when Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova orbited the Earth in 1963.
"Cosmonaut diversity was key for the Soviet message to the rest of the globe: Under socialism, a person of even the humblest origins could make it all the way up," wrote Sophie Pinkham just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
This 100-year-old vet escaped a Nazi prison camp. Now he's at the center of a lawsuit over a Bible at his local VA
Herman "Herk" Streitburger was on his final bombing mission and due to go home when his plane was hit by German fighters over Hungary in 1944. He was captured and held as a prisoner of war, enduring starvation, forced marches and a harrowing escape.
Streitburger just turned 100 years old. That makes him a national treasure as well as a Granite State hero.
Streitburger, who lives in Bedford, gets around using a cane and remains active in POW groups and events. It was he who donated his family Bible to a POW "missing man" display at the VA Medical Center in Manchester, which prompted a federal First Amendment lawsuit.
And every year, he tells his World War II story to Manchester schoolchildren. It's a story worth retelling.
A new Marine Corps anti-drone system that attaches to all-terrain vehicles and can scan the skies for enemy aircraft from aboard Navy ships was responsible for destroying an Iranian drone, Military.com has learned.
Bob Pollock became known as perhaps one of the most dedicated people around Crofton, Maryland committed to honoring those who serve the nation. It only made sense, as the creator of the Two Rivers community monument told neighbors and friends he was a former Navy SEAL and had been a prisoner of war.
Except he wasn't.