Cory Siskind is a star, one of those people you know is going places from the first time you meet her. At Hebrew Free Loan, we take pride in helping every person in need who qualifies for our assistance, including hundreds of student loan recipients each year. But Cory took our breath away. Our staff didn’t know exactly what she would do with her education, but we knew it would be big.
Cory launched her start-up, Base Operations, in 2018, just after she received her MBA from MIT and her Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard. Cory was convinced there was a market for the award-winning technology she had developed to analyze comprehensive data about street-level security risks like crime, political unrest, and natural disasters. But she had no idea that the Covid-19 pandemic would soon add a new urgency to the task of helping companies keep their global workforce safe and their operations secure.
Nor could she foresee that one of Base Operations’ customers would be a producer of Covid vaccines being distributed around the world. Global health for millions has depended on ensuring that this company’s workers stay safe on the job and its supply chains operate smoothly.
If anyone is up to the challenge of guiding a start-up through a worldwide pandemic while navigating complex layers of risk assessment, it’s Cory. She studied and traveled in Latin America as a college student, and worked as a risk management consultant in Mexico City before enrolling in her dual degree master’s program. Mexico was where Cory first started thinking about harnessing technology to collect and analyze data that could help people stay safe from street violence and other threats.
The company became a reality when Cory took an entrepreneurial finance class her first year in graduate school, pitched her model in a competition, and won second place in the Harvard President’s Innovation Challenge. The prize included $15,000 to develop the technology and start her company over the summer. She then won MIT’s Legatum Fellowship, which brought additional financing, mentorship, and community support to continue building and scaling her venture.
Despite these accolades, and despite her passion for entrepreneurship, Cory was unsure at first if she was ready to embrace the financial risks of starting her own business. Graduate school is an expensive proposition, and although federal student loans were available, the interest rates were high. Cory worried about the amount that would accumulate during her three years in school and beyond. But interest-free student loans from Hebrew Free Loan helped keep her debt to a minimum, giving her the security to take the plunge and launch Base Operations.
“I was really stressed out watching all the interest on my debt pile up. Hebrew Free Loan’s interest-free student loans removed that burden, allowing me to take on risk as an entrepreneur and build a business that’s growing rapidly.”
The early months of the Covid pandemic were challenging for Base Operations, as for so many small businesses. Clients froze budgets, and no one was sure what the future held. Cory’s team turned its attention to building a pandemic platform that pulls together information from the CDC, hospitals, regional governments, and others. This data informs companies’ decision making in real time, helping them navigate an unprecedented and ever-changing environment. And now, as conditions ease, Base Operations is continuing to grow its global footprint, expand its team, and add new customers, including Fortune 500 companies with operations around the world.
“I was humbled that Hebrew Free Loan took a risk on me and my aspirations. Being supported in that way by the Jewish community made me appreciate those ties even more.”