Positive Disruption using Hard Trends and Soft Trends

Strategies based on uncertainty come with high levels of risk, but strategies based on certainty dramatically reduce risk and produce superior results. This is the difference between Soft Trends and Hard Trends.

If you don’t like a Hard Trend, there isn’t a way for you to change it. However, if you don’t like a Soft Trend, you can easily change it to your advantage. I’ve discussed the three digital accelerators responsible for today’s rate of exponential change, transforming every business process in a short amount of time. This is a Hard Trend, while a Soft Trend would be whether you will transform your business processes.

Knowing where to find certainty makes the future more visible. For example, let’s say you want to start a smart watch company. The smart watch business is already filled with competition; however, by using Hard Trends, you can stack the deck in your favor.

Using the certainty provided by demographics, you can create a successful watch business based on the demographic Hard Trend of aging baby boomers and their parents. Simply design a watch for people who are 70 and older — and keep in mind the fact that it will likely be their children who buy it in an effort to keep their parents healthy and safe.

You could design the watch with sensors to detect blood oxygen levels, blood pressure, pulse, temperature and much more. If the wearer falls, the accelerometer in the watch will activate an alarm and send a text message to his or her caregivers. The watch’s GPS and digital assistant will help a wearer with Alzheimer’s get home — and, more importantly, make it possible for caregivers to find him or her from anywhere.

By using the certainty of Hard Trends, you can see new opportunities to create winning products in industries that may already seem saturated.

Next, let’s look at an example of a technological Hard Trend using speed and bandwidth to grow sales. Domino’s Pizza is using a voice-activated personal assistant to increase the speed and efficiency of ordering pizzas. The app even has a “pizza tracker” that allows you to follow the process of your pizza, from creation to delivery. They’ve taken this technological Hard Trend a step further and have created a partnership with Ford Motor Company, making it possible for you to order your pizzas directly from your Ford! With these simple steps, Domino’s has gone from being just a food company to a technology company.

Today, it seems I hear more and more people complaining about government regulations. But what these individuals are missing is that these same governmental regulations are actually Hard Trends that offer visible opportunities. Take the case of the state of California’s requiring nonfiction reading for first through third graders, with a two-year window to comply. I recently met a savvy entrepreneur who capitalized on this new law. She contacted the largest school districts in the state to see if they were interested in getting help meeting this reading requirement. The districts were very interested, which made it easy for her to secure outside funding to develop and supply the online reading products schools need to comply with the new state law.

This entrepreneur took the Hard Trend of a seemingly impossible-to-navigate governmental regulation burdening teachers and administrators and created a new business opportunity out of it. In part thanks to having guaranteed sales by partnering with the large school districts, she cornered the market and successfully developed and supplied the online reading products by the required deadline.

Remember, strategy based on certainty has low risk and high reward. Base your strategies on certainty, on the known future ( the Hard Trends), as well as on the Soft Trends you can manipulate, and you will build something that will not only survive but even thrive in the years ahead.

Merely hoping that disruption is not on your horizon is not a strategy; it is avoidance. Paying attention to a certainty is a strategy. If you don’t make this perspective shift today, it will be far more difficult to lead from behind tomorrow. As dizzying as the pace of change has been these past few years, that pace will only increase.

It’s not uncommon to limit yourself by focusing on all the things you don’t know and all the things you can’t do.

Instead, create the habit of starting with a list of all the things you do know and all the things you can do! Every time you run into something you aren’t certain about, focus harder on the certainties involved.

Turn Disruption and Change Into Opportunity and Advantage with my latest book The Anticipatory Organization. 

Bitcoin’s Highs and Lows: Where to Next?

Since the critical acclaim of Bitcoin and digital currencies in 2017, there has been a lot of talk about its future. Bitcoin was the first digital currency to attract mainstream attention, and after that, 2018 was less than glamorous, with the price plummeting. Are cryptocurrencies a thing of the past already, or a Hard Trend of the future?

Since the critical acclaim of Bitcoin and digital currencies in 2017, there has been a lot of talk about its future. Bitcoin was the first digital currency to attract mainstream attention, and after that, 2018 was less than glamorous, with the price plummeting.

Are cryptocurrencies a thing of the past already, or a Hard Trend of the future?

A Bitcoin Overview

Cryptocurrency uses peer-to-peer technology, similar to the file-sharing technology of the early 2000s. Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency, it being virtual and decentralized. This means no one is in charge of it and it isn’t backed by the government. Bitcoin’s value is protected only by a distributed network that maintains its ledgers and protects its transactions by means of cryptography.

The concept behind Bitcoin first emerged in 2009 by an anonymous programmer (or programmers) using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. A single Bitcoin is today valued at $8,204, while the market cap is now at $145.66 billion.

Every Bitcoin is connected to an address and every Bitcoin is sent or received by a digital wallet attached to the address. Names aren’t associated with the transactions, creating a system that is wholly transparent while remaining functionally anonymous.

Bitcoin: A Soft Trend?

What exactly can you do with Bitcoins? It’s digital currency, so saving or spending them seems to be the immediate answer. However, in order to spend them, individuals and, more importantly, businesses must accept your Bitcoins. While a growing number of businesses accept Bitcoin, such as Overstock.com, most popular merchants and service providers including Amazon do not.

Let’s first discuss my Hard Trend Methodology and the differences between Hard Trends and Soft Trends to assess Bitcoin’s longevity.

A Hard Trend is a trend that will happen and is based on measurable, tangible, and fully predictable facts, events, or objects. They are future facts that cannot be changed.

A Soft Trend is a trend that might happen and is based on an assumption that looks valid in the present, and it may be likely to happen, but it is not a future fact. Soft Trends can be changed.

While Bitcoin itself grew in popularity, its future success is still a Soft Trend. During 2017, Bitcoin was treated by many as more of an investment than actual currency and likewise faced backlash when it was used for illegal online transactions.

However, the concept of cryptocurrencies is a Hard Trend, and here’s why:

Cryptocurrency: A Hard Trend

Cryptocurrencies are here to stay, including the underlying technology (blockchain) that enables them to function. Cryptocurrency, as well as blockchain, represents a radically new idea in finance: a decentralized system for exchanging value. Due to its open-source nature and its copyright-free core program, there will always be room for improvement. Programmers around the world have already developed military-grade encryptions and new ways to trade, thus stabilizing the prices.

Cryptocurrencies exist as mere entries in a blockchain-enabled accounting system. That system acts as a transparent public ledger that records transactions among “addresses.” Owning cryptocurrency isn’t analogous to having paper money in your pocket. Instead, it means a personal claim to an address, with your own password, and the right to do with it as you see fit. Over time, this will increasingly disrupt traditional models and global currencies, playing a role in a number of future digital transformations.

The Future of Currency: Digital Payments

Imagine you want new shoes, and your favorite shoe store accepts some form of cryptocurrency. If you don’t already possess cryptocurrency, you purchase some from a crypto-currency kiosk or an online exchange and assign it to your online account, known as a “wallet.”

When paying for your new shoes, you open your “digital wallet,” which is unlocked with passwords and/or biometrics, and the currency network is publicly informed that you’ve transferred $100 worth of cryptocurrency to the store. This happens fast, and there are almost no fees and no personal information divulged. Compare this with the slow debit or credit card counterpart, often with a third party involved. The benefits become more clear.

Other Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin was the first digital currency, but not the last. A large number of cryptocurrencies now exist, and the list is expanding. Litecoin, for example, was launched back in 2011 on the same blockchain as Bitcoin and was meant to improve it. Ethereum was created in 2015 by Vitalik Buterin and is a blockchain-based platform that can be used for developing decentralized apps and smart contracts. The list of cryptocurrencies is actually quite large and, as I said earlier, growing. And the enabling technology, blockchain, is being applied to a rapidly growing number of industries creating both disruption and new opportunities.

In Conclusion

Bitcoin versus the technology category of cryptocurrency gives us a clear example of the difference between Soft Trends and Hard Trends. Cryptocurrencies will continue to evolve and integrate into our economy and everyday life, as will the enabling blockchain technology, making cryptocurrency a Hard Trend, while the future success of individual cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin is a Soft Trend: It may or may not have a bright future. When you’re able to distinguish between the Soft Trends that might happen and the Hard Trends that will happen, you will dramatically improve your ability to understand and manage risk as you become more anticipatory.

Learn how to accurately manage risk with my latest bestselling book The Anticipatory Organization.

Use Anticipation to Turn Disruption Into Opportunity

For the longest time, cable television was a miraculous technology that not everybody had in their homes, mostly because not everybody could afford it. Now, not everyone has it in their homes because YouTube TV, Sling TV, and other new, emerging technologies have disrupted the broadcast industry. So why didn’t Spectrum think of it first? Why did they become the disrupted and not the disruptor?

For the longest time, cable television was a miraculous technology that not everybody had in their homes, mostly because not everybody could afford it. Now, not everyone has it in their homes because YouTube TV, Sling TV, and other new, emerging technologies have disrupted the broadcast industry. So why didn’t Spectrum think of it first? Why did they become the disrupted and not the disruptor?

At some point, Spectrum and many others established a cash cow — a product or service that generates the majority of your income and profits — and got comfortable building a successful business around it while protecting and defending it. The fact that most of us are all busy, focused, and needing to meet or exceed our quarterly numbers keeps us from looking far enough ahead in our industries to see disruption.

In order to thrive in this time of exponential change, it is imperative to actively scan far outside of your industry looking for new ways to disrupt yourself first. When you discover a new technology or disruptive technology-driven trend, it is important to separate what I call the Hard Trends that will happen from the Soft Trends that might happen.

Anticipating disruption before it happens defines whether you’ll be the disrupter or the disrupted, using predictable Hard Trends to create the new cash cows that will disrupt your competitors and grow your future.

Another reason so many companies fail to see disruption is that the strategy most often invoked is to protect and defend the status quo. The amount of time and money organizations spend protecting and defending their current cash cows is astounding, as in the past, this was a valid strategy producing good results. However, digital disruption is different, as it tends to be game-changing with a low cost of entry.

A key to success for an established company that’s facing early-stage disruption is to adopt a strategy of embrace and extend. Spectrum continues to spend millions on bringing in customers for cable, Internet, and phone packages, mostly campaigning on the grounds that you can’t watch sports without cable. Unfortunately, Spectrum and other cable providers saw Internet TV like YouTube or Sling as a Soft Trend, much like Blockbuster viewed Netflix, that could be protected and defended against. It was definitely a Hard Trend. YouTube and Sling have conquered broadcast sports and are quickly leaving Spectrum in the dust.

The assumption that disruption won’t happen to you and your business is dangerous. Today, there are many industries still ripe for disruption. Taking the time to look outside of your industry at the Hard Trends shaping the future will amaze you. Understanding that digital disruption will happen to you if it has not already happened is important.

Ask yourself if you are looking inside and outside of your business. What are your blind spots? What fundamental assumptions about the “way things will always be” do you operate on? And what are you doing to become your own disruptor?

What is a hotel? What is a taxi? What is a bookstore? Companies like Marriott and Barnes & Noble, and even government agencies like New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, thought they knew the answers to those questions, and Spectrum and other cable providers are currently thinking the same way.

What do you think you know about your industry?

The connectivity of the Internet has changed so many industries. The emergence of Netflix, Hulu, and even Spotify for music has not only revolutionized the entertainment media industry and consumers’ consumption of said media, but it has also closed up some of the loopholes that fostered piracy of content. They are problem solvers, and now they are solving the problem of customers having to pay exorbitant fees to companies like Spectrum and DirecTV to merely cling to one favorite sports channel.

If these cable providers offered a cost-effective alternative with a price and framework similar to YouTube TV’s, they would be using this current disruption to their advantage. But is it too late for them? Are the days of cable as we know it over? Better yet, will Spectrum shrink exponentially until it’s merely an Internet provider? If so, it’d be foolish to ignore the possibility that a more affordable means of accessing the Internet is on the horizon as well.

Letting your ideas about consumers calcify and ceasing adapting or anticipating is when you start inadvertently digging your own grave, no matter how outlandish the disruption may seem. Believing that your business is immune to changing circumstances is the common thread between all disrupted organizations. The fundamental assumptions of so many industries have turned out to be wrong.

You need to become your own disruptor, your own best competition. Don’t get comfortable. Disrupt yourself, or someone else will.

Which technology innovations could be a game-changer for your industry? Learn how to tell with my latest book The Anticipatory Organization.

Interview with Ritu Grover, Founder & CEO, TGH Lifestyle Services Pvt. Ltd.

The Founder Series

The founder series explores the creative minds of entrepreneurs, delving into their journeys to understand a little more about what inspires them and how they got to where they are today. Learning about what makes an entrepreneur tick, the intricacies of their business, and why they provide the service that they do, gives us an insight into the details of their world.

The information that these business owners provide helps inform others who are looking to make an impact as an entrepreneur. These lessons can be applied to our very own journey, so thank you to all who have taken the time to share their knowledge.

Thank you for joining us, Ms. Grover. Can you tell us about your business and the services that you provide?

TGH Lifestyle Services Pvt. Ltd. is known for providing anything and everything that’s legal and ethical, under the sun. We’re experts in concierge services and facility management who help clients maintain their work life balance. Whether you want to keep your facility looking impeccably clean to booking an air ticket, want to host an event or even get a plumber to fix the pipes, our experts can do it all.

Can you recall of any early lesson in life that helped shape who you are today and how have this contributed in your business?

My parents were in the army and I had always been raised in a very modest atmosphere. Discipline is a core value every army brat reflects. I feel that shows in the way I run the organisation. We’re systematic, smart working professionals who have utmost respect for dedication and discipline.

How do you feel as being India’s largest facility management company?

As they say – with great power comes great responsibility. Of course the title of India’s largest facility management company is a huge one and we’ve earnt our way to it but at the same time Team TGH understands that the day we think we’re the best, is the day we’ll start falling down. We’re connected to our roots but at the same time proud of what we’ve accomplished.

What insights and tips would you like to share with current generation’s entrepreneurs?

To all budding entrepreneurs I’d like to say that the most important thing is to hustle. Of course having great ideas is important but putting it into action and speaking it into existence is what actually matters. Wake up every day with an attitude of gratitude and start the hustle. There’s nothing like vacay-time in this line of work. Let your work be your vacation. Be that passionate!

Interview with Julian Baladurage, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer at MBJ LONDON

The founder series explores the creative minds of entrepreneurs, delving into their journeys to understand a little more about what inspires them and how they got to where they are today. Learning about what makes an entrepreneur tick, the intricacies of their business, and why they provide the service that they do, gives us an insight into the details of their world.

The information that these business owners provide helps inform others who are looking to make an impact as an entrepreneur. These lessons can be applied to our very own journey, so thank you to all who have taken the time to share their knowledge.


Thank you for joining us, Julian. Can you tell us about your business and the services that you provide?

When I was fresh out of university, I founded MBJ LONDON with friend, Toni Horn. We initially offered digital business consulting as we felt that SMEs struggled with digital marketing, and therefore, identified the need for affordable and accessible services. Along the way, we continued to tweak the business model, based on how the industry was changing. This is essential, especially when working in digital. Today, our headquarters are in London, but we’re also lucky to have excellent teams around the globe.

Our core product is WaaS — website as a service. In addition to website design and development, we also offer a range of website management services, including SEO, PPC, and social media management. Our all-inclusive packages are designed to provide everything that a business owner might need for their website. We’re currently launching a sub-brand micro-influencer agency, One Cirqle, which aims to connect small genuine influencers — making influencer marketing more accessible to smaller companies, enabling micro-influencers to monetise on their profiles while cutting out the boring stuff such as admin work.

What problem is your business trying to solve?

It can be difficult for SMEs to have access to affordable websites and online marketing. A lot of providers of digital marketing services are guilty of not being transparent about pricing with SMEs encountering many hidden costs. Our WaaS and related products offer an affordable option for everyone, from individuals to companies with a few hundred employees. One Cirqle will make genuine influencer marketing more tailored and personal by reaching the people who matter within a business. We carefully match the products with the influencers as we know that one size doesn’t fit all.

How is your business unique against your competitors?

Traditional marketing is shifting, and we’re very much aware of this. We stay ahead of the game and offer solutions that aren’t readily available to many SMEs. Our packages are affordable and transparent, unlike many other digital marketing businesses. Our personalised and unique design and management services take care of all digital marketing needs within a company, no matter the size. One Cirqle will be working with small influencers to connect them with both small and large businesses — something that’s currently hard to find and expensive in the existing market.

We always follow the newest trends and keep up to date on what’s happening in the industry so that our packages can be adapted as technology moves forward.

Let’s get to know the man behind MBJ LONDON a little more. Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally?

As a fellow entrepreneur, Ben Horowitz has inspired me. He’s a brave, courageous and hardworking man that kept going against all the odds. His book, ‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things’, gave me a lot of support during a tough phase. I appreciate that Horowitz has dealt with tough times and still had the determination to come out the other side and stick to his goals, pushing himself above and beyond. Even though he’s experienced setbacks, he persevered and achieved success.

His message speaks volumes. He’s telling me and others like me that there will be difficult times, but to not give up. And that important message is what has helped to push me to achieve all that I have so far.

And finally, what three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

Keep evaluating your service, product, and business model as there’s always room for improvement. Don’t try to adapt to every little thing within the industry, instead, keep a tight grip on what’s happening around you. Be aware of the latest developments and trends, but also stay true to yourself. Don’t let your mind be swayed by what others are doing and don’t get too focused on what you do, forgetting about all variables around you. Don’t let obsession drive your product and avoid being too focused on one thing to the detriment of everything else.

Throwbacks and ugly surprises will arise, so be prepared. You need to stand up more often than you fall but always strive to keep a close grip on reality. Don’t just fight because that’s what every entrepreneur is telling you to do. Stay realistic and assess whether the fight is worth it. Sometimes, the best thing to do is take a step back and ask whether something is really working and if it’s worth pursuing.

Let go. Many entrepreneurs, including myself in the early days, tend to micro-manage everything. It’s normal that you want to be in control of everything. You have probably invested most of your own money, time, and made many sacrifices along the way. It’s important to know what to do yourself, and what to delegate to others. If you don’t, you will never be able to grow, scale, or keep your own creative freedom. You should focus on hiring the right people for the job and being able to delegate. Letting go of some of the control you have can allow your business to flourish and it will help you avoid burnout.

Thank you, Julian. If you’d like to find out more about the business, head to the website www.mbj.london and in a few weeks www.onecirqle.com.

This article is a Sponsored Post paid for inclusion in our blog.

Interview with David Lane, CEO at ShooWin, Inc.

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

This article is a Sponsored Post paid for inclusion in our blog.


Can you tell everyone your name, please?

David Lane, CEO of ShooWin, Inc.

1_AJYxGOAtuweQb7WwsccVBg

Tell me about your education?

I graduated from Penn State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Speech Communications.

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

One of the first lessons I learned in business was to be confident in yourself and your beliefs, but not to be blind to roadblocks or issues you may encounter. A few key elements of this lesson are:

● There will be at least one hundred no’s for every yes.

● Stay the course, and when it’s the right time, the concept will come to fruition.

● First-time entrepreneurs typically don’t have the confidence to overcome the no’s and oftentimes get discouraged and give up. Don’t do it.

● Seasoned entrepreneurs tend to be arrogant and are sometimes blind to the problems that are right in front of them.

We all have entrepreneurs who we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up to from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter and Square. He can fill and create needs in the marketplace with multiple ideas and concepts that are extraordinarily successful. His ability to manage each simultaneously and separate himself from each organization while effectively guiding and leading both teams is extremely impressive. This should give all entrepreneurs the belief that it can be done. Entrepreneurs always get stuck in the minutiae — always do everything on their own. He has shown, with the right resources and team, you can lead multiple organizations to success.

Thank you for providing a background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

ShooWin, Inc.

Where is your company located?

New York, New York

What services or products does your organization provide?

ShooWin is a patented online sports ticket marketplace that gives fans an opportunity to purchase or bid on guaranteed reservations for face value tickets to playoff and championship games long before the tickets become available from companies like StubHub or a ticket broker. The fan chooses the team, the game, seating section, and the number of tickets. ShooWin collects the reservation fee, and, if the team makes the chosen game, the fan receives the tickets at face value. If the team chosen does not make the game, or is eliminated, ShooWin keeps the reservation cost.

What problem is your business trying to solve?

Seeing our favorite teams in the biggest games is an experience that lasts a lifetime. Fans don’t want to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for tickets until they know their team is in the game. ShooWin gives sports fans these experiences without the stress of finding affordable tickets once their team makes the game.

You don’t have to buy or bid on a reservation to participate. Setting up an account is free and literally takes 10 seconds. With your account, you’ll be among the first to learn about new markets that become available.

How is your business unique against your competitors?

ShooWin is unique because of the breadth and variety of postseason reservations we offer to our fans. ShooWin gives fans access to all college and professional postseason games.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

ShooWin was founded by Brisa Trinchero, a successful entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience bringing innovation to the ticketing and live event industry, and, most recently, as a Tony Award-winning Broadway producer. Also an active investor, her portfolio includes entertainment phenomenon Hamilton, iconic Manhattan venue 54 Below, and numerous New York and national touring events.

As announced on March 6, 2018, I succeeded Brisa Trinchero who will remain as Chairman of the Board. Some kind words from Brisa: “The company is thrilled to have David shape and lead ShooWin as we navigate through the evolving landscape of online ticketing. David has a proven track record of growing companies with unique offerings in well-established industries. This is exactly what is needed for ShooWin to expand and meet consumer demands rapidly.”

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?

https://www.shoowin.com/

Final question. We want to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting on their journey?

1. Get the right key people in place quickly.
2. Leave your ego at the door.
3. Don’t be afraid to pivot.

Interview with Cherisse Reumont, Founder at HoneyVest

 

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

This article is a Sponsored Post paid for inclusion in our blog.


Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

Cherisse Reumont

Tell me about your education?

Often, in Baltimore, when someone asks you this they are inquiring about what high school you attended, but elsewhere I’ve found that they’d like to know what college you attended. So, to satisfy both, I attended Western School of Technology for high school and Towson University for college. At Towson, I studied Accounting and Financial Planning.

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

My parents are first-generation immigrants to the U.S. I was around 2 years old when my dad decided that he wanted a better life for his family and came here in hopes of the many opportunities America promised. He came first and then my mother, and I followed a year or two later. To this day, I have an indelible image of what hard work and sacrifice looks like. Having very little finances, my parents worked tirelessly to build a life for us here. They purchased a home two years after migrating and then my baby brother came along, which demanded even more.

There were setbacks and layoffs, but thanks to hard work and a strong work ethic, both of my parents eventually landed well-paying jobs despite not having college degrees. In fact, they were able to fund all my in-state college tuition while I went to Towson as a commuter student. Thankfully, I was able to graduate without a dime of student loan debt.

At the time, I didn’t realize the value of this as I was accepted into other more prestige colleges, but my parents chose the one they could afford and one where I would not have to incur debt. It was only years later when many of my friends (and later clients) were groaning about the large sums of student loan debt they had to begin repaying that I realized that my parents had given me an amazing gift. I carry this with me as I encounter so many individuals in my professional realm who are crippled by student loan debt and consumer debt, but I aim to help these individuals build a better way so that they cycle of debt can be broken.

Photo credit: Cherisse Reumont

We all have entrepreneurs who we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

It is extremely hard for me to chose just one person, so I chose two: Oprah and John F. Shull. Oprah, being a black female, the first of her kind in her industry grew to become the first black female billionaire. I too once felt like a fish out of water in a male-dominated industry. But, looking at Oprah’s example, I know there’s room for me and my vision to help others make better decisions with their money. And beyond Oprah’s success is her influence and heart for giving. I believe that we become successful not just for ourselves, but so that we can also help others.

John Shull believed in me from the day I walked into his office and told him I wanted to be a financial advisor. At the time, he was the District Advisor at the First Command office in Annapolis, where I began my career as an advisor, and to this day he remains a friend and mentor. To me, he exemplified what it is to be a leader. And he too gave very generously and led by example. He offered much of his own personal finances to assist me as I began my career as an advisor, which can be unremunerative in the first few years. He did it not because he was obligated, but because he wanted to.

Photo credit: Cherisse Reumont

Thank you for providing a background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

HoneyVest

Where is your company located?

We are currently located right outside of Baltimore in Catonsville, MD, however, we work with clients nationwide via virtual meetings.

What services or products does your organization provide?

We offer holistic financial planning as well as financial literacy and education at churches and in the workplace. Within the scope of our expertise, we review, analyze, plan and make suggestions regarding cash flow management, saving, investing, retirement planning, college planning, life insurance and more. We also offer a coaching program to those who want accountability and tracking towards specific goals. As a part of this program, we work with our clients to develop good habits and knowledge so they can meet set goals.

What problem is your business trying to solve?

I believe that there are two barriers many people face when considering whether to work with an advisor: 1. Trust 2. Cost

In our culture, our financial information is very private and working with an advisor requires one to share intimate details sometimes even beyond simply our financial status since money touches so many aspects of our lives. At HoneyVest, we offer a judgment-free zone and a relationship through which clients can feel comfortable discussing their personal financial matters, in addition to a secure platform where their information is safe and confidential.

Our goal is also to make financial advice affordable to those who need it, want it and deserve it, so we primarily work with young professionals and minority families. I have come across many people who suffer financially simply because of poor decisions they have made with the best of intentions. I believe that having a trustworthy advocate to help them simplify money-related decisions is crucial to financial satisfaction. Our goal at HoneyVest is to serve this deserving client sector without a high entry level asset requirement.

How is your business unique against your competitors?

We focus on providing resources and education to young professionals (i.e., millennials) and minority families who have often been underserved in the financial industry. Many of my colleagues in the industry are in their 50’s and are hoping to work with people who are near or ready for retirement. I tell them that I’m hoping to work with their client’s children and even their grandchildren. Our goal is to make financial planning reasonably affordable and convenient for them at the beginning of their life journey.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

I got tired of the large firms wanting me to crunch numbers all the time and telling me that I owned my own business, but feeling like they instead owned me. I knew I could not stay in that environment but knew that I wanted to be a financial planner to help my peers and change the way this country thinks about money. The decision to start HoneyVest has inspired me. I am excited to have a platform with no limit on who I can help and how I can choose to help them.

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?

Website: www.honeyvest.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/honeyvestfinancials
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/honeyvest

We would like to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

Learn to delegate- this is something I’ve had a hard time with myself, but it’s necessary because you can’t do it all. Delegating will help you to be more efficient and accomplish more.

Don’t stop at just one mentor- mentors offer a wealth of advice and expertise and just because you complete a mentor program once does not mean you can’t do it again or seek the advice of another expert business owner or someone in your field. Mentors provide different expertise, different points of views and experiences. And when you’ve gained ample experience and knowledge, switch roles and become the mentor and help someone else, you won’t regret it.

Brag about it- Not the annoying type, just don’t be afraid to talk about your business because it’s the only way people will learn about your brand and what you are doing to make a difference.

Going The Extra Mile: Interview with Preston Junger, Co-founder of Mile Square Labs

 

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

This article is a Sponsored Post paid for inclusion in our blog.


Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

Preston Junger

Photo credit: Preston Junger

Tell me about your education?

I attended primary school in Vermont and then went on to get my Bachelor’s Degree in English and Advertising from the University of Vermont in Burlington Vermont.

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

As a child, I always did very well in school, though as an introvert I was very shy and did not push myself into situations that were uncomfortable as much as I did later on in my life. However, the situations that I was in as a child that were uncomfortable and made me nervous have helped me as an adult, as a parent and in my professional career pursuing the passions I have and being a part of fascinating new opportunities.

We all have entrepreneurs who we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

My parents are probably the most significant influence on me professionally. My dad is a career general contractor who learned a long time ago that he wanted to build his own business and do the work that he was passionate about (even at 72 years old he still works and has often said that he will never retire). My mother was a nurse in the intensive care unit for most of my childhood and not only worked very long (late night hours), but she also took care of everything for our family (all family operations and logistics). The fact that they worked so hard just to give me and my siblings what we needed, at the time I didn’t know it, but as an adult, their professional careers really have a significant influence on who I am and my professional career.

Thank you for providing a background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

Mile Square Labs

Where is your company located?

We’re located in Hoboken, New Jersey which is basically the 6th borough of New York City.

What services or products does your organization provide?

Mile Square Labs (MSL) is a global revenue company. Our team invested 2 years researching the sales challenges of start-ups (seed to series C) to analyze data and create products that operationalize and grow revenue in a more stable way for founders and their investors.

Our primary product is call FAST, which is a tool which can provide founders and startups with an accurate read on how they are doing in terms of sales operations, areas that they can improve to accelerate their business and maximize revenue growth and allow those companies to gain investor interest and capital investment.

What problem is your business trying to solve?

We are addressing the problem that exists which is that 42% of all funded startups end up failing because they can’t figure out the sales problem.

How is your business unique against your competitors?

We are not attempting to be another consulting company or a McKinsey or CB Insights. Mile Square Labs has created a proprietary benchmark for sales standards that founders and investors are now using the measure growth and improvement against sales teams.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

My co-founder and I wanted to help as many founders as possible make improvements to their sales efforts. We founded Mile Square Labs and had built an extensive client roster, expert advisor network and innovators and investors that are supporting our efforts and helping us scale our products.

Photo credit: Preston Junger

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?

MileSquareLabs.com

Final question. We would like to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

  • Don’t be afraid to make short-term sacrifices to achieve your long-term aspirations
  • Bring along as many great people as you can in your journey. The power that a group of great minds, with great hearts and big aspirations can achieve is immeasurable.
  • When you are trying to get investors to invest in your company, treat that process as a sales process and not a “pitch process.” Investors are sick of founders and the boilerplate pitch decks. You need to be methodical, direct and have a strong plan of attack to successfully sell your company’s value, your vision and the rationale for investment to prospective investors. Try an unconventional approach to true-believers of your startup in your corner and onboard.

If you are a founder or startup that needs sales help, email Preston at hello@MileSquareLabs or visit MileSquareLabs.com for more information.

Interview with Kristina J. Bouweiri, President & CEO Reston Limousine

 

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

This article is a Sponsored Post paid for inclusion in our blog.


Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

Kristina J. Bouweiri, President & CEO Reston Limousine the largest limousine and bus company in Washington DC and the 8th largest in the USA with revenues of 27M.

Photo credit: Kristina J. Bouweiri

Tell me about your education?

Middle School in Swaziland called Waterford Kamhlaba. Boarding School for High School called Westtown, in Westtown Pennsylvania. Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs from George Washington University

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

I grew up overseas as a child of US Diplomats. I lived in Japan, Brazil, Portugal and then 10 years in Africa. My traveling overseas and moving every three years made me adaptable, curious, diverse and inclusive.

We all have entrepreneurs who we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

The entrepreneur who I look up to is Sheila Johnson. Sheila was a music major and taught violin lessons before she co-founded Black Entertainment Television. This station was successful and focuses on African American audiences and was sold to Viacom in 2002 for 3 Billion dollars.

Today, Sheila is part owner of monumental sports including the Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards and the Washington Mystics. She is also the second wealthiest black female in the United States. She owns many high end resorts. She is a documentary film producer. What amazes me about Sheila is that she stays very busy always working hard to make the world a better place. I am blessed to know her personally. I have been to her house for lunch and my company was a strategic partner of the Mystics for many years.

Thank you for providing background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

Reston Limousine Service, Inc.,

Where is your company located?

Sterling, Virginia a suburb of Washington DC.

What services or products does your organization provide?

We provide a variety of transportation and logistics solutions for individuals and groups, globally. We have sedans, vans, limousines, and buses. We are in 13 market segments including Universities, Government, Hospitals, Tourism, Weddings, Wine Tours, Embassies, Concerts, and Corporate Travel.

Photo credit: Kristina J. Bouweiri

What problem is your business trying to solve?

We are providing individuals and groups the quickest, safest and most comfortable transportation. Whether it is an airport transfer, a wedding, concert or a Presidential Inauguration, we can handle a group of any size.

How is your business unique against your competitors?

Our competitive advantage is our service levels, our culture of a caring and our nationally recognized safety program. We own and maintain our own fleet, and we have the best training and safety programs.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

My ex-husband founded the company when he came to the US as an immigrant in the 80’s. I met him when I was selling advertising. Soon we were dating, and he asked me to quit my job and come work for him. When I did, I started to market to brides; which was a demographic he had shied away from, but I felt it was something we should peruse. I handled sales and ops and grew the business from 5 cars to 250 vehicles. I realized that this was my calling and after growing the business exponentially, I later went on to buy him out.

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?

www.restonlimo.com

Final question. We would like to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

  1. Be flexible
  2. Be a lifelong learner
  3. Work hard on growing your network.

Interview with Robert Taglianetti, Founder at Sleep6

 

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

My name is Robert Taglianetti

Tell me about your education?

Attended the University of Wisconsin Madison

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

I was driving back to college with my dad, his girlfriend was following behind us. It was weird, but I didn’t question it. About halfway up he told me to pull over. Within a few minutes he told me the gig was up, he would no longer help with my schooling, and he was selling our house. He jumped out of the car, got into his GF’s car and was gone. I was about 19, and from that day I decided I’d be the only one determining my future.

We all have entrepreneurs whom we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

That’s an easy one; it’s Jeff Sherman owner of the Bedding Group. Jeff gave me my first job in the mattress industry, at that point all I knew about mattresses was I slept on one. He was committed to making the people around him feel vested and always encouraged independent thought. That has stuck with me, and I always try to practice that with the people I work with.

Thank you for providing a background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

Sleep6

Where is your company located?

We are located in Chicago, Il.

What services or products does your organization provide?

Sleep6 is a leader in providing “Better Sleep Products” that consist of mattresses, mattress protectors and pillows.

Photo credit: Robert Taglianetti

What problem is your business trying to solve?

Our focus is making sleep simple and the process of getting the products to do that easy.

How is your business unique against your competitors?

We took a mattress approach to the digital movement. While most of the competition focused on how cool it was to get a mattress in the mail, we focused on how cool it was to get a high end, well-crafted mattresses delivered.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

The concept of bed in a box had been around for some time, so the logistics aspect was already in place. I was able to utilize my existing suppliers for prototypes, build out the site and we were off to the races.

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?

www.sleep6.com
Instagram @sleep6_
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Sleep6Mattress/

Final question. We want to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting on their journey?

  1. Always work on Sundays, that’s when you’ll catch your break
  2. Be strong where your competition is weak
  3. Follow logic not emotions

Interview with Ken Gosnell, Chief Servant Officer at CEO Experience (CXP)

 

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

Ken Gosnell

Photo credit: Ken Gosnell

Tell me about your education?

I have a double master’s degree. I have a masters in business and in divinity.

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

When I was ten years old growing up in the midwest, I remember having a conversation with my father. My dad always took two things to work every day. He would get his hard hat and his Bible. One day I asked dad why he took his Bible to work. He said that the Bible helped him, and he wanted to read it during his breaks. Those two items that my father introduced me to have shaped my life and my work.

A Hard Hat Philosophy:

My father was the oldest brother to 5 siblings. When he was 15 years old, his father was killed by a drunk driver. My dad quit school and went to work to help his mother provide for their family. My dad always had hard labor jobs. He wore a hard hat his entire life. His hard work taught me the value of working hard. No task is to tough to accomplish, and if we work hard enough at anything, we can become successful.

I Value The Bible and Continual Learning:

My father taught me the value of learning. I was the first in my family to go to college. I graduated with honors and then went on to receive two Master’s Degrees. The most valuable lesson one can learn in life is that they have the power to improve, grow, and develop. That is why I believe that our destiny unfolds in the future, but is shaped by the decisions and choices that we make today. Therefore, I decide to grow every day of my life. Every day I should be learning something new.

The most significant source of inspiration and instruction is the book that my father introduced me to, the Bible. The Bible has business and life principles that have been proven true for thousands of years. These principles guided Solomon to become the wisest and richest man in the world. Every successful business has learned how to apply and adapt these principles to their business.

We all have entrepreneurs whom we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

Dale Carnegie. Dale Carnegie wrote the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” I was so captivated by the book and his principles that I become a master trainer and sales leader in the Dale Carnegie organization. His people principles are still principles that I practice. I believe that they are the foundation for my success in life and business. I love the Dale Carnegie story. He started with nothing and grew his company to the most extensive training organization in the world. The company is almost 100 years old, and the company is still going strong. The ability to see people use principles to achieve breakthroughs and learn how to break out of their comfort zone. His policies have led me to develop 12 critical principles that I teach CEOs today as essential for their success.

Thank you for providing a background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

CEO Experience, also known as CXP.

Where is your company located?

The Washington DC area, more specifically Maryland.

What services or products does your organization provide?

We help CEOs learn faster to lead further. We do that through a CEO Executive Guide subscription, CEO Coaching, CEO Retreats or Masterminds, and CEO Excursions which are longer CEO Retreats.

Photo credit: Ken Gosnell

What problem is your business trying to solve?

Stuck CEOs and leaders. We understand that most leaders reach a level of performance, and then they get stuck. One way this shows up is by how much revenue a CEO can lead the organization to produce. Many leaders only have the wisdom and giftedness to take a company to a certain level, and then it gets stuck. We help leaders learn from others so that they can continue to grow their company bigger than they themselves can take it.

How is your business unique against your competitors?

We provide a digital CEO executive guide that allows a leader to learn on their own and then learn in a group setting. We also highlight in the executive guide biblical principles that businesses can use to enhance their business performance.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

I always had a desire to bring together both business and biblical principles. I took a personal retreat day to cast a big vision for what could happen if we worked with CEOs in a new and innovative format. Almost ten years ago I scheduled a one-day session and invited business leaders together to discuss the idea of running businesses according to biblical principles. I also focused on a robust email marketing campaign to create awareness. People responded, and today we continue to work with prominent CEOs and business leaders who seek to learn faster so they can lead further.

Photo credit: Ken Gosnell

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?

You can go to our website at www.ceoexperience.com.

You can also connect and follow me on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kengosnell/.

I also write for Forbes which you can read at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/people/kengosnell/#69da2a139319

Final question. We would like to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

I believe in leadership axioms to help keep focus. Below are three axioms that I have repeated over and over as I have sought to build my business.

Clarity is essential. “When you become clear, everything becomes clear.” Leaders have to work hard to become and stay clear. Clarity can come when you know your driving values and principles. Be clear about where you would like to go and when you would like to arrive there. The more you work at the clarity, the easier it will become to make decisions and have confidence in your direction.

Develop a Team of Mentors. “Learn faster by learning from others.” No great leader ever lead alone. You need a team to be successful. Find a team of mentors to help you see new things and think bigger thoughts. Proverbs 15:22 states that “when you have many advisors, you will have much success.” Learn from everyone. Talk to people and read great books including the Bible. Learn from others mistakes and their successes. Become a learning leader, and you will become a leader who leads well. Always remember when the team around you gets better, your organization will become better.

Celebrate Your Success. “A breakthrough that is celebrated is more likely to be repeated.” Running and growing a business is hard work. Many leaders burn out because they only focus on what is not working. Successful leaders know how to celebrate the wins or breakthroughs in their life and their business. When you pause to reflect on your wins, you are more likely to repeat the wins.

Interview with Andrea Kirsch, Founder at MAKE Digital Group

 

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

Andrea Kirsch

Photo credit: Andrea Kirsch

Tell me about your education?

Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies- Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Missouri- Kansas City.

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

Growing up, I fell in love with reading and found myself visiting the library weekly, checking out all types of books. As a latch-key kid, I quickly found that by reading, I could wind up in wonderous places. I think it was 1990, when for the first time, First Lady Barbara Bush’s Literacy Foundation program launched. I stumbled upon her recommended reading list in a magazine, from American classics, to her favorite literature stories, I took that list and had to read each one. Stories like Little Women, Diary of Anne Frank, Story of Helen Keller and Huckleberry Finn, these stories stayed with me, characters with perseverance and heart. I still have that same love for storytelling. By the time the sun has come up, I’ve read tons of emails, blogs, articles, and books. To quote Maya Angelou, “When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” Rings true in all aspects of life.

We all have entrepreneurs who we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

My husband and MAKE Digital Group business partner, Evan Kirsch. When he became a partner in the company, with his background in entrepreneurship and finance, paired with his passion for people and culture, he transformed the business into a company full of integrity and ingenuity. He inspires me because his nature is always future-focused and people-centric. He continuously grows those around him by listening, mentorship, and relentless positivity. The best part of working with him is that I know I have a trusted partner that truly wants the best for both me and the company. He’s also a former hockey guy, so he’s used to moving fast!

Photo credit: Andrea Kirsch

I am also inspired by renowned thought leaders like Seth Godin, for his persistence of permission-based opt-in marketing, and the power of the tribe to influence decisions. Arianna Huffington for her work as a media mogul turned wellness and sleep champion. Gary Vaynerchuk and his story of bootstrapping it until you make it. The leaders that have had the most influence on me and my professional life seem to be the ones that are the most authentic, selfless and emit a vulnerability that is relatable. I could definitely go on about the countless others that have paved the way for me in my career journey.

Photo credit: Andrea Kirsch

Thank you for providing a background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

MAKE Digital Group

Where is your company located?

Kansas City, Missouri

What services or products does your organization provide?

Digital Marketing + Experiential Web Development. Services include strategy planning, content development, animation videos, social and media plans, branding, product launches, search engine optimization, and advertising. Full list of services can be viewed here, https://makedigitalgroup.com/services/.

Photo credit: Andrea Kirsch

What problem is your business trying to solve?

We are in the problem-solving business. Many times clients come to us when they are out of time, or already spent a fortune, and have limited internal resources. It’s up to us to bolster on where needed and rise to the occasion. With the vast and fast-changing digital landscape, we help educate our clients on opportunities for conversions. We make over their brands, so they have a long-lasting legacy and competitive edge. We work to make a big difference on their bottom line, so they have more to invest in the future.

How is your business unique against your competitors?

Bottomless coffee…I kid, as a performance-based marketing group that views clients as partners, we see ourselves as an extension to their team, we act as if we wear their company t-shirt and sport their business pride. There’s much to accomplish, so we take activation steps to gain quick wins out of the gate. We like to prove our worth. If we don’t, we ask them to fire us. We are comprised of fearless, driven, creative people who have a real passion for doing really good work. Our culture of collaboration has given us the opportunity to work with some of the industry’s top businesses, brands, leaders, and influencers. Being in the middle of the map, Kansas City, is home to some of the country’s leading advertising, tech, and digital marketing firms. It’s a competitive industry, so we bring a Midwest flair paired with a bicoastal hustle mentality. We run towards the finish line with our clients and partners to get to the next milestone. MAKE is intrinsically motivated by our love of coffee, dogs, music, travel and the great outdoors.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

The group was formed in 2008, out of a market need. It was a less than stellar economy, that meant clients required an agile team to streamline and stretch budget dollars even farther than ever before. MAKE Digital Group was founded to be a driving force that uses a comprehensive omnichannel approach to provide results. Since then, we’ve grown hundreds of brands through proven tactics and strategic plans. It’s amazing how hard-working people can make all the difference.

Photo credit: Andrea Kirsch

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?

Website: makedigitalgroup.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/makedigitalgroup/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MakeDigitalKC

Final question. We would like to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Every day we get to choose what we will do with our time. By providing value through passion you can establish yourself in your career. Majority of my success has come from just showing up, and being responsive. When we communicate, share our intentions, and perform ethically, you find yourself always in high demand.

STAND ON SHOULDERS OF GIANTS. You’d be surprised how much you can accomplish when you inform others what it is that you seek in your career. I’ve been fortunate to work for and with some of the best brains in the business. From fortune 500 executives to local business owners, non-profit leaders, and university educators, we’re all working towards doing our best work. When I look back at my journey, it’s the relationships I’ve formed that stands out the most. It’s my favorite part of the job.

EDUCATION IS KEY. According to Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, it takes 10,000 hours to become a master of your craft. I think education, practice, and being both a generalist and an expert helps entrepreneurs get through the ebbs and flow of business. We are fortunate to live in an era where we can do and make business happen anywhere in the world, from the palm of our hands. By reading, writing, studying your craft, you can be sought after in any niche you desire. By being financially savvy and having the wherewithal to hire others that are smarter or better than you at any part of the business, will help keep you above water. I’ve learned that you don’t do business very long if you don’t do good business. Some of my very first clients are still clients today. Their businesses ventures may have evolved, but people will always choose those they trust with their investments and brand future.

Interview with Cortlon Cofield, Owner at Cofield Advisors, LLC

 

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

Cortlon Cofield, But I go by Cofield.

Photo Credit: Cortlon Cofield

Tell me about your education?

I graduated with my undergraduate and Masters Degree in accounting from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

Photo Credit: Cortlon Cofield

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

Sure. Well, my mom passed away when I was 14, and my dad passed away when I was 16, and contrary to what most would believe, these circumstances were the best thing to ever happen to me. I learned a valuable lesson very early in life which is, “Life is not about what happens to you, life is about how you respond to what happens to you.” So with that lesson learned, I can get through pretty much anything in life.

We all have entrepreneurs whom we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

Michael “MJ” Harris is a significant influence on my success professionally. He is a motivational speaker and owns one of the largest African American financial services firm in the world (National Care). I remember being in my corporate office and watching some of his motivational videos about how he left his employer and started his business and it moved me to follow suit. He was an example of a young African American man who took a chance on his self and it paid off!

Thank you for providing a background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

Cofield Advisors

Where is your company located?

Chicago, however, we work with clients nationwide via virtual meetings.

What services or products does your organization provide?

We offer financial planning and tax planning services to Millennial business owners.

What problem is your business trying to solve?

As a young business owner you have enough to worry about outside your personal and business finances. We work as your personal and business CFO and take the financial burden off your shoulders and allow you to focus your time and energy on your business.

How is your business unique against your competitors?

Well we focus on Millennials. The financial industry has long underserved millennials, and frankly, it’s a rule of thumb in the financial advisory space to “steer clear of millennials.” We wanted a challenge that rationale and gave millennials the services they need to become financially independent.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

I discovered a group called XYPN, which is an organization that teaches financial planners how to successfully and profitably serve Gen X and Gen Y clients. I knew I wanted to be a financial planner and help my peers, and I didn’t know how to do or if it was even possible. Once I joined the group, then my life changed for the better.

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business

www.cofieldadvisors.com

Final question. We want to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

Never stop learning. As an entrepreneur, reading is not optional it is mandatory.

Fail fast and fail often. Embrace failures and learn from them.

Find a Mentor. Find someone who is doing what you want to do, and ask them to mentor you. They will teach you lessons you can’t learn in books.

Interview with Dwight Orr, President at Creative Marketing Programs

 

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

Dwight Orr

Where did you go to school?

North Kansas City, Maple Woods Community College

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

My dad had a printing company, and at age 15 he went to “piece work” meaning I got paid for what I accomplished not “by the hour.” This highly motivated my work ethic.

We all have entrepreneurs whom we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

The sales manager at my first job selling business forms in 1977. She taught me a systematic approach to managing prospects and clients. She also encouraged me to read everything I could find on the art of selling. Eighteen months later we open a business forms distributorship together, scary first several months, but by year two we were on a roll, then things got better.

Thank you for providing a background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

Creative Marketing Programs

Where is your company located?

Kansas City, MO.

What services or products does your organization provide?

We are a direct marketing company, specializing in consumer engagement for hospitals and large health systems around the country. We use both online marketing tactics as well as offline strategies such as direct mail. Recently advances in digital marketing allow us to place digital ads in the same household that will receive direct mail. This tactic allows for laser targeting of digital advertising. For example, we can drop a client’s direct mail on Monday and begin serving digital ads on Wednesday to precisely those same households. This process increases the window of opportunity for response by up to 30 days. By combining digital and direct mail, we are helping clients achieve record response rates.

What problem is your business trying to solve?

We are experts at engagement. Our clients turn to CMPkc when they need to capture a targeted audience’s attention. We increase market share by engaging people and providing a reason for consumers to spend their time & attention to learn more about our clients.

How is your business unique against your competitors?

Since 1985, CMPkc has been relentless with testing. We take an Evidence-Based Marketing approach on all the campaigns we implement. The market will always teach us the most cost-effective approach to modifying their behavior. For example, we perform A/B split tests on everything from messaging, package, design, mail components, and digital animation. We are consistent learning how to engage target audiences better. From the beginning of new relationships, our clients benefit from the years of testing we’ve performed. While we never start from zero on any campaign (given our experience), we are committed to learning on every project. Our competitive advantage is consistently testing and thus producing the highest possible engagement rates.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

One of my larger business forms clients asked if I could develop a new mover campaign. I approached this opportunity just like I approach every other project. I researched, place myself in the consumer’s shoes and created a campaign that I thought would best create a situation where the consumer would do what the client was asking them to do. Then we tested, refined and changed everything from direct mail packaging, messaging, and design. We monitored response rates and learned. What we did worked well, and we grew from there.

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?

www.cmpkc.com and www.ipdirectmarketing.com

Final question. We want to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

  1. Educated yourself on how to become a great communicator.
  2. Become an expert in your field by reading everything you can about the subject
  3. Stay connected to people you’ve met-LinkedIn & Facebook

Interview with Harry Moser, Founder at Reshoring Initiative

 

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

Harry Moser

Photo credit: Harry Moser

Tell me about your education?

BS and MS MIT, MBA U of Chicago

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

My father assigned me a landscaping task when I was about ten years old. The results were bad. He recognized that the fault was his since I exactly followed his vague instructions. I learned to be clear, but also to be empathic to the rest of the team.

We all have entrepreneurs whom we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

I have been impressed by Egon Jaeggin. Egon emigrated from Switzerland at about 20 years old as a toolmaker. He worked for several U.S. shops and Northwestern University’s machine shop. He then opened his own very successful shop, Numerical Precision, which made a broad variety of the highest-end satellite and defense components. Egon loved our country and succeeded here because of his excellent apprenticeship training and his honesty and work ethic.

Thank you for providing background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

Reshoring Initiative

Where is your company located?

Wherever I am. At the moment, I am in Trevett, Maine, near Boothbay Harbor.

What services or products does your organization provide?

We are a non-profit whose mission is to bring millions of manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. from offshore. We: document and promote the trend, and enable it by providing the TCO Estimator and ISP program.

Photo credit: Harry Moser

What problem is your business trying to solve?

TCO Estimator overcomes the corporate tendency to buy on the basis of price while ignoring costs and risks that add 15 to 20% to the total cost of offshored products. ISP helps economic developers and companies identify major importers and convince the importers to reshore some of their sourcing

How is your business unique against your competitors?

No other organization documents reshoring or provides tools to enable it. We also do almost all of the promotion and training.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

I was saddened by the closing and offshoring of the Singer Sewing Machine Co. plant at which my father and grandfather were managers. I realized how many great companies and factories had been destroyed by offshore competition. I decided to reverse the trend.

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?

www.reshorenow.org

Final question. We want to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

1. Pick a product or service that you believe in and have some competence in.

2. Pick a good team.

3. Do something that has lasting value. Do it as much for the feeling of satisfaction as for the money.

Interview with Mark Peter Davis, Managing Partner at Interplay

 

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

Mark Peter Davis

Tell me about your education?

BA Economics Duke
MBA Columbia Business School

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

I believe that wrestling beat insane tenacity into me. This game requires resilience and a hell of a work ethic. Wrestling helped with that.

We all have entrepreneurs whom we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

I’d say I’ve been more impacted by the folks I’ve worked closely with than the people we read about in the media. I’ve had many mentors over the years. Oddly, some of my most valuable mentors were unintentional — they were the bad actors who have taught me how NOT to operate. Refreshingly many folks were positive role models. I tip my hat to Jed Katz, Thatcher Bell, Brad Svrluga and my current partners.

Thank you for providing a background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

Interplay

Where is your company located?

New York City

What services or products does your organization provide?

Interplay is a venture capital firm and foundry. We invest, incubate and co-found companies. Our companies include:
• Interplay Venture — Venture Capital (http://interplay.vc/ventures.html)
• The American Crypto Mining Company — Crypto Mining as a Service (http://acmc.io)
• Bristol Palmer — Customer Service, Call Centers, SDR (http://bristolpalmer.com)
• Broker Buddha — Commerical Insurance Broker SaaS Platform (http://brokerbuddha.com)
• Firon Marketing — Marketing (http://fironmarketing.com)
• Founder Shield — Commerical and Health Insurance (http://foundershield.com)
• Greenparc — Office Management & Cleaning (http://greenparc.co)
• Maison Merch — Promotional Products (http://maisonmerch.com)
• Nomad Financial — Accounting, Finance, and Tax (http://nomadfinancial.com)
• Venwise — Peer Leadership Community (http://venwise.com)

What problem is your business trying to solve?

We exist to facilitate innovation. Whether it’s someone else’s mission that we support with capital or advice or an idea of our own — we’re helping to build the society we want to live in for the future.

How is your business unique against your competitors?

There are very few VC fund-foundry models out there. Each is very different — we operate in our own way. All of that said, I’m not sure being different is the key to success. I think that’s a fallacy.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

I’m frequently asked what our secret sauce is. The answer is blood, sweat, and tears. We execute on the fundamentals and focus on doing that well, which requires a depth of operational knowledge combined with a strong work ethic.

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business

Interplay: http://interplay.vc

Blog: http://mpd.me

My Book — The Fundraising Rules: http://mpd.vc/tfrkindle

Final question. We want to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

  1. Understand that you’re not starting a company in the beginning — you’re running a science experiment. Test the idea. Moreover, if the tests yield a negative result stop and move one.
  2. Surround yourself with people who complement you.
  3. Find advisors that can provide knowledge of the startup method. There’s no reason to learn the hard way.

Interview with Jennifer Ehlen, CEO and Founder at Brazen Global

 

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?
Jennifer Ehlen, CEO and Founder, Brazen Global

Tell me about your education?
MBA, Saint Louis University; BSBA, University of Missouri — St. Louis

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

I grew up in a tiny community, my parent worked very hard, but my family didn’t have much. My parents provided the basics, but if my siblings and I wanted something more, we knew we had to find the money for it ourselves. I think this is how I learned how to hustle and be scrappy. Moreover, I’ve always been an entrepreneur. We didn’t just erect lemonade stands — we created a lemonade stand empire, complete with tchotchkes and home-made goods. We would even go door to door selling painted rocks — whatever it took.

We all have entrepreneurs whom we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

Our Brazen members. Our members are passionate, creative, wicked smart and BRAVE. They come from every walk of life, every socio-economic background, and every trade. However, they all have one thing in common: they know that this crazy journey called entrepreneurship is a scary and challenging one, and there’s no point in going it alone — which is why they’ve come to Brazen. I am in awe of them all.

Thank you for providing a background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?
Brazen Global.

Where is your company located?

We are headquartered in St. Louis and operate in seven markets across the country — Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Fort Worth, Philadelphia, and St. Louis.

What services or products does your organization provide?

Brazen offers business-focused programs to a national member network of growth-seeking female presidents, founders, and CEOs. Brazen offers evidence-based membership programs to help women grow their businesses.

What problem is your business trying to solve?

Simply put, we’re here to help female entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

In the U.S., 91.4% of women-owned firms have no employee other than the owner. If every WOB added just one member to their team, they could create more than 11 million jobs; more employment growth than 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 combined. Female entrepreneurs represent an incredible economic opportunity that Brazen hopes to unlock with our programs.

How is your business unique against your competitors?

First and foremost, our programs are squarely business-focused. Unlike many other groups for women, we’re not a purely social or networking organization. We pride ourselves on giving women a place to get down to business.

Brazen’s flagship program, Growth Groups, also make us unique. Growth Groups are peer advisory groups of seven to nine female entrepreneurs that meet monthly to present their most significant business challenges and work through solutions. While peer advisory groups are not new, Brazen Growth Groups use proprietary software to facilitate effective and focused sessions. Additionally, this program is offered to women only and is designed to be accessible. Unfortunately, many formal peer advisory programs have historically had incredibly high barriers to join, sometimes even requiring members to have $10M in annual revenue and 10 or more employees. They can also be prohibitively expensive, costing in upwards of $16,000 per year to be involved. This means that, while peer advisory groups are incredibly useful, they have traditionally been targeted at middle-market CEOS and have remained out of reach of at least 98% of growth-seeking women entrepreneurs… until now.

Brazen Growth Groups make the benefits of a peer advisory group available to all women entrepreneurs.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

Brazen was born out of research from 2011 and 2012 from Kauffman and American Express. These publications discussed the intrinsic and extrinsic factors facing women entrepreneurs today and, in American Express’ case, even ranked the top metropolitan communities for how well their women entrepreneurs fared regionally. At the time, St. Louis came in dead last — tied for 25th with San Francisco. I had just left the role of Director for the Center for Entrepreneurship at Saint Louis University, where I had worked pretty hard to ensure our programs and workshops represented gender parity. To say I was devastated to learn that my hometown ranked dead last was an understatement. Several incredible women entrepreneurs and friends (including my co-founder, Aimee Muirnin Dunne) and I decided to do something about it. We set out to create programs that would move the needle for women entrepreneurs in a substantive way. To go beyond the speaker series and social organization and offer continuous, immersive programs that would help women entrepreneurs achieve their growth aspirations.

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?

www.BrazenGlobal.com

Final question. We want to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

  1. It sometimes feels like I’m squelching the entrepreneurship dream when I give this advice, but entrepreneurship is entirely about boot-strapping it, and the BEST way to bootstrap your learning curve is to go work for someone else first. Work in the industry that you hope to innovate before going out on your own.
  2. Seek feedback, even when it’s tough. Being open to feedback can make the difference between having an idea and building a business. Along with testing the feasibility of your idea, feedback is also an essential piece of the entrepreneurial puzzle.
  3. Sign-up for a peer advisory group, like a Brazen Growth Group. These groups connect members to other business leaders with whom they can solve problems and strategize how to grow. Remember, you don’t have to go it alone!

Interview with Brian Oliver Francis, Founder of Creative Ideals

Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

Brian Oliver Francis

Tell me about your education?

In the 80’s I went to Central Technical High school in Toronto Ontario, Canada where I majored in Architectural Drafting. In the 90’s I went to George Brown College in Toronto where I studied Microcomputer studies.

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

Knowing the difference between people who are friendly and people who are your actual friends. Friendly people are mainly lovely and polite to you because they have to be. Either they’re stuck working with you in the same company or their friendly because they’re hoping to gain something from you. However, soon as they’re no longer working with you or realize they have nothing to gain from you they quickly disappear like a puff of smoke in a wind storm. Your actual friends, however, aren’t hanging around because they’re forced to work alongside you in the payroll, and they have nothing to gain from you because perhaps you’re broke and lack connections they need to get ahead in life. These people genuinely appreciate you and will support you when need be, and you will do the same for them even when there is nothing to gain. Knowing this has taught me how to stay connected with lots of people for business while keeping a small group of real friends. In the end, I keep it real with everyone. No faking it.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

I had the pleasure of making friends with one of the world’s most successful people in the clothing industry. His name is Don Green, co-founder of Roots Clothing. Don is a down to earth, very smart, innovative, no-nonsense businessman, that has a great work-life balance. He values family, friendships, and health as much as he did the success of his company. He taught me about the importance of being flexible and making sure always to change to help become successful.

Thank you for providing a background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

Creative Ideals

Where is your company located?

Maple, Ontario in Canada. 45 minutes north on downtown Toronto.

What services or products does your organization provide?

Creative Ideals provides a customized Event Planning and Marketing service. We create an event and marketing plan that will attract our clients target audience, and help promote their business. Our clientele includes but is not limited to the Health and Fitness Industry, Financial Services, Tech Industry, Real Estate, Car Dealerships, and Restaurants.

What problem is your business trying to solve?

We are trying to solve, “nobody is buying my products or services” problem. We believe the best way to attract clients is by providing them with a great experience so they will associate that experience with the clients brand. We all want happiness, whether it’s feeling happy from watching a 2-hour comedy show or 4-hour event. So we create events that we believe will provide people with the most enjoyable, creative, professional, and memorable experience imaginable. They will go to work on Monday and talk about the brand that gave them a great experience.

How is your business unique against your competitors?

Creative Ideals is unique and has very few “direct” competitors. Most event planning companies don’t plan events for clients with a marketing strategy in mind especially the way Creative Ideals does it. Our most recent client is Popeye’s Supplements who was an exhibitor at another one of our events and that Popeye’s store owner said, “I have been to many gym openings, and they’re all boring, but this is the best gym grand opening I ever been to.”

Photo credit: Brian Oliver Francis

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

Creative Ideals is currently in its 3rd phase of evolution. For a long time we were a part-time entertainment production company then an email marketing website ad company, now a much more successful Event Planning and Marketing company. I’ve been a part-time entrepreneur since I was a teenager and finally got tired of working and making someone else rich. So I took all my work experience and discovered a way to use it to help companies create a great impression on potential clients.

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?www.CreativeIdeals.com

Final question. We want to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

1. Your business idea should solve a problem. The purpose should be about helping others be successful and happy, and not about you getting rich. If you’re doing it because you love it and it will help people, the money will come…eventually.

2. Don’t fall hopelessly in love with your business idea. Give it a really good try and if it isn’t working, if it’s completely failing after a long time (1-year max) don’t stay in it like a bad relationship. Change it, evolve or get out altogether. Perhaps there is something else you’re good at that will be a much better business idea.

3. Surround yourself with positive, like-minded entrepreneurs especially successful ones. Being around negative people will bring you down. Being around people who aren’t entrepreneurs who tell you your business is excellent even though it’s terrible is not good either. You need to be realistic.

Interview with Derek Tian, Co-Founder at Black Lapel

 

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

My name is Derek Tian.

Photo credit: Derek Tian

Tell me about your education?

I have a B.S. in Finance and Marketing from NYU Stern.

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

I was born in Shanghai, China, the son and grandson of educators. My parents and I immigrated to the United States when I was 8 when my dad got a scholarship to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Cincinnati. To this day, I have a strong indelible image of my parents constantly hard at work from the moment they arrived. Having very little savings, our family was forced to be extremely frugal to make ends meet, buying all of our clothes at church sales for $1 per brown bag and always getting whatever was on deep discount at the supermarket. Seeing my dad work another job while getting his degree and my mom works two jobs seven days a week had a substantial impact on me to this day. They’re comfortably retired now, and you could say that their hard work paid off in the kind of way American Dreams are made of — but I inherited their work ethic. My parents were far from the tiger parents that you read about that’s endemic to Asian cultures. I was by all accounts a “good kid” who didn’t make trouble and diligently got good grades. I think even then, and I realized that I had to do well in school to make their hard work and sacrifices worth it. That carried on into college and ultimately my decision to pursue a career in finance coming out of NYU.

We all have entrepreneurs whom we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos, had a foundational influence on my philosophy as an entrepreneur. I read his book Delivering Happiness when I was still working in finance and was already thinking about starting a business. Tony’s philosophy of creating an amaze and wow experience for his customers, and how you can apply that same concept with your team internally to create happiness, satisfaction, and purpose in their careers resonated with me.

One of the things my business partner and I were lucky to have done very early in our business is we codified our core values. Following Tony’s lead, we adopted a few of the lessons from his book amongst other learnings and personal principles, and we distilled them into 11 distinct core values touching on everything from humility and honesty communications to having an attitude of constant self-improvement.

This focus on core values has allowed us to make some fantastic hires of team members who have a strong affinity to those values and also comes in handy in providing guidance on challenging business decisions. It’s indeed become part of our DNA.

Thank you for providing background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

My company is called Black Lapel.

Where is your company located?

We’re headquartered in New York City, where we have our offices and a showroom. However, our brand mostly lives online where the overwhelming majority of our customer interactions take place.

What services or products does your organization provide?

Black Lapel is a maker of men’s made to measure clothing from finely tailored custom suits and shirts to accessories and topcoats.

What problem is your business trying to solve?

Off the rack clothing, especially suits, don’t fit most people properly. Standard sizes are meant for an “average person” that simply do not exist in reality. Alterations are costly, time-consuming, and still result in a less than an ideal fit. Offering a made to measure custom product online provides an accessible solution to this problem at a price point comparable to off the rack options without ever needing to leave your home.

Photo credit: Derek Tian

How is your business unique against your competitors?

Rather than competing on price with our made to measure suiting peers, we’ve invested in our process and product to provide a better experience and outcome to our customers. This process involved a methodical and data-driven approach to understanding customer pain points and what their real needs are and applying those learnings to how we innovate and develop new products and processes. For example, knowing that most customers who order from us online are nervous about taking their measurements, we’ve invested in analytical algorithms utilizing our extensive database of customer measurements to identify potential measurement issues as soon as an order comes in (before we cut any fabric), so that we can reduce the risk of a poor fit on delivery. This tool applied with an intense desire to see our customers looking their best, yields incredible outcomes in fit and ultimately helps us earn some delighted customers with fantastic repeat purchase rates.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

My business partner, Warren Liao, and I were both working in finance. We wore many suits but as young professionals, could never find the find mix of fit, quality, and affordability. We set out to change that with Black Lapel. Having no background in the business of fashion, we had to do a ton of learning from understanding fabrics and fit, to learning about various construction methods and finding tailoring partners. That was a year plus process before we even launched our site and that the learning process continues to this day as we seek to improve our offerings continually.

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?

Our website — https://blacklapel.com/ is a great place to start!

Final question. We want to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

I’d offer the following three tips for any aspiring entrepreneurs:

  1. Be humble. It will ALWAYS be harder than you think and throwing money at the problem is never the best solution.
  2. Be humble. Never fear constructive feedback, from customers, from vendors, from employees, from investors, from friends/family/sig other. Listen empathetically.
  3. Be humble. “This is how we do things.” This is why you were able to disrupt the status quo. Don’t become the status quo and instead, keep disrupting yourself.

Interview with Samantha Crafton, Founder of SCPR (Samantha Crafton Public Relations)

 

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

Samantha Crafton

Tell me about your education?

I graduated from the University of Iowa with B.A. in Communication Studies and am currently pursuing an M.S. degree at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

Integrity is the single most important quality a person can possess.

We all have entrepreneurs who we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

Jenna Kutcher (@jennakutcher) is an entrepreneur I became familiar with when a friend recommended I check out her podcast, Goal Digger (@goaldiggerpodcast.) I subsequently started following her on Instagram and was immediately a fan. She is unapologetically honest, extraordinarily ambitious and a major proponent of self-love/acceptance — a combination which is rare in someone so young and so successful. Jenna is a big proponent of celebrating other female entrepreneurs (she seems to agree with Madeleine Albright that “there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”) In this day and age, the notion of women in business helping each other instead of competing with one another more important than ever and Jenna really embraces that. She is, in my opinion, a savvy #BossBabe that all young females can look up to.

My father, Paul Katz, is another entrepreneur who has had a significant influence on my professional development. A graduate of Indiana University’s prestigious Kelley School of Business, my father is one of the most intelligent and inquisitive people I’ve ever met. While he has worked in a few different industries over the course of his career one thing that has remained consistent is his commitment to honest and ethical business practices. He’s a man who believes that a person’s word is their bond and he has taught me that building a reputation as a business person of high moral character is an extremely valuable commodity.

Thank you for providing background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

SCPR (Samantha Crafton Public Relations)

Where is your company located?

We currently have offices in Chicago and Washington DC.

What services or products does your organization provide?

SCPR is a boutique public relations/marketing firm that offers a wide variety of services to clients across the country including Media Outreach/Relations, Brand Development & Management, Social Media, Professional Photography, Copywriting and Community Outreach (an entire list of our services can be viewed here: https://www.samanthacrafton.com/services-2/)

What problem is your business trying to solve?

While each of our clients has a unique set of objectives or “problems” they want us to solve, one goal they all have is to increase the buzz around and revenue of their business so those are two things we always focus on “solving.”

How is your business unique against your competitors?

Many things set SCPR apart from the competition. Here are just a
few of particular note:

The frequency of Press Placements: SCPR has a track record of securing editorial placements for every client every month.

Availability: I, along with my team, are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. (Yes, even Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve!)

Responsiveness: As a company, we operate under the “72-hour rule” meaning that all emails, phone calls, and text messages are returned/attended to within 72 hours of their receipt.

Evaluation: I believe that regular assessment of the strategies we are employing on a client’s behalf is crucial to the success of an overall campaign. As such, SCPR takes the time to evaluate daily activities to see what is achieving the best results and if any tactics need to be re-evaluated.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

After years of working at many PR companies across the country I amassed a wide variety of experiences that, I felt, gave me a unique perspective on what the client-publicist relationship should be. With those experiences in mind, I launched SCPR to be a firm that works with its clients differently. I honestly felt there was a void in the industry and it was (and still is) my goal to fill it.

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?

Website: www.samanthacrafton.com
Instagram: @scpublicrelations1
Facebook: Samantha Crafton Public Relations
Twitter: @SC_PR1

Final question. We would like to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

  1. Make self-care a priority. For an entrepreneur taking care of yourself — mind, body, and soul — is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. You can’t build an empire if your running on fumes.
  2. Stop comparing yourself to other people. You are your only competition.
  3. Looking at the big picture can be exciting but also overwhelming. Focus on taking small steps every day — you’ll be surprised how quickly those small steps add up to big successes.

Interview with Susan Newman, Founder of School2Life

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

Susan Newman

Tell me about your education?

Attended Columbia College Chicago which was a fantastic experience learning about the marketing industry from top executives who had proven a success. However, my real definition of industry education came from the range of internships and “on the job” experience I obtained while in school which led to a successful, exciting marketing career.

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

When I worked at Playboy in Beverly Hills, and at Leo Burnett, I had the opportunity to work with Founders such as Hugh Hefner and C suite executives at Burnett, and I learned the value of gumption — spirited initiative and resourcefulness. This quality has enabled my career to evolve in the most unexpected yet brilliant way. I now have the best job ever with school2life.

We all have entrepreneurs who we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

My father. He raised me on the very tactics and strategies which greatly influenced the school2life curriculum. He also supported my “unique and quirky” sense of humor which keep us all laughing (sometimes at my expense) when I’m teaching.

Thank you for providing background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

school2life

Where is your company located?

Chicago, IL

What services or products does your organization provide?

School2life provides practical personalized guidance for young professionals.

Our services include customized, interactive workshops that provide important — yet seldom taught — — information with actionable steps and personalized roadmap to understanding the job search landscape, networking navigation tool, and professional communication tactic and strategies.

In person, sessions are supported by school2life GPS (Guidance and Professional Support) a digital tool that enables our students/clients to take actionable steps in making progress towards their goals. For example, WUHU (Would U Hire U) is an interactive tool that teaches the user the dynamics of a strong answer for each given questions and then lets them apply their achievements and experiences to create personalized answers thus building strong interviewing skills.

What problem is your business trying to solve?

Problem: The job search process is introduced way too late and is inadequately taught making the experience confusing, demeaning and even “paralyzing” which doesn’t allow for maximum success. Promotes uncertainty.

Solution: Demystify the job search process early on making it manageable with actionable steps to enable young professionals to navigate their search path to achieve greater success in landing a job of interest.

Result: Promotes confidence rather than uncertainty = opportunities.

How is your business unique against your competitors?

Based on the feedback from customers it’s the relatable teaching style that has allowed s2l to be so successful in “turning young professionals on to themselves and their capabilities.” We communicate with a real humanistic and relatable approach (we aren’t afraid to laugh at ourselves) which in turn leads to education through conversation and allows our students/clients to apply the tactics and strategies to their unique path.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

I started teaching Marketing Yourself at Columbia College and was asked to work with private clients, teach workshops and write professional development curriculum outside of Columbia. And quickly found that my quirky personality was a strength in motivating people to take actionable steps in advocating for themselves and their careers.

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?

school2life.com

Final question. We would like to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

Surround yourself with people who:

  1. Are performing in their career and getting things done and evolving.
  2. Are positive and supportive.
  3. Can make you laugh.

Interview with Ashutosh Roy, Director & Founder of TechOrion

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

Thank you so much for arranging this fantastic interview session. My name is Ashutosh Roy.

Photo credit: Ashutosh Roy

Where did you go to school?

I did my senior secondary education from Holy mission school patna after that I did my B. Tech in Computer Science from Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, Ludhiana.

What was the early investment and what was your journey to being recognized as a young entrepreneur by the Indian Society of Technical Education?

The main thing I have learned so far is you don’t need a considerable amount of money to start a business, sometimes you need to take a risk and keep faith in yourself and of course the almighty. That’s precisely what I did, starting early was never an easy job, I started my business from the very first year of my B. Tech, at that time I used to do freelancing, my only early investment for the TechOrion is my laptop gifted by my father, and the whole journey started from there. Also, later on, the Indian society of technical education recognized me in 2016 and awarded me as a young entrepreneur.

We all have entrepreneurs whom we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

The credit solely goes to my father. He is a contractor and supplier in North Eastern Railways. So, From a very early age, I used to help him in his some of the official documentation works like drafting a quotation. Etc. So, the interest you can say brewed from that time only. Till now he is the best advisor to me regarding all my business issues.

Thank you for providing background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

The name of my company is TechOrion, and the other new ventures that I am working on are Pramaan Network Pvt Ltd, which is an investment and consulting firm. Also I am working on Orion Research and Training centre which is a data science & blockchain research and training centre we are starting in Chandigarh next month.

Where is your company located?

Right now TechOrion is operational in Ottawa in Canada as well as Hyderabad and Ludhiana in India, moreover we are planning to expand it to various cities worldwide like Sydney, British Colombia, Johannesburg, Chandigarh and Mumbai by the end of this year.

What services or products does your organization provide?

We’re respected to be perceived for our accomplishment in web & app development, web designing, digital marketing, big data solutions. With a new philosophy of “Dream & Invent,” we help our clients to shape their business future to reach the pinnacle of success. We also have our ERP software operational in various industries, some of them are school, hospital, hotel, pharmaceutical, textile industries, etc.

What problem is your business trying to solve?

We are trying to provide our clients with a better IT Infrastructure with a great team and new technologies implementations. We are also into developing new and unique products in the market which can ease our day to day difficulties. One of our Product is Quaar, this is a very advanced QR & NFC based system connected with a dashboard loaded with many amazing features, and one of its by-products is Quaar digital menu which is an NFC & QR Based advanced menu for restaurants. Just by just touching that digital menu with your mobile phones one can surf menu, order food, make payments, share feedback and many amazing things are there to entertain you while your food is preparing. One can visit www.quaar.com to know more about this fantastic product.

How is your business unique against your competitors?

The company is backed up by an experienced and qualified team of designers, developers, marketing experts and support professionals who are always ready to combine their skills to deliver matchless solutions to attain maximum client satisfaction. The company believes in rethinking every process from start to delivery to create better business outcomes. So, working with such a beautiful team always keeps the TechOrion ahead.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

I started all this as a dream, but the credit for boosting this startup goes to few people, really close to my heart, Mr. Ramneek Paul Singh who is currently looking after the TechOrion operations in Canada. Mr. Harman Bhutani, who is our Tech Advisor, and Mr. Ashish Diwan who is managing TechOrion Ludhiana Centre. Techorion is not just a company; It’s our emotion, a dream which we are trying to live in.

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business

People can search TechOrion on google or visit our web page www.techorion.co.in

Final question. We want to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

The three things that I would like to share from my own experiences are:

  1. Listen to your heart. If your inner voice supports you, then go for it.
  2. Don’t panic. It is indeed not an easy journey but 100% work satisfaction can be obtained in entrepreneurship.
  3. Don’t wait for the right time. Today is the right time only, go for it, let the sky be your limit.

Interview with Farnoush Mirmoeini, Co-founder at Obsessory

 

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

Farnoush Mirmoeini

Where did you go to school?

The University of British Columbia (Engineering School), University of Michigan Ross School of Business, London Business School

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

I have been fortunate to live in many countries on different continents. Getting exposed to different cultures and having repeated “culture shocks” have helped me always to question my assumptions in interpersonal interactions. Something that might be the obvious and common sense for me might not be so for the other party.

We all have entrepreneurs who we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

Jeff Bezos. I find him a great visionary and tireless innovator.

Thank you for providing background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

Obsessory

Where is your company located?

London and Bangalore

What services or products does your organization provide?

Obsessory, we simplify e-commerce by giving online shoppers seamless browsing, tracking, and buying experience; while bringing together merchants and influencers through a new content monetization ecosystem.
Our suite of products comprises a shopping and discovery platform (https://www.obsessory.com), a universal product tracking tool (PriceGrab — https://www.pricegrab.io) which was just launched, a micro-influencer platform which enables merchants around the world to increase their reach and sales while providing tools for small influencers to monetize their written, visual, and social content (Insposhop — www.inspo.shop). Insposhop is right now in private alpha and will be launched later this year.

What problem is your business trying to solve?

At Obsessory we want to simplify online shopping by creating an infrastructure that organizes the world’s e-commerce information, and on top of this infrastructure, build products and services finding, tracking, and buying things, while rewarding quality content generation and help merchants reach and convert more customers. Our ultimate vision is to make online shopping so connected that you can have one wishlist, one cart, and one checkout to buy anything on the internet

How is your business unique against your competitors?

We address the infrastructure problem in e-Commerce which is information. Most of our competitors focus on the symptoms. By addressing the underlying issue, we have created products and services that have great synergies, and therefore our collective margins are much bigger.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

We spent a lot of time honing the idea, speaking to potential users and finding pain points. The next step was trying out different technologies to create a scalable product.

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?

obsessory.com/company

Final question. We would like to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

  1. Don’t be afraid of failure. Failures map out the later successes. As cliché as it sounds, what matters is how many times you get up and try again, not how many times you fail.
  2. Don’t chase existing business models and already successful products by adding marginal features. Try to think radically and create a new market.
  3. Have a clear reason “why” you are starting a business. Start something you are passionate about. This will help you navigate the times where things aren’t going exactly the way you thought they would be.

Interview with Mike Schmidt, Founder of Dovetale

Photo courtesy by Mike Schmidt

The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.

Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

Mike Schmidt

Photo courtesy by Mike Schmidt

Tell me about your education?

• Engineering Chemistry, B.Eng., Queen’s University
• Certificate in Entrepreneurship, The Next 36, University of Toronto
• Certificate in Entrepreneurship, Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

While we were building Listn (my first company) we pitched the project in a business school competition at Queen’s University. Despite our best efforts, we came in dead last. I learned there that I needed to surround myself with cheerleaders, not antagonists.

We all have entrepreneurs whom we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

My parents have been the most significant inspiration. My father is the hardest working man I know, and I’ve learned everything I know about how to treat customers from my mother. Besides my parents, I’ve been extraordinarily fortunate to have learned from some of the best entrepreneurs and business people in the world. Most notably, Reza Satchu, Tim Crowhurst, Garrett Camp, Naveen Selvadurai, Liz Walaszczyk, and Robert Isen.

Specifically, I attribute the mindset of entrepreneurship to my learnings at The Next 36 (University of Toronto). My professor, Reza Satchu was by far my biggest professional inspiration, even to this day. Before his class I wanted to be a medical doctor and after I wanted to start a company. It fundamentally transformed how I think about the world and business. I’m forever indebted to those learnings.

Thank you for providing background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

Dovetale

Where is your company located?

New York

What services or products does your organization provide?

Dovetale is the leading social & media analytics solution for global brands & agencies. Perfect for influencer marketing, content marketing, media & competitor tracking. Dovetale is valued by global brands like Target and leading agencies like Dentsu Aegis.

Photo courtesy by Mike Schmidt

What problem is your business trying to solve?

We solve several problems for customers such as fraud detection in influencer advertising, advertising performance, prospecting creators and influencers, payments, reporting, and organization.

How is your business unique against your competitors?

Dovetale is the most feature-filled analytics solution for influencer marketing as well as the most affordable solution when companies are deploying an influencer/ social media strategy. Here is a breakdown of a fairly complete spectrum.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

While I was building my last company (Listn.co — acquired by Beatport.com an SFX Entertainment Company) we partnered with influencers to gain significant traction. During that process, we had many problems that could easily be solved with an analytics solution.

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?

Dovetale.com

Final question. We want to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

  1. Find mentors that have more than ten years of experience in the field you want to be in
  2. Surround yourself with team members that compliment your skill set and are obsessed with solving problems.
  3. Have fun.
Photo courtesy by Mike Schmidt