Pop Quiz, Monday with Suzanne Garber

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Suzanne Garber

What is your job role?
Co-Founder and Chair of the Board

Tell us about your company?
Gauze is the world’s most comprehensive database of hospitals around the globe that informs and connects international travelers via app or API with appropriate healthcare when they find themselves sick abroad.

What do you love most about your job?
I love the diversity in our people, our solutions, and our activities. No day is the same, and some days I am working with people from India or Ukraine or Syria across a spectrum of roles (hospital CEO, data researcher, developer) and other days I am learning something new about healthcare in sub-saharan Africa.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
Having been sick abroad more than a few times, I know how scary it can be to not speak the local language, know of where has quality care, or be able to transport myself to an appropriate facility. With over 1.3 billion people traveling internationally every year with at least 100 million people getting sick outside of their home country motivates me to ensure the best in quality, confidentiality, integrity, and access to care.

How do your co-workers inspire you?
As mentioned, our team is incredibly diverse. One of our co-founders is a disabled veteran. We have an administrator in her 70s. Several staffers hold dual-nationalities and speak multiple languages. Our entire research team is made up of gifted individuals from all over the world. They are the face of our customers (and the world!), and they remind me every day that we do what we do to both save and enhance lives.

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
We are a very diverse team made up of individuals of different ethnicities, races, genders, ages, religions, veteran status, and ideologies. We take time to learn about each other to understand the important holidays, family traditions, and foods. We also perform service projects in our community; we actively support the American Red Cross and various veteran service organizations.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
We deal with millions of bytes of data; ensuring the integrity of information is of utmost importance to us. We catalogue data on hospitals in every country around the world with the exception of a few closed countries from where it’s virtually impossible to obtain any data. This means we also work with people in every country around the globe and communication must be precise. While we have a number of people on staff who are natively or expertly fluent in dozens of languages, there are still some regions where we must rely on non-human means of interaction and data collection.

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
An early lesson was finding the right people to partner with. As our original team did not have certain technical skills, we needed to outsource some of our programmings and finding the right company was difficult since we didn’t know what we didn’t know. That led to delays in production as well as an excess cost because we had nothing with which to compare to, other than bids from other companies. What we’ve learned to do better is how to vet providers and, when possible, hire an in-house person who truly has the best long-term interest of the company. An outsourced vendor may not be the best choice, especially if there is a need to enhance further what was delivered. The best partner is one that can build something bespoke with the ability to tailor for future iterations with or without the original builder.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting out in your industry?
For me, everything starts and ends with people. When you are able to articulate and define the traits and experiences necessary for the people you will need to fill your positions, you effectively recruit for them, and you supply people with the right support and tools to effectively do their jobs, everything comes together. People work for people. People buy from people. Knowing the right people at any and every level is key. Focus on people first.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:
https://www.gauze.net
https://www.twitter.com/gauzehealth
https://www.facebook.com/GauzeHealth/

Pop Quiz, Monday with Kareena Mitsios

The freedom and empowerment in knowing that I can create the future I want for myself and others by taking small steps toward building Loop App.

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Kareena Mitsios

Kareena Mitsios
Photo credit: Kareena Mitsios

What is your job role?
Co-Founder & CEO of Loop App

Tell us about your company?
Loop App is a mobile platform that allows fitness, health and wellness professionals to create video-based online training programs that can be used by people all over the world. We’re committed to providing each person with access to the solution they want and need, anywhere, anytime so they can feel empowered to be their most positive and most confident selves.

What do you love most about your job?
I have two equally favourite parts! One is that I get to create something every day. I’m not just referring to the obviously creative tasks like videography, photography and our podcast but also in relation to building a business – we get to create the company we want to be part of which is super exciting. The other is that I have the opportunity to meet and connect with so many amazing individuals in this space and learn more about their inspirational stories.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
The freedom and empowerment in knowing that I can create the future I want for myself and others by taking small steps toward building Loop App.

How do your co-workers inspire you?
I’m so lucky that my Co-Founder is my brother. We work exceptionally well together in that both our personalities and skill-sets complement each other. Having witnessed his growth and development throughout this journey has made me both a proud sister and business partner, and I couldn’t imagine riding this rollercoaster with anyone else.

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
We recently expanded our team and had started having weekly lunches where we try out new restaurants or cuisines. It’s time that we spend connecting, sharing and getting to know each other through new experiences. We also get to chat about everything that’s happening in our lives from the latest books we’ve read, shows we’ve binged on Netflix or the latest fitness fads we’ve tried.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
Prioritising which hats I need to wear each day. In a small startup, I do and am responsible for everything. Sometimes we’re so busy churning out work that we often get distracted from working on the business itself. Setting goals and ensuring that the tasks we’re undertaking are all geared towards achieving set objectives helps us overcome this challenge and keeps us moving forward.

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
Networking is the most important thing you can do for your business and the earlier you start, the better. It’s easy to underestimate the importance of having the right people around you or simply access to them when you need. It’s never too early to start networking and meeting people. You never know when those connections will come in handy. In addition to that, some of the best advice pieces of advice I was ever given was 1) Just ask, the worst they can say is “No” and 2) Network both within and a little outside your industry, often connecting others is just as important as having the connections you might immediately need.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
Do your research! There are a million and one ways to get something done but knowing your options and evaluating each one in relation to your resources (time vs. money) will be your most significant advantage. Know your business better than anyone else – every single part.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:
Website: www.loopapp.com.au
Podcast: www.loopapp.com.au/in-the-loop-podcast
Instagram: www.instagram.com/loop.app
Facebook: www.instagram.com/loopapp.global

Pop Quiz, Monday with Vanessa Geraghty McGann

I love the fact that I get to help so many small business owners build their dream business, by helping them to effectively market their business and attract the right kind of clients.

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Vanessa Geraghty McGann

Vanessa Geraghty McGann
Photo credit: Vanessa Geraghty McGann

What is your job role?
Founder – Vivacity Marketing

Tell us about your company?
Vivacity Marketing is a marketing consulting, digital marketing and marketing coaching business. We create customised marketing strategies and plans to suit any budget. We help startups via Marketing School which is our online marketing coaching program, and via one on one marketing coaching. And for more established business we offer a range of outsourced digital marketing services such as marketing strategy, web design, Facebook Ads, Google Ads, SEO, landing page design, copywriting, email marketing, content marketing, etc.

What do you love most about your job?
I love the fact that I get to help so many small business owners build their dream business, by helping them to effectively market their business and attract the right kind of clients. And that no matter what their budget is I can help through the range of services I offer from starts ups to more established businesses. In the past year alone I worked with 50+ companies.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
I love what I do! My work is very rewarding as I get to coach small business owners every day. And I get to build marketing strategies and plans so that businesses stop wasting their money on marketing activities that simply aren’t working for them. I get to go to work every day knowing that I am making a real difference in these business owners lives. And help them grow a loyal client base.

How do your co-workers inspire you?
I have a part-time marketing consultant work with me, and I then have a team of freelancers that I used in my partnering digital marketing agency and for various services that my clients require. I learn and improve from my side every day. By working together as a remote team, we get so much more achieved and can bring a phenomenal service to each and every client.

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
I think it’s essential that my part-time marketing consultant is enjoying the work that she does with me. So I take the time to get to know them personally over wines and mimosas! I try and see my freelancers too in a more fun environment rather than in client meetings all the time too so that we can genuinely get to know the fun side of each other. So I guess wine happens as part of that most of the time!

What are some of the challenges of your job?
I have a 3-year-old daughter who is only in childcare for a limited number of days a week. So I need to work around her schedule, and try and be a present for her, and get my clients to work done too. So this results in me working evenings and some weekends. But she goes to Kindy next year, so that will make things a bit easier. And I am still in the building phase of my business as I am only eighteen months in, so I know that this is part of growing my business and because I love what I do I don’t mind the long hours.

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
I think on any client project communication is vital. It’s critical that both the client and the agency understand what is going to be delivered, timings and what work is required by both parties to achieve timelines. Never presume that a client knows anything. Always confirm and follow up to make sure there is no confusion. Regular face to face client catch ups helps to eliminate any miscommunications.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting out in your industry?
My biggest piece of advice is to start by building a Marketing Strategy and Marketing Plan for your business. And as part of the strategy do some market research with some people who are your ideal client, to find out their problems and pain points that you can help solve. Test that there is a need/gap for your services. And understand what services already exist and differentiate yourself.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:

Website: https://www.vivacitymarketing.com.au/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vivacitymarketing/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vivacitymarketing/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCplM_Y4xOE28c6KnPQBHoWA
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vgeraghty/

Pop Quiz, Monday with Elyse Daniels, Founder & Director at Exodus Wear

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.


I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?

Elyse Daniels

What is your job role?

Founder & Director at Exodus Wear

Tell us about your company?

Exodus Wear makes the most customisable jackets and tracksuits. We specialise in leavers wear for Year 12 students, tour jackets for dance schools and tracksuits for sporting groups. Whether it is a baseball shirt for your Roller Derby Team, a satin bomber for your Car Club or a tracksuit for your Chorus Group (yes we have done all those!) we can make it and customise them to your specifications inside and out. Our jackets have been worn by Justin Bieber, Justice Crew, Kylie Sandilands, Stan Walker, Israel Cruz plus many more celebrities.

What do you love most about your job?

I love the freedom and control. The reason I started my own business is that I wanted to be able to make decisions and act on them quickly. If I want to develop a new product I can make it happen within weeks as opposed to having to go through an approval process which often occurs in large organisations.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?

Our customers inspire me to get up every day and go to work. I never know what brief customers are going to give us so every single day we create new designs and products. It is very inspiring.

How do your co-workers inspire you?

My co-workers inspire me with their positive attitudes and willingness to help out in all areas of the business whether it is in their job description or not. We work to a lot of tight deadlines so it can often mean trips to the airport at night or on weekends to pick up urgent goods. There is always someone willing to put their hand up to go the extra mile to make sure our customers get their goods on time.

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?

The majority of our team work remotely and are spread all around the country so building a fun culture can be challenging. We try and get everyone together in one place at least once a year and do a fun activity or weekend away. We love escape rooms, and one of our most memorable trips was staying on Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour.

What are some of the challenges of your job?

While I love the control being a boss gives me it also means to buck stops with me so whenever there are big issues it inevitably falls into my plate to fix. It can be hard dealing with production problems, unhappy customers, etc. Sometimes I wish I could delegate the responsibility to someone else, but there are some really critical things that you should never delegate but look after yourself.

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?

The biggest mistake I have made in business did not have a plan in place for currency fluctuations. We were hit very hard when the dollar dropped in 2014/2015, and a big part of that was because we moved too slowly because we didn’t know what steps to take. I strongly recommend having plans in place for when external factors could impact your business

What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?

Working in apparel or fashion can be challenging when you don’t have experience it is also a very competitive industry to even get an unpaid internship in. My recommendation would be to look outside of the typical places to get experience. Work for a small company instead of a large one because you will often be exposed to more parts of the business than if you work for a larger organisation.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:

www.exoduswear.com.au
Instagram: @exoduswear or @elysedaniels
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ExodusWearAU/

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.