Welcome to another great episode of the Startup Junkie Podcast! On this episode of Startup Junkies, hosts Caleb Talley, Jeff Amerine, and Grace Gill sit down with serial entrepreneur Lloyed Lobo, co-founder of Boast.ai, a company accelerating the success of innovation by helping eligible companies get quicker access to R&D tax credits. Lloyed has been involved in the startup ecosystem for more than fifteen years as an entrepreneur, community builder, and angel investor. Throughout the episode, Lloyed talks about dealing with his sharp rise to success, the power of having a tribe, and his Wall Street Journal bestseller From Grassroots to Greatness.
(1:01) Introducing Lloyed Lobo
(3:13) Lloyed’s Origin Story
(14:04) The Inspiration behind From Grassroots to Greatness
(24:50) Balancing Resilience and New Opportunities
(29:01) The Process of Idea Validation
(39: 13) Advice to Younger Self
(45:46) Closing Thoughts
“...when we ask what entrepreneurship is today, it’s all about making money. But to me, what entrepreneurship is, is taking an obscure idea to execution and impact while dealing with extreme risk. There’s no bigger risk than being in the middle of a war. The other thing I learned was about leadership. Great leaders cascade purpose, not just goals.” - Lloyed Lobo, (5:50)
“The only way to learn something that you suck at is to put yourself in an environment that forces you to do that something over and over again. Now, another key lesson here is the importance of the people you surround yourself with, right? You become the average of the people you surround yourself with.” - Lloyed Lobo, (9:59)
“Every obscure idea that eventually went on to become this enduring global phenomenon had four stages in common. People listen to you or buy your product or service. You have an audience. When you bring that audience together to interact with one another, it becomes a community. Now, when the community comes together to create impact towards a greater purpose far greater than your product or profit, it becomes a movement. And when that movement has undying faith in its purpose through sustained rituals, over time it becomes a cult or religion. So audience, community, movement, religion.” - Lloyed Lobo, (20:59)
“What I tell people is if you have an idea and you don’t have an ideal customer profile, then figure out who you’re going to serve. Understand their pains and goals, but also understand their aspirations because the aspiration is forever. Your customer problem or goal will give you the first product, but if you understand the customer’s aspiration, then you will go on the journey of building your future products.” - Lloyed Lobo, (30:11)
On this very raw episode of Startup Junkies, hosts Jeff Amerine, Caleb Talley, and Victoria Dickerson chat with repeat guest and serial entrepreneur Deric Calhill, founder of Wicked BOLD, a company that crafts small-batch, all-organic vegan chocolate utilizing ethically sourced cacao and just four other real ingredients. Deric founded Wicked BOLD chocolate with his wife Brooklynn in 2019 after years of not being able to find a dairy-free chocolate. Now, four years later, Wicked BOLD has flourished and is being sold in Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, and Sprouts stores nationwide. Throughout the episode, Deric discusses his success on social media, the multiple books he’s authored: Zero to Side Hustle and Have You Ever Had a Silly Idea?, and how wealth doesn’t always mean that you’re happy or that you’re making conscious money.
(0:52) Introducing Deric Calhill
(1:15) Wicked BOLD’s Origin Story
(11:14) Deric’s Social Media Strategy
(17:05) About Zero to Side Hustle
(23:44) Redefining Wealth
(31:28) Being Able to Trust Yourself
(36:59) Advice to Younger Self
(41:12) Closing Thoughts
“We read ingredients and a lot of mainstream chocolate had corn syrup in it or artificial flavors, and it was bullshit because chocolate is such a simple food. We decided we can probably go and make it simple. And I think I credit it because neither of us come from food so we’re not immersed in this crazy ingredient world. We were so simple going into it. We just believed that we could do it.” - Deric Calhill, (5:54)
“I’m obviously very entrepreneurial and capitalistic, and I love making money, but I don’t love making money so much that I’d bring my value system down in order to do it.” - Deric Calhill, (7:20)
“....because you put yourself out there when you start a business, when you post a video, when you try to write a book, you’re putting your soul on the line that says this is what I think I can be good at…No one successful is going to try to hurt someone else because they’re too busy being successful.” - Deric Calhill, (15:42)
“If you’re going after perfection, you’re never going to start anything because it’s never going to be perfect. And whatever you start is going to suck horribly. It’s going to take you forever to evolve into something that’s actually cool…I was after perfection because it meant a lot for me to give this experience that I’d failed at so many times and give that to someone else at the very beginning of their journey to inspire them to go start something.” - Deric Calhill, (17:46)
En este tercer episodio de Startup Junkies En Español nuestras anfitrionas Claudia Scott y Ana Ortiz tiene como invitada a Daymara Baker de Right to Start, una organización sin fines de lucro y no partidista dedicada a ampliar las oportunidades empresariales para todos. Daymara comparte cómo desempeña un papel crucial al conectar las voces de los emprendedores con los responsables de la toma de decisiones, trabajando incansablemente para eliminar obstáculos y facilitar el camino para aquellos que desean lanzar su propio negocio.
(00:50) Introduction to Daymara Baker
(02:03) Growth in Northwest Arkansas
(02:30) Daymara’s Background
(04:07) Opening a Business
(09:29) The Benefit of Networking
(13:21) The Power of Adaptability
(15:24) Learning from Failure
(17:50) The Social Impacts of Business
(19:26) Metrics That Matter
(21:08) Bridging the Gap
(25:23) Government Contract Experiences
(29:06) Managing the Pandemic
(34:08) Advice to Entrepreneurs
“Yo nunca había pensado abrir un negocio” - Daymara Baker, (04:15)
“Abrí una panadería comercial para ayudar a gente” - Daymara Baker, (04:41)
“¿Qué te está frenando para no hacerlo?” - Daymara Baker, (05:38)
“Así que decidí abrir un negocio porque claro yo ya tenía una misión bien concreta de lo que quería hacer” - Daymara Baker, (05:56)
“Dentro de un negocio es esencial el networking” - Ana Ortiz, (09:29)
“El efecto multiplicador es increíble sobre todo ena zona como esta (Noroeste de Arkansas) que tiene una concentración increíble de recursos” - Daymara Baker, (10:15)
“Y en el momento que damos el paso, preguntamos, hablamos, pedimos… Es toda una avalancha de ayuda y sentimientos positivos” - Claudia Scott, (10:46)
“Algo que yo pienso que compartimos los Latinos… Es que tu no confías en las instituciones, sobre todo instituciones del gobierno” - Daymara Baker, (11:15)
“Otro está pagando para que sea gratis para nosotros” - Daymara Baker, (11:42)
“Si vas a ser emprendedor tienes que aceptar desde un principio que vas a cambiar” - Daymara Baker, (12:35)
“Uno aprende muchísimo más cuando uno fracasa que cuando todo va super bien” - Daymara Baker, (15:39)
“El conocimiento que obtienes de un fracaso, una idea que no funcione, también te ayuda a tener que adaptarte” - Daymara Baker, (15:47)
“Que tu impacto social pueda seguir incluso a través de una pandemia” - Daymara Baker, (30:59)
“Ser empresario es un camino un poco solitario” - Daymara Baker, (32:30)
“Cuando tienes una idea uno tiende compartirla mucho con amigos y los familiares, muchas de estos amigo y familiares van a decirte: si hazlo, se emprendedor… Si alguien lo puede hacer tu eres el que lo puede hacer vas a escuchar muchísimo de eso” - Daymara Baker, (34:19)
“Siempre te tienes que buscar una persona fuera de ese círculo para que te de apoyo y compartir sus ideas a otro nivel” - Daymara Baker, (34:34)
“Tienes que prepararte y conocer tus números” - Daymara Baker, (35:24)
On this special episode of Startup Junkies, hosts Caleb Talley, Grace Gill, Darian Harris, Tom Douglass, and Louis Diesel head north to the Ledger in Bentonville, where they sit down with four of the participants in Fuel’s AI and machine learning 2023 cohort. Fuel is specifically designed for seed and growth-stage technology companies ready to scale and become enterprise-ready. Members of the cohort receive mentorship and education from leaders in their vertical, as well as coaching and connections from Fuel’s enterprise partners. Caleb, Grace, Darian, and Tom sat down with Kannan Udarayajan of Siemba, Mike Romeri of Analytics2Go, Humphrey Chen of CLIPr, and Somya Munjal of Youthful Savings to discuss their entrepreneurial journeys and their experiences with Fuel thus far.
(0:38) Introducing Part 2
(1:24) Kannan Udayarajan and Siemba
(10:59) Mike Romeri and A2Go
(18:04) Humphrey Chen and CLIPr
(34:04) Somya Munjal and Youthful Savings
(43:47) Closing Thoughts
“Just being under the umbrella of Fuel gives enormous credibility to whatever you’re building and showcasing. By being part of the Fuel cohort, we have been able to get so many introductions in the Bentonville area, but I’m also seeing that the fact we are part of the Fuel program is resonating in other markets as well.” - Kannan Udayarajan, (7:27)
“Certainly, everyone knows Walmart is here [in Bentonville], and there’s a level of sophistication with Walmart, but I think the entire ecosystem is a very high-performing ecosystem. And I think there’s sort of a community of interest here where people are trying to optimize the performance of the entire ecosystem, and it brings a lot of sophistication and a certain set of skillsets that are cooperative and innovative, and people know how to get things done.” - Mike Romeri, (15:13)
“This is like one of those things where Northwest Arkansas hadn’t been on my to-do list, but now that I’m here, I feel like I’ve been marketing the whole region, and so now more people are planning on coming and checking it out.” - Humphrey Chen, (29:31)“I just think there’s so many great people here [in Bentonville] and it’s an abundant place, but everybody has this same salt of the earth attitude, and you can just get so much more done.” - Somya Munjal, (37:23)
On this special episode of Startup Junkies, hosts Caleb Talley, Grace Gill, Darian Harris, and Tom Douglass head north to the Ledger in Bentonville, where they sit down with four of the participants in Fuel’s AI and machine learning 2023 cohort. Fuel is specifically designed for seed and growth-stage technology companies ready to scale and become enterprise-ready. Members of the cohort receive mentorship and education from leaders in their vertical, as well as coaching and connections from Fuel’s enterprise partners. Caleb, Grace, Darian, and Tom sat down with Andrew Bart of AlgoFace, Dexter Caffey of Smart Eye Technology, Kevin Butler of Edify, and Keith Fix of Retail Aware to discuss their entrepreneurial journeys and their experiences with Fuel thus far.
(0:35) Introducing This Year’s Fuel Accelerator
(2:51) Andrew Bart and AlgoFace
(13:11) Dexter Caffey and Smart Eye Technology
(23:14) Kevin Butler and Edify
(32:44) Keith Fix and Retail Aware
“Even in the mentor sessions, I know we’re here to acquire enterprise-level customers and learn how to be better at doing that and optimizing that process. But the reality is I came here to meet people. The way I’ve operated in life historically is that things tend to develop organically…People do deals with you ultimately because they like you and they trust you. And look, I just want to engage with people in the community. I’ve met an incredible group of people. The exposure [through Fuel] has been nothing short of amazing.” - Andrew Bart, (6:11)
“The business climate [in Northwest Arkansas] is something that’s completely different than any other place I’ve been in the States as well as globally…It’s a completely different environment here business-wise. I don’t think a lot of people understand that.” - Dexter Caffey, (18:26)
“Getting exposure to mentors and business people around the area is a huge benefit [of Bentonville]...But even though it’s a small market, Walmart, a Fortune 1 company, is here. We’re not limited in where those connections go and where the results of Fuel take companies, and I see that as one of the big benefits here.” - Kevin Butler, (27:06)
“I don’t think anyone really understands or knows what’s happening in [Northwest Arkansas] until you get here. It’s just such a hidden gem.” - Keith Fix, (37:29)
En nuestro segundo episodio del podcast Startup Junkies En Español tenemos como invitada a Jessica Sánchez. Jessica es propietaria de NWA Bilingual Solutions una compañía que se especialista en proveer servicios de traducción e interpretación a diferentes corporativos y organizaciones del área para beneficio de la comunidad. Fundada a finales del año 2020, NWA Bilingual Solutions también se dispone a concientizar a la comunidad de los derechos que la ley le otorga en cuanto a la interpretación en su idioma sin costo alguno se refiere. Jessica tomo experiencias vividas en su niñez y la convirtió en una compañía la cual está haciendo la diferencia en el Noroeste de Arkansas.
(00:28) What is your company? How did it start? What was the need you saw?
(02:21) When did you launch the company?
(03:15) You saw the need and decided that you would do something about it.
(05:54) Parents needing their kid’s help for translation & interpretation.
(07:47) From idea to business
(09:40) Who is Jessica Sánchez?
(11:46) No place to live.
(12:08) Cultural shock
(13:01) Learn English
(16:15) Give value to the service you offer.
(18:06) The importance or limits
(19:59) Linguistic access
(20:57) Where is the diversity?
(22:35) Where do you see your business in the next few years?
(26:10) Your kid is dead.
“Como muchos que crecieron en este país que son padres de la primera generación en este país hemos estado interpretando por nuestros padres.” - Jessica Sánchez, (01:05)
“Esto fue un crecimiento gradual.” - Jessica Sánchez, (09:10)
“Yo soy Jessica y tengo ansiedad social.” - Jessica Sánchez, (09:56)
“Yo crecí en ese papel donde yo tenía que encargarme o ayudarles a mis papás de lo que fuera la necesidad de ellos.” - Jessica Sánchez, (10:19)
“Nos mudamos aquí (Arkansas) en el 2005 y otro cultural shock… Yo no entendía el inglés… ¿Qué es y’all? ¿Qué es esa palabra que utilizan en inglés?” - Jessica Sánchez, (12:12)
“Cuando mi mamá iba y les decía ‘spanish please’ o algo, no, la miraba horrible, la ignoraban, la hacían a un lado, entonces, he crecido mirando eso, he crecido mirando las diferencias y la discriminación que hay por el idioma que uno habla y como las personas nada más se lavan las manos diciendo ‘aprende inglés’ estamos aquí en los Estados Unidos y exactamente por eso porque estamos en los Estados Unidos en un lugar que es una mezcla de culturas que está basado en esto.” - Jessica Sánchez, (13:01)
“Uno tiene que darle valor al servicio que uno provee.” - Jessica Sánchez, (16:22)
“Culturalmente se nos ha enseñado una lealtad ciega a la familia.” - Jessica Sánchez, (18:45)
“Una de las cosas que más me encanta de tener mi propio negocio… Es que nadie me puede tapar la boca.” - Jessica Sánchez, (34:25)
“Tenemos que ser pacientes cuando estamos empezando nuestros propios negocios.”
- Jessica Sánchez, (37:16)
On this episode of Startup Junkies, hosts Jeff Amerine, Caleb Talley, and Victoria Dickerson are joined by returning guest Brendan Howell, co-founder and CEO of Loloft, which is reimagining the warehousing industry by offering small and growth-stage companies a physical space to store and manage their products without the burden of traditional long-term leases. Loloft officially opened its first location in Rogers at the beginning of September, and it is already surpassing its early targets and goals. Throughout the episode, Brendan discusses Loloft’s emphasis on community building, which cities are next for Loloft, and his thoughts on appealing to an unexpected market.
(0:32) Introducing Brendan Howell and Loloft
(7:51) Loloft’s Emphasis on Community
(11:55) What’s Next for Loloft?
(16:28) Brendan’s Origin Story
(24:56) Appealing to an Unexpected Market
(29:50) Loloft’s Intentional Positioning
(32:07) Advice to the Younger Self and Closing Thoughts
“So the best way to describe what we’re doing is office coworking combined with warehousing. So it’s really a kind of mix of the two concepts. And we coined the term industrial coworking to try and accurately describe what we’re doing.” - Brendan Howell, (4:27)
“It was really eye-opening to see the access you can get by being in a community that is actually trying to build community and trying to build connections. So companies can come in and just do their own thing here, but if they want to participate, there’s that option as well.” - Brendan Howell, (10:27)
“We never intended to be in this business. We’re not property people. We don’t have a background in commercial property. But we saw a solution to a problem that we had, and a lot of other people had the same problem. So, we weren’t constrained by the dogma of the industry. We just came from outside and solved the problem.” - Brendan Howell (20:49)
“For us, from a business operations perspective, it’s dollars outside of square feet. There’s a lot of opportunity for us as a business to provide services. For the members, it’s below cost relative to getting a full-time employee. But for us, it’s also good revenue because we’re not just renting space, we can provide a service inside the space.” - Brendan Howell, (27:42)
Nuestro primer episodio del podcast Startup Junkies En Español tiene una invitada increíble. Ana Sáenz, propietaria de la panadería en línea The Magical Spatula. Originaria de Costa Rica, Ana se mudó a Arkansas hace 5 años con su esposo. Apasionada por la cocina desde muy chica, y sobre todo el gusto por hornear, Ana decidió llevar su pasión al siguiente nivel al decidir tomar clases de cocina y graduarse del centro Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food en la ciudad Bentonville en el Noroeste de Arkansas.
(0:05) Introducing Ana Sáenz and Her Origin Story
(1:46) What inspired you?
(4:31) Best part of culinary clases
(9:22) Challenges of entrepreneurship
(18:30) Education & Recepies
(20:34) What makes you different?
(33:45) What’s next?
“Desde niña siempre horneé con mi abuelita y me acuerdo que todas las navidades hacíamos galletas, hacíamos tamales… Y me acuerdo de escoger con ella sabores, colores y todo ese tipo de cosas y siempre fue la cocina en general pero especialmente la parte pastelera con ella siempre fue recuerdos que tengo de mi niñez con ella.” - Ana Sáenz, (01:46)
“Paso el tiempo y perdí el miedo al idioma, perdí el miedo a manejar e independizarme y mi esposo me dice ¿por qué no te metes a clase culinarias y lo haces una carrera profesional?”
- Ana Sáenz, (02:40)
“Los eventos que hacían en la universidad, en Brightwater, traían chefs de todo el mundo… Super interesante, super divertido.” - Ana Sáenz, (04:57)
“Yo no quise entrar al mundo de pedir préstamos, no quise entrar a pedir capital o a pedir algún préstamo a ningún banco, yo quise empezar con lo que yo tenía, como yo pudiera y de ahí partí.” - Ana Sáenz, (09:24)
“Lo que mejor aprendí es que todo está en networking, todo está en ámbito de con quién te relacionas, que contactos puedes absorber, que personas adecuadas puedes reunirte o puedes estar en contacto con y de ahí salen tus ramas al éxito definitivamente.” - Ana Sáenz, (11:45)
“Algo que admiro de la cultura aquí o de donde estamos, es la cantidad de oportunidades de hacer ese networking, esas conexiones.” - Claudia Scott, (12:11)
“Siempre va a haber miedo, siempre va a haber dudas de uno mismo, pero yo siento que depende de las herramientas que la gente busque así va a haber el éxito después de esto.”
- Ana Sáenz, (14:59)
“Yo sé que nunca es tarde para empezar un negocio… Nunca, nunca, nunca es tarde.”
- Ana Sáenz, (23:14)
“Tienen que confiar en lo que su instinto les dice.” - Ana Sáenz, (31:12)
“Yo no quiero llegar al punto de odiar lo que hago, quiero seguir amando lo que hago, que es lo que hago hasta el momento, amo dar mis clases, amo atender a mis clientes, amo ver esa sonrisa cuando comen pancitos.” - Ana Sáenz, (32:59)
On this special episode of Startup Junkies, hosts Jeff Amerine, Caleb Talley, and Victoria Dickerson head to Startup Crawl, where they interview several entrepreneurs participating in this year’s event. The night celebrated entrepreneurship in the Heartland with food trucks, local craft beer, live music, and entrepreneurial connection. Jeff, Caleb, and Victoria sat down with Joshua Carnes of Sights & Sounds NWA, Brody Maxwell of TrueRep, Orson Weems of the Music Education Initiative, Bryan Fittin of Go Rogue X, and Bridgett Skeirik of Montay Coffee to discuss their entrepreneurial endeavors and Startup Crawl’s impact on the community.
(0:32) Joshua Carnes and Sights & Sounds NWA
(3:33) Brody Maxwell and TrueRep
(7:02) Orson Weems and the Music Education Initiative
(13:34) Bryan Fittin and Go Rogue X
(22:03) Bridgett Skeirik and Montay Coffee
“The reactions we’ve been seeing tonight [at Startup Crawl] have been really cool. People have been…enjoying learning about the ecosystem of small businesses and startups here in Northwest Arkansas. It’s just been cool how engaged people want to be.” - Joshua Carnes, (2:39)
“With the way we’ve structured our pricing and also the affordability of using a product and a hardware device that most people carry around every day, and then just our magnet we sell at cost, you’re able to utilize velocity-based training whether you’re a strength coach at the university level and you want to outfit your athletes with the latest programming that professional athletes are using, or if you’re just an everyday gym-goer that wants to utilize programming that D1 athletes are utilizing, we’re able to provide that.” - Brody Maxwell, (5:39)
“What we’re doing is exposing careers and opportunities in music, entertainment, and live events. Because, as you said, that ecosystem, that’s a sector of industry that people don’t think about, that nighttime economy where most people go out.” - Orson Weems, (9:03)
“[Startup Crawl] is like a big family reunion for entrepreneurs because you get to see people that you only see online or haven’t seen in a couple of years or whatever else…And so it’s so encouraging to see so many people doing well [and] thriving here.” - Bryan Fittin, (19:25)
“[Startup Crawl] was incredible. There were so many people here. The vibe was really cool, just with all the music and everything, and getting to interact with so many people who are interested in our story and entrepreneurs and wanting to support. It was just great connections for us.” - Bridgett Skeirik, (25:21)
On this episode of Startup Junkies, hosts Caleb Talley, Victoria Dickerson, and Claudia Scott sit down with Erin Campbell, co-founder of Gen Z Water. Erin joined the podcast last year after Gen Z Water won the People’s Choice Award at Startup Crawl 2022, and she’s back this week to share what she’s been up to since. Throughout the episode, Erin discusses the unique challenges of marketing water, how she found her ideal niche in the Gen Z market, and the benefits of taking risks as an entrepreneur.
(1:17) Introducing Erin Campbell and Her Origin Story
(6:47) Marketing Water
(12:39) Connecting with Gen Z Customers
(20:53) Leaning into Risk as a Startup
(26:28) Building to Sell
(31:10) What’s Erin up to Now?
(33:06) Advice to the Younger Self and Closing Thoughts
“With the insights and the data and the research that we did during the pandemic, it was incredibly clear that that fit, filthy-rich, famous brand imagery was a huge disconnect from the value system of the Gen Z generation, [and] much more inline with the aspirational millennial generation.” - Erin Campbell, (13:22)
“It landed so well because I feel like we did it with such intention. There is a story, there is a reason, there is a strategy, there is a data point, there is an insight behind every decision that we made. So, to that risk point, they’re informed, and they’re educated risks. They’re not just careless; they’re very calculated, and we made sure that we had a reasonably data-informed argument that would justify that risk.” - Erin Campbell, (22:46)
“I don’t know if [my] younger self would have been ready to hear, ‘just take risks.’ I think she had to go through the whole process to get to where I am today.” - Erin Campbel, (34:29)
We're gearing up for Startup Crawl 2023! In this special episode of the Startup Junkies Podcast, we're revisiting the live show we recorded during Startup Crawl 2022. It's an evening of exciting startups, passionate entrepreneurs, incredible craft beer, and amazing live music. Tune in to get a taste of what you can expect at Startup Crawl 2023, happening Friday, September 8th from 5-9 pm at the Fayetteville Square! Get tickets at www.startupjunkie.org/startupcrawl.
(0:46) All about Gen Z
(1:17) The Genesis behind Gen Z
(4:01) Reception from Buyers
(4:45) What’s Next for Gen Z?
(8:09) Background on Calvin Smith
(12:54) A Metaphor for Entrepreneurship: Little Failures Lead to Greater Success
(16:12) What We Need from the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs
(19:11) Advice to Younger Self
(20:51) Ronnie Brewer, Hero of Basketball
(21:10) Thoughts on the Startup Crawl
(22:57) Excellence in Athletics Translates to Entrepreneurship
(25:11) Accept Nothing Less than the Best
“...I think in this culture of fast fashion, fast this, fast that, we can slow down and enjoy things and enjoy the smile that these bottles bring. And it's so unique because not a lot of products these days really are doing that.” - Bo Mo, (6:04)
“...What we need is the next generation of people coming up…to give back selflessly, without expecting anything in return and saying, ‘Hey, if I give back to this community, we're all better for it. I’m better for it.’” - Calvin Smith, (17:42)
“...The constraints that you have on yourself [are]…only in your mind. If you let that go, anything is possible and you can achieve anything. And we’re a prime example with the Razorbacks. But again, we're just scratching the surface. And that's motivation to people in the entrepreneurial world, and you can do anything, but don’t just settle for scratching the surface - keep on grinding, keep on getting better.” - Ronnie Brewer, (26:05)
On this episode of Startup Junkies, hosts Grace Gill, Harrison Kitson, and Claudia Scott are joined by Brittnie Simon, founder and owner of Collab Design Co. Collab is a digital marking agency in Northwest Arkansas whose goal is to elevate businesses through creative initiatives that drive results through strategy, marketing, and design. In this episode, Brittnie talks about what she learned about culture in corporate America, as well as how she builds a culture in her company that encourages growth and innovation.
(0:53) Brittnie’s Origin Story
(12:27) Introducing Collab Design Co.
(15:00) The Importance of Support Networks
(19:29) Building a Company Culture and Avoiding Burnout
(27:01) Selling Clients What They Need
(29:20) Social Media Advice for Small Businesses
(37:38) Advice to the Younger Self and Closing Thoughts
“What really stood out to me on my journey was how many people that I was able to lean on, like connections that supported me…[and it was the same experience] when I launched my business. When I started networking and connecting in the community, people want to refer locally and they want to get to know who they’re referring.” - Brittnie Simon, (15:43)
“If you have your cup and it’s full of creative juices, and as you’re doing things you kind of lose it, and if you don’t have a way to refill it…then you’re kind of at the end of your cup and you’re not doing successful work. So being able to say, hey my cup’s empty and build that communication there, then we can pivot and help give you opportunities to refill.” - Brittnie Simon, (20:26)
“I think there’s a misunderstanding of what consistency means [on social media], and I think that’s the biggest challenge. Consistency isn’t posting every day. Can you post weekly, on a regular basis consistently? Even if it’s once or twice a week. You just determine your level of consistency and commit to it.” - Brittnie Simon, (29:25)
“The other thing I’ve learned is that social media is a long game. Marketing is a long game. So trying to see return on investment one week after you started posting consistently is going to dishearten you…You’re probably going to be putting effort in for about a year before you’ll see those results.” - Brittnie Simon, (33:37)
On this episode of Startup Junkies, hosts Jeff Amerine, Victoria Dickerson, and Grace Gill sit down with Jonathan Sasse, chief strategy officer at Metova. Jonathan talks about the process of implementing new technologies, such as AI and machine learning, into businesses with outdated or inefficient systems. He also discusses the importance of understanding why their customers purchase from them, how to build trust with clients, and how to end up with the right product rather than the easiest solution.
(0:36) Introducing Jonathan and His Origin Story
(3:21) What’s on the Horizon for Metova
(5:40) Jonathan’s Take on AI
(10:34) Knowing When to Implement New Technologies
(15:26) Metova’s Ideal Customer
(19:14) Helping Decisions Makers Understand the Need for New Tech
(23:13) Metova’s Development Cycle
(27:06) Building Relationships with Clients
(29:35) Advice to the Younger Self
(31:04) Closing Thoughts
“[We’re] really looking at things through the customer’s lens. So like, what do your customers want from you? What are they hiring you for in the first place? And what’s frustrating them? And if AI can help make that better, great. But we also have to be careful [of] technology for the sake of technology, because it will happen. They’re like, here’s all the things I need, and it’s the five buzziest technology things.” - Jonathan Sasse, (8:27)
“So as a customer, I’m applying a lens of, I know it’s possible, but you didn’t do it. And so now I want this from you because it’s clearly possible. And it’s not so much that your competitors dangled some new feature to me, but I was exposed to something that’s clearly technologically possible that you could choose to implement and make my life better.” - Jonathan Sasse, (12:25)
“Our sweet spot is really established companies that don’t have technology as their core DNA and that are at some kind of a crossroads. They’re not exactly sure where to go, but they have the resources to invest in doing it, and they have enough upside to come out of that with the ROI that’s needed.” - Jonathan Sasse, (15:53)
“A dev shop will build what you tell them to build…As a product agency, it’s more about the consulting and advising—you know, we’re bringing things to the table that are maybe going to change the direction of their business, maybe change their business model. We’re going to be advisors at a very high level and certainly a strategic partner…” - Jonathan Sasse, (28:38)
On this episode of Startup Junkies, hosts Jeff Amerine and Victoria Dickerson are joined by entrepreneur Mo Elliott. Mo founded Fayettechill while he was a student at the University of Arkansas and served as the CEO for thirteen years before eventually selling the outdoor lifestyle brand in 2022. After a successful exit from Fayettechill, Mo pivoted to real estate, flipping houses and eventually purchasing and operating multiple Airbnb properties in Santa Fe, New Mexico with the Pecos Group, which he founded. Throughout the episode, Mo, Jeff, and Victoria discuss Mo’s transition from retail to real estate, why he chose Santa Fe, and what’s next for Mo and the Pecos Group.
(0:36) Introducing Mo Elliot and His Origin Story
(6:14) Leaving Retail for Real Estate
(10:27) The Magic of Santa Fe
(13:26) Establishing Fayettechill as a Northwest Arkansas Staple
(15:44) What’s Next for Mo?
(21:00) Staying Connected to Fayetteville
(22:06) Advice to the Younger Self
(24:21) Closing Thoughts
“What I love about real estate is you make the purchase and it’s a tangible asset in front of you and you can control everything. With manufacturing, it’s rough. We’re buying 50,000 units twelve months in advance. We have data to understand what we sold last season, but it’s such a question mark with manufacturing, and it’s always changing.” - Mo Elliott, (6:42)
“I built [Fayettechill] with all the ideals of a little Patagonia. And so having a north star of our ideals and then eventually creating products that I wanted to use outside. And then the employees that worked for us, we were our own test dummies on the products that we wanted. So it wasn’t like we were designing for another core market that we weren’t a part of.” - Mo Elliott, (14:30)
On this episode of Startup Junkies, hosts Jeff Amerine and Grace Gill sit down with Justin and Mailena Urso, founders and owners of Big Box Karaoke. Big Box Karaoke is a combination bar, restaurant, and karaoke hotspot located in the heart of downtown Fayetteville, Arkansas. Throughout the episode, Justin and Mailena discuss the importance of continuous growth, the entrepreneurial mindset, the struggles they faced through the Covid-19 pandemic, and their shared love for karaoke.
(0:52) Introducing Justin and Mailena Urso and the Big Box Karaoke Origin Story
(14:17) Finding the Right Location
(17:49) The Pandemic’s Effects on Big Box Karaoke
(25:18) Re-Opening after the Pandemic
(28:17) Balancing Feedback
(31:11) The Core Customer Base
(34:12) Longterm Projections and Hopes
(38:01) Advice to the Younger Self
(40:48) Closing Thoughts
“March 15th I think is the date everybody remembers. I always tell this story: On the Saturday before the shutdown, in an eight-hour timeframe, we did as much revenue as [we did] in the next six months combined. In eight hours. And it was one of our busiest nights ever, but it took six months to make that same amount of revenue that [had only taken] eight hours.” - Justin Urso, (19:23)
“We averaged fifty reservations a week before the pandemic, and then you go to zero. And 80% of our business was based on reservations, so the math just doesn’t add up.” - Justin Urso, (23:05)
“Our business is expensive to build out. It’s not just opening a coffee shop or an ice cream parlor or something. There’s a lot of costs that go into building out those rooms and the technology involved. And so [expansion] is a little bit more difficult.” - Justin Urso, (27:25)
“We were like, if we build it, they will come. That was our mindset. But we did do a lot of testing. We personally experienced this concept a lot and had a great time and took our takeaways from that…and there were other businesses in other markets like ours that were popping up. So it wasn’t like this was a brand new thing.” - Mailena Urso, (30:12)
“The advice we would give to people in that situation is just believe in what you’re doing and have some backup for it. And if you can’t find the backup, then that’s maybe where you’re like, okay maybe let’s change it a little bit.” - Mailena Urso, (33:49)