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- Carson Derrow
How Students Around the World Found Successful Startups

Are you a business student? Or are you a student whose interests lies in setting up successful startups? Then this is your guide. 

Your life as a student isn’t limited to studying and passing exams only. There is always that extra time you will get, and if you have extra resources, you can effectively create a successful startup that can become a movement in some years. Whether you have your paper to write or any other academic assignment, don’t let that inner dream of creating a successful startup. You can always join the movement and emulate what other students are doing to bring such startups to life. 

But then, what exactly are these students doing that others aren’t doing? Keep reading to find out more. 

Ways through which students found successful startups

You might be admiring some students across the globe how they have managed to pull up a successful business setup. Below are some of the things they did, and you, too, can follow suit and create a successful startup. 

Developing passion

A successful startup must be created out of passion. You cannot just wake up one day and decide you are going to set up a startup. Think of why you need such a startup or what makes you love such a startup. The interests you have are the key elements that will always push you out of your comfort zone until you have achieved your objectives. Therefore, passion and interest are key to successful startups. 

Reach out to potential customers and shareholders

Of course, not all startups are viable. But then, how do you prove that the startup you want to engage in is worth the investment? It can only be through talking to people directly affected by the problem you are trying to work on. These are the customers and shareholders in the specific sector. This will give you first-hand information and details you need to evaluate and decide whether to proceed as planned or if you should change the dimensions of the startup. 

Validate the problem you want to fix

At this point, you already have the arising issue, and you have identified the gap you want to fill by creating a successful startup. Before you think of a solution, ask yourself, is the idea viable? Is the problem big enough that it needs an immediate solution? This step will require you to do a bit of research on people directly affected by the problem you want to solve. Hear their views and perspectives on the matter, and you can judge from the feedback you get. Based on the feedback, you can now proceed or abort the mission. 

Validate the solution you want to offer

After validating the viability of the existing problem and realizing that it has a huge impact on affected people, you now go back to the solution you initially had in mind. Here, you will have to go back to people again to gather some more information. However, the aim is to get suggestions on how they would like the existing problem handled. Compare the feedback you get with your thought solutions. From here, you can proceed and set up a successful startup.

Connect with other entrepreneurs

Once you set up your startup, that is not all. How will you know the market dynamics and operations? It can only be through interacting with other business personnel handling similar startups. You will get to learn about price variations, market trends, and other useful insights that will help you scale your startup. 

Don’t forget to join business-related programs from your school and even away from school. It is through such programs that you get to ask questions, get ideas, and make more connections for a successful startup. 

Don’t forget to save and raise money for the startup

As a student, it can be challenging to get enough funds to pull up a successful startup. If you have extra support from parents and well-wishers, then you are good to go. However, don’t forget the dynamics of profits and losses in any startup. In any case, commitment is key to achieving your dream goal of setting up a successful startup.


Are you a student who is passionate about creating a successful startup? Consider the highlights in this guide, and you will be good to go.

The post How Students Around the World Found Successful Startups appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

- Carson Derrow
Play to Win: Tips for Choosing the Best Betting Platform for Your Needs
play to win

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In today’s digital age, the realm of sports betting and online gambling has undergone a remarkable transformation. With a plethora of betting platforms available at your fingertips, choosing the right one can be a daunting task. Whether you’re a seasoned bettor or a newbie looking to dip your toes into the exciting world of sports betting, leveraging the betwinner deposit can be instrumental in selecting the best betting platform for your needs, ensuring a satisfying and potentially profitable experience. In this article, we’ll explore some essential tips to help you make an informed decision and maximize your chances of winning.

1. Licensing and Regulation

Before you place your bets, it’s vital to ensure that the betting platform you choose operates legally and is regulated by a reputable authority. Licensing and regulation vary by country and jurisdiction, so make sure the platform you select complies with the laws in your region. A licensed platform provides a level of security and transparency that unregulated ones cannot guarantee.

2. Variety of Sports and Events

The best betting platforms offer a wide range of sports and events to bet on. Whether you’re into football, basketball, tennis, or niche sports like darts and esports, a diverse selection allows you to explore different betting options and strategies. Look for a platform that covers your favorite sports and offers a variety of betting markets within each sport.

3. Competitive Odds

Odds are the foundation of sports betting, as they determine the potential payouts for your bets. Different platforms may offer slightly different odds for the same event, so it’s essential to compare odds across various betting sites. Choose a platform that consistently provides competitive odds to maximize your potential winnings over time.

4. User-Friendly Interface

A user-friendly and intuitive interface can significantly enhance your betting experience. Look for a platform that is easy to navigate, with clear menus and a straightforward betting slip. Mobile compatibility is also crucial for those who prefer to bet on the go.

5. Bonuses and Promotions

Many betting platforms offer bonuses and promotions to attract new customers and retain existing ones. These can include welcome bonuses, free bets, cashback offers, and loyalty programs. While these promotions can provide added value, be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully, as they often come with wagering requirements and restrictions.

6. Payment Options

Consider the variety of payment options available on the betting platform. The best platforms offer a range of deposit and withdrawal methods, including credit/debit cards, e-wallets, and even cryptocurrencies. Additionally, check for any associated fees and processing times to ensure your preferred method suits your needs.

7. Customer Support

Good customer support is crucial in case you encounter any issues while betting. Look for a platform that offers multiple support channels, such as live chat, email, or phone support. Prompt and helpful customer service can make a significant difference in resolving any problems that may arise.

8. Security and Privacy

Your security and privacy should be a top priority when choosing a betting platform. Ensure that the platform employs state-of-the-art encryption technology to protect your personal and financial information. It’s also a good idea to read reviews and check for any history of security breaches.

9. Reputation and Reviews

Do your homework and research the reputation of the betting platform. Read user reviews and seek recommendations from experienced bettors. Platforms with a solid track record of fair play, timely payouts, and customer satisfaction are generally more trustworthy.

10. Responsible Gambling Tools

Lastly, consider whether the platform offers responsible gambling tools to help you stay in control of your betting activities. These tools may include self-exclusion options, deposit limits, and reality checks, which can help prevent problem gambling.

In conclusion, selecting the best betting platform for your needs is a critical decision that can greatly impact your betting experience and potential success. By considering factors such as licensing, sports variety, odds, user-friendliness, bonuses, and security, you can make an informed choice that aligns with your preferences and betting goals. Remember that responsible gambling should always be a priority, and it’s essential to bet within your means and for the enjoyment of the game. With the right platform and a thoughtful approach, you can play to win while having a safe and enjoyable betting experience.

The post Play to Win: Tips for Choosing the Best Betting Platform for Your Needs appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

- Carson Derrow
Democratizing Data: How Synthetic Data Generation is Changing the Game
Synthetic Data Generation

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In the rapidly changing world of data-driven decision-making, obtaining top-quality data is the ultimate goal for modern businesses and organizations. Leveraging data for insights and innovation has revolutionized industries, enabling companies to thrive in a data-focused era. Yet, democratizing data, ensuring universal access, remains a challenge due to issues like privacy concerns, data silos, and scarcity. Synthetic data generation emerges as a transformative technology, reshaping our perspective on data access, privacy, and innovation.

The Data Conundrum: Accessibility vs. Privacy

Data, often described as the “new oil,” holds immense potential, but it also poses significant challenges. Balancing the need for data accessibility with the imperative of protecting individual privacy is a delicate tightrope walk. Traditional data-sharing practices often involve cumbersome legal processes, data anonymization, and painstaking negotiations. This results in data hoarding, where companies guard their datasets like a dragon guarding its treasure.

Synthetic Data: A New Hope

Synthetic data generation has emerged as a powerful solution to the data conundrum. At its core, synthetic data is artificially generated data that mimics the statistical properties of real data while containing no personally identifiable information (PII). It allows organizations to create datasets that are both useful and privacy-compliant, breaking down the barriers to data access and democratizing its usage.

Imagine a scenario where a healthcare organization needs to develop a machine learning model to predict disease outbreaks. Instead of dealing with sensitive patient records, they can generate synthetic data that accurately mirrors real-world health data. This synthetic dataset preserves privacy while enabling groundbreaking research.

The Magic of Synthetic Data Generation

1. Privacy Preservation: One of the most significant advantages of synthetic data is its ability to protect privacy. With the rise of data breaches and privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA, companies are under increased pressure to safeguard sensitive information. Synthetic data ensures that no actual personal data is exposed while still providing valuable insights.

2. Overcoming Data Scarcity: In some industries, obtaining real data can be challenging due to rarity or confidentiality issues. Synthetic data fills this gap by creating data on demand. For example, autonomous vehicle companies can simulate countless hours of driving scenarios to train their AI algorithms without relying solely on real-world data.

3. Data Diversity: Synthetic data allows organizations to diversify their datasets, reducing the risk of bias in AI models. By generating data from a wide range of sources and demographics, it can mitigate the biases often found in real-world data.

Synthetic Data Generation Techniques

Synthetic data generation techniques rely on a blend of statistical methods, machine learning, and creativity to craft datasets that are both informative and privacy-compliant. Here are some key techniques:

Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs): GANs are a pair of neural networks—generator and discriminator—engaged in a creative duel. The generator crafts synthetic data, while the discriminator evaluates its authenticity. Over time, this competition results in the generation of increasingly realistic data. Differential Privacy: This technique adds controlled noise to real data, making it challenging to identify specific individuals while preserving overall data trends and patterns. Data Augmentation: By introducing variations, transformations, or perturbations to real data, synthetic data can be created to expand the diversity of the dataset without disclosing sensitive information. Applications of Synthetic Data Generation

The applications of synthetic data generation are as diverse as the datasets it can create. Here are a few compelling examples:

1. Finance: Banks can use synthetic data to test their fraud detection algorithms without using real customer data, thus reducing security risks.

2. Retail: E-commerce companies can simulate customer behavior to optimize product recommendations and inventory management.

3. Healthcare: Medical researchers can develop and validate AI-driven diagnostic tools without exposing sensitive patient information.

4. Transportation: Self-driving car companies can generate synthetic road data to train and test their autonomous vehicles, ensuring safety without real-world risks.

Challenges and Limitations

While synthetic data generation offers immense potential, it’s not without its challenges:

1. Realism: Generating truly representative synthetic data can be challenging. If the synthetic data doesn’t accurately reflect real-world scenarios, it may lead to flawed conclusions.

2. Complexity: Creating high-quality synthetic data requires advanced machine learning techniques and substantial computational resources.

3. Ethical Considerations: The use of synthetic data should also be governed by ethical principles to prevent misuse or manipulation.


Synthetic data generation is transforming the data landscape by democratizing access, preserving privacy, and unlocking the full potential of data-driven insights. It’s a game-changer for businesses, enabling data leverage without compromising privacy or facing data scarcity. As technology advances, synthetic data generation will play a growing role in our data-driven future, leveling the playing field, and making data a universal resource.

In the ever-evolving data revolution, synthetic data generation is the key to democratizing data, breaking down the barriers, and allowing innovation to flourish in a privacy-conscious world.

The post Democratizing Data: How Synthetic Data Generation is Changing the Game appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

- Carson Derrow
Why Is My Google Organic Traffic Dropping and How to Improve it?

In the vast landscape of online visibility, organic traffic stands as a beacon of credibility and genuine user interest. Witnessing a decline in organic traffic can be both alarming and perplexing. Drops in visitors can mean a potential loss in revenue, engagement, or brand visibility.

But why does this happen? And more importantly, how can it be addressed and reversed? In this article, we’ll delve deep into the myriad reasons behind dwindling Google traffic numbers and offer actionable strategies to reclaim your site’s position and vitality in search results.

Google search Understanding Potential Causes for the Decline

The world of search engines, particularly Google, is dynamic. To ensure you’re on top of your game, it’s crucial to be aware of the various factors that could be behind the drop in your organic traffic. Let’s explore some of the common culprits.

Algorithm Updates

Google is notorious for its frequent and sometimes mysterious algorithm updates. Just to give you a clue of how often the search engine updates its algorithm, here’s a breakdown of changes Google has implemented in the past decade: :

Daily Minor Updates: Google has said they make changes to their algorithm every day, which can amount to over 1,000 minor updates per year. Major Updates: These are the ones SEO professionals and site owners often discuss because they can result in noticeable changes in search rankings. In the past decade, there have been numerous major updates, including but not limited to: Panda (2011): Targeted thin content and content farms. Penguin (2012): Aimed at reducing spam and penalizing over-optimized backlink profiles. Hummingbird (2013): Enhanced Google’s understanding of search queries. Pigeon (2014): Improved local search results. Mobile (2015): Focused on mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. RankBrain (2015): Introduced machine learning into the ranking process. Medic (2018): Seemingly targeted health and wellness sites, though its broader focus was on YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) pages. BERT (2019): Improved Google’s understanding of the context for words in search queries. Core Updates: Google started rolling out broad core updates every few months starting around 2018. These updates aren’t necessarily tied to specific named changes but represent significant tweaks to the primary algorithm. The latest core update took place on September 14, 2023.

While these updates aim to improve the search experience for users, they can sometimes cause fluctuations in rankings for websites. Sites that once enjoyed top positions might find themselves lower in search results if they don’t align with the updated algorithm’s criteria.

Technical Issues

Even minor technical glitches can significantly impact how Google views your site. Whether it’s server downtime, issues with robots.txt, or improper redirections, these can prevent Google from effectively crawling or indexing your content, leading to a drop in visibility.

Mobile Usability

Google started transitioning sites to mobile-first indexing based on the readiness of the sites back in 2018. By March 2021, Google announced that they’ve been using mobile-first indexing for over 99% of the web pages in their search results. A site that isn’t optimized for mobile can experience diminished rankings, especially in mobile search results.

mobile useability Manual Actions & Violations

Google maintains a set of Webmaster Guidelines to ensure a fair and useful search experience for users. If your site is deemed to be in violation of these guidelines, you might face manual penalties that can severely affect your organic traffic.

Rising Competition

The digital world is expansive, and with more businesses and websites sprouting every day, the competitive landscape is ever-evolving. This heightened competition has several implications:

Emergence of New Players: New competitors can swiftly enter the market, potentially armed with fresh content, advanced SEO strategies, or innovative user experiences. Such entrants can challenge existing websites, especially those that haven’t updated their strategies or content in a while. Revamped Strategies of Existing Players: It’s not just the newcomers. Existing competitors might revamp their online strategies, invest in better content marketing, or undergo a complete site overhaul to improve their SEO. Such moves can lead to significant rank and visibility shifts in search results. Unethical Tactics: Competition isn’t always fair. Some competitors might resort to black-hat SEO techniques or other unethical practices. This can include negative SEO attacks, where competitors try to harm your site’s reputation or rankings through tactics like spammy backlinks, content scraping, or even hacking. While Google’s algorithms have gotten better at detecting and mitigating the impacts of such actions, no system is infallible. Competitive PPC Campaigns: Some competitors might invest heavily in Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising, targeting keywords that you rank organically for. This can push your organic listings further down the page, especially if search results include multiple ad placements above the fold.

Maintaining a competitive edge in this dynamic environment requires vigilance, innovation, and adaptability.

Shifts to Alternate Platforms

The way people search and consume information is constantly evolving. A growing number of users might be shifting to voice search, using smart speakers, or even turning to vertical-specific search engines (like Pinterest for visuals or GitHub for code). This shift can mean that traditional search traffic could see declines as other platforms rise.

Featured Snippets & SERP Layout Changes

Google’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page) is not what it used to be. Featured snippets, “People also ask” boxes, video carousels, and direct answer modules can dominate the page. If your content isn’t in these boxes or positioned as a direct answer, users might get the information they need without ever clicking through to your site.

Local SEO Dynamics

Changes in the local landscape, like a new competitor entering the scene or alterations in Google My Business listing criteria, can affect your local search visibility. Furthermore, fluctuations in reviews, both in quantity and quality, can impact rankings in local search results.

Google’s Own Properties & Ad Changes

There’s been a growing trend of Google pushing organic results further down the page, with more emphasis on ads, Google My Business listings, and other Google-owned properties. This change can lead to reduced visibility for traditional organic listings.

Misaligned SEO Strategy

Perhaps your SEO strategy isn’t aligned with current best practices, or it’s too focused on short-term gains without considering long-term stability. Regularly revisiting and tweaking your strategy based on performance data and industry shifts is essential.

SEO 5 Powerful Strategies to Address and Improve Declining Traffic

Not all is lost when you see a dip in your organic traffic. The digital space offers numerous avenues to identify issues and rectify them. Here are actionable strategies to guide your way back to the top of search results.

1. Monitoring SEO Updates & News

Stay connected with prominent SEO news sources and forums. Understanding recent algorithm shifts and industry discussions can offer insights into what might be impacting your site and how to address it.

2. Leveraging Google Search Console

One of the most powerful tools at your disposal, Google Search Console can highlight potential penalties, indexing issues, or changes in user queries that lead to your site. Regularly monitor its reports to gain a pulse on your website’s health.

3. Regular Site Audits

Site audits act as a periodic health assessment for your digital presence. Think of them as a routine medical check-up but for your website.

Much like a routine health check-up can detect issues before they become serious problems, regular site audits serve a similar purpose for your website. These audits give you a comprehensive snapshot of your site’s overall health, revealing both strengths and areas that need improvement.

Running a detailed audit usually requires specialized knowledge and experience. If you’re not well-versed in SEO, you might need to consider bringing in professionals. With their SEO audit service, an agency like SeoProfy can not only do a thorough and nuanced audit but also offer a fresh perspective, spotting issues or opportunities you may have overlooked.

4. Refreshing & Updating Content

Outdated content can lose relevance. Periodically review and update your content to reflect current trends, data, and user intent. This not only boosts your credibility but also signals to search engines that your content is fresh and relevant.

5. Building Quality Backlinks

Engage in white-hat link-building strategies. Whether through guest posting, influencer outreach, or producing share-worthy content, backlinks continue to be a strong signal of your website’s authority.

Navigating the Ever-Changing Landscape of Organic Traffic

The world of organic search is dynamic and multifaceted. From evolving algorithms to shifting user behaviors, from rising competition to technological advancements, many factors can impact your website’s visibility and traffic. While these challenges might seem daunting, understanding their nuances is half the battle.

Instead of viewing traffic declines as setbacks, consider them opportunities. Each dip in traffic is a chance to re-evaluate, learn, and grow. Start off with a full technical audit of a navigate these challenges and ensure that your website remains a relevant, valuable destination in the vast digital landscape.

Remember, SEO isn’t just about algorithms and rankings. It’s about connecting with your audience, meeting their needs, and delivering value. Prioritize your users, stay updated with the industry’s pulse, and continuously adapt. In this ever-evolving game, resilience, adaptability, and a keen focus on quality are your keys to sustained success.

The post Why Is My Google Organic Traffic Dropping and How to Improve it? appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

- Divyanshu
Locating and Evaluating Cannabis Dispensaries Near Me

As the cannabis industry continues to grow and evolve, more and more individuals are turning to local dispensaries for their cannabis needs. Whether you’re a medical marijuana patient or a recreational user, finding a reliable and reputable cannabis dispensary is crucial. But with so many options available, how do you go about locating and evaluating the best local dispensaries?

In this blog post, we will guide you through the process of finding cannabis dispensaries near you and provide you with valuable tips on evaluating their quality. We will explore various methods, such as online search engines, mobile apps, and recommendations from others, to help you locate dispensaries in your area.

Once you have located potential dispensaries, we will discuss the importance of evaluating their quality. We will delve into the significance of reviewing customer feedback, investigating product quality, and assessing staff knowledge and customer service. These factors will help you determine the credibility and reliability of a dispensary before making a visit.

Lastly, we will provide tips on making the most out of your dispensary visit. Knowing what questions to ask, exploring a variety of products, and leveraging loyalty programs and special deals can enhance your overall dispensary experience.

Whether you are a seasoned cannabis consumer or a newcomer, this blog post will equip you with the knowledge and tools necessary to locate and evaluate local cannabis dispensaries effectively. So let’s dive in and discover the best resources to find reputable dispensaries in your area!

Cannabis Dispensaries Understanding Cannabis Dispensaries

Cannabis dispensaries are specialized retail establishments that legally sell cannabis products, including both medical and recreational marijuana. These establishments provide a safe and regulated environment for individuals to purchase cannabis for personal use.

Types of Cannabis Dispensaries: There are different types of cannabis dispensaries, including medical dispensaries, recreational dispensaries, and hybrid dispensaries that cater to both medical and recreational users. Understanding the distinction between these types of dispensaries can help you determine which one is suitable for your needs. Regulations and Licensing: Cannabis dispensaries operate under strict regulations and licensing requirements imposed by state and local authorities. These regulations ensure that dispensaries adhere to specific rules regarding the sourcing, cultivation, testing, and sale of cannabis products. Understanding these regulations can help you identify legitimate and compliant dispensaries. Dispensary Set-Up: Cannabis dispensaries are designed to provide a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere for customers. They typically have a waiting area where customers can browse menus and consult with staff. The main retail area is where products are displayed, and customers can make their purchases. Understanding the layout and set-up of a dispensary can help you navigate the space effectively. Product Selection: Dispensaries offer a wide range of cannabis products, including flowers (buds), concentrates, edibles, topicals, and more. Understanding the different product options available can help you make informed decisions based on your preferences and needs. Staff Expertise: Dispensaries employ knowledgeable staff who can provide guidance and information about different cannabis products. These experts can help you understand the various strains, potency levels, consumption methods, and potential effects of different products. Understanding the expertise and qualifications of dispensary staff is crucial for receiving accurate and helpful advice. Security Measures: Due to the nature of the products being sold, cannabis dispensaries often have strict security measures in place. This can include surveillance cameras, ID verification, and restricted access areas. Understanding the security protocols implemented by dispensaries can provide assurance and peace of mind.

By understanding the basics of cannabis dispensaries, you can make more informed decisions when it comes to choosing a reputable and reliable dispensary near you that meets your specific needs and preferences.

cannabis stors on map How to Find Cannabis Dispensaries Near Me

Finding cannabis dispensaries near you can be a daunting task, especially if you’re new to the area or new to using cannabis. Fortunately, there are several methods you can use to locate dispensaries in your vicinity.

SEO Using Online Search Engines Search Engine Queries: One of the easiest ways to find local cannabis dispensaries is by using popular search engines like Google or Bing. Simply enter relevant keywords such as “cannabis dispensaries near me” or “marijuana shops in [your location]” into the search bar, and you’ll be provided with a list of dispensaries in your area. Online Directories: There are various online directories specifically dedicated to listing cannabis dispensaries. Websites like Weedmaps, Leafly, and AllBud provide comprehensive databases of dispensaries, allowing you to search by location, product availability, and customer ratings. These directories often provide additional information about each dispensary, such as operating hours, contact information, and customer reviews. Dispensary Websites: Many cannabis dispensaries have their own websites where they provide detailed information about their products, services, and location. using mobile app Using Mobile Apps Dispensary Finder Apps: There are numerous mobile apps available that can help you locate cannabis dispensaries in your area. Apps like Weedmaps, Leafly, and Greenito provide user-friendly interfaces that allow you to search for dispensaries based on your location, view menus and product availability, read reviews, and even place orders for pickup or delivery. GPS Navigation Apps: GPS navigation apps like Google Maps and Apple Maps can also be useful in finding nearby dispensaries. Simply search for “cannabis dispensary” or related keywords within the app, and it will display a list of nearby options along with directions to each location. Recommendations and Word-of-Mouth Ask Friends and Local Cannabis Community: Reach out to friends, family, or acquaintances who are knowledgeable about cannabis or have experience with local dispensaries. They may be able to provide you with recommendations based on their personal experiences. Join Online Cannabis Communities: Engaging with online cannabis communities, such as forums, social media groups, or Reddit threads, can be a great way to gather insights and recommendations from a wider network of cannabis enthusiasts. Many users are willing to share their favorite dispensaries and provide feedback on their experiences.

Remember to cross-reference information obtained from different sources to ensure accuracy and relevance. Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that the availability of dispensaries may vary depending on your location and the legal status of cannabis in your area.

Evaluating the Quality of a Dispensary

Once you have located potential cannabis dispensaries near you, it’s essential to evaluate their quality to ensure you are choosing a reputable and reliable establishment. Evaluating the quality of a dispensary involves considering various factors, such as customer feedback, product quality, and staff knowledge and customer service. In this section, we will explore these aspects in detail.

Reviewing Customer Feedback Online Reviews and Ratings: One of the most valuable sources of information when evaluating a dispensary is online customer reviews and ratings. These websites allow customers to share their experiences and provide feedback on dispensaries. Pay attention to overall ratings, specific comments, and recurring themes in the reviews to get a sense of the dispensary’s reputation. Social Media Presence: Check if the dispensary has an active presence on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Social media can provide additional insights into the dispensary’s reputation, customer engagement, and community involvement. Look for positive interactions, responsiveness to customer inquiries, and updates on new products or promotions. Investigating Product Quality Product Sourcing and Testing: Inquire about the sourcing of the cannabis products offered by the dispensary. Are they sourced from reputable growers or manufacturers? Are the products tested for potency, purity, and contaminants? Reliable dispensaries often provide information on their sourcing practices and testing protocols to ensure product quality and safety. Variety and Selection: Assess the range of products available at the dispensary. A reputable dispensary should offer a diverse selection of cannabis strains, concentrates, edibles, topicals, and other related products. This variety allows customers to choose products that suit their preferences and needs. Assessing Staff Knowledge and Customer Service Staff Expertise: Interact with the dispensary staff and observe their level of knowledge and expertise. Well-trained staff members should have a good understanding of different cannabis products, including strain characteristics, consumption methods, and potential effects. They should also be able to provide personalized recommendations based on customers’ preferences and needs. Customer Service: Evaluate the overall customer service experience at the dispensary. Consider factors such as staff friendliness, responsiveness to questions, willingness to provide guidance, and overall professionalism. A dispensary that prioritizes exceptional customer service creates a positive and comfortable environment for customers.

By considering customer feedback, investigating product quality, and assessing staff knowledge and customer service, you can make an informed decision about the quality and reliability of a cannabis dispensary. Taking the time to evaluate these factors will help ensure a positive and satisfying experience when you visit the chosen dispensary.

The post Locating and Evaluating Cannabis Dispensaries Near Me appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

- Carson Derrow
12 Best Replica Websites To Buy Fake Stuff

The feeling of flaunting designer goods in public is truly unparalleled. But, spending thousands of dollars on a bag in this economy is but a pipe dream… Or so you would think.

If you realy want that perfume or bag but don’t have the budget for it, you have come to the right place. In this article, we have compiled a list of 15 replica websites which sell high-quality designer dupes at insane prices. Read on to find out more.

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash What Is A Replica?

A replica is a duplicate (dupe) of a high-end designer product. A good replica product is almost identical to the original and is very similar in appearance and quality. To avoid legal issues by infringing on trademarks, sellers offer these dupes without the brand label.

Replica products are in high demand and new sellers keep popping up. However, only some online wholesalers have high-quality replicas at a low-price, so it is important to weed out the bad ones from the good in order to avoid getting scammed. To make your life easier, we have found the best fake designer websites.

However, for three of the websites listed at the end, we could not find adequate information, so do check social media platforms like Reddit for reviews if you plan to buy from them.

1. Aliexpress Aliexpress

Aliexpress is one of the most popular online wholesale business which sell replicas. You have a good chance of finding knockoff products including electronics, mobile phones, and fashion accessories here in bulk.

Their prices are extremely affordable and they offer replica goods which are durable and value for money.

What Do They Sell? Fake mobile phones and other tech gadgets Wholesale replica designer bags Replica shoes Replica Apple products Pros Sppedy delivery of bulk purchases. Transparent refund and return policy. Original products are also available. Cons Not all vendors are trustworthy. Quality of products is not guaranteed. 2. Replicaonline Replicaonline

Replicaonline is one of the more commonly used Chinese replica websites as they have a great customer support system and ship worldwide. As their name suggests, they only focus on replicas, so they tend to produce more specific products.

What Do They Sell? Replica handbags Replica watches Replica shoes Pros Quick and easy return policy. Active customer support. High quality products are available. Fair and affordable pricing. Offers express shipping around the world. Cons Only sells fashion-related replicas. Only accepts Visa, MasterCard, and Western Union as their payment methods. 3. DHgate DGgate

DHgate is a wholesale and retail platform which does’t require their customers to place large orders. With over 40 million products, they offer a wide range of original and replica goods to choose from.

What Do They Sell? Replica shoes Replica designer clothes Replica handbags Replica watches Pros Fair and affordable pricing of replicas. Wide range of products. Their customer service cell is attentive and quick to respond to inquiries. Cons Not all vendors provide wholesale prices. Finding the right products will take time because they have custom brand names. To identify trustworthy sellers, you must must do your research. 4. RepFashions RepFashions

If you love keeping up with current trends in fashion, RepFashions is the one-stop shop for you. They sell amazing streetwear, fashion accessories and hype fashion replica products. They sell good quality UA sneakers, backpacks, hoodies, pullover jackets, and windbreakers that are 99% identical to the original products. Their best selection of knockoff designer brands includes Bearbrick, Gucci, Burberry, Balen, Off White, and Burberry.

What Do They Sell? They sell a wide range of streetwear from knockoff brands including: Fear Of God Off-White Palace ASSC Palm Angels Stone Island Pros They constantly update the quality of their items. Their aim is to provide the best-quality replicas at affordable prices. They deliver by USP to over 150 nations. Offers free shipping. They offer 100% buyer protection. They have a transparent return policy. Cons Their pricing starts at $60 Photo by Arun Krishnavajjala on Unsplash 5. Global Sources global sources

Global Sources is trusted wholesale business which facilitates secure business-to-business transactions. It is a sizeable wholesale platform which boasts products from 94 of the top 100 trustworthy wholesale vendors worldwide. They are known for their trustworthy business proceedings and have a 1.5 million foreign customer base.

What Do They Sell? Replica fashion accessories, including bags, watches, and jewellery. Replica electronic gadgets and hardware. Replica clothes. Pros Large collection of replica fashion items for both men and women. Cheap prices and quick delivery. Cons Bulk orders require extensive research as some vendors are not trustworthy. 6. Hypeunique Hypeunique

Launched in 2017, Hypeunique has been consistently offering high-quality accessories and streetwear at cheaper prices. While they have a retail option, you can also buy their products in bulk and white label them under your own brand name.

What Do They Sell?

At Hypeunique, they sell replicas of products from high-end brands such as:

Off-White Yeezy Balenciaga Air Jordan Nike Pros Provideshigh quality replica items. Will demonstrate the clothing’s intricate features, such as thread trimmings, emblems, and wash labels on their YouTube channel. Active customer support 24/7. Provides order tracking services. Easy return policy. Cons Delivery takes a minimum of 10 days. 7. We Replica We Replica

Within just 3 years of its founding, We Replica has become a favourite luxury-product supplier for customers worldwide. They also provide detailed review videos of their replica items and have a blog about how to source replica goods. You can join their Telegram group to get in touch with other buyers.

What Do They Sell?

All kinds of luxury apparel and accessories from brands including:

Louis Vuitton Gucci Prada Dolce & Gabbana Pros Offers high-quality replica goods. Provides offers and discounts. Product category is divided into type, color, and price, making the website’s interface easy to navigate. You can raise requests for customization. Active customer support cell. Cons Prices can sometimes be very high. 8. Vanilla Monkey Vanilla Monkey

Based in Los Angeles, California, Vanilla Monkey offers affordable wholesale replicas of high-end fashion items. Their high-end fashionable clothes can be trusted to be of good quality.

What Do They Sell? Replica swimsuits Replica athletic gear Replica outerwear Cosmetics, bags, and other accessories. Pros Their order processing is swift and reliable. Active customer support. Wide range of products of great quality. Has a preorder option. Cons Has a minimum order requirement for promotions. The website requires you to log in to view the product details. 9. Rosegal rosegal

Founded by a group of close friends, Rosegal is an inclusive brand whose goal is to make fashion accessible to plus-sized women. They provide plus-size apparel for various events, including parties, swimming, and nighttime wear.

What Do They Sell?

Rosegal provides fashionable plus-sized clothes for various occasions ranging from fancy dinner parties to Halloween.

Tops Bottoms Dresses Jewellery Pros Offers various promotions and coupons. Has a wide range of collections available. The website’s user interface is easy to navigate. Has a membership program with a point system for discounts. Cons The quality of some replica clothes is questionable. Free shipping is only available in the US and for orders above $99. 10.  Alibaba alibaba

Alibaba is one of the best places to go if you want good products at cheap prices. Most of their goods are genuine and they offer worldwide shipping. They also accept many different payment options including letters of credit, T/T, Western Union, electronic check payment, PayPal, and credit card.

What Do They Sell? Replica handbags Replica shoes Replica designer clothes Replica electronics Pros Large collection of affordable replicas. Website and mobile application are easy to use. Can request samples before making purchases. Cons Delivery may be delayed. Not all sellers are trustworthy. 11. eBay ebay What Do They Sell?

eBay Inc. is a multinational American e-commerce enterprise headquartered in San Jose, California which enables both business-to-business and consumer-to-consumer purchases through its websites. You can find just abut anything here to buy or sell.

Pros Various apparel Bags, watches, and other accessories Electronics Wide range of products. An easily navigable interface. Good customer service and return policies. Low-cost shipping options. Cons eBay strictly prohibits the sale of counterfeit items, so you may not find cheap replica items here 12. Rotita Rotita

Since its founding in 2009, Rotita has gained a reputation for providing affordable fashion for women. They have a solid collection of a wide range of products and ship internationally.

What Do They Sell? Clothing Beachwear Dresses Plus-size Jewelry Bags Pros They have multiple payment options, and when you make a purchase, Rotita does not collect your credit/debit card number or personal information. Their customer support executives are available round the clock to assist you with any issues or questions. Cons The quality of some replica clothes is questionable. Final Thoughts

As is with every market, the replica industry also has its share of scammers who pretend to be legitimate, take your order and stop responding after getting your money. There are also some who also send cheap quality products, so do your own research by looking up reviews on websites like Reddit and make informed decisions.

The post 12 Best Replica Websites To Buy Fake Stuff appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

- Carson Derrow
Genius Ways That Savvy Entrepreneurs Can Utilize Cryptocurrency At Work

Cryptocurrency is more than a speculative investment or a buzzword floating around news outlets. It has established itself as a versatile and indispensable tool for the modern entrepreneur. To think of it solely as a volatile asset is to overlook its immense potential for transforming business operations. Let’s explore how astute entrepreneurs can smartly employ cryptocurrency in their day-to-day work environments.

Leverage Blockchain for Contracts and Agreements

Smart contracts, facilitated by blockchain technology, have begun to revolutionize how businesses formulate contracts. These digital contracts are self-executing and require no intermediaries, thus saving time and reducing costs. Utilizing smart contracts in areas like real estate transactions or intellectual property rights can lead to greater efficiency and transparency.

By adopting blockchain-based contracts, entrepreneurs can easily track every aspect of a deal. Blockchain’s immutable nature ensures that all data recorded is permanent and tamper-proof. This strengthens trust between parties, an attribute that’s priceless in any business relationship.

Foster Secure Payments and Transactions

Traditional methods of money transfer and payments are burdened by transaction fees, long waiting times, and exposure to fraud. By accepting cryptocurrency, businesses can sidestep these issues. Transactions are usually confirmed within minutes, even for international dealings, and the costs associated are significantly lower.

Because of cryptographic encryption, transactions are more secure and less prone to fraud. By using cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum for transactions, you offer your customers another layer of protection that isn’t readily available with conventional payment methods.

Gain Competitive Intelligence

Cryptocurrency also plays a key role in market research and analytics. For instance, several blockchain platforms provide real-time, transparent data that can be analyzed for consumer behavior, market trends, and competitor strategies. While conventional data sources remain useful, blockchain technology adds another layer of reliability and immediacy to your market intelligence efforts.

Browsing the news and articles from the bitcoin experts at News BTC can provide entrepreneurs with invaluable insights into market conditions and crypto trends. Leveraging these expert analyses can help businesses formulate strategies that are not just effective, but also ahead of the curve.

Invest in Tokenization to Raise Capital

Tokenization is the process of converting assets into digital tokens on a blockchain. Startups can tokenize virtually any asset—real estate, artwork, or even equity—to raise capital. Tokenized assets are easier to trade and manage, thereby increasing liquidity and attracting a broader range of investors.

Notably, tokenization also provides a mechanism for dividing assets into smaller, more affordable shares. This democratizes investment opportunities, enabling smaller investors to participate in ventures that were previously out of their reach. For an entrepreneur, this is a savvy way to bring in funds while offering a more inclusive investment environment.

Enhance Customer Loyalty Through Crypto Rewards

Loyalty programs are nothing new, but incorporating cryptocurrency adds an innovative twist. Traditional rewards often come with strings attached, such as expiration dates or limited usability. On the other hand, offering cryptocurrency as a reward provides customers with an asset that has real-world value and the potential for growth.

Crypto-based loyalty programs also create a sense of community among your customers. These programs can serve as educational platforms that introduce people to the world of cryptocurrency. As they learn and become more comfortable, the likelihood increases that they will continue engaging with your business on this new financial frontier.


Cryptocurrency is no longer an emerging trend but a powerful tool that holds immense utility for modern businesses. Whether it’s through streamlining contracts, enhancing security, gathering competitive intelligence, raising capital through tokenization, or fostering customer loyalty, the applications are as diverse as they are impactful. By embracing cryptocurrency, savvy entrepreneurs are not merely keeping up with the times but are pioneering a future where technology and business go hand in hand.

The post Genius Ways That Savvy Entrepreneurs Can Utilize Cryptocurrency At Work appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

- Carson Derrow
The Best Marketing Channels to Promote Cannabis Business

The cannabis industry is still on a journey toward widespread acceptance and legalization. As more regions and countries embrace the use of cannabis, businesses in this sector are flourishing. However, with increasing competition, it becomes imperative to have a robust marketing strategy that will help efficiently reach your target audience.

Cannabis Social Media

Social media platforms have emerged as a potent tool for marketing cannabis products. Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter offer a dynamic space to engage with your audience, share your brand story, and showcase your products creatively.

Instagram: Known for its visual appeal, Instagram is a favorite among cannabis brands. Here, you can post stunning images and videos of your products, offer glimpses behind the scenes, and even run giveaways to increase engagement. Just ensure compliance with platform policies and local regulations regarding cannabis content. Facebook: While Facebook has stringent advertising policies related to cannabis, it remains a valuable platform for building an online community and sharing educational content. Pages and groups dedicated to cannabis enthusiasts can be used strategically to connect with potential customers. Twitter: Use Twitter to keep your audience updated on industry news, share your thoughts on trends, and participate in relevant conversations. Hashtags like #CannabisCommunity can help you reach a broader audience. Content Marketing

Content marketing is a versatile and enduring strategy for cannabis businesses. By providing valuable information and entertaining content, you can establish your brand as a trusted authority in the field. To achieve success, it is better to cooperate with an agency like MjSeo.Agency that knows how to attract organic traffic and provides exceptional SEO services.


Maintain an informative blog on your website that covers a wide range of topics related to cannabis. Write about the latest research, product reviews, industry insights, and the benefits of your products. Quality content can drive organic traffic to your website and establish your brand as a thought leader.

Video Content

YouTube and other video-sharing platforms offer an opportunity to create engaging video content. You can produce educational videos, and product reviews, and even host live sessions to connect with your audience in real time.


Podcasts have gained immense popularity in recent years. Launching a podcast dedicated to cannabis-related topics can help you connect with a growing audience of podcast enthusiasts.


Search engine optimization (SEO) is the art of optimizing your website and content to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). A strong SEO strategy ensures that your website is visible to potential customers when they search for relevant keywords. It is best to address one of the best CBD SEO companies from the very beginning to get the best results.

If you want to conduct SEO by yourself, first, identify keywords related to your cannabis products and industry. Optimize your website content, including product descriptions and blog posts, for these keywords. Quality backlinks from reputable sources can also boost your website’s authority in the eyes of search engines.

Influencer Marketing

Leveraging influencers can be a powerful strategy in the cannabis industry, as these individuals often have a dedicated following and are considered experts by their audience.

Collaborate with influencers who align with your brand values and product offerings. They can create authentic content, review your products, and share their experiences, effectively reaching a wider audience while building trust through personal recommendations.

Here are a few examples of popular cannabis bloggers and influencers:

Coral Kamstra-Brown (@coralkamstrabrown)

Instagram Follower Count: 27K+

Bio: Coral is known for her vibrant personality and in-depth cannabis reviews. She’s a passionate advocate for legalization and uses her platform to educate her followers on various strains, consumption methods, and the latest cannabis trends.

The Cannabis Experts (@TheCannabisExperts)

YouTube Subscriber Count: 192K+

Bio: The Cannabis Experts is a collaborative effort by multiple cannabis influencers who create informative and entertaining videos about cannabis culture, strain reviews, cooking with cannabis, and more. They offer a diverse range of content that appeals to a broad audience.

Anjela (@koala.puffss)

Twitter Follower Count: 40K+

Bio: Anjela, known as Koala Puffs, is a cannabis advocate who shares her personal journey using medical cannabis to manage anxiety. She provides valuable insights into the medical benefits of cannabis and its impact on daily life.

Travis Petersen (@the_nomadcook)

Blog Subscribers: 24K+

Bio: Travis Petersen is a cannabis culinary expert who runs a popular blog focused on cooking and baking with cannabis. His recipes and tutorials are highly sought after by both experienced cannabis users and newcomers looking to explore edibles.

Remember that when collaborating with influencers, it’s crucial to ensure that their content aligns with your brand’s values and goals. Building authentic partnerships with these cannabis influencers can help you reach a broader and more engaged audience in the cannabis industry.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is an excellent way to maintain a personal connection with your customers and keep them informed about new products, promotions, and industry developments. Building a robust email list through your website and social media channels is essential.

Create engaging newsletters that provide value to your subscribers. Share educational content, exclusive offers, and updates about your business. Personalize your emails to make your audience feel valued and appreciated.


Cannabis Directories and Review Sites

Online directories and review sites specifically dedicated to cannabis can be goldmines for businesses looking to gain visibility. Websites like Weedmaps and Leafly are popular platforms where consumers search for dispensaries, brands, and product reviews.

Ensure your business is listed accurately on these directories, complete with up-to-date information, photos, and reviews. Positive reviews can significantly impact your reputation and attract new customers.

Cannabis Events and Sponsorships

Participating in cannabis-related events, trade shows, and sponsorships can be a fantastic way to get your brand in front of a targeted audience. These events often attract industry professionals, enthusiasts, and potential customers.

Consider sponsoring or exhibiting at local or national cannabis events. Hosting your own events or workshops can also establish your brand as an industry leader and create opportunities for face-to-face interactions with your audience.

Public Relations (PR)

Effective public relations can help you shape public perception and build trust around your cannabis brand. Share your unique story, mission, and values with the public through press releases, media interviews, and other PR tactics.

Develop relationships with cannabis-friendly media outlets and journalists who can cover your business and its achievements. Positive media coverage can significantly boost your brand’s credibility.

SMS Marketing

SMS marketing is a direct and effective way to engage with your audience, especially if you have a loyalty program or want to share time-sensitive offers. Collect phone numbers from willing customers and use SMS to send personalized messages, exclusive promotions, and updates. Ensure that recipients can easily opt out if they choose to.


Networking remains an invaluable marketing channel for cannabis businesses. Attend industry events, join cannabis business associations, and connect with other professionals in the field. Building strong relationships with suppliers, distributors, and other players in the industry can open doors to collaborations, partnerships, and business opportunities you might not have considered otherwise.

Navigating the Green Marketing Landscape

A diversified approach is key. Each of the channels mentioned in this article has its unique strengths and can contribute to the growth and success of your cannabis business. Remember that while these channels can be powerful tools, compliance with local laws and regulations is essential. By crafting a thoughtful marketing strategy that combines these channels, you can navigate the green marketing landscape effectively and carve out a successful path for your cannabis venture.

The post The Best Marketing Channels to Promote Cannabis Business appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

- Carson Derrow
Effortless MySQL Connectivity in Delphi Applications with MyDAC: A Step-by-Step Guide

Navigating the maze of database connectivity can be daunting, especially when you’re working with popular databases like MySQL and robust development environments like Delphi. But what if there was a streamlined way to bridge the two effortlessly? That’s precisely what this blog post is all about. Leveraging insights from an in-depth tutorial video, we’ve crafted a step-by-step guide to demystify the process. We’ll explore how to use Devart’s MySQL Data Access Components (MyDAC) to seamlessly link your Delphi application with a MySQL database. This guide serves as your roadmap, designed to make MySQL connectivity in Delphi not just possible, but straightforward and efficient.


Before diving into the nitty-gritty of MySQL connectivity, it’s essential to ensure you have all the required software and tools at your disposal. Here’s your checklist:

Delphi: The development environment where you’ll be crafting your application. MySQL Database: The database you’ll be connecting to, which should be properly configured and accessible. MyDAC by Devart: This is the key component that will facilitate the connection between your Delphi application and the MySQL database.

Armed with these prerequisites, you’ll be well-prepared to make the most of this step-by-step guide to MySQL connectivity in Delphi.

Also Read – How SQL Union Queries Can Make a Difference in Your Business Operations

Installing MyDAC

Getting MyDAC installed on your system is the first crucial step in this journey. Below is a detailed walkthrough to guide you through the download and installation process.

Downloading MyDAC Visit the Download Page: Navigate to the official Devart website or the specific page where MyDAC is available for download. Select the Latest Version: On the download page, you’ll find various versions of MyDAC. Choose the latest one that suits your needs. Download: Click on the download link to start downloading the installer package. MyDAC Trail Download Installation Process Run the Installer: Once the download is complete, locate the installer package and run it to initiate the installation process. Follow the Prompts: The installation wizard will guide you through the setup. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation. Choose Edition: During installation, you’ll be prompted to select the edition you want to install. If you’re using it for evaluation purposes, you may opt for the trial edition. MySQL Data access installing Compatibility with IDEs RAD Studio 11 Alexandria: One of the standout features of MyDAC is its broad compatibility with various IDEs. Notably, it supports the latest RAD Studio 11 Alexandria, making it a flexible choice for developers. Other IDEs: Besides RAD Studio, MyDAC is also compatible with older versions of Delphi and C++ Builder, offering a wide range of options for different development environments.

After successfully completing the installation, you should see a new MyDAC menu in your IDE, confirming that the component set is now ready for use.

By following these steps, you’ll have MyDAC installed and ready, setting the stage for seamless MySQL connectivity in your Delphi applications.

MyDAC Components Overview

Once MyDAC is installed, you’ll notice a new set of database components for Delphi, specifically designed to facilitate MySQL connectivity. These components are the building blocks that will enable you to create robust and efficient database applications.

Available Components TMyConnection: This component is essential for establishing a connection between your Delphi application and the MySQL database. TMyQuery: This component allows you to execute SQL queries and manipulate data within the database. Additional Components: MyDAC also offers a variety of other components designed to handle different aspects of database interaction, such as transactions and stored procedures. Workflow-Simplifying Features HTTP Tunneling: One of the standout features of MyDAC is its support for HTTP tunneling. This allows your application to connect to MySQL databases that are behind firewalls, thereby expanding the range of applications you can develop. Fault-Tolerated Loading: MyDAC also offers fault-tolerated loading capabilities, which means that your application can recover gracefully from temporary network glitches or database downtimes, ensuring a smooth user experience.

By leveraging these components and features, you can significantly streamline your development workflow. The MyDAC components not only make it easier to connect to MySQL databases but also offer advanced features that can simplify complex tasks and enhance the robustness of your applications.

Working with dbForge Studio for MySQL

When it comes to database management, dbForge Studio for MySQL offers a comprehensive suite of tools that can complement your Delphi application development. One of the most fundamental tasks you’ll perform is creating and viewing tables in the database. Here’s how this integrates with your Delphi application:

Creating and Viewing Tables Launch dbForge Studio: Open the dbForge Studio for MySQL application and connect to your MySQL database. Navigate to Tables: In the left-hand navigation pane, click on the “Tables” section to view existing tables or create new ones. Create New Table: To create a new table, right-click within the “Tables” section and choose “Create New Table.” Follow the prompts to define the table schema, including fields, data types, and constraints. View Existing Tables: To view an existing table, simply double-click on the table name in the “Tables” section. This will open a new tab where you can view the table schema and data. Integration with Delphi Application Data Consistency: The tables you create or modify in dbForge Studio will be the same tables your Delphi application interacts with via MyDAC components. This ensures data consistency across both platforms. SQL Queries: The SQL queries you test in dbForge Studio can be directly implemented in your Delphi application using the TMyQuery component. This makes it easier to debug and optimize your queries. Data Manipulation: Any data manipulation tasks, such as inserting, updating, or deleting records, can be performed in both dbForge Studio and your Delphi application, offering a seamless workflow.

By understanding how to create and manage tables in dbForge Studio for MySQL, and knowing how this integrates with your Delphi application, you can create a more efficient and streamlined development process.

Implementing TMyQuery

The TMyQuery component is a cornerstone of your Delphi application when it comes to executing SQL queries and manipulating data within your MySQL database. This section will guide you through the steps to add this component to your project and utilize it effectively.

Adding the TMyQuery Component Access Delphi Palette: Open your Delphi project and navigate to the component palette, usually located on the right-hand side of the IDE. Locate MyDAC Components: Scroll through the palette until you find the section dedicated to MyDAC components. Add TMyQuery: Locate the TMyQuery component and drag it onto your form, or simply double-click it to add it to your project. Writing SQL Queries and Fetching Data Select TMyQuery: Click on the TMyQuery component you just added to your form to select it. Configure Connection: Make sure the TMyQuery component is linked to your TMyConnection component, ensuring it knows which database to interact with. Open SQL Property: In the Object Inspector, locate the SQL property and click on it to open the SQL editor. Write SQL Query: In the SQL editor, write the SQL query you wish to execute. For example, you could write a SELECT statement to fetch data from a specific table. Execute Query: To execute the query and fetch data, you can either set the Active property of TMyQuery to True or use methods like Open or ExecSQL, depending on the type of query.

By following these steps, you’ll be able to add the TMyQuery component to your Delphi application and use it to execute SQL queries and fetch data from your MySQL database. This component is integral for any data-driven application and offers a straightforward way to interact with your database.

Live Bindings and UI

Creating a responsive and intuitive user interface is crucial for any application, and Delphi’s live bindings feature offers a seamless way to connect your data to UI components. In this section, we’ll explore how to use live bindings in conjunction with the TListView component to display data fetched from your MySQL database.

Utilizing Live Bindings Open LiveBindings Designer: Within your Delphi IDE, navigate to View > Tool Windows > LiveBindings Designer to open the LiveBindings Designer window. Connect Components: Drag a line from your TMyQuery component to the UI component where you want to display the data. This establishes a live binding between the data source and the UI. Configure Properties: After connecting the components, you’ll need to configure the binding properties to specify how the data should be displayed. This can usually be done within the Object Inspector. Choice of TListView for Displaying Data Cross-Platform Compatibility: One of the main reasons for choosing TListView is its compatibility with multiple platforms. Since Delphi allows for cross-platform development, using TListView ensures that your application will function consistently across different operating systems. Data Presentation: TListView offers a flexible way to present data, allowing for various item appearances and layouts. This makes it a versatile choice for displaying complex data structures. Performance: TListView is optimized for performance, ensuring that even large datasets can be displayed efficiently. This aligns well with the high-performance capabilities of MyDAC components.

By leveraging live bindings and the TListView component, you can create a dynamic and responsive UI that not only displays data effectively but also ensures cross-platform compatibility and performance. This combination offers a robust solution for any data-driven Delphi application.

MyDAC’s Versatility

MyDAC’s capabilities extend far beyond basic database connectivity, offering a range of features that make it a versatile choice for various types of applications. In this section, we’ll delve into some of these features that underscore MyDAC’s adaptability and broad applicability.

Support for Cloud-Based MySQL Services

Seamless Integration: MyDAC is designed to work effortlessly with cloud-based MySQL services. Whether you’re using AWS, Azure, or any other cloud provider, MyDAC ensures a seamless integration process. Scalability: The cloud support also brings in the advantage of scalability. As your application grows, MyDAC can easily adapt to changing database needs without requiring significant changes to your existing code.

Suitability for Multiple Platforms

Desktop Applications: MyDAC is a robust choice for desktop applications, offering a range of features that facilitate complex data operations, transaction handling, and more. Mobile Applications: What sets MyDAC apart is its suitability for mobile applications as well. It allows your mobile apps to interact with MySQL databases just as efficiently as desktop applications, providing a consistent experience across platforms.

By offering support for cloud-based services and being adaptable to both desktop and mobile environments, MyDAC stands out as a versatile database connectivity solution. Its wide range of features and adaptability make it an excellent choice for developers looking to build robust, scalable, and cross-platform applications.


We’ve navigated the essential steps for integrating MySQL databases into Delphi applications using MyDAC. From the initial installation of MyDAC to leveraging its specialized components like TMyQuery, each step serves a critical role in simplifying your development process. These steps are vital for creating robust, data-driven applications that can run efficiently on both desktop and mobile platforms. For those looking to expand their knowledge further, the official Devart documentation is an invaluable resource, offering in-depth insights into MyDAC’s advanced features. By following this guide, you’re well-positioned to build versatile, scalable applications that can even adapt to cloud-based environments. Thank you for reading, and best of luck in your development journey.

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- Carson Derrow
Effectively managing your SaaS subscriptions: The perks of automated software

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a software licensing model, allowing access to software on a subscription basis.

This software is vital for many companies and can be found on external servers, which means there needs to be something in place to monitor and manage them.

This is where SaaS payment management software comes in, as it helps businesses easily manage subscriptions.

So, how can your business effectively manage subscriptions using this software?

Automated invoicing system

A well-designed automation system for subscriptions can significantly help those upcoming month-end payments.

Manually creating invoices for all subscriptions can be time-consuming, but this can be solved by automatically sending out invoices with parameters you can set accordingly.

Refine SaaS subscriptions

This management software can be used to identify which subscriptions are necessary for your business.

It’s important to either downgrade subscriptions or remove them altogether if they no longer serve a business use.

This will cut business costs, so you only opt for subscriptions that will benefit your company and employees to a high degree.

Track subscription payments/renewals

Refining the number of SaaS subscriptions owned, already reduces the amount that you have to keep up with.

However, it’s important to regularly track the subscriptions you have to ensure all payments are on track, which could be done using a shared company calendar.

There may be times when you forget, which could incur late or missed payments, but it is easier to avoid this by using SaaS spend management software.

Your subscriptions will be compiled into one dashboard, where you can find all subscription details, at once, in a centralized location.

Using virtual corporate cards

Corporate cards are constantly evolving and now, more than ever, businesses are opting for virtual corporate cards.

They can be used to manage various business aspects, along with any subscriptions, making it easier to set up payments.

Managing subscriptions can be difficult, but it’s much simpler if you automate payments using these cards, so you don’t miss any upcoming deadlines.

To make managing subscriptions even easier, you can dedicate separate virtual cards to each of your subscriptions – automating them so your business can properly utilize resources and time efficiently.

Improve onboarding and offboarding practices

Onboarding and offboarding practices need proper implementation when new employees join a business and if employees leave a business.

This helps to create a steady workflow with as little disruption to how your company runs as a whole.

Automating these processes with thorough instructions can minimize errors that come from human error.

When employees leave, your company needs a full list of the subscriptions and services that specific worker has been using. Then, these subscriptions can be effectively removed to limit the extra expenses on any unnecessary services.

Ensuring high levels of security

With many businesses having a large number of transactions that will be taking place for a variety of subscriptions, it’s important to ensure they all have high levels of security when it comes to their payments.

Utilizing business time and money to protect transactions by using SaaS management software, ensures maximum security and a much-reduced risk from scammers and hackers.

This will give your company peace of mind and ultimately help from wasting time battling fraudulent behavior.

Effectively managing SaaS subscriptions using SaaS payment management software, allows your business to clearly identify and manage the overall cost.

Instead, the most necessary subscriptions can be focused on, to benefit an individual’s learning process in the workplace, whilst properly utilizing company resources.

The post Effectively managing your SaaS subscriptions: The perks of automated software appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

- What I Found
Bob Soderstrom | ChangeUp


Co-Founder & CEO of ChangeUp, a company that helps brands integrate donations into the customer experience in ways that are simple and impactful.

What Is ChangeUp? Tell Us About What You Do And What Your Overall Mission Is.

ChangeUp is a donation software company based in Los Angeles. Our mission to make every single transaction, purchase and card swipe a micro-action for good.

What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I have a finance degree from Indiana University and a law degree from the University of Wisconsin. But by far my best education was serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in a village in the Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea, which is mountainous rainforest. This showed me the value of volunteerism and the impact being made by our charity sponsor, the Wildlife Conservation Foundation, which works in conjunction with the Bronx Zoo to preserve natural habitats around the world.

What Have Been Your Most Challenging Moments For You And The Company?

The most challenging part has been raising capital. In the early days, we had months where we barely scraped by until we found a solid business path forward. Another challenging part has been being patient as our developers build new product and then we market-test to see what works.

What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

In our early stages, we raised cash in $25,000 increments from individuals. Some put in $100,000 or more, but mostly we had smaller chip shots from friends, family and colleagues. And then we found our path in the ecommerce space and raised $1.25M from PopSockets Ventures. The Founder of PopSockets, David Barnett, had just moved his company’s website to Salesforce Commerce Cloud and saw how our MVP product, the donate-at-checkout module—helped them decrease bounce and increase conversions at checkout. His investment helped us build out a deeper, more mature suite of features for merchants on Salesforce Commerce Cloud, where we are the only certified donation vendor. Now we’ve signed over 40 merchants there, including companies that I love like Elf Cosmetics, The Honest Company, Alicia Keys Soulcare and Converse.

Tell Us About Your Technology And What Kind Of Platforms Or Companies Changeup Integrated With.

Our MVP product was donate-at-checkout for ecommerce merchants. We then expanded and iterated on that product to include other features at checkout, robust reporting, and then a donation pledge by the merchant on the product page, which increases cart values. We started with Salesforce but have now expanded our software to other ecommerce solutions. As a result, we can now be integrated with any large volume platforms. We specialize in enterprise level clients.

What Is One Thing About Building A Business You Did Not Know That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching ChangeUp?

I had always heard about startups that pivot into a new model, but I had no idea how laborious, painstaking and, ultimately, rewarding that can be. We’ve now had two big pivots since we were founded. It’s an arduous process because you have to admit that you made a wrong decision and give up some beautiful things you built. But also, you’re in business to build something useful and make money and that often requires a change in course. Embrace the pivot!

Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

My co-founders are Tim Kring and Raj Kamachee. They’re terrific for me because Tim is a famous story teller and very creative, whereas Raj is a seasoned CTO who builds extraordinary software with his talented team. Between the two of them, I have both the left brain and right brain covered. Also, our Head of Partnerships is Katie Nathan who is very skilled at meeting customers where they’re at and finding solutions that we can provide to help them succeed. Last, Dickon Kent is our Senior Product Designer and someone I’ve worked with for over a decade. Dickon is my creative partner and muse and some of my favorite sessions are imagining new things with him.

What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

The name ChangeUp is a play on the round-up of spare change and also the idea of putting positive change in the world. I told myself if I could trademark such a great name that I would build an entire business around it. The trademark was available and we booked it around the world in multiple categories and, at a later date, we acquired the URL too. I love our name!

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tips You Have For Staying Productive?

I have kids in grade school, so the bedtime ritual, wake up ritual, drop-off at school takes priority. And for that reason, my time at work during the day needs to be focused and productive. At some point in the middle of the day I swim or hike and come back energized. If I don’t exercise, I risk “falling down the hole of my laptop,” which means just staring at my screen while losing productivity.

What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

I’d have to say that I’ve found authentic communication to be very valuable with both my colleagues, investors and clients. I owe it to them to share what works and what doesn’t, and vice versa. Also, it’s important to set boundaries and share what you’re able to commit to and, equally important, the things that you cannot commit to. Last, I would say that a general feeling of positivity and hope is important for any team anywhere. You have to believe in your product, your company and your colleagues! And as a founder, your team will take their cues from you, they will mirror your attitude and habits.

Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You That Taught You An Important Lesson.

“People may not believe what you say, but they’ll always believe what you do.” I love that because start-ups are often a lot of pitch decks, cute logos and general ideas. But it’s all just talk until you go out and build it.

If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be And Why?

Barack Obama. I’d like to learn from him how he stayed calm and focused during the extraordinarily stressful rebuilding efforts after the financial collapse, how he endured the pundits and stayed focused on positive long-term goals, and how he’s maintained his “audacity of hope” all these years. He’s a remarkable man and his commitment to his wife and children is inspiring too.

What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I’m a dad so there’s not a lot of free time to be honest. Soccer games and music classes! We try to have family dinners together most nights of the week, walk to school together in the mornings and little weekend trips. By the way, the San Diego Zoo is pretty awesome.

What Is Your Favorite Quote?

“Me, We.” –Muhammad Ali.

He wrote the world’s shortest poem! Anything I do has a ripple effect into everyone around me, and vice versa. Same with companies, governments and more. Change starts with each and every one of us.

What Does Success Mean To You?

Success to me is using the talents and skillset of our team to build something meaningful in the world. In our case that means technology that brings people, brands and causes together in a single moment to create connection and positive change.

  Bob Soderstrom’s Favorites Stack:


1. Dare to Lead, by Brene Brown

2. Rome 1960, by David Maraniss

3. The People We Keep, by Allison Larkin

Health & Fitness:

1. Hiking in the mountains of LA

2. Swimming laps

3. Walking around the Silver Lake reservoir


1. Breville Espresso machine my wife bought me for Father’s Day

2. Paso Robles wine

3. Chevy Bolt EV

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. NYT and WSJ everyday

2. TechCrunch

3. Substack, various writers

Upcoming Travel Spots:

Greece with all 4 of my brothers and 8 grandkids to celebrate my Mom’s 80th to see the villages where her parents emigrated from.

- What I Found
Caleb Avery | Tilled


Founder & CEO of Tilled, a PayFac-as-a-Service platform that allows B2B ISVs to monetize payments that pass through their platforms.

What Is Tilled? Tell Us About Payfac-As-A-Service And Your Overall Mission.

Tilled empowers ISVs to monetize the payments flowing through their platforms with our PayFac-as-a-Service offering. Tilled was the first to offer PayFac-as-a-Service, turning what used to be a line-item cost into a revenue stream. With Tilled, software companies are no longer forced to rely on Stripe, Square, or Braintree for quick processing solutions, or spend the months of time and hundreds of thousands of dollars required by PayFac-in-a-Box providers. Through Modern APIs and SDKs, Tilled's turnkey system allows software companies to be set up and running in a matter of weeks, with no upfront costs or additional headcount required. A company with $100M in annual transaction volume can add $500K in net revenue to their business each year working with Tilled –– that’s what PayFac-as-a-Service is all about.

What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I first started working in the payments industry while I was in college, co-founding a credit card processing independent sales organization, or ISO, with a few of my friends. Beginning with very traditional credit card processing customers including restaurants, salons, liquor stores and other brick and mortar businesses, we expanded into processing services for e-commerce businesses and software companies, and now Merchant Services Done Right operates in 22+ states across the country.

Over the years, I also consulted for larger software companies processing anywhere from $100 million to over a billion in annual payments volume. These clients needed a payments expert to help them negotiate agreements, develop new pricing models, and maximize their revenue from credit card processing.

It was while working with these businesses that I had a realization: software companies wanting to optimize their integrated payment processing solution were really looking for two key things. One, an instant digital sign-up experience for their customers. And two, to maximize the revenue they could earn.

I wasn’t able to find a solution that didn’t require my clients to compromise on either technology, user experience, or economics, so I decided to build my own. That’s how I was led to create Tilled and PayFac-as-a-Service.

What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

My favorite parts of my journey have been witnessing the incredible growth of Tilled, and watching the company go from three people all working in our respective basements to now over 50 employees around the country in just a few short years.

At the same time, that level of hyper growth and scale has created challenges that have been some of the less favorite parts of my journey. Every day I’ve strived to evolve and change to meet the needs of our organization, and it pushes me every day to be the best version of myself.

The most exciting moment — so far! — was the day we closed on our $2.15 million Seed round for Tilled. We closed in November of 2020, after a tough year for basically everything. Those were some of my most challenging moments – trying to fundraise during COVID, working from home with two young kids. It was something I hadn’t anticipated. At the time, we had a pitch deck for Tilled, but not much else. We didn’t have a product, or even a website. That round was really just investors betting on me and my vision, and their validation and willingness to come on board meant a lot. It showed they had faith not just in me, but in the vision for Tilled and PayFac-as-a-Service.

Tell Us About What Starting A Business Is Like In Boulder, Colorado. How’s The Startup Scene? Do You Have An Office Or Is The Company Remote?

Our company is remote-first. We do have an office in Boulder, which is an exciting place to start a company. It’s an attractive place for employees to both live and visit. There are so many exciting startups here, and a great scene of local entrepreneurs that were helpful to me early on. But we have also worked hard to build our culture for a remote-first environment, and while that has created challenges, it’s also how we’ve built and scaled since day one. We’ve planned and optimized for it. Recently, we’ve also focused on doing more in-person traveling, getting the team together at different events and opportunities around the country.

What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

When I founded Tilled in 2019, I fully expected to have to travel frequently to New York and Silicon Valley, meet investors in person, and hope the airfare was worth it. Instead, COVID hit, and I sat on Zoom in my basement all day. In many ways it was a good thing, because it allowed me to meet with investors I would have never had the opportunity to speak with otherwise, and I was able to do it much more efficiently. At the same time, there was a lot of hesitancy to invest in anything at the beginning. But, over the past two years, I’m proud we’ve raised $34 million in a variety of market environments, from investors I am happy to have as partners including Canvas Ventures, G Squared, Peterson Ventures, Abstract Ventures, UPC Capital Ventures and more.

How Has Growth Been Over The Last Year? What Does Growth Look Like Over The Next Couple Of Years?

Over the past year, Tilled has grown 30%+ month over month and signed over 80 software companies ranging from startups to publicly traded companies. This next year, we’re hoping to sign 100 more and continue our explosive growth.

Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

While I don’t have a co-founder, I’m very proud of the leadership team we have at Tilled. All of their personalities are very different than mine, which I think is unusual for most founders. I took time to recognize what I’m good at and what I’m not, and then found people who could complement those weaknesses and fill in the gaps. It was a very intentional process all the way to find people who could truly help me scale the business, not just people I liked, which I think is a mistake a lot of founders make.

What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

To be completely honest, it’s very difficult to find a decent URL in the payments space that’s available at a reasonable price. There are so many companies, and so many of them are named pay-something. Personally, I think most of the names are boring. I wanted something that didn’t have “pay” in it, and that had an available URL for a price a brand new startup could afford. I really liked the idea of a till, and was going through iterations of that when I found I got really excited about that, it seemed playful and the price was right. So that was our original URL, and the inspiration behind our name. During COVID, a South Korean payments company that owned gave up the domain, so we were able to secure that URL for a reasonable price as well.

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tips You Have For Staying Productive?

With two young children, I’m not sure there’s any such thing as a typical schedule. Every day, I wake up somewhere between 4:30am and 7:00am, whenever the kids decide it’s morning time. I block off time each morning to take my kids to school, and then I’m back at my desk by 9 am and settling in for eight hours of Zoom meetings. When I do go through my inbox, it’s usually early in the morning or at night after the kids are asleep. I couldn’t do any of this without the help of my assistant, Stephanie. She’s my number one productivity tool – and the key to my sanity!

What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Three skills for entrepreneurs…. sales, sales, and sales? But seriously, sales are that important. I also think it’s important for entrepreneurs to know the importance of content generation and also how to fundraise.

As for advice, I often say the most valuable thing I did when starting Tilled was also simultaneously growing my own personal brand through LinkedIn. I was never a big social media guy, but during the pandemic I made an effort to build my presence on LinkedIn and connected with anyone and everyone I could in the payments industry. Eventually I moved from engaging and connecting with others to posting my own thoughts and ideas. Today it is still a big driver of leads into Tilled and accelerates our sales process. I can’t emphasize enough how important and worthwhile it has been.

Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You That Taught You An Important Lesson.

I think one thing that has been surprising and certainly taught me the importance of building my own personal brand is when I get on the phone (or Zoom!) with customers, potential partners, investors, or anyone really and realize how much they already know about me from following me on LinkedIn. Right off the bat they’ll ask me detailed questions about my family or my life outside work, and it’s taught me the value of authenticity and how memorable it can be for people to get to know me beyond just being the CEO of Tilled. For anyone who hasn’t experienced that, it’s hard to quantify the impact. But it’s impossible to understate how valuable it’s been for me and for Tilled, and how it makes an impact every single day.

If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be And Why?

Even though I consider them direct competitors, and the meeting might come to an abrupt end when one or all of us walk out, I’d be very interested in a conversation with the Collision Brothers who founded Stripe. If we could get past our differences in opinion about how embedded payments should work, I think we could have a very interesting conversation about the future of payments and how our industry can have a positive impact moving forward.

What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

To be honest, I don’t have a lot of it. But I do enjoy golfing and skiing when I can, and I recently bought a golf simulator for my garage. I also consider myself a bit of a pool shark, and have a pool table in my basement you can find me at every so often. I definitely aspire to do more, but with kids and a business it can be difficult. I really enjoy spending time with my kids, they are absolutely my priority.

What Are Some Things You Incorporate Into Your Schedule To Maintain Health And Wellness?

I still have blocks on my calendar to go to the gym, see a chiropractor, and I also enjoy cryotherapy. I don’t have a ton of time, but I have built them into my daily routine. As far as eating healthy, I’ve found that Uber Eats delivery of healthy food is key. I also spend a lot of time with my kids, and they keep me active and outside chasing them around.

What Does Success Mean To You?

To me, success looks like revolutionizing the payments industry for the better. There are too many companies out there that operate in darkness and play games with their customers, and unfortunately they’ve gotten away with it for far too long. At Tilled, we not only have a revolutionary product with PayFac-as-a-Service, but we offer it in a revolutionary way – transparently, with honesty and integrity towards all of our stakeholders. In my opinion, we can’t have success in one area without the other.

  Caleb Avery’s Favorites Stack:

Health & Fitness:

1. Pilates

2. Theragun

3. I won’t leave home for a trip without a foam roller!


1. Lululemon

2. Mizzen & Main

3. Cotopaxi


1. Airpods - all day every day! I have multiple pairs (4 if anyone is counting)

2. I love the podcast studio we have at Tilled, our neon logo sign brings me joy

3. Frozen Wagu Beef from Snake River Farms

Upcoming Travel Spots:

1. Rome, Italy

2. Lech, Australia

3. Bali - I lived there for a year and would love to know how it’s changed!

- What I Found
Jaden Brodeur | Luma


Co-Founder of Luma, a company that integrates UV-C light technology to self-clean and eradicate 99.99% of bacteria from your drinking water.

What Is Luma? Tell Us About Your Product, Brand, And Overall Mission.

Luma is a hydration company that’s reinventing the outdated reusable water bottle industry.

Luma 1.0, our first product, is a reusable water bottle that integrates UV-C technology to eradicate 99.99% of bacteria from your drinking water. We’re currently developing a carbon filtration component to additionally treat water for non-bacterial contaminants left unaffected by UV-C alone.

Our long-term mission is to replace single-use plastic’s role in our hydration infrastructure, for the betterment of our bodies and planet.

What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

Business ideas were my nerdy interest growing up. Startup stories inspired me and adding new ideas to my notes was an everyday thing. My biggest inspirations came from big brands I thought were cool and wanted to be seen using, like Apple and Nike. So I inherently took an especially strong interest in consumer, brand, and design. I also liked to think big. Big problems, big markets, big opportunities.

I got hung up on reusable water bottles when I got to high school. It felt like out of nowhere, everyone had one. At first, they were compelling to me because they’re a product at the intersection of my interests in consumer, brand, and design. The market was massive and growing, and there was no undisputed leader. Then I really went down the habit hole. Why was the market growing so quickly? Sustainability? Were people trying to drink less bottled water? But why was bottled water consumption still rising exponentially? Why was that so bad? Why was there no innovation in the product category?

This went on in bits and pieces for years. The more I learned about sustainability and the water bottle space, the more I thought something was there…that one day, we’ll see a company built on innovation, premium quality, and impeccable design, and they’ll do to water bottles what the iPhone did to cell phones.

Years later, I met my co-founder, Willy, while he was working on the original product concept for Luma. His idea was for a water bottle that used UV-C light to self clean, inspired by his OCD and germaphobia. He was a student at BYU in the same year of undergrad as me, and he launched a Kickstarter project to fund the development of an MVP, when I came across the project while startup scouting for an internship.

We got to know each other well over the span of nearly 2 years while Willy worked through the development process and finally completed production of MVP units. After that, the project had fallen by the wayside. Willy was finishing up undergrad while working full time at a consumer company in Utah, and I was working full time for the same company I’d interned for, but I was ready to build something.

We had a series of long conversations in early 2021 about the project’s biggest obstacles, what was needed to move it forward, how it could happen, and our vision for the future. We decided to team up and give it a full-go, and formed Luma Hydration Inc. a few months later.

What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

My favorite part of being an entrepreneur is being in a position of autonomy. For someone who’s overflowing with passion, creativity, and has high conviction in themselves, there’s no better feeling than being able to work with total freedom. Being an entrepreneur provides me with that.

The most challenging part for me is needing to spread my time across many things at once, which comes from being a small team. Learning to juggle multiple projects simultaneously continues to be a big learning curve for me.

The most exciting moment? Seeing a picture of Tiger Woods using our product was probably the most surreal moment. I’m a golf nut and grew up watching him, so seeing that happen was a dream come true.

What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

Raising our pre-seed was a wild ride. We started raising in summer of 2021 when we were ready to move forward with our new manufacturer on Luma 1.0 development. All we needed was capital. I remember being so naïve going into that first round. I’d never raised capital before, but I had a background in startup financing and I figured it’d be something I’d excel in, or at least get the hang of quickly.

It was a stressful time. We were young, first time founders starting a consumer goods company in an extremely saturated market, and we didn’t have a launch-ready product yet. Heck, we didn’t even have a finished website up at the time. Needless to say, it didn’t go as easy as planned. We were just too early for most investors to give us the time of day, and we didn’t have extensive friends & family networks to lean on.

In August, we closed our first investment from a solo angel. Over the course of the next 8 or 9 months, we pieced together a pre-seed of roughly $250k from angels and one small fund, all of whom were investing in the passion, scrappiness, and resilience we had as entrepreneurs.

Looking back, I’m really grateful for what we went through. Raising that first round was one of most important stages of my growth as an entrepreneur, and we’re a much better company today because of it.

Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

My co-founder, Willy, is one awesome dude. I think we have a really unique relationship because we’re so much alike in some ways and opposites in others, on both a personal and professional level. The thing I appreciate most about Willy is his commitment. It takes a very resilient, determined person to persevere through all the ups and downs of building a company, and for me to have that in Willy is something I’m extra grateful for.

What Is One Thing About Building A Business You Did Not Know That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching Luma?

That things never go exactly as planned, and because that’s the case, there’s a fine line between adequate planning and over-planning. This has been a big learning curve for me. The more experience I’ve gained as an entrepreneur, the more I’ve learned that it’s nearly impossible to predict exactly how or when certain things will go. Embracing this more and more over time has had a huge impact on how we go about company planning.

Our roadmap, strategy, and us as entrepreneurs need to be flexible. Fortunately, this is something my co-founder and I are both inherently good at it.

Have Recent Supply Chain Issues Impacted Your Launch And Overall Product Development? Can You Share A Bit About Your Manufacturing Process?

We definitely had our fair share of stress from supply chain issues this past year, although mainly just on the importing side. Our first production run was complete in early June, and we were anticipating a roughly 30-day import timeline. That turned out to be far from accurate. We hit delays at pretty much every point possible. First it was a shortage of cargo ships, then it was a congested docking port so the ship stayed at sea, then it was a shortage of labor to remove our container from the ship, then it was a shortage of rail equipment. It was especially stressful since we’d launched our private beta in anticipation of our inventory arriving shortly, so this was just a nightmare and forced us to pivot our rollout plans.

Fortunately, we don’t rely on frequent production runs or imports, so it’s been smooth sailing since our inventory arrived and we can plan well in advance for future production.

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tips You Have For Staying Productive?

My workday schedule is a bit all over the place and a big goal of mine this year is to develop a more consistent routine. The struggle for me is all rooted in my sleep schedule. I have a habit of working late into the night which I’m trying hard to break.

I just recently started getting into meditation which I try to do every morning before starting the day. In the early evening I like to take a couple of hours around 5ish to separate myself from work and do something active with friends, although sometimes it’s tricky depending on what we have going on at the moment.

To stay productive, I’m a religious user of Google Calendar, iOS Reminders, and Apple Notes. I use Google Calendar to time block projects I’m working on, Reminders to keep a running list of small things I need to handle both for the company and my personal life, and Notes to document thoughts popping into my head throughout the day.

What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Passion: The best entrepreneurs have an immensely strong and genuine passion for what they’re working on. Love it. All of it. Be obsessed.

Humility: Every founder makes mistakes. Good founders have the humility to accept when they’ve made a mistake or a poor decision, and then correct it.

Unwavering Resilience: Entrepreneurship is full of ups and downs. The ups can feel euphoric, and the downs can feel dreadful. Founders need resilience to push through the lows. When all is said and done, the day a startup fails is just the day the founders give up.

My biggest piece of advice: fall in love with the process, not the destination. Appreciate the challenges and embrace the failures along the way.

Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You That Taught You An Important Lesson.

I remember when I was 5 years old, in preschool, there was a table full of jigsaw puzzles. Any time you finished a puzzle, you’d get a sticker next to your name on the puzzle chart. It essentially resembled a leaderboard, with the amount of stickers next to your name as the score. I obsessed over it. I’d spend hours every day doing puzzles, committed to having the most stickers next to my name, and running up the score so no one could catch me.

Looking back, this was the first display of my competitive nature that I can remember. As a 5 year old, I obviously had no understanding of any deeper meaning to that. As I’ve gotten older, I find it interesting to look back at my childhood where I innately displayed characteristics that are still so present in my behavior today as an adult.

If You Can Have A One-hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be And Why?

Probably Will Ahmed, founder & CEO of Whoop.

I think Will is an incredible founder and I think Whoop is an incredible company. Everything they’ve had to go through to build an exceptional product while competing with some of the biggest companies in the world, like Nike, Apple, and Microsoft as they entered the space of wearable technology, it’s so inspiring.

What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I like to spend time with friends. My closest friends are all pretty competitive, so that usually means we’re playing something. Golf, pickleball, pool, darts…if there’s a winner and a loser, we’ll play it.

What Are Some Things You Incorporate Into Your Schedule To Maintain Health And Wellness?

I try to stay active and spend time outdoors.

Playing golf helps me cover that from spring through fall. Winters can be brutal here in Connecticut. I picked up pickleball this year with friends and I’ve been loving it.

What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

“Control what you can control, embrace what you can’t.”

I’ve always loved this quote, and I try to remember it whenever I’m facing a challenge or feel stressed. It helps me remember how to direct my energy, and makes everything seem so much simpler.

What Does Success Mean To You?

Ah, this is the toughest question in the game.

Success at the most basic level is just the accomplishment of a goal. I’m an ambitious person, as most entrepreneurs are, and my goals are constantly evolving and growing as more progress is made. So on a personal level, I don’t think I’ll ever reach a point where I’m satisfied and not pushing further, and I think that’s the beauty in it. Success for me is the constant effort in growing as a person, with pride in the person I’ve become, and excitement for the progress I’m striving for.

  Jaden Brodeur’s Favorites Stack:


1. Open, by Andre Agassi

2. How to Win Friends & Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

3. Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight

Health & Fitness:

1. Golf

2. Pickleball

3. 12 Chlorella tablets daily


1. Uniqlo t-shirts

2. White Nike sneakers

3. 47 Brand Hats


1. Figma

2. Spline

3. Spotify

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. How I Built This with Guy Raz

2. Chew On This

3. The Herd (for my sports content)

Upcoming Travel Spots:

1. Japan

2. London

3. Australia

- What I Found
Anurag Gupta | Calyptia


Co-Founder of Calyptia, a company that makes it easy for users to get the most value out of their observability and security data.

What Is Calyptia? Tell Us About The Company And Overall Mission.

Calyptia is the company behind two open-source projects: FluentBit and Fluentd. These projects make it easy for users to get the most value out of their observability and security data. At the same time, they help users enrich, redact, reduce and process all of their data streams.

What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I have been in the engineering and observability space for the past 10 years. I started at Microsoft, where I gained exposure to open source and where I met my current business partner, Eduardo Silva. 

After spending some time at Microsoft, I moved to Treasure Data and helped lead the enterprise piece of their open-source projects in 2017. After about eight months with Treasure Data, I felt my career needed a shift. The company was at a fork in the road –– whether to pursue customer data platforms or open source. Treasure Data was acquired shortly after, and I left for Elastik to work in cloud services and product management for the following two and a half years.

I saw an opportunity with Treasure Data that was never fully realized because of where the company was at the time. Eduardo and I remained in contact all those years and decided we could jump on the opportunity we saw at Treasure Data. We chose to pursue our own business, which is now Calyptia.

What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

I received two pieces of advice for naming a company: stay as close to the letter “A” as possible and if you can get a dotcom domain name, that’s a big bonus. Eduardo is from Chile and currently lives in Costa Rica. He has become fond of bird-related names, with a carrier pigeon logo for Fluentd and a hummingbird logo for Fluent Bit. The name Calyptia originated from the word calypte, which is the genus of the hummingbird. Calypte sounded like “Calyptia” when pronounced in Spanish, so the name stuck. 

We also had a Greek customer who pointed out that calypta or calypte means to assist or help in Greek. We like having that connotation associated with the name as well. 

What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

My favorite part of my entrepreneurial journey is the amount of impact and the immediate results we see from performance. As an entrepreneur, there’s no team I have to report back to or person I have to go to asking for permission. I’m able to execute as I see fit and watch how decisions unfold.

That autonomy also leads to my least favorite part — there’s a lot to do. In building Calyptia, there is never just one item on my to-do list. There are hundreds of parts of a company, and it’s easy to get lost in the minutiae. 

That said, running a business is also a lot of fun. There’s a lot to learn, try out and figure out  with such a diverse set of problems.

My most challenging and exciting moments are in determining how to grow effectively. As part of that, I want to ensure that the culture we want to embody as a company continues to tread well and that we’re working together as a company vs. just a product team, with shared collective goals. These are challenges I welcome as a first-time founder and are much greater than just wanting to build a product. 

There are two parts of my job that excite me the most. First, I love seeing the joy from customers when we help to solve their problems and the positive comments we get on our product. It’s great to know that we’re doing something valuable and that people are excited. 

That translates well to the second part that excites me most about my job, which is the people side of the equation. We’ve been able to create something that never existed before and everyone,  from product development to marketing team members, can see how the work they do resonates with users and customers. 

What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

We were lucky in the fundraising process. The time we began fundraising was in a founder- and funding-friendly time when folks were looking to invest in a seed round. When we brainstormed investors, we started by looking at trusted connections first and foremost.

We knew we already had a really large community of tens of thousands of users, and had almost already proven the efficacy of our business model from our previous work. There was an entire market being built around open source, so we took our one-year business plan and built it out for the next five to 10 years.

Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

Eduardo is the other Co-Founder of Calyptia. He was responsible for creating FluentBit and is extremely technical in his abilities. I’m on the product management and sales side because I love interacting with people and making fast-moving decisions. Eduardo balances me out with his ability to focus on the long-term vision and technology aspect of the business. He is thoughtful about how to simultaneously take care of the product and segments of the business.

What Is One Thing About Building A Business You Did Not Know That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching Calyptia?

The biggest thing I learned about building a business is not to underestimate how much people matter. A business is not a product or a number of sales or revenue. It’s the people who make up that business. I’ve loved learning how to host employees and ensure they feel taken care of. I hadn’t had much experience in that capacity before. 

How Has Growth Been Over The Last Year? Any New Products Or Features Launching Soon?

Growth at Calyptia has been great over the last year. We’re focused on open source and our commercial product, and we have seen both grow extraordinarily well. We’ve seen deployments grow from 1B to 3B on the open source side. With our product offering, we’ve been able to triple our revenue over the last year. We launched Calyptia Core earlier this year and are adding four to five new features a week. We welcome anyone interested in learning more to reach out to us.

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tips You Have For Staying Productive?

My work day fluctuates throughout the week, but I like to keep my schedule open for new customers. At least 50% of my meetings for the week are with customers –– talking to them about use cases, selling to them and understanding their problems.

Another 25% of my time is spent with the team to ensure everyone is aligned with how we tackle our goals. The last 25% of my time is dedicated to thinking and can be as simple as going on a walk.

Tools-wise, I implement as many as I can into my daily routine. I’m a self-diagnosed tools addict. If I see something on Product Hunt that’s cool, I’ll check it out. And if it adds value, I try to add it to what I already use: some of which are Motion, Superhuman and Google Docs.

What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

There’s a lot of gatekeeping in the entrepreneurial world, but prospective entrepreneurs just need to start. As long as someone starts and continues with the most basic skill –– even part-time –– over a long period of time, their chances of success increase. A person’s determination for entrepreneurial success can be different too. That success may be an additional $10 each month to supplement the occasional fast-food meal. But courage, persistence and the willingness to start are essential for entrepreneurs.

Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You That Taught You An Important Lesson.

As mentioned, I’m a first-time founder, but I tried to start a company twice before Calyptia. The first time, I tried to start a project with a bunch of random folks. The team was really tenured and cohesive from past careers and we had a beta product out there, but when I started to get into fundraising, I realized I wasn’t fully into it.

After that experience, I decided to do a small project with a trusted ex-coworker who was also a really good friend. I worked on this education startup project for a few months. I ultimately left that startup though because I missed working in infrastructure. It’s okay if things don’t feel right and good to listen to that: sometimes your gut is really important.

Initially, I was an advisor to Calyptia in its early stages, before recognizing my passion for the project and deciding to join full-time. There are so many opportunities out there. Entrepreneurs should know that the journey may not start out perfectly and while that may be discouraging, it’s important to continue pushing forward.

What Are Some Things You Incorporate Into Your Schedule To Maintain Health And Wellness?

I like to go to the gym a couple of times a week, where I do yoga or class-based fitness. It’s also important to me to monitor my health and take time off if not feeling 100%. I always encourage every employee to do the same.

What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I like to travel a lot if I can. I will go anywhere to hike or spend time seeing the sights. Otherwise, I’m always super-eager and happy to play video games, read books and spend time with family. Any free time, I’ll take it.

My favorite place I recently visited was Colombia. I also traveled to Cuba about five years ago and thought it was really cool to see Havana and the old cars.

Who Is Your Role Model?

My mom is my role model. She works really hard and has a great way of attacking problems.

If You Can Have A One-hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be And Why?

I would have a one-hour meeting with Jamie Dimon, the CEO of Chase. He has a different way of thinking about the world that is so far removed from everyday thinking. I’d like to hear his perspective on life and business.

Any Other Thoughts You Want To Share Relating To Current Events, The Economy, Political Climate, Or Any Other Topic?

With the current state of the economy, the pandemic, and the war between Russia and Ukraine, it’s impactful to see how global the world has become. Things so far away can have such a global impact. Pricing, inflation and gas are all connected globally.

With software and open source, we find ourselves in a position where the global community is even closer. There were big fires in Greece a few years ago, and the open-source community connected with those impacted by the fire. Communities like these make connections much smaller and less far apart.

Calyptia’s goal is to create a global company with open source first. Wherever our customers are, we want to meet them and help them be the best they can be. That mindset has helped us scale, and we’ve seen success and more opportunities in a post-COVID, remote world. As we remain closer together, we soldier on.

What Does Success Mean To You?

To me, success is control over my own time — doing the things I love to do and meeting with the people I’d like to meet. Want to go on a trip? Let’s go! I like the ability to travel and experience new parts of life. Success is not anything too monetary to me.

  Anurag Gupta’s Favorites Stack:


1. Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism, by Olivia Fox Gabane

2. The Mom Test, by Rob Fitzpatrick

3. Atomic Habits, by James Clear

Health & Fitness:

1. Orangetheory Fitness

2. CorePower for yoga

3. Peloton in between classes


1. Costco t-shirts (they’re the most comfortable)

2. Rhone for athletic gear

3. Allbirds for shoes


1. MacBook

2. iPhone (I’m too addicted)

3. Noise-canceling Sony headphones because I travel a decent amount

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. How I Built This with Guy Raz

2. The Daily by NYT

3. Observability newsletter from Michael Hausenblas

Upcoming Travel Spots:

1. Rwanda

2. Sri Lanka, when it opens back up

3. Seychelles

- What I Found
Lamine Zarrad | StellarFi


Founder & CEO of StellarFi, a company set out to solve one of the biggest economic problems faced by American consumers - access to credit.

What Is StellarFi? Tell Us About What You Do And How It Works.

StellarFi is a credit-building platform and public benefit corporation on a mission to disrupt the U.S. poverty cycle and provide credit access to 132 million Americans with low or no credit.

Members can begin using StellarFi through a tiered monthly subscription, which empowers them to build credit by paying the bills they already have, such as streaming services, rent and phone bills. We report bill payments made through StellarFi’s platform to the three major credit bureaus – Experian®, TransUnion® and Equifax® – building a positive payment history for our members. The website application launched in June 2022, and we are rolling out a mobile app later this year.

I’ve been on a trajectory of creating solutions for larger problems. I went from optimizing logistics at one military base to tackling banking challenges across a whole industry, and now, I want to take on issues facing entire populations and help those whose lives have been impacted by a lack of financial literacy or a string of financial challenges.

What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

My goal is to leverage technology to help others succeed, but growing up, my goal was about trying to survive. I was born in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan SSR, which was a former republic of the USSR. When the Soviet Union fell, my family was forced to escape from an ongoing ethnic war on Armenians, which my mother was.

Suddenly, my comfortable childhood was turned into being a refugee with nothing but a bag of clothes. After fleeing to Moscow, eventually making it to the United States and going to school here, I joined the Marine Corps.

On my first deployment to Iraq, my inner entrepreneur really took over. I always noticed inefficiencies and assessed processes, and I would pitch ways to improve infrastructure to the colonel running the base I was on. Thankfully he was very receptive to my ideas and allowed me to help manage logistics for our base of 20,000 personnel. The resourcefulness that I honed as a refugee and immigrant helped me make significant improvements to our infrastructure and logistics during that time.

After the military, I earned a business degree and landed my first job in financial services at Merrill Lynch. I wanted to continue in the financial sector, so I went to grad school to study economic policy and worked for a hedge fund. Then, I accepted a position as a bank examiner in the U.S. Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

As a regulator, I had a unique, 360-degree view of the banking system and saw that banks, both large and small, were (and still are) profoundly reactive instead of proactive. This prompted my interest in how we could use data-driven technology to help banks make more advantageous decisions and provide better experiences to customers. These experiences led to the birth of my first startup, Tokken. Since then, I’ve founded Joust (acquired by ZenBusiness) and now StellarFi.

What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

The inspiration is the double entendre of “stellar” credit that signifies financial excellence and illustrates the grandness of our cosmic concept.

What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

My favorite part of the journey is the process of creation. I love synthesizing seemingly unrelated concepts into something completely new and then bringing that idea to life. The least liked experience is having to fire people. I always take it personally.

The most challenging moment for the company and me is always the decision to actually commit to the concept full time because there’s no going back once you head down that road. You either succeed or fail, but either way, you must complete the journey.

What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

In March, StellarFi closed a $7.2M initial funding round. The round was led by Acrew Capital and co-led by Trust Ventures with participation from Accomplice Ventures, Fiat Ventures, Vera Equity, Permit Ventures, Kindergarten Ventures, and angel investors.

Since March, we’ve brought on amazing talent from across the globe and publicly launched the StellarFi credit-building platform. With thousands of members now using the platform, we’re busy improving the current experience and designing valuable features we’re excited to launch later this year.

Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

My founding partners are Stacey Tisdale and Angela Yee. Stacey Tisdale is an award-winning TV broadcast financial journalist, financial behavior expert and CEO and co-host of Wealth Wednesdays, a digital financial empowerment platform. Angela Yee is a serial entrepreneur. She co-hosts the nationally syndicated morning show The Breakfast Club and Wealth Wednesdays, and she hosts her own podcast.

Stacey and Angela are both financial literacy advocates and have done great work to inform and empower their communities. StellarFi is a public benefit corporation with a mission to improve the financial well-being of Americans. Stacey and Angela share this vision and they have the tools to speak to the underserved communities we want to reach.

StellarFi Is A Public Benefit Corporation. Tell Us More About This And What It Means In Terms Of Your Company’s Values And Goals.

People deserve more. Anyone who pays rent should have the opportunity to buy a home, and no one should be stuck in a cycle of not being able to get credit because they don’t already have credit, or paying more for things because they have less financial power. That’s what inspired me to found StellarFi as a public benefit corporation. We want to generate new opportunities that anyone can access.

Earlier this year, StellarFi co-hosted its first community-focused financial literacy event with the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority chapter to promote financial literacy for the BlPOC community. In turn, the city of Bridgeport mayor named April 30, the date of the event, Stellar Credit Day in honor of the event.

This event came on the heels of StellarFi’s “Get Your Bills Paid with Stellar!” $10,000 Sweepstakes to help people pay their bills with sweepstakes prizes totaling nearly $70,000.

StellarFi also partners with Stellar Credit Day keynote speaker Stacey Tisdale, who also is a StellarFi founding partner, and Angela Yee on initiatives including sharing financial literacy best practices through their digital finance empowerment program “Wealth Wednesdays.”

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tips You Have For Staying Productive?

I really, really dislike routines. But I recognize the value of having some predictability in the day. So I try to have consistency in my daily activities but reserve the right to be flexible in changing and modifying whatever I’m doing.

What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Resilience (because it’s a freaking grind). Empathy (because you MUST KNOW thy customer and team). Killer Instinct (because you only eat what you kill).

You must ask yourself if there’s something else that you could do for a living, if the answer is yes, then do yourself a huge favor and pursue that other thing. If the answer is: I absolutely can not do anything else but be an entrepreneur then go for it.

What Is One Thing About Building A Business You Did Not Know That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching StellarFi?

We thought our product was solving a big problem for a small group of people. Instead, we realized we have a mass market solution.

Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You That Taught You An Important Lesson.

Although it’s a funny mistake now, it was terrifying back then. The funniest mistake I made was at my very first significant investor pitch to Wells Fargo. Investor pitches have a specific format with only so much time allotted and specific points to hit, and at this pitch, there were dozens of investors, high-profile people, and a handful of other startups. I had shared my ideas before and spoken to investors and thought I had my pitch down, so I barely spent any time practicing.

When it was time for my pitch, I stepped up on the stage and blanked. I was so nervous. Every second felt like an eternity because I couldn’t push a word out. Words finally started coming out of my mouth and I’m still not quite sure what I said. I said some things about the business and maybe about the business model. After I finished, I sat down next to one of my co-founders and he said “Well, the silver lining here is no one can steal our idea.”

The takeaway from that experience was no matter how good you think you are, practice is essential. Every new experience is unique and requires practice for success. I felt I was experienced in selling my ideas and public speaking, but since then I’ve learned it’s important to prepare.

What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I spend time with my family, read, exercise, play and try to carve as much time as possible to think.

Who Is Your Role Model?

I don’t have a role model.

What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

Failure is a factor of success” is my mantra.

You have to embrace and anticipate it. No matter how experienced you are, there will be failure and you have to manage it, leverage it, then turn it into success.

How Do You Think Your Industry (Or The World In General) Will Change Post-COVID?

Fintech provides compelling ideas and technologies to emerge that will alter the state of our ever-changing world. Here’s what to watch for:

Accelerated evolution: Because of COVID-19, remote work was an absolute necessity for over two years, and platforms like Zoom and Slack scaled at absurd rates to keep businesses operational. Tech investments were completely recalibrated, with billions in capital going to the digital economy. The lesson from this is to continue our technological and entrepreneurial evolution to better prepare for the unknown and unpredictable tech evolutions, in fintech specifically.

Decentralized trust: For better or for worse, Americans have disassembled their trust in the mega-entities that once dictated our opinions, decisions and ideologies. But, as with anything else, decentralized trust has a silver lining—especially for fintech. Consumers who once feared using a credit card online are now comfortable depositing checks digitally, using apps to transfer money to friends and family and investing in blockchain. In short, decentralized trust has a ripple effect that leads to consumers accessing loans, investment tools and more through fintech that would otherwise be unavailable.

Mass empowerment: There are swaths of the American populace that don’t understand the power of a good credit score—not because they lack financial literacy, but because they’ve never experienced life without good credit. With inadequate credit, consumers pay more for necessities, lack access to credit-based investments like homeownership and education, and endure financial emergencies with no safety net. Poor credit begets poor credit, and the consequences persist from generation to generation. Although Americans are facing immense challenges in a post-COVID world, it has opened the eyes of many to better understand and adopt financially literate practices.

Any Other Thoughts You Want To Share Relating To Current Events, The Economy, Political Climate, Or Any Other Topic?

Inflation is currently at a forty-year high as a recession looms in the near future. Americans don’t have to feel weighed down by a troubled economy and can take straightforward steps to ensure financial stability in the coming months and year:

Get current on your credit card payments 

Falling behind on loans and credit card payments can have serious consequences for your credit. Payment history, which represents your track record for repaying your debts, accounts for 35% of your credit score – more than any other credit rating factor.  Lenders can only report delinquent accounts to the credit bureaus if they’re more than 30 days overdue, but they may charge penalties if you pay even one day late. Coupled with inflation, those late fees can snowball into a serious deficit in your budget. Automating your payments can help if you simply forget due dates. If you find yourself making late payments because you don’t typically have cash in your account when the bill is due, look for areas to reduce expenses temporarily while you get caught up.

2. Build an emergency savings fund

Saving money is challenging, and unfortunately, building a savings fund becomes even more challenging during an economic downturn. Although it’s tough, focusing on stashing some cash away can keep rising prices and financial emergencies from causing long-term damage. For example, if you need to cover an unexpected repair or medical bill, a savings account helps you avoid going into debt to pay the bill or fall behind on your other expenses.

3. Reduce your spending and expenses

The forces driving inflation are complicated, but the effect is simple: as prices rise, life gets more expensive. Take a look at your accounts to see how your spending has shifted in recent months. If you notice vulnerable areas or your spending is no longer aligned with your financial goals or income, look for ways to cut back. You can’t control the price of gas or food, but you can control how often you drive or eat out, or eliminate unused memberships and subscriptions.

What Does Success Mean To You?

Success = freedom to do most daily things not out of necessity but because you want to do them.

  Lamine Zarrad’s Favorites Stack:


1. What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars, by Brendan Moynihan and Jim Paul

2. Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, by Peter Kropotkin

- What I Found
Christy Fletcher | Authoritive


Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Authoritive, a company that builds customized learning experiences over messaging technology for experts and creators.

What Is Authoritive? Tell Us About What You Do And How It Works.

Authoritive is a technology platform that allows content creators, coaches and experts of all kinds to deliver paid programs via messaging (SMS, WhatsApp, Slack, MSTeams et al). Right now, we’re collaborating on the content development and building each program, and supporting the creators in marketing and sales, so we’re selective about who we’re working with, but by the end of this year we’ll have a self-service option that will allow anyone to create a program and sell it.

What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

My background is in publishing. I have run a very successful literary management company where I collaborated with writers to help them develop ideas which turned into books and then supported them in the publishing of those books. Eventually I grew into helping them develop communities around their work and with strategies for how to grow their businesses to be self-sustaining. In doing this over and over, I realized how many people were overly dependent on social media platforms that both owned their audience and required enormous effort to maintain engagement, while only providing erratic monetization at best.

There were also people who wrote books and made a good living speaking or consulting but were limited by their available time and by not having a product outside of themselves or a book. I concluded that there had to be a technology solution that would fill this product space, enabling them to deliver an experience of value to their audience, keeping that connection strong, while providing recurring revenue. Messaging does all of that and we’ve built a system that provides a very rich experience that feels personalized, like it’s one to one.

What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

We ran on revenues for a few years before raising money so we were in a relatively good spot to approach the process. We were able to secure a significant (for us) seed round and found a lot of support in the EdTech space. Owl Ventures led the round and GMG Ventures became a major investor along with a small number of strategic angel investors. The funds were invested in two ways- expanding our team and developing the foundation of what will be a self-service platform launching later this year, in addition to add some important product features that make for a richer user experience.

Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

My two co-founders are Jacob Lewis and Gene Cohen. Gene is our CTO whose background is in building and managing messaging systems. Jacob is my co-CEO who was an executive at Conde Nast, before starting his own content startup (which he later sold). They both have worked in venture-backed companies before (and together) and have a deep understanding of managing technology (and tech teams). It complements my background working with creative people which brings more of a brand, editorial and design sensibility. They happen to be very funny people which has kept us moving together through all of the ups and downs of startup life.

What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

The collaboration with creative people who are passionate about their work and supporting their audiences is always energizing for me. After years of being a solopreneur, working with my two co-founders and building a team together has been rewarding in all kinds of ways. The hardest parts are navigating all of the unknowns and always trying to see around corners, but that’s just part of trying to learn how to build something that didn’t exist before. Every new program launch is a thrill and seeing how audiences respond to the experience; closing our seed round was also thrilling.

Can You Share A Couple Of Use Cases With Us Of How Different Creators Or Businesses Use Authoritive To Distribute Content?

Of course. We collaborated with food entrepreneur and award-winning writer Mark Bittman on a program to help people eat less meat. It’s an instructional program that delivers cooking tips and recipes with step by step instructions pushed on demand over sms. Another example is Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas who co-teach a course at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business called Humor Serious Business. We developed a curriculum that helps people use levity as a super power at work that can be delivered over sms but can also be delivered via MS Teams or Slack so companies can make it available to their employees directly where they are already working.

What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

We started out working with authors primarily and people who have a lot of authority in their fields. So Authoritive was a combination of author and authoritative.

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tips You Have For Staying Productive?

I’m an early riser. So I get up around 5:30, make coffee and take my dog for a walk before getting kids out the door. I’m at my desk by 8 and each day is a new set of meetings, zoom, writing or other deep work before cutting out around 6:30. I blocked off an hour each day for “lunch” which gives me a space in my day to breathe, take a walk, actually eat. That let’s me re-energize for the second part of the day. I am working on trying to get to bed earlier but am notorious in my family for falling asleep on the couch. No one wants to watch a show with me at this point!

What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

The top three qualities that I think helps entrepreneurs succeed are curiosity, empathy, and critical thinking.

The ability to step back and assess situations or problems critically, with curiosity and empathy for the different perspectives present, helps you gather important information in order to make good decisions. It also helps you recover from decisions that didn’t turn out well.

What Is One Thing About Building A Business You Did Not Know That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching Authoritive?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that everything takes longer than you expect it to so it’s best to just accept that and build it into your models.

Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You That Taught You An Important Lesson.

When I was starting out, working in publishing, an editor I really looked up to was working with a brilliant but unconventional writer. I asked how he navigated editing such a complicated text. He told a story about the editing that really stuck with me- there was a list of names in the book that he felt was too long for the reader to recall, so he suggested cutting it down to only a few so it would be easier to absorb. When the book was redelivered the list was three times as long. The point wasn’t to recall the names. His job as the editor was to ask the questions, not to solve the problem, so the writer can craft solutions that reflect their intention. I’ve thought about that in mentoring people or managing processes, that my role is not to find the solution to every problem. It’s to ask the right questions.

What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I read a ton- books, articles, newsletters. I listen to podcasts. I spend time with my kids and husband. I love seeing movies but I’m out of the habit now because of COVID.

Who Is Your Role Model?

My current role model is Alexander Vindman. He lives a life that is principled and loving, courageous and hardworking. I’ve been lucky enough to get to know him and my admiration is even deeper.

What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

“The days are long but the years are short.”

It’s from my friend and longtime collaborator Gretchen Rubin. It is a perfect reminder of the duality of life, both fast and slow, and how important it is to be really present.

Any Other Thoughts You Want To Share Relating To Current Events, The Economy, Political Climate, Or Any Other Topic?

My kids are both studying US history- high school and middle school level- and it is shocking to see how many issues in the late 1800s are still pervasive issues today. We’re living through a particularly dangerous moment for the world, but we’ve been in dangerous times before and wiser people have prevailed. I’m holding on to my optimism, while working hard to see the world as it is, which is the only way to help make it better.

What Does Success Mean To You?

For me success is about having agency, the ability to choose how I spend my time and what I give my attention to and it means having the resources to support other people reach their potential. We’re not supposed to define success in financial terms, but I find that only people with a lot of money pretend that money doesn’t play a role in how they define success. For me, having started out without it, achieving financial stability was an important part of feeling successful.

  Christy Fletcher’s Favorites Stack:


1. Creativity Inc., by Ed Catmull

2. The Captain Class, by Sam Walker (by my husband, but objectively brilliant)

3. Made to Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath

Health & Fitness:

1. Walking


3. I have a new GoRuck sack I’m going to test out soon.


1. Athleta has the best, softest yoga pants

2. Nili Lotan

3. Me + Em for summer clothes


1. Nespresso

2. Airpods

3. Altoids

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. Smartless (podcast)

2. (Peter Yang’s substack)

3. Divinations (by Nathan Bashaw, founder of Every)

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Bermuda

2. Copenhagen

3. Thailand

- What I Found
Andrew Luong | Doorvest


Co-Founder & CEO of Doorvest, a modern, frictionless way to own income generating homes entirely online.

What Is Doorvest? Tell Us All About Your Company And Mission.

90% of the world's millionaires have attributed their wealth to real estate investing, yet homeownership rates have declined to all-time lows. This unfortunate reality is due to the time commitment and friction of the traditional process and the capital barrier due to rising home values, stagnant wages, and mounting student loan debt. Similar to other high-quality assets, everyday investors have been locked out of the #1 most favored investment asset class, real estate. This is why we built Doorvest.

Doorvest is the first end-to-end real estate investment platform with a mission to advance financial security for all via ownership of out-of-state rental properties.

Doorvest lives at the intersection between technology and real estate by providing an all-in-one solution, eliminating the most painful steps for the end customer. We mitigate risk from the customer's perspective by providing extensive renovations to deliver a new home. In addition, we've aligned our pricing with our customers to ensure we're both working towards the same goal: a long-term and successful investment property with a series of guarantees that fosters a stress-free and happy customer.

In traditional real estate investing, the end-to-end timeline is 6 months with at least 26 steps for a customer to comb through. Doorvest does it in 12 steps, half the time. We also emphasize pricing transparency. This means home prices are set to effectively remove the traditional bidding wars and simplify the process overall for old and new homeowners.

In the end, a customer receives a completely renovated home with a first-year rental and maintenance guarantee, an average cash-on-cash return of 6% while still capturing tax and equity advantages that generate passive income from day 1.

What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

Doorvest is an organic embodiment of many of our team's backgrounds. Personally, I grew up middle class. Never truly financially secure, I saw firsthand the downside of financial instability and how it jeopardized my family unit. As I grew up, those memories stuck with me and shaped my path working in sales and partnerships. This led me to real estate investing as an avenue to generate passive income and build a long-term nest egg. I was fortunate enough to build a small portfolio with a small starting capital, and friends around me began to take notice. There was never a singular platform that I could point them towards to make it easier for friends to get started, so Doorvest became the embodiment of that.

The name Doorvest derives from the idea of investors investing in front doors. I do remember a funny story about our name – When I first secured the domain for, someone offered me $500 to buy the domain. At the time, we had no traction and no customers, so I thought this was a funny way to make some extra bucks if the name didn't stick.

What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

Funding varies by round. We've raised close to $18M in equity to date and $25M in debt to fund the real estate part of the business. Most recently, we had our Series A round and that was focused on market expansion and bringing on more awesome team members to support the increased scope of the business. Ultimately, driving growth in the business and growth in new customers/ homeowners.  

Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

In the traditional sense, Justin Kasad is my Co-Founder and CTO of Doorvest. The company, however, went through multiple iterations, and every time was a new founding moment. As such, I see all of the team members as co-founders as they played a pivotal role in those times. Moving forward, I imagine having more founding moments as we track down the road to advancing financial security for all.

What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

This journey - with Doorvest - is the most rewarding thing I've ever attempted in my life. The ability to serve lots and lots of customers and build an excellent work culture that has folks excited to work every day are some of the things I find most rewarding. Seeing our progress so far gives me a lot of optimism for the future ahead. From a challenge standpoint, it depends on the chapter and what's happening worldwide. One of the biggest challenges I dealt with was our 1st round of funding, getting enough cash to get the business off the ground, and it took us 5 months fighting tooth and nail for every dollar. Many times, we didn't think we could get enough cash to get Doorvest off the ground. Recently, one of the most challenging times was ensuring the company is rowing in the same direction, and alignment takes a lot of work.

How Has Recent Housing Supply Shortages Impacted Business For Doorvest? How Has COVID-19 Impacted Doorvest Both In Terms Of Growth Plans As Well As Day-to-day Operations?

In short, this made all of our jobs harder. With the lack of supply, there will be more competition and rising home values that compress customer yield, which ultimately leads to fewer homes that attract customers than before. Such conditions pressed us to be more creative in acquiring homes that would guarantee attraction. We have lots of optimism ahead because the real estate market will soften at some point - meaning less competition and allowing us to offer our customers increasingly higher yields and investments. Our team has managed to combat these challenges by carrying out quick and consistent sprints that are sustainable for the long run. 

How Has Growth Been Over The Last Year? Any New And Exciting Products Launching Soon?

In 2022 alone, we introduced a home matching algorithm called Doormatch. Doormatch takes customers' investment criteria and automatically matches their preferences to the ideal investment home. We also revamped the path to access Doorvest home profiles and how to easily reserve homes of interest. Most importantly, we expanded into 3 new markets: Atlanta, San Antonio, and recently, Oklahoma City. Be on the lookout for more expansions as we don't plan on stopping anytime soon.

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tips You Have For Staying Productive?

My day starts around 7 in the morning. Get up, meditate, drink some coffee or work out, hit the shower, and get ready for the work day. Work begins around 8:30-9 am and runs until 6:30 pm. Then I log off, grab dinner and rinse and repeat. This schedule varies by day as sometimes I'll do another hour or two in the evenings. But ultimately, my schedule is the same every day for 5 workdays. Fridays and Saturdays are my off days where I intentionally stay away from email and Slack. Initially, I deleted the email app on my phone because I found myself constantly opening emails and scrolling, and there's a mental stimulation that goes on even when I wasn't replying to those emails. On Sundays, I'll work another 2-4 hours to clean up my inbox and give myself a soft start to the week ahead. This routine has given me the right balance to stay energetic, and I believe energy is essential to perform at the highest levels for the long run consistently.

What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

It's essential to have a strong understanding of your purpose and your "why." There are many ups and downs in startup environments, so having a clear Northstar that you are working towards is critical, especially in downtimes. Also, it's vital to ensure that you and your team are resilient and can handle questions like: How do we, as a team/ as a company, withstand outside conditions? How do we ensure we can consistently build despite changing, uncontrollable circumstances? 

What Is One Thing About Building A Business You Did Not Know That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching Doorvest?

It's very, very hard to build a business. There are tactical and psychological learnings, but when outside conditions constantly evolve, and you are working to bring a platform into existence that's never done before, it's inevitably really hard. Many team members would agree. The upside is the magnitude of how rewarding it feels to have brought something to life. 

If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Tim Ferriss is the first that comes to mind. Tim Ferriss' books have fundamentally shaped how I view life, work, personal finances, and lifestyle design. 

What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

"Your problems never cease, they just change." 

At first glance, the quote sounds morbid with your life having problems consistently. But if you take a step back, challenges/ struggles/ problems are inevitability human life. The disconnect here is people tend to think they live an unhappy life until they get a new shiny car, get a new job, make X amount of money, marry a beautiful spouse, etc., and all of their problems will go away. The reality is as soon as you arrive at those milestones, you will want and face new challenges, and enough will never be enough. The goal is to enjoy the journey vs. the destination. 

Any Other Thoughts You Want To Share Relating To Current Events, The Economy, Political Climate, Or Any Other Topic?

We are very optimistic about the future despite turbulent market conditions. As mentioned earlier, we have successfully made progress despite many headwinds within a competitive housing market. As the market softens, it’s Doorvest’s chance to play offense and provide customers with more stability in their investments and income streams. And ultimately, build an increasingly bigger business.  

What Does Success Mean To You?

Success means three things for me: 

Success means driving the most meaningful impact for as many people as possible - how can Doorvest create more homeowners and increase the speed of homeownership? How can we partner with our customers as they build their investment portfolios, go on their financial journey to freedom, enter retirement, and live off these income streams? 

Success is our team. How can Doorvest, as a company, also cultivate an environment where members can feel supported and grow? 

Success is building a meaningful business that drives a solid financial return for all of our stakeholders (as we have quite a few investors in the company, and it was intentionally designed as such). 

  Andrew Luong’s Favorites Stack:


1. 4-Hour Week by Tim Ferriss. Topics mentioned in this book has shaped by life

2. Thinking In Bets by Annie Duke. Annie was a professional poker player, and she talks about the psychology of non-binary decisions. What this means is you can make the wrong decision and have the right outcome or you can make the right decision and make the right outcome. The importance here is being able to determine whether or not the decision made at the time was right or not. 

3. Radical Candor by Kim Scott. This book talks about the importance of feedback loops and how to build trusts and deep relationships. Knowledge here can be taken into the workplace and be utilized in life as well. 

Health & Fitness:

1. Ooler Chilipad. I invested a bit in this product- it’s a heating and cooling topper for my bed. It uses heat to help put you to sleep and cools down to bring your body temperature to an ideal temperature for an optimal sleep quality. Then it uses heat again to wake you up in the morning.

2. WHOOP. It tracks my sleep and daily HRV (heart rate variability), particularly what stress does to my HRV over time. It’s really interesting to learn what inputs led to these outputs. For example, don’t drink before you go to bed because they’ll mess up your recover and sleep quality. 

3. Barry's Bootcamp. I do it once a week. It’s fun to do a high intensity interval training, especially when doing with our group at work.


1. Top of mind is Athletic Greens. I don’t usually like to eat a lot of vegetables so this is a great way to check off my daily vitamins and greens intake. 

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. The Tim Ferriss Show

2. The All-In Podcast (covers everything from politics to economy, startups to venture, etc.)

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Up next, I would like to go back to Vietnam. I’ve been there before but it would be great to return with my girlfriend as both of our parents are from there. It’ll be really exciting to have this immersive experience together. 

2. Perhaps sometime next year, I would like to visit Italy. There’s something about the country that feels so idyllic. Renting a convertible and driving the Southern Coast, or renting a boat and enjoy a beautiful day on the lake. 

- What I Found
Steven Zhou | Moov


Co-Founder & CEO of Moov, the fastest growing marketplace for used manufacturing equipment in the world.

What Is Moov? Tell Us All About Your Platform, How It Works, And About The Types Of Companies That Are Your Customers.

At Moov, our goal is to accelerate global manufacturing, R&D, and technological progress by fundamentally improving the supply chain. We are improving the supply chain by making it possible to buy and sell pre-owned manufacturing equipment from any fabrication center in the world in a matter of moments, through our digital marketplace.

Our customers are primarily semiconductor manufacturers, and sometimes equipment refurbishers and brokers. Our customers look to Moov for a trustworthy, reliable, and transparent alternative to the 12-24 month wait times for buying new equipment. We are building a unified global secondary market for supply-chain critical equipment where none exists today – and the historical options for buying used equipment have been plagued with inefficiencies, bad actors, and inaccurate information. With Moov, chipmakers need only to search our global marketplace for the exact tools they need, choose from validated listings from pre-vetted suppliers, purchase their tool, and enjoy an ecosystem of aftermarket service providers to make every aspect of buying equipment - from financing through logistics - seamless.

What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I’m originally from Los Angeles, studied Economics at University of California, San Diego, and started my career working in M&A focusing on Industrials, Semiconductors, and Aerospace and Defense. I was attracted to the massive economy that underpins all of the technology we take for granted in our everyday lives and decided to focus on the semiconductor industry, specifically semiconductor manufacturing equipment.

Prior to Moov, I spent over a decade in the semiconductor industry, holding senior management roles overseeing deal cycles at two asset trading firms. While working in the industry, my co-founder, Maxam Yeung, and I were struck by the antiquated processes used to buy and sell six-figure high tech manufacturing equipment, and the inefficiencies these processes created. In late 2017, we decided to start Moov to bring automation and digitization to the semiconductor manufacturing equipment supply chain.

What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

The honest answer is that I had a vivid dream during the early days, and a cow came out and said “Moooov!” But when I woke up, my co-founder and I realized that “Moov” is also a play on “moving” equipment but also speaks to our culture of getting things done. We’re not just moving equipment – we are growing an entire secondary market, and in doing so, moving an entire industry toward a more sustainable supply chain.

What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

The most challenging part of my entrepreneurial journey has been learning to say no. Whether it’s an oversubscribed round, a firehose of ideas for our product roadmap, or simply too many appointments on my calendar, I have learned that prioritization is the number one challenge I face as the CEO of a fast-growing company. I have also learned that prioritization is the most critical element to sustainable growth. On the flip side of this coin, hiring rockstars and watching them grow in their roles and help grow Moov in new ways has been one of my favorite parts of the entrepreneurial journey.

One challenging and exciting moment for Moov was relocating our headquarters from San Francisco to greater Phoenix, Arizona in 2020. At the time, we knew the future of semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S. was outside of Silicon Valley – in a network of up-and-coming tech hubs across the country. However, relocating is always challenging – we didn’t know what to expect when it came to hiring in the market, office space, the local technology community culture, etc. That said, I can honestly say that moving to Tempe, Arizona was one of the best moves we have made as a company. Not only are we at the center of a burgeoning semiconductor hub, but also I truly believe that the locations like greater Phoenix, and Austin, TX where we just opened an office this year, will continue to attract top-notch talent due to the better quality of life they offer.

What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

In business, and fundraising, timing is critical. When my co-founder, Max, and I went to raise our seed round, we were ahead of the curve for our industry. Despite being the namesake of Silicon Valley, at the end of 2016 venture capital investment in the semiconductor industry was stagnant, hovering around $1.5bn since 2000 (Pitchbook). As of 2021 year end, that number jumped 400% to $7.8bn.

The primary challenge in raising seed funding was to convince investors of our vision to bring the same data and automation used to drive efficiency across other industries to the semiconductor capital equipment supply chain. We were successful in doing so, and actually ended up having to turn down investors in an oversubscribed round led by NFX with participation by Decent Capital, David Adelman’s Darco Capital, Great Oaks Venture Capital, and several notable angel investors. We welcomed a few strategic investors for a bridge round in 2020 including Mark Cuban, and Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg, co-founders of Flatiron Health.

We used our initial funding to bring on great talent, build our platform, and grow our marketplace to over $1 billion in gross merchandise value of listings.

When we went to raise our series A in 2021, the world was in critical need of nimble solutions to combat supply chain disruptions and chip shortages. Although we received several Tier 1 term sheets, we ended up closing $41 million Series A funding led by Tiger Global. Other notable investors included public semiconductor investor Gavin Baker of Atreides Management, Valor Equity Partners, Avenir Growth Fund and existing investors. We used these funds to expand operations both in the US and globally, to further ensure semiconductor manufacturers have access to alternative supply sources for capital equipment.

How Has Growth Been Over The Last Year? Anything New And Exciting Launching Soon?

Growth has been exponential over the last year. We recently announced an industry-changing buy-back guarantee policy to de-risk these 6-figure purchases. This is a game-changer for the industry, and the only such policy that exists when buying secondhand equipment. Risk and reliability is the number one barrier to growing the secondary market – with this announcement, Moov is removing that barrier.

How Has COVID-19 And Recent Supply Chain Issues Impacted Your Business And Operation Over The Last Couple Of Years?

When we started Moov in 2017, we knew the semiconductor manufacturing supply chain was broken, but we did not predict the global chip shortages that have plagued our industry for the past year and show no sign of abating. Supply chain issues due to COVID-19 and natural disasters coupled with a surge in end market demand has created a global chip shortage, the likes of which the world has never experienced. These events serve to underscore the dire need for more flexible sourcing options for semiconductor manufacturing equipment. We started Moov to add transparency, accountability, and reliability to the secondary market for manufacturing equipment, and in doing so, help ease barrier to entry for small to midsize manufacturers, allow manufacturers to more nimbly respond to global trends, and promote the recirculation of equipment to support environmentally sustainable manufacturing – these goals are even more relevant and critical today than they were 5 years ago.

Moov has hundreds of buyers and sellers, yet there are still roughly 10 million factories globally with unmet equipment needs and surplus equipment for sale. Recent supply chain disruptions and a global chip shortage have only served to accelerate our growth.

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tips You Have For Staying Productive?

Lately, it is hard to think of my days as “typical” since I’ve been doing a lot of traveling between our booming headquarters in Phoenix, our brand new office in Austin, TX, and Northern and Southern California, the location of several industry partners, employees, and investors.

When I’m not catching a flight, my day usually begins with a double espresso shot and a morning workout. I’m a big believer in “healthy body, healthy mind”, so I try to make exercise a part of my daily routine no matter how busy I am. I tend to optimize my mornings toward execution-heavy tasks and deadlines, and tackle creative or strategic thinking in the afternoon.

The role of a CEO is really that of Chief Enabler. I spend a significant chunk of each day in listening mode, getting feedback from my talented colleagues across the company, and identifying ways I can remove roadblocks to their success.

What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Adaptability, Humility, and Drive.

Advice for entrepreneurs just starting out:

Think about value creation in every interaction you have. Whether you’re hiring employees, raising funds, securing customers or partners, you’ll never go wrong if you approach engagements from a mindset of creating mutual benefit.

Surround yourself with people you trust. Then trust them. As a founder, it’s both incredibly hard and incredibly important to take a step back. In the early days, you will wear every hat for your company. You will set the product roadmap, you will be the chief marketer, you’ll be at every sales meeting, be involved in every deal. You will be a graphic designer, an accountant, heck you’ll even be the office maintenance manager and sometimes IT consultant. Now repeat after me: this won’t scale. An important part of growth is bringing in new talent, new ideas, and trusting the people you hire can do the roles you hired them for better than you can.

Perfection is the enemy of progress. As an entrepreneur, it’s likely someone has already quoted Winston Churchill to you, but it’s time to listen. At Moov, we use the 80/20 rule as a general barometer for problem solving. Solve 80% of the problem now, and the rest will come with time and iteration. I can tell you first hand that if we had worried about perfection at Moov, we would not have grown from zero to a marketplace with over $1bn in GMV in under four years.

Any Other Thoughts You Want To Share Relating To Current Events, The Economy, Political Climate, Or Any Other Topic?

The impact of growing a secondary market for capital equipment cannot be understated – doing so will help solve global supply chain shortages, create jobs in manufacturing hubs across the U.S., and contribute to a more environmentally sustainable high tech manufacturing industry.

As a company, Moov contributes to a more environmentally sustainable manufacturing industry – saving ~1MM lbs of scrap from hitting landfills or sitting idle in warehouses every year. Recirculation of capital equipment is an achievable and important part of the circular economy.

What Does Success Mean To You?

Success, for me and for Moov, means creating something that the world truly needs. At Moov, we don’t use words like disruption because our intention is not to interrupt an industry, but instead to use our humble listening skills, our own experiences in the industry, and the technology we’ve built to create value for our partners and customers. Success, for us, means that every decision we make creates value for all parties involved.

“Changing the world” is an often satirized goal of Silicon Valley founders. But, at Moov, global impact has a very specific meaning. Our goal is to accelerate global manufacturing, R&D, and technological progress by fundamentally improving the supply chain. We are improving the supply chain by making it possible and easy to buy and sell pre-owned equipment from any fabrication center in the world in a matter of moments. When we succeed, our success won’t be localized to Silicon Valley, to the United States, to North America, but will truly drive forward global trade and innovation.

This, for me personally and for Moov as a company, is the meaning of success.

- What I Found
Monish Sabnani | Courant


Co-Founder of Courant, a company that creates beautiful tech accessories that seamlessly integrate into your home and surrounding life.

What Is Courant? Tell Us All About Your Brand, Mission, And Product Selection.

Courant is a design-forward electronics brand with a focus on wireless charging. We create beautiful phone charging accessories that seamlessly integrate into your home and surrounding life. Each product form is designed to be effortless in use and aesthetically pleasing.

We launched in 2018 and have 3 core product forms: CATCH:1, a single-device charger; CATCH:2, a multi-device charger; and CATCH:3, a valet tray charger. We’ve also created two unique collections of materials: our “Classics” collection which features Italian leather and high-grade aluminum, and our “Essentials” collection, which comes with Belgian linen and soft-touch plastic.

Our goal is to power your life and the devices you use most.

What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

Evan (Co-founder) & I met back in 2017 at a consumer goods platform & incubator called “Very Great”. This was an interesting time because the 2 founders of Very Great were looking to expand their portfolio of brands. Together we all got excited about the electronics category, and in particular the trend of wireless phone charging which was starting to emerge across Apple and Samsung products. At the time the technology was incredibly exciting, but there were no brands or really any products that spoke to today’s modern, digitally savvy consumer. The existing marketplace of products were made of plastic, didn’t have a color story, and really no brand appeal whatsoever. At the end of 2017, we began researching opportunities and discovered a wide-open landscape in the wireless charging category to launch Courant into.

We launched Courant’s first two products (CATCH:1 and CATCH:3) in August 2018 at the NY Now tradeshow and have since grown into an eight-figure business. A few weeks after the launch we were prominently featured in Oprah’s “Favorite Things” and Gwenyth Paltrow’s “Goop” holiday gift guides, which really gave us an opportunity to shine on a national level. From there we started building the business, brick by brick. Today, Courant’s products are widely distributed online and in-store at retailers such as West Elm, CB2, Design Within Reach, Best Buy, Bed Bath Beyond, Container Store and more. It’s been an exciting journey!

Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

I was raised in Hong Kong with a background in Chinese manufacturing, which my family has been involved in for over thirty years. Evan’s expertise is largely in brand operations for consumer product companies. He calls me the left brain and him the right brain. I mainly oversee our e-comm, marketing & brand, product development and finance. He focuses mostly on sales, international operations, warehousing and legal. By having diversified backgrounds and skill sets we’re able to balance each other out and supplement each other in a way that makes our business stronger. 

What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

The name Courant comes from ‘Au Courant’, a French saying that means “in the know” or “up to speed on current trends”—or literally ‘current’—which is both a reference to an object being relevant to the times as well as an electrical current. We wanted something literal, but not clunky or ‘techy’.

What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

The last few years have truly been so interesting from a macro perspective. COVID in particular was something that we could have never prepared for, especially this early in our career. It came with a multitude of challenges: supply chain disruptions, chip shortages, freight price volatility, labor shortages in the US, and the list goes on…It was (and still is) a steep learning curve on both a professional and personal level. It’s funny, we started off with a mission to create a unique electronics brand, and today we are crisis-level experts on supply chain. I’ve learned all kinds of things that I never expected to. That really is the beauty of the experience. On the flip side, the challenges are taking in all this new information and dealing with it in-real time, at a high-stakes level.

Can You Share Some Insight As To Your Design And Manufacturing Process? What Makes Courant Unique Amongst The Competing Wireless Charging Products On The Market?

We design all of our products in-house, drawing inspiration from interior design concepts and materials used for home accessories like side tables, couches and lamps. We look at everything we do, whether it’s product design, web design, and photo/video styling as an opportunity to stand outside of the traditional ‘consumer electronics’ industry aesthetic. Courant’s design DNA, at its core, is the intersection of technology, interior-design, fashion and “culture”, which we define as modern trends and social movements.

Principal to our product design and development is material selection. We’ve created a layered supply-chain that involves producing materials from both Italy and Belgium, which then get shipped and assembled in China. Our linen supplier is 100% carbon neutral and uses solar power as the primary driver to their facility. Our leather supplier is “Gold-rated”, which is a standard tracking energy and water consumption, as well as worker safety. It’s all very modern and adds extra layers of complexity (and cost), but it is key to what we’re doing. Most tech companies at our scale build products with cheap components, leaving consumers with products that quickly become physically and aesthetically obsolete. We have honed in on aspects such as design, but combine them with modern manufacturing to create products that we ourselves are comfortable with and want to use.

Any New And Exciting Products Launching Soon?

We’re launching our first few magnetic chargers later this summer. The magnetic chargers are very exciting for us as it’s our first foray into a new user experience to pair with Apple’s MagSafe phones (iPhone 12 onwards). We believe this will be the new charging standard for several years and have spent almost 2 years developing our magnetic collection. 

How Has COVID-19 And Recent Supply Chain Issues Impacted Your Business And Operation Over The Last Couple Of Years?

COVID-19 brought on widespread supply chain lock downs and disruption, which meant that we needed to be as flexible and agile as possible in order to survive. The chip shortage of 2020-21 in particular was a big issue for us. We were presented the situation back in March of 2021, which was that our core chip component lead time was going from 1 month to 6 months. We moved quickly to purchase a year's worth of chips upfront and hold stock. As I reflect on that time, we were fortunate to have the advantage of being a small team, which allowed us to make decisions quickly, rather than having to deal with the time-consuming process of a larger corporate hierarchy structure. We also had the financial support of the wider Very Great platform which enabled us to make swift and bold business moves, which might have been too risky otherwise. It’s moments like that which allowed us to sustain and grow our business despite the challenges that COVID-19 threw our way.

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tips You Have For Staying Productive?

We’re both fully remote, which is something we’ve both come to love over time. The mornings and afternoons are typically pretty heavy on calls, i.e. touchbases with the team, working sessions, talking to different vendors and partners. It’s usually in the evening when we both get some down time to work in silence and put our heads down to focus on bigger picture planning. I love the night session - it really is the most productive time for me.

Tips? Honestly, something we’ve come to lean into is that the standard “9-6” work life at a desk is completely over. Everyone has a unique life filled with different responsibilities and priorities. We empower each other and our team to integrate work and life so that they can thrive off of flexibility, not restriction. If you have to make an appointment at 2pm on Monday, please do. We’re both integrating our life and work into one lifestyle, 7 days a week. There is no pressure to be “online” all day. This is a huge unlock and allows us to work on our personal life as much as our professional life.

What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Perseverance - the road ahead is tough and not for the faint hearted. The #1 thing I’ve learned is to put your head down and push through. The hard work that most people avoid is often the beauty of the job.

Equanimity - Don’t get too high during the highs, and don’t get too low during the lows. Find a cool, calm middle ground and operate in that bubble.

Read, a lot - to quote Charlie Munger: “In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn't read all the time -- none, zero. You'd be amazed at how much Warren reads--and at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I'm a book with a couple of legs sticking out.” There is no better way to absorb information than reading.

Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

Getting direct personal feedback on my communication skills both professionally and personally has really helped me grow. Sometimes we don’t want to hear our truth because it is uncomfortable and hurtful. But when you can actively take feedback and grow from your peers I think that is a huge advantage. There is so much to learn about communication skills. I also try to give feedback to the people I care about.

If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Tim Cook - 1) because Apple is my favorite company of all time and has been since I was a teenager, and 2) because I’d love to personally introduce him to what we’re doing over at Courant.

Who Is Your Role Model?

I would have to share two: Barack Obama, for his grace, and Kobe Bryant, for his work ethic. Both are (were) also incredible parents to their kids, which I have the utmost respect for when you have had the careers that they did.

What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I love to go for long walks with a podcast in-ear, play basketball, surf in the summers and read as much as possible. What I read: autobiographies (if you have a cool story I want to know about it), and a lot of newsletters, blogs and Twitter threads. I also have a particular interest in web3/blockchain and find everything being built in that space incredibly fascinating. One of my best friends is a partner at Andreesen Horowitz and I’m constantly bugging him with questions. 

What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

“The journey is the reward” - Steve Jobs

We often work so hard towards an end goal and wind up missing everything in between. I really believe that life is not about the big moments, but all the little, unforgettable moments. If you can celebrate the small wins and appreciate the most mundane of tasks I think you’ll find the ultimate happiness. 

Any Other Thoughts You Want To Share Relating To Current Events, The Economy, Political Climate, Or Any Other Topic?

There’s obviously a lot going on right now between inflation, US & China relations, and the crisis in Ukraine. Fundamentally we are the type of people to play the long game. While it’s easy to get frantic over the day-to-day news cycle, we’re very bullish on the future of everything. If that core belief ever changed I would radically change what I was doing on a daily basis. I probably would not be in business. 

What Does Success Mean To You?

Success = flexibility. All too often we want to do things but are restricted. I’ll know I’m successful when I have the ultimate decision making ability to do most things (within reason), whether that be personally or professionally.

  Monish Sabnani’s Favorites Stack:


1. No Rules Rules- Reed Hastings (CEO of Netflix) on how to build an innovative, disruptive corporate culture

2. Dreams From My Father - Barack Obama’s origin story, written pre politics

3. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike- Phil Knight’s founding story of Nike. A must read for all entrepreneurs

Health & Fitness:

1. Steps, every day. I aim for 8-10K

2. Strength training - I try to get 2 full body workouts in a week

3. Basketball - Pickup in Brooklyn, as much as I can


1. Lululemon pants have totally replaced jeans in my life. I wear them everyday

2. Stance long compression stocks 

3. Hoodies, all the time


1. AirPods Pro

2. Lululemon Black Pants

3. Trader Joes Milk Chocolate Pretzels (!)

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. Leanluxe & 2PM (Ecomm newsletters)

2. All-In Podcast (General macro news & investing)

3. How I Built This (Founder-driven, entrepreneurial storytelling podcast)

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Hawaii surf trip

2. Tel Aviv

3. Buenos Aires

4. Cape Town

- What I Found
Casey Klugman | Les Monts


Founder of Les Monts, a new luxury handcrafted sunglasses company.

What Is Les Monts? Tell Us All About Your Brand, Mission, And Product Selection.

I’ve always had an affinity for handmade goods. To me, there’s warmth that emanates from handmade goods. They have subtle imperfections which make them unique – something you don’t necessarily get from mass-produced products. In light of this affinity, I wanted Les Monts to be a handmade, limited-edition collection. Utilizing an array of handpicked, highly considered materials, Les Monts frames are brought to life by the hands of experienced Italian craftsmen who take great pride in their work.

Les Monts is geared towards creative individuals – specifically those who push the creative boundaries in their respective fields. However, the brand recognizes any individual in pursuit of a lofty personal goal. In French, Les Monts means “the mountains”. As the brand’s namesake, mountains serve as a reminder that good things, like a journey towards a personal goal or the production of our handmade goods themselves, take time to develop. And, while the journey to reach that goal may prove fickle, there is often great value to be found at the finish line. Each of our limited-edition spectacles is a testament to those who have been fearless in their personal endeavors; and, to those who are at the beginning of their journey, a pair can ignite the courage to take that next step.

I think today more than ever, it’s important for a brand to have genuine purpose and good intentions. Throughout my life, there have been a number of important people who have at some point, in some capacity, struggled with their mental health. There are times when I haven’t been in the best headspace, too. So, my decision to partner with Mental Health America was one which came quite naturally. I wanted to honor anybody who has ever been affected by a mental health condition – directly or indirectly. This partnership is important to the brand as anything else. My hope is that Les Monts can transcend traditional brand ideologies, and become a beacon of optimism that inspires.

What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I was born in New Jersey in the early 90s. My late grandfather, who was a dentist and an amateur artist himself, got me involved in art at a very young age. From elementary school through high school, art was the one subject I really excelled in. At some point in junior high school, I developed an interest in fashion. It started with sneakers - I was collecting “Nike Dunks” at the time. Like eyewear, footwear can tell a story about the person wearing it - I still love that about footwear. As my affinity for sneaker culture grew, I began illustrating sneaker designs and concepts of my own. I had sketchbooks full of illustrations. But, before I left to study Art & Design at the University of Michigan, my father – who I am very close with – gifted me a pair of his vintage sunglasses. For me it was the ultimate heirloom. I cherished these sunglasses – I admired everything about them. From that day forward, I was no longer illustrating sneakers, I was illustrating eyewear. I graduated from University of Michigan – School of Art & Design in the spring of 2014. Shortly thereafter, I accepted a job to design eyewear for Ted Baker. It was an amazing opportunity, and the job I held for five years. But, in the back of my head, I knew my ultimate goal was to one day have my own collection. In October of 2020, I decided the time was “now” and resigned from my day-job. Since then, I’ve been working on bringing my own brand to market, and that vision recently became reality. My brand, Les Monts, went live on April 20th of this year.

What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

One of the coolest parts about starting your own brand is you get to decide what story you want to tell through your products. If there’s a group of people you want to empower, or a cause you’d like to raise awareness for, all of those choices are yours. My late grandmother was born and raised in rural France. Unfortunately, she passed away when I was about 13 years old – long before she and I had the chance to connect on an adult level. There’s a lot happening in my life right now. I’ve just started a business, my girlfriend and I recently moved in together; there are so many conversations I wish I could have with her today. So, I decided to give my brand a French name, to pay homage to my late grandmother. As I mentioned earlier the mountains serve as a reminder that good things, like a journey towards a personal goal or the production of our wearables themselves, take time to develop. And, while the journey to reach that goal may prove fickle, there is often great value to be found at the finish line.

What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

I think what I’ve enjoyed most about this journey is the creative freedom it’s afforded me. I was designing for another brand for 5 years. During that time, I didn’t have full creative freedom. I had to adhere to the vision of another brand. Having the creative freedom to execute my own design vision, and tell a story through my brand has been completely invigorating.

The most challenging part of the journey, and the component I struggled with most, occurred during the first few months on my own. At my former employer, I rarely had downtime in the office. There were many days I’d go into work, put my head down, and not lift it until 6:30pm. I kind of liked that - it always made the day go faster, plus I’d feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. My first few months of self-employment proved to be a major adjustment period. I had to accept to the fact that things were going to move a lot slower – at least initially. Naturally, a project like this takes time to develop. So, going from a very fast-paced environment, to the slow-burning, very early stages of a start-up, was a challenge for me.

The most exciting part of my work has always been receiving samples or the final product. I have a tremendous respect and appreciation for excellent craftsmanship. The craftsmen I work with in Italy are extraordinarily talented. Their handcrafted products are beautifully made. When I receive their products for the first time, there’s a moment of admiration – almost like seeing a piece of art. It’s a moment that never gets old.

Can You Share Some Insight As To Your Design And/or Manufacturing Process? What Makes Les Monts Frames Stand Out Above The Rest?

I think there are two philosophies when it comes to designing and manufacturing. The first is probably the most common – especially in the realm of corporate fashion. This process consists of designing a product, and then modifying it to meet, or increase margin. The other philosophy is the approach I’ve taken with Les Monts. When I started out, I had a vision for what I wanted to produce. Based on my previous work experience, I knew the product I wanted to create would be expensive and require a great deal of expertise to produce. Rather than water down my vision, I said to the factory, “This is the product I want to make. These are the details; these are the materials I want to use. Please let me know how much it will cost to produce a pair, and I’ll figure out what I need to sell it for.” I think if you believe in your product, this is the approach that makes sense. At the end of the day, you want to bring your idea to life. You don’t want to bring 50% of an idea to life. Les Monts spectacles incorporate over 200 steps, and can take nearly a half year to produce. We only produce 100 pieces or less of a given style – which is an extremely limited amount. Many factories will not agree to produce quantities that small. Once a style is sold out, it is no longer produced. We place a very heavy emphasis on the handcrafted nature of our frames; it’s what makes our glasses a cut above the rest. However, the true beauty of a Les Monts frame comes from the fact that it is an imperfect object. When you produce things by hand, there are inherent differences from piece to piece. These differences or imperfections are virtually undetectable to the naked eye, but it’s part of what makes a Les Monts frame an object to be desired. Our frames are not mass-produced objects, cold off of an assembly line. They have a warmth and a story to tell.

Tell Us About Your Go-to Market Strategy. Do You See Les Monts Being Exclusively Sold Online, Or Also Launching Retail Stores Similar To Warby Parker?

For the moment, I am direct to consumer through However, I will be working hard on getting Les Monts into select stores in the coming months. I’ve designed for other brands in the past. In my honest opinion, Les Monts eyewear looks and feels distinctly different from other eyewear. Because of this, it’s very important that customers have the ability to pick up my products and experience them in person. There’s so much value in that experience. All of our frames are produced in very small quantities, so our eyewear will likely be placed in boutiques and maybe one select retailer. Stay tuned!

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tricks You Use To Stay Productive?

During the week I go to sleep late - around 12:30-1:00am. Because of that, I typically wake-up around 8:20am. I love sleeping in, but that’s about as late as I can sleep during the week. Because I’m communicating with my partners in Italy on a daily basis, and there’s a +6 hour time difference, I can’t afford to sleep past 8:30am. Once, I wake up – it’s an immediate cup of coffee. I then sit at my desk and take care of all urgent emails – prioritizing the emails that are affected by a time difference. Once urgencies are out of the way, I’ll make the bed, shower, and listen to sports talk radio, namely, The Dan Patrick Show. Then it’s back to work until around 12:45, at which point I take my dog for a walk. Then it’s back to work for the rest of the day. I like to get a Peloton session in at the end of the day to clear my head, though admittedly, I’ve been bad about it lately. I do find that it clears my head, even if I get on the bike for 15-20 minutes at the end of the day. For me, the best way I know to stay productive is by setting goals. I like to set goals by the day, week, and month. By constantly setting goals, and hopefully meeting those goals, I feel accomplished and hungry when I wake up each day.

What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Flexibility - Flexibility is key. Today, the world is changing more rapidly than ever before. As an entrepreneur, it’s never been more important to stay flexible and adaptive. For creative endeavors, the importance of flexibility cannot be underestimated. Rigidity can quickly kill a brand and a product. So, listen to feedback and don’t be afraid to pivot. Let your concepts evolve!

Decisiveness - More is lost by indecision than the wrong decision. When you’re starting out, you’re probably going to make the wrong decision more than once. That’s ok – especially if you’re able to learn from your mistakes. In my experience, indecision always has a more negative impact than a wrong decision. You can take time to make a big decision, but be mindful of how much time you have and then make your decision – don’t prolong it.

Patience - Good things take time to come to fruition. That’s a big part of the branding behind Les Monts. Building a business requires persistence, endurance and patience. It takes a lot of time and effort. So, it’s natural to want results right away – but that’s rarely the case. While you want to remain on top of things, being is key to keeping you emotionally grounded in your project.

Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

There’s an important lesson I’ve learned, actually from loved ones who have passed away. The lesson teaches us that our time here is limited, so we need to spend it doing what we love. I’ll use my late grandmother for example, who, by the way, is part of the inspiration for the name Les Monts. My grandmother, Jo, absolutely adored her grandchildren. Nothing brought her more joy than spending time with us. Sadly, my grandmother fell ill, and passed away before she was able to see her grandchildren reach adulthood. Impermanence is a reminder our time is limited, and we never know when “our time” is going to come. When faced with one of life’s many difficult decisions, I like to think of Jo telling me to go for it. In my experience, knowing that my time is limited sometimes makes those difficult decisions a lot easier.

If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

My top choice would have to be Sir Paul McCartney. I’ve always been inspired by his colorful personality and creative energy. Amazingly, I think Paul still fits the profile of my customer. He’s highly creative and he’s produced music capable of moving emotion. Great music is so powerful. Great music can inspire change, motivate you to start your own business, it can move you to tears and then build you back up. For as long as I can remember, the Beatles’ music has done for me. That’s what I want Les Monts to do for my customer. If my products become a wearable symbol of creativity, or if my brand makes people more comfortable discussing mental health conditions, it will mean that Les Monts has impacted people in an emotional context. That’s my ultimate goal. Since his music has positively and emotionally affected so many people for such an extended period of time, there’s nobody I’d rather meet with than Sir Paul.

Who Is Your Role Model?

I take a lot of inspiration from Philippe Petit, the man who walked a tightrope between the original World Trade towers. He was so focused on his craft and passionate about the process just as much about the outcome. He woke up everyday and ‘got on his wire’, whether it was 2 feet off the ground, or 2,000 feet off the ground. His attention to detail allowed him to perform an act for which the consequence of a single mistake was death. We very rarely engage in activities when a single mistake is certain death. If Philippe has made a misstep above the World Trade Towers, there’s no surviving that fall. While I don’t want to be punished with death for each mistake I make doing the thing I love, I find the clarity to be beautiful in my own relationship to my craft. I highly recommend Man on Wire, watched through the lens of a metaphor and as performance art. 

What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I’m an artist by trade, so in my free time I love to paint. Painting is a process that has always been extremely cathartic for me. There’s nothing better than putting on music and getting lost in my work for hours. Left to my own devices, I think I would paint straight through the night. For me, it’s the type of hobby I can’t put down after I start. My painting style is very graphic and rather unconventional. If you’re familiar with Banksy, that’s kind of what my paintings look like – though they’re hand-painted rather than spray painted.

What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

The late Steve Jobs made an outstanding commencement speech at the University of Stanford in 2005. In his address to the graduating class, Jobs says:

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road, will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path — and that will make all the difference”.

There is so much power in this quote, because it’s delivered by Jobs shortly after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Conscious of his mortality, Jobs’ words are a uniquely intimate retrospective. His quote suggests that it’s impossible to know whether a decision we make today will yield the results we want tomorrow. Therefore, the best way to persist in the face of doubt is by putting your trust in whatever you personally believe in. Doing so will give you confidence to follow your heart in difficult decisions, even when doubt or uncertainty are pulling you in the opposite direction.

What Does Success Mean To You?

Since starting this project, I’ve noticed a direct correlation between success and happiness. Though, the relationship I see is probably different from what most people would expect. There’s the obvious “Success = Financial Prosperity = Happiness”. I cannot confirm if that’s true. But, I have discovered a different dynamic between success and happiness, which is true for me. At this point in my life, I’m happier with my work than I’ve ever been before. I love what I’m doing – it brings me great joy. I’ve realized that in order for me to continue doing what I love, my business needs to be successful. While the meaning of success can change over time, right now, success to me means an opportunity to continue doing what I love.

  Casey Klugman’s Favorites Stack:


1. Emotionally Durable Design, by Jonathan Chapman

2. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, by Phil Knight

3. Open: An Autobiography, by Andre Agassi

Health & Fitness:

1. Peloton

2. Pick-up football with friends

3. Pick-up basketball with friends


1. Reiss

2. Theory

3. Nike


1. Nespresso

2. iMac

3. Dyson Air Purifier

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. How I Built This with Guy Raz

2. The Herd with Colin Cowherd

3. The Dan Patrick Show

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Southern Italy

2. Paris

3. Japan

- What I Found
Brandon Schulz | Violet

Brandon Schulz

Founder of Violet, a Commerce API Platform enabling any app to integrate universal checkout in weeks instead of years.

What Is Violet? Tell Us All About Your Platform, How It Works, And The Types Of Companies That Use Your Services.

Violet is a unified API that allows any online channel (be it an app, a website, a game, or live stream) to connect to a brand or retailer's ecommerce backend without the need for expensive and complex integrations. We call it a “unified API” because our mission is to provide integration with any e-commerce platform through a single, unified API. So whether you’re an online influencer looking to get more purchases directly through your platform, or you’re a brand who wants to sell through more channels, all you’ll need is this API. It’s great for shoppers too because they can purchase from anywhere on the internet, with no clickout. 

Right now we’ve built integrations into leading e-commerce platforms, and are working with a wide range of customers who are creating new and exciting online experiences: influencer platforms, publishers, online shopping marketplaces. 

What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

While Rhen and I started Violet in 2017, I’ve more or less been trying to solve the same problem for over a decade. The question driving my career has always been the same: how can we create a more open, distributed, and collaborative version of e-commerce? Specifically, what would it take for shoppers to be able to buy products directly inside social, livestream, SMS, voice, AR, VR, or any other experience developers and app companies decide to build? I happen to think the answer is Violet, but it took a while to get there.

In 2012, I co-founded a company that was basically a Hootsuite but for e-commerce products. I learned a lot on the job through that project, about how to fundraise, build a good team, talk to investors. That’s also where I first met Rhen Zabel, our Co-Founder and CTO, and Tyler Middleton, our Head of Growth. But e-commerce wasn’t mature enough for something like Violet to work.

After that, I worked for a few other larger companies in retail, and really grew as a manager and a leader. But I never stopped thinking about how to solve the problem of distributed e-commerce. Rhen was in a similar position, tackling related issues for larger companies. At each step of the way, we realized no one was solving the infrastructure layer. Eventually we just realized we had to build it ourselves once and for all and offer it as a platform.

What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

The concept is a little science-y, but it’s based on the color spectrum: violet is the last visible color of light that we can see with the human eye. There are a bunch of different kinds of light waves beyond that, some of which we can see under an ultraviolet light, but violet is the last color you see and touch before you reach a realm of rather magical and unbelievable possibilities.

That’s exactly how our product works: we’re the last interface or infrastructure you see when conducting e-commerce at the edge: and what you see is very simple, elegant and intuitive. But what’s behind that, the backend and coordination and artistry that’s making this very simple, intuitive purchase experience possible remains invisible. You can feel it’s impact in how your purchase experience (or merchant or channel experience) improves, but what you see and interact with is Violet.

Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

My Co-Founder is Rhen Zabel, an amazing engineer and innovator who I’ve known for over a decade now. Rhen and I actually share a birthday down to the year (same exact xx/xx/xxxx), which from the beginning felt like a very auspicious sign for how well we’d work together. I love working with Rhen for so many reasons: he’s a brilliant problem solver, and has been coding since he was 12 or 13. So it’s like getting a 20-year engineer still early in his career. He’s also just a very thoughtful person, very passionate about the environment, obsessed with sci-fi. So working with him on one level is easy just because I like him so much as a person.

As a colleague, he brings a lot to the table that compliments what I can do: our product already skews technical, but Rhen is the engineering genius behind our product. He’s incredibly discerning with his words, and has predilections to a certain type of intelligence and long-term focus that are really rare. He keeps me grounded, and is the one ensuring that we’re actually building the product I’m imagining. I often like to say that I’m driving the train, but Rhen’s the one laying the track.

What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?


Working with Rhen Zabel: Rhen and I have known each other for over ten years now. It’s so gratifying to build something you believe in with someone who is equally passionate and exceedingly skilled. 

Acquiring new skills at a 10x pace: You can’t not learn rapidly when you’re building your own company. It’s been 4+ years of this and it’s been really fun and invaluable in my own development. I also think that kind of learning is helping our team stay engaged.

Building teams: There’s nothing more exciting than finding people who share in your vision but bring something new to the table. It’s been the best part of the new year by far. 

Making it real: Seeing an idea that I wrote on a whiteboard in middle of 2017 finally come to fruition 4 years later…it’s my ultimate definition of success.

Seeing customers use the API and grow their businesses on it: We’ve had so many meetings with customers where they say something to the effect of “This is the exact solution I’ve been looking for. This can’t be real…” Which is exactly what we love to hear! That’s incredibly affirming and motivating as we keep having more of those conversations, and ultimately seeing our customers succeed. 

The amazing people that I’ve gotten to meet along the way: Fellow founders, investors, new teammates.

The boost from fantastic VCs: Feels so great to meet people who believe in you who are willing to invest in your idea, your dream.


Being at the mercy of timing: Building something very close to my dream product 4 years ahead of time meant a long wait and long slog to build with Rhen. 

Doubt: The years of people not believing in us, resulting in self-doubt and lonely nights.

The drag from bad VCs: Being misunderstood or underestimated for what we were capable of as a team and a product.

Uphill climb: Our product comes out of a really deep understanding and love for the behind the scenes of e-commerce. We had to lay the groundwork over and over again to explain our product, as the market and understanding of the landscape took years to catch up to where we already were.

What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

Funding was really terrible, until it wasn’t. We really wanted to raise from a VC firm in Seattle, where we’re from. But we didn’t take into account geographical priors and general market structure in Seattle when we set out to do that. So we got no’s from nearly every VC in Seattle. But that work just meeting with everyone eventually paid off, and once we started meeting with the right people it turned around very quickly. After we met the team at RSV (Red Sea Ventures) we then got introduced to Brian Sugar, who introduced us to Lachy Groom. And it just snowballed really beautifully from there to where we had about 45 VCs all showing a high amount of interest, to the point where our seed round was oversubscribed by about $2M. We narrowed it down to the right team, and just 90 days later Klarna made a big strategic investment to speed our growth and lead our Series A.

Since then, we’ve been focused on updating and accelerating our growth strategy quite a bit. Most of our investment now has gone towards automating processes to save time, and building a world class team. Of course there are still features and improvements we’re making to our product all the time, but right now it’s about how we can scale the excellent API we’ve worked hard to build, and reaching all the communities of potential customers we know are out there.

How Has Growth Been Over The Last Year? Any New Products Launching Soon?

Despite the learning curve with hiring, the growth has been phenomenal. It’s been such an exciting year for us. What’s really fun for us is every launch of our product is really someone else’s launch: we get to watch all kinds of online channels and experiences kick off something new in their business. We have one client in particular in stealth right now that we’ve just loved getting to work with. If you come back to us in Q2 we can share some more info there.

But really we’re seeing the reality we envisioned come to life, which is new ways for people to purchase at the edge, with more and more startups expanding into live and curated shopping in lots of new and interesting ways.

What Is One Thing About Building A Business You Did Not Know That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching Violet?

Many people will tell you that recruiting is the hardest thing you’ll do when you’re starting out. And it’s even harder than they say it is.

I think for some new companies recruiting is hard because of sourcing and closing. We’re fortunate not to have that problem: we find people easily and once they’re in the funnel they’re usually excited to join.

BUT, recruiting does put a huge crunch on our bandwidth. In many ways it’s much harder to go from four to 40 people than it is to go from 40 to 400. I’d tell anyone just starting out that the moment you need to hire more than 15 people, hire a recruiter. I wish someone had said that to me, it would’ve saved a lot of headaches.

How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Business Both In Terms Of Growth Plans As Well As Day-To-Day Operations? Has The Pandemic Fueled Demand For Violet As More And More Merchants Lean On E-Commerce As Their Main Sales Channel?

COVID has had a huge impact on our business. As most people know just from surviving lockdowns, e-commerce was an industry that did very well in the pandemic. It definitively proved its utility, convenience, and potential. Every company and merchant was forced to prioritize e-commerce, basically compressing what might have been a decade of changes to infrastructure and business models in just 12 months. So what we have now is really the landscape Violet was made to serve, where you have old systems, new systems, incumbents, start-ups all trying to figure out how to sell products in this new marketing landscape. In a marketplace of millions of vendors, how do you get traction? Targeted, direct-to-consumer advertising can only get you so far, especially as regulations are changing to protect privacy. So that’s where our tool becomes vital circuitry in the new distributed model of e-commerce. As we’ve hit our stride with funding, finding customers, and growing our team, it’s proving to be a really exciting moment to be in e-commerce.

How Do You Think Your Industry (Or The World In General) Will Change Post-COVID?

E-commerce has changed significantly during and post-COVID, if we can say that at this point. While we stayed at home, everyone hopped on their computer and bought everything online. We felt this in the out-of-stock notices on websites. We felt this in the three months I waited to get the couch that I purchased. We felt this in the dramatic increase in prices corporations were able to leverage due to the product shortage.

Before the pandemic, e-commerce was still only about 15% of all retail purchases globally. That number increased dramatically, resulting in an acceleration of e-commerce penetration by anywhere from six to ten years. This means that reliance on e-commerce has increased more rapidly than anyone had expected. As a result, the pressure on the underlying infrastructure of e-commerce has increased, revealing the gaps in the ecosystem broadly, as well as in the individual platforms themselves.

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tricks You Use To Stay Productive?

I’m a big believer that we are the things we do repetitively, and don’t really buy into “tricks” for productivity. Instead, I just keep my life very goal-focused, almost treating my own output like I would a product with OKRs: What do I want to accomplish? By when? How can I measure success, and how can I fit those measurements and goals to reasonable time horizons? That may feel a bit on the nose, but it’s how I stay on task.

If I were to recommend a productivity hack, I think it’d be self-compassion. We think of high performers as being hard on themselves, but usually the very best athletes and musicians hold themselves to high standards by default, and the hard work is in understanding how to be kind to themselves and others.

All that said, in addition to work every day I make sure to focus on my mornings:

Wake before 6am

Peloton for 30 min

Stretch for 30 min

Meditate for 20 Min

Journal for 20 Min

These daily routines keep me grounded, energized, and focused on what really matters. 

What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

I don’t think it’s as much about what qualities you have as it is about how you approach being an entrepreneur. So many entrepreneurs today just want to immediately go out there and start a company for the sake of starting a company. I don’t recommend this. Instead, I recommend new entrepreneurs go work somewhere else first, and find the problem they’re most passionate about at that company. Too many people just start things without first understanding their space inside and out. But if you start with the problem you really care about, and learn as much as you can about that problem, you’ll know the biggest pain points for your potential customers and build by far the most compelling companies. This only happens when you’re solving real, concrete problems for people and businesses.

Today, I think the business ventures that will be the most successful will either be very niche, or combinatorial. What I mean by that is, if you look at a company like Figma, they’re solving a very specific problem, and they do it incredibly well. They’re a niche product but with wide adoption in that niche because they really understand their customer. At Violet, we’re kind of the opposite: we’re a combination of e-commerce, plus headless, plus product distribution. We’re this amalgam of other product types that have been around before, but never in this combination. In fact it was the combining of these different features that was such a technical challenge and what makes us so valuable to our customers.

We’re past the days of someone simply standing up a website and making money. The barrier to value is much higher now, and that’s where I’ve seen the best founders today accelerate past others, because they know a particular use case so well, or are able to combine things in a novel way to generate new value.

Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

At the age of 16 I broke my leg twice in two years, and spent three months in a wheelchair. While there were a lot of learning experiences from that, I distinctly remember one incident where I was waiting to use the restroom. The two normal stalls were empty, but the person had chosen the wheelchair accessible stall. I had to wait until they were finished. At first I was furious, and then realized that I had done this very same thing without thinking about it prior to my injury. I was frustrated after three months in a wheelchair for how that experience was overlooked by others: it was eye-opening to think about what it must be like to live a lifetime in different and sometimes more challenging circumstances.

While some things can’t be fully understood until you experience them, one can’t experience everything, and this gap is something I now think about often: How can I constantly strive to empathize with the experiences and challenges of other people, even when I can’t directly experience it myself? One of our core values at Violet is empathy, because we ultimately work better together and build better companies by being able to consider other peoples’ viewpoints. Sure, we can’t always completely understand the experiences of those around us–but that’s precisely why we always try.

If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Without hesitation, Barack Obama. Regardless of your politics, I feel it’s like living during the time of Abraham Lincoln and not wanting to at least sit down with them. The version of the world Barack Obama stepped into, the problems he’s faced as an individual and a leader, are in combination unprecedented. And so there are just insights, experiences, and wisdom from that that I couldn’t get from anyone else. I’d need at least an hour to talk to him about his career and life’s work.

Who Is Your Role Model?

I take a lot of inspiration from Philippe Petit, the man who walked a tightrope between the original World Trade towers. He was so focused on his craft and passionate about the process just as much about the outcome. He woke up everyday and ‘got on his wire’, whether it was 2 feet off the ground, or 2,000 feet off the ground. His attention to detail allowed him to perform an act for which the consequence of a single mistake was death. We very rarely engage in activities when a single mistake is certain death. If Philippe has made a misstep above the World Trade Towers, there’s no surviving that fall. While I don’t want to be punished with death for each mistake I make doing the thing I love, I find the clarity to be beautiful in my own relationship to my craft. I highly recommend Man on Wire, watched through the lens of a metaphor and as performance art. 

What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I really like cycling, I read a lot of nonfiction, and I try to make a point of keeping up with all the Oscar-nominated films on an annual basis. But honestly, I love to learn new things and more often than not I’m applying that energy to my work. It doesn’t feel like work for me though. For me, it’s fun to spend a few hours on a weekend getting really proficient at a new tool that could help our company, because a) I’m learning something new and b) I’m working towards something I’m endlessly passionate about.

I’ve often thought it’s strange that we don’t make the same kinds of boundaries for hyper focused, dedicated artists and high performers like we do for other vocations. Like, no one would ever criticize John Mayer or Prince for playing guitar too much in their off hours, or Sue Bird for practicing on her evenings or weekends. For me, this is my craft, this is my sport. I’ve pursued other passions like music but now this is my focus, it’s what I love to do. While, I like to read and get outside like many people, I spend a great deal of my time just trying to get better at the thing I love. 

What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

“Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

– Rainer Maria Rilke

Any Other Thoughts You Want To Share Relating To Current Events, The Economy, Political Climate, Or Any Other Topic?

I stand with Ukraine.

What Does Success Mean To You?

Doing what you set out to do.

  Brandon Schulz’s Favorites Stack:


1. The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt . This book changed my mind about whether people can change their minds. We are less rational than we think we are. And this book presents the foundation for this based on Moral Psychology. At the root of moral psychology is the way by which any one of us decides to do or not do something regardless of explicit rules. I found this book to be enlightening in understanding my own brain, as well as the way others come to make decisions and behave in our ever increasingly complex world.

2. Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. I love this book. It is a gorgeous metaphor of the magic that happens when a team locks in. It’s about a rowing crew from the University of Washington (roughly 30 min from where I live). There’s a concept in rowing called ‘swing’ that almost feels like flying over the water. It happens when everyone is pulling in the same direction, completely in sync, as a result of a kind of unification that arises out of the body of a hull with 8 individual humans catapulting forward. I want to feel this in the teams I build. The book talks through the ups and downs of the coach, the individuals, the team, and how we bring all of who we are into our boats every day. 

3. Self-Compassion by Krista Neff. Self-Compassion is about what you might expect, compassion towards oneself. It’s not a soft or wishy washy book, but one that challenges the kinds of toxic cultures we’ve inherited that we likely don’t even know are running through our brains. A lot of this book was about slowing down some of the connections my brain was making that I wasn’t even aware of. Our synapses fire so fast, and the grooves are so strong, that we rarely have the language and practices to stare at them, and evaluate whether the appropriate level of intelligence and wisdom has been integrated into the way we perceived something, how we talk to ourselves, or whether our assumptions about a situation or our performance are accurate or fair at all. 

Health & Fitness:

1. Peloton. Love my Peloton, as I love cycling. My standard approach is to use ‘Just Ride’ and listen to a podcast or book while riding to a particular cadence or output I’m wanting to work on over a period of time.

2. 12 min body weight circuit heavy on strict pull ups (Cross Fit-inspired, WOD style). I try to focus on pull ups as the core exercise involving a lot of different muscles at once, with other movements wrapped in. With our bodies, we have to use it or lose it!

3. Mud WTR. Healthy mushrooms and a bit of caffeine have been more sustainable for me.


1. Apple: Of course.

2. Rapha: I have more Rapha gear than any one human being should own.

3. NIKE: Pretty much everything else.


1. Airpods Max

2. Smart Sweets

3. Ollipop

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. The Ezra Klein Show. Especially love Ezra’s deep dives into productivity, attention, and parenting. 

2. Hidden Brain. Fascinated by behavioral economics.

3. Masters of Scale. Yep.

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. London (my favorite city)

2. Montana (for some summer fly fishing with my partner’s family)

3. Krabi, Thailand (favorite beach)

- What I Found
Elliot Cao | Hast


Founder of Hast, a company that designs tools to help make cooking easier, more predictable, and more fun.

What Is Hast? Tell Us About Your Brand And Mission.

Hast is created to bring high-performance, design centric kitchen tools that energize and excites cooking. With forward-looking, functional, and intuitive design, Hast reduces the weight and seriousness of high-performance knives so that you can focus on the creative part of cooking.

We believe cooking is crucial to society, cultural and sustainability. There is an artist in everyone, and cooking is the artistry everyone can pursue and start whenever.

Our mission is to get more people to cook, cook more and have more fun cooking.

What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

Before starting Hast, I have been creating brands, mostly for large corporations. I have been working in marketing and branding consultancy in firms and brands such as Weber Shandwick, Future Brand and Nivea.

My interest in material science led me to work with a startup pioneering in innovative alloy in cutlery which then got me into the world of knives and knife production. After seeing some many knives (designs), I still couldn’t find a knife I am proud to own, a knife of uncompromising performance, and good design with meaningful & essential details, and does not cost a fortune. Knives in the market are either traditional and serious, or aggressive in design (look) but not comfortable to use, or those flashy colorful cheap knives sets.

Like many makers and entrepreneurs, I was ignorant and brave enough to give the design a try which then led to the journey of exploring and testing dozens of steels, production and performance tests, and launching a crowdfunding campaign.

What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

We want a registrable brand name that can reflect our design principle (simple, universal, timeless). The name Hast is from Swedish, meaning speedy/fast. It also means “have” in Old English. The name reflects our function-focused, minimalist design approach, and the chef’s mindset: focused, creative, and present.

What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

I like make things that make positive impact, and I am quite proud that Hast knives have become the go-to knife of many home chefs who purchased many brands. Customer feedbacks like this get me excited:

“As a professional chef of 40yrs I can say last year I purchased 3 new chef knives. Misen, Hast and another high end I cannot remember. Point? I reach for Hast every time . It's lighter than the rest and now I'm noticing it stays the sharpest. I give it a surprising A+”-Jack Petronella

The least-liked part is that you have to deal with all the setbacks, challenges and stay positive. 

The most challenging moment is pushing for high-quality production when everything was delayed in 2020. We are few months behind our planed delivery schedule, and we couldn’t give accurate estimation of delivery. 

The most exciting moment is when we shipped the orders to our ealy backers. I am very grateful for the Kickstarter community for their support and trust, and I am very happy we can deliver knives they like. 

Can You Share Some Insight As To Your Manufacturing Process? What Makes Hast Knives Unique In Terms Of Design And Technology?

Making great knives are just like cooking great steak. Prime meat is essential, but just part of the success. The performance of kitchen knives is limited by the steel, the harder the steel, the sharper the knife can be, but at the same time, more difficult to produce. And the knife can be difficult and specific too, especially with ultra-hard high-carbon steels. The production process also affects the knives performance largely. The steel will determine the geometry limits of the knife, hence cutting performance, as well as the production process. The harder the steel is, the slower the process. Heat and cold treatment, and heat produced during the manufacturing process will also change the hardness and strength of the steel, and performance of the knife.

Our differentiation of design came from our function/experience-first design principle. We want to design a good knife, then an impressive design. Every detail of Hast knives is kept because it serves a better function or user interaction. It weights light your hand and feels light to your eyes and mind. It’s an easy and effortless tool.

It’s subtle but different with details you appreciate more after using it for a while. The design removes the feeling of a tool, let you feel just you cook and create.

Hast Edition series knives have achieved the highest sharpness and edge-retention (durability) standard, 116% above the highest industry standard (Catra Excellent standard)

Hast Edition series knives are made of patented Matrix powder steel, a steel with great balance of hardness, yield strength and corrosion resistance. (Typically for knives, harder steel means sharp but fragile and easy-rust knives.) The achieve optimal performance from the steel, we need to test optimize the production process. We did multiple test-production test even before we ran our Kickstarter campaign.

How Has Growth Been Over The Last Year? Any New Products Launching Soon?

We are going to launch a new knife line featuring the same minimalistic design with premium Japanese high-carbon stainless steel from leading cutlery steel manufacturer JFE.

It will be the MacBook Air to our current Edition Powder steel line. We are currently testing the steel and adjusting the production processes for the best possible performance. We will also run lab test and kitchen-using test with chefs before we finalize the production standard.

How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Business Both in Terms Of Growth Plans As Well As Day-To-Day Operations? How About Recent Supply Chain Issues- Has This Impacted Hast At All?

It has dramatically affected our business, especially the manufacturing. We have to closely monitor and work with our manufacturing partner. The pandemic made it almost impossible at the beginning. It also makes it very difficult to have off-line meetings with clients, partners, and customers.

The supply chain issue made shipping more expensive, and unpredictable. One of our shippings had to wait in a port for more than a month before loading.

How Do You Think Your Industry (Or The World In General) Will Change Post-COVID?

I think people are exposed more to cooking and their kitchen. When you get into cooking more, you will realize that good knives and other cooking tools are very important to cooking, just like instruments to artists.

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tricks You Use To Stay Productive?

I typically get up 8:30 and get to the office around 9am. I will have my first cup of coffee around 10. I have a light lunch (chocolate, nuts, or some simple protein).

I finish around 7pm and have a full meal for dinner. I will make some calls and working on emails after my dinner break.

I go to gym around 4 times a week. 2 days in the week and 2 in the weekend.

Gym/training is a great routine for me to keep my energy level and stay focus. It offers incremental progress that you are in total control. The sense of progress is critical to keep a positive mindset when work is challenging and unpredictable.

What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

In-depth understanding of the product.

Engineering and design mindset.

Good communicator of product and vision of the company.

My advice is that you should only invest in ventures that you have a passion for.

Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

I once treated myself from an allergy induced blackout on a train without medicine, by applying basic physics and biology. I used cold water (to drink and rinse) to cool my body and reduce my body’s allergic reaction.

I think the lesson is that you need stay calm to come up with the better solution possible and there always solutions to make the reality better.

Any Thoughts You Want To Share Relating To Current Events, The Economy, Political Climate, Or Any Other Topic?

I believe we are in an era of major transitioning: transitioning to sustainable energy, energy independence and abundance; Transitioning to Autonomous technology with AI, Robotics; transitioning to better living with genome sequencing & therapeutics. These transitioning will change human race fundamentally in the form of economy, politics, and culture.

In any form of transitioning, there will be mistakes, chaos, pain, and suffering, especially for those who are in disadvantage. I think self-care is utterly important. Cooking can play a much important role in self-care and taking care of those we love. Cooking will be a bigger part of our living and culture in the technology advanced, abundant era when everyone is an artist.

If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

I think I’d like to hang out with Elon Musk. He is a true entrepreneur & engineer, a cool, kind and host person and he has been creating fundamental positive changes to humanity. And I am also a techno fan.

Who Is Your Role Model?

Elon Musk and Steve Jobs

What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I cook quite often. I try to cook recipes from different cultures. I experiment and try to understand the fundamentals of different cuisine. I bring my own interpretation to recipes and sometimes it works great.

I am into art, design, movie, and music. I watch movies of different language and cultures to have sense of perspective of living beyond my experiences.

I train regularly. I am also a certified Les Mills RPM (cycling) instructor.

What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

“Physics is the law, everything else is a recommendation.”

It’s quite true. It helps to separate opinions from facts, and we should always question opinions.

What Does Success Mean To You?

Making the best of you and making positive impact to your family, community and wherever you can reach.

  Elliot Cao’s Favorites Stack:


1. The Outlier

2. The Crowd

3. Steve Jobs

Health & Fitness:

1. Cross-training-weight & cardio

2. RPM (stationary cycling)

3. Pilates


1. Uniqlo

2. Prada

3. Adidas


1. Hast Knives, I drink a glass of water with fine-sliced lemon and Himalaya salt every morning.

2. iPhone 13 Pro and MacBook Pro

3. Freitag backpack

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. HubermanLab podcast (health, nutrition, longevity, science)

2. Breaking Points

3. Dave Lee Investing (good take on Tesla and other Tech companies)

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Texas

2. Italy

3. Portugal

- What I Found
Peter Marler | Robin Golf


Co-Founder & CEO of Robin Golf, a company that makes buying premium golf clubs easier and more approachable so that more people can start swinging.

What Is Robin Golf? Tell Us About Your Brand, Your Mission, And What Makes Your Products Unique.

We're a family business (female & LGBT founded) that's passionate about bringing accessibility and diversity to golf.  We make the highest quality sets of clubs on the market for new and casual players  - women, men, and juniors.  Very simple purchase process, no jargon, no confusion. 

What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

Most people assume that since I started a golf company that I’m an avid or highly skilled golfer, Neither is true and that’s a big part of the reason Robin was started.  

I co-founded the company with my brother Andrew (a former D1 collegiate player), and my sister-in-law Ali (a new/casual player).  They joined me in Los Angeles in 2017 and in short order  Andrew invited us to play golf with him at his new golf club.   At the time I was using a garage sale set and Ali was using an entry level discount set, neither of which felt appropriate for our debut at the club.  

Ali and I went to a major golf retailer in LA to buy new sets and both had terrible experiences for different reasons.  For me, I was overwhelmed by choice, price, and jargon.  The pro was asking me things like “what loft do you want in your driver” and “what flex to you prefer in the shaft,” which I didn’t know the answers to.  In the end, the set he put together for me came to about $3,500. He then brings Ali into the back of the store and shows her one set of pink clubs and one set of purple clubs.  We both left the store frustrated - me feeling taken advantage of and Ali feeling patronized.  

We asked Andrew what the Warby Parker equivalent of golf was and he told us it didn’t exist.  In confirming this, we found that the major golf brands cater predominantly to avid, skill biased golfers, who overwhelmingly tend to be affluent, white, men.  Meanwhile, the fastest growing groups in the sport were ones that were typically left out of the narrative - women, people of color, juniors, and millennials/gen z.  

That’s when the idea for Robin Golf came about.  Robin was started with the goal of creating accessibility, diversity, and inclusion in golf.  We launched by releasing a line of golf sets, but we see that mission applying to many different categories in golf and beyond.

What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

We had originally named the company Marler Golf, but since our mission was to democratize golf it felt a bit pretentious to name it after ourselves.  Also we had several foreign friends tell us that our last name is difficult to understand/pronounce if English is your second language.  

So we renamed the company Robin which signifies a few things.   First, the bird symbolizes the coming of spring and a sign of good things to come.  Second, Robin fits in nicely with the bird vernacular of golf (e.g. birdie, eagle, albatross, condor).  

What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

I’ve had many favorite parts of the journey, but I’ve enjoyed ideating and creating Robin’s culture the most.  It’s been fun and rewarding to think about commonly held practices in American work culture and asking “is there a good reason to keep doing it this way?”  For example, we implemented a 4-day work week after being inspired by the Icelandic study on its benefits.  I get really energized when I get to think about how we can use Robin as a tool to create positive experiences for our employees, customers, and community.  

My least favorite part is the admin work that comes along with having a small team.  Things like accounting, expenses, taxes, and other paperwork.  Hopefully I won’t have to spend so much time doing those things in the not so distant future.  

Tell Us About Your Co-Founders And How Their Skills Supplement Yours.

I co-founded the company with my brother and my sister-in-law.  Thankfully we’re really close and we all have complementary skills so it’s worked out nicely.  That being said, we have invested in an executive coach so that we can more effectively navigate our work lives and personal lives intertwining.  There have been times where work disputes spill over into our personal lives and it’s never fun when that happens.  

What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

Fundraising has been a trip. Surprisingly, it was way easier for us to raise money when we were just a pitch deck and an idea than it has been after launching and finding success in our first 18 months. I think when you’re pre-launch investors get excited about the possibility of what you will build, whereas after launch the focus is on KPI’s which vary greatly by investor. We’ve raised money from angels and family offices thus far, but we’re in the process of raising our seed round which looks like it may contain our first institutional check.

How Has Growth Been Over The Last Year? Any New Products Or Categories Launching Soon?

We got somewhat lucky in that golf exploded during the pandemic. When golf courses opened up around May 2020 our products just started flying off the shelves, which continued through 2021. We 5x’d our top line 20-21 and expect to do the same in 2022 (assuming no more significant supply chain disruptions).

We’re launching several new products this year including a 13-club set, balls, and accessories. Our goal is still to keep our product selection highly curated and simple to understand.

Ultimately our goal is to bring accessibility and inclusivity to a sport that has historically lacked those values. We have a larger vision with regard to that mission that could extend beyond golf in the future.

How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Business Both in Terms Of Growth Plans As Well As Day-To-Day Operations? How About Recent Supply Chain Issues- Has This Impacted Your Ability To Keep Up With Demand On The Manufacturing Or Shipping Side Of Things?

We launched the week of the shut down and thought we were completely screwed. Thankfully golf was one of the only things that you could do while safely socially distanced so the sport exploded in 2020-2021.

Similar to many ecommerce companies though we were affected by the supply chain issues. Lead times have ballooned and it’s always frustrating to see our container ships idling at the port of LA for weeks at a time. I’d like to think that the situation is improving but I haven’t seen any evidence of that yet unfortunately.

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines? What Are Some Tricks You Use To Stay Productive?

I hate working out in the morning so the only thing I do other than shower and brush my teeth is stretch. Apparently I’m at that age where my lower back hurts all the time and I never was very good about stretching until it became absolutely necessary.

As for staying productive through the day I’m a big fan of taking many small breaks. I’ll usually take a walk, read a few pages of my book, listen to a podcast segment, or get sucked into Tik Tok (I’m desperately trying to reduce my Tik Tok time in 2022).

I try to workout in the evening, but I’ve definitely become less regimented about it during the pandemic. I love cooking so I’ll typically try to cook for myself and my husband rather than ordering from Postmates.

I almost always end the day with a dry martini.

What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Tenacity - I was listening to the How I Built This interview with Brian Armstrong from Coinbase and he said that someone once told him that entrepreneurship is moving from one setback to another with enthusiasm.  That made me laugh and really resonated with my journey so far.  

The ability to zoom out - sometimes I get so wrapped up in the challenges I’m facing at work that I forget to take a step back and remember that they’re rarely as catastrophic as I’m making them.  In those moments I remind myself that I have my health, wonderful family and friends, food, and shelter, so it’s not going to kill me if someone doesn’t get their golf clubs on time.  That practice is harder than it sounds, but I do my best. 

Self-kindness - I think starting a company humbles you really quickly because it shows you just how little you actually know.  Many people ask if going to business school was a prerequisite to starting a company and I think it helps about 5%, but really the crux of building a business seems to be having strong convictions about the problem you’re solving followed by a ton of trial and error.  I tend to be very self-critical, but I’m learning to cut myself some slack and practice more self-kindness.  I’ve embraced the famous Thomas Edison quote - “I have not failed. I've just found ten thousand ways that won't work.”

Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

In a job I had prior to starting Robin, for the first year I was convinced that I was going to get fired. Not for any specific reason, I just felt very underqualified for the role and my imposter syndrome was severe. I spent the better part of that year complaining to my dad about how I just knew I was going to let go. He was such a good sport about it - he spent about 11 months saying all the right things to make me feel better.

One day after work I called him with this same sob story and I think he had had enough of my whining. Instead of replying with the usual “I’m sure that’s not true etc.” he just says “Oh for f’s sake Peter, SO WHAT?” The reply caught me off guard at first, but then he continued: “So what if you get fired? You’re a highly educated white male with no kids. You might have to update your resume and find a new job. And if we assume the absolute worst case scenario: you lose your job, can’t get a new one, your husband leaves you, and you get thrown out of your house, you can always come back home and annoy us in person until you figure your life out. This is not a real problem, so STOP complaining about it.”

He was absolutely right of course. It was the best reality check I’d ever gotten and I think about him saying that every time I encounter a problem that I think is insurmountable.

If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

I’m going to cheat and say two - Julie Andrews and John Cleese.  They’re iconic and their movies and TV shows have brought me so much joy throughout my life.  

What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

Play tennis, pickleball (which I’ve recently become obsessed with), and golf (badly). 

I love to cook and make cocktails so I try to do those as frequently as possible. 

I’m a big movie guy so I watch as many as I can in my spare time (especially horror movies) 

Reading and board games. 

What Does Success Mean To You?

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately, because to me entrepreneurship feels like a series of failures punctuated by brief moments of feeling like you may have done something right.  

To me success is effortlessly acknowledging and feeling joy each day.  I think the things that we think will bring us joy are often misleading, or at least that was my takeaway from the movie Blank Check.

The times in my life where I’ve felt the most joy are ones in which I felt confident in my life’s purpose and supported and loved by those around me.   

Alternatively, I once heard Tom Ford say that success is being able to take a nap after breakfast, so maybe I just shoot for that.  

  Peter Marler’s Favorites Stack:


1. Delivering Happiness - Tony Hsieh

2. Let My People Go Surfing - Yvon Chouinard

3. Kane and Abel - Jeffrey Archer

Health & Fitness:

1. Shred App

2. Peloton (I don’t cycle, but I like their fitness classes)

3. Kos Vegan Protein


1. Allbirds

2. Buck Mason 

3. Eberjey (just got their PJ’s for Christmas and I never want to take them off)


1. Hendrick’s Gin

2. Cardon SPF face moisturizer

3. Noise cancelling Airpods

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. Lean Luxe newsletter

2. How I built This podcast

3. Unexplainable podcast

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Patagonia

2. Portugal

3. Turkey

- What I Found
Michael Kopko | Pearl Health


Co-Founder & CEO of Pearl Health, a company enabling primary care practices to thrive by compensating providers for improving their patients’ health.

What Is Pearl Health? Tell Us About Your Company, How It Works, And What You Do Differently.

Pearl Health is fixing healthcare by enabling primary care doctors to transform their work with value-based care, starting with Medicare’s Direct Contracting program. To do this, we’re building the most trusted platform for enabling primary care providers to bear and capture value from risk while delivering life-improving care to their patients. As a technology-first company, we offer a physician enablement platform, alongside our risk marketplace, that will help physicians manage patients’ total cost of care. 

We’re excited to release the first iteration of the Pearl Platform in the first quarter of 2022, aimed at enabling physicians to decide how to deliver better patient care at a lower cost — while capturing more value for themselves. This includes: 

Easy-to-understand financial reporting and payments management

Strategic visibility into patient panel health

Dedicated expert support to ensure success 

In contrast to the flurry of acquisitions of physician practices by health systems, PE groups, and other self-purported physician enablement companies, at Pearl Health, we aren’t seeking to have greater control over practices. We offer a clear alternative to those providers who wish to remain independent, instead giving them greater access to economics that are more in line with the value that they generate for the healthcare industry. We believe that primary care providers can best serve their patients when they’re allowed to remain independent. At Pearl Health, we aim to enable and empower them to take that opportunity — and to take a bet on themselves. 

What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I grew up in central Connecticut, and I was raised in an extremely entrepreneurial and hard-working family. I caught the entrepreneurial bug early, starting my first business in 3rd grade: selling magazines. It was fun to help my classmates — a fun-loving and rapidly expanding salesforce — generate more than their lunch money. This was a great experience that taught me how aligned incentives and teamwork are the lifeblood for a rapidly growing business. I worked hard with my Mom on weekends, spending hours building pricing catalogs and tools to help our salesforce grow. It’s probably fair to say that my Mom was my first co-founder.

As I got older, I was lucky to be the first member of my family to earn a spot in an Ivy League university, Harvard — a point of pride for my family. After Harvard, my luck continued, and I went straight to Columbia Business School after receiving the Feldberg Fellowship.

After business school, I had the opportunity to work at Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world, where I led a team of 60 hedge fund researchers and reported to Ray Dalio, its founder and co-Chief Investment Officer, and Greg Jensen, its CEO and co-CIO. My time at Bridgewater taught me how to tackle big problems with smart, committed people.

From Bridgewater, I joined Oscar Health with several other Bridgewater alums and Josh Kushner, a serial entrepreneur and now world-class investor whom I met at Harvard. When we first met, funnily enough, Josh offered to invest in a startup that I founded in college. This time around, we were intent on making the collaboration happen, and I’m grateful that we did.

Helping build Oscar from a team of 20 people to a publicly-traded company gave me the opportunity to have some of the coolest and most educational experiences of my career. It also gave me incredible insight into our healthcare system. My fantastic team and I were responsible for distributing Oscar’s health plans across the country, then building complete networks to serve them. After that, I managed the Oscar’s largest P&L — greater than $2.5bn — to help make Oscar more sustainable.

My time at Oscar reaffirmed the critical lesson that incentives matter — and, more specifically, that we had devalued our primary care layer in healthcare across the country. It was sad to see, but it hinted at a huge opportunity.

When I learned of Direct Contracting, a new and innovative model out of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation and I met with the team at AlleyCorp — including Kevin Ryan, Jeff De Flavio, and Ankit Patel — I felt that we were on the precipice of a huge idea that was going to make a national impact. Pearl was born shortly thereafter.

What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

Pearl Health is a reference to the notion of “clinical pearls”, which are small bits of free-standing, clinically relevant information based on experience or observation. They’re part of the vast domain of experience-based medicine, and can be helpful in dealing with clinical problems for which controlled data do not exist.

We’re helping doctors focus on this irreplaceable impact that only they can provide, and we’re striving to free them from the burdens that currently overrun their lives.

I also love the idea of how a pearl forms in nature — the beautiful result of irritants around it. It’s a great metaphor for the contribution we’re trying to make in healthcare.

What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

I deeply enjoy bringing people together to solve hard problems that make the world a better place.

At Pearl, I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to do exactly that. We’re building a team of world-class talent, and we’re laser-focused on making healthcare more sustainable. Every member of the team shares a deep-seated passion for making an impact and building something great. I personally never feel like I’m working when building Pearl with our team. Instead it feels like we’re assembling a big orchestra that will produce beautiful, incredible things for the people around us. It’s been magical to watch it unfold.

Our best moments have been meeting with physician practices across the country and introducing them to the power of Pearl and the future of a value-oriented healthcare system. I love meeting our clients and building relationships with new ones. I think the best clients challenge us to improve and get better, which helps create a virtuous cycle. Needless to say, primary care doctors are remarkable people. They genuinely care about their patients, and they’re working hard to find new sources of value for their patients, their staff, and themselves.

I don’t have a least favorite part in entrepreneurship. I genuinely love solving problems at scale — and with the right team and resources. Being an entrepreneur somewhat guarantees that you won’t have all those preconditions, so it forces you to be creative and inventive with less. I think that push can generate creativity and innovation, which I love.

If anything, I empathize a lot with the obstacles that our clients face. So much about our current system gets in the way of what they want to be doing most: caring for their patients. The flipside of that is the incredible opportunity that we have to help doctors — real-life unsung heroes – deliver better healthcare at a lower cost, making both them and their patients happier and better off.

Tell Us About Your Co-Founders And How Their Skills Supplement Yours.

Jeff De Flavio brings a ton of clinical experience, having launched other companies in the healthcare space focused on making peoples’ lives better. He’s founder of Groups: Recover Together, the national leader in value-based care for treatment of opiate addiction. Jeff earned his MD from Dartmouth College of Medicine, along with his MBA from Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Most importantly, Jeff is a relentless optimist, and sees every stumble in the road as an opportunity for a new path.

Ankit Patel brings lots of healthcare policy experience, previously as a Senior Advisor at CMS Innovation Center, where he worked on different value-based payment models, including the Pioneer ACO program and Maryland All-Payer Waiver. Most recently, Ankit led Provider Alignment at Clover Health, building programs and software to engage providers to achieve better health outcomes at lower costs. He started his career as a healthcare attorney for an academic medical center, after earning his BA in International Studies at University of South Carolina - Columbia and his JD from UNC at Chapel Hill. Ankit is a hustler at heart, who tries to see opportunity in challenge and won’t be fooled by healthcare nonsense. He also likes to give hot takes, which the team finds refreshing and engaging.

Kevin Ryan is one of the great entrepreneurs of our time, having built game-changing businesses across a breathtaking variety of industries. At Pearl, we feel lucky to find ourselves alongside the likes of MongoDB, Gilt Group, Zola, Nomad Health — all of which benefited from Kevin’s energy and intensity, which I absolutely love. I deeply value that Kevin has been both an operator and an executive, and I admire his incredible focus, drive, and desire to live life to the fullest. I enjoy spending time with Kevin, and always find myself incredibly impressed by his vision.

What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

The fundraising process for Pearl was extremely exciting and stimulating. It came with highs and lows, but ultimately resulted in a wonderful set of partners to join us on our journey — and enabled our team with the resources to accelerate and propel our vision and the future of value-based care forward.

We started by doing pitches to prospective investors. We were also having our first team retreat at this point, so the whole company had the chance to listen to the pitch, which seemed like a special experience to share with our early crew. I had been at Oscar for a very long time, but I had never had the chance to see a fundraising pitch. Sharing that with our first ten team members seemed like a fun, remarkable start in our commitment to transparency and inclusion.

We ultimately decided to move forward with Andreessen Horowitz and Vineeta Agarwala, MD. That process was incredibly special, as we had many great firms who wanted to support us. After meeting with Vineeta, her team, and Marc Andreessen — and, really, the entire a16z healthcare team and many of their partners — we were convinced that we had a very special community and platform to build Pearl within. The a16z team have been exceptional partners, every step of the way.

We were also extremely fortunate to have Kevin Ryan and AlleyCorp participate in our Series A fundraise. The AlleyCorp team is incredibly supportive and dedicated to the future of healthcare, and has expanded our thinking at every interaction.

We will be using our funds to accelerate product development, continue to build out our team of world-class talent, accelerate growth and expansion, and help facilitate and support our physicians to succeed in value-based care models as they make this shift.

How Has Growth Been Over The Last Year? Anything Exciting Launching Soon?

We’re loving it and have exceeded our own expectations. At the start of 2022, nearly 10,000 lives will be managed by more than 100 doctors through our physician enablement platform across 51 ZIP codes in 13 states.

For 2023, we will expand significantly, focusing first on increasing density in existing markets to help us provide even more resources to our PCP partners to help them deliver better care at a lower cost.

Looking forward, we’re building a marketplace that connects providers and payors in risk-based arrangements, where providers can increasingly bear and capture value from risk and transform their practices to value-based care. We’re actively building partnerships to realize this vision.

How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Business And Operation? Have There Been Any Significant Changes Over The Last Few Months As Things Have Gotten Better Overall?

COVID-19 was horrible for our country in so many ways. Our team rallied to find the silver lining during those difficult times, and we invented new ways to find and hire great people — you can work with us anywhere! COVID-19 also served as a forcing function for solving important physician problems, like the challenge of decreased in-office visits on primary care practice’s finances, while also not losing the humanity and personality that’s required to build a human-first healthcare business.

We’re excited to have incredible talent across the country — and the world(!) — join us on our mission. A remote-first culture has enabled us to have a broader set of perspectives at the table than a geographically-focused organization, which I see as a competitive advantage.

As COVID-related conditions have improved, we’ve seen a growing desire for our team and our clients to come together, and we’re developing systems and strategies to enable that collaboration and togetherness safely.

How Do You Think Your Industry Or The World In General Will Change Post-COVID?

COVID-19 demonstrated the fragility of our healthcare system and the ways in which we take for granted the providers that make it run. We need to empower and support them more effectively going forward, and part of that is helping them realize a greater portion of the value that they bring to the healthcare system. For too long, individual primary care providers have been kept at a distance from bearing risk and capturing downstream value that they create for our healthcare system. Instead, rewards from shared savings line the pockets of insurance companies, health systems, groups, or whoever else disintermediates doctors from risk. Or, perversely, fee-for-service incentives have been aimed at rewarding volumes of activities, instead of outcomes, disincentivizing doctors from making meaningful connections that don't neatly fit into maniacally managed schedules. This has to change, and it starts with changing the way we recognize the value that individual doctors create. The first step is giving them back their autonomy and time, and that starts with fixing their incentives.

COVID-19 also underscored the challenges of running critical healthcare systems without integrated data infrastructure or, even worse, with paper-and-pen processes. It’s been hard to effectively operate in any industry, and it was especially true in healthcare. When it comes to helping to keep their patients healthy, one of the biggest obstacles that providers face — especially primary care physicians and their staff — is their lack of visibility into patients' health care journeys. Data exist but are scattered across constellations of different systems in different formats, making it next to impossible for doctors and staff to know how their patient is doing when she goes through the system, from whom and where she's receiving care, and whether ongoing care is aligned with the patient's best interests. That's why we're building a platform that aggregates and visualizes data to enable primary care physicians with strategic visibility into patient panel health, alongside easy-to-understand financial reporting to help them allocate and manage resources.

What Is One Thing About Building A Business You Did Not Know That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching Pearl Health?

People make choices because of people, at least in the early innings of your venture. You are the brand, and you are the reason people say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. 

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines?

I’m currently working long days. Emails typically start around 7:30am, and I typically sign off just before midnight. I only do it because I enjoy it and it’s all building toward something, so I don’t feel like I’m working the same way it might feel for others. If I didn’t feel that way, my “schedule” would be impossible. In general, we try hard to take weekends off as a team. I believe in the restorative process of some time away and time spent with family and friends. Even though we work hard, it’s important that people “relax hard” too.

In the morning I usually work out. For me, exercise is critical and highly related to my mood throughout the day. I’ll have a coffee in the morning and spend some time with my 2-year-old daughter, Charlotte. She’s my greatest gift in the world.

I make an effort to take a few 5-10 minutes breaks throughout the day to move around, see Charlotte when she’s back from school, and clear my mind.

Every day I also try to write three appreciations, something I’m thankful for. This simple technique, which I’ve been doing for many years, helps me start my day with thanks and optimism, instead of agitation or disappointment.

I’m probably doing too many meetings right now, but I’m committed to being available and up-to-speed with what’s going on across Pearl and beyond. That said, this is something I’m thinking more about — and how to balance it with the increasing demands on my time.

I’m increasingly using a paper journal to write down insights and important things, so I can reflect a little more. I’m also trying to reboot my daily meditations, which I’ve been doing for the better part of eight years now.

What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Relentless determination. Tenacity and conviction, coupled with an openness to seeing reality, enables one to identify and realize what is possible. 

Continuous optimism. There’ll always be obstacles, and you have to have an optimistic mindset to endure the hamster wheel of problems and not get discouraged. Most obstacles are tests to help you and your team grow and establish who is meant to be on the other side versus who simply wishes to be on the other side. 

Be trustworthy and know your business. Work hard to do what you say and say what you do. First impressions and your areas of focus define you. 

For entrepreneurs just starting, I encourage you to enjoy the experience and be ready to put in the hard work. Entrepreneurship can be found in many places, so don’t create a false idol of what successful entrepreneurship looks like. It’s rarely what you read in the news, and it’s never the same thing twice.

Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

The birth of my daughter was the most significant moment in my life.

It taught me to enjoy the moment more and appreciate my time with the people I care about. I am so lucky to have Charlotte — not only because she is awesome, but also because she’s so loved, brings happiness to everyone around her, and will always be my wife’s and my baby.

Her constant joy and excitement has helped me re-experience the world around me.

Becoming a father to a baby girl was such a special and transformative experience. It rewards me each day. I’m excited to get out of bed in the morning to see her, and I love the adventures that we get to go on together.

If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

I’m lucky to have one of them as my mentor of nearly 20 years: George David, the Chairman of Raytheon. I love my time with George, because it gives me the opportunity to ask questions that I struggle with but are hard to share with others. He also has a genuine care and concern for my development and growth, and he sees a big enough world that he knows how to separate what’s important from distractions. I have other heroes too.

More generally, I encourage people to reach out to those who they think are great. You might get lucky and have one of them in your life.

What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

“We will either find a way or make one,” said by Hannibal of Carthage upon his famous excursion through the Alps. I think it captures the grit, ingenuity, and confidence that is required for the entrepreneurial journey.

Is There A Parable That You Often Think About? What Is It And What Lesson Does It Teach?

I love the real-life parable of the Stockdale Paradox, which I first came across in Jim Collins’ Good to Great

Admiral James Stockdale, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and former prisoner-of-war, said of his multi-year stay in a POW camp: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” 

It’s a poignant lesson for all people, not just entrepreneurs, about the paradoxical need for both relentless optimism and intellectually honest pragmatism. Both are required to endure the ups and downs of entrepreneurship — and to build a path to the other side of what may seem like insurmountable obstacles. 

Who Is Your Role Model?

My father has been a great role model in my life. He was able to build and create a lot having come from humble beginnings and invested in his children, his colleagues, and his friends. He’s an optimist and an entrepreneur at heart, and I’ve enjoyed learning from him and spending time with him from being a little boy to an adult. 

What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

Working out

Time with my wife, daughter, and rest of my family

Seeing friends and doing outdoor activities with them

What Does Success Mean To You?

Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal. I think that, while anybody can achieve success, it takes a willingness and a discipline to drive toward it every day. For my part, I’ve enjoyed specific missions that I think are important for the world. In this chapter of my life, it’s helping Pearl’s vision manifest into reality and enabling the United States to get much more out of our healthcare system at a lower cost and with greater satisfaction. For my family, colleagues, and friends, it’s helping them achieve their ambitions and dreams, however best I can, so they live a life of abundance and adventure without regret.

  Michael Kopko’s Favorites Stack:


1. How the Economic Machine Works, by Ray Dalio (technically a video)

2. The Firm, by Josh Grisham

3. The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster

Health & Fitness:

1. Run on the streets

2. Citibike over the Brooklyn Bridge and all around Manhattan and Brooklyn

3. Walking around with my daughter Charlotte


1. My Pearl hoodie

2. Nike t-shirts

3. Nice pair of dress shoes


1. Airpods & iPhone

2. American Express

3. Robinhood & Audible

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. The New Yorker

2. The Strangest Secret (YouTube)

3. NY Times & WSJ & StrictlyVC

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. My wife Marcela’s family loves seeing their granddaughter, and we love seeing them. 

2. Clinton, Connecticut. It’s the beach town where I spent my summers as a kid growing up.

3. United Kingdom, Scotland

4. Ireland

5. Marcela and I still want to make it to the Maldives.

- What I Found
Joe Parenteau | Fable


Co-Founder & CEO of Fable, a lifestyle brand designing and delivering products that transform how you eat at home—starting with better tableware.

What Is Fable? Tell Us About Your Products, Mission, And How Fable Differentiates Itself From The Other Brands In The Same Category.

At Fable, we create timeless everyday pieces that inspire and elevate the experience of dining at home. Motivated by a common vision to create products that are as enjoyable as they are ethical, we started with ceramics that are sustainably crafted in Portugal, and have since expanded to flatware, glassware, textiles, and more. Starting with tableware, our mission is to bring ethical, sustainable home decor into every area of the home.

Through transparent pricing and conscious sourcing, we produce accessibly priced tableware without compromising on quality or ethical craftsmanship. We also recognize that a meal is not a given right; in our pursuit of balancing profit and purpose, we donate a meal for every Dinnerware Set sold through our partnership with Mealshare. We plan to continue to grow Fable into a lifestyle brand and trusted source for all things home decor.

What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I’m a technology leader, and an operations expert. After working in the traditional accounting space, I began my pursuit in technology at Bench Accounting, where I helped build teams and scale the operations from 400 to 4000 clients. Previously, I built and led an 80 person operations team at AvenueHQ, a real estate marketing company.

Together with Max Tims and Tina Luu, I founded Fable as a solution to a personal problem. When wanting to upgrade to more premium home decor and tableware, I wasn’t able to find anything out there that was ethically and sustainably produced and accessibly priced that also offered a simplified shopping experience. We saw an opportunity, and set out to fill the gap.

What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

A favorite for me has been working with such a great team—it’s so inspiring to collaborate with such an incredible group of people. As for the least-liked, I’d say the challenges we’ve faced in recent months due to global shipping delays. Most of our products are produced in places like Portugal and Japan, so naturally, we’ve been pretty heavily impacted by delays. Not being able to replenish our inventory levels at the expected rate, and feeling like we’re letting our customers and community down as a result, hasn’t been easy.

Tell Us About Your Co-Founders And How Their Skills Supplement Yours.

Fable was co-founded together with Max Tims, our Head of Operations, and Tina Luu, our Head of Technology. While our primary roles are quite different, we work very closely to lead Fable under one of our core philosophies: sharing all that we can. All three of us come from a background in tech, and each bring a unique yet complementary skillset to the table. 

What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

Our name is a reference to Aesop’s Fables. More specifically, we were drawn to the fable called The Dove and the Ant, which is what inspired the turtle dove in our logo. Its moral, the importance of showing kindness to others in order to see it in return, was something we felt aligned with both as individuals and as a brand.

What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

The fundraising process has been great so far—our investors have been so helpful and supportive of our business. Whenever we’ve experienced any challenges, it’s been great having them to turn to as extra team members with loads of valuable experience.

Are There Plans To Launch New Products Or Categories In The Near Future?

Yes, absolutely. At Fable, we see a lot of opportunity beyond the dining table, and we plan to continue on our mission to bring elevated home decor into every area of the home. This year, we launched premium Japanese glassware and Belgian linen to complement our sustainably crafted ceramics and flatware, and we’re launching a handful of exciting new products this year and next that we can’t wait to share with you. Keep an eye out!

This Past Year Has Brought So Many Challenges To Companies Of All Sizes, Especially Those That Lean On Supply Chains. How Have COVID-19 And Recent Supply Chain Constraints Impacted Your Operation And Business Over The Last Few Months And Year?

COVID-19 and recent supply chain constraints have impacted our business in a few different ways. More than anything, they’ve put strains on freight forwarding, which has largely impacted our logistical ability to move our products from Portugal or Japan to our warehouse in Burnaby, BC. In turn, this has caused challenges with getting our products to our customers and community. We’ve chosen to be transparent with our community in clearly communicating the issues we’re facing, and we’ve been fortunate to see an overwhelmingly positive response so far. The understanding, patience, and continued support has been really great to see.

How Do You Think Your Industry Or The World In General Will Change Post-COVID?

I think one of the biggest shifts we’ll see, and are already seeing, is with how people work. I believe that remote work is here to stay, and will continue to evolve to become a more global practice.

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines?

I spend most of my days working remotely from Europe, which puts me in a different time zone than most of my team members. I structure my workday to better align with theirs by starting later in the day, which means free mornings and late nights.

I typically start my day by taking Nash, our 2-year-old Golden Retriever, for a walk to grab a specialty coffee before I head off to train or play a match of tennis. Around noon, I either find a patio to sit on or head home for lunch. After that, I take a nap for 30 minutes to an hour before starting the workday around 2:00-3:00pm. Working remotely gives me the freedom to make dinner, take Nash for a night walk, and have a few calls with team members in the evenings. I usually have three to five Nespressos to keep me awake until the workday is done, around midnight or 1:00am local time.

What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

The ability to execute and think strategically. I think most people either fall into the category of having big build ideas but not knowing how to get them off the ground, or the opposite—being able to do the work, but not having the vision to execute the bigger picture.

Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

When I was very young, around 10 years old, I loved playing with Lego. I had a subscription to Lego Club Magazine, and became so passionate about being featured in it that I submitted multiple times. Finally, after submitting photos of a Lego submarine I made from scratch, I was featured in the magazine. To me, the takeaway was that if you really want to make something happen, it’s possible. I still live by that to this day.

If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Rafa Nadal, the Spanish professional tennis player. I’d love to play a game of tennis with him, and to have the opportunity to really seek to understand his ability to lift an entire community. He’s a big inspiration.

Is There A Parable That You Often Think About? What Is It And What Lesson Does It Teach?

The Dove and The Ant. As mentioned in an earlier answer, it’s one of Aesop’s fables (which technically makes it a fable, not a parable, but close enough) that inspired our name. It teaches the importance of the ability to always show kindness, which is at the root of everything we do at Fable. Showing kindness to the earth via sustainably crafted products and eco-friendly packaging, and showing kindness to each other as a team and our community as a whole.

Who Is Your Role Model?

I really look up to Maj Masad, the Co-Founder of Mejuri. He’s someone that I’ve been fortunate enough to both work with and learn from as we build Fable.

What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

In my free time, I like to play tennis, spend time with my girlfriend Denise and our Golden Retriever, Nash, and travel. Since relocating to Europe last year, I’ve been able to make the most of days off and weekends by jetting off (or driving) to different European cities and countries to sightsee and explore, and it’s been amazing.

What Does Success Mean To You?

To me, success is all about fulfillment—getting to live a life of fulfilling days where you really feel like you’ve been able to create and build something that brings joy to other people, and improves their lives in some way.

  Joe Parenteu’s Favorites Stack:


1. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol S. Dweck

2. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari

3. Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t, by James C. Collins

Health & Fitness:

1. Tennis

2. Beach volleyball

3. Gym / weightlifting


1. Lululemon

2. Kit & Ace

3. Nike


1. Nespresso

2. Red wine

3. Japanese chef’s knife

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. Nik Sharma

2. Bad Blood (currently)

3. Crime Junkie

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Georgia

2. Morocco

3. Norway

- What I Found
Braeden McCarthy | Soone


Co-Founder of Soone, a connection app focused on getting people out from behind their phones and interacting in real life.

What Is Soone? Tell Us About The App And How It Works.

Soone is the first connection app that is heavily focused on getting people out from behind their phones and interacting in real life right away. We connect people in close proximity who are ready to meet when they log onto the app. When you send someone a connection request, users have 30 minutes to accept it, and a temporary chat window pops up to set a location to meet, meaning you can go from being on your phone to meeting with someone in under an hour. We also help by suggesting nearby meet up locations such as bars, nightclubs and cafés – great public places to meet up so you can have an in-person interaction and feel safe.

Women feel more comfortable with our additional security measures in place such as a requirement that the first photo you take for your profile be taken live to prevent catfishing and misleading pictures that other apps struggle with. We also have a proprietary heat map that shows where clusters of users are (though never identifying anyone’s exact location). College students, young professionals and people new to Austin have particularly embraced the philosophy behind Soone.

What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

Before Soone, I was just a typical college student. My friend Austin and I were both 19 and realized that we saw our friends constantly swiping and hitting “like” on other apps, but when we asked our friends how many people they ended up meeting in real life, they said not many. There were lots of endless chats but it seemed my generation was more content to hide behind their phones than actually meet new people, even if they were out at a bar or restaurant. Austin and I realized that there has to be a better way and that’s how Soone was born.

What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

My favorite part of the entrepreneurial journey has definitely been learning. I'm one of those weird people who actually enjoys school and learning. There’s been a lot of learning that has occurred throughout this process for me. I surrounded myself with a lot of really smart people, and so that's been really enjoyable to learn from them.

The least favorite part of the journey has been trying to overcome the language barrier between layman's terms and coding terms when working with our development team. I have learned a lot from them, and I continue to get better at it every week.

 The most challenging piece has definitely been keeping up the discipline to sacrifice. I sacrifice social events and different things that my peers are doing because I have commitments for Soone, so I just don't have time to engage in many social activities. I will say it is very enjoyable work so that does make it a little bit easier to sacrifice that time, plus I'm really passionate about helping people meet in person. That passion and the enjoyment that I find in my work makes it easier.  

The most exciting moment has been seeing people relate to the experiences that I have had and that my Co-Founder Austin has had which is the reason why we came up with the concept and the need for the app in the marketplace. 

Tell Us About Your Co-Founders And How Their Skills Supplement Yours.

Scott has helped navigate the world of entrepreneurship. Austin is a real self-starter, determined to accomplish his goals, along with being very creative and aesthetically gifted at knowing how to create things that look really professional and clean.

Have You Raised Funding Thus Far? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

Scott Dill is a serial entrepreneur, and he's really helped Austin and me to navigate this world of entrepreneurship. So far we've used funds to hire a development team to code the app, we've hired a marketing firm to help us share the app with the people in Austin. There are also legal fees and other fees that come with starting your own company.

How Has Soone Acquired Users In The Austin Area? What Other Cities Do You Plan On Expanding Into In The Near Future?

We have a great marketing team who has helped us do a lot of fun events in Austin and engage in a lot of great marketing opportunities. We did an event at the UT Marketplace. We've got billboards up in Austin. We’ve got Spotify ads and radio ads. We have hosted events at local venues where we were able to introduce the app to a lot of people.

I found the best way to acquire users has been just telling people about it face to face because you can address their concerns and questions. Once they understand it, people really tend to engage.

In terms of other cities, our main focus right now is just making sure the users in Austin have a really great experience with the app. Beyond that, we're thinking about launching in our hometown of Charlotte. It’s similar to Austin as it has a really young, lively demographic and a lot of great places to meet up.

How Has COVID Impacted Your Operations And Growth Over The Last Year?

COVID caused us to pause operations for a few months before we finished the app and launched it because we wanted to make sure that there wouldn’t be a health risk in launching an app in which the main purpose is to get people to meet in person. That being said, with the lack of in person interactions over the past year and a half, this app is more relevant now than it was pre-COVID.

What Is One Thing About Building A Business That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching Soone?

If you want to get something done, just start it. You don’t always have to know what you are doing but if you want to get something done, you have to start somewhere. Once you start, you can figure it out as you go.

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines?

It depends on the day for me because I am a full-time college student. I have classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 until 3:45. Those days I usually wake around 5 in the morning. I do some work for Soone, and then I “pre-read” for my classes, in which I read over some of the materials that I'll cover in my classes so that I can engage better with that material. During my hour and 20 minute lunch break, I usually grab lunch and find a quiet space to eat and catch up on emails. Then I go home and do some homework or work.

I'm also a member of the varsity lacrosse team at Franklin & Marshall College, and I practice from 7 to 9 pm. Then I go home and make some dinner, before usually going to bed around 11.

Other days, I usually get up around 6. On those days I don't have specific

commitments outside of practice and lifting so I usually try to time block my day to set aside time for different tasks. For instance, I may spend 2 hours working on revising and reviewing some of the marketing techniques that we have in place, followed by 2 hours reviewing some of the development and coding that's going on. Then I typically spend 3 hours on homework.

One trick that I use to stay productive is to always start your day with something productive because it sets the tone and the pace for the rest of your day.

Other things I like to do are read and make my bed. I usually try not to start my day by scrolling through Instagram or watching TikTok. I usually try to start it by reading either the news, or an article that's relevant to Soone.

What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

One, you have to be self-motivated because there's really nobody checking in on you or watching over your shoulder to make sure you're getting your work done. At the end of the day, it's up to you.

Two, you have to be determined. When there's a task at hand, a lot of times it can seem like a mountain to climb because you don't have experience with completing that task. There's no one to really help guide you along in how to complete it so you really have to be determined to just get it done.

Third, you have to be resilient. Nothing great happens overnight. So when things don't go well, you have to be resilient and able to adapt to the feedback that you're given.

In terms of advice for entrepreneurs, I have two pieces of advice. One is don't be afraid to be wrong. Just make sure that when you do get something wrong, you're open to correcting it, which is something that I definitely had to learn to do. And the second thing comes from a book that Scott O'Neal wrote called Be Where Your Feet Are. It's called API. People typically have positive intent and are not trying to take you down; they're trying to help you. So always assume positive intent when you're working with others.

Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

I missed my first semester of college, and then got sent home early during the second semester due to COVID, so I spent most of my college experience online. But one thing I've learned from that is God has a plan and that when one door closes, another opens. This really gave me an opportunity to work on the app and get done what I needed to get it to the position that it is in today.

If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Tom Brady. He has managed to perform at such a high level for such a long period of time, but he also keeps a great work/life balance and has a really strong family life. I would talk to him about how he maintains such high motivation after reaching that mountain top and how he continues to perform at a higher and higher level every year.

What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

“It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” - Timothy McCarthy (my grandfather)

“People spend a lot of time worrying about making the right decision; instead worry about making the decision right.” - Timothy McCarthy

Who Is Your Role Model?

My grandfather. Without a college education to start his career, he worked his way up from office boy to CEO of CE Minerals, traveling all around the world and receiving his MBA from MIT without an undergrad degree.

What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

I am a full-time college student majoring in Business, Organizations, and Society and minoring in Applied Mathematics at Franklin & Marshall College. I am also a member of the lacrosse team at Franklin & Marshall College so I spend time practicing, lifting, and training. Outside of those two pieces of my life, I enjoy spending time with friends, exercising, and doing yoga.

What Does Success Mean To You?

I view success in a few different lenses. Success for the app means helping people get out from behind their phones and interact in person, the way we did before social media and cell phones really dominated our society. Success for me personally means people regarding me as kind and hardworking. Success in life means having a positive impact on society whether in a big way or just impacting one or two people every single day.

  Braeden McCarthy’s Favorites Stack:


1. Can’t Hurt Me, by David Goggins

2. Be Where Your Feet Are, by Scott O’Neil

3. Grit, by Angela Duckworth

Health & Fitness:

1. Lifting

2. Fight Camp

3. Going for a 2-3 Mile Run


1. Brooks Brothers

2. Lululemon

3. Nike

- What I Found
Nate Checketts | Rhone


Founder & CEO of Rhone, a premium apparel brand for men.

What Is Rhone? Tell Us About Your Brand And What Makes Your Clothing Unique.

Rhone is premium men’s apparel made for where you sweat, live, and work. Rhone delivers best-in-class products, engineered with performance technologies and premium fabrics designed to fill the void in the men’s premium activewear market.

What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

As I was graduating from BYU, I launched my first venture backed startup which was a mobile software company. That was my first experience working with investors, building out a leadership team and trying to grow a company. We eventually sold that business to the 49ers and I then worked for and consulted with many companies: Cisco, FanVision, Sport Radar and The National Football League, to name a few. But, my passion always lied with creating, building, and being challenged. I ended up launching four different companies before the age of 30 and Rhone was the last one.

If you told me fifteen years ago that I would have started a men’s apparel company, I would have never believed it because fashion and apparel wasn’t something I had any background in or something I paid attention to. Rhone was built because we saw a gap in the men’s activewear market and we felt there was a big opportunity in the space.

What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

Our name was inspired by the Rhone river in Europe as it was not only aesthetically beautiful but was also once a valued trade route. That’s exactly how we approach our products. We start with the world’s finest fabrics, pair them with cutting edge textile technology, and finish with an unmatched fit and style to create clothing that satisfies both form and function.

What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

My favorite part of being an entrepreneur is the ability to innovate, to evolve, and to always look for ways to improve. To me, that constant need to reinvest yourself is invigorating and exciting. I also really enjoy building a team and working to be a better leader that they can rely on and put trust in. And of course I really have grown to love creating tangible product vs working in software. It is such a great experience to hand someone a product you have dreamed about and created and see that product positively impact their day / life.

I think the biggest challenge for me personally is I have high expectations and it is easy when you crest one milestone to constantly be thinking about the next one vs reflecting on what you have accomplished thus far. I’m wired a bit to always be looking forward (hence our tagline) but there is real value in looking back and reflecting. One of the quotes I need to remind myself often is “Comparison is the thief of joy.” There will always be someone doing better than you and most people only experience joy and sorry in relativity--meaning they are only happy relative to those they know or are aware of vs happy in the absolute. I have learned that taking stock of what I have, have been given and been blessed with and focusing on that daily gratitude helps center me and ground me in the highs and lows of building a company. There are days I feel like we are unstoppable and days where I don’t know how we will get through an obstacle but gratitude always brings me back to how fortunate I am to even have the ability to do what I do.

Most exciting Rhone moment? I think telling my mom we were opening a store on 5th Ave is one of the most exciting Rhone moments for me. It just felt like such a milestone to be across from Nike, New Balance and other giants of industry and exciting to be on an iconic New York street.

What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

The fundraising process has always been a bit of a roller coaster. Unlike many of the companies in our space we have never used a banker. It has always been driven by people who are passionate and excited about the brand and product. We have some incredible investors on our cap table including a few former NFL players like Justin Tuck and Troy Aikman (one Giant and one Cowboy). We also have great personalities and investors including David Stern who invested before he passed, Steve Bornstein and others we are not allowed to share publicly. Lastly we have been backed by the largest Global consumer PE firm L Catterton.

With So Many DTC Apparel Brands Out There In The Same Space, What Are Some Of The Marketing Strategies You Use To Build Brand Awareness And Acquire Customers? Also, Do You See Rhone Launching Products Into New Categories Or Product Lines In The Near Future?

It starts with our core of who we are, what we stand for and being really clear about that across all of our channels and platforms.

We lean heavily into earned media, leveraging third party endorsements from media and influencers trying the product. We also do paid media on Instagram and other platforms, as well as partner with like minded fitness and health brands.

There are always opportunities to expand into new categories and product lines. While growth is always a goal, we want to achieve it in a way that makes sense for the brand and for the customer. Our product and creative teams are extremely innovative; we love to test out different products and ideas, but overall, we value the customers’ feedback and requests and work from there.

How Do You Think Your Industry Will Change Post-COVID?

As has been said by others, COVID didn’t necessarily change our industry but it accelerated changes that were already happening. The biggest functional change has been shifting distribution models and a push towards direct channels like ecomm and owned retail vs wholesale. The biggest overarching changes are a continued push towards brands with purpose and a focus on making responsible decisions for our climate. All of these were already core focuses for us and we have been fortunate to be well positioned moving forward.

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines?

Morning: My mornings tend to start early. I wake up and move to my home gym and generally do a 30-40 min focused fitness session that has varied through the years. The key for me is moving and getting my body ready for the day. I then take my oldest to school who starts about an hour earlier than his peers. He’s a great kid and I really value my time with him during our drive. I then come back and focus on my day plan, clearing any emails. Next I will go meet my next 2 boys who are starting to stir and over the last 5 months we will do some soccer training together. 10-15 mins each. Then we grab breakfast together and they hop on the bus. After that I shower, get dressed and get ready for work. I try to keep my morning relatively clear for execution and limited meetings.

Afternoon: My afternoons are heavily focused on meetings. I like to go into my meetings prepared and thus really use the morning to get ready for that part of the day. They are often back to back with little break in between but it helps keep things moving and I’d rather protect consistent blocks of time in the morning vs spreading meetings out.

Evening: Evenings are heavily dependent on the day of the week. I try and keep 1 day a week for NYC days where I will often meet someone for a dinner or a later meeting, 1 night for a date night for my wife, 1 night where my wife is generally out and it’s me and the boys, 1 night for some volunteer work at my local church congregation where I get to do great activities with 14-15 year olds in a faith based environment and lastly 1 family night where we will often watch a movie or play a game together.

What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Top three qualities entrepreneurs should have are: patience, adaptability, and leadership.

Advice for entrepreneurs starting out:

Hire the best people possible. It’s cliché advice but it’s given for a reason — your team is the most important decision you make. From top to bottom, surround yourself with people that are motivated, intelligent, and versatile.

Define your brand’s voice and be consistent in every execution with it. This ties in with having an authentic brand, and it can be incredibly beneficial to have consistent and authentic messaging that people can relate to.

Customers crave authenticity. To every extent possible, it’s incredibly important to live your brand and to make it authentic and relatable. When you radiate authenticity, others pick up on that and will naturally gravitate towards your brand.

Don’t be afraid to go slow in the short-term so you can go fast in the long-term. Too often upstart brands come out hot without laying a solid foundation for what’s to come. It’s important to build a solid core before really looking to take off in new areas.

Get to know your customers. Spend some time with them in a physical environment and ask questions. Community feedback and relationships can be vital for an upstart brand looking to gain traction. Even with the utility and reach of online communication, there’s still no substitute for face-to-face interaction with your customers.

Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak on a panel and one question that was asked was, “If you could go back to your eighteen-year-old self and give one piece of advice, what would you say?” Someone on the panel shared his response and it’s something that really stuck with me. He said, “I would tell myself that there are weeds in your life and there are flowers in your life. Don’t spend your time watering the weeds. What we give life to, what we give water to, what we give air to, what we give focus to, is what grows.” So over the last few months I have reminded myself every time something hard happens that I need to focus on watering the flowers.

If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Honestly and not meaning to cop out here, I generally have not enjoyed conversations with famous people nearly as much as people I admire who are successful without a lot of the attention. I am drawn to great thinkers and builders. Right now, one CEO I admire is RJ Scaringe who founded Rivian and has built it into an incredible brand and company with meaning.

What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

One of my favorite quotes is the Rhone mantra of “Forever Forward.” We all make mistakes, take steps backward or get lost at various times in our life. And that is okay. It happens. But, if we just keep on focusing on moving forward and making progress in whatever we are pursuing, that gives life great meaning. Life isn’t like a road where you can be stationary--I’ve found it’s much more like an escalator and you are either moving forward or backward. It starts with focus and intention then a lot of work and self reflection. 

Who Is Your Role Model?

My parents are my role models. My mother is an incredibly giving human and she has always taught me how to be a more patient, caring being. My father was very successful in the workplace but was always a father first. He has never been afraid to show his emotions or lead by quiet example. I’m truly blessed to have such wonderful and inspirational parents that I admire and still learn from today.

What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

When I have free time, I generally love to spend it on activities with my kids. Recently we have really gotten into wakesurfing at a local lake. It’s become my favorite activity, getting in that water just refreshes me and it’s low impact but a lot of fun. It’s been great seeing my kids pick up a new skill that they can excel at.  

What Does Success Mean To You?

My parents often quoted the phrase “no success can compensate for failure in the home.” So as a husband and father of 3 that has to be the first priority for me. Raising my boys and helping them become the best they can is what will mean success for me. In addition to striving to be the best parent and spouse I can be-- I try to be all in on what I have committed to in my life. I love our team at Rhone and am committed to building a brand they are proud to work at and that our investors believe is a financial success. I am fortunate to serve as the Chairman of an incredible non profit called Beyond Type 1 which helps people globally who live with Diabetes --now both Type 1 and Type 2. And I am deeply committed to my faith and serving in my local congregation.

My hobbies tend to be focused on investing in and advising other consumer startups--that is really where I derive a lot of energy and excitement. With all of these commitments I admittedly don’t really relax well--I’ve never been someone who can sit on a beach or play several rounds of golf without getting anxious about productivity. I don’t necessarily wear that as a badge of honor--it’s just the way I’m wired. But for me, success means living a very full life, prioritizing my faith and family and positively impacting others lives through the building of great companies and brands.

  Nate Checketts’ Favorites Stack:


1. The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, by Stephen Covey

2. Grit, by Angela Duckworth

3. Effortless, by Greg Mckeown

Health & Fitness:

1. Clean Simple Eats for Nutrition (the best clean protein powders and supplements in the market and incredible macro based recipes)

2. Oura Ring

3. Peloton Tread

4. Ladder Training


1. I honestly wear 90% Rhone --we believe we can handle about 90% of a modern guys closet today.

2. For formal my go to is The Knot Standard

3. For footwear I wear Taft or Wolf & Shepherd for formal and York Athletics or Adidas for active


1. Clean Simple Eats Products

2. AirPods

3. Traeger Grill

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. The Daily by The NY Times

2. Against The Odds

3. Business Wars

4. What’s Essential by Greg Mckeown

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Charleston, South Carolina

2. Iceland

- What I Found
Munjal Shah | Health IQ


Co-Founder & CEO of Health IQ, an insurance company that rewards health-conscious seniors with discounts and savings.

What Is Health IQ? Tell Us About What You Are Building And What Your Mission Is.

Health IQ is an insurance company for health-conscious seniors. We give special discounts in insurance for having taken care of their health. Our mission is to celebrate the people who have taken responsibility for their health with discounts and encourage them to continue to do so and, hopefully, inspire others to take care of their health as well.

What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

Living in Silicon Valley in the '80s, it was in the water, so to speak.  I always knew I wanted to build companies growing up. I'm a serial entrepreneur and Health IQ is my third company.  It came out of a personal health crisis where after I sold my last company, I ended up with chest pains the very next day and wound up in the ER. After changing my own personal health and losing 40 pounds, I decided that what I really wanted to do was help the world get a little healthier and start a company to do so.

What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

Health is a bit like playing cards. It's the cards you're dealt with but it's also how you play the cards. I think that’s the inspiration behind the company and we really wanted to separate the two.

You can't control the first, but you can control the second. At Health IQ when we built all these insurance products, we didn't want to build products that judge you on the part you can't control. We wanted to build products that gave you a discount on the part you can control. That in essence is Health IQ. That’s why the name is what it is. That's why it's not or, but Health IQ because we're trying to emphasize the part that you can take control of, which is your own personal health knowledge.

What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

Some of the early days of starting a company are just magical; the parts where ideas are being born, pulling together the first few people, etc. are just magical experiences in the sense that you really feel like something is happening out of nothing. It is just a really special time in creating a company.

I think that as you scale a company – Health IQ is now approaching 900 people – there's a lot of not-so-fun stuff related to compliance, rules, and regulations that you have to follow and do well but, they’re aspects of running a company that certainly take up time without necessarily feeling like the reason you started the company in the first place.

As far as exciting moments, the day we launched our first product was really exciting. The day we sold our first policy was really exciting. The day we got to our first million dollars in sales was really exciting. All these firsts - the first time we opened our second office in San Diego. The first time we were a company that was in more than one location; when we opened a third and a fourth but that first office In Mountain View was really special. Our first company holiday party where I got to meet everybody and their spouses. I think some of the special firsts are times that you always remember.

What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

Because I was a serial entrepreneur, the fundraising process was different. I had already sold a company and so it wasn't that hard to get funding. I was able to go to those who made money before to invest again so it was a different process than my first time when I raised money for my very first company where it was much more difficult. The second time and the third time, it got progressively easier and easier.

We used the money to build the product, write the software, launch new insurance products, build out the really big data that we needed to be able to price health conscious people. Then we also invested in both marketing and sales, because you need people to sell the product.

We brought in a very great group of Silicon Valley venture capitalists. Folks like Andreesen Horowitz, Charles River Ventures, Foundation Capital and Ribbit Capital, and even added some folks that came with an insurance background like Acquiline Capital based in New York. The investors have not only provided us with capital, but really a lot of company building experience and company building resources that have helped us over the years.

How Has Growth Been Over The Last Year? Anything Exciting Launching Soon?

The company has grown dramatically over the last year from 200 to 900 people and, in turn, we have people in 39 states across the country. This has enabled us to go fully remote and take care of our employees.

In addition, we've gone from one product - life insurance to three products: life insurance, auto insurance and health insurance.

How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Business And Operation? Have There Been Any Significant Changes Over The Last Few Months As Things Have Gotten Better Overall?

Two big changes with COVID. One, it really accelerated the business. We were 200 employees at the beginning of COVID and we’re around 900 employees today.

COVID helped everybody to realize that having the right insurance - health insurance and life insurance - is really important. It took a little extra push from the pandemic, I think, to remind everybody, and our sales have shown that response.

The second part was that I shifted our whole company to remote, and then hired 700 people so, in a way, we are now not only a remote company, we're remote first. Those 700 people we hired are in 39 states and couldn't bring everyone back into the offices if we wanted to. We would have to open probably 60-plus offices just to get an office within 30 miles of each person. It's worked well. Our employees are happier because they can work out in the mornings or they can work out at the end of the day because they're not driving in traffic. It’s not only something that's made the business better, it’s something that's made the life of our employees less stressful by not having to commute. So, we've decided to stay remote first.

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines?

I am a creature of habit. I'm a big believer that one of the keys to being healthy is to sleep enough. There's so much machismo around “oh, I got 3 hours of sleep, I must be a better entrepreneur than the one who got 5 hours sleep.” That's just absolutely not true.

The beauty of working from home is that I can literally get up at 7:30, get ready, showered, have eaten breakfast, and be at my desk by 8:00am. I'm in meetings every single minute of the day, pretty much from 8:00 until 5:00pm or so. Then I rush out the door and go on a bike ride. It's my main form of exercise and I love it. I do it probably about 4 weekdays out of the 5 as I usually have some special function on Fridays. It’s about 5:15pm when I am out the door and I’ll bike until about 7:00pm racing to get home before sunset to eat dinner with the kids from 7:00 to 8:00pm. Then I'm back on my laptop working until 10:00 or 11:00 at night and usually in bed by 11:00 or midnight to do it all again at 7:30am the next day. I will usually work 4+ hours over the weekend.

Another tip - I use my calendar for everything In terms of just staying productive, including my cycling time. It’s all just a little harder when you're on Zoom from 8:00 to 5:00pm nearly every single minute of the day.

It is a little challenging, especially in the afternoons. You feel like, oh, my gosh, I wanna take a nap or something. I have found that just moving around a little bit, like taking a Zoom in the backyard on the patio. Just the fresh air and the change of scenery helps quite a bit. If it's just a one on one phone call with somebody you already know, go for a walk while you're on the call around the neighborhood.

So there's things like that that I use, just to keep the blood pumping and the energy going. Doing those things really do help, although there are no perfect solutions to Zoom fatigue.

What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

You must be determined - that's a very important characteristic.

I was recently on the board of a company - I had been on that board for 10 years. I helped the CEO start the company and brainstormed the idea 10 years ago. I actually worked for this man and he taught me a lot so when he started his third company and he asked me to help, I was happy to do so. The first idea didn’t quite work and he found a second idea. Then for a number of years, there were various complications where it came to a halt and he had to reinvent the idea again. He just sold the company for a good exit for himself and his co-founders and his investors, but it took 10 years. It took him twisting and fine tuning the company numerous little times, and two major times.

The other quality you must have is to be multidimensional. You can't be a “one-trick pony”. You have to be well rounded and know a little bit about everything to be a great entrepreneur; a little bit about marketing, a little bit about sales, a little about engineering. If you don't, you can't successfully hire somebody and be able to tell if they're good at that function. You have to be a bit of a renaissance person in the sense that you don't have to be an expert at any one of these things, but you do have to be well rounded in many of them.

Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

When somebody insists that they are something, and they say it three times to me. For example, someone saying “Munjal, I just want you to know I'm a straight shooter.” and say it again, “Munjal, you know, I'm a straight shooter,” and they say it a third time, I'm like, hmm, the only thing I know for sure is that you're not a straight shooter, but you're trying to convince me. In fact, you're really trying to convince yourself. I listen a lot to what I call the insistence rule. When someone insists on something over and over again, it is a sign that it probably isn’t true.

If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Any of the world’s great comedians. I find that there are so many things better said with a little comedy. I once spent a summer at Second City in Chicago learning improv. Let’s just say the teacher told me not to quit my day job, but I loved it nonetheless. It made me a better leader, communicator, and maybe even person. Seeing the lighter side of life is a gift not only for yourself but one you can bestow on a team with a simple comment at a stressful time. Comedians have a kind of genius that so many of us would benefit from.

What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

I love this quote from Winston Churchill: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

This quote resonates with me because there's always another chapter. When you think you're done, it turns out you are just at the precipice of something new. I think that there’s so many paths in life. One door opens, one door closes, and another door opens that you thought was gone. When I sold my company to Google, I thought I had reached this kind of financial milestone and end goal that every entrepreneur strives for. But it was not the end at all and another door opened. As I always say, I didn't find my mission, my mission found me.

Who is Your Role Model?

Honestly, I really love what Elon Musk does; the grandeur of his ideas. All these guys are like I'm gonna spend my life building this thing. And he's like, “I'm gonna save mankind from its own environmental disaster, two different ways.” He’s creating a Plan B and getting us out of dodge if we have to get out of dodge and go to Mars.

I really admire Elon, but not for the obvious stuff, it's because he is tackling big problems and isn’t just building some silly, little app or “thing”. He's tackling the problems of climate change with electric cars and the problems of if we don't solve climate change, how we're going to want to survive as a civilization - and we may need to go to another planet to do that. These are worthwhile ambitious grand visions that honestly, most entrepreneurs are too scared to have a vision that big.

Unfortunately, the lean startup model encourages the opposite of those big visions. They're, like, well, if you can't build X with 200K to get some traction, you're not worth your salt as an entrepreneur. And it's, like, well, okay, I'm pretty sure you can't get a car out with 200K or can't build a rocket with 200K. You need a lot of capital to launch companies like that; to even undertake such opportunities and so I think that's what makes him tick and very unique.

What Does Success Mean To You?

What we really want at Health IQ is to make an impact on the world. That's why I'm doing this. For me, making more money is not the answer. What will make Health IQ a success is actually improving lives and making people healthier.

  Munjal Shah’s Favorites Stack:


1. Eating on the Wild Side

2. Open by Andre Agassi

3. The Emperor of All Maladies

Health & Fitness:

1. Zwift - an indoor cycling training app

2. Tonal - weight lifting machine with electro-magnets

3. The Garmin Radar


1. Assos - cycling

2. Rapha - cycling

3. Skins - compression workout clothes

- What I Found
Matt Mullenax | Huron


Founder & CEO of Huron, a modern-day skin care brand for men.

What Is Huron? Tell Us About Your Brand And What Makes Your Products Unique.

Huron is a men’s care brand whose mission is to help guys help themselves. We’ve created the intersection of premium products and a relatable vibe. All of our competitors from a product and formulation perspective charge anywhere between 3-10x our price points. Our goal is to pass as much value -- cost savings, education, etc -- to our end customer as possible.

What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

My career has been in the consumer/retail space. I started my career in investment banking covering retail and consumer brands. From banking, I left to join Bonobos in the company’s infancy (6 employees), which was one of the earliest DTC brands (although ‘DTC’ did not yet exist). After Bonobos, I spent time on the investing side at a consumer PE firm.

In my investing role, we looked at so many brands targeting the female consumer and disrupting the category. Amazing product/packaging, compelling founder stories and brilliant management teams. But in my late-20s, I was still going to CVS/Walgreens and buying the exact same products that I had been using for 15-20 years. There was a massive disconnect.

Aside from the professional interest, I was also a kid that grew up with bad skin. I tried everything. I threw the kitchen sink at my skin issues. From wandering the aisles of grocery stores to sitting in sterile dermatologist offices, nothing seemed to work. I finally splurged and purchased a ‘premium’ face wash and for whatever reason, the product resonated with my skin. But I didn’t know anyone who’d a) pay that price point consistently; or b) want to go through that discovery process. So, we set out to build a brand that offers a similar level of product quality and efficacy using the world’s best ingredients, but at a much more approachable price point.

What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

Huron was the street that I lived on in Chicago when my skin issues were at their worst. I wake up every morning with an intimate understanding of the consumer that we’re fighting for. Because I was that guy 10 years ago.

What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

We operate as a small team of 4. So, there are a number of administrative tasks that we tackle on a weekly/monthly basis that aren’t the most intellectually stimulating. For me, that’s accounting-related tasks, taxes, etc.

Diving into consumer insights has been one of my favorite aspects. Understanding what makes our existing (and potential) customers tick, what problems they’re solving, and what they’re looking for in a personal care brand are data points that we’re maniacal in collecting. So digging into the data to understand how we can position and differentiate ourselves in the category is one of my favorite parts of the journey thus far.

What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

We’ve been fortunate to raise capital from ‘operational-angels’ and funds who have operational experience. We wanted an investor base that consists of ex-operators who have navigated the DTC and consumer landscape, who can help us think through strategic initiatives but also more tactical exercises (hiring, retail, marketing, etc.).

With So Many DTC Brands Out There In The Same Space, What Are Some Of The Marketing Strategies You Use To Build Brand Awareness And Acquire Customers? Also, Do You See Huron Launching Products In Other Categories In The Near Future?

We think holistically about our base and where they would (and would not) like to see us. We’re constantly testing new platforms and acquisition channels.

In regards to product pipeline, we will continue to launch products that we know our customers want. This intel comes from anecdotal data points (surveys) but also an intuitive conviction around certain products. Our aim is to help our consumer across the bathroom, so a number of products and product categories are in-play for us.

How Do You Think Your Industry Will Change Post-COVID?

Consumers are much more comfortable (and now attune to) ordering products online. E-commerce will continue to grow and scale as a % of industry-wide sales. However, Amazon has conditioned -- for better or for worse -- consumers to expect 2-day shipping. So fast turnarounds, reliable supply chains, and strong fulfillment partnerships will only grow in importance moving forward.

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines?

I’m very much a morning person. My alarm is set for 4:30am every weekday, but I’m usually up beforehand. I’ll eat a small snack, have a bit of coffee and do some work for 30-45 min before either running or going to the gym. My wife and I make breakfast together every morning around 7:45am and then we start our respective days.

We’ve been WFH since March of 2020, but have started going back a few days per week to a WeWork. Typically I’ll work until 7pm or so, break for dinner with my wife, and then address some email afterwards.

After, we’ll watch whatever show we’re into and try to be in bed before 11pm or so.

I’m a data nerd, clearly, so I leverage my Whoop to lean on sleep stats.

What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Constant optimist. Believe in the mission. Set the tone for your team that you’re building something special. Something that is going to work. As a founder/co-founder, the team is looking to you for that confidence and conviction.

Adhere to the golden ratio. I once heard a business leader refer to the ‘golden ratio’ - the fact that we all have two ears and one mouth. Listen twice as much as you speak. Internalize the perspectives and voice of your team. What’s working? What’s causing friction and frustrations? Give your team an opportunity to voice how they’re feeling and what challenges they’re facing.

Know your limitations. We’re all guilty of trying to do everything. But it’s impossible. Even at an early-stage, you must figure out how and when to delegate. What are your strong suits that you can lean on? What are areas that are not strengths and would be too costly and/or timely to develop (e.g. Facebook media buying experience, supply chain management, etc.). Execute on the former and delegate the latter.

Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

I have a professional mentor who was a high-ranking senior officer in the Navy SEALs. When asked why are the SEALs so successful in their operations, he simply said ‘we don’t pick a fair fight.’

Extrapolated to the startup realm, it’s important to understand where your advantages are and how to leverage them at scale. Is it an organic marketing channel? Is it an important supplier relationship? Is it a retail partnership? Understanding your points of differentiation is imperative to separating from your competition.

If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Elon Musk. He’s ‘bet the house’ on his own ventures multiple times. It would be fun to learn about how to channel this ‘irrational optimism’ and building at rapid scale.

What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

This is my favorite time of the year. I’m a huge college football fan. Being from Ohio, Ohio State is my team. My Saturdays revolve around when they play. It’s a nice 3 hour mental break.

My wife and I have also been running together. We’re running the New York City marathon in a few weeks, so it’s been fun to train together and embrace a new challenge.

What Does Success Mean To You?

Building a brand that is customer-first and executes on our vision to be a helpful hand to our consumers.

  Matt Mullenax’s Favorites Stack:


1. The Power of Habit

2. Shoe Dog

3. Billion Dollar Loser

Health & Fitness:

1. CrossFit (I go to CrossFit Union Square in NYC)

2. Running

3. Garmin / Whoop


1. Nike

2. TenThousand / Wolaco

3. Hoka One


1. Wandering Bear Cold Brew and Jot

2. Ascent Protein (Chocolate PB)

3. LMNT (hydration) 

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. 2pm

2. Morning Brew

3. All-In Podcast

- What I Found
Marc Friedman | Cadalys


Founder & CEO of Cadalys, a company that works with the newest leading-edge Salesforce® technology to deliver superior solutions to its customers and clients.

What Is Cadalys? Tell Us About What You Do And How It Works.

Cadalys builds world-class enterprise business applications that extend the capabilities of Salesforce. The analogy in the personal computing world would be making the best apps for iPhones and Androids. We work closely with the Salesforce product teams and their customers to understand strategic opportunities to expand Salesforce’s capabilities and then build those solutions. We jointly go to market with Salesforce to deliver best-of-breed mission-critical solutions for our customers.

CareIQ is our suite for the healthcare industry. We provide best-of-breed workflows that use world-class evidence-based guidelines to achieve superior experiences and outcomes for payers, providers, patients and the pharmaceutical industry. We automate previously manual processes, which means these superior outcomes happen faster and more efficiently than otherwise possible. The CareIQ suite focuses on Utilization Management, Care Management, Triage, Pop Health, Social Determinants of Health and Member/Patient Engagement.

EngageIQ is a unified platform that enables our customers to engage more effectively and profitably with their employees, customers and partners. The Cadalys Service Management™ solution provides best-of-breed ITIL processes for ITSM and enterprise service management. Cadalys Concierge™ is a next-generation help center for self-service, ticketing and knowledge management. All Aboard™ provides best practices for onboarding, reboarding, transferring and offboarding. Collectively these three solutions provide a superior experience for employees, customers and partners. 

What Is Your Background? What Led You To Starting Your Own Company, And How Did You End Up In This Space.

I have a dual MBA in business and IT, which is a perfect foundation for this line of work. I was working at Salesforce and liaising with partners. I quickly found that I didn’t think any of the partners at the time were as good as I expected them to be. I formed Cadalys to raise the bar for what it means to be a partner with Salesforce. Today we work with a carefully curated set of Salesforce partners who have consistently demonstrated the same commitment to excellence in all they do.

What Was The Inspiration Behind The Company Name?

It came from a Greek word that can be translated as “enabling performance that would otherwise not be possible.” This is the way we think about our software and our customers. Our customers are achieving things with their employees, their customers and their partners that they simply would not be able to without our software. It’s a powerful and tremendously satisfying way of thinking about the work we do every day.

For example, we just won the 2021 Salesforce ISV Partner Innovation Award for Healthcare & Life Sciences, beating out hundreds of other solutions. Salesforce and IDC team to award these to Salesforce partners for outstanding innovation of transformative solutions that deliver customer success. We won because our CareIQ suite provides the innovation and transformation that enables our customers to perform at a level that is only possible with our software.

What Have Been Both Your Favorite And Least-liked Parts Of Your Entrepreneurial Journey? What Have Been Your Most Challenging And Most Exciting Moments For You And The Company?

My favorite is far and away the team that we have assembled here at Cadalys. When we win a new strategic client after beating out larger companies that have been around longer, when I see the ideas for our applications that our team has conceived and put into action, and when I receive unsolicited emails from customers telling me how much the team has transformed their business—those are always my favorite.

As for my least-liked part of the entrepreneurial journey, early on, someone whose entrepreneurial journey I respect a great deal told me, “Even when you hate it, you love it.” I definitely agree with that sentiment. If I had to pick one thing, it would be the lack of work-life balance that is typical with entrepreneurs. I don’t think it would ever be possible for me to have an empty To-Do list because there is always something more I can do for Cadalys to help move the ball forward. That’s both the pro and the con of being passionate about a company that is rapidly growing. I hear people say, “Nobody looks back on their life and wishes they would have worked more.” Well, plenty of people do look back on their life wishing they would have played a hand, or thrown their hat in the ring, or taken that one chance to build something and make a difference. So, having taken this journey, I fortunately won’t find myself looking back on my life having not taken the entrepreneurial journey and wondering what might have happened if I had.

The most challenging and exciting moments for Cadalys have been when we win a new customer by beating out competitors that are larger, more established and that have more resources than us. It’s proof of our superior team and products and is a fantastic validation of the work we are doing.

What Was The Fundraising Process Like For You? Tell Us About Your Investors And How You Use The Funds You’ve Raised.

We have been patient and focused on securing strategic investors as opposed to just funding sources. Additionally, we present a realistic data-based forecast that resonates with investors.

Our investors have been fantastic all around. They took the time to understand our business, our unfair advantages and the unique position that we are in. Our lead investor is on the Forbes Midas List and is exploring a joint venture with us in addition to their investment—it’s a huge validation for us. We’ve used the funds for two primary purposes. The first is to expand our sales team to keep up with demand. We get a lot of inbound deal flow, and this has enabled us to take full advantage. The second primary use of our funds has been R&D. We have a lot of powerful features and value drivers in our roadmap, and the expanded team is enabling us to bring these to life faster. This is helping us exploit our unfair advantages and rapidly capture market share.

Who Are Your Co-Founders Or People Who You Work Very Closely With? How Do Their Skills Supplement Yours?

I remember someone once saying, “A players hire B players, and B players hire C players,” and was immediately struck by how that is a sure way to sink a business. I’ve made sure to hire leadership who is better at their jobs than I am, and this has been one of the biggest drivers behind the speed of our growth.

Our CFO is a former serial CEO with four successful exits under their belt as CEO. They bring a logical, factual, pragmatic, and data-based objectivity to our C-suite. There are a lot of mistakes that we didn’t make because of the experience brought from four successful scale-to-exits and because the data-based objectivity prevents us from making decisions based solely on passion and optimism.

Our CRO, in addition to their prior experience as a CRO, is a former CEO and former COO. Most recently, they were leveraging this rich experience providing guidance and strategic planning to startups and growth-stage companies on how to scale fast to a successful exit. They’d been looking for an opportunity to throw their hat back into the ring at a company with phenomenal potential, and we are honored to have been chosen over the many other alternatives. What they bring to the C-suite is an uncanny ability to think in detail several steps ahead, a methodical approach to revenue generation and an infectious drive for success and constant improvement that has permeated the corporate culture.

Our CTO is the most intelligent sponge I have ever met. You can point them at anything, and they will grok it before you can Google “grok.” Importantly, this applies equally to both business and technology. This dual aptitude enables the ability to truly understand the business challenges our software is solving and how to envision world-class solutions that are both an innovative business solution and a scalable technical solution. It creates a vastly superior result. Our CTO is a visionary but also a healthy skeptic, and this complements the optimism and passion by helping the C-suite look at all possibilities. You can’t plan for the worst-case scenario if you can’t think of the worst-case scenario, and this healthy skepticism helps us make superior strategic decisions and superior software.

Anything Exciting Launching At Cadalys In The Near Future?

Yes. Stay tuned.

What Is One Thing About Building A Business You Did Not Know That You’ve Learned So Far Since Launching Cadalys?

It has really struck me how important it is to have a variety of different personalities and ways of thinking as opposed to a company full of clones. The latter is easier—it’s easy to work with people who all think just like you. However, different personalities = different ways of thinking and different viewpoints = more ways of approaching a challenge or a strategy = more opportunities for success. It can sometimes be more challenging to work with people who don’t always think like you and therefore challenge you, and the benefits in the form of additional viewpoints and approaches are totally worth it. No one person ever has all the answers and having varied personalities and varied ways of thinking create a synergy that would never be possible with a room full of clones.

How Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Growth And Operation Over The Last Year- Especially On The Healthcare Side Of Things? Were There Any Major Adjustments Or Pivots You Had To Make Due To The Pandemic?

Our CareIQ suite and EngageIQ suite enable our customers to perform more effectively in a COVID-19 world. Our team was already mostly remote—working in cloud computing means we can hire the best people wherever they may be and not need to consider their proximity to a physical office. Internally and operationally, the only material change we made in response to COVID-19 was that we had a hold on travel until the vaccines were available.

We updated the marketing and positioning for both suites to help customers understand the many ways in which our solutions help companies in all stages of a pandemic. COVID-19 has put an additional strain on healthcare companies, and we help them operate more efficiently. EngageIQ helps companies more effectively manage a remote workforce and the additional IT assets required to support them, provide faster access to better information which is important across the entire enterprise, and “reboard” employees, customers and partners with new policies and procedures related to COVID responses.

How Do You Think Your Industry Will Change Post-COVID?

Our enterprise application suites focus on two areas, and as a result, we have insight into both. In both cases, the change is definitive and already underway, and adaptation will be critical for the survival of businesses.

Specifically, the healthcare industry will need to operate more efficiently. For Payers, this means getting approvals/denials correct the first time, rapidly assessing Appeals and Grievances and responding accurately, and using technology to enable Population Health and Social Determinants of Health in ways that improve patient outcomes and reduce costs. For Providers, this means using evidence-based guidelines to automate approvals, to reduce readmissions, to more accurately triage patients and to similarly achieve better outcomes. For Pharma, this means bringing new medicines to life faster and at a lower cost. And all of these are true whether you’re talking about something related to COVID or something else. Payers, Providers and Pharma are going to have these efficiency pressures across the board due to the impact that COVID will have on their business.

Across industries, the post-COVID theme can be summed up as “faster access to better information.” There are many facets of this, and I’ll give a few as examples. First is one directly related to COVID, which is quickly educating and informing employees, customers and partners about policies and procedures that may impact them. Perhaps it’s onboarding a global employee base with a new set of in-office work guidelines. Perhaps it’s ensuring customers and partners understand what is expected of them in response to a new CDC or WHO bulletin. Health and safety will remain at the forefront of people’s minds more so than ever.

With the permanent increase in people working remotely, companies have additional IT infrastructure, hardware and software that needs to be carefully monitored and managed. Failure to do so will mean increased costs from unplanned downtime, from excess software and hardware inventory and from excessive support costs.

Tell Us About Your Typical Workday Schedule. What Are Your Morning And Evening Routines?

I wake up between 6:30 and 7 am and play with my toddler daughter until 8 am. I have just started to successfully resist the entrepreneur’s urge to wake up and immediately respond to emails first thing because doing so trains your brain to be reactive rather than proactive. I’ll of course make an exception if I know I’m going to be needed for something strategic.

At 8 am, my daughter and I wake up my wife, and the three of us will play together for a bit. I then head down to my home office and respond to urgent emails. The specific morning and afternoon tasks may vary but usually involve preparing for and running our weekly internal All-Hands company call, having a weekly 1:1 with a direct report, joining strategy discussions with partners, or applying my focus to whatever Cadalys needs at the time.

I take an hour’s break mid-day to spend time with the family. I block off times in my calendar specifically to check and respond to email rather than leaving my Inbox open where every new email popping in could be a potential distraction. I will also block off time in my calendar to work on specific strategic initiatives so that I can work uninterrupted during that time.

I’ll usually take another family break around 6 pm or 7 pm, then wrap up work until around 10 pm when I give my daughter her “dream feed,” and then I go to bed.

What Are The Top Qualities or Skills You Believe Entrepreneurs Need In Order To Be Successful? Also, What Advice Do You Have For Entrepreneurs Who Are Just Starting Out?

Top three qualities:

Data-Driven: It’s natural for humans to be passionate about their work, and even more so with entrepreneurs. This passion can have a disproportionate influence on one’s “gut feel,” and I’ve seen many entrepreneurs fail because their gut was sending them in the wrong direction. It’s important to incorporate cold hard facts into decision-making. We’ve thankfully made some changes in direction along the way based on data-driven analyses, even though it seemed counterintuitive at the time.

Excellence in Delivery: If you treat every meeting, every presentation, every customer interaction and every new feature in your product like it’s critical to the success of your company, the excellence that you deliver will open more doors than you can imagine. The vast majority of Cadalys’ success has been a result of being in the metaphorical right place at the right time. I say “metaphorical” because, like my dad (a successful entrepreneur himself) often says, “You make your own luck.” Meaning, if you continue to produce amazing results, then you’ll mysteriously find yourself in the right place at the right time much more often. When Cadalys was formed, it wasn’t to build best-of-breed Health and Life Sciences solutions, and it wasn’t to build best-of-breed engagement solutions. We arrived at those, however, because we had a long track record of professionalism, exceptional quality of work and a passion for the success of our customers. As a result of that reputation, we were approached by partners and visionaries who helped us shape the ideas for our suites of solutions. We have built our business around ideas, open doors, opportunities and alliances that we would never have encountered by doing work that was only “good.”

Being a Human Weeble: There will be failures. You will make mistakes. You will feel like your career and your company are doomed. You will have other setbacks that you can’t even imagine right now. Weebles always get back up no matter how many times they get knocked down, and that is a trait that you will need to be a successful entrepreneur.

Advice for those just starting out: Entrepreneurs must also be optimists. Optimism is a great thing, and it also naturally makes people overestimate things. For example, optimists are more likely to be late because they believe they can get ready to leave the house faster or that they can do work faster or that traffic won’t be as bad, etc. Optimism tends to make entrepreneurs who are just starting out think their cash will last longer than it will, that they will land more customers faster than they will, that unplanned expenses will be smaller than they will, etc. When you are just starting out and doing your initial financial planning, force yourself to consider a worst-case scenario and factor that into your planning. Optimism is a trait with many benefits that will help you make amazing things happen, and it also can lead to dangerous overestimating.

Tell Us A Story Of Something That Happened To You, Something You Heard, Or Something You Saw, That Either Made You Laugh Or Taught You An Important Lesson.

A good friend of mine used to work at a travel agency. One morning she got a frantic call from an irate customer screaming about how the taxi wasn’t there yet to take them to the airport, and they were going to be late for their flight. My friend was understandably confused about why this customer was calling the travel agency about this and was trying to politely help the customer. The customer screamed, “I GOT THE ITINERARY FROM YOU, AND IT SAYS THE TAXI IS INCLUDED.” My friend thought for a moment and asked, “Do you mean where it says ‘taxes included’?” Long pause...customer hangs up.

The important lesson is that something might not be your fault but might still be your problem. In no way was this the travel agency’s fault, but I guarantee that irate customer immediately swore they would never use that agency again.

Let’s say someone is trying to use a real-time traffic app on their iPhone or Android, but they forgot they turned off the GPS feature on their phone. The traffic app won’t work. Now, there isn’t anything wrong with the traffic app, but it might look that way to the customer. It's not the traffic app’s fault that the customer forgot they turned off the GPS, but when that person concludes that the traffic app is unreliable and doesn’t work, it is the traffic app’s problem. We’ve infused this lesson into Cadalys in many ways. For example, the latest release of our software makes 160 different checks for things a system administrator might have done wrong that would affect our software. Again, not our fault if the administrator makes a mistake outside of our software, but it is our problem if that mistake makes them think our software isn’t working properly. If the software detects one of the 160 mistakes, it informs the system administrator and shows them how to correct it. This new feature of our software not only reduces tickets logged with our Customer Support Center, but it also helps improve the perception of our software. Once the system administrator realizes something was, in fact, their fault, then it is no longer our problem—it doesn’t inadvertently reflect negatively on our software.

If You Can Have A One-Hour Meeting With Someone Famous Who Is Alive, Who Would It Be?

Nobel Prize for Chemistry winners Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna. I think a discussion with them about their development of the CRISPR genome editing method, the many implications for better crops and the fight against disease, as well as the many ethical facets, would be a fascinating and enlightening hour.

What Is Your Favorite Quote And Why Does It Resonate With You?

It’s a quote by Walter Scott: “One hour of life, crowded to the full with glorious action, and filled with noble risks, is worth whole years of those mean observances of paltry decorum, in which men steal through existence, like sluggish waters through a marsh, without either honor or observation.” It resonates with me for reasons I mentioned earlier about looking back on your life and feeling like you really lived it. In the current season of my life, that means rapidly growing Cadalys by providing game-changing software and enabling our customers to achieve things they could otherwise never achieve.

Is There A Parable That You Often Think About? What Is It And What Lesson Does It Teach?

A young boy, who had recently lost his left arm in a car accident, decided to study Judo. After months and months of studying, his instructor was still teaching him the same one move. The boy asked his instructor, “Shouldn’t I be learning more moves?” The instructor replied, “This is the only move you need to know.”

After several more months, the instructor took the boy to compete in his first tournament. The boy surprised himself by easily winning the first two matches. The third match was a more difficult opponent. The opponent charged, but the boy used his one move and beat the opponent. This brought the boy to the finals.

The opponent at the final match was bigger, stronger and more experienced. It seemed certain that the boy was outmatched. However, as the match started, the boy used his one move and won the match and the tournament!

On the way home, the boy asked his instructor how he could have won the tournament with only one move when he was competing against opponents who were bigger, stronger and more experienced. The instructor replied, “You won for two reasons. First, you have been working on mastering one of the most difficult moves in Judo. Second, the only known defense against that move is for the opponent to grab the practitioner’s left arm.”

The parable teaches that what some people might label a weakness might not be a weakness at all but a strength. At Cadalys, when we are up against competitors, we know how they are going to position themselves. We know what they are going to tout as their strengths, and we have a good idea of the ways in which they are going to paint us as having weaknesses. Then, thinking about the specific customer and their business needs, we decide how to use the competitors’ strengths against them as weaknesses and how we are going to position our (mis)perceived weaknesses as strengths.

Who Is Your Role Model?

My dad. In addition to being a successful entrepreneur, he has an uncanny ability to distill a situation into its core components and then communicate to people on their level and in their view of the world. This gives him a next-level ability to break through obstacles and get people on board with an idea. I bounce a lot of things off of him.

What Do You Do In Your Free Time?

Spend time with my family. I don’t have a lot of free time given the speed of our growth and all it entails, and I try to spend as much time with my family as possible.

What Does Success Mean To You?

Every time I get an email from a customer thanking us for helping them transform their business, that is when I have a tremendous feeling of success. Same when an employee describes how they’ve never before had the opportunity to work with such a driven and passionate team—that is another time when I have a tremendous feeling of success.

  Marc Friedman’s Favorites Stack:


1. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It, by Chris Voss

2. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni

3. The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day, by Andy Puddicombe

Health & Fitness:

1. TKO urethane hex dumbbells

2. POM

3. Headspace


1. DoorDash

2. Salesforce

3. what3words

Newsletters & Podcasts:

1. Pocket

2. The Economist

3. Ars Technica

Upcoming Vacation Spots:

1. Australia/New Zealand

2. Thailand

3. The North Pole

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- Simon Bedard, Forbes Councils Member
Why Your Business Valuation Should Top Your Financial Dashboard
A business valuation offers a truly comprehensive view of your company's health.
- Stephen Nalley, Forbes Councils Member
Creating A Comprehensive Turnaround Plan For A Distressed Real Estate Asset
A distressed real estate asset can be a significant source of concern for its owner.
- David Prosser, Contributor
Revealed: The Hidden Cost Of The SaaS Revolution For Businesses
The average business is spending $3,500 per employee on SaaS according to new data from procurement platform CloudEagle
- Matthias Walter Eser, Forbes Councils Member
Stepping Into The Role Of Strategic Private Equity Investor
In today's climate, I see a particular opportunity that has emerged for thriving companies: Adopt the mantle of a strategic private equity (PE) investor.
- Jeremy Bradley-Silverio Donato, Forbes Councils Member
Behind Business Passion: Why You Can Love What You Do But Still Feel Like It's Work
Even when you love what you do, especially in a leadership position, you will work, you will struggle and you will face challenges.
- Francis Nwokike
Investing In PVA Packaging: What Every Entrepreneur Needs To Know

Sustainability has become a cornerstone of corporate responsibility in the modern business landscape as the detrimental effects of single-use plastics become increasingly evident. In response, the demand for greener alternatives is skyrocketing, and one standout contender is Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA) packaging. This water-soluble, biodegradable material offers a promising alternative to conventional plastics.

However, like any emerging technology, the shift to PVA comes with challenges and opportunities. Finding reliable PVA suppliers is an integral part of the transition, offering the potential for a smoother integration of PVA products into the supply chain.

If you’re an entrepreneur eager to understand PVA packaging and its potential impact on your venture, you’re in the right place. Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about this sustainable packaging choice.

The Environmental Advantage

Transitioning to sustainable packaging solutions is not just a trend—it’s necessary for businesses aiming to align with global environmental initiatives. PVA packaging stands out in this aspect.

Below are several distinct environmental benefits of adopting PVA packaging:

Reduced carbon footprint: Traditional plastics originate from petrochemical sources, contributing significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast, the production process of PVA emits far less CO2, aiding in the global effort to reduce the collective carbon footprint. Biodegradability: One of the most compelling features of PVA packaging is its water-solubility. Unlike conventional plastics that can take centuries to decompose, PVA materials disintegrate in water in a matter of days to weeks, depending on the formulation. This feature dramatically reduces the environmental load on landfills and prevents the long-term pollution often associated with plastic waste. Fewer toxins in production and decomposition: The manufacturing of PVA introduces fewer harmful chemicals into the environment when compared to traditional plastics. When PVA decomposes, it doesn’t release toxic substances, ensuring a cleaner, less polluted ecosystem. Marine life safety: The oceans suffer from an alarming amount of plastic pollution, affecting marine wildlife and entering the food chain. PVA’s ability to dissolve reduces the risk of marine creatures ingesting or getting entangled in plastic debris, offering a safer alternative for the ocean’s inhabitants. Conservation of non-renewable resources: Traditional plastics rely on non-renewable resources like crude oil. By opting for PVA packaging, businesses indirectly support conserving these precious resources, leading to a more sustainable supply chain.

By understanding these advantages, businesses can make an informed decision, aligning their strategies with global sustainability goals and catering to the growing consumer demand for eco-friendly products.

Financial Incentives And Cost Implications

Investing in sustainable initiatives, such as PVA packaging, aligns with modern eco-conscious goals and can have direct and indirect financial implications for businesses.

Below are the pivotal financial aspects every entrepreneur should consider when thinking about PVA packaging:

Initial costs: PVA packaging might have a higher upfront cost than traditional plastics. Entrepreneurs should factor in these costs to ensure they align with the business’s budgetary constraints and long-term investment strategy. Tax benefits: As governments worldwide recognize the importance of sustainable business practices, numerous tax incentives and rebates are becoming available. These benefits could offset some of the initial costs. Improved brand image: Consumers increasingly value eco-friendly brands in today’s market. Adopting PVA packaging can boost a brand’s image, potentially increasing customer loyalty and sales. Over time, this enhanced brand value can translate to substantial financial returns. Potential savings: Other areas can realize savings despite PVA’s potentially higher upfront costs. For example, the biodegradability of PVA packaging can result in significant savings from reduced waste management fees. Future regulatory Compliance: As environmental regulations increase, businesses might face penalties or restrictions for using non-biodegradable packaging. Adopting PVA could prevent these future regulatory fines, saving costs in the long run. Supply chain efficiency: Integrating PVA into operations might optimize certain aspects of the supply chain, especially if suppliers offer competitive pricing or waste management volume decreases.

Assessing these financial incentives against potential cost implications allows entrepreneurs to determine the potential profitability of integrating PVA packaging into their operations.

Best Practices When Working With PVA

Switching to a new packaging material like PVA requires a thorough understanding of its characteristics to ensure optimum results.

Here are the essential practices every entrepreneur should be aware of when integrating PVA packaging into their operations:

Choosing the right suppliers: It’s critical to research and partner with trustworthy PVA suppliers who have a reputation for delivering quality products. This ensures consistency in the quality of the packaging you receive. Proper storage: Store PVA products in a dry environment because of their water-soluble nature. This preserves the material’s integrity and ensures it performs as expected during use. Staff training: To avoid mishandling or misusing PVA products, training sessions for staff are vital. Educating them about PVA’s properties, benefits, and handling requirements ensures smooth integration into daily operations. Continuous quality checks: Regularly inspect the PVA packaging for defects or inconsistencies. Consistent quality checks ensure you’re providing your customers with a reliable product. Feedback loop with suppliers: Establishing open communication channels with your PVA suppliers allows for a feedback loop. This helps address any concerns promptly, ensuring the continuous improvement of the product. Stay updated: Like many others, the PVA industry evolves over time. Staying updated with the latest advancements ensures you leverage the best possible materials and technologies in your operations.

Implementing these best practices ensures a smooth transition to PVA packaging, optimizing the material’s functionality and environmental benefits.

Starting Your Journey With PVA Packaging

Transitioning to a new form of packaging, especially one as distinct as PVA, requires a well-thought-out strategy.

Here are the steps to guide entrepreneurs looking to incorporate PVA packaging:

Pilot phase: Instead of a complete shift, start with a pilot phase. Use PVA packaging for a select range of products or in specific locations. This allows for real-world testing and gathering valuable feedback without a full-scale commitment. Feedback collection: Once the pilot phase is underway, gather customer and internal team feedback. Their insights can highlight any adjustments needed regarding product design, storage, or distribution. Cost analysis: Review the financial implications of switching to PVA packaging. This should include direct costs (like procurement) and indirect benefits (such as potential tax incentives or increased sales from eco-conscious customers). Training and onboarding: As you move closer to a complete transition, ensure that all relevant personnel are adequately trained. They should be familiar with handling, storing, and distributing PVA-packaged products. Full integration: Once satisfied with the pilot phase results and after addressing any concerns, proceed to integrate PVA packaging across all relevant product lines or business units.

By following this structured approach, entrepreneurs can confidently and efficiently integrate PVA packaging into their operations, harnessing its many advantages.


Embracing PVA packaging demonstrates a commitment to both innovation and the environment. Entrepreneurs recognize that the choices made today ripple into tomorrow, shaping industries and consumer perceptions. For those poised to make a difference, PVA offers a promising avenue. So, considering the insights shared, weighing the advantages, and taking decisive action can redefine the future of packaging, championing sustainability and innovation.

The post Investing In PVA Packaging: What Every Entrepreneur Needs To Know appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
Getting a Reverse Mortgage: Weighing the Pros and Cons

Getting a Reverse Mortgage: Weighing the Pros and Cons

If you’re 62 years old or above, you may have heard about reverse mortgages – an easy home loan option for seniors. Retirement is one of the most significant milestones of one’s life. It comes with its fair share of financial challenges. That’s precisely why reverse mortgage seems like a lucrative option for you. However, they come with both pros and cons. The loan process is complex, and you should thoroughly research how reverse mortgages work ( to make an informed decision.

Below, we have listed some common pros and cons of reverse mortgages. Let’s take a look.

Pros of Reverse Mortgage

Getting a reverse mortgage comes with the following benefits.

1. You retain homeownership

The most lucrative benefit of a reverse mortgage is retaining the homeownership during the mortgage period. A reverse mortgage is designed to allow you to stay in your home while you receive monthly payments from the lender. You must meet other obligations like property taxes, associated costs, and insurance. If you pass away, your heirs can pay off the remaining debt or sell the property to pay it off, but the ownership remains with them.

2. You get a supplemental income source.

Retirement can be difficult and can cause a dent in the financial plan of most elderly couples. A reverse mortgage can provide a source of steady supplemental income for you. With this option, you can turn your home equity into liquid cash and get a monthly payment or lump sum. It can be a supplemental income and help you pay living expenses or cover other expenditures.

3. You can age in one place.

As a reverse mortgage doesn’t require you to leave your home or relocate when you take out the mortgage, you can stay in your home indefinitely. This way, you can spend the last few golden years of your life in one place and enjoy the time with your family.

4. You have a better grip on your retirement expenses.

Managing retirement expenses is an exhausting job in itself. With a reverse mortgage, you have a steady supply of fixed income, so you know how much money you receive monthly. This lets you budget more efficiently. Moreover, unlike other traditional mortgages, you don’t have to pay a monthly installment, which reduces your expenses. Again, you can use the mortgage money as an emergency fund, so your regular budget isn’t strained during an emergency.

5. You don’t have to pay taxes on income.

The funds you receive through a reverse mortgage are considered loan proceeds and don’t count as income. That’s why you don’t have to pay income taxes on the reverse mortgage amount. It takes away an unnecessary financial burden from your shoulders, and you can use this money elsewhere.

Cons of Reverse Mortgage

On the flip side, a reverse mortgage comes with the following setbacks.

1. Your heirs might be affected

A reverse mortgage uses up a home’s equity, reducing the home value. The property that you pass to your heirs, thus, might not be as valuable as it was to you. Moreover, if you suddenly pass away without paying the entire loan, your heir has to pay the due. This can also disrupt their financial plan and any plans for the inheritance.

2. Your retirement benefits might be impacted

Getting a reverse mortgage could impact your other benefits. You might be ineligible for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and Medicaid based on whether the mortgage is an asset or income. You might also become ineligible for state or federal assistance programs, have reduced chances of property tax exemptions, and reduce income tax-related credits and benefits.

3. You are susceptible to foreclosure

Various conditions can trigger a foreclosure, and you or your heir can lose the ownership of the house. You must continue to pay property taxes and insurance, as failing to pay them can lead to foreclosure. You also must live in the home and pay these taxes. If you pass away, and your non-borrower spouse or heir can’t repay the loan within the timeframe, it can lead to foreclosure.

4. You get reduced equity due to associated costs

A reverse mortgage might sound like free money for your home equity. Still, it has many associated costs, which essentially reduces the equity you’re receiving. Loan origination fees, mortgage insurance, closing costs, service fees, and interests are a few costs you must incur. The equity you’re liquidating might need to be more against these costs.

5. You’re in for a complex procedure and long-term commitment

Getting a reverse mortgage is a long-term commitment. You can obtain it after going through many complicated steps and paperwork. You must also abide by the laws and take good care of your house. This can sometimes be exhausting for you.

Getting a reverse mortgage is a partial win-or-lose situation. The losses and benefits can vary from person to person. You can opt for a reverse mortgage if you’re over 62 years old but in good health and have a home with tremendous value. It can add to your supplemental income for years. If you’re retired and self-employed, you can check out loans and mortgage options designed for self-employed people looking to ensure a stable future.

The post Getting a Reverse Mortgage: Weighing the Pros and Cons appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- TTE Expert
Top Challenges Credit Unions Face in 2023

Credit unions exist to elevate their communities and help those in the area make informed financial decisions. They put a more personal spin on banking and give members access to high-quality financial products and advice without relying on the same resources or funding that large multi-state banks have access to.

While these financial institutions benefit people from all walks of life, credit unions face unique challenges each year, many of which don’t affect larger banks. By understanding these challenges, these organizations will be better poised to overcome them. Here are the major challenges that successful credit unions have met and overcome this year.

Improving Information Security

Hackers are becoming a major problem for all financial institutions. These individuals can intercept sensitive information, scam credit union members out of their money or use data intercepted from the credit union’s systems to commit identity theft.

While most credit unions are working to enhance their website’s security and strengthen the security options available to their members when using their online banking platforms, the challenge remains. As technology improves, hackers become more determined and learn new techniques that force credit unions to stay vigilant and identify new ways to protect their members’ data.

How to Boost Security

Ultimately, it’s impossible to completely prevent hackers and information interception. But there are things that credit unions can do to protect their members’ information and data better in the local branch and online.

Credit unions will want to do the following to improve security efforts:

Make sure security certificates are valid: Any website owned and operated by a credit union should have current security certificates. If any are expired, or the sites aren’t using those certificates, you’ll want to invest in a certificate from your hosting company. Perform routine audits: Work with your IT specialist to audit the security of the credit union’s systems. They will be able to identify any vulnerabilities and weaknesses that could put members’ information at risk. Encourage members to be cautious: Many security breaches are the fault of the members and account holders, not the credit union directly. Provide education on how members can protect their information and secure their data when visiting neighborhood branches or banking online.

These simple tips can go a long way toward helping credit unions of all sizes bolster their information security efforts.

Attracting New Members

One of the most difficult challenges that credit unions face is finding ways to attract new and younger members. Credit unions have long been viewed as a backbone in local communities, providing reliable services, great customer experiences, and financial products like loans and savings accounts to help their members make the most of their money.

As larger banks open more branches and make online banking easier and more accessible, encouraging new members to sign up is becoming more challenging and essential for business. Without new members, credit unions can’t grow, and many of the services they provide their communities will have to be scaled back or retired entirely.

How to Solve the Challenge

The key to attracting new members is finding out what motivates people in the community and tailoring the credit union’s marketing efforts and service offerings to those needs. Think about the communities you serve. If there are many younger families, offering loan products for first-time homebuyers could encourage them to open an account. Sponsoring local events and getting the credit union’s name in front of potential members can boost awareness and increase new member sign-ups.

Take a look at the types of products you’re offering as well. For younger individuals and families, the choice between a bank or credit union often comes down to which financial institution can provide them with the services they need at the lowest cost possible. Tailor your offerings to the needs of the community, and you’ll be better able to attract new members and show them the true credit union difference.

Keep in mind that you’ll also want to continue fostering relationships with your current members. Pay attention to their feedback and see what services or needs are not currently being met by the credit union. This can help you develop a strategic plan that increases engagement in the long term.

Embracing Digital Banking

With the rise of mobile browsing, more people are using those devices to perform tasks they used to take care of in person or on their computers. This includes banking, and while meeting the challenge of building a reliable digital banking platform is easy for larger banks, it can be difficult for credit unions.

Worse, many community members operate under the assumption that credit unions function in an old or outdated way. They may expect all business to be completed at a neighborhood branch rather than online. This can discourage new members from signing up and sending traffic directly to your competitors.

No matter how established the credit union is, going digital takes time and money. For smaller credit unions or those with struggling membership numbers, embracing digital banking can seem almost impossible.

How to Improve Digital Banking Experiences

You need to invest in the design and implementation of your digital banking platform as soon as possible. Partner with an experienced design team that can help your credit union’s message carry over into the digital space. Ask current members about the features they want to see available or the major issues they face when using your digital tools.

Use your members to your advantage. They’re the ones you’re building the systems for and can give you real-time feedback on what works, what doesn’t, and what’s lacking.

If you already have a great digital banking system, highlight it. Talk about it in your marketing materials, and make sure current members know how to use it so they can spread the word.

General Inflation and Rising Costs

Discuss how inflation can impact a credit union’s bottom line and thus their ability to meet the community’s needs.

There’s no denying that the current economy has wreaked havoc on many businesses’ operating budgets and credit unions are no exception. Rising costs for supplies, rent, utilities, insurance, and other core expenses have forced many credit unions to change their fee structures or make cuts where they can.

Unfortunately, those cuts come at a price — the ability to offer the same quality customer experience and services members have come to expect. Many credit unions are facing strict cost-cutting measures that make it more challenging to do what they do best.

How to Deal With Inflation

The best way to deal with inflation is to find ways to cut costs that won’t impact the customer experience. Shop around for partnerships with different suppliers. Invest in more energy-efficient lighting options. Repair broken or damaged equipment rather than replacing it. Even these small measures can help save your credit union money.

Cash flow strategies

Planning for the Future of the Organization

Credit union members think about their future all the time. It’s why they open savings accounts and college funds for their children or take out loans to buy homes in the towns they love. But how much attention do the credit unions pay to their future? CEOs and members of the leadership team might be excellent at their jobs, but they will need to retire eventually or may want to move on to other opportunities.

This puts credit unions in a tough position with a changing leadership dynamic that may not be ready to handle the challenges the organization faces. Even minor disruptions can cause major repercussions for employee morale and member confidence in the organization.

How to Cope With an Unclear Future

The best thing credit unions can do for their organizations, their leadership team, and their members is to create a clear succession plan. Identify who should take over for each key leadership team member if something were to change. Use this chain of command if someone leaves the organization, retires, or is unable to fulfill their duties.

Once you have their duties covered, the organization can start looking for someone to take over more permanently. However, by having a plan in place, you can avoid many of the disruptions that other organizations deal with when trying to develop a succession plan. This can help preserve employee morale and keep members satisfied with their experience whenever they visit a local branch.

Increasingly Strict Compliance Standards

Every financial institution must adhere to at least some compliance standards. This governs how organizations can operate, ensure customer protection, and outline cybersecurity regulations and other guidelines to keep credit unions and their members safe. But those standards change yearly and can change more often should new threats or situations arise.

Keeping up with those changes and communicating them to the people who handle day-to-day operations can be difficult for credit unions. Unfortunately, any violation can lead to hefty fines that may seriously strain the credit union’s finances, damage its reputation, and make retaining and attracting members more difficult.

How to Manage Changing Compliance Standards

The easiest way to stay on top of compliance is to constantly monitor for regulation changes. If you notice anything being updated, take immediate steps to ensure your credit union is doing everything possible to fulfill those expectations. If you notice violations, deal with them immediately.

Communicate any changes to your team as soon as possible. The better prepared and more knowledgeable your team is, the easier it will be to ensure that everyone is doing their part to stay in compliance with current regulations.

Outdated Technology

National and even some multi-state banks have access to much larger budgets than credit unions. This often means that key pieces of technology like computers, printers, card terminals, and other equipment might be outdated.

While preserving equipment is great, there may come a time when that outdated technology may no longer serve the credit union to its fullest potential. Once that time happens, the credit union can experience delays in processing information or force members to wait longer in line when doing their banking in person.

Minor delays like that might not seem like a huge issue, but they can diminish the quality of the customer service your team can offer. That, in turn, can cause members to lose faith in the quality of the credit union and may send them looking for a different financial institution.

How to Deal With Outdated Technology

Though it’s likely too much to ask for a credit union to update every piece of outdated technology as soon as it becomes obsolete, it’s in your best interest to update what you can. Think about the equipment that poses the greatest security risk or inconvenience to your team and members. Prioritize replacing those items as soon as you can.

By updating the most important equipment as soon as possible, you’ll make the most of your budget without putting the people that matter most at risk — your members and your employees.

Growing Competition

Talk about staying true to the credit union’s core purpose and roots.

Community banks used to be the gold standard across the country. But with the rise of fintech companies, online banks, and large national financial institutions, credit unions are facing more competition than ever. That competition wants to take your members and turn them into their customers.

No matter how large a credit union is or how many branches you have in and around your main location, you will never be able to keep up with the larger institutions. They have more money to throw into marketing, access to newer tools and programs, and can make promises about the quality of the services they’ll provide, even if they fall flat.

It’s common for community members to feel tempted to switch to those larger institutions and the more members who do, the harder it will be to keep the credit union afloat, let alone growing.

How to Manage Growing Competition

The first step is to realize that credit unions may not appeal to everyone. The next step is to market the credit union to those who may find it to be the perfect fit. Remember, credit unions are all about serving the community. They exist to improve their members’ financial lives, but they’re also part of the local landscape and can be involved in causes that large financial institutions may overlook.

Credit unions can use this to their advantage. Be involved in the community by sponsoring events, volunteering for worthy causes, and participating in local parades. By doing so, credit unions can increase awareness and show they are invested in the community.

This can be enough to encourage new members to join and foster stronger loyalty among current members.

Challenges Can Be Managed

These are just a few challenges credit unions have faced and will continue to encounter throughout 2023 and beyond. No matter what those challenges are, they can be managed with enough determination and planning.

Review your credit union’s performance and status regularly. Keep up with the latest trends and don’t hesitate to ask employees and members for feedback. Doing so will help you easily position your organization for growth and improvement.

The post Top Challenges Credit Unions Face in 2023 appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
Unlocking the Power of Search Engine Advertising: A Guide to Google & Bing Ads

Unlocking the Power of Search Engine Advertising

Platforms like Google and Bing Ads have positioned themselves at the forefront of the advertising revolution, creating a symbiotic relationship between businesses and search engine users. By understanding these platforms and utilising them correctly, companies can harness their power to drive traffic, improve visibility, and significantly increase conversions.

Understanding Google Ads: Where Reach Meets Relevance

Google Ads, formerly known as Google AdWords, is a robust and flexible platform that allows advertisers to reach billions of users in real-time. Its magic lies in its ability to display ads to users who are actively searching for related products or services. These are individuals primed for engagement, having shown a clear intent to make a purchase or find a solution. If you are unsure about how to make the best use of this tech, experts from can quickly boost your audience and sales. By marrying vast reach with a high degree of relevance, Google Ads can bring strong opportunities to businesses of all sizes.

Unlocking Bing Ads: The Underrated Powerhouse

Bing controls a substantial portion of the global search engine market, offering access to a unique and diverse demographic. Its advertising platform functions similarly to Google Ads but often comes with less competition, potentially providing a lower cost-per-click. By tapping into Bing Ads, advertisers can diversify their strategies and reach audiences they may not find on Google.

Developing an Effective Keyword Strategy

The fuel that drives search engine advertising is effective keyword usage. Both Google and Bing Ads operate on a pay-per-click model, which relies heavily on identifying and bidding on relevant keywords. These keywords trigger your ads when a user’s search matches or is related to them. To maximise the effectiveness of your ad campaigns, it’s crucial to conduct comprehensive keyword research and adapt your strategy based on results.

Creating Compelling Ad Copy

The final piece of the puzzle in search engine advertising is the ad copy. This is the text that users see when your ad appears in the search results. It’s your first and possibly only chance to persuade the user to click on your ad, so it needs to be compelling. Be clear about what you’re offering, create a sense of urgency, and incorporate a clear call to action. The quality of your ad copy can make or break your campaign, regardless of how well you’ve targeted your audience.

Navigating Analytics for Continuous Improvement

Both Google and Bing Ads provide sophisticated analytics tools to help advertisers measure the performance of their campaigns. These tools offer insights into a variety of metrics, including click-through rates, conversion rates, and overall return on investment. Regularly reviewing and understanding these metrics is critical for identifying areas of improvement and tweaking your strategy to maximise results.

Leveraging platforms like Google and Bing Ads can provide a significant competitive advantage in today’s market. The key lies in understanding these platforms, crafting compelling ad copy, and continuously analysing and improving based on data-driven insights. Embracing search engine advertising can catapult your business’s online presence, helping you reach more customers and drive more conversions than ever before.

The post Unlocking the Power of Search Engine Advertising: A Guide to Google & Bing Ads appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike

When you host a corporate gathering, it costs more than money and manpower. Typically, it burdens the planet, too. This not only is bad for the environment, but also it’s bad for your business reputation. Society increasingly values sustainability. That means there’s a good chance your attendees — from colleagues to clients — care about reducing waste, discouraging climate change, and caring for the earth. When you’re consuming excess energy, they notice.

With that in mind, here are a few tips for creating effective, productive, and yet sustainable business events that benefit everybody:

Source sustainable food: When you’re planning the menu for your event, look for no-waste catering options in your area. Providers that think about food sustainability save you a step because they’re usually also looking to reduce the use of single-use plastic. Likewise, locally sourced food doesn’t just taste good; it also requires less travel and the associated carbon emissions to get to you. Embrace digital communication: It’s easier than ever to go paperless with your messaging — and reduce both paper waste and postage costs in the process. Save trees and help prevent deforestation by taking advantage of email, event apps, social media, websites, and other online communication tools. Choose eco-friendly venues: One of the fastest ways to make a gathering more sustainable is to hold it online. Even if you can’t go completely remote, however, you can look for a venue with sustainable practices and eco-friendly credentials. This goes a long way towards improving the amount of energy consumed and wasted created through your meetings.

For more information on designing events that reduce your environmental impact, take a look at the attached resource. In it, you’ll find a breakdown of practical, effective ways to move towards sustainability. From using biodegradable utensils to giving recyclable gifts, you can counteract climate change as a business when you plan greener gatherings.

Infographic created by FIRST

The post How To Incorporate Sustainability At Your Next Business Event appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike

The e-commerce landscape is ever-evolving, with customer demands and expectations in a constant state of change. Businesses must stay ahead of the curve to remain competitive, which is where composable commerce steps in.

Think of composable commerce like a jigsaw puzzle that allows you to design your complete e-commerce store by selecting and integrating each piece or “component” based on your unique needs.

This flexible solution is ideal for e-commerce businesses since it caters so well to shifting customer expectations by giving companies the ability to construct personalized customer journeys. It also delivers scalability, resilience and an agile setup that allows for constant innovation.

For small businesses, the one-size-fits-all approach of traditional monolithic platforms can be restrictive. While they might be easy to set up, they come bundled with features that may be irrelevant to your business, and yet, you have to bear the costs.

Key Features of Composable Commerce

Instead of being restricted to a single platform, composable commerce allows you to use the components that best suit your business needs. This means your business can evolve and adapt seamlessly without being hampered by rigid systems.

Some of the best features of composable commerce are that it is component based, technology agnostic, can utilize microservices and is resilient when built with an API-first communication approach.

Component based signifies that these systems consist of individual parts or components that can be easily added removed or changed without affecting the rest of the system. A technology agnostic system is indifferent to the specific technology used, allowing you to choose the best from every platform or vendor. Microservices refers to a design approach where an application is made up of small independent modules that work together. Lastly, API-first communication establishes APIs (application programming interfaces) as a priority in system design, ensuring smooth interactions among the different components.

Composable commerce is a subtype of headless commerce that emphasizes modularity and flexibility. This means every part of the platform including every service from shipping logistics to customer management can be chosen from a variety of vendors. These components operate independently of each other and are easily interchangeable without disrupting the entire system.

Benefits of Composable Commerce for E-Commerce Stores 1. Flexibility and customization

Love the analytics from one vendor and the inventory management system from another? With a composable commerce approach, it’s all yours!

It allows you to cherry-pick individual services that are just right for your needs from different providers. It’s like assembling your very own dream team for your e-commerce operations. Plus, it gives smaller businesses an advantage where they’re no longer shackled to a single platform.

2. Cost efficiency

You know how you only really use half the features in most bundled solutions but still pay through the nose for the whole package? Bid that goodbye.

With composable commerce, you only pay for the features you use, making it a cost-saver, especially for businesses on a tight budget.

3. Scalability

Is business doing well and needs to ramp up? Or maybe a leaner approach is called for? With composable commerce, scaling isn’t a heartache. Adjust your tech stack as needed without a complete overhaul of the system.

You can look forward to a resilient business that can adapt better through both thick and thin. Use any technologies or platforms you need — it’s all about what best fits your requirements.

Concluding Thoughts

As the e-commerce landscape continues to become more dynamic and competitive, adopting a composable commerce strategy can give small businesses the edge they need. It can give your company the agility to pivot quickly based on market demands and the scalability to grow unhindered in your journey forward.

The post What Are The Benefits Of Using A Composable Commerce Strategy For Your E-Commerce Store? appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
Educating Your Team About Cybersecurity: Effective Strategies for a Secure Work Environment

Educating Your Team About Cybersecurity

In today’s digital age, cybersecurity is a paramount concern for businesses of all sizes. The ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats requires constant vigilance and proactive measures to protect sensitive data and maintain the trust of clients and customers. One of the most critical aspects of cybersecurity is educating your company or team members. This article explores various strategies to educate your team about cybersecurity, including the use of webinars as an effective tool.

Why Cybersecurity Education is Crucial

Before diving into specific strategies, it’s important to understand why cybersecurity education is crucial for your organization. Cyber threats are constantly evolving, becoming more sophisticated and damaging with each passing day. A lack of awareness and preparedness can result in data breaches, financial losses, and damage to your company’s reputation.

By investing in cybersecurity education, you empower your team members to recognize and mitigate potential threats. This not only protects your organization but also fosters a culture of responsibility and accountability where everyone plays a role in safeguarding sensitive information.

Effective Strategies for Cybersecurity Education Webinars

Webinars are an excellent way to deliver comprehensive cybersecurity training to your team. They offer the flexibility of remote learning and can accommodate a large audience. Here’s how you can make the most of webinars for cybersecurity education:

Engaging Content: Ensure your webinars are engaging by using real-life examples, case studies, and interactive elements like polls and quizzes. This keeps participants attentive and helps them apply what they’ve learned.

Expert Speakers: Invite cybersecurity experts or professionals to conduct the webinars. Their knowledge and experience add credibility to the content and provide valuable insights.

Regular Schedule: Establish a regular schedule for cybersecurity webinars. This helps in creating a routine for team members to participate in ongoing education.

Recording and Accessibility: Record the webinars for those who can’t attend in real-time. Make these recordings accessible on your company’s learning management system or intranet for future reference.

Phishing Simulations

Phishing attacks are a common entry point for cybercriminals. Simulations can help your team recognize and resist these attacks. Here’s how to implement phishing simulations effectively:

Realistic Scenarios: Create phishing emails that mimic real-world situations and common tactics. Ensure that the emails are convincing but not malicious.

Feedback and Analysis: Provide immediate feedback to employees who fall for phishing simulations. Use these incidents as teachable moments to educate them about the red flags they missed.

Progress Tracking: Keep track of each team member’s progress in recognizing and reporting phishing attempts. Recognize and reward those who consistently excel at identifying threats.

Regular Workshops

In addition to webinars, conduct regular workshops on specific cybersecurity topics. These workshops can be more hands-on and allow participants to delve deeper into areas of interest or relevance to their roles. Topics may include data encryption, password management, and secure communication practices.

Customized Content: Tailor the workshop content to the specific needs and roles of your team members. A one-size-fits-all approach may not be as effective.

Practical Exercises: Incorporate practical exercises and demonstrations to help participants apply their knowledge in a controlled environment.

Security Awareness Campaigns

Launch security awareness campaigns that run throughout the year. These campaigns can include posters, email reminders, and short video clips highlighting the importance of cybersecurity.

Themes and Challenges: Keep the campaigns engaging by introducing themes and challenges that encourage participation. For example, a “Cybersecurity Quiz of the Month” can pique interest and test knowledge.

Feedback Mechanism: Create a feedback mechanism where team members can report suspicious activities or share cybersecurity-related concerns.


Gamify cybersecurity education by turning it into a fun and competitive experience. Create interactive games and challenges that encourage team members to learn and apply cybersecurity principles.

Leaderboards: Maintain leaderboards to showcase the top performers. This healthy competition can motivate employees to stay vigilant.

Rewards: Offer rewards or recognition for outstanding contributions to cybersecurity awareness and best practices.


Educating your company or team members about cybersecurity is a proactive measure that pays off in the long run. It equips your team with the knowledge and skills needed to protect sensitive data and maintain a secure work environment. Implementing strategies like webinars, phishing simulations, workshops, awareness campaigns, and gamification can create a robust cybersecurity culture within your organization. Remember that cybersecurity education is an ongoing process as threats continually evolve, so make it a priority to keep your team members well-informed and vigilant.

The post Educating Your Team About Cybersecurity: Effective Strategies for a Secure Work Environment appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
6 Creative Ways For Your Business to Get Organized

There’s a lot you probably already know about getting your business organized, like going paperless and using SKUs to organize products in a warehouse. These tried and true methods of getting and staying organized are effective, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other tips out there that will help take your business to new heights.

Here are six creative ways that will help your business get organized that you may not have considered before.

Cloud Tagging in Cloud Computing

Most businesses have transitioned to a cloud computing system, and for good reason. It enables you to efficiently backup data and recover quickly after a disaster. But, with so much data stored in the cloud, it’s easy for it to get disorganized.

Cloud tagging’s impact on streamlined resource usage includes the ability to more easily track down and identify exactly what you’re looking for. It also gives you the ability to identify underutilized and idle resources that otherwise would fall through the cracks. By using an effective tagging system, IT can resize, scale down, and terminate resources that are no longer needed, keeping your resources in the cloud uncluttered and orderly.

Create an Intuitive Data Storage System

Although you’re backing up and storing information in the cloud, chances are, you’re storing information other places too. Even if that other place is your computer’s desktop.

Keep all of that information organized with an intuitive data storage system. That includes planning out your folder hierarchy and your file naming conventions. When everything is consistent, you’ll be able to track down the file you’re looking for much faster. It helps others find your files faster too, should someone on your team need access to your files when you’re not in the office.

Use a Work Management Tool

A work management tool allows you to track and organize project-related tasks, which is important, but it gives you the opportunity to go even deeper into organizing the projects themselves, as well as the people who are working on those projects.

When you know who is on which team and which team is tackling which project with the click of a button, you can improve team performance and business results.

A few work management tools to choose from include: Asana Basecamp Trello Smartsheet Todoist Get a Label Maker

So much attention is put on digital organization in today’s technologically advanced world. There’s no denying the importance of organizing data and files, but your physical space still needs organizing too!

You probably already know that you should organize documents in the right files, organize items in drawers, and keep supplies in cabinets nice and tidy, but you can take things to the next level with a label maker.

You can label every drawer, cabinet, and shelf with what’s inside, which is extremely helpful if you share a physical space with coworkers. Everyone can find exactly what they need without having to ask anyone else. It also ensures everyone puts things away exactly where they belong so everything stays organized.

Get a Second Computer Screen

It’s easy to get away with using a single screen at your desk, but working with dual monitors comes with many benefits.

Working with two computer screens increases collaboration because you can communicate with your team on one monitor and reference the project you’re talking about on the other. You can compare data easily, it can increase your productivity, and it can keep you organized.

You’re able to open and display multiple folders at the same time, which makes it much easier for you to keep those folders organized. It also gives you more space to store important documents on your home screen so they can be accessed easily.

Hire a Virtual Assistant

There are many reasons to consider hiring a virtual assistant, but have you ever considered the fact that they can help keep you more organized?

A virtual assistant can schedule and confirm appointments, but they also keep those appointments organized in your calendar. They can organize your email so you can reply to the most urgent messages first, and they can even help you do light accounting work, like streamlining your bookkeeping process.

Getting organized can take a lot of time upfront, especially if you have been relying on subpar organization systems for years. But, once you have a place for everything and everything is in its place, you’ll notice that you and your team are much more efficient at work.

The post 6 Creative Ways For Your Business to Get Organized appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
Email Marketing Best Practices for B2B Lead Generation

How to Use Email Templates Effectively for Higher Conversion Rates?

Email has been around for 40 years and has one of the highest returns on investment among all digital marketing channels. Many marketers use it for B2C marketing, but did you know it is one of the most trusted sources of information for B2B decision-makers and buyers? Even being such a powerful tool, many markets struggle to use it for their B2B lead generation campaigns. In this article, we will break down some proven best practices for using email for this purpose.

Start By Building a Strong Email List

B2B lead generation is about reaching the right decision-makers at the right time with the right offer. It, therefore, follows that the first thing you need to do when setting up your campaign is collect emails from people who fit this criteria and add them to your email list.

One of the best ways of doing this is using a lead magnet. This is something valuable that someone wants in exchange for their email address. Some of the most potent lead magnets include eBooks, gated whitepapers and webinars. The key is providing value and showing why the lead magnet addresses an issue or solves a problem that your audience is dealing with.

By providing value and solving a problem, you create a positive first impression and establish a relationship that will hopefully lead to a closed deal.

Sort Your Data and Leverage Segmentation

Once you start collecting emails and other data about potential leads, you need to sort it to make it usable for your lead generation campaigns. Start by segmenting it based on factors like industry, company size, job titles, number of employees, and other relevant criteria. You can use tags to keep track of all your data and to see the people in each segment quickly.

Next, you need to create different messages for different segments. Naturally, every segment will respond to different messages depending on what you include in your emails. The right message to the right people also ensures high email open rates because no matter how good your data and messaging are, it will be worth little if no one reads your emails.

In some cases, doing all this might be too much work for you, especially if you are focused on other aspects of running and growing your business. In that situation, you can work with reputable B2B lead generation agencies to help you craft the best emails and ensure they are delivered to the right people.

Use Available Assets

Businesses and decision-makers receive hundreds if not thousands of emails every day with the same stuff: a sales message, an explanation of features and benefits and a call to action. Go beyond this by using the assets you have available to you.

For example, you can include one or several customer testimonials in your emails. These serve as excellent customer reviews and recommendations and can push the recipient towards reaching out.You can also include additional assets like white papers and eBooks they cannot find elsewhere to continue providing the value required for a positive relationship.

B2B lead generation requires careful planning because you want to nurture relationships with crucial decision-makers. It requires careful planning and strategy that ensures your business relationship does not fail before it starts. Email marketing is an excellent tool for this type of lead generation, but you need to follow best practices that have worked in the past and continue to work for other businesses.

The post Email Marketing Best Practices for B2B Lead Generation appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- TTE Expert
The Psychology of Consumer Behavior: Insights for Effective Marketing Campaigns

Psychology of Consumer Behavior

Consumers play an essential role in helping businesses achieve success. Without loyal customers, you wouldn’t make any money or be able to grow your business. As such, appealing to customers and providing the most satisfactory experience possible should be a brand’s top priority.

However, as the times change, so do consumer behaviors. Simple marketing tactics no longer work as the market is overcrowded and consumers have become much more discerning when choosing which brands to support. Thus, in order to continue appealing to today’s consumers, you must work harder to get inside the heads of your target customers.

In other words, brands and marketers need to start thinking more like psychologists or at least learn to see things through a psychological lens. Delving into the mindset of consumers can enable you to better understand consumer wants and needs, their buying behaviors, and what influences them to make a purchase — all information that is necessary to create more effective marketing campaigns.

In this article, we will take a deep dive into the minds of consumers and what makes them tick. We will also cover the important role that marketing plays in consumer behavior and offer tips on how to more effectively appeal to today’s customers.

The Psychology of Consumer Buying and Spending Habits

As brands have increasingly started to realize the importance of better understanding their customers, we are starting to see a crossover between marketing and psychology. Some marketing degree programs, for example, are starting to include aspects of psychology and some brands are even working with psychologists to better understand their target audience.

All of this is to say that understanding the psychology behind consumer behavior is critically important. If you want to continue to appeal to today’s consumers and stay ahead of the game, you must make an effort to know your audience better.

What is Consumer Behavior?

Consumer behavior is concerned with how and why people buy and use products and services. For psychologists or brands, it is about studying these behaviors to better understand what influences customers and how to appeal to them. It is essentially a psychological study of consumer wants and needs and how those wants and needs influence their purchase decisions.

From a needs standpoint, it’s pretty easy to understand why people buy things like food, medical care, or shelter. These are things that people require to live. They are basic necessities. But what about the purchase of things they don’t technically need, such as an HD television or a luxury wristwatch?

This is not to say that none of the products or services offered by brands today are a necessity. For example, while some might say that a mobile phone is not a necessity, others might disagree and feel that they do need a mobile phone. The question then becomes not if the consumer needs the phone, but what influences them to buy one specific phone over another? And again, this is a question that can be answered by studying consumer behavior.

What Affects Consumer Behavior?

Understanding what affects consumer purchase decisions is where things start to go much deeper into the psychology of consumer behavior. For impulse buyers, there might not be a whole lot that influences them. They might simply see something new and cool and feel that they have to have it.

However, for others, there can be a number of things that ultimately lead to them making a certain purchase, which can include:

Wanting to improve or display social status A response to an emotion, such as sadness or even boredom Gender stereotypes, such as a woman thinking she needs to buy makeup or a man thinking he needs to buy a rugged truck The surge of dopamine that creates pleasurable feelings Personality or personal interests Social media influences

People also make purchases based on philosophies and beliefs, such as a purchase influenced by someone’s religion or a person buying certain products to be more sustainable and eco-friendly. Consumers today are also heavily influenced by the idea of health and wellness, meaning they make a lot of purchases that they believe will help them look and feel better, such as skin care products or a yoga class membership.

As a whole, most factors that affect consumer behavior can be broken down into four categories:

Personal: economic circumstances, occupation, and purchasing power Psychological: beliefs and perception Cultural: class and subculture Social: status, roles, and family

Within these categories, things can get broken down even further, but these are the basics of what influences people to make certain purchases.

Understanding the Consumer Decision Process

When a person makes a purchase, there are multiple steps involved before they finally decide to buy something. There is also a post-purchase process that occurs, which can either lead to the person keeping the thing they bought, or returning it.

Problem recognition: This is when the consumer recognizes that they want or need something to solve a problem. Search: The next step is when the consumer starts searching for the thing they want, which might happen online, through social media, or by browsing in person at brick-and-mortar locations. Evaluation of options or alternatives: After seeing what’s out there, the consumer will then evaluate their options to determine which one is right for them or which one will best solve their problem. This is often where marketing plays an important role. Purchase decision: The consumer makes a decision and buys the product or service. Post-purchase evaluation: The consumer evaluates whether the purchase helped them achieve what they wanted to achieve. If the consumer is disappointed with the purchase, this is when they may decide to return it. How Consumer Behaviors Have Evolved

Just as the internet and access to information have evolved, so too has consumer behavior. Basically, because we have easier access to more information now, consumers are more empowered as they can now make more educated purchase decisions.

If you tell them your product is the best, they can do their own research to determine if this is true or not, and they may find that another brand’s product is actually better or is more appealing to them.

Consumers today are search-savvy. There is no fooling them because they can simply hop on the internet and gather their own data to make their own conclusions.

If you want to appeal to today’s consumers, you must understand their search behaviors, and even learn to search better yourself as a marketer. The internet has had the biggest influence on how consumer behaviors have changed, so to master marketing today, you must master the internet and use things like keyword research to your advantage.

The Role Marketing Plays in Consumer Behavior

Understanding consumer behavior is essential for marketers, and marketing itself can also influence consumer behavior. By learning more about customers today and how they think and act, you can learn to reinforce positive beliefs associated with what you are offering. Studying consumer behavior can also help you more effectively align your messaging to the consumer’s mindset, as well as help you analyze consumer behaviors and habits at a more granular level.

Just as the way consumers behave can influence your marketing strategies, your marketing can also influence consumer decision-making. It goes both ways, which is why digging into the psychology of consumer behavior is so important.

How to More Effectively Appeal to Consumers

In a market that is oversaturated, the key to appealing to customers today is creating more engaging personalized content. And to do this, of course, you need to research your target audience and learn what makes them tick and what would influence them to specifically buy the product or service you are offering. In some cases, this requires not only improving your marketing tactics, but also reevaluating the products or services you offer and how you can make them better.

Two of the best ways to learn more about your customers so you can create more engaging content are through customer testimonials and feedback and data analytics.

Customer feedback: Testimonials and feedback are a more direct way of learning more about your customers and what they want. So if you find yourself struggling to get inside the head of today’s consumers, simply ask them for their feedback. There is no better way to learn what customers love and what they hate than by asking them directly. Data analytics: If you want to go a more indirect route, data analytics is the answer. There are numerous data tools available today — such as Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, Amplitude, Salesforce, and Ahrefs — that enable brands and marketers to study and analyze consumer behavior. A data strategy is critical to creating effective marketing that appeals to consumers. If you want to create more powerful and compelling content, you need to adopt a data strategy that enables you to learn more about consumer behaviors. Wrapping Up

There is no way around it. If you want to stay relevant and continue attracting customers, you must start adopting a more psychological approach to your marketing. The information you can absorb by digging into consumer behaviors is vital to meeting customer expectations and retaining a loyal customer base. Generalized marketing will no longer cut it. You must be smart and clever, and tailor your marketing to your target audience’s wants and needs.

The post The Psychology of Consumer Behavior: Insights for Effective Marketing Campaigns appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Roberts & Obradovic Law Firm
Fiduciary Employees: Balancing Loyalty and Liability in the Workplace

The concept of fiduciary duty stands as a cornerstone of ethical and legal responsibility, commanding individuals and entities to uphold the highest standards of loyalty and care when entrusted with the well-being of others. While familiar roles like trustees, lawyers, and financial advisors often come to mind, a less explored realm exists within the workplace—the fiduciary employee.

In this article, we delve into the distinctive obligations carried by employees who are recognized as fiduciaries within their organizations. We explore the criteria that distinguish them from their non-fiduciary counterparts, the components of their fiduciary duty, and the legal precedents that shape their rights and responsibilities.

As we journey through the intricate landscape of fiduciary employees, we uncover the profound implications of their heightened loyalty to their employers and the potential ramifications when these duties are breached.

What is Fiduciary?

Before we talk about fiduciary, we need to define the meaning of fiduciary and fiduciary duty.

A fiduciary is an individual or entity that is legally and ethically obligated to act in the best interests of another party, often referred to as a beneficiary or client. This duty of loyalty and care represents one of the highest standards in the legal and financial fields. Fiduciaries are expected to prioritize the interests of their clients or beneficiaries over their own and must avoid any conflicts of interest that could compromise their ability to act impartially.

Some common examples of fiduciaries include roles that you may be familiar with, such as trustees, executors, financial advisors, lawyers, and guardians. However, a less commonly known category is the fiduciary employee, and this is the subject we will be discussing in this article.

Duty of Employee to an Organization

Every employee is inherently bound by a fundamental duty of good faith, loyalty, and fidelity to their employer, regardless of whether they hold fiduciary roles. However, it’s important to recognize that fiduciary employees bear an even greater burden of fidelity compared to their non-fiduciary counterparts, both in terms of their duties to the company and their legal requirements.

The Fiduciary Employee

The mere job title an individual holds does not by itself establish their fiduciary status. To qualify as a fiduciary employee, there must be clear evidence of the employee exercising substantial authority and control over their employer’s business operations. Fiduciary employees are typically found among high-ranking managers and directors within an organization. Consequently, they bear a fiduciary obligation to their employer that goes beyond the implied duty of fidelity expected from regular employees. At its core, a fiduciary duty is built upon principles of trust, loyalty, and confidence.

Courts consider several key factors to determine the existence of a fiduciary relationship, including:

Exercise of Discretion or Power: One pivotal factor is whether the individual in question has the opportunity to exercise a degree of discretion or power within their role. Impact on Beneficiary’s Interests: Equally important is whether this discretion or power can be unilaterally exercised in a manner that directly affects the legal or practical interests of the beneficiary, such as the employer or a client. Beneficiary’s Vulnerability: Another critical aspect is whether the beneficiary is in a position of particular vulnerability, essentially relying on the fiduciary who possesses this discretion or power.

In essence, the determination of a fiduciary relationship goes beyond titles and formal positions, focusing on the actual exercise of authority and its potential impact on those for whom fiduciary duties are owed. These principles serve as a foundation for upholding trust and accountability within professional and legal contexts.


Choosing Legal Representation for Your Business: 5 Things to Consider How to Value Your Employees and Handle Conflict at Workplace Components of Fiduciary Duty

A fiduciary duty is a set of ethical and legal obligations that encompasses three fundamental components:

Conflict of Interest Avoidance: The first and foremost aspect of a fiduciary duty is the unwavering commitment to avoiding any situation where personal interests could potentially clash with the interests of the party to whom the fiduciary duty is owed. This means that individuals bound by fiduciary duty must act with absolute transparency and take proactive steps to prevent any conflicts that might compromise their impartiality or objectivity in decision-making. Best Interests of the Employer: The core essence of fiduciary duty lies in an unyielding dedication to acting solely in the best interests of the entity or individual to whom the duty is owed. Whether it’s a company’s board of directors safeguarding shareholders’ interests or an employee handling financial matters on behalf of their employer, the fiduciary is entrusted with the responsibility to prioritize the welfare and prosperity of the beneficiary above all else. This entails making informed, rational decisions that maximize benefits and minimize risks for the party they serve. Prohibition of Personal Profiting: The third critical facet of fiduciary duty involves a stringent prohibition against deriving personal gain or advantage from one’s position or actions as a fiduciary. Fiduciaries are duty-bound to abstain from using their privileged position to accumulate personal wealth, acquire assets, or secure benefits that would not be attainable were it not for their fiduciary role. This ensures that the fiduciary’s actions are driven solely by the best interests of the beneficiary, without any hidden agendas or self-serving motives. Case Law on Fiduciary Employee

In the 2012 case of Veolia ES Industrial Services Inc v Brule et al., the Ontario Court of Appeal made the following observation: “Without disclosure and consent, a fiduciary cannot compete with his employer during the course of his employment. After his employment ends, the fiduciary employee generally cannot directly solicit the employer’s customers for a reasonable period of time…”

Being subject to a heightened level of loyalty implies increased responsibility for an employee recognized as a fiduciary to their employer. This heightened responsibility, in turn, exposes them to a greater risk of being dismissed with just cause when their wrongful actions come to light. Nevertheless, if the employer unjustly terminates the employment of a fiduciary employee, the employee’s fiduciary duties are extinguished and may lead to termination without cause case against the employee.

The post Fiduciary Employees: Balancing Loyalty and Liability in the Workplace appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
Recruiting the Right Talent to Develop a Software Application: The Essentials

In today’s digitally-driven world, a stellar software application can propel your business to unprecedented success. Yet, behind every great app lies a skilled and dedicated team. Recruiting the right talent is paramount, and knowing what to look for is half the battle. This blog delves into the essentials of hiring the perfect individual to bring your software vision to life.

1. Understand Your Project’s Needs

Before reaching out to potential hires, define the scope and requirements of your software application. Are you building a mobile app, a web platform, or perhaps software for internal use? The nature and complexity of your project will dictate the expertise you need.

2. Crafting the Ideal Application Developer’s Job Description

The key to attracting the right talent lies in a well-written job advert. Your application developer job description should detail the roles, responsibilities, and qualifications required. But beyond the technical, mention the soft skills you value – things like teamwork, problem-solving, or adaptability. By being clear about what you’re looking for, you stand a better chance of drawing in candidates who are a good fit.

3. Search in the Right Places

Traditional job boards might not always yield the specialised talent you need. Platforms like GitHubStack Overflow, or dedicated tech job sites can be goldmines for software developer talent. Attend local tech meetups or seminars; the perfect candidate might be in the room!

4. Skill Testing

While a CV offers insight into a candidate’s background, a practical test can demonstrate their current ability. Consider giving shortlisted candidates a coding challenge or a small project relevant to your software’s needs. Their approach, efficiency, and the quality of their work will speak volumes.

5. Prioritise Cultural Fit

Technical prowess is vital, but so is cultural fit. Your developer will be working closely with various teams, and it’s essential they mesh well with your company’s culture and values. Dive into their teamwork philosophy, communication style, and how they handle criticism or feedback.

6. Keep an Eye on the Portfolio

A developer’s portfolio showcases their past projects and provides a tangible insight into their skills, creativity, and expertise. It’s an invaluable tool when assessing potential hires. Look for diversity, complexity, and especially any projects that mirror your own in scope or industry.

7. Offer Competitive Compensation

The tech industry is competitive, and top talent often has their pick of positions. Ensure your compensation package is attractive, encompassing not just salary but benefits, flexible working conditions, and opportunities for professional growth.

8. Continuous Learning

The tech world evolves rapidly. Ensure that your chosen candidate has a hunger for knowledge and a penchant for continuous learning. Whether it’s mastering a new coding language or keeping abreast of the latest tech trends, this quality is a marker of a developer who’ll keep your software on the cutting edge.

9. Soft Skills Matter

While technical acumen is paramount, don’t overlook soft skills. Problem-solving abilities, a proactive attitude, communication skills, and adaptability are just as crucial for a software development role. These qualities ensure smoother teamwork, better adaptability to challenges, and an overall more harmonious work environment.


Recruiting the right talent for software development is both an art and a science. It requires a keen understanding of your project’s needs, a deep dive into a candidate’s technical and personal attributes, and the foresight to see how they’ll fit into your company’s bigger picture. By following the above guidelines, you’re well on your way to assembling a team that’ll turn your software vision into a successful reality.

The post Recruiting the Right Talent to Develop a Software Application: The Essentials appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
How Long Can An Employee Be Out On Workers Compensation In California?

Are you an employee in California who has suffered a work-related injury? If so, you may be wondering how long you can be out on workers’ compensation. It’s important to understand the laws and regulations surrounding workers’ compensation in California, as they can vary from state to state.

In this article, we will delve into the medical evaluation and treatment process, rehabilitation and return-to-work programs, temporary disability benefits and time limits, as well as the legal rights and protections available to injured workers.

We will also explore the responsibilities and accommodations that employers have to provide, the claims process, the importance of seeking legal advice, and how long you can be on workers’ comp in California. You can navigate your workers’ compensation claim with confidence and ensure that you receive the benefits and support you deserve. Let’s start!

Understanding Workers’ Compensation Laws in California

In California, workers’ compensation laws provide benefits for employees who have suffered work-related injuries or illnesses. The benefits include medical treatment, temporary disability benefits, and permanent disability benefits.

For a certain period of time, you can be out on workers’ compensation, allowing you to focus on your recovery without worrying about returning to work too soon. The duration of time you can be out on workers’ compensation depends on various factors, such as the severity of your injury and the treatment required.

Generally, temporary disability benefits can be received for up to 104 weeks within a five-year period. However, if your injury is severe and you are unable to return to work, you may be eligible for permanent disability benefits.

It’s important to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney to understand your rights and ensure you receive the benefits you deserve.

Determining the Duration of Absence for Work-Related Injuries

To accurately determine the duration of absence for a work-related injury, you’ll need to consider various factors such as the nature of the injury, the recovery process, and the medical advice provided. The length of time an employee can be out on workers’ compensation in California can vary depending on these factors.

The treating physician plays a crucial role in determining when an employee can safely return to work, based on their medical expertise. It’s important to follow the recommended treatment plan and attend all necessary medical appointments to facilitate a smooth recovery process.

Additionally, staying in communication with your employer and workers’ compensation insurance carrier can help ensure a smooth transition back to work when you’re ready.

Medical Evaluation and Treatment for Injured Employees

As an injured employee in California, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention after a work-related injury. This will not only help in accurately diagnosing your condition but also provide a clear understanding of the extent of your injuries. Getting a thorough medical evaluation and following your treating physician’s recommended treatment plan is crucial for injured employees.

The duration of your absence from work will depend on the severity of your injury and the treatment required.

It is of essence to communicate openly and honestly with your doctor, providing them with all the necessary information about your injury and symptoms. With your active participation in the treatment plan and following your doctor’s advice, you can optimize your chances of a timely recovery and return to work.

Rehabilitation and Return-to-Work Programs

Rehabilitation and return-to-work programs offer injured workers the opportunity to regain their physical abilities and reintegrate into the workforce more seamlessly. These programs focus on providing the necessary medical treatment, therapy, and support to aid in the employee’s recovery process.

Depending on the severity of the injury, the duration of rehabilitation can vary. The goal of these programs is to help employees return to their pre-injury level of functioning or to a level that allows them to perform suitable work. The programs may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, vocational training, and job placement assistance.

The length of time an employee participates in these programs will depend on their individual progress and the recommendations of their healthcare providers. Employers should work closely with injured employees to ensure they receive the appropriate support and resources for a successful return to work.

How To Recover Your Losses Due To Work-Related Accidents

Temporary Disability Benefits and Time Limits

As mentioned, you can receive temporary disability payments for up to 104 weeks within a five-year period from the date of your injury while you focus on your healing journey. However, there is a time limit for these benefits and this limit can be extended in certain cases, such as when there are severe injuries or a need for vocational rehabilitation.

It’s important to note that the amount of temporary disability benefits you receive is based on your pre-injury wages, with a maximum weekly amount set by the state.

By understanding the time limits and benefits available, you can better plan your recovery and visualize a future where you’re back in the workforce, contributing your skills and talents once again.

Related: How to Recover Your Losses Due to Work-Related Accidents

Permanent Disability and Long-Term Absence

Imagine a future where you’re able to fully embrace your healing journey and envision a life filled with possibilities, even in the face of permanent disability and an extended absence from work. In California, if you’ve suffered a permanent disability as a result of a work-related injury, you may be entitled to long-term benefits through workers’ compensation. These benefits can help you financially during your recovery and beyond.

While there’s no specific time limit for how long an employee can be out on workers’ compensation in California, it’s important to note that the goal of workers’ compensation is to help you regain your ability to work, either in your previous job or in a modified capacity.

Legal Rights and Protections for Injured Workers

Injured workers are entitled to certain rights and benefits under the workers’ compensation system in California. If you’ve been injured at work, it’s crucial to understand your legal rights and the protections available to ensure your well-being. Here are two examples of those legal rights:

The right to receive medical treatment for your work-related injury without having to pay for it out of your own pocket. The right to receive temporary disability benefits if you are unable to work while recovering from your injury. These benefits can provide you with a portion of your lost wages during this time.

Your rights to and protections as an injured worker are there to ensure you receive the necessary medical care and support during your recovery.

Remember to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney to ensure you understand and protect your rights throughout the process.

Employer Responsibilities and Accommodations

Now that you understand your legal rights and protections as an injured worker in California, let’s dive into the responsibilities and accommodations your employer must provide:

Your employer is obligated to report the incident to their workers’ compensation insurance carrier within a specific time frame when you’re injured on the job. Your employer must also provide you with the necessary claim forms and information to start the claims process. Your employer is required to offer reasonable accommodations to help facilitate your recovery and allow you to return to work when medically cleared. These accommodations may include modified duties, flexible schedules, or even physical modifications to the workplace. Your employer should work closely with you and your medical provider to ensure that your needs are met and that you can safely resume your job duties.

Remember, open communication is key during this process.

Most Common Hazards Lurking In Most Office Environments, Financial Impact of a Workplace Injury

Filing a Claim and the Claims Process

Let’s take a closer look at how you can file a claim and navigate through the claims process for your work-related injury. The process goes as follows:

Step 1: Report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. Provide all necessary details, including the date, time, and location of the incident. Step 2: Request, Complete and Submit the Claim Form. Your employer should then provide you with a workers’ compensation claim form, which you must complete and return to your employer within a specific timeframe. Step 3: Cooperation with Claims Process. Once your claim is submitted, the insurance company will review the information and may request additional documentation or medical evaluations. It’s important to cooperate and provide any requested information promptly. The claims process can take time, but you will be notified of any decisions made regarding your claim.

Keep copies of all documents related to your workers’ compensation claim for your records. Document retention is vital in ensuring transparency and can be useful if there are disputes or appeals in the future.

Related: How to Keep Your Workplace Safe From Hazards

Seeking Legal Advice for Workers’ Compensation Cases

Seeking legal advice for your workers’ compensation case can provide valuable guidance and support throughout the claims process. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you understand your rights and navigate the complex legal system. They can assess the strength of your case, gather evidence, and ensure that all necessary paperwork is properly filed.

You can also seek legal consultation if your benefit period is about to expire and you believe you need to continue receiving benefits.

Additionally, a lawyer can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries and related expenses. They can also represent you at hearings or in court if necessary.

Having a knowledgeable advocate by your side can significantly increase your chances of a successful outcome and ensure that you receive the maximum benefits you are entitled to under California law.


To sum it up, if you have experienced a work-related injury,  it’s important to be aware of your rights and how long you can be on workers’ comp in California. Keep in mind that seeking medical evaluation and treatment is crucial for your recovery.

Rehabilitation and return-to-work programs can also help you get back on your feet sooner. While temporary disability benefits are available, there are time limits to consider. Don’t forget to initiate in filing a claim and seek legal advice if needed.

Stay well-informed and protected as you navigate the workers’ compensation process.

The post How Long Can An Employee Be Out On Workers Compensation In California? appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
What Does a Computer Science Teacher Do and How Do You Become One?

How to Become a Computer Science Teacher

Are you interested in pursuing a career as a computer science teacher?

In a world that is becoming more and more reliant on technology, a career in computer science offers long-term security in the job market. Combine that with the fulfillment that comes from teaching future generations of students and you have an incredibly rewarding career opportunity!

So, what is the job description of a computer science teacher? Keep reading to learn everything you might need to know to get your career off the ground—from formal education requirements and how to improve your computer science teacher resume to landing the right job and more!

What Does a Computer Science Teacher Do?

A computer science teacher is an instructor who is responsible for equipping students with the knowledge and skills needed for successful computer science careers.

At the most foundational level, the educator must teach students the anatomy of the computer—including all of its hardware and software, and how these components work in tandem. They must also teach students core mathematical concepts and help them develop their programming skills.

Of course, as an educator, the computer science teacher must also be able to create a classroom environment that promotes learning. From developing curriculum and preparing lectures to grading exams and communicating with parents, a computer science teacher must possess the skills and abilities to juggle all types of daily responsibilities!

How to Become a Computer Science Teacher

To enjoy a long and fruitful career as a computer science teacher, follow these six simple steps:

Attend a Four-Year College or University

The first step to becoming a computer science teacher is to enroll in a four-year college or university and earn your degree. In the United States, a bachelor’s degree is required to earn a teaching license.

Many aspiring teachers major in computer science while minoring in education, which can make it easier to obtain a teaching license down the road. However, if you plan to teach computer science at a university, you will likely need to earn a master’s or doctorate degree in addition to your four-year degree.

Seek Hands-On Work Experience

One of the best ways to fast-track your journey to becoming a computer science teacher is to gain work experience while you are still completing your collegiate studies.

Whether it’s further honing your skills as a computer programmer or serving as a teacher’s assistant, there are all types of internship opportunities that can help prepare you for the workforce. While some students can manage an internship during the school semester, depending on your course load, you may opt to wait until the summer!

Get Your Teaching License

After earning your degree and gaining some hands-on work experience, you will need to obtain a teaching license—a requirement to teach in public schools in most states.

Before applying, be sure to research the requirements for your state. Many state Department of Education websites will provide a list of approved educator preparation programs, as well as alternative certification programs for those who are taking an unconventional path to teaching. Depending on the state, you may even be able to get a teaching license that has a computer science focus.

In any case, keep in mind that most teaching certification programs take one to two years. Fortunately, you can often complete them online, at your convenience, and while you are already working.

Related: How to Make Money as a Teacher

Create or Update Your Resume

With your college degree, internship, and teaching license, you have all of the main building blocks for an attractive resume!

With one eye on potential employment opportunities, carefully craft your resume to include any education, work, or extracurricular experience and skills that might give you an advantage over other job applicants. Double-check for spelling errors, inconsistencies, and any mistakes that might make you appear unprofessional to an employer.

Develop Your Professional Network

It’s true that building your network plays a crucial role in your personal development and career trajectory. Create a LinkedIn profile, participate in online forums, and attend local meetups and functions when possible.

In addition to forming relationships within the computer science community, be sure to also connect with educators and administrators in your area.

Apply for a Teaching Position

Leveraging your professional network, identify some of the best institutions in your area that are offering computer science teaching opportunities.

Whenever you submit an application and present your resume, be sure to follow up. If you are invited to sit for an interview, be sure to study potential interview questions, dress professionally, and get plenty of rest before the big day!

The post What Does a Computer Science Teacher Do and How Do You Become One? appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
Using Clothing And Apparel For Branding Visibility: An Essential Guide

Clothing Branding Visibility

As industries become saturated, entrepreneurs like yourself seek innovative avenues to propel your brand forward. One such strategy that has proven time and again to be effective is the use of clothing and apparel for branding visibility. When executed correctly, this approach not only amplifies your brand’s presence but also promotes customer loyalty. Dive into this guide to harness the power of apparel for your branding.

Craft A Strong Logo And Design

Every brand starts with a recognizable logo. As an entrepreneur, your emblem should leave an indelible mark in the viewer’s mind. The importance of color selection cannot be stressed enough. It’s not merely about aesthetic appeal—colors evoke emotions and establish brand associations. A well-designed, memorable logo can make your brand stand out, especially when placed on apparel.

Furthermore, if there’s a slogan or catchphrase linked to your brand, integrating it into the design can create a more profound brand recall. However, make sure the design doesn’t become cluttered. The key is achieving a balance where the logo and any additional elements coexist harmoniously.

Select The Right Apparel Items

Though T-shirts might be the first thought that comes to mind, the world of apparel offers much more. Depending on your target audience, items like hats, jackets, tote bags, and even scarves can be utilized.

Hoodies, in particular, offer a vast canvas for branding, and opting for customised hoodie printing can make each piece unique, resonating deeply with your audience. The apparel’s quality should mirror your brand’s ethos. If you project an image of luxury, then it’s imperative that the materials and craftsmanship of the items reflect the same.

Conversely, if you’re aiming for eco-friendly branding, sourcing sustainable materials can be a game-changer.

Master Logo And Message Placement

Positioning your brand’s logo or message on an apparel item is an art. The most common placements, like the chest area or the back of shirts, ensure maximum visibility. However, strategic placements like the sleeve or the side of a cap can also be effective, especially if they’re in sync with the overall design.

It’s crucial to maintain a balance between visibility and aesthetics. The branding shouldn’t feel forced but rather should meld seamlessly with the apparel’s design.

Collaborate And Launch Limited Editions

In the world of branding, collaborations can be gold. This could involve joining forces with influencers or celebrities whose values align with yours. Such partnerships don’t just increase your brand’s visibility; they infuse it with a fresh perspective and attract a wider audience. Meanwhile, limited edition lines can generate a buzz. They create a sense of exclusivity and urgency, encouraging consumers to engage promptly.

Distribute Strategically

Visibility is achieved not just by creating apparel but by ensuring it reaches the right people. Hosting events or attending trade shows and offering branded apparel as giveaways can magnify brand engagement.

On the other hand, incorporating these items into your sales lineup can also be beneficial. And if appropriate for your business model, turning these apparel pieces into uniforms can transform employees into brand ambassadors.

Promote Digitally With Precision

Your digital presence is paramount. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or TikTok provide a perfect stage for showcasing branded apparel. Encourage customers to share their pictures donning your brand. Creating a unique hashtag can not only organize these images but also create a community around your brand. Targeted social media advertising centered around your apparel can also usher in a wider demographic.

Engage With Pop-Up Stores

Pop-up stores are ephemeral retail spaces, but their impact can be long-lasting. These transient setups allow you to test new markets, gather direct feedback, and create a buzz in various localities. But it’s not just about sales. Design your pop-up stores to be an immersive experience that embodies your brand.

Think of the ambiance, the decor, and even the music. Every element should resonate with your brand’s identity. Plus, hosting workshops or events within these spaces can draw increased footfall and generate authentic conversations around your brand and its apparel offerings.

Capitalize On Special Events Or Days

Every calendar year is dotted with events that garner global attention. From significant holidays to awareness months, these occasions present a unique opportunity. Tailoring your apparel to align with such events shows your brand’s responsiveness and relevance.

For instance, a limited-edition line launched for Earth Day can highlight your brand’s commitment to sustainability. The key here is authenticity. Ensure that your brand genuinely resonates with the event’s ethos to avoid appearing opportunistic.

Apparel Branding Visibility

Explore Sponsorships And Partnerships

While direct advertising has its merits, indirect brand promotion through sponsorships and partnerships can yield substantial dividends. Sponsoring local events, community programs, or even individuals grant your brand a unique platform. When these entities wear or showcase your branded apparel, it subtly amplifies your brand’s presence.

Partnerships with complementary businesses can open up new avenues. Co-branded apparel can draw from the strengths of both brands, offering a fresh perspective and reaching wider audiences.

Stay Updated With Trends

The fashion and branding world is in perpetual flux. What’s trending today might become obsolete tomorrow. For your branded apparel to maintain its appeal, it’s vital to stay updated with global design and fashion shifts. This doesn’t always necessitate a complete design overhaul. Subtle updates—like tweaking the color palette or incorporating contemporary design elements—can keep your apparel fresh and in vogue. Regular market research and an understanding of emerging fashion trends will ensure your brand remains at the forefront.

Gather And Act On Feedback

Brands thrive on feedback. It’s the compass that guides future strategies. Encourage your customers to share their experiences and thoughts about your branded apparel. Whether it’s through online reviews, feedback forms, or direct conversations, this information is gold.

Analyzing feedback can provide insights into potential areas of improvement, whether in design, material, or marketing strategy. Valuing and acting upon customer opinions fosters trust and shows that your brand prioritizes customer satisfaction above all.

Be Consistent With Your Branding

Branding is a complex puzzle, with each piece contributing to the bigger picture. While innovation is essential, maintaining a consistent brand image across all platforms and products is crucial. This consistency solidifies brand recall. Even when introducing new elements or updates to your apparel, they should seamlessly integrate with the established brand image. Consistency assures customers of your brand’s reliability and trustworthiness.

The Takeaway

With a deeper understanding of these strategies, you’re better equipped to harness the potential of apparel in enhancing your brand’s visibility. The journey of branding is intricate, but with careful planning and execution, the rewards are profound. Your apparel becomes more than just clothing; it transforms into a canvas that narrates your brand’s story.

The post Using Clothing And Apparel For Branding Visibility: An Essential Guide appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- TTE Expert
Crafting Your Brand Identity: A Guide to Online Logo Design

Online Logo Design

In today’s digital age, establishing a strong online presence is vital for businesses of all sizes. One of the key elements in creating a memorable and recognizable brand identity is designing a captivating logo. Your logo is a visual representation of your brand, and it plays a crucial role in conveying your message to your target audience. With the proliferation of online tools and resources, designing a logo has become more accessible than ever before. In this guide, we will explore the process of crafting your brand identity through online logo design. Using a user-friendly interface, the logo maker allows you to effortlessly create stunning and unique logos for your brand

Why is Your Logo Important?

Before diving into the world of online logo design, it’s essential to understand the significance of your logo in your brand identity. Your logo serves several critical functions:

Brand Recognition: A well-designed logo is instantly recognizable and can help your audience remember your brand. It’s often the first thing people associate with your business. Establishing Trust: A professional-looking logo can instill trust and credibility in your brand. It conveys that you take your business seriously. Differentiation: Your logo sets you apart from your competitors. It’s a visual representation of what makes your brand unique. Consistency: Your logo appears across various platforms and marketing materials, ensuring consistency in your brand’s messaging and appearance. Online Logo Design Tools and Resources

Now that you understand the importance of a logo, it’s time to start crafting your own. Online logo design offers a plethora of tools and resources to help you create a stunning logo:

Logo Design Software:

Several online platforms offer user-friendly logo design software. Some popular options include Turbologo, Adobe Spark, and Looka (formerly Logojoy). These platforms provide templates, graphics, and editing tools to simplify the design process.

Freelance Designers:

If you prefer a professional touch, consider hiring a freelance graphic designer. Websites like Fiverr and Upwork connect you with talented designers who can bring your vision to life. This option allows for a more personalized and unique logo.

Online Logo Makers:

Online logo makers offer customizable templates and design elements. They are user-friendly and allow you to create a logo quickly, even if you have no prior design experience.

Steps to Craft Your Logo Online

Follow these steps to craft your brand identity through online logo design:

Define Your Brand:

Before you start designing, clarify your brand’s values, mission, and target audience. Your logo should reflect these aspects to resonate with your ideal customers.

Research Your Competition:

Analyze your competitors’ logos to identify trends and find a unique angle for your design. Aim to stand out while staying relevant in your industry.

Choose Your Design Elements:

Select design elements that align with your brand’s personality. Consider colors, fonts, and imagery that convey the right message. Simplicity often works best in logo design.

Experiment and Iterate:

Start with rough sketches or use online tools to create initial designs. Don’t be afraid to experiment and iterate. Seek feedback from colleagues, friends, or even your target audience to refine your logo.

Test Across Platforms:

Ensure your logo looks great across various platforms, from websites and social media profiles to business cards and merchandise.

Legal Considerations:

Check for trademark conflicts to avoid legal issues down the road. It’s essential to have a logo that is uniquely yours.


Designing a compelling logo is a fundamental step in crafting your brand identity. With the abundance of online logo design tools and resources available today, anyone can create a professional and impactful logo. By following the steps outlined in this guide and investing time and effort into the process, you can establish a strong online presence and leave a lasting impression on your audience. Remember, your logo is more than just an image; it’s the face of your brand.

The post Crafting Your Brand Identity: A Guide to Online Logo Design appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Azja Stanton
11 Cash Flow Strategies For Small Business Owners

Cash flow strategies

82% of small businesses fail because of cash flow problems. Sounds like a terrifying statistic? Well, it’s true! Cash flow management is perhaps the biggest challenge that small business owners face. When you’re spearheading sales, marketing, and communications, it’s easy to overlook an underlying cash flow problem in your business.

But did you know that a proper cash flow strategy can:

Prevent you from declaring insolvency, Stabilize your working finances, Combat any external threats, and Improve your financial well-being?

If you’re ready to walk the golden route to long-term financial success, you’re in the right place.

In this article, you’ll learn about 11 cash flow strategies for small business owners. These proven strategies come straight from a CFO who helps small businesses and content creators make smart financial decisions to meet their financial goals!

But before we jump into the strategies, let’s answer this…

Why is cash flow important to a small business?

Cash flow is the lifeblood of every business, showing you where and how much money is moving throughout your company. From the second you make that money to the moment it leaves your company, cash flow reveals your business’s financial health and sustainability.

A positive cash flow means you’re earning more than you spend, and you have extra cash on hand to cover daily expenses, invest for growth, and manage any unforeseen business expenses.

On the other hand, a negative cash flow refers to a situation where you’re spending more than you can earn, which leaves you unable to pay your employees, restock inventory, and cover monthly expenses to keep your business running!

Cash flow management is crucial to small business owners because it helps them create budgets and make informed decisions by mitigating any financial risks. It’s also an excellent starting point to recognize your business’s ability to meet financial obligations, and operational costs, as well as build a positive credit score for any future lenders and investors.

Related post: The Need for Cashflow Forecasting in Business

11 Small Business Cash Flow Strategies

Not sure how to get started with your cash flow strategy? Here are 11 proven cash flow strategies to improve your cash flow management starting today!

Build an emergency cash reserve

Every person and business will go through leaner times and harsh weather. But those who come out of it looking unscathed do one thing differently.

They build an emergency cash reserve, also known as emergency funds.

Emergency funds are a source of cash to use in emergencies and crises. They can help alleviate financial stress when things go wrong. Consider this: You face a setback of $500 in your business because of spoiled inventory. With an emergency fund, you don’t have to cancel out on orders or sell equipment to order replacements, and can just take the cash from those funds!

Automate payments and invoices

Small business owners often find themselves struggling for time or forgetting important things on their to-do lists. You can tackle both those problems by automating payments and invoices.

Automating these processes saves manpower and time while ensuring nothing gets missed. When you don’t wait to send invoices, you improve your accounts receivable turnover as well. Furthermore, automated invoicing and payment procedures are great business assets that attract investors who are seeking professionally put-together businesses!

Some of the best software that can help you with automation are:

Wave PayPal Zoho Invoice Square Invoice Home Paymo

Offer discounts for early payments

Earlier, I mentioned the term “accounts receivable turnover.” This is another great way to improve that ratio! Offering discounts for early payments from customers means you can inject cash quickly into your business, thus improving your cash flow. This is revealed in numerous important KPIs for small businesses!

But offering discounts also has other benefits. It attracts customers and makes your service or product seem more cost-effective. This can lead to a domino effect as your customer base grows because you incentivize their buying process and make it a pleasant experience.

Strategically forecast cash flow

Most businesses are not evergreen and have fluctuating revenues and expenses throughout the year. Some of us might face a gigantic cash inflow during the holiday season as more customers buy gifts while others see a boost in certain items on the menu during different times of the year.

Creating a strategic cash flow forecast empowers businesses to allocate resources efficiently, secure financing when needed, and navigate unexpected financial challenges. Furthermore, it can help you set realistic expectations and provide more context to financial KPIs to show a true image of your business’s performance.

Work with a Chief Financial Officer

Cash flow problems might bump into you like a sudden and sour surprise. But they are rarely that.

Cash flow problems accumulate over time and get overlooked when you’re bogged down with day-to-day business activities. And that’s when it’s time to hire a Chief Financial Officer!

CFOs bring expertise in financial management, offering insights on optimizing cash flow, expense control, and revenue generation. They develop comprehensive financial strategies tailored to the business, enabling better cash flow planning, risk mitigation, and growth opportunities.

These experts also establish financial metrics and reporting systems for your business, helping you make informed decision-making. Their experience in securing financing, managing investments, and navigating regulatory compliance ensures financial stability and long-term success!

Reduce your costs

Technically speaking, there are only two ways to improve your cash flow:

Increase your profit margin or assets – namely the cash inflow, or Decrease your costs and liabilities – namely the cash outflow.

Cutting down on your costs immediately increases your cash flow. Reducing costs like overheads, materials, or labor can help you retain more cash in hand. Furthermore, it also improves your profit margins and enhances your operational efficiency by reducing wasted resources!

When you save more pennies on the dollar as profit, you can invest back in the business for growth, allowing you to reach your business goals faster. Cost-cutting measures also create a financial cushion that can help you weather financial storms, ensuring that your business can consistently operate and meet financial obligations even when revenues decline.

In other words, it’s a win-win!

Streamline inventory management

This strategy is a proactive approach to cash flow management that optimizes the balance between customer demands and inventory levels, resulting in lowered holding costs.

Streamlining your inventory management can be done by creating an inventory dashboard, automating orders to vendors when inventory levels are low, and stocking up before predicted sales peaks. This way you save costs efficiently, reduce cash outflows, and keep your operations smoother!

Diversify ways customers pay you

Diversifying the methods customers can pay you is a smart and underrated strategy to boost your cash flow. In doing so, you smoothen the process on their end as well as ensure you don’t have a long payment lag (cash inflow).

Small businesses that have an automated credit card acceptance strategy often find themselves receiving funds quicker, preventing any financial hiccups later!

For instance, you can diversify your payment methods by offering a combination of:

Paypal, Payoneer, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Mobile wallets, Debit and credit cards, Bank transfers, and Cash

Understand when you break even

There’s a fine line between profit and loss. And it’s called breakeven!

Breakeven occurs when your total expenses are equal to your total income, which means you’re neither making nor losing any money. This is an ideal situation for businesses in the beginning because it means your business can continue to operate and that there is room for improvement and profits.

So, understanding when your cash outflow equals your cash inflow is a cash flow strategy that can change the way you operate and succeed in your business!

Set favorable payment terms with vendors

The other half of the cash flow management depends on the cash outflow or the money that goes out of your business. And for most small businesses, the first thing that pops up as a cash outflow is payments to vendors.

If you have a good working relationship with your vendors, don’t be afraid to ask for a larger window to pay your dues. This can be 60 days and up to 90 days in some cases!

So instead of cashing out your inflow, you can invest back in the business and grow yourself without failing to pay your dues in short times. In case you are ever hit by a financial setback, favorable payment terms can aid you and alleviate some of that stress, so you don’t have 10 streams of outflow and no way to repair damages.

Prune underperforming assets

Assets can easily become liabilities if they’re not performing as efficiently as they should. Extra and unutilized assets will tie up valuable resources including money, space, and attention while increasing avoidable costs such as maintenance, overhead, and operating costs.

By shedding these assets and selling them, you inject cash into your business and improve liquidity. However, you also reduce your cost structure and improve profitability, which shows a positive impact on metrics like return on assets (ROA) and return on investment (ROI), attracting investors and lenders!

Final Thoughts

Cash flow problems, taxes, and death have one thing in common: you can never escape them! But with a proper cash flow strategy in motion, you can take care of at least two of them.

Since cash flow represents how well your business does financially, a strategy not only weans off potential threats to your business but also ensures that you can grow healthily.

In this article, I dived into 11 proven cash flow strategies to take in stride if you want your small business to sustain itself against future curveballs. From working with a CFO to cutting down on costs, implement a combination of these strategies and take charge of your financial success today!

The post 11 Cash Flow Strategies For Small Business Owners appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
The Impact of the Business Sector on Stock Markets

Stock market explanation

Imagine the stock market as a vast, buzzing ecosystem where various elements interact, and patterns emerge. Central to this ecosystem are the business sectors, the power players that have a lasting influence on market dynamics. Let’s embark on a journey to explore how these sectors impact stock market trends and what this means for investors.

Business Sectors Explained

First, it’s essential to understand what is meant by ‘business sectors’. They refer to segments of the economy made up of companies related by primary business activities. For instance, the technology sector encompasses firms specializing in software, hardware, and other digital services. Similarly, the energy sector covers oil, gas, and renewable energy companies.

The Ripples of Influence

Companies release quarterly financial statements. When many businesses within a sector report a positive result, it often correlates with a bullish trend in the stock market. On the other hand, if most companies within a sector face a downturn, the stocks associated with that sector can also see a decline. This is often clear when using apps like easyMarkets for online trading and investing.

Plus, when a sector introduces innovations – such as the tech sector with ground-breaking software or the automotive sector with electric vehicles – the anticipation and eventual rollout can stimulate stock market activities. Investors, seeing the potential for growth, may decide to inject more capital into these sectors.

Global events can also influence the stock market. For example, during a geopolitical crisis, energy stocks might experience volatility due to potential disruption in oil supplies. Similarly, a global health crisis might spur growth in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.

How Sectors Have Shaped the Market in the Past

Looking back, it’s clear to see some instances of sector influence. For example, the dot-com bubble in the late 1990s to early 2000s showcased the impact of the tech sector. A surge of investments in internet-based companies led to rapid market growth, followed by a significant crash.

Then there’s the 2008 financial crisis, where the real estate and banking sectors had profound effects on the global stock markets. These events highlight the weight of business sectors in stock market trajectories.

Key Metrics to Monitor

Beyond the broader events and shifts, there are subtle indicators within sectors that can signal stock market changes:

1. Consumer Behavior Patterns

Consumer behavior, especially in sectors like retail and e-commerce, can be a predictor of stock trends. If consumers are gravitating towards a product or service, stocks in that domain might see a boost.

2. Regulatory Changes

Sectors like finance, pharmaceuticals, and energy are often subject to governmental regulations. Changes in these can significantly influence stock market trends for companies within those sectors.

3. Competitive Landscape

Mergers, acquisitions, or new market entrants can reshape the balance within a business sector, leading to shifts in the stock market as well.

Technology’s Growing Footprint

The technology sector’s influence on stock market trends is undeniable, with rapid digital transformation, technological advancements, and an increasing reliance on digital tools. Here are some examples:

Tech giants’ market cap: The valuation of tech behemoths like Apple, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft plays a pivotal role in shaping market sentiments and index movements. Emerging tech trends: Areas like artificial intelligence, 5G, and blockchain offer promising growth opportunities, influencing investor decisions and stock market trajectories. Cybersecurity concerns: With increasing digital interactions, the importance of cybersecurity grows. Stock movements in this sub-sector can signal broader market trends, given the critical nature of digital security in today’s interconnected world.

Related post: 7 Amazing Tips That Will Help You Pick The Right Stocks

The Impact of Sustainability

With growing global awareness about climate change and environmental issues, the push towards sustainable and green practices has been monumental. This transition has not only affected consumer behavior but also brought about significant shifts in the stock market.

ESG investing rises: Environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing has gained considerable traction. Companies with strong ESG practices and metrics often attract a broader base of investors, leading to potentially better stock performance. The surge of renewable energy: The emphasis on renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydroelectric power has seen companies in this sector experience stock market gains, especially with policy support from governments worldwide. Sustainable consumer brands: Brands that emphasize sustainable products, ethical sourcing, and eco-friendly practices are gaining market favorability. Investors often see these brands are more future proof, leading to positive stock market trends. Navigating as an Investor

As an investor, staying abreast of the influence of business sectors on the stock market is crucial.

Stay up to date: To navigate the interplay between business sectors and stock market trends, staying informed is key. Regularly track key performance indicators, news, and events related to sectors you’re invested in. Diversify: Diversification remains a golden rule in investing. By spreading your investments across various sectors, you can buffer your portfolio against significant downturns in any single sector. Analyze the past and anticipate the future: While historical trends provide a lens to understand sectoral impacts, stock markets are forward-thinking. Investors should not only study the past but also anticipate future sectoral shifts and opportunities.

Related post: Best Stock Market Strategy for Beginners

As an investor, recognizing and navigating the interplay between business sectors and the stock market will help you pave the way for informed decisions.

The post The Impact of the Business Sector on Stock Markets appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Francis Nwokike
Unraveling Insurance: Navigating the Claims Process  

insurance documents

Anytime you are in a car accident, you will likely have to deal with the insurance company to file a claim. As if the accident was not traumatic and upsetting enough, you now find that you need to deal with unending phone calls and paperwork that never seems to end. Make your life easier by understanding how to navigate through the insurance claims process to get the compensation you need to cover your injuries and losses. Let’s see what this entails.

Know How to Act After an Accident

Although your first instinct may be to get away from the accident scene as soon as possible, that is the opposite of what you should do. Regardless of the size of the accident, everyone involved needs to remain at the scene until the police arrive and prepare a report.

While you are still at the scene, take out your phone and take a picture of all the injuries and losses and of anything you consider important to support your claim. Write down anything that got broken or damaged and make note of the date, time, and location of the accident. Exchange information with the other driver and gather testimonies from witnesses.

Never rush to repair your vehicle until you have instructions from the insurance company as to how to proceed. Keep a file of your medical treatment and all expenses as well.

Related post: How Insurance Agents Can Use Social Media To Get More Clients

Start Your Claim

Insurance companies expect to be informed of any incidents as soon as they happen so call them immediately. They may send a team to the scene of the accident to evaluate it and determine what will be covered and help you start your claim. In general, a car insurance policy will cover the loss of your vehicle, even when the accident occurs in your own driveway. If you have more than one insurance policy, you will have to communicate with all of them at this time.

The Claims Process

Once the insurance company is informed about the incident, they will send an adjuster to the scene to evaluate the damage and document any losses in order to determine the value of your claim.

Related Post: 15 Life Insurance Benefits Everyone Should Know

Talk to an Accident Attorney

Just like the insurance company has an adjuster to help them build their case, you should have someone by your side who will help you build yours. Remember that the insurance company will likely not have your best interests at heart but their own and they may offer you a low amount to cover the result of the accident.

If this is your first time filing a claim, you may be unsure as to what to do and may fall for the pressure of accepting this insufficient amount. They may also want you to sign a document stating that you are satisfied with the payout you received and will not go after them for anything further related to this incident. Do not fall for these pressure tactics and let your accident attorney do the negotiating for you.

The post Unraveling Insurance: Navigating the Claims Process   appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Nathan Smith
7 Use Cases of AI in Programming and Development (& 4 Where AI Fails)

Use Cases of AI in Programming and Development

Four researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory published a paper half a decade ago pondering whether humans will still be writing code in 2040. This question now finds a home in the heads of most ordinary programmers. There are apprehensions and expectations about what the answer to the question entails.

The researchers answered the questions in the negative: machines will generate most of the code while humans, if they do get involved, will be confined mostly to refining machine-generated codes.

The rapid progress made in the field of AI has brought the prediction to realization much sooner. Various AI systems now exist that can generate functional codes from mere descriptions and even sketches. This brings with it promises as well as pitfalls. AI can increase productivity, unleash human potential and creativity by taking over menial and tedious tasks, and thus open up new opportunities. However, it can also perpetuate bias, reduce accountability, and increase the risk of catastrophic errors by removing human oversight.

So, here, we consider seven use cases of AI in programming and software development and also evaluate cases where it falters.

Common use cases of AI in programming

AI has impacted every aspect of work, including—in fact, especially—programming and software development. According to one survey, 31% of organizations use AI for writing code. The question that is now asked is not whether AI will impact software development but how and to what degree.

Programming is one of the areas where AI has contributed greatly to an increase in productivity and efficiency. A report by LinkedIn on the future of work predicts that 96% of software development tasks can be augmented by AI. AI-powered tools have been used across a spectrum of tasks, from the basic to moderately complex.

Generate code snippets

AI tools, trained with millions of lines of code from publicly available repositories such as GitHub and StackOverflow, can generate snippets of code in a fraction of the time it takes a human to write the same. They are proficient in multiple languages and can produce code from natural language.

This is helpful not just for beginners but for skilled programmers, who could let AI write the simple code they need. They can then tweak or refine it, and implement it in their program.

AI can be particularly good at generating code templates. You can provide the AI tools, such as GitHub Copilot, with a set of parameters and the AI will generate a code template. This can be useful for creating boilerplate or repetitive lines of code. AI can also help with code completions by suggesting what’s most likely to follow, not unlike text autocomplete. You can also paste your incomplete code into an AI coding assistant and let it complete the code.

AI generated codes

Debug code

Bugs are a bane of every programmer. They can be a time sink (for example, spending hours figuring out why a code would not run only to realize it’s because of a missing semicolon), but they also pose critical security risks and compromise user experience. AI can mitigate some of these. And not just that: AI can identify bugs more accurately and quickly.

AI can analyze code to detect bugs by identifying inconsistencies and patterns that commonly lead to errors. It can recognize code structures that often result in bugs and alert developers to potential issues. AI can also help with regression testing and ensure that new changes don’t introduce bugs in the codebase.

This does not, however, mean that debugging can be entirely entrusted to AI. What it means is that humans can delegate some of the menial and tedious tasks of debugging to AI, which will allow them to save plenty of time on avoidable work and dedicate more time to tasks that are more productive.

Translate code

Say you want to migrate from one platform or environment to another or reuse existing logic and functionality of a code in a new context. In both of these instances, you can use AI to help you translate the code without needing to rewrite the code from scratch.

However, AI tools for translating code are not entirely reliable. They may fail to notice the nuances of a language or be unable to grasp the logic of a code; but so do humans. Even if the translations are not perfectly accurate, it’ll make the task much easier than manually translating the source code from scratch. It is also like working with human translators; the translated code is reviewed and corrected, if there are errors.

Explain code in natural language

AI can explain code in plain English (or in any language for that matter). This can be helpful if you are learning a new language or if you encounter random lines of code that you have no idea what it does.

Similarly, AI can decode regular expressions and explain in natural language what they do.

It can not only explain obscure lines of code but can help explain them, too. AI can create comprehensive code documentation that accurately describes the purpose, functionality, and usage of code. AI can also help with reviewing and documenting code submissions and generate explanations of changes made in pull requests or commits.

Test case generation

Thorough testing of code is critical to ensure that the program works as intended. But writing test cases and testing the code is a tedious and time-consuming process—and therefore often overlooked. Thankfully, AI can help with this task.

AI can be used to write test cases by analyzing the codebase and identifying potential scenarios for testing. It can identify different paths, branches, and conditions within the code and create test cases to cover those scenarios.

AI assistants such as Tabnine can automatically generate unit tests and execute the tests themselves with minimal human intervention. They then flag and report any failed test cases and provide a summary of the tests. This can help improve testing efficiency and reduce the burden on humans.


Code refactoring

Refactoring code is another time-consuming and humdrum task that AI can help with. AI can help reduce the time spent debugging and refactoring by about half.

AI can automate refactoring tasks such as renaming variables or methods, extracting code into functions, reorganizing code structure, or reducing complexity and enhancing the extensibility of code.

Using AI for code refactoring not only reduces time and effort but also helps identify code smells and helps fix potential problems early in the development process. This reduces the risk of bugs and technical debt.

Generate synthetic data

Synthetic data comes in handy when real data is unavailable or cannot be used because it contains sensitive information. Synthetic data eliminates the constraints associated with the use of regulated or confidential data as it contains no personal information.

AI can be used to generate all sorts of synthetic data that closely resemble real-world examples. AI can also create synthetic data for rare or extreme scenarios that are difficult to reproduce with real data. This can be used to test the resilience of the software under unusual conditions.

AI can also help generate synthetic data that can be used to augment real datasets, balancing class distribution and introducing variations.

However, AI is not a magic potion

AI has made remarkable progress in its coding capability, especially in the last couple of years. AI assistants have become adept at automating routine and menial tasks, but they stumble at tasks that require critical thinking. They cannot understand the underlying principles and concepts of software; they have trouble keeping up with new frameworks and paradigms; and they are unable to completely grasp real-life scenarios.

Here are four cases where AI assistants are not reliable and why, therefore, you need to hire app developers for your project.

Architecting complex software systems

AI systems lack the level of understanding required to design and implement complex processes. Although they can create sufficiently complex functions in isolation, they falter when they have to integrate them and keep account of dependencies from other code.

Understanding intuitive user needs

Understanding and conceptualizing user needs and preferences require empathy, context, and awareness of human behavior and emotion—qualities that AI tools lack. This limitation of AI systems in understanding emotional context, subjectivity, and the nuanced aspects of intuitive user needs makes them less competent compared to human experts.

Handling legacy codebases

AI tools struggle to fully address legacy codebases, which are old and often outdated. Such codebases generally lack sufficient test coverage and documentation, which hinders the effectiveness of AI tools.

Working with new frameworks and paradigms

Data is the bread and butter of AI models. For relatively new frameworks and paradigms, sufficient data is not available to train the AI systems. This makes them unreliable and even risky; for they, instead of admitting ignorance, will give incorrect answers with a high degree of confidence. This hallucination tendency can easily mislead even the most circumspect.

Related post: Why Use AI and ML for Enhancing Your Date Entry Process

Final takeaway

AI has made huge strides in the field of programming and software development in the last few years. AI systems have made programming more efficient and streamlined. They have impacted various other dimensions of software development as well. But they remain just that: tools! AI needs a human to instruct and oversee its operations and judge the quality of its outcome.

Even with tasks they excel in, they require human supervision. And for others, they simply fall flat. Human input and expertise remain indispensable in software development, and this is why web app development companies continue to play a significant role.

The post 7 Use Cases of AI in Programming and Development (& 4 Where AI Fails) appeared first on The Total Entrepreneurs.

- Trefis Team, Contributor
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The Economic And Market Impacts Of A Government Shutdown
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Creating a Thriving Workplace: Prioritizing Mental Health in Your Business
“If you want to be happy and healthy, you have to let go of that incredibly destructive word: Perfect,” Silken Laumann, an Olympic medalist, speaker, author and founder of Unsinkable, explained.

As you build your business, it's important to create a workplace environment that supports the mental health and well-being of your employees. In this article, we will explore ten practical steps you can take to cultivate a positive and nurturing work atmosphere.

Foster a Positive and Inclusive Culture

The Link Between Entrepreneurship and Mental Health Conditions


Promoting a positive and inclusive culture is the foundation of a mentally healthy workplace. Encourage open communication, respect for diverse perspectives, and collaboration among your team. Emphasize the value of each individual and create an atmosphere where everyone feels supported and valued.

Prioritize Work-Life Balance

Recognize the importance of work-life balance for your employees. Set realistic expectations and provide flexible work arrangements whenever possible. Encourage your team to take time off, maintain healthy boundaries, and recharge outside of work hours. By promoting work-life balance, you create an environment that values overall well-being.

Provide Mental Health Resources

Offer access to mental health resources to support your employees' well-being. Consider providing counseling services, employee assistance programs, or workshops focused on stress management, mindfulness, and emotional wellness. By offering these resources, you demonstrate your commitment to supporting their mental health journey.

Promote Healthy Breaks

Encourage your employees to take regular breaks throughout the workday. Create spaces where they can unwind, relax, and recharge. Encourage physical activity, stretching, or relaxation exercises during breaks. These moments of rejuvenation will help boost productivity and overall well-being.

Establish Clear Communication Channels

Establish transparent and open communication channels within your organization. Create a safe environment where employees feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, concerns, and ideas. Foster a culture of active listening, providing regular opportunities for one-on-one or team discussions. By promoting clear and open communication, you foster trust and collaboration.

Encourage Workload Balance

Be mindful of the workload your employees carry. Monitor and manage workloads to ensure they are reasonable and distributed equitably. Encourage teamwork and provide support to help manage workload pressures. By promoting workload balance, you reduce stress levels and prevent burnout among your team.


Recognize and Appreciate Achievements

Celebrate the achievements of your employees and acknowledge their efforts. Regularly recognize individual and team successes to boost morale and foster a sense of accomplishment. Provide constructive feedback and create a culture of appreciation. By showing gratitude, you create a positive and motivating work environment.

Promote Professional Development

Invest in the professional development of your employees. Offer opportunities for skill enhancement through training programs, workshops, or mentorship initiatives. Empower them to grow and expand their knowledge, showing that you value their long-term success. By supporting their professional growth, you contribute to their overall well-being and job satisfaction.

Create a Supportive Physical Environment

Design a physical workspace that supports the mental well-being of your employees. Ensure it is comfortable, well-lit, and conducive to productivity. Consider incorporating elements such as natural lighting, greenery, and ergonomic furniture. By creating a supportive physical environment, you enhance their overall work experience.

Lead by Example

Lead by example and prioritize your own mental health. Show your employees that self-care and work-life balance are essential. Encourage them to take breaks, pursue personal interests, and maintain healthy boundaries. By modeling these behaviors, you inspire your team to prioritize their well-being.

Creating a workplace environment that nurtures the mental health and well-being of your employees is a powerful investment in their success and the overall growth of your business. By implementing the ten practical steps discussed in this article, you have the opportunity to cultivate a positive, supportive, and thriving work atmosphere.

Learn More

BDC has compiled a nation-wide list of resources designed to support the mental health and wellbeing of entrepreneurs and the general population.

If you need help right now, text WELLNESS to 741741 to chat with a volunteer crisis responder 24/7 at no-cost in English or French as part of Health Canada’s Wellness Together Canada service. You can also call 1-866-585-0445 if you would prefer to talk to someone.

Want to learn more about women’s mental health and the future of work? Read WEKH’s (Women’s Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub), our partner organization, article on the subject here.

- Alycia Benson
Rising from the Ashes: Supporting Alberta Women Entrepreneurs in the Wake of Alberta Wildfires

In the face of recent wildfire tragedies that have impacted our beautiful province, we extend our heartfelt empathy and support to you. We understand the challenges you may be facing and want to provide guidance on how to navigate the effects of the wildfires on your businesses, as well as offer insights on recovery strategies.

Alberta Wildfire Dashboard, CTV News Edmonton

The Effects of Wildfires on Entrepreneurs:1.1 Physical and Emotional Challenges:

The devastation caused by wildfires can lead to significant physical and emotional challenges for entrepreneurs. Loss of property, disruption of operations, and the emotional toll of witnessing the destruction of the communities we hold dear can be overwhelming. It is essential to prioritize self-care and support networks during these difficult times. During and after wildfires, customers and employees may have concerns about safety, air quality, and the viability of doing business in affected areas. These concerns can impact customer footfall, employee morale, and overall business confidence.

1.2 Disruption of Operations:

Wildfires can disrupt the day-to-day operations of businesses, forcing temporary closures or reduced productivity. Evacuations, power outages, and transportation issues can make it difficult to serve customers or fulfill orders. The sudden drop in revenue can create financial strain and uncertainty for entrepreneurs. Wildfires can, in particular, disrupt various industries, including agriculture, forestry, tourism, and outdoor recreation. Damage to crops, forests, and tourism infrastructure can lead to reduced productivity, job losses, and decreased revenue for businesses in these sectors, especially those who rely on a busy summer season.

1.3 Property and Infrastructure Damage:

Wildfires can cause significant damage to residential and commercial properties, as well as critical infrastructure such as roads, power lines, and water systems. Rebuilding and repairing these assets can impose a heavy financial burden on affected communities.

1.4 Health Impacts:

Wildfire smoke can have adverse health effects, leading to increased healthcare costs. Communities affected by wildfires may experience higher rates of respiratory illnesses, allergies, and other related health issues, requiring increased medical attention and healthcare resources.

1.5 Long-Term Environmental Consequences:

Wildfires can result in long-term ecological damage, affecting ecosystems, biodiversity, and water quality. The loss of natural resources and the need for habitat restoration can have indirect economic impacts, such as reduced availability of timber for forestry operations or reduced attractiveness for outdoor tourism activities.

Alberta Wildfire Dashboard, CTV News Edmonton

2. Economic Implications of Wildfires:2.1 Property and Infrastructure Damage:

The economic toll of wildfires is significant. The destruction of residential and commercial properties, along with critical infrastructure, can require substantial investments in rebuilding and repairs. Entrepreneurs may face financial burdens in restoring their businesses and may need to seek assistance or secure additional funding.

2.2 Disruption to Industries:

Wildfires can disrupt various industries crucial to Alberta's economy, such as agriculture, forestry, tourism, and outdoor recreation. Crop and forest damage, closure of tourist attractions, and decreased visitor numbers can lead to reduced productivity, job losses, and decreased revenue for businesses in these sectors.

2.3 Insurance Costs and Premiums:

Following wildfires, insurance costs may increase for entrepreneurs in affected regions. Insurance providers may adjust premiums to reflect the heightened risk of future wildfires, impacting the affordability of coverage for businesses. It is essential to review insurance policies and explore options with knowledgeable professionals to ensure adequate coverage.

2.4 Government Expenditures:

Governments at different levels allocate significant funds for firefighting efforts, emergency response, and recovery programs. These expenditures can strain public budgets, diverting funds that could have been allocated to other priorities. However, government support programs may also be available to assist entrepreneurs in their recovery journey.

Alberta Wildfire Dashboard, CTV News Edmonton

3. Recovery Strategies for Alberta Entrepreneurs:3.1 Business Continuity Planning:

Developing a comprehensive business continuity plan is crucial to navigate through wildfire disasters. Such a plan should include evacuation protocols, remote work arrangements, alternate supply chain options, and communication strategies to keep stakeholders informed.

3.2 Communication and Stakeholder Engagement:

Maintaining open communication with employees, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders is essential during and after wildfires. Be transparent about your business's status, any operational changes, and safety precautions taken. Regular updates and reassurances can help build trust and loyalty.

3.3 Financial Assessment and Support:

Conduct a thorough financial assessment of your business to gauge the extent of the wildfire's impact on revenue, cash flow, and profitability. Seek expert advice to explore financial support options, including government grants, low-interest loans, and community initiatives designed to aid business recovery.

3.4 Employee Support and Well-being:

Supporting your employees' physical and emotional well-being is paramount. Offer resources such as counseling services, flexible work arrangements, or access to community support networks. Remember, a healthy and motivated team is crucial for business resilience and recovery.

3.5 Diversification and Adaptation:

Consider diversifying your business offerings or expanding into new markets to mitigate the effects of wildfires on your revenue streams. Adapt your products or services to cater to changing customer needs or tap into emerging opportunities arising from recovery efforts.

3.6 Collaborative Networking:

Engage with other entrepreneurs and community organizations to collaborate, share resources, and support one another. By pooling knowledge, skills, and networks, you can collectively overcome challenges and enhance the recovery process for all.

Alberta, we stand with you during this challenging time. While wildfires have had a profound impact on our businesses and communities, our resilience and determination will guide us toward recovery. By prioritizing self-care, implementing recovery strategies, and leveraging available support systems, we can navigate through the aftermath of wildfires and rebuild stronger, more sustainable businesses.

CTV Edmonton

Remember, you are not alone. Reach out to local business associations, support organizations, and fellow entrepreneurs for guidance and assistance. Together, we can overcome these challenges and emerge stronger, reaffirming the indomitable spirit of Alberta entrepreneurship.

Wishing you strength, perseverance, and success on your journey to recovery. Please reach out to if you need any business advising unique to your business, and don’t forget to visit our webinars here to join a group advising session. Our Emergency Planning is also linked here.

To Apply for the Alberta Financial Aid for Wildfire Evacuees apply here.

Starting May 9th, any Albertan that was evacuated due to wildfires for 7 days or more can apply for a 1-time emergency evacuation payment. Eligible evacuees will receive $1250 per adult and an additional $500 per child under the age of 18. Families of 4 can receive $3500. Payments to evacuees will be made by e-transfer.

Stay up to date on the status and latest data on the wildfires here.

- Catherine Larose
The Power of Support Networks: Fostering Mental Well-Being Among Women Entrepreneurs

Running a business comes with its own set of pressures and expectations. The constant drive to prove yourself, coupled with the infamous imposter syndrome, can sometimes create feelings of self-doubt. Furthermore, finding the delicate balance between work and personal life can leave anyone feeling overwhelmed, and more susceptible to stress and burnout. This is where discovering support networks can help. 

Support networks are incredible allies in your journey, providing a pillar of strength and understanding. These networks consist of individuals and communities that offer emotional support, share experiences, and provide access to valuable resources. Support networks can take the form of personal relationships, professional connections, and even online communities. Recognizing the benefits they offer is the first step toward harnessing their power, and feeling supported.

Personal Support Networks

Nurturing relationships with trusted friends, family members, and mentors who understand your unique journey is key. These individuals can offer guidance, encouragement, and most importantly, a safe space to share your fears and concerns. Invest some of your time into cultivating these relationships, as this can significantly contribute to your mental well-being.

Professional Networks

Professional networks can be a valuable source of support as you navigate the business world. Attending industry events, conferences, and joining organizations creates opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals who understand your challenges. Building relationships within these networks can provide emotional support, collaboration possibilities, and access to valuable knowledge and expertise. Remember, you don't have to go through this journey alone. There is a community waiting to uplift and support you!

Online Communities

In this digital age, online communities have emerged as powerful support networks for women entrepreneurs. Platforms and forums like the ones specifically designed for Alberta Women Entrepreneurs create spaces where you can connect, share advice, and seek support. These online communities offer convenience, accessibility, and a sense of belonging, overcoming geographical limitations and time constraints. 

Seeking support is not a sign of weakness; it is a strategic investment in your personal and professional growth. Building support networks may come with its own challenges however, such as time constraints, or a fear of vulnerability. Remember, it's possible to prioritize your mental well-being and thoughtfully seek out the networks that will help you. To begin, start small. Reach out to potential mentors, and connect with fellow entrepreneurs at events. You will be amazed at the positive energy you can receive!

- Alycia Benson
Alberta's Tech Scene: Opportunities and Challenges for Women Entrepreneurs

Alberta's technology industry has been growing rapidly in recent years, with Calgary and Edmonton emerging as key tech hubs in the province. According to a report by the Alberta Enterprise Corporation, the province's technology sector has seen an average annual growth rate of 4.2% since 2010, and now employs over 55,000 people across more than 6,500 companies.

Opportunities for Entrepreneurs in Alberta's Tech Scene

Access to a large and diverse talent pool: Alberta's universities and colleges produce a large number of graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, providing a skilled and diverse talent pool for tech startups. In addition, the province's welcoming immigration policies have made it easier for companies to attract and retain talent from around the world.

Supportive startup ecosystem: Alberta's startup ecosystem is characterized by a supportive community of investors, incubators, accelerators, and mentors. Organizations like Startup Edmonton, Platform Calgary, and TEC Edmonton provide entrepreneurs with access to funding, mentorship, and networking opportunities.

Government support for innovation: The Government of Alberta has launched several initiatives to support innovation in the tech sector, including the Alberta Innovates Technology Futures program, which provides funding and support for research and development projects.

Low business costs: Compared to other tech hubs in Canada, Alberta has relatively low business costs, including lower office space and housing costs, making it an attractive location for entrepreneurs looking to establish or grow their businesses.

Source: Kenyon, Tilly. "2021 Report Shows Growth in Alberta's Technology Sector." Technology Magazine, 23 April 2021,

Challenges Facing Entrepreneurs in Alberta's Tech Scene

Access to capital: Although there are many sources of funding available to entrepreneurs in Alberta's tech scene, including venture capital firms, angel investors, and government programs, access to capital can still be a challenge for early-stage startups.

Competition for talent: While Alberta's universities and colleges produce a large number of STEM graduates, there is still competition for talent from established tech companies and other industries.

Reliance on the energy sector: Alberta's economy is heavily reliant on the energy sector, which can make it difficult for tech startups to attract attention from investors and customers.

Geographic isolation: Alberta is a large province with a relatively small population, which can make it challenging for startups to build networks and access markets outside of the province.

Mitchell, Laine. "Alberta cities to lead rest of Canada in growth in 2022." Daily Hive, 19 Jan. 2022,

Alberta's tech scene offers a wealth of opportunities for entrepreneurs, from access to a talented workforce to a supportive startup ecosystem and government support for innovation. However, there are also challenges that must be addressed, including access to capital, competition for talent, reliance on the energy sector, and geographic isolation. Overall, with the right support and resources, Alberta's tech sector has the potential to continue to grow and thrive, creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs and driving innovation in the province.


Alberta Enterprise Corporation. (2018). Alberta technology industry report 2018. Retrieved from

Startup Edmonton. (n.d.). About us. Retrieved from

Platform Calgary. (n.d.). About us. Retrieved from

TEC Edmonton. (n.d.). About us. Retrieved from

Government of Alberta. (2021). Alberta Innovates Technology Futures. Retrieved from

BDO Canada. (2021). 2021 Technology Industry Outlook: Optimism amid disruption. Retrieved from

The Conference Board of Canada. (2019). The innovation imperative: Improving productivity through innovation in Canada's tech sector. Retrieved from

Government of Alberta. (2021). Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program. Retrieved from

Alberta Innovates. (n.d.). Our programs. Retrieved from

The Globe and Mail. (2018). Alberta's burgeoning tech industry hopes to diversify from oil and gas. Retrieved from

- Alycia Benson
Business Sustainability as an Alberta Woman Entrepreneur: Celebrating Earth Day   

As the world celebrates Earth Day on April 22nd, businesses and entrepreneurs are being reminded of the crucial role they play in the sustainability of the planet. Alberta, well-known for its oil and gas industry, has seen a significant rise in environmentally conscious entrepreneurs in recent years. Alberta women entrepreneurs especially are at the forefront of this movement, driving innovation and creating new business models that prioritize both profitability and environmental responsibility. These entrepreneurs are paving the way for a more sustainable future, while also promoting economic growth and job creation.

What is Business Sustainability?

Harvard School of Business refers to business sustainability refers as the ability of a business to meet its present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sustainable businesses prioritize the use of renewable resources, minimize waste, reduce carbon emissions, and engage in ethical and socially responsible practices.

It is a company’s strategy to reduce negative environmental impact that results from their operations within their industry. Using environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics is how companies will evaluate their business sustainability. Being conscious of your business’s impact and how it affects the future of not only the ecosystem, but long term longevity of your business is key. Some ways to apply sustainability strategies in your business, according to IBM, include:

-          Deploying infrastructure that reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Preserves water resources and eliminates waste

-          Operating dynamic and efficient supply chains to empower a circular economy, encourage reuse, design out waste, promote sustainable consumption, and protect natural resources

-          Enabling sustainable development by assessing and improving resiliency while adhering to external regulations and development goals

Sustainable Business in Alberta

Emissions Reduction Alberta, a not-for-profit organization that invests in innovative technologies and practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions Reduction Alberta funds projects that reduce emissions in Alberta's energy, agriculture, and industrial sectors, while also promoting economic growth and job creation.

Another Alberta-based business making waves in sustainability is Poppy Barley, a luxury footwear and accessories company who holds ethical manufacturing standards in addition to quality product at the forefront of their mission. Originally based in Edmonton, Alberta, sisters Justine and Kendall Barber launched Poppy Barley in 2012, and have since expanded their business in Edmonton to open a storefront in Calgary and an upcoming store launch in Vancouver, BC. Poppy Barley is a certified B Corporation meaning they meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.

Certified B Corporations have a triple bottom line of purpose, people and profit. This is embedded into the laws of their corporation and means they equally consider the impact on their employees in addition to their production partners, customers, community, and the environment when making decisions.

Why is Sustainability Important?

Sustainability is not just about reducing carbon emissions and minimizing waste. It's also about engaging in ethical and socially responsible practices. Alberta entrepreneurs are committed to social sustainability, ensuring that their businesses are inclusive, diverse, and supportive of their communities.

Alberta women entrepreneurs are leading the way in business sustainability, promoting economic growth, and job creation while reducing their environmental impact. As we celebrate Earth Day, let us recognize the crucial role these entrepreneurs play in shaping a more sustainable future. By supporting sustainable female-owned businesses, we can all contribute to a healthier planet and a more prosperous economy.


- Krista Murphy
New Technology in the Digital World

For women entrepreneurs, it’s not just about working harder or better than the competition. It's about utilizing technology and tools that can help you work more effectively and efficiently. New technology in the digital world can empower you to build your business, no matter the industry. For business owners, knowing what type of technology to use can be a challenge, though. Where should you get started?

Below are some of the options in new technology for the digital world for women entrepreneurs.

Project Management Technology for Entrepreneurs

Juggling numerous tasks, assignments, and projects is a good sign. It means your business is working and potentially growing. Yet, dropping the ball, perhaps due to a late assignment or a missed call, can tarnish your brand among current and potential clients. Project management tools can help with this by providing a digital way to always stay on top of your business.

Numerous project management tools are available, including some customized for specific industries or types of projects. Here are the top three options in both up-and-coming and proven project management systems.

#1: is an expandable project management tool with plenty of flexibility for customization. Project data, along with various reports and visualization tools, enables easy management of multi-step projects. It offers:

•             An easy-to-use interface

•             Plenty of configuration options to meet your business methods

•             Lots of marketing and CRM integrations

#2: Trello

Trello uses Kanban boards that tend to work well for highly visual people. It’s easy to learn and customizable for most businesses. Trello does a great job with its numerous template options, too. Some key features include:

•             A free plan that provides up to 250 automated comments each month

•             Lots of integrations, including Slack and Google Drive

•             Quick set-up with drag-and-drop design

#3: ClickUp

For startups looking for a cost-effective solution, ClickUp is an excellent choice. It provides numerous collaborative documents, whiteboard tools, and in-app chat features. It also can integrate with Dropbox, G Suite, Slack, and much more. You might choose ClickUp because of it:

•             Works well for different-sized teams

•             Makes workflow customization simple and effective

•             Lets you track and visualize project data

Accounting Technology for the Digital World

Accounting management is often a difficult part of managing new businesses. For women entrepreneurs who want to stay on top of their financials, there are some excellent technology options out there to support your success. Here are three proven and up-and-coming options.

#1: FreshBooks

For the most affordable business accounting software, consider FreshBooks. It provides a wide range of tools, including customizations to fit the way your business operates. Some key features include:

•             Comprehensive cloud-based accounting solutions

•             Excellent cash management tools

•             Easy-to-use visual dashboards for “seeing” where your money is going

#2: Sage

A newer option, Sage is an excellent choice for small businesses that want to enhance their automation. It provides full business application and enterprise resource planning resources in one. In new technology in accounting, hyper-automation is key, and Sage does it well. Key features include:

•             Automatic reconciliation tools, finance tracking, and cash flow forecasting

•             Straightforward purchase invoice management 

•             Cloud-based functionality with real-time banking integration

#3: Wave Accounting

Another newer company, Wave Accounting, is an excellent free tool with the ability to add payroll processing and payment solutions. It’s excellent for small businesses that want fast and efficient functionality without a lot of slowdowns. Key features include:

•             Recurring billing with automation

•             Unlimited partners and collaborator additions possible

•             A fully cloud-based dashboard

Digital Media Management Tools for Startups

Today's business owners have a significant amount of digital media to manage. Connecting with customers online, managing visuals, and creating engaging marketing platforms require some of the best modern technology. For your business, consider these specific digital media management platforms streamlining business efforts.

#1: Brandfolder

Brandfolder makes managing digital assets easy, helping you grow your business in a more streamlined manner. This digital asset management platform can help your business build your brand quickly and across all platforms with features such as:

•             Cloud-based storage to handle all forms of digital assets

•             Automatic asset tagging and organization

•             Analytics about who uses content and how

#2: Buffer

For social media management, Buffer offers a streamlined, affordable solution that can benefit most of today’s businesses, including those looking to rebrand. It provides ample support to get users started, and the tools are innovative and even some of the most cutting-edge. Key features include:

•             A full suite of features for engagement, publishing, landing pages, and posts

•             Excellent customer support to help clients stay up-to-date on the newest innovations

•             Analytical tools that provide insight into how any solution works

#3: Sprout Social

Sprout Social is a blend of customer relationship management and social media management, a unique combination of two essential tools for the digital world. It’s simple to learn but often upgraded to incorporate new tools and solutions. Some core benefits include:

•             Scalability that enhances growth opportunities

•             Post monitoring and scheduling

•             Analytic tools that provide insight into the best campaigns

Build Your Business with Confidence

These new technologies for the digital world allow businesses to take their business online, connect with new customers, and deliver efficiencies, including in financial management. From proven to newer solutions, these companies do it best because they offer the latest innovations in the industry that all women entrepreneurs can benefit from for most types of businesses.

Author: Krista Murphy, MLZ Creative

- Alycia Benson
Women's Entrepreneurship Day 2022

Celebrated by over 144 countries, November 19th, 2022 marks Women's Entrepreneurship Day, a chance to recognize the accomplishments and contributions of the women entrepreneurs in our communities who work tirelessly to drive economic growth, create vibrancy, and inspire the next generation of girls.

In Canada, over 1 million women are entrepreneurs, with 17 per cent of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses being owned by women. And that number continues to grow! In fact, over the past 40 years, the number of female entrepreneurs has quadrupled. The Government of Canada has identified that continuing to increase women's participation in the economy could add up to $150 billion towards Canada’s GDP.

That’s why it is so important that we build supports our women entrepreneurs can rely on. At Alberta Women Entrepreneurs we take that commitment seriously. Alongside our training and workshops, business advising, and mentorship opportunities, we’re working to transform the business environment for women. Earlier this year we worked with partners across the province to publish our Impact Paper, Leveraging Economic Opportunities for Women in Alberta, a framework that will help systematically address gaps for women entrepreneurs, current and future.

And Alberta is no stranger to incredible and hard-working women entrepreneurs. Alberta Women Entrepreneurs recently celebrated four inspirational women at the 2022 AWE Awards for their contributions to the province: Jennifer Schaeffer, owner of Onlea Enterprises; Vanessa Marshall, owner of Jack59 Inc.; Breanne Everett, owner of Orpyx Medical Technologies Inc.; and Manjit Minhas, owner of Minhas Breweries, Distilleries, and Winery. These women are a true example of what’s possible when women are full participants in entrepreneurship.

This Women's Entrepreneurship Day take the time to visit and support your local women-owned businesses. Their contributions continue to be vital to the health and liveliness of our province and country.


- Catherine Larose
Celebrating the 2022 AWE Award Recipients!

Supporting the entrepreneurs in our community means recognizing the amazing work women are doing and celebrating their successes. This past month, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs had the pleasure of honoring four outstanding Alberta women for their dedication and commitment to the Alberta business community at the 2022 AWE Awards.

Above (left to right): Jewel Buksa, Jennifer Schaeffer, Breanne Everett, Vanessa Marshall, Marcela Mandeville.

Celebration of Achievement Award

Awarded to an exceptional female entrepreneur who has achieved recognizable success and acts as a role model for women in business. This visionary woman is an inspirational leader who has built an entrepreneurial venture in Alberta that has made a significant impact on the economy and the community.

Recipient: Manjit Minhas, Minhas Breweries, Distilleries and Winery

Over 20 years ago, when she was 19, Manjit and her brother Ravinder set out to make a spirit that they could sell in local liquor stores. In just a short time, that idea snowballed into over 90 brands. Now, Manjit is the founder and owner of Minhas Distillery, Minhas Brewery, and Minhas Winery, earning her enough of a reputation to take a role as an investor on Dragon’s Den. Manjit is a true example of the vigour and vision that Alberta women entrepreneurs have in creating successful and long-lasting businesses on the global stage. Though she has faced challenges throughout her career, she reminds other entrepreneurs: failure is not the opposite of success; it’s a part of success.

Emerging Entrepreneur Award

Awarded to a female entrepreneur who has built a strong, scalable business foundation and has achieved early success.

Recipient: Jennifer Schaeffer, Onlea Enterprises

Onlea is more than an online learning platform; it’s a commitment to accessible, masterful, and quality education that helps their clients grow. From the opioid crisis to the proper use of pronouns, this empathy-led team is creating meaningful content while revolutionizing what it means to learn online. Jennifer focuses on combining different learning styles with gaming techniques, graphic design, and film to produce content that’s engaging. Her business recently launched a research and development project that will utilize artificial intelligence to further individualize the learning experience.

Indigenous Entrepreneur Award

 Awarded to a leading Indigenous woman entrepreneur with a strong business concept and demonstrates plans for future growth and commitment to the community.

 Recipient: Vanessa Marshall, Jack59 Inc.


Spurred by a desire to spend more time with her daughter, Vanessa founded Jack59, a company specializing in hair care. But Jack59 products are far from your average shampoo and conditioners. Built on the idea that small changes can have a big impact, all of the products are made with the goal of reducing single-use plastic consumption and global water transport. Vanessa is helping create self-aware consumers while providing a business environment that allows her staff with flexible working hours so they can prioritize their family, just like she did.

Upsurge Entrepreneur Award

Awarded to a female entrepreneur who has built a solid foundation for her business and is now experiencing rapid growth.

Recipient: Breanne Everett, Orpyx Medical Technologies Inc.


Though she loved working as a clinician, Breanne recognized that Orpyx would allow her to have a greater impact on the diabetes community. Rather than offering care for patients who were suffering from limb loss, she wanted to create an innovative technology that could help prevent it from happening in the first place. Now her team works with two centres of excellence across the province in order to ensure that people living with diabetes can maintain their mobility, something that will change lives for thousands of individuals. And Breanne is just getting started when it comes to her insole technology, believing that in the future it could be used for all kinds of movement-related situations.

Since 2012, the annual AWE Awards have recognized more than 1000 women entrepreneurs in Alberta as award nominees. This year’s recipients join a prestigious list of Alberta entrepreneurs who are making a difference in their communities and around the world. Special thanks to our Presenting Sponsor, ATB Financial!

AWE has worked with thousands of entrepreneurs through coaching, mentorship, leadership development, business advising, access to capital, and access to networks over the last 27 years.

To learn more about the AWE Awards, please visit

- Courtney Bettin
Building A Community Around Your Business

When a customer decides to go in search of a product or service, they have a plethora of options available. So, what drives them towards one option over another? There are many factors, but a big factor is the sense of loyalty they feel. And that’s driven by the community that’s built around a business.

You can start building a community by creating opportunities for customers to get to know your business better and even a chance to find a group of like-minded people. Those interactions make people feel like they’re part of something bigger, and if that feeling is consistent, then it strengthens the connection they feel to your business.

Small business owners are in a unique position when it comes to community building because they know their customers intimately. The more you get to know who your customers are and what they like, the more value you can offer them when interacting with your brand, and the quicker you can pivot with community desires.

Here are a few ways that you can build a community around your business that customers will be proud to be a part of:

Develop a social presence

This may seem obvious, but taking the time to create good social content can be one of the cheapest and easiest ways of building a community around your business. People reach for their phones dozens of times throughout the day, which creates a lot of opportunities for you to make a connection. This is also a great place for your customers to engage with one another, turning your brand into a space where people can discuss a common interest and feel inspired by new ideas.

Utilize software to get to know your customer base

To add real value for your customer, you need to know what they’re looking for in your business. Investing in software like customer engagement platforms or customer relationship management tools can help you find patterns in your customer data. AWE’s Bold Leadership Program helps business owners figure out what digital tools are best for their business to help improve performance.

Collaborate with other businesses

Capitalize on the work that other businesses are doing with their communities by creating partnerships. Maybe making a purchase at your store means they get 10% off at the coffee shop down the street. Or maybe you collaborate on a social media giveaway. There are a lot of creative ways that businesses can cross-promote and share the community they already have.

Host events

This won’t be feasible for every business but finding opportunities to host events will help customers boost those connections with each other while making positive memories in your space. Spending an evening surrounded by your products will make them more likely to purchase something, and they’ll leave with an experience they tell their friends and family about later. 

No matter how you decide to connect with your customers, the most important thing is to be genuine. Loyalty comes from really knowing and caring about a business, so don’t be afraid to show your personality! With a little time and consistency, you’ll be able to find people who are just as passionate about your business as you are and make a meaningful impact in their lives.


- Catherine Larose
2022 Awards Finalists Announced

EDMONTON, AB – A group of ten extraordinary Alberta women entrepreneurs were named this year’s AWE Awards finalists.

“These finalists represent incredible possibility, remarkable innovation, and undeniable talent,”  says Marcela Mandeville, CEO, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs. “They are moving their businesses and our province forward.”

The awards, presented by ATB Financial, recognize the efforts of women entrepreneurs in four categories. This year’s finalists include:

Emerging Entrepreneur Award – Awarded to a female entrepreneur who has built a strong, scalable business foundation and has achieved early success.

Jennifer Schaeffer, Onlea Enterprises, Inc.

Shannon Van Norman, Shadow Vista Productions

Ashley Wevers, AdvancdAg Inc.

Carey Ann Thurlow, Risio Institute for Digital Dental Education Inc.

Indigenous Entrepreneur Award – Awarded to a leading Indigenous woman entrepreneur who has a strong business concept and demonstrates plans for future growth and commitment to the community.

Mallory Yawnghwe, Indigenous Box Inc.

Vanessa Marshall, Jack59 Inc.

Angie Saltman, Saltmedia Inc

Upsurge Award – Awarded to a female entrepreneur who has built a solid foundation for her business and is now experiencing rapid growth.

Breanne Everett, Orpyx Medical Technologies Inc.

Deanne Beis, Tenfold HR Solutions

Jenelle Wensley, Genex Marketing

Since 2012, the annual AWE Awards have recognized more than 800 women entrepreneurs in Alberta. Previous award winners include such notable Alberta entrepreneurs as Karina Birch of Rocky Mountain Soap Co., Karen Ryan and Lara Murphy of Ryan Murphy Construction, and Angela Santiago of The Little Potato Company.

Along with the awards, AWE has worked with thousands of entrepreneurs through coaching, mentorship, leadership development, business advising, access to capital, and access to networks over the last 25 years.

To learn more about the awards, visit: . Get your ticket to the in-person Awards Celebration at the Edmonton Expo Center on September 13 on Eventbrite.

- Guest User
Sustainability in Business

Sustainability has many advantages for your business. It can provide an improved brand image, greater employee retention, competitive advantages, and tax benefits, as well as minimize business costs and increase productivity and efficiency. Caring about sustainability has become more prominent in recent years, and consumers are more aware of a company’s impact on society, the economy, and the environment. Taking action to create a more sustainable company can increase customer loyalty and help to grow a successful business.

This article will break down sustainability into its three main pillars; social, economic, and environmental. These pillars are also sometimes referred to as people, profit, and planet.

Social SustainabilityWhat is Social Sustainability?

Social Sustainability focuses on how business operations impact people; including employees, suppliers, and partners. Social Sustainability can improve business strategy, supply chain, and consumer perception of the business. It can also help attract business partners, improve employee morale, risk management, and can help a business lead their industry and stand out against the competition.

Businesses that focus on social sustainability tend to prioritize things such as:

Human rights

Fair labor practices

Healthcare access

Workplace safety



Proper work-life balance

Cultural empowerment

Community engagement & volunteering

 Questions to ask yourself:

Does my business aim to meet the needs of a disadvantaged and/or marginalized group?

Does my business recognize cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity?

Does my business welcome diverse viewpoints, opinions and beliefs?

Does my business practice and encourage community contribution?

How does my business demonstrate commitment to an improved quality of life?

Economic Sustainability What is Economic Sustainability?

Economic Sustainability focuses on a business’s environment and economic wellbeing. Economic Sustainability promotes the idea of providing long-term benefits by growing the company in a way that is efficient and responsible to ensure consistent, ongoing profit without degradation.

Businesses that focus on economic sustainability tend to prioritize things such as:


Cost savings

Efficient resource use

Long-range planning

Smart economic growth


R&D spending

Questions to ask yourself:

Am I tracking my business expenses, profit, and savings?

How can my business meet my present economic needs without diminishing future economic opportunities?

Am I reinvesting my business?

How much of my resources go to waste?

Does my business contribute to the financial welfare of the owners, employees, and the community it operates in?

Environmental Sustainability What is Environmental Sustainability?

Environmental Sustainability focuses on maintaining business functions without jeopardizing the environment and the future of the planet. A business should responsibly interact with the planet to ensure natural resources are maintained and an environment that can continue to support human life is kept a priority. Environmentally sustainable business practices can also help to gain a competitive advantage in the market.

Businesses that focus on environmental sustainability tend to prioritize things such as:

Resource management

Emissions reduction

Renewable energy sources

Recycling, composting

Natural alternatives

Questions to ask yourself:

Are my decisions reducing my business’s negative impact on the environment?

Am I developing strategies and processes that will lead to my business becoming more sustainable in the future?

How can my business lead the community and other businesses towards environmental sustainability?

Am I looking at short-term gain instead of focusing on my business’s long term impact?

How and where does my business source its materials and resources?

Does my business publish an annual environmental report?


- Guest User
BOLD Leadership Overview

In today’s day and age, it’s nearly impossible to run a business that doesn’t include a digital component. Incorporating digital aspects to your business can look like so much more than just an online storefront. Many entrepreneurs may be missing out on huge opportunities to strengthen their business by not taking advantage of all technological possibilities.

That’s where Alberta Women Entrepreneurs’ BOLD Leadership program comes in.


Over the course of the program, entrepreneurs get a baseline of knowledge about what a digital transformation can look like for their business before creating a plan that fits their needs and abilities. “The Bold Leadership Program focuses on the critical components of building a digital strategy for a business.” Says Gabriela Touma; Bold Leadership Program Advisor. Covering a range of topics from digital marketing to improving the customer experience, the aim is of this program is to get participants thinking about all of the ways, big and small, that digitalization can save them time and money.

A lot of people feel overwhelmed because there is so much technology out there. AWE’s Bold Leadership program tries to give people enough of an idea of what the technologies are about and then how to start to incorporate that into their business.

Some entrepreneurs, like Danielle Cherewyk, focus on mapping out how to automate their business processes, saving their team dozens of hours a week. Others may focus on developing new revenue models so they can start scaling up. Beyond the tangible benefits that can come from putting new technologies into practice, the greatest win can be a shift in business culture.


We want to help leaders start creating a culture of innovation in their companies. Sometimes leaders will feel that all of the innovative ideas fall on them, but we help them build a framework so that they can actually draw on all the innovation and the talents in their team to help move the whole company forward.

“Within The Bold Leadership Program, business leaders will learn everything from how to build a digital strategy, how to effectively leverage current and emerging technologies, and how to understand the drivers of transformation, Touma says, but most importantly we are helping them navigate the digital space with other inspiring women leaders that are excited to learn, collaborate and add to the conversation.”

While teaching the skills is important, AWE recognizes that creating a network of support for businesses as they go through their digital transformation is what takes an idea from concept to execution. Participants have access to one-on-one time with expert digital advisors during and after the course so they can continue to receive advice that is relevant to their unique business.  

“The connections that happen in the program are remarkable. We’ve heard from many participants how much it has changed their businesses!”

- Guest User
You’ve Received Your Business Loan, Now What?

Getting the news that you’ve qualified for a loan to start or grow your business is both exciting and nerve-wracking. Knowing where to start and what to do with it can feel overwhelming. Here’s what we recommend doing before you receive the loan or as soon as you do:

Have a clear understanding of the terms of your loan

Step 1 is making sure that you clearly understand what the terms of your loan are, and what your repayment plan is. These are important because some loans can only be used for certain things, plus it’s essential to follow the terms of your loan.

For example, AWE Loans can be used for market-ready start-ups, business expansion projects, and business purchases. Loans can be used for a variety of expenses, including:

Leasehold improvements

Equipment purchases

Operating capital

Advertising and marketing costs

Purchase of inventory

Loans cannot be used for:

Owner’s salary

Re-financing existing debt

Franchise fees

Speculative ventures (e.g. Purchase of land for resale)

Intangible goodwill (i.e. business name or reputation)

Research and development

Purchase of stocks, shares, or other non-productive investment

Review your repayment plan and make a budget

The next thing you should do when you receive your business loan is to make a budget based on your repayment plan. All loans come with repayment plans, which should be discussed when applying for the loan and going through the application process. Now that you have the money, you should sit down and make a budget based on what you plan on spending and the terms of your repayment plan. 

Prioritize what you got the loan for

Refer back to your strategic/marketing plan - what was your plan for this money? It’s important to stay the course as much as possible and utilize this loan money for its intended purposes. We know that things can come up along the way and plans can change, but the more you’re able to follow that initial strategic plan you created and spend your loan money on those things, the easier it will be to stay on track with repaying the loan. Holding yourself accountable can be difficult. If you don’t have a business partner to hold you accountable, consider speaking with a mentor, confidant or one of AWE’s Business Advisors

Once you are familiar with your terms and repayment plan, have a budget mapped out and know where you’re going to be prioritizing spending the loan money, you can start spending it! This can feel daunting at first, but with a well laid-out plan and lots of thought having gone into this whole process, you shouldn’t worry about taking this next exciting step to grow your business.

For more information on AWE’s Loan programs, click here.

- Guest User
2022 AWE Awards: Nominees Announced
Celebrating Extraordinary Albertan Entrepreneurs


EDMONTON, AB –Alberta women entrepreneurs proved to be unstoppable in their efforts to better the world. Today, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) is recognizing those efforts by naming nominees across four categories in its annual AWE Awards.

Awards Overview and Nominees

Emerging Entrepreneur Award – Awarded to an entrepreneur who has built a strong, scalable business foundation and has achieved early success.

Indigenous Entrepreneur Award – Awarded to a leading Indigenous entrepreneur who has a strong business, and demonstrates plans for future growth and commitment to the community.

Upsurge Award – Awarded to an entrepreneur who has built a solid foundation for her business and is now experiencing rapid growth.

Celebration of Achievement Award – Awarded to an exceptional entrepreneur who has achieved recognizable success and acts as a role model in business.


Next Steps

Edmonton’s nominee reception will take place ON June 23rd and Calgary’s reception will take place ON June 28th. Finalists will be named prior to the awards celebration in September, at which AWE will announce the recipients.


“Congratulations to all nominees! We are excited to celebrate the incredible contributions made by women in our province as you build a better economy and communities. Each year, our award nominees are inspiring examples of leadership and innovation in Alberta. Thank you for taking the risk to pursue your aspirations and inspiring others along your journey.”

- Marcela Mandeville, CEO, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs

“ATB Financial is thrilled to celebrate the achievements of women in business. Your dedication to your goals and commitment to your dream has played a significant role in bringing resilience and transformation to Alberta's economy. Your passion inspires others and paves the way for future generations of women business owners and leaders. We congratulate all the nominees and wish you continued success!”

- Nikki Briggs, Head of Women in Business, ATB Financial

Quick Facts

Since 2012, the annual AWE Awards have recognized more than 800 women entrepreneurs in Alberta.

Over the last 26 years, AWE has worked with thousands of entrepreneurs through access to capital, connections and capacity.

Alberta small businesses contribute more GDP per capita than small businesses anywhere else in the country. In addition to providing jobs, these small businesses inject about $100 billion a year into the Alberta economy.

Special thanks to our presenting sponsor, ATB.        
- Guest User
How to Create a More Inclusive Workplace

The way you choose to communicate with your customer base is just one half of the coin. The tone that you set with your team behind the scenes is just as important to your success. Not only will an inclusive workplace create an environment where your employees feel comfortable and welcome, but research shows that organizations who make it a priority are more innovative and successful than their counterparts.

Having a diverse workforce includes hiring individuals with different backgrounds, ethnicities, neurodiversity, disabilities, and gender identities, creating a rich pool of life experiences to draw on. To be inclusive, there needs to be an emphasis on truly understanding the diversity of your employees and intentionally constructing a space where they feel like they belong and can thrive.

Recognize your bias

The first step towards creating a business that it equitable for every staff member is to take the time to educate yourself about your own biases. Even those of us with the best of intentions can be disregarding the needs of others due to a lack of awareness. Admitting what your blind spots are and identifying places where you need to do more learning is the first step to being someone your staff can count on.   

Create a safe space for employees

To create a truly inclusive space, team members should feel comfortable being vulnerable about their needs or pointing out places where there can be improvements. Frequently communicate and model the idea that everyone’s opinion is valued, and make sure there are a variety of avenues for individuals to express themselves and be heard, whether in a group setting, one-on-one, or anonymously.

Commit to constant learning

Being committed to inclusivity is not a one-and-done approach. Like other aspects of your business, it should continuously evolve and change as you learn more. No one is going to be able to get everything right all the time but developing a culture that is focused on growing together will move your team in the right direction. Consider how to have ongoing conversations with your staff and customers about your goals and look for opportunities to attend workshops or lectures that will further your knowledge on the topic.

Set goals and measure progress

At the end of the day, it can do more harm than good to say you’re going to work on inclusivity and then drop the ball when it comes to making real change. That’s why it’s key to set clear goals about what inclusivity is going to look like in your business and how you’re going to measure success. Be open to getting feedback from your employees on what is working well and what still needs improvement.

As you start to consider the many elements of an inclusive workspace and what is most important to your team, here are a few topics to keep in mind:

·         What language do you use in team meetings, on social media, on signage, and informally with your staff and customers? Think about the ways that your language may unintentionally be excluding or offending different groups of people. 

·         What holidays does your business observe and compensate staff for? Talk to your team members about what holidays they celebrate that may be different from you and consider what your vacation pay practices are.

·         What resources are available to your staff to support their individual needs? Who can they turn to if they aren’t getting the support they need? It’s hard to know all the barriers people face from first glance. Instead, have easily accessible information and resources that cover a range of needs and add to the list as necessary.

Though it may seem overwhelming at first, having an inclusive workplace will ultimately benefit everyone involved. When a team feels connected and appreciated, that transfers into a healthier space for them and better service for your customers.


- Guest User
Alberta Women Entrepreneurs to receive $3 million in funding to provide more access to capital for women business owners

Alberta Women’s Entrepreneurs has received $3 million in grant funding through the Women’s Economic Recovery - Capital Growth Initiative. The Capital Growth Initiative is part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan, and an additional loan fund is now available to support women entrepreneurs who need easier access to capital. This investment will support more women who want to expand or start a business, helping diversify Alberta’s economy and creating new job opportunities throughout the province.

Alberta Women Entrepreneurs and Community Futures Network of Alberta will administer the loans from the Women’s Economic Recovery - Capital Growth Initiative.  Under the initiative, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs will provide capital to women in Edmonton, Calgary, St. Albert, Fort Saskatchewan and Sherwood Park, while Community Futures will provide capital to rural communities in Alberta. Under the initiative, up to $75,000 will be made available in repayable loans.

“Research proves that women entrepreneurs drive more than economic growth when their enterprises are successful – they change communities. Women were also disproportionately economically impacted by the pandemic. Access to capital for business investment for women entrepreneurs is essential to rebuilding Alberta's economy.”  - Marcela Mandeville, CEO of Alberta Women Entrepreneurs

“Alberta’s economy has momentum and we want to keep it going. By ensuring that women entrepreneurs in our province have more access to capital to help grow their business, we are building for the future. This is an important opportunity to create more jobs and a stronger business environment.” - Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation

Left to right: Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy, and Innovation, Phyllis Maki, Executive Director at Community Futures Network of Alberta, Marcela Mandeville, CEO at Alberta Women Entrepreneurs, Whitney Issik, Associate Minister of Status of Women, Anna Liska, Owner at Always Occasions, Jewel Buksa, Board Chair at Alberta Women Entrepreneurs

About Alberta Women Entrepreneurs

Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to enabling women to build successful businesses. AWE provides unique programs and services to women entrepreneurs through access to capital and connections, and support with building business capacity.

About Community Futures Network

Community Futures Network of Alberta has a rural focus and has helped rural Albertans launch, grow and scale their businesses. With 27 regional offices located throughout Alberta, Community Futures has significant reach into every corner of the province, including with First Nations, Métis Settlements, and Indigenous communities.

For more information:

Catherine Larose,

Marketing Lead, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE)

587 635 4278 ext.4278

- Guest User
6 Elements to Building an Effective Communication Strategy During a Crisis

As a business owner many people will look to you as a leader during difficult situations. Customers and staff alike will look for direction on how your business is going to operate going forward and how they will fit into that picture. There are a few key things to keep in mind when creating a communication strategy that will help keep the conversations going in the right direction.

When communicating with customers:

Create Trust

During a crisis it’s important more than ever to be a reliable space for your customers. Once your business has decided on a strategy, make sure that your messaging is consistent. All communication channels and staff members should be saying the same thing. Defer to trusted, credible sources of information and let your customers know how those sources influence your decision-making.

Be Timely

The elements of your business could change rapidly as a crisis evolves, so it’s critical that there is a plan in place to update customers in a timely manner. Changes to business hours, products, and delivery can have an impact on when and how customers interact with you, and these factors should be updated through the appropriate channels as soon as they’re known while still acknowledging that information may change over time.

Build Community

In times of uncertainty the relationship that you have built with your customers can be a source of comfort for both you and them. As much as possible try to focus on messages of solidarity and forward-thinking to create resilience in your partnership. Invite your customers to think about what their future experiences with your business will feel like and how it can benefit them in times of hardship.

In addition to any online communication channels, it’s important to consider what practical, physical signage you may need to incorporate. Provincial and federal health websites provide free posters that can be downloaded and placed around your business. Some useful signs include:

·         PPE reminders (masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, etc.)

·         Physical distancing

·         Business hours or an open sign (especially important in cases where the public may not expect you to be open or when hours are changing rapidly)

When communicating with staff members:

Be Transparent

There will inevitably be a few unknowns as you move through a crisis. Don’t be afraid to let your staff know what is uncertain or still being decided on. When decisions are being made, make a point of explaining why and what the implications will be for everyone involved.

Have Empathy

Good leaders should recognize that disasters are, of course, periods of stress and anxiety, and that will be no different for your staff members. It’s important to express understanding and gratitude as individuals continue to work through these periods of hardship. Emphasize what steps you are taking to prioritize and protect your team as their leader.

Allow for Autonomy

Where possible, make sure that communication with your employees is an open dialogue and they have opportunities to be heard and involved. Give them specific tasks to do and then show confidence in their abilities to carry out those tasks. Allowing them to make their own choices within a set of guidelines will help them feel like they have control while contributing to a greater purpose.  

Choosing the right communication style and medium is not always the easiest process, especially during times of stress, but when done right, it can build an even better connection amongst your team and customer base.

If you keep these 6 elements in mind while building your communications strategy, you will surely be able to effectively navigate through any difficult situation and keep the conversations going in the right direction.

- Guest User
Nasim Morawej shares her experience as a member of the AWE Board of Directors

Nasim Morawej

Nasim Morawej first heard about Alberta Women Entrepreneurs after starting her engineering firm, Sentient Tools, in 2017. When positions opened up on the Board of Directors at Alberta Women Entrepreneurs shortly after, she decided it would be a good opportunity. That choice allowed her to navigate entrepreneurship while helping shape the future of it for women in Alberta.

Nasim’s curiosity and vision have made her an invaluable leader in creating a lasting impact on the community, and she emphasized how symbiotic the position has been for her. AWE encourages board members to participate in the various programs and seminars offered, and over her tenure, Nasim has taken the time to attend many of them, something she says has helped her develop a deeper understanding of the entrepreneurial space, and kept her inspired.

“It's a great opportunity because not only are you contributing and giving back to your community and you are also learning a lot. I have never seen any other board that is this organized and cares about the education of the board members this much.”

One of the most fulfilling aspects for Nasim has been the level of support she feels from the other board members. “That will be the most difficult part of stepping away from this, not to be a part of the group anymore,” she says. “It's been very difficult starting a new business and going through the pandemic. So it's been very inspiring to see all others who are very successful, talented people. The days when I just don't know if I can do this anymore, I pick up the phone and talk to other board members.”

After three years on the board contributing to both the recruitment and ownership linkage committees, Nasim is moving on to focus on a second business and her family. However, the relationships she’s created with AWE and her colleagues is something she plans to continue long into the future.

- Guest User
Understanding the Difference Between Financial Advice & Financial Support

Many entrepreneurs do not strike out on their own already having strong business acumen. Most are driven by passion and a desire to provide for their communities which can make financial management, a crucial part of being a business owner, a big challenge. When looking for help, how do you know when you need financial advice versus financial support?

It is likely that every entrepreneur will need both financial advice and financial support at some point in their journey.

Financial support is centered around obtaining the funds needed to start and operate a business. It can include loans, grants, and subsidies to help cover everyday costs.

It may be necessary to access financial support at various stages in your business such as covering start-up costs when launching your business, getting help when revenues aren’t enough to pay your expenses, or even getting help when one-time expenses unexpectedly come up, or in a crisis situation like the COVID pandemic. A business can also look at receiving financial support in order to expand its operations and reach new markets.

On the other hand, financial advice is focused on leveraging the resources you already have to your advantage and helping you decide when it is time to access financial support.

Financial advisors can offer support in a myriad of ways, including determining the best way to allocate capital, insight on risk management, and how to find opportunities. They may include research and case studies to help answer questions you have about moving your business forward in the best possible way.

Women entrepreneurs can experience unconscious bias when it comes to accessing capital which can result in being treated differently than their male counterparts.

Alberta Women Entrepreneurs recognizes this and offers both financial advice and financial support to women entrepreneurs to help start, grow and sustain their businesses. We provide loans of up to $150,000 to cover expenses including operating capital, equipment purchases, and advertising. If a loan doesn’t seem like the right fit for a business owner at that time, there are resources available to help find grants and other funding opportunities that may be a better fit.  

We also offer free one-on-one advising sessions for entrepreneurs needing advice, whether that’s to discuss the next steps for their business or access other resources. Advising can be done through the phone or online which allows women from both rural and urban areas to access this service.

Dealing with your business’ finances doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Take advantage of the resources available and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. It’s beneficial to society as a whole that you and your business succeed and thrive.


- Courtney Bettin
AWE supports women business owners through uncertain times

The COVID pandemic has reshaped nearly every aspect of our everyday lives. For business owners, the stress of a new normal has been compounded. The more intimate setting of a small business means that the impacts of hardship are apparent and often more personal.

“The pandemic has impacted small business tremendously,” says Jenifer Horvath, a Business Advisor with Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE). “The changes in shopping habits and the shift to online means that a lot of small businesses had to pivot really quickly. And that’s household income for these businesses. In many cases, they may not have been able to feed their families because they didn't have the income they needed.”

Throughout the pandemic the federal government offered CEBA, the Canada Emergency Business Account, which provided loans for small businesses across the country. However, many entrepreneurs were not able to take advantage of it because they utilized contractors, something that was not covered by CEBA.

Luckily, AWE was given the opportunity by PrairiesCan to provide relief funding through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund. This fund gave entrepreneurs greater flexibility in how the money can be used. As a result, the entrepreneurs were able to use the funds in a way that best suited their needs.

“There was also a chance to use the money for technology improvements,” says Amber Hall, a Financing Specialist with AWE. “We saw a lot of entrepreneurs of course taking advantage of that and some pivoting their business model to really get in there and try and still make sales.”

“I think for a lot of entrepreneurs, it's not just ‘if you build it, they will come’ anymore,” she says. “It's build it, work on it, and build it some more.”

In addition to monetary supports, AWE has been hard at work to create a network of support where entrepreneurs across the province can feel heard. They’ve connected  like-minded individuals who had a shared understanding of the challenges that entrepreneurs had faced over the past two years. These connections have been invaluable in maintaining resilience within the small business community.

“A lot of our demographic is women,” says Horvath. “They shoulder additional stresses in the majority of situations. When their kids were home from school, they were responsible for overseeing that while trying to run their businesses and dealing with the normal stress of the pandemic.”

Webinars have been a great way for entrepreneurs to access timely information and be able to ask questions in a group setting. AWE has offered topics such as government supports, upcoming regulations, and how to transition to a digital format.

For those who need a bit more personalized support, all of AWE’s advisors can be booked online for a free half-hour Zoom call or phone call where they give tailored advice and share any helpful resources. This allows women from both rural and urban settings to get the assistance they need as they continue to move their businesses forward. 

“I hope women entrepreneurs see AWE as a safe place to share what's going on, to feel heard, and to be given some resources and ideas to help them move forward,” says Horvath.

If you have further questions about AWE and any of its services, feel free to email or check out their website at

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Businesses of all sizes understand the importance of employee training. It is essential for developing a strong and productive workforce, but managing and keeping track of employee training progress can be challenging. Fortunately, there is now an effective solution: Bridge software. This innovative technology helps streamline your employee training process and makes it easier to track employees’ progress in real-time. This blog post will explore how Bridge software can help streamline your employee training process. 

What Is Bridge Software? 

Bridge software is a cloud-based platform that helps businesses manage employee training programs more efficiently. The platform provides tools such as tracking modules, data analysis capabilities, and automated reporting systems, making it easier for trainers to monitor their employees’ progress in real-time.

Additionally, Bridge software also offers customizable templates so you can create custom courses tailored specifically for your organization’s needs without having to invest time into creating new content from scratch every single time you want to launch a new course or update an existing one. 

How Does Bridge Software Help Streamline Your Employee Training? 

Using Bridge software to manage your employee training program allows you to save time by automating tasks such as enrolling learners into courses, creating course materials quickly using templates, sending out notifications when new courses are available, or updates have been made, tracking learner progress in real-time with analytics tools built into the system, and generating reports on learner performance that provide insight into where improvements need to be made within the organization’s overall learning strategy. Additionally, the platform also makes it easy for trainers or managers to stay informed on which topics need more attention based on learner performance data they receive through the system’s reporting features. 

The Benefits of Using Bridge Software for Employee Training Programs 

There are several benefits associated with using Bridge software for managing your employee training program: 

1. Increased Efficiency: By automating certain tasks associated with managing a large number of employees enrolled in multiple online courses at once (such as enrollment management), Bridge software can help reduce errors and increase efficiency when compared with traditional methods of manual management processes which take up more time and resources than necessary  

2. Improved Engagement: With its user-friendly interface explicitly designed with learners in mind (including visuals like videos), learners are likely to remain engaged throughout their learning journey while also being able to access all their course materials easily from anywhere at any given time  

3. Enhanced Performance Tracking: Through its analytics tools built into the platform (which includes feedback loops), employers have access to valuable insights about how well their employees are performing so they can adjust their strategies accordingly  

4. Cost Savings: Since most Bridge platforms offer subscription plans based on usage rather than upfront costs per user/per course module/etc., employers can save money while still getting access to all features needed for successful online learning management  

5. Flexibility & Scalability: With its easy setup process combined with its ability to integrate seamlessly with other existing systems used by organizations (such as customer relationship management systems), the Bridge software provides businesses with flexibility when scaling up or down depending on their current needs without having any downtime due too lengthy implementation processes.      


In conclusion, The Bridge Software marks a revolution in the sphere of employee training. With its innovative design and user-friendly interface, it transforms the way businesses approach training. It creates a seamless and engaging learning experience, enabling employees to access training materials anytime, anywhere. By leveraging automation and personalization, it adapts to the unique learning needs of each employee, enhancing skill acquisition and knowledge retention. Moreover, its analytics capabilities allow managers to track progress, identify gaps, and adjust training programs for optimal outcomes. Through these features, The Bridge Software streamlines the training process and fosters a continuous learning culture. As a result, businesses can anticipate better performance, increased productivity, and a more competent workforce, validating the strategic importance of effective training solutions in today’s competitive business landscape.

- Zhengwei
Unlock the Secret to Robust Health: Why Healthy Cells Are Your Shield Against Illness

In the grand tapestry of life, our bodies are remarkable works of art. Each day, trillions of cells labor tirelessly to maintain our health, ward off illness, and keep us thriving. Yet, the concept of cellular health often remains a mystery to many. Today, we embark on a journey into the microscopic world within us, to uncover the hidden secret to robust health – the health of our cells.

The Cell: Nature’s Building Block

Our bodies are composed of countless cells, the fundamental units of life. These tiny powerhouses play multifaceted roles in ensuring our well-being. From processing nutrients and producing energy to eliminating waste and fighting off invaders, cells are the unsung heroes of the human body.

At the heart of cellular health lies a simple truth: when our cells thrive, we thrive. Conversely, when our cells struggle, our health suffers. Understanding this delicate balance and how to maintain it is the key to unlocking a healthier, more vibrant life. 

The Cellular Battle: Health vs. Disease

Think of your cells as an army defending the citadel of your body. When your cells are robust and fortified, they form an impenetrable shield against illness. They detect and neutralize threats, repair damage, and keep your body humming like a well-oiled machine. 

However, an array of factors, from poor nutrition to stress and environmental toxins, can weaken your cellular defenses. When this happens, your body becomes vulnerable to a range of health issues, from common colds to more serious chronic diseases.

Your mental and emotional well-being is intricately linked to your cellular health. Practices like mindfulness meditation, yoga, and tai chi can promote a positive mind-body connection, reducing stress and promoting overall well-being. This ripple effect of a peaceful mind extends to your cells, enhancing their resilience.

Also, Quality sleep is vital for cellular repair and regeneration. During deep sleep, your body undergoes essential processes to repair and maintain cellular health. Ensuring you get sufficient, restorative sleep supports overall well-being.

Nutrition: The Fuel of Cellular Health

Proper nutrition is the first step for mitochondria support. Your cells require a balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential nutrients to function optimally. 

To combat stress and protect your cells, consider incorporating relaxation techniques into your daily routine. Practices like meditation, deep breathing exercises, and regular physical activity can help reduce stress and fortify your cellular defenses. Our dietary choices are far from insignificant; they have a profound impact on the health of our cells. Consider nutrition as the fuel that powers your cellular engines. When you provide your cells with the right nutrients, you’re giving them the tools they need to function optimally and defend your body against illness.

The human body requires a wide array of nutrients to maintain cellular health. These include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids, which serve as the building blocks of our cells. When we consume a balanced diet rich in these essential nutrients, we provide our cells with the raw materials they need to carry out their functions effectively.

In the battle against free radicals and oxidative stress, antioxidants are our cellular bodyguards. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that can damage cells and DNA, contributing to various diseases and aging. Antioxidants neutralize these harmful molecules, protecting our cells from harm.

Every cell in your body requires energy to perform its functions. This energy is generated through a process called cellular respiration, which occurs in tiny structures within cells called mitochondria. Proper nutrition is essential for efficient energy production.

The Role of Sleep: Cellular Restoration

We often explore various avenues, from nutrition to exercise and stress management. Yet, one vital component that frequently eludes our attention is sleep. Yes, that nightly journey into dreams is more than just rest for the weary; it’s a crucial factor in cellular restoration and overall well-being. 

As you nestle into your bed each night, an extraordinary journey begins—one that takes place within the hidden realms of your body. Sleep is a dynamic process comprising several distinct stages, each with its unique purpose and significance.

During sleep, your body undergoes a remarkable process of cellular repair and regeneration. It’s the time when damaged cells are repaired, toxins are eliminated, and the immune system is bolstered. Ensuring you get sufficient, restorative sleep is essential for maintaining cellular health.

A fascinating process called the glymphatic system becomes highly active during deep sleep. This system acts as a brain detoxifier, flushing out waste products and toxins that accumulate in your brain during waking hours. It’s a nightly cleanse that helps maintain cognitive function and reduces the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

 Don’t underestimate the power of sleep. It’s a nightly voyage into cellular restoration, a vital process that impacts every facet of your well-being. By prioritizing quality sleep, you’re not only enhancing your cellular health but also fortifying your body’s defenses against illness and optimizing your overall health.

Environmental Toxins: A Silent Threat

In the pursuit of vibrant health and well-being, we often focus on what we can control—the food we eat, the exercise we engage in, and the lifestyle choices we make. While these factors undoubtedly play a significant role in our overall health, there’s another, often overlooked, aspect that can profoundly affect the health of our cells and, consequently, our well-being: environmental toxins. 

We live in a world brimming with innovation and technological advancements, but with progress comes unintended consequences. Our environment, once teeming with pristine air, water, and soil, is now laden with pollutants and toxins that pose a significant risk to our health.

The air we breathe, vital to our survival, is under siege. Urbanization, industrialization, and the relentless burning of fossil fuels have contributed to the proliferation of air pollutants. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and ground-level ozone are just a few of the harmful substances that permeate the air in many urban areas.

The air we breathe, vital to our survival, is under siege. Urbanization, industrialization, and the relentless burning of fossil fuels have contributed to the proliferation of air pollutants. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and ground-level ozone are just a few of the harmful substances that permeate the air in many urban areas.

The impact of environmental toxins is crucial to maintaining robust health. While we may not be able to eliminate all environmental toxins from our lives, we can take proactive steps to reduce our exposure and support our cells’ ability to detoxify and repair.

The Power of Exercise

Physical activity isn’t just good for your muscles; it’s also a potent promoter of cellular health. Exercise improves blood circulation, enhances oxygen delivery to cells, and stimulates the release of endorphins, which reduce stress. Regular physical activity supports overall cellular vitality.


In the quest for better health and well-being, it’s crucial to recognize the integral role of cellular health. Your cells are the foundation upon which your health is built. By providing them with the care and attention they deserve, you can unlock the secret to robust health, ward off illness, and embrace a life of vitality.

As you embark on your journey to cellular health, remember that small, consistent changes in your lifestyle can yield significant results. Nourish your cells, reduce stress, stay active, and prioritize rest. In doing so, you’ll not only protect your health but also empower yourself to lead a vibrant and fulfilling life. Your cells are your allies in this journey—treat them well, and they will reward you with vitality and well-being for years to come.

- Zhengwei

The need for inclusivity cannot be overstated in an increasingly interconnected globe. Among the many communities striving for recognition and equal access to information, the deaf community has long faced unique communication and media consumption challenges. However, the digital era has brought about a transformation in the way we share stories and ideas, offering unprecedented opportunities for accessibility.

Podcasts, in particular, have emerged as an excellent medium for storytelling, learning, and entertainment, conquering barriers of time and space. Yet, their true potential can only appear when they are made reachable to all. Once considered an optional feature, closed captioning has become vital in joining the dots for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals.

In this exploration, we delve into podcasts and their significance on the deaf community, shedding light on the transformative role closed captioning has in making this auditory landscape more inclusive than ever imagined.

Understanding Closed Captioning

Closed captioning is a text-based representation of spoken dialogue and audio cues in audiovisual content, such as television programs, movies, videos, and live broadcasts. It serves as a vital accessibility feature for individuals who are deaf or with hearing challenges, as well as those learning a new language or watching content in noisy environments.

Closed captions (CC) are typically displayed on the screen, synchronized with the audio, and can include dialogue and descriptions of sound effects and music. This technology ensures that a broader audience can fully comprehend and enjoy multimedia content, promoting inclusivity and equal access to information and entertainment.

How Does Closed Captioning Work?

Closed captioning technology allows text to be displayed on a screen alongside video or audio content, providing a textual representation of spoken dialogue and other audio elements. It works through a series of processes involving transcription, synchronization, encoding, and display. Here’s a simplified overview of how closed captioning works:

· Transcription

The process starts with the creation of a transcript, which is a written version of the spoken dialogue and relevant audio cues in a piece of audiovisual content. This transcript can be generated manually by human captionists, automatically through speech recognition software, or a combination of both methods.

· Synchronization

Synchronization with the video or audio content is the next step once the transcript is ready. This step involves time-stamping each line of text to match the corresponding moment when it should appear. Precise synchronization is crucial to ensure the proper display of the captions in real time with the spoken words and other audio events.

· Encoding

The synchronized transcript then needs proper encoding into a specific caption file format. Standard caption file formats include SubRip (SRT), WebVTT, TTML (Timed Text Markup Language), and more. These formats contain the caption text along with timing information and formatting instructions.

· Embedding or Streaming

The caption file is then either embedded directly into the video or audio file or streamed alongside it. In broadcasting, captions are often transmitted as part of the video signal, while in online streaming or DVD/Blu-ray production, caption files can be associated with the video file.

· Display

When viewers watch the video content, they can turn closed captions on or off on their display device of choice. When enabled, the text from the caption file appears on the screen at the appropriate times, synchronized with the audio.

· User Control

Most modern video players and streaming platforms offer user-friendly controls that allow viewers to customize closed caption settings. This customization includes options to change the font size, color, and background, making the captions more readable and personalized.

Benefits of Closed Captioning to Your Podcasts

Closed captioning offers a wide range of benefits when added to your podcasts, transcending the simple act of accommodating viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing. Here are some of the key advantages:

· Enhanced Accessibility

Closed captioning ensures that your podcasts are accessible to a broader audience, including individuals with hearing disabilities. This inclusivity aligns with legal requirements and reflects a commitment to diversity and equal access.

· Improved Comprehension

Captions aid viewers in understanding the content more effectively, especially when dealing with complex terminology, accents, or fast-paced dialogue, resulting in better retention of information.

· Language Accessibility

Closed captions allow speakers of different languages to enjoy your content. They can follow along with the written text while listening to the original audio, making your podcasts more appealing to a global audience.

· SEO Benefits

For business personnel, search engines can index the text within your closed captions, improving the discoverability of your videos. Such a move would lead to increased traffic and exposure for your content.

· Increased Engagement

Captions can keep viewers engaged, providing a visual and textual reinforcement of the audio content. Different studies have indicated that consumers are more likely to stick to a movie with captions to the end. Therefore, they are vital for particularly educational and instructional videos.

· Noisy Environments

Viewers in noisy environments, such as public transportation or crowded spaces, can still watch their podcasts with the sound off and rely on captions for comprehension.

· User Choice

Closed captions allow viewers to deactivate or activate them according to their preferences, giving them control over their viewing experience.

· Legal Compliance

In some regions, providing closed captions is legally mandated for certain types