This is another item that I try my best to always remember. When I say give back I am not speaking about monetarily, I mean recognizing the people who have influenced you throughout your journey. The people who have supported you and believe in your crazy ideas when no one else did. The people who never gave up on you, even after your 1023rd idea! The people who lent you money to start something that they didn’t even understand, yet just knew that it meant something because you said so.
For me, this is actually a long list. I must begin my honoring my mother Maria Soto. She has been there for me both financially and emotionally from day one. She has always supported my ideas, no matter how silly they were. She helped me finance myTripz early on, as well as many other projects. In fact, if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be in the web 2.0 space today.
Another person who has made a huge impact on my life was a gentleman by the name of Peter Atwal. Peter was a technology entrepreneur, VC, and wonderful business mind who took me under his wing, while I was a young energetic college student. Peter, his son Alex, and I worked on a wireless Internet start up in the early days of WiFi. It was a phenomenal experience which really gave me a direction in my entrepreneurial life towards technology.
Lee Kitchen, or as we called him during my days studying abroad in Spain, Senor Cocina. Lee was a very special man who taught me so much about business and thinking out of the box. This funny thing is that he taught through real life stories. He inspired me to be great. Lee has a unique way of making you feel special. Lee was the BEST professor I have ever had and a wonderful friend.
Then there’s Sid Bhatt, who I met on a plane heading back from a one of my father’s business trips almost a decade ago. Sid was actually sitting in between my father and I and offered to move over. We somehow started chatting about technology and start ups, and then a few years later we founded myTripz.com together. Although Sid and I have had our ups and downs over the years, Sid taught me so much about business and working hard. Sid is dedicated to succeeding and frankly, I could have never done myTripz without him, period. He is a super sharp human being who learns quickly and is willing to take huge risks.
Brian Ross and The Southwestern Company Experience – What can I say about Mr. Brian Ross. Brian was the best sales manager I have ever come across. He understood how to conduct himself appropriately and with class at all times. I have never seen him slacking or disorganized. More importantly, Brian is REAL leader. He understands how to delegate by inspiring people to want to get things done and by showing them how the feeling of accomplishment is one of the most powerful energies in life. Lastly, Brian is a phenomenal public speaker; in fact I wish to be half the speak he is one day.
Julio Hernandez, my dear friend. Julio is an inspirational leader, who’s always looking to help others and has been leading for as long as I have known him; which has been since middle school!
Jim “JP” Payne, a true friend and one of the most brilliant minds that I have ever met. JP has been a very influencial person in my life both as a friend and business partner. In fact, I have learned so much about the web space from him.
Last but not least, my father Jorge A Soto. My dad is an amazing man. In fact, he has always been an amazing father and person. And although he is not aware of it, he’s a pretty dam good business man too. He owns consulting company that is engaged in providing companies with employee counseling and training services. He has been a great example of a hard worker and man of integrity.
“Prepare not to Fail, Don’t Fail to Prepare” – Me 🙂
So this is a concept that I feel very strongly about. The idea that when starting a new venture you must prepare yourself for anything. Not to be pessimistic, yet you must expect things to go wrong. You must expect things to get REALLY tough.
Here are a few items that I always just assume will happen, so if and when they do, I am ready. Now I’m not saying that all these things will happen to all entrepreneurs, in fact I’m simply itemizing things that I deal with like almost 100% of the time.
-People will be complacent and lazy: Look we are human beings and sometimes we allow ourselves to become overwhelmed by life’s details, whether it be family, work, etc. In fact, the stresses of the actual venture becomes very draining and leads to you making excuses to be lazy.
-Expect to feel like quitting: You will feel like quitting at some point during the course of your venture. It may be that you have worked yourself to the point that you are just exhausted or perhaps your company is moving slower than you expected.
The point is that something will make you feel like quitting, yet the key is to expect that moment to happen, and because you were prepared, it becomes a non factor. You might say to yourself “I knew this would happen, let me fix the issue and move on”. Needless to say people, quitting in not an option. Quitters Don’t Win, and Winners Don’t Quit – a Southwester Company Bookman quote.
-Expect Delays: Face it, especially when developing software, there will always be delays. So when planning your sales initiatives don’t over promise a prospect or partner. If you promise a deadline or a product that you cannot meet, you will look silly and disorganized. And although, this may not totally tarnish the relationship, its still not a good way to begin a relationship.
-Expect Disagreements: Look if you seriously doing a start up, its because you have an opinion and have the ambition to make special things happen. In fact, I have never met an entrepreneur who didn’t have an opinion. So, expect that your partners will have opinions that at times will conflict with yours. And guess what; that’s ok! Be open to others’ ideas, comments, etc.
Others will not pull their weight (make sure you do!): This admittedly drives me freaking crazy. All I have to say about this is, IT WILL HAPPEN. So what do you do? Well, assess the true value of this or these people and contributions to date. If you know, that they are valuable and have contributed, then you RESPECTFULLY address the issue.
You might just find out that there are some legitimate issues around why they are not pulling their weight. With that said, ultimately you can only control what you do and make sure that you are doing what you have committed to do.
So where did it start? Where did the addiction that I now call entrepreneurship begin?
Well, frankly, I don’t remember the day that I took my first risk or faced my first challenge, which are items that ALL entrepreneurs deal with on a consistent basis. But I do remember the moment that I realized that I could achieve anything within business if I simply wanted it bad enough and was willing to work hard for it. It was my junior year at Florida State University, when my new and equally as ambitious friend Senor Cesar Garcia and I decided that we wanted to attend a huge conference in NYC which featured the owners of some of the top companies and sports organizations in the world. The problems were a) we were broke college students and didn’t have the $1000 + for the registration cost and b) we needed to be part of the media to get in for free.
So what did we do? Well, like every good entrepreneur does, we used are freaking brains and started to think out of the box! – and at that time that meant beer + pizza (umm…not sure too much has changed over the years…lol…hehe). After a days we came up with a strategy, which entailed representing a New Jersey-based local newspaper at the conference and covering it for them! Brilliant right?! So We applied for media passed and waited…and waited even more…and more. Until the a few days before the conference, we got a call stating that we were granted the passes and that we were good to go! You can imagine how happy we were, yet we still had one issue to overcome; we were in Tallahassee, FL and the conference was in New York City!
Well, folks I can tell you that we never made it dude to our transportation issue, but what i will say it that we succeeded. Cesar and I won. And our takeaways were simple; we can do anything, concur anything, and succeed at anything if we think wanted bad enough, were willing to work hard for it, and more importantly used our brains!
As silly as it sounds, that year Cesar and I would speak nonstop about businesses that we were going to start businesses and how successful were we going to be one day. And that my friends was the beginning of my journey…
So, I’m not sure if its me or are there a crap load of acquisitions going on right now!
I mean just this week, you have Mint.com being bought by Intuit (Shut outs to Sid, I’m proud of you man!), Nokia buying Plum, and talks regarding Adobe buying Omniture – and I’m sure I have missed a bunch more.
Ok so, the Mint.com deal was a good one I believe. Mint.com is a great application, uniquely positioned within its space. Additionally I believe it will continue to grow. It was a decent deal at $170 million dollars or whatever it was.
Regarding the Adobe deal, I get it; they want to grow a new business line within online – Ok fine. It could be a good win for Adobe and Omniture is a well known, solid organization.
Now for the stinker of the crew, Nokia, what in Gods name are you doing buying Plum. I can name a million better options than this. For example, KickApps.com here in NYC, has a product called KickFamily.com which would kick Plum’s ass. Share on you Nokia. As for the Plum guys, atta boy or girl; you managed to get a decent valuation on your thing.
So the question is: Are M&As really back??
“It is only as we develop others that we truly succeed”- Harvey Firestone
I’ve missed over 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot . . . and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. – Michael Jordan
Good morning world – So I’m siting here at my day job, getting ready to start my day of cold calling new prospects, researching markets, and dealing with the everyday joys working for someone else. Now, don’t get me wrong, life at work is nice. We have a young company, which is doing well, in fact, we are doing better today than we have ever been. It’s just that I learned a long time ago that no matter what I do, I will never be completely happy working for someone else. It’s a realization that I had to come to grips with. Yet for now it’s ok though; I am a learning a crap load and have met some great people. It’s yet another training ground for what lies ahead in the near distant future…
I must say that I am a better business person today versus I was when I first got here. I have had the chance to work within a space that I really love, web 2.0 & social media, while having the chance to make some good friends: like TJ “Dragon” M who is probably one of the most brilliant creatives I have ever met and all around good hearted person. Maliki O, a truly special human being; the type of guy that you wouldn’t mind spending hours around speaking about life’s philosophies or a new business idea. Halit B, an honorable gentleman who seems to do no wrong. The type of guy that you would fight for in the heat of battle and who you know would have your back without question. Big E, a visionary, who has enough ideas and energy to fill a room. Speaking of rooms, when he is around the energy he brings is infectious and inspiring.
Of course, there are a few more people that have really made an impact on me by being who they are as people as well as colleagues.