#PivotStories 04 w/ Marie Prokopets, Co-founder at FYI

Marie Prokopets is one of Silicon Valley top founders & even better human. In this episode Marie opens up about her pivot experiences and gives us wisdom to stay agile with our product roadmap.


Follow Marie on @Twitter 👉 https://twitter.com/MarieProkopets

Learn more about FYI here 👉https://usefyi.com

Post-Production by www.instagram.com/renderhausagency/

Subscribe here now: http://bit.ly/sotoventures

Follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sotoventures…

Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sotoventures/

Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sotoventures

Imposter Syndrome: a symptom of the human ego, a major contributor to the human condition.

I launched my first internet-based startup in 2005 and never looked back. MySpace was poppin and Facebook this online community for college students that used “networks” defined by your .edu email address had something really special about it. 

I was already a non-technical entrepreneur in a very technical world, which meant that I was completely beholden to someone else to actually bring my idea to life. Talk about feeling like an imposter on your first day as a founder in a world that sounded like gibberish and ran by engineers. I was an artist-hustler with a big heart who excelled at sales.

I did undergrad in Psychology and a masters in Integrated Marketing Communications both at Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL. Great school, great times but I always felt a bit inferior academically up against institutions like MIT, Harvard, Northwestern, etc. I had come to value academic achievement in my 20’s and wished I would have put more focus on it.

So when I got to “the valley” for the first time in 2005, I was constantly insecure about the fact that I went to a state school in Florida. I also thought that if you went to a great school you were better, smarter, etc, so it caused me to put people on an automatic pedestal just based on where they went to school. So I felt like I was an imposter every time I was in a room full of ivy leagues and Stanford grads.

One other place this was amplified was when I would pitch investors. Most of them very well accomplished academically, and then they pass on you; you can imagine the imposter syndrome there. 

I still feel like this at times but I know it’s more about my own insecurities and not because people are better because of their .edu. I have come to realize that we all suffer from the same human condition and suffer equally despite our external, social, economic differences.

I know it sounds crazy but the rich and poor person suffers equally just about different topics. One is suffering because they have no food to eat, the other is suffering because they have too much food to eat.

One of the downsides of feeling like an imposter in entrepreneurship is that you feel shitty for a long time through your journey. The upside is that you keep climbing mountains, some familiar, and some completely new to you.

As a serial founder, the imposter syndrome has caused me to suffer, and has driven me forward. At times it’s fueled me to prove others that I was worthy. Others it was about validating to myself that I was not insane and smart, etc.

It’s hard to know completely if this is actually a decent strategy overall as a maker of progress, but I can say that it has proven over and over again to be very unhealthy physically and spiritually.  

The thing about being a founder is that you’re truly trying to bring something to life that didn’t exist before, while fixing all the collateral damage happening around you based on this chaotic, however unavoidable process of starting a company that involves humans to work.

The imposter syndrome is relentless especially when you haven’t “been successful”. Especially in places like Silicon Valley, LA, London, NYC, etc. Silicon Valley and NYC having the most intensity around this in my opinion.

The thing is that MOST entrepreneurs have “failed” ventures at one point or another. And failure is something that you have to get used to in order to live a life as an entrepreneur. And the imposter syndrome is often times involved somehow in your suffering after a venture “fails”.

Thoughts are common like: “maybe I’m not good/smart/attractive/educated/equal enough?” Maybe I’m not one of the lucky ones? Maybe people like me don’t achieve these kinda things?

The challenge with the startup world particularly in Silicon Valley is that success is defined by a small set of achievements. Things like whether you’ve sold your company before, are a billionaire, raised money, etc. So anything outside of these things are stereotypically failures. 

So what’s the cure? I don’t know. But I think it’s something that is tied to one’s overall happiness and self acceptance.

Mindfulness and the practice of unconditional love is definitely something that can help.

But I think the most lethal habit here is comparing yourself to others.

If we can figure out how to not to do this in an unhealthy way, I believe we can successfully fight imposter syndrome.

Me performing a Green Day song with some locals in Puerto Galera, Philippines 

I’m laughing to myself as I sit at my family friend’s brunch spot in an area that is known for being a Manila hot spot called Borough (facebook) in the BGC area.  

I was laughing because it dawned on me again. The fact that I hit a rough patch of the school of hard knock learnings this year, 2018. I don’t want to write a post about all the rough moments because I’m getting sick of giving them to much attention, however all you founders know what I’m talking about.

FirstCut decided to pivot as we found that investors just don’t really like unscalable or painfully scaled business like services, even tech-enabled services, many times give you; so you’re forced to increase pricing to justify the chaos and stress. Hence the reason why agencies only scale with humans and humans hit their limits quick. Especially us millennials. 

After the dust settles and clarity is regained, I’m quite thankful for the leanings.

Pivots are not easy and really test the very fabric of a startup. I’m interested in interviewing founders who have experienced a pivot regardless of outcome.

Now back to go good stuff. So Manila’s been great and being around family has been amazing. It’s so heart-filling to be around people that you are so closely connected to, by blood. It’s such a powerful bound. I’ve been hanging out with my 91 year grandma, who has better dance moves than I.

Anyways, follow me on Instagram for more:

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jorge Luis Soto Aranaz (@sotoventures) on

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jorge Luis Soto Aranaz (@sotoventures) on

View this post on Instagram

#LiveMusic #Cousins

A post shared by Jorge Luis Soto Aranaz (@sotoventures) on

View this post on Instagram

My grandma and I…91 and counting ❤️

A post shared by Jorge Luis Soto Aranaz (@sotoventures) on

View this post on Instagram

My mom and I ❤️

A post shared by Jorge Luis Soto Aranaz (@sotoventures) on

Sorry it’s been a while since I last published a blog post on here. The fact is that I’ve been on a crazy journey the last couple of years and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down; which I love and hate…lol

Without going into “too many details”, in summary:

Since 2010, I’ve traveled-to/lived-in at least 12 countries, launched a company through a world-class incubator in Tomas Korte’s Angelpad.org, helped build and sell a company to a pre-IPO Twitter for hundreds of millions of dollars, partnered with Bitmatica (they are the best product builders on earth) to bring a SaaS sales tech dream of mine to life in Dashtab, partied like a celebrity [thanks to Jim Payne, Bryan Atwood, and Nafis Jamal founders of MoPub!], recorded music in Argentina, lived in a cave in Granada Spain, played guitar with random people on the streets all over the world, fell in love, grew closer to my family, fallen in love with all of my closest friend’s kids, finally think that I understand myself and life a little better.

In addition to many many more incredible experiences, once of the most exciting aspects of my life today is the birth and steady growth of FirstCut.io. I suppose I should give you my one liner so: Freedeo is the best way for a small business to get a professionally -produced customer testimonial video made within budget and on-demand.

How it started? – And Why Video?

My now Firstcut co-founder Tomas De Matteis and I first met at Google’s Campus Madrid in 2015. I was running a workshop on sales and entrepreneurship, and he behind the camera. In 2016, Tomas and his wife moved to the U.S and we decided to formalize a business we had been working on called Sotoventures Media.

Sotoventures was a big experiment trying to figure out how we could monetize our passion for innovation, education, and of course, video production.

I have spent the last 9 years in social media marketing, SaaS, AdTech, and sales education. My partner Tomas De Matteis is the “real deal” audio, visual mastermind from Buenos Aires, Argentina. He comes from a long line of industry directors, actors, and film makers. Tomas literally “grew up behind the camera”. He started making films as a child prodigy and was helping configure sets as a young teen. If you’re ever in Madrid, Spain, try to visit the De Matteis family’s Plot Point Theatre.

In Q1 of 2016 Tomas and I launched a documentary series called #StartupsUnedited, which required that we conducted more than 30 interviews with VCs and entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley area. After a week of running around Silicon Valley with 4 cameras, LED lights, lav mics — we accomplished our goal.

However, the real learning by Tomas and I was how we could operate a scalable, fast-cased camera crew that synced with a post-production that churned out high quality HD video content. We quickly launched a new brand called Firstcut, which stands for our ability to on one side “free the video maker from having to deal with the pain of finding new projects, getting paid, and dealing with post-production heartaches”. And on the other it stands for being able to also “free the sales, marketing, and/or customer success leaders to get testimonials made within budget, on-time, and on-demand”.

Next thing we knew we started to work with venture capital firms like Bee Partners (see videos here) and SaaS companies like Guru (see videos here), Pattern (see videos here) and many more.

After a few months in operation it became very clear that my colleagues in the SaaS tech industry, not only greatly benefitted from but needed customer testimonial videos made on-time, within budget, and without headaches.

So, now I make customer testimonial videos for SaaS sales, marketing, and customer success teams

We want all SaaS sales, marketing, and customer success teams to hire us to film and post-produce (editing) testimonial videos like this or see below.

Using video in all your external prospect and customer communications is no longer a “nice-to-have”; it’s a requirement is on all marketers OKRs/goals this year and moving forward.

What about my travels and global adventures?

I am a traveler and will never stop adventuring. However Tomas and I are obsessed with democratizing professionally-produced video production so that one day every small business in the world will have easy and affordable access.

Building Firstcut has been my #1 focus since Q4 2016 and it will be this way moving forward for as long as it takes to fix this industry for good. We are in the stone ages and enough is enough. Taxis were forced to innovate due to Uber and Lyft. The hospitality industry is having to step up due to AirBnB. Today we are challenging the corporate video production industry to step up and streamline.

The b2b video movement is in great company. We are joined by folks like GoAnimate, Wistia, Animato, Frame.io, TwentyThree, Slide.ly, VidYard, and so many more amazing tech ventures.

We are now based in the Berkeley, CA with teams in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Coral Gables, FL. Our production teams are based in Berkeley, CA and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Our sales and operations teams are based in Coral Gables, FL.

I’ll keep you update with how Firstcut is growing, my life is evolving, and of course you gotta check out my new band Scrop Mcgroo.