Matt Haycox On What Corona Virus Means For Business Funding In The UK

The coronavirus is undoubtedly the biggest challenge to businesses of all sizes and in all sectors for several generations. We spoke to UK-based investor and entrepreneur Matt Haycox from Funding Guru to try and make sense of how it’s going to impact businesses now and in the future, what steps business leaders can take to survive and how to adapt your strategies to ensure you and your business make it through this time of huge challenge and uncertainty… Matt Haycox is a business funding expert and as such is primed with ideas on how businesses can deal with the cash flow issues that are inevitably coming as a result.

Q What’s your reaction to this last few weeks?

A Obviously these are unprecedented, worrying times for us all. It’s also a horrendous time for ALL businesses – and EVERYONE is going to be badly or very badly affected. There’s no point in sugar-coating it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a large business, a one-man band or a wannabe entrepreneur, and it doesn’t matter what sector you’re in.

Another reality check – this has not even really started. We are a few weeks in so far with MUCH longer to go – so we haven’t even begun to feel the true effects of it all.

BUT – this could be the big kick in the bollocks that forces many businesses to hit the reset button…and business owners need to get this into their heads and not shy away from it. Business is not on hold – it hasn’t stopped. You can still grow your business by working your arse off, by taking risks, by being creative, adding value and always be pushing forwards. The climate right now will sort the boys from the men! Now is the time for Leaders to Lead.

Q Surely now is the time to stop paying anyone and keep what money you have for yourself?

A NO! NO NO NO and NO again!!

I’ve seen first hand and heard about many more business owners using coronavirus as an excuse to not pay their suppliers and to find other methods of gaming the system.

Here’s the bottom line. If everyone hoards what money they have and doesn’t pay anybody, the wheels of business are going to grind to a halt completely. Yes we are going to have tough choices about who we pay – whether you pay the one-man band who’s been there for you since the start, or settle your British Gas bill instead – but we have to keep money moving around the economy otherwise it’s all over and we might as well stay under our duvets and give up.

Treat you suppliers as you would like your customers to treat you. Be fair and communicate.

Q How can businesses and entrepreneurs react positively at this super hard time?

A Now is a very good time to think outside the box and build real goodwill with your customer base. No business leader should be wallowing in self-pity and worrying, stressing yourself out and passing this stress on to their employees. Think of ways to continue your business model – even in a very reduced capacity. If you’re a restaurant – offer a takeaway service and promote it everywhere. If you’re a dog walking service, put yourself out there now to help dog owners who are stuck inside self-isolating. It might only generate very limited revenue, but it will keep you visible to your customers, so when we all come out of this they’ll remember you, how you helped them at this critical time and turn to you again.

Q How do I ensure me and my business are visible when the news and social media is full of just one story and probably will be for weeks/months?

A I talk about and write about all the time that there are no excuses for not creating content to keep yourself visible. Well now there REALLY is no excuse!! Fuck Netflix – get creating content! People always say that they’re too busy to do this – well ‘busy’ is bullshit anyway (I blogged about this recently) and now all I’m hearing is ‘I’m bored’ and ‘how am I going to fill my days?’. Wake up! Turn this into a positive – now’s a fantastic time to get creating blogs, videos, podcasts, live streams on Facebook and Instagram…I can’t stress enough that you have to have as many marketing channels as possible to stay in people’s minds, even if you only get a handful of viewers. It’s better to have less people that are interested than lots who aren’t!

I’m still spending the vast majority of my time on business, but of course it’s important to have interests and hobbies too. We all know that if you enjoy playing sport, going to the pub or eating out you can’t do any of those things at the moment – so focus on things you CAN do! Learn a language, teach yourself a new skill…not many people know that I can play the piano, and also my first job was a magician in our local Italian restaurant! I stopped when I was about 18 and have never done it since, so I’m definitely going to pick that up again…watch this space!

Q Will there be any industries that grow during this period, and if so, which ones?

A Obviously, any industry which is looking for a vaccine, organisations making protective equipment such as masks and private hospitals which are going to be used by the NHS are likely to get a boost. But not many others.

Lots of SMEs in this country have been on the brink of disaster – ie bankruptcy – for some time. Frankly, the easy availability of capital over the past few years has been a sticking plaster for crap businesses – businesses that have not had enough wool on their backs. Coronavirus has arrived, so now they’ve now had barely any income for two or three weeks and are already learning they haven’t got any mechanism in place to cope.

As I’m sure most of you know, my ‘day job’ is funding businesses. Me and my team probably look at about 50 applications a week for business loans – from a huge range of business sizes in all sorts of sectors in the UK.

Here’s the thing – so many UK SMEs are not actually making any money. The accounts might look reasonable on paper, but when you delve deeper they’re running on zero cash balances, meaning that even the slightest disaster could push them out of business – and as we all know already, coronavirus is much bigger than that.

I’ve got no strong political views, but in my view the government have reacted pretty strongly and quickly to help businesses, with the 80% wage promise and various grants available. BUT if you’ve got a crap business anyway, even a £10k loan from the Chancellor will only act as a another sticking plaster – and unfortunately this time round the wound is too big for a plaster to buy you any more time!

Q With so many people now working remotely, do you think the business hub model will change?

A 100%!

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on the WFH business model – because I’ve always hated the concept of it. But it’s not that the model doesn’t work – I’ve either had the wrong staff or the wrong procedures to police it.

Someone who is an expert on WFH is a friend of mine – Tim Cameron-Kitchen. His entire business model has always been remote – he runs a large business with 100+ members of staff spread right across the world, and you’d never know they weren’t all sat together in the same office.

The new reality is that a lot of businesses are going to be forced to embrace the WFH model – and if they get everything about it right, many will thrive from it. I’m embracing it at this time so will be learning much more about it, just like many other business owners!

Finally – remember. Yes, the world has been turned on its head, but it’s only going to be for a relatively short period of time. Every crisis has an end point and this one is no different. Follow the government’s guidelines, stay safe, keep positive, keep the wheels of business turning and I’ll see you soon x

Q:Is there any recent chats you’ve had about the corona virus that could be of interest?

Over the last week or so I’ve spoken to four people in very different sectors to find out more about coronavirus – don’t worry, I’ve abandoned my usual sofa chats for now and used Skype or social distancing! The first was with Dr Robert Lambkin-Williams, a scientific consultant and an expert in virology and immunology who I had on the Matt Haycox show. I know what you’re thinking, what does that actually mean?! It means he knows almost everything there is to know about illnesses and how the body responds to them. He gave me a great insight into how coronavirus started, what it actually is, how it affects people, precautions to take against it (stop press – wash your bloody hands properly – for 20 seconds!) and what ‘lockdowns’ hope to achieve. I learnt so much.

Part two was more of a business focus with Andy Clayton. He’s a successful entrepreneur who’s been based in China for 15 years, which as we all know is where the virus started. He gave me a really interesting perspective on how life has changed there over the last few weeks and months, how businesses have been hit and how they’ve tried to adapt.

My third coronavirus themed interview was with Laura Spinney, a science journalist and author of ‘Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed The World’. She was very pragmatic and realistic about coronavirus and how it’s going to have a huge long-term impact globally.

My most recent chat was with a good friend of mine, the no-nonsense businessman, accountant and entrepreneur Paul Cheetham-Karcz. This was a straight up, no bullshit discussion covering the government’s move to guarantee 80% of employees’ salaries affected by coronavirus, how we all need to take responsibility for keeping business moving, showing leadership at this time and much more.

DISCLAIMER From Matt Haycox: As well all know this is a rapidly changing situation so some of the information may be slightly out of date – but the business advice stands!

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/matt-haycox-corona-virus-means-133001901.html

An Interview With Ricky Cucalon, The Man Behind The ATM Movement

Hello Ricky Cucalon, welcome to Startup Fortune. It’s our pleasure to have you here, could you tell a little about yourself for our readers?

I’m a civil engineer from SF state who traded engineering to follow my passion as an entrepreneur.

We have read about your story being someone who became a millionaire from a little boy who used to wash cars in the street, could you please recall your earlier days for us?

Coming from a hardworking modest family i decided to become an entrepreneur at a young age because of the struggle i saw my parents go through while i was growing up.

You have graduated in Civil Engineering, do you ever regret not being an engineer by profession?

I graduated in 2016, and I do not regret the choice I made whatsoever. Entrepreneurship is where I am happiest and can make the biggest impact on the lives around me.

How did your family and friends react when you started your career as an entrepreneur?

Skeptical, no one really supported me. There were days I would question my sanity. I knew in my gut that it was the right choice to make.

You believed in Bitcoin before many of us did. How did you first know about it?

I found out about it when it was only $30. I was the type of guy that I thought I knew it all. I told myself that’s money for smart people. A month later I saw it go from $30 to $400 so I decided to go from knowing it all to learning it all and open my mind to it. By the time I purchased them, it had shot up to $800. I was able to buy 18 Bitcoin’s at $800 a piece later the price shot to $20k a piece and i was able to make over $500k and quit my job and pursue my passion.

Please tell us more about your widely known ‘ATM Movement’, how did you come up with the idea to empower people through their smartphones?

ATM stands for About The Millions and the goal is to help people make WIFI money and start working smarter instead of harder.

I realized that people that were looking for opportunity but didn’t have the info because they were taught to be an employee like I was myself. I came to the realization that everyone has a smartphone so if I gave people the right information I could change their financial situation.

Being an influencer on Instagram, what’re your thoughts on the role of social media in marketing?

Social media is everything when it comes to marketing. Our generation would rather buy from instagram than any other type of advertisement.

Are you working on any specific projects right now? Where do you see the company going from here?

Expanding the company worldwide. I envision the ATM Movement in every single city in the world. Millions of people are praying for opportunity and it’s my duty to give them one.

More details about Ricky Cucalon can be found at:

https://www.instagram.com/ricky_cucalon/

An Interview With Leenda Nicole Dejel, The Creative Head Of CatheXis Talent Agency

Today we’d like to introduce you to Leenda Nicole Dejel.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Leenda Nicole. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.

Growing up with a single dad most of my life, my parents did not have enough money to support costly extracurricular activities. As a result, I learned to take initiative in discovering and funding my interests as a kid by mowing lawns and finding jobs that needed to be done. A real tom-boy. I spent some time in foster care and homeless shelters in-between poverty and custody battles. At the beginning of high school, I moved from Utah to Colorado. It was a whole new world. In 2010, I was titled Miss Lafayette Colorado and went on to compete in Miss Colorado America for a scholarship. In the process of picking a ‘Talent’, I struggled to find my ‘inner gift’ but soon realized that talent comes in many forms. I did not win a scholarship, but I was able to work while going to school and somehow pay tuition and rent my own apartment without financial assistance. With this insight, I designed CatheXis to cater to all, by providing an array of opportunities and resources for anyone who is willing to work towards their goals with a growth mindset. A community where people can share their talent(s) and learn/teach new skill sets while paying it forward.

The name CatheXis came to me while reading a book called The Road Less Traveled. The book talks about love, and how to love ‘unconditionally’ means caring about what is best for someone else even if that has nothing to do with you. To Cathect is to love; it can drive one crazy, or push us to be great. According to the dictionary, it literally means: “to invest energy into a particular person, idea, or object (even to an unhealthy degree).” This was salient to me because it sheds light on the essential balance that is needed when we invest ourselves in things like our careers and love-life. CatheXis gives us the power to harness our pain and passions as fuel to accomplish our life’s biggest goals.

The big red X in CatheXis. Malcolm X went to prison and utilized the only resources he had to teach himself how to read and write. He was a great leader that had the discipline and courage to educate himself, question things, inspire many, and fight for what he believed in. One evening as a kid at the dinner table, I told a family member that I thought Malcolm X was the greatest man I had ever heard of, and that I wanted to name my future son after him. I was told that I could not name my kid a “beaner name”. I didn’t even know what that meant, it can mean different things to different people. Now take it with a grain of salt, none of us are raised the same, we come from different families, experiences, and cultures of which we have no control. Sadly, that was my first experience with what I learned to be racism, ignorance at its finest. That was when I realized our moral responsibility to make this world better for future generations.

The red X stands for an unspoken collective knowledge that slavery still exists and we won’t stand for it; from human trafficking, child marriage and corporate/political corruption, to things like migrants being sold as slaves and underpaid workers. Our Talents’ wear their shirts with the red X right over their heart, in remembrance that we are our brother’s keeper.

Last but not least, Malcolm dropped his surname “Little”, which he considered a slave name, in favor of the letter X. This is significant to the fact that I wanted to create a safe place where our Talent can leave everything that does not serve them in their life, in order to become the best version of themselves. So many of us waste our lives blaming our parents and/or our past, instead of mustering the courage to take action and prepare before opportunity knocks. A reminder to grab life by the horns, take control of our destiny and rise to the divinity within each and every one of us.

Has it been a smooth road?

2014/15 were the best years of my life. I graduated college, started teaching yoga for the Denver Nuggets, moved out of an unhealthy living situation and was just starting to get my business off the ground. I was ready to conquer the world! But it was not smooth sailing. In 2016 I was robbed for more than I was worth, diagnosed with one of the most aggressive kinds of cervical cancer, and had to move back in with my parents; being kicked out shortly after because I was not making enough to pay rent. The most depressing part was when medicare would not take me without a physical address to get the surgeries I needed. I remember getting a gym membership so I would have a place to shower and get ready for work while mentally preparing to sleep in my car until I got my housing situation figured out. From the top to the bottom, real quick.

Graciously, my doctor did the surgeries for free; we couldn’t wait. She told me not to worry about it since I had previously volunteered to be on the board for the reproductive health clinic and helped in reviewing the education materials. I thought that since I had always been responsible it would never happen to me, but it did.

With a few new jobs and a roof over my head, I got back on my feet pretty quickly. Determined to live my best life while I was lucky enough to be alive. With a lot of hard work, I was able to double and triple my gross revenue each year until finally, I started making more money from CatheXis than all my other jobs combined.

The hardest part is believing in yourself when nobody else does, especially family. People often want you to do what is in their best interest, understandably so. Unfortunately, your ‘best’, won’t be enough for some people, but that doesn’t mean YOU aren’t enough. My advice is to be fearless. Don’t be scared to be homeless, don’t be scared to take your own path or be scared to say NO, and don’t be scared to piss people off. We are all going to be wrong sometimes, but that’s how we learn. Only YOU know what is best for you. Like Will Smith says “Fail early, fail often, fail forward”.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into CatheXis Talent Agency story. Tell us more about the business.

My passion is helping people grow. I am a nanny, waitress, yoga teacher, talent agent, and founder. I love all my jobs and everyone I work with. The most exhilarating moments are working with CatheXis, when we invest in helping a new talent put together their portfolio and they finally book their first paid job. It’s such a delight to know we are literally helping make people’s dreams come true, even if it’s just one small step in the right direction.

Right now our Talent are featured at/in malls and airports in 100 U.S. cities and 13 countries. Our goal is to continue to grow so we can help our talent travel and get more unique experiences.

What sets us apart – One director told me that he had worked with a lot of “Celebrity” talent/actors and that he got twice as much done in the same amount of time, while working with our talent “because they are so humble and easy to work with”.

It’s also what booking our talent says about your company. CatheXis requires all our signed talent to do 20 hours of community service each year. We believe that social responsibility and being a positive role-model are essential for a better world and our client’s brands. Booking with CatheXis Talent supports ‘people who care about other people’, by providing jobs to talent who are serving our community.

Do you have a lesson or advice you’d like to share with young women just starting out?

Today women have more opportunities than ever before. With women’s nurturing nature and exceptional communication skills, they make impeccable managers and CEOs’. Learning to be politely assertive is a skill that can help us all in business and personal life. The trick is self-mastery, controlling our emotions. Communicating from a place of love and empathy instead of impulsive/defensive, catty, and pretentious reactions. When we put the focus on being the best version of ourselves and finding a way to be an authentic, contributing member of society it’s crazy how doors begin to open.

Pricing:

Contact Info:

  • Address: Denver Office: 1532 N Emerson St. Suite #8 Denver, Colorado 80218
    (By appointment only)
  • Website: CatheXis Talent
  • Phone: 303-868-3628
  • Email: Leenda@CathexisTalent.com
  • Instagram: @LeendaNicole
  • Facebook: @CatheXisTalent
  • Twitter: @LeendaNicole, @CatheXisTalent

Other: CatheXisTalent.com

An Interview With SafeSense, The Project That’s Building The World’s First Active Safety Bicycle Handlebars

The brains behind SafeSense are rethinking what bicycle safety means. Using cutting-edge technology used by the likes of Tesla, they want to revolutionize bicycle safety. SafeSense is a startup based out of Philadelphia.

Hello Jibran, welcome to Startup Fortune, it’s indeed a pleasure to have you with us today. You are building a very unique project here. Could you tell us a little about how it all started? Where did you get such an interesting idea to work on?

Thank you, I appreciate it. This idea was actually born 2 years ago. I was doing a 6 month internship in center city and I occasionally used to bike there. In a span of 6 months, I had 3 very close encounters with cars. There were always cars pulled up into the bike lanes, picking up or dropping off people, and then there were these crazy drivers who were either distracted or late for work. My friend and I joked that only if we had someone sitting behind us who could spot cars, how great would that be? Then the realization struck, why don’t we build something that will do that for us.

Are bicycle accidents really that big of a problem?

Certainly, without any doubt. People think that cities are becoming bicycle friendly by giving cyclists their own lanes, and theoretically that should reduce accidents, but it doesn’t. Just two days ago, a report came out that bicycle accidents had seen their worst year in the past three decades. Every year, for the past decade, car accidents have been decreasing, but bicycle accidents have been increasing. More people are now biking due to environmental or health concerns, so there are more bicycles on the road than ever before. Just as an example, NYC is one of the leading cities for bicycle safety, and they spent billions on a project called Vision Zero, which aims to reduce bicycle accidents, and last year, according to their own Department of Transportation’s data, 26 cyclists died, and there were almost 5000 injuries. That is about 400 bicycle accidents every month. 

How does SafeSense work?

SafeSense works like blindspot monitoring for cars, but it’s much smarter than anything available for cyclists right now. So we are developing an AI powered camera which will have a vision capability, meaning that it will be able to see things like a human eye would. It will identify and track vehicles behind a cyclist. It will be mounted on a bicycle seat post, just like a rear reflector is mounted on a seat post. Now alongside that, we have a pair of handlebar grips that we call “active grips” and these grips can light up, they can vibrate, and they can beep at you. When a vehicle is detected, the grips will glow red, this will enhance awareness by letting a cyclist know that there is a vehicle behind them, and if the AI camera determines that a car is coming too close or is on a dangerous trajectory, the grips will flash, vibrate, and beep at the cyclist.

WOW. Where can we buy this?

We are finalizing our prototype but we will be launching a Kickstarter campaign in mid December, if you’re interested.

Can you tell us more about the core team members? Who are your key people?

Our core team is a group of amazing and dynamic individuals working on SafeSense. I happen to have an excellent co-founder and bicycle enthusiast, alongside me, Robbie. Then we have two brilliant people, Toan and Josh, and they are working on developing the AI camera. Then we have Su, she is a master at user interface designing, and she is designing an app. And we have Lorenzo, our creative lead, and he’s helping us with our Kickstarter campaign.

Just curious, do you think consumers would be interested in adding more technology to their bicycle? Assuming these would be expensive. Or how economical is it?

Well, first of all, people spend a lot of money on bicycle accessories. Last year, people in the US spend over $3 billion on bicycle accessories. Now, our product retails for $299, which is a very competitive price point in the bicycle accessory market. Initially, it probably won’t appeal to everybody’s budget, but eventually we want to make it even more affordable. We want to make it as affordable as possible so that more people can stay safer.

How are you funding the project? Have you already got any investors?

Right now, we are funding it ourselves, and we won a competition a few months back which greatly assisted us. In the near future, we are launching a Kickstarter campaign for crowdfunding.

In your opinion, what makes the project an important one in today’s world?

I personally am a believer of technology and I think that this is the best time to introduce SafeSense to the world. At a time like this when more and more people are biking, and accidents are increasing, we cyclists need better safety. If I say the phrase bicycle safety in the year 1980, what would you think? Probably a helmet. And if I say the same thing but changed the year to 2019, your answer would probably be the same. In a span of 4 decades, no new safety technology has been introduced for bicycles. This is why our motto is bicycle safety beyond the helmet.

Your technology, artificially intelligent sensor monitors and tracks vehicles, do you have plans to expand your services to other vehicle segments as well?

Other vehicle segments already have this technology. Car accidents are decreasing, and they are decreasing because of new safety technology like automatic braking, lane assist, and blindspot monitoring. We are just bringing another version of that technology for bicycles.

Is this just one project or do you have more ideas in the pipeline?

The one thing that our entire team shares, is the passion for creating great products that are a cross-section of arts and science. I think that a product should be beautiful enough to be eye catching, but simple enough to get the job done. SafeSense is just the first step. While creating SafeSense we realized the huge innovation gap in the bicycle market and we want to disrupt this mafia of old bicycle manufacturers and accessory manufacturers like Trek and Garmin that make ugly looking overpriced products. We have a couple of other things that we want to start working on as soon as SafeSense is out of the door.

Thank you again for taking time for doing this with us. We wish all the best for your project.

Thank you very much for this opportunity, and I would like to mention that our Kickstarter goes live in mid december so go to our website www.safesense.xyz and sign up to be added to our mailing list.

You can find more details about SafeSense at: 

www.safesense.xyz

https://www.facebook.com/SafeSenseTech/

An Interview With Pranav Arora, Founder And CEO Of Stunned Mind

Pranav Arora has proven himself to be an entrepreneur at heart, even at a very young age. He’s started his first million-dollar business at the age of 16. Pranav is a brilliant businessman driven by a passion to make a change and a keen skillset that it takes to be successful within the world of business. He’s the Head of Division at Just Funky where he is also responsible for overseeing B2B and B2C sales and marketing.

Hello Pranav, it’s indeed a pleasure to have you with us, welcome to Startup Fortune. Being a highly successful entrepreneur at a very young age, could you tell a little about your early journey to entrepreneurship?

I have always felt a passion for entrepreneurship. When I was younger, I would constantly come up with new business ideas that I would want to share with my parents. In middle school, I began my first “business” by buying packs of gum and pencils then sold them to my classmates in between our classes. This was my first real taste of being an entrepreneur, and I was in love.

When I was sixteen years old I started my first business. It was called Highly Educated and was a business focused on selling smoke products and accessories like hookahs, stash jars, and incense. Through the remainder of high school and into the first half of college I grew my business in my spare time. After half a semester at college, I made the decision to drop out and focus my full attention on growing my business.

This decision was one that was not well received by everyone, especially my parents. However, I knew to effectively grow my business I needed to give it my full attention. Once I made that choice, I never looked back. I was able to successfully grow Highly Educated to be a million-dollar company. It was after a few years of growing the business that I made the decision to sell and pursue other passions.

Today, I hold the position as Head of Division at Just Funky, a premier manufacturer of all things pop-culture as well as the founder and CEO of Stunned Mind, the sister company to Just Funky that handles all e-commerce business. Looking towards the future, I am excited to help grow Just Funky and Stunned Mind, as well as, develop my new companies Naturable, Deciph-AR, and JTMD Holdings.

Did your parents feel comfortable when you decided to become your own boss instead of pursuing a conventional career path?

In the beginning, when I made the decision to drop out of college to pursue my business full time I could tell they were not supportive, but I think that would be a normal reaction from most parents. However, when they saw how passionate and determined I was to make my business work, paired with my growing success the finally gave me their full support.

On your journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur, what skills and tools do you think are fundamental to success in business?

Fundamental skills to have when becoming a successful entrepreneur and business owner are passion, determination, and willingness to learn.

Passion and determination will get you through the many ups and downs that ultimately come with being an entrepreneur. It is easy to put in the work on days when everything is going right, but the truly hard work comes when you have to put in the work for weeks when nothing is going right.

As I mentioned above, the road to building a business will be filled with countless ups and downs. To thrive as an entrepreneur it is important that you learn from every decision that you make. There is an amazing quote my dad has attached to all of his emails. It reads, “you can never make the same mistake twice… because the second time you make it, it’s not a mistake, it’s a choice.” I have let that quote guide me through my entrepreneurial journey and found that it has saved me from repeating a majority of the messy mistakes I made at the beginning of my journey.

What was it like to be a teenager and at the same time be a responsible business person? Did you feel any pressure back when you were starting out?

I will be honest, it was hard. I was stuck between wanting to be a regular teenager and desperately wanting to be a business person. In the end, my passion for wanting to start my own business outweighed my want to be a normal teenager. This meant I never fully enjoyed my teenage years and missed out on a lot of events others might look forward to. However, in its place, I accomplished goals some people wait decades to make. When it is all said and done, I am happy with the decisions I have made.

Could you tell us a bit about the initial challenges you had to face while building your business?

The two biggest challenges I faced while building my business were not having the complete support from people were closest to me and not having sufficient funds to scale the business right away.

How do you feel when finding yourself doing so much more than the regular person you age? Do your friends and family treat you any different?

It can be odd to spend time with people my own age. Most of my young adult life has been spent around business professionals who are much older than me. When I do have the chance to spend time with friends my own age I need to remind myself to act my actual age and enjoy being young.

I would say my friends and family do tend to sometimes treat me a little differently. Though, at the end of the day, I am a normal person.

In your experience, what is the most important quality as a person one must possess to become a successful entrepreneur?

When pursuing the path of being a successful entrepreneur, the most important quality to have is determination. When challenges arise, it will take grit and determination to find a solution.

What is your advice to the young entrepreneurs who are still struggling to find success with what they do?

Never give up. If you find something you believe in, pursue it with everything you have. One day, all your hard work and determination will pay off and you will be happy you never gave up.

Interview with Michael Evans, CEO of USPA International Security Regarding Security Company Franchises

Michael Evans is CEO at USPA International and USPA Nationwide Security. This security guard company is the corporate chieftain of an evolving business ecosystem, comprised of several subsidiaries, delivering personal security, anti-kidnapping, human trafficking assistance, safe rooms, security technology and traditional security services in 14 countries since 2005. Panic Room USA builds nuclear shelters, ballistic walls for schools, religious buildings and private individuals all over the world.

Hello Michael, welcome to Startup Fortune. It’s a pleasure to have you with us today. Please tell us a little bit about USPA International and the services you provide?

About 15 years ago, USPA was a name I thought of in my friend’s backyard. I envisioned this large security company in my mind. Today, USPA International is a multi-national security company with operations all over the world, including our licensees (similar to a security company franchise), we employ by direct employment or contract, more than 3000 security professionals. We have been operating in high-risk zones abroad, providing close protection, armed ship security in South Africa and anti-kidnapping services as well as recovery operations in parts of South and Central America. In the United States, under USPA Nationwide Security, we provide traditional security guard services, private investigation, close protection and emergency fire watch.

Being a security firm that provides technology and general security services to 14 countries, what makes USPA stand out from other security companies in your opinion?

I believe it’s because we put value before profit. We are the only security guard company in world to offer services free to women and children. Free services include kidnap recovery, abduction support, domestic violence assistance and relocation assistance to women and children who are in a seemingly inescapable situation. While we cannot take on all cases for free, we try to help as many families as we can when funding, time and logistics allow.

Could you tell us a bit about the initial challenges you had to face while building your business?

In any business, we need to evolve with the times. If I were doing business today – the same way I was doing business 10 years ago – I’d be out of business. Your question regarding initial challenges can be an interview in and of itself. That is why I started Blueline Capital many years ago. Blueline is the parent company of startasecuritycompany.com and officersuppydepot.com; two companies I formed with my partners to be the resource for helping people start their own security business. Through consulting, eBooks, templates and videos, I was able to help thousands of new security business owners to get past the initial challenges, which are usually the brick wall that stops people from succeeding in business.

Could you please tell us more about your Trademark Licensee Program?

Most people who are looking to start a security company, look into current lists of security company franchises. I am not a fan of buying a security franchise for a new business owner. I created my trademark licensee program for people who would like to jump into the security market with both feet, with fifteen years of experience, business credit, references and credibility in their corner on day one. We have so many different options for our trademark licensees. Some choose to go after a single contract while leveraging our credentials and they remain a one-contract company without any further advertising. Examples of this business model are returning veterans, securing a contract to protect and manage a private residence (actors, singers, etc). While they may possess the knowledge, skills and abilities to secure the family, estate, conduct route planning, etc. they would never get in the door to present their skills, without a well-known, well-oiled machine of a business behind them.

Others seek our program to bid on government contracts, where there exists a time-in-business requirement. Our licensees are able to leverage, not only our time in business, but our real-life experience and management of such contracts, both domestic and abroad.

How do you select your security business franchisees? Are there specific guidelines to apply to become one?

I personally review every application for licensee. The most important trait I look for are: reliable, honest and capable of performing the services they will offer. I can teach anyone business, but I cannot teach them to do the right thing. That started at the dinner table, when they were children.

What are the future developments of USPA? Do you have plans to expand your services to more countries?

We are currently seeking new trademark licensees in the United States and we have opportunities in areas around the globe. The first step is to call us for a quick demonstration. In fifteen minutes, you’ll know if this program is right for you. We are on the cutting-edge of technology. We create what I call, the “New CEO.” The days of giant buildings, expensive overhead and antiquated business models are as useful as Blockbuster is to movie rentals. Call us and see why we’ve become the standard by which other companies emulate and measure their success by.

Thank you again for taking the time for doing this with us.

You can find more details about USPA International Security at: www.uspasecurity.com

 

Creating Luxury Footwear Everyone Can Afford: An Interview With Somiar Co-Founder And Designer Josean Cruz

SomiarWith their timeless designs of luxury footwear ranging from Chelsea style boots to the classic lace-ups and a unique sense of style, Somiar is making premium designs, that’s crafted in Spain, available in the U.S. market at a price range that every fashion enthusiast can afford.

In this interview, Josean Cruz, the young, dynamic and talented designer and Co-Founder of Somiar talks about Somiar and his passion for premium footwear designs, and their ‘dream’ that started in Spain.

Hello, and welcome to StartupFortune. Thank you very much for taking the time to be with us. Could you tell us a little about yourself and your journey as a designer?

Thank you for having me and gladly; Somiar was co-founded with myself and two other co-founders, Emmanuel Hernandez and Hector Hernandez. Our journey really stems from having similar upbringings and unable to afford nice shoes. The three of us are very different, so the boots and shoes we design had to be versatile, like us. It’s why we named our brand Somiar, which means to ‘dream.’ We manifested a dream to reality, which is more than anyone could have expected from three guys from urban Philadelphia.

What’s the inspiration behind the designs at Somiar? What do you think makes Somiar unique?

The inspiration really comes from our transition from always wearing really popular brand name sneakers to a more adult, grown shoe. We changed our styles and needed shoes to go with our looks. Even while shopping around none of the shoes were really versatile, being either too formal or too casual, so we decided to start designing our own. We traveled to Spain and got to know our artisans personally. We met their families, learned their history and shared our history with them. We built such a good relationship, we consider each other family. We made sure that they had everything they needed and in good working conditions. It is what makes us unique, this is a family-owned business, true to values and traditions, and we try our best to exhibit that to our customers.

How does it feel to be running a family business, a passion and craft passed down through generations?

It’s an amazing feeling. It’s the most rewarding part of our business. We know the traditions of handcrafting shoes have been passed on for generations and we translate that into every package we put together, by adding more personal touches to every package.

What were the initial challenges Somiar had to face while expanding to the U.S.?

Challenges, there would definitely be two that stick out to me. The first is the competition and differentiating ourselves in such a saturated and competitive industry. The second would be producing standout designs that would captivate the versatility of the market. Our shoes are not meant for anyone’s style of person. It is for everyone, of every style, of every age and every personality.

What do you think of the current design trends in the industry? What are the things you do to make sure Somiar keeps up with the never-ending design changes?

I think the current styles and trends are so variable. You can have old-school looks like a combat boot and combine that with trending colors and materials, to innovate a new look to an old-fashioned shoe or boot. We love fashion, and because our styles are so different, we pull trends and ideas from all outlets. We research through social media, celebrities, tune in to Fashion weeks globally, etc.

Would you like to talk about how Somiar handles customer support that makes it stand out from the others?

We provide multiple channels for support; we have a live chat, we provide a phone number on our website and we are also very responsive and involved on our social media accounts and via e-mail. We really value all feedback and inquiries we receive, so we want to treat everyone with the utmost respect and let them know we are here for them.

That’s really cool! Can you explain a little bit about the process at Somiar from the design to the artisan to while the product reaches the customer?

We work very closely with our artisans. It is definitely a two-way street. They have ideas that we may have never seen and we provide them ideas behind some of the trends in the industry. As a team, we agree to the designs and even the names for the shoes and boots. Once we settle on a design, we get samples made to fine-tune any additional details we’d like to see. We then set a quantity to be made in which they are sent to the United States. Upon receiving the shoes and boots, we go through them “with a fine-tooth comb” to ensure consistency in our product. When a purchase is made we personally package and add all of those last details in the packaging that makes Somiar so special. We also provide Free Priority shipping and all tracking information for every purchase made.

Could you tell us about your favorite designs of Somiar and why you like them the most?

Our favorite designs would have to be The Lu, The Legend and The Winged Valdez. They are such unique designs. The Lu with the dragonfly patterns makes it truly a one of a kind. The Legend is a classic, no matter the color. Finally, The Winged Valdez is definitely a favorite for us; by far one of the most versatile styles we have and has our signature of the winged toe.

What are the future plans for Somiar?

Our future plans are to grow our business and keep delivering to everyone. We want to remain consistent in our personal touches but also lead to new trends, designs, and styles. We also may be exploring an opportunity for clothing designs.

Thanks again for your time Josean, and now, one last thing. Where can we find more details about Somiar and its designs?

You can check out our latest designs at www.somiarthreads.com. Also, please follow us on Instagram and Facebook for the latest news, trends, and alerts.

An Interview With Adrian Kotowski, The Founder And CEO Of Audiencly

Influencer marketing has grown to an important industry in recent years, now it has become a critical part of any business and is becoming increasingly popular.

Today, we are interviewing Adrian Kotowski, the young and dynamic entrepreneur who’s already established several sustainable businesses. Adrian is the founder and CEO Audiencly, an agency that is revolutionizing the way influencer marketing works. In this special interview, we’re discussing his projects, future goals and his journey to becoming a successful businessman at a very early age.

Hello Adrian, welcome to Startup Fortune, could you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Thanks for having me here! I am from Germany, 20 years old and I am operating with global Influencer Marketing for over 5 years now. Over the years I have gained a lot of insights and created some of the most viral and successful Influencer Campaigns on Youtube.

All my previous companies have used Influencer marketing in order to acquire our target users and with our successfully working Influencer concept, we have helped several brands and established companies to succeed on a bigscale throughout the years.

You are only 20 years old now, how old were you when you created your first business? How did it go?

My first business was a website for item games which I have created at age15 to 16. It turned out way more successful than ever expected and that was the stepstone for my passion for Influencer Marketing Campaigns. At that time our small team has hired a well-known Gaming Influencer to promote and use our Website which has acquired us many additional users and organic traffic from a solid source.

That has lead to the idea of managing Influencer operations and relations for other brands too and to finally founding an Influencer Agency which has improved over the years to become the version as it is today running several huge campaigns on global markets.

Audiencly had such a successful start. What makes Audiencly so unique and beneficial for every company?

We built a solid concept that connects an Influencer management agency together with a Campaign & Marketing agency. This allows us to drive big influencer campaigns on any scale with great results.

Besides we have understood to distinguish Influencers that are worth it and build one of the biggest networks consisting of valuable Influencers for every niche and region.

Can you share a few more insights on how Influencer marketing has changed throughout the years and what Audiencly has changed?

One of the main aspects that we have to understand pretty early and which has brought us ahead of many others is that we understand the importance and especially we can track down valuable Influencers rather than just Influencer with a big reach.

In the past we have worked with Influencers with millions of impressions and views but who had only like a 5% conversion rate whereas our valuable influencers that we work with today might have a slightly smaller reach but they have an extremely strong bond to their audience and are able to really“Influence” their audience and achieve conversion rates far over 20% which obviously turns out far more profitable for the brands.

That’s wonderful! Can you explain a little more about the process to start a campaign with Audiencly? How does it work?

The process of how to start a campaign with us is pretty easy. All that needs to be done is to contact one of our Managers or me via our website or LinkedIn and we will instruct all the further details about the plan, target audiences, and goals and we will look into their business to get a proper understanding of everything in order to use all the information and create a working campaign plan which can be implemented immediately. However it certainly helpt to already have a clear vision on what you want to promote, what audience do you want to target and are your main goals you want to achieve with this campaign so that we can work on how to make your goals become reality.

What are the future plans for Audiencly, where do you see the company going from here?

We have planned big projects for Audiencly and really interesting campaigns which will catch a lot of attention and bring awareness to our client’s products more than ever before!

We continue to expand every day and grow consistently and so does our network of amazing Influencers, Brands and Team members to create more successful campaigns at a higher level every time.

Thanks again for your time Adrian, and we wish you the best with your future endeavors.

Wesbite : www.Audiencly.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Audiencly
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/audiencly/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/audiencly/

An Exclusive Interview With Tattoo Model And Entrepreneur Vany Vicious

Vany Vicious is a popular tattoo model born and raised in Dade-County (Miami, FL) She’s been professionally modeling since the age of 18, and has over a decade of experience. Vanys work includes everything from fashion to lifestyle, gore and cosplay. She started getting tattooed at a young age and fell in love with the industry. At 18 Vany Vicious was a body piercer working in multiple tattoo shops in the Miami area which is how she began getting tattooed and also being photographed for tattoo magazines . Vany Vicious has reached over half a million followers on Instagram and over 4 million followers on her facebook page organically. Because of her gigantic social media presence, she is now a successful entrepreneur and has two business aside from her modeling career; ThrowBack Garage and Haute Floss.

In this exclusive interview, Vany talks about her career as a model, her goals and her journey to become a successful model.

Hi Vany, thank you very much for doing this with us! Welcome to Startup Fortune. Could you tell us a little about yourself? What’s your story?

Hey there, of course! My name is Vanessa but i’m known on the internet as Vany Vicious. I’m a model and entrepreneur. I’ve been in numerous tattoo magazines across the world including a few covers, and I now have 2 online clothing stores called Haute Floss and ThrowBack Garage.

How old were you when you started modeling and why did you want to become a model?

I started modeling at 18, so I’ve been in this industry for over a decade. I honestly never thought about modeling and never really thought i would ever be the “model-type”. I was a weird kid growing up and was never really the “pretty girl”. When I was 18, my roommate at the time purchased a camera from a garage sale or something. We spent the entire day playing dress-up and taking photos around our house. I was kind of digging the photos so I uploaded them to MySpace and was soon contacted by a Pinup Girl style website. They asked if I would be OK with them publishing the photos on their site and I agreed. From then on, I kept shooting with professionals I was meeting on Myspace, kept posting, and my social media presence kept growing.

What was your first big break in the industry? How long did you have to wait for that?

I think the first time I ever got really recognized was probably on my first cover shoot. Which totally happened randomly. It was Savage Magazine a very very long time ago.

What were the initial challenges you had to face?

At the beginning I didn’t have many challenges because I didn’t have as many people watching. I think more challenges come along the more popular you become. I think the biggest challenge is letting go of the negativity people spread on social media. It bothered me for a while, constantly having millions of people telling me everything that they think is wrong with me.I’ve learned throughout the years that you can’t please everyone. And I’ve truly accepted and embraced who I am 100%

What is the most interesting incident that happened to you during a shoot? What has been your favorite job so far?

I’ve had a few interesting moments for sure. I’ve done shoots with baby crocodiles which was pretty awesome. I’ve also almost fainted during a shoot because I thought it was a good idea when I first started to starve myself before shooting. I’ve learned my lesson . I also almost drowned attempting an underwater shoot a few years back with a piece of cloth that was about 50 feet long. Everyday is a new day !

I honestly don’t have a favorite because I constantly work with such amazing and creative people, I really cannot pick a favorite. I love every chance I get to create something new. I recently shot in Joshua Tree National Park in California which was beyond amazing.

Would you like to mention a couple of your clients? Any specific names or brands that you’ve worked with?

I’m so grateful to be able to work with brands I love. I work consistently with ProSupps, GButter and Fashion Nova and I love them all. I am forever grateful that they gave me a chance .

Now, let’s talk about something else for a moment 🙂 What is your favorite movie of all time and why? Do you have a favorite celebrity?

My favorite movie of all time is True Romance. There is just something about that movie that I find so dope. I think one of my favorite celebrities is Leah Remini. She is hilarious and so tough . She reminds me of my family members, she could easily be my cousin .

What do you think is the most unique quality of yours? What makes you stand out?

I think what makes me stand out is my hustle. There are thousands of girls who do this type of modeling, and there are thousands with way more followers than me. But I know I’m doing something different when these girls are reaching out to me for advice on how to grow their personal brands. I think the way I market myself, and the way I have been able to build a business from being me is what separates me from the rest. Not everyone has that grind mentality.

Tell us about your diet and exercise routine. Do you eat nutritiously? How do you train? Do you like yoga?

I train 4-5 times a week and I love heavy lifting. I train like a body- builder because that’s how I was taught and that’s how I’ve seen the most results and changes in my body . I do eat well, except on weekends. Ya girl loves her cheeseburgers. Not a fan of yoga though, having big legs makes it difficult to be flexible but I need to work on that.

Becoming a successful model is just a dream for many. Is there anyone you are grateful for helping you get where you are now?

I’m grateful to every photographer that has worked with me, especially in the beginning. One person I am extremely grateful for is my friend Vanessa (VaneVivid) on instagram. She is the first photographer that got creative with me and there was a big chunk of my career that I was only shooting with her for magazine publications. She always believed in me and we always produced really amazing images. She is a big part of my life and I love her to death.

What are your future plans? Do you have any plans to create your own fashion startup at some point?

Right now I’m putting a lot of my focus into my two stores . I started them both around the same time this year so they are very new. I’m treating them like my babies. Haute Floss is an online swimwear and women’s clothing boutique. Throwback Garage is a vintage clothing and home goods shop I opened on Etsy.

That’s wonderful! Tell us about your journey, from a model to become an entrepreneur!

I’ve been able to fully support myself with my modeling career for a very very long time. I know modeling is not going to last forever so I thought that putting some time into new ventures would be a smart thing for me to do. Although, I have college degrees, the entrepreneurship is what really makes me happy.

As a person who started in the industry at a very young age, do you have any advice for those who want to become a model?

My advice would be , do not shoot anything you are uncomfortable with. Intuition is a very real thing. If something doesn’t feel right at a photo shoot, or even during a conversation before, Don’t do it.

When you are not busy modeling, what are your favorite activities? Do you have any hobbies?

I’m truly a work horse. I’ll have fun when I feel like I’ve done enough. It sounds miserable to some people, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thanks again for your time and now, one last thing. Where can we follow you? 🙂

My instagram is @OfficialVanyVicious, my fitness IG is @vanyviciousfit

Facebook Page https://facebook.com/officialvanyvicious

and website: www.vanyvicious.com

Thank you!

An Interview With The Italian Entrepreneur, Alessio Vinassa

Alessio Vinassa is the founder of company AMAAR MANAGEMENT LTD, which operates in the software development field. AMAAR MANAGEMENT LTD is creating a payment institution that will be the turning point in the relationship between people, banks and payment processors. Some of the features of the project include personalizing your account and using blockchain technology. Relevant to many, even support is available 24/7. We contacted the company AMAAR MANAGEMENT LTD’s founder, Alessio Vinassa, to get a preview on the payment system that will be released by the softer development company AMAAR MANAGEMENT LTD in November.

Let’s start from the heart of the matter… as a payment institution, what makes AMAAR MANAGEMENT LTD different from all online payment processors and banks?

Alessio Vinassa: To be different in the market, we need one thing… to offer a solution to a need. Only when you come up with a solution can you be noticed in this saturated market and above all, be successful.
Today, people need to be able to manage their money. In recent years, the policy of banks has become increasingly rigid with respect to customers – payment limits, limits on receiving money, and an endless bureaucracy that slows down your operations and your business. I believe that all of us as entrepreneurs have found ourselves in these situations. Measures taken by banks or payment processors is in the interest of their own safety, but when your bank makes it difficult for you to work, then it is creating a problem for you.

Does this mean AMAAR MANAGEMENT LTD is creating a service aimed at companies?

Alessio Vinassa: AMAAR MANAGEMENT LTD is creating a payment institution for people. They can be companies, freelancers, and individuals without a VAT number. The focus is on the customer, this time for real. The service that AMAAR MANAGEMENT LTD is designing allows for the customization of accounts. A user can choose services to suit their own needs, going beyond the simple differentiation between a personal account and corporate account. Upgrades and services will also be available to select from. This way, each user can be satisfied as they do not have to adapt, but can choose their own personalized account. And there will be no slowdowns or annoyances that could put at risk the success of a business operation, or the sending of an urgent transaction to a family member.

What will the credit limits and transaction times be?

Alessio Vinassa: It depends on the client’s account. A customer can request to be able to transfer larger numbers; the important thing is that there is a relationship of mutual trust between customer and company. When checking the account, if you want to access higher upgrades, there will be an online meeting (via call) between the customer and the payment institution’s staff where the customer can present themselves and their business. This way, all verification procedures are carried out immediately, avoiding any future verification that can become an obstacle to one’s money management.

How long does it take to set up an account?

Alessio Vinassa: You can open your account, send information to request verification and receive a response in an hour. In just an hour, you can have a verified account and get a digital card for online purchases.
Business account verification occurs in 48 hours. Once verified, you will be able to send and receive money in a short time without suspensions or further checks. Here, the bureaucracy is simple and businesses can work easily. Everything you need is required at the beginning and once you start using it.

Will your payment institution have a registered office?

Alessio Vinassa: Certainly. There will be the headquarters where AMAAR MANAGEMENT LTD offices will be, with the programming team that manages the platform, and the support team available 24/7. It will be a corporate office where the customer’s presence will never be required; all checks, from the opening of an account to verification and support, will take place entirely online. Today, people want to have everything on their device, and that’s what AMAAR MANAGEMENT LTD is creating.

When will it be possible to open an account?

Alessio Vinassa: The service will be launched in November 2019. Until then, the brand will not be revealed. AMAAR MANAGEMENT LTD has made arrangements for the first customers to use them. Around 500,000 people and businesses are ready to open their account.

Will your programmers create the blockchain system?

Alessio Vinassa: Customer transactions will take place in the blockchain. This is to give the highest level of security available today – complete transparency from the system thanks to the blockchain ledger, keeping customers’ privacy safe.

A payment institution that offers a completely online experience, with lean bureaucracy that can offer users speedy transactions. The integration of blockchain technology will make it possible to get to know the real state of the institution, and to benefit from the security of its portfolios. Only one mystery remains: the name. The next update will be in November.

More details about the platform and more about Mr. Alessio Vinassa can be found at Alessio Vinassa