Riley Rees – When pain pills don’t work turn to entrepreneurship

Riley Rees – When pain pills don’t work turn to entrepreneurship

Riley Rees – When pain pills don’t work turn to entrepreneurship

April 07, 2021

Sofia Health interview on Enterprise League

People are completely dependent on broken systems that do more harm than good. One of them is the health system. Somehow, it all falls down to pain pills rather than focusing on proper diagnostics and healing. 

But instead of allowing to be consumed by the system, Riley Rees, an ex-pilot, decided to improve it. After she suffered an injury and couldn’t crack her options with alternative and holistic medicine are, she came up with an idea that will help millions of other people like herself. That’s how Sofia Health, an on-demand health and wellness platform, was born.

Feeling under-appreciated as an employee, a nonexistent work-life balance, financial struggles, getting out of bad relationships – these are the most common triggers that push women to become entrepreneurs. Tell us about your trigger?

For me, there wasn’t a trigger to become an entrepreneur. But there was a spark that drove me to solve a problem. When I needed to find a way to heal from an injury, it was extremely difficult to find out what all of my options were in alternative and holistic medicine. 

The traditional healthcare system limited my options to taking pain pills. What I needed was a way to solve the root issue so I never needed a pain pill again. This frustrating journey to holistic healing was the spark. I want people to know what all of their options are so they don’t have to search endlessly for answers or live in pain, discomfort, or the unknown.

After forging down this path, it is clear the label ‘entrepreneur’ is fitting!

Riley Rees quote on Enterprise League

How did you come up with your business idea?

A personal injury! It’s the same story many people have: multiple doctor visits, numerous tests, temporary relief options — but no long term solution. 

After I found alternative modalities and practitioners to help me — I started researching. From the discovery interviews and personal stories, it was clear a lot of people faced the same problem. In my case, with acute pain, I was told to take pain pills. But for the individuals experiencing an issue that has yet to be diagnosed, such as an autoimmune disease, chronic disease, or anything related to taking care of your mental health, this journey was far worse. For some, this meant hundreds of appointments with different providers, numerous tests, thousands of dollars, and hours of endless research online with no resolution in sight. This doesn’t even account for the toll it takes on your mental health or the impact on your quality of life.

I decided to get serious and build a business so individuals who are in need of alternative health and wellness solutions won’t have to face the same challenges. 

At the same time, I also discovered the market for practitioners is fractured. They are difficult to find, but beyond that, many people don’t even know what they’re looking for. If you have chronic headaches, do you know someone specializing in gut health might help? Probably not! 

Sofia Health was founded to empower individuals to take control of their health and facilitate the connection between client and practitioner. We provide a platform where people can search for practitioners based on their symptoms and find care that addresses needs holistically. We aim to cut friction so individuals can connect to the right practitioner offering the right modality, at the right time.

Have you had support from someone, even if just encouragement? Who was that and how did it help you?

Absolutely. None of this would be possible without my team. Having a primarily female-driven team is incredible. I am able to work with women that are powerful, talented, incredibly smart, and also supportive. Jennie Zamberlan has been a driving force behind Sofia Health. If you are looking for a trustworthy, world-class engineering team, I would recommend reaching out to Avantia!

Female entrepreneurs are often underestimated and overlooked. Have you ever felt at a disadvantage?

Yes! It reminds me of a time when I was younger. I was sixteen and decided I wanted to be a pilot. Not just a private pilot but I wanted to be a part of the elite group in the Air Force. People laughed, I was definitely underestimated. Ultimately, I kept going and now I have flown for both the Air Force and commercial airlines in aircraft from the C-17, B-757, B-767, and the B-777. 

The aviation industry has come a long way thanks to strong, brave women paving the way to make women in the industry ‘normal’. Today, no one would laugh when a girl has a dream to be a pilot. 

I’m hopeful the same happens in the future for women who want to start companies, build businesses, and become entrepreneurs. When we ‘the collective society’ can get past laughing and underestimating women, we can get to work, change lives, and make an impact

Some say it’s hard work, others say it’s talent and resourcefulness that play a crucial role for success in entrepreneurship? Which traits have been instrumental for your success so far? And why?

All of the above! I would include having the right mindset and being resilient is crucial. Whether you come to Sofia Health and find a life coach, health coach, discover alternative healers or turn to your family, it is important to get the support you need to endure the ups and downs

What excites you the most about being an entrepreneur?

As an entrepreneur, you’re a creator. You get to design your life and create new experiences for yourself and your clients. 

Share with us some of the worst business advice you’ve ever received?

Raise as much money as possible. 

A lot of advice, talks, and praise are given to startups and their founders who have raised the most money. While the funds from raising money can help with market research and product development, it’s important to know the economics of your business and the consequences of taking other people’s money. Raising a large amount of money does not always equate to success and in some cases, it can be a contributing factor to a company’s failure.

You’ve got a high stake investment opportunity. Pitch your business in 150 words.

Sofia Health is your on-demand health and wellness platform. Individuals can find, schedule and book with a provider to get the physical, mental, spiritual support they need — anytime, anywhere.

The platform also provides a valuable business structure for practitioners – often solopreneurs – to market, book, take payments, and even sell products.

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to inspire aspiring entrepreneurs?

With so much advice available, I would like to offer a bit of tactical advice. 

Learn to experiment and test the validity of your idea(s). Do not rely on the input of friends or family who might not see or understand your vision but rather focus on the data collected from potential users. And definitely ignore the ones who laugh!

What are your goals for the upcoming year?

In addition to growth, we want to make sure that individuals affected by the pandemic understand they have a place to go for support with their physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health. 

We also want to highlight the many amazing health and wellness providers on the platform. Their work, passion, and dedication have touched and transformed lives! 

Connect and partner up with Sofia Health on Enterprise League

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Jessica Hershfield – Entrepreneur who fought Imposter Syndrome and won

Jessica Hershfield – Entrepreneur who fought Imposter Syndrome and won

Jessica Hershfield – Entrepreneur who fought Imposter Syndrome and won

March 11, 2021

Just enough interview on Enterprise League

What’s more fun: the inner workings of a scooter or wine? Wine, of course! That’s why we’ll forever be grateful to Jessica Hershfield for leaving her career in Big Tech behind and blessing us with quality, tasty, canned wine – Just Enough Wines. Honestly, we’ve finished too many wine bottles just to prevent them from spoiling, and we’re so happy for Just Enough Wines because now we won’t end at AA meetings.

Together with her co-founder, Kaitlyn Lo, they’ve managed to shake up a male-dominated industry and prove the naysayers wrong, “Canned wine will never sell”. Well, it does and it’s taking over the market with the speed of fermentation.

Feeling under-appreciated as an employee, a nonexistent work-life balance, financial struggles, getting out of bad relationships – these are the most common triggers that push women to become entrepreneurs. Tell us about your trigger?

Before founding Just Enough Wines, I worked in big tech. From Google, to Uber, and to Lime, I spent many years in roles across Marketing, Product, and Operations; however, I constantly found myself unfulfilled. I knew I wasn’t following my passions, I was constantly the only female in the room, and I was tired of making money for someone else. 

It all hit me at the end of 2019 – I was on vacation in Spain, wine tasting, and was absolutely dreading going back to work. I was much more fascinated by the culture of wine, than I was the inner workings of a scooter, and I knew I needed to make a change. No one should spend the vast majority of their time doing something they don’t want to do. 

Jessica Hershfield quote

How did you come up with your business idea?

After I left Lime, I spent a few months searching for what fulfilled me. I landed on wine as I loved the ubiquitous nature of it – I loved that you could have it with your fancy dinners, but could also make it a part of your Netflix and chill routine. Within wine, I wanted to solve my own problem – either drinking too much wine, or not finishing the bottle and wasting it several days later; so I landed on a single format solution to wine.

Living in San Francisco, I naturally gravitated to canned drinks as a portable and convenient way to take with me as I explored local parks and beaches, but I struggled to find a canned wine that actually tasted… good. I couldn’t understand how there could be an incredible wine region an hour drive from me, but I couldn’t find a canned wine solution that held up to the quality of wine found in many traditional bottles. I set out to make a canned wine that escaped the poor quality expectation, allowing us all to drink the wine we desire whenever and wherever we want. 

Have you had support from someone, even if just encouragement? Who was that and how did it help you?

Yes – so many people have helped support me on this journey, and I am eternally grateful. My family, my friends, my therapist, and all the people in the industry who took my call when I reached out to them!

One particular person who has really pushed me to start my own business and believe in myself is my partner Bradley. It’s somewhat ironic, but he is also currently one year into founding his business, Mylance. I was wine tasting with him a year ago, and complaining about going back to work, and he was the one who really advocated for me to pursue the life I wanted. He helped push me through my own imposter syndrome and be able to find the confidence in myself to start Just Enough Wines. I was worried we were going to be a two entrepreneur household starting businesses at the same time, and that would be incredibly difficult. But we have been able to learn through each other, and help grow our businesses together.

Female entrepreneurs are often underestimated and overlooked. Have you ever felt at a disadvantage?

One of the biggest challenges I have faced throughout all aspects of my career is imposter syndrome. I have felt my accomplishments didn’t matter, and that I would be exposed as not being capable of doing the role I set out to do.

A lot of women I know face this similar challenge at a greater extent compared to their male counterparts. The wine industry is a typically male-dominated industry, and at times I found myself wondering if I could break into this industry, especially as a woman. Would I be able to stand up for myself and my company’s needs enough? While men do face imposter syndrome, they don’t have to worry about the added pressure of being a woman in a male-dominated field. 

Some say it’s hard work, others say it’s talent and resourcefulness that play a crucial role for success in entrepreneurship? Which traits have been detrimental for your success so far? And why?

I touched on this above, but I definitely think Imposter Syndrome has held me back in the past. I was worried about not being good enough, and that played out in my ability to ask for what I thought I deserved. I have worked extremely hard to push past those thoughts. 

I have also had to work on my patience since becoming a founder. I have always been aggressive in wanting to move the business forward, and I think it can often cloud the celebrations of how far we have come. Blindly looking at wanting to be better, getting the next sale, or the next follower, can lead to not celebrating the victories when they do happen. I have had to work hard to focus on the wins when we achieve them, and appreciate them so we can stay grounded and motivated on the business.

What excites you the most about being an entrepreneur?

I get to wake up and work on what I want every single day. I proactively founded a company in the world I am passionate about, and I am so lucky to get to do this work every single day. If I can bring a little bit of joy to every single person that tries our wine, that makes me happy. 

Share with us some of the worst business advice you’ve ever received?

When I first started Just Enough Wines, I had many conversations with people in the wine industry to get their advice. This industry is extremely antiquated, and many people I spoke with said that canned wine is never going to work. Wine drinkers only want to drink out of a bottle, and the perception of a can will never be overcome. These conversations were certainly discouraging and caused me to think twice about what I was doing. I am SO glad I pushed past those thoughts, and continued to believe in the work that I set out to do.

You’ve got a high stake investment opportunity. Pitch your business in 150 words.

Just Enough Wines believes you don’t need to choose between quality and convenience, and is reinventing canned wine for the modern consumer. Founded by Jessica Hershfield and Kaitlyn Lo, both Stanford alums, Hershfield left her prestigious tech jobs at Google, Uber, and Lime to follow her passion and Lo transitioned away from the corporate world to pursue a business that inspires her. 

Based out of San Francisco, Just Enough Wines focuses on high quality, great-tasting wine in the convenience of the can. They have a 2019 Chardonnay from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and a 2018 Pinot Noir from Edna Valley in California. The wines are vintage and AVA specific, and are made with low intervention, sustainable techniques. 

They also recently launched Brut Bubbles – a dry sparkling wine being offered as a limited edition. This is truly the most premium wine being put into a can.

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to inspire aspiring entrepreneurs?

Just do one thing each day – in the beginning stages of starting a company, the biggest challenge I faced was motivation. There would be days where I didn’t know what to do next, or where to even start on something. In those days, I told myself just to do one thing each day. Just take one step forward. Eventually, you get to a place where you gain traction, and you no longer have the time to do just one thing each day. 

What are your goals for the upcoming year?

We’re really focused on growth in 2021. We launched in late September and have done the majority of our business through Direct to Consumer to date. Our goals for 2021 are to expand more broadly into retail, and to expand to national distribution. 

In addition, I am excited about launching new products in 2021, including new varietals, and perhaps something a little special in late 2021.

Any final words to end this interview?

I took a leap, and escaped the “expected” of my reality. I would love for people to take a step back from their day to day expectations, and really think about why they are making the choices they are making. Are you expected to be in a certain job, or hold a certain title, or live a certain way? Does this make you happy? I would love for people to holistically think about the life they want to lead and take steps to make that happen. It won’t always be easy, but I truly believe there are ways to make it happen if you try.

Connect and partner with Just Enough Wines on Enterprise League

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Jennifer Lukas-Bourgeois – When entrepreneurship tastes like chocolate

Jennifer Lukas-Bourgeois – When entrepreneurship tastes like chocolate

Jennifer Lukas-Bourgeois – When entrepreneurship tastes like chocolate

March 05, 2021

Lekkco interview on Enterprise League

Of all the entrepreneurs out there, those making delicious food are definitely our favourite. Because good food makes everything better and brings joy. And when this food tastes of rich Belgian chocolate – we’re done! We can’t resist! 

So feel free to accuse us of being biased Europeans for putting Lekkco Belgian Dark Chocolate Spread co-founder, Jennifer Lukas-Bourgeois, on our top 100 trailblazing female entrepreneurs list. 

Until Lekkco was introduced to the US market, Americans had been completely deprived of the pleasures of feeling Belgian chocolate melting in their mouths. Hence, you can say that Jennifer is the reason why Americans can now indulge in mouth-watering chocolate without flying to Europe.

How it came to be? Find out below.

Feeling under-appreciated as an employee, a nonexistent work-life balance, financial struggles, getting out of bad relationships – these are the most common triggers that push women to become entrepreneurs. Tell us about your trigger?

Coming from a family that owned a small business, even as a young girl I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I have always had that drive and spirit. I worked in corporate America for 18 years where I gained the skillset to eventually lead to and allowed me to become an entrepreneur. 

The trigger for me to become an entrepreneur was the lack of work-life balance at my previous job in corporate America and the pressure to “be on” 24/7. It was a struggle as I wanted to have a successful career while also being available and present to my young kids.

As an entrepreneur and with 18 years of corporate America experience, I knew I could make both work – have a successful and passionate career but also prioritizing my family. At the foundation of the company, is a product we truly love – Lekkco Belgian Dark Chocolate Spread. It is a marriage for me personally and professionally where my skillsets, passion for good food, and blending of our family’s heritage of Belgium and the U.S. all come together.

Jennifer Lukas quote

How did you come up with your business idea?

Lekkco Belgian Dark Chocolate Spread was born from the love of great food. My family would travel to Europe quite often as my in-laws live there and I was shocked that chocolate was served at every meal. It was so delicious, and we would always bring chocolate spreads back to the U.S. since it was not available here. 

The idea originated on the back terrace of my in-laws in the South of France in 2014. My husband and I asked ourselves, “What if we launched our own brand and own product of chocolate spread to the U.S market?” So, I used my CPG background to do research to see if the idea made sense. And, three years later in 2017 we sold our very first jar of Lekkco Belgian Dark Chocolate Spread. 

Have you had support from someone, even if just encouragement? Who was that and how did it help you?

Absolutely, my husband has been my greatest supporter. We have always been equal partners in our marriage, and I think that is what makes this so unique – we equally encourage each other and he is a co-founder of the company. I also had so many friends and family members encouraging us, cheering us on and helping us. Professionally, my network of strong mentors was able to gut check or poke holes in ideas. We are very, very lucky to have such a great support system.

Female entrepreneurs are often underestimated and overlooked. Have you ever felt at a disadvantage?

As a female entrepreneur, I have not felt a disadvantage. I’ve seen a beautiful rise in supporting female entrepreneurs and small businesses. However, during my time in corporate America, I absolutely felt at a disadvantage. I felt that females in my workplace overall had higher expectations and lower pay than our male counterparts. I felt that this was especially true for working moms in my workplace where they seemed to be working three times as hard managing their careers, household, and families. This was one of the driving forces to also start my own company – to create a place of equality.  

Some say it’s hard work, others say it’s talent and resourcefulness that play a crucial role for success in entrepreneurship? Which traits have been instrumental for your success so far? And why?

Hard work, talent and resourceful are all critical pieces of entrepreneurial success, but another big piece for me has been the team you surround yourself with. When starting a business, you come with your idea and set of skills, but you need to match any vacancies with experts in those areas. We’ve done this at Lekkco where we have a fantastic management team that has each brought a unique skillset to the table. We are a small but mighty team, and you won’t find anyone that hustles harder than the Lekkco team! 

Patience and flexibly are also critical traits to success. You can write the perfect business plan but inevitably, situations pop-up that you did not plan for and you need to be patient and flexible to address those or adjust the plan.

What excites you the most about being an entrepreneur?

Going from ideation to execution where we bring to life the concept, the brand, sales, distribution, and marketing plan as well as building something from scratch has always excited me the most as an entrepreneur. 

Being an entrepreneur is like building a house – start with your foundation which is a solid business idea and team. Then, you start building the framework, walls, interior, etc. until you finish the house.

Share with us some of the worst business advice you’ve ever received?

The worst business advice I have received is simply, “This will never work; you should give up.” But I recognize that as fear. Being an entrepreneur is not the “safe” option – it is uncertain and can be unpredictable. Some people are just not cut out for that journey or would not take that risk.

You’ve got a high stake investment opportunity. Pitch your business in 150 words.

Addressing the white space in the spreadable category, Lekkco brings an all-natural, healthier alternative to chocolate spreads with its core four flavors that address a diverse consumer demographic while building the category.

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to inspire aspiring entrepreneurs?

Do your homework on your product/industry. Make sure it is a viable product/service idea. Ask yourself what makes you a point of differentiation? Bring your skillset to the table and build your team with experts in their area. Have a business plan, allow for flexibility and pivot as needed. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Be prepared, it is a beautiful rollercoaster of a journey. Have patience, flexibility, and keep your eye on the horizon and end goal. Never stop hustling!

What are your goals for the upcoming year?

As we enter 2021, you have to look at what we know and what we don’t know. The world has become different since March 2020. People’s lives have changed, been re-prioritized and consumer behaviors are different. One thing for certain is that people need to eat and want to feel good. We believe chocolate makes people happier. We will continue to deliver our delicious chocolate spreads across the U.S. and drive our messaging of a healthier product while spreading the Lekkco love.

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Michael Sherlock – Serial entrepreneur with shocking potential

Michael Sherlock – Serial entrepreneur with shocking potential

Michael Sherlock – Serial entrepreneur with shocking potential

February 18, 2021

Shock your potential interview on Enterprise League

There are people who are born to turn heads and shock the surroundings. Michael Sherlock is one of them. 

First, because she’s very much a woman despite the name. Second, just like her namesake, Sherlock Holmes, her deductive reasoning about business is worthy of a novel. Third, she has a colourful hair that perfectly reflects her personality. Fourth, despite all things previously mentioned, she’s pretty serious when it comes to business.

She shocks you with her appearance, with her brains, with her success, with her dedication, with her creativity… She doesn’t fit into norms and that’s what makes her special.

Ladies and gents, Michael Sherlock.

Feeling under-appreciated as an employee, a nonexistent work-life balance, financial struggles, getting out of bad relationships – these are the most common triggers that push women to become entrepreneurs. Tell us about your trigger?

I am a serial entrepreneur, but I was not ready for the first company I started in my 20’s, and a steady paycheck was vital. I owned 2 other companies in my 30’s and 40’s, one which did well and one that did not. I also ran 2 very successful MLM businesses for a few years.

This time around I had achieved what I wanted for my career in corporate America and was ready to begin again. I had published my first leadership book but was so busy I couldn’t promote it, and I wanted to write more and speak and train. Initially, the goal was for a lifestyle business.

Today, my companies are going places I could have never dreamed.

Michael Sherlock

How did you come up with your business idea?

My primary company, “Shock Your Potential,” began as a platform for me to speak and train groups through conferences and companies training sessions. I love the idea of “Shock” because we all may have dreams and ideas, but many of us need someone to kick us in the pants, jolt our energy, shock us into action. Plus, I am a bit shocking myself. Very colorful hair and playful teaching style, I try to remind people that although I am very serious about business, serious can have many meanings.

Once Covid hit, however, I had some serious revelations. I had been running a B2B company, with more than 95% of my business income coming from when I would hop on a plane somewhere in the country, or world, and go to speak. That obviously took a hit! So we adapted quickly, built out the “Shock Your Potential App” for on-demand professional development training, changed up our entire marketing strategy to go B2C, and our future looks much different.

Along the way this year I also had another revelation for a second company. My entire team is remote from Kenya. They are amazing! And after having so many people ask how they could get a team like mine, it just made sense to start a company connecting talented Kenya professionals with small businesses like mine. Thus “KukuaBiz” was born.

Have you had support from someone, even if just encouragement? Who was that and how did it help you?

Being an entrepreneur can be very lonely, and often very scary. There are times when I have just gone into a shell, forging forward, afraid to ask for help or encouragement. There is a strong need to look like we have it all together.

This year I learned that it was not only foolish to do so, but that I was hurting my entire team (and company) in the process. I have invited 4 people whom I respect greatly, who have seen and done much more than I have, to be on my advisory board. We will meet 3 times in 2021, virtually, for 2 hours. I will prepare my business update for them, ask their input and support.

Asking them was easy. Doing the next part the second week in January, will be much harder. However, it is helping me get a laser-like focus on my budget projections, business plan and marketing strategy. And each of these people are “truth-tellers,” meaning none will hold back from telling me the truth, no matter how much it may hurt.

Female entrepreneurs are often underestimated and overlooked. Have you ever felt at a disadvantage?

Honestly, no. I haven’t. I also have never been paid less than male counterparts. Why? Because I always negotiated well, and hard, for myself. And I think the confidence I gained from that carries over into how I am viewed today by others. 

One thing I should have done earlier, however, and am doing right now, is get certified as a woman-owned small business. Less than 1% (I think this is correct) of women get this certification, mostly because it is so darn time consuming and very confusing. I hired a specialist to help me through the process and we will be done soon.

Some say it’s hard work, others say it’s talent and resourcefulness that play a crucial role for success in entrepreneurship? Which traits have been instrumental for your success so far? And why?

Creativity, talent and sheer determination are driving factors in my success. But the greatest detriment I face is that fact that I hate the details. Until I was able to hire employees, I would get in my own way with the massive list of “must do’s” like accounting. The tiny, but critical details are the things that keep a business running, but I don’t find them enjoyable in the least.

What excites you the most about being an entrepreneur?

I love building and creating, and I enjoy the chase of opportunity. I love seeing a challenge and then finding ways to overcome it. 2020 certainly put more challenges in front of me than I thought I could handle, and there were several times that I thought we’d have to scale back, but I found new income sources, am seeking sponsors who know my audience is perfect for their products or services, and am building something I would have never built before had it not been for pure survival. 

Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart, but it certainly can give you an adrenaline rush like none other.

Share with us some of the worst business advice you’ve ever received?

“Just pick a lane. One lane.” 

I read a book about building your speaking business when I first started Shock Your Potential. The author said, “You can’t make a name for yourself if you are trying to speak on leadership and sales and…” That concept really bothered me, and initially because I am passionate about leadership and sales and customer service/experience. So for a short time, I limited myself, which also made me limit my views of my own company.

I began to think I could ONLY be a speaker/trainer. 

When I realized that it didn’t feel right, and began to follow my gut, I began to have many more doors open. I began to spend time each day journaling about what this company could become. And I began to see opportunity everywhere.

At one point, however, I was following too many stray paths and someone said “You are operating a mile wide, but only an inch deep. You can’t get any traction.” He was right as well. I went to the polar opposite.

Now anything we do has to pass a test. Does this support our mission? Will it be a revenue driver? Does it match our values?

Unless it meets all 3 qualifications, we pass it by.

You’ve got a high stake investment opportunity. Pitch your business in 150 words.

Have you achieved everything you want in your career? If not, “Shock Your Potential” is your partner. We develop superb leaders, inspire dynamic salespeople, and guide professionals in every field through their career journey. 

CEO Michael Sherlock has “Been There, Done That” in her career. Before launching her global training company, she was VP of Sales for 2 different global medical device companies, responsible for more than 500 employees and nearly $100 million annually. What she learned about promoting, developing, and training employees will take your career to new heights.

Download our “Shock Your Potential App” today and access free and paid content that is delivered with passion, humor, and sometimes not-so-gentle reminders that we are all responsible for our own growth and development. You owe it to yourself, and to your career, to take this step to secure your future

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to inspire aspiring entrepreneurs?

If I could go back to that first company that I launched and lost in my early 20’s, I would have found a business coach. Knowing what I know now, I could have absolutely made that first training company work. I simply did not know how to run a business.

Most entrepreneurs are good at whatever they are doing, but very few are good at running a business. It takes a lot of work, on the business, and on yourself. 

Hire a coach, join a Mastermind, gather an Advisory Board, anything that will give you outside perspective to help you achieve your goals.

What are your goals for the upcoming year?

We are relaunching our app officially in January with changes from what we learned in our Beta launch, are engaging sponsors for the first time for both our App and our podcast, and I will release 2 books: the much-awaited “Shock Your Potential” book as well as my first novel.

Any final words to end this interview?

If there is one thing I know about myself is that I am a REALLY good karaoke singer in Post Falls, ID (think very small town), but I am NOT a good karaoke singer in downtown Nashville. 

Learn where you fit and where you don’t so that you don’t get hurt feelings (or worse, hurt your business) by trying to operate at a level you aren’t ready for yet. It doesn’t mean you have to give up on big dreams. Just make sure that you don’t try to force them too quickly without training and a plan.

Connect and partner with Shock Your Potential on Enterprise League

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Lisa Lane – Women are making strides in entrepreneurship

Lisa Lane – Women are making strides in entrepreneurship

Lisa Lane – Women are making strides in entrepreneurship

February 12, 2021

Rinseroo CEO Interview on Enterprise League

Have you had an Aha! moment that lead to a patent and entrepreneurship? For Lisa Lane this happened in her tub (not under an apple tree). She didn’t brush it off as nonsense, trusted her gut, did an extensive research, gave up her part-time job and went all in.

Thanks to her innovation, cleaning your dog and shower doesn’t feel like a Tarantino movie anymore. Rinseroo is a rinsing and cleaning tool with a super elastic connector that fits most faucets and showerheads. I don’t know about you, but when I think of how big of an ordeal is to clean and bathe my dog, I want Rinseroo! Right here and right now.

Let’s meet Lisa Lane, the brain behind this super handy tool.

Feeling under-appreciated as an employee, a nonexistent work-life balance, financial struggles, getting out of bad relationships – these are the most common triggers that push women to become entrepreneurs. Tell us about your trigger?

My trigger didn’t really come from any bad experience. It came to me in an Ah-Ha moment. I always had an entrepreneurial thirst but wasn’t actively pursuing anything at the time. I was standing in my tub when the Ah-Ha moment hit. It was then that I knew that I had a mass market idea on my hands. I realized that if my idea was as good as I thought it could be, I could give up my part time job and have a business of my own. That is when I decided to research it and pursue it.

Lisa Lane quote

How did you come up with your business idea?

I was filling a bucket over and over to bathe the dogs and clean the showers. It was messy and time consuming. I thought, “There’s got to be a better way!” That was my aha moment… right there in the tub. The Rinseroo was born when I decided that it was time to “kick the bucket”.

Have you had support from someone, even if just encouragement? Who was that and how did it help you?

Definitely! It was one of my lifelong college best friends, Carolyn Favorito, Esq. We met our freshman year while attending the University of Delaware. Lucky for me, she also happens to be my patent attorney!

When others told me that they didn’t think that I could get a patent, she told me that I could and encouraged me to pursue it. I hired her and she fought for my patent as if it were her own. If it wasn’t for her, I may have given up. She was my biggest cheerleader and motivator.

Female entrepreneurs are often underestimated and overlooked. Have you ever felt at a disadvantage?

Honestly, no. Thankfully, I feel that we women are really making headway in the field of entrepreneurship, especially when it comes to inventing. We are often the ones who come up with the solutions to everyday problems and I think that many buyers and consumers understand that. Shows such as Shark Tank have featured many successful women inventors and entrepreneurs and I think that the public has taken notice and we have rightfully earned their respect.

Some say it’s hard work, others say it’s talent and resourcefulness that play a crucial role for success in entrepreneurship? Which traits have been detrimental for your success so far? And why?

Thankfully, I don’t think that I have too many detrimental traits. There is a part of me that would like to just take a long vacation and stay away for awhile but I think that I will wait until the time is right to act on that impulse

What excites you the most about being an entrepreneur?

I love working on my dream and working for myself. When your own reputation and success is on the line, it’s amazing how far you can push yourself and how innately motivated you can become. Being motivated and having a purpose and a goal can really make a person feel good and that is what I love about what I am doing.

Share with us some of the worst business advice you’ve ever received?

I got a lot of great advice from others who had been in my shoes at one point. I found that most inventors are proud of their accomplishments and are very willing to share their insight without charging for it.

My engineer was also very helpful. He had years of experience and his advice really helped with my trajectory.

Sadly, there are also a lot of so-called “invention help” companies out there who like to prey on inventors. They will drain your pocketbook quickly if you let them. If you really dig, you will find that their motives are mostly their own. They have often done very little to help make dreams become realities. Thankfully I was made aware of their bad business practices ahead of time and knew to steer away and am happy that I didn’t take their bait.

You’ve got a high stake investment opportunity. Pitch your business in 150 words.

We are the makers of the Rinseroo brand. We started with an idea that we knew could help millions make shower cleaning and dog bathing fast and easy. Since launching, we have become a top seller online and are now scaling into brick and mortar stores nationwide and internationally. We are also creating line extensions in the bath space and are growing this into something big!

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What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to inspire aspiring entrepreneurs?

I would always encourage an aspiring entrepreneur to pursue whatever it is that makes them happy but don’t jump in and do something without doing your homework first. If you do your homework and find that your idea isn’t what you dreamed it might be, be prepared to accept that and walk away. Not every idea is worth pursuing but every idea is worth investigating.

What are your goals for the upcoming year?

My main goal is to continue to provide excellent customer service to our customers and grow the Rinseroo brand. Consumer feedback is key to our success and growth. I can make things better based on their suggestions, gain new customers when they refer friends and sell again to them when that great new line extension comes along. Never underestimate the power of your customers.

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Melanie Ocana – A competitive entrepreneur with a big heart and grit

Melanie Ocana – A competitive entrepreneur with a big heart and grit

Melanie Ocana – A competitive entrepreneur with a big heart and grit

February 11, 2021

Rustico Logo for Interview at Enterprise League

We sometimes forget that women have superpowers and can make anything work. But then a lady like Melanie Ocana shows up and reminds us.

She runs Rustico Tile & Stone, the largest manufacturing and distribution for Saltillo tile worldwide, all while raising two beautiful children, keeping the spark in her marriage, giving back to the community. And if this isn’t impressive enough, she’s about to become a foster mom as well. 

Mindblown? We are. Melanie is an example and inspiration to all women out there who think they can’t do it all, and have to sacrifice family life for entrepreneurial success or vice versa. 

Feeling under-appreciated as an employee, a nonexistent work-life balance, financial struggles, getting out of bad relationships – these are the most common triggers that push women to become entrepreneurs. Tell us about your trigger?

Discovering a great idea for an underserved market was my trigger for becoming an entrepreneur.  I’d held jobs working for other people since I was in my early teen years babysitting and working a pizza joint. I had great bosses into adulthood with careers that allow me some flexibility and worldwide travel. In fact, before my current company, Rustico Tile & Stone, I’d already failed as an entrepreneur with a new and risky franchise business.   

During the fallout of that failure, I never would have dreamed that it would have everything to do with the success I enjoy today.  It forced me to scramble for a way out and led me to discover handmade Mexican tile. I had a unique sales skillset just waiting for the right product!

Upon discovering that I could pave the way for my own success, there seemed to be no other alternative for my career goals other than another stab at entrepreneurship. Of course, taking steps forward meant taking significant steps back. I started my next entrepreneurship journey at the bottom of an industry with zero knowledge and zero experience. But that posed an exciting adventure that has played out for over the past 15 years and counting! 

Melanie Ocana quote

How did you come up with your business idea?

Over 15 years ago, I was liquidating a failed eBay franchise store. I’d bought into the eBay franchise idea in hopes that selling other people’s stuff on eBay would be the next big thing. It wasn’t. But, my eBay experience helped me to develop an eye for opportunity.  

Living in south Texas at the time, I explored the idea of handmade Mexican Saltillo tile.  This type of terracotta tile is a readily available resource on the border of south Texas and Mexico, but no one at the time was shipping it across the country because it’s difficult to ship. So, I experimented with selling Saltillo tile on eBay by consigning with a local distributor for the product.

And it blew up with success. I quickly learned everything I could about this clay tile and freight shipping. I did not want to sell it for someone else’s business.

At the time, my husband and I were only dating. He ran a different successful business.  We put our heads together, pivoted in life, and pursued developing a business in Mexican tile.  

Today, we run the largest manufacturing and distribution for Saltillo tile, and we distribute other Mexican tiles and stones. We’re an online business with our headquarters just outside Austin, Texas. While we ship our products worldwide, I no longer sell tile on eBay.

Have you had support from someone, even if just encouragement? Who was that and how did it help you?

I’m fortunate to have had support from many people in my career life – parents, mentors, and friends. But interestingly, the most poignant support that I continue to cultivate comes from our customers and competitors. 

Being an online distributor, we don’t meet most of our customers face-to-face. People are much bolder in their communication when it’s done virtually or over the phone vs. in-person. We hear the good, the bad, and the indifferent, whether we ask for it or not! I take it all to heart, both personally and professionally.  

When I get negative feedback about our mistakes, we implement changes from those learned lessons. That makes us better.

When I get positive feedback, we rinse and repeat as often as possible. Success breeds more success.

Also, I study our competitors closely and frequently. Since I’m an extremely competitive person, I’m easily motivated when a competitor makes gains in our market share. This encourages me to seek greater improvement.

But ultimately, at the end of the day, I lean on my husband for the most support. He’s my one constant that I can always fall on for encouragement.

Female entrepreneurs are often underestimated and overlooked. Have you ever felt at a disadvantage?

Yes. I used to experience hurt feelings when our local community would acknowledge my husband as our business owner without regard for my role. In fact, some of our closest friends have referred to me as my husband’s “helper.” I laugh about this now because I’ve come to a place where I don’t need the “glory.” But during our business’s infancy, I couldn’t believe that it would automatically be assumed that I had no leadership role in our business. I often thought “Hey, this Saltillo thing was my idea!”

Today, when big problems arise, I jokingly ask my husband to bear the load since I’m “only the helper.” I’ve figured out how to leverage this to my advantage.  

Also, I am often underestimated being a female in the male-driven construction industry.  This could be a disadvantage to someone who doesn’t hold confidence. I’ve worked very hard to become an expert in my field. I’d like to believe that comes across quickly in a conversation with anyone who unfairly underestimates me.

Lastly, sometimes I feel disadvantaged as a female because I’m the mother of our 2 children. My husband is a very hands-on father, but I don’t think men often feel the same guilt as at-work mothers

Yes, my kids see me as a strong, self-driven woman who works hard to provide for her family.  But there are times they don’t get the best of me after a long day. Sometimes, my kids get the leftovers, and I feel a tremendous amount of guilt, knowing they’re not always getting my best. 

All the while, I also try to protect my marriage from the daily pressures of running a business. It’s easy to fall into the trap of transactional conversation with my husband. We are great teammates and business partners. But, it requires intentionality to cultivate and maintain an enduring romantic relationship outside our business endeavors. Of course, it’s helpful that I absolutely adore my husband. God has blessed us in tremendous ways.

Some say it’s hard work, others say it’s talent and resourcefulness that play a crucial role for success in entrepreneurship? Which traits have been instrumental for your success so far? And why?

God has his fingerprints all over my success. He’s opened doors and put people and challenges in my life throughout my career. I do my best to recognize His provision and pair that with grit, self-motivation, and drive for success.

Also, I’m extremely competitive. I want to be the best at any of my life’s pursuits and develop the skills necessary. In the beginning, I knew nothing about tile, freight shipping, running a website, SEO, or online marketing. I had a graduate-level education but no real experience with developing something from nothing.  

My drive for excellence led me to learn everything I could about our industry, competitors (direct and indirect), the freight industry (we ship 2,500-pound pallets worldwide), and thriving as an online presence.

And what I can’t learn through education and experience, I seek through mentors. I’m a big believer in surrounding oneself with wise people. I believe this wisdom only comes with experience and age. So, I regularly seek relationships with people (older than myself) whom I admire for reasons of business success, parenting, and faith. 

This is my holistic approach to developing a better self – for my family, our employees, and the community. But I’m not just a taker! I also believe in being this type of person for someone more youthful than myself. It’s a humble privilege to help develop others for their own life success.

What excites you the most about being an entrepreneur?

The most exciting thing about being an entrepreneur is effecting change through serving others. This starts at home, of course. I love that I can work alongside my husband every day. While it’s not all unicorns and peaches, we are one another’s most consistent support system. I love that my kids have only seen us as business owners. At 9 & 10 years old, their career goals (right now) are to be business owners (a bakery owner and veterinary clinic owner). They hear conversations about business every single day – the good and the bad. I love the example we’re setting for them. They know that success doesn’t come unearned.

I also love that we can serve our community and other families and friends. Giving feels good, real good. But it’s best when there’s concrete evidence of bettering someone’s life.

Share with us some of the worst business advice you’ve ever received?

People say that a business or a job shouldn’t be about money. I think this is terrible advice. A business (for-profit or non-profit) exists to produce a product or service. If that isn’t pursued under the goal of making money, then it’s all for nothing. It’s great to make money… make a lot of it so it can be given away (after financial obligations are met). 

You’ve got a high stake investment opportunity. Pitch your business in 150 words.

As the world’s largest manufacturer for Saltillo tile and distributor for Mexican tile, Rustico Tile & Stone continues to lead the industry for 15 years running. Year over year, we maintain revenue and market share growth. Not only do we create beautiful spaces with artisan products, but we also have fun and serve our community through financial success. 

Located outside Austin, Texas, our success lies in long-term logistical and supplier relationships throughout Mexico, low overhead, disciplined expenses, efficient warehouse operations, robust organic presence online, and incredible staffing. 

We’re the industry-leading experts in Mexican tile and stone.

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to inspire aspiring entrepreneurs?

The best advice that I give anyone aspiring to be an entrepreneur is to be kind. Work hard, yes, but be kind in the process. Business doesn’t have to be ruthless and cut-throat. Relationships are important. You WANT people to like you and do business with you. The easiest way to achieve that is to be kind. 

Don’t be a doormat, however. Pursue a competitive edge in your industry through work ethic, disciplined spending, strategic planning, and vigor. But be kind to those along that path of excellence. Your kindness will develop your reputation for being someone who others want to be like. And yes, that peripheral attribute helps to protect the bottom line in the process.

What are your goals for the upcoming year?

Professionally, I’m working on developing a new website and rebranding for our company. This will coincide with the development of a new product line and the growth of existing product lines.  

I’ve been working from home during 2020 (Covid) while proctoring at-home school. I’m (desperately) hoping to be able to send our kids back to school. I’ve loved the extra time with them but they need their friends too!

And personally, we’ve recently become a licensed foster family. I’m hoping to offer a loving and secure home to some children placed with us this year.

Any final words to end this interview?

An entrepreneur’s #1 job is sales. If you don’t like sales, find a way to change how you feel about it. If you approach sales as the opportunity to educate your customers, then it can be a lot of fun. It’s fun if you intend to genuinely solve your customers’ problems with the most relevant product or service you offer. And if you don’t have a product or service that will accomplish that goal, be honest with your customer. Don’t sell for the sake of revenue only. Sell because you care about your customers, even if that means sending them to a competitor. You’ll find that breeds a reputation of honesty and trust for you and your business. And that is your best long-term marketing strategy.

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