Young and Entrepreneurial is a series of articles where I've decided to interview and write about young individuals disrupting the world, whether it's through entrepreneurship, non-profit work, intrapreneurship or singing, dancing, writing or by just doing something innovative that impacts the lives of many people. These young individuals use their entrepreneurial mindset to get things done. By sharing the stories of these individuals, I hope to inspire youth from all over the world to follow their passions, to take the road less travelled and to disrupt the status quo. This is the 13th post in the Young and Entrepreneurial Series. To read previous features and to stay up to date with future features, like our Facebook page here.
The Scion Motivatour event has been taking cities in the US by storm. With a goal of helping entrepreneurs take their business to the next level, Scion travelled around the US to support young and passionate entrepreneurs. Young and Entrepreneurial was invited to speak to the mentors and entrepreneurs at the Scion Motivatour culminating night in Philadelphia.
Scion decided to find entrepreneurs throughout the country, come to their town and document the process of these entrepreneurs pitching to investors while in a Scion car. Scion brought in multiple entrepreneurs and experts to give workshops that were designed to help the young audience propel their business or ideas to the next level.
"Surround yourself with strong mentors who believe in what you do" - Felix Addison
The first person we got to sit down with was Whose Your Landlord COO Felix Addison. Whose Your Landlord was one of the startups chosen to participate in the Scion Motivatour Challenge, and Felix shared how it's been really exciting to be part of this startup journey.
A perfect candidate for the Scion challenge, Felix shared how the Whose Your Landlord team had been on the road travelling all around pitching and letting millennial renters know that they exist. In fact, they were part of the latest DreamIt Ventures batch that did its demo days in New York and San Francisco.
He shared, "When we were starting out, we got a few promotional items and went on a Northeast tour, visiting all the Universities there and giving out swag. We would go to all the welcome weeks, have lanyards and tell people about Whose Your Landlord."
His advice to young entrepreneurs was, "Surround yourself with strong mentors who believe in what you do, will speak honestly about your current product, and be willing to provide you with ample coaching to improve."
"Take the risk but make sure you're taking the right risk" - Daniel Tobon
Daniel Tobon is the cofounder and CEO of Starchup, a tech enabled pickup delivery service for laundry. He described Starchup as the Grubhub for laundry, connecting laundry services with customers.
Daniel was a one of the competitors of the Motivatour challenge in Chicago. He shared with me how it was really exciting being able to pitch and get feedback from the likes of Jake Nickell of Threadless, Charles Adler, the cofounder of Kickstarter and Billy Dec of Rockit Ranch Productions.
Daniel shared lessons he has learned from all his entrepreneurial ventures, with Starchup being his third startup already. "Take the risk but make sure you're taking the right risk. Attack everything very methodically, have a plan and make sure you have the necessary support system, resources and network."
He added, "Really dedicate yourself to the business and don't go at it halfway. If you're going to commit, it has to be the thing you're committing to and what you're passionate about. Evaluate the risk and once you've made that decision, jump in head first."
"The best thing about being an entrepreneur is the creation and problem solving" - Josh Long
The keynote speaker for the Motivatour event held in Philadelphia was Creative Mornings CEO Josh Long. Josh shared with me the story of how they grew Creative Mornings into 150 chapters around the world, with 5 new chapters being started every month.
He shared, "My cofounder and Co-CEO Tina started it in Brooklyn as a 30 person meetup for people to talk about design. One person from the group moved to Zurich while another person moved to Los Angeles. They both ended up starting a chapter there. It's this organic thing that grew out of truth and trust."
"Be as weird as you can be. Whatever your interests are, there is no one else like you. If you try to start a business based on what you think people want, you're going to blend in. If you build a business based on who you are and what makes you weird, you're going to stand out and people will start to talk about it."
He added, "There are these silos of weird people and if you put them together, there will be companies out there that will want to partner with you and be part of something cool."
"We need more doers in the world" - Nehemiah Davis
Neo Daviso Founder Nehemiah Davis led the workshop on social entrepreneurship and shared with me how he first got involved with social entrepreneurship. He shared, "I got interested through my mom. I started my first business, which was a food truck then my mom asked me what I was going to do to give back and that moment I was hooked. Why don't I continue to do things that provide an outlet for others?"
Nehemiah emphasized how social entrepreneurship is important because it creates change in this world. His advice to young and aspiring entrepreneurs was simple, "Just do it. A lot of people are saying they're going to do this and that. Just start now. Even if you don't succeed, you'll learn something from it."
"If you're not afraid, it's something not worth doing" - Brandon Pankey
Tourstar Founder Brandon Pankey spoke to the audience about fear being the secret ingredient to the entrepreneurial spirit. He expounded, "If you're not afraid, if you don't feel a twitch when you come up with a new idea or strategy, it's something not worth doing. It's when you have that fear, you're stepping into that idea that can be great, that can be innovative and take you and your brand to the next level."
He encouraged all the youth to not give up because there are always opportunities out there. He said, "Do not give up. It's a very large market and world out there. There's a book out there that is called the 'World is Flat'. There are opportunities for you to succeed globally. Just don't give up. Just because you're not succeeding, doesn't mean, you're not close to succeeding."
"It all starts from focus and persistence" - Mason Wartman
Mason Wartman decided to leave his job in Wall Street to start Rosa's Fresh Pizza to sell pizza's in Philadelphia for a dollar just like the ones in New York. 3 months into starting Rosa's, a customer asked if he could pre purchase a slice for any homeless customers that they served.
Mason shared what he did, "I took his dollar, ran out and got post it notes. Put one up to serve as a reminder to me and the employees that we could give a slice to a homeless person that came up short. Inevitably a homeless person came in short but we told him don't worry keep the change, it's already paid for. Over the last 13-14 months, we've given out over 15,000 slices of pizza. We feed like 40, 50 homeless people everyday. We give away more than 100 slices."
Mason also highlighted the importance of focus and persistence in helping Rosa's succeed. He said, "The reason why we can help so many people is because our price is really low and we can have our price really low because we focus on doing one thing really well. It all starts from focus and persistence."
"Grow for your people and the rest will follow" - Dan Calista
Dan Calista gave a workshop about growing your team and creating a culture where the focus is on the people. Dan spoke a lot about the cultural shift that his company Vynamic, Philadelphia's largest health care management consulting firm, is trying to push for.
He adviced entrepreneurs to think about ways to get their team more energized whether it's through standing desks or healthy happy hours. He place a big emphasis on the team as the biggest factor for success.
He also shared a few of the things he looks for when searching for talent, "We look for people that are balanced, that are looking for something more. They have traits like being humble but bold. Humble and bold are traits that don't go together very often so it's hard to fit it in but that's a trait that we look for. They're not afraid to fail forward."
"It's who you know and not just what you know" - Sarah Janiszewski
SAJ Entertainment Founder Sarah Janiszewski led the workshop called, "Strategize to Maximize: How to Build a Successful Brand." She shared with me how important it is to network and build relationships when it comes to building your brand. She specifically highlighted the importance of creating strategic partnerships, making sure you're doing influencer engagement and getting brand ambassadors to spread the word.
She shared, "You really need to work on networking and relationship building because you never know what kind of opportunity will come out of it. You really need to make connections with people. Every single point I've done in my career has been as a result of networking."
She added, "It's about taking the time. You want to ask them to grab coffee with them. Finding commonalities between the two of you. People who I had very strong alignments with in the industry, we have relationships beyond the industry then things just manifest."
*This is the 15th post in the Young and Entrepreneurial Series. To read previous features and to stay up to date with future features, like our Facebook page here. You can also help me figure out who I should feature next by nominating a "Young and Entrepreneurial" person here.
---About the Author---
David Ongchoco is a student entrepreneur and avid storyteller from the Philippines studying at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in what he likes to call, LIFE. He is currently working on expanding his nonprofit organization YouthHack. It's David's goal to make an impact in the lives of as many people possible while constantly learning new things every single day. David can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org