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About The Guest
Ariana Pareja is an entrepreneur, investor, and founder with over 18 years of business experience in starting, operating, and exiting three SMB businesses. Ariana’s primary expertise has centered around recruiting, training, and growing enterprise sales teams. Ariana Pareja attended George Washington University School of Business and is currently serving as President and Co-founder of the Pareja Family Foundation whose mission is to provide disadvantaged women and minorities a career in tech.
Pareja is a mentor for the Venture Mentoring Team a non-profit dedicated to fostering the South Florida start-up community and SCORE.org In addition to mentoring, and consulting start-ups, Ariana has routinely spoken at several industry conferences & Establishments such as DEV CON 2022, Consensus 2022, IT EXPO, Nova Southeastern University, George Washington University, Harvard Business School South Florida’s Pitch Competitions, MRED, Houston Association of Realtors, Miami Association of Realtors, MIBOR Association of Realtors, on the subjects of Technology, Entrepreneurship, and Fundraising and sits on the boards of minority-led startups.
- 00:00 — Intro
- 03:03 — Ariana Pareja’s Origin Story and Entrepreneurial Journey
- 08:15 — Key Factors Behind Ariana’s Success
- 13:47 — Strategies for Achieving Professional Goals on a Budget
- 16:33 — Building and Selling a Business: Ariana’s Experience
- 19:50 — The Importance of Building a Business to Sell
- 22:59 — Raising Money: Lessons Learned
- 28:25 — Realities After Exiting a Business and Future Focus
- 35:38 — The Meaning of Impact in Entrepreneurship
- 39:28 — Working with Women to Secure Investment
- 44:00 — Career Mapping: Ariana’s Advice
- 51:48 — Course Benefits: Knowledge and Skills for Entrepreneurs
- 53:34 — Top Strategies for Acquiring Initial Customers and Reaching One Million in Revenue
- 56:30 — Revenue Split Considerations for B2B Products
- 58:58 — Key Considerations for Scaling a Business
- 1:01:32 — Evaluating the Impact of Team and Support on Experienced Individuals
- 1:02:15 — Culture Building for Entrepreneurs
- 1:03:21 — Taking a Business from One Million to Ten Million in Revenue
- 1:04:41 — Managing the Dark Side of Entrepreneurship
- 1:11:55 — Coping with Stress as an Entrepreneur
- 1:14:08 — Finding Alignment with a Supportive Partner
- 1:17:12 — Ariana’s Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
- 1:18:30 — Connecting with Ariana Pareja
- 1:19:29 — Ariana’s Definition of Success
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What is the Success Story Podcast?
On this podcast, you’ll find interviews, Q&A, keynote presentations & conversations on sales, marketing, business, startups, and entrepreneurship.
The podcast is hosted by entrepreneur, business executive, author, educator & speaker, Scott D. Clary.
Scott will discuss some of the lessons he’s learned over his own career, as well as have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures, and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas, and insights.
He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their stories to help pass those lessons on to others through both experiences and tactical strategies for business professionals, entrepreneurs, and everyone in between.
Host of the Success Story Podcast: https://www.successstorypodcast.com
Machine Generated Transcript
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Ariana Pareja, Scott D Clary
Scott D Clary 00:00
How do you manage basically the dark side of entrepreneurship? Oh man, I’m today my guest is Ariana Pareja. She has over 18 years experience in entrepreneurship and investment. She successfully started operated and exited three businesses. She is an alumnus of the George Washington University School of Business, and she currently serves as president and co founder of the Brea Family Foundation.
Ariana Pareja 00:24
So quick backstory, my parents were political refugees, I was the anchor baby. I fell into entrepreneurship more out of necessity. And then, ah, girl really want a pair of Nikes and I see 30 to 99 on clearance workshops. So I get excited. I go home, I get my report card out. I put it on my poster board and I pitched my dad as to why he should buy me the shirts.
Scott D Clary 00:51
Of what did you learn raising money? Gosh, welcome to success story. I’m your host Scott Clary. That success story podcast is part of the HubSpot Podcast Network. Now if you enjoy success story, you’re gonna love some of the other podcasts in the podcast network. One of them are one of my favorite is the hustle Daily Show. It’s hosted by four dynamic hosts, Zachary Crockett Jacob Cohen, Rob litters and Julia Bennett RYLA. Now they speak about a ton of different engaging offbeat business topics tech topics. One of the most recent ones I tuned into was their episode about Amazon pausing HQ to and I can assure you it’s all informative, but it’s a blast to listen to. They cover a ton of different topics they covered the rising cost of dating, AI news, America’s obsession with air fryers. Trust me you do not want to miss out on this show. It’s a perfect way to keep up on the latest news while enjoying light hearted communicates entertaining spins on things. So please subscribe to the hustle daily wherever you get your podcasts. today. My guest is Ariana Perea she has over 18 years experience in entrepreneurship and investment. She successfully started operated and exited three businesses. Her expertise lies in recruiting, training and growing enterprise sales teams while maximizing margin and reducing cost of acquisition. She is an alumnus of the George Washington University School of Business and she currently serves as president and co founder of the Perea Family Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to providing disadvantaged women and minorities with a career in tech. Now, as a mentor for the venture mentoring team and score.org. Ariana is committed to fostering the South Florida startup community. Her extensive knowledge and experience has led her to speak at renowned industry conferences and establishments such as DevCon, consensus, Id Expo and top universities. She shares her insights on technology, entrepreneurship and fundraising and also serves on the board of minority led startups.
Ariana Pareja 03:03
Yeah, so I can’t pinpoint one thing, but what I can share is four lessons I learned early in childhood that really set me up to who I am. So quick backstory, my parents were political refugees, I was the anchor, baby. And I fell into entrepreneurship more out of necessity. So I’m in second grade, I come home from school, and my mom opens my bookbag. And there’s just a wad of cash. And she’s like, What is this? And what it was was that I was purchasing for cookies for $1 from the gas station in the morning. And then during lunch, I’d walk around and I Scout to see who had like a healthy packed lunch. And I was selling these cookies for $1 Each or two for five. And that’s when I understood the power of supply and demand. And then teenage girl really want a pair of Nikes, right? And I see 3299 on clearance at Marshall’s. And so I get excited. I go home, I get my report card out. I put it on my poster board, and I pitched my dad as to why he should buy me these shoes.
Scott D Clary 04:09
99 shoes and Marshalls. Yeah,
Ariana Pareja 04:12
they’re on clearance. You know, I’ll get better grades and PE. Girls won’t tease me. So I’ll concentrate on my work. And he goes, You know what, kid? Okay, get in the car. Let’s go. And that was the moment I understood the power of a good pitch. And so we’re driving and we get to the shopping center. And I look up and I don’t see Marshalls. I don’t see footlocker I see Payless. I don’t know if you have Payless in Canada yet
Scott D Clary 04:45
Payless. Payless is they don’t have like the best of the best of the best. They’re either
Ariana Pareja 04:52
no and so like any sensible teenage girl, I went into a full on meltdown. publicly. And that’s when I understood the power. I want you know, of handling rejection, right? And the importance
Scott D Clary 05:11
of your dad bait and switch you
Ariana Pareja 05:17
it was, that’s my dad. So the next morning I wake up, and I’m like, You know what? My pitch wasn’t the problem. My dad was the problem. And I went, I knocked on every single door and then entire shopping center, including Payless and I pitched them on why they should hire me so that I could get these shoes. And that was the day that I understood the importance of persistence.
Scott D Clary 05:41
And did you get the shoes off?
Ariana Pareja 05:43
No, you know, I got the job, of course, but I did not get the shoes because when I went back to Marshalls it was already sold. And I’ve just I was too frugal to go to footlocker and pay for
Scott D Clary 05:55
that. Okay, so you know, as you as you go through your story, a lot of great. Oh, that was three?
Ariana Pareja 06:01
Oh, well, yes, no, that was four. So supply and demand. The power of a good pitch handling rejection, oh, sorry. And persistence, and then persistence, but that led me into. So after high school, I got into real estate. And I actually met my husband at a deal closing a deal. And shortly after we decided to move in together personally and professionally. And when we moved in together professionally, it was into this 2000 square foot scrappy little office that I like to call the Perrey hot incubator. And it was the reason why I call it that is because we were running so many different companies simultaneously out of this one office. We had an event management company that was named number one in DC by Conde Nast with government contracts that I later sold to a competitor. We had a real estate team, first company that you saw, then we had a real estate company that was named by Keller Williams as the number one producing team in the world, we were constantly, you know, featured on Wall Street Journal for our production, we did 4000 transactions, over a billion dollars of closed business, sold that to compass in 2017. Then we had Washington Capital Partners, which we started with our best friend Danny. And that went on to do great things. It is the largest private lender in the mid atlantic that has, they did last year 380 millions in loans originated 1.7 billion since its inception, and about 25 million a year in revenue. And then, of course, remind, remind, which was a tech company that also started out of this incubator. And the that was a tech company that was to improve the daily workflow life of a realtor, there’s over a million realtors that have access to the platform, we raised over 48 million in venture capital, sold that to a conglomerate of four of our customers in October of 2021. And on top of all these different companies, and which by the way, there was definitely some in there in that incubator that failed miserably that you’ll never see on my LinkedIn.
Scott D Clary 08:13
Gonna say because you’re, it sounds like, you go into real estate, and then you you find your husband, and then all of a sudden, like, you’re just rolling out companies like it’s nobody’s business, but that’s not really the case. Like there’s always a lot of like, success, but a lot of failure too. So I mean, what do you think I’m also curious, just to sort of unpack your state at that point in your life, what do you think led to the successes? Because you didn’t? Did you have corporate experience? If you didn’t get an MBA? No, what was the what was the business acumen that made you successful?
Ariana Pareja 08:45
It was just grit. That’s, I mean, both of us, we were just, it was just grit. It was just great. Like, let me try this. I feel so what I get up and I try again, I try another company, it fails miserably. So what we get up and we try again, it was just a constant effort, constant effort. In the end, we both worked like 100 hours a week,
Scott D Clary 09:08
like it was a you were you were selling homes, or you were so the stating in what capacity to like, sort of fund some of these as well. I’m trying to understand like,
Ariana Pareja 09:15
okay, so, so the bulk, so there was more to the story. So and on top of all the different businesses that we were owning, we were principals and over 100 real estate deals. 68 of those properties were just me, my husband and our business partner, Danny and then the rest, we had outside investors but what we were doing so in 2008, timing is everything. 2008 was a big crash. 2010 is really when you started to see all the good deals hit the market. And so we were purchasing properties for about 262 80 Putting 100k into it, and then listing it back onto the market for 500k with a four to six month turnaround time, about 30% spread, and like I like doesn’t even exist This anymore. But the timing on that was incredible. And so we learned a lot through that process, we learned that there wasn’t that many private lenders in the area. Aside from just a couple guys that were extremely unprofessional, and you call them they just hang up. And so that that kind of idea spun? What?
Scott D Clary 10:20
Solve this problem that you were experiencing yourself? Yeah, it was always like about
Ariana Pareja 10:23
solving problems like and then same with remind we were trying to solve a problem with remind, and that was that we couldn’t get data all in one place. So if you’re a realtor in the United States, you have access to what’s called an MLS. And the MLS is where you list and sell properties. But you have to go to several different platforms just to gather data. So we were trying to solve this problem of with remind of getting better access to data, and so called CoreLogic, and Blacknight, which are the two largest data providers in the country. And we said, Okay, we want data on these counties that we were servicing. And they told us some number that would like make you want to throw up. Oh, yeah, we can’t afford that. We were doing okay, but not that good. And so our business partner at the time, he found out that wrestling, which is owned by Zillow was having this 24 hour hackathon. And so went there with they went with their two, two programmers, and whoever won this 20 For our hackathon would have an open API to all the public record data in the country. Huge.
Scott D Clary 11:36
That’s enormous, of course.
Ariana Pareja 11:38
Yeah, exactly. So we actually won the hackathon. And so the panel, the judges for this hackathon were it was like the number two guy at Zillow, there was Alex Pirillo was out there, former CEO of Realogy, at some other MLS figureheads, and came back, that was November of 2015. And it was like, okay, so this is pretty cool. This is pretty big. Let’s show it to a couple different companies. And again, so we still had our real estate team that was highly producing, and that was cash flowing a lot of these other businesses, because Washington Capital Partners that didn’t turn a meaningful profit for the first four years. And so, you know, we showed it to Keller Williams, and they’re like, Okay, we want to buy it, and showed it to Realogy. Like, okay, this is interesting, we may want to buy it. And so that was when we’re like, Okay, this is a huge opportunity. One, two, is this something that we want to just sell to one company? Or do we want to level out the playing field and let every realtor have access to this, regardless of what brokers are with. And so that opportunity kind of set the tone as to why we sold all these other companies and kind of tried to focus on remain because we saw that as like the big picture. And so, to go to go on from that, you know, we built our MVP, which by the way, we did not take a single dollar of outside capital, until we had a, say, three letters of intent. And we had put in $650,000 of our own money into it. So you know, I, nowadays, I do a lot of mentoring for startups. And whenever I see a founder, pitch something, and they they don’t even have their MVP built out their first prototype, I’m like, Are you kidding me? Like, if you can’t do that, why are you here asking for funding like they did, like It blows my mind.
Scott D Clary 13:42
I want to ask you that something on that point? That’s a very interesting conversation. So when somebody is earlier on than you were because there’s your, you were making good money. And you were working in operating in an industry for a while and you saw a pain point, you solved the pain point in the industry that it was more or less a legacy industry. And that’s my favorite version of entrepreneurship, because your success rate is so much higher than if you don’t know an industry you’re trying to solve for a problem as an industry outsider, right? It’s a very difficult thing. But if you’re an industry insider, those are the most successful entrepreneurs, I’m sure if you look at the data, it’s like set of like, what is it the classic 10% win rate or success rate and a 90% failure rate? It’s probably inverse of that, or something akin to that, right? Because you really know what you’re solving for. But not all entrepreneurs can put in $650,000 into their own MVP either. Right? So when somebody comes to how do you help them? If they are super ambitious, they’re graduated, or maybe they’re working their first job, they’re making a little bit of money, but they obviously don’t have, you know, half a million or more. And they’re asking, you know, for seed round, or friends or family Angel check whatever it is, I have my opinions about it. Yeah, but how would you suggest they they navigate
Ariana Pareja 14:59
you know, I’m the co founder that can put some money down. I mean, if find a co founder, like put some money down, raise it, figure it out, go get three jobs, like, get a part time job with a high commission opportunity potential, figure it out like that. That’s just my opinion. I know, there’s several incubators out there that that’s just my opinion,
Scott D Clary 15:26
I actually don’t disagree with you, I would also say, an added point is if you’re a non technical co founder, find a technical co founder, and then they can actually build it for no cost and just equity. And then I mean, like, you can go to like, I think Y Combinator has like a, a co founder, matching resource, but not mistaken. And there’s like a few other ones like that. But I actually agree with you, I just don’t think people are. They don’t, they don’t know where to find the proper help to build something. So then they default to give me some money to build something I don’t even know if it works. Yeah. And that’s just and then your valuation is going to be shared, it’s going to be relationship with the VC is going to be very bad,
Ariana Pareja 16:02
it’s gonna be very bad. And the fact of the matter is, is like, if you can’t even do that simple step that you just mentioned, of finding another team member to bring on the team, get a little some equity to happen, build it out, if you can’t do that simple thing. How are you going to solve all your other problems?
Scott D Clary 16:17
That’s fair? Yeah, that’s a very valid point. Because it can be a lot of them. Yeah, a lot of problems. Okay, so let’s talk about I mean, we can, there’s a lot of different things we can go into. I think that like, like, the last thing that you sort of spoke about is, is exiting your last business. And I think that’s, and we can talk about, like the growth and all the different things that you sort of teach over to people now. But I mean, that was the most relevant point in your life that you’ve dealt with, more or less recently. So let’s talk about your own personal journey in, like growing, scaling, exiting a business? What are just some thoughts on how to prep your business for an exit? What are the things you should think about when you’re exiting? Are you even happy with how you’ve gone through your various exits are the things that you would like do differently if you if you had the chance with any of the business you’ve sold?
Ariana Pareja 17:07
Yeah, I think when it comes to selling your business, you really have to ask yourself, three major questions. And the first one is, why? Why are you really selling your company? Is it because you’re burnt out? Is it because you’re bleeding money? Is it because your co founders pushing you out? Is it because your investor wants you out? Is it because your biggest customer is basically saying I’m tired of paying this invoice every month, you’re too expensive, I just want to buy you and just own your tech. So figure out the why. And you I know, you’ve interviewed a lot of entrepreneurs, and I’m sure there have been entrepreneurs on this show that have said, you know, I regretted selling my company, because now I’m bored. And I don’t know what to do with myself.
Scott D Clary 17:53
After after the event, yeah, for sure to the event Exactly.
Ariana Pareja 17:57
Because the reality of it is, you don’t know what you’re gonna do after. And in that moment, you’re so burnt out that you just started like, I just want to sell it. But if you have a good operating business, and it is cash flowing, and you’re burnt out, that’s not a good reason to sell your business, that’s a good reason to take a break. That’s a good reason to go. Maybe no vacation for five, six months, find someone to run the day to day, have it added to your just think of it as your investment portfolio, give them whoever you hire some equity. And that’s a good reason. But the second thing that you want to think about is who, right? Who are you selling your company to? You need to always think about if you are going to exit, like what is the most, what makes the most sense strategically, you know, a lot of people, especially with service based businesses, they’ll get purchased by a competitor. Right. And, and that’s hard for an entrepreneur, because the last 10 years they’ve been at war with this person. Yeah. But if they look at who makes sense to purchase them, it’s probably going to be a competitor. And that’s hard to deal with your ego. But it could be and then the other question of who is if you’re going like, for example, you have a tech startup, and now you want to exit finding the right investment banker makes all the difference, right? Because you want to go after and find out and start to build a relationship with investment banker way before you even start to think to sell so that when you get to that process, they have your best interest. I mean, obviously they’re always going to have your best interest. They’re professional, but you want to go after and find that investment banker that has sold companies like yours, and a multiple that you want.
Scott D Clary 19:49
Smart now, and then when yes and well. I was gonna say one other point too, because that’s, it’s good advice. But it’s counterintuitive to what a lot of people teach entrepreneurs which is When you’re building something, build it to sell right? And then have have some sort of strategy in mind so that if you’re taking on money at any point, an investor understands where your vision for the company is. So does that advice change? If you’re taking on investor money?
Ariana Pareja 20:14
No that I mean, yes or no. Yes. I mean, obviously, if you’re taking on investor money, that you have a growth based business, your plan is to sell, I’m of the mentality that I’ve done service based and growth based businesses, you know, small SMBs, it’s a different kind of
Scott D Clary 20:31
exit, but it plays into it actually plays into your mindset about taking on money as well. You’re not even taking on money unless you are trying to transition into a growth based business where you’re hitting so monumental milestones. So that’s the whole difference between everyone who, there’s, it’s so confusing, because there’s so much conflicting advice. Yeah, there’s people I mean, you listen to, like the sharks on Shark Tank, which are all very successful entrepreneurs in their own right. And I think Daymond John is always about OPM, like other people’s money, other people’s money, never use your own money. So you hear that, then you’re like, shit, well, I have to find other people’s money, because I don’t want to burn my own money. And then there’s another, there’s another way to build the business. So I think it’s, it’s hard because there’s so much and entrepreneurship is already hard as hell like already. And there’s all these different conflicting ideas, because you’re right. And he’s right, in different circumstances. And it’s up to the entrepreneur to sort of figure out who’s right when and who’s right for them. And that is the most confusing thing. So if you’re going to if I was an entrepreneur, and I was looking at all these different pieces of advice, and you know, Daymond, John, on Shark Tank, saying, use OPM, and then you’re saying, actually build an MVP, and then take on money if you have to grow, but don’t take our money? How does that entrepreneur understand what what they need to do? Like what
Ariana Pareja 21:50
it was their goals? It depends on on on their industry depends on their business, right? So for example, if you’re going after consumers, you need to raise money. Because going after consumers is really, really hard, especially on like a national scale, you’re not going to be able to bootstrap that. I mean, you could, but it would be really, really hard. And then, you know, if you’re going up against publicly traded companies, for example, like in our case, we could not we didn’t have the luxury to bootstrap. Remind, like, our competitors were publicly traded companies that were coming after us every single day saying that they’re going to squander us. And so the only thing that set us apart was speed was just pure speed. That was the only thing that could really set us apart at that time. And so we needed to raise capital so that we could hire the best the best in the country, and just deploy quicker and faster than everybody else.
Scott D Clary 22:52
And what did you learn? That was the only business you ever raised? For correct outside of outside of literally buying properties? Yeah. Okay. So what did you learn raising money? Gosh, that’s the first thing for recorded. I was saying how we met was at a tech conference. And that’s the first thing that you mentioned to me, because I was going through a raise myself, which I’m literally still going through and that, like, it’s a testament to how long some of the ship can take. So that was what, like almost a year. And that was about Yeah, that was an emerge last year. Yeah. So it’s been like an ongoing thing in my life. But then you mentioned like, don’t take on money if you don’t have to. So obviously, that comes from stress. trauma. Yeah. So PTSD does. So So what happened? Or what are what would you do differently?
Ariana Pareja 23:33
Ah, gosh, um, don’t take such a high valuation. The thing about VCs? Well, let me rephrase that. So the thing about taking capital just in general, is that once you take on other people’s money, it’s no longer your company. It’s everyone’s company. Now, you don’t get to act like a dictator anymore. And it’s, it’s a democracy, and I’m just, yeah. So taking on VC capital as well, is is really tricky, especially if you’ve never done it before. Because you don’t understand how things work yet. And a lot of times, not all VCs, but a lot of times VCs, what they’ll do is they’ll give you this ridiculously high valuation, and they’ll give you X amount of runway and they’ll give you these milestones. And they’ll say, Okay, well, if you hit these milestones by this time, then we’ll fund you again, yada, yada, yada. But they know that you probably won’t hit those milestones. And so now it becomes this dependency that they’ve built. Right? So you as the entrepreneur, you don’t hit these milestones, and then you have this value, then then they’re like, Oh, well, okay, we’ll give you money again, but we’re gonna take preferred shares and And by the way, we want all the board seats and we want this we want and they’re in this position of power to negotiate whatever they want. And what are you going to do? What’s your choice, you’re either going to say, No, I’m not taking that term sheet and then you your lights go out, then you go bankrupt, or you just say, Okay, I guess this is what we’re doing. And and you just sign on the dotted line, and you just move forward. So my suggestion would be if you have to raise capital, angel investors way to go, definitely angel investors. Because the thing about VCs, they have so many people in their portfolio company, and unless you’re that one unicorn, they’re not going to pay attention to you, and they’re not going to care to help you. And, you know, a lot of times founders think that, Oh, if I raise venture capital, the second I do it, I’ll be replaced, and they’ll get into CEO and they’ll get really involved. Actually, no, that’s not the case at all, they don’t really get involved at all. That’s more growth in private equity, they get more involved. And so, you know, if you’re going to be doing it on your own anyways, you might as well just figure it out with some angel investors that will play friendly when it comes to raising again, and yeah, and not everyone’s experiences that but that was by
Scott D Clary 26:18
no, but yeah, you have to be you have to be very careful, because some, like venture capitalists are professional investors. Yeah. And I think the one thing that I pulled out from what you just said is they’ll they’ll play on to your emotions about a high valuation, because you’ll think as an entrepreneur, I want to get high valuation. So I give up less than my company. Like that’s, that’s the immediate entrepreneur, mindset when it comes to raising money. But then that screws you in the future, because if you think about how much money you actually have to make, to make those investors happy, exactly. So especially at I mean, if you look at the different rounds, right, so I these are all like, these are all guesstimate but I think for like a seed, it’s like they’re looking for like 100x, and then like a Series A maybe like a 30x. And then like a series BCD, it could be like a 5x 6x 10x, whatever it is. But if you think about raising at, you know, if you want to make 100x, on on $10 million, like your company has to be like wildly successful, yeah, you have to be very, very, very, you have to be like very, very successful, right? So you have to be careful what you raise that and then there’s then you have to do down rounds in the future. And you have to have a huge total addressable market to really hit those numbers, and know the TAM. And then also, if you think about it, if you are raising that much, and then like that, that second term sheet is not as favorable. Well, it’s super time consuming to go raise money. So yeah, they’re putting money right in front of you with shit terms. But like, if you are a founder, and you’re raising more money from new people that you think are gonna give you better terms, it’s like a full time job. Oh, it is. And if you don’t have money for an investment banker, because you’re trying to keep the lights on and pay salaries for another three months, you don’t have the 10 or 15k retainer for the investment banker that can go help you with this at the same time, right. So it’s just all around very stressful. I’ve never, I mean, raising money has a place, but the entrepreneurs that I know that are the happiest have never taken on money.
Ariana Pareja 28:16
Because they have all their equity. Yeah. And they don’t have the stress. And they don’t have the stress. And they didn’t feel like an employee in their own company that they built.
Scott D Clary 28:23
So after after you exit the business, and this is going to be and we’ll go back into like building it and different lessons for scaling and sales and marketing. But after you exit the business, what is your because I’ve done this with a few people, I did this with the CEO of Tiger 21, I had a conversation with Yosef Martin about like life after exiting the business. So for you, after exiting the business, what is what is like the shift? What do you what do you focus on? What are some of the realities that you’re dealing with after selling something?
Ariana Pareja 28:55
Yeah, so it’s tough, because when you’re in the thick of it, and you’re exhausted and burnt out, all you want to do is sell and you don’t, you’re so exhausted, you’re like, oh, whatever, I’ll just build another company. I’ll just be an investor full time I’m done with this. And then you know, you, you play on the beach for a while and you get bored. And then you realize that, hey, yeah, you can invest full time. But even that can get boring after a while and consulting get boring after a while. And so, you don’t really think about, well, you know, when you tell yourself, I’ll start another company, it’s like, okay, but everyone that you know, that just invested in your last company is either still waiting on that return, or maybe they didn’t like the return and so finding capital could be hard. Or maybe you don’t want to do that again, right. But also, you might not have the liquidity yet from the Celebrate company. Or it might not go the way you planned it intend to Yeah. To start something else, and then you’re also in a different place in life by the time you start a company, grow a company, exit a company and then start your new life, you’re probably in a different place with your lifestyle than you were back then. So like, I remember, I’d always be like, talking to my husband like, what? Who cares, we’ll just start with a company to start another company. We’ll fast forward six years, my kids are a little bit older. I don’t want to work 100 hours a week. And I know that if I start something from zero to one and the ground up, you’re working 100 hours a week. And I don’t I just don’t want to do that anymore. And so you really have to get really finite about what you want to do next. And really think about different ways. Like if you’re if you really want to just get out of that industry. Some some I’ve heard founders say, I’m just done with this industry. I’m tired of it. Do something new. You can but then what are you going to do start from scratch with your career, you’re going to throw those 20 years of relationships down the drain,
Scott D Clary 30:55
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Ariana Pareja 31:43
experience and everything else. I mean, and then you could take on and look after your company sales, there’s gonna be people knocking on your door left and right to try to hire you. Do you really want to work for somebody else? Like unless you’re a different kind of person, or a different kind of person? Yeah. And it unless it’s a really, really cool once in a lifetime experience, you’re probably not gonna wanna take a job. So really thinking about kind of what you’re going to do
Scott D Clary 32:06
next is important to two points about like thinking about do you actually want to exit? Do you want
Ariana Pareja 32:10
to actually exit? Yeah, like, what are you really going to do?
Scott D Clary 32:13
So let’s let’s go into like, what like, because I know you’ve been jumping between things now. And I know that you’ve even like just, you know, on calls you’ve mentioned, like, Oh, I’m looking at this opportunity and this opportunity. And, and I just want to take a second and thank the sponsor of today’s show NetSuite. Now, I have a very special message for you. If you’re running a business that makes millions or 10s of millions of revenue, you need to pay attention right now because NetSuite by Oracle has just rolled out the best offer I’ve ever seen. NetSuite is the number one cloud financial system that gives you the visibility and control you need to make better decisions faster. And for the first time ever, they’re offering you a chance to defer payments, have a full NetSuite implementation for six months. That means no payments, no interest for six months. That’s insane. You know why I love NetSuite because they give you everything you need in one place. You can see your financials, inventory, HR, ecommerce, and more in real time. No more wasting time on manual processes. No more guessing what’s going on in your business. You can boost efficiency, built forecasts increased productivity across every department. That is why over 33,000 companies have already upgraded to NetSuite. They know NetSuite is the best way to get visibility and control over their business in any situation. So if you’ve been thinking about switching to NetSuite, now is the time to do it. This deal is unprecedented. no interest, no payments, take advantage of this special financing offer at netsuite.com/scott. Clary that’s netsuite.com/scott. Clary to get the visibility and control you need to weather any storm netsuite.com/scott Clary, go check it out right now. Everyone just want to take a second thank the sponsor of today’s episode hosting. Now, you know, these days everyone’s got a digital side hustle going on. I mean, I see people making money online through E commerce, affiliate marketing, newsletters even using chat GPT. But launching a website, no matter what you’re doing is intimidating, especially if you’re not tech savvy. I have some great news with hosting or you can launch a website or online shop in just minutes. No technical or design skills required. And it’s all for under $3 A month including a free domain name. Hosting there makes it ridiculously easy. You can launch a WordPress website with just one click or use their drag and drop Website Builder. They’ve got over 150 Beautiful, fully customizable templates for everything, ecommerce blogs, portfolios, landing pages and get this they even have an AI logomaker powered by chat GBT, you can create a free logo in seconds. I’ve personally only used hosting or to launch my own website. I’m blown away with how simple and hassle free the processes. So if you’re ready to take your digital side hustle to the next level, head over to hostgator.com/success. To get everything you need to create a website for under $3 a month. And as a special bonus for all success story listeners, use promo code success to get an extra 10% off. Again, that’s hosting or.com/success and promo code success for an extra 10% off don’t forget to check out the link and the promo code in our episode description. What are you waiting for? Give your digital business a boost and launch your website with hosting or today. Not a lot has stuck candidly, since I’ve known you right. And it sounds like before I met you when I moved down here to Florida, like there was always something that you were working on. Yeah. Now Leo, your husband’s working on something else. And he actually took a job took a job. So for you. What do you do? What do you what are you looking at? What do you get excited about for somebody that and I want to frame this as a professional who is who’s killed it in her field repeatedly and now is like doesn’t have that same purpose that you have when you’re building something, but also for a successful executive that has worked in a company for a long period of time. And now they want to look at doing something different, right? So they’ve been making, you know, three, four, or 500 Plus for years a C suite. And then they try and become a consultant. And then they just don’t know what to do. And they’re like spinning their wheels. And they’re very confused about where to take their career. So when you’ve achieved that success, like you have or like some, I don’t just want to frame it in the entrepreneurial perspective. I think there’s a lot of people that are also at crossroads in life when it comes to career. What do you do? Like what have you tried to take on what hasn’t worked? What has worked? What do you get excited about? Where do you spend your time? Where do you want to spend your time?
Ariana Pareja 36:56
Yeah, so right now, I sit on a couple of different boards. And so that’s, that’s keeping me engaged, keeping me excited. And it’s kind of like sort of a way to date before getting more involved. But I’d also say that, you know, my, what I want out of life has changed, right? So my definition of success has changed. And, you know, when I was younger, I defined success, specifically for monitoring metrics, right. And then when I got a little bit older, I define success as recognition. And then I got a little bit older, and I became a mother and have kids and I want what every woman working mom wants. And that’s life balance. Right? Which by the way, it does not exist unless you unless you hired proper domestic staff. It doesn’t
Scott D Clary 37:52
exist. Um, even with kids, it’s like, life is not your own anymore. It’s
Ariana Pareja 37:57
not your own. Yeah. And then now I’m at a point in place in my life where I want to build impact, right? And I’m in a position where I can build impact, and which is why I started my family foundation. And it’s, I know that businesses come and go, right, I’ve lived it, but my foundation will outlive me. And that legacy will go on. And my kids, regardless of what they decide to do in life later on, at least I know that they can work on that together. Right. And I’m having an impact on the world. And so, you know, I am still all constantly looking at different opportunities. Have I found the right one that has stuck yet? Not yet. But if and when that comes that I get really excited, then I’ll take it on. But until then I’m focused on building out legacy for my family.
Scott D Clary 38:57
So let’s talk about impact. So what does impact actually mean in the world of entrepreneurship and business?
Ariana Pareja 39:02
Yeah, so impact means different things for different people. But as an entrepreneur, you’re impacting the lives of the people you employ. You’re impacting the lives of the people who use your product or service. And just being really passionate about that. It’ll take you to all different levels and different heights. But you know, for me, my, my impact for me is like if I can just change the life of a person and increase their income, whether that’s through our scholarship program, or through our financial literacy program that we just launched with Miami Dade College, and I can teach somebody how to fish, essentially. That is a generational change that they’ll have within their family that is breaking the cycle of poverty that their family line has that their legacy has been right and their grandfather’s legacy, grandmother’s legacy. So for me, it’s like I I’m just trying to get as many people, as many specifically winning minorities to become wealthier.
Scott D Clary 40:07
And how do you actually accomplish that? So it’s entrepreneurship, is it? Is it investing? Because there’s so many different avenues? Oh, yeah, there’s so many. That’s the that’s actually described the problem first, I think that’s really important. Right? So describing the problem. So, I mean, I can only speak to my own experience. And but I’m sure like I was, I was very privileged. Growing up, I didn’t have I didn’t go to a shitty school I had I had smart parents, but even that I didn’t have a lot of financial education, there was no push towards investing, super risk adverse. Really no focus on entrepreneurship at all. In my family talking about money is very taboo for many cultures it is so I can only imagine that if a well off family did not have those conversations, people that do not have money or access to great education growing up, I can only imagine that there’s like zero conversation about that at all. It’s it’s very stressful. And it’s maybe you said it’s taboo. But how do we what’s the reality? Do you have like data points on on, on, you know, underrepresented individuals going into entrepreneurship, building businesses, success rates? Do you have any idea about?
Ariana Pareja 41:12
Yeah, I mean, I for sure, right now had some
Scott D Clary 41:16
conversations. And there’s like pretty wild stats as well. Sounds
Ariana Pareja 41:19
like women that they they’re less than 2% represent representation and funding. And I think, minorities, specifically black and Latino is like even less than that.
Scott D Clary 41:31
It is and you know what, I’ve had a couple conversations. I had one one woman Julie Burstein. She’s a I think, a CNBC reporter, but now she’s written a couple books. And she liked it actually, an investigation into how much like venture funding and angel funding women received and I can’t remember the number off top my head 2%. But it was it was yeah, it was. But I spoke to another another guy who was was responsible for building a black, a black entrepreneur incubator, and it was, there was some stat like, there’s only been one entrepreneur, one black entrepreneur in like the history of ever that received over a million dollars in seed. It was like something that sounds crazy to say out loud, but it was something that was like, Holy shit, that can’t be right. But he’s like, it definitely is right. And then if you look at funding of minorities, underrepresented women, and every other underrepresented class, like, really, nothing has changed. I mean, with like black entrepreneurs you saw, you know, for two years and 2020 2021, you saw like a spike. And then if you actually, and it’s like, it’s just right, right fucking at the bottom, like right now. So I speak to a lot of awesome people that are trying to solve for this. But it’s like an exceptionally hard thing to solve for, right? Because we try and solve for it. The way that the way that we know existing institutions work, what I mean by that is, if I’m trying to solve for helping women get more funding or underrepresented minorities get more funding, it’s okay, so how do we get more people on the board of this venture capital firm or this family office, it’s going to look at some of these investment opportunities, but that’s to fundamentally change all these organizations that invest it’s it’s incredibly hard. So is there a better way to fix the solution? Like what are you trying to do like financial education, literacy? That’s one way, but even in terms of helping women secure investment, how do we do that?
Ariana Pareja 43:36
Yeah, that’s, that’s a that’s a tough one that we’re, I think no one has figured out yet. Because the problem is, is the people with the capital just don’t care enough to make those initiatives. You know, there’s so many companies that I’ve talked to that they’ll ask me, you know, as a woman, as a woman of colors, woman and minority, what can we do to expand, you know, diversity and inclusion within our organizations like, Well, for one, you could start promoting women to C suite like that. That’s the first but like, representation really matters. Because what happens is, when there’s a woman or a minority in the C suite position or on the board, they’re basically showing everybody else in the organization that hey, look, it’s possible. And they’re also leading the example to everybody else in the organization that we should have. We should consider this more often. And very few companies are actually doing it anywhere real estate, which is formally called religie. They’re like the only organization that I’ve dealt with because we deal with a lot of corporate at employer partners for our foundation to get the students hired once they graduate. And it they do such a good job with this. I mean, I remember getting on a call and it was like the most diverse zoom group I’ve ever seen in my entire life, everyone from the CTO or the CIO, head of people, just like VP of engineering, it was all women, or minorities. So is it possible? Yes. But I think it starts from the top down of having that representation in the first place.
Scott D Clary 45:21
And to your point, I was going to actually ask you like, some of the some of the things that you encountered, but you didn’t even raise money for a lot of your businesses, like you actually didn’t go through the, the, you didn’t go through the shit of having to always find VC money at an early stage, like you had massive success. And then of course, the if you put $650,000 of your own money into it, then venture capitalist is going to be hell. Okay. Well,
Ariana Pareja 45:46
not to mention. So before we even approach the VC, we had already raised 6 million between friends and family in a private office. So we had already had three six, so
Scott D Clary 45:57
but your, your bar is like so. So like, it was insanely high? Yeah. Like, that’s not good. The bar has to be that high to raise money. Yeah. So so when you’re talking to who do you work with, you work with founders, you work with individuals, like in jobs, like who’s like the person you work with most, who you’re trying to, like, educate or help. Um,
Ariana Pareja 46:19
so we have several different programs within our foundation. But you know, we do work with a lot of founders in terms of mentorship of that are seeking series a funding we work with, and they’re typically already, they already have an MVP built out, they come from a an accelerator program that we do that work with VMC. Then we have our scholarship program, which basically it takes anyone who’s making 50k or less, and we put them through a six month upskilling bootcamp so that they learn the skills to become an asset. And so a software developer, a software developer, engineer, and test. That’s okay. Okay, gotcha. And so s debts are typically, you know, in the DC area, because that’s where the school is based in that area, you can get a job offer entry level, you know, 100k, we’ve had students get up to 120k. And so, yeah, so that’s, that’s how we’re kind of helping the community and working.
Scott D Clary 47:20
And do you think so if you’re, if you’re speaking to somebody who’s maybe in high school, and they’re looking at their career? What’s What’s the advice? How should they look at their career? How should they map it out? Is their career who who’s always under represented and they want to, you know, they want to achieve whatever they can achieve? And you’re gonna give them the best advice? Is it become financially literate? Is it to go through a program like this, learn specialized skills? Is it start your own business? Like there’s so many alternative career paths somebody can take on? So how do you point somebody in the right direction, so that they have the highest chance of being successful in spite of existing infrastructure that doesn’t support them? I think,
Ariana Pareja 48:01
well, first and foremost, financial literacy is important. When we were launching, well, we were about to launch our program with Miami Dade College. But when we were doing the research, we had asked over 200 students, what is it that they would want to learn a continuing education course. And we had different, you know, multiple choice questions. And the number one thing that people want to know, is financial literacy, but they call it adulting. And so that’s how we came up with our adulting course. And, you know, the fact of the matter is, you know, McKinley just put out a report that 50s only 57% of Americans are financially literate, meaning they understand how credit works, they understand how to plan for retirement. That’s only like, half of America. That’s,
Scott D Clary 48:59
that’s insane. That’s insane.
Ariana Pareja 49:01
That’s the only thing that’s only half of it. And and the report showed that it didn’t matter of the socioeconomic status, obviously, of course, those that with a higher wage, had, you know, but it’s affecting everybody.
Scott D Clary 49:14
How is this still a thing? And 2023? This doesn’t make any sense to me.
Ariana Pareja 49:18
I don’t know. But, you know, when we had our we used to have these brown bag paper lunches once a month with all of our engineers who were millennials and they made very high salaries. And that was also their number one requests during these like lunch and learns like, how do I manage my money? How do I invest my money? So I think at the core financial literacy is the most important thing. anyone of any age should understand. And secondly, I would tell a high school students yes, if you are very passionate about something get granular on the skill sets. We actually had a young high school student Take our program in the evenings while she was in her senior year of high school. And so she maintained her GPA at a high GPA and then was taking our course in the evening. She graduated from school. I think it was like June 7, and then the very next day, June 8, she already had a job at a publicly traded company. So
Scott D Clary 50:21
that’s awesome. Yeah. Super no college debt. Yeah.
Ariana Pareja 50:25
I mean, her parents were extremely happy, of course. But yeah, I mean, so if you can get the if you could get the education on the skilled like, that you want to go after? But it’s hard, right? Because most high school students, they don’t know what they want to do yet. Right? No,
Scott D Clary 50:41
and I don’t I mean, if you think about what happens in what happens in high school, right, so you have a guidance counselor, that’s giving you career advice. And I mean, you know, guidance counselor is good for you. But do you actually know all the different things that somebody can actually do in their life? No, I could a guidance counselor have spoken to you and told you to build all the things that you build? No, definitely not. No. Does the guidance counselor know how to invest? Like, I mean, like, like, let’s be let’s be real, like, these are the people. So I think actually, I was thinking about, just as you mentioned, that I’m like, wiser, wiser, so much financial illiteracy, and I think, I don’t think that it’s, it’s really gotten worse. I just think that the job climate is changing. What I mean by that, is, if you look to our parents and our grandparents, they had defined benefit and defined contribution pensions. Yeah. So you either had 70% of your best years until you die as your pension, and you really didn’t have to invest. Because why would you, if you have 70% of your salary till you die, you can, obviously, but not a lot of people did. I know for a fact, because my parents are not huge investors, they invest, but they’re not huge investors. And they’re all very safe, risk adverse jobs. Dad was in police, and then he worked in counter terrorism, and I worked for the government, he’ll always make money, when he stops working, never really has to worry about investing wants to make more fine, but you don’t have to worry about it, then defined contribution. That means that you have basically in a large enough company, you have X percentage of your salary going into it, and it’s matched by the company. And then you have people that are basically investing on your behalf. So professionals that are investing into different different things based on your risk tolerance, right. So for a whole generation and previous generations, they never really had to worry that much about investing, because there was always pensions lined up for them. So I don’t think that financial literacy was better. I don’t think that our parents percentage wise, maybe knew more about credit. And I don’t, I don’t know, this just pulling
Ariana Pareja 52:44
also is like, there’s been a day you have to cultural shift to though, like our parents generation, you got married and had kids by the time you were 21. And you bought a house and you settle down at our generation, not so much. Right? Now, our generation is all about instant gratification. And I leased that Porsche or BMW, because I want to post about it on my Instagram. And it’s a different cultural shift. As well, I think that that has constituted to the problem of
Scott D Clary 53:15
so you have like, it’s like a it’s like this problem, and it’s being attacked from both sides. So one, there’s no more pensions. People don’t stay in jobs for as long. So I mean, what’s doing the gig economy? Everything’s doing good? Yeah, gig economy. So you have no safety, security. Plus, you don’t have much disposable income, because you’re wasting it on all this bullshit. And then that both of those things are just squeezing people. And I don’t even think that retirement, like makes, I don’t think retirements even an option. So if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, and you have no pension coming in, and you’re blowing all your money on dumb shit, which a lot of people do, like, how do you even think of retiring at 60? There is no retirement anymore. I mean, I’m not a big fan of like retirement retirement and like the stop working and don’t do any things. I’m pretty sure that’s when you start to decline, like intellectually, and then like to slow death from there on. I’m a big proponent of that. But besides that, maybe people do want to retire. Yeah. And no one’s setting themselves up for it. So this is where the financial literacy comes in is where the understanding credit, understanding debt understanding, good debt, bad debt, how to use it to leverage understanding
Ariana Pareja 54:15
your 401k. I mean, it was It shocked me all the time, when we would give a offer letter to an employee, and they just had no idea what their shares meant, like, what does this mean? Oh, it’s very confusing. It’s very confusing and not understanding that those benefits can make or break whether or not you take a job offer the 100%.
Scott D Clary 54:36
So I think that actually, if I’m not mistaken, Florida is starting to mandate. I think that I’m sure there’s similar programs like around the US before to starting to mandate financial education in high school. I think there was like very, very recent
Ariana Pareja 54:52
12 states are doing it now. All states, I guess Florida is one of them. I
Scott D Clary 54:55
just heard about it, because now we’re down here. So I hear about the things that are happening here but it should be It should have been nothing
Ariana Pareja 55:01
should have been the thing the entire time. Yeah, but no 12 states have now,
Scott D Clary 55:05
what are you? So just if people are listening, obviously, some people are gonna listen to this and they’re gonna say, No, I’m good. I don’t need a financial education course. But other people that are listening could be like, actually, that’s super useful cuz I don’t know shit. So what do you if somebody’s actually gonna go check it out? And we’ll link it, but what would they go to learn? Just so they have an idea of what they’re getting themselves into?
Ariana Pareja 55:23
Yeah, so. So the date is for April 29 is when it starts. And we’ll have the registration up on Miami Dade College website soon. But you could check us out and follow us on App re how family foundation on Instagram, and I wasn’t done yet. Oh, I’m sorry. It’s all good. It’s all good. You can drop a little bit of time it was like, it’s been like an hour or
Scott D Clary 55:57
so because the clock is. I told you that we started the clock I know. But the
Ariana Pareja 56:00
clock started at 12. And now Now it says 148.
Scott D Clary 56:03
Now it’s been like 15 minutes. Okay, well, no, but tell me Okay, first, just tell me what’s in and what’s in the course what’s in the course. And then listen, we’ll get the Instagram socials. Anyways, you can drop them now, if you want halfway through, go for it.
Ariana Pareja 56:16
So what’s in the course is that they will anyone who attends will will basically learn the basics and the fundamentals of credit of like, what’s good credit, what’s bad credit, how to how to raise credit, how to leverage your credit, how to create passive income, like the difference between passive and residual income. And then just like an overall overview of how to maximize like your Roth ROA, and your 401 K and Yeah, and so they’ll that will be out soon. And we’re really excited about it.
Scott D Clary 56:52
No, that’s awesome. I appreciate that you’re doing that, because that’s much needed. So know what I wanted to go into. Because I just put some notes down here that I thought would be like good entrepreneurial startup lessons, like more like tactical things that that that you can teach over. So I guess, I mean, your background is more more in sales and marketing, I guess more more sales than anything. I mean, you’re not a tech, co founder, you’re more on like the bizdev side. So let’s talk about scaling up a company, good lessons for people that are just starting out. So you mentioned a few things like you want to find out, if you have product market fit, you want to find out what you know, even like, what’s the TAM, like? What’s the total addressable market you’re selling into, so you can understand the size of the opportunity, good for you to know as entrepreneur, but also, you know, if you’re trying to raise money, but for somebody that say, let’s talk about like the first let’s go from like, zero to a million, and then like one to 10? Like those are two pretty big milestones that an entrepreneur then after 10, we can leave it to someone else to tell them about that. But like from zero to one, how do you get your first few customers? What would be your strategy? If somebody’s building something brand new?
Ariana Pareja 58:02
Yeah. So you want to figure out what your sales funnel is, like, figure out how you’re going to have where you’re gonna get your lead generation from? So if it’s a, it does vary so much, depending on what industry you’re in, it could be
Scott D Clary 58:16
you look at an opportunity, what is your thought process?
Ariana Pareja 58:19
Yeah, so depending on the business, the figure out what can bring in the most amount of leads at the lowest cost, right? So cost of acquisition, figuring out that piece of it. Because you could have 50 leads a month that are great leads, but if they’re costing you more than what you get out of it, then that’s just a waste of time. And then I’d say that, you know, really maximizing joint ventures, right and doing rev shares. So that’s low cost, it brings in high volume right off the bat. And you could start to build some customers. So doing joint ventures with other similar, something that makes sense synergy late with synergistically,
Scott D Clary 59:03
yeah, so you have like, it says, this would be like the b2b version of an affiliate. Yeah. Okay, gotcha. So you identify like the major players in your space. And you’re saying, we’ll do a rev share on this, you know, you have the customers we want, we can fulfill, you’re not going to fulfill on the product that we’re offering. And that’s and you build these agreements so that you’re more scalable they want as opposed to, and we’re talking about, I know, there’s a million different business models, I mean, between like b2b, which is, I think, more or less what you were doing, and there’s b2c and direct to consumer. But the point is, where’s the audience? And how do you tap into an existing audience so that you don’t have to basically build that audience from scratch? Yeah, and that’s more or less how you get your first customers. How do you and for somebody starting out you know what, if you are a b2b company, it’s a really smart idea as opposed to because you’re not gonna have money to hire a salesperson. So it’s going to be you
Ariana Pareja 59:57
know, and you can you can allocate shared resource CES with the joint venture. Yeah,
Scott D Clary 1:00:01
yeah, what would be a good deal somebody doesn’t get, you know, screwed on a deal. What’s a good rough split for b2b product that you’d be happy with?
Ariana Pareja 1:00:11
It really depends like if they’re, if they’re bringing you if they’re doing the bulk of it, I’d say like, if you kept at least 15 to 20%. And if they’re doing all the legwork, like throughout the bedroom, you’re keeping 15 to 20%. I think that’s a good start.
Scott D Clary 1:00:31
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Ariana Pareja 1:02:41
people? Yeah, I was, I was gonna say systems and processes, because that is important too. But having the right people in place people can make or break your company. Toxic people can make or break your company, identifying that early on. And you know, when you’re early in your journey as an entrepreneur, typically you’ll hire just whoever has a pulse. whoever’s interested, whoever shows interest in has a pulse you like so your friend, your cousin, your whoever, whoever your your friend of a friend, when really you should be hiring for people that are specifically good for that role, not just because you know, and trust them. And that’s hard when you’re building a company. Because when you’re a startup, it’s very hard to convince somebody that’s very specialized in what they do to leave their, you know, stable company to come join your vision that you don’t know what you’re doing yet. So that’s tough, right, it’s easier to recruit a friend or family member to join you on that rocket ship. So, I’d say focus on the people and getting people that are really specialized at what they’re doing. And that fit to the culture of your company, and the culture, the type of culture you want in your company.
Scott D Clary 1:03:54
To questions off that point, decide how you want to take them but first question would be how do you identify what that culture is? Or how do you build it from scratch when you are just trying to stay you know, keep your head above water? Yeah, and secondly the avatar of the person you hired is going to fit into that culture went or build that culture? Is that person it’s gonna be a leading question because I have opinions on this but is that person coming from from experience in the industry that you already have? Or is that person like a figure it out growth hacker kind of person remember we’re in like the zero to one phase right now we’re starting to scale so who is who is because I personally think and you can debate me on this but I personally think every time I’ve hired somebody who’s operated in like a fortune 500 Fortune they always fucked it up. Yeah, so that experience is like too much because they have all these support systems in place and then they’re not used to operating on they don’t want to roll up their sleeves get dirty Yeah, as a person. How do you how do you find the right person that has enough experience but isn’t going to be like ruined by the by the team and the support they had at a much larger company.
Ariana Pareja 1:05:01
Yeah, so you don’t obviously don’t want to get someone from a fortune 500 company, what you want to do is find someone that was maybe just like not even a manager managerial role, but maybe like a lead at their last company, and they’re just dying to get into that manager role. And so they have some, you know, big corporate experience, but at the same time, they haven’t jumped that ladder yet. And by coming onto your company, you’re giving them this opportunity of this title of director or manager, and now they have that opportunity. So they’ll, they’ll roll up their sleeves and get dirty with you.
Scott D Clary 1:05:33
I love that. And then culture, you mentioned, culture, culture, super important. Culture is a big buzzword that people throw around too. And I think a lot of people have a hard time defining what that is and what it isn’t. So, as an entrepreneur, what is culture? How do you build it? What do you focus on? Who creates it? Who maintains it? What’s that?
Ariana Pareja 1:05:49
Yeah, I mean, obviously, the founding team builds it creates it and leads by example. So it’s your behaviors that then the rest of the company looks up to. So if you’re the type of founder that’s in the office by 8am, and you’re not leaving until 8pm, you need to be completely open and upfront, when you’re hiring people that that’s what you want. I did that all the time. When I was hiring someone, I was like, Hey, listen, I understand you’re at your nice cushy job. But this is a startup, I get in around seven, I expect you to to and I would say that in the interview. And if they said no, like, alright, move on, because I’m not going to hire this person. And then three months down the road, we have this issue of, you know, whatever. So you address those things head on. I love that. When you set the table for expectations, initial interview, okay, what you want,
Scott D Clary 1:06:40
as you start to scale up, people are very important. You’ve taken the company from zero to a million dollars in revenue. Now, how do you take it from one to 10?
Ariana Pareja 1:06:49
Ah, from one to 10. So, I mean, that’s acquiring other companies will probably be the easiest, fastest way
Scott D Clary 1:06:58
I’ve ever been. I’ve never had that answer. I mean, if we’re interesting, yeah. Think about
Ariana Pareja 1:07:03
it, though. Like if you’re at x revenue, and you need more revenue, find a distressed company that makes sense that you can acquire.
Scott D Clary 1:07:13
It’s very smart. Very good. It’s very good. You know what, you know, you’re like the perfect kind of lazy, no, why? Because it’s like, even when you start something out, it’s like, you just happened? No, it’s smartest, you go into existing audiences. And that’s where you bring your customers, you’re not fucking grinding, and like trying to find everything yourself. I mean, there will still be a grind. There’s a lot of grind to it. But I mean, you want to you want to increase your revenue by a company that’s distressed, that’s already selling into your market, and then all of a sudden, you’re adding revenue, and you’re adding customer base, and you’re adding these things that, okay, you can get them yourself, but it’s going to be so much more expensive, so much more time consuming.
Ariana Pareja 1:07:50
Yeah. You just did. One while
Scott D Clary 1:07:53
I’m actually thinking about it a little bit. That’s very, very smart. As you as you grow, you mentioned a few things about like redefining success in your own life. As you grow your company, maybe day one successes, metric driven, financial driven, whatever that is, and then it changes in the entrepreneurs life. How do you manage like massive scaling, burnout, all the other? Basically the dark side of entrepreneurship. Oh, man, um, and like, for yourself? Was there? Was there rock bottoms in your journey? And what did that look like? What happened? What led to that? 100 overextend yourself working to like all like, walk me through like that story?
Ariana Pareja 1:08:39
Yeah. So you know, the saying that it’s lonely at the top? Well, the reason why it’s so lonely at the top is because you have no one that you can vent to. And I’ll tell you what I mean by this. So, a lot of times in the journey as an entrepreneur, there’ll be times where you’re like, Oh, my God only have like, four months left in the bank. And it’s obviously that’s stressful. And you know, now I look back and and I talked to other entrepreneurs, I’m like, Okay, that was pretty normal thing to go through. But in the time, you don’t think it’s normal. You’re just like, Oh, my God, this roller coaster. And so you have no one to vent to? Because if you vent to your co founders, that’s not productive. If you vent to your investors, that’s obviously not productive,
Scott D Clary 1:09:22
but it should it should be well, investors.
Ariana Pareja 1:09:25
Yeah, it depends on the investors right? If you you and you certainly you sir, not certainly cannot vent to your team members, right. You are a leader you have to show up every single day you wake up, you put a smile on your face, and you walk into that office and you act like everything’s fine and which can be frustrating because then someone will come into your office with this problem. That’s so irrelevant. And you just have like, in the back of your mind, you’re like, This place isn’t gonna be here. workout. So yeah, we’ll address your your your problem here and I’m so so not having anyone to vent to. And for my case, personally, I couldn’t even come home and vent to my husband. Right? Because that wasn’t productive, either. Like there was a period of time, why not? Oh, because we would go through these downward spirals, there was this period of time where it like, I would cry myself to sleep, and he’d be the rock. And then the next day, he just, he’d be like, Okay, I cry, you cried, yesterday, I was a rock. Now it’s my turn. And then he’d cry. And then it was just like the cycle of depression. Not to mention, neither one of us were ever home. I mean, he traveled 190 days out of the year, I probably traveled maybe 80 to 90 days out of the year, we were there were times where we were both gone out of the house. And our kids were just with staff. And we were both like he was on the West Coast, I was somewhere in Central. And I remember, there was a point where we had gone for months without having a proper sit down meal together. Because even on the weekends, when we flew back to the house, we were still entertaining, we were still like, remember, we had raised 6 million between friends and family. So we were still, you know, having dinners with our investors, we were still giving them updates. And so we were always on, right. Not to mention, we still had these other companies that were still kind of running the background, our portfolio, so we never got a break. And so the other thing about success is, the more successful you become, the more ambivalent people show up in your life. And that is extremely stressful. Because mentally, you know how to deal with a good person, you know how to deal with a toxic person, a toxic person that’s easy to detect, but the ambivalent person, to some certain extent, they do care about you, and you care about them. But when push comes to shove, you don’t know how they really feel about you. You don’t know if they’re really rooting for you, or if they’re just waiting for a moment for you to be vulnerable so that they can stab you in the back. And this created a whole, like, just, I’m just now getting over this of paranoia
Scott D Clary 1:12:15
that I was gonna say, it sounds very paranoid.
Ariana Pareja 1:12:17
Yeah, it did, because
Scott D Clary 1:12:18
but what do you so I even want to unpack that? Because that’s interesting. When you say that, when you say that there’s these people that come into your life that are waiting to stab you in the back in what way? Could somebody
Ariana Pareja 1:12:28
not let me rephrase that nice to have you in the back but ambivalent people show up, the more successful you become because you are in a place of power influence, maybe they want access to your Rolodex, maybe they want you to hire them, maybe they want you to be their business partner in their next endeavor. So they’re never authentically showing up to talk to you for you. They always want something from you. Right? And you and those type of people, they’re hard to identify. Because maybe they do care about you. Or maybe they’re just around because of the position that you’re in. Or maybe you know, you’re their boss, and they have to be nice to you. And so, that mental drainage of trying to figure out okay, do they really like me really cool, are they just want me for something, they want me to invest in something? And so that is very mentally draining? And so how do
Scott D Clary 1:13:22
you find those people? I mean, it’s how do you protect yourself from those people?
Ariana Pareja 1:13:28
How do you protect yourself from those people? You know, it’s, it’s tough, it’s it’s kind of tough to identify. But now I’m at a place where if I’m looking at a business opportunity, or an investment opportunity, I’ll ask to go out to lunch or dinner with their spouse, with them and their spouse, because how someone treats their spouse says a lot about their character. If they are disrespecting their spouse, their own spouse, a mother of their children, or the father of their children, believe me, they’ll disrespect you too. If they badmouth their family members in front of you, and you just met red flag. And you know, if this person is talking about about their own family members, God knows what they say about you when you walk out the door. So there’s those little things that you could do. And then, I mean, obviously, you’re never going to be fully protected. But I guess some of the better ways to cope with all of these things that you experienced when you become to a certain point in your career. So just find somebody that has absolutely no ties to your company or to you or to your if anything, and that is the person and not not someone from your industry, but somebody that you can just vent to and that that person may not have all the answers, but just the simple act of talking about your problems out loud, can really help you and you can find these people either mastermind groups that are other entrepreneurs that are going through a similar thing that you’re going to it could be a counselor or a mentor. But just find that person that because venting goes a long way.
Scott D Clary 1:15:12
You suggested that person isn’t your spouse? No, no, I’m saying it should be someone else. Other than it should
Ariana Pareja 1:15:18
be someone that has absolutely no ties to your business. So that they have unbiased and unbiased ear to listen,
Scott D Clary 1:15:25
I love that. That’s really good advice. I’m now I’m thinking a lot you’re giving me a lot to think about. Now, it’s very good. Another thing that I thought was a very interesting point. And it would be good for again, people that are parts of this show that have been good for people that are just building but then there’s people that are in very, very specific situations very similar to yours and, and like have a spouse and they’re building things with or around their spouse. So I’m not even alluding to me like I mean, like I am, but that’s not why the question is coming up. So I’m gonna like preface with that. But obviously, you went through super difficult time. I mean, not not in terms of like, your relationship isn’t stress? Oh, no, a lot. So not really. So how did you? I mean, I know he’s still around. Like, how did you navigate? Like, what did you do that allowed that to be? I mean, manageable. Oh, God.
Ariana Pareja 1:16:15
I mean, it was awful. There was a period of time that it was, like Leo and I, since the day that we met, we were always rock solid, in our relationship in our communication, but there was a period of time, that all the stress that came with, with our last company that really put in the fact that we just physically were in the same state at the same time, that it put a lot of stress on us. But when I look back on all that, I am so grateful for that journey, because it has made us that much stronger. But I mean, being open and honest, like Yeah, we went to marriage counseling, we talked it out, we just consistently tried to put on our schedule, date night. And then we eliminated things out of our life that was like a blocker. Like if there was something like a a project that we were working on, or investment that was taking up any extra time from our family life. We were just like, You know what, I don’t care what the the upside could come from this. It’s just, it’s a distraction on us. You cut it, and we cut it out. Took a break?
Scott D Clary 1:17:26
Do you have advice for people that are single building, and they’re looking for somebody in their life, and then they and they would love to have a relationship like what you had, but maybe past relationships haven’t worked out? The spouse? Or the partner hasn’t really understood the entrepreneurial person that they are? How do you find somebody that is okay with this. Um, so I feel like no one can really get this, right, it’s very lucky, the
Ariana Pareja 1:17:58
best, the best thing I could say is work on yourself, right? Because if you’re constantly working on yourself, and you identify what’s important to you, your values and the type of lifestyle you want to have, the clearer, the more clear you will be when you meet that other person. And you’ll engage with them if they’re all also on the same path. Right. So like, when I first met Leo, we obviously had very similar goals. But aside from our business goals, we were both very spiritual, and we always both believed in giving back. He and I both were Big Brothers Big Sisters, like, and we both volunteered. And that was not something that we discussed prior. Or, like, we just both did that. Like we both had that, like, you know, that wants a need to give back. So when I found out that he wanted to become a big brother, that was when I knew he was the one for me, I was like, Oh my gosh, was this is it. That was when I was crystal clear that this is a man that I’m going to marry we’d already been dating for a while. But that was when I was crystal clear. So I guess always constantly work on yourself know your values know what you want, and you will attract the person that
Scott D Clary 1:19:13
that emulates that. Yeah, I love that. Okay.
Ariana Pareja 1:19:15
And if not, because there’s, you know, maybe just work on things together. And when you’re working on yourself, ask your boyfriend or girlfriend, hey, I’m doing this, you know, self development journey. Come with me. Let’s see what happens.
Scott D Clary 1:19:32
No, it’s good. And I like to touch on that because I mean, we can talk about like business tactics all day. But then all the other ancillary things that come with entrepreneurship, that are maybe not discussed enough so like the mental health and well being relationships, stress burnout. Like even when you become successful people coming into your life that shouldn’t be there are not good for you. strained relationships with existing people that were in your life that now don’t understand that you’re in a new spot financially and that could Be also difficult as well. So all these different things that are never really discussed when it comes to entrepreneurship. So I just appreciate the input, like a lot, actually. Okay, so I would say, we went through most everything that I wanted to go into sort of anything that we didn’t go into that you want it to go into, um, looks at her. I don’t know, I didn’t even see what you wrote down. No, no, we went through all that. Okay, good. Yeah. Do you have any last advice like floors, Yours? Any last advice for an entrepreneur or somebody who is like younger in their career journey? What would you tell them?
Ariana Pareja 1:20:43
Face the hard truth, instead of living in ignorant bliss. And what I mean by that is, you know, when it’s time to do a round of layoffs, and you’re like telling yourself, no, no, I’ll figure it out, we’ll figure out the revenue. You know, when that business partner that you’re thinking about going to business with has red flags, you know, when that relationship is not conducive, are what you want out of life, you know these things, but you ignore it, because you have this ignorant bliss, and you just you’re hoping for the best. And you also know, as an entrepreneur, there comes a time when you need to either sell or stop a company, shut down a company and cut your losses. You know, when that’s there? Just do it. Let’s face the hard truth. I love
Scott D Clary 1:21:36
that. And I bet that if anyone’s listened to this, like, when you said that one line, everyone thought of something in their life. Yeah. So that’s what you’d have to do. Whatever it is that you just thought of when you’re that? Where can people connect with you? So now you can pre retail over all the socials in the website. And I guess because you have a foundation, you have this financial literacy course program. So tell people where they can go for all the different things.
Ariana Pareja 1:22:05
Yeah, so the so by the way, the course that will the the Miami Dade College program, that financial issue program that we’re launching, that is going to be online, and anyone can log in from it. You don’t have to actually live in Miami, but it will be live on the Miami Dade College continuing education registration site for more information that hasn’t been posted yet, but if you want to follow us at Ariana Perrey ha A Ri a and a buddy happy AR EA on Instagram I’ll be posting updates as well as on our other Instagram account which is at pray how family foundation and then our website pray have foundation.org
Scott D Clary 1:22:47
awesome okay. And last question I asked everyone after your journey after your success and your failures and everything, what does success mean to you?
Ariana Pareja 1:22:56
Success means success means to me to have and to accomplish the goals that you you in that period of time in your life has set out right because as I mentioned earlier, the definition of success will change for you as you evolve. But seeing it through seeing it through whatever that goal is that you have at that time of your life to see it through.