Outlier On Air | Interviewing Founders, Disruptors, & Mavens
189: Luz Rivas - Providing Tech Programs for Young Women

"You're never going to have everything you need in place to get started, but think about what you do have." Luz Rivas

About: Luz Rivas- Founder of DIY Girls, and Co-Founder of KitHub

Overview: Luz Rivas inspires us with her desire to help change the upcoming generation of Latinas in LA. During this interview, Luz shares her road to success in the tech space and how she started her company, DIY Girls, and co-founded KitHub.

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Highlights:

Background: Luz grew up in LA with a single mother and her sisters- they moved quite often because of finances. From the beginning, Luz and her sister felt the need to help financially and learned at a young age how to go out and make a little money. Luz always had a love for school and was in 5th grade when her passion for technology began. There weren't any specific engineering programs for Luz to join, but she did look for opportunities to expand her knowledge and took advantage of them as often as she could. 

In high school, her math teacher told her about MIT and told her there was an admissions officer coming to their school. Luz decided to meet with this recruiter. In her senior year, Luz was looking at hometown schools to apply to but decided to apply to MIT just to see if she could get in. To her surprise, she was accepted. 4 years later, Luz graduated from MIT, moved to Chicago and worked for Motorola for 3 years. From there, Luz attended graduate school at Harvard, moved to New York where she worked for a time, and then decided to come back to LA. Upon her return, Luz worked at CalTech and at other educational jobs then finally started DIY Girls.

About DIY Girls: DIY Girls is a non-profit organization that runs after school programs, summer camps, and workshops for mainly lower-income, Latina girls to learn about technology and engineering. The activities are related more to the maker movement (meaning, they're able to make certain things with tools that they normally wouldn't have access to). This program came about because Luz saw the need for something to help prepare these young girls for the tech world like she wished she'd had as a child. Their focus is on girls because studies have shown that around 4th and 5th grade, more girls tend to lose interest in math and science.

About KitHub: After receiving numerous calls from parents asking Luz and her co-founder Tara where they were purchasing all these unique parts for their DIY projects, Tara and Luz decided to create KitHub. It's a site for parents to purchase everything they need to build a project with their children all in one kit. Right now, consumers pay a monthly subscription and are sent new projects to their home each month. Eventually, KitHub will be moving toward simply providing kits for anyone to choose from- instead of just focusing on a monthly subscription.

Why Start DIY Girls: Luz shares that she's always wanted to make her own choices and do what she loves most. Because LA is her hometown, she always felt that if she was going to start something it had to be there.  She feels jealous of these young girls, and tells her team that if she's not jealous, improvements need to be made.

Attendees: This year, they are expecting to serve about 550 girls. By the end of 5 years, they are hoping to serve over 3,000 girls in Southern California. Although she has received inquiries for starting DIY Girls in other states, they are going to focus on building it in LA first, and then maybe expand down the road.

Cost: The after-school program is $15 per girl per session, which covers all the materials and staff help. DIY Girls receives funding from individual donors as well as organizations. They actually had an indie go-go campaign about a year and half ago and were able to raise $16k.

Advice for Entrepreneurs: Get started. Don't be so focused on having a perfect plan or all the funding to start working on your dreams. You're never going to have everything you need in place to get started, but think about what you do have.

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Connect With Luz:

Website | KitHub | @LuzRivas | LinkedIn |

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Category:Business -- posted at: 12:52am MST

188: Fraser Patterson - An Innovative Approach to Remodeling

"If you have a great idea, shout it from the rooftops and convince everyone it does work." - Fraser Patterson

About: Fraser Patterson- Founder and CEO of Bolster

Bio: He’s been a carpenter and award-winning general contractor in the U.K.; a guest lecturer in entrepreneurship and business incubator executive at Centro, an architecture and design university in Mexico; a mentor to various startups for Endeavor, a global non-profit that supports high-impact entrepreneurs in emerging markets and the founder and C.E.O. of OnisVida, a company that helps homeowners manage their remodeling projects with finance from Infonavit, Latin America's largest mortgage lender.

Overview: Fraser is an innovative carpenter who is transforming the home remodeling space. With a background in math and physics, Fraser is changing the lives of homeowners and contractors for good.

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Highlights:

Background: Fraser began working as a carpenter in Scotland, while also studying math and physics. During this time in his life, he continually thought there had to be a better way to remodel. Eventually, Fraser became a general contractor, grew very quickly, won Ikea as a strategic partner, won numerous awards, and then the economy crashed in 2008. From there, Fraser moved to Mexico and was offered a position teaching entrepreneurship at the Architecture and Design University in Centro, Mexico. While there, Fraser suggested starting a business venture for these students and met with the head of endeavor at Mexico who then got involved in helping Fraser start this business venture. Then, one day, Fraser got a call from the Mexican government asking if he could help solve the remodeling process. With the help of Infonavit (Latin America´s largest mortgage lender) Fraser was able to implement Mexico’s first home remodeling insurance platform in partnership with Infonavit , HSBC Mexico and Aserta. After proving to be successful, Fraser decided to take this idea to the U.S. and started Bolster with his co-founder Ana.

What is Bolster: Bolster is a start up company in the home remodeling space. They've invented the first affordable performance bond for small construction projects. They provide the consumer with the contractor who has been vetted by them, and backed by an insurance company that literally guarantees they will finish the project according to the terms of the contract. And if, for any reason, that contractor fails the insurance company will find another contractor and make up the financial difference of bringing on another contractor. The process to vet a new contractor only takes about 24 hours. Bolster is completely in charge of handling all the paperwork/contract for the consumer's project.

Challenges: It has been tough for Fraser's company to acquire the market here in the U.S. He's had to heavily educate the market (contractors and homeowners) because Bolster is such a new idea. Consumers tend to think that the idea of their contractor being backed is almost too good to be true.

Acquiring the Market: Initially, what the company did was partner with the American Institute of Architects, but it didn't produce the results that Fraser was looking for. Then, they tried going through real estate agencies, which was mildly successful. Bolster did receive a lot of press but there were complications with the overflow of people reaching out and they struggled with capturing and nurturing their audience. They soon came to realize that by helping the contractor sell the product themselves, it gave Bolster and the contractors a great advantage in competition.

Team Size: There are about 5 people who work closely with the company, but Fraser does not want to grow the company size until he is confident in scaling it successfully. He's been there before: believing in a solution to the problem, but then finding out that the market/sales approach was wrong which caused them to back-pedal. Fraser is more focused on helping the market first and winning contracts before he increases the company size.

End Game: Fraser really sees Bolster as the remodeling solution for the contractor from end-to-end. He wants to help contractors market themselves, give them back-end tools, measure their performance, and essentially turn them into super contractors. He also wants to be able to set up individual sites for contractors with a back office to help manage their customers. Fraser wants to become the brand for the contractor more than a brand for the consumer.

Advice for Entrepreneurs: Assume your idea is wrong. Go out, analyze your market, and gather the data for your product. If you can test your assumptions in a light way (more than just surveys, and talking to people) you will have a much better idea of the potential of your company. It's important to go out and help your potential customers, figure out what their pain points are, learn how you can help them, and then help them create a service from it.

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Connect With Fraser:

Website | @GetBolster | @FraserPatterson | LinkedIn | About.me

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Category:Business -- posted at: 12:41am MST

187: Peter Gould- Branding at a Deeper Level

"Spend time with an agency who will help you creatively connect and engage emotionally with your audience." Peter Gould

About: Peter Gould- Founder and CEO of Creative Cubed

BIO: Peter Gould is a designer, creative entrepreneur and digital artist. Over the last ten years he has been involved in the design and launch of many international brands and creative projects through his studio Creative Cubed, based in Sydney, Australia. His team loves to work with startups and entrepreneurs who dream big and are passionate about launching their ideas into the world. He has won several creative awards, launched his own apps & games, teaches branding workshops internationally, and reaches over 150,000 people from his Facebook page.

Overview: Peter Gould is an influential, innovative, and award-winning creative graphic designer who is highly sought after globally. Peter has touched many international audiences and throughout this interview, inspires us to travel the world and incorporate our findings into our work.

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Highlights:

Background: Peter has always been the creative type, and when he got to high school he was very interested in graphic design. He ended up really enjoying it and decided to start his own graphic design company during college which proved to be an intense and challenging time of his life. However, it gave him some hands on experience in learning what works and what doesn't. Peter married at 21, and on his honeymoon, he was able to travel quite extensively through Europe. During that time he felt inspired to travel more and experience the world. He has been able to incorporate graphic designs inspired by his travel.

What is Creative Cubed: Creative Cubed is a branding and design studio located in Sydney, Australia that's been in business close to 10 years. They help people take their ideas/products and turn them into campaigns. They use a strategic design process to help them launch something that is going to be beautiful and achieve the results they are looking for. Their team is only about 5 people, and they prefer to keep it that way to really be hands on and give clients the time that they need.

What Sets Creative Cubed Apart: They've been able to use tools like Strategizer and Business Model Canvas to understand at a fundamental level what their clients want. Creative Cube believes that a company's brand is much deeper than just a logo. A company must think about what emotional response they want from people. It's an experience that is created over years of marketing and solid branding. Although the logo is a factor in getting consumers' attention, clients must focus on establishing some kind of relationship by thinking about the messaging, images, language, and the kind of personality they portray to their audience. All of those elements are delivered through social media, trade shows, emails, etc. Peter shares that this is where the brand process starts.

Process: Peter works with entrepreneurs by opening up Strategizer to discuss with his clients what their unique value proposition is, what their potential consumer's pain points are, how they plan to solve those problems, etc. Creative Cubed really wants to establish a deeper level of branding from the start.

Challenges for Creative Cubed: Peter feels that his challenges as an entrepreneur are like many others out there. He has to balance his work life, manage numerous responsibilities, and have the mental energy to work long days/weeks.

Goals: Creative Cubed has started to launch internal apps, books, and more. Peter would also like to work with people and their brands that are doing positive things like reaching out to other communities or providing service.

Advice for Entrepreneurs: You need to have people around you that support you and keep you inspired. Those kinds of people can direct you to helpful tips, sites, and other educational information. Make the effort to get out and network with other people. Peter also encourages you to pay particular attention to the design process of your brand. It's better to spend time with an agency who will help you creatively connect and engage emotionally with your audience. Read some great branding books or listen to some branding podcasts.

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Connect With Peter:

Website | Facebook | @PeterGouldArt | Instagram | LinkedIn | Google+

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Category:Business -- posted at: 1:29am MST

186: Eliana Salvi - Creating a Community for Women

"You don't have to wait for the perfect platform, you can start with something simple and then change and improve later." - Eliana Salvi

About: Eliana Salvi- Founder of PinkTrotters

Overview: Eliana is an Italian native with a degree in International Management from Bocconi University. She has an insane love for traveling, getting to know new cultures, and internet products. Throughout this interview we learn what drove Eliana to start her entrepreneurial journey and what her company (PinkTrotters) is all about.

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Highlights:

How PinkTrotters Started: Eliana was a marketing finance manager for a large corporation prior to starting this company and would work abroad (mainly in: Greece, Denmark, the Netherlands, etc) but soon realized that this was not her future. She was not interested in being involved in the corporate world for the rest of her life. Eliana really wanted to start something online, and do something that incapsulated the passions and talents she possesses. After traveling extensively with her previous job position, Eliana felt there was a need for a place specifically for women to meet up and get together no matter where they are. And so, together, with a friend, Eliana decided to start PinkTrotters.

What is PinkTrotters: (Founded at the end of 2013, and currently incubated by H Farm Ventures.) PinkTrotters is a global online and offline community of contemporary women who meet and share exclusive event and trip experiences, powered by brands. PinkTrotters focuses on fashion, food, arts, and wellness. Women who are interested in these fields of work can network with other women, and share their talents to promote their business at these events.

Challenges: Eliana shares that it has been tough to break into the entrepreneurial world and is much harder than she thought it would be. She has to deal with the bureaucratic and technical side of it. And she also has had to learn how to manage her partnership, and her team. She also has to make a great effort at putting herself out there along with her company. Eliana states that until a company becomes very successful, you are constantly focusing on testing your market, solving problems, and readjusting. It has also been difficult for Eliana to balance her private life with her ever-constant work life.

Getting Funds: Finding investors, especially as a woman proved to be a challenge for Eliana. In Europe, the majority of the investors are men and tend to have an old-school way of thinking when it comes to business. It's been easy for Eliana to pitch her business to brands and partners, but much more difficult to sell her company to investors.

Goals for 2015: During the first year of PinkTrotters, Eliana's company made around 60,000 euros, and she hopes to double her amount for 2015- or make close to 150,000 euros. Eliana also hopes to take more of this company online- she is currently building a platform that will include all of the services offered at their events. It will allow brands and travel partners to directly engage with the PinkTrotters community, and be able to receive funds for those services online.

Advice for Entrepreneurs: Form a team with people who are 100% committed, whether it's a size of only 2 or 3 people, they need to be wholly committed. If not, it's easy to lose a lot of time, energy, and faith in your company. You don't have to wait for the perfect platform, you can start with something simple and then change and improve later.

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Connect With Eliana:

Website | @ElyPinktrotter | Instagram | About.me

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Category:Business -- posted at: 11:42pm MST

185: Steeve Bois - Creative by Nature

"The best way to get a good idea is to not look for it." - Steeve Bois

About: Steeve Bois - Founder and CEO of Social Symphony App

Overview: Steeve has always had a love for being creative and believes that we are all creative by nature. He saw the need to create an application that would help others find happiness through music. The app is called Social Symphony. Thanks to this project and to the talented people Steeve has worked with, he hopes he will be able to make the planet a better place.

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Highlights:

Background: When Steeve was 16, he used to create music on his computer (or with pen and paper) and he would play with his friends at bars in Paris. He's not sure why he has a passion for it, but assumes it is because music has sound and vibration, like emotions have vibrations. Because of this love for music Steeve has had throughout his life, he decided to create an app that would provide others with those same strong emotions he has felt.

What is Social Symphony: The purpose of this app is to help people express their creativity. Steeve believes it's very important to be happy in life and a good way to do that is to express your creativity. Social symphony helps people create amazing music in a few seconds without any knowledge (basically, a music maker app for non musicians).

How it Works: Currently, it is only available in private beta. So, you have to subscribe to download. Once it's downloaded on your iPhone, there is a simple interface that allows you to choose from high quality sounds to mix with, etc. You can select different instruments to mix with and you can also sing along into the app and record everything together to make your own song. Right now, they are working on the legal issues to be able to use what you have created commercially, but it will be possible eventually. The application will be free, but the user will be able to purchase premium music for a small fee if they'd like to expand their options.

How it Started: For Steeve, the best way to get a good idea is to not look for it. He was happy, and living a good life, but he felt like he was missing something. He wanted to find a way to help other people find happiness without doing it for them. He started working on this application the end of August of last year with his mentor. His mentor found a student in India to help them with the development of the app, created some prototypes, and finally in December they had the wow effect to continue actual work on Social Symphony which is still in beta. They have plans to launch the app by August of this year.

Goal for Social Symphony: Once the app launches, Steeve hopes to make money to expand the applicatios. And to make partnerships with musicians around the world to help promote these musicians. He plans to push the application through social media.

Steeve has an hour long commute to work each day, and while traveling on the train he listens to Outlier Podcasts, as well as other informational apps. He also spends that time meditating- it's important for Steeve to have stimulation and silence. He feels that that kind of balance is extremely important for you and for the world.

Advice for Entrepreneurs: Follow your intuition- it's more than thoughts, it's an instinct. But you cannot listen to this inner voice, if you are too busy focusing on other things. If you want to make a business, build a website, make a podcast, you need information, but if you're not able to be effective with that information, it means you cannot hear your intuition. Steeve encourages us to take time to be calm, and then act on our intuitions.

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Connect With Steeve:

Website | @esthete | Instagram | LinkedIn | Google+

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Direct download: Steeve.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:02am MST

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