Meet Parker Condit of HealthTech Pioneer Modo Bio

Parker Condit is the co-founder and delivery lead of Modo Bio, a unique tech-driven preventative healthcare service that connects people and their wearable fitness tracker data to a telehealth network of doctors, mental health providers, dietitians, and personal trainers. A personal trainer and fitness coach by trade, Parker channels his passion for helping others achieve their health and wellness goals into Modo Bio’s one-of-a-kind approach to closing the gap between fitness data and preventative health management.

 We sat with Parker to discuss his diverse life experiences, his entrepreneurial spirit, how he and co-founder Jack Williams brought Modo Bio to life, and his vision for the company’s future and preventative health care. 

What was the first business you started?

This is sort of a funny story. I grew up in a small town in rural northwest New Jersey. A lot of farmland near the Delaware Water Gap is one of those places that only have a couple of stoplights. The town is called Blairstown, so I got the idea to do a membership-based discount card called the Blairstown Black Card.

 I went to local businesses and negotiated discounts to add them to the card, say 10 or 15 percent, and then sold the membership cards for $100. Anyone who purchased the card could show it at the participating businesses and receive the set discount for a full year. Everyone wins—people save money, local business owners get more traffic, and I get paid for the time and resources I put into creating the card.

 The problem wasn’t the business model; it was with the name. Obviously, it’s a play on the American Express Black Card, right? Amex caught wind of it and began sending me cease-and-desist letters, and eventually, they filed suit against me. Nothing ever came of it, though. That was years ago, and I’ve moved several times since, but I still have the email about the lawsuit. I just find it funny. 

What is your background, and did it help you get where you are today?

This is going to be one of those ethereal answers, like, of course, everything I’ve done brought me here. That’s true for everyone, isn’t it? But I’ve done a lot of eclectic things that landed me here. After high school, I began studying to be an air traffic controller. Two years in, I realized that wasn’t for me. I couldn’t see myself staring at a screen every day for 25 years and then collecting a pension.

 So, I went to New York and worked in marketing for a book publisher. Then I went to Colorado and ended up training to be a wine sommelier. That was fun—I got to go to Las Vegas for training, a whole week just surrounded by and learning about wine. It’s really nice to have had all these experiences and have gotten paid for them. But it seems random when you look at it.

How did the idea for your current business come about?

Probably around 2013 or 2014, I watched a speech on YouTube by a physician who did a P&L (profits and losses) breakdown for the U.S. healthcare system. Most people think it’s boring, but I thought it was fascinating to see how the biggest industry in our country is so wildly inefficient in terms of revenue and human resources. And looking back now, a decade later, it’s not gotten much better.

You know how you get these ideas, and they might interest you for like a year or so, and then it drops off? Healthcare has just been one of those things that kept coming back to me, and I just kept thinking, what if we could create a way to fundamentally change the way people interact with the healthcare system in the U.S.? It’s something I’ve been obsessed with for nearly 10 years now.

I became a personal trainer because it was an opportunity to help people work on their individual health. And then, to get the opportunity to start this business and scale that up? That’s just the chance I’ve wanted. I want people to understand that they can take charge of their own health and that they can have a doctor that really wants to see them be well. Mostly, I want people to realize that not being sick doesn’t equal being healthy. I want them to get holistic, 360° health care and truly be well.

What was your key driving force in becoming an entrepreneur?

Honestly, I don’t really like other people largely dictating what I have to do, especially if I don’t think it’s the right thing. And I don’t necessarily see myself as having to be #1 in a company, but I do like having enough influence within an organization to drive it in the direction that I really think matters. I can’t imagine doing work that doesn’t matter to me. That’s the most important thing—being able to do work that matters and having a voice in where the company is heading.

What kind of culture exists in your organization, and how did you establish it?

I think the culture is laid-back. We’re unique in that it’s not a top-down culture. Everyone wears a lot of different hats and brings different strengths to the table. We have corporate people, medical people, and tech people; all of us have something to offer, and there’s a lot of room for us to talk about our ideas, collaborate, and learn from each other. Plus, we have people with diverse backgrounds as far as geography and culture, so that makes for even more learning opportunities, seeing how different people approach the healthcare strata.

Can you describe/outline your typical day?

First, I walk my dog. Max is a Ridgeback mix I adopted when I was in Colorado. He’s my buddy, and I almost didn’t adopt him—I went to an adoption event, and by the time I got there, the dog I’d intended to get was already gone. But Max laid his head on my bag, and the rest is history. Now he’s the unofficial company mascot, a job he takes very seriously.

 Anyway, then I go for a run or to a spin class, then breakfast for Max and me. Then I use Time Boxing to lay out the rest of my day. I choose five or six things I want to get done and block out chunks of time to do them. That way, I’m not bouncing around fifteen minutes here, fifteen minutes there, trying to get things done with divided attention. I fit lunch and meetings in there, too. Then in the evening, walk Max again, dinner, and bed. Sorry, it’s not more exciting! 

How do you generate new ideas?

I read a lot. I think a lot of syntheses comes through reading. All the smartest people throughout history either have written books or have had books written about them. So, there are a lot of good ideas out there. And then it’s easier to piggyback and build and put your own twist on them.

I especially love historical biographies. A lot of people find history boring but tying these characters to a particular period is a much more interesting way to view history, at least in my opinion.

How do you define success?

I’d say reaching 100,000 users! What a great feeling it would be, knowing so many people are using our product and getting themselves on track for better-sustained health. But also being able to look back and be proud of the work that we’ve done so far. I was able to be part of all of that without sacrificing any of my morals. That’s definitely “success” in my book.

Do you believe there is a pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

Being able to iterate. By that, I mean finding the things that work and being able to repeat them, no matter the obstacles. If you look at writings by Marcus Aurelius—he talks about how so many impediments end up being the new path you start taking. So, if you look at it from that perspective, it becomes easier to deal with failure. I think most of entrepreneurship is just dealing with continued failures but also continuing to find new ways to persevere to achieve your goals. The path is going to be very meandering and not what you expect it to be. But if you keep generally moving in that direction, you’re probably going to end up where you want to be.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

I hope it’s yet to come! I’m proud of this company and its potential. And my potential, too. I think this will still be my answer in five years. There will always be the potential for bigger and better things.

How did you handle adversity and doubt?

Very much through the lens of Stoicism. A lot of very successful people, they’ll say they rely upon Zen Buddhism and Stoicism, and a lot of the maxims are the same. Only worry about what you can control, and a lot of that is your mindset. Because things are going to change and failures are going to happen, it’s just having the mentality to understand that those are not necessarily bad things and being able to control what your reaction to those situations is going to be.

Are there any books you suggest other entrepreneurs add to their “must-read” list?

Ryan Holiday’s “The Obstacle is the Way.” He’s a great modern Stoicism writer, following that same tradition of controlling your mindset and pushing through adversity to achieve your goals. He really presents Stoicism in a way that most people can digest and understand.

What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?

Try a lot of different things! Getting life experience in various fields is going to make you more flexible and better at dealing with people. The broader the experiences you can have, the more beneficial it is. Also, the more you try, the more you fail. It comes back to that, as well—you’ll learn to handle failure and pick yourself back up to try again, at either the same thing or something new.

What is next? Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years?

First, we need to expand nationally. Every state has its own rules governing healthcare, and since we have such a unique model, we have to figure out how we can safely and legally operate in each state. Once we can do that, we scale it up and go international. Some countries, of course, have socialized health care, and some have barely any sort of organized health care system. That’s going to be a huge challenge, but I think we’re up for it. Health care is not ubiquitous around the world, so we need to find a way to make our model work and give everyone the chance to take charge of their health and truly be well.  



Interview with Alejandro Russo of Candela Mamajuana Spiced Rum

What was the first business you started?

I’ve been hustling and selling things since I was a kid! I’d be slinging chocolate bars outside of Publix at age six and doing odd jobs throughout high school.

In college, I would organize parties. I did pretty well until I had a massive failure. That’s when I started my first company, together with a close friend. It was called SoyGourmet, and it was Chile’s version of Yelp. It blew up and topped app store charts many times. It was a lot of fun.

What is your background, and did it help you get where you are today?

I come from a very entrepreneurial family. My mom, especially, always encouraged me to apply myself and make my own way. 

Also, I studied finance and economics, which are definitely related to running a business, but in practice, have less of an impact than the actual work I’ve had to do over the years. You can study all you want and fill your wall with diplomas, but nothing beats real-world experience.

How did the idea for your current business come about?

I was on vacation in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, having drinks at the glorious swim-up bar at the resort I was staying at. That’s where I had my first shot of mamajuana, and boom, I was hooked. I guess you could call it ‘the shot that changed my life!’

What was your key driving force in becoming an entrepreneur?

I grew up surrounded by entrepreneurs; some became incredibly successful, others not so much. Growing up watching the highs and lows of building your own business was incredibly inspiring and humbling. From a very young age, I realized I wanted to create something otherworldly, even if it meant going through some difficult moments. I guess when you’re an entrepreneur, you don’t have a choice; building your own reality is something that you simply have to do.

Did you raise funding for your business or bootstrap it?

Initially, Candela Mamajuana was all bootstrapped between my mother and me. We barely had money to do anything, but we made it work. Once the business was in a better place and ready to scale, we raised money from a couple of VCs.

How did you build a successful customer base?

In our case, it was about having an excellent product, getting as many people as possible to taste it, and spread the word organically. We couldn’t just be a little bit better than the other mamajuana rums out there. We decided we had to be at least 10x better to make this work. 

Which marketing tactics have been the most successful for you?

We’re a pretty small brand, so we don’t have the budgets that our competitors do! That means we have to excel in ways they can’t. Our strategy consists of getting liquid to lips – making tastings as accessible as they can be is what it’s all about. For now, it’s mostly been the product speaking for itself and then spreading through word of mouth.

Our product is unique in the sense that it provides a much smoother rum that stands apart from any other bottle on the shelf. We’re big on getting the product in front of new audiences through tastings and also through our hotels in the Dominican Republic, where thousands of people try Candela every day!

What kind of culture exists in your organization, and how did you establish it?

We’re a small team but very driven and hungry. We dream big, set ambitious goals, and then work very hard to accomplish them. Our culture is open and transparent; there’s no room for BS. If you screw up, you recognize it immediately and solve it as fast as possible. We don’t waste time thinking about the should’ve or would’ve. We’re focused on moving forward at a fast pace and with no distractions. We’re also very lean and efficient. We try to get a lot done with very little.

Can you describe/outline your typical day?

I usually get up around 6 am and then go to the gym. After that, I love waking up my baby and playing with her for a bit! Then, I’ll start working around 8 am. I’ll spend the morning working on pure execution and not too much planning or high-level thinking. After a quick lunch, I’ll dedicate a bit more time to meetings, ideas, and thoughts. At around 8 pm, my wife and I will cook dinner and spend some family time.

How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?

How do you generate new ideas?

The best ideas come after you’ve been exposed to different stimuli, then your brain magically blends these things into a new idea. It’s important to get out, experience different things, and always be receptive to new ideas, concepts, and ways of doing things. The brain can get used to the same things very quickly! So make sure you’re always challenging your mind.

How do you define success?

Success to me goes beyond money, fame, or status. To me, success means reaching your full potential, in whatever you decide to do. If you decide to be a full-time mom, then you’re a success if you’ve been the best mom you can be. If you’re starting a business, you’re a success if you’ve developed that concept to its full potential. 

When you’re old, and you look back, you want to say “I gave it my all. I really squeezed every drop out of that lemon”.

Do you believe there is a pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

I’m not sure if there’s a pattern about what makes a successful entrepreneur. What I can say with confidence is that if you don’t work hard, you will fail 100% guaranteed.

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

The freedom to develop ideas into reality. I love owning my success and also owning my failures. It’s frustrating when you fail because your boss or colleague screwed things up, not you. Being an entrepreneur means you are ultimately responsible for the success of your business. It doesn’t matter what happens; it’s all you in the end.

What is a favorite quote from an entrepreneur that has inspired you?

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.

“I shall find a way or make one.”

“Who dares, wins.”

What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?

Just jump in. Find an opportunity you like and dive in head first. Don’t do things half way. Don’t overthink things either. You probably won’t know many of the answers and you will certainly make a bunch of mistakes. The earlier you start, the faster you will get to success.

What is next? Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years?

It doesn’t matter if it’s next year or ten years from now: I’ll be working non-stop, taking my business to the next level, developing generating ideas into reality, and having fun.

Christian Seale

Meet Christian Seale of Life/Health Transformation Program Vitruvia

What is your background and did it help you get where you are today?

Prior to discovering my purpose to transform health and lives at Vitruvia, I began my entrepreneurial journey in Colombia and Ecuador building the world’s first certification system for responsible energy production. Leveraging my learnings (read mistakes!) from being an entrepreneur I cut my investing teeth angel investing and then working with Howard Schultz’ VC fund Maveron and being an early member of NextGen Venture Partners.

Three distinct and avoidable events catalyzed my desire to devote my life to transforming healthcare. First, my grandmother passed away due to a misdiagnosis of ovarian cancer. Second, my dad lost sight in one eye after a transcription error post cataract surgery wrongly sent him home without solving the infection. Third, I received a $17,300 bill after an ER visit in NYC for a dislocated pinky which was a stark contrast to the $53 bill I received in Barranquilla, Colombia for a 24 ER stay.

How did the idea for your current business come about?

Prior to Vitruvia, I spent my time searching for the best entrepreneurs who were transforming our healthcare system. My vision when I started in 2015 was that Miami represented such an amazing petri dish to test and build healthcare products and services for what the US will look like in 2050. I’m grateful to have invested in over thirty healthtech businesses and to have met my co-founder and dear friend, Dr. Abhinav Gautam, in Vitruvia during the process.

He was one of the first people I met when I moved to Miami. We quickly bonded over being born on the same day, we did some business together and one day he told me about this treatment he had developed to repair tissue from the inside out.

I had recently sprained my wrist falling off a trampoline, so I went to see a doctor and they immobilized my wrist. I was extremely frustrated because I’m an active guy and I couldn’t even do a pushup.

Then I met up with Dr. Abhinav Gautam to tell him about my pain, and I have to admit I was nervous because I didn’t know what was going to happen. Long story short, he healed my wrist by remodeling my scar tissue and two days later I could do push ups. That’s when we both had this ‘aha’ moment that led to our RELIEF® treatment.

What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?

During my sophomore and junior year at college I interned at Goldman Sachs. I quickly learned I was a terrible employee. I also learned I truly love the process of creating something from nothing. My dad is a business owner and my mom had her own personal training practice so perhaps subconsciously this was already ingrained in me.

My operating principle has always been to leave the world a better place than I came into it. With entrepreneurship I feel a deep passion for solving unmet needs and helping others live better.

Can you describe/outline your typical day?

My morning starts with meditation and priming. I spend time journaling by mainly focusing on gratitude and listing ten things I am grateful for that day. I regularly tell myself: “things are always working out for me,” especially if that avocado pit of stress seems to come up.

I do my best to keep my phone on airplane mode throughout the morning to get deep work done before responding to text messages or emails. This helps me take control of my day vs. reacting to it. I’ll sweat, whether that’s through a workout or in the sauna, and once the phone is off airplane mode I respond to whatever the business needs may be that day.

I love taking my in-person meetings or phone calls while walking – something about movement gets my ideas generating more.

Everyday, I try to watch the sunset – it reminds me how magnificent our existence is. I typically work late, even though I am striving to find more balance and step away from work.

What motivates you?

With Vitruvia we restore our clients’ quality of life so they can get back to doing the things that truly light them up — play golf, dance or simply pick up their kids or grandkids without pain.
On a macro level, I would like Vitruvia to help drive a transition towards promoting wellbeing, improved quality of life and prevention over sickness across our healthcare ecosystem. In my opinion, too much of our human capital, monetary resources and overall mindshare is focused on treating sickness vs. promoting well-being.

On a micro level, we would like Vitruvia to be a positive force for change in the lives of our clients and their families: transforming negative energy that may be coming from pain, lack of mobility or other issues into positive energy and helping them live their lives to the fullest.

How do you generate new ideas?

I listen to my initial instinct and jot that to paper. After I can articulate at least part of an idea outside of my mind I know I can begin to prime my idea into actualization. It’s all about turning inner feelings into concise steps and trusting your instincts. Even my loftier ideas have turned into elaborate plans after I’ve sat with it for a minute, trusted my process and slowly pieced together actionable steps. Then I share the vision and rally the people around it.

Do you believe there is a pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

It’s hard for me to sum it up to one pattern as it’s more of an equation for me. There’s a couple of practices that influence my productivity, the first being my morning ritual made up of meditation, gratitude and journaling sequences. In addition to starting off the day on a high note, I use priming which is the practice of altering your subconscious into a positive state of being. It’s really important to take your practices to heart and incorporate them into your daily routine. I’ve seen that although I may not consider myself a creature of habit, that these practices have really helped me level up as an entrepreneur.

Are there any books you suggest other entrepreneurs add to their “must read” list?

Ask and It’s Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks. No matter who you are or what your goals are, this book serves as a roadmap to achieve your goals. There are countless processes from this reading that have stuck with me and have served me well during my personal and professional endeavors.

What is a favorite quote from an entrepreneur that has inspired you?

The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your questions. This quote derives from the practice of positive psychology which is intertwined with the idea that we are the masters of our own destiny. The questions we ask ourselves especially in a time of need or darkness really influence our lives and if you’re taking the time to spin curiosity into positivity then you’ll be filling up your cup with pure goodness.

What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?

Passion breeds purpose. Passions enable you to take action from a place of inspiration. Passion helps you go the extra mile. Passion helps you discover who you truly are. There are many late nights, failures, incessant repeat of “no’s” where doubt creeps in. Passion helps you breakthrough those moments and reorient you to your north star, your higher purpose.

20 Black Entrepreneurs You Need to Know

While starting a company is a nerve-wracking endeavor for anyone brave enough to try it, black entrepreneurs face silent challenges that threaten to stunt their business’ growth. Access to capital, struggling to be taken seriously, and difficulty owning their accomplishments are just a few of the difficulties plaguing black business founders and CEOs.

For women, it’s even more challenging. They experience what can be described as a ‘double-bias’ due to their race and gender. They struggle with being taken seriously and a lack of representation in businesses dominated by men.

Despite the obstacles they face on a daily basis, the number of black entrepreneurs has experienced a significant increase over the past few years. Here are just a few of the many black entrepreneurs that should have your attention.

Moziah Bridges

Moziah Bridges

Bridges started his business, ‘Mo’s Bows’ at just 9 years old, designing bowties from high-quality materials and selling them on Etsy. After appearing on Shark Tank at 12, he received a mentorship offer from Daymond John. Today, his handmade bowties are being sold in major retailers, and he recently received a 7-figure contract to provide bowties to NBA team members and staff.

Anne-Marie Imafidon

A child prodigy originating from Nigeria, Imafidon has a wide range of academic successes that range from being offered a scholarship to study mathematics at John Hopkins University to becoming the youngest ever to graduate with a master’s degree 19. In 2013, Imafidon launched Stemettes, which supports and inspires young girls and women interested in pursuing STEM careers.

Asmau Ahmed

Asmau Ahmed

Founder and CEO of Plum Perfect, Ahmed began her career as a chemical engineer. After struggling with color matching, she used her background to her advantage and spent 8 years analyzing over 16 million colors to refine and patent her idea. Plum Perfect mines color data in photos to assist shoppers with finding the perfect shades of makeup and apparel to compliment their skin tone and coloring.

Kathryn Finney

Keynoting the Ellevate Conference in Portland, OR

Finney founded digitalundivided, a company spearheading programs that develop creative initiatives promoting economic growth in minority communities. After eight years working as CEO for digitalundivided, Finney stepped down to focus on writing, subsequently becoming the black female author published with Portfolio/Penguin Books.

Angela Benton

Angela Benton

Founder and CEO of Streamlytics, Benton, created a system that measures media consumption across streaming platforms via reported data. Before Streamlytics, Benton started NewME Accelerator, a business that helps black business owners overcome the challenges they face gaining capital for their ideas. Her leadership paved the way for NewME Accelerator to raise over $47 million in venture capital funding, accelerating hundreds of deserving entrepreneurs’ careers.

Kimberly Bryant

Bryant is dedicated to assisting young women of color aged 7-17 get involved in technology and the computer science field, concentrating on entrepreneurship and business ownership concepts. She attributes her success to 25 years of experience as an Engineering Manager in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries and was named one of “The 25 Most Influential African-Americans in Technology” by Business Insider.

Jantrice Johnson

Frustrated by the wide gap between black and white homeownership in her area, Tennessee realtor Jantrice Johnson started the company Muka. Muka connects minority homebuyers and sellers with experienced local realtors that help to simplify the process. Additionally, Muka employs minority-owned vendors, including contractors, movers, and designers, to help them grow their network.

Wemimo Abbey

Wemimo Abbey

After feeling disheartened by the housing barriers facing working families, Wemimo started Esusa, a service that connects rental housing providers with landlords. Esusa works to assist families and individuals gain housing they otherwise would not have access to by reporting tenants’ rental payments to the three major credit bureaus. While not typically reported to the credit bureaus, on-time rent payments can help tenants raise their credit scores by up to 25-50 points, a huge jump that can mean the difference between being approved and denied housing.

Stefania Okolie Stefania Okolie launches Solely Fit athletic brand

Solely Fit, a luxury and body-inclusive clothing line was founded by Okolie and inspired by a desire to create a collection that would highlight women’s power, strength, and confidence. The line includes high-quality and functional pieces from leggings to bodysuits to sports bras. It’s frequently used by celebrity stylists and has been photographed on popular celebrities, including singer and actress Zendaya.

Kymberlee Jay

Business Coach Theme Defiance - About Kymberlee Jay

After starting her career as a background dancer for Madonna before becoming a choreographer, Jay made a huge career jump when she founded DoodleDirect. DoodleDirect is a business that designs video animations that help to boost companies’ internal and external communications. For her efforts, Jay was awarded the Arts and Media Rising Star award at the 2017 Black British Business Awards.

Justin Burns

Justin Burns (@justinburns) | Twitter

Founder of Miestro, Burns created a platform that allows course creators to further their expertise and create aesthetic and user-friendly courses via an all-in-one platform that can be launched to the public in just minutes. His program has been a life-saver for thousands of course creators that struggled to get their programs out to the public. In addition to helping connect course-creators with their intended audience, he penned the best-selling digital marketing book, ExpertCode.

Myriam Taylor

From War Refugee to Successful Entrepreneur -- Portugal-Based African Business Woman Creates New Chemical-Free Premium Haircare Product Line for Textured Hair

The daughter of Angolan refugees, Taylor took a break from the biotech industry and founded Muxima, a luxury haircare company. Frustrated by the lack of natural haircare companies and not wanting to use harsh chemicals, Taylor created a range of caviar-based haircare products that cater to textured hair without causing damage or using any harsh chemicals.

Maya Penn

Maya Penn's Ideas Inspire | American Libraries Magazine

At just eight years old, Penn founded ‘Maya’s Ideas’ a sustainable fashion company. Over the years, Penn has been recognized time and time again not just for her entrepreneurship but for her activism and philanthropy. Most notably, Penn invests in charitable initiatives such as developing sustainable hygiene products for women and girls and providing them with healthcare facilities in developing countries. She is also an author, speaker and has been recognized as a ‘SuperSoul 100 Entrepreneur’ by Oprah Winfrey.

Cashmere Nicole

Forbes: How CEO Cashmere Nicole Built A $5M Brand While Battling Breas

During her ultimately successful fight with breast cancer, Cashmere Nicole became conscious of the potential toxins she was putting inside her body every day. To combat this, she developed Beauty Bakerie, a cosmetic brand using only high-quality and healthy ingredients. In addition to being founder and CEO of Beauty Bakerie, she uses her platform to raise awareness on injustices on issues from missing and exploited children to the Black Lives Matter Movement and more.

Freddie Figgers

Inventor Freddie Figgers Becomes One Of America's Youngest Telecommunications Leaders - Figgers Communications

Abandoned in a dumpster as a newborn, Figgers grew to become an inventor, entrepreneur, and the youngest person in history to hold an FCC license, which allows him to operate his own cellphone company. He founded Figgers Communication, a company that produces proprietary handsets and offers its own cellphone network.

Mignon Francois

Started from humble beginnings, Francois’ company The Cupcake Collection is now a multi-million dollar enterprise. Francois began selling homemade cupcakes as a way to get herself out of debt while supporting six children. Despite the enormous growth her company has seen, Francois continues to keep things simple and bake her cupcakes in the home where she raised her family.

Bea Arthur

The Difference | Backstage Capital

Bea Arthur is an accomplished therapist, speaker, and author. Her main focus is directed towards helping high-performing individuals make their way through stressful work environments. Through this work, Arthur founded The Difference, a start-up that allows on-demand access to therapists via Alexa. The Difference is Alexa’s first mental health skill and was created in order to make mental health treatment more accessible for all. Arthur has received a great deal of positive attention for her important work, including being named an Entrepreneur to Bet On by Newsweek Magazine.

Caryn Ward Ross

Caryn Ward Ross (@carynwardross) | Twitter

An actress and small business owner, Ross created MediTEAtions, a premium loose-leaf tea and tonic company. Ross felt that the world needed a soothing product that can be shared by friends and family alike. Inspired by her grandmother, with whom she shared a love of meditation and prayer, Ross wanted to create what she calls a ‘liquid meditation experience’ that inspires positive affirmations and living with intention.

Johanan Dujon

St Lucia's Johanan Dujon makes Forbes 30 Under 30 list | CBR

Dujon used the seaweed overwhelming Caribbean beaches and harvested it for good. Understanding seaweed’s use to farmers, he used it to found Algas Organics, a company that has garnered support from both United Nations Development Programme and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture. His product, Algas Total Plant Tonic, is an all-natural solution to improving the nutrient uptake efficiency of plants. He believes that this will be an integral step towards sustainable agriculture and will help solve food insecurity during the uncertainty and challenges of climate change.

Meet Don Daszkowski Founder of IFPG

Hi Don, can you tell me more about yourself and your company IFPG?

I am the Founder Member of the International Franchise Professionals Group (IFPG); we help people fulfill their business ownership dream. The IFPG is a membership-based organization with more than 1,000 Franchisors, Franchise Consultants, and Vendors. Together, our members guide aspiring business owners through the process of identifying and investing in a franchise business. IFPG has been ranked by Entrepreneur Magazine #1 Franchise Broker Network a few years in a row. Before IFPG, I founded Business Mart, a B2B online marketplace for individuals interested in buying and selling businesses. Three years after its launch Business Mart was acquired by a publicly-traded company.

Can you help us understand how you help people become franchise owners?

My company (IFPG) offers a training program for entrepreneurs to become Certified Franchise Consultants. Just like real estate agents, these Franchise Consultants act as intermediaries between their client (the potential franchisee) and the Franchisor. Our Franchise Consultants counsel people who are considering franchise ownership. The consultant guides them through selecting, evaluating, and buying a franchise business. Many times they help people avoid making a poor life-changing decision. Many people who want to own a franchise want freedom from the 9-5 world and often look at food franchises first. A food franchise demands lots of time from the franchisee. There are hundreds of other non-food-related franchises that have an outstanding work/life balance.  

Should someone who is working a 9 – 5 job take the leap and run their own business?

I encourage anyone who has the motivation to run their own business, to leave the 9-5 world. But, I do suggest to start researching and building the foundation for your business while still working. One of my first serious businesses was a high-end retail e-commerce website. I created the entire website while I was still working. (Hopefully, my former employer isn’t reading this!) It allowed me to quit my job and already have my future lined up.

You have run and built many successful businesses; what’s your top tip to creating a successful business?

Prioritize your goals. For example, I have a list of tasks for each week. The list is prioritized depending on the amount of revenue each item might bring in. So if I get an idea that I feel could increase my income by 10% and I have another idea that will increase revenue by about 2%, the higher revenue increaser will hit the top of the list. Of course, you need to do your projections to make these estimates. I will always create a Google Doc to figure out my projections for all new ideas before launching them

How have you been able to compete at such a high level in your space? Do you have any tips for other entrepreneurs dominating the niche they are in?

Always keep your big picture in mind and focus on your main objective. For example, if you plan to become the top blogger in your industry, don’t do paid reviews on nonrelevant topics to make a quick buck. I see so many people who create successful online business models, but then they are lured into something else that will ruin their website’s quality to make a quick dollar. Slow and steady wins the race.

With so much uncertainty in the world, should people still be thinking about starting their own business?

Absolutely. The days of having a safe and secure job, getting raises each year, and then retiring are over. As I mentioned earlier, people who are currently employed and considering starting their own business should start building their business while getting paid by their current employer. This will decrease their percentage of risk.

What would you say is the biggest single reason for your success?

Prioritization and always focusing on the big picture are probably my strong points. Since the day I started my first business, I have always had the same goals in mind. I always focus heavily on 2-3 core services and don’t get distracted by other bells and whistles. I rarely jump into new opportunities without doing lots of research, and I always make projections and evaluate the potential of a new idea. I never start a business just because “It sounds like a good idea.” I am a true believer in the lean startup approach, which is a book by Eric Ries.

If you could go back in a time machine to when you were just getting started, what advice would you give yourself regarding making money online?

I started my first internet business my freshman year in college. It was a New York City Nightlife website. The website allowed individuals who did not have a personal relationship with a promoter to access exclusive “guest lists” online. I focused a lot of my time worrying about revenue and not about keeping a loyal user base. If I focused my time on building an online community, I might not have sold that website. Who knows, I could still be running it today. I have learned that you should worry first about gaining loyal users, and then everything else falls into place. If you have an online business with a very dedicated audience and lots of traffic, it will be worth more money if you decide to sell it. Anyone can create an excellent service online, but having loyal users and a large amount of traffic is critical.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

I worked with a Creative Director many years ago while working at an agency in New York City. I was designing a logo and stressing out over the way it looked. I wasn’t happy with it and spent so much time tweaking it. He said to me, “Don’t stress over it; the logo will evolve over time.” I have taken this advice and applied it to my business. Every business evolves over time. I now always build out projects in phases. This allows me to take my time and continue working on the projects that generate the most revenue, and the others will then get tossed in the garbage or put on hold.

Are there any books you suggest other entrepreneurs add to their “must-read” list?

Yes! As I mentioned earlier The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and also Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh. I tell all young entrepreneurs these two books they must read.

What is a favorite quote that has inspired you?

My favorite quote is “preparation meets opportunity.” This quote was from the Roman philosopher Seneca. I genuinely believe this is the meaning of success. Luck rarely plays a part in a successful entrepreneur’s journey; it is hard work and a lot of preparation and planning. If you are always prepared (and think five years) ahead when an opportunity presents itself, you will be prepared and ready. I named my boat “Preparation Meets Opportunity” as a constant reminder for my children and me to always remember.

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