Recycling Paint To Help Those In Need

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R ony Delgarde is a man with an enormous heart that leads and equally large organization. He is the founder of Global Paint for Charity, a non-profit organization that takes unwanted paint from businesses and individuals, and provides it to those in need. After coming to the United States from Haiti, Rony founded the organization in 2010 and built it into an entity with a truly global impact. Since 2010 Global Paint for Charity has shipped more than 120,000 gallons of paint to 18 different countries.

We first met Rony at Emory University where he was mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs on how to build successful businesses that make a positive impact. After listening to the words of wisdom he had to share, we knew we had to learn more about his story. Regardless of what your ambitions are – nonprofit, technology, finance, and so on – Rony’s passion and heart for helping others is an example you should take to heart. We’re sharing some of the highlights from our interview with Rony to help inspire others the way he has inspired us.

“I could have done this for profit and made so much money, but I thought about the way I grew up and all the people who couldn’t even afford paint. I knew that there were people making less than $10 a day. With color, these people are able to enjoy the beauty of their homes and their communities in new ways.”

Rony founded Global Paint for Charity because he knew there was a tremendous supply of unused paint and an even larger demand for that paint. For a typical entrepreneur, identifying large supply and large demand means dollar signs. But Rony isn’t a typical entrepreneur. He realized that the good he could do vastly outweighed any amount of money he could make. By every metric, Global Paint for Charity has been an incredible success. Because Rony’s success isn’t measured by his personal accomplishments, he will never run out of steam. As long as there are people who need color in their lives, Rony will always have a reason to stay inspired and motivated. Rony’s selflessness made us think of our own motivations for founding Pinnacle View. He reminded us that in order to grow a business that continually thrives, our mission has to be bigger than money. Not everyone is meant to found a non-profit, but every entrepreneur should ground their business in meeting the needs of others. If your company truly cares about helping the people that need you, then there will always be a reason to move forward with your best effort.

“My passion was color. Ever time I would see the effect of color, I think of being a kid and how we couldn’t afford paint and we couldn’t have color.”

We never know how our passions will manifest themselves in our career. Rony always had a passion for color but never became an artist. Instead, he found a different way to channel that passion into his affinity for entrepreneurship. That’s the true spirit of an entrepreneur. Think outside the box. Follow your passions. Chase your goals with a childlike fervor.  Then hold on tight and see where that takes you. If you’re going to fully dedicate yourself to a business, you might as well make sure it involves something you truly love. Even if in an unconventional way.  If you’ve already started your business and missed this crucial step, that doesn’t mean it’s too late to incorporate your passions. Find a way to do more of what you love in your business. We’re confident that will be for the best in the long run.  

“I had no money or resources. No network! People don’t trust you. The people who make decisions don’t know you and don’t trust you. Just because they have the paint, they doesn’t mean they will give it to you.”

The importance of having credibility and a reputation was something Rony hadn’t fully taken into account when he started Global Paint for Charity. He quickly realized that getting the donations he needed wasn’t as simple as finding someone who didn’t want their paint. Every entrepreneur faces some form of this in their business. You may have exactly what the market needs, but your target may decide to focus on the reasons not to buy (or in this case donate). So what was Rony’s solution? Persistence, learning, and charm. The traits of every good salesman. If you have something you believe will truly benefit others, don’t give up just because you keep hearing no. Learn from every opportunity. Learn about yourself and learn about others. Continue to track down good opportunities. And when those opportunities arise, make sure you’re charming.  A little charm can go a long way!  

“One thing about being your own boss is that you have to have discipline. I admit at first that was a struggle for me.”

One common misconception about being your own boss is that it means you have more freedom. In fact, becoming your own boss often means placing even more rules on yourself. Being a successful entrepreneur takes a ton of discipline. Time management, focusing, prioritization, and maintaining energy can all be more difficult when there’s no one looking over your shoulder. If you want to grow and sustain your business, you have to learn to work harder for yourself than you ever would for someone else. That’s no small task. It takes time and discipline to grow into that mindset. You’ll see that once you approach your business with the discipline it requires, achieving even the most ambitious goals can move well within reach.

“When you’re passionate about something you have to get out of your comfort zone.”

Having a passion for something like a business means being willing to push yourself to new heights. If you want to see what you and your company are capable of achieving,  you can’t remain content with approaching things the same way. Rony’s passion for Global Paint for Charity has taken him to new countries, put him in rooms with powerful leaders, cost him countless hours of sleep, and many other things he didn’t mention. His desire to make Global Paint for Charity as great as possible is what inspires him to work so hard and take chances.

“It’s looking at all the little pieces of everything, seeing how they come together that allows me to stay happy no matter what I’m doing. I’m happy everyday. If I told you I’d been up since 2am you wouldn’t believe me!”

One of the most striking things about Rony is how much joy he exudes at every moment. Most of the time running a business isn’t fun. It’s a stressful and challenging journey. Still, Rony never loses sight of how fortunate he is to have the opportunity to help others. That type of perspective is rare for such a busy person. 

 

It was truly inspirational to have a conversation with Rony. We were proud to interview him for “Celebrating Success”,  and look forward to working with him in the future. 

The Uber Of Fitness

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Mike Prosnick will not be stopped!

In fact, it’s doubtful he’ll ever even slow down. Mike’s unwavering passion for his business and his clients was clear from the moment we began our conversation with the JAM. Fitness founder.

JUST ABOUT ME Fitness (JAM. Fitness) is an innovative gym in Alpharetta, Georgia that allows its members 24/7 access to digital personal trainers and custom workout programs. The company was founded in 2014 by Mike Prosnick and is now the home gym for over 400 members. Before founding JAM Fitness, Mike had already started and sold several successful software companies. Mike’s experience with fitness based technology is a major reason why JAM. Fitness has the potential to become the “Uber of fitness”. (Just one of the many bold declarations Mike made during our interview).

Our talk with Mike was inspiring. We were excited to run out of his office and share his passion for life and business with the world. We think you’ll also be inspired by the passionate words shared by Alpharetta’s industry disrupting entrepreneur.

Where did the inspiration for JAM Fitness come from?

I figured out the future of fitness. I knew that everything in the industry was moving toward small group training, but I could already see the challenges.  As a personal trainer, I believed in the 1on1 PT model, but I also knew it was too expensive for most people.  The answer was simple. People needed guidance, without the barriers of class times or expense.  They needed to be empowered to act as their own trainers -24/7.

I went home to my beautiful wife and said ‘Hey, I found out what I want to be when I grow up.’ I showed her my business plan and she said go for it. Just About Me Fitness was born. Since I jumped off that cliff I’ve been evolving JAM.Fitness, and it has not stopped.

I connected with two partners that I knew from previous businesses, and they urged me to explore IT development. Together we created the software platform JAMWORKOUT TrainerOnDemand. They developed the techie stuff, and I put it into practice in the club, boots on the ground. This meant we could learn quickly what worked and what didn’t, right here where it really matters, in the club. When it breaks; we fix. It breaks; we fix. It breaks again; we fix again, instead of doing it like big corporate would and just shoving it down your throat until it breaks, and everyone is screwed.  We are the essence of a lean start up. Before long, we grew tired of other companies not being able to fix so quickly. So, we built our own agnostic heart rate monitor. We’ve built our own programs for our bands.  We decided to become comprehensive.

Our club is unlike anything currently out there. Ours is not a typical circuit. It’s not about just going in a circle. You can do whatever you want to in here: traditional, functional, HIIT.  We’ve made workouts personalized within a group setting, the camaraderie without the competition.

“Fear is not a negative. It’s a driver if you look at it that way. I fear failure and I fear losing my members. That’s what drives me to make a better system every day.”

What are some of the principles you always follow when building a business?

Progress, not perfection is the key. It’s the key to anything. So many people don’t launch or start things because they don’t think it’s perfected. I don’t give a sh** about perfection. I throw it out there so that people can beat it up. Then I get the answer and make it better. And ask for feedback- I’m here with my people every day, so I’m taking surveys every day. I put something new out there and I ask 10 people what they think of it. If six out of ten people have the same answer, BOOM, that’s my answer! Instead of doing a poll every month, I’m doing it every day.  We pretty much have just continued to evolve for the last 3 years.

Progress not perfection. Working the daily to get farther.

Make it fun and EASY. When we were in here originally, we had touchscreens on the wall. You would swipe your band, and it would ask you to enter your sets, your reps, and your weight. I thought, (because I’m a geek and I love training), that I should be building it from my perspective, but no one cared about that. 12 people would go by a machine and not hit the right buttons. They didn’t care about it! They just wanted to know what to do and move forward. And my database kept crashing!  It did not work, time to evolve.

Every program on the market now is made by an exercise scientist or a programmer with all this logic behind it. Well, I say BS. What makes Zumba very successful? Move! Have fun! Sweat! Richard Simmons was the same way. Have fun and don’t make it too complicated.

How has marketing contributed to the business’s growth?

I’m on social media. I’m not afraid to make a jacka** out of myself. I’m not afraid to show people basically everything I’m doing. Try to recreate it. You can’t.

I’ve had such a good run in the industry for over 20 years.  There are a ton of people looking at me, but they’re not liking me online. I would talk to people and out of nowhere they’re telling me ‘I’ve been following you for three years.’ They just watched and observed. Gary Vee (Vaynerchuk) will tell you, it’s not about getting 5000 views, it’s about getting 1 view. If you get one view, who does that one view know? It could be a CEO. They could go and say,” ‘Those guys are onto something’. I know that what I’m saying now is better than what I was saying 1 year ago, or even 1 month ago.  I keep improving my social media, and my message.

All gyms market two ways right now. Either they are low-cost gyms, like Planet Fitness or LA Fitness, going after the price shoppers. Or they are looking for the high demographic of losing weight or body transformation.  6 weeks until you get bikini ready. 6 weeks until you get into your dress. That’s just a lie! 6 weeks? I don’t believe in those ways of marketing!

I have to find a new way to market. I gotta find a way to educate the member and to educate the industry. Neither knows what I’m doing in here. I got gym owners and industry people coming in here that say, ‘I’ve been to 4,000 gyms and never seen a club like this!’

Our system is flexible. It can change with the trends. That’s why so many small businesses fail. They are too rigid.

Why are you licensing out your software?

Right now, I want to help the middle market of gyms. For the next 6 months the whole fitness industry is praying that small group training is going to fix their gyms. They put kettle bells in their gyms, battle ropes in their gyms, you name it. They think everyone wants to do this functional training because it’s the next big thing. LA Fitness, Gold’s Gym, places like that. They all put these turf areas in. They’re expecting people to pay extra for it. They have 5 classes a day. So that’s five hours a day probably. Do regular people know how to use battle ropes though? So now if it fails because people don’t want to pay extra for the classes, they have these beautiful areas that have made all these equipment companies rich- but the clubs are dying. My answer is our single lane TrainerOnDemand system.

These gyms will have their own bracelets to offer members so that they can go to these areas when classes aren’t going, swipe in, and do their own trainer on demand. Now when that area isn't doing small group training, they’re utilizing it for the other 19 hours. It’s a no-brainer! I’m not taking away small group classes, I’m complementing them.

If you had to give words of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, what would you tell them?

Passion and persistence. If you don’t have a passion for what you do you’re not going to make it. Persistence means never hearing no.  I hear “not yet”. If you’re afraid of the word no, you’re in big trouble. If I don’t hear the word no 9 times a day, I didn’t ask enough questions.

Disruption! I believe I’m the next uber of fitness. I believe fitness centers are all set up wrong. Either somebody's gonna buy me out, or they’re gonna get knocked out.

Sharks Help Save Elephants – Nathan Coleman

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Nathan Coleman is the epitome of a strategist. His experience in the professional industry shaped him into a well-versed entrepreneur. The drive to become his own boss was always at the back of his mind, even as he jumped from one endeavor to the next. Ultimately, Nathan’s experiences led him to founding The Elephant Pants, an e-commence fashion brand. The Elephant Pants is a company driven by the noble mission of saving elephants and bringing awareness to issues such as poaching and habitat preservation. The Elephant Pants’ combination of super stylish clothes and mission-driven business practices has helped them build a large base of customers and advocates.

Our conversation with Nathan gave us insight into the unique challenges of starting a new business, and the savvy it takes to overcome those difficulties. Learning from Nathan was an eye-opening experience, and we know that it will inspire you as well.

Did you go to college?

I went to the Rochester Institute of Technology and got a degree in management. I had a good experience there from a couple of classes that I really enjoyed. But I learned a lot by doing. I worked at Kraft Foods and Unilever so I got a lot of real word experience. I got my experience in consumer goods experience. That is where I got most of my experience especially when I was at Unilever. When I was over there, I worked at a Product Management type of role called Innovation Planner. When I was there, I would work with every single function.

Wow, sounds like CEO training. It is crucial that you understand everything that is going on. When you were doing that, was this company ever a goal you had? Did you know you wanted to be your own boss?

“From an early age, I knew I wanted to do something to sustain me and my family but I did not know what it was. I have always had a side hustle.”

In middle school, I had a dog walking business, and then as the years went by, I had the menswear company. I worked in real estate, retail, food service, bounced around a lot until I ended up at Kraft Foods and Unilever. But I wanted to create a tangible good that would relate to people.

What was your inspiration for founding The Elephant Pants?

For me, I have always loved animals. My first word was “doggie” and I met my dog 30 seconds after I was born. Obviously, elephants are a bit bigger than dogs. I visited Thailand and did all of the touristy things; one of which was going to see elephants. Unfortunately, we went to one of the sanctuaries which are not ethically accepted anymore. We saw elephants chained up and crying. That was an epiphany; I knew about these mistreatments but never really saw it for myself until then. It was really a wakeup call.

Elephants are apathetic creatures that have nothing wrong to anyone - they are awesome! Our ability to speak for them became a moral obligation.

After seeing TOMS or Warby Parker create a decent impact for one of these causes through a tangible good, I was compelled to act similarly. When we were in Thailand we found a similar product and brought some back as gifts but couldn’t find it anywhere afterwards. So we decided to manufacture and sell them ourselves. We had experience with E-commerce and the apparel space in general; we were running a menswear company at the time. We knew how to operate an e-commerce website and find manufacturers. It was an easy transition.

What do you think contributed to the success of The Elephant Pants and do you think being a mission driven company was a major part of that?

Yep, Definitely! The success criteria we have identified was the product itself, it had to something that people would truly like; something comfortable and fun. One of the biggest factors was the donations aspect - the charitable side of it.

No one has any negative feelings or thoughts about elephants. People love them and have a lot of positive opinions about them. Being able to provide something tangible to the donators was imperative. The image of the elephants helped promote further. Through it, we were able to acquire more customers at a lower cost.

What was your initial marketing push?

We started out by pushing social media. This was back when Instagram was more accessible to brands and we actually got in front of people. Then we moved to Facebook ads. We had started investing in Facebook ads by February 2015. Overall, social media isn’t a good place to attract customers in mass. It’s more to cultivate and keep building your existing base.

What were some of the obstacles that you faced after shark tank? For example, were you able to handle the demand?

Everything was certainly more effective. We reached millions of people. It was a nice tail and saw organic sales for 6-8 weeks after.

We were able to handle the demand. We had properly brought in enough inventory. Pretty much leading up to it, we had a pretty big cash crunch. Obstacles were trying to figure out what our strategy would be. From my side, I wanted to leverage it and keep investing and expand our growth. Nonetheless, other partners had a different view for the use of the money at the time. Generating additional demand was a point of contention.

Where did you guys land on that?

We actually cut off Facebook ads completely by end of April. We were mainly relying on social media and email and relying on our existing customer base. It was the wrong decision that stemmed from the fear of investing further. Where I wanted the company to be was different from where the other partners wanted to be down the line.

Were there any surprises that came with the business?

Relating to how to get into the women’s products, the sizing and making sure the product fit the customer well was something we didn’t plan for as much. Sampling products and bringing them in from the supplier. We committed to goods without seeing them. Because of that, we had a couple of batches that were unsellable.

Based on all your experience, do you have any advice for someone who wants to start their own business?

You need to be critical of yourself and the business. It is easy to get sucked into this bubble. You are biased. You need to remove as many biases as possible in order to be successful.

For example, you think your product is great but your customers disagree because you’re not listening. Or, you’re getting direct feedback from people in your direct network that are telling you things you already want to hear. It’s not real feedback – they are also biased.

Was that someone you knew from the get-go?

Definitely had to learn the hard way. We produced a product that we loved. However, when it got to the customers, they did not like it. It was a rough launch. It has been a big teaching moment. We need to leverage tools to get information from the need users, not just anyone who is accessible.

Is that always something that you are afraid of?

I eliminated these biases because it is always in the back of my mind. This is where the adoption to data came from.