Moosh Walks Spotlight

Fall 2018 Founders Bootcamp 1st Place & Audience Choice Award Winner

 

Pitch Link: https://vimeo.com/308445989/24b39c1ac0

 

Company Bio: Moosh Walks is a girl empowerment company. The company was founded on the idea that self-expression and individuality is a necessary step to discover your confidence. Confidence leads you to become a fearless leader. Moosh Walks’ focus is on storytelling based on original characters. Each character has a superpower that reminds you that you are not alone on this journey. Our first physical product is: 3D socks. We believe the true superpowers are: confidence, resilience, perseverance, positive point of view, and the many other qualities our characters possess. Moosh Walks gives young girls and boys the ability to stand out, make friends, and start a conversation.

 

 

To inspire and empower women has become a crucial part of Olga Kay’s life. The founder of Moosh Walks has dedicated her mission to build future female billionaires through storytelling and creative product design. By doing so, Olga had a vision for young girls to develop leadership skills at an early age.

The beginning of Moosh Walks began with Olga’s YouTube career where she had over 1.3 million subscribers. Most of her audience were young girls who felt invisible in today’s world, so they looked up to Olga as a role model. Most of the young girls didn’t know how to stand out or they didn’t have the confidence to be their authentic self. Once Olga realized that young girls wanted to stand out, she came up with the idea to design socks with ears on them. These socks would be characters that would help young girls stand out, and once they stood out they would be able to share their story. She saw this as an opportunity that she could leverage.

Today young girls aren’t taught leadership. Olga believes that at 5 or 6 years old girls need to learn these invaluable skills. Young girls have always been treated as princesses, but Olga wants to change that psychology so they can be more than that. In order to strengthen these girls, she has implemented storytelling through these unique characters that she has created.

By developing these fun stories, she is able to connect with girls. One of Olga’s main characters is Lilly, who is a Big Thinker and Inventor. She is never short of grand ideas, which often result in failure, but she never gives up because she knows each failure brings her closer to success. By providing stories like this she is subliminally programming into young girls that it is okay to fail, and that you shouldn’t be afraid of failure.

Moosh Walks has accomplished a lot, including stepping into the wholesale market. Getting her products into stores increased sales and created more brand awareness. Last year, Moosh Walks conducted a huge marketing campaign where she sold over 1,000 units in 24 hours. As of yet, the messaging has been tailored more for girls and for their parents as well. However, boys are also interested in wearing these socks because they identify with some of the characters. Even some rappers have worn her socks because they like the way it makes them stand out.

Nevertheless, Olga has experienced some roadblocks that she has had to get through. One was how to find and secure a deal with a manufacturer. She was able to develop her ecommerce and wholesale strategy, but in order to create and sell more product, Olga required more funding. Only 2% of female businesses are funded by venture capital today. That percentage is even lower if you are not a tech start up. So the only real option is to operate and grow the business on loans. Loans allow for more inventory buy and growth of the business, but once all the loans are paid off, supporting the growth requires more capital and higher interests rates to keep going.

Olga is set to launch her indiegogo campaign where she is hoping to raise the necessary funds, which she will use for inventory, building a team, developing animation stories, and finalizing her book.

Originally Olga joined the Bootcamp because she was looking for funding, but once she was in it she realized that a lot was missing in her operations. Olga claims that it was the best thing she ever did for her company because she realized that she had a lot of work to do before she went to raise funds. She has embraced adversity, which has led her to become creative and think outside of the box.

This hard work eventually led to her striking an emotional chord with the audience and judges at the Fall 2018 Bootcamp pitch day, where she took home the number one prize. Without the Bootcamp, Olga still had trouble understanding her financials. The Bootcamp forced her to figure it out, and now she has become obsessed with numbers. Olga said that she was able to utilize the tactics learned in the sales and marketing module to actually close a big sale that took 8 months. With Olga’s budget, she was forced to be creative with her marketing. This led her to develop an ambassador program for influencers to market for Moosh Walks. Staying lean is very important during this stage, and marketing spend is a luxury. Her ambassadors are compensated based on performance.

Since the Bootcamp, Olga has tripled her revenue. She feels very prepared to scale up her business. In the next 5 years, Olga hopes Moosh Walks transforms into a franchise model where she can expand into after-school programs. By doing so, she will be able to reach more girls than she could ever imagine.

This whole experience has transformed Olga as a leader herself. Her piece of advice to other small business owners is to just do it. Hop onto any opportunity, learn, make mistakes fast, and adjust faster. By getting out of your comfort zone you gain more confidence. Olga has gone from growing up in a small village in Russia to becoming a successful CEO that empowers the next generation of women leaders. LIFT DE is extremely proud of Olga and all of the progress she has experienced. Check out Moosh Walks at mooshwalks.com and get a pair of socks!

IT TechPros Spotlight

Fall 2018 Founders Bootcamp 2nd Place Winner

 

Pitch Link: https://vimeo.com/308448704/e5a62c0819

 

Company Bio: Since 2006, IT TechPros has delivered complete managed I.T. and I.T.consulting services around a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, utilities, transportation, educational, legal, commercial construction, financial institutions, along with a variety of other industries.

 

 

IT TechPros was founded in 2006 by Kathy and Jeff David in order to provide the best I.T. consulting services for countless industries. Kathy has 9 years of experience in corporate finance working under a financial institution. Her specialization was in business banking where she was able to consult with many businesses concerning their finances, payroll, treasury services, and more. It was just a matter of time before Kathy wanted to open up her own business. Jeff started his IT career with a financial institution where he landed a position for a global IT firm. Kathy left her job and she and Jeff decided to combine their talents to solve the need for IT services. The significant issue that most small businesses face is that they can’t afford to bring someone on full time to meet their IT needs. This is why IT TechPros can be a useful resource because of their expertise in the 8 different aspects of IT. When small businesses hire IT TechPros, they have a whole IT department at their disposal.

Kathy has been able to create a marketing and accounting department all in the last 12 months. This was a tremendous milestone for Kathy because they have been able to reach their marks as they look to scale. IT TechPros has doubled their team in the last 2 years. In order to reach this level of growth, Kathy had to come to grips with the fact that she needed to shift her mindset. Now she has more clarity and a better vision of how to reach her goals. Initially Kathy was used to running her company from a managerial or worker mindset, but once she realized the importance of utilizing more of a leader-centric mindset, she never turned back. These different ways of operating forced Kathy to think more strategically about how to run her company. Abandoning a scarcity mindset has also made a big difference. Overcoming this has led Kathy to make better hiring choices to fit with company culture.

Kathy was intrigued by the idea of joining the Founders Bootcamp, especially due to the fact that she could go through it with her team. Many other programs she tried in the past only allowed her to go through them. By being able to bring along other key members of her team, they were all able to take in the knowledge and tactics. The aspect of this became sort of a team-building exercise for IT TechPros. Instead of having to deliver the knowledge to the team, she was able to give access to all her team members to go over and watch all of the modules. After graduating from the program, Kathy has begun rewriting processes for all of the departments. The growth manual that was provided to IT TechPros has been effective in their efforts to scale. Another important piece from the Bootcamp was delegation that really resonated with Kathy. She is also grateful for the coaching calls she received in the program that helped her follow through with her plans.

The future is exciting for Kathy and the rest of IT TechPros. Kathy believes that in the coming years they will be a multimillion dollar company that may look to enter different cities beyond San Diego. Currently, Kathy is building an online course for small businesses to give them all of the tools they need to support their IT foundation. She realized the need for a recurring revenue stream from the Bootcamp and that is where she came up with the idea for the course. Kathy commends the Bootcamp for leveraging technology to their advantage because the sessions are all online. If Kathy missed a meeting she was able to go back and watch the recordings. Compared to other business accelerator programs, Kathy would have to commute far distances. Not only that but the Bootcamp provided financial reports for all the participants and taught what the reports mean.

Kathy has pretty clear advice for other small business owners, and it is to challenge your own mindset. Having an open mind while also continuing to learn is an effective way to grow your business. Kathy is pleasantly surprised with the Bootcamp’s process and she is extremely thankful for all that she has learned. Kathy’s story to leave her job and start up her own company is an inspiration to us at LIFT DE. Her dedication and hard work has left her with tremendous success that will keep on coming. Check out IT TechPros at it-techpros.com to fulfill your IT needs.

Xplosion Technology Spotlight

Fall 2018 Dallas EMBC Pitch Winner

 

Pitch Link: https://vimeo.com/310152251/f8281dec05

 

Company Bio: Xplosion provides wearable sensors coupled with The Homer Technique™ to provide training staff comprehensive reports about athletes’ susceptibility to injury. With this information we can characterize the body, set expectations for it, and determine what is needed to finish strong.

 

 

Xplosion Tech was created by Kehlin Swain after his experience as a division one college baseball athlete. Unfortunately, Kehlin suffered a serious ankle injury that impeded his performance. Before the injury he was one of the top players on the team. Moving forward he was never able to fully recover back to his old self. He began to research possibilities of how he could recover, especially through rehab. Through his research, Kehlin was able to connect with some professors with backgrounds in entrepreneurship and biomechanics. It finally dawned on him that other athletes were experiencing injuries that were detrimental to their sports careers. These professors sparked Kehlin to start a venture by utilizing his engineering background to develop a prototype.

Kehlin developed a wearable device that is supported through an app that can assess an athlete’s performance in regards to power and acceleration. This technology would be able to track trends that could be useful for athletes regarding their swings and sprints. Eventually Kehlin was able to connect with one of his engineering colleagues – co-founder Isis Ashford – to join him on this endeavor. She had also dealt with the same dilemma as a track athlete. They knew they had a special opportunity that they both could take advantage of by combining forces.

As Xplosion Tech grew, they were able to receive investments while also pitching in over 10 competitions. They were being recognized for their out-of-the-box idea. The ball started rolling once they transitioned as college students into adult life. As the company matured, it led the Miami Heat to contact Xplosion Tech. They had worries about one of their star NBA players who suffered constant injuries. Xplosion Tech jumped in to provide an assessment where they were able to identify key risk areas that aren’t noticeable on an MRI or X-Ray. By following their method, this player was able to rehab more effectively, and it allowed him to get back to his prime health. This was a huge accomplishment for Xplosion Tech to be recognized by an organization like the Miami Heat. However, this wasn’t Xplosion Tech’s biggest accomplishment. Kehlin and the team was awarded an NSF grant for $225,000 to make a second version of the device, where they would be able to reduce the setup time. Being awarded this grant was a tremendous win as it signifies the faith that organizations like NSF have in Kehlin and Xplosion Tech.

As time went on, there were some challenges that started to arise along the way. They had to partner with actual medical doctors and bio mechanics to work with them. It can be very challenging to find the best of the best in industries like this, especially to build a strategic business partnership. Kehlin had to overcome this obstacle by pitching their technology to them. By doing so, Kehlin developed an impressive pitch that allowed Xplosion Tech to win 10 pitch competitions, including the Fall 2018 Dallas Elevate My Business Challenge.

Even with how busy he is, Kehlin knows the importance of working on your business and not in it. This is what drew his attention to the EMBC program. It was crucial for Xplosion Tech to find tools and resources that were aimed at alleviating accounting and finance pressures that come with the business. Without tools like the business model canvas, Kehlin wouldn’t be able to identify crucial gaps. Even to this day, Kehlin still adjusts his canvas to experiment and evaluate opportunities because of how instrumental it is. This has led Kehlin to play around with some ideas for adding other potential revenue streams. He has also been scaling the company, bringing on a medical doctor, a bio mechanic, and some accounting staff.

This process has been great so far for Kehlin and his confidence is sky high. Five years from now Kehlin would like to see consistent revenue growth where they can transform into a zebra or phoenix company. The impact Kehlin wants to leave with Xplosion Tech is to unlock the human potential through the many different ideas that he has. We have no doubt that Xplosion Tech will reach these goals.

His key piece of advice that could benefit other entrepreneurs is to list and map out all possible ideas. Putting these thoughts on paper makes it easier to assess how you can move forward with them. Kehlin emphasizes that you try every single one until one works out for you. The motto that Xplosion Tech lives off of is “build, measure, and learn.” WIth that type of mantra there is no doubt your company will experience some wins, too. Please check out Xplosion Tech and the rest of their story on xplosionlive.com.

Wepa Commercial Cleaning Spotlight

Fall 2018 South Bay EMBC 3rd Place Winner

 

Pitch Link: https://vimeo.com/310168690/603c9b9b4c

 

Company Bio: Wepa Commercial Cleaning based out of San Diego, California was established in 2015 and has obtained the following certifications: SDVOSB, DVBE, MBE, SB (Micro) and SDB. As a reliable and dedicated Military Veteran I run my company in the same fashion and standards as the U.S. Armed Forces—nothing short of excellence. My organization skills—combined with my ability to move efficiently to complete duties on or ahead of schedule—prepares me to make a strong contribution to your team as a possible vendor. At Wepa Commercial Cleaning we strive to exceed expectations through our dedicated personnel, innovation, and a commitment to customer satisfaction.

Francisco Rivera, the founder of Wepa Commercial Cleaning, actually fell into owning his own business. At the time, Francisco was working at Monster Energy as the Trade Development Manager of Sales and Marketing, while also pursuing his MBA. His wife told him about an opportunity to purchase a franchise of a janitorial company. Francisco thought this was intriguing to do as a side job. While operating the franchise for a year and a half, Francisco was able to get a better understanding of how the model worked. He finally came to the realization that the franchise owner was taking too much then what they were putting in. So he decided to work as a consultant for marketing where he would find accounts for other franchise owners. After about a year he was bought out, and he stumbled into the SBA to see how he could open his own business.

One thing led to another and Wepa was born. While absorbing all of the knowledge he had learned while owning the franchise, Francisco was able to implement better processes using his format. Wepa developed a competitive advantage that benefits their clients by having the highest military standard for cleaning. Francisco managed to bring in clientele like the DMV, the State building, private companies, schools, and even gyms. One thing that Francisco noticed is that other janitorial companies do not conduct weekly and random inspections, so he added this benefit for their customers. Francisco prides himself on having open and honest communication where the clients feel comfortable enough to confide in them.

Towards the beginning of his entrepreneurial journey, Francisco was invited by the SBDC to dinner at the Marriott in downtown where there were 49 tables with about 10 people per table. They were awarding entrepreneur of the year, small business of the year, woman of the year, and many other awards. Francisco was placed with his wife on table 49, and this struck a chord with him. He swore to his wife that next year he would be in the front and win an award. Sure enough, the very next year he won the small business of the year award. Not only that, this year Francisco was nominated for entrepreneur of the year (the results will come out this December). This really put Wepa on the map.

On the flip side, they faced their fair share of issues along the way. At the beginning, Wepa only had a few accounts they were working with. Once they started landing state contracts they were a little tight with their cash flow. So this forced them to go after a small business loan from ACCION. Being able to navigate with larger accounts was a huge jump, and it was difficult to make payroll since it took more money to cover the orders. They had to dip into their savings account to make sure people were paid, but nevertheless they were able to overcome this stressful obstacle.

Francisco joined the South Bay EMBC to challenge himself and see what he needed to do to reach the next level. When he joined the cohort, he was able to connect with other entrepreneurs where everyone collaborated to solve the pressing issues facing their companies. This network led to a healthy dialogue and camaraderie with other entrpreneurs, which Francisco found to be very useful. The biggest takeaway that he got from the Challenge was the importance of making connections with fellow entrepreneurs. By taking in multiple perspectives, he was able to utilize information from others that was eyeopening for him. Every year Wepa has seen increased revenue growth, and since joining the EMBC revenue increased from $105,000 to $200,000. Francisco also had to expand his team to support his growth so he hired 5 more employees.

Even though Francisco has experienced so much success in a short amount of time, he still has the humility to get his hands dirty. His approach of leading by example has taken Francisco to expand beyond his current market. In the next 5 years, Francisco looks to possibly exit, if the numbers are right, so he may go on to his next project. Until then he looks foward to becoming the number one janitorial company in all of San Diego. That is quite a large goal, but he never backs down from a challenge. Francisco states that the EMBC is a must for all business owners no matter how much you think you know. The network that the EMBC provides helps small business owners collaborate and work together on a common goal. Not only that, but they can all utilize each other’s resources to help soften the everyday burdens that arise with owning a company.

Francisco was asked while being a keynote speaker how he could leave being a military police officer for 15 years to transition into the janitorial space. This was ironic for him because when he was younger and left Puerto Rico for New York all his family and him would do was clean. Everything came full circle. Life is full of surprises and this is why Francisco says that there is no reason to not take any chances when the opportunity is there for the taking. The passion and the drive is the most important thing for an entrepreneur. The money will always come as long as the passion is there. With that being said, Wepa Commercial Cleaning has exceeded all expectations and they are ready for their next challenge. If you want to check out Francisco and Wepa Commercial Cleaning go to wepacommercialcleaning.com.

We Art Photography Inland Empire Alumni Spotlight

Summer 2018 Inland Empire EMBC Audience Choice Pitch Winner

 

Pitch Link: https://vimeo.com/289586924

 

Company Bio: We Art Photography provides professional photography services for families who want to capture intimate moments with their new born babies. Their clients are families with newborns and those who are expecting. We Art Photography has partnerships with hospitals with maternity services in California

When Angela Valderrama and her family came to the U.S. they were asked if they had any pictures of their family from home. Her husband has one photo of his family from 1914, which has been an important piece of their family history. After having experienced that moment, the family realized the significance of having family photos. This resonated with Angela, because every photo has a story that can be unpacked. It is also a story that can be told for the rest of time.

Angela and her family took the initiative to open up their own small business We Art Photography, which is dedicated to serving families. They accomplish their mission to capture the most intimate moments with newborn babies with the mother and father. We Art Photography opened up in 2014, but in 2015 they really solidified their business when Angela was able to secure a contract with a local hospital to take photos of families welcoming newborns. Not only that, but they are helping create long-lasting memories for families beyond newborn photos. Angela’s goal is to make sure families are able to have these delicate and precious memories.

Angela prides herself on the fact that she is able to serve a diverse community. She feels honored that families welcome her with open arms into these very private and intimate moments. A birth of a child is like a universal language that brings people together to celebrate life. Through their photography they are exposed to different cultures and ways of life. This has been a proud accomplishment for the Valderrama family to be living the American dream.

Originally Angela was working as an insurance broker working part time on her family business. Before joining the Inland EMBC, their business was barely turning a profit. Since Angela’s native language is Spanish, it was a challenge that she wanted to take on by joining the program. Since joining the EMBC, she has left her job as a broker to work full time with her husband. Now their revenues have grown from $50K annually to $93K in just the past year. This program forced Angela to get out of her comfort zone, which has allowed We Art Photography to thrive.

In order to get to this point, Angela has had to get over this language barrier. It was difficult at first to communicate with the hospitals she was trying to partner with. This led to Angela bringing someone on board to help translate and communicate with the hospitals to build a more effective business relationship. Angela’s husband takes the photos, but Angela contributes by creating the sets and props. A new creative marketing effort for We Art Photography has been to give gifts to new born mothers in the community. They have established credibility by going above and beyond for the families We Art Photography is serving.

The Challenge program was so effective for We Art Photography because they did not know how to construct a feasible business plan. Business would just come and go, because unfortunately their family was working in their business rather than working on it. The importance of building important relationships to use as potential resources has made all the difference. They have been very resourceful by outsourcing work to people they have met, which has led to growth. Angela says that what she learned from the Challenge program is how much untapped potential there is in the industry. The family has been able to think outside of the box by constructing creative solutions.

Angela now has a new level of confidence that makes her hopeful about the future. In the next five years, she hopes to expand and contract with over 10 hospitals. Once their revenues continue to grow, Angela is hopeful that they will be able to open up their own brick and mortar store. This would help alleviate some restrictions of what they can do in the hospitals. By having their own place, they can create more expansive sets to take more creative photos.

Angela’s word of advice for people who are looking to become an entrepreneur is that you must first fall in love with what you want to do. It doesn’t become work when you are passionate about what you are doing. We Art Photography’s journey is far from over. The are reaching for new heights. LIFT DE wishes the best of luck to Angela and her family. If you need family photos, be sure to check out We Art Photography.