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Do your due diligence on what platforms are currently available.

I spent over two months researching the blockchain industry looking for platforms that I could license, rather than build from scratch. This taught me a lot about all of the different functionalities that can be utilized, and it taught me a lot about what not to do or use. It also taught me about all of the players in the industry.

As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful App or SaaS”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dalton Skach, a successful real estate entrepreneur based in the United States. He attended the University of Colorado Boulder where he received his degree in entrepreneurship and real estate in 2016. Six months after graduating, Dalton started his own commercial real estate consulting business where he sourced $250M+ worth of off-market commercial real estate opportunities all over the United States for REITs, private equity groups, and institutional investors. While sourcing and underwriting these opportunities, Dalton worked remotely while he traveled to 35+ countries all over the world.

In May 2020, Dalton made a pivot and decided to enter the private equity industry himself. Since then, Dalton has gone on to build a financial technology platform capable of converting ultra-luxury residential real estate from around the world into a digital asset where high net worth individuals, family offices, and foreign investors can acquire fractional ownership and trade freely through Gold Gate’s exclusive secondary marketplace. A fractional ownership model where one month equals one share. There are very few companies that have already entered the digital asset space for real estate investments. However, there is no one that has created a platform and business like the one being built today by Dalton and his team at Gold Gate.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Thank you for having me! Like a lot of entrepreneurs, I was not the type of person growing up that focused much on stuff that didn’t interest me. I got A’s in mathematics and I was good at sports. I had a lot of friends and I did what I could to get by in the things that didn’t interest me (physics, geography, etc). I also liked to have fun and sometimes, having too much fun got me into trouble. I am sure you have entrepreneurs reading this right now that are laughing and know exactly what I am talking about. Entrepreneurs like to push the boundaries to see how far they can go.

When I was a sophomore at the University of Colorado, I had a wake up call that changed my life forever. After that moment, my Mom sent me a daily reading prayer book and I continue to pray every night before bed. I believe that everything happens for a reason and that God has a plan for everybody.

After my wake up call, my father suggested that I get my real estate license since that was the only class that I got an “A” in during college. Him and my Mom were also interested in buying a home in Colorado in the near future. Win — win!

Long story, short; I studied for three months, got my real estate license, worked in residential real estate brokerage for six months, went back to school, joined the Colorado real estate team which I participated in for three semesters, graduated from college, got a job, quit that job, started my own commercial real estate business, closed one deal, closed another deal, sold all of my stuff, traveled the world for two years while I worked remotely, closed that business, traveled for four more months, came back to the United States during Covid, started a new business, grew that business, and here we are!!!

What was the “Aha Moment” that led you to think of the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

I was sitting in my Airbnb in Austin, TX. Originally, I had planned to use my platform to invest in multifamily real estate throughout Texas and other high-growth markets in the United States. Due to the fact that interest rates went to zero, the government kept on giving stimulus checks and the local governments kept on pushing back eviction notices, I couldn’t see myself investing in any property that I wanted for another 9–12 months at least!

I thought to myself “Where can I find distressed real estate now?”. For some reason, my mind automatically went to an article that I read mentioning that NYC ultra-luxury real estate was trading at a discount compared to what it was in 2013. I thought “Wait a minute. There is more dry powder (unallocated capital) than there has ever been in the history of the world and these people are looking for distressed real estate to invest in. Here, we have the finest properties in the entire world trading at a discount to what they were in 2013, and no one is buying! How can we take advantage of this!?”.

The answer to this opportunity was to use my platform to provide high networth individuals around the world with the opportunity to acquire these ultra-luxury real estate properties at a discount, for the purpose of receiving tax benefits, property appreciation AND to use for themselves. Multi-millionaires buy second and third homes all over the world that are only lived in for one or two months out of the year, but they are paying 12 months of property taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance, repairs, etc.

Rather than buy one property valued at $10M, why not buy FOUR $10M homes throughout the world for the total price of $10M? Three months in London, three months in Miami, three months in New York City and three months in Beverly Hills. Why? Because it is the same price as buying one home, but it diversifies your investment, allows you more places to live in and travel to, and you receive the same tax benefits and appreciation as you would with buying one home by itself. Plus, there is no maintenance! This is the opportunity that Gold Gate has created.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

One of my favorite quotes is from Elon Musk, when he was asked at a speaking engagement a few years ago, on what his advice was for new entrepreneurs. His advice was “Don’t do it.” I think this is great because it is so true. Never have I ever put so much time, commitment, money, and dedication into something in my entire life. I have risked not only my wealth from past successes, but I am also risking my reputation with family, friends and industry professionals. It is not easy being a founder of a company; especially one that has such a meaningful impact.

However, the reason that I continue to push forward is because I believe in the economic and societal impact of my idea. I believe that those crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that actually do. If you strongly consider Elon’s advice with your own business idea, you probably shouldn’t move forward with it.

So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

Life is good. I am happy. I am healthy. I am busy. I have family and friends that love me. I am resilient because I know what I am capable of when I put my mind to something and I am the biggest believer in myself; other than my Mom. Hi Mom! An investment in yourself is never an investment wasted.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

When I first started raising money for the Seed Round of my new business venture, I remember preparing this investor deck that I had made all by myself. It was over twelve pages long and most of it was text (don’t do that). I didn’t want to share my idea with anybody over email for fear of them sending it on to somebody else that might take the idea for themselves, justifiably so. For each of my investor presentations, I would go to FedEx Office and print out 3+ copies for myself and investors with each copy costing $10+.

Before an investor meeting with family friends, I gave myself 45 minutes to go into FedEx, print out the necessary documents, and drive to my meeting. Everything would need to go wrong in order for me to not get there in time; and it did. I ended up choosing the wrong option on the printer and spent $30+ on copies that I couldn’t use. I tried again and accidentally pressed the wrong button again! I then asked the FedEx employee to help fix what I messed up and print everything out for me. When putting in my credit card for the refund, I pulled out the card too quickly and it was rejected. Then, after burning 30 minutes, I walked to my car with my arms full of investor decks. I opened the car door and the car alarm went off. I threw the copies onto the passenger seat and put the car in reverse (without turning on the ignition first). The car continued to alert the entire shopping center while I tried turning on the car with the transmission in reverse. I put the car in park, I turned the ignition, I let out a thunderous yell, and then I took a breath and went to my meeting with no time to spare.

What did I learn?

  1. Use a service like DocSend or HubSpot to confidentially share your venture information digitally before your investor meetings.
  2. Invest in a tablet so that you don’t have to print out new copies of your presentation every time that you present or change your presentation.
  3. Spend the money and have a professional edit your investor marketing material once you have completed the final draft. Less words is more!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Like any great company, the people that we have working at Gold Gate are the best in class. I am blessed to be working with some of the best people in their respective fields and just outstanding people in general. We are all committed towards a common goal and we all believe that it is something that is going to change the world.

Aside from having an all-star team, what makes Gold Gate stand out is that our product and service disrupt more than one industry. The Gold Gate platform disrupts the residential real estate brokerage industry, the timeshare industry, long term rentals, real estate construction and more.

Not only does it disrupt, but it provides a very credible solution to the housing crisis and property sustainability. For example, there are 30 million homes in the United States and in Europe that are only lived in for 4–6 weeks out of the year (or ~12% of the time). That means that there were millions of homes that were built but that no one lives in. They just sit there, burning electricity and gas and money.

Let’s say that there are five multi-millionaires that own three homes each (15 homes total). Rather than own three homes that are only lived in for one month a year each, these multi-millionaires could buy even bigger and better homes on the Gold Gate platform for the same price, use their time efficiently and reduce waste. If these five multi-millionaires happen to buy fractional ownership in the same three homes, that just increased the supply of homes available by 12 homes! Twelve more homes for people to live in and utilize rather than sit vacant and waste energy and money. This platform could bring millions of homes onto the market that wouldn’t have been available before. No more new construction needed!

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Exercise, get your sleep and make time for friends and family. My mind thinks about business constantly and it is good to have people to talk to about things outside of work. During the day, I also make sure that I turn my phone on “Do Not Disturb” and run for an hour to an hour and a half to let my mind decompress as well as see new places that I would not have seen otherwise.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

One of the people that has been instrumental to my success and growth in business and in life is my old real estate professor at the University of Colorado, Curtis Sears. Curtis coached our real estate team in college every semester and joined us when we went to compete versus other universities from all over the world.

The best class that I have ever taken was one that Curtis holds one day every semester. During this class, Curtis talks about his success in the real estate industry, his greatest challenge in his career and in life, and how he overcame it. To learn more, you are going to have to attend the class yourself. It is one that you aren’t going to want to miss. Thank you, Curtis.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Approximately how many users or subscribers does your app or software currently have? Can you share with our readers three of the main steps you’ve taken to build such a large community?

One of the biggest breakthroughs that my company has had over the past month was a revelation in our marketing strategy. Due to the fact that we get paid our 1% fee from the buyers in each property acquisition, we are able to go out to every broker, property owner and developer in the United States (and eventually, the world) with a property listed over $5M and tell them:

  1. We will buy their property at market value
  2. We will buy it in under 90 days
  3. They don’t have to pay us a dime.
  4. We will pay for all of their marketing materials (professional pictures, property video, virtual reality walkthrough, etc.)
  5. We are going to pay for and feature their property on the Gold Gate platform as well as in the top luxury publications throughout the world, such as Forbes, James Edition, Mansion Global, Robb Report, and Elite Traveler.

Did I mention that this was free? If you are a broker, property owner, or developer, go to the Gold Gate website and apply to have your property sold on our website at market value, in under 90 days, for free, and to be featured in the top luxury publications throughout the world.

With this strategy, we intend to feature four properties throughout the world with an average value of $10M starting in January. It is a very similar strategy to that of AirBnB, when it first started. Build the platform, get the properties and products onto the platform, attract customers to go use (or buy) the properties. 1, 2, 3, go!

What is your monetization model? How do you monetize your community of users? Have you considered other monetization options? Why did you not use those?

Gold Gate gets paid a 1% fee from the buyers if we are successful in selling all of the shares/months of a property within 90 days. We get paid in acquisition fees and a small fee from annual property management. We are using this model to grow our user base and to ensure that our clients are getting the best value. If we are able to acquire four properties every month with an average value of $10M, that is around $400,000 in monthly revenue. We have considered other monetization options. This is the best one for the long-term success of Gold Gate. Our competitors charge 10% and 12% buyer fees and have a far inferior platform. Choose Gold Gate.

Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful app or a SaaS? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Do your due diligence on what platforms are currently available.

I spent over two months researching the blockchain industry looking for platforms that I could license, rather than build from scratch. This taught me a lot about all of the different functionalities that can be utilized, and it taught me a lot about what not to do or use. It also taught me about all of the players in the industry.

2. Hire an experienced architect and/or developer.

If you are not technologically savvy (like myself), spend a good amount of time interviewing people that are experienced in application development. They will tell you what their strengths are and what they think you should do moving forward. Once you know more about what technology is needed in order to implement your vision, find the right person that fits your needs and hire them.

3. Take one step at a time.

Take the first step first. Don’t build everything at once. Build, refine, build, refine.

4. Create a roadmap and have multiple people critique/improve it.

Draw up a plan of action and describe all of the functionalities/services that you will need. Once you have done so, go through it with your entire team. Hire an outside consultant, build a relationship, have them sign an NDA, share your roadmap, have them make edits and repeat. Do it right the first time.

5. Set deadlines.

Create urgency and purpose. If you are building a product or service that has never been built before, give it your full attention and ensure that you are first to market.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Bringing quality education to the most people is what, I believe, is going to make the world a better place. Investing in entrepreneurs that believe they can change the world for the better, is what is going to change the world for the better. Invest in people first, then in the ideas.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Fortunately, I personally do not have social media. However, I do have LinkedIn! My company has also created a YouTube channel as well as Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter profiles. Follow us on these media platforms and create a free account on our website to see all of the offerings that we are bringing to market in 2021!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

External image

Dalton Skach of Gold Gate: 5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful App or SaaS was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



source https://medium.com/authority-magazine/dalton-skach-of-gold-gate-5-things-you-need-to-know-to-create-a-successful-app-or-saas-af90a3dd55ac?source=rss—-f772c66cd492—4
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As I have been saying, the most important aspect to have when building really any type of company is a professional and supportive team. Next, you need a clear vision to guide your actions and decisions, and to motivate your staff. Third, you won’t be able to continue building out your company unless you have grit. Fourth factor of a successful SaaS is the sales team. You need the right group of salespeople to commercialize your product or service. Lastly, you need the proper investors who really believe in your vision to back your growth.

As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful App or SaaS”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chad Bronstein.

Chad is the Founder and CEO of Fyllo, a leading innovator in data, media and compliance solutions for highly regulated industries. Under Chad’s visionary leadership, Fyllo’s customer base has grown to include some of the most iconic brands in cannabis and mainstream verticals.

Throughout his career, Chad’s talents in go-to-market strategy, mergers and acquisitions, sales, and product development has helped him stay one step ahead of the market while creating significant corporate value and profitability.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I have been an entrepreneur since I was a young kid. When I was eleven years old Beanie Babies were all the rage, and I made a business out of buying and reselling them at five to ten times the original price. About a year and a half ago, I decided that I wanted to change careers and build my own business. I had previously worked as CRO at a technology company for eight years doing revenue operations and was ready for something else. I brought in previous co-workers from different walks of life that could help me build a successful technology company.

What was the “Aha Moment” that led you to think of the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

Amobee and other technology providers began seeing demand from the cannabis space but there weren’t any tech solutions available yet specifically for that industry. I had to make the decision to stay at Amobee or start my own cannabis-focused company in an effort to meet that demand. My wife loves the cannabis market and talks about it constantly, so I asked for her thoughts on my starting something in cannabis and she was all for it! She pushed me to do it and here we are. We’ve raised $26M and it’s become a pretty fast-tracked company in the tech world for data and compliance as well as with mainstream brands that want to target cannabis consumers.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

There were tons of tough moments, especially since we were jumping into cannabis. It’s difficult to find the right approach to business in this industry with its unknown future, immaturity as a market and constant pivots. There have been trying times but I am surrounded and supported by a really phenomenal team, plus it’s part of my DNA to never give up. Building a strong support system was a core focus when building the company so I knew that in challenging times we would get to the other side in a positive fashion. If you have that team, someone there will have the right skillset to find the solution and lift you out of those situations and you’ll never feel the need to give up.

So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

I have resilience myself but Fyllo is a company, so it’s the grit and resilience of the entire group that makes us successful. Today we are moving really fast despite how young we are, and we are proud of our accomplishments coming into a challenging space as a competitor. We got to where we are today because we are constantly educating ourselves, encouraging a positive culture and keeping a proactive mentality, and we have a loud voice as to how we are building our technology and data. However, it really all comes down to the team. There is a theme here, and it’s all about having a good team.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

I was starting a business in a world I barely knew because I was never much of a cannabis enthusiast, so I didn’t understand all the nuances. When I first started I didn’t even know the difference between indica strains and sativa strains, which is practically cannabis basics. I realized I had to fast-track my learning of the industry

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Fyllo stands out due to our differentiated ability to bring data to a new environment. For example, we can talk about a consumer who may or may not use cannabis products, but we do know she shops at Nordstroms or Bloomingdale’s. We now have a unique way of talking to consumers that most brands would have never thought of. We are getting conservative brands to learn how they can understand their customers from the cannabis perspective, and it’s not easy. But it is fun to teach people the many new ways to story tell in this world, and it’s exciting to think that Fyllo is destigmatizing this world.

We also bring in a compliance approach because there are a lot of questions around compliance, safety, and so on. Our board and team is very sound, which differentiates us as well. It creates comfort in clients to work with a team of the pedigree we have.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I would advise a constant forward-thinking mindset to try and decipher what’s ahead. Cannabis is a tough market. At first it’s exciting and new, and then you realize there is a lot that needs to be done. If you’re stagnant on challenges and don’t know how to get through them, you will burn out because you’re defeated. You should constantly want to learn more, especially in this very interesting industry where there is so much to learn. Once you’re aware of all of the opportunities it has to offer, it gets to be really exciting. Be proactive in a space that’s constantly innovating.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

My day-to-day motivation is my wife. She was there when I began my career and has supported me through all of my endeavours, sacrificing a lot for me to follow my ambitions. And she pushed me the whole way. It was a whole different type of sacrifice leaving my financially secure job to start my own company, and I wouldn’t be where I am with Fyllo if she didn’t support me.

Ok thank you for all that. Approximately how many users or subscribers does your app or software currently have? Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Can you share with our readers three of the main steps you’ve taken to build such a large community?

Fyllo services some of the industry’s leading MSOs, SSOs, D2C brands and law firms, and other legal professionals use CannaRegs to keep pace with compliance and category growth.

Our first step was business development and legal. We searched for the proper partnerships and channels across the cannabis space and also the mainstream space. It’s our partners who allow us to bring in that comprehensive ecosystem.

Second step was building an experienced engineering team to create the cleanest, easiest user experience possible.

The last step was to find the best sales professionals and properly train them on our products. Our sales team is crucial in really understanding potential client’s needs and explaining how Fyllo can address them.

What is your monetization model? How do you monetize your community of users? Have you considered other monetization options? Why did you not use those?

The Fyllo Compliance Cloud spans multiple products, markets, users and use cases. We help customers accomplish goals in data, marketing, mdia, compliance and more. As a result, there are myriad monetization models, providing us with diverse revenue streams.

Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful app or a SaaS? Please share a story or an example for each.

As I have been saying, the most important aspect to have when building really any type of company is a professional and supportive team. Next, you need a clear vision to guide your actions and decisions, and to motivate your staff. Third, you won’t be able to continue building out your company unless you have grit. Fourth factor of a successful SaaS is the sales team. You need the right group of salespeople to commercialize your product or service. Lastly, you need the proper investors who really believe in your vision to back your growth.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I am lucky enough to have Fyllo be a part of a movement where we continue the journey to destigmatize and realize the full potential of cannabis.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram — @hellofyllo

Twitter — @hellofyllo

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

External image

Chad Bronstein of Fyllo: 5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful App or SaaS was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



source https://medium.com/authority-magazine/chad-bronstein-of-fyllo-5-things-you-need-to-know-to-create-a-successful-app-or-saas-2d5a78f2d8e3?source=rss—-f772c66cd492—4
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Alexandra Dempster and Isabelle Steichen of Lupii: Five Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Remote Team

Allie: Listen and create space for ideas from your team. Really let them know that you are open to hearing ideas, and ultimately creating a culture that works for them. Space for feedback on one’s own leadership style and work culture is a high priority to me as a leader, both with remote and physically proximate work environments.

Isabelle: Trusting others like you trust yourself to be productive when working remotely. Make sure you don’t set the expectation that your team needs to always be on because work and personal life can become so blurry during these crazy times. Not forgetting to praise your team for great work and celebrate wins is crucial, especially when things become stressful.

As a part of our series about the five things you need to successfully manage a remote team, I had the pleasure of interviewing Isabelle Steichen and Alexandra Dempster.

Isabelle Steichen moved from Europe to the US in 2013. She worked closely with founding teams for various early stage VC backed startups in NYC in the food and tech space. Her first role was at Kitchensurfing, an on demand chef service that she helped launch in various US markets. Then she went on to be the GM for the US at Voyage Control and, most recently, ran the operations and customer service team at Sawyer, a Brooklyn based education software company that she scaled from 50 to 500 providers within 18 months. Isabelle has additionally worked as a consultant with IfOnly, Hungryroot, Human Ventures and various other startups. As a long time passionate vegan, certified in plant based nutrition from e-Cornell, as well as the founder of the Plantiful Podcast, she is now combining her startup background with her desire to spread plant-based eating with Lupii.

Alexandra Dempster spent most of her career working across the Food & Beverage industry, both agency-side and for Fortune 500 brands. She started her career at Carlsberg Group and was most recently with PepsiCo, in which she was responsible for the portfolio’s BFY snacks global innovation agenda and led the Sunbites brand globally. Allie is a passionate plant-based eater that believes we can change the world through what we put in our bodies. Her desire to help people lead healthier, happier lives has been informed by chronic health challenges and a deep love and respect for nature and animals. With the creation of Lupii, she has combined her passion and professional experience to help make plant-based eating a delicious no-brainer. Alexandra is also a certified Holistic Health Coach, and yoga practitioner and teacher.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. What is your “backstory”?

Allie: I am passionate about food and holistic health. I have had a long personal health journey that has been filled with many challenges dealing with autoimmune challenges. I have spent an endless amount of time educating myself on food and holistic health practices, and ultimately went on to become a certified holistic health coach. Simultaneously, I have spent my career working in the food and beverage industry for large CPG companies. As my personal and professional paths progressed, I spent the last few years thinking about how I could continue to have greater congruity between the two. Meeting Isabelle, my co-founder, is the true coming together of these two, at times seemingly disparate narrative threads of my life to work to have a positive impact on the world.

Isabelle: I grew up in Luxembourg and spent college and grad school living in Paris, France. On a personal level, I always struggled with the concept of eating animals and decided to go vegetarian when I moved to France. That was definitely a challenge from a cultural perspective, considering French culinary culture is so tied to animal product consumption, and I felt like my friends and family did not really understand my choice. When I moved to New York in 2013, it felt almost cathartic because I finally felt like I could go entirely vegan without much judgment and live in harmony with my personal compass. I then started engulfing myself into the plant based and vegan food space, completing a plant based nutrition certification with eCornell and also starting a podcast, The Plantiful, with my husband. Lupii is bringing together all these threads and combining my passion for the space with my early stage startup background.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Allie: Meeting my now co-founder has by far been the most fated feeling thing that has happened to me. Due to my personal journey with health and food and my professional background working in food, when I met Isabelle, it felt like all roads had led and prepared me for the moment of starting Lupii with her. Our shared desires to have a positive impact on the world through food led to an almost instantaneous connection and we quickly decided this is something we would do together. We are now in the throes of building Lupii, a company that we launched, in January 2020. In some ways it has been the perfect time to launch a business, because facing all of the challenges the pandemic has presented has made my desire to build this business that much more crystal clear in my mind.

Isabelle: There is not one particular story that stands out more than others but overall, I have spent most of my career working for early stage startups in both food and tech. I went to school for something totally different (political science and econ in undergrad and urban planning in grad school) and I have learned throughout the last few years that even though I did not have ‘the degree’ for any of the startups jobs I held, with enough growth mindset I could learn and acquire the necessary skills. Being open and curious seems to be the essence, in work and life, and that’s how I try to approach everything I do.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Allie: I think something I am continuously working on is not taking mistakes too seriously. When I was early in my career and even now, it was very hard to look at my mistakes with much humor. However, I recognize the incredible value that humor and perspective can have on taking oneself too seriously which I think is of the greatest importance when it comes to both happiness and the ability to learn from one’s mistakes.

Isabelle: This is kind of absurd, but in my very first job in NYC, I was tasked to order some gift bags online for an event we were preparing for. As I had just moved here, my brain was not thinking in inches but in centimeters and when the bags arrived, they were basically half the size I expected. Kind of a silly mistake but I realized how important it is to take an extra minute and check on your work.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive and avoid burnout?

Allie: Take time for perspective. I have had a fairly intense career journey, one to which I have given a lot of myself. However, I can say with a great deal of confidence that it doesn’t hold a candle to the emotional ups and downs that come with starting a business. What I work on constantly is making sure I have perspective about the bigger and broader world outside of my business and the practice of not attaching myself or my identity to the business. If I get too myopically focused and enmeshed in the business, I could give all of myself to it at the sacrifice of many other important parts of my life. I ultimately know that this is not a recipe for success in building a sustainable business or for me personally. Remembering that you will be the same person with the same innate value regardless of success or failures is hard work, but a critical piece of being an effective and clear-headed leader.

Isabelle: Boundary setting. It’s something I struggle with myself and have been working on intentionally, especially since starting Lupii. It’s all about picking the few right and important things to do versus trying to do everything, because that’s not possible. In parallel, it’s essential to treat yourself well in the process and establish a good sleep routine and a way to actually unwind, recharge and invest into yourself. I want my employees to realize that they always have to put on their own oxygen mask first, before attending to the business, because that statement rings true for myself as well.

Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Some companies have many years of experience with managing a remote team. Others have just started this, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Can you tell us how many years of experience you have managing remote teams?

Allie: The three years before Lupii. I worked on PepsiCo’s Global Foods team. All of the teams, with whom I worked were distributed, and the job also required a lot of travel, so almost all of my work took place on zoom. While there isn’t a replacement for being in person together, particularly for more important meetings, workshops, and relationship development. Remote team management has been significantly improved by video calls. It allows you to connect with and build deeper relationships with remote team members in ways that simply aren’t possible otherwise.

Isabelle: While I spent my career working for startups with flexible work schedules, I only managed a remote team in one job I held a few years ago, so this is pretty new in that way. That being said, we are a super small team and have been able to establish a lot of trust, which is key in being remote.

Managing a team remotely can be very different than managing a team that is in front of you. Can you articulate for our readers what the five main challenges are regarding managing a remote team? Can you give a story or example for each?

Allie:

  1. Casual interpersonal interactions — Not having the time to pass by your team, sit down and share a meal together and other small, everyday interactions is definitely something, even if you try to offset for it, that is hard to replicate with remote work.
  2. More meetings needed to stay connected — I am someone that tries to minimize heavy meeting culture for both myself and my team, but remote work seems to necessitate more meetings to stay connected.
  3. Deeper more meaningful interactions — Being able to share and have deeper conversations is definitely possible over zoom, but being near someone physically and more readily being able to read someone’s energy and non-verbal communication is something that is hard to replicate in remote work.
  4. Time for play — Remote work and setting time to meet and connect inherently seems to get everyone quickly focused on the job at hand it takes more effort and thought about ways teams can have fun together through a video screen
  5. Ensuring people have the tools they need — Everyone’s personal set-ups are so different given everyone needing to work from home and not all of us being set-up to effectively adapt to these conditions. Not having the option to provide people with a working space outside their home, which is certainly preferable for some, is something of which I am highly cognizant.

Isabelle: The number one challenge with all being remote comes back to communication: while you don’t want to get into over communicating, it’s essential to realize that not being all in one room means a lot of little things could fall through the cracks unless they get communicated on a regular basis. At the beginning of the pandemic, we had daily team check-ins that were essential to supporting each other emotionally. Over the last few months, we reduced these to two team check-ins per week. However, we make sure to keep each other updated on all the things that come up on a daily basis and mostly use slack as well as ad hoc zoom calls.

Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges?

Allie:

  1. Take time at the beginning of remote team meetings just to chat and check-in about the everyday things that are happening
  2. Try to constantly check in about which meetings are helping or hurting in terms of connection and productivity.
  3. Take time to have check-ins that give your team, including yourself, to discuss what is working or isn’t working about the habits and intentional choices you’ve made related to remote working. Being candid and letting your team know that you don’t have all the answers, especially given this unique time and environment, but are open to always having a dialogue, can really go a long way in collectively problem solving and connecting as a team.
  4. Anything from a team breakfast or other ways to connect or do something that is not related to the job and work I think is more important, but certainly much more challenging, when limited to a video screen. We are still trying to find creative ways to address this outside of team breakfasts.
  5. Again, this really seems to be about having a dialogue with your team. Asking or letting them know what you are able to provide that may make a home work set-up more comfortable.

Isabelle: I personally believe that video calls are a way more robust communication tool than audio calls because you can see the other people and it almost feels like you are in the same room.

Can you specifically address how to give constructive feedback over email? How do you prevent the email from sounding too critical or harsh?

Allie: This is definitely a challenge. Messages that may have tough information that needs to be delivered, I think so much when it can’t be delivered verbally. My preference is to always deliver constructive critique and feedback verbally. However, this is not always possible. When it needs to be done over email, I think setting the tone up front by letting the recipient know that you have some feedback you think that could help to improve a situation and that you are always open to discussing. Then delivering the feedback itself is best done in the most simple, straightforward way possible, keeping it to the facts so that there is a lot of room for emotional interpretation helps. Finally, closing the message by saying that you are providing the feedback for development and growth, I think is important to bring the conversation back to the positive intent with which it is being given.

Isabelle: I think giving constructive feedback should always happen over a video call. It’s essential that the tone comes out right and that can only happen when you talk to someone and they can see your facial expressions and you can see theirs. There is always time for a call.

Can you share any suggestions for teams who are used to working together on location but are forced to work remotely due to the pandemic. Are there potential obstacles one should avoid with a team that is just getting used to working remotely?

Allie: Don’t get too fixated on what you are missing and recognize that part of what makes teams strong is adaptability. Most things in life are out of our control and when we surrender to what is in front of us, it is incredible how resilient and creative we can be in new situations and circumstances. Expending too much energy on something you can’t change is energy that could be much better spent elsewhere.

Isabelle: I think we all need to develop trust in each other really quickly if we have not done so yet. There are easy ways to track productivity remotely; you will see if someone does their work or not depending on the weekly and quarterly goals you set as a team. What’s essential is to trust that they can do it even without you being physically present. I actually believe that working remotely can lead to way more productivity if you trust your team to follow their own rhythm. Some people love getting up early and working at 7am and some need more time in the morning but have no issue working later. I think letting people be more flexible with their schedule, which remote working has permitted, is crucial.

What do you suggest can be done to create a healthy and empowering work culture with a team that is remote and not physically together?

Allie: Listen and create space for ideas from your team. Really let them know that you are open to hearing ideas, and ultimately creating a culture that works for them. Space for feedback on one’s own leadership style and work culture is a high priority to me as a leader, both with remote and physically proximate work environments.

Isabelle: Trusting others like you trust yourself to be productive when working remotely. Make sure you don’t set the expectation that your team needs to always be on because work and personal life can become so blurry during these crazy times. Not forgetting to praise your team for great work and celebrate wins is crucial, especially when things become stressful.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Allie: I believe we can change the world through what we put in our bodies, so what I am building with Lupii is a direct reflection of that belief. The ability to create delicious plant-based foods that help with individual and the collective health of our planet is the lane to which I have chosen to dedicate my skills and life. Of equal importance to me is also destigmatizing mental health. A silver lining of the pandemic is seeing people more freely speaking about the psychological challenges we all face as humans that truly have felt more universal than ever. The continued destigmatization of having support for the most complex part of us, our minds is an incredibly important topic to me when it comes to health.

Isabelle: I started Lupii because I believe that there is no need to compromise on human health and the health of our planet when making our food choices. In many ways, it’s important to realize that we can eat things that are good for us and the earth and that we can build a more sustainable and resilient food system with the dollars that we spend. I spent this past summer house sitting for close friends who own a small ‘farm’ with incredibly abundant vegetable gardens. I realized how much work and energy goes into producing food, but also how rewarding it is to eat something that comes from the earth, has been minimally processed and grown with great care to make sure resources are not only extracted but also returned to that same earth. It’s such empowering knowledge to have and I believe that our agricultural system needs to move towards more sustainable practices so we can feed ourselves today and generations in the future with nutrient dense and low impact foods. Lupii wants to be a part of the movement by introducing an ingredient that is not only a nutrition powerhouse but also a rotation crop and nitrogen fixer, revitalizing soil health and only needing little resources to grow.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Allie: “Yesterday is already gone. Tomorrow is not yet here. Today is the only day available to us; it is the most important day of our lives.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

The teachings of various wisdom traditions play a large role in my life. The buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh has had a large influence on me and this quote about the essential principle of presence is something I practice and work hard, with both regular success and failure, to apply to how I move through the world and approach running my business.

Isabelle: “Grit is living life like a marathon, not a sprint.” This goes back to my earlier story about taking a second to reflect before submitting something. It’s not all about the speed, but rather about perseverance and that’s something I remind myself every day.

Thank you for these great insights!

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Alexandra Dempster and Isabelle Steichen of Lupii: Five Things You Need To Know To Successfully… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



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