Being an Entrepreneur is Hard

Being an Entrepreneur is Hard

Hi, I’m Ludell and I’m the Marketing Director of an educational publishing company called Eazl. Our channel has all kinds of interesting things, from weekly Brain Boosts (to keep you informed on all things business, marketing, and the labor market) and free mini courses to 20 min. travel shows and interviews with industry experts. On my vlog playlist, you’ll find videos about my day to day marketing experiences and I’ll show you what it’s like to be me -a marketer and entrepreneur. I’m also curious to learn about your own experiences.

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If you’re reading this, share your self-employment experiences with me. I want to get to know you!

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How Startup Funding Works

Let’s talk about 💰 and new business ventures. The most important thing for a new venture is that has a product or service that people really love. The second most important thing is that the team is able to get the money they need to be able to tell people about what they’re doing. They need to grow their audience. So, how did this usually work?

Funding Rounds
Usually, each time a business receives investment from outside people (not banks) they’re selling some kind of ownership stake in the company. For example, if your dad invests $25,000 to help you get started with the understanding he’ll get an ownership percentage later, that would be a funding “round.”

If a year later, a group of 3 angel investors got together and each put in $50,000 to buy some of the company, that’s a “funding round” too. And if you did really well and a venture capital fund invests $2 million later, that’s a “round” too.

Most people would call your dad’s investment a “Friends & Family” round, the angel investor funding a “Seed” or “Angel” round, and the venture capital investment (the third step) a “Series A” round.

Angel Investors
Angel investors are usually the first people to invest in a company after the founder herself or the founder’s friends & family gets things moving. Angel Investors usually put in relatively small amounts of money and often work actively to help the company make progress.

In the real world, you’ll often run into “Angel Groups” like the North Bay Angels who were involved with Eazl in the early days. These groups are clubs for angel investors who look at companies together and sometimes partner up to make investments in startups. The individuals in the groups usually like to ask the other angel investors what they think before they make an investment.

Venture Capital Funding
Once the company shows that people really interested in whatever it has created, the company might be able to get venture capital funding. The Series A round usually means the first time venture capitalists invest in a company, and usually they make an investment of $1-5 million.

If the company successfully grows using the Series A money, it can raise a larger amount of venture capital money which would be the Series B round and so fourth.

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These Brands are Killing It on Instagram

these brand are killing it on instagram

I love finding branding and marketing inspiration on Instagram and I’m loving the platform in general these days because the user experience is a lot more enjoyable than the toxic environment on Facebook. You can find out more about how we feel about THAT whole sitch here.

In my feed, I like to see posts from a mix of different kinds of companies because, as a marketer, I’m constantly paying attention to what other marketers are doing well. If you are a marketer or a small business owner, you might know what I mean. And I’d LOVE to see what profiles you’ve been following for ideas and inspiration. You can leave a comment below or Tweet at me and I’ll check it out your favorites.

Lately, I’ve been feeling an intense amount of marketing love for a few companies in particular.

  1. Moondeli
    Moondeli makes healthy tonics that can be added to nut milk, coffee, juices, and smoothies. Their ingredients feature some of the highest quality, most potent rainforest plants like turmeric, maca, and cacao.

Their branding enforces the “alternativeness” or, shall I say, traditional kind of health products they sell. (I always think it’s funny to call ingestion of ingredients that have been known for their health properties for hundreds and hundreds of years “alternative” just because we’ve made advancement in medicine. You can have both, you know?)

With Moondeli’s branding suite, you really do feel like you’ve been pulled into a community and an experience that centers around beauty and natural health. From their logo and typography to the corresponding symbols on their different products, they’ve created something that is attractive; something that possesses all of the right elements to get their target market’s attention.

 

<<photos of packaging on my IG account>>

They invest a lot in their photography as well. They are consistent in their themes, layouts, and colors -a ton of the flatlays feature crystals with a color palette of pinks, blues, greens, and greys. It’s that kind of ethereal feel that is earthy yet coming on trend. It’s just pretty and fun to look at.

🌑💜💭✨ #energytonic ✨ #almondmilk ✨ #amethyst ✨ #intentions

A post shared by 🌕 M O O N D E L I 🌕 (@moondeli) on

 

Something else they are doing right? User generated content. They’ve created a culture where their community feels so connected to Moondeli’s product, strangers are tagging away and the company ends up with a ton of free, beautiful content to fill their Instagram feed and build their credibility. Not only that, but it also seems that the community has taken cues from the company on what the aesthetics of a photo featuring a Moondelli product should look like.

And it’s in the customer’s interest to create a photo that Moondeli might share because it might help them grow THEIR OWN audience.

See what they did there?

Stunning capture by the radiant @sidneybensimon 🙌🌞💙✨#gratitude #plantmedicine #love

A post shared by 🌕 M O O N D E L I 🌕 (@moondeli) on

 

Finally, I love that Moondeli breaks down the barrier and rids the customer of the burden of HOW IN THE HECK to use their products. They frequently give tips on on new uses and include recipes in many of their posts. There’s also a recipes page on their website. This serves the purpose of eliminating hesitation to purchase because the viewer already knows specific ways they will use the product.

Enjoy some more of Moondeli’s eye candy and check out how I used some of their products here.

  1. Ox and Otter
    Shiyana of Ox and Otter is a ceramicist who runs her entire business with just an Instagram account (over 90k followers) and a SUPER SIMPLE website that currently features all of her sold out creations. Think about that next time you get caught up opening accounts and building elaborate websites when you should be focusing on your product.

 

My favorite handmade indulgences all in one- 🌿Pottery 🌿Rings 🌿Body Care

A post shared by Shiyana (@oxandotter) on

Shiyana creates beautiful, one of a kind ceramic mugs and bowls and is a self-described Ceramic Artist Glaze Witch. What’s fun about Ox and Otter is that you are following HER -the creator of the beautiful pieces that you might someday get to purchase if you can catch a mug in your cart before they all sell out. Since you see her often, posing with her Black Wave and Midnight Rose works of art that happen to hold coffee, you feel a much stronger connection with the brand. It’s that feeling of friendship that social media is so capable of creating between a person and their stranger-followers.

Ox and Otter has a look that users are clearly responding to, so Shiyana is smart to focus on creating variations of the same kind of design, “milking” what is already working for her.

One thing that I love most about Shiyana’s content is the amount of effort she puts into her photoshoots. Rest assured, there WILL BE color coordinated nail polish that compliments the mug on display and everything from her makeup and clothes to the background reinforces the branding. Really, it’s just her taste that is very unique, beautiful, and focused.

 

  1. Liberated Heart
    With the ultimate summer/festival wear, Liberated Heart is also tapping into the witchy, celestial vibe that Moondeli and Ox and Otter have done so well. They operate mainly between their Instagram Account and website.

When the brand launched in 2013, it gained a cult following and became a  leader in festival fashion and, after that an additional surge in attention when model Candace Swanepoel was photographed wearing one of their dresses. Then, the company focused on engaging the influx of commenters on their Instagram photos, which really paid off for them.

I think that Liberated Heart manages their ratio of content expertly. It’s a good mix of straight product promotion to sell specific items for their catalog and themes like desert scenes, palm trees, beach frolicking that support the branding so well.

Weekend setup vibes ✨✨✨ @lisadanielle__

A post shared by LIBERATED HEART (@liberatedheart) on

 

  1. Room Service Vintage
    I used to shop at Room Service for most of my furniture and a lot of my decor during the time I lived in Austin, Texas. I continued following them for years after I moved because I love to torture myself with vintage steals that I can never have because they don’t ship.

Room Service uses their Instagram account to sell the pieces they post by allowing a 2 hour hold on items. They even keep the posts updated with their “sold” status and it obviously works well for them.

Cherry Blossom Pink Recliner with Cane sides, 42″ t x 25″ w x 28″ d, $149.00 -SOLD-

A post shared by Room Service Austin, Texas (@roomservicevintage) on

Their photos aren’t that fancy and there aren’t any posts created “just for looks” -this is a purely functional account. It simply a catalog and they get enough high quality pieces in to be able to develop leads on Instagram.

It’s these little tricks that can work for small business -something you might want to keep in mind if you deal with one-of-a-kind retail.

 

Do you have any favorite non-major brands that you follow on Instagram for inspiration? I’d love to know what you are paying attention to. Tweet at me or respond in the comments below.

Jeff Bezos Has Too Much Power

Jeff Bezos Has Too Much Power

Hi, I’m Ludell and I’m the Marketing Director of an educational publishing company called Eazl. Our channel has all kinds of interesting things, from weekly Brain Boosts (to keep you informed on all things business, marketing, and the labor market) and free mini courses to 20 min. travel shows and interviews with industry experts. On my vlog playlist, you’ll find videos about my day to day marketing experiences and I’ll show you what it’s like to be me -a marketer and entrepreneur. I’m also curious to learn about your own experiences.

LOCATIONS MENTIONED
Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago Athletic Association

CONTENT MENTIONED
Direct Brain/Computer Integration is (Really) Close

Manufacturing Consent

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If you’re reading this, tell me how you feel about Amazon acquiring Whole Foods.

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What’s In My Work Bag?

What’s In My Work Bag?
I reveal what’s in my work bag at 7:40.

You can find the Brain Boost on Ethereum and Bitcoin here.

About This Vlog
Hi, I’m Ludell and I’m the Marketing Director of an educational publishing company called Eazl. Our channel has all kinds of interesting things, from weekly Brain Boosts (to keep you informed on all things business, marketing, and the labor market) and free mini courses to 20 min. travel shows and interviews with industry experts. On my vlog playlist, you’ll find videos about my day to day marketing experiences and I’ll show you what it’s like to be me -a marketer and entrepreneur. I’m also curious to learn about your own experiences.

Products & Stores I Mentioned
I can’t remember the name of the store in Sayulita. Sorry!
Artillery in San Francisco
Henry Beguelin clutch/toiletry bag
Veriditas Essential Oil (Mental Clarity)
Egyptian Magic Skin Healing Cream
Dr Jart BB Cream
Coola Sport SPF 50
Diptyque Parfum Solide

Want to watch more vlogs? Check out my other videos here.

Let’s connect!
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If you’re reading this, tell me what’s in your bag in the comments below!

Working from Home is More Productive

Hi, I’m Ludell and I’m the Marketing Director of an educational publishing company called Eazl. Our channel has all kinds of interesting things, from weekly Brain Boosts (to keep you informed on all things business, marketing, and the labor market) and free mini courses to 20 min. travel shows and interviews with industry experts. On my vlog playlist, you’ll find videos about my day to day marketing experiences and I’ll show you what it’s like to be me -a marketer and entrepreneur. I’m also curious to learn about your own experiences.

FIND THE BOOK I MENTIONED
Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson

FEATURED MUSIC
Eastminster by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license
Source
Artist

If you’re reading this, tell me what some of your favorite marketing or entrepreneurship books, blogs, or courses.

Thanks for watching See you tomorrow!

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There are Big Opportunities in Craft Products

Big brands like Coke, Budweiser, and FritoLay are seriously vulnerable to locally-made craft competitors. I think that there are big opportunities to take market share and then either hold it or sell a craft brand you’ve built on to big firms for large amounts of money. This Brain Boost is all about these big opportunities for smart, locally-focused, craft entrepreneurs.

The Craft Beer Takeover
In 2006, around 8m barrels of craft beer was shipped in the US. A decade later, in 2016, nearly 24m barrels of craft beer was made–nearly triple in just 10 years. Meanwhile–who was losing out? It was Budweiser. During the same period, Budweiser’s US shipments halved. That’s why AB InBev, Budweiser’s Europe-based parent company, has bought 10 American craft brewers in the last 10 years.What we’re seeing in beer makes sense to replicate in many other product categories: a locally-made, craft production takeover.

Craft Producers Have a Sustainable Advantage: Authenticity
Stanford MBA professor Glenn Carroll recently ran a massive survey which found that what drives sales in advanced economies like those in Europe, Australia, and the US is authenticity. He said “consumers are buying on the basis of their interpretation of the product and its story.” Craft products will always have a better story than industrial products because people want to feel a connection to the creators of a product.

Many Sectors with Opportunities
There are so many vulnerable product categories that it’s basically a menu for local teams ready to capture market share in their cities. Sodas and sparkling water is the fastest growing category and others include beer, liquor, and cider, snack foods, healthy packaged foods, dishware and ceramics and many more.

Our staff here at Eazl would be interested in helping your team take market share with locally-made products. Reach out to us any time at care@eazl.co–let’s talk!

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Facebook is Making You Sick

Facebook promises to deliver social connectivity, a way to promote your business or cause, and a lot more but we think you should beware about investing in the platform as more and more warning bells are signaling that social backlash is building.

Facebook in Bed
According to Facebook, the average Facebook user spends almost an hour on the site every day and recent survey found that the first thing many people do when they wake up is check social media applications like Facebook on their phones.

Comparison Causes Negative Impacts on Well-being
In today’s individualistic world, many of us compare ourselves to other people to gauge how we’re doing in life. Because people tend to display the most positive aspects of their lives on Facebook, users increasingly believe that their own life compares negatively to the people they’re connected with on Facebook. In a new study, which was the largest ever conducted on Facebook use, researchers conclude that the use of Facebook is clearly connected to a negative impact on people’s overall well-being and especially on their mental health. You can find the study here.

Risky Business
Facebook has tried to convince business owners, bands, and brands that it is the place they need to build a following but here at Eazl we’re not so sure. There are growing calls from the health and academic communities for people to quit Facebook altogether and if you’re trying to grow a brand or a community, putting all of your eggs in the Facebook basket is risky business.

Check out some of Ludell’s tips for a technology detox that will help you be more productive.

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Be Your Own Inspiration: Hai Ninh Nguyen Modernizes a Vietnamese Tradition

hai ninh nguyen

Did you know that Vietnam is the second largest coffee producer in the world after Brazil and that coffee is a huge part of Vietnamese culture? Neither did I until I came across Hai Ninh Nguyen’s profile on Instagram.

I was looking for entrepreneurs who have experience manufacturing their own products when Ninh’s post about his modernized Vietnamese coffee press –called a phin– caught my eye.

A year of side hustling. Last year I started my second venture, my first physical product. It’s been a huge learning curve ever since and I learned how important it is to create prototypes before going into mass production. Fortunately, we live in a world were services such as 3dHubs or Shapeways can make our life so much easier. I created a blog post with all essential tools that you need to create a physical product. Follow the link: bit.ly/ToolsForPhysical⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #design #designer #designers #designinspiration #designing #designporn #designerlife #designproject #industrialdesign #productdesign #designprocess #inspiration #prototype #3dprinting #3dprinted #vinabrew #coffeeset #ceramics #sidehustle #entrepreneur #entrepreneurlife #lifestylebusiness #instadaily #picoftheday ⠀

A post shared by DESIGNER⠀ & ⠀ENTREPRENEUR (@ninjaninh) on

Ninh’s Creation Journey
I love Ninh’s story about modernizing a product used in everyday life in Vietnamese culture and exposing those who aren’t Vietnamese to this important part of life in Vietnam.

Check out Ninh’s beautiful and informative post about the traditions of Vietnamese coffee, how the traditional phin works, how he assessed ways that the traditional coffee press could be improved, his materials testing and prototyping, and the tools he used to create the first version for marketing purposes.

hai-ninh-nguyen-1


Ninh’s How to Create Physical Products from Scratch
Ninh also developed this guide for creating a physical product from scratch (and it’s SUPER useful!).

“I created this article to help you design and manufacture a physical product from scratch and sell it for profit.

I will take my own product as an example to guide you through each step and cover as many aspects as possible so you can apply the knowledge to your specific product.

  • You will learn about each step of creating a physical product
  • You will learn how to prototype products
  • You will learn how to find manufacturers
  • You will learn how to communicate with manufacturers
  • You will learn how to order first samples of your product”

hai ninh nguyen

More Resources
You can follow Hai Ninh Nguyen on Instagram or connect with him on LinkedIn.

If you are interested in hearing additional perspective on creating physical products, check out my interview with Jessika Jake of Rist Wellness, an entrepreneur in San Diego who learned how to design and manufacture her own wellness products.

How Supporters Get Money from Community Owned Businesses

☆ Learn how Eazl is organizing communities with equity crowdfunding at or join the Facebook group at ☆

Part 1 of 4 in the Community Owned Business Series
Community Owned Businesses (COBs) are funded and partially owned by neighbors and other people who support the launch of a small business through an equity crowdfunding campaign.

What’s Equity Crowdfunding?
Equity crowdfunding is like Kickstarter but instead of a reward, supporters get a small ownership piece in the campaigns they support. Learn the basics of equity crowdfunding here.

The Community Percentage
Community Owned Businesses operate with one slight difference to other small businesses: a small percentage of gross revenue is diverted into a community dividend pool. For example, if Joe’s community owned coffee shop gets $90,000 in sales over a 3 month period, his business might have agreed to put 2% of those sales or $1,800 into a dividend fund for the business’ supporters.

Ongoing Money to Supporters
Supporters of community owned businesses receive a proportional amount of the community dividend pool as a check from the businesses they support on a semi regular basis. For example, if you put $500 into a campaign that raised $20,000 to launch a new small business, you might receive $45 every three months as a dividend for your support.

Learn how you can get involved in the community owned business movement here and stay tuned for the other three parts of this four-part series:
Part 2: How to Turn Supporters into Advocates
Part 3: How to Sell a Small Business with Equity Crowdfunding
Part 4: Community Owned Businesses as a New Asset Class

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