Location: Denver, Colorado
Job: Founder of Wandrblu, Current Development Manager at Fruition
Mike and I were connected through Daniel, a YoPro I interviewed last year, and the two know each other from Denver. Mike's story of his full-time job and side hustle are extremely relatable, not only for me but for so many of you as well. In his interview, we talk about his passion for learning and his plan for long-term growth in this stage of his life, in addition to finding his outlets, or what he does to "regroup" himself outside of the office. Mike is a huge supporter of the YoPro Know network, and I can't wait for you all to take a look at his story and reach out today.
Tell us about your background.
I’m from just outside of Pittsburgh, close to where Daniel is from. Freshman year I went to school down in Florida, where I played soccer for Lynn University in Boca and then I went back up to the University of Pittsburgh for my last three years. Right after I graduated, I moved out here to Denver, where I am currently, and it’s been about two and a half years. Originally, I started a business in college, Wandrblu, that was meant to be more of a travel company. We were working on an algorithm that would match young adults to destinations based on their interests, hobbies, types of food they liked, what type of nightlife they wanted, etc. We also did a few travel consultations with people who were primarily taking trips to Europe, kind of running through the process, but in the end, we weren't sure how to monetize that. We slowly moved more into digital marketing, specifically for the travel and tourism industry. Right now I work for Fruition, which is a larger agency out here in Denver. We merged and Wandrblu was actually acquired by Fruition in January of this year.
What does your day-to-day look like now?
I'm on the side of Fruition that is primarily focused on growth, which is really what I wanted to focus on with our company, Wandrblu, as well. It's hard to give 110% with sales as my background. On my 21st birthday, I got my real estate license and so I've been doing sales in different industries for quite a while and that's really what I enjoy. Right now I’m looking for the right clients for the company. My day-to-day is a lot of outreach and a lot of client relations, so really helping Fruition grow like I was doing with Wandrblu.
How many people are working for both of your companies?
Fruition has about 45 full-time employees. For Wandrblu, the company that I had, there were three of us who originally owned the company and then we primarily worked with contractors outside of that. In those three years, we had about 10 different contractors.
What is a challenge or hardship that you have faced since becoming a young professional and what have you learned from it?
I think the hardest thing was when we started Wandrblu a few years ago, we had no guidance, we had no funding, and we didn't have a mentor or really anything. We just spent an incredible amount of time learning, experiencing, and trying new things. A lot of it was not right, but we figured it out quickly. We learned from it and we moved on and that was tough but in hindsight, it was super beneficial to the progress of the company. In the end, I'm really proud of what we did, but I'd say just starting from nothing based on what we learned from school, and that it was all based on experience was a challenge. Also, trying to handle multiple things at once was very difficult, as well as not having a ton of guidance early on.
What is something that you enjoy about being a professional?
I enjoy learning new things every day because I want to learn as much as I can as I develop as a professional. The number one thing I want to say about this is focus on the long term too because I focused so much on my day-to-day work life but never really thought about the big picture. I wasn't thinking long-term and I wasn't making the right decisions that would affect my long-term success and growth. I'm really focused on bettering myself mentally, physically, and business-wise, so I can become more successful.
How do you balance the young professional and personal sides of being a professional?
One of the big reasons why I came to Denver is so I could find a lot of people who are like-minded and driven as well. In Pittsburgh, it's one of those places that you can get stuck into, it's a little harder to find people who are looking for really new big opportunities. Right now, I live in downtown Denver and surrounding myself with the right people has been great for both my business and personal life. I think that goes back to health and happiness because you have to find that balance as well. I know that sounds cliché, but it is really important to get away from the craziness of everyday business and city life and go for a hike up in the mountains. For me, a big outlet is also playing soccer, which I play almost every day now. It's just one of those things that kind of keeps me going. Surrounding yourself with the right people and being able to have conversations that will help you grow and learn is really important, too.
What drives you?
What motivates me goes back to why I created Wandrblu in the first place. It was to be able to travel, explore, and learn. It's such a big world we live in and I think too many people, especially in the US, tend to be stuck. I think a lot of young people haven't really experienced other cultures and other lifestyles, and for me, one of my big goals is to build long-term wealth and success, so that I can enjoy those things, without being a slave to my work. Learning from going out in the world and experiencing things that you wouldn’t necessarily experience through school or a book allows you to grow in a different way. I'm actually working on a book that talks about my experiences over the past few years. I think there's a lack of understanding of what real priorities are and the step-by-step process of that. If you want to start a business, what the heck do you do? There are 10 million things that really need to happen, but what are the priorities, and how do you get there? The book will be a walkthrough of my business experience, talking about what mistakes I made, how I would change what was done, etc. I think it's really important to be educated in a lot of different areas, and I would really like to get that out to a lot of young professionals and people in college, so they can get a better understanding of the business process.
When do you hope to have the book completed?
I hope to have it completed by early 2021. I want it to be straightforward more than anything. There's a lot of motivational books out there and that's great, and I'm all for those books, but this will be one that will be more of how you would start something fresh out of college and what you would need to do for that.
YoPro Know's Takeaways:
- When starting a business, trial-and-error can be useful in figuring out how you can best structure your company for success
- Always be open to learning new things as it can help you develop as a person and a professional
- Invest in setting yourself up for long-term wealth so that you have the ability to explore and see the world