THE STORY SO FAR
by ty reifeis
It is Monday November 20, 2017. We are half way through our journey from Western State Colorado University (WSCU), across the Western United States. The trip has been filled with incredible experiences, and continual learning. We started in Las Vegas, where we had less than 10 hours to find and meet entrepreneurs. After arrival, we hit the Vegas strip, letting the lights guide us in search for some filmable content. That’s when we came across Matt. Matt is a musician and an entrepreneur. He had a guitar, an amp, and his voice; he stood on the Vegas skybridge creating art and selling his sound to the bustling street surrounding him. We spoke with Matt about his art, and the hustle of playing on the Vegas streets. He had an inspirational story that showcased an artist who breaks from the typical nine to five job to take on the challenge of busking in Las Vegas. He described the fear when making that decision, and passion that drove him to do so. After listening to some of Matt’s original music, we thanked him for his time and headed back to the hotel to prepare for our next day in San Diego.
The warm, humid air welcomed us as we arrived. We started our day at Downtown Works (DW), where we had the opportunity to speak with Morgan (a manager of Downtown Works), and Kelly (an entrepreneur who supports businesses by completing administrative tasks). Kelly gave some incredible insight on what it takes to transition from “mom” to “founder”. Morgan had amazing perspective on the San Diego co-working ecosystem, and how entrepreneurs develop in the DW space. Both interviews provided us with new information and gave us some early direction for the film. After leaving from DW, we headed to the downtown location of Union Co-Working to talk with some more interesting people.
We were immediately welcomed by Jamie Miller and the entrepreneurs who work in the space. Once we had a quick tour, we met with Rigel and Patrick, who are co-founders of a hospitality startup. They explained how each of them had history in marketing for major hotel chains, and during this time discovered a problem that the smaller, independent hotels face. They gave us insight on failure and the challenges they have faced since launching their company. Both Rigel and Patrick were extremely open with talking about their experiences and provided stories to back up their opinions. After exchanging contact information, we were off to the next meeting. We drove to Encinitas to meet Jamey at Union’s second location, and meet the entrepreneurs who utilize this space to create change. As we arrived, we were immediately approached by Ace, who was curious about our cameras. He inquired about our film, then went on to mention his experience in entrepreneurship. His story told of struggles, where he crafted a business and injected heart, grit, and passion to try to solve a problem he uncovered. As time went by, Ace ran into struggles and ultimately had to end the business he worked so hard to create. He was honest about how painful this failure was for him, and explained how he had to go back to the “nine to five” life to make ends meet. This was a major turning point for our research, as we began to examine the idea that failure is over-glorified. Many entrepreneurs give the mantra of “fail fast; fail hard; fail forward”, however the emotion of the failure is often forgotten. Ace finished the interview explaining that he caught the “entrepreneurial bug” and now that he has it, there is no going back. Though he was currently working for a corporation, it was just a stop-over point; he is already working on the next step. After the interviews, we thanked Jamey and Ace for their time, and drove to Ventura to get some sleep for the next day.
Alarms started going off at 8:00 am. It was time for us to get dressed, and go to meet with Johnny, the founder of surfclass.com. We drove up to the beach, and were immediately greeted by Johnny and Emily, who specialize in training novice surfers. We got in our wetsuits, and headed down to the sand. Both Johnny and Emily explained surfing etiquette and how to respect the beach and the marine wild life. We then created surfboards in the sand, and began practicing the “cobra technique” to jump up on the board. After a few pointers and adjustments from Johnny, we grabbed the boards and hit the water. The water was relatively warm, and the swell was perfect. There couldn’t have been a better day for us to chop up a rad-salad and shred the waves. Once we all got a solid thrashing from Poseidon, we dried off and met up with Johnny and Emily for an interview on the beach. They spoke about community, and explained the importance of keeping a close support web that helps to lift one back up after failure. Johnny showed passion for both his businesses as well as preserving the environment, and touched on the importance of giving to causes that make the world a better place. Inspired and humbled. Those are the best words to describe the feeling dancing through the car, as we hit the road to the Patagonia headquarters. There, we met Chipper Bro, the Global Sales Director at Patagonia. Chipper had a calming energy that was infectious. As he walked, he almost floated across the ground, the grace and swiftness. He resembled “The Dude” from The Big Lebowski but it was different. He’s The Bro. Mr. Bro told us about the importance of following your passions, and reiterated on Johnnies point of giving back. He explained that Patagonia gives to the causes he believes in, while also allowing the employees to innovate in their field. This gives him passion to keep making Patagonia better and work hard for the company.
We rushed to Hollywood to catch Caro before he left the office for the evening. He was kind enough to wait, and allowed us into his space to talk on his experience with entrepreneurship. This interview solidified the foundation that we had been building for our film. Caro was honest about his failures, and how he worked to overcome them. He gave incredible insight on his experience with picking partners, pivoting, and scaling. After a long day of back to back meetings, it was time to find a hotel and get some rest before driving to the UIF conference in Palo Alto the following day. There was a sense of excitement to bring the new-found discoveries back to WSCU. We all slept still in our beds, with thoughts of innovation, design, and entrepreneurship dancing through our heads.