Get A Mentor Right Away

The Inventive Journey 
Episode #321
Get A Mentor Right Away 
w/Roberto DaCosta
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What This Episode Talks About:

Get A Mentor Right Away

"If someone is starting, I would say, get a mentor right from the bat. Get someone who has helped build a business from the ground up. Don't just try it yourself cause it will take you four years where it could have taken you a couple of months to figure out exactly what you are doing? Who you are doing it for? What's a mission and vision is and how do they differ? And how having that strategy set up from the start will help you exponentially in a year."


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What Is The Inventive Journey?

Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.

ai generated transcription

 um if somebody's starting i would say get a mentor right right from the back get somebody who has helped other people build a business from this from the ground up uh don't just try it yourself because it'll take you four years where it could have taken you a couple months to figure out exactly what you're doing who you're doing it for uh what a mission and the vision is and how they differ and how having that strategy set up correctly from the start will help you exponentially yeah in a year [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devon miller a serial entrepreneur that's grown several startups in the seven and eight figure businesses as well as the founder and ceo of miller iplock where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks if you ever need help with yours just go to and we're always here to help now today we've got another great uh guest on the podcast roberto de costa and uh roberto uh went to our high school in long island was into arts um hated the school session love arts uh but there wasn't money in art so i went to college and got a degree and then and college also got an internship that later turned into a job in web development um did that for about a year and a half and then later quit the job and went to a senior developer at another position did that for another year and a half and then uh decided he wanted to start his own firm learned a lot of great skills and foundational things he could do got better at branding and marketing site and also needed to learn the finance and networking side a bit more um so figure that out for a while and then 2020 with covet hit and things went downhill and had to pivot and adjust a bit and took it in a bit of different direction which is where he's at now and we'll get into that a little bit more of the journey so with that much as an introduction welcome on the podcast roberto thanks for having me dev my pleasure so i gave the kind of can a much more condensed version of a much longer journey so with that let's uh take it back in time a bit and tell us a little bit how your journey gets started in long island in new york yeah uh i mean i was just i was just you know a silly kid in high school and i just really liked art i was always told uh you know i i could color within the lines really well um and and i think i just had a nap for drawing and painting and that was that was a thing i did as a as a hobby never too seriously um and then after that i you know looking at my senior year in high school i took in graphic design as a as a course and i fell in love with that you know and also graphic design was a serious market um at the time so painting wasn't so you know i'd rather do something that i could make money off of so that's that's where you know the game started really so now you're saying okay you know love art and i think it's still hard i think i don't know i think that's the perpetual artist you know the plague of artistry in general is typically hard to be unless you're just you know the one in a million that catches uh you know uh following and has a lot of people but for most service you always have the starving artists and so it seems like that's a natural transition to say okay now i can get into web design and web development and kind of graphic design and that one does have the people are willing to pay for it and it has kind of that the job availability there so you go into college and i think you got a degree in graphic design and web development is that right it was graphic design i picked up web development you know small skills on the side just because i i found it interesting and funny enough somebody i worked with at a restaurant told me somebody needed a um a graphic design done i did that graphic design for him and he asked me if i could do a website and so and so i started working with him a small budget website it was a basketball tournament teen website and he knew somebody who uh saw it and wanted my number that person carlos called me i'll never forget it and he said when can you start and this was like a friday i said monday so i i dropped everything in this i took an internship that turned into a junior developer job at a small marketing firm and you know the rest the rest is history i just graphic design you'll need it for everything you do like it everybody needs to know a little bit of graphic design so that's that's still a thing that i like to do uh but web development really picked up and then all the marketing skills came from working in a marketing firm for you know three three years uh two different marketing firms so my junior job led to my senior job at a different firm and and then you know i left that and i started doing my own so i started my own little before you dive into that too much because i think that's interesting so you know i definitely get hey we went into graphic design one you know said you know hey somebody wants to hire me to do your website why not they're paying and it will be a good opportunity you can learn some new skills and then found out that you know people started to like your work and then you said okay now make it a make your career but so to speak and so worked for some other people for a period of time and moved up to senior developer all that makes sense so what made you decide or what was kind of the trigger point to say i want to jump out and do something on my own as opposed to continue to you know move along the ladder so to speak or work as a senior developer for someone else what was kind of that trigger or that cause to make that leap year-round seasonal depression uh it was working for somebody just didn't fit me i it's not that i have an authority issue it's just that i knew that you have an authority you just hate authority not just kidding i just hate authority no it was it was that i was providing a lot more value than i was getting back um and i knew that if i just uh focused on myself a little bit on my off time i would be able to do it by myself so either the idea was a year before i quit was yeah i could do this by myself so i started picking up clients after hours and i built a small little clientele and by the time i left it was january 7th um i i had enough to keep being going and before i looked for another job i said let me see let me see six months down the road if i could if i could do this and then six months came and i thought let me see six more months and i kept pushing it and i pushed it back uh and then you know after a year and a half of pushing it back i said you know i'm not even gonna look i'm not even gonna bother because it this was just too much fun uh learning by myself doing it on my own picking up the skills that i needed to you know have a sustaining income no and i think that you know that's a lot of times how it kind of starts out well i'll try this out it's probably gonna fail and i'll keep trying and then it keeps you know keeps paying the bills and gets a bit more success or keeps you know we're working towards it before you know it the thing that was started first is a side hustle a little bit extra money that turned into i'll try it out turned into an actual career and i think that that's always a fun way when the things develop and continue to move forward so you did that i think for quite a bit of period of time and then i think we mentioned when we talked a little bit before one of the things that you found that you also needed to learn was a bit more on the the finance and the networking side so how did that kind of fit into your journey in other words i think that you know branding and marketing side and you got better that and already kind of had that as educational background but just saying okay building growing and getting better how did you go about expanding your skills in the finance and networking well you know i think i think underneath it i always understood that networking was a key component on on how to keep my income flow up uh you know because clients in web or design they don't need you full time they need you for that that service and the only way that i was really growing was through word of mouth that was like the solopreneur that's their bread and butter is word of mouth um so without knowing it i was doing a lot of networking um but it was you know four years into running this thing by myself i uh i found myself on a plateau that was that was harder to break from than uh i thought it would be so for me to hit that next level i needed to do something radically different um and and inside somewhere i knew that networking was going to be the thing like i just felt it because it without knowing it i knew it uh so i started going to networking events and and and it wasn't it wasn't long until i and from when i started to to the point where i found out that that was the key you know how i got more clients how we got a real community of of uh business owners that would call on me and rely on me solely uh was all built from a strong network group um several of them so yeah i learned all the skills that i needed to have to thrive in the network community uh by just being you know a a good a good friend to people uh in in those networks uh and that that's what the true skill of networking is it's not how many networks can i hit it was learning how to become a good person in in that community uh and that leads to trust and trust leads to clientele you know it was small skill oh but i think it's one of those that it's a small skill everybody knows what they should do and yet it can certainly be impactful and have a good or have a set your business on a much better and different direction as you continue to get that word of mouth and make those connections and so it sounds like you know you were learning those skills putting time and effort into them and things are continuing to to grow and you're building out your network and building a team and then about that time 2020 hit with covet and things kind of took a different turn from there yeah i mean i'm sure everybody can can say they experience the same thing uh it went from busy to not busy real quick uh and i th it took me from march when covet became a thing uh until until october for me to to pivot my entire business uh and how myself as a as a solopreneur in that time it was just just trying i just kept trying and trying i knew it was going to come back but i didn't know when and some people could still say it's still kind of hard to get you know get back in the ball on the ball and continue on where they left off in march 2020 right so that was that was a hard transition but it wasn't it wasn't hard for me to figure out my next move which was doing networking as as a business so i found the thing that i loved which was networking and i just made i made it into a business of mine they say okay now you know takes i think it took everybody different periods of time and you know it was kind of one word and it still feels like we're two years in and people still don't know what's going on but you know you're saying you know now that you have that realization saying okay at some point i've got to figure it out i've got to make the pivots it's not going to be the same it's not going to be a couple weeks and we're going to be back to life as normal and so you say okay making that transition and that switch a bit you say okay networking is the key so how did you start where did how did you pivot the business in that direction honestly it was luck um i bought a vr headset um to play video games in but i needed to make it a business expense because you know money was low so i needed to make every dollar count to something uh and i uh the the headset really was a supposed to be something for fun but i needed to make it a tool and in my search for a good tool to use vr for my design and web development services i found out that there was a bunch of people regular people like you and i in virtual reality just hanging out going to events and these events were meditation events dj clubs things that i didn't i didn't realize existed before i jumped into vr um and i remember vividly the first day i jumped in i went to a karaoke night and then i jumped into a cards against humanity room and people were just playing cards against humanity and hanging out and listening to music and and i asked one of the guys there is there any business events happening here and he said no and then i looked i looked deeper and i saw that there was a huge vacuum of business uh talks or or the topic of business in in social virtual was empty um and and that got me really excited so my transition happened that day you know uh i saw a huge vacuum in in how people connected in vr uh when it came to the topic of business no i think that you know sometimes it's that you know happy happiness stands that are happy coincidence that you do something as starts out as personal enjoyment and you know similar almost a little bit to the idea that hey you had someone that said can you build a website for me this one happened to be a little bit coincidental in the sense that hey this is something that would be fun and interesting and why don't we make it a you know a business expense and make it into a business opportunity and that you know pivot scenes in a different direction so that kind of takes us a bit to where you're at today so where's the business at today is it launched is it coming soon is it uh already have millions of dollars of money raining from the sky you're kind of where along that journey is the business that you've pivoted and looked at kind of more of that networking and virtual reality aspect no it's it's very much still in developmental phase uh it's not so much in develop like we have a we have a community which is the part of the product what what i've done since last not this past october but last october um was create a a strong community of business owners in vr and i started to market myself as uh vr networking um and then the whole brand took off and i i went from having a room filled with uh 12 business owners who wanted to continue networking from home you know but not over zoom the way that we got used to over the pandemic which was it doesn't give you the same sense of being with somebody and building uh that community with that with that person that trust isn't is it really there on 2d where it is in vr it's just a different sense you have to experience it to understand right but from from developing this small little community of 12 people uh per event once a week an idea continued to grow from networking to running speaking events so we brought in you know some some people who were professional speakers people that were featured on ted and we threw that in in virtual reality we had an audience and then the idea of what about expos and trade shows so we built out a trade show space and we rent out boots uh for the year so that we'll run 12 trade shows once per month uh and have businesses market themselves in these trade shows we just relaunched that whole system with a new trade show space so they all these different products all building out one larger community um and the size for comparison is at the beginning of this we had you know on average five 12 people come to networking events last monday we had 200 people show up to a networking event yesterday we had 170 people show up to a networking event and this is like this is not even the beginning of it i haven't even laid a solid foundation yet my hope is to build a community that on on any given day uh you'll have a networking event with 10 000 people showing up you know have a real solid ability for you to market your business in virtual reality with a community no and i think i think it's an interesting application to you know a bit of a time old thing in other words networking has been around for a while but looking and saying how can we adapt that and how can we adjust it and then where's the opportunity so it sounds like a differently a great avenue and a great uh path to go down um so now as we've kind of brought ourselves to a bit to the present day of where your journey is taking you so far great time to transition to a couple questions i always ask towards the end of the podcast about your journey so with that the first question i always ask is along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made and what did you learn from it worst business decision is taking on debt too early um that was a big mistake not not that it was too much but it was enough to you know slow me down for the long run and i'm still i'm still dealing with the debt that i took on the first two years to make that work um so definitely having having a solid stream of income and not having any gaps in that while you're building up a business uh was important something i overlooked no i think that you know it's one of those where it's hard because sometimes you're saying if i don't have the money then i'm never going to be able to start the business and yet on the other hand you take on the debt you take on the money you know on that on that commitment and then if the business slows down or doesn't go in the direction or you have to pivot or adjust sometimes it can be that those handcuffs that make it difficult to be able to navigate the business or otherwise make it successful because that you may not be able to do or pursue the things that you want or it can otherwise be that handcuff so make sense on kind of how the mistake occurred but also you know the motivation for for not doing their learning from it so 100 yeah second question i always ask is if you're talking to somebody that's just getting into a startup or a small business would be the one piece of advice you give them um if somebody's starting i would say get a mentor right right from the back get somebody who has helped other people build a business from this from the ground up uh don't just try it yourself because it'll take you four years where it could have taken you a couple months to figure out exactly what you're doing who you're doing it for what a mission and the vision is and how they differ and how having that strategy set up correctly from the start will help you exponentially yeah in a year no and i think that that mentorship can and be making or as you said have a big impact in other words you can get direction and sometimes a mentor just tells you the things that hey you may not want to do that you may want to slow down here are the mistakes i've learned and sometimes you say appreciate the input i'm going to do it anyway another time it can certainly give you some lessons learned avoiding mistakes and so i think along the way it's certainly worthwhile to have that that mentorship and someone that can be a sounding board can provide guidance and feedback and sometimes put you in a different or better direction so i would say that's a great piece of advice well as we uh wrap up the podcast that people want to reach out to they want to be a customer they want to be a client whether it's in the vr networking or they want you to build an awesome website if you're still doing that if they want to be an employee at some point if they want to be an investor they want to be your next best friend any or all of the above what's the best way to reach out to you contact you find out more i'm always taking friends and i'm always taking more people want to network uh they can go to um you can always reach me out at roberto at conan vr which is the business name c-o-n-i-n-v-r dot com uh and and hopefully i'll get to see you in virtual reality well i definitely encourage people to reach out i think it's a fun place if nothing else to catch up in the in the vr world and uh and uh worthwhile to connect up and and pursue things further so thank you again for coming on the podcast roberto it's been a fun it's been a pleasure now for all of you that are listeners if you have your own journey to tell them you'd like to be guests on the podcast and share your journey feel free to go to apply to be on the show also make is a listener make sure to click subscribe share leave us a review because we want to make sure that everyone finds out about all these awesome episodes and all the journeys that people take and last but not least you ever need help with your pot area for your patents your trademarks or anything else to do business just go to grab some time with us to chat and we're always here to help thank you again roberto and wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last thanks kevin [Music] you

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