The following are excerpts from Jay's interview on the Startup Life Hacks podcast. Go here to listen to the full interview.
R (Host, Rommel Cabal) – Interviewer
J (Jay Magpantay) – Interviewee
About Life & Work Balance
J: Okay. Well, as far as my personal life goes, I don’t have too much of a personal life to be honest because I’m always just focus on grinding on my business. I spend nights up working until about two or three and I get up early at about six or seven to go to work. Then, as far as my business goes. . . I have several projects running at all times and it’s kinda crazy because I don’t get so far into one project before my mind goes often into a tangent and wants it to build on something else. It’s just that crazy entrepreneurial itch that all us, crazy entrepreneurs have.
But it’s the hard thing to find a balance between the two because when you’re so obsessed over growing your business, it’s really hard to find that balance but you really gonna have force it— force yourself to have fun and do things that you can feed your soul, so to speak.
R: If it doesn’t get scheduled, it doesn’t get done?
J: Right! Yeah, absolutely! You have to schedule some personal time. Actually, I have scheduled time where, ‘Okay from this day, from this time to this time I purposely don’t do anything’. Purposely put the laptop away, put the books away, and just do something not business-oriented.
Because like they say, “All the time entrepreneurs are really crazy. We think so different. We work a 100 hours a week just so we can avoid working 40 hours for somebody else”. But it’s… yeah I know, it’s definitely an obsession I have and really like you have to feed your soul because otherwise [ laughs ] it would really kill you.
On The Transition From Employee To Entrepreneurship
R: What was your upbringing like? What was your professional and personal history that makes you perfect of what you’re doing right now?
J: My upbringing is, it’s just, you know, a very family oriented. Everybody works very hard but nobody was really entrepreneurial. So, for me, I followed suit. I was a very hard worker— I’ve learned that from my upbringing— and I applied that to my business where was I’m always hard working in my business.
But, also without the mentorship or the guidance or of having someone to follow on how to did it in front of me, you know, it’s a little hard and I had a lot of failures as far as my professional background goes.
I mean, I was in a Navy as an Electronics technician. I’ve worked for Raytheon, which is a big defense contractor for US Government and in the aerospace industry [with UTAS]. So, I have a lot of technical background.
To combine the technical background with my formal education, which is in business and in marketing applying to that what I’m today, which is focusing on building businesses online and helping companies build an online presence, I think it really just kinda follows where it’s a beautiful blend between the two expertise, expert fields I guess you could say I have – which is you know being technical and know that technical aspect of online stuff and then of course the marketing and sales aspect from my education. So, I think it’s a good blend and I think I found the right spot for myself.
On Idols Growing Up
R: So speaking to mentorship, most of us had an idol when we’re growing up. Who was that someone that you looked up to or currently look-up to right now?
J: Okay. So, as what I’ve said, ‘I’m so family oriented’. I’m still upbringing family oriented. I guess you can say I’ve looked up to my grandpa and my uncle.
My grandpa because he was. . . he taught us the value of family. I really have a big family and Rommel, I know you have a big family too. We’re all fairly close, we are very very close actually.
In comparison to a lot of other family is where everyone is spread apart, nobody sees each other for a months or maybe years. I see my family on a regular basis and I’m super happy to see all of them all the time. That’s the kind of legacy that my grandpa left.
Now, my uncle, my grandpa’s first son. He was the first to join the navy from the Philippines. So, when he did that he was able to join the US Navy, and he petitioned all of our family to come over to the United States.
Now, it’s not so much of what my grandpa and uncle did, but more on the legacy that they left behind. I feel I have such big footsteps to fill that I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed in business.
Our family as I’ve said, my family being mostly employees – hard working employees – I’m lookin' to be the one to take it to the next level.
The big, driving forces for me to succeed and to do bigger things outside of being an employee is to leave my legacy – something that I can build and pass down to the rest of my family, something that my family can really be proud of.
The Start Of The Entrepreneurial Obsession
R: So how were you able to choose your founders and, if you had no partners, what made you decide to initially pursue this venture on your own?
J: Okay. Well, I’m a bit of an artist. My very first business venture was putting my graphics; putting my designs on clothing.
I started a company called, EZDSIT. I was out at sea and I was just doodling in my black book. Then, it just gonna came to me like,
"I like to do this. I like to draw. I like to be artistic and creative, so why won’t I put this on t shirt and sell it. I would love to see random strangers wearing my stuff".
And that for me was the very first goal I had when I started my business.
Then of course when that happens and when you start to see it, then you just create bigger goals for yourself. You just go on to the next and you're just constantly stacking wins.
Of course you stack losses on the way there, but definitely, it started from just a passion.
That’s basically why I started my first business. It was just because I’m passionate about doing something and I wanted to find out. . . I didn’t even try to find out, an idea just came for me to monetize it.
On The First Mini Success
R: How was it like when you made your first sale?
J: Okay. Well, when you make your first sale it’s usually to family and friends.
You know, that’s cool because you know your homies support you, your family supports you.
At the same time you also get the kind of support that’s kinda fake where, “Oh I’ll support you! Hook me up some free stuff” or “What’s up with the discounts?” You know what I mean? That’s one thing I gotta be honest with.
When you start a business a lot of people are gonna want hand-outs, want freebies. You gotta stick to your guns and be true to yourself, because you’re putting time, money, effort, into building something; creating something.
Then for you to just give it away like that for free to people that should be truly supporting you? It’s really a hard thing to say no to. But at the same time, you do have this relationships that you wanna nurture and you know you hook up people you know you can.
Just bringing back to the original question, I’ve made sales overseas to people I didn’t know in my sleep, and that’s a great feeling! Yeah, that comes when putting up a business online, definitely.
On The Low Parts Of Entrepreneurship
R: So take us back to your worst moment as an entrepreneur and the lessons that you’ve learned at that moment.
J: Okay. So I reference my first company EZDSIT... I grew this business from my backyard and I eventually grew it to a fully operational workshop in Santee. It had automatic presses, it had the works when I was at the peak of my business.
Well I end up doing though was, I got to the level where, ‘Okay, now all this machines are all working; they are all turning but I still try to do most of the work on my own’.
What that did for me was, it took me away from what I was best at, which is—going out and building customer relationships and going out and making sales—because it’s a scary thing to hire somebody full time. You know, just having that liability over your shoulders.
Also. . . at $9 an hour, which it was at that time, $9 an hour times 40 hours a week that’s 360 a week or close to like almost, what? 14 to 1500 a month for one person? There’s a learning curve there and when there’s a lot of work coming in you don’t want. . . you can’t afford really in any setbacks.
The lesson I took from that is, don’t try to do everything under on your own. Good entrepreneurs leverages other people. If your time is better served doing something else, you have to do the thing that’s gonna benefit your business.
You know, me, trying to do everything at once, again as I’ve said, “It took me away from what I was doing best” and eventually lost a steady flow of customers and sales were going down and eventually I had to close up shop.
R: I mean, what’s best is just that you just played your strengths and delegate the rest. . .
J: Absolutely! That was a good entrepreneur does. I mean, it was a hard lesson learned. I was bombarded at that time, but now looking back at it, it was absolutely the lesson that I had to learn that way because I was trying to do everything on my own.
You know, when it’s your company, it’s your baby. You're a perfectionist; you want things done your way; you’re a little bit of control freak and you have to learn that good is sometimes good enough and not everything has to be perfect. You have to be willing to throw some money into your business because that’s the only real way it’s gonna grow.
On The Big Successes
R: So we’ve talk about your worst entrepreneur moment. Now tell us a huge success you had as an entrepreneur.
J: Okay. Well you know, that was my worst failure that I would say– what I just mentioned. But right before that was easily my best success because I had built a business from my backyard to this big industrial work space in Santee.
Just taking a look back of some of the pictures—I do this from time to time I look back to the pictures, my shop and all different orders that come through.
Actually, I still hold onto some of my high value clients like the VFW, The American Legion and San Diego County. So these big companies that I used to work with, these big clients, they funded my growth.
You don’t think about landing those such big clients but you just go onto your business and you just never know that can happen as long as you’re doing it right. Good things are bouncing, right?
I’m very proud of being able to do that all of my own. Of course, I had help here and there. When work gets tough you ask for a little help but. . . For the most part I’m very proud of doing that . . .
[R: Making these all connections.]
J: . . . Yeah! Making these all connections and growing from a $2,000 investment to making a $40,000 investment into some equipment, that’s just the way I scaled up in just a matter of two years was... Looking back by it, I’ll be *** [ words unclear ] The problem was, I just wasn’t able to sustain it.
On The Vision Of Your Business
R: What is your vision for your organization five years from now?
J: Okay. So I have three projects going on, three projects that I’m, you know, a lot of my focus is split between. Man, if you gonna give me five years, I’m gonna say six figures coming in from all three streams.
I mean, that’s the mindset right you gonna think big. Definitely in five years, you’ll gonna see some real big cash flow coming in in five years.
What I do see for myself is more just. . .I’m putting into hard work and effort right now. I’m front loading my time. And if I could share some advice, everything you’re doing as an entrepreneur today, like if you’re doing something that’s regular. . .
Let’s say for example, a part of my business is delivering financial policies. It’s the same thing over and over again. If it’s the same thing over and over again, write a document; systemize it so that you could give to somebody else, so they could do it; so they can learn, and you could step away and not do that anymore.
So if something is repetitive, you’re doing something over and over again and it’s something that can be taught then teach it, teach it to somebody. Give it to somebody else because your time as an entrepreneur is much more valuable than doing the mandating task.
On The Most Valuable Trait Of Successful Entrepreneurs
R: So I’d like to ask you, what is your ‘Entrepreneurial Super Power’? In other words, what is your greatest strength?
J: Oh man okay so well thinking about superheros the first thing that comes to mind is the Avengers. In the Avengers, my favorite superhero is Captain America (1) ‘coz he’s a patriot like myself and; (2) ‘coz he’s just the boss of all them, not really the boss but it’s kinda like the leader.
If I have an entrepreneur power, shoot man, that would definitely have to be the, just crazy determination.
You know I’ve been... I’ve had my fair share of failures and. . . It’s just I take the hits and I keep comin.
You know, there’s a resiliency there. If I’m not the best at one particular thing, then find a way to make it work or find the right person that does know and I’ll hire them.
So, it’s being able to get knocked down and still maintain focus and keep your eye on the prize and still have the wear of all thoughts to just keep going.
I mean, mindset is something that’s often underestimated and often under talked about. I think, if you have the right mindset you can get through a lot of different things.
One Piece Of Advice For Listeners
R: So knowing what you know now, what is one advice that you could tell to our listeners that are struggling to make that leap into entrepreneurship.
J: Okay. So again, I’m a big proponent of fixing your mindset. One thing you can do today is that, write down all the things that you want in your life. If you want a big house, be specific – how many stories; how many rooms; do you have a pool; do you have 3-4 car garage. If it’s a car, be specific again – what kind of car; what kind of year; what’s the sound it makes; how does it smell; what color is it. All these different things, write them down. When you write them down, it changes from dreams to actual goals.
Now put these goals somewhere you can see them. Whether would it be on the refrigerator, on your nightstand, even like in the the bathroom mirror so that you see it. When you see your goals, your mind you’re always thinking. . . If you’re thinking and obsessing on it, then you’re gonna do what you need to do to get there, and you start to reverse engineer it.
So if you. . . Let’s say for example, I don’t want a Lamborghini but if I did, I know it’s gonna cost me a six figures, six-figure number just to pay for a car. Is my job gonna let me do that? No! So what do I do? I gotta do something else outside of my job. Okay, and then, what can I do outside on my job to get me that six figure so I can buy a Lamborghini?. . . Or well, maybe I can start a business? What business? Something I love at least... You know... reverse engineer it.
[ R: You start to filling on the blanks ]
J: Right! Work backwards from what you wanna out in your life. Don’t just start a business for the sake of starting a business. Have some goals, because the goals again are what’s gonna keep you driving forward.
If you liked this excerpt, listen to the full interview on the Startup Life Hacks Podcast and check out the other episodes that share startup knowledge for college entrepreneurs.