Jump Finance Spotlight

Winter 2019 Austin Elevate My Business Challenge: 2nd Place Winner

Pitch Link: https://vimeo.com/329696489/f2f5bb63c7

Company Bio: Jump Finance partners with financial institutions to offer students in developing countries educational loans at fair, transparent rates, empowering them to complete their studies and pursue their dreams.

John William Meyer’s company truly started when his 22-year-old father decided to join the Peace Corps in 1967. Inspired by his father’s stories, John Willam followed in his footsteps and joined the Peace Corps to serve in Peru from 2010-2012 as a youth development volunteer. In this role, he trained youth health promoters, taught in the schools, and helped inspire local youth leaders in the community. While serving, John William observed the struggles that his students faced financially in pursuing their education. Many of his students would start attending college but were forced to drop out when they could no longer afford tuition and they had to get a job to support themselves and their family. With this problem in mind, John William realized that there was an opportunity to support these people by financing their post-secondary education. This is when Jump Finance was born.

In the past two years, John has been in the ideation stage of his business. He started to gain traction in 2019 when he won the City of Austin Fast Start Fintech competition. After a busy 2019 that included building their proprietary smartphone application and working to find financial and educational institution partners, the Jump Finance pilot program is set to launch later this year in The Gambia, West Africa (where John William’s father served as a Peace Corps volunteer).

Samba Bah, who works on John’s team for business development, was a professor at The Gambia University and knows firsthand how difficult tuition payments can be for students. Samba explains that a college tuition can be up to 80% of household income. It can be almost impossible for someone to be able to pay this up front, which leads to a number of students dropping out in order to find any job that can pay them to get by. This is where Jump Finance comes in to provide affordable loans.

Throughout the process of developing Jump Finance, John William has had meaningful accomplishments. One major milestone was winning the National Peace Corps Association Innovation For Good contest. Winning the approval from the Peace Corps meant a lot to him. John William is most proud of the team that works with him. Each and every member of the team brings something special that gets Jump Finance closer to achieving their mission.

While the team has made a lot of progress, it has not come without its fair share of challenges. The first was the difficulty of launching a pilot program in an area so far away. Progress can stall, especially if you are not on the same continent as your target market. To overcome this issue, it is crucial to partner with the right organizations in other countries. John William has had to navigate around many diverse business cultures to secure these partnerships. The next big initiative moving forward for Jump Finance is to finalize a deal with a financial institution to back up these loans.

John William credits his participation in the Elevate My Business Challenge as one of the major catalysts that has helped grow his company. The one-on-one coaching calls with LIFT have been invaluable to John. He was able to use these calls as a way to strategize and determine next steps to take. This is one of the many reasons why John William decided to join. Being able to leverage the coaches’ knowledge allowed John William to develop his business model. Since winning second place, John has seen major changes to his company.

Many companies fail because they don’t ask or seek for help, but in John William’s case he is more than happy to go find help when he believes things are slowing in the company. Within the next five years, Jump Finance hopes to be the industry leader across Africa in providing student loans. To accomplish this ambitious five-year plan, their biggest initiative will be to continue to make connections so they can expand across the continent. John William is hoping to develop a competitive advantage in the market by being more flexible compared to other lending institutions. Other players in the market seem to only deal with students that have a secure income and credit score. By being too risk averse, it is hard for them to make an impact in these regions. Jump Finance’s goal is to disrupt this status quo and help banks make loans to students they wouldn’t have otherwise made.

John William’s key piece of advice that he wanted to share with other entrepreneurs is “to not be afraid to ask for help.” He says that you should never turn down any meeting or connection with anyone. By listening to so many different voices, John William is able to expand his vision of what Jump Finance can be. Some people will be able to help you in ways that you never could imagine.

LIFT Development Enterprises is very proud of John William and all that he has accomplished so far. The social impact that he will have on thousands of students is astounding. We salute John William on his mission, and we are excited to see what the future holds for Jump Finance. Check out Jump Finance and learn more about their mission at jump-finance.com.

Rowlbertos Media Spotlight

Fall 2018 South Bay Elevate My Business Challenge: 2nd Place Pitch Winner

Pitch Video Link: https://vimeo.com/310169637/ba148ee892

Company Bio: Rowlbertos Media provides video production and content creation services, from pre-production to post. They help with the inception of the idea to execution of physical production and editing. They focus on music, travel, and lifestyle content that has dynamic imagery, effective messaging, and storytelling. They serve businesses with a marketing strategy that are looking to grow their brand, expand their online presence, and engage more effectively with their audience and customers.

By the time Robert Knauf had graduated from Cal State San Marcos, he was eager and hungry to work in video production. At the same time, the need for video was starting to emerge in businesses across the nation. The market opportunity for video production was growing at an exponential rate. Robert emerged as a production manager working under a mentor who took him under her wing. The light bulb suddenly lit up for Robert.  He realized he could combine his knowledge of video production and business to create a company of his own.

Robert’s business partner, Andrew Rowley, decided that they could cut out the middleman by combining their talents to form a general partnership. Then in 2010, Rowlbertos Media was born. Two years later in 2012, they changed their business formation as an LLC, in order to perform more as a media production company.

Video technology has evolved to the point where it has become a vital part of everyone’s day-to-day life. Nowadays, businesses rely on videos to communicate their companies’ story. Video is able to connect and communicate in a more personal way than other mediums. It helps strengthen the interaction between business and consumer. An early problem that Rowlbertos Media faced was figuring out how to communicate to businesses that in order for their brand to flourish, they would need to enhance their marketing strategy with high-quality video.

Thankfully, many companies were soon approaching Rowlbertos. These companies sought help in fulfilling their marketing needs and entrusted Rowlbertos to deliver state of the art, visually compelling videos. Some of the most impactful videos that Rowlbertos Media has created thus far include videos made for San Diego State University.

The milestones and accomplishments began to accumulate for Rowlbertos. Being able to work with the likes of Tony Gwynn Jr., Steve Fisher, and Ralph Rubio, has been both humbling and rewarding for Robert. Working with San Diego icons has inspired Robert to become a San Diego leader in the near future. However, he has faced his share of struggles and obstacles. One roadblock for the team was conducting sales. They were not attracting the right clientele since there was a misconception of what video marketing entailed. While this may have been a struggle at first, they quickly realized they needed to invest in the right sales team members.

Another major roadblock that has been challenging for Rowlbertos is that the need for video has evolved so quickly. One would think that this would be a great thing for them, but it actually led to a few issues. Many marketing companies now like to handle video production in-house, or they attempt to find cheaper alternatives, like a one-man, college student with a nice camera. In order to combat this issue, Robert has had to show why their expertise, team, and resources allow them to create a video that replicates that company’s vision. Whereas, a cheaper alternative will not be able to match the style of a company’s brand.

All of these struggles with competition and hiring sales people has made Rowlbertos Media rethink their approach and continually remain creative at finding solutions. Wearing many hats for your company can be stressful while also making it difficult to scale. Instead it is important to delegate tasks. It helps to have a team of highly skilled individuals with their own skill sets and things to focus on.

Crafting a unique selling proposition is necessary to beat out competitors, and it can also assist in building up your own credibility. Robert was intrigued at the chance of joining the North County Elevate My Business Challenge in order to prevent the company from stagnating. In order to work on running the company to its fullest potential, there needed to be a larger focus on taking the right growth steps. Having a dedicated date and time helped Robert hold himself accountable throughout the process of the program. The ability to view his business from a deeper perspective allowed Robert to see the big picture. Being deep into the weeds and trenches of day-to-day business activities had previously prevented Robert from thinking about the future.

Robert thanked the EMBC for inspiring him to think about his growth plan while also providing step-by-step initiatives to reach the next level. Upon graduation, he has been able to bring on a new team member to handle social media. Delegating these tasks to other members of the team has made Robert’s life a lot easier. Too many entrepreneurs make the common mistake of wearing too many hats in their company. As new challenges and competitors emerge throughout the industry, Robert has had to think about his value proposition. Having increased competition should be the catalyst that forces them to step up their game. However, Robert feels very confident and prepared to grow his company. He has faith in his company and it’s primarily because of the quality and top-of-the-line video content he has been able to deliver with Rowlbertos Media.

In the next five years, Robert believes that they will consistently be reaching $1 million in revenues and at least triple the size of the team. Being able to evolve into a larger production company will allow them some leeway and control over audio mixing, pre and post production, creative brainstorming, and much more. The goal is to work with some of the largest companies in the world, by creating higher quality content. Robert has learned when to say no, which has led to more wins for the company. In the past, Robert may have stretched himself too thin, but now he has a better understanding about the components that will support Rowlbertos Media during its growth phase.

It is quite remarkable to see how much Rowlbertos Media has grown in the San Diego region alone. They believe the sky’s the limit and plan to reach larger markets like Los Angeles, and possibly expand across the nation. A strong piece of advice Robert has for fellow entrepreneurs is to seek knowledge from others while also going into things with an open mind. It can be easy to run your business through your biases, but if you are willing to open up your business to new perspectives then you are able to spot gaps that you never noticed before. Passion is also crucial. Robert was always passionate about videos and creating art through video production. It took him some time to realize that he also has to have that same level of passion for the business side of things – especially if he wants to see his company grow. It can be easy for entrepreneurs to neglect their finances, marketing, and sales, and become too focused on the craft or the expertise they love. Most companies tend to stagnate by not taking care of their business. Falling in love with the process of business allows you to keep things fresh. It is crucial to treat your business like a person that needs constant care. By taking time to give your company a check-up, you dramatically increase the health of your business by spotting concerns ahead of time. In the span of a year they have dramatically grown as a company. It is only a matter of time before you see Rowlbertos making the next Nike commercial! But until then, be sure to check out Rowlbertos Media for your video production needs!

Intuitive Edge Spotlight

Fall 2018 Dallas Elevate My Business Challenge: 2nd Place Winner

Pitch Link: https://vimeo.com/309916553/8d19e64829

Company Bio: Intuitive Edge offers an alternative to traditional legal services by providing unique legal consulting, contract management, and contract administration services for enterprises. Intuitive Edge helps companies optimize their contract management programs, completes post M&A transition projects, and performs on-going contracts management and administration services.

Lisa Scott worked for a large telecom company for over 15 years. Even though she was a lawyer, she began to work in a non-legal role in strategic sourcing. There she learned how large companies purchase from smaller ones. Having all of this experience, Lisa came to the conclusion that she could replicate her skills with her own company – Intuitive Edge.

At first, Intuitive Edge focused on the legal consulting aspect by bridging the gap between legal, corporate development, and sourcing. As the company began to grow, they realized they could expand their services. They specialized in contracts, but now they offer fractional general counseling services and legal services as needed. There are two main market segments – for small businesses and larger companies.

The main issue that small businesses face is that they are forced to pay a lot of money for legal services. Intuitive Edge can be more accessible to the small business whereas competitors would not be able to give this level of hands on guidance. The goal is to get to know the business and develop a long-lasting relationship to make it feel like they are a part of their team. For the larger companies, their biggest issue is that they do not have the bandwidth to conduct their own services.

Being a more affordable alternative gives flexibility to these companies, small and large. There are different consulting needs that vary between these larger and smaller companies. The small businesses need a lot of “hand holding,” whereas the larger companies need more detailed care in order to navigate all sectors of the company’s environment.

Lisa has reached many different milestones, but the one that sticks out the most is the contract she secured with Dell. She spent a grueling 18 months conducting numerous business development activities in order to get the deal done. This was a huge reward for Lisa and a testament to her work ethic. There were times where she could have given up, but she did not let any of the roadblocks stop her. Since winning second place at the Dallas EMBC pitch day, Lisa has been able to double what she has done in the past year.

So much effort went into finding new clients that she almost burned out. She had to overcome many obstacles to get to the place where she is today. She says that once she started her company in 2015 that the first two years were a struggle to figure everything out. The first year she did not know how to convey her value proposition, and how to effectively communicate to her target market. Through trial and error, Lisa was able to build her customer base because she developed an actual process of how to conduct business. She is thankful for these original growing pains because it forced her to think outside the box.

Lisa joined the 2018 Dallas EMBC to hone in on how she could become a better CEO. By addressing these gaps, she learned how to account for the voids. At first, Lisa said she was a CEO on paper, but she did not feel like a real CEO. She had an intuition about running her own business, hence the name Intuitive Edge, but she was missing a plan for where to take the company. Her vision was too nearsighted, but the Challenge gave her the opportunity to develop a long-term strategy. One of the tools that has had the largest impact on her business has been the Small Business Improvement Model Canvas; that helped her see how all these key pieces of her business intersect. Lisa had never pitched before either. Being able to force herself to communicate the business story in a pitch increased her confidence of how she comes across to brand new people. Since the pitch she has doubled her revenue with the knowledge she gained of how to implement a sales funnel. After the one-on-one coaching with LIFT, Lisa was able to incorporate the necessary tactics that fueled her growth.

Moving forward Lisa feels pretty confident that she will be able to grow and develop her team. Her ability to find larger clientele is the key to her growth. She has already begun the process of developing relationships with more and more companies. One of the most important things Lisa has done is to provide value and develop trust with some of these clients. In the next five years, Lisa believes that Intuitive Edge will become a multimillion dollar company because once she accumulates higher contracts there will be a snowball effect. Throughout the years Lisa has been building to get to this point. Her hard work has put her in a position where the trajectory of the company will continue to grow.

Lisa’s advice for other entrepreneurs is to always network and partner with the right people who you can bring value to. Down the line these relationships you have built will come back to your company in tremendous ways. Trust is the most important foundation to a healthy business relationship. Not only that, but Lisa says that you should be overly persistent by not giving up after every no. Lisa’s put her faith into the business, and during some of the hardships she could have just quit, but she wants to see it through.

Intuitive Edge has reached new heights in a short amount of time. We know that this is not the end, because the sky’s the limit for Lisa. Check out Intuitive Edge and see if legal consulting services are right for you business!