Alexander Guizzetti is the President of 9d Ventures and is based in Scottsdale, Arizona. A native of the Midwest, Guizzetti has ultimately made his home in the Southwest and continues to develop new businesses in the region.
9d Ventures is a privately held company in the venture capital and private equity space. Alex Guizzetti began this to continue his entrepreneurial endeavors, which he’s been continually developing since college.
Guizzetti’s first business outside of school was RedEx Media, a privately held company that builds and maintains communications platforms for a variety of use cases. Alex Guizzetti first founded the company in October 2012, after developing the concept during his final year of undergraduate college. The company has developed several websites, and while some have shut down, the core products have experienced substantial growth since inception. Today, Guizzetti is the company’s President and continues to be involved in the day-to-day operations.
In addition to founding RedEx Media and 9d Ventures, Alex Guizzetti also is currently working on another venture, hoping to launch in Q2 of 2021. DirectMessage.me will be a communications platform that connects fans with many types of celebrities and influencers.
Before launching 9d Ventures, Alex Guizzetti briefly worked for The Vanguard Group for a little more than a year. It was this job that he moved to Arizona for, and he passed the FINRA Series 7 and Series 63 exams for this position. Guizzetti also holds an active real estate license for Arizona.
Guizzetti attended college in his home region of the Midwest, graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012. He finished his undergraduate program with a dual major in Business Management, and Real Estate & Urban Economics. Guizzetti also completed a certificate in Entrepreneurship at the University of Wisconsin, and it’s that coursework has proved invaluable as he’s developed various businesses.
When not starting a new business or growing an existing one, Alex Guizzetti enjoys walking his dog “Scooter,” working out, golfing, motorcycling, and biking.
Where did the idea for 9d Ventures come from?
Since founding 9d Ventures in 2020, I’ve dabbled in the ideation process of several new businesses, but it’s something I started actively doing nearly a decade ago in college.
In my opinion, the best ideas come from experiencing frustration, whether it’s in your personal life or professional life. I often think to myself, “there has to be a better way than this, right?”. I then go do some research to see what else there is in the market and I’m often surprised by the results. In some cases, I find there is an existing solution to my problem and I’m thoroughly impressed by the intuition of others to proactively solve a problem. In many cases, what’s currently out in the market is an established brand but with its success has become less agile and therefore may have not adopted change as quickly to improve their products. I remember my college professor saying something along these lines, “large established businesses are like giant cargo ships, they have a ton of momentum and stay the course. Small startups are like jet skis, they are way more agile and have to make more pivots to get to the destination but oftentimes they can get there faster”. I love the idea of lean, agile businesses disrupting larger entities (I would also much rather rip around on a jet ski than a cargo ship). This is where true innovation often comes from.
I’m always on the hunt for early-stage startups with solid pitch decks that are looking for seed round funding or Series A raises so don’t hesitate to reach out!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’ve never been a morning person, so I rarely set an alarm unless absolutely necessary—this is a major perk of being self-employed. On an average day, I’m up between 7-8 AM and start by checking my Slack messages. Because we employ people all over the world spanning several time zones, they are on and asking questions at different times. So, when I’m waking up, it’s the tail end of some of our employees’ days. I like to address their queries before they wrap up so can be productive the following day without any blockers.
Once that is addressed, I like to relax a bit and settle my mind. This is when I usually catch up
on the news and stock market while having a cold brew coffee. I’ll try and get a workout in, and then I’ll get ready to go to the office.
Once I’m at the office, I check in with the on-shore development team and support staff. Many are local but working from home still due to COVID. I’ll then go through my email inboxes.
Once that’s all done, I review my calendar for the day and create a daily task list for high-priority items. I find it beneficial to physically write down my daily tasks on a legal pad so it’s out in front of me all day. There is something rewarding when you’re able to cross off things off on a piece of paper, as opposed to something on a digital checklist. I like to utilize Asana for larger tasks and tasks that require collaboration.
From there, I keep my head down (but with good posture, of course) and work until lunch. We have a solid food court by our office, but I find myself going to Chipotle several times a week (I highly recommend trying the new cauliflower rice). I like to set my meetings for the early afternoon, as I feel I’m most present after knocking stuff out in the morning. There is nothing worse than taking a meeting or phone call when you can’t focus because there are things pressing on your mind.
I’ll stay in the office until around 5 or 6 PM. But, before I leave, I’ll create a new list for the following day for items that I wasn’t able to get to.
I know it’s cliché, but there is nothing like coming home to your dog who is always excited to see you, regardless of the type of day you had. We’ll go on a walk through the park I live by and I let Scooter pick where he wants to go each day. I’m lucky to live by a park system in Scottsdale where you can walk for miles in either direction.
After relaxing and watching some TV, I’ll start part two of my workday around 9 PM each night. This is when part of our staff is starting their days and they often have queries that need to be addressed. Usually, I’m able to handle this via Slack, but I can also hop on a Zoom call really anytime until I go to bed. On days we have a release scheduled to go on one of the websites, I’ll stay up until around 2 AM to make sure the release was successful. After getting some sleep, I’ll start the process over again!
How do you bring ideas to life?
When an idea comes to mind, big or small, I like to start a note in my phone. This is helpful because I won’t forget it, and I can expand on the idea later. Many ideas die shortly after putting the note down, but the ones that have merit usually grow much bigger than their original scope. I keep building on these ideas by revisiting the note with iterative ideas and challenges. I want to make sure I consider all issues or risks I’d face if we were to go forward with the idea. I also make a checklist of what we need to accomplish the idea to see how much work it’s going to take to get us there.
Assuming there is merit to the idea, whether it’s a new business entirely or just a new feature on a website, I like to go to our UX/UI team to mockup a logo or layout and see how it looks on screen. For me, seeing something visually (a basic prototype of sorts) helps solidify whether the idea is worth pursuing. There have been plenty of times when I’ve seen the idea for the first time visually and realized how terrible of an idea it was.
In general, start small, but think big. Build on all ideas that have merit, but don’t be afraid to shelve the ones that don’t and never stop imagining.
What’s one trend that excites you?
COVID-19 stretched us all in a lot of ways. Although most were forced into it, I’m fascinated by new and creative ways people are connecting via various websites, apps, groups, etc.
More than ever, people are connecting outside of traditional social media and I think that is exciting. It gives us a chance to explore new frontiers, rather than just sticking with familiar territory.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Exercise to help maintain a healthy work-life balance is probably my biggest tip for improving productivity. Some of the things you do outside of work make you the most productive at work. It might not seem related, but your brain really needs that break.
Staying on target and really focused on how I allocate my time is crucial. My schedule is too busy to fall behind. And, it’s a common misconception that “me time” isn’t productive time.
Starting with a quiet morning, socializing with colleagues and friends, or walking my dog at night are highly productive parts of my day that help me refuel for meetings or other work-related tasks.
If you try to stay in high gear all day, you are going to be stressed and face burnout. If you aren’t physically active and just sitting at a desk most of the day you are going to feel more drained and fatigued. And, if you stare at a screen all day, you will face mental fatigue. Exercise really addresses all three of these areas, so it’s actually an extremely productive activity. I like to do more high-intensity things in the morning and a more calming walk with my dog for a break later in the day.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Trust your instincts. Take more risks.
When you are young, there is a weird dynamic at play. You feel invincible because you haven’t met real failure yet. But, you also listen to what people say and worry that you aren’t good enough. When you finally realize that failure isn’t the end—it’s just a stepping stone on the journey—you are able to do big things.
No one likes to fail. But there are two things worse than failing: never trying in the first place or not realizing failure so you can learn. The failing part itself is uncomfortable, but it’s how you build yourself up.
Your instincts are never free of your second-guesses and overthinking but when you have a strong gut feeling that something is a good idea, move on it.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day. Lunch is.
You hear over and over that breakfast is essential. I often skip breakfast and hold off eating anything until lunch. Lunch foods are more varied but can still be light and delicious. Plus, lunch is when you can connect with other professionals and it’s not weird.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Make lists and follow-up.
You are probably going to walk away from reading this interview and not change a thing. But, I really can’t stress how much lists help me stay on-task throughout the day.
You don’t have to break it into a minute-by-minute schedule. But, the list helps you prioritize and see what exactly is on your plate. It’s a great reminder to keep you going when mid-day fatigue starts to kick in. And, it helps you say no. When you know your list is full, it’s a lot easier to delegate tasks and turn down things that aren’t going to fit.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Put the people using your product first. Keeping your ear to the ground with those using your product is essential in understanding how it’s being used and problems they might experience. You may find your product is being used in ways you may have not thought of. This gives you ideas to make continual improvements or even launch something new.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
This is a tough one. It’s like being asked, “What is your biggest failure?” by a future employer.
Who likes to dwell on their weak points? I guess I’d say not fully following my instincts and just going with the flow. Sometimes, you have a gut feeling you know you should follow, and then you “outthink” yourself. It’s hard to find that balance between being responsible enough to fully think through an idea and being so analytical that you miss the underlying truth.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A bank that only services vice industries. I’m sure there would be a lot of red tape and side-eyeing, but there you have it. If you can figure out the compliance and regulatory issues, it would be a lucrative business seeing how underserved some industries currently are. I personally have it shelved…for now.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A golf lesson. Golf can be a relaxing and mindful activity if you know what you’re doing. Plus, it’s often a great way to network. If you’re slicing the ball out of bounds on every other hole, the lesson will more than pay for itself.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Slack: Great for messaging and keeping in contact with my team.
Asana: Helpful for tracking specific projects, delegating, and collaborating.
Google Sheets: Good for sharing information quickly and less hassle than emailing.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The Obstacle is the Way” by Ryan Holiday. It’s an easy read and applicable to entrepreneurs at every level. It dives into how you can choose to look at the good parts of any bad thing in your life. It helps you see failures are highly valuable experiences.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.