In a world that is becoming ever more digital, the opportunity to make millennials’ social lives easier and help people to connect face-to-face easily is what excites me.
Eirini Schlosser is a millennial entrepreneur who serves as CEO and founder of Chuz, a free app that provides a curated guide to local hot spots, where she manages the company’s overall strategy and concept. Eirini handles the company’s capital and investor relations, leveraging her background as part of the Mergers and Acquisitions execution team at Morgan Stanley where she closed over six M&A deals, including the technology sector’s recent Net-a-Porter/Yoox merger. She also holds a Masters degree from London Business School.
Where did the idea for Chuz come from?
Chuz is a mobile app that provides a curated guide of local hot spots with convenient spot discovery to suit mood and proximity. In late 2014, the idea of Chuz came to me as I got tired of managing multiple WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger threads while trying to figure out where to meet my friends for drinks, coffee or food. Finding a spot to go out was an even greater challenge because apps with user-generated content didn’t seem to have trustworthy content as users were often paid or incentivized to write certain reviews. I realized that there is an incredible amount of excellent spot review content in blog and article form that is discoverable with a bit of research. I found that many potential users would prefer that an app do the research for them so that they could access the content and send invites to friends all in one interface. Hence, Chuz was born.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Each day varies immensely and can be quite unpredictable besides set meetings that are planned in advance. As founder and CEO, I’m essentially the glue between each of my team member’s work-streams. This means I’m balancing and coordinating between technology, marketing, content curation, investor relations and other administrative tasks. I love that every morning I can wake up and not know exactly what to expect. What is most productive for me is to start the morning by touching base with each of my team members and outlining all the tasks for the day in bullets via email followed by specific details discussed in Slack, a great productivity manager. This sets my schedule of what I need to coordinate and who I need to speak with in order to make sure everything is progressing as needed.
How do you bring ideas to life?
On a good day, I think of five or six new ideas with regards to Chuz. If something really strikes me I’ll gauge feedback from 10-15 users or potential users before I ever mention anything to my team. This feedback usually helps me refine the idea or even understand whether it is worthwhile to bother the rest of my team about it. If I receive confirmation or encouragement from our target market, we move forward with further planning and testing. This could happen from a tech feature or business marketing perspective.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
In a world that is becoming ever more digital, the opportunity to make millennials’ social lives easier and help people to connect face-to-face easily is what excites me. It is utilizing technology to create a counter trend and bring millennials back to basics (human face-to-face interaction) that are inspiring. The unique thing about millennials is that they actually remember life without the Internet and mobile phones. Based on our surveys, this means they slightly conflict internally on what their most natural way of interaction is. The younger generation is completely comfortable with fully digital communication because they know nothing else. I’m excited to connect millennials back to basics in an efficient manner that turns technology into something they can feel is natural.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My single habit that makes me productive as an entrepreneur is my “low boredom threshold.” My fuel for productivity every day is the opportunity to think of new solutions, face and overcome completely new challenges and adapt as needed. If I was required to do a single task over and over again in a routine manner every day, I simply would not be productive.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Every job I’ve had has been incredibly value-adding and has helped me grow into who I am today. Investment banking with Morgan Stanley’s M&A execution team was my longest-term job. I truly enjoyed the problem-solving nature of the role as well as the opportunity to learn an incredible amount about companies across various industries. I left M&A specifically for my startup Chuz. I realized my learning curve started to slow and I needed to find a career that would allow me to have much more creative and out-of-the-box problem solving along with mass-scale impact and flexibility.
If I have to choose my worst job I would say it was a pre-med internship during my first year in college. The part of medicine I found exciting was surgery, but during my summer internship I came to find that I couldn’t quite stomach surgery and kept fainting while watching. I also realized the other parts of medicine were a bit too routine and predictable for me. I learned that I needed every day to be completely unique and unpredictable to help me stay engaged in a career in the long run. Hence, in combination with my lessons are taken from investment banking, the result is that I finally felt truly “at home” as an entrepreneur.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I think every goal or idea I have tried to work towards has played a part of a learning curve that I needed to surpass in order to move to the next phase. Therefore, there isn’t something I would do differently, but assuming I knew the results, I would have better knowledge as to where to spend more or less of my time and which relationships would prove to be the most valuable. Verbal commitments mean nothing until they are executed on. I very much wish I could have an expert “internal radar” to figure out earlier on who to focus on. However, hindsight is 20-20 so I don’t think that I could have done anything differently.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Figure out what others have done incorrectly and mistakes they have made, then learn from those mistakes to avoid repetition. Figure out what competitors have done correctly and remember it. No idea is original, so I look at what everyone else has already tried and adjust accordingly.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
My business has grown through community engagement and partnerships. Partners are excellent because you can grow your own brand by attaching to a larger one. It really allowed me as an entrepreneur to throw punches above my weight class and then grow into the expectations.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I have never experienced a single large failure, or maybe my definition of failure varies from others’. I have experienced thousands of small day-to-day failures where I would pick myself up and say “okay, what is the worst case that can happen?” I often found that the ‘worst case’ was not actually so bad, which helped me to quickly pull myself out of the failure mindset and push forward positively. Entrepreneurship really pushes your threshold of the “worst case scenario” definition. Since becoming an entrepreneur, I have found that the worst thing that can actually happen to me is death. Everything else no longer scares me. I can risk almost running out of money, I can be without a permanent home, and I can risk not fundraising the funds needed before my business runs out of money. Been there, done that. It is very empowering to know you are the master of your own destiny both psychologically and practically.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
The reason I love the consumer technology industry so much is because of the massive challenges and huge opportunities for growth, impact, and returns. However,the ideas that I often have are potentially much less challenging, far more stable and quickly profitable. One of which I recently find interesting is an alcohol brand distribution business that sources a new foreign liquor into the US and markets it into a new trend. Just as Japanese whiskey quickly became a “thing” and Swedish aquavit also became a “thing,” it is a much simpler business model with which to build a trend, market it, brand it and then sell the business for a small return. Specifically, because I’m half-Greek and have a network within Greece, I would source the Greek “raki” (similar Italian Grappa) which can be served hot with honey or cold. Of course, the liquor business will have unique challenges especially with regulatory issues and alcohol but I think the supply/demand set up is much easier to crack. People will always drink alcohol and culturally, Americans drink a lot of it.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
Very few people know of my latest updates. My personal life and business life (one in the same these days) are fast-changing, prompting me to continuously adapt, grow and learn. Keeping my family updated would only stress them out, so only my closest team members hear my updates on a daily basis since they are the ones on a need to know basis. Otherwise, I’ll catch up with good friends casually when I’m free, but I usually try to avoid discussing only my business.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
As an entrepreneur, I am fascinated by many books, but beyond the classic list, I’ve recently found interest in “The ADHD Advantage.” I came across this book while reading the Forbes article, “ADHD: An Entrepreneur’s Superpower.” I found it extremely interesting because although I was never officially diagnosed with ADHD, the ADHD characteristics reminded me of similar characteristics found to be possessed by a strong entrepreneur. It cites Virgin Group’s Richard Branson, Jet Blue’s David Neeleman and IKEA’s Ingvar Kamprad, who all strongly advocate that their ADHD characteristics were the reason for their entrepreneurial success, specifically their ability to multitask to an intense degree, hyperfocus when they love something and thrive under times of crisis.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Someone who has truly inspired me is Natalie Massanet, founder and former CEO of Net-a-Porter Group. I worked directly with Natalie while working on the Net-a-Porter / Yoox merger during my time at Morgan Stanley. Natalie was incredibly inspiring and impressive, not only as a female entrepreneur but specifically by the quality of the team that she surrounded herself with. It was clear that a good entrepreneur was no stronger than his or her team. The ability to motivate and lead a group of experts, simply serving as the “glue” between them is something that I’ve made my goal as an entrepreneur.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.