Every company can use the assistance of college students – whether it be for sales, marketing, product development, or insight. Every college student needs work experience to complement a degree in order to land a full time position upon graduation. Rich’s mission over the past 6 years has been to connect these two sides.
Rich also manages his own finance publication, as well as contribute to Seeking Alpha. Enhancing financial literacy is a huge goal of his.
Where did the idea for Evolvez come from?
The original concept came when I was in college. It was a culmination of two different situations.
One, I remember my college roommate sitting for hours on Indeed, trying to find an internship. But, he was facing the classic “chicken-egg” dilemma – he needed an internship for experience, but needed experience for an internship. He wasn’t alone – a lot of my peers at the time were stressing about life after college and how they didn’t have much experience yet to show for.
Second, one of my friends was a brand ambassador for a travel company – he was rather successful and made out quite well financially. Doing some initial research, we noticed that there were quite a few companies (ranging from the giants like Google, Microsoft to startups) offering such programs.
Hence, we set out to create a platform matching the two sides – students looking for experience and companies looking to engage students in such ambassador programs!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Here is what my day looks like. In the mornings, I’m an avid reader – news, financial info, marketing reports etc. Then, I check my emails and create an agenda for myself. Throughout the day, my day is full of client calls, student interviews/conversations, development calls, etc. Finally, at the end of the day, I review my agenda, write a bit about how the day went, and clear up my Trello board of “longer term tasks.”
In terms of how I make it productive, well, if you ask my teammates, they’ll say I’m a creature of habit. But the key is to honestly, switch up your schedule from time to time. For example, unless you have urgent calls/meetings, at times, sometimes I get started with work early and then take the afternoon break to read/reflect, etc.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The key is to picture what a completed idea looks like and then working backwards. This way, you will develop actionable tasks that you can accomplish starting now to help you get to that longer-term goal!
What’s one trend that excites you?
The Work From Home movement. Our workforce at Evolvez was already working remotely, but as bad as the pandemic is/was, more people will realize their dreadful commute is something they don’t need to carry out anymore. Companies will also realize HUGE cost savings.
Those (sometimes) hours can be dedicated to more work or time with family/loved ones. Plus, it’s great for the environment too – helping companies reduce their carbon footprings.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I read A LOT – not just content pertaining to my industry, but anything/everything. Reading gives me the opportunity to engage in “passive creativity” – I’m not forcing new ideas, they come out organically from what I read.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Whatever you learned about in school/college of getting good grades and avoiding the dreaded “F,” throw that out the window. In real life, if you don’t fail at least a few times, you haven’t tried hard enough.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I don’t believe in social media and developing your brand. The only social media I’m active on is LinkedIn – trying to promote/advertise your value just takes away from creating your value.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I exercise – once again, pretty general answer, but it couldn’t be truer. The perception of the entrepreneur jacked up on Red Bull, working through the night – life as an entrepreneur doesn’t have to be (and usually isn’t) that way.
Sure there will be long days, but you can add balance by doing a physical activity even for a few minutes to get the positive endorphins flowing.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Focus on your top AND bottom line. You see so many “unicorns” who rely on funding to just keep their operations going in the hopes of a longer-term ideal – all they talk about is top line growth at the expense of negative earnings in the billions year over year.
Sure, growth is sexy, but it’s very rare having a multi-billion dollar company. You are much more likely to be successful if you create a business on sound fundamentals.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Our initial offering of a platform to help companies engage students as ambassadors didn’t work out – noone was using it. We had poured so much money into the development of a platform only to realize it’s not the product that the market wanted.
Hence, we cut our losses and started working on an “agency” basis with our clients. Meaning, our clients hired us to handle everything on their behalf. We then engaged the students, utilizing already public software (like Slack) to manage/execute the ambassador campaigns.
In other words, don’t dwell and try to make something work if it clearly isn’t working. Disconnect your personal emotions when you are making such decisions.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Creating a one year program to help college students improve their financial literacy. Everyone in life is going to make money – from a job, inheritance, etc – so it’s paramount that young, working adults have at least some idea of what it is they should be doing with the money they earn.
This program is something they have to do while they are still college – maybe when they are seniors. It is a sin to me that colleges take tens of thousands of dollars from students, but don’t teach them a lick (unless you are a finance major) about personal wealth management.
I’m going to create this someday but hope you beat me to it!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Okay, so I’m going to give a personal answer and a general answer.
Personal answer: I recently bought a Microsoft Surface Laptop and spent around $70 on a stylus pen for my computer. It has changed everything – I am now able to save all the reports/books that I read with the markings organized directly on my computer.
General answer: Invest in the S&P500 index fund in a Roth IRA. Let that money sit, and over the years it will compound tremendously, which you can take out tax-free after retirement or to buy a house/send a child to college. It’s important to think ahead.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Honestly, everyone should check out Trello. I like how I can structure it, since I can add my “immediate tasks” as well as “longer term tasks” side by side. In the past, I used to write everything down and cross off when I finished, but there was a level of interaction missing. For example, I couldn’t mark it say “half complete” since longer term projects/ideas have a lot of individual parts.
Most importantly though, it is Free – or at least, the free tier allows you to do everything you truly need to keep yourself organized.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
If I had to pick just one, it would be “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. A lot of what you do in entrepreneurship is the mindset and belief, to keep going even if you aren’t seeing “it.”
However, a caveat. The book is at times repetitive, and quite out there with some of its teachings. So take a few lessons with a grain of salt, but regardless, it’s a good practice to read it and just get your mind in the right place.
What is your favorite quote?
I don’t know who said it, but “little by little becomes a lot.”
Every day, work/strive to advance forward and the compound effect will definitely catapult you to new levels. And you don’t have to do much – you just have to do it consistently.
- Failure is an essential ingredient for success.
- Don’t spend to much time promoting your brand. Focus on creating.
- Focus on creating a GOOD business based on solid fundamentals, instead of a high growth startup where you have to rely on funding to just keep the lights on.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.