Community Highlight:
Entrepreneur Alejandro Rioja

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Alejandro Rioja is a serial entrepreneur from Bolivia living in LA. He founded Flux Ventures, a series of companies like Flux Chargers and the digital agency FLUX.LA.

You’re involved in so many cool ventures, what does a regular day look like?

I’m still in school at UCLA, so I divide my day between working and studying. My business is Flux Ventures. We currently have a series of companies, and the main two companies that are most prominent are: Flux Chargers, which is a portable charger, and Flux.LA, which does marketing and SEO. So, I pass between the marketing for Flux Chargers, doing the marketing for one of our clients, and Flux.LA.

Flux Chargers are getting amazing reviews around the world, how did you start it?

We just started cold emailing a lot of the press articles that we saw on Google and we just kept following up until one of the guys replied, and then everything else went just kind of like a snowball effect. Once one of the Digital Trends guys talked about us, everyone else started following that trend.

What advantages does Flux Chargers uniquely provide?

Our chargers are one of the very few that come with built-in cables. So, we are not a phone case, we are an external battery that caters to both iPhone and Android, out of the box. With a lot of the chargers you need an extra cable and they’re a lot bulkier. So, our main value of proposition was we wanted to make something that was portable, easy to put in your pocket, and also look good. What really got us to the level we are right now is our competitive pricing. The market is segmented on basically two sides. On one of them are the overpriced chargers, like Mophie, that go for $99, and then there are very, very cheap chargers that break between one or two uses. So, we decided to hit that middle market with an affordable price and really good quality.

So, what motivated you to get into this line of work in the first place?

This idea came out of me and my friend going to a party and running out of battery. It was a common thing for us to do because we are always on our phone, and towards the end of the day – like 6 or 7pm – our phones will die. So, we wanted to come up with some sort of a solution to charge our phones and we looked into the market and we saw that we didn’t have a charger 1) because they were expensive, and 2) because they were real bulky and really hard to put into your pocket, or wallet, or something like that. So, the original idea was to come up with a device that will at least give you 10% or 15% battery and it turns out we were able to get one full charge out of that, and the current version gives you about two.

Future Sharks is another project you’re working on. What were your goals there, and how did you start?

This site was started about a month ago, and it already has about 50,000 visitors. I basically saw that with the press, you kind of have to work at a leverage game.You’ll get quoted in small sites and use things like that to get into things like Fox, Forbes, Inc, and stuff like that. I wanted to help some other entrepreneurs out while also getting the chance to meet them and learn how they’re doing and what kind of projects they’re working on. So, a big part of our success was just getting those yeses from […] groups but those are really hard because we had to follow-up multiple times, get the right email, connect in the right way. It was a lot easier once you had some sort of traction, some sort of site talking about you already. So, I wanted to expand my network and be able to meet a lot of entrepreneurs doing cool things. So, I decided to start this page to do that.

“I try to connect with people that know more than me, so they can teach me, and then I pay it forward by teaching someone else.”

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned from working on Future Sharks, so far?

I think the good thing is that every interview has one or two tips that I didn’t think about, or that are expertise-related, because I like to ask question such as “tell me something you’ve learned over the last year, any sort of research, or any sort of tool that you’ve used over the last year or that you’ve come across that not many people know about,” or things like that. Every interview gives me some sort of insight. One of the really cool things I learned, for example, was that most of them didn’t build the Facebook pages. They bought them, or they acquired them. They showed me that there was a value in acquiring these pages and having a lot of following to start with and launch or e-commerce brand, or any sort of brand. One guy said investing in a pages was really good because if a page was not successful, you could always sell it for the same price or higher – but if the page was successful, you get a lot of benefit from that.

Who have you learned from most in 2017? What have they taught you?

I actually don’t think there’s any one person that I’ve learned the most from, but I like to always keep myself up to date by reading blog posts, reading books, or just following people that I admire on social media.

The company we’re trying to have Flux Ventures emulate is Virgin Group.

The person we’re looking up to is Richard Branson. Unfortunately, there’s not that much information about him out there on a daily basis, but I like to read blog posts on SEO, on marketing, on influencers, and I’m part of a lot of groups on Facebook that people just share content in, and those things have been really useful.

What skills do you plan on acquiring this year? What do you think is most important for you to learn to be successful in your projects in 2017?

I want to keep learning marketing. I think that’s one of the main ones. How to face the marketing effectively, how to pick the right campaigns, the right conversion goals, and stuff like that. I also would like to start investing in some courses. I have not invested money in buying any sort of marketing courses or SEO courses. So, that’s something I want to do this year. Then in terms of more leadership-related goals, I want to be able to get a little more experience in project management. Since we’re a start-up, things kind of sometimes fall into the cracks and it’s a little bit hard to keep charge of a lot of projects or people. So, I want to have some sort of system in place that helps me get that project management in place.

What advice would you give to the HelpWith community about learning new skills?

I think one of the main challenges in anyone’s learning is self-doubt or any sort of pre-conditions you have about the topic. For example, a lot of people fear coding just because they think it’s hard, or just because they think it’s challenging, but a lot of times it’s just easier to dive in and start following tutorials. The amount of information Google has is vast, and you can learn any topic if you just Google, click, and follow the right links. So, I’d say there are two tips that I will give. One is to just get started. Just Google the skill you want to learn and “tutorial,” or like “how to do x.” Then, two is to connect, like with Help With, with people that are already experienced in that field so they can guide you and shorten the learning curve for you, but you can only do that once you have some sort of understanding of what that topic is. You can’t really dive into, let’s say, aerospace if you don’t know anything about it. Do a little bit of research and then ask someone that’s experienced in that to help you with the right tools to the right links, and stuff like that.
That’s all I do. I try to connect with people that know more than me, so they can teach me, and then I pay it forward by teaching someone else.

Learn more about Alejandro’s  work at the following links!

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