AJ Picard is a full-time entrepreneur for 3 years now. He has a passion for design and creating products. He loves playing, talking, and watching anything related to technology and basketball.
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3 Value Bombs
1) Clava App helps you feel more connected to your surrounding community.
2) Trust in self-intuition. If you notice an opportunity, take action.
3) Be open-minded. Life is constantly changing and you have to adapt to it. It is important to continue to build new skillsets and learn new things.
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**Click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.
Today’s Audio MASTERCLASS: How to Pivot and Persevere with AJ Picard
[1:43] – AJ shares something interesting about himself that most people do not know.
- He had a video from a Sixers game and the Bleacher Report used it. The video went viral, and it has about 10 million views.
[3:17] – AJ shares more about his background
- He is from Philadelphia, PA. He is now living in Baltimore, MD.
- He started his entrepreneur journey back in 2017. He went full-time developing a social media app called Clava.
- Clava App helps you feel more connected to your surrounding community.
[4:12] – How did you come up with the idea for Clava?
- AJ thought of Clava while he was sitting in the food court at the King of Prussia Mall just watching the people around him.
- He thought of an app that would connect you to people who are in the same location as you.
[5:33] – AJ talks about using Clava for your business.
- Your business can use the app to create location-based announcements or promotions.
- Clava users can collect all the announcements or promotions for a specific location.
[7:00] – AJ shares some of Clava’s case studies
- Case study for Covid19
- Some users created chatrooms representing local grocery stores near their location.
- Real-time updates of what the groceries had in stock were being posted for other users to see.
- Use of chatrooms to share ideas.
[9:11] – What was the biggest pivot you have made to date?
- The biggest pivot was deciding to create Clava.
- If he had never entertained that pivot, who knows where he would be now.
- Putting in a lot of time each day to honing his craft allowed him to increase his runaway and continue to pursue his dream of getting Clava off the ground.
[10:43] – Why is pivoting so important, and how do you know when the right time is?
- During the Covid19 Pandemic a lot of businesses are pivoting.
- Trust in self-intuition. If you notice an opportunity, take action.
- Pivoting is important because you can branch out and learn new skillsets.
[15:25] – AJ’s advice to entrepreneurs.
- Be open-minded. Life is constantly changing and you have to adapt to it.
- It is important to continue to build skillsets and learn new things.
- Get out of your comfort zone so you can grow as a person, and as you grow it will help you get to where you want to be.
[17:39] – What are the next step for Clava?
- Get users to start creating communities around them inside of Clava
- You can quickly navigate through the announcements page, connect with locals in a specific location, and start meeting new people using the chatrooms in Clava.
[19:18] – What advice would you give Fire Nation if they want to take the first step in the app space?
- You can start by connecting with someone from your network who is technically savvy, and ask that person for help.
[20:31] – AJ’s parting piece of guidance.
- Ask yourself:
- How eager are you to make it as an entrepreneur?
- How enthusiastic are you about getting your product out in the market?
- Know that it will take a lot of effort, but do not give up because you will learn a lot from your journey
- Sign up for Clava! – Check out the Clava App for FREE and start promoting your brand today!
JLD: What’s shaking Fire Nation? JLD here with an audio master class on how to pivot and persevere. To drop these value bombs I have brought AJ Picard on the mike. He’s a fulltime entrepreneur and has been so for over three years now. He has a passion for design and creating products and loves playing, talking, and watching anything related to technology. Oh, and basketball. And Fire Nation, today we’ll be talking about why pivoting is so important, how to persevere in today’s world as well as some incredible overall advice for all entrepreneurs as soon as we get back from thanking our sponsors.
AJ, say what’s up to Fire Nation and share something interesting about yourself that most people don’t know.
AJ: What’s going on Fire Nation? Happy to be on board here. Something that people don’t know about me actually happened two months ago. I was at a Sixers game and I was recording our point guard Ben Simmons shooting three pointers in the corner and he happened to hit seven in a row which is very rare because he can’t shoot and Bleacher Report actually asked to use my video and it went viral and had about 10 million views. So, that was pretty cool.
JLD: That is awe – do you get any kind of compensation for that or you just sorta like that’s mine.
AJ: Yeah, I was just like, “You can have it for free. It’s all good.” I just thought it was really cool that they wanted to use it.
JLD: That’s super cool. Actually I’ve cued up on my Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel an interview with the guy from Bleacher Report because I’ve always followed that company and I just love the things that they’ve done. So, I’m looking forward to watching that episode personally.
But what I want to do, AJ, is really focus on today’s topic which is gonna be all about how to pivot and persevere. And these are two things that have never, never been more important than in this post Covid-19 world that we live in for sure. There’s a lot of pivoting going on, there’s a lot of persevering going on and guess what? Fire Nation, if you are falling short in either of those categories you are gonna struggle but if you are just thriving in both of those then you can be thriving as well.
So, let’s start off with your background AJ. Who the heck are you, where are you from and then what the heck got you here to this point today?
AJ: Yeah, man. So, I’m actually from, born and raised from Philadelphia, PA. I am now living in Baltimore, Maryland and I kinda started my entrepreneur journey back in 2017 when I started going full time on developing the social media app that I am now pushing right now called Clava. What Clava really does is just help you feel more connected to your surrounding community by providing our users with a way to easily connect with locals in their area and discover things to do in their community as well.
JLD: So, let’s maybe talk quickly about Clava because I am kind of curious. Like how you initially came up with this idea. Like I love talking about the aha moment like that origin and why that happened for you. And then also, share just like one or two what you think are kinda cool case studies of people that have used Clava successfully.
AJ: For one, I was actually sitting in the King of Prussia Mall near Philadelphia, this massive mall, and I was in the food court and I was just people watching one day. And it was around the time back in 2014 when Instagram started kinda picking up traction and Twitter and we had Snapchat as well and I was thinking to myself why can’t I guess hone in on a specific location and connect with people in that same location as me; almost like a hyper-local platform. So, that’s kinda how I thought of that idea of Clava.
JLD: Because you were basically just like I want to connect with people that are in this mall right now?
AJ: Correct, correct. And I was like this could be a great way if I’m in college to meet new people at a party that might be super crowded, it could be used at a networking event or even at a sports game, just to connect with people in that same location that you’re currently in. That was the goal of it.
JLD: And is this for businesses too? Because like what kind of pops into my mind is like I’m walking into King of Prussia Mall and I get an alert on my phone that says, “Hey, not sure if you’re hungry but if you are for the next ten minutes we’re gonna have 50% off pretzels over at Pretzels Are Us.” And like I would just be like well, I wasn’t actually that hungry until you just kinda made me think of a pretzel in my mouth so here off I go. Is that like one of those things that could happen?
AJ: Yeah, man. So, these businesses can create location-based announcements or promotions so to speak. So, when users go into that specific location where their promotion is located in they’re gonna collect it which means that if you did walk in through that King of Prussia Mall front door you would collect every promotion that business in that King of Prussia Mall is currently promoting. So, you know we offer that I guess easy transition to discovering things to do in your surrounding area and active promotions in your surrounding area from local businesses located around you.
JLD: I mean one thing that pops up in my mind is kind of like a potential user is at what point is there overwhelm? Like if I’m walking into a mall and there’s 124 stores and I get 124 promotions like at what point does that just become like spam mail that we all get in our inbox?
AJ: That is a great point. We actually plan on fixing this issue as we start to grow and we’re going to limit the amount of promotions or announcements in a specific location. So, it’s gonna be super exclusive. Obviously, we would have to charge these businesses more but as of now we’re just trying to get businesses inside and willing to promote for free.
JLD: Supply and demand baby. I love it. So, again without going into too much detail because we have a decent amount to talk about today, give us maybe like one or two quick case studies that clients of yours or just individuals and users have experienced over the lifespan of Clava.
AJ: Yeah, so actually right now one case study I’d love to share is for COVID-19. We’ve actually had some users create chat rooms representing local grocery stores near them. And what they’ve done is they’ve actually posted updates of what these grocery stores have in stock for other users to kinda jump in almost like a real time update so that users don’t have to navigate or travel to this local grocery store just to find out that the supplies that they’re looking for aren’t in stock.
So, we had a user that created a shopper’s market chat room and they just posted, hey, they’re still out of paper towels and so it’s not a good idea to come to Shoppers if you’re looking for paper towels. But the goal is that these users will continue to update this chat room whenever they’re in Shoppers so that other users can get these real time updates instead of having to again travel physically to a Shoppers and risk getting infected by Corona.
JLD: Fascinating. Okay, so that’s one. What’s another one?
AJ: Another one is actually we had a couple of users use these chat rooms to chat about business ideas, chat about stocks, chat about sports, specifically sports here in Baltimore. We have a chat room just talking about the Ravens. In Philly we have a chat room talking about the Sixers. So, it’s almost like a location-based thread which is really cool to see.
JLD: Let’s be honest. When are the Sixers gonna make a legitimate title run? Be honest with me.
AJ: I mean honestly, I think they’re – I guess the roadblock is to me their coach. Unfortunately, I think he is a great player development coach but we need someone that has that championship experience that teaches young guys and develop a leader out of these young guys to get to that next step.
JLD: Sounds like the Sixers may need to make a pivot which is a phenomenal segue because the topic and focus of our episode today is all about the pivoting and persevering. So, AJ, break it down for us. What is the biggest pivot that you’ve made to date?
AJ: Yeah, so that’s a great question. So, when I started this journey back in 2017, every entrepreneur is so optimistic that when they first start their journey everything’s gonna go as planned and they have the best idea in the world and it’s gonna be so easy to raise venture capital. And that first year of building Clava I had a lot of wake up calls and I was living off my savings at the time. And obviously, when you’re not having any money coming in that savings starts to dwindle very quickly. So, I didn’t want to go back to corporate. I wanted to continue to pursue my dream and continue to work for myself.
So, I was trying to figure out other ways I create money in my industry and that’s when I started really driving into design and website development. And to be honest with you John, if I never entertained that I guess pivot, I don’t know where I would be right now considering the fact that I put a lot of time each day into honing in on my craft and it allowed me to start doing a lot of freelance projects for a lot of my friends, my family which allowed me to increase my runway so that I could continue to pursue my dream of getting Clava off the ground.
JLD: Let’s talk about why pivoting is so important. Like for you in your experience and the pivots you made, what would you want to pass on to Fire Nation that is to the importance of pivoting and maybe when to know when the right time for pivoting is.
AJ: It’s a lot of self-awareness. You know, during Corona and Covid right now we have a lot of businesses pivoting. I saw a shoe company pivot from creating shoes to creating masks and it’s gotta be a self-intuition where you’re noticing an opportunity or you’re noticing that something isn’t going correctly and you need to make a change. And at the time I just knew that if I continued to go down the same route I was going down I would probably need to get a job very soon which is why I pivoted and started learning new I guess skillsets so that I could branch out and still work for myself but at the same time continue to do what I love doing.
JLD: So, Fire Nation, I think it’s just very important to recognize that listen, a great idea is just that; a great idea. The next step you have to take action. You have to take action upon that idea. Why? So, within that action you can start getting feedback, you can be getting engagement with the audience, you can actually start seeing people reacting and hopefully talking with them and seeing what they like, what they don’t like, so that you can adjust so that you can evolve, so you can pivot as you move forward.
And Fire Nation, we have so many more value bombs coming up as soon as we get back from thanking our sponsors.
So, AJ, there’s a lot that’s going on in this world right now. I’ll say there’s a lot of people that are reaching out to me and saying, “You know what John? Sometimes good is getting in the way of great. You know, I had a good job. I had a comfy existence. I didn’t like my job, it was good, it was paying the bills, but man I’ve always wanted to create something great. Something that I’m passionate about, something that I’m excited about. And now I’m either furloughed, or I got fired or laid off because of everything that’s changed in this world. And in some ways, I’m secretly excited about it because now I’m forced into this world of entrepreneurship and to make it on my own.
So, for those individuals that have always wanted to take this path, and that’s obviously why they’re listening to this episode right now, what’s some advice that you’d give to them right now?
AJ: I would just be open minded. Sometimes you end up going down a path that you would just never think you would end up going down and that’s just how life works sometimes. Life is constantly changing; the world is constantly changing which means you have to be constantly changing and constantly adapting. You know, you see a lot of businesses for example, like Blockbuster who didn’t adapt and now they ran out of business. It’s just very important to continue to build that skillset and to continue to learn and push yourself to learn new things.
Even though that might make you feel uncomfortable, it’s always a good step to get out of your comfort zone so that you can grow as a person and as you grow it’s gonna help get you to where you ultimately want to be which is your angle.
JLD: Fire Nation, there’s a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. that I’m obsessed with. You don’t have to see the whole staircase to take that next step. And that’s such an important just understanding to have because so many people don’t even take one step or two steps because they’re like, “Well, I can’t see the whole staircase. I don’t exactly where I’m going.” Like of course you don’t. You don’t know what’s going to unfold. It’s that next step that’s gonna show you what’s possible in that next step and so on and so forth. So, you don’t have to see the whole staircase Fire Nation.
Please just take that next step, surround yourself by the right people, consume content like this from people like AJ and others who have been there done that who have pivoted and persevered and come up with ideas when they’re sitting in the mall. I mean these things do happen. I mean my idea came when I was on a walk by the bay. I mean these happen but you gotta put yourself in the right situation and that Blockbuster comment was so true. Because guess what? They weren’t saying Fire Nation, “What could put me out of business?” They weren’t having that conversation.
If they were they would have realized what could put them out of business and guess what, they would have been the Netflix, they would have created a Netflix or they would have bought Netflix when they had the opportunity to for just a fraction of what it is worth today. I mean it's unbelievable when you’re thinking that way.
So, let’s talk about Clava real quick. Like we talked about that advice that you gave as far as taking that next step. What do you think the next step for Clava is today?
AJ: I think the next step for Clava right now is to obviously build our user base but to start to build this community where people understand, “Hey, this app is adapting to my location no matter where I’m located in the world.” As you open up Clava you’re greeted almost with a map that’s similar to Google maps and on this map there are chat rooms that you can join and you can quickly navigate to your announcements page to see what’s going on the area.
So, if you’re in an area like myself, which was Baltimore two years ago where I didn’t know anyone but my girlfriend, it’s a great app that I could have opened and start connecting with locals and meeting new people and discovering what is there to do in Baltimore.
So, that’s the main goal. Just spreading the word about what we’re doing and showing how it can help people and how it can be a tool for people to have fun in their surrounding community and connect with locals easily. And right now during Corona and Covid it’s a great tool to just meet new people because of social distancing. I mean you can really just jump into a chat room and start chatting with people in that specific location and that chat room might be right next to you on the map. So, it’s just a great way to kind of just network in your area and in your community and I’m really excited to spread the word about it.
JLD: A lot of people AJ, are intimated just by the thought of even creating apps. I mean I’ll put myself in there because I’m not a techie person. So, what advice would you give Fire Nation if they have an idea and they want to take that first step in the app space but like me they aren’t “techie” people.
AJ: So, I would definitely find someone in your network or in your group of people that is technically savvy. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I could do it on my own and the result wasn’t good. And if you have someone that’s technical behind you that can kinda break down or translate that language for you, it just gives you the upper hand to someone that doesn’t understand the technical world because at the end of the day the tech industry is like a whole other language that you have to learn and I’m still learning it. And it’s something that’s constantly adapting, constantly pivoting and growing. So, you know you’re pretty much playing catch up if you’re gonna dive into this market which is why I highly suggest you really find a connection that has been in this market for years and understands the ins and outs.
JLD: So, let’s wrap this up, AJ with you giving one final piece of guidance. Like of everything we’ve talked about today when it comes to persevering and pivoting and what you have going on, give us the one key takeaway that you want to make sure that we get after this episode. And I know that you have something special for Fire Nation, so share that. And of course, let us know how and where we can connect with you.
AJ: For sure. The one advice I just want to give to everyone out there is I just want you to look into the mirror and really look at yourself and ask how bad do you really want to make it as an entrepreneur or how bad do you want your product to get off the ground and into the market because it’s gonna take a lot of effort and you’re gonna really need to be real with yourself on how much effort this is gonna take. I don’t want you to be scared to take this jump but I want to encourage yourself to take it because you learn so much along this journey. I mean I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned over the past three years just doing it on my own and teaching myself and I’ve just become a better person than where I was three years ago.
And I just want to encourage you know, get the people that support you, that are there for you and I want to encourage you to chase your dreams because you know if you continue to push back your dreams you’re never gonna chase them.
When it comes to finding me you can obviously find me on Instagram @ajpicard_. My Twitter name is a little difficult. It’s actually pick a card any card and it’s @pic_acard and then an e card. And last but not least I wanted to offer to any business that wants to partner up with Clava and start promoting inside of Clava we would offer this to you for free. All you need to do is go to our website www.clava.xyz/fire, fill out the application and we’ll start promoting your brand inside of Clava for free.
JLD: Fire Nation, get on the Clava platform. I mean this is important to get that marketing out there, get that word out there. Be a first mover, the first mover advantage. This is critical because you know this. You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with and you’ve been hanging out with AP and JLD today, so keep up that heat. Head over to eofire.com. If you just type AJ in the search bar his show notes page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today. But of course, Fire Nation, your call to action is this. If you have a business and you want to drum up some more leads and you want to just try a different marketing channel because we should always be trying new exciting and different marketing channels, Clava.xyz/fire. Check that out.
And AJ, I want to thank you brother for sharing your truth, your knowledge, your value with Fire Nation today. For that we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
AJ: John, thank you so much, man. I really do appreciate it.
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