Flavio Pripas founded Fashion.me in September of 2011. Fashion.me is the social network with the works! They bring you a fully stocked platform of style and fashion that allows you to share, create and discuss on the spot. Share your favorite styles, trends, and looks today!
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- Your Big Idea: Successful Entrepreneurs have One Big Idea. Follow JLD’s FREE training & you’ll discover Your Big Idea in less than an hour!
- “Don’t ask, just do it.” – inspired by Nike
- Flavio started a tech company back in 1999 and then experienced the dot com bubble bursting first-hand. His (desperate) angel investor demanded 70% of the company, up from the 30% he previously held. The failure that ensued was total, but a great lesson was learned.
Entrepreneurial AHA Moment
- Brazil is a great country in many ways, but it does lag slightly behind the USA in terms of tech innovation. Flavio used this to his benefit and was able to “peek into the future” and put Fashion.me on the cutting edge – well ahead of his fellow compatriots.
- Fashion.me has done a great job using its momentum to become a global powerhouse. Flavio is going to continue to take Fashion.me to the four corners of the earth, spreading fashion love at every turn.
- Zip, Bam, Boom! Great insights from our Entrepreneur south of the equator!
Best Business Book
- The Numerati by Stephen Baker
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John Lee Dumas: Hi Fire Nation and thank you for joining me for another episode of EntrepreneurOnFire.com, your daily dose of inspiration. If you enjoy this free podcast, please show your support by leaving a rating and review here at iTunes. I will make sure to give you a shout out on an upcoming showing to thank you!
John Lee Dumas: Okay. Let’s get started. I am simply thrilled to introduce my guest today, Flavio Pripas. Flavio, are you prepared to ignite?
Flavio Pripas: Yes! Sure.
John Lee Dumas: Alright! Great. Flavio founded Fashion.me in September of 2011. Fashion.me is a social network with the works. They bring you a fully-stocked platform of style and fashion. It is a spot to share, create and discuss your favorite styles, trends and looks.
I’ve given Fire Nation a little overview of your business, Flavio. Why don’t you take it from here and give us a little background about who you are and what you do?
Flavio Pripas: Okay. Sure. So my name is Flavio Pripas, just like John said. I’m from Brazil, so sorry about my English. It’s not the perfect English that you are aware of.
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs]
Flavio Pripas: In fact, I have a very, very large corporate background. I used to work in the financial market in Brazil for J.P. Morgan and also Credit Suisse. And back in 2008, I met my current cofounder. Our wives met and we decided to do something just for fun on the Internet because they wanted to do a fashion store. It was so expensive to do a fashion store, so we said, “Hey, let’s do something with the Internet. We have technology background. They want to do something related to fashion. So let’s do it.”
We started the site back in 2008 just for fun with user-generated content, and that time the site was called byMK because my wife is Marcela and Renato’s wife is Karen. Then the site started to grow organically.
So at the beginning of 2009, we had to make a decision. Are we going to close the site because it was getting big, or we would just invest on it, invest on the project? So on April 2009, we decided to move forward with the project to see how far it could go, and there have been three years-and-a-half that we are investing on it. Last year, we changed the name to Fashion.me because we saw an opportunity for a niche social network focused just on fashion.
So this is a little bit of the background history and it’s what we are doing. Fashion.me today, what is it? It’s a social network for fashion. You go to Facebook to see the pictures of your friends. You go to LinkedIn to see where they have worked. Then you go to Fashion.me to discuss about fashion and discovering trends and talk about what are on the streets. So this is what we do.
John Lee Dumas: Very specific, and thank you for that great summation. I really look forward to delving more into Fashion.me later on in the interview.
Flavio Pripas: Sure.
John Lee Dumas: So let’s start off with the first topic now, which is our success quote. At EntrepreneurOnFire, we really like to start every show off with a little piece of motivation to kind of get the ball rolling and get our listeners really pumped for the content that you have for us today. So Flavio, what do you have for us?
Flavio Pripas: It’s very simple. It’s “Don’t ask. Just do it,” and it’s based on Nike’s line. I love it.
John Lee Dumas: That’s a great quote, and I always like to ask, how do you apply that to your everyday life with something very specific?
Flavio Pripas: In fact, we do that every day. Since the beginning, we do things. We don’t ask people for permission. We just do things. If they work, that’s great. If they don’t work, then we just change our path. So that’s the way we are doing our business. That’s the way we are managing our business. That’s the way we are managing even our life.
John Lee Dumas: I like that, and I recently had a guest on the show whose quote was “Don’t ask for permission. Just ask for forgiveness.” It sounds like that could be something that you guys decided to listen where is it going to be very active and strong and what our actions are. We’re not going to just sit around and wait for what may or may not be the best path. We’re going to actually take bold and affirmative action. Would you say that’s accurate?
Flavio Pripas: Yes, yes. It is. In fact, what we are doing, we don’t know what is going to be the outcome of what we are doing. So we need to do it. We need to do it to see how it can go. We have been in this business for more than three years right now and we didn’t have any idea at the beginning what would it be. So this is what we are doing. We need to and don’t ask for any kind of permission. Just do it.
John Lee Dumas: I love it. I love how you tied that in. We’re going to use that to transition to our next topic, which is failure. Flavio, you’re an entrepreneur. I’m an entrepreneur. EntrepreneurOnFire is about the journey of the entrepreneur, and you’re our spotlighted guest today so I’m really excited to hear about your past, to delve into a challenge or an obstacle that you’ve faced in the past that you’ve had to overcome. Can you take us back to a time when you faced an extreme challenge that you’ve had to overcome?
Flavio Pripas: Sure. Back in 1999 before the Internet [Bubble was], any way we want to call it, I founded my first company with some friends. I was very young at that time. I was, I think, just 19, any way we want to call it, I founded my first company with some friends. I was very young at that time. I was, I think, just 19 years old. I founded that company, a technology company that was going to develop sites for others, for our customers.
We got an investor. We were the fifth investment of this investor, but as we were very, very young, we were not very concerned with contracts, to formalize all the relationships and everything else. In fact, from the five companies that that investor had at that time, we were the only one that was making money. Then just after the Internet Bubble burst when everything started to go down, we were making a lot of money on a monthly basis. This investor just got to us and said, “Hey, I have 30% of your company. Now I want 70% of your company because I want to get my investments back.”
We didn’t have our contracts in place, we didn’t have our relationships formalized in placed. So it was a complete mess. In fact, what happened at that time is that we stopped working because it was not possible for this investor to say that. He was not a professional investor. I would call him an angel, but a desperate angel that wanted to get his money back and have the cheapest employees in the world, which were us, the founders of the technology company. So this was a complete failure that I had 12 years ago.
John Lee Dumas: Well thank you for sharing how specific and exact that failure was, and I just really love your description of a desperate angel because that’s exactly what he was at the time. I can specifically see what he was doing to your company. It’s just really unfortunate that you were in that situation. Can you give us a specific lesson that you pulled from that failure that you can share with our audience here at Fire Nation?
Flavio Pripas: For sure. What we learned from that failure is that everything that we do, we need to do in the right way. What do I mean by that? If we are going to close a deal, then we need to formalize that deal. If we want to close a relationship, a partnership with anyone, then we need to put everything on paper just to have everything right for all the people that are involved. So this is something that we learned in the worst way, I would say.
John Lee Dumas: Absolutely. That’s a great lesson learned. Thank you for sharing that with us.
Flavio Pripas: Yes. Sure.
John Lee Dumas: So Flavio, we’re going to transition now into our next topic because again, EntrepreneurOnFire is about your story, your journey as an entrepreneur, and you’ve had these ups and downs that every entrepreneur has and you’ve had little light bulb moments during the course of every day and every week that just inspire you and move you forward and help you learn more about what you’re doing. Can you bring us to a huge aha moment – just this bright lightning bolt that just hit you and you said, “Wow! This is something that I want to do. This is going to work”?
Flavio Pripas: Sure. I would go back a little bit to the history of our website, our Fashion.me. So in 2008, I was working in the financial market, just before all the problems that we had on that year. Both me and Renato, we developed our website for our wives, and as we didn’t want to spend money on the site to create content, we developed tools for the users to create content. But at the end of 2008, and after the Lehman Brothers and all the financial problems of that year, we started to hear a lot about social media, social networks, about user-generated content.
You need to remember that we are in Brazil, so things happen a little bit later than in the United States. So by the end of 2008, everybody was talking about social networks, social networking, that social networks would change the way we buy things. It would change the way we talk with each other, our relationships, and we realized that we have developed at that time a social network, but not a social network for everything. A social network for fashion because we developed tools for the users to express themselves, to show their style, to show everything that they are doing, to recommend products, to recommend brands, and this was our aha moment.
We did something that everybody’s talking about. We did something that everybody’s talking about and that we do not have anything close to what we are doing in the market. So why not move forward and see how far it could go?
John Lee Dumas: That is very interesting when you talk about Brazil, and just potentially South America in general, being a little behind the United States as far as technology in the next trend and such, I can just really see how that has a potential to be a huge benefit in some ways because it’s almost like you who are connected in every way, shape and form with the United States almost have like a little peak into the future about what’s to come in your native country. Is that a fact?
Flavio Pripas: Yes, it is. In fact, it is. One of the most successful web services that we have in Brazil is Peixe Urbano, and it’s based on Groupon’s market. So we have a lot of companies in Brazil and South America and in emerging countries that are based on good services that were created in the United States or in Europe.
So I can give you some examples. Peixe Urbano is based on Groupon. Baby.com.br has the same concept as Diapers.com. We have Dafiti.com.br that is just like Zappos. So a lot happens here in Brazil and South America where entrepreneurs got real good business models and bring to their country. We have the things that we need to work in the country.
John Lee Dumas: Very interesting. Yes. I really enjoy hearing the kind of connections that the rest of the world has with the United States, and it just does seem to me that that gap is really becoming smaller and smaller of a timeframe as the Internet is just becoming more and more prevalent and so many people are able to have access via Wi-Fi or whatever services to the Internet, that information is just being shot to the four corners of the globe in a matter of seconds these days.
Flavio Pripas: Not only that. A lot of American entrepreneurs, they are coming to Brazil to do their businesses. For example, the founders of Baby.com.br, which is now already the biggest e-commerce for babies, they came to Brazil. They are from the United States. They finished their MBA in Wharton School and also Harvard, and they came to Brazil to open it. They were just looking for opportunities around the world and they realized that the opportunity to have e-commerce for babies in Brazil was great. So they got investment. They moved to Brazil. They opened it, and they are being a huge success. So entrepreneurs, they don’t need to look just for their own country. They have opportunities all around the world.
Even us, Fashion.me, we realized that Fashion.me was not simply just for Brazil. Despite the fact that we are the biggest website for fashion here in Brazil, we realized that what we were doing was something that could be global. So now we have our offices in New York, for example. So we are opening offices in the United States, and we want to go to the world. So just to get a quote from – again, a quote that everybody hears about, the world is flat.
John Lee Dumas: I love that quote, and that’s just a great book. Really, it could not be more true at any point than it is today, and every day that goes by, it seems to just get a little bit flatter.
Flavio Pripas: Yes, it is.
John Lee Dumas: So Flavio, have you had an I’ve made it moment?
Flavio Pripas: I think we are in the process. I think we are doing a lot of things at the same time, and maybe in the future I will look back and say, “Hey, I’ve made it.” But in the past three years-and-a-half, we have had some accomplishments to date. Just to give you an example, we were in this year’s Fast Company list of the 100 most creative people in business. So this is great. It’s something that I can look a couple of years from now and say, “Hey, I’ve made it.” It’s a list that a few people go every year.
John Lee Dumas: It’s a very small list and it’s a great list, and that is exactly the list that I saw you on and said, “This guy is a perfect fit and this company is a perfect fit for EntrepreneurOnFire.” So you can just see the value of being just exposed to your Fast Companys, your Inc. Magazines, your Entrepreneur Magazines. You just never know what that will turn into.
Flavio Pripas: Yes. Exactly. But I think for entrepreneurs, they are so obsessed doing a lot of things every day, that it’s difficult to look back and say, “Hey, I’ve made it.” I think we need to take a vacation to get everything that’s happening in our minds and go to an I’ve made it moment.
John Lee Dumas: Yes. I really stress to Fire Nation that listen, like EntrepreneurOnFire’s interviews are a journey, an entrepreneur’s life is a journey, and it’s not just about the destination. So it’s so important to set goals for yourself and to strive to reach those goals. Then once you do reach those goals, it’s in every entrepreneur’s interest to again set that bar even higher and to go forward to that next goal, but it’s so important to take a step back, look around and appreciate what you’ve accomplished thus far at that point in your career.
Flavio Pripas: Yes. You are right.
John Lee Dumas: So Flavio, right now, we’re going to roll into the next topic, which is your current business, Fashion.me. You have a lot of exciting things going on. You have some great press. You have a lot of good buzz. A lot of really good things are going. What’s one thing that’s really exciting you about your company right now?
Flavio Pripas: We are going global. We are not a Brazilian company anymore. This is very, very exciting. It’s very difficult for a Brazilian company, and the size that we are today, to go after the world. So it’s great that this is happening.
John Lee Dumas: That’s very exciting. Flavio, the word “entrepreneur” is a mystery to many people. They hear the word and they’re just like, “Okay, I don’t get it. What do entrepreneurs do during the course of a day?” Obviously, no two days are the same for you. Every day presents different challenges and tasks that you have to complete, but let’s just pull the curtain back a little bit here. What are two tasks that you do every single day that take up a good portion of your day?
Flavio Pripas: The two tasks that occupied a majority of my day, today at least, managing people, trying to hire the best talents for the company. This is very, very difficult, both here in Brazil and also in the United States because we are hiring in the United States. Then also something that is taking a lot of time from me today is around organizing our international expansion. So in terms of even the management of the company in terms of accounting, in terms of legal, in terms of everything that you need to do to open a branch in other countries.
John Lee Dumas: So you’ve given us a glimpse of where Fashion.me is going. You are going global, it’s very exciting. Give us one specific vision that you have for the future of Fashion.me.
Flavio Pripas: Just like I said before, if you want to look for the pictures of your friends, you can go to Facebook, and if you want to see what brands are pulling the market, your fashion brands that are pulling the market, you go to Fashion.me. If you want to read about fashion, you can go to Fashion.me. If you want to follow fashion bloggers, you can go to Fashion.me so you can see everything that they are doing. You can see all the products that they are recommending. So it’s really an environment for fashion conversations and any kind of fashion conversation. So this is the vision that we have for Fashion.me in the next couple of years.
John Lee Dumas: Very exciting. So Flavio, we’ve now reached my favorite part of the show. We’re about to enter the Lightning Round. This is where I provide you with a series of questions, and you come back with a series of amazing and mind-blowing answers. Does that sound like a plan?
Flavio Pripas: Sure. Let’s do it.
John Lee Dumas: What was the number one thing that was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Flavio Pripas: So this is very specific for Brazil. Being an entrepreneur in Brazil is not something that is very common. The first thing that I heard from my friends and even from my family when I said, “Hey, I’m going to leave J.P. Morgan and a good salary and a good career and be an entrepreneur in a fashion website” was that I was crazy. So this is part of the culture here that is changing a lot, but the culture here, they do not help you being an entrepreneur. So this is something that was holding me back. It’s something that is changing a lot today, which is great, but it’s something that we need to work better here.
John Lee Dumas: Absolutely. Believe me, the circles that you run in in the United States, I’m sure that it does just seem that everybody’s very entrepreneur-positive and it’s a great thing, but believe me, the United States does struggle with this as well as an entirety. A lot of Americans really do look at entrepreneurism as a risk, and they don’t necessarily see the potential rewards. So we still are going through that same cycle that you are, trying to really encourage people to take that leap when they’re in the right position to do so. So thank you for sharing that about Brazil. I definitely see that, and I definitely see that every day in the United States as well. It’s very interesting.
Flavio Pripas: Yes.
John Lee Dumas: What’s the best business advice that you ever received?
Flavio Pripas: Test everything. Test, test, test. Test what you think with the market. Test what you think with your customers. Test what you think with your partners. If you are working with some innovation, with something that is innovative, and if you don’t have a benchmark, you need to test everything. So test is one of the most important things that an entrepreneur can do. If the test succeeds, then you can move forward. If the test does not succeed, then you just go back, think something new, and then start your test again. I heard that from one mentor from Endeavor. Endeavor is a global organization that helps entrepreneurship. So it was the best business advice that we have ever received.
John Lee Dumas: Awesome advice, Flavio. What is something that’s working for you or for Fashion.me right now?
Flavio Pripas: Something that is working for us is exactly that. The tests. For example, we are entering the United States market and the market is not the same that we have in Brazil. So almost every day we run some tests and see what is working and what is not working because at the end, what we want is to add value to our users. So this is really something that works for us. But for you to do that, you need to have partners, you need to have investors that believe in you and that are together with you to perform these tasks because this is something that can take some time, but it’s definitely something that is working for us right now.
John Lee Dumas: That just ties in one of your first lessons that you shared with us today, which is how important it is to have investors that share your vision because when you don’t, dangerous things could happen.
Flavio Pripas: Exactly, exactly. I am very happy that our current investor, they shared our vision, which is great. So they are helping us a lot to do all these tasks and they are helping us reach out to people that we need to perform those tasks.
John Lee Dumas: That is wonderful. What is the best business book that you ever read?
Flavio Pripas: I read a very interesting book. It’s not a business book, but I think it’s all related to business, which is called “The Numerati.” It’s not a business book just like you see every time. The Numerati is a history about people that are based on numbers. That they see their relationship with numbers and how they relate with your life and what is the value that you can bring from these numbers.
The book is based on all the knowledge that social networks like Facebook, Twitter, or even Fashion.me, or Google, they are getting from people. So it’s a great book with a lot of great insight.
John Lee Dumas: Flavio, this last question is my favorite. It’s kind of a tricky one so take your time and digest it before you come back and answer.
Flavio Pripas: Sure.
John Lee Dumas: If you woke up tomorrow morning and you still had all of the experience, money and knowledge that you currently have right now, but your business had completely disappeared, forcing you to start with a clean slate, which many of our listeners find themselves with right now, a clean slate, what would you do?
Flavio Pripas: I think what I was going to do was to maybe travel a little bit. Maybe go to places and see how people behave. Maybe go to some places and see what people are doing and see the gaps that I can feel to help people do what they are doing better. I think I would need to take a step back and try to see where are the opportunities. I think that something just like I was saying before, Baby.com.br, they did something that’s incredible. They just started to look at opportunities all around the world, and they realized that there was an opportunity for baby e-commerce here in Brazil.
So why not go, in my case, go to Argentina because they are a little bit behind of Brazil, and see if there is something that is happening here that I can bring to Argentina country, or let’s say that for example, even in the United States, something that we did here that can happen there. So it’s really an observation kind of process. This is something that I was going to do. Try to see what people are doing, how they are behaving, and what are the gaps that I can feel mainly with technology because it’s something that I know a lot.
John Lee Dumas: Very unique answer with a very common theme. Observe, observe, observe, and then find the pain that people are having, and then solve that pain.
Flavio Pripas: Exactly.
John Lee Dumas: So Flavio, you’ve given us some great actionable advice, and we are all better for it. Give Fire Nation one parting piece of guidance, then give yourself a plug, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Flavio Pripas: The piece of advice that I gave a lot of entrepreneurs that I’ve talked with is if you have something in mind, do it. Do it. See if it works. Test everything. If your tests succeed, move forward. If not, try to test something different. So instead of being at your home or at your work just thinking, instead of thinking, just do it.
John Lee Dumas: I love it. Now give yourself a plug.
Flavio Pripas: Well, first of all, I want to thank you, John, for inviting me to be part of this. I’m very, very excited to be part of this interview and to help people succeed with their ideas. So thank you very much.
John Lee Dumas: You are so welcome. Where’s the best place that people can find you, Flavio?
Flavio Pripas: They can find me on Twitter. It’s @fpripas. Then also, they can find me by email. I answer all the emails that I get. It’s email@example.com.
John Lee Dumas: Wonderful! I will link all that up in the show notes. Flavio, thank you once again for sharing your time and expertise. Fire Nation salutes you, and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
Flavio Pripas: Sure. Thank you very much, John.