Mowing Lawns for Pizza
In our junior year of high school my good buddy Sam Albornoz and I started SAP Bros (Sam & Paul) Yard Care. This is where I discovered my love for entrepreneurship. I learned how to knock doors to random houses and businesses to sell. I realized you could design your own fringe benefits and company culture. Our very favorite lawn account was the home of the owners of our favorite pizza place - Zeponies Pizza. We negotiated a contract to exchange a weekly lawn mow at their house for $25 in pizza credit per week. We were the coolest kids (at lunch at least) putting the cute girls standing in line behind us on our tab. One of those girls turned out to be my wife later on.
2nd Business in High School
Cutting lawns was not enough, we wanted more. While my business partner Sam Albornoz and I were in the midst of running a yard care business, we came across something new. There was a company in San Antonio who was selling software and training around clear protectors for cars (clear bras). We did a little research, created a new brand called 'Falcon Guard', purchased a plotter to cut out the vinyl, flew to Texas and got trained for 3 days on how to install these clear bras on the front of cars. Our strategy was to sell this service to local car dealerships that they could add as an upsell so when they sold a new car, they could add this clear protector to protect their bumper and paint. It was a good idea, but the problem was we were in High School and these dealerships needed us to do installs in the middle of 3rd period. Bad timing. Finish high school kids, sometimes that's more important than starting a business.
Cell Phone Store
Some of my college days were filled with different jobs working 'regular jobs.' I enjoyed those jobs, but knew I wanted more. While I was working a corporate job and my wife and I were starting our life together I came across a cell phone franchise for T-Mobile. I partnered with my Dad and we bought into the franchise. White running our store, we started finding out that the corporate franchise wasn't the most honest of people. Their success was completely predicated on fraudulent activity in order to boost mobile phone activations. We wanted to disassociate ourselves from them and walk away. We sold the store at a loss and moved on. I learned early in my career of things I didn't like. I hated being in my own retail store on Christmas Eve morning. Notice here - I’m testing, tasting and trying. Finding out what I love and hate about different businesses, industries and aspects of entrepreneurship.
Salt of the Earth
Salt of the Earth was my pride and joy for a decade. It's where I learned so much of what I know today. I learned how to design, brand, creative direct, build culture, build long term relationships, add value, create experiences, innovate a simple product hire, fire and everything else in between. My neighbor started Salt of the Earth in her garage in Centerville, Utah and I was one of her first employees. From riding my bike to her house to make salt scrub in Jr High School, to purchasing the business from her in my last year in college I was able to take this garage business to a global company with the help of my dream team. We ended up selling our skin care product into the top resort spas in the world over 10 countries from Dubai to Hong Kong, from Sydney to Cancun - many spas to this day still are loving the product line.
My wife and I started a side-hustle (as if another business and 3 kids weren't enough)! Jutmade was a magnetic letter board company that was the 1st of its kind. Taking the trend of the felt letter boards with a design and function twist. The boards were wooden and letters magnetic to create endless possibilities for your messages to truly "jut" or "stick" out. Our first $70,000 dollars in boards were made in our basement by hand...phew. We proved the demand and then went to China for manufacturing. We had a blast, learned a ton, had lots of hiccups throughout and eventually sold the company in 2019. If you want to hear the full story, check out our podcast "The Creative Juice Podcast with Paul and Laura Heslop" and listen to all the lessons learned.
Nimble Jack Media
While running Salt of the Earth, in 2014 I gave my brother Nic (who was working in the warehouse) a camera and said “figure out how to use this, we need to become our own media company.” That he did and slowly but surely, we learned how to shoot and edit video, story tell, take great photos and brand ourselves. Upon my exit from Salt of the Earth Nic and I took those skills and started a video marketing company called Nimble Jack Media. People in the luxury spa market saw us produce weekly videos for 6 straight years, they knew us from our content, they trusted us. So when Nic and I started this company - we had a lot of people who wanted to hire us. It went great, but Nic wanted to venture into the corporate world and now is a full time videographer for a large corporation. That was the end of our partnership but the beginning of my solo career of producing & editing videos, taking photos and consulting with brands on their marketing.
Here we are today. Taking over 15 years of running my own start ups, the failures, successes and putting that experience into this. Into helping you build remarkable company culture and documenting it to share with the world. Through running these various businesses I have personally witnessed the positive impact of creating a remarkable company culture and making sure people see that culture through video. I firmly believe it can be the best way to gain attention and grow a business in the long term. Let’s do this together!