Social media is a powerful platform for celebrities, changemakers, creators, and anyone else with access to Internet to voice their ideas and make an impact on the world. It's no longer optional for brands and businesses to leverage social media to interact and attract customers.
Monica Puig recognized this fact, and observed that she could generally predict consumer behavior based on social media trends. Combine those skills with a passion for empowering young adults in the Florida foster care system, and Monica had the groundwork for a digital social impact startup. The only piece missing - a technical co-founder who was as passionate about making an impact as she was.
Monica was generous enough to share her story with us, as well as offer a few important tips about how best to present yourself when looking for a cofounder. It's clear, from Monica's story and from other founders, that communication is the single most important skill that founders need to find the right co-founder.
How did Juxtaview come about?
With social media consistently changing, I spend a lot of time reading and keeping up with what brands are doing, and understanding consumers’ reactions to social media trends and platforms. What I love about Social Media is that, although it is not an exact science, you can still closely predict the success of certain trends by following consumer behavior in ways we have never been able to follow and predict before the existence of social media. Watching this so closely, often leaves me asking the “Why?” and “What If?” and finally the “Why isn’t it there?” Answering these questions, I came up with the concept of what the public will soon know as Juxtaview.com—an audience-driven social media marketing game platform.
Additionally, I wanted to positively change the lives of some of the 3,000 young adults aging out of the foster care system every year in Florida. (The drastic statistics show that 33% of them will be homeless within three years and 25% of the males will end up behind bars. This affects them and our entire society.) Our business plan includes expanding our business to include a training certification program with employment opportunities for some of these young adults.
Initially, I did what I knew how to do and went as far with creating the vision as I could on my own. I wrote the business plan, implementation plan, wrote developers points, drafted a mockup of the site, and even created a Facebook and Twitter page to start building a presence. Meanwhile, thanks to Google, I found CoFounders Lab. I signed up, but didn’t really put in the effort, as I was busy doing all of the above, and I wanted to have a clear vision before meeting with a developer. Once I made the decision to be proactive, I signed up for a Pro Membership and started looking at profiles. I found the Compatibility feature to be priceless! For me, finding a cofounder that complemented me was critical. I soon after contacted Mohamad, as he had the programming and engineering experience needed for the project. During our first phone conversation we both agreed on the importance of a lean start up and having a proof of concept. That was a relief because up to that point, those who had approached me seemed more interested in raising money than in actually developing the platform. Mohamad and I set up our first meeting that same afternoon. We have only met in person a few times, but we work really well over the phone and online at this point. We founded Social Purposes, LLC to provide a corporate structure for our platform, our operating agreement, and our other social purposes which include making brands truly social, putting consumers in charge of how they are marketed to, and empowering young adults aging out of foster care by providing them with life-changing career certified training opportunities.
What have you been up to this past year? What are your plans for next year?
Just this April, I gave three weeks notice of resignation from my position as Director of Communication at a law firm, so I guess you can say that I jumped all in! I want to breathe, speak and be our Social Purposes in order to fully and timely manifest the success of Juxtaview.com and start improving the lives of young adults. I can geek out on social media marketing and our platform, as connecting brands and consumers through effective communication has always been my passion. However, every day that we get closer to profit is a day that we get closer to providing the opportunity for a great career and future for some of these youth aging out of foster care - this keeps me extra motivated. I’m so confident in our platform, my ability and my co-founder’s ability to deliver on what we set out to do, that I’m not even nervous that I left my job.
Currently, we are in Alpha Testing mode and creating our invitations for our June Beta version with a specific group of brands. We also will be contacting Brands to be a part of our Official launch this summer. Our first marketing intern also started this week and we are ecstatic to have her on our startup team. We are moving forward creating and meeting milestones. We want to form a strong team that is committed and embraces our mission and purposes. Everyone on our team needs to also be committed to have a positive impact in the lives of the young adults entering our program. Our plans this year focus on: setting up an office, growing our client and user base, building a competent team, launching the phone APP, creating the certified training/hiring program, and maintaining strong mutually prosperous partnerships with our employees, clients, users, and charities. We are set out to change the world and create as strong model for a profitable company with a social purpose.
Any advice to other entrepreneurs looking for co-founders?
My advice to other entrepreneurs is to be proactive and be clear about not only what you want to accomplish, but what you need in order to accomplish it (in doing this, you should be honest about your qualifications and what you are lacking and what type of personalities you wish to work with.)
The next recommended step would be to create two columns. On the first column, write down what you need to create your vision and on the second column checkmark whatever is there that you are already bringing to the table. Now you should have a clearer vision of what type of co-founders you should focus on.
Believe in your dream and don’t settle. Wait for the right co-founder because you and your company deserve that. Also, be sure to consider not only technical qualifications, but also look for a cofounder who complements your work ethic, personality, vision, commitment to your mission and purpose, and other things that are important to you. For me, communication is extremely important and Mohamad is not only excellent at the technical part of what he does, but he is also a great communicator. He is also passionate about teaching and helping others exceed their own expectations and I believe working with young adults aging out of foster care will also be rewarding to him and to them.
If you can, definitely go Pro! I’m truly grateful to have found my technical co-founder on CoFounders Lab and one day, I plan to pay it forward and sponsor a few Pro memberships for entrepreneurs. I believe in the value of the important work that CoFounders Lab is doing.
As Monica points out, communication is obviously critical to collaborate effectively with your co-founder. Before you find that co-founder, effective communication is even more important. Your founder profile, summary, and first few messages need to create a powerful first impression that will make anyone want to work with you. Focus more on pitching yourself as a co-founder than on your idea or product. Like Monica, once you align on key values and principles, then you can discuss the details of the business. Remember that the relationship between co-founders is like marriage; you need to be compatible in all areas, because the relationship could (and hopefully will) last a lifetime.