In an age where people constantly question what path to take in life, Alejandro Rioja is headfirst creating one for himself. The 4th year at UCLA is as driven as they come and has prepared himself with the proper skills for himself to succeed in his future ventures. One of his projects, Flux Chargers, is something I personally use and I find a necessity to own in a world where smartphone batteries always seem empty. I had some time to speak to Alejandro to listen to what he had to say about his endeavors.
So Alejandro tell people about yourself, what is your background?
I am an international student from Bolivia studying CS at UCLA, currently on my 4th (and last) year. I started my own e-commerce startup called Flux Chargers. Flux sells portable power banks for phone and laptops.
What inspired you to be an entrepreneur? Have you always known you were going to be one?
Growing up I always looked up to people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Richard Branson (see below). I admire them because of the impact they make on the world and the products and services that they have created.
I would say that I always had an interest in making my own projects. Working for someone else just wasn’t right for me so I decided to become an entrepreneur and try to shape my life the way that I wanted.
For me, being an entrepreneur is great because it gives me the freedom to work whenever I want and on any project that I like. Although the hours are longer, I barely feel them since I am very passionate about what I am doing.
What is Flux Ventures LLC.? What successes have you seen so far since you’ve launched?
Flux Ventures currently owns
- Flux Chargers (the portable chargers). This company has been named #1 in world for portable batteries by Yahoo Tech, Digital Trends and others.
- Flux.LA, a design and SEO consulting firm.
- Flux Capital, a venture capital fund.
- Young Slacker Media, a funny – or at least I think so – snapchat channel.
The biggest success that we’ve had so far has been Flux Chargers, which not only got very positive press but also has sold in over 65 countries worldwide. This company helped us cement the [flux] brand in the minds of our customers. From the revenues that we got from this venture we were able to start the other 3 aforementioned companies.
How is Flux Chargers different from other Portable Chargers?
The Flux Portable Charger is differentiated from other portable chargers mainly in its sleek design and actual portability. Unlike our competitors, which are shaped like a tube or a heavy brick, the Flux Charger has a very slim rectangular body that is easy to carry around. Moreover, the smooth aluminum finish on the charger not only contributes to its sleekness but also makes it a robust product capable of resisting drops. But don’t take my word for it, read the dozens of 5 stars reviews that people left on Amazon.
Where do you see Flux Chargers in a few years?
We are actually growing Flux Chargers into Flux Electronics to include other accessories that we plan to launch in a few months. I see Flux Electronics becoming a big player in the accessories market with a brand that many people recognize and feel attached to.
What is it like working in a partnership? How would you describe working with your partner, Miles Anthony?
I think the key to a good partnership is solving the problems in a timely manner and not letting those linger for long.
Me and Miles are very direct people. We have a “No BS” policy, in which if we see someone doing something wrong or not working, we simply call each other out right there on the spot. This policy applies to anyone in the company. For me, it doesn’t matter if I’m the CEO; if I am doing something wrong, anyone should be able to speak up and tell me.
I think everyone in the company brings a different perspective to the team. While Miles, Max, and I tend to focus on an optimistic future, Kate approaches a situation from a more realistic point of view. Moreover, the fact that our majors range from Econ to Computer Science to Political Science gives us much broader views of opportunities in untapped markets.
From your website to your Snapchat, you seem like you have personal branding down to a science. What are your tips for others who are trying to market themselves?
What I have learned from my projects is that the key to marketing is repetition.
The key to marketing is repetition.
See? Saying it the second time makes it more valuable and important.
Another key to marketing is keeping the message consistent for a long time.
“15 minutes could save you…”
I am sure you know how that sentence ends. GEICO has been using the same message for many many years and they have nailed it. It is one of the most commonly recognized phrases in current times.
The same principles apply to personal branding. Once you come up with a brand for yourself (i.e. online marketer), you need to constantly remind people what is what you do best and put out content, products and marketing materials that reinforce that association to YOUR brand.
Who is Young Slacker? How did you come up with that persona?
Young Slacker is my snapchat name. I created this persona as my alter ego that does crazy/funny stuff on snapchat. Offline, I am Alejandro, the entrepreneur. Online, I am Young Slacker, the rapper, snapchatter. (Disclaimer: I’m not that good at rapping but I still do it on a daily basis as a form of unwinding/meditation)
The name itself is a bit interesting. I was looking for a name to contrast my personality in real life. I consider myself a workaholic so Slacker was a nice antonym to that. So for about 4 months I was Slacker.
But that in itself wasn’t memorable enough.
One day, I was going around Venice with a few friends and one of them saw a small record label on the street. They forced me to go in and talk to the owner since they knew I was all about rap.
The owner then asked me to perform a freestyle and so I did. He like it and at the end he asked me what my rapper name was.
I said Slacker.
He laughed and told me that that wasn’t a good name. He suggested Money Slacker, Lil’ Slacker or Young Slacker.
I liked the ring of Young Slacker so I changed my rapper name on the spot. Record labels and Genius went crazy.
It turns out that making funny stuff can quickly get you a lot of monetizable followers on snapchat. Follow me here: snapchat.com/add/youngslacker.
Professionally, Personally, and Musically, Who are your biggest influences?
Professionally, I have a lot of respect for Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Evan Spiegel (Snapchat’s CEO), Vlad Tenev (Robinhood’s CEO) and Richard Branson. I also like to constantly develop my network by at least meeting one new person every day. I was able to accomplish this goal my freshman year, where every single day I met a different person at the dining halls.
Personally, my biggest influences are my friends and family circles. That is why I am very careful when choosing who I spend my time with.
As for musicians, since I mostly listen to rap, I like rappers that have meanings in their songs (Sorry to Future, Young Thug, and the like). I listen, study and try to imitate the flow of Eminem and Logic; the intensity of Hopsin and the cleverness of Lil Dicky. I like G-Eazy’s ability to appeal to a larger crowd and freestyle ingenuity of Sha Mula and Chase Benji (keep an eye out for the last two, they are on their way up).
On your Facebook, you said you Invested in Everipedia. What did you see in Everipedia that you do not see in other startups?
I invested in Everipedia for a couple reasons:
- The main reason was the team. I met Mahbod and Sam a few years ago and they struck me because they were very talented and unique. We built a friendship before I even considered investing.
- The fact that the whole team lives and breathes in the same place. The Everipedia guys have a sick apartment in Westwood where they sleep and work. Talk about dedication and commitment to the startup.
- The idea of a crowdsourced knowledge base that includes all of Wikipedia and more attracted me and I saw a big potential for growth. Also Sam told me some secret and exciting features that he was building that went beyond just crowdsourced knowledge so I was very intrigued.
What is your opinion on taking risks? What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned from your experiences?
Never take risks.
And I mean NEVER.
I’m joking, of course.
If you never take risks you will never get a chance to become successful. No one gets rewarded by following the herd.
However, it is not just about taking risks. It is about taking calculated risks. I usually don’t make risky decisions on the spot. I take my time and try to analyze all the possible outcomes and then make a decision that matches my risk tolerance. The risk tolerance of a person also might vary depending on the situation. For me, I consider jumping off a cliff very risky, whereas I consider investing a portion of my savings into startups less risky.
The biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that people will use their lack of knowledge as one of the biggest barriers to doing anything. I don’t know how to code, I don’t know how the manufacturing process in China works, I don’t know how to sell, I have no idea how to do SEO.
Like Brendon Burchard says, the job of an entrepreneur is to go learn those skills.
In a world where a vast amount of knowledge is just one Google search away, there is virtually no excuse for not figuring out how to do something.
Also, being able to delegate, delete, or intelligently procrastinate on tasks is extremely valuable.
Some tasks are not worth our time and should be delegated to someone that can do it better.
Some tasks are not worth anyone’s time and should be deleted.
And other tasks simply do not require our attention at this precise moment and should be put away until their time comes.
If you follow this approach to task management, you will notice your productive rise. It is not about working harder, it is about working smarter.