Alejandro Rioja is the founder of Flux Ventures, a Holdings Group that owns several companies such as:
- Flux Chargers, the top rated portable charger in the world as ranked by Digital Trends, Yahoo Tech, Mashable and others.
- Flux.LA, a marketing and development firm that develops websites and apps for startups, gets them featured on large publications and creates different marketing channels to acquire customers.
- Young Slacker Media, which comprises Snapchat channel @youngslacker and several highly trafficked sites like FutureSharks.
Alejandro was born in Bolivia and studies Computer Science at UCLA. In his free time, he likes rapping, reading about psychology and investing in early stage startups. Read more about him on his entrepreneurial blog.
How did you get to where you are today?
A lot of things have fallen in place that have allowed me to be where I am right now. The biggest 2 things that have catapulted my career have been my network (which is constantly growing) and the marketing I do for my personal brand and startup.
When I came to the US in 2013, I knew a total of one person. During my freshman year at UCLA, I challenged myself to meet a new person each and every day, even if this implied making conversation to a person sitting across the dining hall table. This helped me meet a ton of very cool people, some of which have gone to become really good friends of mine. These connections were essential in getting my first few deals. Nowadays, I connect with various entrepreneurs on Facebook and LinkedIn always looking for ways where we can develop a symbiotic relationship and mutually benefit from working together.
To grow my personal brand and startup (which have been featured in over 50+ sites) was first to never say no to anyone that wanted to write about me or my company, no matter how small their publication because a small feature can be leveraged to get into a larger publication. The more people I tell about my dreams, the wider they spread.
What was your toughest obstacle and how did you overcome it?
There were two main challenges that we had to overcome when we launched Flux Chargers. One of them was breaking through the noise. The portable charger market was (and still is) very saturated, so we needed to differentiate. Our chargers are different from the other ones out there because they come with built-in cables for both iPhone and Android. Also, our portable charger is not an ugly lipstick or brick shape; we went with the slimmest and sleekest design possible. With this feature-improvement approach, we quickly gained a lot of raving fans that loved our chargers and spoke highly of them.
Another challenge that we faced was the fact that we didn’t take any venture funding. Although now it is a big advantage for us, raising capital would have allowed us to reach momentum much quicker. I think this experience made the whole team more resilient and also allowed us to better budget our spend and target our efforts on the right tasks.
What’s the key to staying focused/motivated?
It’s easy to get motivated. You can watch a 5-minute motivational talk on YouTube and get fired up. The hard part is to sustain that motivation for long periods of time.
To do that you need to really define your purpose and have a clear goal in mind. What is what you want to accomplish with your project? WHY? What really moves you? These are questions that you need to answer for yourself so that when it gets tough you always find the inner strength to continue.
To stay focused I structure my day in such a way that I do the activity that I’m most productive at at that point of the day i.e. writing in the morning, coding at night, meetings in the afternoon, etc.
What advice do you have for another person who is looking to start a new venture?
- Start! You can’t succeed if you keep thinking about it and never get to actually doing it.
- Learn from the best. People that are at the top of their field are there because they know something we don’t. It is imperative that we study the experts if we want to be the best.
- Don’t give up. Most companies fail not due to external competition but rather lack of internal motivation.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
“Remember to exercise and maintain the people that matter close to you.”
Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up on work and forget to take care of your body or make that phone call to your family. Make time for that, it’s important.
How do we get more women leaders?
I think this blog is a great initiative! Giving more exposure to females working towards exciting projects can show other females what’s possible, with the hopes of motivating them to start their own projects. The UCLA Luskin Center (a place where I worked during my undergrad years) developed a more comprehensive report on how to get more women in tech. I highly recommend looking at it.