Diana Goodwin is the founder of Aqua Mobile, which is an on-demand at home swim school service, the largest of its kind in North America today.
Diana is an accomplished entrepreneur and a thought leader on boot strapping businesses to seven figures.
She has been featured in a ton of publications including Forbes, Success Magazine, The Huffington Post, Tech Five, Mashable, among many others.
In this episode we discuss why Diana decided to quit her day job and start her own business. She shares why she prefers to bootstrap rather than raise capital. Diana discusses her experience on the Dragon’s Den TV show.
It’s an enlightening conversation about failure, triumph, getting out of your comfort zone, focusing your ideas and leading a balanced life.
Take a listen!
Key Points From This Episode:
- Find out why Diana quit her job and decided to start her own business.
- How Diana used her MBA to propel her business.
- The toughest part about bootstrapping a startup business.
- What is the Aqua Mobile business model?
- How Diana overcame her first Dragon’s Den rejection.
- How Dragon’s Den helped Diana to leverage her business.
- The most painful things about being an entrepreneur.
- Finding grant money; what is the best approach?
- How to break the 9-5 rut and make time for your own ideas!
- Diana’s advice for brand new entrepreneurs.
- And much more!
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
Diana Goodwin on Twitter — https://twitter.com/DianaMGoodwin
Aqua Mobile Website — https://aquamobileswim.com/
Aqua Mobile on Twitter — https://twitter.com/aquamobileswim
Dragon’s Den TV Show Website — http://www.cbc.ca/dragonsden/
Shark Tank TV Show Website — http://abc.go.com/shows/shark-tank
“DG: I’ve seen some people who don’t like to get outside of their comfort zone and so they don’t necessarily grow to that same level and you know, I see some of those people, I tell them that you know – I said look, you have to – don’t come down hard on yourself if something doesn’t – don’t worry about what other people are thinking. Just go and just try it because if you don’t try, you will never know and you will never learn.”
[0:00:26.3] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Fail On Podcast where we explore the hardships and obstacles today’s industry leaders face on their journey to the top of their fields, through careful insight and thoughtful conversation. By embracing failure, we’ll show you how to build momentum without being consumed by the result.
Now please welcome your host, Rob Nunnery.
[0:00:52.4] RN: Hey there and welcome to the show that believes in embracing failure and sharing your honest struggle is the only way to achieve your dreams. In a world that only shares successes, we share the struggle by talking to honest and vulnerable entrepreneurs, these are their stories. Today’s Fail On featured guest is Diana Goodwin, Diana is the founder of Aqua Mobile which is an on demand at home swim school service.
Now, the largest of its kind in north America. Diana’s an accomplished entrepreneur and a Thought Leader on Boot Strapping Businesses to Seven Figures, she’s been featured in a ton of publications including Forbes, Success Magazine, The Huffington Post, Tech Five, Mashable, amongst many others, we’ll be discussing why she prefers to bootstrap rather than raise capital. Her experience with Dragon’s Den in Canada and what it led to with her business and the moment she actually decided to leave her day job because her dissatisfaction in that job exceeded her level of comfort.
But first, if you’d like to stay up to date on all The Fail On podcast interviews and keep takeaways from each guest, simply go to failon.com and sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of the page. That’s failon.com.
[0:02:04.0] RN: Hey there and welcome to The Fail On Podcast. Today we’ve got Diana Goodwin in the house, really excited to have you on the show today, welcome to the Fail On Podcast.
[0:02:11.7] DG: Thanks Rob, happy to be here.
[0:02:13.8] RN: Is Toronto your hometown?
[0:02:16.0] DG: It is my hometown.
[0:02:16.5] RN: You grew up here, high school, university, everything here?
[0:02:20.0] DG: Everything here, yup, University of Toronto, yup.
[0:02:23.6] RN: You guys didn’t roll out the red carpet with the weather.
[0:02:27.3] DG: I’m sorry Rob, I know, I was going to say, today it’s cloudy and rainy, two things they don’t have in California.
[0:02:32.7] RN: Yeah, very rarely. Actually, this winter, this is going to sound super snobbish but we’ve had like terrible weather and what I mean by terrible weather is it rained like, I can count on two hands how many times it’s rained this winter and that’s a lot for San Diego.
[0:02:50.3] DG: I was in California during that torrential downpour that you guys had, I was actually more on LA at that time but people were saying it’s been 10 years and they haven’t seen anything like this ever. I get it, you're a little bit used to it but the whole city shuts down when it rains a little bit.
[0:03:05.0] RN: It’s crazy, people drive like nut jobs. Here, well I grew up in Georgia in the south and whenever, it would like – we’d get a very light snow, I’m talking like, not even like an inch, people would rush to the grocery stores, to get milk and they where just the worst drivers in the world because they’re so terrified of driving in the snow but in California, it’s the rain.
[0:03:26.1] DG: Yup.
[0:03:26.4] RN: It’s interesting. Anyways, let’s just jump right in to it.
[0:03:30.0] DG: Yeah, absolutely.
[0:03:31.7] RN: If you have to go back, what was the first time in your life where somebody actually gave you money in exchange for a product or a service you created, whether it’s your current business or whether it was a previous business?
[0:03:47.5] DG: When I was a kid, you know, I think it probably started when I was around six, seven years old. I was one of those kids who was always looking for ways to make money. I loved creating things –
[0:03:58.9] RN: The born entrepreneur?
[0:04:00.0] DG: It definitely was in my blood. It could be even things like, you know, trying to put on a garage sale with my parent’s stuff, stuff that I thought they didn’t want or need anymore to go and sell it.
[0:04:10.7] RN: Would you ask them or you just take their stuff and sell it?
[0:04:12.5] DG: It depends. Some of both. You know, I had jewelry that I would make and sell. It was always something that I was trying to create when I was younger.
[0:04:23.9] RN: Was it something that your parents kind of like led you towards or is it something that you feel like it just kind of, you saw the world and that kind of lends?
[0:04:33.8] DG: You know, I think where my parents helped is I was, I was and still am a very strong headed child, I was going to do what I was going to do and to their credit, they let me go and explore, they didn’t force me down one path or another.
If I wanted to, whether it was trying a certain sport or you know, a certain activity, they were very open to that and they never shut me down, they were always supportive of it. Because they were more science background, they didn’t necessarily come from that entrepreneurial background at all. It was something that I think for them to be open minded parents and let me, trust me enough to go and explore and learn that way.
I think that fostered what I was able to become.
[0:05:15.2] RN: That’s cool. You’re starting to be an entrepreneur as a kid, just garage sale stuff. Do you actually remember, maybe not but do you actually remember the first time somebody actually gave you the dollar and you’re like, wow.
[0:05:30.5] DG: I don’t, in terms of money, one thing that with my current business that was – that I remember still is you know, again, because I’m Canadian, I did start my Aqua Mobile in Canada and so when I first expanded into the US, that moment, that moment of checking the online system and seeing that there was a customer in Orlando Florida that had purchased lessons and had booked in with one of our swim instructors.
[0:05:58.4] RN: Why was that so cool? Why the States? Because I’m sure you had customers outside of Toronto in Canada right?
[0:06:04.6] DG: Yes.
[0:06:05.5] RN: Not physically where you’re located.
[0:06:07.6] DG: Yeah, we were across Ontario and you know, across many number of cities but I knew that to get the business to where I wanted to grow it in terms of size, I would need to go in to the US market pretty quickly, just because I mean, 10 times more people than in Canada and in a smaller land mass, you know, more condensed which for a business like mine, where my swim instructors are traveling to client’s homes, it makes it easier.
That was huge because I had put so much work into understanding the US market and building out kind of my corporate structure and getting everything setup so that I could succeed in the US and it wasn’t easy, it took a lot of work at the beginning so, to see that and be like wow, it’s working, people are, they’re buying.
That’s pretty powerful, especially now when I look back to that, that I remember. Now, US revenue is over 70% of our total revenue. Yeah.
[0:07:01.3] RN: When was it that you first went into the US market, what timeline.
[0:07:05.6] DG: That would have been in 2012.
[0:07:07.9] RN: Okay, so about five years?
[0:07:09.2] DG: Five years ago, yeah. Pretty quickly after launching, I knew I needed to go into the US. Florida was my first test market. It was one of the natural spots, I mean, in retrospect if I could do it over again, I would do California first but in any case –
[0:07:27.8] RN: Why?
[0:07:28.1] DG: I think, for me, just – there’s a lot more people in California and I think a lot of people, a lot more people willing to spend money on the best, the top services. I mean, Florida’s been great for us, it’s still our biggest state, we’ve also been there the longest but you know, for me, it was a great place to go because my family also had – this is a common Canadian thing. Exactly.
I had a place where I could work on my business low cost, get a lay of the land, spend some time there and you know, not have to spend money renting a place, I could deal with that, you know, use their car to get around, it was just a low risk way to do things especially because I was bootstrapping the business, I wasn’t looking for venture capital, I was doing it on my own and so, you know, every dollar counts.
[0:08:21.3] RN: What was the size of the business before you moved into the US market?
[0:08:25.9] DG: Let’s see, it was probably only around I would say, 100 to $150,000 I would say before moving in.
[0:08:35.8] RN: How long had you been operating business at that point that you’d gotten it to six figures like that?
[0:08:40.4] DG: Technically about a year but I had a small client based, very small from kind of my, you know, I had another business called Swim For Life Aquatics from when I was younger, when I would go and teach clients, I myself –
[0:08:52.9] RN: Just instructor.
[0:08:54.2] DG: I was a swim instructor, I did everything, I did the marketing, the book keeping and that was, you know, just a little business that I’ve kind of left on the side.
[0:09:02.2] RN: Trading time for money type deal.
[0:09:04.1] DG: I didn’t really have, it was never meant to be anything big but once I got into the corporate world, I kept it running but have you know, friends or other instructors on staff and so – you know, I basically went away and did my MBA for a year and while I was there, I kind of transitioned, I was like look.
This is a time, I’m going to turn this into an international company. You know, all that to be said, I had a little bit of a client base from that old business that I kind of carried over. I didn’t have to – when I started, I didn’t have to start at scrap.
Right at zero dollars revenue, I had a little bit so I knew there was that market there and so once I finished my MBA, end of 2011, that’s kind of where I just kind of worked full time on the business. Finished out that year and then 2011, 2012 is then when I started to go west.
[0:09:54.8] RN: Did you get the idea for the company while you’re doing your MBA and that’s what made you transition into it?
[0:10:00.8] DG: No, because I’d had this idea. To give you a little bit of context, when I graduated from my under grad. I had a commerce background, commerce undergrad. I was recruited to go work at a management consulting company, Bane and Company which is a fairly well known company, well known and a very great place to learn. While I was there, again, I still had that entrepreneurial spirit and drive and I was starting to become burnt out, not as happy with my job, I would brainstorm ideas with a friend who was also unhappy in her job.
Then one day, it kind of came to me, wait a minute, what am I doing wasting my time, trying to come up with all these new business ideas when I have this old business that I had totally been ignoring because I just didn’t have enough time because I was working so much.
[0:10:45.1] RN: Wasn’t that business still running at that time? Other instructors that kind of thing?
[0:10:48.8] DG: There were a few other instructors but I mean, on my end, you know, a couple of hours a week, I really didn’t have much time and it was like a two-hour work week. Plus, my 60 hours plus at another job.
That’s where I was like you know what? This is where I’m going to take that and make it something big and that’s where I said I’m going to take that idea and use it, I did a one year MBA and I took courses that would – I’d be able to focus on that business. Market research course, business plan writing course, where I’d be able to bring you know, a group of smart students who come from different background.
[0:11:23.3] RN: Smart, yeah.
[0:11:24.2] DG: Yeah, bring everyone’s brains together and get this thing done and use that for our class project.
[0:11:28.7] RN: That’s awesome, to actually use your MBA as almost like a tool, most people just get their MBA to get their MBA and to like propel them into like a corporate job that pays better than it would if you just had your undergrad degree.
You actually used it to strategically figure out how to direct the business that you created.
[0:11:46.1] DG: Yeah, you know, that was at a time, I started my MBA in I guess June of 2010 and so that was at a time when everyone was saying, if you want to be an entrepreneur, you don’t need to go do your MBA, what are you doing? I was really torn whether I was going to go or not because I had already been accepted because that’s kind of the management consulting path to go on, you do two, three years as a management consultant, then you go get your MBA and then you come back.
I kind of midstream I switched and I’m like no, I can’t go back. I need to go do my own thing but in the end, after a lot of soul searching, I did choose to go and I’m so happy I did, you know, not just to help grow my business, it was really good that way but just from even personal growth and just even what I learned and even the network I’ve built that I still tap into today, you know, I spent almost a month in California, mid-January to mid-February of this year.
Trying to do some on the ground business development for aqua mobile and so many Kellogg contacts, that’s where I went to my MBA.
[0:12:51.3] RN: A lot of people out there?
[0:12:51.9] DG: So many people that have helped – that helped open doors for me. You know, it’s not just about the in class stuff, it’s that network that you have for years later, supportive network of people wanting to help each other.
I think now, I mean, at the time, it was very rare for an MBA student to be doing their – to be working in a business while there. Things have changed, now, literally, I would say, a year or two after I was there, I think all of the schools, whether at Harvard, Stanford, Kellogg or –
[0:13:19.6] RN: You're required to start a business right?
[0:13:20.1] DG: Well, it’s just, there’s so much more support to it, they’re throwing tons of money towards, like incubators and business plan writing competitions, all sorts of things to support the students and help them innovate, when I was there, that type of funding definitely wasn’t there to help. There was definitely support from the students where someone would hear what I was working on just through word of mouth, through other people.
They’d reach out and say look, I heard what you’re doing, I think it’s awesome, I used to be a swim coach or happy to give you any advice you need. People were excited about it and were so supportive because I think for a lot of them, they knew they were going back into the corporate world so they could help out a student.
[0:13:57.7] RN: Yeah.
[0:13:58.7] DG: It was just so touching to have all of that support.
[0:14:02.9] RN: What’s been the toughest part about getting Aqua Mobile off the ground and actually making money and profitable.
[0:14:09.8] DG: The toughest part. Because I’ve chosen to bootstrap the business, I would say, one of the hardest things is – it’s really important to make sure that every dollar is being maximized and so sometimes that means you know, I don’t just have money to throw at a problem to make it go away.
Even when hiring sometimes. I can’t necessarily you know, couldn’t always afford like the top super star that’s commanding a six figure salary, I have to more maybe be a little scrappy and look for that – you know, someone who is maybe a little younger, who is kind of that up and coming super star.
[0:14:41.8] RN: Got potential.
[0:14:43.2] DG: Has potential, train them, grow them, nurture them. That can be challenging, another challenging thing with Aqua Mobile, is it is a seasonal business. Seasonal in terms of when we generate our revenue. We’ll have our busy season, let’s call it April or May to September and then it just dies, it’s like crickets and so we’re still operating but compared to the busy season, it really calms down and so you know, it’s tough because we also have seasonal workers, whether it’s the swim instructors, whether it’s our customer service team.
We really have this kind of ramping up and ramping down. Really have to kind of manage that, that’s challenging, you’ve got this great talent, you’ve trained them and then you can’t keep them on continuously all the time.
[0:15:28.9] RN: What’s the actual business model? How do you actually make money?
[0:15:33.9] DG: Basically, we have a network of swimming instructors across the US and Canada and they will travel to client’s home and condo pools and so how we make money is, we will – like a customer can either call our sales team or use our platform themselves online. Enter in their pool address and they’ll be able to see the instructors who are available in their area so availability, bios, pictures, certifications and then they can see the real time availability like days and time.
They can book and pay online.
[0:16:08.9] RN: Do you have like ratings and reviews of the instructors?
[0:16:10.7] DG: We do, you can’t see our ratings on the public facing, we do have kind of a two way rating system so customers can rate instructors and instructors can rank customers. We see that, it’s a way for us if there’s any problems, we can see it immediately and address it and I mean, the good thing is, the reason we also don’t publicly show it is because we’re different from a lot of the market place and we’re heavily curating our instructors so it’s not like anyone, you know, marketplace apps are popping up all over the place where anyone can join.
[0:16:37.8] RN: I could go be a swim instructor.
[0:16:39.2] DG: But not at Aqua Mobile because we curate our instructors and –
[0:16:44.9] RN: Do you have to apply if you’re an instructor to like –
[0:16:46.6] DG: You have to go through up multi step process to join. That’s where I think we’re adding – we add a lot of value that a lot of these market places don’t because we’re heavily curating the instructors and then we’re providing the service because a lot of our clients, are parents who don’t know what – how many lessons per weeks should they be having, what type of instructor for their kids, how long is it going to be before they learn how to swim or do this skill or that skill.
You know, they can call our customer service team which is actually all either current swim instructors or former swim instructors. They’ve got that knowledge that they can help parents. That’s been huge to be able to provide that additional information. We definitely heavily leverage, you know, technology but we understand that that personal touch is a way that we can add value, whether it’s making sure that you’re getting a high quality instructor or providing top notch customer service.
[0:17:42.0] RN: Got it. I think I threw us off on there because I was just curious. But – back to the business model.
[0:17:49.9] DG: The business model.
[0:17:51.7] RN: How do you make money, yeah.
[0:17:52.8] DG: How to make money. Okay, so, customers will then go and book and pay for once they’ve seen the instructors, pick the instructor they like, they will book and pay for timeslots online.
[0:18:05.2] RN: Got you, let’s say a dollar amount?
[0:18:08.3] DG: Yeah, it depends on the area, most areas will be between 75 to $85 an hour and within that, you can split the time however you want. So if a family, if someone has two kids, they can do a private 30 minute.
[0:18:19.5] RN: Half hour, half hour?
[0:18:20.3] DG: Exactly or sometimes if cost is an issue, families will bring in a couple of neighbors and you know, maybe there’s four kids, exactly. It’s still you know, you can still then get you know, two kids for one instructor per half hour and have a great lesson and get a lot of value out of it.
Customers will pay that hourly rate and then once the lessons occurred, we will then pay our instructors out on a per hour – like for per hour. However many hours they –
[0:18:49.4] RN: What kind of percentage are they getting of that 75, 85?
[0:18:52.9] DG: They tend to get, depending on the area, in those type varies around $30 an hour, some areas will be more, we kind of set it as –
[0:19:02.4] RN: Depends on geography or what?
[0:19:03.8] DG: Yeah, a lot of it is on geography. For example, you know, one of our most expensive areas would be the Hamptons, that’s probably not surprising to anyone. They’re the instructors are making at least $60 an hour but a lot of them are also maybe traveling from further out to get there because they’re not necessarily living right in the Hamptons, they’re further on to Long Island.
[0:19:27.3] RN: I used to actually live on north shore of Long Island for about a year, I was coaching tennis at a university there called Stoney Brook. I would actually go out to the Hamptons, also doing a service based business and I would coach tennis to clients out in the Hamptons.
The prices you could charge out there are –
[0:19:45.5] DG: I guess you would charge a little bit more out there, yeah.
[0:19:47.3] RN: Yeah, you could charge crazy prices per hour out there but yeah, no, I just maybe think of that.
[0:19:51.7] DG: Yeah, it’s based on kind of geography, that’s basically some areas are just going to be more than others.
[0:19:58.9] RN: Got it. I know you said, you started this whole thing bootstrapping. I did read that you were on Dragons Den right?
[0:20:06.5] DG: I was on Dragon’s Den.
[0:20:08.6] RN: Tell me about that process? What was the application process, what was it like being on the show?
[0:20:15.5] DG: No, I know, it’s funny, I know the process for both Shark Tank and Dragons Den.
[0:20:21.4] RN: Did you apply to Shark Tank?
[0:20:22.6] DG: I would have loved to be on Shark Tank but I’m – especially because that’s where most of our clients are and opportunity for growth. Unfortunately, I’m not a US resident and that is their kind of like, that’s their number one requirement but it’s very different in that on Dragon’s Den.
You go to in person auditions, that is kind of the main driver of who goes on the TV show whereas on Shark Tank, it’s very different in that, they only have I think two live audition days, most everyone I know who’s ever been on Shark Tank, a producer reached out to them so very different process.
Basically you kind of fill out an online form for Dragon’s Den, print it off, show up on the audition day and you know, you wait, you’re given a number, you wait in line and you then go and talk to the producers are paired up so there might be anywhere from eight to 10 producers and you kind of go to whatever table opens up next.
You go to that table of two producers and you basically give a couple minute pitch.
[0:21:18.8] RN: Were you scared?
[0:21:19.4] DG: It’s funny, I auditioned twice, I first auditioned probably in 2013 or so and I didn’t have at the time, the business like the producers didn’t get my business whatsoever.
[0:21:33.0] RN: The model.
[0:21:33.6] DG: The model, they didn’t get it. The funny thing is back then, Uber wasn’t really as big of a deal.
[0:21:37.9] RN: You couldn’t say like Uber for swimming.
[0:21:38.9] DG: To make them understand? Yeah. Also, we were just kind of in Ontario, we were just kind of getting our – we were – the only other place we were in was Florida and it wasn’t that big yet. It wasn’t as compelling to them and I think one producer was in to it, the other woman just – she didn’t get it, it wasn’t her – why don’t you just take your kids to a community center pool.
I’m like no, I said, no, that’s the whole difference, we’re providing the convenience, the private high quality, so the kids can actually learn.
[0:22:08.9] RN: On that note, I don’t want to get my thoughts too far off subject but I just maybe think, are you targeting pretty much like, you mentioned the Hamptons, is it a high end service like where you’re targeting affluent families.
[0:22:22.2] DG: You know, it can be – I think it’s within reach of, you can make it what you want of it, if you want to have it.
[0:22:28.9] RN: Split it up with four or five kids you can, yeah.
[0:22:31.1] DG: You know. At the same time, I mean, yes, it’s a bit of a premium service especially if you’re doing it where you have just one kid and you’re giving them a full hour but again, you can bring in other neighbors and then it’s much more affordable and here’s the thing, over the long term, if you get private swim lessons versus if you keep going to group community center where there’s eight kids every half an hour.
I guarantee you, your lifetime cost of what you spent on swimming lessons will be smaller if you just do the private lessons and get the skill solidified. It’s one of those things that some people are like realize that and put a premium on that. Also, you’re having an instructor come right to your door at times that you choose and it’s – I mean, our prices are no more expensive than any other personal trainer, like even like my gym that I go to, if you want a personal training session, it’s $120 an hour right?
I’m going to the gym, it’s not like I’ve got someone showing up at my door and so you know, it depends, some people will say, our lessons are a great deal, other people will say, it’s too expensive for them. It totally depends on who you ask.
[0:23:35.1] RN: Got it, okay, I’m going to try to reel us back to Dragon’s Den. Didn’t get first audition.
[0:23:42.3] DG: First audition didn’t. Yes, I was nervous and I prepared, I worked on my intro and everything.
[0:23:47.2] RN: Did you get through your pitch – just yeah.
[0:23:49.5] DG: Yeah, they were like – it was just a couple minute pitch, you know.
[0:23:54.5] RN: Some of the pitch that you actually give when you’re in front of the –
[0:23:57.8] DG: Exactly, similar to that kind of like, this is what I’m asking for, here’s my business, here’s how much money we make. I think – also, given that my business is more of a service business, it’s not like I had a physical product that I can get the Dragons to taste or to try on, there was nothing like that, that didn’t help my cause and I knew going into this situation, it was going to be harder for them to see that.
[0:24:19.8] RN: What happened second time around that made the switch flip for them?
[0:24:23.7] DG: I think a few different things. It’s funny, the funny story is, when I went to show up the second time, the producer, two years after that first rejection, I went back and I was slated to go to the table and the producer that didn’t get my idea last time –
[0:24:40.1] RN: Same person.
[0:24:40.0] DG: Same time. What I did actually, I told the head producer that was letting – I actually – you know what? I’m not ready, I have to go to the bathroom.
[0:24:47.8] RN: Strategic.
[0:24:48.8] DG: I just went away for a couple of minutes so that another person would go to her table and then I got to the next table. The next table was the other producer that was there. But he actually remembered me and he was like yeah, you were here last year. I’m like yeah, it was actually two years. He was into it and you know, I did say this time around, I said, here is what I would do to make it interesting for TV. I try to give them ideas and get that –
[0:25:11.4] RN: You got in their head, got in their shoes and –
[0:25:13.7] DG: Yeah, here’s the thing, also, at that point, it was two years later, to me, honestly, the numbers spoke for themselves for the business and I also T’d it up at that point because that was 2015 I believe now. I T’d it up with – we’re Uber for swim lessons, right away, it’s something that they immediately get and it’s something that the audience would immediately get.
Whether I want to use that or not, it just does help people and so I was so, I didn’t prepare as much this time but I was just so much more confident because I’m like look. If you don’t want me this time, there’s nothing else because I mean, my numbers spoke for themselves, I was in multiple places in the US and the growth had been really good so I just was like look, I have that confidence and –
[0:25:54.1] RN: Were you confident going in – like after being – this is like, kind of the podcast right? It’s Fail On. Which it seems like after that first audition, you could have been like, well screw it, they don’t like it, they don’t want me, but you didn’t, you came back two years later and said, let’s learn from the first mistake and let’s do it again, see what happens.
[0:26:12.5] DG: Yeah, exactly. This time around, I also had a nicer looking tech platform and so I was more confident to show that tech platform in. I went on Vista Print and I had kind of some big screenshots blown up. I just said, you know, I showed and I was a basically like – just walk them through – customers enter their info here, then they see the instructors, they book the timeslot and boom, they’re done.
I had that visual too, that’s why even when I went on to film Dragon’s Den, I was able to show those visuals, it was something, it wasn’t just going to be something –
[0:26:47.6] RN: Conceptual.
[0:26:48.4] DG: Exactly or like me bringing some kids to splash around in a little pool with some toys. There was just – there was something more to do because it was the tech part was built out more by them.
[0:26:58.1] RN: What gave you more confidence going into that second audition and because it sounds - just from how you’re acting right now, it sounds like you just crushed that shit, the second one, right?
[0:27:08.7] DG: Yeah, no, I did that.
[0:27:10.2] RN: Did you go in with that confidence?
[0:27:11.8] DG: I did.
[0:27:12.3] RN: How though? From already being rejected the first time, were you just so confident in what the business was doing?
[0:27:18.5] DG: I think at that point, yeah, I had more of a leg to stand on that time, because it was like look, you know, we’ve been doubling in growth for the past few years, we’re in multiple states, here’s our tech platform, no one else is doing it, here is where I’m projecting our growth, boom. I was kind of that, if you don’t see what this can be.
[0:27:37.1] RN: Then you don’t see it, whatever.
[0:27:37.6] DG: Then that’s fine.
[0:27:39.9] RN: What year was this?
[0:27:41.4] DG: That was 2015.
[0:27:42.9] RN: Got you and did you actually –
[0:27:45.5] DG: It was like about two years ago basically?
[0:27:47.3] RN: You’re actually on the show two years ago? When did you actually –
[0:27:48.8] DG: It aired, the show ended up airing so I auditioned I guess February 2015, I filmed it in May 2015 and it didn’t air until March 2016. It was in my case, a long window before it aired which was fine by me because I – given that we’re seasonal, I would rather Aqua Mobile go on Dragon’s Den in March than in – you know, than in September or December, no one’s thinking about swim lessons.
I think at least, I think they were probably thinking the same thing and after all that, after being rejected the first time, the feedback I got after the filming, one of the Dragons said, you know, it’s one of the best pitches that they’ve seen this year so far and then even a couple of the camera guys came up to me as I was the last one to film that day and they came up and said, that was awesome and you crushed it.
They see all of these. It’s really nice to get those compliments after from people who have seen what’s out there you know?
[0:28:49.6] RN: They’ve seen a lot of these pitches right?
[0:28:51.2] DG: After having that initial rejection where like they didn’t even want me on it.
[0:28:55.8] RN: What were your nerves like going into the actual filming process.
[0:28:57.7] DG: Man, I mean, I was pretty nervous, I think I was very nervous once the filming started actually – they have you start, you are kind of at the top of a platform, a metal platform so it’s up a flight of stairs, you have to walk across this metal platform and you have to walk down the stairs.
Now, I’m wearing hills and whenever – I was nervous, my legs were shaking, my biggest fear was actually face planting as I was going to be going down the stairs, I was so terrified. You know, you kind of want to look up and smile for the camera. Diana, just keep your eyes down, on the floor and do not face plant. That’s not the way to start this pitch.
For me, the part where I was most nervous was the first two minutes where I have to say the memorized part because again, whenever you’re memorizing something –
[0:29:49.8] RN: It sounds scripted, right?
[0:29:51.0] DG: That was the part I was most nervous about and I knew I was shaking, and again, thank God you can’t see it on camera but my legs were shaking. After the two minute pitch, the memorization part, I then went and did the product demo and that’s when I started to ease up, and then once the questions started, it was just like a conversation, it was easy at that point because again, I knew my business so well that I could answer those questions.
It was more of a conversation at that point and it was actually very light hearted, you know, we would joke around different things, one of the Dragons is really big into fashion so he was asking me who designed my dress. There was some light-hearted banter in there too.
They’ve been doing this all day for days and so –
[0:30:34.1] RN: They’ve got to keep it fun.
[0:30:34.6] DG: They’ve got to keep it fun so I mean, I had a great experience. I feel like because I knew my numbers, they didn’t give me too much of a hard time whereas, I’ve seen that sometimes on Shark Tank or Dragon’s Den, they’ll nail you on the numbers if you don’t know something or that they don’t trust you.
But once they trust you, that you know your stuff, that’s not going to be an issue for them, they’re not going to keep digging and digging.
[0:30:57.2] RN: Yeah, the only issues are when you’re like, you hesitate on a numbers question and then they just go after you right?, they sense the blood in the water.
[0:31:05.7] DG: Yeah, you hesitate or one of your numbers look weak or doesn’t make sense, you know, it’s like, wait a minute, you have all of this revenue growth but now you also have half a million in debt, what’s going on?
[0:31:17.6] RN: Got it. What’s that done for your business? Not only the exposure but also just the experience of you having to pitch your business and to really dig into your business and get to know yourself and push yourself outside of your comfort zone like that. What’s that whole transformation been like to, from going through all that to now?
[0:31:37.1] DG: Yeah, I mean, I think being on there, it definitely made me kind of sharpen up on all my numbers and know my business inside out and just make a crisp pitch to people to be succinct with what I’m saying instead of well, we did this and that, that was helpful, I think from a brand awareness perspective in Canada, it very much helped, it’s a popular show, there’s a million viewers a week and so to have that brand awareness even if people weren’t necessarily buying because of it.
It’s just nice to know that people had heard – even in the prairies of Canada where we don’t offer swim lessons, people know about us there. We had one person join our marketing team and she was home in Winnipeg Manitoba and she told them where she was going to be working and her relatives had all – they’d already heard about Aqua Mobile.
It’s nice to have that kind of brand awareness because I think long term, that will help with the trust and credibility. I think those are kind of some of the benefits of putting myself into that uncomfortable place.
[0:32:39.3] RN: Sure, what were you actually asking for in the Den?
[0:32:42.7] DG: On air, I asked for $200,000 for 10% of the company and I ended up getting exactly what I asked for. Then, after that though, I mean.
[0:32:53.5] RN: Value your business at times two?
[0:32:54.7] DG: It was about yeah, two-million-dollar evaluation, that being said, I wasn’t you know – in the end, you know, like most of the deals, they didn’t go through and I wasn’t – truth be told, it wasn’t at the top of my list, I wanted to get the word out there about Aqua Mobile, you know, share what we were all about and you know, I just felt that my company was worth more that.
Yes, I know that’s what I went on and asked but you know, the evaluations on Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank, you have to go in with a different evaluation, what the open market would actually value your company at. There’s always going to be that disconnect.
[0:33:28.6] RN: What made it fall apart? The actual deal afterwards?
[0:33:32.4] DG: I guess that would have been May of 2015 when the deal was filmed on my end, I told them, because the next step was to go through and do due diligence, I said look, I don’t have time for that, this is my busy season and I need to focus for the next few months to make sure that we actually generate the revenue, I said I was going to generate. Can we table this? That’s what I said.
[0:33:55.7] RN: Sounds like you didn’t really want the deal anymore?
[0:33:58.1] DG: Yeah, I mean, they said no problem. And then in the meantime, I actually ended up winning a $100,000 grant to grow the business and so I went to them and I said –
[0:34:07.3] RN: So grant meaning?
[0:34:08.0] DG: They don’t have to give up, any equity, just “Here’s a $100,000 to grow your business.”
[0:34:12.9] RN: Yeah and who was that through, sorry?
[0:34:14.8] DG: That was through Telus, a major telecom company. Telus and Globe and Mail, so a national newspaper and a national telecom company in Canada.
[0:34:20.6] RN: Is that something you have to apply for or?
[0:34:22.1] DG: It was a big national competition, yeah, through the newspaper. I think they had 3500 applications, they narrowed it down to five of us and then those five of us had to pitch in front of a panel of judges. So that prep that I did –
[0:34:36.2] RN: Right in your sweet spot, yeah.
[0:34:37.2] DG: That prep that I did for Dragon’s Den was extremely helpful and I think that’s where the feedback I got, that’s where the competition, that’s where I really set myself apart from the others just with the proper pitch, what I would do with the money, what the results would be.
[0:34:51.4] RN: Got it, so what made you because I am curious, so what made you turn? Is it just that you don’t want to give up equity like after you have gone through it or what was your thought process? Because most people would be like, “$200,000 let’s go”.
[0:35:04.1] DG: I just at the end of the day I wanted to hold onto my company to keep it all and it was one of those things if I thought – I mean sometimes it’s worth giving up a little bit of your equity. If someone can offer you something strategic like a door to a massive multimillion dollar deal that’s going to be a game changer for your business then fine, you do that but for me, I wanted to stay the course what I was doing and I just didn’t think taking the money would necessarily –
[0:35:32.4] RN: Be good for either side?
[0:35:33.8] DG: I just thought, yeah, at the end of the day I wanted to keep growing at the bootstrapping method and focus that way instead of having to – sometimes when you bring in investors, it can mean having to focus on a different set of metrics. They might be more focused on topline revenue growth as oppose to something that is sustainable for the long term that you can keep your staff employed. I have seen lots of companies in similar type market places crash and burn raising $40 million over a period of two years and then year three they don’t exist anymore and it’s sad right?
People lose their jobs and it’s an innovative service that’s now no longer there. So I didn’t necessarily want to and I don’t want to become one of those companies.
[0:36:15.9] RN: It doesn’t really seem like there’s a lot of value that could be added with your business model. It’s not like you have a widget that can go be licensed to the big players where they have connections, you know what I mean?
[0:36:28.3] DG: There’s not an obvious, yes. It’s not like I have a physical product that someone can make an intro into Walmart.
[0:36:33.5] RN: Right, that will make your business go from one to a million, yeah.
[0:36:35.3] DG: Exactly, yeah because that sometimes you need those strategic partnerships for sure.
[0:36:39.9] RN: But in this case?
[0:36:40.7] DG: There wasn’t, yeah.
[0:36:42.1] RN: Fair enough. What’s been the most painful part of being an entrepreneur to you? You’ve gone through a lot of hardships and struggles and gotten yourself outside of your comfort zone often. What’s been the most painful part?
[0:36:54.9] DG: Most painful part –
[0:36:56.3] RN: Or you just feel like, “Ugh this is hard”.
[0:36:59.8] DG: I mean I love what I do and I mean as much as the business grows there are parts where sometimes you’re just like, “Man I wish it would go faster” like it’s never fast enough. Part of the problem that I have and that I think a lot of entrepreneurs have is the moving target. So you say, “Alright once I hit $1 million in revenue I’m going to be happy” and then you hit it and then it’s like, “Okay, well now,” — just move the target so you forget.
You forget that you’ve made your past targets and so you just keep having this moving target. So it’s hard to stop sometimes and appreciate just how far you’ve come and so I have to remind myself to do that every once in a while.
[0:37:40.7] RN: What are ways that you do that? Because I know a lot of people that I talk to have differentials, right? Just to stay grounded and stay present whether it’s just Ujay who has the five minute journal so stuff like that where you’re writing down each morning what you’re grateful for. Do you have any rituals or practices that help you do that?
[0:37:59.1] DG: I think one of the things I do is when I do see myself falling into that trap, I do try and step back and be like, “Well let’s remember just how much you’ve accomplished, just how many people you’re making happy and remember that you’ve already technically made your goal but now you’ve moved it” so I do have to reframe. I reframe the way I’m thinking. I’d be like, “Wait a minute, remember what your previous goal was and you made that so don’t be too hard on yourself”.
[0:38:31.5] RN: Yeah, I was actually going to ask are you pretty hard on yourself in terms of you always feel like you should be doing better than you are?
[0:38:38.2] DG: Yes, yeah. Definitely that’s one of my challenges. I just feel like it especially because you put everything, you put your soul into the business and you put everything that you have into it. So sometimes you’re like, “Oh why is this so difficult? Why is this happening?” or that so I can be critical of myself and hard on myself and I think recognizing that is a first step.
[0:39:02.4] RN: That’s a 100% yeah.
[0:39:03.1] DG: I mean most people don’t even recognize it so I get it. I know that I can be hard on myself and I can be a little demanding of myself and so that’s fine, I get it and I just accept it and lay off.
[0:39:15.5] RN: No, I totally get it and I’d run into the same stuff where I’d beat myself up really hard on stuff where I have to do the same thing. I have to reframe and sit back and be like, “You have a lot to be grateful for”.
[0:39:28.6] DG: Absolutely, yeah like even yesterday. There was a couple of things we are trying to do on the website there. They are not going as quickly as I’d like and so we are a little bit bottled necked and then I got some news that some grant money that I was going to be getting might not be coming through and I was being hard on myself and I woke up this morning. I was like, “You know what? I’m going to put on a bright colored shirt”.
“There’s just a lot to be grateful for Diana like find another way”. So maybe you have to delay hiring that additional developer, not a big deal, figure it out, rework the plan and go from there.
[0:40:09.2] RN: Yep, so we were actually in the Bahamas, a group of us from Mastermind Talks. I’m sure you’ve seen it, I don’t remember what the conversation was but I remember Jason. A few of us were talking, Jason actually mentioned you. He was like, “Diana is incredibly good at getting money just from different areas” so how do you go about? One, how do you identify these different places to find grant money for example and I guess what made you even focus on that? Because it seems to be a big part of your strategy in terms of growing the business.
[0:40:40.2] DG: Yeah and that’s one of the things, yeah there’s so many, more so than I will say more so in Canada than in the US. There are opportunities out there to grow business. I think the government really realizes that the future of job growth in Canada and keeping talent in Canada lies with innovative companies and so they are funding the innovative companies. So while very large multi-billion dollar corporations are cutting people, the cycle is that:
“Okay well it’s the startups and smaller companies that are going to grow it” and so I absolutely try and take advantage of that and whether it is entering the contest like yeah, I have to buckle down and finish an application that was painful to go through but it turned out to be a $100,000.
[0:41:23.2] RN: Worth the pain.
[0:41:24.2] DG: Yeah, exactly and I am constantly learning more and more about the grants out there because there are a ton of them. So some of it can be hiring students who are under 30, giving them their first job. It could be something like that for technology, for web development. There’s a lot of grants whether it’s students who are coming from a computer science background or if you have a business case for needing to do something innovative with your tech platform so that’s what our tech platform is quite innovative so we can qualify for those things.
[0:41:58.0] RN: So the grant money you get, do you have to deploy that money into this specific area of your business that the grant came from like technology for example and do they follow up to make sure that’s where the money is going?
[0:42:09.6] DG: Yes, so basically for students. So if they are giving you money it’s for a specific student. So they will make sure that you give the pay stubs to show that you are paying that person. You put your signature there and their signature and then you will get the money deposited. It’s not like they just give you a lump sum like, “Okay here is $50,000 go to town”. No, no it’s very structured out and then there are some other grants that are also for research and development.
That you might not get that money for 18 months. For example, there is a pocket of money that I’ve claimed for the 2015 tax year that about $20,000 I haven’t seen yet and so because of that when I am doing my budgeting, I assume and technically but since I have received zero dollars of it, I assumed the value is zero and if I get that money because it’s so far out, if I end up getting that money great. It’s a nice bonus that I wasn’t expecting but there’s other grant monies that are –
[0:43:02.6] RN: Why does it take so long?
[0:43:03.4] DG: It’s called SRED it’s better known as and that one is just this huge backlog. It’s a big thing. Some of the other ones are small and you get the money much sooner when you are dealing with like a one-off person. So those are the best ones to get, the ones where you just know okay they have ear marked that money for you. So you know it’s coming and you know after you spend it within two to four weeks, you’re going to get reimbursed for it.
So you can properly plan okay, how much development work can I do or what not and you know developers out there that is just a very expensive thing these days. It’s so competitive and it’s only going to get more competitive.
[0:43:42.8] RN: It is because that’s where the world is going.
[0:43:45.7] DG: Exactly.
[0:43:46.5] RN: Out of all of your struggles along the journey, growth, getting outside of your comfort zone, when you think back to all of it, what makes you go “I wouldn’t be here today if that hadn’t happen to me”? Is there a specific moment in time that you can pinpoint or is it an accumulation of different?
[0:44:06.9] DG: I think one thing that comes to mind in this part of my entrepreneurial journey is probably reaching a point in management consulting where I burnt out and I think what helped me understand that burnout and just how unhappy I had become in that job was having that little side business that I’d forgotten about and even though I’d only be putting two hours a week towards it, I love those two hours and I could compare those two hours to the rest of the time I was spending.
I’m like, “Look, I enjoy working on this. I’m not enjoyingg working over here” there is a huge disconnect in where I want to do it whereas a lot of people might not have that understanding because they only got their one job and they’re like, “Uh” they are not unhappy enough to really recognize –
[0:44:49.2] RN: The pain is not bad enough right?
[0:44:51.5] DG: Yeah and so because I had that comparison it was very easy to see just how much I was starting to not feel my day job. So I think that was kind of what really and then that burnout. I think that kind of then pushed me, “Okay we need to change directions here”.
[0:45:08.1] RN: Got it, for somebody like you just mentioned that maybe only has that one job. So they don’t really know what else is out there, they know they are not happy but they don’t actually know how unhappy they are because they haven’t seen something that they really like doing. What advice would you give to somebody that’s maybe in a nine to five job, comfortable, not super happy but comfortable but they really want to do something else?
[0:45:31.2] DG: My recommendation would be to bake out at least two to three hours every week. So whether it’s after work one day or on a weekend morning, a Saturday or Sunday, block out a time for you to just really ask yourself those tough questions and if it’s a business that you want to start, use that time to brainstorm ideas because a lot of people think, “Oh I would love to start a business but I don’t have an idea”. You know what? There is this big misconception that the idea is just going to come and hit you on the head. It doesn’t always happen that way.
[0:46:02.1] RN: And that there is one perfect idea for you.
[0:46:03.9] DG: No, absolutely not. You have to open your mind up to let the creative juices flow and for me when I was burnt out in a management consulting job, I didn’t have time to open up my brain to be creative. It wasn’t until – it was very hard and that’s why I am saying it’s important to bake out that time where you can separate from your other work stuff and let the creativity start.
[0:46:23.7] RN: Turn your phone off.
[0:46:24.9] DG: Exactly.
[0:46:25.4] RN: Get off Facebook like actually sit and think with it which I don’t think anybody really gives themselves time to do anymore.
[0:46:30.9] DG: It’s so important. So let your brain start think in that different way again so sit down with a pen and paper and just write anything.
[0:46:39.3] RN: Free journal right?
[0:46:40.3] DG: Exactly just free journal, write down, get your brain back into that creative flow. Let those ideas, even if it sounds like the most ridiculous thing just write them down and come back and visit them and that’s the way to start to get out of that kind of nine to five ho-hum mindset, I’m not really happy not unhappy.
[0:47:00.7] RN: A hundred percent agree. I mean like James Altucher always talks about those two. Not necessarily like free journaling but he always talks about writing down ideas and he has done it for the last 15 years. He writes down 10 ideas a day and not necessarily to like find that perfect business idea but more so just to work out the muscle, right? So it’s just some muscle like he is training himself to think, to actually have ideas come each day which I think is the same for somebody that’s in a rut.
In a job that is kind of ho-hum and not happy but not sad or not unhappy is start doing other stuff, journaling, writing, it will just get you out of your routine and rut that you’re in.
[0:47:43.3] DG: And I think the important thing to do is put it in your calendar, don’t just say, “Oh I’m going to get around to it because you know I guarantee, if you don’t put it in your calendar come 6:00 or whatever time it is, you are going to be like, “Oh I’m tired, I’m hungry, I am not going to do it and I am going to watch Netflix” yeah. It’s just not going to happen so make it an appointment in your calendar.
[0:48:02.0] RN: Well I think those goes back also to the pain right? I don’t know, I find it really – like I’ve got a lot of friends that have corporate jobs or not corporate but nine to five. They have somewhere to go and they work for somebody else and some of them entertain the idea of starting their own business but they’re too comfortable. So if you are too comfortable, I don’t know – I think you have to feel a sense of pain to really want to change your circumstance to actually do it.
It’s easy to talk about right? It’s easy to say, “I want a business” but to actually change your circumstance and go through it is a whole other bear.
[0:48:38.3] DG: Yeah, it takes time. It take focus.
[0:48:41.8] RN: Yeah, a 100% agree. So as an entrepreneur it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. It’s hard. There’s tons of highs, there’s tons of lows. What do you do to weather the storm when things aren’t going right per say?
[0:48:57.1] DG: I think for me having a consistent pattern of balance throughout my life. I really do try to keep balance no matter how crazy things are getting at work and I think that just always keep things in perspective and keeps me more level and feeling – I don’t go fall into these downward spirals. I think that they –
[0:49:17.1] RN: Balance in terms of what like health, meditation, that kind of thing?
[0:49:19.6] DG: A number of things. So it will be from a health perspective so making sure I am being active whether it’s going to the gym, running, whatever it is, making sure I am having those consistent workouts where it’s three or four times a week of heavy activities and lighter stuff on the other days. Really important for me to set aside that time. If I’ve had a crappy sleep one night, I will have that afternoon nap. I will have that power nap to feel energized.
I don’t let myself get too worn down and go into that downward spiral of being tired and exhausted and then can’t focus when I am working. So it’s slower for me to accomplish things. I don’t let myself fall into that pattern and balance also in terms of even when I am working, making time to be social and enjoy things and enjoy life and have experiences. So even when I was – I told you I was in California for a better part of a month, bouncing around, doing a lot of business development stuff.
Meeting a lot of people, I also made sure I had some time for myself so I actually rented a few days I went down to La Hoya and I rented an AirBnB right by –
[0:50:25.0] RN: Yeah, we were talking about this last night.
[0:50:26.0] DG: Yeah, right by the ocean there and just had that time for myself to decompress and in my case again and I got to do some more journaling and getting some ideas written down on paper and crystalizing some things that I had been pushing off and not focusing on that I needed to and so making time for those type of things as well. I had a friend of mine, she came down from Toronto for a few days into LA and we went to Magic Castle to see magic shows.
So doing fun stuff like that out of the box things, it’s really important to make sure I have that balance too so I don’t become just too work focused and drained and again, I have used the term already but it’s the downward spiral. I see people like, “Oh this isn’t going well in business so I need to put more time towards it” and then they get tired and worn out you know?
[0:51:19.4] RN: Yeah I totally get it and I think it’s a really interesting point because with Gary V, his whole thing is hustle, hustle, hustle, right? And he can do that, more power to the guy. The guy is an animal, he’s crazy but for everybody, that’s not in everybody’s DNA. So if everybody tries to do that like you said, they are going to wear themselves out. They are going to get into a rut. If they are just trying to start a business, they’re going to get –
What the word I’m looking for? They are going to get discouraged because they’re like, “I can’t do this. I’m worn out. I have a nine to five job and he wants me to work from 7 PM to 2 AM too?” you just can’t. That’s not sustainable.
[0:51:58.5] DG: And I think there is a way to do it because I do think that there is a lot of people out there who – I think that again, it’s back to balance. You don’t need to be working a 100 hours a week, I think you can still be putting in a lot. Like even the hours I put in, I guarantee you what I am accomplishing in one hour is probably more than what a lot of people can accomplish like if someone is unfocused, it will take the same person like double, maybe three times.
So I just stay super focused and because of that, I think I’m able to combine in shorter amount of hours what most people would take longer. So that’s the key and I think that’s what helps by making sure I am fully rested and my mind is fully engaged and then I can do more in a smaller amount of time. So I’ve got all those other hours free because I’m all about hustle but I am not about burning out.
[0:52:44.2] RN: Sure, that’s fair. So obviously this is the Fail On Podcast so “fail on” is the mantra we live by here with the idea if you are not failing, you are not growing right and if you are not trying you are not failing which in return you are not growing. So with that said, how do you – when is the last time you did something that failed in terms of, it doesn’t have to be a massive failure but it can be just something that you did that didn’t pan out and you learned from it. It’s a tough question.
[0:53:12.1] DG: Yeah, it’s a tough question. It depends, the answer depends on the day. One that just popped into my mind a few months ago, I hired someone in a role and I thought I spent a long time looking for this role and I thought I’d found the person and this person ended up kind of being one of those over promise under deliver type of people and I had to part ways with that person because it wasn’t looking out. I had to fire them, I was trying to be diplomatic.
I was just trying but I did have to fire that person and that was failure in my eyes because there were certain warning signs that I didn’t pick up on with this particular person and then on top of that, there were a couple of projects that this person was leading that’s kind of spun out of control and even now that the person’s gone still dealing with the aftermath and several months delayed unfortunately on a project that we wanted to launch that would have been pretty awesome. So a lot of extra man hours had to go into cleaning up that mess.
[0:54:17.3] RN: So how are you going to take that and learn from it or do things differently next time?
[0:54:23.1] DG: That’s a good question. You know I’ve learned some of the more warning signs to look for when hiring. So I have definitely learned some hiring lessons. That was probably the biggest thing and it just even makes me appreciate the A players that I do have on the team that I’ve got who are putting their heart and soul into Aqua Mobile every day and continue to grow and put the business first over their own needs.
[0:54:49.6] RN: Sure, that’s hard to find.
[0:54:51.2] DG: It absolutely is hard to find.
[0:54:52.7] RN: Because obviously nobody cares about your baby as much as you care about your baby.
[0:54:55.3] DG: Yeah, so whenever you can find someone who can feel or get pretty close –
[0:54:57.8] RN: At least get 80% there, right?
[0:54:59.2] DG: Yeah, exactly.
[0:55:00.0] RN: What does failure mean to you?
[0:55:01.9] DG: Failure means you’ve gone out there and you have tried something. You’ve put yourself out there because I know a lot of people – I shouldn’t say a lot of people. I’ve seen some people who don’t like to get outside of their comfort zone and so they don’t necessarily grow to that same level and I see some of those people or I tell them that you know, I said “look you have to try. Don’t come down hard on yourself if something doesn’t,” — Don’t worry about what other people are thinking just go and just try it because if you don’t try you will never know and you will never learn, just exactly what you were saying.
[0:55:33.9] RN: 100%, totally agree and I also believe that repeated trying, failing and then learning, I think that Dev and I were talking about this also in another conversation that it’s only failing if you quit, right? If you don’t take a learning experience from it and turn it into a positive like you did after your first audition right? You took that failure, you turned it into a positive by going out and doing it again and then you saw success.
So knowing that trying, failing and learning is really the primary factor in how quickly people and businesses see positive outcomes. If somebody came to you wanting like let’s just say somebody in a corporate nine to five job comes to you and says, “Diana, I want to start a business but I don’t know what to do” what’s one directive or action item that you would give them as like a step one?
[0:56:22.6] DG: Focus, you need to focus and I give that advice so often, I think it ties to what I was saying earlier, block out those several hours and use that to focus on getting those ideas down, figure out how you are going to break away from that nine to five job. So focus is key.
[0:56:42.0] RN: Yep, who’s had the single most profound impact on your life? If you have to name one person, nobody names one person. Everybody has named two or three but if you have to –
[0:56:49.6] DG: So many different. I mean it totally depends. It’s funny, one person that just popped into my head now and it’s someone who doesn’t even know me very well. Andy Higgins, he is a track and field coach. I don’t even know if he’s still coaching anymore and when I was on the varsity track team at UFT, I was a sprinter and he was there coaching some of the decathletes, a couple of Olympians and I remember I would still go training even after I graduated at the track to keep fit.
I still wanted to keep up with the sprinting. I was stressed out. I was working in management consulting and I remember he said to me and I still think back to this. He said, “Diana what do you want from all of this? What do you want from your life?” and I didn’t know the answer to it. It was all – I don’t know, I was just pushing, pushing, pushing. I was pushing to be a management consultant so I was doing that. I was pushing to do fitness but it was not focused towards anything.
And so I think back to that because he was on to something and he could see something that I didn’t at the time and it’s funny. I’d love to run into him again and just be like, “Hey those words actually impacted me” because I didn’t have that full meaning. I think having Aqua Mobile now has brought that meaning back into my life.
[0:58:04.9] RN: That’s interesting because I think it’s a common theme. It’s like people push so hard for their goals yet they don’t really know why. They don’t start with who they are and what they value and what they actually want to do.
[0:58:19.5] DG: Yeah, what does this all mean? I mean even if you are an investment banker, you are making hundreds of thousands, a couple million dollars a year or whatever it is what are you doing it for? What are you running yourself into the ground for? What does this all mean and now, I have a much more clearer picture of and I see what he was trying to tell me without fully saying it back and to that.
[0:58:38.3] RN: Those are always the best right? You know who does this really well is Philip McKernan.
[0:58:42.7] DG: Yes. Yes he does.
[0:58:44.2] RN: He will just ask questions and then leave you and then I’m like, “What? What does that even mean? What are you asking?” like follow that up with another question or something.
[0:58:52.4] DG: And so if I were to see Andy Higgins today and be able to properly answer that question, I mean now I see it I want to have an impact on other people’s lives and add confidence to their lives that’s for me, sports gave me confidence and so I want to add confidence through sports and how I do that is through Aqua Mobile and so having that impact, giving people that confidence, teaching people to be safe around water and that’s what I want to contribute to the world.
At least at this point in time and for myself, I want a life where I am feeling fulfilled and balanced and I’m experiencing things and with Aqua Mobile, I have made sure to bake that into my path with Aqua Mobile and what I do outside of Aqua Mobile as well to make sure I’m having time to continue to experience new things like even last night when we went to the group of us from Mastermind Talks, we went and did the Italian cooking class.
That was an experience I was so happy that Candace and Jason organized that because I have actually been wanting to go to one of Massimo Bruno’s cooking classes or one of his dinner parties for months.
[1:00:02.2] RN: He was great.
[1:00:03.4] DG: His dinner party sell out so quickly.
[1:00:05.5] RN: I know.
[1:00:06.3] DG: Yeah, I’m on his mailing list and like you have to kind of pounce, you have your friends ready to kind of say okay, I can do this day but my friends are too slow so.
[1:00:14.3] RN: The food was amazing though.
[1:00:14.7] DG: It was so good. I could have kept eating and eating even though I didn’t mean to eat any more food but.
[1:00:21.2] RN: The focaccia, just just kept going.
[1:00:22.4] DG: I know.
[1:00:22.4] RN: Somebody take it away but no, it’s cool to hear about your bigger picture view with Aqua Mobile and one thing I did want to say is that, the people you need to be impacting are people like Jayson Gaynard who can’t swim.
[1:00:36.6] DG: I know.
[1:00:37.3] RN: And who fell out of a kayak in the Bahamas and almost drowned, I’m not kidding you without a life jacket on.
[1:00:42.9] DG: I heard the story. First of all Jayson, wear your life jacket.
[1:00:47.4] RN: Seriously.
[1:00:49.0] DG: Don’t go in the kayak without one.
[1:00:50.2] RN: The ocean, with waves.
[1:00:51.9] DG: I think I’ve got some YouTube videos that I’ve post where I explain the importance of a PFD, personal floatation device.
[1:00:57.7] RN: We’ll send that to him today.
[1:00:58.8] DG: Send that over to him. Yup. It’s funny because I’ve actually – Jayson’s daughter Eva, I’ve made the offer multiple times to hook them up with swim lessons and now I see where I’ve gone wrong, I’ve been offering swim lessons to the wrong person in the family.
[1:01:15.2] RN: Totally.
[1:01:15.8] DG: She’s a little fish, I needed to be offering it to Jayson this whole time.
[1:01:20.4] RN: That’s awesome.
[1:01:20.8] DG: Jayson called me, you know my number, it’s not too late to learn how to swim.
[1:01:25.9] RN: Not even just to swim but to actually like not drown.
[1:01:29.3] DG: Not drown, that’s really important.
[1:01:32.8] RN: On that note, what do you, I know you mentioned stuff outside of Aqua Mobile but within Aqua Mobile, outside of Aqua Mobile, whatever it may be, what are you most excited about moving forward?
[1:01:42.4] DG: Wow, I mean, within aqua mobile, I’m really excited about some of the kind of innovative things that we’ve got on top for 2017. I’m excited that we’ve been able to give a pay raise to our instructors for 2017. Like that means a lot to me to kind of, you know, again, I’m trying to give back. I’m kind of passed that it’s all about me, it’s not like it’s about the customers, it’s about the instructors and like, I mean that more and more each day.
I get like so into it. That’s kind of – I’m excited about some of those innovations that I think will help make the customer and instructor experience a better one and even for my customer service reps to make things more efficient outside of work. I’m excited for like you know, just all sorts of new experiences that I’ve kind of got on the horizon. I mean, you know, I’m looking forward, I’m doing a couple of talks coming up, I’m going to be at Big Omaha giving a talk there in front of a crowd of entrepreneurs.
I guess that’s in May, got Mastermind Talks coming up in Carmel so actually, after big Omaha, I’m going to go into Carmel a couple of days early, just spend some time to recharge, exactly. Baking that time in for myself and then, I love to try and do a big trip every year like once the busy season is over to kind of over –
[1:02:54.4] RN: Like international type deal.
[1:02:56.9] DG: I’m trying to figure out what I want to do, I’m torn, I would really love to do kind of like a surf and learn Spanish trip and maybe even like depending on how long I make that trip, even then turn it into a kind of like work from abroad type place so I can kind of you know, work part of the day and you know, either surf or Spanish and I’d like to do – Yeah, I’d like to do something like that and then I’m also excited for you know, looking at some expansion into Australia as well.
Their seasons are opposite of ours so.
[1:03:28.4] RN: Yeah, that would really – I was going to ask you earlier, I didn’t – you know, we’re running tight on time but I think I was going to ask you, how are you going to mitigate kind of the slow season and I think that’s brilliant way to do it.
[1:03:39.0] DG: I think there is - it’s a great market, tons of pools and they appreciate water saving.
[1:03:43.8] RN: English speaking, it’s less – yeah.
[1:03:45.4] DG: Common Wealth country, yeah. We’re tight.
[1:03:46.6] RN: Exactly. Awesome. I appreciate you taking the time and coming to sit down.
[1:03:51.5] DG: Yeah this has been fun.
[1:03:52.7] RN: These are way better in first person.
[1:03:54.2] DG: Totally.
[1:03:56.3] RN: I’ll let you run but thanks so much for sitting down and chat and we’ll catch you next time.
[1:04:00.8] DG: Looking forward to it.
[1:04:03.0] RN: Alright, you can find Diana at @DianaMGoodwin on Twitter. Of course, all the links and resources Diana and I discussed including more information on her company, Aqua Mobile can be found at the page created especially for this episode, you’ll find that at failon.com/021 and next week, we’re sitting down with Mathew Bertuli, he is the founder of DMAC media, an eight figure E-commerce products and services company that has over a hundred employees.
He’s also the founder of a seven-figure company Palo Case. He is an angel investor and most recently, an author of the book, Anything Anywhere. Matthew discusses how he got started in business and the struggles and hardships he has faced along the journey, it’s a good one, don’t miss it.
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