#YouMeEntrepreneur meet Mario Aguilera

Toni Vicars

By Toni Vicars

December 22, 2020

“I was an Army officer after that I graduated as an economist and now, I’m the founder of Tespack”

Mario, why did you choose to start your own business?

As far back as I can remember, I always liked to be in control of my life and to be able to take responsibility for the outcome. I never liked to blame others nor depend on people. No matter what I do, whether sports, professionally, or just reading a book, I always work my hardest. I always like to do my best, as this brings the best results. However, I didn’t experience this when working for a big company. I realized that no matter how much effort I would put in working for someone else, it would not be enough for them. I never felt a sense of security working for someone else knowing that at any point they decided, or the circumstances required, I could be kicked out.

I started my own businesses for two reasons. The first is because I wanted to be in control of my life and the direction of it. The second was because I wanted to make more impact than I could do working for a big corporate company.

What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?

The best thing about being an entrepreneur is the opportunities that come with it. I really believe that it enables you to work at a faster pace than in a large organization and through the opportunities you work for you can meet remarkably exciting and talented people. Through the effort and commitment, I’ve made I’ve been able to see the world. While in Tespack, I have met three presidents and amazing talented CEOs and CTOs from other companies such as Nvidia, Google, Facebook, TomTom, BMW, AUDI, and Nokia. I’ve even been able to meet and talk with ministers, ambassadors as I’ve travelled across more than 63 countries to date.

But one of the most amazing outcomes of being an entrepreneur for me has been about seeing our product and company change people’s lives, which is worth more than money. I live by the belief that we are all just passing by in this life, and there is just so much caviar, yachts, and Lamborghinis we can buy and enjoy. What it counts is what difference we leave behind and how many people we have helped during our journey. In my experience as an entrepreneur, you are able to have greater impact.

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What misconceptions related to entrepreneurship do you hate the most?

I hate the misperception that entrepreneurs are just people who get a lot of money from everywhere and have luxurious lives. That it’s easy or immediately and gives you huge returns from day one. It is not true. In my experience, it takes, on average, about 7 years to build a company that can stand on its own feet.

There is also a misconception about what entrepreneurs look like. Everyone can be one. But it does take work. If your product is good, and you know how to handle yourself, it does not matter if you are black, white, Latino, gay, lesbian, woman, men, atheist, Christian, Muslim, or a nudist. You will be successful if you are able to crack the process. Your success depends on your skills and your willingness to be punched by life daily and stand up and keep on going. Never on luck.

What should people know about becoming an Entrepreneur?

The beginning is the hardest. Sometimes you don’t get to pay yourself for months, and I even know people who went for years without receiving wages in order to put their employees first.

But I also believe that it takes a lot to be a real entrepreneur, and not just be playing at it. It is a hard and challenging road to be an entrepreneur and really build something. There are lots of people who I call amateur entrepreneurs, who like the idea of being an entrepreneur but don’t want to put in the work required.

Professional entrepreneurs execute plans, understand finance, negotiation, product validation, how to come to the market, and have a bulletproof discipline, and work ethics. The other one is just handing business cards and flirting at any type of event with megalomaniac ideas “networking” looking for free drinks, exposure, and chasing to have a lot of followers on their Instagram accounts. These people never closed an investment round, made a financial forecast, or even built a product but speak about ideas and any kind of trending crap that is published on TechCrunch, Mashable or within the Startup community within their country.

What is your advice to anyone wanting to become an Entrepreneur?

Be wary of those that claim to be experts or “consultants.” If someone is offering help but can’t show a track record then they might not be the right person to help you. You will meet lots of people who will make big claims, but make sure to dig a little deeper. I have met people who had panic attacks during presentations that claimed to be “presentation experts” and “life coaches.” I have also met “professional” salespeople who never closed a deal. Worse of all, I have met advisors that charge by the hour who never even built a business. I find it very frustrating when I see this because they are taking advantage.

The best advice always comes from people who have done it. The best advice comes from people who understand the suffering of building something from scratch.

Aim to become a professional entrepreneur. You cannot find a university for this or just gain this knowledge from books. I really believe this is about gaining a combination of life experiences and taking part in a specific programme designed to help you get started and later an accelerator programme, as well as and getting mentored by the right people.

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meet Mario Aguilera

Here are my personal tips to anyone thinking about becoming a professional entrepreneur:

  1. It is extremely hard to be an entrepreneur. You will sometimes work weekends, sometimes nights and overtime are normal. Keep this in mind.
  2. Even though it takes a lot of hard work including weekends and nights, try to maintain a balance between life and work (even if it is difficult). Not all the money in the world or success is worth losing your family or health.
  3. Surround yourself with positive people.
  4. Speak upfront about expectations with all founding members initially and make sure everyone works and inputs the same.
  5. Create a company culture on purpose. Make sure to create a culture where “everyone is important but not irreplaceable” get rid of the divas on day one.
  6. Think of a company as a sports team, not as a family. At some point, you will need to fire your best friend, family, or even yourself. Company growth is key and the most crucial part of the game. Be always realistic about things.
  7. Have working ethics.
  8. Hire slow and fire quick.
  9. At the beginning don’t waste time with events and focus on product building and sales.
  10. Always hustle. If you do want to do events, find a way to be there for free or get the price down. We “almost” never paid for the exhibitions or events we attended.
  11. Research deeply the investors you will take on board, talk with their startups, and also ask how they deal when things go wrong and, if possible, speak with startups that went down with them. I personally recommend focusing on talking with these ones more than the ones who are still in their portfolio, as the true colors of investors will show during the hard times.
  12. All investors online these days are talking about the startups surviving the Covid-19 are the startups that deserve their funding. I say that Covid19- will show the type of investors you had on board.
  13. Find investors to “work with, not to work for”.
  14. When fundraising try to get investors, who have built something successful and understand the process. Avoid the bank type of investors.
  15. Run away from investors with big egos.
  16. When fundraising always put deadlines when negotiating. Do not let investors take the lead on this. It is better to receive a NO than drag a negotiation and runout of runway while waiting (some investors do this in purpose, so they have the upper hand in valuation). Always push for a concrete answer. If you have a professional investor in front of you, She/He will give their feedback straight away and not delay you in your process as they understand your company survival depends on this.
  17. Make sure you have a lawyer once the fundraising process gets serious.
  18. Have a shareholders agreement in place.
  19. Do not pay consultants unless it is something technical and required by law to do. Everything else, you should learn to do it yourself in the beginning.
  20. Grow a thick skin or get out of this game. I’ve mentored a few people when asked and some cannot accept criticism. If you cannot handle real criticism, this is not for you.
  21. Failure is more brutal than your customers, life, and investors put together. So, listen very carefully to all of them. Being a leader is about being able to filter information and take your company to the end line.
  22. Be brutally honest as it saves time and misunderstandings.
  23. Do not get impressed by titles, money, or appearances. Be always yourself.
  24. If someone made a successful company in the past, it does not mean they can copy-paste the formulae on your company. Every company is different.
  25. It is okay if you fail as long as you have always tried your best.
  26. Do not give up.

The same way there is not a real get rich quick scheme, there is no shortcut or magic formula to make a company successful. It’s hard work and more hard work. But if you are willing to commit to hard work, it’s also really rewarding.

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