Hector Simoudis - CEO of VP Legacies

How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?

This is a story that we always love to share. I was moving into my freshman dorm at the University of Denver (DU), and it was on the first day where my business partner and I met. Our friendship developed instantaneously and it was only a matter of time where we knew a business partnership would be born. Apart from serval factors, what brought us together as friends and business partners were the core values that we shared – a strong belief in people and storytelling. After starting several companies together, notably Vlizz – a freelance video production company, and ProtoLocal – a “Mom and Pap” business story mobile application, we discovered we were doing something powerful. After taking a step back, we discovered that at its core of each endeavor we embarked on, was the principal of Personal Connection. It was at that moment where we realized our WHY (the bigger pictured of what we do) is “creating a world where people aren’t afraid to personally connect”. Hence, our inspiration for VP Legacies (the V standing for Vlizz and P standing for ProtoLocal) was born, and we began our journey of helping companies personally connect through storytelling. Our tag line sums it up, “Stories matter. You matter.”.

How do you make money?

We make money by helping our clients create raving fans about their purpose through emotional storytelling strategies that enhances personal connection internally and externally to their organization. It about taking our three key services – Consulting, Capturing, and Editing, and creating a customized personal connection strategy that will help increase personal connection, which will ultimately attain a return on investment (ROI).

How long did it take for you to become profitable?

It took us just over 2 years to become profitable.

When you were starting out, was there ever a time that you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle it?

Absolutely. There have been multiple times where I have doubted that what we were doing wouldn’t work, but you see, that is the beauty of entrepreneurship. As an entrepreneur, you are going to have struggles. You are going to make sacrifices. You are going to shed tears. However, what gets you through each hurdle is believing in the greater picture of what you are doing – your WHY. In other words, it all about believing in yourself. So how did I handle it? I kept and continue to believe. Believing in the greater impact we want to see in the world. Seeing how our beliefs has positively impacted our clients. And most importantly, believing in myself and never giving up. 

How did you get your first customer?

One of our really close friends wanted to introduce us to her father who was looking to create a strategy to help market his business and to develop brand awareness of his new CPA firm that he was starting. In addition to marketing advice (Consulting), we produce strategic storytelling content around his story (Capturing & Editing) to increase personal connection with his current and potential clients.

What is one marketing strategy that you’re using that works well to generate new business?

Relationships, relationships, relationships. As a company with its roots instilled in personal connection, it is the genuine relationships that we build that help us generate new business. Our company is not looking to have thousands of clients. Our company wants to have clients with deep meaningful relationships – its about quality and not quantity. Therefore, how do we best do this? By taking the time to develop authentic relationships with each of our clients.

What is the toughest decision that you’ve had to make in the last few months?

In business, you will come across many tough decisions. Some obvious and some surprising. But the focus shouldn’t be on the tough decisions you make, the focus should be on what you learned prior and after making that tough decision. You see, its about continuous development. Did we have to make a few tough decisions over the last few months? Absolutely. Did we feel pain? Absolutely. So what was the reason for the tough decisions? It is understanding that tough decisions have to be made in order to continuously develop and achieve our WHY of creating a world where people are not afraid to personally connect.

What do you think it is that makes you successful?

Being a good and ethical person. I call this the “nice guy vs. aggressor” phenomenon. What I realized some time ago is that the saying, “nice guys finish last”, is as far away from the truth as anything can possibly get. There are many norms about business, and yes, many of them are true. Can the business world be ruthless? Absolutely. Can good and ethical people be taken advantage of? Absolutely. Do the aggressors knowingly strip things away from the nice guys? Absolutely. Have I (a nice guy) been the victim of being taken advantage of (from an aggressor)? Multiple times. But why is it that nice guys finish first? We understand the difference between the long-term and the short-term. You see, aggressiveness, manipulation, fear-based marketing tactics, etc., will get you results – but only in the short-term. What you need to care about is the long-term. What is the long-term you may ask? Put simply, its what happens when sh** hits the fan, because when sh** hits the fan, what happens? The true colors of the aggressors are shown, and what do people do? Stay away from the aggressors and stick with the people they trust, the nice guys.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

This is a difficult question to answer because there have been many satisfying moments in our business career. There are two that come to mind. Firstly, hiring our first full-time employee. It’s not only that fact that our business has had a tremendous positive impact since our first full-time employee started, it is also the fact that we are creating jobs and circulating wealth back into our economy. Secondly, it is the people that we inspire, notably, one of our close friends. He grew up never ever thinking he would be an entrepreneur and was working a great paying job.It wasn’t until he met us where we started challenging his comfort zone and encouraged him to go and chase his dreams. We will not sit here and say that it is because of us that he became an entrepreneur – at the end of the day, he was the one that made the ultimate decision of becoming an entrepreneur. However, it was extremely satisfying when he looked at us in the eyes and expressed that if it wasn’t for our encouragement and inspiration, that that thought of entrepreneurship was far-fetched.

What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?

What we are most excited about is not just the future growth of our business, but the Personal Connection movement we are spreading. Instilled in our WHY – creating a world where people are not afraid to personally connect, we are excited to see our business develop a community that believes in on our WHY and continuously increase their wealth of genuine relationships.

What business books have inspired you?

Simon Sinek has been a great inspiration of mine both in my personal and professional life. The books that inspired me and even brought tears to my eyes is Simon Sinek’s books – “Together is Better” and “Start With Why”. “Start With Why” teaches you what it takes to create a movement, more than just a business. “Together is Better” teaches you what it means to be a true leader. These books won’t only open your mind in new areas to enhance your business life, it will also have a great impact to your personal life.

What is a recent purchase that you have made that’s helped with your business?

Although we have purchased new equipment and software that has enhanced the performance of our business practices, a recent purchase that has helped our business is our VP Legacies t-shirts with our WHY imprinted on the back. Why are we excited about this? This is the first wearable purchase we have made the promotes our WHY. In other words, it is the first step to begin reaching the masses – not just our clients, to join the Personal Connection Movement of creating a world where people are not afraid to personally connect. 

Leave us with one point that few individuals know about your company.

Every business goes through a variety of challenges. One of our greatest challenges that few individuals know about is the infamous flooding incident. For about a year, Jonny and I were running our business out of my basement. Everything – camera equipment, computer equipment, documents, etc., were in the basement. While I was in Greece visiting my family for Christmas/New Year, I got a phone call from Jonny. After calculating the time difference, I realized Jonny was calling from Colorado at an odd hour – 3:30AM to be exact. I picked up the phone. I asked what had happened? He told me that he went to the house to do a classic entrepreneurial all-nighter working session. Upon walking into the house, the fire detector was going off and there was water everywhere. He ran downstairs to the basement and turned off the main water supply as quickly as he could. Although half of the basement ceiling caved in and there was over an inch of water anywhere, somehow all of the business equipment/materials were untouched. We were forced to move into an office after the incident and even though it was chaotic, we look back at this experience and always discover a new lesson learned.

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