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startup

Mark Lovas, Co-Founder of Trumaker

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Mark Lovas, Co-Founder of Trumaker

City: San Francisco, CA

Passion: Better Product

Websitewww.trumaker.com

Twitter/Instagram: @marklovas

Mark is no ordinary Silicon Valley entrepreneur. We met him at his sophisticated yet cozy offices in San Francisco, where he greeted us with a big smile, chic style and distinct fashion sense. Mark is a thinker. An original thinker. Through life stories, quotes, and references to literature and philosophy, he revealed to us a different meaning of entrepreneurship and leadership: the nuance of it all, the dichotomy of doing what you love, and the less common places to find answers and clues for direction. Hearing Mark talk about Trumaker, as well as, some of his team members, we knew that the made-to-fit brand is not about just selling shirts: Mark has started a movement of empowering people to be on purpose, and off self, as he likes to put it.

 

ON PASSION

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Being entrepreneurial started in school. I used to buy candy in bulk and sell it, in 7th and 8th grade. In high school, I would start movements; I remember buying a bunch of yoyos and selling them.
I did not think I could work anywhere; I was fired from my first 5 jobs. I knew I had to do something else.
I found passion in entrepreneurship. I was in control of the results I could create. The idea of personal growth without societal restriction was intoxicating.

ON MASTERY

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Meeting people who are better, keeps me better. I have always been attracted to recruiting and having friends who are better than me.
You have to let go of what got you there and who you were. You need to give up your ego, be willing to look ridiculous and perceived as not smart.

ON TRANSITION

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I landed at Bonobos. I was put in charge of creating alternative distribution measures. I learned what it looked like to be a successful company. I got closer to entrepreneurship and saw that this is something I could do, too.
Breakthroughs happened when I got closer to reality. One of my hobbies was acting; when I studied with professionals, I realized I could do this. When I finally understood what the work was, it felt possible.
All the work we do to like what we are doing is a waste of time. You have to spend the time doing it. If you are focusing on purpose and off self, you are likely making the right choices.
If people just listened to themselves, they could do extraordinary things. The strongest ideas I had that followed me around, I continually talked myself out of. Then I just started doing.
I had to move forward without knowing the answer.
Trumaker was my third idea. I stopped talking myself out of everything and decided, this is it. I just need to find a retail guy.

ON FAILURE

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I am less concerned with short term failure and more concerned with lifetime failure. If you are going to be an entrepreneur, you don’t have the luxury of being concerned with failure. You run into a brick wall every day. Failure is corrective feedback. Failure is a rite of passage. It is part of the process. Failure is only when you’re not seeing it as corrective feedback.

ON FEAR

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I experience two types of fear. Fear of failure, which in one way, drove me to success. I am so afraid of failing, I will not let it happen.
The other type is the fear of loss, loss of opportunity. There are two options of reactions to this; one is making sure we have our best chance of success, and the other is just reacting to the uncertainty.
If somebody is dwelling on the negative, then you are less proactive. Stress is when your fear is out of control.

ON MONEY

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I was fortunate enough to do really well early on. I did not focus on money, but focused on doing what I am passionate about. Money is a distraction, whether you have it or you don’t have it. I invested, lost and made money. When I made poor decisions, it showed I was not passionate. Having money takes energy from creating to consuming. It is important to create more than you consume. If you do that, you will have all your money.

A passage by Tennessee Williams truly describing the relationship between struggle and success:

The catastrophe of success

There’s nothing worse than a lot of time and money. Stay on purpose, do the right thing in this moment, and it will put you in the next moment.

ON SELF-LOVE

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I put myself in situations to earn my love. I have to earn my self-love at my worst. At my best, I am making a case for my life. You can make any case for or against yourself. Self-love is a practice.
I exercise, mainly adventure skiing and cycling. I try to do things that take my mind off myself. I try to challenge myself with hobbies.

ON INSPIRATION

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I am inspired by the people I work with. I am inspired by people who are passionate about what they do. I am inspired by anybody that gives a shit, a live person.

ON SUPPORT

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I lean on the people around me a lot. I communicate openly, positively. I seek mentorship. Finding outside mentors not related to your business is important. My investors have all been great mentors.

ADVICE TO THE COMMUNITY

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No matter what your circumstances are, start it now, whatever it is. So you can find out what the work is behind your passion or your hobby. There is no reason not to start. Respect the challenge, you can’t assume you are going to be good in one year. A little of something is better than a lot of nothing. Your circumstance is not an excuse. Keep moving forward even if you look ridiculous and feel ridiculous.



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Kate Endress, CEO and Entrepreneur

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Kate Endress, CEO and Entrepreneur

City: San Francisco, California

Passion: Startups

Twitter@KateEndress

Website: www.ditto.com

When Kate's company www.ditto.com got sued by patent trolls and a big company 1-800 Contacts, Kate could have given up - because I would have, I thought. In true Kate fashion, she chose to fight this impossible battle, and fast forward to today, is on her way to win it. This story says everything about Kate, the entrepreneur. It is a story of tenacity, determination and optimism. Kate has inspired me throughout my own Pause & Shine journey to keep going. I have called her when I needed advice; friends call her when they are on the verge of giving up. Kate left her finance job and attended Stanford business school, soon to be reunited with her true passion. Today, she is the CEO and co-founder of www.DITTO.com, an ecommerce site selling designer sunglasses and eyewear, featuring cutting edge new video “try-on” technology.

On Passion

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Ask my mom and she’ll tell you I’ve never been a ‘rules person.’ In high school, I started training girls on how to play basketball out of my driveway. I realized I could make money doing something I enjoyed, control my schedule and not have a boss. The idea of becoming an entrepreneur excited me and I believe it is my life’s calling.

On Mastery

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I decided to major in Entrepreneurship in college, and it just clicked. I felt it was a good match with my inherent skill sets, which gave me confidence needed to start my first business while in college.

On Transition

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I ended up working in finance for four years. It paid well and I was learning a lot. One day I was watching a co-worker/friend work through a financial model and he was just loving it. I realized that I did not feel like that about the work and that’s when I decided it was officially time to make the transition back to entrepreneurship. I applied to business school so I would have time to get an idea off the ground.

On Failure

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My current business, DITTO.com, has not always been a smooth ride and certainly there have been stretches that didn’t look like we were going to survive. I think the key to getting through the rough patches is just to keep moving forward and keep refocusing on things you can control. From my experience, that tenacity usually lands you in a good place.

On Fear

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If I’m being honest, I really have never feared failure because my ‘worst case scenarios’ were never THAT bad. I am lucky to come from a strong and supportive family that I know will be there for me if I ever truly fall on hard times. I’ve also had instances in the past that were hard and that I managed to get through in one piece.

On Money

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It’s been somewhat stressful to make financial concessions but I don’t regret it. I’ll take happiness over a new cashmere sweater any day!

On Self-Love

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Starting a company is a very stressful endeavor because there are just a ton of things to do and simply not enough resources to do them well. There are a lot of unknowns and even more ups and downs.
There are three things I’ve learned to do that have really helped me cope with the stress: stop feeling guilty when I’m not working, get a good night’s sleep and work out. It seems impossible at times to fit it all in but I’ve found that when I feel good about myself, it translates into lots of other good things for me. I’m my best self when I’m working out 3-4 times a week so I make time for it.

On Inspiration

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I’m inspired by my Uncle John. He had a catastrophic neck injury while hiking that has left him as a quadriplegic. He has handled his injury with an incredible amount of grace and courage. While not as easy path forward, John is happy and remains an incredible father, husband and uncle. Truly unbelievable!

On Support

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I don’t love the idea of ‘seeking a mentor.’ I like getting support from authentic, naturally formed relationships with friends, family and investors. I have a few female friends in particular who are also starting their own businesses so I have a network of people around me when I need to vent, swap stories or ask for an opinion.

Advice to the Community

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I have dozens of friends who talk to me about their passions but don’t seem willing to take the necessary steps to make it happen. My advice is to stop talking and starting acting. Start small if you have to by taking a night class, selling things on Etsy, doing weekend work, etc. But success only comes to those to are action-oriented. My key advice: take active steps to improve your situation. You’ll only regret what you didn’t have the courage to attempt.

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