Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in human resources but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Juan Lionheart, Founder of Lionheart - lion.app, located in Los Angeles, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Our customers are primarily Diversity Equity Inclusion-focused companies who want to hire early-career nontraditional individuals in the tech industry. We also work with Seed stage - Series C startups who want to hire affordable, diverse tech talent in software development, growth and product marketing, and UX/UI design.
Tell us about yourself
"At the end of your deathbed, the person you became will meet the person you could have become." My beginnings with my startup started with my experiences growing up in Inglewood, California as an Immigrant from Ecuador with my mother. I witnessed so many good humans with high potential have their talents go to waste because of their poor family lives, poverty and lack of resources, exposure to violence, and negative development. Trauma and instability in abusive households. Depression, and spiritual, mental, and physical abuse by trusted caretakers.
The list goes on, but for me, who was in that boat of hardship for a long time, I had a profound spiritual experience that led me to be obsessed with the notion of "how much human potential has the human race lost?" How many lost Einsteins and hidden talents is out there now? All of these dreamers simply just need one chance.
All of this culminated years later with me using my skillsets in tech to launch my apprenticeship platform Lionheart, which seeks to bridge the socioeconomic opportunity gap and unleash human potential through world-class technology apprenticeship by world-class companies.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment has been to watch how our program affected our pilot apprentices when we started in 2020-2021. Some stayed for up to a year, and to watch these individuals grow into confident, tech professionals with profound self-belief has been impactful to me. Two individuals come to mind, Eli and Richard, who were marketing apprentices. Many hours were spent collaborating and working on projects, getting to know each of these individuals and building community. I'm happy to say they both found long-term jobs and projects. I still think of them to this day and feel a profound sense of fulfillment knowing Lionheart affected their lives so deeply.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I think entrepreneurs like me (the dreamy-types), who have a specific vision or outcome and may operate on the wrong understanding of things early on, may have a tougher go at the "trough of sorrows," which is a period of extreme discomfort when a startup faces setback after setback that usually kills most startups.
From friends and individuals leaving to having early customers to all of a sudden no customers and no revenue, doing a momentum-breaking, demotivating pivots, and watching your savings go down the drain - it truly is the "hard things about the hard things," as Ben Horowitz would say.
The antipode for this is simply surrendering - letting go of your ego that has kept you alive since you were a newborn. The reality is you do not know if you're too early, too late, or can foresee the complexities of market forces or personal dynamics at play. Simply go with the wave, and do go against the natural forces at play.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Starting a starting is like attempting to scale a mountain. There are lots of roads to take, deadness, and you can only see three steps in front of you at a time. I'm sure you have infinite energy, but running in the wrong direction is wasteful.
- Get a mentor. Don't work yourself to death or burn out early, and find a way to reconnect with your why along the way. Passion, in reality, is dedication. That's what you need. What do you grieve for? What would you be willing to die on the cross for? That's your passion.
- Don't have one? That's ok, join another team and learn the ropes and help good people. You'll discover a lot about yourself in the process.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
We are fortunate enough after two years to have gained enough traction to warrant raising our seed round. If you know any investors or key individuals who may be great to get acquainted with, let's get in touch! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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