We recently had a chance to sit down with our very own Errol Asuncion to ask him some questions about his journey from the East Coast to starting one of the West Coast’s fastest growing tech start ups and learn how he plans to change lives with it!
421: First off, where are you from and how did you end up in San Diego?
EA: I was born on the East Coast, Cheverly, Maryland. Being first generation Filipino we traveled around a bit living in Canada, San Francisco, and ended up back in Maryland. I came to San Diego for Spring Break in March of ’96 to visit a good friend I had gone to school with back East. My one week stay turned into two and when I got home to Maryland I decided I didn’t want to stay another year. So I finished up school for the semester then packed up everything I could in two duffle bags, sold the rest and came to San Diego. So I just had my 20 year anniversary in San Diego.
421: You’ve been a big part of the Fortune 421 brand since the beginning, how has that experience shaped where you’re at today?
EA: Wow, well honestly I couldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Fortune. In the 10 years of being involved in Fortune I’ve met my best friends in the world, this guy Jason Herrick being one of them, and some of the best people. Not just that but at least where I’m at with Industry, I’ve met the majority of those people through the Fortune Family, and the events and everything we’ve done. As well as some business partners that thought I was a lot cooler than I am, or a lot more professional, because of me being apart of Fortune. The thing about the Fortune experience is, man it’s just so many things, as a business experience I got to learn to be an event planner being part of some of our bigger events like when we did the Del Mar Marriott New Years parties. Working with a corporate entity like the Marriott was pretty impressive. Being across the United States in Miami during WMC where there are so many big brands and people would be recognizing us, it was amazing!
421: Tell us all about Industry.co and how the company came about?
EA: Industry is a professional platform for the service and hospitality. A hiring solution for bartenders, chefs, servers and really anybody that works in it to connect with business. The great thing about it is instead of paper resume the user creates a visual based profile to really highlight who you are as a person. Because you can’t get that from a paper resume? I have two other founding partners but how it started for me is a really interesting story. Being in the industry for as long as I have, from being a bus boy to a owner operator of several venues, is that the consistent problem was finding the right staff or just even getting a job myself. Traditionally the only way to find work would be Craigslist or walking up and down the streets knocking on doors with paper resumes, and that’s not fun at all. So I knew that something was missing when I started getting calls every day from friends working in the industry asking me “where do I go?” and “who do you know that’s hiring?” And then at the same time businesses that I knew within San Diego where telling me that they needed to hire this, that and the other so I realized there was a big problem. This was back in 2009 and 10 when I started getting all this inflow and my first idea, funny enough, was to try to streamline the process by having everything in an excel spreadsheets. Fast forward to when we opened AD Nightclub and I had my first shot at hiring for a venue with my partner at the time Vinny Dinino. We had over a thousand applicants and even when we scaled down to just a few hundred it still took three days just to get everyone through for an interview. Then we had to filter, filter, filter, check on their social media pages, so many steps that you have to regularly go through just to find that quality person. So at the same time my partner Vinny had come across and introduced me to my founding partners Cody Barbo and Matt Cecil. We had a meeting with them where I showed them my duffle bag of paper resumes and as we started talking they pulled out an iPad with a slide deck of the word Industry made up. My idea was In-dustry so I was like how the hell did this happen. But long story short we were both on the same path. They were younger guys that just graduated from SDSU, both leaders within their communities as well as AS Presidents. Both smart and really well rounded guys that had the drive. We saw LinkedIn was there for professionals but there really wasn’t anything for guys like us (people working in the industry). So with my experience and contacts and their knowledge of the current technologies it just made sense to work together. That was two years ago and ever since then we’ve been hitting milestone after milestone proving the point that it works. We just recently had a big announcement that we raised 2.3 Million dollars from a VC up in San Francisco that really believed in what we were doing. We started with a team of 3 and now we have 15 people on the team.
421: Well congratulations on raising the funding to take the platform National, not an easy feat! What was one big challenge that you had to overcome to get to this point personally and as a team?
EA: Personally, for anyone listening out there if you have an idea please pursue it, but just be ready to do a lot of work and take on a lot of sacrifice. Unless you were born of money and can invest it into yourself, be prepared to Bootstrap like my partners and I did. I had some significant money from the opportunities that I had previously but it does not prepare you for a good two years of not getting paid and working 80 hours a week. But it’s something that you love and something that you believe in so you keep going. So that personally was one of the biggest challenges, and also that I just had my two year old daughter and was going through that. So anyone that is planning to start a company just know that there are no free rides, it’s hard work and that’s what’s going to drive success. And then for business wise I think one of the challenges for us being a San Diego start up company is that money is hard to find. I’ve helped raise millions for the venues I’m apart of or have consulted for, but it’s a whole different story for startups. It was a lot of education and a lot of experience learning what you can do and what you can’t do. All which I’m so thankful that I know now and I can pass it onto those that are getting into the space.
421: What’s one goal you are excited about in this upcoming year and do you have any daily habits that will help you achieve it?
EA: One of the biggest goals for myself, and I think I share that with my other founding partners, is to within 6 months monetize the Industry app by having every business that has signed up for our free service to adopt it in the coming months and utilize it for their businesses and make the paid service very successful. How I’m preparing for that is by talking to business that we are currently working with to make sure that they understand what is going to happen and then learning what other business are doing so we can help. Health and wellness is super important here at Industry and that is a big part of our secret sauce. You’ve got to be energetic in this to make it through the 10-12 hour days we’re putting in to make sure this all works. So personally what I do every single morning is go for a run or exercise at 5 or 6 in the morning if I have to. I try to eat as healthy as possible. Thank God my amazing beautiful girlfriend Michelle has been helping me with that. You have to have a strong body and a strong mind and I think that will help our team achieve our goals in the future!
421: Our brand message is “Navigate with Passion” as we believe that aligning your career goals with your passions is the key to happiness and success. It’s exciting to see that you’ve done just that on your journey. What’s one piece of advice for anyone reading this to do the same?
EA: Passion …so believe in what you’re doing, I think is the biggest thing I could say. It’s a little loaded statement but when I say that, at least for Industry, I really believe in what we’re doing! Every day we’re helping that person that’s in a new city or is looking for a job, get that job easier than they had before through our platform. The fact that I’m helping people is something that I very much got from being a part of the Fortune brand. Ever since we started that it’s everything that i’ve wanted to do. I’ve been very successful before, made a lot of money, but money doesn’t mean anything when you don’t get to share that with the people that you care about and love. Which is a very much a part of the Fortune brand. I think that, believing in what you do makes everything that you’re doing for work not really work. There is that one statement that Confucius says “if you love what you do then you’ll never work a day in your life” which is so true.
421: Awesome advice thanks! Last question …what’s your favorite Fortune 421 design from our current styles?
EA: The one I wear the most is the Palm Muscle tank. I go out to Arizona a lot and during the summer when it’s nuclear hot out there I wear that one every time. It’s nice and light and it just makes me look good! I’ve got the dad bod belly that’s being covered and then with my arms I get to pretend I’m strong, haha!
421: Great choice, we love that style too and since summer never seams to end for us here in San Diego it’s perfect to hit the beach with year round. Thanks for taking the time to catch up with us Errol. It’s so awesome to watch your journey with Industry unfold and we couldn’t be prouder of you!