Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mike Periu >

Mike Periu, Principal, EcoFin Media, LLC

What do you need to be an entrepreneur?
Self-confidence. You are embarking on a path where most people fail and almost everyone around you will continually tell you that you are making a mistake. If you don’t have sufficient self-confidence, you’ll believe them and not yourself.

What did inspire you to start your business?
Frustration. I become frustrated at the limited availability of quality, unbiased, honest financial literacy information that was able to successfully and credibly establish a connection with Hispanic audiences. Without this information, you are at a tremendous disadvantage in life. I saw this is a huge problem that needed to be solved and I have the skills to solve it.

How did you finance it?
EcoFin Media is the third company I have founded or co-founded. I was able to finance the launch of this venture from the accumulated, retained profits generated from my previous companies.

Being Hispanic…Does it have any influence on your business?
Tremendous influence. Our mission is to empower individuals through financial literacy information. To date, 80% of our work has been directed towards Hispanics in the U.S. who are Spanish dominant. Our intimate understanding of the culture is essential in producing educational content that establishes a connection with the audience. This dramatically increases information retention rates.

In the face of adversity, how do you decide to keep going?
The ability to persevere in the face of adversity is a key trait of any successful entrepreneur. The only way to keep going is to have confidence in yourself and in your business. If you do, then moments of adversity will appear to you as temporary and surmountable. If you don’t have sufficient self-confidence, then the same adversity will appear impossible to overcome and you’ll quit. So how you perceive adversity is directly correlated to your level of self-confidence.

What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
Our biggest challenge has been overcoming the stigma of being a for-profit company in financial literacy. I say stigma because many individuals and organizations are accustomed to interacting with non-profits in this sector. I believe there is a tremendous unmet need for superior quality information at a fair price. I also think that in many cases giving away financial literacy information is counterproductive. Its human nature to assume that there is a relationship between price and value. When you give something away, people tend to think it is not worth very much. Additionally, if the recipient of the information hasn’t given something up to acquire the information, they are less likely to use it. I see this regularly. It is better to charge someone for something that will help them if it increases the likelihood that they will use it. Finally, many individuals have been conditioned to expect a third party to make basic financial decisions for them, while they stay in the dark. That is precisely how you get into trouble. Our goal is to empower individuals to make decisions for themselves. Not everyone agrees with this point of view. It is an uphill battle sometimes.

If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?
The length of our sales cycle. Its partially a function of the economy, but the longer it takes to close a deal the greater the resources that are tied up in the process of closing. Shorter sales cycles would allow us to do more and help more people.

What was your childhood ambition?
I have always felt blessed with many talents and gifts. From a young age I have always wanted to help others. I feel it is my duty to share my talents in a way that improves the lives of as many people as possible. From an early age, this has been my ambition. It is still a work in progress and will probably be for the rest of my life.

Tell us about three entrepreneurs that you admire?
Michael Dell – He took his company from a dorm room project to one of the largest and most successful companies in history. His ability to consistently execute his at times revolutionary business plan and deliver on his vision is admirable. After Dell ran into difficulties, he quickly rejoined the company to set it on the right path again.

Jorge Mas Canosa – While building MasTec into an industry leader, he used his business acumen, capital and contacts to further the cause of liberty for Cuba from the Castro dictatorship. While his dream has not been realized, he serves as a model of how successful entrepreneurs can leverage their resources for noble causes.

Craig McCaw – He is a true innovator. He revolutionized two industries: cable television and cellular communications. Where others only saw problems, he saw opportunity and he knew how to capitalize on it.

For business meetings: breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
Whatever the client prefers. I can (and all entrepreneurs should) adapt to whatever will give you a better likelihood of closing the deal.

What sacrifices on your personal life did you have to make in order to become a business success?
Coming from a conservative family, the choice to forgo a low risk traditional career path and instead accept a high risk entrepreneurial path was very difficult for them to understand. In the beginning, you are working 10 times as hard for very little reward. But you have to push through that. When you start to taste success, there is nothing like it!

What is your favorite quote?
“No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.” -Adam Smith

Is it difficult to be unconventional?
This varies from person to person. I have always been somewhat unconventional and frankly you have to be to go into business for yourself and stick it out during the difficult times. For other people, it is very difficult or impossible. It’s not something you learn. Its either part of your personality or it isn’t.

Biggest mistake made?
I have made many mistakes so it’s difficult to judge the “biggest” of them all. Perhaps the biggest was not seeking out a mentor in entrepreneurship when I made the decision to go into business for myself. Starting a business is something you have to learn by doing. I should have found the most successful business owner within my reach and insisted on being his or her shadow for a year. That would have saved me a great deal of time, money and effort.

Do you consider yourself an innovator? Why?
I consider myself an innovator because I am packaging information in a new way to maximize its benefits. I am doing this for a market where many established players don’t see or refuse to see the opportunity.

About the company
Founded by Mike Periu ( ) EcoFin Media, LLC ( ) develops high quality financial literacy content for print, television, radio and online. We work both in English and Spanish, providing culturally relevant content that speaks directly to target audiences. We market our own products –including the leading financial literacy blog in Spanish ( )- and also develop private-label content.
Our mission is to empower individuals to make sound financial decisions for themselves. Our content is developed with a friendly, engaging style that informs but does not intimidate.


virgilio said...

Very good reponses to timely and critical questions. It shed light and provided a model. It was revealing of character.

Virgil Blanco

nyfinances said...

Being an entrepreneur is not easy at all and those who succeed should be admired for it. Finances, administration, personnel, everything is in your hands.

Anonymous said...

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