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Meet Edgar Blazona, a man who has been through so many changes in his life. From being an entrepreneur to becoming one of the most successful furniture CEOs around! Watch as he tells you about how his passion turned into an 8-figure furniture business success story.

—Edgar Blazona

Raw and Real Entrepreneurship with Edgar Blazona

Topics covered in the interview

First business
Entrepreneurs: born or made?
Funds to start a business
Pitch round preparations
Growth Plan
Resilience

Edgar Blazona’s Bio

Edgar Blazona is a modernist American furniture designer and founder of the wildly popular DTC sofa brand BenchMade Modern. A high school dropout, turned graffiti artist, turned serial entrepreneur, Edgar got his start in the furniture industry because of need: he was young and broke, and his first apartment didn’t have any furniture. Thus, he taught himself how to build some.

Along with starting several (!) of his own companies, including Modular Dwellings – a prefab backyard shelter company, Edgar also sharpened his skills in the corporate world at Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware. As he saw customers accustomed to waiting three months (and more!) for sofas and sectionals that realistically take only a few weeks to make, he realized there must be a better way and founded BenchMade Modern in 2015 to disrupt this norm.

BenchMade Modern offers sofas and sectionals in 5” increments and custom configurations, depths, fabrics and more. Custom furniture arrives at your doorstep within weeks, not months.

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Show Notes

Read Full Transcript

Susan Sly 00:00
Welcome to Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. The show that dares to bring the no nonsense insight to those who have the courage to start, grow, and scale a business. Here's your host, entrepreneur, investor, and best selling author Susan Sly.

Susan Sly 00:16
Hey, what is up Raw and Real Entrepreneurs wherever you are in the world, I hope you're having an amazing day. And we're gonna have a really incredible entrepreneur on the show today and I'm going to tell you something. He is a man of many talents and you might even hear him rap. If you remember my show with Jesse Itzler where I challenged Jesse to a rap battle and Jesse didn't rap he was turning 50 the next day, he's like, I'm just not going to rap. And so I am the default winner because I rapped on my own show and Jesse didn't, so I have beat Jesse and a rap battle, just Jesse throwing that out there. But I would lose this rap battle because anyway, that's another story but check it out. My guest today is a modernist American furniture designer and his furniture is spectacular. And he's the founder of the wildly popular DTC sofa brand and Bench Made Modern. He was a high school dropout turned graffiti artist, turned serial entrepreneur. He got his start in the furniture industry because of need. He was young and broke and his first apartment didn't have any furniture, thus he taught himself how to build some. After starting several of his own companies, including Modular Dwellings, a prefab backyard shelter company, he sharpened his skills in the corporate world at Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware where I have spent a significant amount of money between that American Girl in Lego like I'm serious, there's a lot of money right there. If I just invested that in Apple, you know, that's a different story. Anyway, he saw customers accustomed to waiting three months and more for sofas and sectionals that realistically only take a few weeks to make. He wanted to change that and he wanted to disrupt. So my guest today, straight from the Bay Area of the USA is Edgar Blazona. Edgar, thanks for being here.

Edgar Blazona 02:12
Yeah, thanks for having me. I've been looking forward to this one. I didn't know I was gonna be doing a rap battle. So I might have to sharpen up my ninth grade skills. But as a graffiti artist growing up, you know, kind of goes hand in hand. You kind of have that, have a little rap skills. You know, my wife would say, oh my god, I could just hear her cringing right now. Like, please don't let him start rapping. However, if we did have a battle, I probably would win.

Susan Sly 02:42
You are 100% woodwind because you wrote your own rap songs. And I'm just going to recycle 80s rap songs because that's just the only rap songs I know. Maybe some 90s. We could see but anyway, well, we'll leave it. Friends, stay tuned because Edgar may rap by the end of the show. We don't know.

Edgar Blazona 03:06
Maybe?

Susan Sly 03:07
Yeah. And professional stalker. We're going to talk about that in a moment. Edgar, let me ask you this. So as a serial entrepreneur, what was the first business you ever started? Like as a kid even.

Edgar Blazona 03:19
Yeah, the watermelon man, get your ice cold watermelon, man. Hey, watermelon get your ice cold watermelon man. I would push this card around on my skateboard. And it was filled with ice and I would sell slices of watermelon. I didn't feel like lemonade, really. I mean, as weird as this sounds, and you know, no one taught me this but you go back and think I just couldn't make enough money on lemonade, right? And so I get this watermelon and I'd slice it up and I'd bag it in you know, into little wedges and I put it on nice and then rolled around. I think I charged you know, 50 cents a slice something like that. But it felt like it made a lot more money than the lemonade stand did. And for some reason I would crush it. You know, I'd roll up to a construction site and I'd sell all watermelon, you know, precise and go back and get another one and so but I still remember that jingle. You know, watermelon man, gets your ice cold watermelon.

Susan Sly 04:23
So do you think there is going to be like a watermelon themed you know, sectional? I can see it, I can see it.

Edgar Blazona 04:33
Thank gosh we don't make our own you know, fabrics, watermelon fabrics. Although I could take that challenge you know it seems like you're kind of into challenging things. So I could probably, I could probably ship you one.

Susan Sly 04:45
We just had this visual though of a sectional like, modern sectional watermelon slices and I see like, you know, Northwest you know, Kim Kardashian's daughter, someday like gets photographed for ag with this watermelon. I'm just saying that if that happens, like, kudos to you. Yeah. Excellent. I love it. So, now that, you know, for the show, I've interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs and like you, I'm a serial entrepreneur. I'm curious, your take on this, do you think entrepreneurs are born? Or can they be made?

Edgar Blazona 05:24
I think they're totally born. I actually think there's, there's, it's funny, you bring this up, we're talking about people who are doers, people who are followers, people who are helpers, right? You need all of those people, right, put together. Not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, not everyone wants to be a leader, not everyone wants to be an idea person, you know, and some people are just ideas people, and they, they can't even get it off, you know, get it going, right? But you need all of those people to create the society or create the project, or whatever it is. So. So the short answer is no, I don't think that everyone could be an entrepreneur, right? I do think you're, you're kind of bred that, you know, maybe it comes from your upbringing, maybe it comes from something inner within you that is just driving to be a little different. Because man it is, it's hard. And it's scary, you know, and, and you bet the farm every time you know. I don't have a, you know, 401k to fall back on or, or that I'm slowly growing over the years. It's like, No, I'm all in again, you know, here we go again, all in. And it can be very scary. And as you get older, of course, you have more bills, you have more, you know, stuff, you have more this, this machine that you got to feed and so it makes it riskier and riskier as you go.

Susan Sly 06:46
It's such, it's interesting that you say that about the born piece, because I don't ever remember thinking I want to work for someone else. Like I don't ever recall that. I saw it as a means to an end, like, I'll do this job working for someone else so I have enough money to start my own thing, right. And but I don't recall ever going, oh, I want to work for a company. And I just, I think I'm just wired differently. So I love that you said that. In terms of like, your company now, when people think of starting any company, they're like, I've got to find money to start this. So when you initially started the company, like how did you get your first prototype going? Where did you get the money for it?

Edgar Blazona 07:38
Yeah, yeah, great question. You know, in the furniture world, it's a tough, it's a tough play, right? I grew up in the Bay Area, right. I've seen this, this, you know, golden rush, frankly, come through multiple times. Come and go and crash and, and all that. And, and I think that, you know, being in the furniture business, I've kind of like watched it go, you know, oh, there goes all my friends, you know, getting new cars, and, you know, pool tables at their office, and, you know, all this stuff. And, and I was never able to be a part of that. And, and it wasn't until, I don't know, 2010 something like that, where it started to make sense to be able to get money to, to do my passion, which is furniture. And like you said, I you know, I, I dropped out of high school and got an apartment and, and didn't have enough money to have furniture. So I made my own and, you know, all of those things. And I was hustling on the street corner selling that stuff, like, you know, right on the sidewalk out in front of the bar, you know. And, and I, and I was, you know, and so this is my passion. This is my life, like, this is what I do. And so how can I push it into a direction to, to build it and, and, you know, I started with a small little cabinet shop and, you know, had a saw and I realized, man, it's gonna be forever till I get a summer house. So I'm pushing with through saw the rest of my life, you know, and I got that job of pottery barn to learn mass, you know? And then once I kind of learned mass like, Well, how do I raise money for this? And so I started a small brand to modern, it was a wholesale brand, and I needed to raise like real capital. And so I started listening to podcasts, weirdly enough, and there was this guy out here in the Bay Area called Jason Calacanis. And, you know, he's got this This Week in Startups podcast, and he's kind of a, kind of a, you know, in the startup world, he's kind of a barrier, dude. Like, he's one of the dudes that, you know, everyone knows him. And he has his podcast, and he would tell you, you know, really, over the years, tell you how to raise money and tell you what he likes and what his friends like and what his friends don't like and how to do it in a way. And so my son and I, we would drive to school every day, I would drop him off and it was like an hour, we would sit in the car, and I would take notes, and I would listen to his words. I would, year after year of these podcasts, and I would, I would You know, I'll listen to in a couple months, but I would, I would take notes on this stuff. And I would find a way to, to pitch to him and get his, you know, investment. And I really did that. And, you know, one of the things he would say is, you know, give to get, you know, basically like, don't just, Hey, can I have your money? You know, can I, you know, and so I had this, well, he, he belonged to this fancy club, and I was like, Okay, I need to get into the fancy club. So I figured out a way to get in the fancy club. And suddenly, I'm a member of this club, you know, I'm the cool artists guy that they want, because they want to be diverse, you know, so I played into that. And so and then, and, and then he was sitting over there, you know, and so I would go there every day. And I would build this business, I was writing this business model and kind of figuring out what to do and designing the furniture and designing the space in the factory, I had to build a small factory. And so I started building this little tiny factory, because I had to prove to the world that I could do what I set out to do, which was really making sofas in less than 24 hours, like custom sofas in 24 hours. Now, that's crazy. You know, no one does that. No one's heard of that. Turns out it's a bad business model, by the way, but I'll get to that in a minute. Anyway, so there he is sitting over there. And I had written this email and it said, you know, Hey, Jason, you know, you have these fancy conferences, however, all these famous people are sitting in rental furniture. I happen to make great furniture, how about I provide you the stage furniture, for your, for your conference in exchange to be able to go to your conference?

Susan Sly 11:46
That's genius.

Edgar Blazona 11:48
That's a big, that's a big gig. A guy walked in and said, hey, you know, are you Jason Calacanis? You look like Jason. And I'm like, no, no, but he's sitting over there. And I was like, Haha. And I had had this email queued up probably for a month or two. But I was waiting for the right moment to be able to send it to him. And I relayed that story to him. And within 10 minutes, I saw him right at the table, sending me an email back saying, I'd love to talk to you. And that really was the start to, to getting his investment.

Susan Sly 12:19
So there's a lot to unpack there, Edgar. So it's the creativity, which is huge as an entrepreneur, it's the creative networking like and you know, how do I gain access? Proximity is power. When people are in positions, whether it's through wealth, or status, that they're oftentimes and I found, even for myself, when I've, when I'm doing events, and you know, people lining up wanting autographs or book signings and things like that, but when I'm just with my crew, and by myself, or in my element, I'm a lot more relaxed, I'm a lot more open, right? So that proximity piece is key. And then figuring out how to add value to someone without an expectation. Of course, there's an expectation like, hey, I want to do business, or there's something I want to get to know. But where is there a potential need? How can I help that person in a certain way, and then, you know, open that door, so he puts your furniture on stage at the conference, like, Tell me about that.

Edgar Blazona 13:25
So then he puts his, he puts my furniture on stage, you know, and that was kind of cool. I forget the guy's name, the founder of box.com, you know, he's sitting in my furniture, he's another kind of famous guy, you know, what I'm taking pictures. I'm thinking about look at that, you know, and I had kind of just left it at that. And, and I actually, you know, it was kind of expensive for me to do. And, you know, another month went by, and I was just kind of laying low and, and he calls me says, hey, I want you to come in. And, you know, we've got this other conference coming up. And, you know, I'd like to talk to you about it. And in all honesty, I was kind of going there to break up. Because I, I kind of felt like, you know what, I can't do another one of these conferences. It was like, it was a lot of work. If I didn't have the success, I'd better find another way. And he said to me, hey man, how's that business going, you're working on, you know, why don't you show me? And I said, Well, you know, okay, and so I had always told us, you know, have an iPhone, have an iPad, like always have multiple devices in case one of them is out of battery or whatever. And man, he's asking you these questions. I'm looking at my iPad, it might as well have been Japanese. I had no idea where the deck was, I had no idea like, I was so nervous, like, here's my big moment, you know, he wants to see my pitch, you know, and, and I said to him, I said, Well, he said I might like to invest. I said, well, I got to ask another guy who just kind of committed to to investing and he's said Who is it? And I said, Well, it was the owner of this place called the battery, the social club that I belong to, I was working all the angles, you know. And he said, Oh, Michael? He goes, Oh, how about Michael and I just flipped around. And Michael hadn't, you know, like, even committed for very much. And I was like, Oh, God, you know, I gotta go back to Michael. I don't know, man, I would have to ask Michael first, you know. That put up on ice just like that, you know. So I went back to Michael. And I said, Hey, you know, Jason wants to split the round, you know, would you be willing to? I'm not trying to upsell you, Michael. But I'm just saying that this is what happened. And, and sure enough, they split the round, and I was off to the races.

Susan Sly 15:41
So are you, are you able to disclose how much that early round was?

Edgar Blazona 15:46
I don't want, it wasn't that much money, but it was enough to get me going. I had to go do his festival, the launch festival, you know, I had to be up on stage and pitch like, like everyone else. That was kind of part of the deal. Like, well, if we're gonna do this, you got to, you got to do this festival for me. And I was the only furniture guy there, you know, and, you know, I'm up against like AI companies and, you know, the ring thing and, you know, money companies and you know, all this stuff. And I'm the furniture dude, I'm winning, I won all my rounds. I didn't win the event, but I want all my rounds. And I thought there was like, wow, this is, this is something fresh, you know, and exciting. And I had this robotic arm thing that was, I was basically building like a sofa vending machine. In fact, if you, if you Google Benchmade Modern robot, YouTube, you can find this early, early things of this robotic vending machine that I was building. And it was, it was, it was fun times, it was exciting.

Susan Sly 16:42
I'm so Googling that. I want to talk about pitch rounds for a minute, because there are some, friends of mine are, they are working on a startup, and they've done a couple of pitches. I have a incubator for women led, women founded startups, called Fem Boss. And so it's daunting for them. And it is daunting, like it is, is like, there's, there's so much that goes into it. What advice can you give to someone, because I know their names are Janey and Shannon, they're listening to this, what advice would you give to them getting ready for the pitch round?

Edgar Blazona 17:19
Well, Janey and Shannon, here's the best advice that I can give you. The best advice I can give you is, is while you think your pitch is dope, right? You got the best fish, you got it all together, You know, it's not. And it's not going to be until, you know, six months in, right? So the advice is this. Start with your seamless investors, the people who make the least amount of sense, the people who you don't even really want but you know you got to pitch to. start with them first. And the reason is, is because you learn so much in those early pitches. If you're reading the room, you're reading their face, you're answering their questions, you know, some of them aren't even listening to you like whatever it is, you learn how to adapt your pitch based on those intuitions. Right? And, and the questions and all that. So if you've burned, let's say, you're, you're you know, the investor you want as Andreessen Horowitz right, like, don't go to Andreessen first, right? Because you've basically burned that opportunity, you know, pretty much forever. So start in the back, fine tune your stuff, by the time you get to end reason you know, maybe you've got some money on the table, but more importantly, you'll have the best pitch you've ever had, because you're most experienced along the way.

Susan Sly 18:46
I love that. What great advice. And it's so, it's kind of like you said, you know, six months down the road, the better you get, the better you get, the better you get, you tighten up the pitch, you learn to GTTP, get to the point. When we first started pitching for Radius, it was so funny, because the, I look at the PowerPoint now Edgar, I laugh. And there's a whole joke in AI like, Oh, if you have a PowerPoint, it's real AI now, you know, like, Oh, I'm all grown up now, I have a PowerPoint. So I look at it now and I laugh, but we started to get better. And then we would invite investors to a virtual pitch room. And it was like, you know, just acknowledging them and they were friends. So I won't disclose the most money we raised in 45 minutes, but it was, it was legit. Let's put it that way. And the way I look at pitching is you need to go in so clear on what your real value is, your you know, what you're you know, what you're bringing to the table because if you're not confident the investors aren't confident either. And there's a difference between arrogance and confidence. And that's the key. And even when Radius has isn't needed to do an A round because we've been at revenue, but we will do an a round. And I was on the, I have a regular cadence with this VC, and he's like, Well, how much are you going to raise? And I told him, he said, What are you going to do with the money? And I said, Well, it's going to be this, this and this. And he's like, Oh, okay. And I said, and by the way, we're on several m&a lists, and I have regular cadence calls with several of your peers, you're at the top of our list, and here's why. I'll talk to you next month. But it's this, you don't want to think about it like getting married, it's more like dating, and you want to let people know, like, the more attractive it is when you're dating, you know, other people, right? So, to use that analogy, I can't even, I don't know, I have maybe haven't had enough caffeine, Edgar, that was not the greatest analogy. But you know what I'm saying.

Edgar Blazona 20:50
No, no, I do know what you mean. There's a, there's a moment where arrogance and cocky does not work, right? Because well, I should step back and I should say, there's something about arrogance, that could work. But it oftentimes doesn't work. Right. There's a few people that that can get away with it, and make it work. And, but you turn a lot of people off, I think. There's something about confidence. There's something about you know, the feeling of I've kind of, I've already won or I've, I've, I've got these place, these things in place, they're legit, they're real, I can back it up. And, and I can win, right? And, you know, it goes back to the rap battle thing. You know, you caved in incredibly quick on the rap battle. Because all I had to do is tell you that I got my own raps. And then I had gotten kicked out of school writing those raps. That was it. But that came from the heart, right? That was legit, and

Susan Sly 21:58
You got kicked out of Sunday school, let us just like, let's just, let's tell the whole story. Because it's Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. You got kicked out of Sunday school.

Edgar Blazona 22:09
I got kicked out of religion class in high school. Writing the most, like, nasty rap, you could, you could think of back in those days when it was that sort of thing.

Susan Sly 22:22
Well, now, now everyone's like, Oh, Susan, you have to rap, right? So well, we'll talk about that in just a moment. But going, going back to it's like this, there's a French thing je ne sais quoi that, like, there's a little something, something there. And it's like, you know that you know, it's like, I'm going here with or without you, but I'd rather go with you. And that confidence. So for your company, what, what is the future? What is your growth plan?

Edgar Blazona 22:52
Well, what is my growth plan? I mean, we're in an interesting position, right? So I started out to disrupt the furniture industry, right? There's this old world group of furniture guys in North Carolina and, and around the country, that are kind of running the show. Right? And, you know, a lot of them just found the internet not too long ago, you know, and so, so I set out to disrupt, but then I got acquired by the companies that I wanted to disrupt. Right? So now, you know, now what do I do, right? Now, I'm kind of like, I'm trying to change the ways but man, you know, one of the, one of the things the CEO said to me is, you know, I know we bought the disrupter, but you sure are disruptive. Yeah, I am. And so, so, you know, our future, you know, has changed multiple times now, and you know, what are we trying to do? You know, we run a direct to consumer, DTC, right? We sell directly to the consumer. And we're trying to make that model work, you know, and it's tough, it's not easy, you know. I'm owned by one of the biggest factories in the country, and it's still very, very difficult to do. And if I'm going to be totally honest, you know, it's not so easy shipping furniture, sectionals, across the country on a onesie basis. It's very, very, very challenging. And so, you know, we're still fine tuning the model. You know, in the meantime, you know, we make some really nice stuff. Frankly, we make the best online sofas, and I can stand stand tall on that. And, and we make really, really good furniture. It's not cheap, but we make really, really good stuff.

Susan Sly 24:44
So I've had several guests who become good friends who've been acquired, and I want to hear that story. Did the offer come out of left field or was it you were like kind of courting this relationship? Share, how did that happen?

Edgar Blazona 25:04
Well, how did it happen? What can I share? Okay, so I was, I went to Restoration Hardware for a quick minute. I was sort of courted by Gary Friedman of Restoration Hardware. And, you know, we were sort of struggling, I was raising more money, and I went to him and, and he said, Well, you know, I don't want to buy the company, but I'd like to buy you. And he made me an incredible offer. And so I went there for a couple years, I actually secretly kept the company running in the background, and my, you know, Benchmade, while I went there. And you know, and actually started to do better, and we didn't necessarily need to raise and, and lo and behold, I ended up selling the company to one of Restoration Hardware's vendors. And, and now I'm, now I'm, you know, running my own company, you know, for one of their vendors. And, you know, it was a tough time, you know. I mean, I was on the ropes, like, like, most startups do, you know, and I was pushed and pulled and, you know, spending money out of my own pocket and trying to keep the thing running. And you know, that Restoration Hardware thing was a, was a savior, really. And it allowed me enough time to kind of, you know, to, I don't even get paid, you know, not worry about bills, and not have the same conversations with my family and, and all of that. It gave me just a moment to, to relax a bit and take a deep breath and, and refocus the company. And, and it was a great time. It was, it was really helpful. Frankly, I needed it at that point.

Susan Sly 26:54
And thank you for being so transparent, because there's this, for those who are not in the startup world, there's, a friend of mine said to me, she's like, how does it feel to be making real money? And I'm like, this is you know, I'm like, I'm a startup CEO, like, I don't think you know yet. Like, it's not like, I'm Sheryl Sandberg, who just left Meta with, you know, a net worth of 1.4 billion. Like, I'm a startup CEO, which means, you know, some of the dinners come out of my own pocket, some of the travel comes out of my own pocket. Like you just don't get into this unless you're willing to commit and I love that you said that because that, that relief. And I'm sure that translated into your marriage, that translated into how you slept at night. And some acquisitions like, even when Amazon acquired Zappos, Tony still had, God rest his soul, he still had the austerity to kind of go and disrupt and create and do all that stuff. And sometimes it can go well, sometimes it doesn't go well. And we see companies that kind of back out of that, you know, acquisition phase. But what has been, for you, something you didn't expect on this journey that you would say if there was a book on your life, you would look back and say I dedicate a whole chapter to that lesson.

Edgar Blazona 28:21
Gosh, you know, I don't know, I think that you know, I don't know if this actually answers the question but I'm taking the first word that came to my mind was resilience, right? And when you, when you were you know, I have incredible confidence in myself, right? You know, in fact, I still have that tablesaw that I was pushing the woods through. I keep that saw because I have this thing in the back of my head that if it all fails, I can always pull that saw out and make some kitchen cabinets for some people. And I keep that saw, I keep that saw because I know as long as I have power you know, I don't even really need a place. A garage, I don't even need that you know, a driveway. I could start from the ground up if I had that saw. And there's something, that resilience, right? You know, going back to what your friend said about, wow, you must be making the real money. Well, first of all, to your friend, there's a cap. There's like salary caps in the startup world. You can't just you know, make whatever salary you want because people won't invest in you. People will think you're too greedy. And so there is a CEO number and it you know, it varies a bit depends on where you live and all that but it's not easy street, right? It's not, I'm in the money now street. So I think that when you, when you come from a place when you're, when you're, when you're self employed, right? And you have to keep the lights on. It's that resilience that plays. And I remember back when I was, you know, I left the house when I was 16. I had a car when I was 15. My parents didn't know about it for a year, I parked it up the street, I would drive every day, I had no license, you know, and, and I finally left at 16. And, and, you know, and then I started making my own, you know, being self employed. And I bought a van again, a Volkswagen Vanagon, an old one, you know, not even a new one. Like I'm talking like, old lovebug style Vanagon. And I thought, if it all fails, I can live in his Vanagon. Right? I could always just live in this van. And then as I got a little older, I bought another Vanagon, like a nicer one, like, same thing, same mentality. Then I built this prefab house, right? I could always live in this prefab house. And I bought a commercial lot, I could park that on there and I could live. So all this whole time I'm thinking, you know, if it fails, like, what's my backup plan? I think you always have to have some sort of a backup plan. You know, there's some entrepreneurs that say no backup plan, you know, headfirst. Yeah, yeah, just, but I don't believe in that. Because I think I think, you know, everything is a little bit more fragile than that, you know. And so if you have some backup plans, and for me, it was just a mindset of a little bit of stability. Right? That Vanagon, that prefab house, I have just a little bit of stability that would allow me to bet the farm again and again, you know, and so. So that, way long answer to your question, but that's really, I think, what the first thing that comes to my mind is, is resilience, and along with that resilience is kind of having a backup plan.

Susan Sly 31:58
That answer was beautiful. It was powerful. I mean, the first thought, for me, is actually because our Podcast Producer, her retirement dream is a Vanagon. So the question I have for you is what was the original color? Because she's gonna say, why didn't you ask him the color? And the next one?

Edgar Blazona 32:19
Brown? Yeah. And you know what, I'll tell you a funny story. You're gonna love this. I convinced my at the time girlfriend to get in that brown Vanagon and travel the country for two months, writing a book called Touring The Nation On 18 Holes Of Miniature Golf. I interviewed snack bar, I would take photos with, what's your best selling product at your snack bar? You know, turns out it's the nachos. Yeah, yeah. So I traveled around the country writing a book on miniature golf in that Vanagon.

Susan Sly 33:01
Wow. So. So there you go, Tisha, I did ask the question, because I knew you were gonna ask that. So her dream one is green. And so, but she also loves orange. And then she wants to have like these, like a bunch of pugs. And she's like, I'm out of here. When my kids are out of the house, I'm in my Vanagon, with my pugs. And I'm good. So Tish, you got the answer. And so, I would have been, I would have been fired from my own show if I didn't ask the question. So the, my final question, I guess, is the, there's so many things I want to ask you but the I know, we've had entrepreneurs on here who've been transparent about depression, coming back from that and coming back from financial setbacks. What advice do you want to give to someone who's listening right now who's an entrepreneur and feeling a little beat up? Maybe they just did a pitch and they didn't get the money? Or maybe they're paying their employees on their credit cards. What do you want to say to them?

Edgar Blazona 34:05
Yeah, I forget the two people, we were talking their names earlier, but I would love to talk to them again. And I would say you know, it is a long road. Right? There are so many ups and downs. Right? High, super highs and super lows, right? In the same day. Like literally the same day, you'll think, oh my God, I am going to be a billionaire. Like we just, you know, just beat everybody and we are the best and I'm the best and I'm rich and money is raining from the ceilings. And then two hours later, your phone is getting turned off. And you know, you're getting kicked out and there is no money and that guy was a fraud. And so there's these incredible highs and these incredible lows. And it takes, it takes a real, I want to say training or like, you really have to focus on taking an even line and not being too high and too low. Because those highs, no matter how good it feels, but contradicted to those lows, can really create that depression that you mentioned. So if you start from the beginning with somewhat of a stable, you know, you know, mid level of excitement and disappointment, then I think that you can kind of ride those crazy times and kind of stay out of depression. You know, it's very lonely as a founder, right? It's very, very lonely. You, you run into multiple situations where you have, where you feel like an imposter, right? You, like, you don't know anything about whatever you're building or doing. Like you're learning as you go, you think you do, but in reality, you're just, you're trying to build something different. And so, you know, this, this imposter feeling that we get, you know, and we all get it, right. And if we could just reach out to one another, just a little more, just to check in with each other to say, to actually say, like, I'm having a really hard time with this, like, I feel like a fraud at times, you know, like I, I feel like I, I don't know how to run a company or have 100 employees, like, I don't know what to do, you know, and I feel like if we could open up a little bit of that, and actually talk to one another and, and you know, be a little bit more honest, instead of having these big egos, I feel like we would be much more, much more successful, frankly. So the advice is, don't ride the highs too high, don't ride the lows too low, and maybe find a good team of people that are that are like you that you can truly open up with and, and, you know, kind of have some, some conversations, some real conversations, not just oh, we're crushing it, you know, our hockey stick is you know, better than the rest.

Susan Sly 37:20
That's incredible wisdom from someone who's clearly lived it. And that's, that's what the show is about, like, let's not make it look like Oh, it's so easy. And I love what you said earlier about, there's a cap on salaries. And in fact, when you're fundraising, you have to disclose what percentage of executives are paid over $100,000 a year which there, it's not going to be glamorous. So it was funny when she said that and like how much do you think I'm making right? Any money I have is not coming from this. It's coming from past things that I did. And there is that long period of time and then your, to your point Edgar, it's that you wake up in the morning, it's like, here we go. Here we go again, go, go, go and then, and then something happens and you're excited and something happens and you're like, Oh, I feel like I've been kicked in the gut. And then it's just, and you get up and you do it over and over again until someone buys you. It takes a certain kind of, to your point, it's resilience. It takes a certain kind of personality who's able to do that day in and day out. So are you going to rap? That's the question.

Edgar Blazona 38:32
I think I'll hold back I mean, I you know, I used to be known as the king of height right? It was really RFIs Blaze, you know, if you haven't heard on the king height, you don't want to bother you don't want to bite if you'd like that Blaze, you will get ganked to rolling down the alley, my lord armory tank.

Susan Sly 38:50
Yes. That was awesome. That was awesome.

Edgar Blazona 38:56
My wife would kill me if she was here.

Susan Sly 38:59
That's okay. I'll just stalk her on social and then I'll share just that clip. So Neville, who does the video production, so Neville, we just want that clip of Edgar rapping and we're gonna put it all over on social media. Well, Edgar, I want to thank you for being raw and real. I want to thank you just for like showing up as your authentic self and giving people permission to say, You know what, this is gritty. This is hard. I'm going to keep on going and it isn't going to be glamorous, a lot of the time, but eventually, if I am resilient, I will get there. So thank you for that. And I want to encourage everyone. You got it. Go to Benchmade Modern. There's no watermelon sofas yet, but you never know what there could be. The wedge. We already have the theme song jingle for the commercial.

Susan Sly 40:04
Hey, you never know, you never know. So wherever you are in the world, Edgar and I would love a five star review. And just so you know, you, we will give you swag. So if I read your review online, you, we will send you a $25 amazon gift card which you can go to Benchmademodern.com. You can turn that gift card into cash somewhere and then use that $25 to buy yourself, No, I'm just kidding. But anyway, we want the five star review. Tag us on social and don't forget, once you do the review, email reviews@susansly.com. Let us know where that review is. And if I read it online, and maybe I'll rap read it. I don't know, that could be a new aspect of the show or we'll have Edgar back and he'll rap read it, that you could get a $25 amazon gift card. So Edgar, thanks again so much for being here.

Edgar Blazona 40:55
Yeah, thanks for having me. I appreciate it. It's fun kind of reliving some of the stories and rapping.

Susan Sly 41:01
Yeah, it's all in one. It's so good. All right. Well, everyone, this has been another episode of Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. And God bless and I will see you in a future episode.

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Susan Sly

Author Susan Sly

Susan Sly is the CEO and Founder of Step Into Your Power Inc., the Co-CEO of RadiusAI, keynote speaker, best-selling author, and tech investor. Susan has been featured on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime, ABC Family, and quoted in Forbes Online, Marketwatch, Yahoo Finance, and more. She is the mother of five and has been working in human potential for over two decades.

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