"Hoping, planning and dreaming are nothing if you fail to take action"
Matthew Colletti is a Florida native who currently resides in Tampa, FL. Having already spent 5 years innovating sales tactics and coaching sales representatives, Matthew returned to college in 2012. He graduated from The University of Tampa with honors in 2015, having earned a bachelor’s of science in finance. During his time in college, Matthew worked as an Investment Advisor for a firm which directed over 500 million USD in assets, while consistently maintaining full time status at the university. In late 2013, Matthew went on to found TalentedHuman, a social media platform which attracted users from over one hundred countries within the first year, and was privately valued at over 2.25 million in its seventh month of doing business. Matthew has since dissolved TalentedHuman and is gainfully employed with Ford Motor Company's wholly owned subsidiary Ford Motor Credit Company. As a natural entrepreneur, he has also come to help build NextScrum, a software development firm with a quickly growing following for their expertise ranging from mobile application development to e-commerce. To learn more about Matthew or make contact for business opportunities, please visit the contact page, or view his LinkedIn profile.
My journey to entrepreneurship was unlike the average “success” story. I started my first year of college at 25 years old, with five years of professional experience under my belt. I got a sales job in local health club straight out of high school. I rose to the top performer position inside of year one, which translated into assistant management and eventually, I was the General Manager. Not too bad for a 22 year-old with zero college education huh? I truly believe it was my entrepreneurial spirit that drove me to constantly innovate my marketing and sales tactics. This touches a key point I preach regularly- entrepreneurs are born, not created. Entrepreneurship isn’t something you can create if it is not already internally present. Now this previous statement isn’t to undermine the value of education, experience or self-improvement, but to highlight the fact that entrepreneurs have character traits and innate values that are imbedded into who they are.
The idea for TalentedHuman came to me while sitting in a local coffee bar I frequented near the University of Tampa where I attended for my bachelor’s. Like any other day, I got my latte and said hello to the barista Chris. He told me about how insanely awesome his band was and how they are trying to “get the word out there to get more gigs.” I agreed this seems to be the path to music success. Then he just randomly blurted out, “I f****** hate Facebook man.” I laughed, as this was unexpected. He elaborated further on how it used to be easy to grow a following on Facebook, have people share your content and grow your “friend” base large enough to make a difference. This all was demolished over the years as newsfeed algorithms, friend limits and other restrictions were implemented. This was the epiphany.
I am not joking when I say that within fifteen minutes of that conversation, I was purchasing the domain talentedhuman.com and writing down everything about the concept and how it will work in my ever-faithful OneNote tab named “Good Ideas.” I still use this tab daily (including that I just starting building matthewcolletti.com on WordPress where I write this currently). Within a two-week period, I told all my classmates that I was going to build the next monstrous social platform, and I deeply believed this to be true. This quick dissemination of my idea is what led to me meeting with Jasem Meqwar, our Co-founder, who approached me and said, “before I return home to Kuwait after college I want to start a business here; I can’t think of anyone other than you.” He then simply said, “let’s build the social media platform you were talking about the past few weeks.”
In just a few short months we had interviewed a dozen software development firms and made the choice to get started. We perfected the logo:
This was quite a long process. When you want perfection and have no idea what you’re doing, simple things like forming a logo become tribulations. In six months we had a website that received hits from over a hundred countries, we were on the local news and getting blog interview after interview. We really had a good thing going. Immediately after this pop of users, we added a mobile app and received a 2.25-million-dollar valuation! I know the stories of other platforms and although nothing near Facebook or Instagram, a couple million inside year 1 is a great start. What we immediately failed to recognize (as two finance students with minimal software/server knowledge) was that the local company we contracted for everything, had built easy solutions that didn’t scale well. They must have not imagined two random, local students gaining international attention. We fired the whole team and had to rebuild EVERYTHING from scratch with new developers, and never really bounced back from this short term intermission. The eruption of fun had come to a mere fizzle by 18 months, even with the outstanding new software we built with the new team.
I regularly remind myself that every single successful entrepreneur I have ever heard of has failed anywhere between 10 and 100 times before their big break. This kind of success on attempt one was simply a crash course in running a company that requires constant attention. The experiences of managing the company’s books, planning and executing marketing plans, handing PR, working to understand the entire legal atmosphere needed to sustain such a mechanism of business, working on detailed user workflow planning and application design, and lastly, bringing an idea to fruition with over $300,000 in seed funding can never be taken away. This is the type of learning experience that takes the foundation of the entrepreneur and fine tunes him for the future. The stories of entrepreneurs failing so much before we knew them makes a lot more sense now.
This is a short version of my journey to entrepreneurship. While I remain gainfully employed in the financial industry, I am learning the basics of coding so I can develop software. My aspirations are to be able to build anything I dream up, while helping other entrepreneurs built their passions (you know, skip the problem we had). The journey itself is so invigorating that the thought of helping others through it seems natural. This is in no way the end, just the ending of a particular venture.
I wish to begin by introducing myself. My name is Matthew Colletti; I am an entrepreneur and techie who writes about my personal experiences and opinions regarding business, technology and philosophy.
After writing a blog post about GPA’s and the recruiting environment, I received plenty of “a-men” responses, and a little resistance from those with years of work experience (which will be referred to as “OJT”) and little to no college education. I must first admit that I rejoined the college atmosphere after roughly six years of working in the corporate environment, so I started as one of these above-mentioned people just a few short years ago! Even though the last post fully focused on GPA’s and recruiting, the OJT responses inspire this.
It is safe to say anyone with over five years of experience in any field would state that their journey has molded them into a well-oiled machine for that field, while providing an understanding of business in general. It is even safer to say that most of these people have some form of college education. There is a rebel breed though; this breed was birthed in an era of the “real” American Dream, when hard work, punctuality and a positive outlook could get you to the CEO role. There is no doubt that the world has changed since then, and that the standards are higher, but the hard working self-made crowd is ever present. This being said, there is a smaller and smaller place for such work in the age of information and rapid, exponential, technological advancement. I would say a bachelor’s degree is the new high school diploma, and the sea is just too rich with these. The density of such people is because it is easier to receive this degree than it’s ever been, but that’s not for this discussion (reference my last post).
In the plethora of recent grads in the US, how easy is it to compete as someone with “experience?” In the adventures of many coming out of the economic crises and re-entering the workforce, unless you choose to be in the exact same field the pay will decrease to the point where a serving or bartending job is actually more financially feasible. This points clearly to the fact that a candidate with experience outweighs your average baccalaureate candidate. Now this logic may or may not apply to everyone, and the field of reference for experience may change this (slightly), but overall experience in business is not a guarantee for quick job discovery. The important thing to note is that business experience from 3-5 years might very well replace the practical knowledge of a bachelor’s degree, and help someone compete just as readily. When staying within a relevant field or a subsection thereof, a résumé with the relevant experience and no college degree will often outshine a degree with no relevant experience.
The latter is really the focal point of this short read. Work experience molds the individual to not only know the information, but put it to practical use in the business environment. A college degree gives you actionable information, hopefully a resume, a monthly debt payment (for those of us who do not qualify for any of the millions worth of funding), and in most cases a descent network to build. After this the school says, “best of luck!”, and pats the student on the back as they stroll off into the corporate wilderness. This is no longer the American Dream the baby boomers grew up in, and the best way to succeed (for you recent grads) is to arm yourself with as much as possible! This includes: