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Stephen Green

Pitch Black

Stephen Green


@0:03 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Hello everyone and welcome to The Shades of Entrepreneurship. This is your host, Mr. Flores. Today I'm here with an individual that really does not leave an introduction.

Stephen Green, Executive Director of Business for Better Portland, Founder of Pitch Black, Chair of Built Oregon, and someone I admire quite much.

@0:25 - Stephen Green

Stephen Green, how are we doing today, my man? I'm the dream man. It's sunny day in Portland. Can't beat that.

No better place to be in the summers than right here.

@0:35 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Yeah, that is true. Pacific Northwest is gorgeous folks. If you have not, please come visit. We have a lot of great entrepreneurs, a lot of great businesses, and a lot of great things to see.

So please do come visit Stephen. Let's jump into this. Can you please introduce yourself? Share a bit about yourself, educational background, career journey, personal experiences that have shaped your entrepreneurial journey.

@0:56 - Stephen Green

Yeah, so I like to say I was born to the... I lived here in Portland. was born June 5, 1977, a half time of the Treblazer's first and only world championship.

so, you know, was born in the Bay. We moved three months later to Portland. My mom worked at Techtronics and my dad got a job at Intel.

And so, you know, just five boys throughout my life, both my parents were entrepreneurs. I saw my mom do a Techstart up in the 90s, raised venture capital for that.

My dad went on to leave until and started his own company where his number one client was Intel. so, I'm definitely proof in the pudding of, they say 80% of US entrepreneurs had a parent, at least one parent that was an entrepreneur.

That was definitely the thing in my house. so, seeing them normalized, what it was to, you know, run a business and own a business, you know, I think I stuck up a lot of gems from them.

dad was a high school dropout. only grew up in Detroit. My mom's from Puerto Rico, but grew up as most Puerto Rican food in New York.

And my dad used to always just drop gens for me and my four other brothers. And one of things he used to say, there's two kinds of people in this world.

So it was the sign of the frame of the check and those that signed the back. And I took that to heart.

was a kid that had a couple lemonade stains. couple people helped me with that. was selling baseball cards. I'm sorry, my first business for that was in college.

So it's been up and going since then, me and my spreadsheets, making sure things are profitable.

@2:34 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

What was that first business in college?

@2:36 - Stephen Green

Yeah, so I grew up just a few miles away from the Nike campus. I always knew I was going to work at Nike.

So I work at Nike. And then during the summer of my junior year college, there was this newer platform called eBay.

I had access to Nike shoes for on campus. so I started selling things on eBay and what became something where I'd sell.

I learned two pairs of shoes a week. Became something I worked sold about 50 pairs a week. And I made between my last two years of college, I made about $60,000.

Selling shoes online. My dad became an investor. was like, what are you doing with all these shoes? And so I showed him.

he was pretty impressed. So yeah, that was my first four. It would be an entrepreneur. think I don't understand there's a lot of them owned.

Entrepreneurs, because there's also a lot of involuntary entrepreneurs. So I didn't have a lot of time in hands. couldn't work an eight hour job in college.

I played sports. And so I had to figure out something that didn't require a ton of hours during the day.

And I can come in and come out of it. So that was that.

@3:44 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

That's a great, I don't think I've ever heard anybody say that analogy for voluntary entrepreneur and voluntary entrepreneur, which is so true.

think some individuals scheduled just kind of pushes them into the entrepreneur realm because they just they don't. Have that capabilities to work the nine to five, you know?

@4:03 - Stephen Green

Yeah, whether it be, you know, schedule, language, whether it be, you know, previously incarcerated. I know a lot of entrepreneurs were like, well, I didn't kind of really want to, but no one would hire me or I got light off in this job.

so I had to progress on.

@4:22 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Yeah.

@4:23 - Stephen Green

so, you know, some sort of things born necessity.

@4:26 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Yeah, I mean, it's kind of like the. What is it? The rock pressure on pressure creates diamond, right? Something like that.

so what is, what is, let's talk about the business for better Portland. What is, what are you currently doing?

is that? What does that role currently do?

@4:43 - Stephen Green

And then who do you currently support? Yeah. you know, for us, the business for better, probably more than the founders show back in 2016, a group of founders, we got together and we said, wow, like we see Portland in a different way than a lot of the legacy power structures to you, especially from a business.

And for us, it was really driven by mission and the values that we had and our dedication to the city.

And so what we look like for us is to start this organization from scratch. And so it started back in 2016.

one of the founding members. We got over 400 members today. I think organization like ours has no better time, no time where we're needing more than today with what's going on in Portland.

We were on the number one list for a long time. And now we're not. There's other cities under number one, whatever lists.

And we've got a city full of founders that are committed to their brands, their craft, their coffee, their wine, whatever they're doing.

And they're ready to roll up their sleeves just like they have with their business and really support the city.

so one thing I'm seeing from a lot of business leaders is saying, okay, what's my role? Like I can't just wait around for.

The mayor or the city council or whoever, like on the role of this kind of person, how do I do that?

So that's where our organization steps in. We're hyper curious. We bring people together. We believe in saying and not or.

And I think there's a special connection right now that we're seeing between kind of three different lights of the stool here in Portland.

That's public sector, private sector and then philanthropy. So we've got a lot of new leaders in philanthropy. And during the pandemic, philanthropy got involved with businesses in many cases for the first time.

so now three years post the pandemic. Philanthropy is also saying, okay, what's our ongoing role in supporting businesses and understanding what's going on.

And so that's that's firmly where we see ourselves and the conversations we have that helps that I've been a founder.

I'm an investor. Also work at the city for 10 years. So I've kind of always been on I've been on all the different sides of the table.

So I find myself being the translator for folks and ultimately reaffirming the thing that's most important, I think, in business and probably in life as well, social capital, right?

So I think that things that oftentimes limit founders, limit the public sector is who they know, who they don't know, and where they have trust.

Right. how they go about doing that, especially in communities like the Black and Brown community where trust is such a premium.

it doesn't matter if you've got, you know, a great program or you're innovative. Or you got a huge budget, if there's no trust there, you know, you're dead in the water.

So that's what we've been and helped translate those things for folks and, you know, get people, you know, together and what can be done today, you know, next month, next quarter, next year.

And also, you know, just help people build those relationships that they otherwise may not have had and help them battle some of the assumptions that they make around what it means to run a business for what it means to work in city hall.

@7:57 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

You know, and beyond that, you know, one of the things you kind of do. In the community is with the business for Better Portland is you also created Pitch Black, which is another outlet for individuals to really showcase their skills.

@8:11 - Stephen Green

Can you give the listeners a little background of what Pitch Black is? Yeah, yeah. again, starting number of businesses.

One of those businesses is the Oregon Public House, not for profit brew pub in Northeast Portland. And back in 2015, I was looking at the latest census data, and it said that Portland was home to more than 4,000 black businesses, which I was blown away by.

And I felt like I was pretty astute, and I knew a lot of businesses, but I didn't know clear, you know, close to 4,000.

And so the first event was just meant to be a celebration of the folks that we already have here.

So invited black women and five black men to tell an audience what they're working on. And there was something in the energy in the room.

You know, it was a group of about 100 folks. Give away, I think, $833 in prize money, something crazy like that.

But we could tell in that first event, there was some there there. So we've gone to hold 13 events around the country here, Austin, Philadelphia.

In Portland, we've had 68 people pitch their ideas and gone out to raise over $55 million for their businesses since 2015.

So it's helped me understand and realize, like, my perception of what I think about black businesses is very different than what's out there.

We've got a black-owned drum company here. We've got a lot of people doing great things. And we just don't hear those stories.

So pitch black is there to help ecosystems get introduced to the black folks they've already got in their midst and get them excited about that.

And then also help the black founders themselves, you know, develop some social capital so that they can scale their ideas and move forward.

@9:58 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Yeah, you know, folks, if you have not attended this event. I would really highly recommend it. I actually got to attend this year.

True story, right at the almost like the end of this event. get a text from my wife. She's having contractions.

I'm like, Oh crap, I got to go. I think she ended up having to give like the next day or the following day or something.

So I was like, Oh, man, we're about to have this kid. I got to get going. So like right at the end of that event, I was going, you know, one of the things Stephen, I keep hearing throughout this conversation was your passion.

You know, you talked about your parents, you know, being passionate.

@10:27 - Stephen Green

But why are so passionate about the community of. Portland. I'm. A couple reasons. One, you know, I'm from a big family and, you know, in the black class, the next community where we're, you know, everything's overlapped and we're involved with all the things and.

And I think one thing that I learned growing up here, where there's not a lot of us, especially in the 80s and 90s is, you know, you've got to go and do your part.

And so. That was something that my dad and mom always impressed the promise. remember when I was in out of a since third grade, there was some hikers that went missing from Oregon to Piscoll School.

And a few of the folks ended up dying, but half of the group, a little over half the group was found, I remember my dad went and was on the search party that day and we were supposed to hang out and I got him from school and I saw him packing his bag and I was like, where you going?

We're supposed to hang out. he was like, oh these hikers are missing, I'm not hood. I'm going to go look for him.

And I was like, well, we had a thing scheduled and he just said he's like, hey, in order for people to be found someone's got to be looking for him.

And so I'm going to go look for him. And it was that simple. And I think part of where my passion comes from is like, I assume, you know, folks like us exist and we're doing really dope stuff in Portland and in Oregon, and I'm going to go search for him.

Right? you know, I think also being a recovering banker, I got to work with thousands of businesses around the state and like,

Nothing better than being part of someone's journey early on when they're in their garage or you know they're just trying to figure out you know is there something here here.

There's something magical about doing that I'm advising couple businesses right now and a guy just put in his notice after working at for 10 plus years he makes you know it's a trillion dollars there.

And to see him so excited to leave that all behind for starting this business where he hasn't sold a thing or talked to a customer yet.

There's just a special magic in being part of that and being on that journey and that's what really motivates me.

So as much as I love doing events and bringing people together it's also something that's super duper gratifying and being able to say hey you know I remember when Kim started I was there.

remember when Ian started I was there and my friend, Enel Michael Roy the founder of Wild Oh, gave us that idea.

Yeah, maybe that'll work. Let's go figure that out. As opposed to seeing the world kind of half empty. So that's what continues to motivate me.

I'm always blown away by the amazing people that we have here doing their thing.

@13:16 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

You know, you've been doing this and you've been helping and even mentoring a lot of startups and entrepreneurs throughout our community for some time.

Let's start in a business can have rewarding moments. What are some aspects that you found around Is easy or enjoyable, I would say, during the early stages of your entrepreneurial journey?

@13:37 - Stephen Green

Yeah, nothing's ever easy. You know, I think there's magic and I know we're going to talk about brands later on.

I think one thing that I realized early on whether it was watching my parents or other people that I know and it's a partnership like we started brand.

We always have a brand, right? you know, it's not when we go and say, Oh, well, I'm going to work on my brand.

You had a brand all of your life, right? so I love the moments like this guy I'm working with from Nike right now.

Like he realized he's a brand and like he could go and make this Fortune 50 company a bunch of money, but they want him because of the brand he's already built.

And he's realizing, wow, like what if I take the brand that I've been cultivating and working on all these years and do it for myself, right?

And that doesn't have to be something he does forever. I really believe life is right, it's about chapters. And I think everyone should know what it's like to be a founder, but that doesn't mean they have to run a business for 30 years.

know what mean? It could be a one month thing. could be, you know, whatever. I just think it's really, really special to go and take something that you had as an idea or anything you do with your wife or partner or whoever, and then complete strangers.

Keep you money for that idea. Like that just blows me away. So, yeah.

@15:00 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Yeah, I got them. It also blows me away. I love sharing my ideas with people because maybe, and maybe this is the cautionary in me, right?

The non risk taker where I love sharing my ideas with people because I'm like, wanted to see somebody else like, Oh, yeah, we can help you with this, right?

Because I still, you know, I talk about this often. I still don't know what the hell I'm doing sometimes I feel like I still feel like I'm still learning every day.

@15:29 - Stephen Green

Still trying to figure out how it does feel good.

@15:32 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

does feel good. It has, it's those challenging moments that kind of like, you know, I always tell people when I coach my kids, it's like, Hey, you know, the testament of your character is how you deal with adversity.

Okay, and that's, that's, I feel like that's really the true test of our character is kind of how we deal with those adverse moments.

And for like entrepreneurs, they're always dealing with those like challenging adverse moments, right? What are some of those moments you have been through?

You know, as we're,

@16:00 - Stephen Green

How about you have navigate through? Yeah, yeah. And then I think one thing you realize when you're starting a business is most the people in your network.

Most people that your friends with, they work nine to five jobs. So, you know, kind of the first barriers that you know you've got friends tech me that want to go out to drink or whatever and you're like, well I'm working like I'm running this business right.

So, you know, I think that's. It's really, really hard. And you don't have the people around you that are also business owners to rationalize what you're doing because I've always said, you know, being a founder means you're smart enough to know something is a good idea but dumb enough not to say no because if you know too much, you'd be like, well, how would I quit this easy cake job to go work 60 hours a week and not make any money like that.

It makes no sense right. And so, you know, I think a huge piece of people's ability to afford it to do and move forward is, you know, being able to have other founders, other peer mentors.

I love asking founders, you know, what are the three things you wish you would have known when you start your business, right?

Like there's just such gems that come out of doing that. But, you know, your, your network of folks that are generally nine to five are going to book on your idea.

Like it's just, it's just going to happen. No matter how much they love you or care about you, it's going to start to be like, all right, like, Gabriel, you got to like let this go, man.

Like you're, you missed this lunch. You missed this dinner that we were going to do this golf trip, whatever.

Like let it go. And people just got to keep on putting one foot in front of the other. And so, know, a lot of founders that I talked to that have, you know, pushed past that is like, I just needed to see this exist.

Like, I couldn't sleep another day without this not existing. And so I just made it happen. And that has happened.

I could be done with it, right? it may not move forward, but I couldn't go forward without it existing.

One of my good friends is, you know, he announced he was going to start his business, girlfriend broke up.

Why would you do that? That's silly. It's so imagined, you know, someone that you care about going, yeah, I'm out because you want to start a business.

But that's one thing that happens. So, you know, surround yourself with people that are running businesses, that have run businesses to help you push through it.

And, you know, also in a shame, you're not going to have quick success, right? And I think it's got to be really tough for especially, you know, Gen Z and, know, people that are the age of my kids because they live their lives like seven seconds at a time, seven minutes at a time based on social media versus I remember when there wasn't the Internet.

I remember when we didn't have cell phones and it's like, yeah, I'll talk to my friend tomorrow. But today, everything is so much in your face and also from an entrepreneurship standpoint, we've really glamorized entrepreneurship, I think.

And when you think about the outlets that are out there glamorized, raising money or doing other things, it's not realistic and it's not how entrepreneurship really happens, right?

Entrepreneurship is dreams of saying that you lay out over time, right? And doing something that other people just aren't willing to do or aren't willing to stick to you or they had bad timing, all these other things, but it's definitely going into grain.

So how do you find the fortitude either internally or externally to help continue to push forward when everything your life is done?

No, stop, go get comfortable. Or I'm not as successful as Gabriel because I'm watching his Instagram, he's clearly crushing it and I haven't even gotten the first cut.

@19:56 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

And I've, there have been so many days where I have sat back and looked at other people. I can't really judge myself on those things.

One of the things you mentioned too is with entrepreneurs, they sometimes struggle to let go in time. They continue to move forward and they kind of hold on to that.

What are some other in your experience? What are some other things that you've noticed entrepreneurs tend to do pretty consistently that they need to stop doing?

Or what are some things to think about?

@20:33 - Stephen Green

Whether it's stop or start doing, I think where I add a lot of value is I think founders tend to focus working in the business or on the business, or I'm sorry, in the business, but not on the business.

So if you're running a coffee shop, you're thinking about when are we going to be open? Where am I going to put the express-the-machine?

Where am I going to put the cups? who's the staff that's going to be there? But you may never be there.

thinking about? Do we have? Do we Social media, how are we getting customers in there? Who's our competition? What are our costs of goods sold?

mean, I'm blown away by the reality that the number four killer of businesses is growth in the United States, right?

And so that to me is like people don't know that they're losing money as they sell widgets. And then as they scale, it slowly puts them out of business because at the end of the day, cash is king, right?

Cash is king and trust is queen in business. And, you know, I wish every founder had somebody who would sit them aside and say, okay, I love that you know how to make coffee.

Here's what it means to be the boss of the business because no one else can play this role besides your shop.

You can't delegate, you know, being the boss of the company to someone else. And that's where, you know, I think people have the biggest rub because most people don't go into business saying, I want to have 30 in four.

You know, I want to never touch coffee again.

@21:59 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

You know what I mean? Right.

@22:00 - Stephen Green

That's the opposite of what originally motivated them. So how do you get people in their corner to help them understand like, hey, is this evolved?

And you go from first base to second base to third base, like you're going to get further and further removed from the product itself.

And that's a really good thing. so it's found it can kind of know those, those differences between working in the business and outside of the business.

And know that, you know, to prioritize their time accordingly to both. I think that's what gives them a really, really good chance.

And then, you know, I think the other thing you would do a little bit is, you know, no one, no one in end of the road is there.

I love helping people, you know, go out of business. I love helping people like figure out like, you know, we're not, we're not making money.

And you know, we don't want to, we don't want to, you know, mess up our credit. We don't want to, you know, piss off our wife.

Like, let's just call this chapter what it is. And also the quicker we can wrap this up, the. Faster we can get to the next chapter that is going to work.

So I'm not saying you're a bad founder. It's just there's maybe macro conditions or whatever where you just can't make a profit at this anymore.

And there's a difference between running business and having a hobby. Hobbies are very healthy things to have, but don't ruin your credit or sleep in the dog house because of a hobby.

know, and understand what that is. But unfortunately, because of the glamorization, I think of entrepreneurship over the last five to 10 years.

People's identities are wrapped up into their businesses and it's like, well, what would I be without this business? It'll be the same person you work before the business.

Who's a really great, you know, amazing person and it has to do with the community, right? And then you'll go and start something else, right?

And so how do you how do you help people push through that? Because I think that's one of things I see is people hold on to things for a long time.

Which comes like, that's why I am not cool people know me for. And it's like, all right, cool. Let's see what else they're going to know.

@24:03 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

That's a great point. One of the things you do, you mentioned with the operations of scaling, if you scale too quickly, it's too quickly entrepreneur and sometimes that's how they fail.

But then you also talked about having the knowledge of the social media world, branding world, creating that brand. So let's talk about that.

Let's discuss some of the strategies you discussed with some entrepreneurs about branding, things that they should be doing or stop doing.

@24:29 - Stephen Green

Yeah, so I think to get into the branding question, you've got to know your customers. So everything with business starts with who is your customer?

And it can't be everybody, because then it's nobody. And so I always push businesses to business owners to really, really go down the rabbit hole of like, all right, let's figure out three or four personas that are your customers that you think are going to be your customer, currently customer today.

And then let's validate if those are actually customer personas. And then once you're able to Well, do that, then you can ask the question, all right, well, where did these customers find out about you?

Where do they buy your product? Who do they, you know, where are they telling their friends about what you do?

Oh, they do that on LinkedIn or they do that on Instagram. All right, well, if it's probably but who's you to be on those things.

And also, you know, from, you know, since we only have so much energy and money and business, like, look for things that really, really scale your business for a little bit of money.

Social media is a great way to do that. If you find out, again, that your customer personas are using some sort of social media, you never wanted to do it just to do it, right?

You want to be able to connect and be like, hey, so for us that, a kids go 80% of our sales happened on a cell phone on mobile device.

@25:48 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Oh, wow.

@25:49 - Stephen Green

So if age, none of our sales are happening through that, then she's, we should be figuring out how we get in front of these people on their mobile devices.

And what are the age of the folks that are buying through mobile And so I think through that customer exploration, you can figure out very easily whether you should be on social media, which platform and why.

And then, you know, go and try things on there. But, you know, that's making informed decisions and having a strategic approach.

And then from the brand standpoint, it's like, all right, what do you want people to be talking about with your brand tomorrow after they've consumed your product or went to your shop or whatever?

Like, what do you want them to be talking about? What do want your values to be? ultimately, that's something, know, it's really important to a business because the founder is not going to be in the room all the time, right?

So when the founder is not in the room, that's where the brand, you know, lands with people. You know, one of the stories that I always think about was Johnson & Johnson makes violence, right?

And so back in the 80s, I don't know you remember this, or if you've heard about it, because you probably won't even go in the 80s.

There was a, there was like six people that died. And they didn't have a recall system back in time, back then.

And so Johnson and Johnson, they had five values. And one of those values was due no harm. And so, even though the feds weren't requiring them to do it, they pulled every bottle of towel and all off the But in doing that, one, they saved some lives, I'm sure.

But two, they cemented really what their brand was about, right? I think the best opportunity for you to grow and really be your brand are in tough situations like that, where it's like, in our shareholders might be kind of pissed about losing 10 million bucks.

But remember, this is one of our values, we're going go in the of your values. being able to do that in tough moments, people recognize that, you know, and that's that decision.

has since made Johnson Johnson hundreds of millions of dollars with the trust that they've got from clients. think the other thing that's important about brand is to continue to always be curious about it.

Because it may have been true 20 years ago, may not be true today. Or your customers may have changed.

And so, how do you have someone who's constantly thinking about what our brand looks like, who it's landing with.

And sometimes that takes you to really, really weird places. So I know here in Portland, we've got a company called Revit Optics that make classes.

Jason Golds, the founder of that one, when he started the business, he was doing track lines and he was like, these people, you know, not only get classes, but also get replacement lenses because they have these favorite classes that may be here.

Not even sold anymore. And so he went off to start this business and run it as products for athletes, people doing races.

And after few years, kind of plateaued in sales. And so they brought somebody in to do an assessment of like, what are we getting wrong here?

we feel like we're hitting all over our marketing points, right? We're doing what's right. And what they ended up figuring out was who their customer was and who they were going after were two different people.

And so, you know, they found out that, a lot of their customers were veterans, a lot of people current former military.

A big made in America vibe. And at that point in time, all their stuff was being manufactured outside of the United States.

the folks wearing their stuff weren't at the events where they were sending their marketing. And so, very quickly, they changed who they marketed to.

They changed their branding. They bought, I think it was like a $600,000 piece of equipment. So they can make the language.

So, in Portland. And things shot up, right? Things just, you know, started to shoot up for them from a sales perspective.

And so, you know, I wonder if they hadn't have been constantly curious about who their customer was because they were doing good sale.

@30:16 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Right?

@30:17 - Stephen Green

Like they weren't going on a business. But they remained curious about it and they found out some really really surprising things.

And then implemented what they found out inside the business. Right? So, I think, you know, knowing is one thing being able to implement and tactically change how you run the business is another.

And so, you know, from a brand standpoint, it's important to understand how we think about it internally and what we talk about in Zoom meetings may not be true out on the street.

And so, that's one example of folks being able to do that.

@30:52 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

You know, one thing I learned the other day, I thought was very interesting. There are over 100,000 home theaters worth over a million dollars.

I'm States of America. So there's a general, again, the riches are in the niches. And so the gentleman I was speaking to, he's like, I'm going to I'm going to target those individuals, you know.

And one of the things you mentioned, you know, is identifying your customers. And obviously, this gentleman's identified customers. Well, what would you tell entrepreneurs if they came to ask you, Hey, I have a new business product.

Where do I go? Where do I find these customers? do you tell them?

@31:28 - Stephen Green

Well, you know, I'm going I'm make some some here. The example you just gave about the guy that's got a home theater.

@31:35 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

I bet he's got a home theater. Yeah. Right.

@31:40 - Stephen Green

And so where would you find the customers? Generally founders are already the customer. Right? So I would go and say, All right, how do you go and source everything for your home theater?

Like, where do you go? are the, you know, are there, you know, special Reddit groups? mean, there's all sorts of, especially in niche, niche things like that.

@31:59 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

There's all sorts of things.

@32:00 - Stephen Green

And if you're already the customer, well, you know what that is, right? with me and shoes, I knew what shoes sold for what.

didn't really care about shoes and the early 2000s, like they do today. But I knew a pair of shoes that would sell for 300 bucks.

And so I would start with, all right, let me walk down my own journey, because I am the customer.

And then let me see if I can do some ABA testing and figure out whether this is just a me thing is just a Steven.

Or is there a rest of the people in the community? Is this also a pain point or a vitamin or whatever for what they're doing?

And so I always have people go backwards through their journey and see where the sticking points are and then understand who's out there in the network of the existing players and why they will or won't ever address that pain point, right?

So for a lot of these companies, they're just really, really big. And if Gabriel goes into meetings and heads

Hey, we've got this problem. It's going to be seven to eight months before, you know, someone who's in charge, you find out about that problem.

And then another seven to eight months before someone actually does anything about the problem.

@33:10 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

And then by then, the problem is going to change.

@33:13 - Stephen Green

And so, you know, start, start down that road and then figure out what people are willing to pay, right?

And what competitors are offering. are the price points? think one of the, the, the misuse I see for a lot of early founders is they always go price price price price.

You know what I mean? And there's a value associated with the price that you charge for something. And I think people automatically assume, well, if I just undercut Gabe on price, people are going to come to me because they're always looking to save the buck.

No, they're not. You know, if you go and you say, I'm Mercedes is, you know, 150 bucks. People aren't going to go and flock and buy that Mercedes, right?

Because they're going to soon. And it's probably not good quality. It's probably a Mercedes beans or whatever the case may be.

I think that's, know, I always, people generally know the answers to a lot of the stuff already. So how do you, how do you like, you know, give them some breadcrumbs to go?

@34:11 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

like, all right, go through your journey.

@34:14 - Stephen Green

then I'll figure out how many of you there are in the country or in the world. Where do they go for information?

There's a company here in Portland called Portland Razor Company and they make handmade straight razors. And they are the most beautiful things you'd ever see.

You don't see their product in stores. And one of the reasons why is they found out there is a Google group of about 7,000 people from around the country and they're fanatical around these straight razors.

And these people have a razor for every day of the week. They'll have a Sunday razor. Don't you see me?

Yes. And so they realized early on, they're like, oh, just do off of our website and then we'll post things in this Google group because these people are one that's banned.

$300, $400, $400, $1000 on a razor. And so that's better than that's going to stick in it somewhere trying to do wholesale.

So what about social media? No, we'll just do some videos like making a razor, yeah, no, we like we're good on sale.

We got this group. And they tell everyone. So it's like this vicious cycle.

@35:24 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

So that's awesome.

@35:26 - Stephen Green

Yeah, there's man, you're so right. And like, there's just so many. Different ways to make a buck and do something.

And most of the things are really, really boring and not innovative at all. I talk to people about better thinking about starting to be like, oh, you know, going to do this innovation bubble of a and I'm like, look, no one look up the 100 richest people in the world and in the hat.

And yeah, you'll see some names you recognize, but most of the names and most of the companies are in the thing.

You, you've never really thought of, right? It's going to be catch up. It's going to be toilet paper, all these things that no one at stand for, you know, getting a Stanford MBA is thinking about innovating, right?

@36:08 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Yeah.

@36:08 - Stephen Green

these people are healing it, multi-generational companies that are killing it, and most of these products are recession proof, right?

Yeah. We're always going to buy toilet paper. Yep. We're always going to buy it.

@36:20 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Probably too much of it at some time, you know, genoceros. Yes, I do.

@36:24 - Stephen Green

find out another session about stuff like gold. So, you know, there's a business to be at everywhere. Someone is making money on it, and you should figure out how you can do that.

@36:35 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Yeah, it's a great point. In fact, there's a gentleman down in Mount Angels. He actually created a variant of grain.

Talk about being elastic during a pandemic, right? We all have to eat. So he created this variation of grain, doing phenomenal.

And one thing you mentioned too about pricing was very unique. It really is. I'm reading this book right now about marketing and talking about the former

All of you know, what product was it? Olivier, the makeup brand, how they priced their product. And originally they priced it so like it was like the target, you know, people that was up.

But the folks at Walmart were like, I don't want to buy it too expensive. And the people are like, I don't want to buy it too cheap.

And then they brought it up to like the Macy's price level. And then like the target people like, oh, want to buy it because it's a good product.

And the Macy's people like, oh, it's next to the other brand. So it must be good quality as well.

And price is so unique because it has this huge cycle, a cycle on our mind. Now, one of things you mentioned, I'm probably going to steal this question moving forward because I just loved it.

What are the things you wish you would have known before you started this journey?

@37:46 - Stephen Green

Just confidence, man. You know, I think, you know, I wish I would have just doubled down on myself earlier.

You know, I work in banking. For a long time, and I worked with some banks that I wish I would have never worked at.

But, you know, I didn't have the confidence to go and just like call it what it was. And so, you know, I think that's, and I love seeing the next generation have the confidence I don't have.

So, our oldest is, uh, she'll be 17 next week. And, um, she, when pandemic hit, she was a freshman high school.

And she started the business. And like, no one asked her to, she was like, Oh, I guess at times, like, Oh, I'm in the vintage clothing.

She's made thousands of dollars in the last, well over 20.

@38:36 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

That's awesome. And, um, because, you know, she just, she never questioned herself and just from the jump, she's like, Oh, I know about clothes.

@38:44 - Stephen Green

Like, yeah, my mom's a photographer. let's, let's do this. Um, so it's, it's really just confidence, but even all the, the bad moves or the miss moves, the learning to be had there.

so I think everything that's happened in my career and my journey has come. I'm talk about I am today and I really wouldn't change anything.

So it's been great run.

@39:07 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

That's great. I think that's a great point confidence. I think that's where I lacked as well kind of growing up.

And folks, know, listening, be the hand that reaches out because everybody's going to slip down that corporate ladder or, you know, the entrepreneurial ladder at some point.

And it's the folks that you're really pushing up forward up that ladder that are going to reach out and catch it from falling down someday.

And we all need that at some point, right? We all need some support. So don't be afraid to kind of reach out to folks and see how they're doing.

In fact, a great day is a great time to pick up that phone and call mom, actually. So make sure you do that if you're listening.

Now, Stephen, what is some advice you would have for aspiring entrepreneurs that are looking to start their own venture?

@39:49 - Stephen Green

I mean, United say one, you know, be real. It's not going to be a month of hard work and all of a sudden things are coming in and you're living the high life.

Chances are you're going to fail. You're not going to make it, but even in failing you've learned so much.

And I think there's a ton to be got from a business that fails as far as helping you and whatever you're going to do next.

And then too, you never do it by yourself. think one of the things that's important for a founder know when they're a solo founder is you've You've family members, you've got neighbors, you've got ex coworkers, whoever that are opening doors for you and helping you get feedback on your product.

so know that you're never by yourself and appreciate that people are giving you love and energy as you as you plus your idea out.

And you know, the leaning on on critical feedback. You know, I talk to so many folks that are thinking, generally folks are thinking about starting a business.

the second I say anything that may be. It's negative. It's like, uh, you know, that's kind of a downer.

And it's like, I'm just trying to, you know, be realistic with you. That's all. And these are opportunities. mean, meeting you down.

This is an opportunity for you to accomplish. But if you never hear about that, then that's definitely going to be something that trips you up.

And so, you know, lean into things that may be seen as critical feedback. And, you know, also, you've And think one of the favorite things about Portland, there are people who are your competitors who want to help you succeed.

When we opened Oregon Public House, it was three other brewery owners who helped us get open. They helped us figure out what to buy versus what to rent, who to work with, who to avoid working with, know, how to source, you know, our food, how to put together our man.

And you. I'll never forget Kurt Huffman, who owned Chef's table, one of the largest restaurants, collectives here in the northwest.

I was his banker at Albonne Community Bank, and I told him we were opening a pub. He was like, oh, know, my first business was a restaurant in France.

He's like, I'm driving into Seattle, like, let's jump on a phone call. And we chat for like two hours.

I'm like, here's a guy who's our competitor once we get over it, right? And, you know, he was happy to share, because one of the things that we don't realize about founders, that are all downstream is no one really appreciates the journey that hasn't grown a business like theirs, right?

And so to reach out to somebody and say, hey, I'm choosing to join the journey, and you're one of the people that's inspired me to do it.

I mean, that's what people want to hear. So we live in a very, very special place where, you know, you can read books.

You can go to classes, but I think the real gems come from your competitors and other people that have been there and have done that in the space to really help you understand the things that you need to take on and how you got to take them on.

@43:13 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Yeah, I agree. I mean, I can't overstate the importance of networking to our listeners, you know, having that opportunity to build and connect with other people, learn from other people, because truthfully too, you know, and this is true for folks that even aren't in the audience.

So, or a world, they're just doing something else, the more you teach other people, the more you're going to retain that information as well.

Right? So, if you're teaching somebody math or if you're teaching somebody about small business, you're going to remember those things and you're going to be better about them.

And to Stephen's point, yes, we are going to get some scrapes and bruises and fells sometimes, but there is a community that is around here that wants to see you succeed.

Please do feel reach out to feel free to reach out to us because, again, we want to see this economy build and grow.

@43:59 - Stephen Green

And we want to help a lot of I would say this was a couple of months ago, would say Twitter is the best route.

@44:19 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

I'm really not on X, you own.

@44:24 - Stephen Green

Hit me up on Instagram, hit me up on thread. You can DM me on Twitter as well. It's all the time.

I'm what it's PDF, Stephen, is my tag on all those. And my DMs are always open. Honestly, I love hearing from folks.

It motivates me hearing from folks that are really early on their journey that have the bigger moving forward. It's a reminder of why we get into this stuff.

And then Portland is a small place. think one of the reasons why I doubled road. And you comment around social capital being so important is that we live in a region where it's like 3D reader separation between especially black and brown founders.

And so if you have a question about something or you're thinking about something, know, you or I will know somebody that's doing that or has done that.

@45:17 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Right.

@45:18 - Stephen Green

So inevitably, you know, I say, I don't know a lot. But I follow it up with, but here she doesn't.

@45:25 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

And here's their email.

@45:27 - Stephen Green

Here's their cell phone number. That's the great thing about the place that we work in. It's like everyone's so, so, so approachable.

And they're willing to give, you know, some other time to folks that are looking to get into what they're doing.

@45:44 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Yeah, and that's very true. It's so true. You know, I tell people all the time on my goal is to connect people for endless possibilities.

That's like, I think a former guest on head and moon. Yeah, to owns beacon. He says he wants to, he wants to influence a billion people.

You know, influence a billion people is like easy. I'm going to influence a thousand people. Those thousand people will go influence a thousand people than those thousand people will go influence a thousand people.

Do the math. That's a billion people right there. And I'm like, okay, that makes sense, you know, just influence a thousand people.

And so that's that has been my kind of quest recently is how do we, how do we influence a thousand people to influence another thousand people.

And, and man, Stephen Green. I thank you so much again for being on this show. I really do appreciate it.

@46:34 - Stephen Green

there anything you would like to say before we leave? You know, it's what August 4th. So that means it's we're in the middle of black business month.

You know, go out, find some black businesses to support. We've got over 6,000 now in the state of Oregon.

Most of them are here in the Portland metro area. Go out, have some coffee, some makeup. You know, check out some drones.

We got companies that. Do all those things go spend some money with them. mean, that's the best thing that we can do.

The most innovative thing we can do is spend our money every day here just in Portland. I know we spend $7.3 million on food.

So imagine if we went and said, hey, we're going to take a good portion of that $7.3 million and divert it to Latinx on brands or Black owned businesses.

my call to action is you go go spend some money, black businesses during the month of August that you may have not spent money with before.

@47:30 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

I love it. I love it. fact, this weekend, Chinatown block party, I believe is going on this weekend. So I'm to try to sneak down tomorrow.

And again, folks, if you forget how to contact Stephen Green, if you want some more information, it's a quick opportunity for me to plug the newsletter.

Check out the shades of e.com to subscribe to the newsletter. You can also follow me at the shades of e on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and TikTok.

Unfortunately, I no longer have the X. But that, uh, that's okay. Stephen. Thank you again so much for being on the show.

I really do appreciate it.

@48:03 - Stephen Green

You are really someone I look up to and I really do appreciate this time.

@48:08 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

No man, thank you again so much for those listening at home. Thank you again so much and have great day.

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