In the season 2 finale of Founder Hustle, Melissa Bradley sits down with Deidre Mathis, Founder and CEO of Wanderstay Hospitality Group, based in Houston, TX. Deidre’s love for people and her extensive travel experiences to 46 countries across all seven continents led her to the world of hospitality.During a travel gap year in Australia, Deidre stayed at numerous hostels and boutique hotels, which sparked her passion for creating spaces where people from all around the world could come together and foster a sense of community. She saw the potential in making travel more accessible and inclusive.
Melissa and Deidre explore a wide range of compelling topics in this captivating episode. Deidre shares her insights on the lack of diversity in the hospitality industry and how she is making a difference by adding much-needed representation. They discuss her approach to hiring and supporting her staff, as well as her experiences raising funds for her business through pitch competitions and navigating relationships with different banks.
The conversation also delves into the intersection of motherhood and entrepreneurship, as Deidre shares her journey of building a family while building her business. The importance of social capital and networking is highlighted, along with other valuable insights from Deidre’s entrepreneurial journey.
Tune in to this finale of Founder Hustle as Melissa Bradley and Deidre Mathis explore the world of hospitality, diversity in the industry, raising capital, building a family, and the significance of social connections.
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0:00:05.7 Melissa Bradley: From New Majority Ventures and Kinetic Energy Entertainment. This is Founder Hustle.
0:00:12.1 Deidre Mathis: And I had never pitched before ever, but I had a fabulous mentor who pretty much said, “Deidre, if you can public speak and you can talk about your business, you can go pitch.” And so, Melissa, I did the first one and I won 4000. And I was like, wow. Then I did the next one and I won 10,000, and I was like, what? And then I won 15,000 and then I just kept…
0:00:32.5 MB: Kept going.
0:00:34.4 DM: Kept going.
0:00:35.1 MB: Welcome to Founder Hustle, a podcast series by, for, and about the new majority entrepreneur. I’m your host Melissa Bradley, founder of 1863 Ventures and co-founder of New Majority Ventures. The road from founder to CEO can be both hard and rewarding. So in each episode of Founder Hustle I interview a new majority entrepreneur to find out what their journey really looks like. As a CEO, founder, professor and general partner of a venture fund, I know how valuable good information and resources are for the new majority. Through shared tools, strategies, and life lessons we’re here to enlighten uplift and educate anyone interested in this entrepreneurial ecosystem so that you too can go from founder to CEO. Have you ever stayed in a hostel? I had not. When I met Deidre, I was baffled that she was building a hostel empire. Not hostile as when you’re mad at somebody, hostel as one of those cheaper places to stay. I was like, “Who stays in hostels?” Well she quickly set me straight. Wanderstay is not just about hostels, it is about changing the hotel management space. Where only 1% of Black folks are general managers or owners, Deidre leveraged her passion for books and travel and is changing the industry, city by city. Deidre Mathis…
0:02:05.0 DM: Yes.
0:02:05.9 MB: Founder and CEO of Wanderstay Hospitality Group.
0:02:09.5 DM: Yes.
0:02:09.9 MB: How the hell did you get into hospitality?
0:02:11.8 DM: Yeah. So there’s a very small percentage of Black and brown people who are even in hotel management, hotel GMs, and hotel owners. So there’s not a lot of us, and so I’m really happy to be adding some much needed diversity in the industry. But I tell people, I fell into hospitality because I merged two of my passions. I love traveling. I’ve been to 46 countries on all seven continents, and I love people. I received both of my degrees, undergrad and graduate in journalism, so I thought I would become the next Barbara Walters or Katie Couric.
0:02:40.5 MB: I could see that. I can see that.
0:02:43.5 DM: But instead, one year I embarked on a travel gap year. I was living in Australia, and at that time I was a young broke recent college graduate, didn’t have much money but traveling through Australia, I stayed at a bunch of hostels and boutique hotels, and I just fell in love. I fell in love with the idea that I can meet people from all around the world. I fell in love about the community that I had at these places. I fell in love with the fact that these places made travel more accessible, because I didn’t have $200 a night to to stay in a hotel room. And that’s just kind of how I fell into hospitality. It just kind of fell in my lap.
0:03:17.3 MB: So let me play Contrarian for a second, ’cause when I think of hostels, or we were just talking before you got here about hostels, they were like… And they were like, “Hostel usually associated with like, you gotta hide your under the bed. You gotta lock it up. You’re in a room with like 25 other people. There’s no privacy. It’s like dorm life all over again, you hope the bathroom is clean” Now I know you well enough that that is not the experience but what is the experience in a Wanderstay hostel?
0:03:43.2 DM: Yeah. So hostels I say, if I had a dollar for every time somebody brought up the scary movie, or brought up all the negative things they’ve heard about hostels, I would be a very wealthy woman.
0:03:52.0 MB: You wouldn’t even need to be in the hospitality industry?
0:03:53.4 DM: I would not. But yeah. So I knew that coming into the industry I needed to create a space that people actually wanted to stay in. I mean, you made a comment about our reviews and I’m very proud to have such high reviews four and a half years after opening. That shows that what we’re doing is actually working. Having daily housekeeping, making sure that we have staff on site to answer all guests needs, making sure that we create a space where travelers feel safe and comfortable. So a lot of hostels that you’ve mentioned, there’s no true bottomline. They just care about beds and having butts in the beds as we call it in the industry. But when you just concerned about butts in the beds you forget about a lot of the stuff. People want to feel… They want to feel accepted, they want to feel okay, they want to feel safe, they want to be in a clean environment. So these are all the things that we do at Wanderstay Hospitality Group. We say that, even though you aren’t paying for a five star hotel, you still should get five star service. And I’m happy that that’s what we provide.
0:04:45.9 MB: Wow. So what is your average occupancy rate?
0:04:49.6 DM: Oh wow. So, actually I just attended the Texas Hotel Conference just two days ago in Houston. And so, the city of Houston is slated at the end of this year to have a 58% occupancy for the annual occupancy, for all hotels. We’re already at 71, and we still have three more months to go. So it’s safe to say that people are excited about getting back into the world and traveling, and and we’re doing pretty good.
0:05:11.4 MB: So my sense is you’re making hosteling, is that what it’s called?
0:05:14.4 DM: Yeah, it is a verb.
0:05:16.3 MB: Okay. The verb. That you’re making it convenient. You’re making it sexy.
0:05:20.5 DM: Yes.
0:05:21.4 MB: You’re making it affordable.
0:05:22.2 DM: Absolutely.
0:05:22.9 MB: How do you do that?
0:05:23.9 DM: Yeah. So you do that by creating a price point that allows you to stay in business, but won’t make your guests go broke. So, we obviously do the research before opening. How much can we charge? We’ve increased a few times throughout the years with inflation and with the demands, people need a place to stay and we are fairly cost friendly, so we want to provide that for people. But we also realize that just two miles away from us is a hotel that charges on average $279 a night. So we realize our value, and we say okay, you’re paying $40, $50 a night which is nothing, but because we have several beds in a room and because of our business model, we’re able to charge that and still make a profit, but also not make our guests spend so much money on a place to sleep.
0:06:08.9 MB: Gotcha. Help me ’cause this is all new to me although I’ve known you for a while. But still it’s like, “I don’t get it.” Do hostels have recurring customers?
0:06:18.0 DM: Oh, good question.
0:06:18.2 MB: ‘Cause you talked about community.
0:06:20.6 DM: So we did some research on this last year in 2021. And so hostels, US hostels, we’re not talking about European hostels, hostels in Australia, because that’s a whole another nother market, whole another travel sector, that’s totally different. But for US hostels, the average return rate is 6%. So it’s fairly low. In 2021, when we did the study, we had a 12% return rate.
0:06:42.4 MB: Double the industry rate.
0:06:42.8 DM: Double. And we talked to these guys and we said, “I have a guest, he’s staying with us right now. He was checking in as I was getting ready to get on the flight” and I said, “oh, he’s back.” But just talking with him, Houston is a layover hub. People are in Houston for many, many reasons.
0:06:56.2 MB: It’s a layover and missed flight hub because you got to go from one terminal to another.
0:07:00.8 DM: Yes. And then you miss your flight, which is great for us. I’m sorry, passengers, I know you hate to hear it, but it’s great for us. So with returning guests, we get guests who are coming to Houston for school purposes. We’re getting guests who are coming for internships. They’re coming because they’re looking for places to live. They’re coming because we have a few guests who live in other countries, but they fly home and they need a place to stay while they’re home. So there’s a plethora of reasons why people are returning, but 12%, I’m pretty darn proud of that. Pretty darn proud of that.
0:07:28.6 MB: And is that because of the community you’re creating? And I guess, how do you create, ’cause this is not just for the hostel industry, but how do you create a community with so many people moving and being in transit?
0:07:39.6 DM: Yeah, so good question. So you have to, one of the things that… We kind of paused during COVID, but what we were doing was cultivating guests hanging with each other. So we would do bar crawls, we would do game night, we would do movie night. We do stuff to encourage guests to kind of hang out with each other. Also having our staff, our staff, I make it a point to really make sure people who like people and people who enjoy talking and holding conversations are working my front desk. So we get guests who come in and they talk and hold conversations, and they just spend hours sitting there getting to know our staff. And so when you do that, you’re creating a bond. A person buys because they like the person that they’re buying from. And so if they’re building that connection with my staff and they’re at a price point that they can afford, it’s just a win-win situation.
0:08:24.4 MB: I cannot tell you how many hotels I’ve walked into and that front staff is your first impression. And I’m going, how much did I just spend here? ‘Cause you can’t answer a basic question for me, like where’s the ice machine? Or you can’t tell me my flight was late, where I can eat because your kitchen is closed. So that’s huge. That’s huge.
0:08:41.0 DM: And those are training moments. So hopefully, and what I tell people is maybe consider not leaving bad reviews. Maybe consider literally just leaving feedback because sometimes it is, and we have the best guests, I will admit. I mean, sometimes you get the guests who you just can’t please them. They pay $50, but expect $5000 service. I mean, you just can’t please them. But more than often, people just wanna be heard and they want their thoughts and their suggestions listened to. And so what I tell my staff is that our guests have given me so many ideas on how to make Wanderstay better. As a business owner, you can’t go into your business with a closed mind, like it’s my way or the highway. You can’t do that. You have to listen to what the people want. And I’ve heard so many great suggestions that have made my place a better place. And I think that’s because I listened with an open mind and took their considerations to heart.
0:09:29.4 MB: You had mentioned staff, right? That frontline, which I think a lot of people just assume, yeah, they’re low paying people, whatever, whatever. For founders out there who are getting ready to hire their workforce, whether it’s front desk, back of the house, whatever the case may be, what are some tips you would give them? Because not only is it not necessarily always the sexiest job but it’s also the first representation of you. So how did you hire for those positions?
0:09:56.6 DM: Yeah, and I will say, before opening my company, I thought HR was gonna be the best part of my job. I was so ready to put those job notices and interview. Oh, I just couldn’t wait. And the moment that the interview started, I said, “Is this really what this is?” No wonder why there’s a whole HR team. But no, so HR has been honestly the most difficult, one of the most difficult portions of my job. And for every other small business owner I know, it is just flat out tough. I mean, we’re competing as a hospitality person, I’m competing against the Marriotts, the Hiltons that can offer these lucrative packages. And so I had to sit and talk with one of my mentors and they said, well, you can’t offer this crazy incentive, you can’t do all that, but what you can do is make your team feel heard. So you can go and you can sit and talk to them a couple of times each shift. You can ask for their feedback, you can offer a greater pay. So we start off, my company minimum wage is $12, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you look at the Marriott or the Hilton, their minimum wage is $9, $10.
0:10:51.9 MB: That’s right.
0:10:52.9 DM: So you’re coming to me making a minimum of $12, I give seven PTO days per year, and they’re given, not accrued. And so, staff really love that because most of my staff are young people and they know they have a trip coming up and so they like that they just can take the days off. And we also implemented a paycheck assistance program. So what that is, is my staff can come to me for a $500, 0% loan, and they get the money within 24 hours. And then we just take it out of there following three paychecks. That means a great deal.
0:11:20.9 MB: That’s huge.
0:11:21.0 DM: That’s huge.
0:11:22.4 MB: Particularly during COVID.
0:11:23.9 DM: Well, yeah, I mean, we really kicked it off like a few months after COVID, but COVID was what made me realize that a lot of people are just $500 away from a nightmare. One of my employees, great employee, but she was telling me often how she was having car issues and she needed a new tire and this and that. And she couldn’t wait to have her check because she needed $200. And hearing another employee, she was riding the bus back and forth to work because she was having car issues. And so it was just, something clicked. And I said, well, if I had a program where I can offer them help…
0:11:51.7 MB: That’s huge.
0:11:52.4 DM: Yeah, that’s huge. So we do a lot of little things like that, that keep our staff happy. And I tell my staff, my job is to take care of you, your job is to take care of our guests. So I take care of you, you take care of them.
0:12:03.6 MB: And manifest forward.
0:12:04.7 DM: Yeah, and that’s it.
0:12:06.1 MB: Well, clearly when you speak, things happen because one of the many accolades you have, and I’m probably gonna be low-balling the number, but you raised at least 80 grand through very non-traditional ways, like pitch competitions, and not just like showing up and doing okay, but like winning these things, which is how we met each other when you won the pitch competition.
0:12:28.3 DM: Yeah.
0:12:29.8 MB: How did that become the way that you helped finance your business?
0:12:33.3 DM: Yeah, the number’s 105,000. So just a little bit higher.
0:12:35.2 MB: Okay, you go… Let me write that down. I was wrong. I was wrong. Okay, 105.
0:12:39.3 DM: No, but Melissa, I started doing pitch competitions when I realized that wait a minute, I need a bank loan. I need equity injection. I’m going to go in and ask these people for a six-figure loan and they want me to have some skin in the game. I need money.
0:12:53.6 MB: Right.
0:12:54.6 DM: In the Houston community and I will say Houston is a fabulous city for entrepreneurs. It just is. They cultivate the community so much. There’s so many programs. So many mentors, so many organizations.
0:13:05.0 MB: Are you trying to make Texas sexy? Okay. All right.
0:13:07.3 DM: Maybe not Texas, but Houston.
0:13:08.9 MB: Okay. [laughter]
0:13:09.2 DM: I love Houston. Houston’s a great city.
0:13:11.6 MB: Okay. Houston and Austin, we now know those are places. Okay.
0:13:14.1 DM: Yeah. And it was, actually when I moved to Texas, I was choosing between living in Austin and Houston, so Houston won.
0:13:20.3 MB: All right.
0:13:20.7 DM: And I started pitching because I knew I needed the equity injection money.
0:13:23.8 MB: Gotcha.
0:13:24.3 DM: And in Houston, I entered into a competition. It was a business plan competition.
0:13:27.9 MB: Okay.
0:13:29.4 DM: But if you place in the top three, you had to pitch. And then that’s how they decipher who won first through third. And I had never pitched before, ever, but I had a fabulous mentor who pretty much said, “Deidre, if you can public speak and you can talk about your business, you can go pitch.” And so Melissa, I did the first one and I won 4000. And I was like, “Wow.” Then I did the next one and I won 10,000. And I was like, “What?” [laughter] And then I won 15,000 and then, I just kept…
0:13:54.8 MB: Kept going.
0:13:55.5 DM: Kept going. [laughter] And when I looked up, I had won 12 competitions, including the MasterCard national competition, 25,000 for that. Won a Beyonce grant for $10,000. Won the New Voices. Just getting on stage and just showing people my passion. A lot of people don’t know what hostels are but you bet your bottom dollar, when I get off that stage, you’re gonna know something about the industry.
0:14:17.6 MB: Well, when I saw you pitch, I was like, “Damn, I don’t know jack about hostels, but I’m convinced that this is gonna be a good thing.”
0:14:24.7 DM: I don’t know if you remember, but you literally said that to me.
0:14:27.3 MB: Yeah. ‘Cause I was like, “I dunno what… ” I was like, “Hostels, who let her in?” [laughter] But then as soon as you spoke, I was like, “Oh yeah, she good.”
0:14:34.8 DM: You said that to me.
0:14:36.2 MB: She gonna win something. When you talk about that, ’cause a lot of entrepreneurs are kinda like, I need an equity injection.
0:14:42.8 DM: Yes.
0:14:43.2 MB: ‘Cause I need to bring something to this business besides my great brains and talent and time. What were the pros of doing those competitions and what were the cons of doing those competitions?
0:14:53.1 DM: Yeah. Pros I can list a very long list. Pros is meeting amazing mentors. Meeting other fabulous entrepreneurs and hearing so many great business ideas, getting on stage and having free marketing, essentially when you’re pitching to an audience, you’re pitching to prospective clients or maybe they tell somebody about your business. There’s a long list of pros. I can’t think of one single con about pitching. And I don’t wanna sound boastful when I say this. I don’t.
0:15:19.3 MB: Yeah.
0:15:19.7 DM: ‘Cause I’ve won every competition I’ve entered. [laughter] I am not being boastful.
0:15:24.0 MB: No. It’s a fact.
0:15:24.5 DM: I am not. It is literally… Okay. I lost one competition.
0:15:27.8 MB: Okay.
0:15:27.9 DM: But I can’t say that I truly lost because it was a competition with 500 people and I was in the top 10.
0:15:33.3 MB: Right.
0:15:33.4 DM: I can’t say that I lost.
0:15:35.1 MB: That’s right. Was it a… Some people say, well, look, just focus on your business. Were you able to still focus on your business and do those or was there kind of a trade off or opportunity cost? You’re like, “Wait, I can’t do that right now. I gotta go get this money.”
0:15:49.1 DM: Melissa, I remember when I spoke with you, and you may not remember this, when I was here for the 1863 Venture week, where we just kind of bootcamp. And one of the things you said is you said, “Don’t be out here doing all these pitch competitions then your business is falling to the wayside.” And me and another cohort member, we talked about that for a while. We quote so many things that you said that week [laughter] but that was one of the things that really stuck with me. Fortunately for me, I was pitching right before my business opened.
0:16:15.9 MB: Gotcha.
0:16:16.1 DM: And when it was still fairly new.
0:16:17.5 MB: Gotcha.
0:16:18.1 DM: We all know what happened in 2020 and 2021.
0:16:20.3 MB: That’s right.
0:16:20.8 DM: I was really on the pitch scene in 2018 and 2019. My business was fairly new. I was able to do it when it most needed it, but when I could also afford to step out and be away because I had staff and I was pitching a lot in Houston so I didn’t have to travel.
0:16:35.0 MB: Those are all key things, right?
0:16:36.0 DM: Yes, locally.
0:16:36.3 MB: Do it at the right time.
0:16:37.6 DM: Yes.
0:16:38.1 MB: Make sure there’s somebody there to backstop your role.
0:16:41.0 DM: Yes.
0:16:41.9 MB: ‘Cause you know, we had some solo entrepreneurs, I’m flying over here. I’m like, “What happens to the business?”
0:16:45.6 DM: Exactly.
0:16:46.0 MB: You’re pitching for something that may not exist when you get back.
0:16:47.8 DM: Exactly.
0:16:48.4 MB: Yeah.
0:16:48.6 DM: Oh, wow. See, that’s another one, we can…
0:16:50.1 MB: Yeah.
0:16:50.7 DM: Yeah. [laughter] That’s important because you have to look at it and you have to say, if I don’t win this competition, have I missed out on certain clients that I could have had? Did I skip out on meetings?
0:17:01.2 MB: Right.
0:17:01.4 DM: Did I miss really working in my business and growing that? Because we all know that if you put that same effort into your business, it could possibly grow and you can win more money.
0:17:10.2 MB: That’s right.
0:17:10.8 DM: Via your earnings than what you would’ve won in the competition.
0:17:13.2 MB: Yeah.
0:17:13.5 DM: Now I don’t wanna discourage people from pitching because I’ve won 105,000, I’ve met amazing people, so it’s been very lucrative for me. But you have to look at it and it has to make sense for your business. The right time, right place. Right all of that.
0:17:25.1 MB: Yeah.
0:17:25.3 DM: Don’t go buy a $1000 flight to LA to pitch in a competition to win $5000 that you may or may not get.
0:17:30.5 MB: Right. [laughter]
0:17:31.2 DM: The ROI is not worth it.
0:17:32.3 MB: Best advice ever. Yes. But that’s key, weighing out the ROI.
0:17:36.1 DM: Oh, yeah.
0:17:36.3 MB: Yeah.
0:17:37.0 DM: Oh, yeah. It was… So for me, I got to a point and this was my mentor. My mentor said, “I don’t want you pitching for anything less than 10,000 now.”
0:17:44.0 MB: Makes sense.
0:17:44.3 DM: I don’t want…
0:17:45.0 MB: Well, your time is more valuable.
0:17:45.6 DM: Your time is more valuable. And he said, “Honestly, if you’re out here on the pitch circuit and you’re pitching, pitching, pitching for one, two, three, four, five thousand, then certain people might wanna invest in the company. But they see you consistently pitching for a thousand and $5000. What does that say?”
0:18:00.0 MB: Yeah.
0:18:00.4 DM: And I was like, “Wow. I never thought about it.” For a while I didn’t pitch for less than 10,000.
0:18:04.6 MB: Gotcha.
0:18:05.0 DM: And it worked.
0:18:05.7 MB: Well, it certainly works. ‘Cause if anybody were to Google you, [laughter] the brand value already is the association with so many of these programs that have endorsed the fact that you have an amazing business.
0:18:17.6 DM: Yes.
0:18:18.0 MB: Yeah.
0:18:18.6 DM: Yeah. [laughter]
0:18:19.4 MB: Speaking of money, I did finally see a picture. [laughter] It looks beautiful. But real estate’s a big deal. The 105 was great but talk to me about how you went to get the rest of the financing to put this together.
0:18:34.1 DM: Right. I am very open with telling people, I’m a unicorn. I realized that as a young, Black woman who… This was my first business endeavor, I didn’t come from this IT background.
0:18:45.8 MB: Sure.
0:18:45.9 DM: And this, Stanford or I didn’t… I don’t have that background. I’m a two-time HBCU graduate who just happened to fall in love with traveling and hospitality. I went into a meeting with my lender after number one already having the relationship. So, as I mentioned, I had been on the pitching scene in Houston for a while. So by the time that I met with my lender, I had been pitching for about a year and a half. And again, not to sound cocky, but I was winning all the time. And so that caught the eye of lenders. They were saying, well, this girl is pitching here and there and there and there, and she’s winning. We need to listen to what she’s talking about. So I had a meeting with my lender and the first thing she did when she looked at my business plan, she went right to the financials and she’s like, “Okay, why do you want to own?” And I gave her my answer and I told her, as a young Black entrepreneur, I don’t wanna put the risk out there to rent. And then I get a landlord who’s increasing the rent year after year, or I get a slum lord who’s not fixing issues, or I get all these reasons. And I told her I wanna own. And I think it helped that she was a woman of color. And I think when she heard me speak, she was just like, wow, this…
0:19:49.8 MB: You get it.
0:19:51.0 DM: She gets it. And so, I told her like, I could’ve opened a year sooner if had I rented, but it was just super important for me to purchase because that’s real estate that I can hold in my family, I can give to my children, or this is the best thing ever that people, if tomorrow I wake up and I say, Hey, me and my family, we’re gonna leave the country. I don’t wanna do this anymore. All I have to do is put that building on sale.
0:20:14.1 MB: And you’re done.
0:20:14.7 DM: And I’m done.
0:20:15.3 MB: Right.
0:20:15.7 DM: And I’m done, Melissa.
0:20:16.5 MB: Because if you had rented, you had to get out the lease.
0:20:18.6 DM: Exactly.
0:20:19.2 MB: They might have made pre penalty, prepayment penalty or cancellation.
0:20:22.5 DM: Exactly.
0:20:22.8 MB: Then they would say, well no, you can only get out if you find somebody else who the heck is gonna take it. Yeah.
0:20:27.3 DM: And most commercial leases are five to 10 years. And so, you’re right. If you cancel four or five years in advance, that’s 10, 15,000 a year…
0:20:35.4 MB: That’s right.
0:20:35.5 DM: In penalty you gotta pay.
0:20:36.3 MB: That’s right.
0:20:37.0 DM: So for owning, so the first one, I was able to go in there with the relationship and the second location, believe it or not. So I was talking and dating another bank and we had gotten pretty far, I speak about it like it was an engagement. We were engaged at that point. We were about to be married. We were about to sign on the dotted line and do this thing.
0:20:54.0 MB: Okay. I like that.
0:20:54.8 DM: And then it fell through literally right as we were driving to go get married, essentially. It fell through.
0:21:00.8 MB: Wow.
0:21:01.0 DM: And that’s a long story. And I remember again, relationships. I remember I reached out to a banker that I had done his program. He worked for a major bank in Texas. I had done his program. I pitched in his competition, I won, and I reached out and I said, Hey, so and so, I was to the finish line with this one bank. This is what they were gonna give me. These are my plans, Melissa, when I tell you he called me the next morning with SBA on the line.
0:21:25.0 MB: Wow. [laughter] Wow.
0:21:26.0 DM: And when I talk about this, it’s… He called me the next day with SBA on the line and we had about an hour and a half conversation and the next day they sent me an email and said, let’s get the ball rolling.
0:21:36.3 MB: Wow.
0:21:36.6 DM: And I don’t… I really… So I love telling that story because it shows the power of relationships, but I don’t want to…
0:21:41.8 MB: Well, but also showing up and being really clear about what you’re trying to do because he saw kind of a preview in the business plan.
0:21:49.1 DM: Exactly.
0:21:49.5 MB: And then saw like, well, she keeps winning.[laughter]
0:21:51.3 MB: So there’s clearly something in the business and people actually believe it’s a good idea.
0:21:54.9 DM: Yes. Yes. And so for the second loan, it was almost like I… When I came to him with my issue, he solved it the next day.
0:22:02.9 MB: I love it.
0:22:03.3 DM: And about three months later I was funded. So, that that is not the traditional [0:22:07.7] ____…
0:22:08.8 MB: That’s a miracle right there.
0:22:10.1 DM: It is.
0:22:10.1 MB: ‘Cause three months… Wait. First of all, SBA in three months that’s unheard of.
0:22:12.1 DM: It just… Yeah. From the time that we talked to the time that we funded. Well yeah. Because we started talking in about September and I wanna say I closed in December.
0:22:20.5 MB: Wow.
0:22:20.6 DM: ‘Cause I remember I was pregnant, I don’t know, about three and a half, four months, but not long at all. Yeah. Because I’ve known people to be dating banks for a year, year and a half and nothing still goes. But I just think it’s the powerful relationships. It’s who you know, and then it’s just doing good work. Because everyone can know you for the bad reason, for a wrong reason.
0:22:37.7 MB: We know a lot of those. Yes.
0:22:38.5 DM: Right. So, I mean, there’s a lot of well-known people, but then when people close the door and really talk about them behind the doors, it’s not great things. So I’m fortunate that I’ve kind of set the standard for Deidre to be professional, to know what she’s talking about and to be on top of her game at all times. So if you’re gonna take a risk on Deidre, it is gonna be a very safe risk.
0:22:57.9 MB: High probability of a return.
0:23:00.0 DM: High probability of a return. Yeah.
0:23:01.2 MB: You mentioned… I wanna go back to this dating a bank.[chuckle]
0:23:02.2 MB: Because during season one we had a conversation with a banker. And we unearthed the fact that a lot of folks don’t trust banks. People in the Black community are like you ain’t really looking out for me. So talk to me, really talk to other founders. What was that dating process?
0:23:16.7 DM: Wow, good question. So the first bank, I remember, they were at a lot of different events in Houston. I would see them a lot. And I knew for me, this is just how I think. I knew that I wanted to go with a smaller bank. So the bank that lended for my first location, they’re only in Houston. They’re not even in all in Texas, they’re just in Houston. But for me that was good because there’s that one-on-one. I just emailed the… I think he’s like the senior vice president or something. He’s like one of the big guys. I just sent him an email this morning. He responded 10 minutes later.
0:23:47.1 MB: Wow.
0:23:47.3 DM: I wanted that relationship with my lender and everyone kept saying a small bank is just better. And so I listened to that. And so for the first time around, I went for a small bank. The second time around, the bank that I originally was gonna marry is another small bank. Didn’t work out, but the bank that picked me up is a bigger bank. So instead of them just being in Houston, they’re all in Texas. And for me that was just important because yes, banks can be scary, they can be non-trust worthy, you don’t trust it. But the thing for me was having the smaller banks, it just felt a little bit easier because it felt more connection.
0:24:16.8 MB: And somebody’s looking out for you.
0:24:17.8 DM: Somebody’s looking out for me. I’m just not a name or a number on a document. No, I can literally go up to the bank and say, “Hey, I need to talk to so-and-so.” And they know me and I’ve had a relationship with them. And so, yeah, it just made things a little bit easier. So that’s how I decided who I wanted to bank with. And entrepreneurs need to know that they do have a choice. You don’t have to go with the first bank that offers you something. You don’t have to… You can be the driving force behind your loan, you can date and you can openly tell people that, “Hey, I’m talking to other banks.”
0:24:46.7 MB: You can swipe left or whatever the right way is.[laughter]
0:24:48.2 DM: You can totally swipe left ’cause they’re getting paid off of you.
0:24:50.9 MB: That’s right.
0:24:51.1 DM: And let me tell you, interest is no joke.
0:24:52.7 MB: Right. [laughter]
0:24:53.0 DM: It is a lot of money. So they’re gonna be getting paid very well off of you.
0:24:56.6 MB: Sure.
0:24:56.6 DM: So please date around and get the best deal for you.
0:25:00.4 MB: So you were dating…[laughter]
0:25:00.6 DM: Yes.
0:25:00.7 MB: I also heard you sneak in there that while you were dating you were pregnant.
0:25:04.1 DM: Yeah. Yes.
0:25:06.1 MB: You know women in corporate America who show up with say, I’m pregnant. Everybody freaks out, like shit. Like, what’s gonna happen now?
0:25:12.8 DM: Yep.
0:25:13.3 MB: What was it like being an entrepreneur actively growing your business and then having a baby?
0:25:17.9 DM: Listen, I remember the day we closed and I don’t know even if my wife remembers this, but I was hiding my stomach. And I’m not embarrassed about that now.
0:25:24.9 MB: It’s real.
0:25:25.8 DM: But I, oh gosh. That just pulled out some emotions in me. Wow. I don’t, I was hiding my stomach. I remember like he came into the room and I was sitting in a swivel seat and I kind of leaned over to hide my stomach. And I remember when we were taking pictures, when people sign, they have the big key, I remember I put the key over my belly.
0:25:42.7 MB: Wow.
0:25:43.1 DM: Because and this was at closing. So there’s literally nothing he could have done.[chuckle]
0:25:47.2 DM: I remember he, before we closed, he wanted to meet for lunch. He wanted to meet, and I always had an excuse ’cause I didn’t wanna see him pregnant. And gosh, I don’t know. I hate that I felt that way. We have to change that. And I work for myself.
0:26:01.1 MB: Right.
0:26:01.7 DM: So no one could fire me. No one could do anything.
0:26:03.6 MB: Right. And you were at the finish line.
0:26:05.8 DM: Right. And I was at the finish line, but something still inside said, “hide your belly”. And I mean, my God, my daughter’s the best thing on earth. So I mean I’ll tell the world about her. But I hate that I felt that way. Oh my gosh. I never even thought about that, but yeah.
0:26:19.5 MB: But I can get it. I get it. Because the natural instinct is other people saying to you.
0:26:23.0 DM: How are you gonna do it?
0:26:23.8 MB: Right. Right.
0:26:25.0 DM: You’re having a baby.
0:26:26.0 MB: Right. Don’t risk it.
0:26:27.2 DM: Then you wanna be in the second location. Then it’s COVID and people will throw all their fears on you.
0:26:34.4 MB: Of course.
0:26:34.6 DM: And I’m not a person…
0:26:34.7 MB: That’s the key. Their fears.
0:26:35.0 DM: Their fears. And I’m not a person who is easily frightened or easily… I love risk. And so but I just knew that in that moment, something just felt like, I don’t know, I just needed to hide it. And I hate that feeling.
0:26:45.8 MB: Okay.
0:26:46.0 DM: So I would encourage, and I know it’s easier said than done, but the only way that we’re gonna kind of break out of that is for a woman to show up happy and proud and pregnant.
0:26:52.9 MB: That’s right. That’s right.
0:26:53.6 DM: You know, you wouldn’t ask Bob how he’s gonna do it when his wife is giving birth.
0:26:56.8 MB: You just assume all is going to be well.
0:26:58.7 DM: Exactly.
0:26:58.9 MB: Because Bob ain’t leaving home.
0:27:00.9 DM: Exactly. Exactly.
0:27:01.0 MB: He’s gonna take his butt to work every day. Right.
0:27:02.2 DM: So let’s assume the same about me. You know, like we, I told people all the time, I have a nanny. It’s not anything I hide.
0:27:08.6 MB: Right.
0:27:09.4 DM: You should get a nanny. You should get a nanny.
0:27:11.6 MB: Everybody should have a nanny.
0:27:11.7 DM: Anybody who can afford it should have a nanny.
0:27:14.0 MB: That’s right. Or somebody.
0:27:14.8 DM: Or somebody.
0:27:15.5 MB: It takes a village. It’s no joke.
0:27:16.8 DM: Yeah. And a nanny doesn’t have to be like a paid nanny like we have. It could be your mom, dad, grandma.
0:27:20.3 MB: Absolutely.
0:27:20.6 DM: Anybody, just a village to help. And so there’s so many resources now that there’s no need to ask a woman, a man or anybody.
0:27:27.4 MB: Right. What’s gonna happen?
0:27:27.5 DM: What’s gonna happen? Just can we kill that question, because it is just…
0:27:31.5 MB: Yeah. Well I think you might have just killed it right now. That’s for sure.
0:27:35.7 DM: Yes. [0:27:35.8] ____ [laughter] [music]
0:27:36.3 MB: We’ll be back with more Founder Hustle after the break.[music]
0:27:43.5 MB: Welcome back to Founder Hustle. Here’s more of my conversation with Deidre Mathis.[music]
0:27:48.1 MB: So tell me about your wife, Tracy.
0:27:51.8 DM: Oh gosh. [laughter]
0:27:52.4 MB: Because I remember hearing about her way back.
0:27:54.5 DM: Yes. So I have the most supportive, the most just caring, the most nurturing. We are just a great team. I was just, I had an interview yesterday and the interviewee asked, she said, “Can you let our audience know how important your relationship is to the success of your business?” And I was like, wow. It is just the…
0:28:12.7 MB: It’s everything.
0:28:13.5 DM: It is everything.
0:28:14.9 MB: Right. If it ain’t good at home, it ain’t gonna be good nowhere else.
0:28:17.6 DM: Exactly. And if you don’t have a supportive partner.
0:28:19.6 MB: Yep.
0:28:19.9 DM: You’re not gonna be able to succeed. My wife, so there would be a Wanderstay eventually, but without her help financially, emotionally, mentally, at the beginning of my project, there would’ve been no Wanderstay at the time. So that’s why I said if I get filthy rich, she gets filthy rich. Whatever I get, she gets. Like there’s no need for any, you know I’m not gonna say prenup and all that, but there is no need for that because literally, whatever I have, she can have.
0:28:41.8 MB: Well she was really almost like a co-founder along the process.
0:28:44.8 DM: Yes. I mean, she was there from the beginning, writing the business plans, staying up late when I needed some extra cash.
0:28:51.7 MB: So that means she heard a lot of really bad pitches for you to get your $100,000 be really good.
0:28:57.5 DM: You know, it’s funny because when I first started pitching, she wasn’t she didn’t say much.
0:29:02.0 MB: Okay.
0:29:02.4 DM: But by the middle, I mean she was, you need to say it like this, you need to…
0:29:06.5 MB: There you go.
0:29:06.9 DM: Wear this. And I was just like, okay. But she had seen me do it so many times that now she is, we just joke, like she says, now she can judge pitch competitions because she’s been to so many, but it’s just even funny just to see the evolution of our relationship and her at the beginning where I was like, you know I’ll just be a silent partner and just not and just transformed into this person who’s just super involved. And if I need feedback or if I have any ideas, I bounce it by her. And just, it is just so important just to have, I know it’s hard dating an entrepreneur. I know it’s hard dating me or being married to me. I mean we’re not even dating. I know it is hard being married to me.
0:29:42.3 MB: Sure. ‘Cause Schedules change all the time. You gotta travel, you just never know what’s gonna happen.
0:29:46.4 DM: Moreso I thought after having the baby, I thought, we’re not gonna travel as much and all that. It’s just the same.
0:29:53.0 MB: You can’t be in the hospitality business and not travel.
0:29:55.6 DM: Right But I don’t think people understand that. There are literally spouses out there that say, “I’m not gonna do this. You go do that”. I don’t… I wanna sit at home and I wanna do my, and that person wouldn’t even necessarily be wrong.
0:30:06.6 MB: Right.
0:30:06.7 DM: But she’s here. I mean she’s literally every…
0:30:08.0 MB: It’s great to finally meet her.
0:30:09.1 DM: She’s literally, I mean, yeah. I have the best partner. [laughter]
0:30:12.1 MB: How’d you meet?
0:30:13.9 DM: We met online and I used to be embarrassed to say that too. I would tell people…
0:30:17.1 MB: Hey ’cause I don’t think that’s how you told me y’all met at first.[laughter]
0:30:19.8 MB: That was not the answer I was expecting.
0:30:22.1 DM: No. We met online.
0:30:23.5 MB: Okay.
0:30:23.8 DM: Yes. I had just moved to Houston.
0:30:25.3 MB: Okay.
0:30:25.8 DM: And a friend of mine, I lived in DC actually for five years. So one of my closest friends that I met here in DC.
0:30:30.9 MB: Okay.
0:30:31.0 DM: She said, “you need to just get on the app” even and I wasn’t looking for a partner.
0:30:34.5 MB: Okay.
0:30:35.2 DM: But she said, “just get on the app and just start meeting people”. And I lie to you not, I met Tracy and another girl the next day.
0:30:40.5 MB: Okay.
0:30:40.9 DM: And then I had a rule…
0:30:41.6 MB: We know who survived.
0:30:42.9 DM: No. Well, it was just for friends.
0:30:45.9 MB: Okay. Okay.
0:30:46.9 DM: But so I met them both like within a week of meeting because I had a rule.
0:30:48.7 MB: Okay.
0:30:48.9 DM: I would not talk to you if I didn’t meet you face to face within a week.
0:30:51.7 MB: Oh wow.
0:30:52.1 DM: I wasn’t gonna be catfished. I wasn’t gonna meet you in person.
0:30:54.7 MB: Look at you, we got dating tips now.
0:30:55.9 DM: Oh yeah. My rule is a week. If we don’t meet in a week, whatever. So I downloaded the app, met her the next day. We met a couple days later, I got off the app and we’ve been together seven years.
0:31:06.2 MB: Wow. That’s deep. That’s amazing. That’s amazing. So tell me about Denver.
0:31:13.0 DM: Yes. So Denver is my fabulous, lovely, just I don’t know all the things. Like sometimes I look at her and I’m like, wow this is a human that I created. She doesn’t sleep. When I tell people that my baby doesn’t sleep she has FOMO really bad. [laughter] my baby takes 10, 15 minute naps. She doesn’t, she just does not sleep. But she will not tell you she’s the best baby, she’s so well traveled. My baby’s been in six countries. Whoa.
0:31:38.8 MB: Wait wait wait wait wait.
0:31:39.4 DM: She’s been in six countries.
0:31:40.5 MB: And how old is she?
0:31:40.8 DM: 14 months.
0:31:42.5 MB: Okay.
0:31:43.4 DM: I mean she’s been sitting with us on the airplane and flight attendants are just like, wow.
0:31:46.6 MB: Hey, did you tranquilize her, or what’s up?
0:31:47.9 DM: Right right. And it’s like…
0:31:48.7 MB: ‘Cause I know when I get on a plane I see babies. I’m like I hope I’m not sitting next to y’all.
0:31:53.0 DM: People will sit next to us on the flight and they’re like wow. She’s so chill. I feel like she was born to fit in our lifestyle. When Denver was born. I unfortunately we both caught COVID during childbirth. So when I tested before giving birth I was negative. I mean that’s a whole nother story. I don’t wanna get into that. One of the nurses first nurses who cared for her wasn’t wearing a mask. And this was in the height of COVID but we’re new moms. I just had a baby. We’re not thinking about a mask.
0:32:18.0 MB: You’re focused on your health, the baby’s health. Yes.
0:32:20.2 DM: Right. And so unfortunately my baby was in the hospital for about two and a half months. She was intubated on my 35th birthday. Ooh. I didn’t see her for a month in real life because I had Covid and she had covid. So that’s, we had to stay separate. I didn’t see my wife for 63 days. It was bad. It was really bad. But if you look at her now, you can never tell. She’s the most resilient just the best baby ever.[laughter]
0:32:45.6 MB: Wow. I didn’t realize, I knew that she had been ill but I didn’t… 63 days.
0:32:48.8 DM: Yeah it was…
0:32:49.3 MB: I mean that’s a long time.
0:32:50.1 DM: I was, I had lost near probably 50 pounds. I was in bad shape. I was…
0:32:54.0 MB: For sure. That’s an emotional toll. Right?
0:32:55.9 DM: That was an emotional toll. So just to go through that as first time parents we just thought life was just so unfair. Why us? Why us? But then I really just shifted into just gratefulness. Yeah. Just being grateful that although she had that rocky start and we had that rocky start, we’re so resilient. And we talk about that as a couple. I mean so many things less than what we’ve dealt with would’ve broken people up. Would’ve torn families apart. But this was just like another just bump in our life that we went through. Got over it.
0:33:24.3 MB: Gone.
0:33:24.6 DM: Yeah. And then so in hindsight of course I hated that that happened but it just showed me how strong my family is and I just I love my girls.
0:33:31.7 MB: Do you want Denver to be an entrepreneur?
0:33:34.4 DM: Oh that’s a great question.
0:33:34.5 MB: ‘Cause you know how it is.
0:33:36.4 DM: That’s a great question Melissa. So the answer is the only requirement. So we know I’m a AKA, I’m a two time HBCU graduate. I’m a world traveler, entrepreneur. The only thing that I require for my daughter is for her to go to FMU. [laughter] That FMU. I’m a Rattler through and through. I bleed orange and green. That is the only requirement.
0:33:54.2 MB: Okay, so that’s the only thing she has to do.
0:33:55.3 DM: That’s the only… She doesn’t have to be an entrepreneur. She doesn’t have to…
0:33:57.7 MB: Okay, but if she wanted to be an entrepreneur?
0:34:00.5 DM: Then she could.
0:34:00.6 MB: Okay.
0:34:00.6 DM: And I would be right there behind her. But I, so my wife and I practice what do we call it? Social parenting or I can’t think of the new term that they call but pretty much it’s allowing children to be themselves. And not placing what we want on our child, on her. Denver’s she came through my body but she’s not mine. I’m just a vessel to get her on this earth. She can be whatever she wants to be. I just want my daughter to be happy and healthy. That’s it. If she wants to be an artist. She doesn’t wanna go to college, whatever. As long as she has a plan.
0:34:28.2 MB: Wait, wait. What if she says she doesn’t wanna go to college. That’s okay?
0:34:30.6 DM: Yeah.
0:34:31.7 MB: But if she goes, she decides to go.
0:34:34.8 DM: She has to go to FMU.
0:34:34.7 MB: She has to go to FMU.
0:34:34.8 DM: And the reason why I say she doesn’t have to go to college, because there’s so many opportunities out here that you don’t need a degree for. And let’s talk about, she’s one now, by the time she’s 18, Lord knows how much college will be.
0:34:44.2 MB: Right. Who knows? Or even if it’s required.
0:34:45.2 DM: Right.
0:34:45.7 MB: It could just be snippets of videos that you watch. It’s funny, we have… Our youngest twins are 15. And one of them said, I don’t think I wanna go to college. And at first I was like I wanna be like what? And then I was like okay say more. Because you’re right. There’s so many more options. And let’s be honest $100,000 for a college degree that you probably could have gotten the job on your own because of your intellect, your social capital. Like why bother.
0:35:08.4 DM: Exactly. Yeah. And so that’s a, when your immediate reaction was why? It’s probably because you were taught that. And you did that.
0:35:13.0 MB: Absolutely. It was a requirement. For me and my wife. It was, it’s not even an option. Y’all are taking your ass to school. That’s it, yeah.
0:35:18.2 DM: Exactly. But when you look at all the successful people, not all but a lot of the success. Yeah. Let’s look at the Oprahs and let’s look. A lot of these people don’t have advanced degrees.
0:35:25.6 MB: That’s right.
0:35:26.6 DM: Or they don’t, I think Oprah does have a degree but if you look at the Mark the guy who did Facebook and all, they don’t have…
0:35:30.9 MB: They didn’t finish school.
0:35:31.6 DM: Right. They didn’t even finish school.
0:35:32.8 MB: Bill Gates dropped out. They all dropped out.
0:35:34.8 DM: Exactly. And look at the legacy they have. So she doesn’t have to go. So.
0:35:38.4 MB: It’s interesting you brought up Mark and like we know them [laughter] and Bill but they dropped outta school. A lot of it says ’cause they wanted to focus on their business. You’re a wife, you’re a mom and you’re running a successful business. So you are almost saying you can do it all.
0:35:55.1 DM: Yeah. [chuckle]
0:35:56.6 MB: What what advice would you have to entrepreneurs who are well I’m not sure if I wanna have kids yet. And ’cause it’s a it’s a real thing for women.
0:36:05.6 DM: It’s real.
0:36:06.4 MB: As as as you’re watching your business grow. Many people say you better stay focused. What would you say to them?
0:36:11.9 DM: So that is a great question and a question that I’ve been asked a lot is can women really have it all?
0:36:15.6 MB: I know I asked you. I asked you, I was like, you sure you’re about to do this business and have this baby? “I got it girl. I got it. And you were right.”
0:36:21.8 DM: Yeah. I mean I think we women, men everyone can have it all if you number one get help. Number two if you have a strong team behind you and you have support and number three like if you love it that much, you’re gonna find energy to do it. And so whereas I may not maybe hang out with my friends every single day of the week doing happy hour and maybe I’m working on my business, [laughter] I’m still pouring time into something that’s gonna make me happy and that’s gonna… I’m gonna reap the rewards from it. So I don’t think you can have it all at the same time necessarily on an equal playing field. One week I might be a 60% mother and a hundred percent business owner and an 80% wife. And then the next week it fluctuates and fluctuates. But as long as… Life has some flows but as long as it’s you know, still progressing…
0:37:04.4 MB: As long as you feel good with the contributions you’ve made.
0:37:07.6 DM: Right. I’m not trying to be a hundred percent at anything. Wife, mother, business owner. I’m not, because I’m not perfect and I’m not gonna strive for that.
0:37:14.7 MB: I like that.
0:37:15.5 DM: So I realized one day if I’m maybe not paying attention to my daughter as much then I’ll just make up for it the next day. I’m not gonna beat myself up over it because I need to rest or have me time. So people just need to understand. You can’t be everything at all the time but I think you can have it all. I have it all.
0:37:30.0 MB: And if you’re honest with people to let them know how you’re able to show up then there’s no resentment.
0:37:34.3 DM: Exactly.
0:37:34.6 MB: Because it’s when you set expectations you don’t show up.
0:37:37.6 DM: Exactly. Right.
0:37:38.1 MB: Your spouse is well you said you were gonna be home every day for dinner. And you’d be oh I should’ve never said that. ‘Cause there was no way in the world.
0:37:43.5 DM: But that so I spend so much time with my wife like we ride bikes together, we do lunch together. Like that, I still I won’t compromise.
0:37:52.3 MB: Gotcha. Good.
0:37:53.2 DM: That needs to always come first. And we’ve had the relationship. She and I need to come first before my daughter and I because if we are happy we provide a happy home. We do that. And she’s my best friend.
0:38:01.9 DM: You sound like my wife now.[laughter]
0:38:03.9 MB: She’s like, “We gotta have a date night. Otherwise it’s gonna impact the kids.” I was like, Okay. Gotcha.
0:38:10.1 DM: Yes. It will, you need to keep that thing going. So when, we were just saying the other day, it was the one thing we want all of our kids to say about us when they’re old, when our kids are older. And we want them to say like, “Our parents loved each other and they showed it.” So we wanna hug and kiss and be affectionate and all the things, because that’s gonna build a happy, healthy human being.
0:38:28.0 MB: Sure. And confidence in themselves.
0:38:30.3 DM: Yes.
0:38:30.9 MB: It wasn’t lost to me. You said our family. How many more kids are coming?[laughter]
0:38:35.3 DM: Who knows Melissa? At this point, it might be one, it might be two, it might be three. We don’t know.
0:38:39.2 MB: Or more?
0:38:40.6 DM: Four is the max.
0:38:42.1 MB: Four is the max, okay.
0:38:42.3 DM: Four is the max.
0:38:42.6 MB: That’s good. It’s good. There’s a ceiling.
0:38:43.7 DM: Yes, there’s a ceiling. But we don’t know. We’ll, it could be two, it could be three, it could be four. We dunno.
0:38:48.2 MB: It’s all good. It’s all good. Hey, look…
0:38:49.8 DM: I’m getting older, so the time, the clock is clicking.
0:38:52.7 MB: Oh girl, please! Girl, please. Your energy level, I feel like it increases as you get older, so I think you’re gonna be just five. Trust me. During this conversation, you’ve talked a lot about team. Your wife, your family, you talked about a mentor.
0:39:04.9 DM: Yes. Yes.
0:39:05.6 MB: A lot of founders say, “Well, how do I know who I should be hanging out with and how do I? And what do I take away? Do I really listen to them? Do they have my best interest at heart?” Talk about how you’ve kind of leveraged not just the money, but the social capital to help people really advance your business.
0:39:21.0 DM: Yeah. Social capital is so important. It is just literally people say now it’s not what you know, but who you know. And that is so true. I found a lot of my mentors in all of the programs that I mentioned. So when I was doing accelerated programs in Houston, or when I entered a pitch competition I made sure to stay in contact with the organization. So doing that really just allowed me to meet these fantastic people with plethora of different expertise in different areas. And for me, so I remember when I met one of my first mentors, I’ll never forget, he said, “Why a hostel, in Houston?” [laughter] He was…
0:39:53.8 MB: Common question.
0:39:54.4 DM: Oh yeah. He wasn’t, Bill wasn’t… He wasn’t joking. He was older guy and he’s like, “Tell me why.” And by the end of Bill and I working together, after nine months, Bill came to me we met for coffee. He said, “I told my grandson, I told my this, I told… Bill was on my team. I had transformed him into this person who was into hostels and boutique hotels, and I loved it.” So I didn’t go into my meetings with my mentors trying to convince them or change their mind. I just literally told them what I was passionate about. I told them the research, I showed them the numbers. I showed them what was just out there. And so either they fell on board and supported me in ways that I needed, or they fell off. And most of them stayed with me. Because I was this girl doing this unique thing. People hadn’t even heard of hostels. And then you’re talking about doing one in Houston, not a Miami, not a LA not a San Fran or something like that but in Houston. People just didn’t get it but after her talking to me, they’re like, “Oh, she knows… She has something on there. “
0:40:50.0 MB: She knows her shit. She got this.
0:40:50.8 DM: Yeah. She knows what she’s talking about. And for me, older people are just a blessing. If I’m talking to somebody 50, 60, I’m 35, you have 15, 20 years to my… No, no [laughter], or I’m 36 rather not 35.
0:41:04.5 MB: I got you.
0:41:04.5 DM: But…
0:41:05.2 MB: Put 50 year old in an older category.
0:41:06.6 DM: Oh, sorry.
0:41:08.1 MB: It’s all good. I’m proud of it. It’s all good.
0:41:09.1 DM: Listen, to be 50 is a blessing ’cause there’s so many people who didn’t make it to 50.
0:41:13.1 MB: Good spin. Yes. You’re right.
0:41:13.5 DM: So that is a blessing. But when I’m around older people, I just prefer it. Because they’re telling you things that they went through firsthand. Now you don’t have to deal with this…
0:41:21.9 MB: And it’s non-competitive.
0:41:22.9 DM: Right. It’s non-competitive. Yes. Because a lot of my mentors are old and about to retire. They’re not competing against me. The guy who sold me my building for my second location, older White guy, you probably would think we had nothing in common. When I met this guy, and Tracy could tell you, the day that we sat and closed, he sat and talked to us for an hour and a half outside. “This is what you should do. This is what you should do.” He owns a AC company to this day. If we have an issue with our AC at one of my buildings, he sends his guys out, charges me a penny of the cost. And one day on the phone, when he was talking to me, he said, “Deidre, I’m looking out for you because if entrepreneurs don’t look out for each other, then who will?” He said, “I’m 63, I’ve been in business since I was 30. I’m tired.” He said, “I want you to have this building. You do it.” ‘Cause he sold it to me for a price far under what he could have charged. But he wanted to give it to me because he wanted through tradition of a young entrepreneur going on…
0:42:13.1 MB: Sure. He knows your journey.
0:42:13.8 DM: He knows my journey. And then I can do that for somebody 20 years from now.
0:42:18.1 MB: You call lot of people mentors, which is an honor, that people get to play that role in your life. Did everybody you met turn into a mentor to [0:42:23.9] ____ simply kick to side?
0:42:25.6 DM: No. Yeah. So mentors, true mentors, people I truly say are my mentors I have three of them. People that if I can email or call today or tomorrow and I trust what they tell me. So it’s just the three. Then I use the word interchangeably between the three of them. But no, even if I meet somebody who may be not my mentor, I still make sure to try to keep up on LinkedIn or Facebook so that if I do see something that I need to maybe ask them a question about or something, they’re not like, “Oh, who is this person who I met two years ago and never heard back?” So certain people I try to make sure I’m connected with so they know who I am. So if I’ve reached out to you a few times and said, “Hey Melissa, I’m doing such and such to you.” And I do that to everyone. And it’s not like, “Oh, what can I get from you?” But it’s a reciprocal relationship. How’s the baby? How’s this. And I keep those relationships going and they’re very helpful.
0:43:11.8 MB: And it’s worth a ton.
0:43:12.4 DM: And it’s… Absolutely.
0:43:13.0 MB: ‘Cause a lot of people say, I don’t have time, but there’s an ROI in doing that.
0:43:16.2 DM: Yes.
0:43:16.8 MB: Yeah.
0:43:17.2 DM: I don’t get people who don’t have time for all. It takes five minutes to send an email. It takes five minutes to respond to an email. If you don’t have time for that, then…
0:43:24.9 MB: Why bother?
0:43:26.0 DM: Why bother. [laughter]
0:43:26.9 MB: So how do you go from Wanderlust to Wanderstay? What’s in those name? What’s in that name?
0:43:32.0 DM: So a lawsuit.
0:43:32.8 MB: Oh. Okay. [laughter]
0:43:33.8 DM: That’s it. Yeah, we could talk about that. So Wanderlust, the definition of Wanderlust is a person who is essentially addicted to traveling. You have the wanderlust spirit, the wanderlust bug. You’re addicted to travel. And so when I heard the word it just stuck on me like white on rice. I was like, “This is who I am, what I am. This is my brand.” So of course I wrote the book Wanderlust for the young professional. And then the business I had incorporated as Wanderlust Hospitality. Well, literally a month before we were supposed to open the first location, 30 days. I’ll never forget, I was at a conference. I had my name badge on. I was, you feeling good when you first start gonna conferences with your company name’s badge…
0:44:11.4 MB: That’s right. That’s right.
0:44:12.4 DM: I’m feeling good. And I’m going into the sessions and my business is opening in 30 days and I’m just on fire. I get an email and the subject line says, ‘Cease and Desist.’
0:44:22.4 MB: Oh Lord.
0:44:22.8 DM: And so I’m like, “Okay.” In all my business classes I hear about suits and everything, but I’m not even open yet. So I’m like, “What is this?” So I read the email and I’m like, it was attachment to it. It was attorney’s office saying that you can no longer use the company Wanderlust because you’re getting too much media attention and our consumers might start to confuse the two brands. So I’m looking up this company, big brand in LA, they do yoga and music retreats.
0:44:46.7 MB: That’s right.
0:44:47.5 DM: Which I’m like, okay. But essentially, so when I had an attorney, which is a key thing, I told entrepreneurs, you can save on a lot of things. Don’t save on your attorney.
0:44:55.4 MB: Amen.
0:44:55.9 DM: You need to have an attorney on day one.
0:44:58.0 MB: Amen.
0:44:58.4 DM: Day one. Even if you have to have retainer where you pay one, two, three thousand dollars up front and they eat at it as you go by, you need an attorney. I reached out to their attorney and she essentially said, “Yeah, Deidre, you cease and desist.” They’re a big company, Deidre, they have attorneys, they have money. And she just straight up told me, you…
0:45:15.7 MB: You’re not gonna win this one.
0:45:17.6 DM: You’re not gonna win this one. And I was sad, Melissa, I had spent thousands of dollars on branding.
0:45:23.2 MB: I was About to say, you 30 days on, you gotta change everything.
0:45:26.0 DM: Oh. Talk about a form of depression. I was just depressed and I was having a powwow with one of my friends and I was just like, what can we do? And then she just kind of came up and she said, Wanderstay? And I was like, wait, that is…
0:45:37.6 MB: Just like that.
0:45:39.3 DM: Yeah. We were, talking different.
0:45:40.8 MB: Okay.
0:45:40.9 DM: She was throwing out different business names.
0:45:42.5 MB: Okay.
0:45:42.7 DM: And one of the ones she said was, Wanderstay. And I said, oh my gosh, that is perfect. At first it was Wander Stay, two different words.
0:45:49.5 MB: Okay.
0:45:49.8 DM: And then I was like, well, how would it look if I merged it together, Wanderstay, and I put it out there and people just ate it up.
0:45:54.9 MB: Loved it. Yeah.
0:45:55.2 DM: And then when you think about it in hindsight, Wanderstay is so much more fitting for my brand.
0:45:58.9 MB: Right. Than Wanderlust.
0:46:00.1 DM: Yes. And so it’s like…
0:46:00.2 MB: ‘Cause then I’m gonna keep my hostel impression, people hooking up in there, they don’t know each other so I actually like Wanderstay. Yes. That makes sense.
0:46:08.2 DM: Yeah. [laughter]
0:46:08.7 MB: That resonates with the brand just a little bit more.
0:46:11.1 DM: Yes. It was a blessing in disguise, but I tell folks, please don’t… I use one of those services that you pay $200 and they check and see if your business name is available and they do all your paperwork. I use one of those, and I tell people don’t use that. Don’t try to save money when you’re formatting a company. That is when you need to work with an attorney, or at least somebody that you know has done this is gonna do a fair job. That organization didn’t look up the name.
0:46:32.7 MB: Oh, wow.
0:46:33.4 DM: Because my attorney, she, with a stroke of, I don’t know, few words.
0:46:36.8 MB: That’s it.
0:46:37.6 DM: She found that, she said, Deidre, if you would’ve came to me, I would’ve told you, no, you can’t use that. But because she was charging me 4000 and you’re charging me 300, of course I’m gonna go with the 300. But in the end, I ended up losing 10, 15 thousand dollars for it.
0:46:50.7 MB: Right.
0:46:51.2 DM: It’s not worth the headache. Spend the money, get the attorney right away. [laughter]
0:46:54.3 MB: You verified, you get what you paid for you.
0:46:55.8 DM: You literally get what you paid for.
0:46:56.2 MB: That’s what you get. You get what you paid for. That’s for sure.
0:47:00.4 DM: Literally.[laughter]
0:47:00.8 MB: I sit here and I’ve known you a little bit now and I go, I can’t imagine a Deidre that wasn’t confident, successful and just very clear about where they’re going. Did that person ever exist?
0:47:15.6 DM: What? Deidre who wasn’t that way?
0:47:16.7 MB: Mm-hmm.
0:47:20.1 DM: No, and people ask like what… How do you do… And I don’t know, I literally think some things are DNA, I don’t come from a family of entrepreneurs. I’m the first person to graduate from college, let alone a Master’s degree. I don’t know where it came from. I don’t, and that’s the question I’ve been asked in therapy. I’ve been asked by… I’ve been asked that question a lot. Like, where did this come from? I don’t know. But I’m glad that I have it.
0:47:42.4 MB: Me too.
0:47:43.0 DM: And I’m gonna try to instill this in our kids. Not the drive to be an entrepreneur.
0:47:47.9 MB: Sure.
0:47:48.0 DM: But just the drive that whatever you love, be the best at it. Whatever that is.
0:47:52.5 MB: Five years from now, where are you gonna be?
0:47:54.9 DM: Five years from now? I’ll be 41.
0:47:56.7 MB: Oof. Yeah. [laughter] So old. Wow. Yeah. Okay.
0:48:00.3 DM: I’ll be 41. My company will be…
0:48:02.4 MB: You can still have kids at 41, just so you know. It’s possible.
0:48:05.6 DM: Not me.
0:48:06.2 MB: Okay, but it’s possible.
0:48:06.5 DM: ‘Cause Lord I’m 36 and I barely have the energy.
0:48:08.0 MB: Oh, boy. Here we go.
0:48:08.3 DM: So I can’t. But so I’ll be 41. My company will be 10-years-old.
0:48:12.8 MB: Yeah.
0:48:13.3 DM: I don’t know, Melissa and we’ll be have opening our third location.
0:48:17.1 MB: Okay.
0:48:17.3 DM: And so We will be doing that. But past the third location, I don’t know. And I’m comfortable with saying that.
0:48:22.4 MB: That’s awesome.
0:48:22.6 DM: Do you know if would’ve asked me that a year ago, I would’ve been in here shaking, nervous, I don’t know. ‘Cause I don’t know where life will take me in five years.
0:48:30.1 MB: Right.
0:48:30.1 DM: I am truly passionate about my family. I want the best quality of life. I don’t know, does that mean leaving Houston? Does that mean moving out of the country? Does that mean, letting someone else run Wanderstay while I do something else?
0:48:41.9 MB: Right.
0:48:42.2 DM: I don’t know. But I’m keeping an open minds and I’m letting the universe just kind of shift me where I need to go. But where I will be is happy, I’ll be whole. I’ll be with my family and…
0:48:52.4 MB: All will be well.
0:48:53.0 DM: All will be well. [laughter]
0:48:54.2 MB: That’s amazing. I asked that because after COVID, that is the new mindset that you just had to be able to plan for the unplanned.
0:49:00.9 DM: Yeah.
0:49:01.1 MB: Which means you just let stuff go.
0:49:03.0 DM: Yeah.
0:49:03.5 MB: You have some boundaries.
0:49:04.7 DM: Yeah.
0:49:04.9 MB: And you’re ready.
0:49:05.7 DM: Yeah.
0:49:06.0 MB: But you can only project but so far, ’cause we really just don’t know what’s gonna happen.
0:49:09.2 DM: And it is a blessing and a curse that the pandemic happened so early in my business.
0:49:13.5 MB: Yes.
0:49:13.7 DM: And we were only two years old.
0:49:14.9 MB: Right.
0:49:15.1 DM: And we’re dealing with… My whole brand is community and togetherness and come together and then you have the media telling you stay six feet apart and don’t travel and don’t… So for two years I’m looking around like, oh my gosh, what’s gonna happen? You’re absolutely right. Nothing could have… You couldn’t mapped that out. You couldn’t have planned for a global pandemic. You just can’t. While it helped me stay on my toes and learn how to pivot quickly.
0:49:35.6 MB: Yeah.
0:49:35.7 DM: And make decisions quickly. So I’m better at that and stronger at that. As far as creating a true five-year plan, it does make me look at that a little differently. Because I can sit here and map out the best five year plan and the world start having tsunamis. I don’t know, something. Don’t do that world. Don’t do it. But we just don’t know.
0:49:53.2 MB: Sure. You just never know.
0:49:54.1 DM: You just don’t know. So The best thing to do is just stay on your toes, make sure you have equity saved, cash saved. Make sure that you’re consistently looking at your employee handbooks and revising that. Making sure that you have a policy and procedure guide, which is the bread and butter to my business.
0:50:08.1 MB: Sure.
0:50:08.2 DM: So when we have new staff members, we have our P&P book policy and procedures. I’m away in DC if they need something, they have that book.
0:50:15.0 MB: It’s right there.
0:50:15.6 DM: They have that book. Doing things like that because no matter what happens, you’re still gonna probably utilize those things.
0:50:20.9 MB: Absolutely.
0:50:21.3 DM: But as far as like a true five-year plan to be happy [laughter]
0:50:24.8 MB: Well processes drive scale.
0:50:26.5 DM: Yes, yes.
0:50:26.9 MB: And your case scale allows you to then do what actually makes you happy.
0:50:30.4 DM: Yes.
0:50:30.4 MB: Which could be in the business or outside of the business.
0:50:32.7 DM: Yes. And I’m okay. And I really want more entrepreneurs, even specifically women entrepreneurs saying that, when I had the interview yesterday, she was saying that she meets a lot of women entrepreneurs who are afraid to talk about family or they’re afraid to talk about we’re in such a high growth entrepreneurial world, everybody talks about creating and scale scale scale, scale, and sell and all this and be acquired.
0:50:56.0 MB: Right. What’s your exit at? Yeah.
0:50:56.8 DM: And your exit.
0:50:57.3 MB: Yeah.
0:50:57.5 DM: We’re asked about our exit plan before we even get our first loan. And that’s messing a lot of people up.
0:51:04.4 MB: That’s right.
0:51:04.7 DM: I was messed up because people were coming to me and saying, “I did one competition. And they said, my mentor in the program. So she’s not my real life mentor, but she said, you can have 20 Wonderstays in the next three years and this is how we’re gonna do it. And the whole time she was talking, I was like, but in my mind, I was like, I don’t want this.
0:51:22.4 MB: I don’t want 20. [laughter]
0:51:22.5 DM: I don’t want 20. I just want a handful. And is that okay for me? And just through growth and just through personal discovery and just talking to older, wiser people. And it’s like, yes, that is absolutely. If you want three or four locations and not 20 or 25, that is fine.
0:51:37.1 MB: That’s okay.
0:51:37.8 DM: Because those three or four are gonna do well. They’re gonna get great reviews. They’re gonna allow me to have the lifestyle that I like to live and allow me to not be stressed the way that I would be if I had 20, 25 locations.
0:51:46.6 MB: That’s right. You’d never see your family.
0:51:49.2 DM: I would never see them.
0:51:50.8 MB: You’d have to be traveling around all those places.
0:51:53.6 DM: Exactly. Exactly. And I don’t want that. I wanna come home every night.
0:52:00.4 MB: But my takeaway from you during our conversation is just having entrepreneurs know you are enough. No matter how many you have, no matter how many dollars, exit or not investors, you have to find peace with that you are enough.
0:52:11.1 DM: Absolutely. You have to. This is a very lonely. It is a very tough. Social media glamorizes entrepreneurship so much. I mean, it’s just… If I wasn’t an entrepreneur looking outside, looking at social media, I would just think you’re riding in the fancy cars. First class…
0:52:25.5 MB: You’ll never work. You’ll never go to office.
0:52:28.5 DM: And all this. And I’m like, that is just not it. This is hard. This is tough. But if you have the support and you have the team and you have the wherewithal to just fight through all the adversities, it is so worth it. The freedom of my time. To look at a calendar, me and my wife, we really wanted to go to Portugal. I literally pulled out my calendar and I, boop, boop, boop, boop. Okay, let’s go then. She’s a professor, so she has the flexibility. But I didn’t have to move things around…
0:52:55.7 MB: Negotiate.
0:52:56.6 DM: And negotiate. Because I have freedom of my time. And nothing is more valuable than that. Nothing.
0:53:00.1 MB: That’s right. And that’s the one asset that is never gonna change.
0:53:02.8 DM: Never.
0:53:02.9 MB: So you have to figure out how to maximize what you have.
0:53:07.0 DM: Never. We all have the same 24 hours. It’s not gonna change.
0:53:11.2 MB: That’s it. Yeah. Thank you so much.
0:53:13.7 DM: Thank you, Melissa. That’s so great.
0:53:16.3 MB: I have to say, I know I was like, what the hell is a hostel in Houston and why? But I’m so proud of you.
0:53:17.6 DM: Thank you.
0:53:17.6 MB: I really appreciate you.
0:53:19.4 DM: Thank you. Thank you, Melissa. I appreciate you having me.[music]
0:53:27.2 MB: So proud of Deidre and her new family. Our conversation demonstrates that you can still be a successful entrepreneur and live your life. Deidre and her wife make sure to find time to enjoy life and build a business empire. They demonstrate that your business requires balance and you must continue to care for yourself to be able to run your business well. Deidre shared two key lessons in her entrepreneurial journey. First, she learned a hard lesson when she went cheap on her incorporation process. She reminds us that you get what you pay for. And most importantly, she highlights the challenges and necessity of getting a handle on human resources and the significance of creating time for talent management. This time should be spent well beyond interviews and quarterly check-ins. As a founder, you must think about how you will remain competitive in the people space. Thank you for listening to this season of Founder Hustle. I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing from our guests as much as I have. Be sure to subscribe for more great conversations and we’ll be back with season three before you know it.[music]
0:54:30.8 MB: Thank you for listening to Founder Hustle. If you enjoyed this conversation, please subscribe and tell a friend. For more information about our guests, check out our website, wearenmv.com. There you’ll find all kinds of information, tools and resources for the New Majority Entrepreneur. To stay connected, follow us on social media @wearenmv or search hashtag Founder Hustle. Founder Hustle is a production of Kinetic Energy Entertainment and New Majority Ventures. Our producer is Ann Kane, our social media producer is Misako Envela and the show is mixed by Sonya Harris. The intro theme is Vuelta Al Sol by Tomas Novoa. The credit theme is Glide by Columbia Knights and the yays are from Ratata by Curtis Cole. Founder Hustle was recorded at Clean Cuts in Washington, DC. I’m Melissa Bradley, see you next time.[music]