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For now 20-year-old MySocial Cloud founder Stacey Ferreira, it all started with 140 little characters.
Two years ago, she spotted a Tweet from mogul Sir Richard Branson inviting people to a private charity function in Miami for $2,000, and on a whim, she and her brother decided to splurge and go meet one of their business idols. After all, they’d been developing a startup business together and thought it would be a great way to mix and mingle with successful entrepreneurs.
The adventure spiraled into something both of them never dreamed, and several months later, MySocialCloud secured one million dollars in seed funding—thanks to an intro by Branson to venture capitalists. Now Stacey is taking time off from New York University to bring her dream to life. Find out more about this enterprising young female below:
How did you come up with the idea for My Social Cloud and how did you educate yourself about what would be needed to bring your vision to life?
Stacey: The idea for MySocialCloud came about when my brother experienced a computer crash about two years ago. My brother and I were sitting in his room over winter break discussing all the data he lost (documents, an Excel spreadsheet with all his usernames and passwords and all the bookmarks that were previously stored in his browser). We realized that there was no great place to store the latter two items online, so we set out to built a site that did just that: store usernames and passwords & your favorite bookmarks in one place online.
Most of my education as for how to bring the vision of MySocialCloud to life was self-taught. To this day, I still spend time looking online for answers to questions I have about certain topics (technical questions, marketing questions, etc.) as well as meeting with people who are much more knowledgable than I am about topics I’m interested in.
Tell us what went through your mind when you saw that Tweet by Richard Branson. What made you believe in your idea enough to take a chance and fly to Florida?
Stacey: When I saw the tweet from Richard Branson two summers ago, I immediately thought something along the lines of, “If he sends out a Tweet for people to come meet him, I have as good a chance as any to be able to go.” At first, flying there wasn’t really about pitching him our idea at all—it was about wanting to meet a role model that both my brother and I have always looked up to. That was enough for us to fly to Miami and meet him, but we were able to turn it into so much more than just meeting him.
What did you have to put together to secure the seed funding? What did you learn during the process?
Stacey: Over the course of about a month when we were talking to Sir Richard Branson and Jerry Murdock, we sent them a link to our working site (pre-launch), an executive summary overview and some documents in terms of the history of the business. We spent a lot of time on the phone talking to Jerry, talking about who we were and what the business was and answering questions along the way.
Investment is a two-way street. Liking your investors is of the utmost importance, so don’t be afraid to say “no” to an investor if you don’t think you’d get along or they don’t handle certain situations well. When people say, “Choose your investors like you choose a spouse,” I would say choose to be more selective because with investors there is no such thing as getting a divorce (and keep in mind that past investors have to sign off on any new investment because they own a portion of your company)!
In your opinion, what are the biggest mistakes start-ups make when trying to get funding? What would be your advice to others trying to get off the ground?
Stacey: I would say there are two big mistakes I see founders/startups make when they try to get funding. The first is that some entrepreneurs have a hard time understanding the difference between being super proud in their product and acting entitled to capital. Acting entitled throws people off and makes them feel uncomfortable, especially people who you’re looking for money from—so know the balance and just be proud.
The second biggest mistake I see people make is acting like they know everything. Obviously, when walking into an investor pitch, you want to be as prepared as possible, but it’s perfectly okay to not know everything. That being said, listen to the investors when they’re talking to you as well. Whether or not you take their advice is one thing, but make sure to always listen and think about what they say to you (even if they decide to not invest).
My advice? Just stay humble, admit that you don’t know everything and learn as much as you can from each investor you talk to.
Stacey: Right now, people waste countless hours trying to access information around the world. One of the most prominent ways time is wasted is by people forgetting usernames and passwords to all their online information and just spending the time to type in this information everyday. The eventual goal for MySocialCloud is to completely change how everyone accesses information—eliminating these barriers (i.e. usernames, passwords, etc.).
How has your life changed since starting MySocialCloud?
Stacey: Oh boy. My life has changed in more ways than I can count since starting MySocialCloud. There are some of the larger, visible things that have changed, like the fact that I’m taking time off from college to pursue the business and that each day is completely different than how I might have imagined when I first graduated high school. Theres also the fact that I now pay my own rent, cook my own meals, do my own laundry and all that stuff!
But other things have changed as well. My way of thinking and some of my overall values have changed as I’ve learned a lot/met a lot of people over the past couple of years. I won’t get into too many of these, but for example, for better or worse, I’ve learned to choose wisely who I spend time with (spending time with people who make me happy or a better person). And I’ve learned that each minute in life can have value depending on what you do with it. So I always strive to make the most out of each minute, hour and day.
Stacey: If you’re working with a family member, just be completely honest and open with them about everything. The only time I really see family members getting into fights about business things is when someone feels left out or like they don’t have full knowledge on something and they feel like the other person slighted them. So keep open communication at all times.
I think my brother and I work together so well because we keep each other in the loop about things and regularly find time to talk about everything that is happening business-wise. Whenever I have a question about something he did or vice versa, we’re not afraid to ask each other for more information about it. And if there ever is an issue with something, I’ve found the ability to sit down and talk out a problem (rather than avoiding it for “later”) has been invaluable.
A level of trust is involved with getting people to store their information on your website. How do you establish trust with your members and how do you ensure the site has utmost security?
Stacey: One of the biggest ways we establish trust is by always keeping open communication with everyone who uses MySocialCloud. People can always check out our security page, but I also send out personal emails and let everyone know they can always reach a founder of the company if they have questions, concerns or comments. I’m easily accessible on large social networks for people who don’t have my email or don’t have an account with us yet. I also hold regular Google+ chats each month for anyone who wants to stop by and say hi, etc.
People trust people who they can rely on and get in touch with—so I aim to always make those a priority for our users. And I think that most people can see that, just like ordering something on Amazon and trusting them to keep your credit card information safe, it’s our job to keep your online information safe and we make that our biggest priority at all times.