Today we’ll be talking with Edwin Frondozo. Edwin is an award-winning podcaster and also a successful entrepreneur. He’s the Chief Product Officer and co-founder at slingshot voice. He’s an active supporter of Canadian entrepreneurship and businesses.
His podcast is called business leadership podcast, live series, interviews, any influential leaders. He gives advice for the startup community. So that’s exactly what we are all about. Our goals are, we’ll try to pick his brains on how to start your own business, your product, your brand, and grow it from the ground up.
Thank you for having me.
Yeah. And this is a second time. So just to share a quick story. We actually talked last week, had a full interview. And I forgot what button so the second version of I think this one.
Well, I think so any. Sometimes it takes to win, it’s good. We got to do repeat right memory. So luckily, let’s have fun with this.
Yeah, we have practiced well. Oh. So let us get to know you all over again. And tell us a little bit about yourself your background and experience.
Yeah, hundred percent. Um, I like to start off by introducing myself. This way, actually, it’s my, it’s my fun way for people to get away to know who I am outside of your amazing introduction, I do appreciate it. I am a three-year-old father, I am a five-year-old husband, 15-year-old entrepreneur, and 40 plus-year-old man or boy, depending on who you talk with. So I’ve been doing technology for a long time I’ve been in the technology space, the telecommunication space, or good part of my career. I love entrepreneurship. I love technology. And as you mentioned, I’m pretty active within the startup ecosystem, here in Toronto, Canada, and also across the nation, where I try to support and provide some advisory just to entrepreneurs, because I’m just so passionate about people who are chasing their dreams. Sure, that’s awesome.
What prompts you to, you know, give back help out people, you know, you’ve been a successful entrepreneur yourself? What is that word to help other people?
I think I mean, this question is, it’s a great question. And what prompted me to give back I think, turns out when I when I think about it, and I’m thinking out loud right now, actually, is I realized that I always been helpful with people around me whether it’s in the family, my friends, and I had launched slingshot, and basically started to grow the business, I was that type of entrepreneur where there was no ecosystem, no startup ecosystem that wasn’t really active. This was more than 10 years ago. So I was, I was old school, I was just trying to close deals, I didn’t have friends to talk to about launching a business, they get marketing advice, I was yourself there. But when we launched the brand, the slingshot brand, you know, these ecosystems started growing, I was at a point in my business where I’m like, I need to figure out this networking thing. And I’m sure maybe we’ll get into this a bit more. But I wanted to give back and join organizations to get my name out there as well. So that’s where I found and was introduced to Victoria, Linux, She’s the founder, one of the co-founders of Startup Canada, and this was probably seven, eight years ago. And I help them build their brand across Canada, and also be exposed to entrepreneurship, all kinds of entrepreneurs, not only tech entrepreneurs, be taped type of business owner, whether they’re, you know, a store owner, insurance agent, whatever, and what have you, I’ve met amazing entrepreneurs out there. And, and, and, you know, it’s just fun being around this type of energy.
Yeah, I agree. I mean, if I can always learn from others, and just to get to know other businesses on how people actually scale it and build it. fascinating thing.
What I mean, to that point, my news, I mean, when I provide mentorship or advice to entrepreneurs, whether it’s a tech business that’s launching, or just a service provider, when you’re, you get to put yourself out of your own world, your own business problems, or your own business challenges, not problems. And you get to focus on this one entrepreneur. And it, you know, as you said, you get to learn, you get to help them look at their problem from outside. And what happens, and I’m sure this happens to you, it may spark an idea that you could bring to your business as well, or something that you’re working on or whatnot. And, and it’s just an amazing thing. So it is a little, maybe it’s a little selfish because it helps me to write.
As all human activities are, because we are a selfish species, in my opinion. But you know, it’s always good to contribute God. Alright, so I talked about lead was very important to you when you were starting off. So tell us a little bit about that, like, you know, if people are starting off trying to launch their own company, how should they go about the network?
Yeah, I mean, if you are launching your business, and I mean, I just went through this exercise, again, for different activities, whether it’s with a, with a new business partner, or whatnot, it’s like, you really got to start with your, your network. And well, I’ve heard every excuse out there was like, Oh, no one in my network wants this product, knowing that networking, the service, and I always tell them, that may be the case. But you need to get out there and practice your pitch. Get out there and talk to people. Because maybe the person you’re not you’re talking to you at this point may not be your ideal customer at that point. But maybe their brother is or their brother in law, or someone with their network and missing Oh, that’s what you need to be connected with, I could connect you. So it sometimes, as entrepreneurs, or very early-stage businesses, you’re afraid to get out there and talk to people. But ultimately, the more conversations you have, the more time you are actually pitching yourself, your business. And whatever you’re doing. And if you’re not comfortable doing this one time, three times, five times with the people that you’re, you know, who love you whether you fail or succeed. Imagine doing it in front of someone who has a check for $100,000 for you, and your and it’s not coming very fluid out of your mouth. So I say get-up practice, talk to five people today. I mean, it’s very easy for me to say that if you’re on the other side listening or watching us right now, but you need to pick up the phone. So that’s a direct message someone and says, Hey, do you have five minutes? I’d love to pitch to you. I’d love to tell you what I’m working on and get your thoughts. Yeah.
This is brand new.
For sure. Now you have built you know, very recognizable brand and it’s slingshot. So tell us a little bit about, you know, how, how do young entrepreneurs about building their brand? and focusing on that, and also, if you can share some thoughts about what God is because there are a lot of misconceptions around what a brand is. So tell us a little bit about that.
Yeah, branding, and I’m not gonna I’m gonna disclaimer myself, and I’m not I don’t think that I’m a branding expert, but I do believe in brand and brand story and in my definition of a brand story is is we stand behind who are in, you know, why are we doing business, right. And I never thought that I was good at the storytelling, I thought I was just being creative. One thought of slingshot with my co-founder. But the in essence what slingshot was is at the time and telecommunications. If you had a business and you wanted a business phone number, you would have to go to the incumbent the telecommunication provider within your city. So in Canada, if you’re in the East Coast, we might be Bell Canada on the west coast and might be TELUS or SAS tell in the states it can be at&t or Verizon. But to get a phone number, you’re already going to pay $50 a month, just phone number like that’s, that’s not even getting a system that has like an automated recording that will say thank you for calling Edwin’s amazing business services. If you know your extension, please dial it now. You’re looking at in a customer investment. So when we thought of slingshot, we were coming to market with a technology that gave these tools to businesses that may not be able to afford $50 a month plus the investment of hardware solutions. So we were thinking of the slingshot was this tool that could take out their competitors or leveling them up like the giants. David and Goliath.
Yeah, yeah. So yeah, you brought up David and Goliath last time as well. So how did you? How did you sort of have the courage to take on the giant corporation like Dallas and Bell, like multi-million dollar even tell us is I think it’s a multibillion-dollar company. So how did you overcome that fear of competing with such large corporates?
Yeah, I mean, that’s a great question and a little backstory in terms of getting into our own and eventually launching slingshot. And before I left, my last full-time job, which was almost 15 years ago, I was in a small telco consulting firm and voice over IP was fairly new. And I was, I was young, and I was the first person to sell this voice over IP solution within this organization. And, and this was 10s of thousands was a big deal. I was the first person in the organization to do it. And I understand Voice over IP. So when I had left, I was learning about Voice over IP, and all this open-source world and, and between me and my business partner, we sort of played around the technology and realised, hey, we can deliver this product and have a network or anything, but we’re the I don’t know if it was overconfidence, but I was out there. Going out there as a, I guess, a technician or consultants saying, oh, you’re with Bell Canada. I was partnering with the time this company called all stream, which was a competitor to belt. So I was like a reseller of all stream. But I was talking to you my news in your office, I said, Okay, I Bell, I could save you money. If you go to all stream, it could be 200 bucks a month. But by the way, there’s this other option here, let’s call it Edwin’s voice service. And we didn’t really have anything. I was just making up numbers at the time. And to my surprise, is the business proposition made sense? Because people signed up for it. Oh, gaining that confidence when you’re in front of the customer. And the customer says that makes sense. Okay, let’s go with it. That’s sort of where the confidence is. Because I never thought about how big Bell Canada was at the time, I was just thinking, the US providing a solution. Right. So
well, that’s, that’s good that they say ignorance. So if you didn’t know how big was, you know, that’s a good thing. But I want to add this point out, a lot of people get scared, they don’t launch their idea. They don’t act on that idea. Just because I think there’s a lot of competition out there. But I think if you look, look closely, they’re always micro niches that you can leverage. And, you know, use that micro-niche to compete with the bigger players, right.
100%. And I get this a lot. And it’s funny, maybe it’s because telecommunications or being a network service providers, still kind of like out there, there’s a lot of entrepreneurs will look at him like, Oh, my God, that’s huge. And then and then they’ll say, Edwin, isn’t that competitive? And I’ll say, oh, you’re a graphic designer? How many graphic designers do you know? Like, like, it’s, it’s competitive as well, right? So every business is competitive. And I think they’re all scary. So you just have to get out there. Like you said, maybe you’re not finding the niche yet. But being out there and talking to people and seeing the value you can provide to the customer and ensure that they’re happy, right?
Exactly. And as you talk to people, you get a lot of producers back, which can actually help you narrow down the micro-niche, because you may be targeting one micro-niche, when you talk to the feedback that may point to something else and you and provide that
100% I mean, every time you do a new thing, or a new service, a new product, you have no idea. I mean, with that in my niche, even pricing, sometimes you don’t even know how much things are costing, like in your mind. And even in your spreadsheet, you’re like, Okay, this is going to be our costs are to this much. And then when you deliver it, maybe more often than not, unless you’ve done it before, you might have lost money, because you didn’t realize it took this much time or this thing. And then you realise Okay, next time I offer this, I know it’s actually us more, so I’m going to charge that much more. So there’s always this cycle that you can’t just give up, say, Oh my god, I lost money on this deal. I’m not going to do it again.
Exactly. Alright, so now you said that you work in a corporate environment you work for, I think you work for a large corporation as well.
I work for both Nortel networks and IBM Canada. So Nordic networks being one of the telecommunication giants of the world, Canadian intellectual property. Whatever happened, turn of events, they started, I guess downsizing and laying off and they cease to exist today. But what people don’t know. And I’ll just be going to take a second about this just because it’s recording I mean, the internet, what it is today is due to what Canadian telecommunications provided to the world. With with all the with, you know, we were selling the dream of video on your handheld in the late 90s phones didn’t even have video players on them at the time. Right. So it was an amazing, innovative company to work for. After I got laid off. I worked I did my first startup with a couple of friends, which lasted about two years. And then I ended up in IBM Canada, where I was my first sales job. I mean, my background is in Computer Engineering. And I was very, you know, I think it helps to see what an organization and go through the sales, training and benefits and needs in all these needs analysis. I never knew all this stuff. They don’t teach this in engineering school. I was very good training in the sense of, you know, you have this brand, you have these processes. And how do you close this deal? I mean, both those organizations help me. Tremendous in terms of me understanding how to deliver and how to how to close a deal.
That’s awesome. Yeah, I mean, Canadians, I’ve been contributing a lot into technology, people may not realize it. A lot. A lot of innovation comes from Canada. So and I’m in Canada as well. I’m a Canadian. So now, you mentioned that you’ve got this. Awesome. wasn’t any of that you learned or picked up in your corporate that you had to learn by starting your own business?
Well, the one thing I really learned from corporate if if that’s what you’re asking for my own businesses, just ultimately, understanding process rules, everything like you have to learn how to get your business as a star as an entrepreneur, how do you get it to a process or a system that allows you to replicate what you’re doing to grow? I’m seeing how IBM had 100 people in that call center, and not all in sales, but you know, somewhere in customer support, and you can see it’s a very replicable position, right, or a process what they’re doing. So seeing that stuff, just personally, with my own eyes and living it every day. And understanding how that works was really huge. And I think it’s still making a big impact in terms of how I think of my business, whether how big I want to scale it, or how small I want to keep it right, just to keep myself nimble or whatnot.
But you know, what, what I was raised to know was, did you have anything to unlearn? You had to let go of certain habits or misconceptions that you picked up working for the corporation?
Well, the misconception the biggest misconception, mistaken inception, or habit that I had to lose. And I did quickly mentioned, IBM, you had this global hundred-year brand, that you didn’t have to explain to anyone for what you were selling, whatever, it was already done. So when I first launched my own telco brand, oh my gosh, it’s like, especially with Canadian, those who are listening who are not in Canada, Canadians are very conservative. And it’s like, Who are you? And what if you’re not going to be in business, and like I had to prove myself as an entrepreneur as a business that this is viable. I mean, this is where it’s different in the States. In America, where I will talk to them didn’t in America, they don’t care if you have a huge brand. They care if they like you. And if you did like what you’re saying, then let’s do business together. So I had to learn the brand that’s built a global brand that’s built and learn how to build yourself and trust yourself like that. You don’t have all those support systems around.
Yeah, yeah, that’s awesome. And now let’s talk about your podcast, business leadership podcast. So how did that come about? And what do you guys focus on in that podcast?
Yeah, so the podcast called the business leadership podcast I had, I had launched it almost three years ago, it was when my daughter was, but it’s months old. It was near the end of the year. And at that time, I usually start eating and how to plan for the new year, how I’m going to change it, what am I going to do to grow with hack my business, and I was reading a book called How to live a good life is by Jonathan fields. He’s a pretty successful entrepreneur out of New York City. And for those who read personal development books, some of these actually have exercises, right. And I never used to do the exercises. But there was an exercise there. That’s like, what’s your killer app? Yeah. And the idea of the exercise was to email your friends, your colleagues, your business partners, and ask them, Hey, when you think of me, what do you think of me? What’s my killer app? So it’s very exercise, but I read, it’s highly recommended if you’re trying to figure out what your passion is, or what you’re good at, because you’re doing so many things, whether you’re an entrepreneur or not. The surprising thing is when I did it, the people I thought were that was gonna, that was going to reply didn’t. And those who are sort of in my outliers, they replied with, you know, concise emails and why they value me. And the three things that came back was, and when you’re trustworthy, you’re knowledgeable, and you’re connected. Yeah. Those are the three major things that came back in at the same time. I got interviewed on a podcast. So those are the two catalysts.
Yeah, yeah. And I believe you have won many awards for your podcast, right?
Yeah, three official, I guess, awards and recognition. The first one was with the Canadian online publishing awards, which is, which is an industry award within Canada. So that was kind of big for me, because people who are in the room are like CBC CTV, and these are all national media organizations. Then I won got recognized as top 10 Business Awards, a business podcast from the podcast awards, which is actually an international awards recognition within the podcast industry. But that’s big because that’s actually voted on by listeners. Yeah. And then the latest one was the notable awards, which is a Canadian national organization for notable professionals, businesses. And that was really big because that’s a very popular award, recognition campaign. And it’s also voted on you have who gets the most votes. So it’s like, I don’t know if its popularity, but I mean, the people I was up against is, they’re all pretty big names. Right. So being awarded, that was what’s huge, it’s very great for the work that I’m doing just to hear back and see that you know, it’s also getting recognized outside of some of the communities as well.
That’s for sure. Congratulations on that for sure. All right. Now, you, you have started your journey as a computer software engineer, and then you went sailing and you know, now you’re getting expertise and digital marketing. So tell us, how important are these skills for an entrepreneur to acquire? Like, can you be a one-trick pony? Or you have to have all these skill sets under your belt to be a successful entrepreneur?
I mean, that’s, that’s a loaded question. But I think, I think for those, especially because I know a lot of engineers and tech people who they just love being heads down building developing. And if they’re not partnered, or they don’t have co-founders, it’s very hard for them to, to, to find success, right? If they’re not going to stretch their limits their comfort zone to get out there network. Yeah. Or get out and then build and sell and tell people because the I mean, these are my people, right? These are the engineers that I went to school for years engineering, right? So maybe they want to be that one-trick pony. So if you do want to be that one-trick pony, I mean, you better find someone who’s really good at marketing, or some are good at operations, or someone who’s good at, you know, getting out there and creating these strategic partnerships, right. So having a CEO, if you’re building, you know, a small service business, or marketing agency or whatnot, you may have to learn a lot of the different aspects of building a business. But I always say you don’t have to be an expert, you have to be able to do it once. Because if you just hire before even trying, you’re going to waste your money because you have no idea what you’re hiring for. So even if you try to do digital marketing on your own, or do like some Google paid ads yourself tried once, then when you talk to a service provider that does digital advertising, you actually say, oh, I know what he’s talking about. I see the value, why he’s charging, or she’s charging them which, right?
Yeah, you need to have a little bit of an education on these topics so that you can assess the people who were helping.
Well, it’s very important, right? I mean, I get it, I have a lot of friends who like, you know what, I don’t want to learn that. hire someone. And I think that’s fine if you have the resources, and you understand how to manage these third-party vendors. And that’s great. But a lot of entrepreneurs don’t even know how to manage third party vendors at this point, especially with their early bootstrapping their business, right.
Yeah, exactly. So you call this upscaling. But I know you talk about this paradigm of upscaling. So does that fall into this category of upscaling.
100% I mean upscaling. If upscaling, whether you’re an entrepreneur, just launching your first business, or your CEO, or you’re a middle manager in a mall, national company, if you’re bootstrapping, just launching, the first skill you have to learn is to get out there and network or get out there how to close a deal, right? And then probably, as you grow one of the main skills as your company’s scaling to exceed 10 employees, you’re going to learn how to how do I hire properly? I don’t retain these employees, how do I make them happy? Why are they leaving me? So you can learn that a lot, you don’t have to be an expert, because eventually when you’re big enough, you’re going to hire an HR executive to ensure that they, you know, you build that culture. And then culture is another thing, you know, you get to 100 employees, you as the founder, the CEO is going to want to learn, how do I build a thriving culture? So well, so people are going to talk about I love going to work, this is what happens at work, and oh my god, we have like, Who’s ball tables, and you know, everyone, we have these weekly things that happen, right? So upscaling yourself to understand how to successfully grow in scale your business is when I talk about scaling. And that’s the same thing for managers, right, or executives or middle managers as well, when I talk about leadership is like, what’s the next thing that I need to learn to provide more value not only to myself but to the business leaders into growth success, you know, whether I have the pianos responsibilities or not.
Great. And, you know, you shared the story that you got laid off from the hotel and then start up and then we went to IBM, you talked to a lot of entrepreneurs, and a lot of entrepreneurs are actually working nine to five jobs and in corporations. So do you think it’s possible for them to bootstrap their company, as a side hustle as they’re working on their job and then grow it gradually?
I think I think the answer the simple answer is yes. The long answer is it depends on the business. Tell me you’re trying to build a tech business, it’s probably impossible. I mean, it’s very simple. And I’ve hired agencies, whether they’re freelancers for graphic design, or web developers, I’ve hired folks that have a full-time job. So I think it’s possible to do it side. But the caveat for that, and what I tell people who try to do this side, hustle and side hustle culture is a big thing at this point is like, How serious are you with your business? And how much social life do you want, right? Because if you have a nine to five job, and you’re 25 years old, started to build this business. Are you dating? Are you going out with your friends to the party when you do all that stuff? So it’s a matter of understanding what you want in your life? I think because if you want that business to succeed, then you’re going to have to give up a lot. If you’re not giving up the job. You might have to give up your social life, right, like so. There’s a Tosca.
Yeah, for sure. Yeah, you need to be you know, you need to look inside your own lifestyle and understand you to come up with the right priorities. And entrepreneurship is definitely not an easy journey, especially when you’re starting off. Just recently, I learned about the entrepreneur who tried for five years, you know, trying different businesses and whatnot. And ultimately, he couldn’t take it anymore. And he actually badly committed suicide. So can you tell us a little bit about you know, what kind of mental preparation that you must have to jump into this game?
I mean, I mean, that’s a huge topic. I have a friend of mine who’s actually launching big campaign founders, for founders. And it’s specific to it a culture that it found is where this depression is the real thing. Because as entrepreneurs and those who are listening, and I don’t want to get to, to doom and gloom, but as entrepreneurs are always positive, everyone always wants to say, hey, so how’s everything doing even though? You know, you’re having a tough time? You know, they all everything’s doing great. Yeah. Been, we’ve been as I don’t know, if it’s social media or just the entrepreneurship world, is we always have to be positive. But what why can we tell everyone? Hey, my news, man, man, pretty tough. Man. This quarter was rough. Man, I just had to sell my car. Like, no one says that, but they probably just did, right. But I mean, understanding and sharing some of your challenges is a little more real, and people want to help up. So the mental preparedness and I talked about this sort of in parallel, not parallel. But as an example, I talk about podcasting, for example. And I say someone comes to Edwin, you know, podcasting so easy to launch, like, you know, can you give me some tips? You know, when the one tip I say, Are you ready to do it? Or a whole year, this might take you 1015 hours to produce yourself? Are you really willing to give up 15 hours outside of your whatever you’re doing? Make sure that this is a success? Or is it just a hobby? So understanding the difference? Right? Are you just doing this for fun? Are you doing this? Because there you have an end game?
Yeah, for sure. Sure, it is, it takes a lot, for sure. And that preparedness is, is very important. Because obviously, you’ll face all these challenges as you go through the journey, and you’ll face a lot of failures, you get more failures than successes and overcome the need to have strong support system. And that brings up that point, you know, there is a community out there, you should join startup communities and talk to other founders, right? Like, just like you are, you are approaching other founders and helping them out.
Ya know, and a hundred is, every entrepreneur understands the journey, right? And everyone, you may want to reach out, there’s someone and ask for help, or you want to get their thoughts, you have to be very, and this is just a tip, right? This is like if you’re reaching out to someone because you want help or advice, you have to be very specific on the Reach out because people are busy. And they don’t know how many times they’ve been reached out to Yeah, but that network is there, whether you’re in a formal mastermind group of all entrepreneurs. And the first time you heard about masterminds, you should try to find a mastermind and get implement, that’s where you’re going to have weekly accountability calls with other entrepreneurs. And that will help you and these groups, some of them, they’ll share some of their challenges some of their anxieties. And when you share you’re in your anxiety, you realize, oh, man, maybe someone else in the room will say I’m feeling the same way. And this is how I do it. And understanding that you’re not alone. And that feeling that you have is not is actually normal entrepreneurs that help that you’re feeling that you’re not alone in the world, right?
Yeah. When you find the company, and you realize a lot of the problems that we are facing, everybody else is facing similar challenges. So it’s nothing unique. And when you find out that, you know, everybody’s going through it, and you find some common solutions. That’s a big relief, I think.
Alright. Great. Well, thank you so much for being with us today. Now, is there anything else that you want to share with the entrepreneurs and professionals that want to grow their careers and grow their startup?
Yeah, well, two things that I would ask you guys, for those who are listening or watching check out my podcast called the business leadership podcast. com. I mean, we have amazing conversations with both entrepreneurs, and business executives, leaders, thought leaders as well when it comes to their journey of building a business or leading people building out cultures. And secondly, I recently launched my first online course on podcasting and how to build installs scale your podcast by building out systems and processes. Now, I talked about systems earlier about what I learned working at IBM and Nortel. So I know to work with a lot of podcasters. And being in the podcast community, I wanted to lend back and do a very, very easy to follow and how to build out your systems. So I mean, I will share a link and you can check on my course for free on skillshare. And I’d love to hear your thoughts and your feedback as well.
That’s great. Thanks a lot for your generosity. So please do share that link with me that I can put that in the show notes and people can register.
Will do. All right. Great.
Well, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge. I’m sure everybody got a lot of value.
Thank you for having good. Thank you for having me.
Links And Mentions In This Episode:
Edwin’s Website: https://thebusinessleadership.com/
TetraNoodle consulting services: https://bootstraptechstartup.com
TetraNoodle professional training: https://courses.tetranoodle.com