Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Transcript- Episode 85: The Path To Supporting The Entrepreneurial Student, With Barney Santos, Founder & Managing Partner At BLVD MRKT & Founder & CEO Of Gentefy Inc. Episode 85

Jan 17, 2023

00:00:00 Barney

So, I would just tell people don't be afraid to start. It doesn't have to be perfect. Just start with small, little tiny steps that at least you'll feel comfortable with, and step out of your comfort zone and reach out to somebody blindly.


00:00:11 Barney

Cold call somebody, send out an email, like send a DM on Instagram or TikTok to somebody, and just learn a little bit more about that situation. And before you know it, you might figure out that, "Hey look, there's an actual business here. Maybe I can get involved, maybe I can learn something here."


00:00:30 Christina

The workforce landscape is rapidly changing, and educators and their institutions need to keep up. Preparing students before they enter the workforce to make our communities and businesses stronger is at the core of getting an education.


00:00:43 Christina

But we need to understand how to change and adjust so that we can begin to project where things are headed before we even get there. So, how do we begin to predict the future?


00:00:55 Salvatrice

Hi, I'm Salvatrice Cummo, Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development at Pasadena City College, and host of this podcast.


00:01:03 Christina

And I'm Christina Barsi, producer and co-host of this podcast.


00:01:07 Salvatrice

And we are starting the conversation about the future of work. We'll explore topics like how education can partner with industry, how to be more equitable, and how to attain one of our highest goals; more internships, and PCC students in the workforce.


00:01:21 Salvatrice

We at Pasadena City College want to lead the charge in closing the gap between what our students are learning and what the demands of the workforce will be once they enter. This is a conversation that impacts all of us. You, the employers, the policymakers, the educational institutions, and the community as a whole.


00:01:41 Christina

We believe change happens when we work together, and it all starts with having a conversation. I'm Christina Barsi.


00:01:48 Salvatrice

And I'm Salvatrice Cummo. And this is the Future of Work.


00:01:54 Salvatrice

Hi everyone, and welcome back to the Future of Work Podcast. I am your host, Salvatrice Cummo.


00:01:59 Salvatrice

Today, we will be talking about Gentefy Incorporated and BLVD MRKT, and what their role is in the community development within the Los Angeles area. We will also be talking about the importance of innovation, entrepreneurship, and how the field has truly evolved in recent years, and what we can do better to support our entrepreneurs.


00:02:18 Salvatrice

With that said, I am truly delighted to welcome Barney Santos, CEO, and Founder of Gentefy Incorporated, and Founder and Managing Partner for the BLVD MRKT. Barney has spent the last 15 years building and managing new business ventures in the for-profit, nonprofit, academic, and corporate sectors.


00:02:38 Salvatrice

His mission has been to truly inspire and empower the entrepreneurial spirit, one person, business, and community at a time. He believes that through the platform of business, the use of creativity, and the strength of human empathy, it is absolutely possible to accelerate innovation in all aspects of life.


00:02:57 Salvatrice

Barney, welcome. Thank you so much for being here with us today.


00:03:03 Barney

Thank you for that intro. I'm excited. I'm ready to go after that. Damn, I'm fired up.


00:03:09 Salvatrice

That's all you. That's all you, Barney.


00:03:12 Barney

Thank you. Yeah, I appreciate that.


00:03:14 Salvatrice

You're very, very welcome. You and I have had the pleasure of knowing each other for a very long time, and dating back years and years and years, and we won't give everyone that date, because then, they'll know how old we are, Barney. So, we're not going to do that.


00:03:29 Salvatrice

I know quite a bit about you and I'm very excited for our listeners to know about your innovations, your companies, truly what rooted the inspiration of where you are now in your venture.


00:03:42 Salvatrice

And so, perhaps maybe, we start with what led you to this work? What led you to the work of innovation? What excites you about entrepreneurship and community development, and how did those two things really connect for you?


00:03:53 Barney

Yeah, interestingly enough, I've always been an entrepreneur, I think, at heart. There's so many studies that show that parents who are entrepreneurial essentially, breed entrepreneur kids.


00:04:05 Barney

And so, I think my family, being immigrants and hustling when they came to this country informally, showed me what it was like to live in that world of like kind of like sort of eating what you hunt as a business person.


00:04:19 Barney

And so, yeah, that has always been something that was caked into me. My examples, I won't go too deep into sort of like all the stuff I've done as a kid. But I think fast-forward to kind of like I'll always remember the person who implanted in my brain that I could be someone in entrepreneurship and innovation, and that I can use that as a vehicle.


00:04:39 Barney

It was Dr. Virginia Green. I was a student at Cal State Los Angeles and I remember I took an innovation class and it was such an eye-opening experience because she was talking about entrepreneurship and innovation, and the expansion of my mind into places that like, wow - I always saw myself as someone who questioned everything.


00:04:58 Barney

I was like always questioning people, places, things, systems. I mean, I would get in trouble as like a young Catholic boy because I would be like, "Why do I have to confess to the priest when I can just talk to God?" So, I was always questioning stuff.


00:05:10 Barney

And in college in this class, I mean I'll always remember, I specifically asked her like, "Hey, like do you think this is something that I can do or something ..." And she just gave me the full like validation that I needed to kind of think that, "Oh man, this is something for me."


00:05:24 Barney

And so, using that as like a force of inspiration, I just kind of dove into it. I mean, I've always been entrepreneurial, but like it was that moment that I thought of myself as someone who was an entrepreneur. I always saw myself as like a side hustler or small business owner that just kind of did things out of necessity.


00:05:41 Barney

Not necessarily out of like mindfulness to want to be an entrepreneur or an innovator, or even label yourself as that. And so, it wasn't until that moment and now, taking my experience as an entrepreneur, thinking myself more as like, "Okay, how does someone who thinks creatively about opportunities and problems and solving them as an innovator," and then also the idea of community, all those things merged.


00:06:04 Barney

My mother was a community worker in King/Drew Medical Center, always working with the community, always helping people out. So, that love of the community was born from my mother, entrepreneurship born from my family. And then this idea of me being someone who could blend all that together, was born out of my education and just experience. So, I just love merging all three of those things because it's a beautiful thing that I feel really comfortable in.


00:06:27 Salvatrice

For sure. And I've seen it and I've witnessed it. And I think that now with what you're doing with Gentefy and BLVD MRKT, like is it fair to say that that encapsulates or it thumbs up kind of like your journey leading up to this point? Like BLVD MRKT is truly what you've been working through your entire life in kind of connecting community, entrepreneurship, innovation, design thinking, and your experiences.


00:06:51 Barney

Yeah, I never thought about it until I was in school at USC when we were going to program together. And I was interviewed by Lloyd Greif, the guy who basically funded the Lloyd Greif Center. I remember him telling me like ... because he sat down with me and was like, "Tell me about your life story." I was like "From the beginning?" He was like, "Yeah, tell me everything."


00:07:10 Barney

So, I explained my whole life to the guy and he was just like, "Oh, I can see how this project is a perfect marriage of who you are as a person and all the experiences you've had from growing up in this neighborhood to working at Cal State Los Angeles, working with entrepreneurs, and young entrepreneurs, and innovation and seeing how entrepreneurship can build you as a person and help build wealth and build economic strength, and also community development."


00:07:33 Barney

And he nailed it. This company that we're building, my wife and I, Gentefy, is a perfect sort of force for us to push our values and beliefs as humans. So, it's a perfect vehicle for that. And so, BLVD MRKT is one of the childs that was born from that. Alchemy Craft is another that is born from that. The incubator business is another one that's being born from that consulting that we do.


00:07:55 Barney

Everything that we do is a perfect like confluence of values and beliefs based on who we are as people. So, I'm excited about like continuing to do all that in business.


00:08:04 Salvatrice

Share with our listeners what that looks like. You know, what does it look like for Gentefy through the births of these other businesses? What does that engagement with the community look like?


00:08:16 Barney

Yeah, well the mission for Gentefy is to invest in people, places, and programs with the idea of unlocking this creative energy within Latino entrepreneurs in Latino communities to sort of meet the demands of those neighborhoods.


00:08:31 Barney

And so, for us, knowing that that's our North Star - we want to invest in people, places, and programs, what does that look like? So, every business that we sort of try to get involved with has to have some sort of lens of community aspect or helping revitalize neighborhoods or partnering with cities so that it's like a one plus one equals three scenario.


00:08:52 Barney

So, every venture we're trying to get to get involved with has some sort of like connection to that thesis of investing in people, places and programs. So, it's been great for us to kind of use it as a North Star to guide us.


00:09:04 Salvatrice

And I think it's also really important for our listeners to really know your work with higher education as it relates to entrepreneurship, and being the head of the Center of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Cal State. Did I get that right?


00:09:18 Barney



00:09:18 Salvatrice

And you know, your time there prior to really kind of launch - it was it prior to launching Gentefy or had you already launched Gentefy?


00:09:26 Barney

We had formalized Gentefy like in 2013 as an idea. Like we were like, "Oh, you know what this put this like S-corp together." And we formed it in 2015, actually, sorry. I had graduated in 2013. They had asked me to come back and part-time help with the center, and then formally, asked me to run the center like in 2016, 17 around there.


00:09:47 Barney

So, it was around that time. So, all this was kind of happening at the same time. Like the ideas from Gentefy were born while I was an undergraduate student at Cal State LA. So, yeah, I mean essentially to answer your question, yeah.


00:09:58 Salvatrice

For sure. So, I'm jumping around only because I know you so well and I'm trying to connect the dots for our listener too. Our role as community college is really to develop these ecosystems that really support our community college student. There's a plethora of ecosystems that we try to create.


00:10:13 Salvatrice

And the reason why I asked you that question was because I think there's a lot of room for us to evolve our entrepreneurship ecosystem at a community college. Just like looking at our CT programs, entrepreneurship is threaded amongst all of those CT programs. Entrepreneurship is not a single track, it's not linear. It's very fluid. It's embedded amongst, across multiple disciplines.


00:10:36 Salvatrice

And I think that one of the opportunities that we have as a community college is to really hone in on putting concentrated effort. I'm going to say that; a concentrated effort in supporting the entrepreneurs, the entrepreneur in health, the entrepreneur in automotive, the entrepreneur - and fill in the blank.


00:10:52 Salvatrice

So, thinking about like your role - you've had some time to work in many different areas with Cal State, with community college, with universities, with your own ventures - where do you see might be an opportunity for community colleges to kind of develop their programs a little tighter with entrepreneurship?


00:11:12 Barney

That's a great question. You know, it's funny because while I was at Cal State Los Angeles running their program, I spent a year doing massive amounts of research to try to propose a solution that was cohesive. I'm one of those people that likes to spend time on the problem significantly before trying to come up with some sort of solution.


00:11:30 Barney

And I think a lot of times, a lot of universities, colleges sometimes will just sort of duplicate efforts and just say, "Oh, that's what they're doing. Let's do that. Let's do this." So, one thing I know for sure, and I've had a lot of time to think about this afterward, but like if you think about entrepreneurship as a whole, every entrepreneur starts off with the same toolkit, the same framework; which is who we know, what we know, and what we have.


00:11:51 Barney

Who we know being our network, what we know being our experience and our knowledge. And then what we have in relation to resources like capital or some skill set or a high-powered computer or whatever that looks like maybe.


00:12:06 Barney

So, even though our toolboxes are all the same, the tools inside those toolboxes vary tremendously because some people like Kylie Jenner starts off with more tools in the capital that look like capital or has a bigger network.


00:12:21 Barney

And then on top of that, you're talking about these toolboxes that essentially, everyone has the same toolbox but different tools. And then in addition to that, you have barriers. You have like sort of the standard set of things that are holding entrepreneurs back from using those toolboxes to build something. And so, that's cultural, economic, psychological, socioeconomic.


00:12:42 Barney

Sometimes, Latino entrepreneurs or people of color culturally are not able to build a company because they're too busy taking care of their family. So, they have to have a job that makes money or two jobs to just pay the bills. Or socioeconomically, they live in an area that maybe, it's hard for them to start a business because their environment's not supportive, or psychologically, they're dealing with traumas.


00:13:02 Barney

So, like I think as a university or as a community college, what colleges do really well from a framework perspective is they understand the education part component of it. So, they do really decent job of like trying to train people like, okay, this is how you think and act like an entrepreneur from workshops and education.


00:13:19 Barney

But I think what colleges can do really well is if you think of it holistically. Think of like, okay, well how do I expand the toolkit of the who? How do we have networking functions? How do we have opportunities where students can meet other entrepreneurs or support groups or meet founders to expand what they think and know.


00:13:37 Barney

And then from the access, what they have, what kind of resources are they missing? And how do we provide that like access to capital, free computer usages or you guys have a 3D printer lab that's really phenomenal for building prototypes that provide the what.


00:13:49 Barney

And then you think about can you also provide solutions to help alleviate some of the barriers. Like we talked about cultural, economic, psychological, and socioeconomic. Like how do you solve for those things. Some people can't have their basic needs not even met. So, how do you expect someone who's basic needs are not met to be able to think about like launching a venture that's VC-backable. They're just trying to survive.


00:14:11 Barney

So, I think from a program out of university or a community college, the best thing to think about is like what capabilities do we have currently at the school and how can you best leverage them to fill those boxes, the tool boxes that need to be addressed. And also, address some of those barriers that we talked about.


00:14:29 Barney

Or if it's that important, how do you build out those capabilities. Like ecosystems are important. But perhaps access to capital is something that needs to be thought about. Having a microfund or developing a program where students can work at a startup for a year and they have their living expenses paid for or they can intern - a paid internship for 12 weeks at a startup and it's paid for.


00:14:52 Barney

So, stuff like that is always helpful in my opinion. Whatever real-world experience that students can get where they can build out their knowledge, their experience, expand on their resources, expand their network, while also addressing some of those socioeconomic, cultural and economic things, that's beautiful. And that's a thing a lot of times these programs don't think about.


00:15:10 Barney

They think about again, oh, we'll have a business pitch competition. You know, they'll have performative things that make it seem like they have an actual program, but in reality, it's not a robust program unless you have teachers that are willing to integrate their education component to programs that activate tactical learning lessons, hands-on approaches.


00:15:28 Barney

If it's all cohesively working together, I think that makes a really robust program. And I haven't seen a lot of those. And I think at the community college levels where the biggest impact would be versus like USC - which don't get me wrong, I went to USC, we both did. But the student that goes to a community college doesn't always end up at USC.


00:15:44 Barney

They might end up working right after. And so, how do you take those skill sets, those trade skills, and then help them develop that entrepreneurial path? That would be tremendous. Because I think a lot of students want that and they're curious about it. They just don't know what they don't know. And it's a difficult environment for them to be a part of.


00:16:02 Barney

And it's hard. Launching a business is super hard. I mean, look at us. Like if I think about our cohort, we went to school together, there were how many people in that cohort - in the twenties? Something like that.


00:16:11 Salvatrice

Yeah, something like that. Super small.


00:16:12 Barney

Yeah, small cohort. How many of them actually launched a business after? Yeah, maybe a handful. So, that tells you right there. And that's one of the best entrepreneurship programs in the country. It's difficult. It's difficult. You really have to set the pace for creating an environment where that kind of thinking is supported, the feeling is supported, and then all the tools and resources are provided, while also addressing the barriers that keep people from moving forward.


00:16:32 Barney

That's how to think about it. At least from the place of like, okay, how do we address these things? Now, let's create actual tangible capacity-building capabilities to be able to address these things in real ways.


00:16:42 Salvatrice

And I think there's a level of culture involvement too within community colleges and shifting mindset around entrepreneurship. I think that still in 2022, like there's still this negative mindset around the value of entrepreneurship at a community college. Because traditionally, community colleges, we're very focused on kind of like the technical or transfer.


00:17:07 Salvatrice

It's either transfer track, career technical education track, and then you do have like this entrepreneurship track that is quite frankly, threaded through both. I feel sometimes that we don't really know how to even wrap our head around like the toolkit that you just mentioned.


00:17:22 Salvatrice

As you're talking, I'm thinking this person has to be at this table, this person, that group, that group, that group, that group. Because it's not a single entity. It's not just one faculty member in the business division, two faculty members. I mean, those faculty members need to be supported holistically because entrepreneurship is very like this holistic - I don't even know how to explain it.


00:17:43 Barney

But I think one of the challenges we have (and I want to unpack that with you in your time with higher ed), the mindset shift. How do we shift the mindset so that our community within our four walls of academia learn to or understand the value of entrepreneurship, and how it's threaded throughout disciplines?


00:18:04 Barney

And how do we start shifting or building that community that you were just talking about with the who, the what, and the resources.


00:18:11 Barney

I love this conversation by the way. Yeah, it's great. You nailed it. Like in my opinion, I'm thinking about what's needed, but you're looking at it from a very pragmatic approach. It's just like, yeah, but we have this bureaucratic beast that it's like there's a lot of people, stakeholders involved, and you're a thousand percent correct.


00:18:26 Barney

Like when I was at Cal State Los Angeles, my philosophy was like, you know what? And I got in trouble because they didn't agree with me, but I was like, let me go talk to engineering school and the dean. Let me go talk to sociology, literature, communications.


00:18:39 Barney

I wanted to bring everybody to the table to have a robust conversation about what entrepreneurship, innovation looks like in their colleges. Because entrepreneurship isn't a discipline, it's a way of thinking. It's really, it's about creating value by looking at something and then saying, okay, let's figure something because you can do that in all kinds of ways.


00:18:58 Barney

But to your point, the problem with entrepreneurship in schools, unless the school itself is saying, okay, this is a priority for us. Like if you look at like Arizona State University who's - and maybe things have changed, but when I was at Cal State, I always admired them because their university pledge was like innovation.


00:19:15 Barney

So, the entire school was saying innovation is the way to go forward. So, they built innovation centers, they built like tech transfer centers. So, they built all these infrastructure and capabilities as a university to address this idea of like, "Oh, how do we create the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs from Arizona State."


00:19:35 Barney

Now, I think in any large organization, it has to start from the top. If you don't get collective buy-in from the top, you're never going to get the buy-in from the colleges and the deans. And forget about the professors - there's a lot of professors who put themselves through developing programs, and they're not even judged on that.


00:19:51 Barney

Like they're in tenured track, they're taking on because they care about the students, but they're not getting paid more essentially for running these programs. So, it's difficult, but you're right. I think the key is to get the collective buy-in and change the perspective. Because look, if you think about community colleges, you're positioned perfectly for this.


00:20:06 Barney

Community colleges are teaching young adults or even older adults, they're teaching people the skills needed to apply them in a real-world setting. It's like you want to be a programmer, here's the certificate in the associate's degree. Go get this job. You want a JPL certificate? Get this job right here. You want cybersecurity certificate, here's the wave of the future.


00:20:27 Barney

But like they put all the value in the metric that's associated with how many people are placed in jobs. And we know that another metric that really is as equally important, if not in my opinion, more important because it's exponential growth, is how many jobs you create.


00:20:43 Barney

If you can take the same skill set that someone's learning at a university, but then teach them not just to think about it as you're trying to get a job, but you're trying to create jobs, the exponential factor is greater because now, they give opportunities to people in their school, their classmates, their colleagues, people that they want to work with.


00:20:59 Barney

And that is huge because those are their peers. That's their net worth. That's an amazing shift that could happen. And I think it could happen better at a community college and faster than it would like at a larger university, in my opinion. Because you guys are already thinking about tangible skill sets more so than the universities are.


00:21:17 Barney

Like a lot big universities, people graduate and they're like, "I don't even know what I learned when I graduated from here." I remember graduating from undergrad and my friends were like, "What did you learn skill-wise?" And she was like, "I don't even know. Like I know how to read a P&L sheet." Really? So, it's just like, so what are you really learning?


00:21:33 Barney

Community colleges are teaching skills. Like so all it is, is just a matter of like taking the skill, turning that around, teaching people how to create jobs. And think about it, like small businesses, you've got storefronts, you've got this massive group of people who are retiring and they're about to sell their business. Also, you have all these people that are selling their businesses.


00:21:51 Barney

Community college students learn how to buy a business without any money down. Could they, potentially - could they buy a laundromat? Could they buy a barbershop? You could have this massive wave of people learning skills to buy businesses that actually like thrive in that environment. But it's got to come from a perspective, a mindset shift in these universities and colleges. But I think community colleges are set for it honestly.


00:22:12 Salvatrice

I also wonder just kind of being in the system and working within the system, is it higher than just a single college or is it enough for a single college to start shifting the mindset and setting the pace? Or do we need some kind of legislation or advocacy? Like a while back ago, and I'm still kind of on it, but for a moment, I was really on this kick.


00:22:32 Salvatrice

And I firmly believe about incentivizing our employers. I'll bring it back to this conversation, but really incentivizing employers to hire community college students. And how do we create legislation to support that. So, I was on this kick for quite some time.


00:22:48 Salvatrice

But along the same thread, it's like how do we incentivize our practitioners, our community college system of practitioners to do what you just said, which is it's actually shifting the skill set in a more tangible way. Is that even fair to say? Or just in a way that embodies the value of entrepreneurship?


00:23:07 Salvatrice

I don't know, but I think that there's certainly room for that, and I just don't know where to start. Does it have to start at the chancellor's office or is it just a single college can start that shift? I don't know. But we have the bureaucratic stuff that we deal with.


00:23:21 Salvatrice

But as entrepreneurs, the other part of me says we're entrepreneurs, so we learn to work around the bureaucratic levels that we need to deal with. And that's how we solve the problem. Because we're saying, yeah, there's these barriers. But as entrepreneurs, we find the solution even though there's barriers.


00:23:37 Salvatrice

I guess what I'm trying to say is yes, there is certainly a need to shift the mindset, but how do we do it in a way that is digestible or that is in a way that's not threatening, or is in a way that really incentivizes our practitioners?


00:23:54 Barney

Well, think about it. So, like I think it might be as simple as redefining what entrepreneurship means In the academic standpoint. A lot of times what happens is we think about entrepreneurship, we limit it to just like, okay, venture creation.


00:24:07 Barney

But the reality is, if you look at it like Europeans do, or like even Babson University - Babson College is the best entrepreneurship program in the entire country year over year. And the reason why is because they take a holistic approach to entrepreneurship and they think of it as a way of thinking. And I think that is the best way.


00:24:23 Barney

So, like for instance, it's like almost rebranding. Like I always think of like what the government did with UFOs. Nobody cared about UFOs. Like it was a joke. No researcher would touch it. You changed the word from UFOs to, what do they call it now?


00:24:35 Barney

UAP, which is identified aerial phenomena. And yeah, of course. I mean I got a tattoo of an UFO. But so they changed the word to UAP and they said we need to study these because it's a threat to national security. So, they altered the brand and now, you have people researching it, they have money allocated towards it.


00:24:53 Barney

So, if you think about that from a university perspective or a community college perspective, how do you say, okay, well how do we prepare our students to think entrepreneurially, wherever they go? Whether that's getting a job at our mechanic shop, or becoming a culinary chef, or launching your own venture, whatever. That could be a byproduct of that.


00:25:14 Barney

But if you teach people how to think about problems in creative thinking, using the lens of entrepreneurship, the chances that someone will be opening up a venture down the road is a greater chance.


00:25:25 Barney

In addition to that, you create the programming to support those people who are saying like, "I am taking a ... let's just take culinary; I'm taking a culinary program. But you know what? I'm learning the skills and I really think I can make a go out of opening up a pop-up or opening up a food truck." These are resources, programs here that will support that.


00:25:42 Barney

Then you have the catch that sort of builds that up. But I think using the idea of like entrepreneurship as a way of thinking to better prepare students to like create value wherever they go, whether it's at a job, whether it's for themselves, it's a great way to sort of like, I guess, put peas in mashed potatoes and feed them to your kids so they don't know, I guess.


00:26:03 Salvatrice

That's right. And for our student who's listening; we've been talking, we're spending some time about the system and us, like what we could do as a body of practitioners to kind of shift the mindset about entrepreneurship and create the support.


00:26:16 Salvatrice

But while that's happening and while that's on our agenda to fulfill - if I'm a student and I'm an entrepreneur and I'm in the system right now where I don't feel like I have the support or I don't feel like I have the network or the who - as a fellow entrepreneur, like where do you think that they should start? How do they start conceptualizing and putting their concept furthermore into implementation? What would be your advice?


00:26:40 Barney

This is my advice I give to everybody, regardless of where you're at and what resources you have. I just say start very small. Like look at small, tiny little steps that can get you closer to where you think you need to be. Like if you look at me, for instance, in my BLVD MRKT and building BLVD MRKT, before I started BLVD MRKT, I had zero knowledge about real estate development, let alone commercial real estate.


00:27:06 Barney

So, I started with absolute zero. I had maybe a little information about sort of residential real estate, but they're just different things altogether. So, now, I have a good network, great network. But if I think about that as the same process for a student, you start with zero knowledge. Okay, well then you have a desire to do something, just an idea. There's a small inkling of like, oh, here's something that might be something. Who knows? I'll explore that more.


00:27:30 Barney

It's a simple step. Maybe that simple step is opening up a book or googling to get more information to learn more. Maybe another simple step could be calling some people who might be experiencing the pain point or the problem and see what their perspective is, learning from what they have to say.


00:27:45 Barney

Maybe another perspective is there's a solution in another state or a city far away that they're doing something. Reaching out to that person and learning a little bit more from it. And in that process of learning and taking small little steps that are achievable where you're not gambling or risky too much, you actually start building out your means and your tools a little bit more and more.


00:28:04 Barney

Before you know it, after a year of doing those little small steps, you're further along than you would ever think of being if you've never started to begin with.


00:28:13 Barney

When I started doing BLVD MRKT, I took these little small steps to achieve the same results. Before I knew it, I knew investors, I knew family offices, I knew developers, I knew like banks, and I had no previous knowledge of who they were or what they did before that. But just through the process, I learned so much.


00:28:31 Barney

So, I would just tell people, don't be afraid to start. It doesn't have to be perfect. Just start with small, little tiny steps that at least you'll feel comfortable with and step out of your comfort zone and reach out to somebody blindly.


00:28:42 Barney

Cold call somebody, send out an email. You know, like send a DM on Instagram or TikTok to somebody and just learn a little bit more about that situation. And before you know it, you might figure out that, "Hey, look, there's an actual business here. Maybe I can get involved, maybe I can learn something here."


00:28:57 Salvatrice

You reminded me of one of our professors, Tommy Knapp, when he says, get curious and make it happen. Just get curious and make it happen. And I think there's a lot of hesitation because naturally, as an entrepreneur, like you face a lot of nos. You face a lot of door closes, but you also experience so much more.


00:29:16 Salvatrice

So, if we allow just that fear to just settle, it's almost like you can't acknowledge that. You've got to do what you're just talking about. It's like just taking small steps. Small steps lead to other larger steps that leads to other networks. And it's really our duty. I genuinely feel it's our duty as just kind of like tying it back as a community college to allow that space, allow the space where not just our students, but our faculty members who are entrepreneurs within their own disciplines, how do we support them?


00:29:45 Salvatrice

There's so much room here to just really shift the normal way of how we've been conducting business around entrepreneurship, and really kind of change the trajectory of our role as a community college within the support of entrepreneurs. Which leads me to think about how do we as a system support entrepreneurs like yourself who have done it obviously outside of our system, like you're not a community college student, you did it on your own.


00:30:12 Salvatrice

That's something else to unpack. What are we doing for our startups that are already out there? How are we engaging with them in a way that doesn't involve a ton of steps, doesn't involve these very formalized approaches - because they're moving fast, they're solving problems, they don't have time for all of this nonsense that we have to deal with in a bureaucratic environment.


00:30:32 Salvatrice

So, there's more to unpack there that I would love to chat with you about, and probably not today, but that's another subject matter that I would like to learn more of from an entrepreneur.


00:30:43 Barney

I can keep going. I'm here if you want to talk about it.


00:30:47 Salvatrice

For sure, for sure. Well, I'm all about capitalizing on your time, Barney, because I really enjoy chatting with you, but I also want to be mindful of ... you've got stuff going on. You got a lot of stuff going on. And so , I definitely want to have you back to kind of unpack that a little bit more.


00:31:04 Salvatrice

Because employer engagement is a huge part of what our community colleges do, but we're so focused on employers that are already established. Like we're looking at the big fish, we're not looking at the up and coming and emerging, and there's room there, there's a lot of room.


00:31:18 Barney

Well, I get why. Like you are trying to hit numbers about how many jobs placed. Now, it's hard to hit those numbers when you have 20 startups that only need one person each, versus one giant company that can employ a hundred people. So, there's a level of scale that you guys need to hit in relation to numbers and impact as well. But there's a lot of small businesses.


00:31:40 Salvatrice

Yeah, I was going to just say that. Like we forget that 89% of the businesses, specifically in California, are all small businesses. And so, then you go into this whole thing about well, define small. Is it two employees or is it 50? But we won't get into that.


00:31:54 Salvatrice

But this is the Future of Work Podcast and I have been, first of all, thankful that you agreed to say yes to have a conversation with me and a dialogue, and formalize it. We've had so much going on. It feels nice to be connected back again.


00:32:08 Barney

A hundred percent.


00:32:08 Salvatrice

And I think there's so much more for us to explore, Barney, especially as you're continuing to build these new ventures under Gentefy - we/I can learn so much from you. I look forward to future dialogues.


00:32:21 Salvatrice

But as we kind of like sunset this conversation, I think our listeners would be very curious about if there's one thing that you really want them to learn or understand from this conversation, what would be like one of the biggest takeaways you think you want our listener ... who, by the way, our listeners are made up of students, faculty, employers - just a real nice eclectic group of listeners.


00:32:45 Barney

I would say, listen, entrepreneurship is not some exclusive club that only a certain people can participate in. Anybody can be an entrepreneur. The question really becomes, are you willing to go down the journey, be kind to yourself, because 80% of this game is mental.


00:33:01 Barney

We psych ourselves out most of the time. I can't even tell you how many entrepreneurs I work with that if they just stop being in their head as much and being so harsh on themselves, they would eventually have become successful. But a lot of times, we are unkind to ourselves, and we stop ourselves from continuing the journey.


00:33:19 Barney

So, what I would tell people is just really, figure out the best way to be in an environment where you're supported, where you can have peers that cheer you on. Don't be so tied to the outcome. Fall in love with the journey of seeking entrepreneurial ideas and pursuing them. Giving yourself the space to be okay with failing too.


00:33:43 Barney

It doesn't have to be perfect, just get started. As long as people follow that path and just start with small little steps, keep going. And then be kind to yourself in that process and surround yourself with people who support you - you'll be in a good place. That's always my feedback, is just kind of get going, really.


00:33:58 Salvatrice

Absolutely. Well, thank you so much Barney. I really appreciated this conversation and like I said, so much more from what you said that we can unpack, and we will. Thank you very, very much.


00:34:09 Salvatrice

If one of our listeners wants to connect with you, what would be the best way to connect with you? Via LinkedIn or ...?


00:34:14 Barney

Yeah, no, I don't ever go on LinkedIn. I have messages unread there for like years. So, Instagram is the best way to hit me up. Just my name, Barney Santos. So, @BarneySantos, it'll go straight to me. I'll answer as quick as I can. I'm usually pretty good at it. So, yeah, if someone wants to hit me ... or if they want to hit me up on Twitter, same thing @BarneySantos as well too.


00:34:34 Salvatrice

Fantastic. We'll be sure to enter that into the show notes. Thank you, Barney. Thank you, thank you very much. Incredibly grateful for you. We'll chat soon. I actually will see you soon. I'll see you soon. I'll definitely be visiting BLVD MRKT. I'm ashamed that I have not - believe it or not ...


00:34:50 Barney

You should be very ashamed about it.


00:34:52 Salvatrice

I actually very am, and I'm being super vulnerable right now. Like I'm very ashamed about that. My kids have, my mom has-


00:35:01 Barney

I know.


00:35:02 Salvatrice

My nieces have, but I have not. But I'll be there soon.


00:35:06 Barney

I'm counting the days, honestly. I can't wait.


00:35:09 Salvatrice

Alright, Barney, chat soon. Thank you so much.


00:35:12 Barney

Alright. It's so good to see you. Bye.


00:35:15 Salvatrice

Thank you for listening to the Future of Work Podcast. Make sure you subscribed on your favorite listening platform so you can easily get new episodes every Tuesday.


00:35:26 Salvatrice

You can reach out to us by clicking on the website link below in the show notes to collaborate partner, or just chat about all things future of work. We'd love to connect with you. All of us here at the Future of Work and Pasadena City College wish you safety and wellness.