R. Sean Evans is the co-founder and CEO of MyWineSociety. Sean is a Serial Entrepreneur who has successfully launched and exited three companies in the last 15 years consulted for companies in most major industries. Sean considers himself as a person with an unordinary vision and enthusiasm in business and a good builder of corporate infrastructures. He prides himself on being good with people, recruiting the right talent, and finding creative ways toward positive outcomes!
How did you get into the wine tech space?
I was in management consulting for 15 years and started consulting for wineries that were trying to understand how to connect to the millennial generation of wine drinkers. It didn’t make sense to ask individual wineries to build an app, but to build one that connected all wineries to wine enthusiasts in a community platform setting, made a lot of sense. So I created mywinesociety.com, the app allows wine enthusiast to connect.
Tell us, how did the Pandemic affect mywinesociety.com?
We have a large live event division and unfortunately had to forlough our entire live event staff, but luckily most of them found replacement work and are now getting hired back onto the team as we plan to open up live events again!
Name one of the biggest challenges you faced in 2020 and how did you overcome it?
Our lead investor in our round going into 2020 backed out right when COVID was hitting and we lost all of our funding potential for 2020. The only thing I knew, was that we were not going to go under… so we furloughed a lot of people, cut all operations to only revenue generating operations and held on for dear life. We’ve made it through the other side and are about to finish up a successful pre-seed raise of $1M.
Rejection is part of life and business, how do you deal with rejection?
I’ve faced more rejection through the process of launching 4 businesses in the last 3 years, than the entire rest of my life combined! I try to take each “no” and dive into WHY it’s a “no” ?
Where is the disconnect between the value I perceive for the other person and the value they’re perceiving? I take the answers, determine if I need to change or if they do and then move on! 🙂
What does leadership mean to you?
It means “empower”. I want to hire motivated enthusiastic culture fits, give them the tools, resources, and knowledge to be successful, let them collaborate on a path to progress, and then set them FREEEEEEEEEE! Turns out people are excited about what they deem to be exciting… and that’s exciting!
How did you go from a struggling startup to creating four companies during the Pandemic?
I found capital partners that believe in me (shout out to Upwise Capital and Libertas Funding) both out of NYC! I proved successful in multiple transactions, each time getting exponentially bigger with the next transaction. Then I parlayed that success and looped in all my partners in the other ventures to help them grow as well. They saw the team, the opportunity, and the drive/passion and it was a no-brainer. Capital is not a restraint when the large blocks are in place.
Note: I never used to care about the mundane things (monthly reporting’s, accurate bookkeeping, etc.)… I just cared about growing operations. I now put extremely competent people and systems in place for the things we do each day/week/month and it makes all the difference!
What were the biggest lessons you’re taking away from 2020?
1. Be SUPER transparent with people… if they’re doing business with you, they’re in your corner already, they want to help!!
2. OVER communicate to your staff and stakeholders (this is kinda like the first one) but talk to people and prepare them for what’s coming even if it’s uncomfortable
3. Identify areas where you can seek recurring revenue
4. hire people passionate about a portion of your company and stick with them until the mastered it and then move on
5. diversify your personal AND your business opportunities… put both in a place to make money in multiple places!
Anything Else To Add?
All of my partners in all my companies contribute in unique ways that allow me to have all these crazy ideas and bring them to life. Couldn’t do it without them and I’m sure they feel the same about me. That’s a real blessing in my life.
How can people contact you?