Believe in yourself — if I can, you can! It would have been easier to just leave the country defeated and get a regular job. But I believed in myself and knew failure is just a part of the process, and not the end result.
Make a plan — My business plan is very extensive and there is a lot to my company, thanks to this, I am sure I won’t be making the same mistake twice.
Perseverance — ALWAYS! remember that failure is not the end result, it is just part of the process and you just need to overcome it. Don’t worry though, this gets a lot easier with time and experience.
Is the American Dream still alive? If you speak to many of the immigrants we spoke to, who came to this country with nothing but grit, resilience, and a dream, they will tell you that it certainly is still alive.
As a part of our series about immigrant success stories, I had the pleasure of interviewing Juan Carlos Barrera Velez.
Juan Carlos is a Mexican Canadian entrepreneur that immigrated to the United States of America just two years ago. After losing all of his money in the purchase of a business that he never got to open, He had to make a very difficult decision when he saw himself with no money left and said business did not look like it would ever open. After a year of not working and living in South Florida, Juan Carlos made the best decision of his entrepreneurial life, instead of giving up, he locked himself in a basement and worked day and night for months putting together a company that offers Americans a new way of selling their homes with the excellent service we are already used to, but without it involving high rates, and charging a flat fee. Juan Carlos launched this product in Minnesota and it is expecting to be in all 50 states in less than two years! Go to www.ourpropertyteam.com to learn more.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up In Guadalajara Jalisco Mexico, my dad has always owned different types of businesses, the one he has had the longest is a carpet washing business that is around 30 years old, that business taught me everything I know. My very first job was handing business cards to vehicles at intersections at the age of 14, I kept learning the business through the years, and moving up the latter until I was running the business myself. My dad never handed me anything and made me work for everything I wanted, so I owe him for that.
Was there a particular trigger point that made you emigrate to the US? Can you tell us the story?
My family already lived here, and I had been thinking that I missed them a lot and all I wanted was to be near them, so when the opportunity came of buying a business and getting an E2 visa (investors) with it. I did not think it twice, I gave most of my positions away, and was driving down to Florida two weeks after, with whatever I could fit in my car. And a pretty good-sized check to buy the business.
Can you tell us the story of how you came to the USA? What was that experience like?
I drove from Calgary Alberta Canada to Fort Lauderdale Florida, through Phoenix Arizona, making 2–3 day stops in places my girlfriend at the time and I wanted to see. We did not know what to expect as neither of us had been there before, we made friends with people pretty much at every stop. People were always so friendly, willing to help and full of questions about the way I view Canada as a Mexican. We rented the first apartment we saw in Fort Lauderdale, paid for the business in full, and were ready to have a great life in Florida, little did we know, it would end up exploding on our faces. Forcing our separation, and losing everything we had. We spent most of our time in Florida volunteering for non-profit organizations. After a year there and having spent all the money, She went back to Canada, and I decided to give it one last try since I was already here and at that point did not have much to lose anymore. I came up with a great idea, worked on putting it together like I have never worked before in my life! I experienced all the feelings in the world through this face like fear, anger, joy, hope,sadness, happiness, low spirits, hopelessness, etc… in fewer words. It was a rollercoaster of emotions. But I was determined! I was not going to let any type of negative feelings overtake me. I put on a smile every day and I worked as hard as I could! the thought of “what if” did not exist in my head, failure was not an option. I was going to make it no matter what, and help as many people as I could along the way!
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped make the move more manageable? Can you share a story?
My mom! What I went through is nothing compared to what my mom went through watching this happen to her son and not be able to do anything about it. She was always there for me, giving me her entire emotional support and not doubting any decision I made for one second. She knew as well as I did, that I was going to make something great for myself and for others.
So how are things going today?
Today my company is up and running in Minnesota, I keep getting offers from investors that want to partner up with me, and I keep turning them down. people are loving this new fresh, cost-effective and clear approach to selling their homes. We are growing at an impressive rate and many many people show their interest in wanting to be a part of this movement, we are still studying our options for expansion to other states, my team has predicted we will have a physical presence in all 50 states in less than two years!
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Our Property Team is all about helping people, we don’t just help families keep more of their hard-earned money when selling their properties, We also support local business, everything we use is made locally, the people work locally, or some services we provide though third parties are also local, and this will keep being the same in every state we go. I am very well aware I could be bringing my operating costs down if I did it another way, but people are trusting us with the most important transaction in their lives! so the least we can do is to return the favor by only using local. I can go on and on with non-profits we support, or ways we give back. Or I could just tell you the way I see life, which is, The more we grow as a company, the more reach we will have to help people.
You have first hand experience with the US immigration system. If you had the power, which three things would you suggest to improve the system?
The immigration process has not been very hard for me, but it was somewhat costly. I would love however to start creating and reinforcing a culture of acceptance among everyone that lives in this beautiful country. All united, we can achieve a lot greater things, than divided and pointing fingers at each other. With love, we can change the world.
Can you share “5 keys to achieving the American dream” that others can learn from you? Please share a story or example for each.
- Believe in yourself — if I can, you can! It would have been easier to just leave the country defeated and get a regular job. But I believed in myself and knew failure is just a part of the process, and not the end result.
- Make a plan — My business plan is very extensive and there is a lot to my company, thanks to this, I am sure I won’t be making the same mistake twice.
- Try different things — I started the company just based on cold calling since I had no money to do anything else. Recording and analyzing every call, gave me the idea of changing a few things, some worked, and some didn’t. But as of today, our closing rates on call calls are about 1 in 3. First time I did it. I did 1 in maybe 50.
- Focus — Your thoughts are like magnets, and you attract what you think. Be positive, and do not take your eyes off the goal. I could have listened to so many people and have left defeated. But I focused.
- Perseverance — ALWAYS! remember that failure is not the end result, it is just part of the process and you just need to overcome it. Don’t worry though, this gets a lot easier with time and experience.
We know that the US needs improvement. But are there 3 things that make you optimistic about the US’s future?
Right now we are going through very rough and uncertain times, everyone is being affected somehow by this pandemic. Whether it is financially, mentally, or even physically. I believe the US will come out even stronger than ever before! The great system in this country allows and reinforces the continuous innovation of products and services for different markets. And as long as we keep creating these companies designed to help people save money, or facilitate anything. We will be continuously changing the world and be on top of it.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Richard Branson — The biggest reason why? I have declined the offers that have been made to me from investors looking to partner up in my company, is because I was unsure, those people shared that thrive to help people and make the world a better place. It isn’t just about money. And Richard Branson is an incredible entrepreneur that has not just made a fortune but also, his heart in the right place. I could never say no to an offer to partner up with him. And I am sure he will (just like me) be more interested in a more adventurous and adrenaline-involved meeting.
What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?
Instagram: the.great.juan_ and ourpropertyteam
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!