Entrepreneur Series: Oscar Chow

Who is our entrepreneur?

Oscar Chow is a 13 year Red Bull Veteran and the Founder and CEO of Enclave Beverage Group and a Los Angeles based advertising agency, Zero1.com. He advises many brands and companies on strategic partnerships, marketing execution, advertising, and more. He left his full-time job over 2 years ago and is  committed towards building his businesses while helping others succeed.

You quit your job recently. How did you know it was time?

I started the process of building my company back in 2012 while I was still employed full time. During my free time, I was working with suppliers, doing R&D, building relationships, and putting the pieces in place. By 2015, I had enough of those items in place where I felt comfortable and confident that I could actually make that leap. I was gearing up to start my first round of investments in the beginning of 2016, and I knew that if I wanted to accomplish all the milestones I had on my calendar, it would require my undivided attention to move forward, which is why I left my job.

I’ve learned so much since then. Anytime I discuss business and finding the formula to be successful, I always recommend the book, ‘Lean Startup. What the book teaches is that entrepreneurs & companies must test their assumptions. It will allow them to test on a smaller scale, learn quickly, and make changes so they can find success faster. I wish I read it years earlier because I could’ve condensed four years into one.

Four years condensed into one – just from knowing how to think about it that way?

Yes! How quickly you learn is now your best asset and is invaluable. And now that I’m learning at such an exponential rate, my business is evolving and changing at an exponential rate for the better.

For anyone that’s just coming out of college – your learning has just begun! You now have the ability to construct your curriculum however you want, but if you want to be successful professionally, you must continue to learn rapidly.

Even if you’re not pursuing your own thing and head towards, say, a corporate job, how would you recommend accelerating your learning?

If you are looking for a job, expand your search beyond the traditional company that’s already thriving or is incredibly well established. Yes, you can learn a lot there, but if you go to an emerging growth company today and you help build it, you will become a central asset to that company. You will play more roles and wear more hats, which will challenge you professionally and grow you exponentially. While you’re there, you should raise your hand and be vocal about understanding why decisions are being made, how you can help more, and be solutions oriented by offering new approaches. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It’s also essential that you understand what your key business objectives are for your role because that will set you up for success. Knowing where to focus your efforts is absolutely critical to your success.

What has been critical to your success? What has been the most surprising thing you’ve found as you’ve gone your journey?

It all comes back to learning. The longer you are on this entrepreneurial journey, the more you realize how much you don’t know. It’s my ability to learn quickly and rapidly change based on those learnings, is what will allow my business to find success.

For example, for the past 2 years we’ve been working on our Premium Water Brand. Along the way we made hundreds of changes to get it where it is right now. These changes came because we tested, learned and addressed these things rapidly. We’re at a place now, where we feel confident in finally launching it.

For some people, two years to launch could feel very long. How do you keep your mind and energy fresh?

I think people often times get burned out because they lose their focus, their passion, and lose sight of what’s important to them. Also, we tend to underestimate how long things take to accomplish, so you have to develop an incredible amount of patience.

I’m having more fun, and I’m more engaged than I’ve ever been in my entire life because I really care about our long term goals and all the things my company will accomplish. But I also genuinely enjoy the challenges. You get really creative especially when you’re running a small business such as mine. To go from a billion dollar company to then come into a company with extremely limited resources, you have to think in very different ways to accomplish things. You have to find these challenges fun, otherwise you will burn out quickly.

As you try different things, how do you think about getting the right people on board?

If you’re going to start something, surround yourself with people who are already doing it really well, and then get advisors that can help support you and solve problems. My advisors make sure we’re approaching things correctly in the market and they move obstacles out of the way. The more you become active in surrounding yourself with the right people, the more opportunities will present themselves.

Do you find that most people are willing to help?

Yes. I think the bigger issue is people don’t like asking for help. The quicker you can say “I need help,” the faster you’ll excel. People will come to support you, but you have to take that first step and be willing to ask for it.

What do you think about people who are afraid to share their ideas because they’re worried someone will steal it?

[Oscar laughs :]. Here’s the thing, your idea has to be so monumentally good that someone would put that much effort into stealing it, and it’s just not going to happen. I have not come across one person where they’ve said, “my idea got stolen!” The bigger issue is that you will have a great idea, but you won’t do anything about it, while someone else will have the very same great idea, but they did something about it. I’ve seen that scenario countless times, and it’s a great learning lesson.

Any thoughts on working with investors?

If you’re looking for investors, build up your presence before you need it. You should build up your social media and professional presence, because the more people that know about you, the less obscure you become, which is important because they will need to trust you. Additionally, the more people that are in your network, the easier it will be for you to rally those people to help you.

In regards to managing investors, I think healthy ongoing communication is key. It’s also essential for you to clearly communicate what you need from them in regards to support e.g. (introductions, helping with business deals, etc.) and for them to tell you whether or not they can fulfill that. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help. If they’re investing in you, they believe in you.They only want to see you succeed, because if you succeed, their investment will succeed. Asking them for help is not a bad thing – that’s what they’re there for.

And what do you have lined up for the future?

We have some great things coming down the pipeline, but unfortunately we can’t talk about it just yet, but we’re very excited! –  stay tuned!

Interested in hearing more about the entrepreneurial experience? Check out Oscar’s New Podcast Series here!

Interested in learning more about Oscar and his Beverage Company, take a look at his fundraising page on WeFunder!