Q&A With Local Entrepreneurs
Author: Marissa Kappus
Published: Monday, 10 Jan 2022
Image caption: Michael Benarde showing local high school students his product, NightCap.
Local entrepreneurs Michael Benarde, Eduardo Calvachi, and Fernando Calvachi share their thoughts on the world of entrepreneurialism. Michael, Co-Founder and President of NightCap, was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank and he recently spoke to students at Royal Palm Beach High School as part of Junior Achievement’s Global Entrepreneurship Week. Eduardo and Fernando Calvachi, Founders of Fasthook Digital, also took part in GEW by speaking to students at John I. Leonard High School.
What events or people influenced your journey in becoming an entrepreneur?
Michael Benarde – “Watching Shark Tank inspired me a lot, but I didn't grow up wanting to be an entrepreneur. I kind of just found myself doing it.”
Eduardo & Fernando Calvachi – “Our grandpa was and our parents are entrepreneurs and our dad always took us to business meetings so we were exposed to business at a young age and became curious about creating new things and businesses from a young age.”
How do you feel entrepreneurship has shaped your career?
Michael Benarde – “Entrepreneurship is amazing because when you run your own company you decide what you do and when you do it. There's nobody to tell you what to do. Being able to work on your own time and when you feel like it is life changing. Additionally, it's unbelievably satisfying to have a vision and being able to build that vision exactly how you want to see it.”
Eduardo & Fernando Calvachi – “In the words of one of our favorite entrepreneurs, Ed Mylett: ‘Being an entrepreneur is the most tremendous personal development program in the history of the world, with a massive compensation package attached. It is also one of the greatest self-awareness and self-discovery processes you will ever go through.’
We have been forced to learn many life skills like patience, dedication, hard work, self-emotional regulation, persistency, communication, you name it.”
Do you feel like elementary, middle, and high school students would benefit from programs that focus specifically on entrepreneurship? Why or why not?
Michael Benarde – “Absolutely! Entrepreneurship teaches you skills that apply to almost everything in business. The worst-case scenario is that students learn a useful skill that will apply to their career regardless of what they do. The value of learning entrepreneurship is that you learn a bit of everything.”
Eduardo & Fernando Calvachi – “Absolutely, one of the main ways of increasing/upgrading your beliefs/identity is getting exposed to someone who is doing someone completely different. If they aren't exposed to what's possible they may not realize what greatness is out there waiting in the world for them.”
What skill or trait do you find to be the most important in becoming an entrepreneur?
Michael Benarde – “Self-motivation. There's nobody telling you that you have to work or be productive. You have to have the drive to get up and do it yourself.”
Eduardo & Fernando Calvachi – “Resiliency and Belief. You can't lose if you don't quit.”
How do you continue to grow, learn, and develop your business?
Michael Benarde – “We spend a lot of money testing things that may or may not work. We lose money on things but when we find something that hits it makes up for all of it and provides new sources of revenue moving forward. Don't be afraid to test things!”
Eduardo & Fernando Calvachi – “By working on ourselves daily. I set time aside every morning to walk, meditate, journal, and listen to a personal development video/podcast.”
Are there strategies that students can do now to learn how to run their own business one day? (Books to read, topics to research, jobs, habits, hobbies, etc.)
Michael Benarde – “Watch YouTube videos to learn various skills on things like Facebook Marketing, Google Ads, and other valuable skills that can help you run a business. Additionally participate in things like pitch competitions and get really good and comfortable with public speaking. it's an invaluable skill that will help regardless of your career path.”
Eduardo & Fernando Calvachi – “Build the habit of working on themselves. Commit to doing at least one action daily to improve as a person such as: Listen to a personal development podcast or audiobooks, read a book, or listen to Youtube motivational videos or podcast.”
What advice would you give a young entrepreneur who is just getting started?
Michael Benarde – “High school and college is the time to take risks because there are people and organizations that will help you with things that won't help you in the future. Lean on those financial and educational resources while you can. Once you're grown up, in a career, and have a family it's going to be much more difficult to take the risk of starting your own business.”
Eduardo & Fernando Calvachi – “Commit to becoming a better human and getting better every day. Listen to the aforementioned podcasts/books.”
Our program JA It's My Business® features a product-pitch competition, similar to Shark Tank. How do experiences like this help promote or grow a young business?
Michael Benarde – “I think the biggest value in this is learning public speaking skills and answering difficult questions in front of people who are judging you. Even if you lose the competition, you win, because you got more experience in this.”
Eduardo & Fernando Calvachi – “You only learn how to swim by jumping into the pool. You only get better if you're playing in the field, not on the sidelines.”
If you are interested in learning more about Junior Achievement’s programs focused on entrepreneurship, click here. For information on how to get your school or classroom involved, contact our programs team at firstname.lastname@example.org.