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Kelsey Heller

Kelsey is a junior at the University of Nevada, Reno where she studies journalism and criminal justice. She's was born in Maryland, but grew up in Las Vegas since she was three. Heller has always been a passionate writer and she hopes to become an investigative reporter after she graduates in Spring of 2016.

Recent Posts by Kelsey Heller

CEO Brianna Michelle Finding Art In Beauty

A luxury boutique hair and makeup business specializing in bridal and makeup lessons, Beauty by Brianna is an inner transformation being delivered to others.

“To capture a woman’s beauty you have to be more than just a makeup artist, you have to bring out her inner beauty,” says CEO Brianna Michelle. “It’s more than makeup. It’s about making the woman feel good about herself.”

Brianna Michelle has always been drawn to beauty. As a child, she was bullied in school and found makeup as a way to feel beautiful and confident. “I often used makeup as a crutch to feel good about myself and handle being around others,” she told us. “I was trying to make myself confident through makeup. I went from feeling horrible to putting on makeup to feeling great about myself.”

Today, Brianna provides services to women that do exactly that – make them feel more confident and beautiful. As CEO and creator of Beauty by Brianna, an award-winning boutique hair and makeup service, she is on a mission to spread beauty throughout the Las Vegas valley. Known widely for its wedding hair and makeup services, her company also provides makeup tutorials that teach clients how to prepare themselves for a special event.

Tailoring makeup lessons to women’s lifestyle

Not only does Brianna have the opportunity to help woman feel beautiful, she also gets to know her clients on a personal level, creating a unique look every time. “That’s what makes us different. We’re not a one-look-fits-all kind of beauty company. We have a customized process based on many variables – like the shape of your face, the dress you will be wearing, and the budget of your wedding or event,” she says.

And then, if they want to re-create the look on their own, Brianna offers makeup lessons according to their individual lifestyle. “If my client is a stay-at-home mom with five kids, I’m going to tailor the lesson to that type of lifestyle.” Beauty by Brianna is more than a makeup company. It’s a full-service lifestyle brand that thrives on real human connections.

“That’s my job. To make my clients feel beautiful inside and out.”

Steering away from her background in broadcast journalism and acting, she started doing freelance makeup and eventually moved to Las Vegas. Her former business partners persuaded her to brand herself more as a beauty expert and less an actress and aspiring writer. She eventually built a website and went at it full time.  She explains the transition as “a lot of self-preservation,” and that to reach success “you have to completely keep going at it one hundred percent.”

A personalized approach to client services

Early on, it was about teaching people how to do makeup through tutorials on YouTube. However, Brianna found the online market was completely saturated with other YouTubers doing similar tutorials and the business model wasn’t structured how she wanted it to be. It was more of an informational magazine site and less of a training hub. And it was a lot of work for little return.

So to make some real headway with her business, Brianna started doing one-on-one makeup sessions with her clients – face to face. “We need that personal contact with people for this business to be a success,” she says. It soon became an in-suite service that potential client can sign up right on their mobile smartphones. In-suite means that Brianna and her team will go wherever you are – your hotel, home or office.

Marketing, branding, and just getting the Beauty by Brianna name out there was also one of her biggest challenges. Sure, going the extra mile for her clients brings her many referrals, but having such a customized and personal approach to customer service leaves little time for setting up processes and gaining exposure. Brianna’s biggest client base comes from the signups on her website and a strong presence on social media.

A luxury “in-suite” brand looking beyond makeup

Strong client relationships and quality work earned Beauty by Brianna needed credibility. Last November, Brianna and her team worked with Sony Latin America doing makeup for the Grammys executives. “That was an AHA moment because The Grammys, of course, are a very prestigious organization,” explains Brianna. “And they hand-picked us because of our credibility and exposure online.”

Looking ahead, Brianna and her growing brand are adding more style to their selection of high quality beauty services. “We are looking beyond makeup and into clothing,” she told us. “We just recently started offering personal styling.” Not only that, but she is expanding her makeup and skin care product lines. Clients will now be able to purchase the same products Brianna used on them in their one-on-one sessions. Visit beautybybri.com to check out her makeup lessons or services.

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26 year-old Nicole Zaagman, CEO of LUX CHIX Helping Spiritual-based Women Entrepreneurs

LUX CHIX is a movement empowering health conscious wonder women to create a successful lifestyle and follow their dreams. Founder and CEO, Nicole Zaagman is helping holistic and spiritual entrepreneurs achieve success.

“The purpose of our program is to help entrepreneurs and business owners discover their brand and follow their dreams,” says Zaagman, a 26-year old entrepreneur from Grand Rapids, MI. Graduating from college at 21 with a BA in Design and Advertising, Zaagman was excited to start her career as an entry-level Art Director. Unknowingly, that job would change the direction of her entire life.

After experiencing a very negative work environment and learning a lot about business in the real world, she decided that she would never work in a place like that again. She also decided that she would become a voice for other young women in business to follow their dreams and achieve success.

Zaagman often found herself getting very sick, both mentally and physically. She also became anti-social and unconfident. Specialists ran tests concluded that the cause was her stressful and often demeaning work environment. “It was the wakeup call that I needed to work towards healing myself,” she says. She fulfilled her 2-year commitment to them and moved on.

A change of lifestyle and a new perspective

Over the course of the next three years, Zaagman changed her lifestyle completely. During her time working for Michigan’s largest news and media group, she worked with a mentor for two of those years; shortly realizing it was time to make the jump to pursuing her dream full time. “My mentor helped me get to a place of balance again. I needed help building up my confidence again.” Soon she began working with woman entrepreneurs who she brought on as her own clients, and started a radio show to expand her reach.

Ever since high school Zaagman wanted something bigger. She wanted to make a difference. This past summer on her way to LA, she was reading a book called Dream Year. It’s about quitting the job you hate and creating the life you want.

“I started my own radio show, took on branding clients, and then quit my job. I wanted to help other woman in their entrepreneurial journeys and improve their lifestyle,” Zaagman says.

She’s come to realize that age doesn’t play a factor in helping others achieve success because real life experiences have the same principals. Being homeschooled, Zaagman would often talk and connect with her parents and their older friends. Perhaps is the reason that her typical clients are woman 50 and over who are very drawn to the holistic and spiritual help she offer through her company LUX CHIX.

 “Taking a holistic approach means always asking ‘What’s next? What my purpose?’”

Empowering more women entrepreneurs

Zaagman’s radio show is a 30-minute audio program that offers free tips, insights and advice from business professionals and entrepreneurs. The purpose is to educate, entertain, and empower through a womanly aspect. “I believe that experts sharing their expertise and experiences are so valuable. Especially starting from their childhood because it’s all pertinent to who they are and their journey.

In addition to her weekly radio show, Zaagman is launching a conference to build a holistic community and bring together like-minded people with a spiritual-based business and/or lifestyle. “I wanted to create a one-of-a-kind experience in West Michigan for all the amazing individuals I interview on the show and give them an opportunity to speak in a much different environment.”

Nicole Zaagman’s struggles originated from within and overcoming them were simply about believing in herself. In a world where people are always thinking for themselves, she’s building something where entrepreneurs – especially woman entrepreneurs – can go to seek help and support. Her biggest challenge early on was finding people who shared her passion, but through much trial and error, she’s been able to connect with those who share her vision. “It became clear pretty quickly the individuals and groups I was meeting with wanted to fit LUX CHIX into a box and silence some of the experiences that have made me, me. I couldn’t do that, it’s not what I teach my clients. How could I teach one thing and in my own business do the opposite? So, we shifted the event marketing message and got even clearer about who this event is geared towards: the spiritual, health conscious and holistic entrepreneur!”

“Building a community is difficult. It’s been a roller coaster from the beginning, but it’s been a good journey.”

The holistic and health conscious entrepreneurial community is booming around the country in states like California, Arizona, Utah, Texas, Colorado and more – places Zaagman has visited and has experienced how powerfule these communities really are. She hopes to bring this intimate and synergistic community together in West Michigan. “They’re here. I’ve met with so many individuals who are thrilled this event is taking place and excited to see the positive changes coming to our area,” she tells us. “Now it’s just about getting the word out and letting these like-minded entrepreneurs know it’s OK for their business brand to match their inner voice and personal beliefs.”

In the future, Zaagman will create a licensing program that other woman can integrate into their own businesses. She will also take her conference on tour around the world. We wish her all the luck in the world!

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Fever CEO Pep Gomez Testing Global Social Event Discovery

When Pep Gomez was 17 he went to San Francisco to work for Bernardo Hernandez, who at the time was the Director of Product Management at Google [now CEO of Flickr]. Thrust into the tech world of Silicon Valley, Gomez was no stranger to hard work and the gifts of freedom once he left the office. Like all 17 year olds, Gomez enjoyed partying and staying in the loop of what was going on, but was often overwhelmed by the amount of information out there because nothing was personalized and current platforms didn’t have a way to “know you.”

Fueled by his obsession with social event discovery, Gomez saw an opportunity to create a social marketplace that provides curated content tailored to your likes and those of your friends. “A good recommendation algorithm and a social component similar to that of Twitter are keys to ensure people are offered relevant content and are aware of what the people they care about most like to do in their free time,” he says. “It’s really all about that ‘fear of missing out’ feeling.”

Fever is your best friend in an app

Fever is unique because it is the only app that is able to surface premium events that you’d actually want to go to, all based on the tastemakers you love, friends you won’t live without and the things you can’t miss. “The suggestions are not just discounted tickets to some comedy show or after party,” Gomez explains. Fever’s competitive advantage, apart from the quality of content relationships, is that it takes a new approach to uncover tailored experiences just for you. Unlike generic listing sites which display hundreds of events that you have no interest in, Fever isn’t there to fill empty seats. Its recommendation algorithm exists to tell you about genuinely great experiences you’re sure to love, just as your best friend would.

“Fever taps into the most influential tastemakers, from art galleries to nightlife and everything in between, to keep you clued to the places you should go, with people you want to meet.”

Gomez and the Fever team plan to increase penetration in cities they currently occupy by growing, as well as expand into new markets in the coming months. They will be launching London in April and another major U.S. city soon after.

Lessons learned working at a VC firm at the age of 17

Going to San Francisco with Bernardo at such a young age was “an extremely enriching experience,” Gomez explains. More than that, it was a critical period in Gomez’s life to building the necessary skills and knowledge to lead a company like Fever. A teenager working at a VC firm is exactly a common happening and he was certainly met with a lot of challenges in the first few months. “It was a bit of a shock at first, but with hard work, determination, and Pep (CEO) Fever - Creating Genius, Las Vegas entrepreneur storiesgood mentorship, I was able to overcome anything that came my way.”

Although Gomez was working for Bernardo, he spent a lot of time at Google, which only helped his interest in tech to grow. Not being from San Francisco was the initial problem from which Gomez found his solution. “I was always asking people where the best places were to go out to. I wanted to be able to live, eat and party like a local. So the idea of Fever was born.”

“After spending some time in San Francisco it was impossible to not get addicted to the entrepreneurial vibe,” he says. “I met so many interesting people and loved the stories they shared.”

Marrying overseas test markets with global social event discovery

Using Spain as a test market was ideal for Fever given the cheaper cost and exceptional talent. “We saw a lot of success in Spain and knew that if we wanted to expand to other cities then we had to replicate what we did there,” says Gomez. Also a huge fan of Uber, Gomez mimics their expansion model city-by-city. By creating and continuously developing a playbook for each new city, he learned how to tailor Fever to meet specific city requirements. Gomez hired people with local knowledge that were able to help them identify issues they would encounter before they got there.

Fever turned the corner when they became results-driven. Careful not to go all in with a city or major expenditure until he has every necessary detail, Gomez is very methodical when it comes to capital spending. “Funding was required for our business to grow, but so many challenges arose and the pressures to perform and deliver were taken to the next level.”

On top of that, Gomez struggled finding the right talent to deliver a product capable of appeal to the masses. He preaches that being surrounded by the right people is priceless and has helped the company solve problems, both at a product level as well as strategy/expansion.  By bringing on people from different company backgrounds such as McKinsey, Bain, KKR, Google, and Zynga, and numerous educational backgrounds such as Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and Cambridge, has helped create a strong culture that everyone at Fever is proud of.

For other startup founders who consider their product foreign to US markets, Gomez says his main advice is “to not be intimidated by the aggressive U.S. tech scene. By focusing on the international market, Fever has proven to be equally or more successful than US-born startups.”

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Millennial Car Enthusiasts Love ModBargains Explosive Growth

Photo courtesty of @carninja

With traditional business models resisting online sales due to old school techniques, Brown and his partner reached a half million dollars in revenue in their first year and over a million dollars in their second year.

Co-Founder and CEO at ModBargains, Mike Brown, started his company when he was 19 years old. Brown was a full-time college student setting up business meetings with professionals who had already been in the industry for ten years. Having to overcome the skepticism that so many young entrepreneurs face, he just needed a chance to prove himself. With traditional business models resisting online sales due to old school techniques, Brown and his partner reached a half million dollars in revenue in their first year and over a million dollars in their second year. I’d say they’ve proven themselves fit for today’s digital era.

Most car enthusiasts are introduced to the passion by their peers or their father. Mike Brown had both. He remembers his father washing his customized lowered truck that had an exhaust on it and this sparked his interest. Later, his business partner Ron Hay wanted to modify Brown’s 2000 BMW 323Ci and really make it standout. This sparked Brown’s curiosity and to the internet is where he searched about how exactly he could make it happen. He discovered that online automotive content – even from retailers – was very thin and didn’t answer his questions. That moment planted the seed in Brown’s mind that he should find his own way, and then share his knowledge & experience others.

Brown filled the gaps of content by posting about his own experiences on forum boards while becoming an expert in modifying his BMW 3 series. He had so much traction and so many inquiries about how to replicate what he had done for the community that he decided to make it a business.

In 2005, Brown set up wholesale accounts with retailers he bought products from and co-founded ModBargains, an internet-based automotive content platform. With co-founder Ron Hay, they focused on answering questions on a mass scale via detailed product descriptions & photos rather than one at a time through phone calls and emails like their competitors had previously done. “Our content is really good,” says Brown. “We answer important questions for automotive enthusiasts through the information out there on our blog, newsletters, website, and other social media.”

“We want to make the lives of automotive enthusiasts simpler, better, and less confusing to give them the confidence to modify a vehicle.”

ModBargains started completely digital and progressed to having office space and inventory. Today, they provide installations on vehicles through their service brand called ModAuto. Ten very successful years later, Brown still sees himself as an enthusiast.

Since being founded, ModBargains has seen a staircase effect of explosive growth with periods of stabilization and then back to explosive growth again. “We grew because we provided quality content and a quality service. We are thought leaders. In this industry, it’s rare to do both installations and inventory, usually one or the other, but that’s what makes ModBargains stand out.”

Brown and his company have always taken education seriously and that has been the catalyst for his content engine that continuously provides value to the automotive community. ModBargains is Brown’s internet marketing site with a decade of digital content that continues to grow, and that growth is fed by ModAuto installations. ModAuto is a separate model and entity that interacts with more automotive enthusiasts first hand. Brown wanted to have a brand that’s more of a tuning shop name instead of ModBargains which is their internet name. ModAuto bridges the gap between tangible and intangible and gives provides current customers and enthusiasts everything with something far more valuable.

“We’re a group of automotive enthusiasts with an expertise who seek to share content and educational knowledge to fuel the passion of fellow auto enthusiasts across the world.”

Brown knows that to run a successful business you have to know what’s going on inside of it at all times. Brown says he listens and pays attention to customers, employees, suppliers, and the general marketplace. He then follows up by implementing and supporting the trends and changes taking place in the world. This means understanding the digital era and making it a major priority if they hope to stay on top.

Millennials want to learn new ways to modify cars and ModBargains teaches them how. This can be difficult, but Brown says that it’s necessary to reassess the marketplace to find out how automotive enthusiasts are spending their time – i.e. on social media. “We are successful because we put in the hours and did the work,” Brown said, “its sacrifice, but it’s also passion for doing what you love.” Brown quoted Arnold Schwarzenegger, saying that “while you’re out there partying and horsing around, someone else is making the choice to get better and improving themselves.” During Brown’s college years, he didn’t see them as sacrifices but didn’t do typical college things. He structured his college schedule to have classes two days a week and found himself working during breaks and on days school wasn’t in session.

Brown also knows about the power of relationships and the internal culture with staff and suppliers better than most. As a young entrepreneur, he was so intense that sometimes relationships suffered, but now approaches situations to create a win-win. He also understands that he must create competitive advantage and see the positives rather than the negatives of mistakes. They’ve built an internal culture that people enjoy working for. When Brown began, he didn’t know how to do that at 22 so it was a learning process. “Some companies see people or employees as family and friends. That can be difficult and lead to hurt because family is forever whereas the relationship between employer & employee is different. I try to see myself as owner or general manager of a sports team and my employees are the players. My role is to put the right players in the right position for the entire team to win together. From one year to the next, the members of the team might be different, but the objective is the same – WIN, together.”

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Sinan Kanatsiz, Real Business Is Done Face to Face

Out with the new. In with the old. Real influencers and entrepreneurs building business relationships face to face. 

The old-school philosophy that businesses only grow when they meet face to face has become more of an outdated concept in the minds of many young aspiring entrepreneurs, thanks to technology. The truth is, however, that real growth – both personally and professionally – does come from face to face interaction, even in a growing association of internet marketers and business executives. This philosophy is deeply embedded into the IMA culture. More than a resource and place for entrepreneurs and companies to meet up, it’s also a catalyst for them to reach their highest goals imaginable.

Related: IMPACT15 – Listen to keynotes and attend in-depth breakout sessions with the industry’s leading experts, awards dinner and farewell brunch including two nights at the award winning Aria hotel in Las Vegas, NV. Learn more here.

Sinan Kanatsiz, the chairman and founder of Internet Marketing Association (IMA) and CEO of KCOMM, is a passionate entrepreneur who wants to help other businesses. His grandfather, and motivation, was an entrepreneur from Turkey who started one of the first split-cost transportation systems. Entrepreneurism is in his blood.

He started KCOMM, a full service public relations agency, 20 years ago. KCOMM is media coverage, blogs, and a way of matching old press with new press. The company has 1,100 clients in the past 20 years of business, but no office space. Their clients and contractors meet online to share projects and work on campaigns. The PR firm is growing and many executive-level associations ask Kanatsiz to speak on digital marketing and how it has helped move his and other professionals forward and into the digital age.

“The best disruptors don’t focus on the revenue. They focus on building something useful and conducting business in the best way possible to reach their goals.”

KCOMM is hired to do press releases and social media while IMA is on a mission to educate their clients. Kanatsiz felt that there was a huge opportunity of educating businesses on internet marketing. This is what led Kanatsiz to found IMA, which is free as long as you have a college education or are certified by the company (which only costs $500). By offering this free membership model, IMA usually receives more than 100 member applicants per day. Fueled by this type of environment, IMA is able to offer absolutely everything to everyone.

Kanatsiz says, “Truly, the IMA focuses on organization and digital marketing, and is a way to get more resources to entrepreneurs and business leaders.” The growing – and privately held – association of influencers consists of over 1 million professional members and 300+ international executive council leaders from all around the world who represent entities such as Cirque Du Soleil, emerging startups, and state congressmen. Kanatsiz knows the internet is touching every company. “The digital era is upon us, and you either have to embrace it or get left behind.” And so, IMA quickly grew from merely grass roots into a full-fledge business.

“I see my companies as children; my love divided equally between them. The best part is that they complement each other on family trips. They work hand in hand, which means I can start with KCOMM and end with IMA.”

IMA members are people in all realms of business, from CEOs to interns. Kanatsiz describes his current members based on their history in business and their work ethic. “We attract a higher-caliber of business professional or those aspiring to be one. It’s not about the money they seek. It’s about the integrity of the leader,” he says.

Today, Kanatsiz’s passion for entrepreneurship is still driven by his family. He wants to not only provide for his daughter and “one more on the way,” but to help their generation have something he didn’t. “High risk is high reward. That has always paid off for us. If you fail, learn from it. If you succeed, you’ll surpass your return,” Kanatsiz said.

“The greater your network, the higher your net worth and long-term financial success. It’s all about who you know.”

Kanatsiz says that a lot of people didn’t believe the company would ever happen. “People looked at it more as a hobby and every time it was rejected, it was a struggle,” he says. Of course, now the association is so successful, they can be more selective about who is the right fit to join and how they go about promoting themselves to more entrepreneurs, business leaders and companies.

In the near future, IMA will expand beyond the lights of Las Vegas as a home base. Its success being credited to persistence and word of mouth at the highest levels. Members and partners are the best way to sell any business or association that offers so much value. Kanatsiz’s passion will continue to lead his companies and inspire entrepreneurs everywhere. We wish him the best of luck!

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