This past week during my stay in Phoenix, I had the pleasure of interviewing two entrepreneurs currently building their careers just weeks after graduating college. After realizing that college wasn’t a job guarantee, Tristan Horn and Kyle Lopez founded Imperative Media. I invite you to join me on our conversation and hopefully gain some valuable insight and motivation on how the best way to have a job after college, is to make one.
Gentlemen, I appreciate you sitting down with me today. I’m looking forward to diving into this. So tell me, who are Tristen Horn and Kyle Lopez?
Tristan: “I am a recent graduate from Grand Canyon University and a co-founder of Imperative Media. I am dedicated to helping real estate agents grow their business.”
Kyle: “I am a 22-year-old recent college grad from Seattle Washington.”
So you’re both graduates from Grand Canyon University. What was it like attending college as entrepreneurs?
Tristan: “It was amazing, I was working a part-time job, going to school, and starting Imperative Media. Because of this, I believe it taught me how to handle stress and work overload. It was a great experience and I am truly grateful for it.”
Kyle: “It was very difficult throughout the entire process. Finding a work/life balance early was something I was not expecting but was well worth the stress and hassle. Working part-time, going to school, and starting up a company was difficult was we enjoyed every step of the process. GCU has a great community and allowed us to network with not only other entrepreneurs on campus but receive advice from business professors who want nothing but the best for you.”
Was there a moment when you realized that you wanted to become an entrepreneur?
Tristan: “It started with the book ‘Think and Grow Rich’. I never was around entrepreneurial-minded people and this book opened up my mind to how much opportunity there is in this world. I knew that one day I wanted to somehow in someway impact as many lives as possible through whatever I decided to do. I am grateful to have found a career that does just that!”
Kyle: “Yes after seeing first hand what life would be like if I went the traditional route of working up the corporate ladder and realized how I would never be able to reach my career goals following that pathway. My summer internship of 2018 basically broke me to rock bottom, because it was too good to be true and I felt trapped. I was very excited to kick start my marketing career and gain experience, but quickly did the math and said to myself ‘I cannot make my dreams come true with this check’. I realized I either help someone make their dream come true or work for myself to make mine come true.”
So far, who would you say has been the biggest mentor in your life?
Tristan: “In life, I give all the credit to my family. They have impacted me and supported me so much through the process. In regards to business, I would have to say books. They have always pointed me the right direction and it amazes me how we have the opportunity to gather lifelong knowledge from successful people and absorb in a few hundred pages.”
Kyle: “My father Chris Lopez who is president of a mortgage company in Seattle. He was apart of every step of this. Whenever I needed advice in the early stages of our sales process or developing a business model he was there. In addition, he never hesitated to give me encouragement and confidence in myself and our services. He also connected us with the right people. Another mentor that has stemmed from my father is Howard Chung from Seattle. He is an executive with John L. Scott Real Estate in Bellevue Wa and is very knowledgeable with digital marketing. When we first started up my dad set up meetings with Howard and I and he basically helped me step by step create our longterm business model and gave me books and valuable information to create the ultimate marketing system for real estate. Without either of these two mentors, our company would not be where it’s at today.”
What is Imperative Media?
Tristan: “Imperative Media is a social media ad agency and we focus mainly on growing real estate businesses. We do this by taking all digital aspects off of the agent’s shoulder so they can be out in the field closing deals. With this process, it gives agents the opportunity to scale faster and do what they love to do. Imperative Media was originally just an idea. I and Kyle were roommates for the last two years of college and the last semester I realized something. After being an intern at a financial services office I knew if I didn’t start a business now, I would regret it for the rest of my life. So I did my research and found something I was knowledgeable about and had a passion for. I wrote it on a piece of paper and showed it to Kyle, he was all for it and from that day on we just put our head down, found a mentor and worked.”
Kyle: “It was late night during our senior year of college and we were sitting on the couch talking about business ideas. Tristan started painting a picture of what he thought it would look like and I started thinking about how we turn this dream into a reality. We both started bouncing ideas back and forth and started developing our models and visions. We both agreed that night that we wanted to start a marketing company but I was scared that it was just another night of just TALKING about taking control of our career not actually taking action. We were not sure of the niche, what services we provide, or how to even acquire clients but we decided if we rested that night and woke up in the morning will that motivation and fire still in our hearts and sure enough it was.”
What is the biggest problem you see facing real estate agents today in terms of marketing?
Tristan: “I believe everything is too traditional in terms of marketing. Paper advertising is no longer as beneficial as social media advertising. With the cost per reach on social media, it is not even comparable. Branding is also key now and especially on social media. Once you find a way to stand out from other agents and continuously provide value, you will start to see the results you want.”
Kyle: “They are not realizing that in order to grow in today’s marketing world you must be where the attention is. So many agents are missing out on potential exposure simply because they are scared to get in from of the camera. If agents budget just a couple hundred dollars for a month or two, they would establish a strong online presence and would already build leverage against other agents, which is critical in such a competitive industry.”
What would be your advice to “collegepreneurs” who are grinding through college but want to own their own business?
Tristan: “Stay focused, continuously educate yourself in whatever industry you are looking to start a business, find the right balance between school and starting a business, and most importantly just do it. Whatever it is you want to do, just do it and learn from your mistakes on the way and the more you educate yourself the more mistakes you can avoid helping you scale even faster!”
Kyle: “Keep believing in the process even if nobody else does. I am lucky enough to have a strong community around me, but if you don’t, just know that the systems and processes work, but they don’t unless you do!”
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