It takes a lot more than two to tango. It takes dancers, and musicians, and instructors, and more instructors – and it wouldn’t hurt if an international coalition of agencies, researchers, and doctors came together and tried to find a cure for WMH (white man’s hip). I say this as someone who loves that loves the tango – loves learning to dance tango – despite obvious and cringe-worthy shortcomings.
Another phrase that warrants mentioning here, that founders will appreciate is “Just get out there and do it!” A great part of the fun of any endeavor is overcoming whatever fears or obstacles would keep us from pursuing our passions. Les Lopez, founder of Finally Dance (finallydance.com) understands this well. Finally Dance is a dance community marketplace that connects people looking for instructors and dancing venues.
Started in Houston, Texas, Finally Dance makes it easy and affordable for beginners to find lessons in a friendly atmosphere. Director of Marketing and Sales Darien Femal adds, “We’re hoping this will allow for beginning dancers in the social scene to be comfortable in their own shoes and become confident enough to approach others and ask them for a dance at any venue.” Lessons on starting a business, learning to salsa, or boogying away the stress of running a startup – Lopez tells us about putting the right foot forward:
What’s your company about? What do you do? Who are your customers?
We want to make people more awesome by providing great dance lessons in a casual setting.
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website? Why is it better than the competition?
Our booking process is streamlined and simple. Our pricing is straightforward and fair. Our dancing philosophy is casual and focused on bringing students to proficiency as fast as possible. We want our students to have the most fun possible.
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
Learning how to dance is one of those things that everyone says they’d love to do, but getting lessons can be a hassle. Formal dance institutions are intimidating, and most dance instructors don’t have a simple booking process available. With our simple sign up and friendly, casual instructors, now you can “Finally Dance”.
Les Lopez, Founder of Finally Dance
What was your first computer? How old were you when you first got on the world wide web?
An old desktop that a parent’s friend put together. I was 12 when I first had access.
What time do you usually start work each day? How many hours a day do you usually work?
I start working at 9AM, and work between 9 and 13 hours a day.
When’s the last time you went on vacation and where did you go?
My last vacation was in Chicago over Christmas 2013.
What’s the very first thing you do at work every day?
The first thing I do each day is review my daily and weekly to-do lists.
When do your best ideas come to you? In bed in the morning? During dinner? On your third beer?
During dinner or lunch. I’ll be halfway through a sandwich when great ideas strike.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
I started alone, I currently have three employees.
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually go after yours?
What gave me the confidence to go after my idea was knowing that I had all the resources available. I knew how to run an e-commerce business, I had a great network of instructors, and I had solid guidance through books and entrepreneurship forums/blogs.
Remember the early days of starting up? Describe the struggles you went through.
The struggles for me were lack of sleep, and the fear of judgement and criticism. I had to remember to ignore destructive criticism from those who didn’t know better.
Darien Femal, Director of Marketing and Sales
How do you handle frustration? What has been your biggest professional frustration?
I handle frustration through pacing, meditation, and breathing exercises. It’s all a matter of controlling my body tension. My biggest frustration is when other people don’t pull through with their responsibilities and I have to compensate.
What’s your office environment like? Do you listen to music? Watch movies? Play video games?
I listen to a lot of EDM – Skrillex, Zedd, Krewella, and whatnot. It gives me that dopamine boost I need to get through the day. I keep a very clean and clutter-free environment. Physical clutter creates mental clutter.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
I picture my company as the authority on connecting students with all the dancing resources they need – instructors, group classes, dance clubs, and other resources. My company will give aspiring dancers everything they need to start having fun as soon as possible.
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games? Snack food?
Learning from the experiences of others inspires me. Everyone from celebs like Mark Cuban and Tim Ferriss to a casual poster on reddit.com/r/entrepreneur. I also gain inspiration from listening to the life struggles of my peers. If I can make someone’s life more enjoyable through my company, I strive to do so.
How’d you fund this venture? VC? Self-funding? Crowdfunded?
I self-funded this venture in the beginning (spent less than $300) and bootstrapped from there.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
If it’s not essential, don’t spend money on it. If there’s a free way to do it, try that first and choose the paid option later. You will sacrifice your time in the beginning. Later, you can sacrifice money to save your time and streamline the business.
What other advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get started?
Keep reading, keep learning from others, keep researching until you identify a market need that you have the resources to satisfy.
What would you do if you had a year off and $500,000 to spend (on something other than work)?
I would run this business full-time, and travel around the country recruiting more dance instructors (while partying at the dance clubs). I would also write. I would write about everything from entrepreneurship to life philosophy and dating advice.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur? If not, what’ll make you feel successful?
Yes and no. I have had successes, but still have a lot of work to do. Success is an ongoing process. My next goal is to bring my company to enough profit to support my lifestyle full-time.
Top 5 websites you couldn’t live without and why?
- Reddit – this is where I go for entertainment, inspiration, and personal development.
- Google – their business apps and productivity resources are essential.
- Forbes/BusinessWeek/Inc/BusinessInsider/etc. – also for inspiration and personal development.
- Social media – for staying in touch and promoting my brands.
- WordPress – best blogging platform ever.
Top 5 mobile apps you’re in love with and why?
- Chase banking – beautiful app.
- Mailchimp – amazing FREE email campaign builder.
- WordPress – makes managing your blog on the go easy.
- FratMusic – amazing music playlists for every situation.
- Tinder – most efficient way to meet new people in a busy lifestyle.
What is your music streaming player of choice, and what are you listening to right now?
FratMusic.com. They have an awesome app too. I’m listening to the “Winter Chill” playlist that has great music for relaxing (and working – ironically).
Number 1 country you’ve always wanted to visit but haven’t yet? (And why that country?)
Philippines. They just seem so happy.
People (other than you) we should follow on Twitter and why?
- Zedd – Great artist, funny tweets.
- PostGradProblem – hilarious stuff.
Where else should our readers find you online?