Member Spotlight: M Lopez & Business Partner, Forrest Hosten

Before we jump into what you’re working on, give me a brief history of who you both are and where you came from. What were the big milestones that created the path to this moment in time?

M: My name's Mayte (or “M”), and I'm the owner of Compass Marketing, Compass Real Estate Marketing, and lotlerco. I'm also the co-founder and lead marketing strategist of Web Pros of Real Estate and Sprkl (marketing automation software). I truly believe I have always been an entrepreneur at heart. From the moment that my family migrated to the U.S. from Cuba when I was five years old, I've witnessed my parents work unbelievably hard, open their own business, work harder, fail miserably, try again, and finally, live a life most people dream about. This is why I named my business "Compass" - in honor of my family and the guiding light that their love, hope, and courage have always provided me. To date, my biggest milestone is also my biggest failure—selling out to a corporation, however, I have it to thank for the opportunity to live out my dreams today and help other business owners live out theirs.

F: My name is Forrest Hosten. I’m a young entrepreneur from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I started my first business at the age of 12—buying cases of Monster energy drinks, bringing them to school, and selling them to students. When I turned 18, I passed the Florida Real Estate Exam and immediately started with Coldwell Banker. When I was 19, I started Tribus Holdings, a private holdings company that bought e-commerce websites as well as brands with the goal to grow them as a long-term company assets. I eventually sold the company assets at a 40% gain 22 months later. In 2017, Tribus Holdings acquired several small hosting companies. I took their combined the client bases and founded Narthax Hosting Solutions. This year I also started Pros of Real Estate to help luxury agents with web development and marketing. I’m also a mentor for middle and high school students through two organizations, Greatness Beyond Measurement (GBM) in Sarasota and Greater Movement in Seattle. My goal with that is to help students believe in themselves, their ideas and trust themselves enough to take chances and launch their ideas.

How did the two of you meet and what led you to work together? Would you say your skill sets and work styles are similar and additive or different and complementary?

M: The way Forrest and I met is your quintessential Millennial story! We met on an app, realized we had a lot of goals in common, and decided to team up to take over the world.

F: M nailed that. Yeah, we met on SHAPR a networking app. We had coffee at Slate one day, and we realized how much alike we are and we were already working on similar projects. It was a no brainer, for me at least. M is the perfect compliment to my skills because I am not a marketer.

What are the marketing concepts most small businesses and entrepreneurs fail to grasp?

M: Two things: one, the true cost of customer acquisition and, two, the importance of having a cohesive but diverse omnichannel presence.

F: How to sell—100%.

M, you’ve been running Compass Marketing and LotlerCo for a while now, but your aspirations are growing. I know you have plans to expand into additional investing and service areas. Can you give us an idea of the master plan as it stands now, and how the pieces fit together?

M: My master plan is to have an ecosystem of products and services that enable businesses to thrive on not just a local but global scale with powerful but affordable marketing services, process automation, sales AI, and microloans.

You both have the energy and assertiveness—not to mention the work ethic—to be successful entrepreneurs. How do you evaluate opportunities, weigh risk and make confident decisions when faced with imperfect information?

M: Honestly, if there is no data to back up my decision, I trust my gut. I always try to make informed decisions but even then, sometimes those don't work out, and when they don't, I just keep working on them until they do.

F: I go with my gut—if I make a bad decision I can always go back and change it later in 99% of cases.

Why do you think so many entrepreneurs and investors struggle with ambiguity in a world that offers very little certainty, at least when it comes to economic decisions? Is it a psychological hurdle, a lack of experience or something else?

M: I think, for the most part, ambiguity is fear in disguise. It's scary to put time, blood, sweat, tears, and money into something only to have it not work out. Les Brown has a quote that I always think about:

“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined
to carry our their dream.”

Don't let the fear of ambiguity discourage you. If it doesn't work out, keep working on it until it does. Don't stop yourself from doing something just because it hasn't been done before or you don't know if it will work, or because someone doesn't believe in you. Fuck it and fuck them. Have the courage to live the life you want to live.

F: I don’t think those people are true entrepreneurs if they struggle with ambiguity. If they’re inexact or unsure about what they’re explaining or doing, I think there’s a pretty high chance they’ll fail to execute. But my definition of entrepreneurship may be different than yours. Our minds are our biggest enemies sometimes and we overthink decisions (at least I do).

What do you see as your biggest potential challenge at the moment? What keeps you up at night?

M: Work-life balance.

F: Myself.

Where will the company be in 12 weeks, 12 months and 12 years?

M: Right now my plan of attack is to scale, scale, scale until we have a dominant market share.

F: Twelve weeks, hopefully 50K in ARR. Twelve months, 250K in ARR. Twelve years, hopefully acquired by another company way before that mark or made a subsidiary of (our) private equity firm.

The Fun Stuff

Best kept secret in Seattle is…?

M: If I tell you, it's not a secret.

F: I haven’t been here long enough to find one!!

The world will be less ____ in 2028 than today.

M: divided

F: warm

____ will have the biggest impact on the economy over the next decade.

M: Automation and voice search

F: Artificial intelligence and augmented reality

Two people I admire are ____.

M: my mother and father

F: my mom and dad

____ is a company that gets it right.

M: Compass Marketing

F: Tribus Capital Partners!

If I had a surprise week off work, you would find me ____.

M: in Miami

F: in Portland

____ is highly overrated.

M: Failure

_____ gives me hope for the future.

M: My little sister

F: My past