Take care of yourself mentally and physically. Sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves mentally and physically because we are working so hard thinking that we don’t have time to go to the gym or meal prep or even eat. That’s right, there have been times I have gone all day and I have felt sick and dizzy at the end of the day because I forgot to eat. Sometimes you have to do whatever works for you to decompress your mind in order to be mentally sharp. If you don’t do these things it will lead you to mentally and physically crashing and burning, gaining unhealthy weight or even getting very sick.
As part of our interview series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A Founder”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Carl Padilla.
Founder and Owner of Celeb Gap, Carl Padilla started off in sales and recruitment before creating the platform. Padilla came up with the idea of Celeb Gap in 2016, when a good friend gave Padilla a signed photo of Thomas Rhett on his wedding day. Overwhelmed with joy, Padilla wanted to share this emotion with others. While there are apps that video messages from celebrities, there were no avenues where you could request an autograph, or video chat, or even game with your favorite celebrity. Now married with a family, Padilla is currently in the process of launching Celeb Gap in December 2021.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
How I came up with Celeb Gap was in 2016- I was getting married and my wedding song was “Die a Happy Man” by Thomas Rhett. My friend Sean knew that and wanted to get me a special wedding gift. He was a golf pro and just so happened to play golf with the guy who owned a record label that worked with and knew Thomas. One day as they were playing golf he mentioned that I was dancing to Thomas’s song at my wedding and asked if he could get something personalized from him and the guy agreed. I will never forget the day Sean came over and handed me that envelope. I opened it and chills ran down my spine, tears came to my eyes, I was speechless and overcome with emotion. There in my shaking hands was a headshot of Thomas, signed “I hope you always remember your first dance”. That was the coolest and most personal gift I got for my wedding! I literally showed every person I knew. Fast forward 3 years later, I was driving home from work and “Die a Happy Man” came on the radio. I thought about how special that gift was and got goosebumps thinking about it. Think about that, 3 years later, that gift is still giving me goosebumps and I thought to myself “If I wanted to give someone else this same feeling, is there an avenue?” and there wasn’t! There were sites for video shout-outs but nothing for a personalized autograph straight from the celebrity. From there we expanded to video game sessions, scheduled video calls and brand endorsement shout-outs. This is why I created Celeb Gap, to bridge the gap between celebrities and their fans and give the world what was at one point a once in a lifetime experience now at their fingertips.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
Coming up with this idea was one thing, but rationalizing it into a business was another. When I found out the platform itself would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to build and about 2 years to perfect with thousands of hours of coding, I was almost crushed and scared at the same time. That didn’t stop me because I had a vision. So coming to that realization of how much it was going to cost and employing my staff for 2 years prior to the launch and properly budgeting for that was tough and I had to make a lot of sacrifices.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Knowing that my wife and child are depending on me to succeed and knowing how much they have sacrificed to see this platform come to life. Also knowing that most of the successful companies out there didn’t see overnight success and some took years before things took off, where others quit. To be a part of the top 1%, you must be willing to do and sacrifice what the rest of the 99% are not willing to.
So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Things are going great! We are set to launch in early December and amount of time it has taken us to perfect the platform, gave us the ability to build relationships with over 130 agencies and organizations as well as some exciting equity partnerships that we will be announcing soon. Also, we have learned about what the market wants and what will give us a competitive edge.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I have made plenty of mistakes! Not a lot of them are funny so it is hard for me to answer this question but I think a person is not measured by their successes, but by all the mistakes they made and overcame on their path to success.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
What makes our company stand out is the fact that we truly care about the user experience and want fans and celebrities to connect in ways that weren’t available before. Celeb Gap has everything that some of the competitors have on a better looking, more user-friendly platform with more options to purchase from (video game sessions etc.) and more features (such as being able to follow the profiles for when celebs go active) while taking less out of your pocket (we only take 19% and eat the credit card fee).
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Rome was not built in a day and if you are looking to do something big, then you are going to have to work harder than you could ever imagined for an unimaginable amount of time. If you are going down the road of an entrepreneur, it might be one of the hardest roads that you ever go down without quick profit. But this route has an unlimited upside if you can pull it off. In the beginning, you will have a lot more downs than ups. It’s important to celebrate small victories and not let every failure or roadblock get you down.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I have had mentors throughout this process assist me such as one of my college professors, Cyndi Gundy. Most importantly, I would not be where I am today without the support of my father, who is a business owner himself taking my daily calls and my wife picking up the slack when I had to attend countless business meetings, conference calls, Zoom meetings, agent admin portal demos and everything in between. What they say is true, that behind every successful man with a dream is an incredible woman with a vision and that would be my wife.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
My Platform has already brought joy to families and to fans and we haven’t completely launched yet. Whether it was someone connecting with their favorite celeb or kids during Christmas getting a special message from Santa. Gary V said it best when he said “Don’t chase money” and to build a company around what you love and something that others love and the money will come. He also said “How you make your money is more important than if you make it” which I believe.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Don’t sweat the little things. There are going to be a ton of little things that happen all the time as an entrepreneur or business owner and that is normal but if you let them bother you then you could affect your progress moving forward rather than learning from them and moving on. I, in the beginning, am guilty of this where there would be an error here and there in the code or functionality and timelines would be set back and would act like it’s the end of the world when looking back it really wasn’t and it only made us stronger going forward because we learned from it.
- Success is a long process and accepting that will help you not get frustrated and gas out early. Look at all the successful people throughout time and sure there were some that were smarter than others but one thing they all had in common was work ethic. There is a book called “Outliers’” that follows the success of big people like The Beetles and Bill Gates, and 2 things they had in common was the fact that before they had any kind of success, they had put over 10,000 dedicated hours into their trade. Sometimes when my team would give me timelines on the projects it would discourage me but I’m happy now that I had that time to build relationships and partnerships with everyone I have.
- Enjoy the process and embrace the journey. Sometimes success can seem so far away when you look at everything you have to do to get there but if you enjoy the process and embrace the journey knowing that so many successful others have been right where you are than it blows by so quick. Just like the saying “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” This kind of piggy backs off what I said in number 2 with how I would struggle to accept the timelines.
- Make time for your family and close loved ones. Sometimes when you are working nonstop you forget about your family and loved ones who have supported you on this journey and you end up working yourself into the ground and burning out rather than planning out your day and turning off your work brain when you are around family or you might forget why you got into this business in the first place. I am guilty of this as well but have tried much harder in recent days to change that.
- Take care of yourself mentally and physically. Sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves mentally and physically because we are working so hard thinking that we don’t have time to go to the gym or meal prep or even eat. That’s right, there have been times I have gone all day and I have felt sick and dizzy at the end of the day because I forgot to eat. Sometimes you have to do whatever works for you to decompress your mind in order to be mentally sharp. If you don’t do these things it will lead you to mentally and physically crashing and burning, gaining unhealthy weight or even getting very sick. I am guilty of this as well. I gained over 25 pounds while starting this company and was eating unhealthy. I wasn’t working out and was so mentally burnt out and stressed that I even at one point was admitted to the hospital because I thought I was having a heart attack. Since then I have been eating healthy and lost 20 pounds and am back in the gym.
Can you share a few ideas or stories from your experience about how to successfully ride the emotional highs & lows of being a founder”?
I mentioned this earlier, but the key is to not sweat the small things and to remain calm. Find a good support system whether it is a mentor, family, friend or loved one to go to so they can pull you back to earth when you feel like everything is crumbling all around you to help you realize that this is normal and you can get through this and possibly steps to overcome whatever you are going through.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
They can follow us on all social media pages (facebook, Instagram, twitter) to be updated on the upcoming launch in December.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!