Stacey Ferreira, 27
Title: Chief executive, Forge Technologies Inc.
Company: Playa Vista-based Forge Technologies connects employers with workers looking to pick up part-time shifts in industries such as hospitality and retail.
Financials: Raised at least $4M in venture capital.
What led you to start this business?
I started one in 2011, a single sign-on space called MySocialCloud, and we sold for an undisclosed amount to Reputation.com. Then, I got a book deal with St. Martin’s Press. The book was all about the millennial generation and how that generation thinks about work. I got really interested in what does the future of work look like. That got me thinking — if the Uber driver can have flexibility, then why can’t people working in restaurants, hotels and other industries?
How did you fund it, and how are you funding it going forward?
I raised $4 million in venture capital and then funded it personally. I didn’t take a salary and then went in with four others. We raised funds for about six months. Then I shopped it around, and then we raised some capital to build a prototype.
Are there advantages/disadvantages to starting a business in your 20s, and if so, what are they?
You stand out because you are so young. You also get a fresh look at things. Having a fresh lens, especially if you are trying to do something creative or innovative, helps a lot. We don’t have 20 to 25 years of a network built up. One of the big challenges is not having those long-term relationships, especially when it comes to hiring.
Do you feel that your business is particularly tailored to the Los Angeles market, or do you feel you could have launched it in another location?
It works anywhere, but in L.A., there are a lot of folks who are working multiple gigs. There are a lot of people who are pursuing a side passion.
Do you encounter skepticism from investors because of your age, and if so, how do you handle it?
I don’t think they outright say they won’t invest in you because of your age. Everyone has been in a pitch meeting when they say, ‘I like your idea, but come back later when…’ Every company has encountered those things. I don’t know if you can tie that directly to age or being a woman in the industry.
Does social responsibility play a role in your business?
One of the things we try to do is help people that are working for hourly jobs have a little bit more control and flexibility. Inherently we think about the social good component. Hopefully we are providing some value back to the community, inherently in our product and what we do.
What do you do for fun?
I love to travel. I love the outdoors and things like hiking and running. Like many others in their 20s, I like hanging out with my friends. I live in Playa Vista, and I do the steps in Culver City, hiking in Malibu. I try to run 2 miles a day.
Do you have a mentor?
I have a lot of mentors. Three in particular, one is Forrest Hobbs, chief revenue officer of Relflektive Inc. He has a great background in sales. Betsy Peck, a former chief operating officer at Jones Lang LaSalle. She’s great when it comes to sales strategy, business development and people management. Once or twice a week, I email her with questions. And there’s Dan Tyre, the director of HubSpot. He is like a friend and personal coach. Sometime it’s somewhat lonely; you can’t talk to the investors or the people on your team.
How much time/money do you spend on social media for your business?
Brand awareness is important. We have one full-time person who does content, blog posts and social media. Anything we do content-wise drives leads, which in turn, turns into sales.