Helen K., Vice President of City National Bank, sat down with Slava Borisov, CEO of DDC Group Inc, to have a candid interview about the inception of his business as well as advice for entrepreneurs! Here is the exclusive interview with Slava Borisov.
Helen K.: When I heard Slava’s story, it just touched me so much like he was brave enough to be very vulnerable and share the complete story and not golden story. It touched my heart I definitely had to feature you Slava. If you don’t mind when I asked you, how did you start?
Well, yeah the biggest thing is really exciting and coming to a new city, but the biggest thing when you’re coming into business, it could be a job you’ve been looking for and I think a lot of the misconceptions people think starting a business or venture is easy. But, one thing I really want to see is not necessarily your highlight reel but your highlight reel that no one talks about. I had the opportunity to, I’m lucky enough where we immigrated here, at that time was the USSR when it got broken up in Russia. With 6 brothers and sisters to the U.S. to New York and then my parents moved to Seattle and from there did most of my childhood and early adulthood. When I moved to Los Angeles I lived out of my car for two weeks while looking for work. I applied to over a thousand corporate jobs and this was the worst time as the economy literally crashed. So I had the opportunity to come in at the lowest level and slowly built that up and I saw an opportunity in the commercial retail, marketing, restaurant market for construction and dove head first and learned the hard way, the challenges, the tribulations, from marketing to sales
H.K.: Well that’s my point, you learned the hard way which is okay right and what fascinated me about you is that you still kept at it, you said I’m not gonna give up. So, tell me what that looked like, how did it feel and what gave you the drive to keep pushing to get your business to where it’s at today?
When it comes to a certain point, as you can see with the employees, clients, as well, it’s not about unity more it’s about the micro-economy that you built up. So, the employees here are depending on you to make the right decision and sometimes, the right decision is failure. Believe it or not, a lot of people think that’s a bad thing but when you’re looking at it, the main thing is moving forward with momentum. I truly believe you can fall flat on your face, you can be full time sprinting and any part of your life or your business. But, moving forward is the most important thing. So that’s really what I’ve learned and I think that’s really what drives things forward. For a lot of people when the setback happens, it can be in business it can be at the workplace and they stop, and they regret, and they look back at their past, what happened, what didn’t happen. But, no matter what, it can be inch by inch or moving forward that’s really what matters and they’ll be days and times where you don’t want to do that, right? And you don’t want to move forward, but the little things discipline, habits, that’s where those kick in. And that’s really what it comes down to, even to this day every business at a certain point there maturity fades as it moves on, and every business has a bell curve from the inception phase, it starts hyper-growth, maturity phase, and like any other business it starts to decline. So do how you avoid that bell curve on the way down, that’s the key and innovate. So we’ve done it our business the same way. We’re not in the construction business and unfortunately our clients here, “oh yeah you guys built for us.” Yes, we are, but we’re in the content people business. That’s the most important thing, we want to connect micro-communities and create those micro-communities, micro-economies all over the world. That’s our mission statement. That’s what we want to do and empower that and we’ve done so even here what you see this is a micro-community within Downtown Los Angeles, but we empower all over the United States where we provide our projects. Each retail or restaurant that goes up, 250 people were affected by that. Part time workers later that come in, employees that work full time and managers as well as they have that micro-economy and that’s exciting for us.
H.K.: So, tell them about the type of projects that you do. And what I liked about his projects is that he actually has a system put in place where everything is monitored real time for his clients where everything is transparent like having a camera in your own house where you want to make sure all your assets are protected and same goes for his clients. They actually get to log online with the technology that we have. He’s learned how to utilize that to your advantage, to the client’s advantage to make sure people are doing what they say they’re supposed to be doing, everyday the project is moving forward and there’s progress being made. So what do your client’s say about that when you show them that they can go online and see every phase and every second of the moment and what is being done, what is being executed?
Yeah, we’re currently taking the tools and enhancing them. We didn’t create the camera, we didn’t create the live platform, we’re just enhancing it. And that’s what we’re doing with technology. The industry we’re in, the construction industry is so delayed behind where people don’t want nobody to know what’s going on. Everything is always the same, double the cost, double the schedule, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s the only industry in real estate, I truly believe that’s so lagged behind. We’re providing a full transparent process. We call it the Inevitable Revolution because it’s here. It’s having a baby monitor, literally, because your project is your baby. It can be anywhere from half a million upwards to multi-million dollar projects, why not have that access in your hands, or on your phone or your iPad.
So, what we’ve done is team up with Arlo. All of our sites have live access cameras and it’s being recorded and we provide it to all of our clients, transparency. So, if we’re not doing something, they can see that and it’s accountability. We’ve provided live schedule updates, the schedule gets updated, the client gets an alert. They can see that as well. It creates more accountability for us. We’ve also implemented no change order policy as well as the 202 Approach where if we don’t deliver 2 weeks early on our retail stores and restaurants that are 10 weeks or longer original schedule, we give back 20% of the entire contract. But, its one of those things that when people here that they’re like how are you guys able to do that? It creates the right type of pressure and accountability that nobody wants to do. Contractors hear this, they’re like how are you guys doing this, why are you doing this for us? But, the industry is changing and 10 years from now down the road, robots will be hanging dry wall. I truly believe in transparency. Does it hurt us providing full accountability and transparency, some people think so, but I think it allows us to really move the needle and everybody else too. It’s not just the contractor has access to that, just like anything else, why not have access to that.
Buy something from Amazon, you go on FedEx and continue tracking your package. So why not have a restaurant that’s being built with your life savings into it, why not have 24/7 live access at the same time?
H.K.: What I like for you to do is advise business owners or to individuals who have a dream have a mission and they get to that point where they fall short. What is your best suggestion?
Well I have a quote I truly live by that is from a Navy Seal, “the tougher the conditions, the more I like my odds.” I think too much of the separation of success, all it is the the habitual things. 99% of the work that people see is the highlight reel.