Ricardo Carrion

MBA '04

Founder & CEO, Stirit Storage

Could you provide a brief recap of your career since graduating?

After Owen, I was very eager to apply my hands-on global experience with all the theoretical exposure to Strategy, Finance, Human Resources, and Marketing obtained at Owen. This led me to pursue a position inside a Management Consulting firm, Adjoined Consulting, where I was part of the strategy practice and developed solutions for US Fortune 100 companies. After almost two years, I decided to transition into the logistics service industry, DHL. My consultative selling capabilities plus my supply chain experience were a great fit. I also wanted to get back on the other side of the table, where I would be able to see the evolution of the concepts created in the design room. My global experience, mixed with the responsibility of leading a business unit inside a region, also aligned with my entrepreneurial spirit. As a result, I did this for almost 14 years until I finally decided to make the jump into launching my dream business.

What is your company? What served as the biggest motivator or influence in starting your company?

My company is Stirit Storage. Stirit Storage is the intersection of the self-storage service, as we know it, with technology, providing a full-service concierge storage solution that enables the storage service without leaving your home. The UBER of self-storage!

For many years my vision has been to evolve into an entrepreneur. This vision started during my consulting years when I started having the recurring thought “…I wonder what I could be able to build if I spent these many hours on my own project…”. This recurring thought followed me for many years, and it started making more sense the more I read and learned about entrepreneurship and start-ups. By documenting and learning allowed me to filter ideas and conclude that the business needed to be in an area that I was very familiar with. This driving thought triggered me to be constantly on the lookout for market needs in the industry or industries I was related to. In 2018, I came up with the idea for Stirit Storage. The concept of Stirit Storage is to build on the sharing economy and app development. This meant that I would use global supply chain management concepts in the management of personal belongings. The need for packing, moving, and storage could now be hired through your phone or computer, and the user would have real-time visibility on the moving and storage process as well. A solution very similar to that provided by Uber or Amazon.

 The biggest motivator to start Stirit Storage was my interest in becoming an entrepreneur and the challenge to apply my experience inside corporate America to my own organization.

What is the most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur, and how have you overcome this challenge?

I would consider two aspects as the most challenging in being an entrepreneur. These are loneliness and the discipline or vision to be “On the business and not IN the business.” In order to combat the loneliness factor, I focused on networking with other entrepreneurs, and I joined an Advisory Board. The Advisory Board experience was very helpful because it allowed me to interact with other CEO’s/Founders and we were able to share common ideas as well as interact with professionals that had already gone through similar challenges.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of being an entrepreneur and founder is to be ON the business and not IN the business. As a start-up founder, there are many areas that are unknown, so there is always the feeling of – I have never been here – and as a result, the never trafficked terrain can create angst. I wish I had a clear recommendation for this, and I feel I am still learning. I can say that getting surrounded by capable and curious professionals is important to invest in human capital.

What qualities are most important to possess as an entrepreneur?

I consider the ideal qualities for an entrepreneur are:

Vision – It is key to have a clear vision of your product and the direction your business will take.

Many times, being able to see a different world, one impacted by your business, will be a huge driver for your push.

Grit – The determination to push through the different challenges that the market puts in front of you and also to push through the different demands that starting a business creates.

Sales – Perhaps the most important aspect of an entrepreneur. You could have created the best solution or the best product, but if you are not promoting it or your customers are not talking about your product, you will not be affecting growth.

Analysis – Knowing where you are on the development of your business and seeing how you stand with your expectations is key. Have the facts to determine if you should continue down the path, or do you need to take a different path, or do you need to pull the breaks!

What are you most proud of about your business?

Where do I start?! I am most proud of having created something and taken it from a concept to a self-standing business with real customers and partnerships. The memories of two years ago reviewing spreadsheets, databases, and power points developing the concept for Stirit Storage are extremely gratifying. Now, two years later, with an ongoing business with specific customers and clear target markets is extremely gratifying and exciting.

What advice do you have for students as they launch their business? Are there any tools you consistently use as an entrepreneur?

The most important pieces of advice from my perspective are to know your business, start now, sell, network, and have fun!

Know your business – As we become entrepreneurs, we need to know everything related to our industry and our business. If we do not understand the industry or know the product and the real impact of the solution provided, we will be taken by our competitors.

Start now – We need to understand that we need to start now! In business, we cannot risk “Paralysis by analysis,” waiting to have everything in place before we can get started in our business.

Sell – As entrepreneurs, we cannot stop selling, learning about our customers and their needs.

Network – The power of networking is HUGE. It is key to meet somebody that could be a potential customer, investor, or friend.

Have fun – Many times, we get so caught up in the launching of our project or day-to-day operations that we forget to have fun.

What do you do to live a balanced life? Do you have any interesting or fun hobbies?

Sports and family. I feel that as an entrepreneur, we can get very bogged into pushing for the success of our business, and as a result, we put these items on the side, GUILTY! I am now returning to sports and making sure that I prioritize a workout every day. The opportunity to put the business off for an hour allows us to restart daily, and at the same time, endorphins are a good thing! Our biggest supporters are our family, not only when things are good or bad, but also, they become informal Board Members. They are a great source of guidance and support.