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Entrepreneur Profile

by Samira Asemanfar

January 24, 2012 | 10:58 am

Omid Shokoufandeh (L) and Michael Meschures (R)

When I was thinking of first starting up my own business, all I did was read bios and profiles of entrepreneurs. I wanted to hear what they had to say. So now the tables have turned and I want to share the words of two guys who started a company together called Spaphile. Founded in 2010, Spaphile.com is an online marketing platform that exclusively features discounted services from spas, salons, and other health and beauty treatment centers. They provide users with information about health and beauty as well as deluxe perks such as events and giveaways.

Founders
Michael Meschures & Omid Shokoufandeh, both age 24

What led you to start your own company?
Michael: After working at companies in Public Relations and Business Management, I wanted to set out and do my own thing.  I met with a friend who started his own business and told me about his run.  I realized the risk involved, but was more enthralled about the possibilities and opportunities.  As a result, I took a chance.
Omid: Personally, I wanted to be an entrepreneur and start something successful that brings value to people.  It also doesn’t hurt to be your own boss!

Tell me about a challenge you faced that you had not anticipated?
Michael: Starting your own business takes time.  You cannot expect to make tons of money in the first couple years.  It takes a lot of inner drive and patience in order to brand your company the way you envision it.
Omid: I face challenges everyday that I don’t anticipate!  That’s probably the most interesting and most challenging part of running your own business - the everyday unknowns. You really have to be versatile and be capable of dealing with every aspect of the company, but at the end of the day you’re better for it and you grow with your company.

To date, what is your biggest success?
Michael: Our company had to pull together a red carpet celebrity event in less than 10 days.  We made every minute of each day count leading up to the event and as a result, we were able to execute a really successful event for our client.
Omid: Our biggest success to date is throwing a red carpet event for a merchant as a grand opening attraction.  We coordinated gift bags, drink and food sponsors, and confirmed celebrity attendees all with only one weeks notice!

Would you ever work for anyone else?
Omid: Everyday I work for someone and those are our customers! 
Michael: After starting my own business, it is difficult to consider going back to work for someone else.  However, with that said, I don’t think it is out of the question.

How do you feel your company stands out against other deal sites?
Omid: I think we bring a whole new experience that other deal sites don’t offer. We engage our users online and offline and we do that by throwing free events and giving out free services.  We target the Health and Beauty sector and our aim is to be the authority regarding that whole industry.
Michael: Our company is a niche (health, beauty and fitness) and as a result, it caters to a target demographic that merchants want to see in their spa, salon and fitness shops.  Spaphile prides itself more on the quality of the customer rather than the quantity.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started being in business?
Omid: Always maintain good relationships, you never know when someone might be able to help you.
Michael: You will have a million and one things to do one day and two things to do the next.  I think the most valuable lesson I learned thus far is managing my time while prioritizing which tasks need to be done.

If another aspiring entrepreneur were to ask you for one piece of advice, what would you tell them?
Michael: Have a goal in mind and stick to it.  Along the way, you may be forced to modify your goal but never lose sight of why you’re doing what you’re doing. 
Omid: Be passionate about what you want to do and don’t let outside voices influence you negatively!

Fun facts:
Omid and Michael have been friends from childhood and coach now coach soccer.
Michael volunteers as a board member for Sinai Temple’s young professionals group, ATID.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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After graduating from the Marshall School of Business at USC in 2004, Samira Asemanfar of Los Angeles California joined KPMG, LLP as an internal auditor and SOX compliance...

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