“With my vision and direction, Daniel began building my website in time for launch.”

One of my recent projects is with food entrepreneur, Sarah Kay Hoffman.

Sarah spent the last few years building a trusted community around her passion for food and fitness. Her passion, combined with her community, turned A Loving Spoon into an overnight success. This is a guest post written by Sarah.

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Sarah Kay HoffmanThis has all happened really fast for me, but it got pretty serious around April when I reached out to several different people to let them know about what I was doing to gather thoughts and feedback. I messaged Daniel on LinkedIn, and filled him in just a little bit.

Almost immediately he sent me back a thoughtful message and asked if I might need help with “web stuff.” Truthfully, I didn’t think I would. I mean, I already had “a gutsy girl” and I didn’t think the brand would get to the point of needing its own site. But I said that perhaps I would. We could continue conversations.

Conversations began almost immediately, and they were daily.

A Loving Spoon

At the time, I didn’t even know that is was going to be “a loving spoon.” I had several ideas – the ultimate vision, but I can remember a few times brainstorming with Daniel….bouncing ideas and getting feedback on my vision.

In the beginning it wasn’t that I wanted to start a “nut butter business,” per se. It’s that I wanted to develop a product that not only tasted delicious, could be a “dessert” staple for myself and my health coaching clients, but was also completely free of all the traditional junk added to that product. My passion for food as a healing instrument simply lead me to the business side of it.

Once the main things were set, I decided that yes, perhaps a website was imminent 🙂
A Loving Spoon Nut Butter

Hosting, Website, and Email

Daniel set me up with my own web hosting account and built a custom WordPress theme and e-commerce shopping cart so I was able to access and edit the site if I needed to.

He also set up my business email addresses and forwarding so that I could receive everything in one spot – the lovely Gmail. As an entrepreneur, these very simple actions have saved me so much time. These days, time is my best friend!

With my vision and direction, Daniel began building my website in time for launch. We went back-and-forth, forth-and-back until everything was set.

Sometimes I’d want something minuscule changed, and Daniel simply just did it – immediately. He made sure that everything looked and functioned exactly the way I wanted it.

Ebook Design, Payments, and Automatic Delivery

Sarah Kay Hoffman Chocolate Cherry Brownies RecipeFor the initial launch of the site, I also launched my summer eats, treats & desserts ebook.

I excel at creating recipes, writing content and helping people with food and lifestyle heal their bodies (oh yeah, and I’m also pretty damn good at nut butter’ing!)

But I’m not good at putting it all together into an ebook format. I don’t have the patience to design a cover, and I certainly don’t have the patience to format and do the more “technical” aspects of an ebook.

Sarah Kay Hoffman Recipe Ebook

I literally just gave Daniel my vision for the cover, all content and recipes, images and any other pertinent information. He took it and created it into the ebook you see here.

If your goal is ebook sales (and likely it is), working with Daniel will be easy. For me, he designed and developed a landing page for the ebook with payment integration and automatic file delivery. Again, saved me so much time. Invaluable.

Support

We recently launched version 2 of the site. As with any launch, especially when money exchanges are involved, there will be initial hiccups. When I found out that a customer was confused or having problems, I sent them to Daniel and he rectified the situation immediately….within 3 minutes probably.
Kay from A Loving Spoon

Branding

Because I worked with Daniel from the beginning on this, he was able to bring to the table additional ideas that I might adopt. One was “my girl.”

She is the brand face and a cartoon-ish figure. I fell in love with her immediately. My friends and family said she was absolutely perfect for me.

I appreciated the slight suggestion from Daniel, which ended up turning into one of the brand’s staples.

“Dan is one of the most dedicated mentors I’ve ever worked with.”

I asked Josh if he could put together a few sentences about our time working together. He went above and beyond anything I was expecting.

Josh, you blew me away with your post. It’s been too long since I’ve felt inspired to keep moving. You are an incredible dude, and if there is anything you need just let me know.

I met Josh Rosenheck in 2010. I gave a 10 minute talk to the Rutgers University Honors Program which Josh was a student of. My talk was meant to encourage the students to attend a hands-on workshop I was building with the Dean of Honors, Matt Matsuda. We named the workshop, Design Your Future.

Josh was already busy working on his first company, LifeStencils. He partnered with a group of artists from around the country to produce some of the most original and unique pieces of artwork in the world. Soon after, he launched his first mobile application, Shots iGot. The app lets you take a picture of any bottle filled with alcohol and it tells you how many shots you have in that bottle. In the last year, Josh created a second mobile app, MarcoPolo. This app received national attention as well as a Series A investment. It’s now called Tag.

I dig the Tag app. I can “Tag” my contacts into groups, send private messages, include pictures, and give them exact directions to wherever I am. All I have to do is Tag them. I’m using it as the invitation and direction service for my birthday party in October. Download the location-based app and you might just get tagged by me with an invitation to my birthday.

Update: since writing this post, Josh negotiated a deal with Mark Cuban and successfully exited. Incredible story from sitting with him in a workshop after his honors class to five years later getting bought by one of the world’s most successful investors. Nice work, Josh. Nice work.

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Josh Rosenheck Found of Tag AppIt has been a great honor and a real pleasure to work with Dan for the past four years. We met at a Rutgers University workshop he was hosting on SEO. I attended as a student, and immediately took notice of Dan’s composure, positive energy, and ability to put complex ideas into simple terms.

At the time, I was very inexperienced (building my first drag-and-drop website), and had never heard of SEO. In years to come, I would become close friends with Dan, and consult him on my various projects.

I have now started three successful businesses, reached Top 10 Paid Entertainment Apps in the App Store, and raised over $3 million from great angel investors including Eduardo Saverin & Tim Draper.

I owe a lot to Dan for being that initial spark of inspiration that motivated me to go for it all.

Self-motivated and passionate, with boundless energy, he is brilliant, proactive, and brings out the best in me. I strongly endorse Dan and I wish him the best he deserves for the future.

“I am a business owner of 16 years, and wanted to take my jewelry business to the next level.”

The following is a testimonial written by the business owner, Sofia Mullen.

I am Sofia Mullen, a business owner of 16 years, and wanted to take my jewelry business to the next level. I commissioned Daniel DAlonzo to create my website, and I cannot rave enough about his talents and professionalism! The site is absolutely beautiful! He has incorporated all the necessary visual and functional components for my online business to be successful. I would highly recommend his services as he truly knows his business. Partner with Daniel and you too will be astounded by his recommendations and ultimately your new found success!

Sofia Mullen Jewelry is a boutique located in Boca Raton, Florida. Sofia has been successful selling her designer jewelry, but she didn’t have a web presence. Sofia wanted to be able to manage her website and products on her own. She didn’t want to have to rely on someone to make small changes here and there. I don’t blame her. I told her I don’t want her to have to ask me either!

Sofia’s business will be even more successful than it is now because she understood the value in learning how to manage her e-commerce jewelry store. Sure, she could have paid someone monthly or per hour to help her. However, Sofia knows that her customers need things immediately. We live in a world where competition is everywhere. People leave your website to save a few pennies by purchasing from another e-commerce store. Sofia Mullen told she doesn’t have time to wait for a service provider to make the changes to her e-commerce jewelry store.

In order to accomplish Sofia’s goals she will need consistent training and a custom dashboard built specifically for her business model. One size does NOT fit all.

I built Sofia a private “Upload” page where she can upload her new products on her own. This allowed us to remove a few unnecessary steps of Sofia sending me product info, me downloading the product images, me uploading the products into the e-commerce website, then finally show Sofia what the product looks like on the site. The Upload page allowed Sofia to be in complete control from start to finish. She is able to title each product exactly how she wants. She is able to see whether the product image works with a particular style, and it allowed me to focus on building the next automated feature set into her e-commerce website.

Before the site officially launches Sofia will have a private client dashboard where she will upload and manage products, track inventory, monitor transactions, and send marketing emails to her customers.

Sofia is motivated and talented. Don’t be surprised when you see her popping up across the country in the few months.Services Provided: website design, e-commerce, custom client dashboard so Sofia can manage the store on the front-end of the website, payment gateway, email marketing, automation, user experience, user interface, idea development, startup mentorship.

 

“One of my proudest accomplishments from the summer was when I finished my first ebook!”

With a little push from my boss, Dan, I was led in a good direction and learned how to become a real ‘professional’ in just a matter of days. I’m still learning, but with the right guidance, you start to figure out how to do things on your own and following in his steps, I can see a real success in what I’m doing.

One of my proudest accomplishments from the summer was when I finished my first ebook!

facebook marketing ebookI think the main part of being a community manager is being able to multi-task, stay very organized as there are a lot of little tasks and things to do. However, the best part of working for a social media company is actually seeing the accomplishments and results right before your eyes. So far, this internship has taught me a lot of skills about management and has reestablished my beliefs in companies succeeding and benefiting from the help of social media. It feels good to make a difference with digital.

If you have the opportunity to work with Dan I promise you won’t forget it!

Sincerely,

Jenn Headley | Community Manager, moxieTODAY 2011

“Dan shows our students opportunities they weren’t aware of…”

I asked Aramis for this interview because we did a lot of work together over the course of about three years.

Aramis Gutierrez, Director of the Rutgers Future Scholars Program

Aramis always looked out for me, he always hired me for new media projects with the Rutgers Future Scholars Program, and he always had great advice. Aramis is an inspiring individual who has brought the RFS program to new levels each year. He plays an integral role in impacting 200 new students each year, and has changed the outcomes for thousands of youth. I was honored when he asked me to start teaching new media composition to the scholars in addition to producing short videos.

In this video, Aramis speaks to my work as a teacher, mentor, coach, and marketing and design consultant:

Thank you for everything, Aramis.

“Daniel can take a student of any age and immerse them in an experience which will crack open their potential”.

Sindy and SimonHi my name is Simon Gabriel and I am a scholar in the first cohort of a new program offered by the Action Horizon Institute of Technology.

I asked Daniel if I could write this post because I want to make sure you know what the program is like from the perspective of a student in the program. Before I made the decision to apply I was hesitant because I didn’t want to do anything “school related”. I did not do well in school and I was not accepted into college. Why would I try to get into another school-related program if they don’t seem to want me?

How does Daniel find students to be in the program?

Daniel was in search of recent high school graduates who were still finding their way in life and had a lot of potential to do great things. To find these students, he reached out to the Princeton High School Guidance office. His first point of contact was with the Director of Community Service and Tutoring Programs, Dr. Andrea Dinan.

Daniel said that his circle of influence in this situation was Dr. Dinan. He always teaches us about the process he’s going through so that we learn how to use the same ideas for accomplishing our own ideas and starting our own initiatives in the local community. I also liked that he asked us for our ideas on how to improve the program and always wanted to know when we liked and disliked something. It made me feel like I was important.

Through the relationship Daniel developed with Dr. Dinan, he was able to start the process of connecting with students like me. Dr. Dinan spoke with other guidance counselors as well as recent graduates like myself in order to setup a time for an initial meeting. I am thankful to Dr. Dinan for going out of her way to facilitate the connection between Daniel and I.

Initial Meeting

My high school guidance counselor, Kristina Donovan, heard from Dr. Dinan that there was a new program being planned to help high school graduates “carve out a place for themselves in the new economy”. Kristina mentioned to Dr. Dinan that I might be a good fit. The next step was to meet Daniel in person. Dr. Dinan scheduled a time for the three of us to meet at the Princeton Public Library.

When Daniel and I met for the first time we immediately clicked. I could tell he knew what he was doing. There was no doubt that he is on a mission to help others.

Vision Talks and Champagne Moments

The next time we met was with one additional student, Sindy (that’s me and her in the picture at the top of this post!). We met at small world coffee on Witherspoon in Princeton. Daniel asked us about our future. He asked us to think about our purpose. He asked us what our vision was for the world. These were all questions I had not thought about before. It was hard to talk about these ideas at first, but after a few minutes it started picking up speed. I liked that we took turns being the center of attention for each other. When it was my turn, Daniel and Sindy focused on me and my future. They helped me come up with a long list of ideas that might help me reach my long and short term goals.

Dan called completing these small goals “champagne moments” which means to me a moment that I can celebrate and look back at with joy – it is a moment when I know that I have achieved something that I had to work hard for. He used the comparison to the Stanley Cup championship. When a team wins the last game of the hockey season there is champagne spraying everything, people are screaming, and it’s obvious that this “champagne moment” is a sign that the players on that team have made it the place they worked so hard to get to. Daniel asked us to think about a moment like that for own lives. We out lined these goals and talked about our passions and what we want to do with them in the future and how our passions could help the community.

Mozilla Learning Club

He helped culminate our past experiences and consolidate them into a portfolio. We started to meet every Wednesday to discuss our progress and share any obstacles we were running into so that members of the community could help us brainstorm solutions. Daniel applied to Mozilla to get our group recognized as a Mozilla Learning Club – they accepted us and listed us on their website in less than 72 hours.

Mozilla Learning Club Action Horizon Institute

Since that second meeting in September I have had a few good champagne moments like getting my driver’s license, building a digital portfolio to showcase my skills and experiences, and I narrowed down my list of goals to accomplish. Over the next few months this evolved into my professional career plan. Basically, it is a snapshot of my future and it outlines the next 6-12 months in detail and highlights a few potential moments in the distant future – my plan reaches out about five years into the future.

Roadmap – Professional Career Plan – Personal Learning Plan

Daniel worked closely with me these last few months on my roadmap, or as he calls it: professional career plan. It took me a long time to finish because it required many drafts and brainstorming sessions and feedback from the other scholars, my mentors, and my family. Some days I would meet with Daniel one-to-one, and others with the group. It depended on what the purpose of the meeting was.

In order to hold myself accountable I published the plan on the home page of my new digital portfolio that Daniel helped me build. I built the entire website on my own – Daniel was next to me to show me how to work through the process, but I was still able to do it all on my own. I did not realize how much planning and effort goes into making a really nice product. We probably spent about three hours just doing the planning. Daniel helped me lay out a prototype of the site on a desk in order to help me think through potential ideas and get closer to a refined outline. After a total of about 10 hours working together on the website I am already so much more advanced than I was when we started. I am doing things on my own, I can edit most parts of the site without help, and I am beginning to write updates on the site to make sure you know what I am up to and what cool stuff I am experiencing and learning. Not to mention, I have an awesome website to document my travels now!

Now I am confident about the plan and each part seems to be realistic for me to accomplish. The plan will change from time to time, but if I stay on track I can look back in five years and see that I just arrived to the place in my life that I thought was nearly impossible to reach.

Create new opportunities for yourself

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to be a scholar in the first cohort of Action Horizon Institute of Technology.

Daniel can take a student of any age and immerse them in an experience which will “crack open their potential”, as he likes to call the process, and make it easy for them to advocate for themselves through new media, volunteer work, mentorship, and self-directed learning and life planning.

The end goal as I see it is to teach the student how to pursue their passion and make it into a flourishing business with the potential of helping other.

The only reason I was willing to first meet with Daniel was because I had a great relationship with my guidance counselor. When she insisted that I at least meet with Daniel to hear him out I had a feeling I should probably listen to her advice.

I wanted to write this post for Daniel because he really went out of his way for us this semester. Trust me, he knows more about what you might going through than you think because he was once in your position. Give him and the program a shot – it will improve your life.

Since working with Daniel I have been inspired to think bigger about what I can do in my life. He helped me see that my life experiences are the things that determine where my life goes. He helped me believe in my ability to pursue my passions, and also how to build the plan that I can follow in order to realize my dreams. It might sound cheesy, but I think that’s because it’s THAT good.

I am excited to meet all of the new scholars in the second cohort which starts in March 2016. I will be back from my trip to India in time for the first meetup – see you then!

Sincerely,

Simon Gabriel, Founding Scholar

Action Horizon Institute of Technology