Meet Joe Casanova, the founder and CEO of Furlough, a digital community that empowers brand owners, startup founders, entrepreneurs, and marketing professionals to grow and succeed through collaboration.
His diverse experiences in several industries, all share one thing in common, a passion for helping people scale their business, brand, or professional career.
Joe founded Furlough with the goal of creating an open community where digital workers from any background could collaborate, mentor each other, and establish new business opportunities.
Today, Furlough is an active community of more than 15-thousand digital professionals, providing business development and growth opportunities on a daily basis.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Joe Casanova: Thank you for this opportunity – I’m Joe Casanova and I’m the founder and CEO of Furlough: a digital community of brand owners, startup founders, entrepreneurs and marketing professionals that empowers growth and success through collaboration.
Over the course of my career, I’ve worn many hats in several different industries. All of those experiences are tied together by one common thread: I’m driven by a passion for helping people scale their business, brand, or professional career as a whole.
Climbing the ladder in a number of industries opened my eyes to the value of mentorship and collaboration. I’ve found that many professionals – particularly young pros who are trying to develop their careers – are stunting their career growth because they don’t have access to mentorship or collaboration opportunities.
I launched Furlough with the goal of creating an open community where digital workers from any background could collaborate, mentor one another, and strike up new business opportunities.
Today, Furlough is an active community of more than 15-thousand digital professionals – many of whom fit into a growing demographic that sits somewhere between freelancer, entrepreneur, and brand owner – which fosters business development and growth opportunities on a daily basis
If you were in an elevator with Warren Buffett, how would you describe your company, your services or products? What makes your company different from others? What is your company’s biggest strength?
Joe Casanova: Even if there were two thousand floors in this elevator, I’d be too short on time to explain all the value that Furlough provides. At its core, Furlough is a collaborative ecosystem of digital professionals – born from a group of solopreneurs coming together to network, learn, and grow through live events.
Collaboration occurs organically in our digital community of more than 15-thousand digital pros – and Furlough also hosts daily live events aimed at fostering real-time collaboration, education, personal growth, and/or business development.
Each individual’s experience with Furlough is unique, depending on who they are and where they are in their professional journey. For example: someone who is a seasoned professional will have a completely different experience than someone who is joining Furlough to learn a new skill, industry, or niche from scratch.
Furlough’s biggest strength – and the thing that sets us apart – is that we didn’t begin by trying to prove a business model. Instead, we started by building a community. That community quickly began to expand, and showed a unique ability to spur collaboration. We soon began looking for ways that we could provide even more value for the community.
The answer was through products such as Phigital – a clothing line that rewards you with free digital products (i.e. guides, worksheets, templates, ebooks, etc.) for every purchase, or our franchising model that provides aspiring pros with the necessary tools, resources and support to start their own successful marketing agency under the Furlough brand.
At Furlough, we’re constantly striving for new ways to create value for our community.
What advice do you wish you received when you started your business journey and what do you intend on improving in the next quarter?
Joe Casanova: The biggest lesson I’ve learned that I wish I understood from the beginning was the idea of letting products, relationships and initiatives mature. Where you start is not where you end, and in the past, I’ve found myself frustrated because I felt we should be moving more quickly than we were.
During the crypto bull run of 2022, for example, I saw all these successful launches (many of which have now failed) and kept hoping that our community would be ready for join them. At the time, we weren’t – and I now realize that was OK.
The same goes with product development: your MVP is not your finished product, and sometimes the most important thing you can do is absolutely nothing. Just wait, let your users use the product enough for you to be able to get real, actionable feedback, and then use that feedback to take your product to the next level. The same applies with people.
When hiring someone new to an organization there is a ramp-up period due to onboarding and training. It’s critical to understand people, the roles they play, and the time they need to get comfortable in the position they’re in.
Online business keeps on surging higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for the year to come and how are you capitalizing on the tidal wave?
Joe Casanova: At Furlough, our focus for the coming year is developing our digital space, where remote workers can get real-time support from their peers. This is raw value at its core and will be the biggest factor in what sets us apart in the future.
To understand why, we need to go backwards a bit. Before the pandemic, Furlough owned a few boutique hotels in the Mayan Riviera with incredibly fast internet speed to attract American remote workers. During the pandemic, we lost the hotels, causing us to pivot our business model. Ironically enough, it took the entire world going on furlough for the Furlough community to come to life.
We’ve since gone all-in on remote work. We leverage our discord server as our digital coworking space, and the majority of conversations on our channels involve something related to B2B, B2C, DTC, and/or SAAS.
Connecting with like-minded professionals, in real time – with just a click of a button – for free. Where else can you do that?
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as THE real challenge right now?
Joe Casanova: Every day, we’re asked this question, and every day, we give a different answer. As an entrepreneur, overcoming obstacles is something we’re constantly dealing with. As Willy Jolie said, a setback is a setup for a comeback and these obstacles tend to catapult us with new opportunities.
The biggest challenge we face is that we are largely operating in uncharted territory. The Furlough community is on the front lines of innovation, and we’re constantly in the process of learning on-the-fly. What we’re doing is new – so there’s no guidelines to follow.
Right now, we’re pushing the boundaries with new tech projects – several of which are currently in stealth – aimed at things like verifiable credentials and tokenization. But one example that we’re rolling out publicly right now is our franchising model.
Generally, agencies don’t offer franchising services. However, this is something we wanted to introduce to our community to support the next generation. There’s no reason to build a company from scratch when you can collaborate with us; we’ll pair you up with mentors who have a proven track record, and ensure that you deliver for your clients.
We’ll give you all the assets you need, support on servicing the brands, constantly audit your accounts and even drive new leads. You just handle what’s important. The challenge here? The closest reference we had when building this model was Chick-Fil-A – a far leap from what we’re doing at Furlough.
In your experience, what tends to be the most underestimated part of running a company? Can you share an example?
Joe Casanova: I believe that everyone can be an entrepreneur. Whether they really want to become one, however, is a different story. As an entrepreneur you trade the 9-to-5 work life for a 24/7 shift.
The worst part is that most times, you’re doing it with a significant pay cut. Unless you have a nice fund behind you, or raised for your company, the reality is you’re probably spending a lot more time than you’d expect managing cash flow.
There are so many factors that come into play when you’re a business owner. Software costs build up, labor has gotten very expensive recently, and if you’re B2B, clients can disappear to only re-emerge a month later. Understanding your cash flow and reporting is crucial if you want your business to survive.
At heart, I’m a marketer – but as a CEO you tend to put on a ton of different hats. As much as I hate spreadsheets, I’ve found myself putting on the accountant hat quite often. Understanding what is necessary for success – and having the drive and work ethic to make it happen – is critical for any business leader.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Joe Casanova: If I could have any superpower in business, I would choose to read minds. That way, I could understand people’s motives. People are inherently selfish (as they should be!) and understanding what their goals are is crucial in aligning interests.
Far too often I invest a lot of time into someone for them to just disappear off the face of the earth a few weeks later. If I knew what their intentions were and what they truly wanted out of the collaboration, I could make adjustments that would better suit their needs.
There are times where I collaborate with someone who reassures me they are all in, but if I read their mind, I would’ve known that they truly didn’t know what they wanted. They seemed to only agree because an obvious opportunity was there.
Understanding what ignites someone, and what fires their passion, is such a superpower in itself. Get someone doing what they love and they’ll outwork someone who hates their job ten times over. I only want this super power in business because if I had that in my personal life I think I’d end up losing my mind!
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Joe Casanova for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Joe Casanova or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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