Born and raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and as seen on ABC’s hit show Shark Tank—Robbie Cabral is the inventor, Founder, and CEO of BenjiLock, the world’s first traditional padlock with fingerprint technology.
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NO child ever says I want to be a CEO when I grow up. What did you want to be and how did you get to where you are today? Give us some lessons you learned along the way.
Robbie Cabral: I came to the United States in 2007 with dreams of pursuing a music career, but things didn’t pan out. The journey has not been as easy as it looks.
I faced several challenges on my way here, but I kept it positive. I did every other job to make ends meet – from being a waiter and valet to dishwasher and housekeeper, you name it, and I’ve probably done it. However, I never took any of these positions for granted because all of them taught me different skills, ones that I apply every day.
During that time, I sent my resume all over and was always rejected or told I was just not the right fit. Long and behold, I landed a marketing job for a consumer technology company. And from that position moved up the ladder to ultimately become the director of marketing at a real estate company. That job was for a transitional period with the company, and I was let go during Christmas week.
After being laid off from work, in what could be the worst time of the year, in the evening of the very same day, my daughter was born. While I was happy for my family, I was also very depressed on the job front and became overweight. One day I woke up and decided to do better not only for myself but also for my family. I started going to the gym, and that’s where BenjiLock was born.
I noticed how people were using their lockers daily and the issues each was constantly facing. From leaving their keys inside to forgetting their combinations, I decided to create a solution for their problems. The traditional lock hasn’t changed in over 100 years, and since the introduction of the key, the BenjiLock invention has become the biggest innovation in its category.
For myself, being an entrepreneur means you can’t be afraid of dreaming big. If you have a vision or a passion for something, go for it. Be persistent, patient, and able to deal with the emotional distress that life may bring. If you’re able to stay on track, things will eventually fall in place.
My message has been to not let the naysayers say you can’t. Don’t be afraid of pursuing your goal. Don’t take a ‘no’ for an answer. Be you, decisive, and things will pan out.
Tell us about your business, what does the company do? What is unique about the company?
Robbie Cabral: Founded in 2014 by Dominican inventor and entrepreneur Robbie Cabral, and as seen on ABC’s hit show Shark Tank—BenjiLock is redefining the personal security experience by using fingerprint hybrid technology in padlocks, bike locks, and deadbolts to bring protection with the consumer in mind.
We specialize in personal security. The traditional lock hasn’t changed in over 100 years, and since the introduction of the key, the BenjiLock invention has become the innovation in its category. BenjiLock it’s your go-to padlock to fit your lifestyle. Unlocks with your fingerprint or key, it can store up to 10 fingerprints with a highly secure chrome-plated steel shackle and can last up to a year on a single charge. Perfect for the go, at home, work, school, or gym.
TIME’s top inventions of the year! BenjiLock is the fresh air when it comes to padlocks and the world of locks. The innovations are becoming more accessible as we go, and each to fit their lifestyle. The hybrid mechanism of the innovation makes it unique and accessible to friends, families, the “active” generation, and the accessibility community to seniors and people with disabilities. BenjiLock enhances the lifestyle and convenience of the consumer with peace of mind.
BenjiLock has become the highest-rated episode of Shark Tank’s season 9. The brand has visibility with more than 50 million viewers and over 1 million website impressions. The product is now available at over 9,000 retailers, including Home Depot, Walmart, QVC, b8ta, and Kohls. Also, it expanded internationally alongside Best Buy Canada at all 166 stores.
How to become a CEO? Some will focus on qualities, others on degrees, how would you answer that question?
Robbie Cabral: I’m that entrepreneur that wears many hats. I love being involved in every aspect of the business, especially the innovation side of things. However, as a CEO, you need to learn how to lead a team, share your thoughts, and let them flourish! I always tell them, run with it, and be you!
What are the secrets to becoming a successful CEO? Who inspires you, who are your role models and why? Illustrate your choices.
Robbie Cabral: I was raised in a very independent, workaholic, and humble environment. My mother was a single parent trying to make ends meet every day, so that helped me develop a strong mindset. She taught me to always be grateful for what I have and never, ever expect anything back.
For myself, be humble, and stay true to your roots. I decided to take a risk on my invention and go all out. Nothing is easy in life. Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. It’s like applying for a job. Keep pushing yourself, stay true to your beliefs, follow your gut, and it will pan out. I’m a true testament to that.
Many CEOs fall into the trap of being all over the place. What are the top activities a CEO should focus on to be the best leader the company needs? Explain.
Robbie Cabral: If you lead by example, others will follow. If everyone in the company feels they are part of a team, the whole company flourishes. Create a culture that stands and supports equality!
The Covid-19 Pandemic put the leadership skills of many to the test, what were some of the most difficult challenges that you faced as a CEO/Leader in the past year? Please list and explain in detail.
Robbie Cabral: I decided to give back. In light of this pandemic, I’ve taken the time to foster innovation. To inspire low-income students in the Los Angeles metro area, I’ve been working with the Los Angeles Unified School District schools, participating in Career Days and spending time with the students virtually discussing my invention, the importance of the subjects studied, and how elementary subjects are used within my job today.
From a company standpoint, the pivot is to adapt to the times presented by the coronavirus, and that’s why the hybrid patented technology was ‘pivoted’ and designed into a bike lock and door lock.
The ‘Fingerprint Bike Lock’ and ‘Fingerprint Door Lock’ innovations advance BenjiLock’s mission and expand the technology into different categories.
What are some of the greatest mistakes you’ve noticed some business leaders made during these unprecedented times? What are the takeaways you gleaned from those mistakes?
Robbie Cabral: From my perspective, I’m a believer in innovation, so regardless of the situation. We never stop innovating.
In your opinion, what changes played the most critical role in enabling your business to survive/remain profitable, or maybe even thrive? What lessons did all this teach you?
Robbie Cabral: We’ve always had the mindset of staying grounded, regardless of the situation, and that helped us survive the eye of the storm during COVID-19. And by the way, the pandemic is not over. We’re always grounded, but pushing innovation, wherever we can.
What is the #1 most pressing challenge you’re trying to solve in your business right now?
Robbie Cabral: The combination of the punitive tariffs, chip shortage, and pandemic shutdowns are the most difficult challenges we’ve faced to date. It’s an ongoing challenge not only for myself but for hundreds of companies across the globe.
You already shared a lot of insights with our readers and we thank you for your generosity. Normally, leaders are asked about their most useful qualities but let’s change things up a bit. What is the most useless skill you have learned, at school or during your career?
Robbie Cabral: I’ll say writing notes without taking action.
Thank you so much for your time but before we finish things off, we do have one more question. We will select these answers for our ValiantCEO Award 2021 edition. The best answers will be selected to challenge the award.
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make, this past year 2021, for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts?
Robbie Cabral: Overall, we stay positive and grounded during the heat of the pandemic. We kept shifting, and it made us a stronger team!
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Robbie Cabral 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 Robbie Cabral or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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