#26 Melissa Molinaro , founder of Elite Partyz – Never Give Up in Your Business

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In this episode, Melissa Molinaro of Elitepartyz shares with us on why you should never give up in your business. Melissa also reveals the ups and downs she has had throughout her journey as an entrepreneur in the event industry.

She digs deep into the challenges and how she has managed to cope up with the covid-normal life. Besides, Melissa also offers great advice to any aspiring entrepreneur who is yet to get started. Tune in to listen to this topic and so much more about why you need to be patient in your business.

In this episode, we discuss these topics with Melissa Mulinaro

  • How to keep a positive mindset in every situation [09:27]
  • What’s the best advice to the entrepreneurs who are yet to get started? [12:38]
  • What is the biggest challenge facing women entrepreneurs in Australia today? [17:06]
  • Importance of having a mentor or a business coach as an entrepreneur [26:55]

About the Guest

Melissa Mulinaro is the founder and director of Elitepartyz. She is a stay-at-home mum that helps entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas while still planning her children’s birthday party.

At 41 years old, Melissa has 15 years of experience as a hairdresser. She quit the hairdressing job to pursue new dreams and challenges in life. In 2018, she came up with the idea of revolutionizing the event industry after recognizing a gap in the market.

In November 2019, she built and developed the first Australian double-side party/planning app. The app connects suppliers in the event industry with everyday party planners and is easy-to-use. It is a convenient app to stay organized while planning an event.

Everything was going smoothly until March 2020. The pandemic struck! Melissa was quite devastated as many businesses collapsed and things seemed not to go her way. She was scared because of not getting money after she had invested almost all of her money in the elitepartyz app. 

She contacted AWS Founders Fund and explained her problems to the correspondents. Luckily, she got a grant that has helped revive her business and keep it running in these Covid-normal days. Melissa is also grateful for the support from her Instagram followers.

Melissa encourages any entrepreneur who is yet to get started because of a limited budget should not give up. Team up with any partner(s) with whom you share common interests and try your luck.

Lastly, Melissa believes there are more businesses in the event industry that need the Elitepartyz app.

“The longer you stay there, the harder it is to get out,”

Melissa Mulinaro, on keeping a positive mindset

Resources and links mentioned in this episode:

  • Connect with Melissa on Instagram  , Twitter and Facebook
  • Get Elite Partyz app , click here
  • Are you Australia/NZ Start ups or Entrepreneurs wanted to share your experiences so that others can learn? Contact us to be a guest.
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More about The Network:

Auspod Syndicate is your Podcast Hub for Australia’s Entrepreneurs and Independent Podcast Network – a united group of SMEs that share the mission to stay locally connected.

Entrepreneurs and business leaders are regularly featured to enable meaningful connections and conversations while keeping the world updated on the latest business trends and events in Australia.

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(Note, this was transcribed using a transcription software and may not reflect the exact words used in the podcast)

Melissa Molinaro: Never give up. And I know that sounds really cliche, and I’ve heard that before, but it’s seriously. That’s my biggest advice is just never give up because you never know what’s around the corner, you know, there’s times where you think I can’t do this anymore. I’m just, I’m just going to give up, you just don’t know what is around that corner.

So the second that you do give up, you always wonder could’ve would’ve should’ve, you know, wonder what was lined up for me in the next two months I could have made it, but I’ll never know now because I gave up. So yeah, just never give out the end. Go for it. You’ve got nothing to lose. Podcast show is a production of kangaroo food media lab, which is all about supporting you to start and build a thriving business tribe podcast on syndicates.

Miko Santos: So for today day, episode of tribe podcasts under Auspod Syndicate meet Melissa Marinaro founder and director of the neat part is. A stay-at-home mom for entrepreneurs with a brilliant idea. When planning her German birthday party. Do you recognize in the market and build Australian first double-side party slash planning app it connects suppliers in the event industry with everyday party planners and easy to use the convenient app to stay organized for planning an event.

Announcer: Welcome everybody to this week’s episode, we really appreciate you joining us. This podcast really shows us how we can all learn, live and thrive off of each other. By sharing our knowledge through our conversations, we will impart some knowledge, ropes, learning ourselves, how to progress even further. Here is your host

Miko Santos : Please welcome to the show, Melissa Molinaro hello, how are you?

Melissa Molinaro: I’m good. Thanks, Miko I’m really well. Thank you. Thanks for having me. How are you?

Miko Santos : Good. Good. Thank you for asking to experience it. This is a different party app in the time of the pandemic. Okay. Before we can discuss these elite partyz can you tell us about yourself?

Melissa Molinaro : Yeah, absolutely. I am 41 years old and I in a past life many, many, many years ago with a hairdresser and I owned my own hairdressing business for about 15 years. And, I just, just fell out of love. Of hairdressing and thought, I can’t do this anymore. I’m really looking for something that’ll challenge me.

And after having my son, I got into retail and just really I’m feeling a bit lost and I really want to, still being business, but not in hairdressing. And I found that I was organizing. My kid’s birthday party. And I just was frustrated that all my important information regarding the party was either in my phone or in my emails or on my laptop.

And it was all in different devices or apps in my phone. And I thought there’s gotta be an easier way. For busy moms to stay organized , so yeah, I did a lot of research and there seemed to have been other potty sort of planning apps, but there wasn’t one that included support local suppliers that you could contact through the app and pay your invoices to them.

And it didn’t seem to be. A double-sided party planning app. So I thought, you know, I’m going to do some research on where the suppliers are looking for an affordable platform to advertise their business. So yeah, that’s, that’s what inspired me to create it.

Miko Santos : You know, we are in time of pandemic. So a lot of people are staying inside. Some of them don’t have any happening or event because of lockdown or restriction. How this, how did you get an idea about this elite partyz is and how it today in this time of pandemic.

Melissa Molinaro : Wow. Yeah. Good question. So when I came up the idea, it was back in 2018. Hence, so by the time I actually built the app and launched it, it was November, 2019

so COVID, wasn’t even a thought in anybody’s mind it wasn’t. In anything I’ve ever heard of before? So in, when we did launch, we actually got a lot of traction and a lot of users and suppliers were onboard and loving it. And then March 20, 20 hits and yeah, that’s when yeah, we had to close the app actually.

Unfortunately, and yeah. I really thought, oh, what have I done? I’ve invested everything of God. Money wise time, like emotion, like everything I had, I invested into this idea and now it’s crumbling. As, as, as every day went by, after the pandemic hit Australia, just thought. This is the worst business to have launched at the worst time.

But you know, what do you do? You can’t get that money back that you’ve invested and you can’t take back the time that you’ve invested. You just gotta keep pushing forward no matter what. So yeah, we did. We kept going To after closing in March, 2020 for five months, I spent that time just really figuring out what am I going to do?

Like, what’s my way out of this situation. I can’t afford to just give up and, and say, oh, well, that didn’t work. Don’t worry about it, but I can’t make any money off it right now because. We’re not allowed to get together and organize events. So I happened to find out about a grant that I applied for and, and now I got it.

So it’s an AWS founders grant and they allow you to. Apply for it once during your startup and it totals you to gain 5,000 credits to use the platform for as long as those 5,000 credits last year. So that was the saving grace for me that, yeah, I mean, sometimes I do believe that it does help that you.

Are in the right place at the right time, I happened to click on Facebook on my Facebook app and a post in a Facebook group came up, talking about AWS credits. And I had no idea what that was, but I knew that I had an AWS account, so I just rang them. And I said, listen, this is my situation. What are these credits and how can I get my hands on them?

And yeah, the rest is history. I got the grant and here we are open and in really funny, our way now in this whole new COVID normal way of living.

Miko Santos : So how did you. Up your positive mindset. And because, you know, there’s a, COVID a lockdown. We still have a global pandemic. How do you keep your mindset despite of the setback?

Melissa Molinaro : Yeah. Well, it’s actually something that I feel like I’ve learnt or I’ve taught myself how, how to just keep positive in every situation. It’s not something that comes natural and it’s not something that, most people know how to do, but I feel like once you’ve mastered it, you can get through any situation and you can really think about what you need to do with a clear frame of mind and really find your way out of it.

Pretty much any sticky situation. And so that’s what I did. I just, I understand that bed times in your life, a temporary. So that time that the pandemic hit Australia, I just understood that this is going to be a temporary thing. It’s not something that’s going to last 15 years, you know, there’s gotta be a time.

That we are going to get on top of it. And we are going to find our way out of this situation. I just need to think clearly, and I need to think positively that I’m going to come up with a way to get my business up and running again. And, and. Yeah, that helps you just to make better decisions. If you spend your whole day going, oh, what am I going to do? situation I’ve lost all my money. I’ve wasted all this years of my time on this startup. I feel like you then get. Into a really depressed state of mind. And then you just get into this kind of like a black hole where you just keep digging and digging into this negative mindset and the longer you stay there, the harder it is to get out.

So I always try and keep that positive mindset. In any sort of bad situation. And I find that it keeps me grounded and, you know, thankful for what I’ve got, and the hang on, I’ve got all of this. It doesn’t matter that we’re in a global pandemic. I’ve got my family they’re really healthy. and we kind of get through these and we did, and I did find a way to open up my business again, and we are moving forward and. Yeah. I just think it’s something that you got to work on every day to keep that positive mindset, always happening in every situation. And once you’ve mastered it, I think you can get through anything.

Miko Santos: So by the sound a bit, you have a passion on your idea.

Melissa Molinaro: Yes that you need to have a passion and you have to have focus

Miko Santos : what is your audience? What is your customer avatar? So to our listeners and also my audience, who’s watching here this podcast, and they’re thinking of getting started their entrepreneur in your journey. What is your advice to them? Despite the setback?

Melissa Molinaro : Never give up. And I know that sounds really cliche, and I’ve heard that before, but it’s seriously.

That’s my biggest advice is just never give up because you never know what’s around the corner. You know, those times where you think I can’t do this anymore. I’m just, I’m just gonna give up. You just don’t know what is around that corner. So the second that you do give up, you always wonder could’ve would’ve should’ve, you know, wonder what was lined up for me in the next two months I could have made it, but I’ll never know now because I gave up.

So yeah. Just never give out and go for it. You’ve got nothing to lose. Even if you do, you’ve saved up $10,000 and you’ve put it into your startup. You’ve you’ve given it a good crack and yeah, just, if you always are waiting for that perfect moment to start your business, you’ll never start such a start today and it could be.

Reading that one book that someone recommended to you, or it could be anything, start listening to a podcast that someone recommended and it sort of snowballs from there that, you know, you don’t have to go out and buy the latest laptop and to start your business. Not at all. You just have to educate yourself, join Facebook groups.

They’re all, they’re all free things that you can do. And that will educate you and you’ve taken that first step to starting your journey. So yeah, that’s, don’t wait for the perfect moment. Just do it.

Miko Santos : Thank you so much. What the wonderful explanation about that. So what is the biggest surprise you had in the last few months?

Melissa Molinaro : I feel like it’s the biggest surprise a bit, the support that I have with my followers on Facebook and sorry on Instagram, we have a really goodcommunity there on my Facebook.

Sorry. I keep saying Facebook on my Instagram. Page the suppliers and I really support each other. And we just, anytime that we’re in Melbourne and there’s another lockdown and we just like, we can do this, you know, we’ve done it before. I’m here. If you need to. And we have actual conversations about how it’s affecting us.

Via DMS, you know, it’s the support that I have on Instagram is I’m so grateful for it, you know, and, and it’s something that’s an organic, you know, it’s happened over the last sort of a year, the last year where we’ve really banded together and we’re all in the same boat and we’re all in the same industry.

And yeah, I’m just that support. I don’t know how would get through half the setbacks I’ve had without it. Yeah. That’s been quite surprising, but a really good surprise.

Miko Santos : So as a woman in entreprenuer what was the biggest challenge facing you right now?

Melissa Molinaro : I feel like it’s more a challenge of just being taken seriously for one, you know, You could have compensations and they say, oh, party planning at, okay.

And it sort of ends there because, well, you’re not really saving lives and you’re not in the health industry where oh, of course. Okay. I’m going to lean in and listen to this conversation because she’s helping, I don’t know that, she’s in the health industry now. I mean, the party industry is like, I feel like a lot of times people can really trivialize that and brush it off and go, oh, that sounds great.

Next. So yeah, it’s hard to get people to really take it seriously sometimes, but it is a big business. Like we can get this startup really happening and, and off the ground. It’s got potential to really make a lot of money and change lives. And it’s not, yeah, it’s not about making a lot of money. I mean, that’d be great, but it is about providing a platform for suppliers in the events industry to that’s affordable, you know?

And they can, you know, they know that it’s going to cost them. A small amount every month to be listed on this platform. And they’re going to get plenty of bookings and plenty of inquiries from it. From everyday potty planners that are looking for their services and products. And that’s what’s kept me going, is knowing that there were small businesses in the events industry that made this app. And. Yeah, I’m gonna ride it out with them and really stay focused and make sure I see this to the end.

Miko Santos : Can you tell me how the apps works So if I’m an event planner, how does your apps. help my business.

Melissa Molinaro: Yeah. So you can set up your profile with us and that’ll include your logo, your business name, website, social media links, and you can actually upload images of your products and services as descriptions.

So it’s kind of like a. Profile and sort of like a shop really as well all in the one, app and then every day party planners come and search your profile and like, oh, okay. this is the cake maker in my area. Her profile looks amazing or his profile looks amazing. I’m going to although I can actually purchase a pack of 12 macaroni macaroons fried up off the bat here, I’m going to purchase 12 of them.

I’ll put in my credit card details that money goes straight into their accounts. And then I get an invoice from that supplier. I ended up paid and it gets delivered to my party at that. time and date . It’s something that no other app provides and it’s convenient for the party planner because, you know, it’s all there for them and they get to manage their budget.

They get to manage their, to do list. They can invite their guests through the app. They guests can RSVP. So they get to stay organized. And they create any event, you know, whether it’s a baby shower, whether it’s a 21st, a launch party, a Christmas party, a wedding bridal shower. So yeah, it’s something that a customer everyday party planners are loving, using, and suppliers are loving the fact that they can be on an affordable platform.

And set up their profile easily. And people that are really looking for their services or products are on there, booking them and, and, and finding them. And it’s supporting local suppliers.

Miko Santos : Thank you for that. How important for you is the security and the privacy of the customer, because you saying it’s like a directory of different event planner.

Melissa Molinaro : And if, as a customer, I see one of the businesses, I put my credit card details or email them. How important are security and privacy? And how did you, did you do a vetting on business who wants to put their name on the app?

Yeah, so we, we actually go through the payment gateway called Stripe. So that’s all taken care of with the security of credit card details and things like that. We don’t keep any of that. We don’t record any of that or store any of that. , so that’s. How we, how important it is for us, we’d go through a trusted payment gateway,

Miko Santos : how would you protect the privacy of the customer who is dealing wit the business and how would you check the business who is putting their information on your app as legit or not ?

Melissa Molinaro : Yes. So businesses we go through every time a business signs up. On our backend, we have to manually approve them. So we check for their ABN. We check where they’re from and we definitely do background checks before we approve them.

Yeah. Yeah. That’s really important to us and if we find that we can’t, find the ABN or it’s wrong or not, an Australian business number, then we don’t approve them. and if they contact us saying, why haven’t we been approved or we’ll give them a list of the reasons why, and then yeah, I mean, it’s up to them to then go and get an ABN. And become a legitimate business. Yeah.

ADS: This podcast has brought to you by Auspod syndicate powered by kangaroofern media lab. Kangaroo Fern is independent video and podcast management agency with a mission to help individuals and then entreprenuers yours to start their own podcast.

Miko Santos : So on your startup journey, who has been your biggest supporter? Or do you have a mentor or role model over this when you’re starting up these apps?

Melissa Molinaro : Yay. Look, I, I did go through a business coach right at the very beginning, just because I didn’t understand the world of technology. Like I I use it, but to have a business in the app world is it’s really, Something that you need to be educated in before you enter it, because it’s a big, bad world of pretty much anything goes like anyone can say that they’re a developer if they know a bit of coding or, yeah.

So I found that out and, and I found it. That I didn’t know as much as I should have. So yeah. A lot of research goes into just what you should be weary of and what you should have set up so that you don’t have sort of bad encounters. Or bad situations come to you later on in, in your journey. So yeah, a business coach was definitely a must and I’m glad that I yeah.

Investing in her, she was amazing and got me to a point that I don’t think I would have gotten to in such a short amount of space. I think it was in within six months of having the idea and finding the developer. And then four months after that it was launched, which is not really, a timeline that most people go by.

because most, most of the times startups are just finding their way around and they’re making mistakes that they really could have been avoided if. Yeah. I had gone through a business culture, a mental programs. So yeah, I’m grateful that I made that decision. Definitely.

Miko Santos : So you’re saying every startup, or if you’re thinking of getting into the, in your journey, you need to have a business coach or a mentor.

Melissa Molinaro ; I definitely recommend it. Yeah. They, they think of things that you don’t. Think of, or that you don’t know about and that can save you a lot of time heartache and money down the track. Yeah. Yeah. So if you, if you can, if you can invest in one and a good one as well, like find one that you can really connect with and that, knows the business that you’re.

Trying to get up and running. Yeah. I wouldn’t just go with anyone that says that they’re a business coach. Definitely do your research on what you want this person to help you with and to really, what you’re expecting from them.

Miko Santos : What motivates you to get up in the morning?

Melissa Molinaro : To really, I just feel like every morning, I just think I can do this. I think, make that extra step forward to where I want to be. I can definitely every day, I just think that this is the start of day one. You know, I can really make a difference to my business today. And that’s what gets me up in the morning because I just think every day is different.

And some days it’s just a constant setback after setback, after setback. And then other days you get up and you go, oh, I got that email I’ve been hanging out for, and this is the news that’s, that’s made my day. And, oh, this has come through. Fantastic. So yeah, I, I really love getting up in the morning and.

Just moving forward one step at a time in this business and hoping that the stars align and you can get off the ground again sometimes.

Miko Santos : Thank you so much for that. So on how can, so you’re saying so. It’s a different app. It’s a, it’s it’s not different from other apps. So what is next for your journey? So what is, what is next with this app?

Melissa Molinaro : Yeah, I feel like we’re going to make some innovation on it when it comes to making it, Then I had a really explained a bit kind of COVID friendly.

So when an outbreak does happen, you know, you’d want to still sort of stay connected with people the, through the app. So we really want to add features that would make people go, ah, actually we can sort of have a gathering of with our family and friends and make it a fun interactive. experience, not just a zoom session where everyone’s standing there going, oh, okay.

This is great. But yes, I’m really thinking. Ahead and thinking what, what, features that we can add to make it COVID friendly, I suppose, and, and make it interactive and make it so that people still use it, even though they can’t be together.

Miko Santos : Thank you so much for that. So maybe you can do. Adopted about on COVID it’s a different scenario. like virtual event maybe.

Melissa Molinaro : Yeah, that’s right. Oh, we do definitely want to launch beyond Australia as well. So, we do eventually want to scale it so that we are launching in New Zealand. So, yeah, that’d be a big, goal achieved if we can launch in Australia successfully again, and then head over to New Zealand.

That’d be fantastic.

Miko Santos : So you, when you’re creating your app, are you bootstrapping it or you aside from, so you have a grant as well. You said you get, you get a grant from, this, founder Institute. Okay. So a. Based on your experience if someone has an idea, but they are limited in their budget, how would you, what is your suggestion to them?

Melissa Molinaro: yeah. Well, my startup has been self-funded so I just sync everything I had into it. I don’t think I would recommend that but I D I don’t regret doing that. A lot of people say, oh, you should have had a business loan, but I’m glad that I didn’t. because then yeah, COVID did hit, and then I would have had to service a business loan with a business that’s shut down, like.

I really glad that I didn’t do that. So I feel like if, you know, people that you can team up with or partner up with that’s definitely an idea. and always remember that money. Isn’t going to be the one thing that makes your business successful. Like obviously you need to have some sort of website startup or.

You know, you need a website, you need social media accounts, you need, things like that, but they’re not all things that you need to throw, you know, $5,000 at, at a time. You know, there’s a lot of things that you can do for free. It’s just whether your educating yourself on how to do it. , So that you don’t have to outsource and get people to do it for you.

And there are a lot of grants that you can apply for startup grants. So do a lot of research in that and see if you can get your hands on some free government money. You know, there’s always government grants that are suitable for most startups. And which I didn’t know about. So I wish I would have known about that from the start. so yeah. Do a lot of research before you go out and spend, you know, six grand on a website, 20 grand on, you know, or whatever, like, do your research.

Miko Santos : Do you have any final advice or anything else you want to share to our We’re against and listener who is thinking of starting up their own business.

Melissa Molinaro : Just get out there and do your research and just do it. Don’t wait for tomorrow. You know, whatever can be done. Don’t wait for tomorrow. Cause, but if it can be done tomorrow and be done today and that’s when you don’t take talk yourself out of it, if you just go out and do it. And see where it takes you, then you haven’t talked yourself out of it.

Don’t have the fear. Fear will make you, it’ll make you second guess yourself, and then you talk yourself out of it and then you’ll never do it. And then you’ll never know where he would have taken you and you’ll be stuck in your nine to five job, whatever you’re doing, wishing or wondering where it would have taken you.

So I always say, yeah, You can always get another job, but that urge to stop that these, this, it has to be actioned there. And then, you know, today just do it

Miko Santos : Thank you so much. How can our listener and origins connect with you online?

Melissa Molinaro : Yes, so we, active on Instagram. So elite partyz business and elite partyz I’ve got two accounts. So the suppliers interact with me on my Instagram Elite partyz business. And then my users interact with me on my other account call the Elite paryz under score and parties is spelled P-A-R-T-Y-Z and yeah, contact@elitepartyz.com is our email , email address and elitepartyz.com is our website. So yeah, we’ve pretty much got all bases covered.

Miko Santos : Thank you so much for the information . So to all listening audience, all the links will be on the show notes. So please check the show notes.Any description in the show notes, everything, or the link that Marisa said will be on the link and then you can also connect her with all different social media network. All right. So thank you

Melissa Molinaro : Thank you for having me. It was an absolute pleasure.

Miko Santos : Thank you for listening and watching. Make sure to visit our website at Australia podcast, syndicator off. Be sure to subscribe.

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