At the age of 21, Alejandro Rioja, a serial entrepreneur from Bolivia has made his way to success in Los Angeles. As the CEO of Flux Chargers, a portable charger sold in over 80 countries and the CEO of its conglomerate Flux Ventures, he has worked his way up from selling chargers on the street to today owning a brand that is making over $100K a month.
He always knew he wanted to start his own company, developing an entrepreneurial spirit from his dad who owned a construction company in Bolivia. At the age of 18 he moved to Los Angeles where he studies Computer Science at UCLA.
When Rioja’s mobile phone ran out of battery back at a party in 2015, Rioja discovered the need for a sleek, sizeable charger that can easily slip into a pocket alongside his phone as opposed to the bulky, awkward charger he was accustomed to. With the help of Miles Anthony, head of production and key designer for the company, Rioja developed his charger and began selling the product on the streets of Santa Monica.
With a unique upbringing moving from Bolivia to LA, a brave start to a successful business and a driven mindset, we thought Alejandro Rioja knew a thing or two about how to live life right. So we called him up to see what he could share with us.
First of all, describe yourself in three words.
Persevering, inquisitive and self-starter. I like to go and search for my answers.
Why have you created a tech product as opposed to another industry in the business world?
I decided to go into the tech business because of the opportunities I saw coming out in the future, especially with online businesses and hardware e-commerce.
What prompted you to take the decision to create Flux Ventures? Why not just settle with selling flux chargers and living off their success?
There’s definitely a lot of growth potential for Flux Chargers. But the end game I’m hoping to play is to develop the brand and make it a lot bigger. What we’re looking at doing with Flux is disrupt a lot of industries. We’re looking at handing Flux Chargers to someone at the right moment so we can focus on developing other opportunities in different industries.
Why we are focusing on building more companies under Flux Ventures is because me and my co-founders are really curious and inquisitive. On a day to day basis we see a lot of problems and deficiencies in products and services we use that we would like to improve and create solutions for. That’s why we are going for the Flux Ventures.
Flux Ventures is currently managing four companies. How do you plan to grow? What exactly is your strategy?
The way we are growing our BAUS companies, for example, is through engaging with retail partnerships, signing contracts with co-sellers, and also getting featured on major publications like The Huffington Post, Mashable, and others. All of these strategies enhance and strengthen the overall Flux brand. We want Flux to be a name that people recognize instantly and something they will be inclined to invest in. That is why we made our name short and sleek, to increase brand recognition. Later, we translate that brand equity into innovative products for our fans.
Right now, all the ventures (Flux Chargers, Flux LA and Flux Capital) under Flux Ventures are tightly connected. Any new technology we develop, the marketing techniques and funnels that we create with Flux LA, we quickly implement with Flux Chargers. Any revenue we make with Flux Chargers we put it back towards our VC fund. Anyone that I get a chance to interview on my blog Future Sharks, I use as a network resource. Although people think that we might be spreading ourselves too thin, I actually think that our efforts in every company are complementary and have been key in our rapid success.
In the future, we plan to launch other companies such as a vegan protein bar, and a restaurant run exclusively by robots.
How has your mindset changed towards business management as you have reached greater success and have interacted with more companies?
At the start I was micromanaging a lot just because I was inexperienced and also wanted a lot of control. But now, things have a greater magnitude. I can’t look over everything. I have learnt to trust people more and be more hands off being certain that other people are doing the right thing. That’s helped me a lot and freed up my time.
You’ve previously shared a vague goal to be 2050 President of Bolivia. How is what you have seen and learnt in the US and from growing your own company going to help you achieve this?
I want to develop myself first as an entrepreneur in not only my social skills but develop my reputation and build a good image for myself. This will help me develop a relationship with people knowledgeable in politics, in education, in technology. Once I run for President, I want to reach back to those people to get advised on policy creation and law making so that I can become a better politician.
What I see that Bolivia is currently lacking, in my opinion, are highly-skilled professionals (i.e. computer scientist, researchers, etc). A lot of qualified people have to leave the country because opportunities are not there for them. A lot of talent is leaving my country. What I would like to do in the future is develop this industry such that the brains of my country stay there.
Do you feel that you business success has lead you to be successful in life?
Oh definitely. For me growth is not just revenue-wise or not just business, but also as a person. Growth should be measured across all your areas in life.
Over the past few years, I’ve improved drastically. In terms of health, I’ve changed my diet, I have better social skills. I’m not afraid to talk to people and pitch in as well (even in the busy streets of Santa Monica!). I’ve experienced a lot of growth in different areas of my life, so it’s been a really good experience so far.
If you could go back to your high school graduating self, what advice would you give yourself?
Learn as much as you can. The number one thing that has perhaps transformed my business and my life was being able to learn a lot quicker. There’s a lot of information out there. Back when I was highschool I had a lot more limitations due to my lack of knowledge. “Oh I don’t really know this, let me sit on it for three months and still not learn it.”
Now, if I don’t know something I quickly google it and try to learn it. So I make the learning cycle shorter and I actually learn more.