By Holly Pezzano: Core Program Graduate, Advisory Board Member & Sponsor
Introducing Holly Pezzano
I am a true entrepreneur at heart. I learned from two self employed parents that the best way to control your own destiny was to stay in the drivers seat. I was 19 when my dad passed and left me his business. Getting a taste of what it was like to be in charge of my own destiny early ruined me. I can’t see not being a business owner now. I’ve always marched to a different beat. I’ve followed my interests, ambition and intuition to follow opportunities presented to me and they’ve led me into some phenomenal experiences. I’ve built a multi million dollar non profit from scratch. I’ve helped build the largest and longest running automotive events in Georgia. More recently I built a bakery concept that produced a variety of baked goods that were all produced with craft beer and alcohol. Today I am leading an equity firm that advises, invests and owns a number of organizations across a variety of industries. My diverse background has been a strength. I’m helping other business owners overcome some of the hurdles I faced, while experiencing new challenges and opportunities with the businesses we are managing.
How LP2X Has Helped Make Me Better
Launchpad didn’t help me just grow my business, it helped me grow as a person. I was running my bakery when I went through the LP2x program. I was a pioneer in that space- no one was doing what I was and it drew a lot of attention. I was featured in the AJC, Creative Loafing and in beer industry publications. I learned so much through operating that company. I discovered weaknesses in managing people, how timid I was about self promotion and what happens if you don’t stay mission driven. L2PX kick started my journey to thinking bigger. Many of the concepts I learned in the original core program became inspirations for the methodology we use to manage all of our organizations. It also helped me be more confident as a CEO, which is critical given how many of the industries we are in that are male dominated.
Experience with the 3-Day Core Program
Prior to attending the core program I was a “doer.” I did pitches, event organization, marketing, production and sales. But I was NEVER a CEO. I worked so hard, but didn’t feel like I could take a moment away from my business; I was too tied up in making it run. So much so that I almost turned down my invitation for the Launchpad2x core program in 2013. After all, how could my business ever run without me? Obviously, I’m glad I took the time away to work on myself; I had no idea how small and unsustainable my thinking was. The biggest challenge was to stop thinking like a “small business owner”, and start thinking of myself as running a growing enterprise. That concept fundamentally shifted my mentality and was a catalyst for my exponential growth as a leader.
Since Graduating the Core Program
I am now CEO of an equity company that offers advisement, investment and acquisition of large small cap and smaller mid-cap companies. All of the experiences I’ve had have culminated into me being able to offer the lessons and benefits of my wins and losses, struggles and lucky breaks to help others build and grow.
Support from LP2X
My goal with LP2X has always been to be the best leader I could be, not just an owner. The core program, the continuing education and the opportunity to leverage the network have been vital in my ability to continue to strive for that goal. My focus now is on leading leaders, managing risk and maximizing opportunity. The community continues to be pivotal in achieving the goals of my newest endeavor.
My Continued Support and Participation in the Launchpad2X Community
The L2PX community has been fantastic for my latest role. It provides me an entire network of experts to call on. Recently someone in the network helped guide me through processes that I haven’t done before- product manufacturing. It allowed me to explore an opportunity I otherwise may have passed on. It also helps me stay engaged in and grounded to the needs of other entrepreneurs. The wealth of resources are valuable when I or my clients have a need. I also see a huge opportunity to help other CEOs focus on building the best businesses instead of just the best concept or idea to pitch.
I’m so pleased to be able to sponsor the program that helped make me who I am. LP2X is a fantastic organization that never stops being a resource. Even though I went through the program 7 years ago, you’ll still find me going to masters meetings and on virtual calls soaking up whatever there is for me to learn. It’s continuing education for CEOs.
We’re excited about our 2 new portfolio companies. Instead of involving ourselves with existing companies, we’re partnering with people who can help us build new concepts in a space where nothing fit the opportunity we saw. However, unlike my previous bootstrapping experiences where I was always hands-on, I’m now approaching these concepts through the perspective of building and leading other leaders. The biggest thing I am hoping to get out of Launchpad currently is to continue to grow the ecosystem. I am always looking for leaders and experts to join, or be involved in, our expanding portfolio. I’m excited to be a part of Launchpads growth in 2020 which will broaden my network and contribute to my success. I’ve noticed a significant divide in available resources between affluent circles and less privileged entrepreneurs which is often a disadvantage for minority owned businesses. I am passionate about helping launchpad reach this population and give them the tools so that we might enable a new contingent of female entrepreneurs.
My Advice to CEO's
Lead in your own way. Don’t feel like because you don’t have a specific look or background that you aren’t as good as “them”. We all have different skills and strengths. Someone else’s path doesn’t have to be yours for it to be effective. I’ve succeeded by taking calculated risks, and by using my wins and losses to my advantage. In the process I’ve raised 2 great kids, maintained a great marriage to another entrepreneur and coped with whatever else life has brought my way. I’ve been the least experienced person in the room on multiple occasions, but I just don’t let that stop me. Ask questions, reach, try things anyway.