#144. Skyler Mapes: The Co-Founder of EXAU Olive Oil on One of Oprah’s Favorite Things
When today’s guest, Skyler Mapes visited her now-husband’s parents in his hometown of Le Castella Calabria, she also met their orchard of olive trees - while not as personable, they were just as intimidating. Upon returning to Texas, Skyler couldn’t forget the taste Calabria had left, so she decided not to leave it and relocate to Italy.
In 2017, EXAU Olive Oil was born - a family-owned direct-to-consumer olive oil brand. It’s good, really good, it’s one of Oprah’s Favorite Things, and soon-to-be yours. But there’s more than oil to be shared in today’s episode powered by Shopify, and there’s more to Skyler than her taste in olives. As one of the first black female olive oil producers, Skyler reflects on the ways culture, history and family have shaped her identity and voice, and how to navigate starting a business in a space you’re unfamiliar with.
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BONUS: The Peers Project gains investment to launch into U.S. market: A behind-the-scenes chat with Co-founder of S&P Ventures and The Peers Project Investor, Sam Mahmood46:04For most kids, punishment comes in the form of time-outs, groundings, and extra chores. But for this week’s special guest, acting out meant being forced to read profit and loss statements. A childhood deeply intertwined with the unwavering entrepreneurial endeavors of his father left Sam Mahmood with a simple ethos — success is not just measured in wealth, but in the positive impact one can bring to the world.In this special bonus episode of PEERS, we’re joined by Sam Mahmood, Co-Founder of S&P Ventures and The Peers Project’s investor, to talk about dealing with pressure from your parents, what to do when you’re not seeing results, and the meaning behind his famous phrase “Better Health for Better Wealth”. About Sam:Sam Mahmood is the Co-Founder, Partner and Chief Business Development Officer at S&P Ventures, an investment firm that provides funding and support to startups and early-stage companies. Sam also founded Surgical Republic LLC, a Medical Device company focused on Neurosurgery, Spine, & Cardiothoracic specialities and runs a weekly newsletter dedicated to helping entrepreneurs build scalable businesses.Discover more:Follow Sam on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sam-mahmood-06620484/Sign up to Sam's weekly newsletter: https://better-health-for-better-wealth.ck.page/afcbccb9cbCheck out S&P Ventures: https://www.spventures.ioFollow The Peers Project on Instagram: http://bit.ly/3adVmYGFollow your Host, Michelle on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelleakhidenor/Learn more about The Peers Project Investment & U.S. launch: https://mumbrella.com.au/podcast-agency-the-peers-project-set-to-launch-in-us-market-this-year-816159
#255. From Starting a Business as a College Student to Being Featured in Vogue with BIPOC Co-Founder of Now&Me & Forbes 30 Under 30 Lister, Bani Singh38:58When it comes to picking a career, our choice can often be traced back to the influence of family. It was the gentle encouragement of her parents to pursue what fulfilled her internally that helped this week’s guest find her calling. It’s that calling — to give back and make a difference — that has Bani Singh on a mission to revolutionize the way we approach mental health care.In this episode of PEERS, we’re joined by Bani Singh, Co-Founder of Now&Me to talk about saying goodbye to external validation, finding the right time to take your side hustle full-time, and how to get comfy with the wild ride that is entrepreneurship. About Bani: Bani Singh is the Co-Founder of Now&Me, an India-based social media platform that helps people seeking mental health support. Now&Me provides a safe space for people from all walks of life to accept their feelings and talk about issues such as relationship problems, trauma and career anxiety, through its anonymous chat option. In June 2021, Now&Me raised $1 million in seed funding led by Saama Capital and Whiteboard Capital. In 2023, Bani was featured on the Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 Consumer Technology list. Discover More:Check out Now&Me: https://nowandme.com/ Connect with Bani on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/banisinghvasir/ Follow Now&Me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nowandme/ Follow The Peers Project on Instagram: http://bit.ly/3adVmYG Connect with your Host, Michelle on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelleakhidenor/ Follow Michelle on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michakhidenor/
#254. From Intern to Leading a Company in Less than a Year with BIPOC Co-Founder of The Elephant Room & Forbes 30 Under 30 Lister, Shannie Mears38:58They say you need a special kind of fire inside to make it as a founder. But what keeps that flame burning? For this week’s guest, the fuel to her fire is good old-fashioned self-empowerment. With an unwavering commitment to giving her all, Shannie Mears attributes her success to staying true to herself and fully embracing her growth and evolution with pride — and her spark isn’t going out any time soon. In this episode of PEERS, we’re joined by Shannie Mears, Head of Talent and Co-Founder of The Elephant Room to talk about accepting yourself as you are, how to practice self-awareness and stop self-judgment, and recognizing the power of your own voice. About Shannie: Shannie Mears is the Co-Founder of The Elephant Room, an inclusive ad agency prioritizing diversity and cultural awareness, working with brands like Barclays, Samsung, and PUMA. She was chosen to sit on the Race Disparity Audit at 10 Downing Street and curated her own events platform called Girls, Let’s Talk which is about encouraging young women to connect and build. In 2023, Shannie was featured on the Forbes Europe 30 Under 30 Media & Marketing list. Discover MoreCheck out The Elephant Room: https://theelephantroom.net/ Connect with Shannie on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shanice-mears-frsa-41b36510b/ Follow The Elephant Room on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elephantroomuk/ Follow The Peers Project on Instagram: http://bit.ly/3adVmYG Connect with your Host, Michelle on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelleakhidenor/ Follow Michelle on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michakhidenor/
#253. Carving Your Own Path and Becoming an Accidental Founder with BIPOC Founder of Redefy & Forbes 30 Under 30 Lister, Rachael De Foe38:58What do you do when you can’t find your dream job anywhere? The answer is: you make it. Our guest this week accomplished exactly that, and it’s why she refers to herself as an accidental founder. Creating success on her own terms, Rachael De Foe isn’t afraid to write her own story — and says you shouldn’t be either. In this episode of PEERS, we’re joined by Rachael De Foe, Founder and Managing Director of Redefy to talk about the first steps for getting your business off the ground, why building the right circle of people around you is crucial, and how to carve your own path when all else fails.About Rachael:Rachael De Foe is the Founder of Redefy, a strategic communications consultancy in Singapore that helps visionary founders, startups and venture firms amplify their stories. Rachael also co-founded Fintech Angel Operators, a network that connects fintech executives with founders, and co-launched SEAcosystem, a community-led job database to help tech talent impacted by COVID-19. In 2023, Rachael was featured on the Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 Media, Marketing & Advertising list.Discover More:Check out Redefy: https://www.rdfy.co/ Connect with Rachael on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rachaeldefoe/ Follow The Peers Project on Instagram: http://bit.ly/3adVmYG Connect with your Host, Michelle on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelleakhidenor/ Follow Michelle on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michakhidenor/
#252. Raising $2 Million in Funding and Transforming the Beauty Industry with BIPOC Co-Founder of Hue & Forbes 30 Under 30 Lister, Janvi Shah34:17When it comes to challenges, most people would rather avoid them. But for a savvy few, such as this week’s guest, a challenge is a problem to be solved, and even an opportunity to transform something for the better. Underrepresentation in the beauty industry is a challenge Janvi Shah is taking head-on, and she’s not stopping until every face has its rightful place in the spotlight. In this episode of PEERS, we’re joined by Janvi Shah, CEO and Co-Founder of Hue to talk about the pressure to succeed as a child of immigrants, finding your unique selling point, and why giving your dream a shot is always worth the risk. About Janvi: Janvi Shah is the Co-Founder and CEO of Hue, a technology company that helps beauty and fashion brands integrate UGC into their e-commerce sites to help shoppers feel represented. Last year, Hue was featured in the ELLE Future of Beauty Awards and has raised over $2 million in venture capital funding from NFX, Underscore VC and more. In 2023, Janvi was featured on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Retail & E-Commerce list. Discover MoreCheck out Hue: https://www.poweredbyhue.com/ Follow Hue on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/poweredbyhue/ Connect with Janvi on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/janvishah/ Follow The Peers Project on Instagram: http://bit.ly/3adVmYG Connect with your Host, Michelle on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelleakhidenor/ Follow Michelle on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michakhidenor/
#251. From Starting a Company Solo to Being Named One to Watch by The Creative Industries Council with BIPOC Founder of Curaty & Forbes 30 Under 30 Lister, Sneha Shah36:35Going it alone as an entrepreneur can be a scary thought. With nobody standing right beside you and the weight of decisions resting solely on your shoulders, it can be a pretty daunting path to go down. But if you believe you can do it, you will — that’s the advice from this week’s guest. And it rings true, Sneha Shah may have started solo, but now she’s championing equity in the arts for everyone. In this episode of PEERS, we’re joined by Sneha Shah, Founder of Curaty to talk about the secret to discovering your soul purpose, the art of being still and finding a healthy work/life balance as a solopreneur.About Sneha:Sneha Shah is the Founder of Curaty, a socially conscious art advisory and curatorial firm that strategically matches early-career artists with businesses to promote well-being. Sneha was recently recognised as a 2022 Asian Women of Achievement Awards Finalist and was featured on the HERoes 2021 Top 100 Women Future Leaders List.In 2023, Sneha was featured on the Forbes Europe 30 Under 30 Art & Culture list. Discover More:Check out Curaty: https://curaty.co/ Follow Curaty on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/curaty_london/ Connect with Sneha on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/snehashah-art/ Follow The Peers Project on Instagram: http://bit.ly/3adVmYG Connect with your Host, Michelle on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelleakhidenor/ Follow Michelle on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michakhidenor/
#250. From Undocumented Immigrant to Forbes 30 Under 30 Lister with BIPOC Founder of Aliento, Reyna Montoya38:22Being different can often feel like a burden, an isolating force that sets us apart from the crowd. This week’s guest knows this burden all too well, having grown up in the US unable to speak English and lacking an immigration status. Being different once created big barriers in Reyna Montoya’s life; but today, her BIPOC and immigrant identity is her superpower, enabling her to change lives for the better. In this episode of PEERS, we’re joined by Reyna Montoya, CEO and Founder of Aliento to talk about the benefits of getting to know yourself on a deeper level, conquering self-doubt, and navigating the hurdles that arise from being different. About Reyna: Reyna Montoya is the CEO and Founder of Aliento, a community organization that supports students and families impacted by the inequities of lacking an immigration status through educational initiatives, leadership development, and policy & advocacy. In 2022, Aliento was instrumental in the passing of Proposition 308, a policy endorsed by Barack Obama, that now allows undocumented immigrants who graduate from an Arizona high school to receive in-state tuition for college. In 2018, Reyna was featured on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs list. Discover more:Check out Aliento: https://www.alientoaz.org/ Follow Aliento on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alientoaz/ Connect with Reyna on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/reynamontoya/ Follow The Peers Project on Instagram: http://bit.ly/3adVmYG Connect with your Host, Michelle on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelleakhidenor/ Follow Michelle on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michakhidenor/
249. #249. From 100 Rejections to International Recognition with BIPOC Co-Founder of Quantum Dice & Forbes 30 Under 30 Lister, Wenmiao Yu39:51If there’s one setback every entrepreneur faces at some point, it’s rejection. While it can be disheartening, a “no” can serve as a valuable lesson and a chance for something even better. Our guest this week experienced this firsthand, as they heard the word “no” almost 100 times before finally getting a long-awaited “yes” — a “yes” that catapulted their company to new heights.In this episode of PEERS, we’re joined by Wenmiao Yu, Director of Business Development and Co-Founder of Quantum Dice to talk about practicing patience and mindfulness, making your own luck, and how to keep pushing forward despite the odds.About Wenmiao: Wenmiao Yu is the Co-Founder and Director of Business Development at Quantum Dice, an Oxford University spinout, that specialises in encryption through the use of quantum technology. Actively advocating for equality, diversity and inclusion, Wenmiao regularly mentors students through the Oxford Women in Business Society, and is also on the committee for New Voices in Space, a part of the Scottish Space Leadership Council.In 2023, Wenmiao was featured on the Forbes Europe 30 Under 30 Technology list. Discover more:Check out Quantum Dice: https://www.quantum-dice.com/ Follow Quantum Dice on Instagram: https://twitter.com/QuantumDiceUK Connect with Wenmiao on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/wenmiao-yu-b37bba151/ Follow The Peers Project on Instagram: http://bit.ly/3adVmYG Connect with your Host, Michelle on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelleakhidenor/ Follow Michelle on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michakhidenor/
248. #248. The Power of Instinct and Embracing the Unpredictable with BIPOC Co-Founder of Spacebasic & Forbes 30 Under 30 Lister, Madhavi Shankar38:34Recognise, realise, and move on. That’s how this week’s guest tackles the bad stuff that comes with running a business. And whilst many of us would rather avoid the bad, Madhavi Shankar would much rather run headfirst into it; because to her, risks and mistakes are what make things happen. In this episode of PEERS, we’re joined by Madhavi Shankar, CEO and Co-Founder of SpaceBasic to talk about being okay with not following the crowd, how to get better at trusting your instincts, and the value of taking risks and being open to uncertainty. About Madhavi: Madhavi Shankar is the Co-Founder and CEO of SpaceBasic, an app that helps hostels, universities and student housing communities automate everyday communication and tasks to create a more connected environment. In 2019, Madhavi was named as one of the Top 60 Women Transforming India by the Indian Government and the United Nations.In 2020, Madhavi was featured on the Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 Enterprise Technology list. Discover more:Check out Spacebasic: https://www.spacebasic.comFollow Spacebasic on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/spacebasicappConnect with Madhavi on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/madhavishankar/Follow The Peers Project on Instagram: http://bit.ly/3adVmYGConnect with your Host, Michelle on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelleakhidenor/Follow Michelle on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michakhidenor/