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An Interview with Melissa Williams, Owner and Co-founder of WNY Holdings LLC



Melissa Williams, the owner, and co-founder of WNY Holdings LLC, has given an exclusive interview.

 WNY Holdings LLC is a customer-focused digital marketing company that was started in 2018 to provide tailored marketing strategies for small businesses. WNY Holdings helps restaurants, coffee shops, and retailers with all their digital marketing needs, from content marketing, web and graphic design, media creation, SEO, all the way to Facebook advertising.

  1. Tell me about your best and worst days at work.

My best days at work are when I get to create connections with small business owners and help them build their online presence and improve their digital marketing efforts. It is the most fulfilling part of my job – knowing that by leveraging my knowledge I am able to impact their results.

The worst days are when things happen that are out of my control. Because even our company’s SEO efforts can be very unpredictable at times. And it’s something I am learning to deal with because there are so many things in life that are out of our control.

  1. Who are the clients/what are the projects that you most enjoy working on?

I enjoy working with clients who I’ve known for a while because we have trust and rapport already in place. They trust me with the most important part of their businesses – their brand image, and how their customers perceive them. That’s a very big responsibility to help them all shine in their own way.

Building those connections with clients is what I enjoy the most. That’s a reason why I didn’t pursue an accounting career after graduation. I like to work with numbers, but client-facing projects are my favorite.

  1. What was your biggest ‘a-ha’ moment?

My biggest ‘a-ha’ moment was when I met Ben – my husband, and business partner. We run WNY Holdings together, and without him, the company wouldn’t be the same.

I remember a conversation we had about our future plans. We both had corporate jobs at the time, and both of us shared this feeling that something was missing; we didn’t have enough creativity at our jobs, and we wanted to do more. We were eating breakfast one morning and Ben mentioned that one of his friends needed help with his business’s social media profiles. When I heard him say it, it felt like a lightbulb went off in my head.

  1. What has been the most important part of your professional journey?

The most important part of my professional journey is self-development. I really think that nowadays it’s not enough to just have a profession. You should always be learning and improving your skills. We get different clients from various backgrounds and most of the time I am able to relate to them because for the most part business owners share this quality.

  1. Have you ever turned down a client, a project, or a business opportunity? If so, why?

Yes, we had to turn down a business opportunity, actually pretty recently. One of our competitors in the area proposed that we merge our companies. After a long discussion we declined because even though we are a fairly new business, Ben and I have our own vision of how we wanted to grow WNY Holdings and which direction to take in the future.

  1. What risks is your company facing?

Like I’ve mentioned before, we are in a competitive space. There are many digital marketing companies in the market. But what makes us different is the client relationships with small business owners. When you are dealing with small business owners it’s almost like a family bond, they often invite us to their company gatherings and we invite them to our parties. You can not beat personal relationships and trust, and that’s where we stand out.

  1. What would you do with unlimited resources?

I would definitely invest them in our business. Ben and I have so many plans regarding how we want to grow WNY Holdings. There are also so many social causes we would like to support. One of them is cyberbullying. It is definitely a big issue in the U.S and worldwide, and as a digital marketing company we see how it can negatively affect individuals and companies.

  1. When was the last time you totally lost yourself in doing something?

I often lose track of time when I work on clients’ digital marketing strategy. Because there is a lot of research that goes into it, and there are multiple aspects I have to account for. But crafting a unique strategy and defining tactics on how to achieve our client’s goals is something that I can do for hours without realizing that time has passed by.

  1. What do you do when you’re not at work?

So many things. I try to be active during my free time because my job entails a lot of sitting. I go skiing, hiking, and I spend time outdoors with my husband Ben and our two dogs. We also like to try different foods, so we often go out to check out a new restaurant in the area, or visit our go-to places.

  1. How do you feel you make a difference in the world?

I think that we all are able to make a difference in the world one interaction at a time. So I focus on the task at hand – if I am talking to a client, I put away all my devices and truly listen to their needs. I think there are a lot of distractions around us, and especially as a founder of a digital marketing company, I know the importance of building real long-term client relationships one interaction at a time.

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An Interview with Actor & Musician Carrel Lasso



Carell Lasso is a Colombian actor and musician. He is well known for his role in La Esclava Blanca (The White Slave) which is available on Netflix. Carrel is also one of the actors of the new HBO show “One thousand fangs” or “Mil Colmillos” .

Carell, thank you for talking with us. To be a part of the first HBO series in your home country must have felt great. How was the experience like?

Thank you for having me. For me it was a wonderful experience, to be part of the first HBO Series produced in my home country.

I met very talented people. The shooting days were extensive and 70% of the filming was at night in difficult conditions due to the weather and the jungle, but at the end of the day, it was a blessing and a great pleasure to be part of this awesome crew .

Tell us more about your character Barakus.

My character is called Alfredo Barranco aka Barakus. He is a corporal in the army’s special forces, and embarks on a mission where unexpected things happen
By the way, I had to gain 10 kilos of weight to play this character and had to go through a difficult military training and extensive gym workouts.

You have been a part of several awesome projects. Which project is really close to you?

La Esclava Blanca (The White Slave) has been a project that meant a lot to me due to the conditions and the circumstances that I was going through in my life at that time. It was also the production with which I obtained international recognition for my work, since it was sold to more than 280 countries in the 5 continents and was dubbed in many languages. You can watch this awesome show on Netflix.

 What suggestion would you give to actors who are struggling to get their first break?

My suggestion is to prepare, to work hard and to have their minds focused on what they want no matter what others say.  People who are not capable, are always going to want you to be like them, so through criticism and ridicule they will  want to discourage you, but you must be patient and persistent and trust the talent and the desire that is in you. The best things come from heaven when you least expect them.

How are you helping young actors achieve their goals?

Since last year I have been collaborating with NYC Latin Media preparing their new talent for  productions.  Through live acting workshops and now via Zoom I serve as an acting coach, teaching different techniques and methodologies of acting and hoping to instill my passion for acting to the next generation of actors. 

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An Interview with Russell Jack, Southland-based Yogapreneur and Mindfulness Teacher



Russell Herbert Jack is a yoga and mindfulness teacher from Southland, New Zealand. He specializes in Vinyasa Yoga, Qigong, and guided meditations, helping clients achieve harmony of body, mind, and soul. Russell is passionate about animal rights, regularly volunteering with the World Animal Protection Organization and donating to protect endangered species in New Zealand.

Russel, thank you for talking with us. Even the best of Mindfulness experts and life coaches have their own ups and downs. Tell me about your best days at work and also about days when you feel low.

Thank you for having me. You are right when you say that it doesn’t necessarily mean that people who are life coaches and who teach mindfulness are immune from their own life challenges. The thing is, they know how to deal with such situations better than most of the people out there.

For me, the best days are whenever I can be at the beach. I love teaching outdoors, and the days when I get to teach by the ocean are the best. There are so many distractions in our life that can bring us down, and being out in nature walking, running, doing yoga, or simply observing is so therapeutic. I also feel down sometimes. Those are the days when I get bad news. I am very close to my clients and I am an empathetic person, so I take their problems too close to my heart.

What are the projects that you most enjoy working on?

I enjoy teaching, reading, and writing. I recently started a blog to practice writing and share my thoughts with the world. My primary focus is teaching though. I teach yoga, mindfulness, and Qigong, and I love walking my clients through the processes and seeing their results improve.

What was your biggest ‘a-ha’ moment?

Well, my biggest “a-ha” moment happened when I tried eating meat after a long break. My parents are vegan, so I was used to a meatless diet for the longest time. But during my late teenage years, you know, everyone rebels, and I decided to try a steak while I was away from home. I didn’t like it though.

What has been the most important part of your professional journey?

Dropping out of college when I felt like pursuing teaching as my life calling. There are many societal and parental pressures nowadays. My parents really wanted me to go to school and get educated, but I chose to educate myself. It’s my path. If I didn’t leave college, I would probably just hang out with my friends now, instead of building my teaching business and helping people connect with themselves through yoga and mindfulness.

The ongoing Pandemic has impacted businesses in so many ways. What risks is your company facing?

Well, COVID-19 has impacted many businesses, but luckily for New Zealand, we didn’t get hit as hard as the rest of the world. I am still able to teach and continue my practice. But I know that there are many people around the world who have lost their jobs and companies who didn’t survive the pandemic and subsequent closures. My heart goes to those.

What would you do with unlimited resources?

I would invest them in protecting animals around the world. There are many people who are conscious of the harm we create in the animal world, but there is not enough funding to make a big difference, I believe.

Being a Yoga practitioner gives you the necessary skills to immerse yourself in whatever you do. Still, When was the last time you totally lost yourself in doing something?

I lose myself when I teach. I turn into a vessel of knowledge and try to help my students connect with themselves through my teaching.

What do you do when you’re not at work?

I love traveling and being in nature, writing and learning, listening to music, and talking to my loved ones.

How do you feel you make a difference in the world?

My impact is not as big as I would like it to be, but I still think that by volunteering, teaching, and leading by example, I do contribute to the betterment of the world.

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CEO of VEDOC Talks About the Initiatives taken by the company During the Ongoing Pandemic



In a previous Interview with Times of Startups, Yoguef Sanchez-Jarquin, the founder of VEDOC talked about how VEDOC or Vehicle Doctor helps users connect with vetted vehicle service providers with a few screen taps. We recently caught up with Yoguef Sanchez to know more about where his company is heading owing to the unexpected situation we are witnessing because of Covid-19.

Yoguef, It’s great to have you back. Since we last talked, how has been the growth story of Vedoc so far?

Thank you for having me again. Vedoc has grown significantly in the past few months, We are starting to expand and introduce our platform in places such as New Jersey, Chicago, and Detroit. Our goal is to create awareness in major cities and gradually work our way into smaller towns.

What has been the impact of Covid-19 on your organization and Vehicle service providers in general?

Thankfully the Automotive industry has not had any real setbacks overall. As an organization we have adapted well and we are continuing to grow as a team

Tell us more about your recent program in which your company will provide service attendants to gas stations in cities that have seen a massive surge in Covid-19 cases?

We have plans to roll out the program for the remainder of the year upon launching. We are currently seeking to onboard as many fuel stations in the most affected areas. Our goal is to reduce contact between people and provide additional income for locals who are struggling during this current crisis.

Social distancing is one of the tools which can help reduce the spread of Coronavirus. How can fuel stations and car service providers facilitate contactless service for their customers?

Vedoc app was developed with the idea of making the way you service your vehicle convenient which results in being able to contact service providers through the app, chat , schedule and pay and we are also now on-boarding mobile service providers which has become a trend in growing cities.

We genuinely believe that it will complement the concept of contactless service by maintaining people safe at at their homes. On the other hand, some gas stations can see up to 100 vehicles per day so imagine how the amount of germs are transmitted through people.

Through our recent initiative, our service attendants will reduce the risk by keeping you safe in your car while your vehicle is being fueled and providing safe paying methods.

At its core, Vedoc is known for connecting car users to service providers. However, several businesses have evolved in the last few months owing to the ongoing pandemic. Are their any significant changes in your organization in the recent past?

We have made minor modifications and improvements to our organization. However, the core operation has continued to run smoothly without significant setbacks. In that sense, we can consider ourselves fortunate. Overall, we believe this to be perfect timing to introduce a new, convenient and honest way to service your vehicle while contributing our 2 cents to the current crisis.

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