Christina Aldan is a TEDx Speaker and Entrepreninja whose company, LG Designs, offers small and micro businesses brand consulting and creative content for everyday media. With a decade of experience in the digital advertising realm, Christina is highly regarded for her approach to business, partnering with clients to find unique strategies that ensure their advertising goals are met.
Christina builds connections through her keynote addresses, workshops and technological education. She uses these tools to help individuals and businesses cultivate value in everyday media. She is also Chief Marketing Officer for PrayerSpark and Marketing Coordinator for Starmark1.
Christina uses her charisma and expertise to inspire others by mentoring women in business like herself. She also sits on state and local boards supporting women in tech, entrepreneurship, and children with learning disabilities.
She is the recipient of the Las Vegas Women in Tech Community Service Award and Distinguished Woman of the Year Award in STEM. Learn more at ChristinaAldan.com.
In this entrepreneur interview, Christina narrates her rich experience as the CMO at PrayerSpark and what sets PrayerSpark apart from the rest of addiction recovery programs. She also shares how she balances her life as solopreneur and how she ran her own business with minimal costs. To get to know more about Christina and see daily updates, follow her on Twitter!
Her advice to entrepreneurs starting a business in Nevada:
In order to scale up from your Minimal Viable Product (MVP), you will have to look for funding outside of Nevada. There are talented individuals, even tech talent, but most everyone is committed, and you will need either funding or a very persuasive value proposition to lure them away from their jobs and personal projects.
Why did you start PrayerSpark? Can you tell me a little bit about your business and what you do?
PrayerSpark is the brainchild of our CEO, Michael Feder. I jumped on as Chief Marketing Officer in September 2015 because I believe in the mission to bring stress reduction with LGBTQ-friendly, interfaith spiritual support to those who need it most.
We have decided to focus on addiction recovery, PTSD, and hospice care first. PrayerSpark is ranked one of the 50 top startups in the world by Tech.co, and one of the top 100 by Red Herring.
We are a B2B, SaaS company in the healthcare space, with key Addiction Recovery and Hospice channel partners for our clinical apps in place (PTSD, Occupational Therapy, Corporate Wellness/Stress Reduction, Campus Stress Reduction and more).
Uniquely, we bring to these areas interfaith-religious and non-religious spiritual support, entirely within private communication silos. The first app, appearing this summer is for Addiction Recovery. The app is a clinical white label app, with unique features, that leaves branding and control entirely with the Rehab center.
Key team members are: Michael Feder, founder (one of only 4 American Finalists for Freedom of Religion in Business Award); Dr. Daniel Saurborn, co-founder (Chief Wellness Officer, Harvard-trained MD and leading telemedicine physician and app builder); Dr. Michael Kuhar (world-leader in brain science and addiction), Christina Aldan (CMO, TEDx speaker and Entrepreninja); Dr. Frank Kaufmann (Activist, world leader in religion and and peace); and Justin Holman (CTO).
Tackling the massive growth of addiction in the US, and its 92% relapse rate takes a village…we have assembled the village!
What do you say is the great advantage of prayer in addiction recovery?
We have done a lot of research on this. In fact, we have the leading researcher from Emory University in brain science and addiction, and also key feedback from leading Recovery professionals like David Marlon of Solutions Recovery.
The 12 step program is still the gold standard for 99% of recovery programs- and with 8 of the 12 steps requiring a connection to God or a "higher power", and up to 70% of people entering programs without such a connection, it has become essential to provide a new way of getting spiritual support. The world agrees this approach is needed. Read here.
What else do you do other than prayer to help improve the spiritual aspect of a patient that will eventually improve her/his life? How would you handle difficult situations with patients?
We have incorporated multiple stress reductions tools into our upcoming app, as well as daily affirmations, and social silos that allow ONLY the assigned seats to interact... in private, and in confidence.
We leave that up to the organization that licenses our app. They are the professionals and experts at what they do. We are a tech platform, and we enable our Institutional clients to manage their patients and participants directly.
Can you tell us more about your solopreneur experience and how would you thrive in the challenging world alone?
I collaborate. I have built a tribe. I believe we all grow together so collaboration has been integral to my success as an entrepreneur. I surround myself with teachers, mentors, peers, and contractors who are strong in areas where I am challenged. In this way, I do not feel like I am working alone.
How do you balance life and work to remain connected and available for your loved ones? Any advice for me?
I am plugged in. I joke that I speak all languages: twitter, linkedin, facebook, skype, facetime, google hangouts, etc. I schedule playtime for live music and occasional hikes with friends. I LOVE live music and luckily living in Las Vegas makes it easy to nourish my soul with amazing live performances.
I also schedule a lot of lunch meetings. For people I can’t connect with face-to-face… such as my mentee in Morocco or my mom or when I travel for speaking events, I use the phone or video hangouts. I also am lucky enough to have several friends as business collaborators.
For example, some of my best friends and collaborators will do lock-ins with me. We will go to a beautiful resort in the Bahamas or Palm Springs for a week and hunker down to jam out a project. In this way, we can focus on work and at the same time spend quality time together in a beautiful environment.
How did you find the time and money to get your business off the ground? Any advice for entrepreneurs with minimal time or resources?
It depends on your goals, experience, and your business model. I have a Bachelors of Science degree, not a Business degree, so I knew the learning curve might be steeper for me than someone who has a formal education in business. I bootstrapped my business with minimal support from our household income and the few profits I made during those first years.
The idea was to create profitable services right out of the gate as opposed to looking for an investor to fund my business and THEN create the services. If you want fast growth and big returns, then my business model won’t work. The business models are not the same, so they are not comparable.
When I started my business, I knew I didn’t want to be tied to a brick and mortar because I enjoy traveling and speaking at conferences so I prioritized freedom to travel over fast growth. The few times that I tried having an office didn’t work out. I let go of that overhead because I was rarely in the office. Also, social media and technology have leveled the playing field for solopreneurs.
Spending thousands of dollars on advertising and marketing is no longer necessary to getting the word out and sharing your story. It is very easy to begin a business with few resources and a willingness to fail fast. It may take a bit longer than someone who has raised 2 million in funding right out of the gate, but it is possible to do it. I am living proof of that.
What do you consider the biggest milestone that you have hit with your business? What was the number one thing you did you get there?
The biggest milestone for me was passing the 5 year mark. Statistics tell us that 50% of startups fail within the 1st 5 years. I started LG Designs out of nothing and kept learning from mistakes. Cultivating the emotional intelligence skills to persevere despite errors has been my greatest accomplishment. I sought mentors, coaches, and collaborators who could help me along the way.
Have you ever gotten a disappointed client or patient at PrayerSpark? If so, how did you handle the situation?
Luckily, our B2C website at PrayerSpark is designed for our spiritual leaders to handle a limited number of prayers. Fortunately, we have received very positive feedback- in fact, we have close to 60,000 followers on our Facebook page.
For our white-label B2B stress-reduction app, we leave it up to the professionals to handle those dealing with addiction recovery, PTSD, or hospice care. In this way, Solutions Recovery Treatment Center does what they do best and we leave that work up to them. We have a system that controls the number of prayers a spiritual leader can handle and also alerts the center’s team in case of emergencies.
What are the top 3 pieces of advice that you would give someone starting a business in Nevada? What do they need to know from the beginning?
- There is a limited venture community here. What we found at PrayerSpark is that in order to scale up from your Minimal Viable Product (MVP), you will have to look for funding outside of Nevada.
- There are talented individuals, even tech talent, but most everyone is committed, and you will need either funding or a very persuasive value proposition to lure them away from their jobs and personal projects. The University has responded to this issue and is working on developing the technology sector, but it is going to take time.
- Nevada is awesome! In Las Vegas, everyone on your team can afford a nice, close place to live. There is an abundance of outdoor things to do, and a small, tight community of creatives and entrepreneurs who will want to get to know you. Plenty of cheap hotel rooms are available for people visiting. Direct flights to every place make our airport easily one of my favorites. Plus we have some of the best chefs in the world. Come on over, and look me up when you do! I am an excellent tour guide.