We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Jonathan Ryan Selvera a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Hi Jonathan Ryan, thanks for joining us today. So, let’s start with a hypothetical – what would you change about the educational system?
I felt a lot of time in school, my ambitions and dreams were dulled and muted by teachers and administrators. It was rare that instructors would take “Own my own business” as an answer when asked what my plan after high school was. I heard a lot of, “most businesses fail within 5 years, so what’s your backup plan?” A lot of, “Okay, but you need a degree that you can fall back on.” There was never really someone saying, “Great, let’s get you in the classes and learning the skills you’ll need to be successful in that.” I would really love to see high schools in particular change, and become places where students can learn more than just the basics. Right now, most of the advanced skills and information you need to be successful come from extensive and expensive college programs, making it very difficult for a lot of people to ever gain that. Most of our high schools don’t have enough classes for learning beyond, and the elective courses that do teach business fundamentals and more are often throwaway classes that are ineffective.
Students who show serious interest and passion in various disciplines outside of sports and a few arts often have no options, and I would love to see that change.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
The Selvera Company, more often called SelveraCo, is a lawn & garden service provider that was founded in late 2020. It is owned entirely by the Selvera Family, and we intend to keep it that way forever. As Austin grows and changes, we want to help keep it weird by maintaining the small, local business environment.
We are very proud of the work we do to help our neighbors beautify their homes. From regular lawn mowing, mulch installation, and planting, all the way to pressure washing and small tree trimming, we provide a large selection of services to most of the Austin area. We offer great prices for great work and offer plenty of perks and discounts for our regular maintenance customers. If you want gardeners who love what they do, we are the business for you!
Have any books or other resources had a big impact on you?
Before I opened my business, I was a huge fan of a podcast called “How I Built This.” I’ve known since I was 10 that I wanted to be a business owner, so this podcast where Guy Raz interviews some of the most successful entrepreneurs and creators of our time about how they built their success was an obvious listen. I’ve probably heard every episode, some of them multiple times. The podcast inspired me and led to me deciding to launch SelveraCo sooner than expected. It taught me, through the experience of others, to be ready for a long road ahead, to be resilient despite the many “no’s” I’ll receive, to work hard and be grateful for what I get in return. So, when I actually was in the position myself, I wasn’t shocked by it or scared, and I could imagine myself telling my own story on a podcast in the future.
Can you talk to us about how your funded your business?
I started my business with some hard-earned cash and some borrowed equipment. After high school, I immediately began work, doubling-up on jobs to earn as much I could. I was package handler, unloading trucks, at night and making smoothies during the day. Eventually, the warehouse I was working at promoted me to a manager position, and when the pandemic came, I ended up working 60 to 70 hour weeks as we struggled to keep up with the surge of online ordering. The increase in pay and excessive overtime led to me having enough cash to start my business after just a year of managing. I bought some lawn care equipment and borrowed a few cheap things from my dad, got polo shirts to look professional along with my business cards, and started knocking on doors.
Some businesses can be started for little cash capital, but most require a lot of human capital in the way of long hours and dedicated work. Some businesses start with larger budgets, and use that for mass marketing campaigns and a team of employees, but some start with just one or two people wearing a ton of hats and taking 25,000 steps a day as they go door-to-door in search of clients. Most businesses start with some extra cash and dedication to goal.