An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Invest in product development: our first collaboration we spent more time marketing the actual launch event than we did with the product itself. We were desperate to get started that we ignored the actual thing that would make us money.
As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Joshua Castillo.
Salood Born and raised in a sleepy town near the Rio Grande Border Joshua has always envisioned himself in a role that would be bigger than he could imagine. Since childhood Joshua was surrounded with good roles models that instilled him to give back whenever he could even if he has nothing. Although he was faced with obstacles like unsure what to do with his life and being so far away from opportunity, he followed his senses and knew he had to move to a bigger city in order to utilize his talents. After completing his bachelor’s degree in Business at The University of North Texas Joshua entered the workforce and deferred to a role that he didn’t want. Because of the competitiveness in the Dallas-Fort Worth market Joshua was in between positions that had nothing to do with his degree or dreams. It wasn’t until a member of his community was faced with the devastating news of being diagnosed with cancer where a resurgence of purpose was calling him. After intensely researching treatments and expenses Joshua found the upsetting news of the lack of financial assistance for families going through cancer. After sharing the devastating statistics with his best friend turned business partner Kenny, they both felt the need to find a way to raise money for the cancer community but creatively. At the time of 2018 there was a popular trend in brand partnerships with celebrities that were selling out and instantly knew they would take the same formula but apply it towards opportunities for pediatric cancer patients. With the added bonus of getting a percent back of the proceeds that could be then distributed back to a larger pool of cancer families in need of financial aid. They realized such a curated, seamless purposeful product simply just didn't exist in the market, so they decided to create their own brand partnerships but with purpose. Together the two best friends formed Salood, which officially launched in June 2019. Since then Joshua has overseen the brand partnership opportunities and is heavily involved on the product development side with the patients and businesses. In his spare time with Salood he has had the privilege to moderate Zoom conversations with cancer families alongside Zachary Levi and Amy Poehler as the surprise guest speaker. With the fundraising efforts continuing to shatter records Joshua is looking forward to evolve and grow the mission. Currently he is overseeing 4 brand collaborations launching in 2022 with the intent to start the 2023 calendar this fall. When Joshua is not dealing with Salood he is spends his free time trying new restaurants and looking for live music with his girlfriend or catches the latest blockbuster release in the theatre.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you please share with us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Moderating a conversation with Amy Poehler over Zoom. I sometimes struggle with imposter syndrome so to sit in a virtual room where Amy is taking direction from me was validating and interesting because I never imagined I would have an opportunity like that.
Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?
I’m a big believer in 2 principles: being proactive and acting selfless. Following these 2 morals has provided personal and career wealth beyond measure. Being pro-active has allowed me to co-create successful programs for the cancer community. With setting my own needs aside I’ve been able to let Salood programs flourish into something purposeful that will reach a lot of people in need.
Ok thank you for that. Let’s now move to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?
Salood, derived from the Spanish word “salud” meaning health and good wealth, is a Texas non-profit that is committed to pairing pediatric cancer patients and businesses to collaborate and create customized products that benefit cancer families in need of financial aid. Our long-term goals as a mission is to spark a public interest in the financial demand that is attached to pediatric cancer and sharing through our campaigns human piece stories.
How do you think this will change the world?
With each of our campaigns having a human interest at the center of the product I believe the audience will resonate with their stories using 2 different ways. They could take each story away by applying generosity into their everyday lives. Whether that’s volunteering at their local non-profit, donating an amount to support a charity or using their time to create something better for their community. It’s our hope that a spark is ignited within to create change no matter the size of the work. Everything counts. The other way is for the public is connect with our stories. I’ve read a handful of comments since we’ve launched with others sharing parrels of their own stories similar to the ones we’ve told. I care deeply about accurately representing everyone and feel that this human connection has deeper meaning that can provide mental wealth for those who follow our mission. It’s a beautiful thing to watch stories shared from all over the world connecting with us in some shape or form.
The financial demand that comes from pediatric cancer. When you see our fundraisers, you’re happy to support the product the child created (as we are too) but there’s a message within our writing that I think most people gloss over and forget to really pay attention to. The proceeds we receive from our campaigns are directly donated to other families that are struggling with their finances due to a child being treated for Cancer. When I say struggle, I mean they can’t afford their light bill or groceries. I don’t think people realize exactly what that means or understand what some of these cancer families really face. It’s common for a parent to stop working when a child is diagnosed which reduces income and then the family is faced with complicated decisions on how they should spend their money. It’s devastating they have to make those choices while already dealing with such an unimageable time in their lives. Our goal as a mission to start the conversation about the financial demand and ways we can come together to fix this hidden issue.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?
There wasn’t necessarily an “a-ha moment” that led us towards the creation of Salood it was something that happened overtime over our common shared interest in giving back. What led us to this mission was unintentionally discovering how much of financial demand cancer was and the question “what happens when you can’t pay your bills but need to keep your child in treatment?” We were puzzled by the thought that you have to accept the reality of keeping your child alive while somehow still making ends meet. It didn’t add up and still doesn’t. Cancer is devastating as it is and to add the complicated layer of oh hey you still need to keep up with your bills didn’t sit well with either of us. After non-stop research for some time we felt this calling to think creatively and find a different approach to fundraise outside the traditional fundraising. Around the same time of developing our concept we saw a trend in celebrity brand collaborations that were selling out and always at the center of mainstream media. It was obvious between my business partner and I that we would adopt that same successful formula but with pediatric cancer patients at the center of it. We wanted to redefine what a purposeful purchase really is. It was our way of providing opportunities to those in need while serving a large pool of cancer families that are in need of financial aid. Once we locked in our mission everything fell into place after that and we haven’t stopped growing since.
What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?
Partnering with different hospitals, businesses/brands, and financial capital to start recruiting a team of people to help evolve and grow.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Invest in product development: our first collaboration we spent more time marketing the actual launch event than we did with the product itself. We were desperate to get started that we ignored the actual thing that would make us money.
- Timing is everything: we’re so eager to share with the world what we’re working on that we got impatient and rushed the first few collaborations. We didn’t think through how to strategize accordingly.
- Time management: I wish someone really knocked sense into me and told me to not be counterproductive into over thinking decisions. I put a lot of effort into what we do and sometimes I don’t use the day to its fullest advantage. I learned after a year how to properly manage my time and still find ways to improve.
- Invest in services: The goal is to be financial conservative because we’re using our own money to fund some of these projects. I wouldn’t utilize resources and have found that setting aside a healthy of amount for outside sources really is beneficial to your company. It pays off.
- Volunteer at a non-profit: I never made time to see how some local organizations run things and quickly realized I was missing out on some free education.
Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?
Not allowing myself to use plan B. I’ve trained my mind to think this is the only option I have in life and need to make the most of it. I tell myself this is my only shot and I can’t mess it up.
Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Average out of pocket expenses for pediatric cancer is $35,000 and while there’s options with insurance did you know there’s a limited amount of options when it comes to assistance with everyday expenses? Salood provides funding to families in need of financial aid through our brand collaborations with pediatric cancer patients. Since launching in 2019 our campaigns have raised over $100,000 in product sales and have raised $72,380 for cancer families in need. With your help we can reach more families across the US and can produce larger scale products that will bring in more revenue.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.
Salood: Joshua Castillo’s Big Idea That May Change the world was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.