Episode 2 How to Bet on Yourself and Build a Business From Scratch

In this episode, our hosts get to know Kelsey Davis, founder, and CEO of the portfolio platform tech start-up, CLLCTVE.
Apr 18, 2024 — 8 min read

About this video series

Career Day

Career Day

Welcome to Career Day! In this series, YouTube Creators Charlie Chang and Elle Mills meet up with Gen Z small business owners who risked it all to bet on themselves. Throughout the series, aspiring entrepreneurs will get an in-depth look at how three small business owners found success taking the career path less traveled.

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Elle Mills: Hey guys. Welcome to Career Day, brought to you by Square.

Charlie Chang: Today we're talking with Gen Z entrepreneurs to learn how they bet on themselves and start their own business. 

Elle Mills: I'm super psyched about today's episode. We're going to be talking to Kelsey Davis, CEO, and founder of CLLCTVE, and she's going to talk to us about how to monetize your creativity that is set up an LLC, and how to hustle and make connections.

Charlie Chang: Thank you so much to Square for sponsoring this series and for giving small businesses the tools they need to thrive. Let's go talk to Kelsey.

Elle Mills: Kelsey is a Syracuse graduate with the master's degree from the Women's School of Management. She started CLLCTVE when she was 20 years old. She'd been featured in Forbes 30 under 30, and she's basically a badass in every way.

Kelsey Davis: Welcome to CLLCTVE HQ.

Charlie Chang: So Kelsey, you're doing a lot of really cool stuff that we're super inspired by. Can you tell us what your company CLLCTVE does and sort of what you do?

Kelsey Davis: So CLLCTVE, we are the portfolio platform that connects creators to their next opportunity. And so if you're a creator, you really want to figure out how to communicate who you are and what you do and how to connect with other creators or to brands to then get to your next opportunity. You're probably posting your content on Instagram, on Twitter, on YouTube, on TikTok to try to distribute that out to your audiences. But where's the one place that you send everybody to so that they can easily just see in one place all of your content curated by you? And so we really see ourselves as the home for creators to really build their world and then ultimately use that information to then connect and match to their next opportunity.

Charlie Chang: That sounds super cool. Why'd you take that risk to sort of leave what you're doing before and start your own company?

Kelsey Davis: Prior to CLLCTVE, I was a full-time college student studying television, radio, and film at Syracuse University, getting my minor in innovation design and startups, while also being a full-time visual content creator for global consumer brands like Coca-Cola, Land Rover, Puma. It got to a point where I just couldn't juggle all of that bandwidth by myself. It was definitely a risk to kind of step away from thinking about myself as an independent creator, but when I really saw this larger opportunity, I thought, okay, well let me continue directing and doing that while studying and doing research and learning about the technology side of things. There were definitely risk involved in that transition period, but I think that's why it's important to have a certain level of foresight and create as many opportunities to leverage as possible so that even though it's a risk, it's still pretty calculated and optimal. Our mission at CLLCTVE is to empower creators to create the life they want. We have our ideas and we have all these different skills that we have. How do we just monetize on our human capabilities across the board?

Elle Mills: Was that scary at all, that whole process?

Kelsey Davis: I think it was scary, but it's interesting. So I used to be an athlete, and so I was actually on the track to go D1 going to the WNBA. That was my vision, that was my goal, but I actually think that was the first time that I had to overcome the fear, I had this identity that I was committed to, yet I don't feel fulfilled. Right? If you're not playing basketball, what are we going to do and how do we become the best at that? Part of honestly, being a good freelancer, being a good business person is being a good decision maker. It's definitely difficult, but there's no better feeling than trusting in yourself and seeing that through. No,

Elle Mills: I agree. And I think it's interesting that you had that multiple. You went from sports to film then film to tech, right? When I first did that jump from school to YouTube, I thought, okay, that's it. But it's constantly evolving and I think it never gets easier if you like. It's always still very scary.

Kelsey Davis: True. But obviously it's still a scary journey, but that's why you have team. We all have fear. You can't run from that. You have to actually acknowledge it and face it. It's something me and my co-founder do all the time. We'll, literally every Saturday we have retro meetings and we'll ask, what are we afraid of? What hurdle are we not acknowledging right now? And the quicker that we get there, the quicker that we can overcome. This is where the magic happens. This is the office. It's kind of our space to be art. When we moved here, we really wanted to have the perfect co-working environment, and so it was important for us to just create a space where it was just focused on work. So we have some studio stuff here. Obviously we do stuff within production, also tech. So just really use the space to work, create, take meetings.

Charlie Chang: So one of my favorite things to talk about on my YouTube channel is monetization, side hustles, just making money, all that stuff. So I just kind of want to get your opinion on what's the best way for creators to monetize their creativity.

Kelsey Davis: First thing, know your why. When it comes to monetizing yourself as a creator, it really comes down to how are you monetizing your human ip? So I think that really has to do with knowing who you are, knowing your why and knowing what you have the ability to create. People come up to me all the time, for example, and they're like, Hey, I'm a creative, can I work with you? And I'm like, cool, who are you and what do you do? And often there's just like, I make videos and it's like, cool for what? For whom? What type of videos? What are you good at? So really being able to articulate, succinctly who you are, what you do, and know your why.

I think after that, it's really being able to succinctly create a portfolio so that people could easily interact with you, connect with you, and engage with you. And then I think the last thing is going out and understand how to connect with brands, how to get paid. Right now it's a matter of understanding how to actually create an invoice. Creating an LLC, which is important, monetization is meeting as an individual. You figured out a way to engineer an architect, a way to create revenue streams for yourself. So that could be through YouTube, that could be through streams, that could be through business partnerships, sponsorships. That could be through freelancing. Monetization is a way that you're able to make money as anything by doing what you're good at.

Charlie Chang: You said the thing about starting the LLC, right? I feel like that's something that's very actionable that a lot of viewers could start doing today or tomorrow. How do you start up an LLC?

Kelsey Davis: So first step of setting up an LLC is you actually need a name. It sounds super simple, but the reason why it's really important to think about it is because you want to make sure that it's actually going to be verified by the state. If it's a name that already exists, especially within that industry, you'll get pushed back and you'll have to find a new name that then goes into your second step, which is filing for your articles of organization. This basically means you're getting documentation from the state that recognizes you as a legitimate legal entity.

So last step number three is going to be creating an operating agreement. And so your operating agreement is a legal agreement between yourself and the company. And so whether you're operating as a sole proprietorship, single LLC, and you're the only member, or if you have other managing members that are part of that multi-member LLC, you're going to want an operating agreement because this really governs, if anything happens in the company, what's going to happen. It protects you as a managing member of the LLC, and that's ultimately why LLCs are so cool and important.

Charlie Chang: So I see a lot of new entrepreneurs working on the day-to-day grind, but entrepreneurship can be pretty lonely. So what are your tips on networking to other people?

Kelsey Davis: Yeah, for sure. I think networking is super important. It's super crucial. That's really the only way that you're actually able to connect to that next opportunity, especially when you're an entrepreneur. And so you want to network not only in relation to finding different opportunities to get paid, but also opportunities to support yourself. So whether that has to do with potentially investors, right? Brands, customers, mentors, advisors, and so I think networking is a key part to making sure you really have the resources in the community to support yourself. As a freelancer or as an entrepreneur. We know that we want to connect with brands to get paid, but in order to do that in a way that ultimately gives us back autonomy, we want to learn how to collaborate so that we can actually start doing this in our own and creating our own project. I think what you guys are saying about finding like-minded peers is something that's super, super important.

Charlie Chang: I'm super shy, and I think a lot of people watching this might be shy too. What are your tips for overcoming that fear?

Kelsey Davis: I think that's super normal, and that's okay. As an entrepreneur, you're really selling a product, and so oftentimes your product itself could actually be what's selling you more than the words out of your mouth itself. I think that's why it's more important to have a product that can easily just communicate for you so that you can focus more so on growing your business and less about a lot of the in-person things that aren't even really scalable in the long run.

Elle Mills: For me, I think networking can seem super intimidating. At the end of the day, people want to work with kind people and good people. So I think it's about having that portfolio ready so that when a project comes up or there's an opportunity and the first thing they think of is, oh, I know this person. Let me introduce you. And everything happens naturally.

Charlie Chang: What I found that works well for me is just reaching out to people on social media that I look up to or that I want to connect with, and then we build a friendship there. And then once you meet one person, you can meet their friends and it just sort of snowballs like that. And that's definitely been one the best things I've ever done in my entrepreneurial journey.

Elle Mills: What would you say is the biggest thing holding young entrepreneurs back today? 

Kelsey Davis: Fear. Honestly doubt. Because it's not the technology. You have everything that you need in order to create, and that doesn't mean that you have what you need to create at the scale that you want to create, but you do have the basic minimals to put something out there. And so I would say start there, get feedback, and continue to do that until you find a route that makes sense. And until you learn who your audience is, and then hopefully create an LLC around that.

Elle Mills: So now it's been a couple years of your journey. If you had the chance to talk to your younger self, what advice would you give? Keep

Kelsey Davis: Creating is what I would say. And don't allow fear to disable you to create the life you want.

Elle Mills: Hell yes. Yes. I love that. Seriously.

Kelsey Davis: You like that, Brendan? That was good.

Elle Mills: But with that, thank you so much for talking with us, but time is money, so we'll let you get back to work. 

Kelsey Davis: Sure. Thanks for swinging by.

Charlie Chang: Thanks again to CLLCTVE CEO Kelsey, for all the knowledge you shared about how to monetize your creativity, Seth and LLC, as well as how to hustle and make connections

Elle Mills: Head to Square's website where they provide all the tips in info you need, how to start and grow your own business.

Charlie Chang: And be sure to subscribe for more Career Day episodes to learn how you can bet on yourself.

Elle Mills: Thanks guys. Until next time. 


Career Day is the new Square YouTube docuseries highlighting ambitious Gen Z sellers. Get their keys to success here.

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