Jorge Hernandez, FEMBA ’12 is a class act: alum, father and founder of Darelicious.com. A dare by classmates inspired his company. Classmates and faculty both provided the angel investing to launch it. Jorge’s story showcases opportunities at UCLA, from pizza-to-patent-to-launch.
NOTE: You can support Jorge and use Darelicious.com for dares within your own company. It’s a great platform to build enthusiasm and participation around a good cause.
Dylan: Jorge, tell me about where you were before grad school. I remember meeting you during recruiting, and then of course our kids played together during Leadership Foundations.
Jorge: That’s right! They played chase in Entrepreneur’s Hall.
Before UCLA, in the late summer of 2008, I was at a crossroads in my life. I had been a lifer in the music business. From the time I was 10 until that moment in 2008 everything I did was completely focused on music. I moved to LA in August 1999 in the hopes of becoming the next David Geffen. While I certainly had some successes, by the time 2008 rolled around I had to face some very harsh realities. The music business was in free fall and my own career had hit a lull. I wasn’t ready to call it quits but I also knew I was a prisoner of my own focus and myopia.
I felt trapped in a little box in terms of my thinking and I felt far too complacent and comfortable in my chosen industry. I was already married for 14 years and had a 3-year-old daughter. For their sake as well as my own I needed to find a way to reinvent myself.
Truthfully the idea of going to business school just hit me out of nowhere. I had been an entrepreneur my whole professional life, but had no formal training. Once I started conducting some online research into what it really meant to pursue an MBA, I realized this was exactly the catalyst I needed to find a new way of thinking and a new approach to my professional life.
I visited each area MBA program and it was painfully obvious to me that Anderson had to be my first choice. It really had nothing to do with the presentation or the recruitment effort made by Anderson. When I came to Anderson’s recruiting presentation in December of 2008 I felt really inspired by the caliber of other prospective students. Everyone was accomplished in their area, incredibly bright, passionate about their career and ambitious and positive about their own futures. My father always used to say to me, “Tell me who you associate with and I’ll tell you who you are.” In a nutshell that’s what sold me on Anderson.
Dylan: What was it like when you got to UCLA?
Jorge: Coming to Anderson was a wake up call for me. I was suddenly thrown into the deep end in terms of experiencing new disciplines that I had zero exposure to up until that point. I was completely out of my comfort zone but as overwhelmed as I was, I loved it!
When you arrive at Anderson everyone asks, are you an enhancer, a switcher, or an explorer? I was about as schizophrenic in my own approach as anyone could be. From day to day I bounced back and forth between these three descriptors and the great thing about Anderson was that no matter who I was that day, it felt totally natural and I was supported by the faculty and my classmates.
Dylan: And how did Darelicious come to be?
Jorge: Half way through FEMBA I became very interested in crowdfunding. I wanted to do something in that space but didn’t know what. One Saturday as I was leaving the school with a fellow FEMBA, Sam Fatoohi ’12, we ran into Jeff Chang ’12, another fellow FEMBA, who was just concluding an Entrepreneur Association meeting. As it turned out Jeff was left to clean up all by himself and asked us for help. We happily obliged and recruited a couple of other people. Anyone that has ever attended Anderson knows that when you attend a catered event with pizza the delivery driver always seems to leave way more red pepper than needed.
Sam stacked a plate full of red pepper packets and said, “Jorge, I dare you to eat all of this red pepper. How much would I have to pay you?” Everyone got a good laugh and someone said, “I’ll give you $20 Jorge!” Then another person said, “yeah, me too!” Then Jeff chimed in too with $20. A short time later we all left for our cars and in the parking garage it hit me, what if I could recreate that same experience but online and what if I could use our platform for some social good?
Dylan: So Darelicious was inspired by too many peppers?
Jorge: That’s right, inspired by peppers, and funded by peers and faculty. Darelicious.com was born that day and by the time I graduated, the platform was well on its way to being built. The company was funded in December 2012 by SJ Investment Company, which is run by Anderson Visiting Assistant Professor Dr. Dan Nathanson, and by an additional angel investor who just happens to be a fellow FEMBA. We went live in January 2014.
Professor Nathanson learned about Darelicious while I was a student in his business plan development class and Darelicious was the idea I used for my final project. Professor Nathanson also pointed out that I had some IP [Intellectual Property] going here and encouraged me to apply for a patent. Following his advice, we successfully got our patent.
Professor Nathanson also did a dare, and sacrificed his mustache of 40 years in the process, as you’ll see in this video.
Dylan: I’m impressed. Lots of professors will review a business plan. Fewer will put money into the idea, and almost none will shave a mustache they’ve had for 40 years!
Jorge: Yes, he is a great guy. His dare got written up in the LA Business Journal and we raised money for Challenge For Charity (C4C). 20130930 LA Biz Journal Article Dan Nathanson.
As coincidence would have it, the classroom where I attended Professor Nathanson’s class was the same classroom where the inspiration for Darelicious was born with my fellow FEMBAs, right at the conclusion of an Entrepreneur Association meeting.
As of this writing Darelicious just opened its first office on West Hollywood right on the Sunset strip and hired its first employee. We try to keep a real spirit of fun and that is reflected in our job titles. My business card reads “Jorge Hernandez, Original Daredevil,” and my employee’s title is “Daredevil #1.” Each successive employee regardless of function and importance will carry a title that reflects which number employee s/he is. I’m never far from the music business. Darelicious recruits dare campaigns from the music business and I still actively manage one music client. It’s something that is in my blood and I don’t think I can ever leave music alone.
Dylan: Your email signature says, “Always be daring!” Tell me more about that.
Jorge: My time at Anderson was completely transformative. I approach everything, even familiar functions and situations, with a whole new perspective. By the time I graduated from Anderson I was the proud father of a second daughter and juggling school, family, and work was certainly a challenge, but if making a change and a real investment in your future is important to you as it was for me, I believe you’ll move mountains if that’s what it takes to make it happen. Always be daring!
Dylan: I love it! Nothing beats boldness and you have plenty. As always, we are going to want to hear updates from you!
Jorge: Happy to keep you updated. I’ll leave your readers with one more video. This was from a few months ago, when I was being interviewed on Open Source, on a new network called Fusion which is owned by ABC and Univision. If I remember right, I mentioned UCLA at least three times!
Dylan: Thanks Jorge. :-)