“I will never forget the day Sean came over and handed me that envelope. I opened it and chills ran down my spine. Tears came down my eyes. I was speechless and overcome with emotion. There in my shaking hands was a headshot of Thomas Rhett, signed ‘I hope you always remember your first dance.’” – Carl Padilla, CEO of Celeb Gap
And that man was Carl Padilla, the founder and CEO of Celeb Gap, a unique platform that launched in 2019, bridging the gap between fans and their favorite celebrities, ranging from actors and musicians, to reality stars, authors, and motivational speakers.
Three years ago, as Padilla was preparing to get married, he mentioned to his friend that he and his now wife would be dancing to Rhett’s song “Die a Happy Man.” What he didn’t know was that his friend, a golf pro, just so happened to play golf with the guy who owned a record label that worked with and knew Rhett.
Making its public debut in December of this year, Celeb Gap specifically allows fans to request video game sessions as well as the opportunity to participate in unique real-time experiences with their celebrity of choice, separating itself from other video messaging platforms that simply allow for a user to request a “shoutout” in hopes the talent reciprocates.
Ahead of its public debut, Padilla wants to share the very emotions he experienced on his special day with as many people as possible, allowing for others to request an autograph, video chat, or even a gaming session with the talent of their choice – something that Celeb Gap’s competitors have yet to address.
In an interview with True Hollywood Talk, Padilla advises other entrepreneurs who are looking to do something big and unconventional, to work harder than they ever could have imagined for an unimaginable amount of time.
“If you are going down the road of an entrepreneur, it might be one of the hardest roads that you ever go down without quick profit,” he stresses. “But this route, if you choose to take it, has an unlimited upside if you can pull it off.”
Padilla shares three tips on how entrepreneurs who have the most grandiose of dreams, can make them a reality, if they are willing to put in the hard work to get there:
#1 – You Will Have More Downs Than Ups…At First
No entrepreneur is immune to mistakes, and neither are you. You will make mistakes and you will stumble. Yet, it’s about whether or not you get back up and continue hustling.
“I certainly have made plenty of mistakes!” Padilla admits. “What you should know is that no person should be measured by their successes, but rather by the mistakes they’ve made and how they overcame them to continue down their pathway to success.”
“Rome was not built in a day, and if you are looking to do something big, then you are going to have to work harder than you could ever have imagined, for an unimaginable amount of time,” he added. “If you are going down the road of an entrepreneur, it might be one of the hardest roads that you go down without making a quick profit. But this route has unlimited upside if you can pull it off. And yes, in the beginning, you will probably have a lot more downs than ups.”
With Celeb Gap, Padilla was reminded about the fact that while coming up with the idea for the platform was exciting and illuminating, rationalizing it into a business was something else entirely. And at the end of the day, you can’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.
#2 – Celebrate Small Victories
One of the biggest challenges many entrepreneurs face is that they are too hard on themselves, willing to forego any instance of “patting themselves on the back,” because it wasn’t the “end goal” they have been waiting for – which is why it’s crucial for your own mental health and sanity to celebrate small victories and not let every failure or roadblock get you down.
“Receiving that signed headshot from Rhett was the coolest, most personal gift I received for my wedding,” Padilla recalled.
“I showed every person I knew, and fast forward three years later, I was driving home from work and ‘Die a Happy Man’ came onto the radio. I thought about how special that gift was and got goosebumps thinking about it. Then I thought, if I wanted to give someone else that same feeling, was there an avenue to do so? And there wasn’t. There were sites for video shout-outs, but nothing personalized for autographs or even video game sessions. This is why I created Celeb Gap – to bridge the gap between celebrities and their fans, and give the world something that was at one time, a once in a lifetime experience, to something that is at their fingertips by the press of a button.”
#3 – Finding Your Mentor Will Keep You Grounded (and Alive)
None of us are able to achieve success without some form of guidance, advisory, and mentorship. Whether we are working in cyberspace or in the physical world, finding yourself someone who speaks the language, but also believes in your passion will allow you to maintain the confidence necessary to see your vision through.
“I have had mentors throughout the entire process of building Celeb Gap,” Padilla says. “One of those mentors has been my college professor, Cyndi Gundy, as well as my father, who is a business owner himself taking my daily calls. And of course, where would I be without the love and support of my wife, who has continuously picked up the slack when I’ve had to attend countless business meetings, conference calls, demos, and everything in between. What they say is true – that behind every successful man with a dream, is an incredible woman with a vision and that would be my wife.”
Padilla confessed that it was nearly crushing and downright chilling when he learned that the investment to actually build the platform as well as accurately code it, would be hundreds of thousands of dollars mixed with thousands of hours of coding, was more than he could budget at the time.
“Yet, knowing that my wife and child were depending on me to succeed and knowing how much they have sacrificed to see this platform come to life, was worth every waking moment,” he shared. “Knowing that most of the successful companies out there didn’t see overnight success and took years before things actually took off, where others quit, was reassuring.”
At the end of the day, Padilla emphasizes to all who have such a vision that if you want to be part of the top 1%, then you must be willing to do and sacrifice what the rest of the 99% are not willing to.