Accidental Entrepreneur: Building a Thriving Guest House Business with Ed Pettitt

Ep 6.png

Today we're talking with Ed Pettitt, an entrepreneur who has built a thriving guest house in Houston's historic Third Ward. Join us to learn about how Ed (accidentally) started his business, how Airbnb's platform has enabled his success, what he's learned about entrepreneurship on the way, and the rich history and culture his business benefits from in an often overlooked part of Houston.

Ed has been featured in Houstonia, CW39's NewsFix, and the Kinder Institute.

To learn more, visit

Find The Common Quest on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Stitcher.

Show notes:

* Snapshot of Ed's background: A career in public health, Peace Corps experience, and entrepreneurship

* Accidental entrepreneurship: how Ed started his guest house and how it's grown

* Houston's Third Ward and how it's history and rich culture, though often overlooked, have helped 

* Lessons learned

* Ed's views of Airbnb as a platform

* Starting a business without a business background

* Memorable guests: emergency room trip after break dancing on the kitchen floor

* Secrets to success on Airbnb?

* Resources which have helped Ed to build his business

* Equitable Innovation Conference coming up April 19

No More Swiping in the Dark: Talking Women in Tech and the Pheramor Story with Asma Mirza and Dr. Brittany Barreto

Pheramor (landscape 2).png

What is it like for women in tech? Our guests, Asma Mirza and Dr. Brittany Barreto, make up two-thirds of the founding team for Pheramor, a genetics-based dating app. In this episode, Asma and Brittany discuss their journey from asking the question: “Can I make a ‘’” to where they are today. We learn how Asma and Brittany became a “base pair” after a pitch competition in Houston, the story of Pheramor, and how to tackle the challenges they (and others) face as female leaders and entrepreneurs.

For more about Pheramor, see

Find The Common Quest on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Stitcher.

Show notes:

00:00 Introduction

02:15 What is Pheramor?

06:30 The Pheramor origin story.

14:35 “Do you believe in luck?”

18:00 “How has Pheramor changed you?”

21:30 Advice from future Asma and Brittany

23:30 The Power of the Pitch

30:00 “You girls look beautiful.” The difficulties of a female entrepreneur/leader.

34:30 Plugs

37:00 Super Bowl Surveys

40:00 Unique approach to managing Pheramor user profiles using social media.

44:00 Pheramor rollout

Becoming Undeniable: The Tiny Heights Story with Jennifer Drew

Jennifer - The Tiny Heights.png

Join us for an energizing and inspiring conversation as we listen to the start of Jennifer's journey to "becoming undeniable".  Our guest, Jennifer Drew, is the creator of The Tiny Heights, a tiny home community planned for Houston. We are also joined by Rachel Garcia, our guest host and the creator of Surviving to Thriving. Both Jennifer and Rachel have started their entrepreneurial journeys this year. We talk about becoming debt free, finding and testing business ideas, managing working full-time while starting your business, motivation, showing up in your own life, and the mindset to "become undeniable", among other inspiring topics. This is a good one!

More about Jennifer and The Tiny Heights:

More about Rachel Garcia, our guest host for this episode:

Find The Common Quest on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Stitcher.

Show notes:

00:51     Introducing Jennifer Drew, founder of The Tiny Heights community, and our guest host Rachel Garcia

02:33     About Jennifer Drew and The Tiny Heights

03:40     Why The Tiny Heights?  An idea born out of a New Year’s resolution to start a business this year

04:28     Jennifer’s experience in an incubator: the SURE program at the University of Houston

05:54     Rachel getting plugged into the entrepreneurial community as a newcomer to Houston

07:20     Why Jennifer chose the “tiny house movement” as her entrepreneurial endeavor, an expression of herself; financial freedom, calm; how losing her home as a young person motivated her choice of a business

10:09     Choosing to become debt free

14:00     Choosing to finish the year on a high point: instead of putting together a new year’s resolution, Jennifer decided to end the year on a high point, wanting to find a pitch competition

16:44     Building a real estate business without a real estate background

20:20     Learning how to pitch every day; how the way she explains her idea to investors and customers is changing

22:15     How Jennifer manages working her day job while building her business; tough love; the magic of creating deadlines for yourself

23:40     Avoiding complacency in your day job and life

25:35     How a serendipitous meeting on an airplane led Jennifer to find the SURE incubator program

27:35     How Jennifer is testing her business idea; don’t assume what your customer wants; talk to your customers about what they need and want

31:29     Jennifer’s experience getting the word out and learning about marketing

33:20     Setting goals, weekly goals, leveraging relationships to getting things done; how do you build a team, selling your team on the problem you’re trying to solve

38:30     Becoming undeniable: what do you do when people tell you you’re crazy, have no traction, or don’t have the experience; the advantages of difficult lessons (the “advantages of disadvantages”), how you make losing more valuable than winning; hunger vs. complacency

44:00     Jennifer and Rachel's “I am X for Y”

47:30     Showing up in your own life: actively making it happen; seeing and seizing opportunity

51:20     What Jennifer needs and how you can help

54:00     December challenge: start focusing on 2018 now

57:00     A quick overview of The Common Quest events coming up in December and January

01:01:00 Connecting your purpose to your business; how do you get started; Jennifer’s #1 tip for getting started; growth hacks; fear and feedback

“I am X for Y”: Crafting a Meaningful Brand with Tyler Gillespie of Madhatter Coalition


Our guest is Tyler Gillespie, founder of Madhatter Coalition, a start-up incubator and think tank. In this episode, we learn about the power of sincere, succinct connections with your customer. Tyler walks us through insightful examples of how to define your “X for Y” and answer that all important question “who am I”. We wrap up the show discussing how your past doesn't need to define your future. Thanks for joining us!

Tyler Gillespie brings his energy and varied background (film school, designer, creative director, entrepreneur) to this discussion.  Tyler founded the Madhatter Coalition, a boutique think tank and incubator for early-stage startups, which makes sure your business has everything needed for capital raise and/or launch. To learn more about Tyler, visit

"Who in the world am I?... Ah, that's the great puzzle." Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Find The Common Quest on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Stitcher.

Show notes:

00:22    About the Madhatter Coalition, a think tank and incubator for the innovative

03:13     A little about Tyler’s background: film school, designer, creative director, entrepreneur, now founder of the Madhatter Coalition, an incubator and think tank

03:52     Before you do anything, answer one simple question: I am X for Y; the power of clarity in understanding brand over product, the power of your story; do you know who you are and why you are solving a problem; can your audience, customer connect with you in a sincere way

04:51     Exploring “I am X for Y”; An example of I am X for Y: AirBnB “I am Expedia for homes / hotels”; “Y” is the customer, at least a reasonably narrow customer group

06:15     Clarifying idea vs. opportunity in your brand narrative; opportunity defined by traction, opportunity, thought process, investable

06:40     I am X: the “X” is not product, it is the utility of what you provide (describe the benefit, not the feature)

07:52     Is there a different “X for Y” for your customer vs. for your investor?

08:40     What is a “brand narrative”?

11:00     The power of focus through “I am X for Y”

11:30     What is a “brand” and how is it different from your logo and name?

14:00     How do you define your “X for Y”, using the example of a corner flower shop vs. 1-800-FLOWERS; talk about the problem you have; perhaps “I am comfort for those celebrating those in need” vs. 1-800-FLOWERS “We are a fast and convenient way to tell someone you love them”

18:30     Your past doesn’t need to define your future or what lies ahead; how do you get others and yourself) to see you as more than what you have on your resume or in experience?

22:12 “Who in the world am I? Ah, that is the great puzzle.” From Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The Journey of discovery is very powerful. Alice is trying to figure out who she is in spite of everything that was happening in Wonderland.

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

Finding Strength in Struggle with Alejandro Sanoja

Alejandro Sanoja

Alejandro Sanoja talks about his story and finding strength in struggle. Hear about Alejandro's experience as he seeks to "pull energy from obstacles to overcome excuses". Alejandro is the Creative Director of Elisha Consulting, a contributor to BizLatte, and one of the entrepreneurs behind Mindful Business.

To learn more about Alejandro, visit,, or follow Mindful Business on Instagram.

Also, to hear more from Alejandro, attend the Networking Boot Camp hosted by BizLatte on November 15, 2017.  More info here. Alejandro and the BizLatte team agreed to host the Boot Camp for us after we hear about their skill and training system in this area. Use the code COMMONQ to get your ticket here.

Find The Common Quest on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Stitcher.

Show notes:

2:00 Alejandro’s background / coming from Venezuela / almost dropping out in undergrad / Panama / finance / joining the University of Houston Bauer MBA program; experience at the Cougar Fund, Venture Capital Fund

5:50 What changed for Alejandro / playing for real / difficulties in Venezuela

7:00 How Alejandro joined Elisha Consulting / BizLatte

9:35 Introducing yourself: making the connection, finding emotion, taking the conversation away from yourself

13:10 “To be interesting, be interested”

14:30 Making it easy for people to relate to you and connect you / communicating the problems you solve

15:45 How obstacles are places to pull energy from to overcome your excuses / difficulty coming to Houston not speaking English well / introverts /

19:00 The story you tell yourself / what you think is your reality

22:00 Where change begins / taking action / enjoy being uncomfortable / volunteering to learn  / putting in your “reps” / increasing resistance

27:00 Intention and mindset / “making a deposit”

33:45 Obstacles as a place to pull energy from to overcome excuses / you can have excuses or results, not both / Malcom Gladwell – "the disadvantages of advantages and the advantages of disadvantages"

37:00 Finding energy in obstacles

40:00 The magic of clear priorities

The Hustle: Building a Business You Love While Working Full Time with Jake Eshelman of Side Project Skateboards

SPS Cover.png

On this first episode of The Common Quest, Jake Eshelman of Side Project Skateboards tells his story and talks about building a business you love while working full time. Hear about Jake's journey from building an old-school skateboard for himself to creating a business with a powerful identity that celebrates the joy of creative expression. 

Jake built Side Project Skateboards as his side project and it has taken an unexpected life of its own, being featured in Texas Monthly and GQ, among other publications. Learn about the power of meaningful collaboration, how much other people want you to succeed, the difference between a business and a hobby, and balancing family and financial demands. Jake's story inspires action and creativity and will help you find the power of "why" in what you want to build.

To learn more about Jake and Side Project Skateboards, visit and follow Jake on Instagram. He has some cool projects in the works and is also a sought-after creative director. Be sure to see the work and inspiration of Jake's family referenced in episode: Artist ServicesMargaret Smithers-Crump, and Margaux Crump.

Find The Common Quest on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Stitcher.

Show notes:

  • Jake's story of how Side Project Skateboards started
  • The power of meaningful collaboration in entrepreneurship
  • Discovering how much others want you to succeed
  • The best career advice Jake received
  • Jake's experience balancing his full-time career and Side Project Skateboards
  • Business as something you do for others
  • How Jake hand-crafts each board
  • The difference between a business and your hobby
  • The power of "starting with why"
  • What creates a powerful brand
  • Distinguishing successful vs. meaningful brands
  • The power of mistakes
  • The power of stories
  • Work, art, and inspiration in Jake's family
  • Inspiring action in your customers