RingCentral Team
November 11, 2011

Jon Sinclair and Reocel Mercado: Veterans with the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Today is Veterans’ Day – a day to honor the service, devotion and sacrifices of all those who have served in our military. We at RingCentral greatly appreciate the efforts of our veterans and wanted to share with you the stories of two veterans who also happen to be business owners and RingCentral customers. They not only have plenty of entrepreneurial spirit but have taken the skills that they learned in the military to become successful business owners. We spoke to both Jon Sinclair of Ears of Experience and Reocel Mercado of Stepstone Homes. Here’s what they had to say:

Jon Sinclair – Owner of Ears of Experience, LLC

What is your military rank?
I’m currently a Lieutenant Colonel C-17 pilot in the Air Force Reserves.

Tell us about your business.
We have a Disney travel company that specializes in concierge service for our clients. That means we provide each client with a customized day-by-day itinerary, dining reservations, a letter to their kids from our “Kid Experts” (our daughters Natalie [12] and Marin [8]), park maps and text access from the parks in case any questions arise. And best of all, they pay nothing for the extra services we provide! They pay the same as if they had booked directly through Disney; and often it’s less.

We pride ourselves on giving our clients the extra care they would expect from a personalized concierge service. If the price of their trip goes down at any time after they book with us, we will price-adjust for them, often saving them hundreds of dollars on their vacation. We have grown over 160% in the past year, and we hit our 2011 sales target in mid-October (over two months early).

What daily challenges affect your business?
Our biggest problem right now is keeping up with the incredible growth we have had this year. We have three independent contractors who help us, but I think we will be looking for more soon. Also challenging is keeping our personalized concierge touch, even though we have grown to over $1 million in sales this year.

How does being in the military prepare you to become a business owner?
As a military family, we were always looking for a business that could move with us from location to location. Starting a business from home seemed like the perfect solution. In the military, I learned leadership principles, computer skills, communication skills and, maybe most importantly, flexibility. In business, things change daily, and if you are unable to be flexible and keep up with the changes, you will not succeed. We also started the business by networking through friends we made in the Air Force. Those people are now spread out all over the world and they have passed our information on to their friends and family.

How do you use RingCentral in your business?
Ring Central has been great for us! We have it set up for phone, fax and extensions. The phone extensions help automate our system and let us operate like a bigger business, while at the same time giving us the room to grow into the business we want to be.

Do you work from one location or from multiple spots?
Right now, we work from home, but we are quickly outgrowing the space. I am also able to work on our website from anywhere in the world I travel, as long as there is an internet connection.

Reocel Mercado – Owner of Stepstone Homes

What is your rank in the military?
Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army

Tell us about your business.
We are a veteran-owned, family-run real estate investment company. I started this company with my wife, Jessica.  I have a degree in economics and am finishing up work for my MBA. My wife has a degree in fine art and has over 10 years of experience in marketing and graphic design. We then brought in my wife’s sister, Andrea, and her husband, Daniel, because of their passion for real estate, experience and desire to help people. We provide real estate investment opportunities for people interested in realizing their financial goals. Stepstone Homes helps people flip a home for a lump-sum profit or cash-flow from rental income.

What daily challenges affect your business?
We work hard to identify the most profitable property for our clients. Just because a property is dirt cheap doesn’t mean it is a good deal. At Stepstone Homes, we pride ourselves on being detail-oriented and ensure that we are presenting only the best real estate investments to our clients. Doing the right amount of research, networking with the right people and marketing are daily tasks that require us to stay focused and looking forward. Every day, harnessing information and working with people all across the United States can be challenging. Working in the “cloud” is key to our success. Services like RingCentral help us work smarter and faster.

How does being in the military prepare you to become a business owner?
The Army is a values-based organization. The Army values are loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. It is our goal to infuse these same values into every facet of our company.

I am a leader in the infantry. Being a leader in the Army means that I must achieve the mission first, take care of my people and think about myself last. I believe that this simple formula has made me successful in the Army and in growing our business. Having deployed multiple times to a combat zone has made me aware of how important it is to make the right decisions for my comrades and the civilians we want to help.

I definitely believe that the Army has honed within me the dogged determination to succeed despite any challenge or obstacle. No matter how difficult a challenge may be, I always say to myself “what can I do and what is required of me to accomplish my mission.” Just as with being a leader in the Army, as a business owner you have a team that looks to you for leadership and guidance. Your clients will also look for you to always do what’s right and honorable. When you have a company that is based on these principles, you can achieve any goal.

How do you use RingCentral in your business?

We use RingCentral for our phone and fax service. We appreciate the staff’s professionalism and how easy it is to customize call options. We have never experienced any negative issues with RingCentral and are very happy with the service they provide.

Do you work from one location or from multiple spots?
Since I am still on active duty, we just moved our home. The great thing is we’ve been able to grow our business despite these challenges.