Parachut The Netflix of Camera Gear | Melissa Nui

 

About Melissa Nui

Melissa started her career working for the Seattle Seahawks in broadcast journalism. She ultimately decided to leave the industry and became a mother of three. In 2016 she and her husband Philip ventured out to start their own company, Parachut, a camera gear subscription service that has taken the industry by storm. Melissa graduated from Washington State University with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism.

 

Interview Transcript:

Alan
Welcome back. I’m here today with Melissa Niu. She’s the co founder of parachute bliss. Welcome to the show.

Melissa
Thank you so much for having me.

Alan
So Melissa, it’s, you’ve had a, you’ve had a very unique path is brought you up to where you are today. For the listeners, can you bring that up? In front of us with?

Melissa
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I, you know, I grew up the only girl of five brothers. And so I have a very unique sense of reality, because I feel that I’ve always been able to do anything that my brothers can, whether that’s be a quarterback in the NFL or, or play sports or be a lawyer or be, you know, be a doctor. There’s never been any time in my life that I’ve never felt that I can’t do something. And so I grew up that way. I grew up with men that believed in me. But when push came to shove, I actually had to look at myself and say, what is it that you really believe in yourself? And so I played college volleyball at Washington State, and I got involved with sports broadcast journalism, and I was set on being the sideline, NFL, you know, commentator, sports commentator, whatever. And I got involved in TV and I got involved I was I was the locker room girl, you know. So they would send me out and say, Melissa, go and get some sound from each row. We need some Rodriguez and we need some boon. And I’d say, oh, my gosh, I have no idea who these people are. So I’d have to look them up real fast and make sure I got the right athlete in the locker room is there half dressed. So it was really interesting to learn about myself that I that I didn’t want that, you know, I didn’t care about being on TV and being you know, kind of that that center stage, you no need my ego stroked me in front of the TV, I realized that I was happiest when I was with people. And when I was serving people, so I actually ended up doing sports marketing for the Seattle Seahawks for a few seasons. So that’s kind of my road from college to kind of where my career started. But it was really interesting. I’m a, I’m a faith based girl. And I was constantly surrounded by people that money was everything to them, whether they were athletes, whether they I did a lot of modeling growing up. And so your face and your body and what you owned, and what you wore, was so important to them. And I became so involved with that. And and it was It was tiring, it was tiring to constantly think about how you looked in front of the camera, or how you looked walking down the catwalk or, or what you were driving or the Gucci shoes that you were wearing. So much so that I became hardened. And I became someone that I wouldn’t let in, you know, lead into my life because I was this tough career girl. I was, you know, I was so strong. There’s no one that could stop me in my career. I became I became really hard in this how I calloused is kind of how how I called it. And so it wasn’t until I met my husband that I realized that vulnerability. And you know, the vulnerability and honesty with yourself and with your spouse and your significant other is where happiness is. And so that’s kind of the drawn out version. What do we need specifically.

Alan
To transition there when you were sportscast journalism? Yeah, Seattle Seahawks? Eventually you you moved on from that? Yeah. And hell? You know, what was the timing? You met? Your soon to be husband? Was it after you got married or what?

Melissa
Yeah, you know what? So being surrounded by all the athletes, so I worked with the Seahawks for about five seasons. And it was awesome was so great. I mean, the things that we were able to do and take little kids, it was their dream to meet the NFL quarterback and go down on the field at halftime and, you know, so it was a really great job. And there was a lot of fulfillment there. But the people that I worked with, that’s not where the fulfillment was, you know, they were all involved with the NFL because it was the NFL. And, you know, so I wanted something more. And that’s something more to me at that particular time was family. And so where you’re seeing me now as an entrepreneur and working directly with my spouse, who is also my partner, my business partner, there was a good 10 year stint there where I did nothing but be a mom. You know, I was a mom and I was that’s where my happiness is, and it will always be but now that they go to school, now it’s looking at where am I Talents are now. And I really had to dig deep to say what is my purpose now? What can my husband and I do not just monetarily, but to give back and have a deeper purpose, really. So that’s kind of the transition. So there’s a good 10 year stint there where it was, I was a family girl.

Alan
And that’s amazing here today with Melissa Niu she is the co founder of parachute and we’ll be right back after these messages.

Alan
Welcome back I’m visiting here with Melissa Niu. She’s co founder of parachute. And listen, the first segment, we’re talking about how your early career was really sports journalism or broadcasting. And you worked in for a time with the Seattle Seahawks and then took a timeout to your mom and three kids? And if so, what? How did it evolve to where you had the reentry back into the workforce? The entrepreneur? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. The concept of parachute?

Melissa
Yeah, no, that’s a good question. Obviously, being a mom, we always have our cameras out. You know, we’re constantly taking pictures of our, of our perfect children and, and wanting all these photos all around the house. I absolutely fell in love with photography. And this, at this point in time, my husband was, you know, running a bunch of marketing departments and traveling the world and I was always just a mom. There were times I’ll I’ll be very truthful with you. It was really difficult going from totaled career, like totally career driven. to Now you’re just going to be a mom. Like that, honestly, I thought that I would, you know, I could just wash my hands have a career and just walk away. But I found that I missed. I missed the fact that I had people saying, Wow, good job today, you did a great job at the Seahawks game where you did a good job on TV today, where a kid doesn’t look at you and say, Mom, you did a good job. You know, that’s kids don’t do that. It is the most thankful thankless wonderful job in the world. But it’s hard. And to this day, it is the toughest job I’ve ever, ever had. Because you love them so much, and you want them to be successful. But at this point of time, my husband comes to me. And he says, I don’t feel like I’m reaching my full potential. And in this current job, I don’t think that I’m giving everything that I have. And I sit and I looked at him, I said, What is it that you want to give? And and he looked at me, he said, Why don’t you have your skill sets? I have mine, why are we not working together? And not a lot of husband, wife teams can do that. And that’s when we decided with my background in photography, I got to the point where I was doing some consulting for Nikon and doing different things for them. And I saw where the industry was going to where not a lot of people can afford $10,000 worth of gear anymore. Not everyone’s going, the moms aren’t going to Costco and buying that $3,000 camera anymore. So a lot of these manufacturers are kind of throwing their hands up saying what do we do. And so that’s what my husband as he’s running his marketing departments in a corporate job. And I’m at home, you know, wanting more gear and wanting better lenses and drones and all these cool techie toys that are coming out. And we looked at each other. And as we look at Airbnb, and Rent the Runway, and all of these, you know, everyone’s so used to these access over ownership models that are coming out. We said Why is no one doing this for camera gear or other things like that. So we got together and we sat at our kitchen table. Now with our marketing backgrounds, we’re like, okay, we’re just gonna put up a website, we’re gonna put together you know, kind of a janky video, we’re gonna put it out to the universe and just see what happens. And what I’m not telling you is the step that it took for my husband to go from corporate job to being an entrepreneur. That’s something he can tell you. But we really had to look at each other. And look at each other in the eye and say, Is this really something we believe in? Do you believe in this? And I looked at him and I said, I will be so happy dirt broke, as long as we are working together and we’re happy end of story. Like that’s it. Why would we work at a job when you’re unhappy? Where we’re doing something together, and we’re happy and we’re creating, we create Families Together, we create businesses together. So that’s when we put up the website. We launched it. And within a couple hours, we had 500 people sign up for the club, we had wired and TechCrunch and GQ magazine and, and all of these crazy PR press things saying we want to do interviews and podcasts and come to all your warehouses and I grabbed Philip. And I’m like, what have we done and I’m, I’m in my pajamas at the kitchen table, and I’m thinking, Okay, we struck a nerve. Now what. And that’s when we realized that it’s time to take the jump. And the company is called parachute, because my husband decided to take the jump. And parachute was its soft landing, so to speak. So parachute is not only a club about access over ownership, it’s something that really is something close to the heart that has saved my husband, he is happier, because he took a chance. And he had faith in himself. And he and I looked at each other every day. And we have to stay grounded, and we’re running a company together, and it is hard. And it’s fun, and it’s exciting. But it’s challenging. And we we thrive off that. Whereas when you’re at a job that you don’t love, there’s no faith there, you don’t push yourself. And when you’re an entrepreneur, or when you’re, you want to do something that you’ve never done before, and you’re scared, oh my gosh, do it. Pull the cord, take the jump. That’s what we tell our girls, like, if you’re scared right now, to give your speech and your fifth grade class, take the jump. Okay, once you take that jump, you’ll find that you’re pushing yourself. And so anytime someone comes to us as a student or someone that wants to launch a business, we look at him and we say, oh my gosh, do it. We’re behind you.

Alan
So Melissa, I need to take a quick break. And I’m visiting here today with Melissa Niu she is the co founder of parachute. We’ll be right back after these messages.

Alan
Welcome back and busy here today with Melissa news. She’s the co founder of parachutes. And listen in the previous segment, as we’re going through this talk about being able to develop the courage and the faith to step into the unknown. Your husband had a job in the corporate world, your stay at home mom, three kids. And now you get together you say okay, we’re going to do this. What was it like?

Melissa
Oh, gosh, what was it like it was there are times even now, even after we’ve, we’ve launched the business that we look at each other some mornings. And we say, Holy cow, what are we doing? What are we doing? Like literally every day. There’s total ups and total downs, just like life. And someone actually gave me some really great advice. They said, launching your own business is you know, you look at the flatline of a pulse, you know, and you’re looking in the hospital and you see the pulse that goes up and the pulse that goes down. And running a business is exactly like that. But if it wasn’t going up and down, it’s not living and breathing, and it’s not alive. And so that’s exactly what it is. When we first launched it was crazy up and all these people wanted in and then the downer was reality, how do we do this, and then you know, then success comes and then another trial comes and then so it’s it’s like that every day. So when those downers come, that’s when we know that tomorrow is going to be an upper. And so if you can stay emotionally on that flatline, then we’re doing okay, and not read into the emotion of the ups and downs of business. But when we first decided to take that, that jump, it was scary. It was so scary. But now that we did it, it’s so easy to look back and be like, Oh, I’m so glad we did. You know, there’s no regret there at all. Because we had faith in each other and we had most importantly faith in our abilities to do something great and have a greater purpose for ourselves and and to help others as well.

Alan
So when you’re when when you’re looking at parachute, how big do you see this company getting?

Melissa
You know, we it’s very easy to say it’s gonna it’s gonna just be huge. You know, you can get on on an Excel spreadsheet and be like, calculations and this and this and growth and projections. Whereas we really just have to look at each other every day and take one step at a time because If we buy into the vision that we have, and that vision is great, Allen, that vision is, it’s a whole different way of consuming really, because what parachute is, is a new way of access over ownership, you know, you pay 149 a month, or whatever your budget is, and you get endless access to endless swaps of camera gear. And so you don’t, you don’t have to, you don’t have to buy if you don’t want to. And so to us, there’s a crowd out there that just wants to try so many things. And there’s production companies, and there’s artists and companies and large companies that are a part of our club, that this is this really matters to them. And for us, rather than saying how big we want it, we ask each other, how much do we want to matter to these people? And how many people do we want to matter to meaning we as a company, so we don’t, we don’t have visions of taking over the world, we have visions of helping a new way of consumption, a new way of consumerism, and just giving people more options that don’t have the budget to go in. And we start with camera gear. You know, who knows tomorrow, wink, wink, it could be anything from cars to, to bikes to things like that. But right now we’re focused solely on creative care.

Alan
And then the company is managed primarily through the website, people, customers coming in signing up.

Melissa
So right now there’s a waitlist, we can’t keep up with the people that want in the club, which is a good problem to have, we think. But we want them to come in faster. And we want to help them these are creatives that want to create, they are companies that need better content. And we want to help them create, we want to help them and so it’s just how fast can we grow without really hurting ourselves?

Alan
So when, when you’re looking at different levels of equipment, and obviously, they’re just different types of customers? Who’s your target market?

Melissa
That’s a good question. Because we have two different target markets that are running the company, you’ve got, you know, my husband that runs a company, that sorry, that ran marketing departments, and you know that businesses have to keep up with all the consumption online of social media with Facebook and YouTube. And, you know, so people want better equipment, then you’ve got me, that’s the creative, that just loves to take pictures, right. And what we’re finding is that we targeted creatives, but we’re getting a lot more small businesses that are coming in. And so we’re actually targeting them because a lot of the creatives are small businesses as well. So I don’t know if that answers your questions, but sometimes you aim for one. And you’re finding that you have to pivot a little bit because you’re getting more of a reaction from another type of market.

Alan
Do you rent drones?

Melissa
Yes. Do you like drone? I have a drone? You have a drone? We do we do. We? We let people we don’t call it rent, we call it checkout. Because people can keep it as long as they want. But yeah, definitely drones. That’s a hot. That’s a hot one.

Alan
So yeah, you have the do you do motion picture equipment to?

Melissa
Sure right now it’s a lot of it is camera and amateur photography, videography driven. Because a lot of these these companies, they don’t need motion picture type equipment, they just need good quality. I mean, the stuff that you guys have right here says beautiful quality of equipment that even hobbyist Can, can dabble in as well.

Alan
So when you’re when you launched them what date?

Melissa
A year ago, a year ago, this month.

Alan
Within the first week, you went home with 500?

Melissa
Couple hours, you had so many people interested in the club. But you also had the naysayers that said it’ll never work, this company will never work. People will steal their gear, people will ruin it, they’ll crash it, they’ll take it to Mexico and sell it, they’ll cancel their credit cards. So blah, blah, blah. And we really couldn’t listen to that. We just couldn’t because we knew that we we hit a spark of what people needed. And we were willing to go through the tough times of making sure that fraud that we were protected, that the other members of the club made sure that they had good gear that they the other members were, you know, taking care of it. But yeah, we we’ve got a really good relationship. We try to have a hands on approach to each people that each person that comes into the club, so that they feel that they’re special that they have, they can text our parachute pros anytime and say, Hey, I’m on a shoot. What do you suggest? Or my my camera’s being funky? Can you help me out? So yeah, we really try to cater and have that relationship. And besides that anyone that fled into the club, we make sure that they that we do some background on him.

Alan
If person wants to contact parachute, how would they go about doing that? Yeah,

Melissa
Absolutely. So just go to our website parachute.co And it’s Parachute.co And you can contact us there we’re on social media you can find us there but definitely write us an email if you’re interested but you can definitely join the waitlist there.

 

 

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This transcript was generated by software and may not accurately reflect exactly what was said.

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Melissa Nui on Alan Olsen's American Dreams Radio
Melissa Nui

Melissa started her career working for the Seattle Seahawks in broadcast journalism. She ultimately decided to leave the industry and became a mother of three. In 2016 she and her husband Philip ventured out to start their own company, Parachut, a camera gear subscription service that has taken the industry by storm. Melissa graduated from Washington State University with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism.

Alan Olsen on Alan Olsen's American Dreams Radio
Alan Olsen

Alan is managing partner at Greenstein, Rogoff, Olsen & Co., LLP, (GROCO) and is a respected leader in his field. He is also the radio show host to American Dreams. Alan’s CPA firm resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and serves some of the most influential Venture Capitalist in the world. GROCO’s affluent CPA core competency is advising High Net Worth individual clients in tax and financial strategies. Alan is a current member of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (S.I.E.P.R.) SIEPR’s goal is to improve long-term economic policy. Alan has more than 25 years of experience in public accounting and develops innovative financial strategies for business enterprises. Alan also serves on President Kim Clark’s BYU-Idaho Advancement council. (President Clark lead the Harvard Business School programs for 30 years prior to joining BYU-idaho. As a specialist in income tax, Alan frequently lectures and writes articles about tax issues for professional organizations and community groups. He also teaches accounting as a member of the adjunct faculty at Ohlone College.

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