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Stephanie Inderlied Road Soup

Stephanie Inderlied's path to entrepreneurship is probably similar to many others in that she had to have doors close on her in order for others to open. The process for her has been a constant test of hard work and determination.

As the Owner of AHL Distributors DBA Road Soup, a revolutionary Asphalt Repair company involved in various verticals, Stephanie has always been driven to develop her skills and experiences to be a successful entrepreneur. Road Soup's products are environmentally friendly and are one of the few companies that are polymer-based, not emulsion based. This makes the asphalt repair material bond better and hold up longer to old asphalt compared to emulsion materials. Their cold mix is a versatile strong material that can be used on asphalt, concrete, and dirt potholes, utility cuts, manhole, and water valve surrounds, secure metal trench plates, and new road construction - all cold-applied!

Their goal is to help customers save money in pre and post-applications by providing a superior product that will last 5 to 8 years. This new and revolutionary solution will soon be the "go-to" product in the marketplace.

Stephanie has been fortunate to work and learn from other business owners in her community that has helped position her where she is today. She started her professional career in the commercial real estate, development, and construction industries right out of college. When the economy started to tank in 2009, she jumped into her first business by starting up a commercial/residential cleaning company with most of her customers coming from the relationships that she had from the industries she started her professional career in. It was definitely not a glamorous business, but she had employees, a solid customer base, and was making money. She also decided to get into a partnership to start an 8a government contracting business. It was a good run, and they won some contracts, but she found a big niche with the cleaning company that there were so many employers like her at the time that needed to connect with employees, specifically Hispanic, for hourly positions. There was no web or app platform for employers to connect with the Hispanic demographic for hourly jobs. That is when she decided to sell the cleaning accounts, cash out of the 8a, and launch a technology company called Avanzaro.com Shortly after starting the tech business, she had her daughter. That business really stretched her and grew in ways that she never imagined all while figuring out motherhood for the first time. Stephanie raised money from investors, managed a tech team in India, hired and fired partners, never slept, and almost lost everything. It had amazing potential, but in the end, failed.

The experience, as tough as it was proved invaluable to her growth as a businesswoman and her capacity to handle really hard things. When she shut down Avanzaro, she was broken financially, emotionally and needed a job asap. She called a former colleague who had a construction business and asked if he would hire her for business development and he did. After working there for three years, Stephanie left to acquire her Class A CBC Contractors license which helped her pursue government contracting, specifically focusing on infrastructure opportunities, only to get a call from Road Soup which completely changed the trajectory she was on. Stephanie's now partner had been talking about ways they could work together in the infrastructure industry and when Road Soup called the answer presented itself and she hasn't looked back. She knew she had finally found what she was meant to do. All of the experiences from the years have 100 percent positioned her to do what she is doing today.

"Road Soup has fulfilled my heart for business in so many ways. I continue to build relationships which is important to me and nurture the ones that started years ago. Many customers are from people that I have known from my past jobs and companies. It's not the most glamorous of industries, but it's rewarding in that what I gain from it, is directly related to the effort I put in and that is what is attractive to me with being an entrepreneur." Said Inderlied

Currently, Stephanie and her partner have exclusive rights to distributing Road Soup in Virginia. They have also added the service to install Road Soup for their customers. Her partner, who has been in the asphalt and paving industry for over 20 years, and Stephanie really compliment one another's personalities and skillsets. Their 5-year goal is to put Road Soup on the map in Virginia, have more channel partners to distribute, and possibly have a sales team. In 10 years, Stephanie would enjoy building the distributorship on a national level. It's important for her to have a large growth potential and she is really excited about the opportunities they currently have.

When She was working in the construction industry, she had started a relationship with the Old Dominion University procurement department. When she started distributing Road Soup, she shared what she was doing with the procurement team and was given an introduction to Sean Freeman of the ODU Transportation & Parking Services. Stephanie and her partner did a demo and from that moment on ODU became a customer.

"Stephanie is so passionate about her product that it was a very easy decision to start using Road Soup. We did a test on a large pothole we had on campus, and it only took one bag to fill the hole. We love the product; it is very well done. We have been using the product for large holes and the pieces of asphalt are not small, so they fill up the hole faster which is what we were looking for. We have been using Road Soup for about a year now and could not be happier." Said Sean Freeman, Maintenance Manager for ODU Transportation & Parking Services

"Going to ODU was one of the best decisions I ever made. I attended ODU from 1998 - 2002 and graduated with a BSBA, majored in Marketing. 20 years ago, ODU was forward-focused and striving to provide a state-of-the-art university that is still reflective today. I looked at many schools and settled on ODU because I valued the region in which I grew up and did not want to move away from. It is community-oriented, offered a great mix of campus activities, degree programs, and an overall great lifestyle for a young college student. I will never forget one of my business professors who said the fortune is in the follow-up. That advice has always stuck with me ever since. I believe companies lose so much business because of the lack of follow-up. A sale is rarely made on the first reach out." Said, Inderlied

Stephanie was helped by three of the Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship's programs. Nancy Grden, Executive Director, Strome Entrepreneurial Center was able to be a friend and business mentor to Stephanie over the years. "Her depth of knowledge and experience is invaluable to both start-up and veteran business owners. She has shared resources, ideas, made introductions, and supported Stephanie throughout her various endeavors." Said, Inderlied. Monique McWhite, Program Director, Business Development Center at ODU has also been tremendously helpful over the years. She has pulled database information, given advice on the next steps, and made introductions for Stephanie. "BDC can really help a business drill down to specifics and serve up resources aligned with your company needs." Said, Inderlied. Stephanie met with Erika Small-Sisco, Program Director, Women's Business Center, and her team when WBC first launched, and she was helpful to get her company SWAM certified (small, micro, woman, and minority-owned) by the VA Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity. "WBC is truly focused on growing and enhancing the opportunities for women-owned businesses." Said, Inderlied

"Entrepreneurship is definitely not for the weary. You have to dig deeper than you ever imagined on some days, especially when you start to question decisions you have made. It takes raw passion, a ton of patience, grit, smiling in the face of adversity, and knowing that failures from the past are part of the forming of a successful future. I thank my husband, family, and friends for their unwavering support for me over the years and my strong relationship with God. The best thing I can do is pay it forward, I am truly blessed." Said, Inderlied

We asked Stephanie to tell us her top three lessons learned as an entrepreneur and for any advice she had for anyone wanting to start their own business.

There are so many lessons, where do I begin.?!

  1. Help lift others up by giving back to the community and giving your time to others who need it.
  2. Know exactly who your customers are. There is a buyer for everything but there may not be the size demand you need to sustain a long-term business.
  3. Be a person of your word. Meaning doing everything in your power to follow through with what you said you were going to do.

Anyone interested in starting their own business I say go for it. Have a solid understanding of expenses and projected income, seek a business mentor, and utilize resources at the Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship. There are more free resources now than there have ever been. I think if you can find a business mentor, you are light years ahead of so many. It is invaluable to have someone you can go to for knowledge especially when they have gone through a similar journey and found success. I have had a handful of successful business owners help me along the way from free office space, sharing wisdom, looking at my business plan, funding my next venture, and more! At the end of the day, it really is about relationships.

The real purpose of the road Stephanie has traveled is to have the flexibility to be as present as possible for her daughter, even when the bank account is hurting, and for her daughter to know that whatever you set your mind to you can achieve it no matter how hard it may be.

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