MESA sat down with Paul Prins, CEO of Fresh Vine,
to ask him about his experience working with MESA.
Tell us a bit about your background, your career history, and your business. What prompted you to get involved with MESA?

I founded Fresh Vine in early 2008. Passion to help non-profits to be more effective in engagement. Focused on helping non-profits understand, facilitate and make the engagement process easier. Landing pages with the focus to increase donations and contributions. Stories to help staff get more excited about their mission and hence the communities they serve. Now have an event kiosk desktop app to host events, welcome people, printout name tags, identify who attends and who doesn’t. Streamline the process. There is both a leadership side and a community module. Why MESA involvement? Avoid the bigger pitfalls people just stumble into. Saw an article on TECHdotMN about Mentoring, and always tried to surround myself with good mentors. Just nice to meet with people who believe in you and what you’re doing and have experience in the software world – you can be more confident the advice they are giving is helpful.

What was your biggest business challenge before working with MESA? Has MESA able to help you work through it, and if not, what happened instead?

Customer acquisition as I am a product guy. Biggest take-away: the process doesn’t have to be so mystical – there are things that can be done to be proactive. Early customers were word-of-mouth, but eventually there is a natural tapering off. Learned that you have to do things consistently and regularly for contacts and lead generation in order to make the process more efficient.

What, specifically, is your favorite part about working with MESA, and why?

Knowing that when you left a Mentoring session, 1) You have another mentoring session coming up with people who genuinely want you to be successful – you don’t want to let them down. 2) inter-personal stuff, personal demons – good to have people behind you giving advice who care.

If you were going to recommend MESA to a colleague, what would you say?

It can be really difficult to find people who want to give you good advice without expecting anything in return – just the pay-it-forward ethos that exists within MESA. It’s really unique. Hopefully avoid big issues that could derail things.

What three words would you use to describe your experience with MESA?

Helpful. Meaningful. Engaged.

Anything else you want us to know about your experience with MESA?

Fresh Vine was bootstrapped – I did not seek funding. Did not affect the Mentoring experience, but it just takes longer to make things move when you don’t have as much capital behind you.