Raquel Baldelomar, BHP ’01, BBA ’01, left the comfort of her job with JPMorgan to start her own agency. Eight years later, her business is booming. Quaintise, pronounced “kwan-tees,” based in Phoenix is about to open a second location in Los Angeles and is the Agency of Record for several of Arizona’s largest healthcare companies. As someone who is creative, yet analytical at the same time, Raquel says she has found a great fit in the advertising and marketing industry.
What prompted you to create Quaintise and did you always know you wanted to start your own business?
I was working for JPMorgan Private Bank as a financial analyst for high net worth individuals. And I always admired the entrepreneurial spirit, drive, and world view of our self-made clients. After two years of working for JP Morgan, I was at a crossroads whether I should go for my MBA or do something that I had always wanted to do – start a company. I realized that if I ever could take a chance to do something on my own, it would be then. I had studied Classical Rhetoric, which is really the art of persuasion and oratory. I became fascinated with what makes people persuaded, why they buy things, and how there are three basic different ways to win people to your way of thinking – ethos (character), logos (logic), and most important, pathos (emotion). And I realized that’s what advertising was all about; engaging people to your way of thinking. That’s what gave me the idea to start Quaintise.
What niche does your company fills in the marketplace?
We specialize in healthcare advertising. I saw an opportunity in healthcare. There were so many large medical practices that were unorganized in their branding and messaging. One of the biggest trends we are seeing is a rise in consumer-driven health care. Healthcare marketing has shifted from the provider to the consumer whereas it used to be mostly physician driven or market driven. We have found that in healthcare, trust is essential in consumer decision making. Patients realize they now have choices and base their healthcare providers on a positive association with the brand. A strong brand position is a necessary foundation for driving patients to medical practices. They have to trust the brand before they can trust the service.
What has been the most challenging aspect of running your own business?
I started Quaintise with no capital, I just had my own savings. Soon after I founded Quaintise, I moved to Phoenix to work with a new client, but I didn’t have enough clients at that time to sustain a positive cash flow. So I took a part time job waiting tables. I thought to myself – I have a finance degree from the BHP Program at UT and I am waiting tables! It was very humbling, but it taught me a lot. I’m so glad I didn’t quit because I learned so much during that time. That’s when I saw an opportunity in healthcare. I spent my time learning everything I could about the healthcare industry, and contacting medical practices to pitch our services. That’s when our business really started to grow.
You are part owner and a contributor for LuxuryTravelMagazine.com. How did you get into the Luxury Travel business?
I was born in Bolivia where I lived for 10 years and have also lived in multiple states. Travel and exploring new cultures has always been part of my blood. I met my LTM business partners in 2008. Christine Gray, the founder and Editor-in-Chief, was the brainchild for Luxury Travel Magazine. The web site was huge, it was targeted to a very specific niche, and we came up very high in organic search engine results. What was missing was a sound revenue model, and someone who could represent the company to prospective advertisers, mainly luxury hotels. That’s where I came in. They offered me an equity stake in their company along with a great commission structure if I could bring in new advertising partners. Over three years, I brought in more than 120 luxury hotel advertisers. I was also able to explore another passion I have – writing, as a contributing writer for the magazine. I built some great contacts in the luxury hotel industry and also got to travel to some of the most exotic destinations in the world.
Where is your favorite vacation spot?
The Amalfi Coast, in Italy. The natural beauty, elegance, and understated luxury of towns like Capri, Ischia, Ravello, Sorrento, and Positano are simply unrivaled. John Steinbeck once wrote that Italy’s Amalfi Coast “is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” That is so true. Being in Amalfi is like being in a dream.
How do you think BHP prepared you for what you are doing now?
It taught me the value of hard work and discipline. My two accounting classes were the hardest classes I had ever had. And I was surrounded by super smart and talented people at BHP, where everything seemed so easy to them. I felt I had to study harder for my A’s all while working 20 hours a week at a part-time job to pay for my school. But at BHP, I learned that while someone may be talented, 90% of your success comes from discipline, how you practice your talent, and what you do with it. I wasn’t the best at accounting and finance, but I became good at it by practicing. Hard work and discipline will take you a long way.
You specialize in helping companies create their perfect plan. What advice would you give to current BHP students to help them create their own perfect plan?
When you are developing your own perfect plan, remember this quote by Vince Lombardi: “Perfection is unattainable. But if you chase perfection, you can catch excellence.” Pick something you absolutely love and pursue it honestly, yet relentlessly. Spend your time doing something to better yourself to pursue your goals. Instinct is not going to carry you through this entire journey. It’s what you do in the moments between inspiration that will define your success.
Is there any other advice you would give?
Find a good mentor. I have had some wonderful mentors and what I have learned is that some people have to learn from experience, but a good mentor can help you profit from others’ experiences. It doesn’t have to be someone much older, it can just be someone you respect and who can be really honest with you about what you are doing. Good mentors help you be objective and see things in a different way.