Puno and her husband Daniel have created and now manage three separate businesses: “Made with Map,” a community of travel influencers, “ilovecreatives,” a platform for the working creatives, and “PeopleMap,” an Instagram discovery tool.
And it all started on a trip to Thailand. Puno, who had been working at Activision for three years as a UX designer, was burnt out. So she and her husband packed their bags and went to Thailand for five weeks.
“We love to find really rare restaurants or stuff that you can’t find usually,” Puno explained. “One of the places that we found was this elephant sanctuary in the middle of nowhere and we were just like ‘Wow, this place is awesome, we wish it were easier to find.’”
This served as the inspiration for “Made with Map,” a visual way to bookmark places that you want to go to or places that you’ve been to.
This happened around the same time that Instagram was gaining popularity, so Puno took to the app to grow their following of “Made with Map.” Because of her efforts, they grew to about 80,000 followers in a year.
“While we were growing ‘Made with Map’ I was doing all of this manual work because we were doing a lot of outreach,” Puno explained. “I was trying to find all of these different people, putting them in a spreadsheet, and then documenting how many followers they had. It was just getting really cumbersome.”
So Daniel helped Puno simplify the process by making “PeopleMap,” a tool that provides statistics on each individual Instagram account holder and makes finding like-minded Instagrammers easier.
While delving so deeply into the creative community this way, Puno naturally began to meet a lot of people. She soon found herself meeting with at least one new person every week, talking about their creative businesses.
“What kept on happening was people would ask, ‘Hey, do you know someone who could do this?’ or ‘I have this service that I want people to use’ or ‘I’ve got an event happening…’” Puno explained. “I was just kind of like, ‘Yo, if I spend all my time playing operator and redirecting people, I would have no time to do my work.’ And so I decided to make a hub.”
This “hub” became “ilovecreatives”—an online site where those in creative industries can post profiles and job offers, and make new connections. What initially started as a weekly newsletter has turned into a full-fledged site, which she continues to tweak and improve based on what people ask for.
What makes Puno such a badass to us is the way she found niches that she felt she could contribute a structure to and build a community within, and then she did just that.
“‘Made with Map’ was just an idea, and something we thought would be awesome to have, but if we never did that, I might not have ever created ‘PeopleMap’ or ‘ilovecreatives,’” Puno said.
Get to know one of the coolest + most badass NOISEMAKERS in the digital world:
At POUND, we’re all about finding our inner rebel and not being afraid to be different. How did your inner rebel guide the decisions you’ve made growing your brands?
I think the biggest thing for me is community. I love digital—if anything I’m more of a digital person than I am offline, so if I can find ways to connect people on the internet, it’s kind of amazing what can happen out of that. I’ve seen that happen so much, especially with “ilovecreatives.” Somebody would put a creative profile up and talk about their frustration and then somebody would reach out to them and say, ‘Hey, I’d love to help you with that.’ It’s just crazy because we’re not really making those connections, but we’ve created a place [to connect], and our job is to make sure they have a good way of communicating.
How do you stay balanced in your life with all of the awesome projects you have going at once?
The things that I don’t want to do the most, I try to do first. Like working out. I used to dance in my apartment in the morning, so my husband would wake up and be like, ‘What is this girl doing?’ And I’d have my headphones on and I’d be dancing. But yeah, a lot of it is prioritizing the stuff that I don’t want to do. I’m just learning to say no to certain things. And I think the big thing is scaling by hiring. Anytime that I’m doing something that I feel like I can hire someone to help me out, I try to do that as soon as possible. I’m not afraid to train and get someone on board as quickly as possible.
What are the most challenging aspects of your work life?
Right now, it’s being able to swap between the various things. Even though we’ve started a few companies, every single one is totally different. The product is different, the market is different, and how you market to them is completely different. We can learn from all the different things that we’ve made, but regardless, each one needs to find its own flow. I find that it takes like six months for me to figure that out, so right now, we’re just in this constant experimentation phase until we have that ‘Aha’ moment.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your work life?
It’s the little things I never thought we were impacting. The other day, I was walking into this random store and this guy was like, ‘Hey, I took your course on ‘ilovecreatives’ and we use ‘PeopleMap.’ Because I used that, I ended up getting this dream job that I’ve always wanted and I’m actually quitting this job in a week.’ It’s just a lot of these stories of things that helped people actually do what they want to do that I never thought I would impact.
As someone who travels often, what advice can you give our community on staying balanced when you’re outside the comfort of your routine?
Don’t be afraid to bring your running shoes. I actually love exercising when I travel—I think it’s actually easier for me. There’s always a gym in the hotel, and there’s always some class that you can go for free or half-off because you’re just a walk-in. In Seattle, I wanted to check out the city, so I decided to get on my running shoes and run around the city. Or in Copenhagen, we would just ride bikes everywhere.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned about being your own boss?
I worry way too much—and I think everybody does—and there’s really nothing good that came of it. The only thing that works is just doing something, and trying it out. You don’t have to try it out forever, just get it out of your system.
Who inspires you (your #noisemakers!) and what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Erykah Badu, the godmother of soul. She’s impulsive. She literally does whatever she wants. Whatever makes her happy. She ill. Best piece of advice from her: Eliminate things that don’t evolve you.
What has been your favorite place in the world that you’ve traveled to?
South Africa! It’s like California, but with lions and hippos.
You’re leaving on an extended journey: What are three things you’d take & three things you’d leave behind?
Take — husband, phone, laptop.
Leave behind — clothes, cat (sad), suitcase.
What really makes you turn up the volume? On the road, in the office, and in life?
Dancing! And meeting new people. Then, dancing!
Where to next?
Honestly, I just want to stay home right now. I’ve had so many experiences and travel days this past year, that I’m ready to put all these ideas into action.