SDH 215: The Higher the Risk, the Greater the Reward with Nicole Vasquez

How do you expand your entrepreneurial sights? What markets do you want to enter? How would you juggle multiple businesses at once?

Well, we get to the bottom of all of that with Nicole Vasquez, the founder of The Shift, and Deskpass! After leaving her corporate job four years ago, Nicole started her first business which was a dinner party company centered around providing networking opportunities. A year later, it evolved into the co-working space, The Shift; a gathering place for people to exchange ideas, network, and work on projects. As of last year, Nicole has opened a second The Shift location, as well as her similar third online business, Deskpass!  

How was she able to get all this done within four years? Well, like most new entrepreneurs, she practically lived in her workspace, worked 80 hour weeks for the first two years of business, but also didn’t pay herself for a year. To cut down on traffic flow and make her business more manageable, she set up an exclusive membership program for The Shift. By adding this aspect to the business, she was able to be more hands-on in operational matters, and increase her face-to-face time with members. Her prime goal and business model was to keep members happy and provide a good work space and environment for them. To do so, she was constantly absorbing member feedback and channeled that into renovations that made The Shift better, like adding private workspaces for team meetings. 

She also connected with members by personally on-boarding them, getting to know the ins-and-outs of their projects, and even provided resources and connections for their projects as well. Members were thrilled with The Shift and felt like she was providing an excellent service to the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. They became eager for another location and were more than willing to invest in its expansion.

However, when member traffic picked up, and it came time to open her second location, she could no longer be as involved in all those steps. So when she needed to hire a staff, she made sure to hire mini versions of herself, and wanted them just as dedicated to customer fulfillment and engagement as she was. To her, there was only one person to run her The Second Shift, and that was Levi Johnson. She said he was the ideal partner because he completely embodied the mission and goals that she had, but executed them with his own spin.

As the Shift’s and Deskpass’s partners expand across the country, though,  she said she’s struggling to keep the personal touch and interaction with members, and her co-working space owners. As an entrepreneur of a rapidly growing brand and business model, she’s still learning how to communicate her businesses’ values without being physically present. But with the grand end goal of creating a network of co-working spaces across five major cities in the country, her hunger and determination for improvement will make her a pro at it in no time! 

Stay tuned and hear her plans for her brand’s future, how she faces her challenges head-on, and more!

In this episode you will…

  • Hear how to cut down on customer flow
  • Figure out what to focus on as an entrepreneur
  • Be able to find your next business venture
  • Learn to stay true to your business model
  • Hear ways to find investors
  • Assess your financial situation before you start a business, and come up with a game plan



“I guess my obsession and neurotic-ness, and my dedication and determination paid off. It’s never been a 9 to 5 type of commitment, it’s a 24/7…I would lay in bed thinking about the next day ahead. Is that sustainable? No…but I personally say, looking back now that’s what allowed me to accelerate and to succeed so quickly.” -Nicole Vasquez

“If there is a small business in your neighborhood….and you’re a fan of them…you never know if those people are looking to expand, or if they’ve even thought about. But if you believe they have a proven business model…who’s to say you can’t invest in [them]…if you think they can be successful.” -Nicole Vasquez

“[Investors] are just like a relationship. It should add, rather than detract, and it should make you even better than you were without them. So whether it’s investors, partners, or both, they need to be adding some type of positive impact, or supplying some knowledge or expertise that you don’t have. They should be like a puzzle piece.” -Nicole Vasquez


The Shift Chicago Website
Second Shift Chicago Website
Deskpass Website
Nicole Vasquez LinkedIn
Nicole Vasquez Facebook
Rework by Jason Freid

Amanda Boleyn