Self Made: NASE's Blog

Catching up with a Future Entrepreneur

Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Joe Pielago of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. received the NASE Future Entrepreneur award in 2009. After four years at the University of San Francisco, he recently graduated with a BS in Business Administration. Read on to join us in catching up with Joe.

NASE: Four years goes by quickly! Tell us about your college experience.

Joe: My time at USF has been spent in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation program, and in the best city ever. As a student I held multiple jobs including coaching a club swim team, bartending, lifeguarding, as well as marketing internships, brand building, and of course entrepreneur-ing a little on the side. 

I’ve been an entrepreneurship major for my entire collegiate career. My core classes hurt to get through, but they definitely helped me in my business courses. Existentialism and anthropology are two classes that helped to shape my thought process and approach on the business world. I even took time to include painting and drawing classes to help balance out my mind. 

My business courses were the real icing on the cake, though. I was taken from the very rudimentary core of what a business is freshman year, all the way to writing business plans senior year. When people question my major, I tell them that while the market isn’t ready for Joe Pielago to launch yet, this degree has given me every tool I need to feel both comfortable and confident starting my own venture(s). 

When I received the Future Entrepreneur scholarship, I just had a small clothing company. Boy, I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger. I’ve learned finance, marketing, organizational behavior, business law, and some parts of accounting (thankfully, my father is a CPA). More important than these classes was that USF taught me to be a leader, and to change the world from here (wherever “here” may be). 

NASE: Last time we talked, you were getting ready to head off to school and were also running your business, VOILA Los Angeles. Is VOILA still around?

Joe: VOILA is still around in my heart, but look around – it didn’t make it. VOILA isn’t dead, it’s just waiting. Instead of trying to launch a clothing brand first and a revolutionary product second, a brand should launch the product first and create clothes to complement the brand’s lifestyle later. 

Kruno is the future. I think that VOILA has really just turned into Kruno. Kruno is my middle name – it means “crown” and is short for “KrunoSlav” (“crown and glory”). It was my grandfather’s name. Kruno is a brand coming soon that infuses lighting systems and electronics into alternative transportation. 

NASE: Now that you’ve graduated, what are your plans?

Joe: I recently finalized a life plan and am really excited about it. In this market it’s really hard to be a 22-year-old entrepreneur, so in the meantime I’m looking to work somewhere like Google or IDEO and learn as much as I can. After five or ten years of building capital and life experiences in the corporate world, I’ll start my ventures. Ideally, I want to make a few million and retire at 45 or 50 and become an artist. We’ll see what happens. Life has so many twists and turns. 

I do plan on having an empire under my belt one day. I’m here to build a legacy, a legend. As mentioned I’m looking to build Kruno as a large corporate brand specializing in competing in the bicycle industry as well as the transportation industry. Also, I believe that small business is going to be the future with things like 3-D printers fueling product creation with less capital. Kruno will also have smaller businesses including finance, accounting, design, and manufacturing, and the WorldSportsInitiative. Together they’ll combine to run JJKR, which is basically the mother ship. Wish me luck!

NASE: What was it like getting the Future Entrepreneur Award?

Joe:  I can only look back at winning the award now to understand its awesomeness. At the time I didn’t know what it meant to be the “Future Entrepreneur of the Year.” I was an obnoxious kid growing up, and this scholarship straightened me out. It put me in USF and it saved me the struggles of ridiculous student loans. 

This whole experience has taught me to try something new and success will come your way. If I hadn’t tried the clothing idea, I never would have gone to USF. Now I get to go create a better world. All I can say is thank you, that this will be a $24,000 award put to good use. 


Joe also says he’s looking to grow his network and connect with creative people. Additionally, he’s looking to gain experience in an organization, and asks that anyone looking for “leadership, creativity, and passion” contact him at Krunoslav1990 [at] gmail [dot] com. 

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Self Made

A blog on the self-employed and micro-business

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Katie Vlietstra - As Vice President for Government Relations and Public Affairs, I work to explain how actions on Capitol Hill can impact the self-employed. I love D.C. and have made my home in Capitol Hill, where I live with my husband and black Labrador, Coltrane. We love playing volleyball and softball on the National Mall. 

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