The newest Member of the Month inside The One Percent is actually two valuable contributors, Manny Montilla and Paulina Tillman. As the founders of FlyDad, Manny and Paulina learned the hard way that taking the cheap route sometimes prolongs the path to cash.
The One Percent is an oddity online - and even offline. It’s a give-first community. Discover why our Community and Product Manager Justus Murimi knew they were the ideal choice for The One Percent Member of the Month.
Manny and Paulina's inspirational story is a perfect example of the GIVE acronym:
Manny and Paulina had to overcome many objections along the way, including learning how to invest in FlyDad. In the early stages, they were hesitant to spend money. But that way of thinking didn't always pan out as planned. Weighing value versus cost ultimately reshaped how they made financial decisions.
They also overcame their own mindsets along the way. Regardless of any obstacles, they had to get to the point where there was no question in their minds that the brand would work, and it would work well. As Manny confidently stated, "We firmly believe this is going to be a wild success."
Working with TurnKey Product Management was money well-spent for Manny and Paulina. But overall, joining The One Percent and Cap Inc were the two most crucial investments. The money spent to join has paid itself back by nearly double just by helping them save time. They say TOP and Cap Inc fast-tracks their ability to take the next logical steps. (And, yes, this plug was completely unsolicited!)
Leading by example is how the pair adds value in TOP. And many in the community have taken note. Alan Thompson in Cap Inc said their vision was his inspiration, and others claim they are leading the way. Manny and Paulina strive to give before they ask, and sometimes, they just give. Helping others is also a priority, but they want to do even more. As Paulina states, "We definitely feel like we don't help enough."
They intend to focus on brand partnerships. Locking in and figuring out how to work with celebrity fathers and dad groups will help the brand expand tenfold. Manny plans to connect with contacts at various media outlets, including a well-known dad blog and a Miami radio host. The affiliate program is another huge lever for the brand—they offer a 40% commission to whoever joins.
Nothing Cooler Than a Great Dad
Manny Montilla and Paulina Tillman believe in the value of good fathers. Growing up in a broken home, Manny learned early on how impactful a dad's presence is for kids. And after becoming a father of three himself, he decided to always lead by example.
As a mother of one, Paulina knows you can never take a great father for granted. She had a terrible experience with her daughter's father—one that resulted in a lengthy court battle. Instead of living with hate, she made it her mission to do something for all the dads who put their kids first.
Today, Manny and Paulina are the co-founders of FlyDad, a company dedicated to helping fathers look stylish even while lugging around diapers. The brand embodies dad confidence and empowers men while they're out "dadding" with their kids.
Hustling from Ad Tech to Diaper Bags
Manny and Paulina's story begins in the corporate world. They both worked in the advertising technology space for over 15 years. It was a young, fun industry. During their tenure, the two realized they had great chemistry and enjoyed collaborating. However, Manny eventually left the ad tech space to do consulting and start his podcast, Father Hoods.
After Manny left, the duo stayed in touch and scheduled regular brainstorming calls. They were both seasoned hustlers looking for the next big thing. But when COVID hit, Paulina found herself sitting at home with nothing to do.
Instead of twiddling her thumbs, she busied herself by watching makeup tutorials on YouTube. Her makeup application skills improved tremendously, but then the YouTube algorithm took a sharp turn. It suddenly started recommending videos by someone named Ryan Daniel Moran. As Paulina jokingly recalls, "I didn't mean to find Ryan—I just stumbled upon him."
Paulina couldn't wait to share Ryan's videos with Manny. She told him all about her find and suggested they get into the e-commerce space. Manny was a bit skeptical, to say the least. He remembers thinking, "What's this girl smoking, and who's this guy Ryan Daniel Moran?"
Manny's apprehension didn't stop Paulina. She made him listen to the podcast, watch the videos, and read the book. And pretty soon, Manny jumped on board. "Paulina, let's go!"
Deciding on a brand was the easy part. Manny was already doing the Father Hoods blog, and watching him in this space struck a nerve with Paulina. Seeing fathers do good and better themselves was something she wanted to support. It was more than just another business idea—it was personal.
"One thing led to another, and FlyDad was born," Manny says.
A Bag of His Own
FlyDad serves fathers and soon-to-be-fathers. These dads care enough about their appearance that it will bother them if they don't have something that compliments their style while out with their kids. But the diaper bag market is always oriented towards moms.
Dads have different diaper bag requirements than moms. Manny and Paulina did some market research, and discovered guys want compartments—lots of compartments. Everything should be easy to stow away and dig out. If fathers have their own bag, it's a better fit. "There's a subtlety about having your OWN that gives you confidence and makes you feel empowered," Manny explains.
To meet the needs of this forgotten audience, Manny and Paulina designed a fashion-forward dad diaper bag. It caters as much to the dad as it does to the kid. FlyDad's initial product, the FirstBorn men's diaper bag, has everything dads need to care for their children without sacrificing their swagger.
But FlyDad won't stop with just one diaper bag. Manny and Paulina plan to offer a suite of main products and accessories. They're making custom accessories that only fit their proprietary bag, much like how Apple accessories work perfectly with Apple products. Eventually, the brand may expand to include dad-approved baby carriers, toddler carriers, and car caddies.
Is Underspending a Bad Thing?
Paulina often found herself saying, "We don't want to pay for that - we're a young biz." Pinching pennies just seemed like the right thing to do. But running so lean was a mistake and would prolong their path to make money.
It took Manny and Paulina a long time to design the bag because they tried to do it all themselves. They went to the manufacturer's site, picked a design, and changed tiny details for four months. Nitpicking everything slowed them down. In hindsight, they could have designed the bag in two days if they'd hired a professional designer.
Manny and Paulina also went the cheap route for Shopify and had to redo everything. They paid a low-cost web developer on Upwork to create the site. It didn't work out, and they scrapped it all. Looking back, spending more money would have sped up the process and produced a better result.
"You don't want to overspend, but we really underspent," Paulina explained. But even after wasting all that time, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because they learned a valuable lesson. They are now better equipped to make better decisions moving forward and won't make the same mistakes again. As Manny puts it, "We're good at failing fast and then optimizing."
Countdown to Launch
FlyDad was hardly a thought twelve months ago, and on June 1, 2021, Manny and Paulina plan to launch. They spent the past year designing the perfect bag, and they finally finished. "It's a dope bag! It was a huge milestone for us," Paulina brags. The FirstBorn diaper bag already has 31 pre-sales from eager dads. Getting that first dollar and making that first sale made everything seem real.
But even with surefire success on the horizon, the duo doesn't forget those who helped make FlyDad possible. "We wouldn't be where we are today if it wasn't for our Tribe," says Paulina. "One-hundred percent," agrees Manny.
The One Percent is a community like no other. It's a place where everyone bends over backward to help fellow members. Manny and Paulina experienced this generosity firsthand. Leah Farnsworth, who does Facebook marketing as a business, helped the duo solve an issue with their Facebook ads. Kyle Niedrich—FlyDad's biggest superfan and one of the first to buy the bag—gave them contact info for a backup supplier. No matter what questions or problems Manny and Paulina had, someone in TOP was there to help.
Are You a FlyDad?
Manny and Paulina hope their story will inspire you to follow your passion, put your fears aside, and build a brand you love. And if you're a dad—or know someone who is—remember that fatherhood shouldn't dampen your swagger. Check out FlyDad to get your hands on the most innovative, father-friendly diaper bag you've ever seen.