We had the good fortune of connecting with Rigel Bitterman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rigel, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I had a unique upbringing – I grew up on a 60ft wooden brigantine sailboat (looked like a big pirate ship). My parents were hippie (for lack of a better word) sailors who bought the boat as our first home when I was a toddler & planned to home school my little sister & I while sailing around the world together as a family. My sister & I quickly made friends & grew roots in San Diego, so my parents decided against uprooting us & instead we went to San Diego public schools, played team sports, participated in extracurricular activities, etc etc but lived on our boat, docked in Mission Bay Marina until I was 12 years old. My parents are the best people I know & they created the ultimate childhood for my sister & I – it was incredibly happy & wholesome & full. We never had money but we also never wanted any more than what we had or felt like anything was missing. At a very young age, my folks instilled in me a sense of boundless optimism about the world & my ability to chart whatever path I wanted through it. They convinced me that I was exceptional in every regard & helped me grow an extremely strong sense of self & self-confidence as a child (I truly believed that I could do & be ANYTHING) however as I entered my teenage years, they began mixing in a steady dose of reality that gave me a strong sense of responsibility & work ethic that I think was necessary to pair with the self-confidence I had as a child (I still believed that I could do & be ANYTHING but began to understand that blood, sweat & tears weren’t optional). As I think about my career thus far & my ethos as a business person, I have no doubt that my childhood played a massive role in crafting who I am today. Anything that I’ve been able to accomplish thus far has come by way of boundless optimism emanating from my early childhood belief that anything is possible, paired with an unwavering work ethic & moral code stemming from my teenage understanding that life is rarely “fair” & absolutely nothing good comes easy.
What should our readers know about your business?
My company is called Lucky Find Hospitality – We help unique hospitality ventures launch, grow & optimize. We consult for & manage a portfolio of very unique & exceptional properties, including Glamping Experiences, Airstream & Shipping Container Resorts, Treehouse Hotels, Villa-Style Farms & Ranches, Private Island Retreats, etc. Our team’s diversity has helped set us apart in an industry that is notoriously slow to adapt & seemingly incapable of innovation. Our team’s expertise ranges from Tech to Finance, Marketing to Operations, but we all share experience in & passion for the hotel industry which allows us to see the space thru slightly different lenses while still sharing the same essential vision. It has been anything but easy – For every victory we’ve notched, there were easily 10 defeats. I think our success has come by way of a flexibility & openness to new & sometimes uncomfortable ideas paired with a stubborn grit & refusal to quit. Probably the biggest lesson learned along the way is that in “startup life”, you’re never fully qualified or totally prepared/equipped for what you’ll tell your clients & partners you can do for them. Accordingly, if you want to avoid a quick & shameful exit from your industry, you’ll need to work twice as hard, while battling thru the learning curve, in order to keep your promises. You’ll do this for what feels like an eternity & you’ll have major imposter syndrome every step of the way, BUT one day you’ll wake up & realize that you really are fully qualified & totally prepared/equipped to do what you’re being paid to do. I’m proud of every success, big or small, we’ve accomplished over the years but I’m most proud of how we’ve handled the countless failures we’ve endured. My business partners & I have worked in the hospitality industry thru multiple economic crises & we’ve launched multiple companies in this space, all of which have been on a shoestring budget, so we’ve had more than our fair share of financial struggles. Although we’ve gone substantial stretches without paying ourselves, we’ve NEVER missed a payroll for our team members or failed to pay off a debt to our partners. It’s been impossibly difficult at times but we have always done right by others, which I’m very proud of.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This is going to read like a shameless plug because we’re getting ready to launch a new hotel here, but I love what is happening in Liberty Station these days. When I was a kid, this area was completely abandoned & now, in some ways, it’s more of a cultural epicenter (with regards to the food, drink, music, art, etc) than downtown San Diego is.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My wife, Tamara Shelton. Like any partner of a “successful” entrepreneur, she has the patience of a saint & at times even more confidence in me than I had in myself. She’s made incredible sacrifices in order to allow me the time & bandwidth needed to fight through the learning curve of being a self-employed serial entrepreneur. I’m convinced that nobody who ventures out on their own gets it right the first time, so you need a partner by your side who supports you continuing to try until you do get it right. Same goes for my business partners Nick Ovanessoff & Samantha Walls. They have stuck with me thru thick & thin and there is absolutely no way the business would have survived without the immense sacrifices they’ve made over the years.