The LoCo Experience

EXPERIENCE 66 | Jeremiah Klingman, E-commerce Expert and Co-Founder of Roam & Tribe Fitness

June 06, 2022 Season 2
The LoCo Experience
EXPERIENCE 66 | Jeremiah Klingman, E-commerce Expert and Co-Founder of Roam & Tribe Fitness
Show Notes Transcript

Jeremiah is a relatively recent transplant to the Fort Collins area from relatively rural Maine, where he developed a couple of businesses with partners.  So he's an e-commerce veteran.

And so he's looking for his next adventure as he's become a real estate investor and interested party in crypto markets and different things.  we go through his whole business journey, what it takes to create an e-commerce business,  and starting with when he was really a high school student hustling, um, buying things for cheaper than he thought he could sell them for and lots and things.

And then eventually realizing that. The proper margin that he would need to build an enterprise. He needed more margin. And so, building a brand became his focus. And so, uh, there was several attempts, some failures, but a couple of big successes. Jeremiah is under 30 years old. I can't remember his exact age, but he's a very young man and has a couple of successful exits already under his belt.

And you'll learn a lot and really enjoy time with an interesting and personable young man. So I hope you enjoy and thanks for listening.

Curt:

My guest on today's podcast was Jeremiah Klingman. And Jeremiah is a relatively recent transplant to Fort Collins area from relatively rural Maine, where he developed a couple of businesses with partners. So he's an e-commerce veteran co-founder of tribe. As well as Rome and tribe fitness sold in 2018 and Rome sold in, December of last year. And so he's looking for his next adventure as he's become a real estate investor and interested party in crypto markets and different things. we go through his whole business journey, what it takes to create an e-commerce business, and starting with when he was really a high school student hustling, um, buying things for cheaper than he thought he could sell them for and lots and things. And then eventually realizing that. The proper margin that he would need to build an enterprise. He needed more margin. And so, building a brand became his focus. And so, uh, there was several attempts, some failures, but a couple of big successes. Jeremiah is under 30 years old. I can't remember his exact age, but he's a very young man and has a couple of successful exits already under his belt. And you'll learn a lot and really enjoy time with an interesting and personable young man. So I hope you enjoy and thanks for listening. Welcome back to the local experience podcast. This is your host Curt bear, and I'm pleased to sit down today with Jeremiah Klingman and Jeremiah is a e-commerce veteran. He's the co-founder of tribe fitness, as well as Rome. The, tribe fitness sold in 2018 and Rome, just this last December. So he's kind of a two time winner, I guess, entrepreneur built a couple of machines and now he's doing some things, but looking for his next things and wondering what that looks like. So I think it'll be an interesting conversation. We're not well acquainted, which has always enjoyed. I meet somebody in this way. So Jeremy, Jeremiah, thanks for being here. Yeah, absolutely glad to be

Jeremiah:

here. So.

Curt:

Why don't we start with your first like business venture? Was it the

Jeremiah:

tribe? Um, so I had funny enough, a kind of a natural segue into, into tribe fitness. I was doing in this was in my like early teens. I was doing like retail arbitrage. So this was like late two thousands, early 2000 tens. And I was doing like, like yard sales, buying textbooks, selling them on eBay kind of thing. And then I started doing like, uh, I kind of went through a bunch of different needs. I need to know

Curt:

what things were when you could buy them cheap and then resell them on eBay.

Jeremiah:

Exactly. Yeah. Okay. My, uh, my mom was an artist and she sold, uh, sculpts on eBay and built a brand around doing that. So I was always kind of like inclined to do something on eBay and. After doing retail arbitrage for a few years, I kind of got into liquidation where I'd start like buying up liquidation lots and selling them online. Right. Um, eventually I started doing, uh, like I started using Alibaba to find manufacturers online, to buy cars. I would do liquidation lots, but it ended up being, uh, it ended up being kind of hit or miss, you know, you're getting like you're buying. Sometimes

Curt:

people actually don't want that crap. Yeah, exactly. No matter how hard you try to sell.

Jeremiah:

Exactly. You're getting like a huge container full of stuff. And some of it's broken, like it was always like random electronics. Cause this was like, this was only a few years after the iPhone. So like we still have. 50 different electronic things in our, in any given room. Um, everything hadn't been consolidated yet. So there would be cords and little camcorders and like 30 different types of MP3 players, subsidy,

Curt:

if you could put the right description on there so people could find it when they wanted it, they could just find it on eBay and buy

Jeremiah:

it from me. Yeah, exactly. And I would try to get it at like a good enough per unit cost. You know, you spend a thousand dollars, a few hundred bucks to get like a big container of stuff. That's a few dollars per unit and then hope that you can exceed that average unit cost when you sell it. Um, and that was kind of hit or miss,

Curt:

although to unboxing big boxes, putting little boxes together with,

Jeremiah:

it was exciting for me. I liked doing it and I was never the one, I was never one to like be, uh, excited to go work at nine to five. I was just like, I can make money. Did you ever, I did a few times. Okay. Uh, nothing traditional though. Like I worked at a motorcross track for like four years.

Curt:

Like that was a fun

Jeremiah:

job. That was, yeah, it was, it was awful. Um, I applied to a Panera bread. Didn't get the job. Thank God.

Curt:

Uh, I'd have been, so bring me back to Alibaba. Cause that sounds like when it's first started getting real, like, Hey, I can have people make me whatever I want. I jumping ahead on that. Nope,

Jeremiah:

absolutely. That that's pretty much what it ended up being. I would move from liquidation to Alibaba and started working with manufacturers. And then when I was working with manufacturers, I realized all these people on Amazon are selling the exact same product that I'm sourcing from China, but they just have their little logo on it. They're like dumb little logo on it. And it's like the exact same product I thought at the time. Anyways. Yeah. There's

Curt:

a pair of earbuds I've had when I've seen, like there's kind of the 30 ish dollar kind of pair and I've seen a bunch of different brands of the same thing.

Jeremiah:

Yeah. Usually it like looks the same. You're looking at it side by side and yet I'm pretty sure this is the same problem. Different bucks shape. So I ended up, uh, what w what, in, in the Amazon world now you would call hijacking. I would buy them from China. Um, the product I'm thinking of was this little, like shower speaker that I sold the little, like, it was like a Bluetooth speaker. You'd suction cup to your shower wall, and just play your music while you're in the shower. And I would buy like 300 at a time from China and hijack this listing on Amazon, where I'm just pretending to be another brand. When I was like, this is the same product. This is like exactly what the customer is expecting. It just doesn't have their logo on it. So, and now I hate that person. I like hate Jack. Is it legal? It's it's probably not legally prosecute. Exactly. Yeah. And Amazon definitely it's against their tos, their terms of service, and they'll shut you down for it. And they had, but you never got. Oh, I got in trouble. That's for sure. Let's hear about what, um, my, I got in trouble, a number of times for hijacking and the Amazon trouble or what I would get in trouble from the seller. The seller would send you like a cease and desist with news, just like a generic, like write up, I've done it a million times at this point, but at the time it was kind of scary, right? So they would send you a cease and desist and I'd be like, oh, I'm so sorry. I'll get off the listing. And then I'd like only have it on for a few hours at night and like try to like push the line and push the line. And eventually they would, you know, report you to Amazon. They buy a units, compare them, show it to Amazon as proof and say like, this person is cheating the system. So like take them down. Amazon would take me down, suspend the account and warnings and just

Curt:

start a new account with a different

Jeremiah:

email. Exactly. And eventually what I realized was because that would affect your order defect rate. They would, they would suspend the account, but they would suspend the wifi, the IP address, the bank account, everything. So I had to get very creative in getting new bank accounts, new laptops, a hotspot. Like I was just like going off the deep end in this like wacky hustle. And it kind of all came down to a point where I got in the most trouble where I was selling. I was like F this I'm going to start my own brand. And I was sourcing a, this was about the

Curt:

same kind of generic products, but now,

Jeremiah:

oh, wait my own brand. Exactly. So that's what we call private labeling holidays and, um, which I'm sure it was around at the time. I just hadn't heard of it. So I was sourcing these, uh, frozen dovey covers. Okay. You know, like goes over to like, exactly. Yeah. It was around the time frozen came out. It was like all the rage, anything to do with frozen was selling so well on Amazon. Right. And nobody has

Curt:

some of it actually has a license from Disney. That's the key.

Jeremiah:

That is absolutely the key. So the reason everything was selling so well is because nobody had licenses from Disney and everybody wanted the frozen products and only a few maybe Mattel or someone had like the actual license

Curt:

in $65,

Jeremiah:

exact selling for 25. So I was selling these frozen duvet covers without always sourcing from China. I was actually dropped shipping them from China because I was telling them for 250 bucks. Wow. It was not a $25, sorry. Yeah. Yeah. And it was between like 79 and two 50, depending, like if it was a king size or queen, which surprisingly people were buying king size, which I was like, you're like son or daughter living at Kings. I

Curt:

was like, that's wild. It's a muscle. Wants to be the friend of her young daughter in that case. If that makes sense. That's my psychological Snapchat anymore. It

Jeremiah:

actually does make a lot of sense. Um, so I was dropped shipping these from China and I made like 30 grand in a week. I think it was like, it was actually about 20 grand in like literally like a week or two. Amazon pays you every two weeks. So it like builds up in the account. Then they disperse it and it was like 20 grand was my next pale. And I was like, holy shit, like O M G, this is insane. I was like, this is like a million dollar business. Like, this is a huge opportunity. I, what can I do? And after that first payout of like 20 something grand Amazon suspended the account and then. We don't think you have a license, show us the Disney license. So I've read to my manufacturer with my manufacturer had said, oh, we have the Disney license. And I was just kinda like, okay, sure, sure. I just kind of like thinking, Hey, you probably don't. But like they said, they did, they showed me a document and I was like, cool. So I showed that to Amazon. Amazon was like, no, this is not real. I don't know what this is. So Amazon suspended the account. So I went from making all this money to making nothing. And then, but I realized if I had my own listing. Yeah, it would. I had no competition. And looking back, I see it as kind of wishful thinking because I also had the Disney name right behind. So there was a little bit of brand recognition that I didn't really see at the time. I was just like, it was my own brand and I had no other competition. I could charge whatever I want and all the, everyone, all the traffic would be mine and not sharing with other people. If they're looking for your brand, especially if you're looking for your brand. So I immediately. You know, scrap the Disney idea.

Curt:

So that's the idea, right. But that's the core idea. That's the, let's just try it, but

Jeremiah:

that led to private labeling in general. Yeah. So I

Curt:

just decided to, uh, you had a, it, did you test some other brands and things like that before one really spun up or

Jeremiah:

I think we still, I was, I was partnered with a, just a friend of mine doing retail arbitrage and, and we were still doing that at the time zone, all sorts of stuff. And I eventually,

Curt:

uh, and are you going to college by this time or something? And by the way, where are you? Like, where are you living? What's your home environment? I imagine you're living with your folks at least at the start few years.

Jeremiah:

Totally. Yeah. At the time I was, I was living with my parents. Um, I was living in Maine at a little town of 3000 people in Hebrew and Maine and. I was not going to college. I went to, I went to like a community college for a few semesters, like a business 1 0 1 and like PC engineering. Cause I thought I was going to be like an it guy. And didn't really like it very much. I liked the business class. It

Curt:

guys make half as much as you are already making sense. So

Jeremiah:

I wasn't, I wasn't super interested in it. Yeah. And the academic life was never something that I had a big draw to it. Did you grow

Curt:

up there or tell me, uh, take me back a little further. Like you were just this small town main kid. Yup. All the way.

Jeremiah:

Yeah. Yeah. Born and raised in, uh, we moved around a little bit in Maine, but it was just like Southern Maine siblings too. Yup. Uh, two brothers and one sister. The youngest. Okay. Okay. Yeah. Homeschooled. They whole life. Oh, well, um, which I didn't really like just cause I was in like a town of 300, you're

Curt:

kind of a gregarious fellow. It seems. And so like it seems like punishment almost that I don't get to be more friends with all these

Jeremiah:

kids and stuff. Uh, ultimately I did kind of like homeschooling, I just wish I was, you know, got out there a little more. Yeah.

Curt:

Natural. And when they could have done that, probably if they didn't know, in some ways it was newer than right. Not so well understood. So anyway, we'll take it back. We'll talk more about family and that environment. Um, but it seems like we're at the point now where, okay. Not Disney. Cause if I hang my hat on Disney, I'm going to get sued, but a brand, I need a brand.

Jeremiah:

Yup. So I, uh, I started looking heavily into private labeling and, uh, I came across, uh, someone's video on YouTube, Brian Moran, who later became my mentor for a few years. Um, he had this, this video on YouTube explaining the private labeling game on Amazon. And he was pretty, he, his videos, this, this like viral video, he posted of like zero to a million in 12 months. And he was just explaining, like, you launch a product, you source it from China, you provide a need, you fix, you fix a problem in a market, put your brand name on it, launch it on Amazon, do some press releases and you can start selling. And so after watching that video, it was like, I don't know, like a 45 minute video or something. It just all clicked. And I was like, this is what I've been doing for years now. But like, these are, these are the steps I need to be taking. Yeah. So I called up my friend and I was like, I found it. We found, I found the video, like I know what we're going to do. Um, cause he was like partnered with me and the whole time he was. Okay.

Curt:

And did you guys split efforts and who did what?

Jeremiah:

Um, so we, we were 50, 50. Yeah. Uh, up until the end, as far as roles though, I'm thinking as far as roles, we were both because we were both so young, we kind of like, we're just like, I don't know what to do. We're just going to figure it out along the way. But we both were in the same mindset of. Uh, we were doing retail arbitrage, and then we were both on board to start doing private labeling, and we didn't know exactly

Curt:

what to do, but it's somebody who the postings and somebody else did the searchability, or when they, when they asked for your license, who was the guy that represented yet. So a lot of the

Jeremiah:

like, uh, uh, legal stuff or logistics and back and forth with some of the details, it was, it was me. Um, and he did a lot of the like marketing and vision in, in our R and D and

Curt:

development. And so you were kind of. Yeah. In a

Jeremiah:

way, I was a lot of the operation execution. He was a lot of like steering the ship and then yeah. Yeah.

Curt:

Finding the, finding the opportunities. And do you want to mention this person? Are you still

Jeremiah:

friends and stuff? His name is Johnny Kiani. One of my best friends. Cool name.

Curt:

Yeah. I mean, Jeremiah, Cleveland's pretty cool. It prepares

Jeremiah:

fine, but cool. Last name. Um, so yeah, I've known him my whole life and we just, we just grew up together and we were always doing random harebrained schemes to try to make money. And we, we kind of both stumbled. We both had kind of a falling out where we just didn't talk for a long time towards high school. Then we randomly met up and he was like, Hey, I'm doing this stuff on like Amazon, you should, you should come with me and like, try to find some stuff to sell. Yeah. So then I started doing that and we both got heavy into it and so on. And so like, it just made

Curt:

sense to try to team up because it sounds like you both had different things you did best besides.

Jeremiah:

Yeah. Yeah, definitely. He's always been a bit more of a long-term thinker and visionary and I was a bit more of. Integrator and the executer and a lot of ways. Did you

Curt:

guys recognize that at the time, or is it something that's more in the rear view mirror that

Jeremiah:

you're seeing the rear view mirror? Definitely. Uh, at the time we, at the time we just had no idea what we were doing and how to do it. So we were just kind of like, we both want to do this, but we don't know how to do it. So we're just kinda like just throwing ideas out there, get some ideas. I would just try to execute on them and then I would get burnt out and he would take over a little more and then he would get burnt out and I would take over a little more and it was just like, well, this

Curt:

idea sucks. Cause nobody's having any fun. So let's come up with some new ideas and try them instead.

Jeremiah:

Exactly. It was a lot of trial and error that's for

Curt:

sure. Yeah. I like to say I use the term perseverance where it's perspiration plus perseverance, you know, you got to work hard for a, quite a while. A lot of times to get something that actually becomes an enterprise. Absolutely. Yeah. Um, so let's talk about the earliest days of, I imagined them. We're here at, at tribe fitness now. So, what was, was this a brainstorming session? Was this a stumble into what w how did that start?

Jeremiah:

So once we found the, uh, video that Ryan Moran had posted, and we kind of figured, okay, private labeling is what we want to do. And so we started heavily researching private labeling, and we started researching products, and we were trying to find products that had a, a low barrier to entry. So they were like, kind of cheap, kind of small, not like something big, a whole bunch of people might buy it. Yeah, exactly. Um, with also like low review count on Amazon, that was really important at the time. So we wanted to make sure

Curt:

for the picking exhibit, you just get a few reviews, you pop right up to the top.

Jeremiah:

Exactly. So one of the first, actually the first product we founded for tribe fitness was a cell phone armband. Um, which was funny because. We've launched dozens, if not hundreds of products over the years. And that first product happened to it's still the best seller today. Yeah. There's like 50 plus thousand reviews on the listing. It's still one of the best sellers on Amazon. Right?

Curt:

Have you updated the unit? Oh yeah. Lots of changes.

Jeremiah:

After a few years we realized that the, what we would call the private labeling game kind of died where it was really hard to just take a product and put it on Amazon. You really had to like some

Curt:

design into it. It made it better

Jeremiah:

than before. It couldn't just be like a generic product and like, reiterate as you go, like it needed to be like you needed to fix a problem out the gate for it to get traction. So

Curt:

talk to me about, I guess, the infrastructure. This, you've got like, do you have a website? That's like tribe fitness and, and that's part of what makes you legitimate to the Amazon community and stuff like that, or is it just, it's pretty much you just build it on Amazon and ship it and drop ship

Jeremiah:

at whatever. Um, for the most part it's, uh, originally it was, you needed a website for Amazon to take your trademark seriously. So they, you needed to just like show something. And we would just like create a, kind of a generic website to said, like tribe on it. And Amazon would be like, sweet. You're now brand ready for food. But, uh, um, On, as far as like brand building on Amazon, when it was, it was mostly taking advantage of the platform itself because they put hundreds of millions of dollars a year into getting traffic to Amazon. All you really needed to do was just rank get phone. Yeah. Kind of like the early days of SEO and Google, where it was like, you can just throw up a website and just be there for the customers to see there's some

Curt:

extent this business model isn't as easy today as it was. Right. Like Amazon is a little less

Jeremiah:

friendly. It's a bit less friendly in lake copier

Curt:

stuff. If you're selling

Jeremiah:

too much of it. Yeah. Amazon basics eventually came out and they would, I mean, on the armband, they had their own Amazon basics listing, like right at the front rape rate where Sarah right above yours. So it would, uh, yeah, they very much like, and they say they didn't, you know, there's been some lawsuits about it and they say they didn't like,

Curt:

actually it's just our algorithm and accidentally found us first every time.

Jeremiah:

But the funny thing was their Amazon basics line never did very good. They just had terrible reviews. They didn't have a very good product, which was too funny.

Curt:

It's like sort better products and then you'd probably crush it in that. Yeah, honestly. So, um, so this armband is really your first entry into this brand building. Is that right?

Jeremiah:

Yeah. We started with the armband. We kind of, and

Curt:

now by now you're doing inventory though, right? Like you're shipping to different places and stuff. Cause you're getting more bulk instead of like high ticket items.

Jeremiah:

Exactly. Yeah. So we, once we started scaling the, uh, armband, really, we realized, okay, this is, this is viable. This is scaling. We don't need to do like retail arbitrage or really anything else we need to put all of our focus into,

Curt:

we need to hold our margins, sell more units, not add too much

Jeremiah:

overhead. Yeah. So we started, uh, really scaling that product, trying to, we start doing Facebook ads and this, and then, and just dipping our toes into everything, seeing what worked and what didn't. Yeah. Um, and,

Curt:

and was that him on the marketing side and the metrics and stuff? Or is that more about the execution or both of you kind of worked together? Both of us

Jeremiah:

for the most part. Yeah. Um, yeah, cause neither of us are like marketing wizards by any means, but we were like, I kind of get Facebook ads. Like I get Google ads, like let's start throwing things out there and see what sticks.

Curt:

Yeah. And you were kind of separate from a lot of other things. There weren't other people necessarily brand building there in those niches.

Jeremiah:

Um, there was a few of in the early days, there was a few other companies, but it was a pretty sparse landscape. Definitely.

Curt:

Was there some things like, even Nike would have a armband cell phone holder and stuff like that.

Jeremiah:

Or the funny thing was back then, nobody really took Amazon seriously. And very, very few people knew that third parties could even sell on Amazon. They thought like, oh, Amazon is just a place where you go to get stuff from Amazon. Exactly. So especially when it came to F FBA fulfillment by Amazon, they, they thought that, well, if it's FBA, it's shipped by Amazon, but sold by a third party, then nobody really got the concept. Um, and big brands like Nike and champion and Adidas and so on. Really hadn't gotten on the. For like five plus years past that, like they, it wasn't until the mid 2010s where people started really taking it seriously, bigger brands and institutions really didn't get involved until like 28. It was, it was really odd.

Curt:

When was this armband thing launched? Um,

Jeremiah:

that was launched in 2014. Okay.

Curt:

And what was your place in life? You'd been dabbling in college a little bit. You're living in this small town Maine still? Yeah.

Jeremiah:

Yeah. At the time, I, I think at that time I was probably living at my girlfriend's house. Now my, my wife, um, we might as well mention her. Name's Alexis, Lexi. Um, yeah. And we've lived out here in Colorado since 2018. Yeah, when we, when we started tribe in 2014, I was living at her house and. We really were. I mean, we weren't really making money. We kept making the joke that we were the richest poor kids around because the business was scaling and we were doing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. At that point may possibly set like low seven figures at that time, the late 2014. Um, but we really weren't making any money investing

Curt:

or was it just your margins now you're just building your inventories and things like that. Just

Jeremiah:

building the inventory. It's pretty much, um, we're investing in branding and trying just burning money on marketing, trying to figure out what worked Amazon had their own in-house, uh, per platform that we were kind of figuring out and figuring out how to do that well, and, and just essentially just burning money, figuring things out and also just,

Curt:

uh, uh, I think that should be a cook burning money, figuring

Jeremiah:

things out. Yeah. And that's largely why the landscape is much harder now because it's, there's not really less opportunity now, but there's not as much room for error to where you can burn money, figuring things out. You have to kind of have it figured out beforehand.

Curt:

It's an interesting dynamic. Um, when did you guys get some help or what, uh, like what was the operations like as far as that went, when it came beyond just the two of you and Johnny?

Jeremiah:

Um, so I think in 2016, maybe late 2015, we started hiring, uh, like ops managers and stuff like that, which was like, I mean, we were very lean. The ops managers sounds like fancy, but it was like one guy. Right. And it was just like a friend of ours who we thought could like execute well, check boxes. Yeah,

Curt:

exactly. Whatever customers back when they needed to be emailed.

Jeremiah:

Yeah. Well, at the time we had VAs, so we had, uh, we had some, some people in the Philippines. I mean, not

Curt:

that I I've entertained that a little bit, but not really move forward. Um, you recommend

Jeremiah:

definitely. Absolutely. Um, I know the Philippines was really popular for a long time and I know, uh, Mexico is becoming hugely popular now. Uh, not necessarily in terms of costs, although the costs are definitely cheaper than, than the us, but, uh, it's more like worth that work ethic has been, was really good with, with a lot of the people that I had found in the Philippines. And a lot of my friends who had found people in the Philippines on like Upwork and outsource schools on it, or one of those. Yeah. Um, and now Mexico is, is very popular as well. Interesting. Um, so we had people doing like clerical work, like spreadsheets and analyzing data, just like taking day raw data and like putting it into sheets so we could kind of digest it. Okay.

Curt:

More money in the places where it makes sense and less in the places that don't exactly. Yeah. It's really a metrics driven kind of a business, right? Like there's one thing in building the brand and a lot of, you know, with non internet business, a lot of times it's all about, well, it's the same kind of puzzle, but here it's just purely that.

Jeremiah:

Yeah, very much. So the, uh, the brain building was, was not a big focus until probably 2017, roughly. Um, because at the time we saw it as, as a numbers game, essentially, it was, it was an algorithm on Amazon that was saying like, well, if you get X amount of sales, you have X amount of reviews. Assuming your product is good and all, all assuming your product is like phenomenal. I'm assuming you're providing a need for a customer and fixing a problem in that market. And there's a good product market fit. Um, if Amazon will provide the customers, you just need to make them happy. Yeah. So we didn't really focus on brand building until probably like 2017, roughly. And then, then that's when like, quote unquote, the private label game died and we realized, oh, like, we need to take this more seriously. Okay. Yeah.

Curt:

Pivot turned into something that became more substantial. It

Jeremiah:

sounds like. Yeah, definitely.

Curt:

So talk to me about that. Did you like. Hey, this is a mess. We need to do a new strategic plan. Or did you do that for your business at times? Or did you start,

Jeremiah:

the interesting thing was, or was it more gradually? It was definitely a good idea. Very gradual for sure. Um, we didn't, it wasn't like a overnight, we realized like, Hey, we need to start taking our brain more seriously. It was more. Over the course of a year, we launched four or five products like outside of the fitness niche. And we were like, these don't really make sense. Like we watch like headphones and like a laptop cooler and like a Bluetooth speaker and like different things that like made sense algorithmically for the game, the left preschooler. Yeah. Like a, like a cooler that you can set your

Curt:

laptop.

Jeremiah:

Exactly. And it actually worked pretty well. And that was like my brain child. And I was so sad to cut it, but eventually we realized like this doesn't make sense for the brand. It was and fitness

Curt:

don't really particular. Cause you put

Jeremiah:

beer in coolers. It was a bit odd. And, but it does have useful. Yeah. The product was, was decent and it worked for the game. We were previously playing, which was this like algorithmic platform game. But it didn't work for what we saw the future was, which was like building a brand on Amazon, like starting a company and building a brand and using Amazon to leverage that. Which thank God we did that because I don't think we would have been able to exit at the time without

Curt:

doing. Yeah. It seems like it, I mean, they kind of wrecked that marketplace then that pivot that you made was what created a, a more lasting value is, is the, the acquire of your brand still operating it and thriving.

Jeremiah:

She is. Yeah. Yep, absolutely.

Curt:

and we can get into that story a little bit here, as much as you're willing to share. I don't want to get anything too

Jeremiah:

private with you. Totally. Um, yeah. Yes. She's still around the brand still around. Um, it was, uh, an individual who bought it, not like an equity firm. Uh, we had, we used a broker and this is so now 2018 or late 2017, early 2018. We started like courting buyers, right

Curt:

after you built a brand. Did you look outside for. Like brand development things and stuff like that. Some guidance on the marketing, like,

Jeremiah:

yeah, I'm actually a friend of ours has a, a fairly large brand development firm back in Maine. And he just like started in his early twenties and grew it to this big, huge conglomerate. And he was just like a friend of ours. He was the old town. Yeah. He was the guy who originally like designed our logo in like five minutes at Starbucks because he was just a friend of ours. We were like, Hey, can you like design this real quick? And he like, kind of put something together and like threw it at us. Um, and I was actually just our original logo. We had a different guy revamped a little bit,

Curt:

but, it's funny. I've, uh, my logo for local think tank, my original, co-founder I guess my original facilitator is Andrea Grant and her daughter as a third year student at Clemson, um, designed my brand for me at, for $75. So nice. You're awesome if you're listening. so anyway, um, so you get into this like brand conversation. Okay. What's the thing that we can do to really turn this into a brand and where you looking like smelling exit already, was that what you wanted to do was build it to a place where you wanted to move it along?

Jeremiah:

Quite, it was an interesting transition because we realized at the time in early 2018 or late 2017, early 2018, that like, if we saw our friends, we had been networking with a lot of people in the business and go into masterminds and stuff like that. Um, and we realized a lot of people are exiting for 3, 4, 5, 6 X multiples. So revenues on, on EBITDA, net profits. And so we were thinking, okay, well, we run a really lean business right now. Like we're doing a lot of profitability. Yeah. Great profitability. So we were like, we could exactly, we were like, we could, Uh, scaling our kind of human capital inside the infrastructure in the organization. We

Curt:

can keep this the same margin

Jeremiah:

ability. Yeah. We keep margins or lose a bit of profitability and then, uh, essentially do less work, but then have a more outfitted business to scale. But if we then sold the company, if we let's say we did that spent 200 K of the, whatever, I think we were at the time we were at about 1 million in EBITDA. Oh, wow. And if we'd scaled back to like two, uh, 800 Kane EBITDA and built an infrastructure with both, uh, some middle level managers and project officers and stuff like that, um, and then got

Curt:

something to acquire people that already know what they're doing, not just you and

Jeremiah:

Johnny. Yeah, exactly. And that, well, that was the thought. So we, we kind of weighed the odds of like, well, if we sold to a private equity, They would have their own team and they would fire all of our teams. So that 200 K in, in spending on, uh, operations would just work against us. So it'd be a 200 K times three deficit, then it deficit then. So, but then if we, if we kept it super lean and sold to a, or if we had the team insult to an individual, it would make sense because then the individual could keep the team and having them get a great job, great job, make a ton of cash and they have the infrastructure already. Right. And the funny thing was that that was kind of cool. You don't always

Curt:

hear that cause everybody's like, well, the biggest price you're going to get is private equity, but not always. And sometimes it just makes more sense to be a moderate size enterprise that one person can manage really well.

Jeremiah:

Yeah, absolutely. And the funny thing was at the time. Private equity was really just dipping their toes into the water we spoke to. They didn't understand it either. They didn't understand e-commerce very well, and it wasn't until really it wasn't until 2020 happened. And everybody went online, private equity just dumped into the commerce market. And so we ended up, you know, we scaled back the team and me and Johnny were pretty burnt out at this point with tribe. We were like, we need to fucking wash our hands of this and be done with it and like move on to something. And at the time I had already started Rome, so wrong was already kind of in the midst of scaling. Okay. And that was kind of pulling my attention. And I had also, the second we started talking to brokers and buyers, I moved to Colorado. Oh. And so John checked out already. Exactly. So, and that was kind of like, uh, you know, there was this, there was this struggle between me and Johnny and not like there wasn't any animosity or anything, but there was this, like we're both kind of checked out and the business was super lean with. Thank, thank God and we wanted to sell it. So we. We started courting buyers. Excuse me. Um, and the funny thing was we eventually sold to an individual and not a private equity firm, which would've made more sense for us to have a team, but it worked out. Yeah. Yeah. So

Curt:

tell me about Rome. Like, wow. Like when did roams seeds get planted and what does Rome do? I don't even know that. Yeah. I think we talked when we had a coffee the

Jeremiah:

other day, but, um, so Rome is a, or was a, I guess is still a, a kind of adventure lifestyle brand where we sell, uh, bicycle accessories, bicycle and motorcycle accessories. Um, we started that in back when I was living in Maine right before a year or two, before I moved out to Colorado, actually it was. 2015. We started that. So in some ways was, was it the same partner, a different partner, Justin, Justin Ray. Okay. Shout out to Justin. Hey Justin. And that was, uh, he, he lived in Maine. Um, he was always like a friend circle away from me. Like I knew who he was my whole life, but I never was friends with him. And then I went to the funny, it was kind of funny. I went to like one of those like network marketing meetings that just a friend of mine put on. And he was like, Hey, I know you're doing some cool stuff in e-commerce like, you should come by. And like, just like chat with people. And I was like, all right, I'm not really interested in this network marketing thing, but like, I'll come by and say, hi, you know, it's the classic, like my house and have dinner and we'll pitch you on this thing. Yeah. So, uh, I went there and at some point the guy was like, you know, they're given this pitch of like, this is the, the riches you could have and all these things, you know, network marketing. And he was like, do you know anyone making 15 grand? Yeah. In, in, in income and my friend will goes this guy. He just points to me. Cause at the time, you know, it was like a year into scaling tribe and I was making good money. I wasn't paying myself anything, but I was making good money. Right. And he's like this guy. So they were like, what do you do? And I like stood up and I was all shy. And I was like, I sell products on Amazon. And then later on, Justin Ray comes up to me and he's like, Hey, do you like, so do private labels on Amazon through FBA? And I was like, yeah, that's exactly what I do, actually. Yeah. So we, we ended up getting coffee and meeting and becoming friends and then partnering up with Rome. Did

Curt:

he have products already? He just needed to get them up to the world better?

Jeremiah:

Um, no, he, so he just had this idea that he wanted to be an e-commerce. He wanted to start something on Amazon, but didn't quite know the direction to go. And so after meeting me, he was like, that's the direction I get it. That that's where I want to be. So then he had this idea to start this, like he's all in the motorcycles. He loves he's

Curt:

the visionary kind of guy in that partnership is very

Jeremiah:

much so. Yeah. Yeah. And so he had this idea for this motorcycle brand and it's funny because initially I was like, throw that out the window. You just motorcycles are done. Motorcycles is stupid. I love motorcycles and motorcycles ultimately. Um, I've, I've never been into motorcycles or anything like that. Even though I worked at a motocross track, I was never really into it, but so he, he had this idea for that brand and I was like, throw it out, throw that out the window. Like, we need to like go based off of numbers. Like what selling is it selling and why can we do better and not like what we want to ideally be? What an interesting

Curt:

like market research, right? Like you're like researching lots of stuff. I imagine. How, how are you looking into this? Like what's selling, why is

Jeremiah:

it selling? So we were looking at. Uh, the volume that people were moving on, Amazon, a lot of that data is public publicly available. So the Amazon has their own different segments almost. Yeah. They have their own like categories, like the New York bestsellers list kind of thing. They have their own Amazon bestsellers list. So you can see, uh, what's the best seller and at what rank, and we knew just having been in the business and no one knew people in the business that like, uh, the books are the largest category of cell phone accessories is after that, or maybe it was electronics. And if it's the number one bestseller, like you're doing thousands of units a day. And if it's like a few hundred, you do, and maybe a few hundred and so on and so forth. So we would see something that's like, oh, this is like a 2000 rank. Maybe it's doing 50, 70 sales a day. And it has like 50 reviews. And like they're kind of shitty reviews. Their listing looks terrible 3.6 to 3.6. And like, they're not even using FBA and they're, but they're still selling half decent. So we wouldn't see identify products like that and be like, okay. And this is ultimately what a lot of the arbitrage still arbitrage basically.

Curt:

Which has all of business in a way, like I can deliver this for a value that's better than you doing it yourself.

Jeremiah:

Yeah. Isn't that like a number one rule of capitalism, the excess returns will be competed away. Right. So we would find those, those markets that had excess returns. Can't beat them way essentially.

Curt:

Interesting. Yeah. That's uh, so it seems like you've become kind of a student of business and economy along the way. And before, before I even take you there, Jeremiah, and we'll, we'll get back into this journey, but you mentioned peer advisory, chapter or peer advisory in some element, like during the tribe conversation, what was your involvement there? Because that's what we do at local think tank. And what was your

Jeremiah:

absolutely great, great question. Um, at some point the, I mentioned Ryan Moran. Um, he was the guy who we found like a, a video random video online of him and talking

Curt:

about how he's scaled this back to you, Ryan. So we kind of glazed over you

Jeremiah:

earlier. He asked shout out to Ryan, if you ever listened to this, he, he, um, he had, he was kind of scaling this like peer advisory mentorship kind of mastermind program. And. Uh, what was it called the next level event? I think he called it, he was, it was like four people selling on Amazon that wants to like, get serious the next level and like go to the next level. And you like applied to be in it. And like, it was like a few thousand dollars and you have to like meet up in Austin, Texas, or something. And we applied to BNA. We got in and I was like, so excited about it. We met a lot of great people and I quickly realized. Networking with people in the industry that I wanted to be in was like absolutely imperative. Because the people who

Curt:

had that's where the new ideas come from, they all take their licks. Instead of you having to pay every lesson, you can just

Jeremiah:

get some for free. Yeah. So people would be like, oh, I tried this, this, and this failed miserably. These are the reasons, and now I'm doing this and this is working well. And we'd be like, great, I'll do that. And vice versa. And we would all just like share information. And Ryan was always very, uh, uh, uh, forthcoming in the sense of, I think that's the right word. Oh, he was always like, yeah. Abundance-minded

Curt:

and just like, here, you need to meet this person because he's having success where you're saying.

Jeremiah:

Yeah. So we would just meet up and talk to people in the industry and I'll go out and have a good time. And I did that for eventually joined his mastermind. Started going to conferences and other masterminds and just really like submerged myself and steeped myself in the industry. Um,

Curt:

well you gave your partner a lot of credit for being the visionary character and, you know, point to the business in the right direction. But through those tools, you really were able to execute the things that needed to be done and, and understand with more clarity, because that's the problem with visionary sometimes is they're like their focus is like three years away and it's focused on that, but everything else is blurry. Like every step to get there from here is blurry. Yeah.

Jeremiah:

And, and that's, that's probably why we worked well together because he was like, I remember meeting at like a local diner with Johnny and he was like, he was like, this is going to be a multimillion dollar. And we were like, still not even paying ourselves, he's like, this is going to be a multimillion dollar business. We're going to build this brand. It's we're going to be worth millions, like be excited. And I was just like, I was that I was like

Curt:

to be as be working harder. I was just like,

Jeremiah:

yeah. Well, at the time, I mean, I was young. I had no responsibilities joining your age too. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. And we would just, he had no experience in this as either. We were just like lifelong friends. Yeah. And we both kind of stumbled into it. And I was very much like, well, I just want like two grand a month to live comfortably. And he was like, fuck, that that is not happening. We are scaling. he was like, I will pay you what you need to live if you need like money, any cause he had his own like little side hustles that he had built up. And so he had a little bit of liquid cash. So he was like, if you need a thousand dollars to live for the next two months, like I will take care of you. We are not taking money from this business, which looking back, I'm so happy he did, for sure. I would have just suffocated the business with scarcity.

Curt:

Um, I'm a farm kid and you know, one of the things about a farm is like if a guy has three kids and it's in the old days, a thousand acre farm that could support a family. Well, if you could, if you give a 300 acre farm to each of three kids, each of them will suffocate the farm to death. yeah. And it could only carry so much water, you know, when people do that sometimes and, and you're, you're illustrating basically a business principle is you can't over milk the cow. Right? You need it. Extra reserve for scaling. And had you paid yourself even 2000 a month, you were scaling pace would have been so much slower. Yeah, absolutely. It's a sacrifice, you know, as you want to, do you want to have it tomorrow more? Well, you have to sacrifice

Jeremiah:

today. Yeah. Conscientious, essentially business lesson very much. So it didn't realize that at the time looking back, I'm like, oh, thank God. That's what he did. Yeah. He, he's always been a very long-term thinker visionary, and it's definitely rubbed off on me enough to where I'm, um, I'm happy that it has, um,

Curt:

fair enough. So bring it back to Justin and, uh, cause we kind of chase a squirrel there, but it was a good one. Yeah. A friendly squirrel. So Justin and you are building this next brand and the Amazon conference kind of thing. And so bring me to that, being a, becoming a real thing. Totally. What the team

Jeremiah:

look like. Yeah. So me and Justin met up after that network marketing thing and we started a very, very quickly, we were like, all right, we're going to part. And I was a consultant at the time for like two years. And if we didn't hate each other, after those two years, we were 50 50 partners. So cause he was at a site agreement at that. He, he, he was very much like he had been burned from partnerships in the past and was like, I don't know if we're even going to like each other. So like let's, we'll be consultants for now. And if we don't hate each other, we'll be 50 50. So, but then we essentially both just founded the company from the start. Yeah. And, uh, um, eventually like we started with a, uh, motorcycle slash bicycle phone Mount that you would put your phone on and like yeah, they work great. And they're some of them worked great

Curt:

for my motorcycle actually. What, what brand would you recommend? Nice.

Jeremiah:

Oh yeah. Rome. Rome's a great one. Um, yeah, if it's most handlebars and most bicycles, that's cool.

Curt:

Oh, same product for a motorcycle or bicycle.

Jeremiah:

Yup. Yeah. It has like a little net that kind of attaches to your phone to keep it secure and like vibrations and stuff like that. Um, and that was the original product. Like we walked out of a Panera bread and like went to his motorcycle and he was like, what about this? I need a phone Mount. Cause he had like a random phone Mount that wasn't working very well. And I was like, probably not like, let's look at the numbers on Amazon. See what makes sense? Cause I was just thinking, oh, he's interested in this product. He's going to like force it to work, but the numbers of, and then you look

Curt:

at it and it's like, oh shit, there's a lot of opportunity.

Jeremiah:

Exactly. Sorry. I always jump ahead. You were exactly right. And he that's exactly what happened. We looked at the market and where it was like, oh yeah, this actually makes perfect sense. Yeah. So we ended up launching that very quickly. Uh, he, he got a 2007

Curt:

bank emailing manufacturers and things. And again, trying to do a little twist on their existing design or something like

Jeremiah:

that. And at the time. And there's the saying in, in like entrepreneur ship, I guess like your first product is the worst product, your elbows, your other cell. Um, the first rendition of that product, essentially. Uh, so our first product was this, this phone Mount, and it was just like this generic white packaging and this little box. And it was like a tiny bit better than anyone else out there. Like it was a little bit bigger and it had another name. Yeah. It was even more universal and, and whatnot. And, um, uh, he, uh, we, so we started tweaking the product over time and we got like, kind of the branding developed and Justin was a big proponent for branding. Like he was actually a, a big reason. We started focusing on trending because Justin, Justin was the guy who was good friends with, with Steven, who was the brand of the branded graphic designer,

Curt:

graphic

Jeremiah:

designer marketing guy. And he started a company called anchor. Um, and. So he was, he was good friends with that guy. So he always had this like affinity for branding and realize like, this is a big deal. We need to focus on this. So we started really, what

Curt:

was the name like Rome, like you got the world is your oyster, you've got products that you could put in lots of

Jeremiah:

different places. Yeah, very much. So the funny thing about the name with Rome or the name Rome is it's. So it's a four-letter word at the time. Not really many people were using it, maybe like one or two people, but now the market is flooded with, with other realms. So when we sold the company, we like have some trouble getting the trademark, like in line for the acquisition and it wasn't excuse me. It wasn't until like almost the close date of the acquisition, where we actually finalized with the, with the trademark and everything.

Curt:

So talk to me about the scaling process of Rome because you were in Colorado. Most of

Jeremiah:

that. Uh, yeah, so we started, uh, Justin got like a $2,000 personal loan for a bank. No, fine back there. He, uh, we started the product, he got like a few thousand units from China. We just like went to Alibaba and searched or cell phone Mount for motorcycle bicycle and found one, started talking with a few manufacturers, got some quotes, got the product, shipped it to Amazon. We like labeled them all, um, put the UPC and whatnot on it should send it off to fulfillment by Amazon. And we started selling a few and we were like, okay, this seems to be working well. And it was, it was working decently. Well, we, we had like a launch party and we like did a little marketing, gave away a bunch of units, got some reviews from friends and shows

Curt:

and things like that and stuff too. Or we,

Jeremiah:

it was, it was very untraditional. Everything's, it's all digital, which is like a weird thing. It's like, you'd think like, like I'm in a business now or I'm an investor in a business. Um, uh, called which is just like drink company. And he goes to expos and farmer's markets and like all these different, like distribute distributor events and stuff. And that's like typical and normal, but like with e-commerce it's like, everything is online as well. It's overhead. Yeah.

Curt:

You know, all those trade shows all this and that, all that gasoline driving here and there that's just overhead. So we, uh, Facebook hats, that's where it's at.

Jeremiah:

Exactly. Um, so we launched the product that did, it did fairly decent. We realized, okay, we need to like start scaling this. And, and we, we did kind of organic growth for a long time. And I think I, cause I had already I'd started taking money from tribes. So I was investing some money into Rome, like here's $10,000, give it back to me in two months kind of thing. And then I'd be like, all right, here's another 10,000 and get back to me once. And so I was like kind of investing for the inventory to scale the business. And then eventually we were like, all right, we, we kind of need to be together to start really scaling this business. And we were struggling. 2017, roughly mid 2017. So Justin was like, well, I'm going to move back to Maine. Cause Justin eventually moved out in 2016, moved out to Colorado. Oh. So he knew some people out here and he moved out to Fort Collins and uh, a year later was like, I think I need to come back to me. Like, yeah. And I was like, no, no, no, no. I'll come to college.

Curt:

I'm ready to try something different.

Jeremiah:

Yeah. I came out a few times for like a week, a weekend, a month, two months. And then I was like, I'll just come out there. Yeah. So I came out here and got a place and I've been out here ever since. So

Curt:

what was that like, like, uh, the move to here. Did you. And just rent a place and kind of check out the scene for a while. Um, and what's your wife's name again? I'm sorry. Alexis, Alexis, Lexi. And so what's Lexie doing all this time. Is she involved in any way or is she doing her own

Jeremiah:

thing? She, uh, she did her own thing for a long time. Uh, she did like different retail jobs and this and that. And then eventually I was like, once, once tribe really scaled, I was like, you need to like, quit this, these retail jobs, like these nine to five, like come work for me. Right. So she paid you

Curt:

more like, yeah, I can't hire people. Like you, it's a price that you get paid now.

Jeremiah:

So I, uh, I hired her for like customer service and some different like clerical work and stuff. She was like my receptionist essentially for a little while. And she did customer service for a number of years for tribe. And I think she did some for Rome as well. Um, and then we eventually got VAs and she moved into managing my, uh, our real estate portfolio, which was great. Um, and the move out to Colorado originally when Justin moved. It's kind of wild. We, Justin moved out and we drove his like Chevy Silverado, uh, out in 2016. And we ran out of inventory for like day before Amazon prime day. So on the road trip out for him to move out and he moved out one year before me. Um, we ran out of inventory the day before the biggest day of the year. And this was the second Amazon prime day, I think. And we realized like, this is like the biggest day of the year. And we, the container was checked into Amazon, but it wasn't. So the listing shows zero, even though there was tens of thousands of units in stock, technically. So we put up a what's called the merchant fulfilled listing. Okay. And so we essentially manual sell direct, sell directly to the customer, which is a bit more risky on Amazon because any problems associated with those orders are directly reflected on us instead of directly reflected on keep

Curt:

that three bucks a piece or five bucks a piece or something that Amazon would

Jeremiah:

have charged you. Yeah. We would save some fees, but execution is high. Yeah. And, and the, well, the unfortunate thing was we were like, well, we'll just manually fulfill these orders by like in one day, Amazons began to check in all those units and then we'll just like manually type out those orders for Amazon to send them out. So we wouldn't have to do the shipping ourselves, but we would like manually tell Amazon, create an order for Amazon to ship that unit to these people. And we were like, all right, let's just put up like a thousand. And we sold all of the thousand units on prime day. And then we were like, shit, we have to, we're like in a truck on our way to Colorado driving, like for like four days. So we were like, we need to fulfill all of these orders. So we're just like trying to stay awake, like typing out copying and pasting order, order numbers and addresses to like manually fulfill these orders. Oh gosh. Like,

Curt:

and what, going down the road while driving

your

Jeremiah:

hotspot is rocket. Exactly. While Justin had Dustin had a hotspot and we were just trying to rock it and we got it down to around 60 seconds per order, but it was like a thousand orders and it just took us days to do it. And eventually we're like in his uncle's house in Chicago, like in his basement, slapping each other to stay awake with like Joan and red bulls. Yeah. Like drinking coffee and like slapping each other to stay awake and doing like pushups on the ground and just like falling over on our laptops, like outfitting these orders and. Eventually we got all of them done, but the weird thing was Amazon actually didn't ship just didn't ship like 10% of them. So we ended up getting penalized for them, like shitty logistics at the time.

Curt:

So this was not. Super duper experience that you were hoping for. It wasn't, it wasn't a great experience, your net margin on that 30 days.

Jeremiah:

And we ended up having to do expedited shipping for probably more than half hours, which they didn't pay for it. So we ended up losing money on it, practice probably half the orders, but we did get the volume when the reviews, which was helpful. But yeah, it was, it was a

Curt:

nightmare. There's either successes or lessons. Yeah. Right. That was a lesson more, very much. So, so, so tell me about like, did you get some help then after that and do some more direct shipping and stuff like that?

Jeremiah:

Or, um, so tip, even at the time we were using fulfilled by Amazon. So we would have everything shipped to Amazon warehouses directly from China in containers, on a truck or ship. And there was no

Curt:

sizes. Is there a lot of products or just a handful

Jeremiah:

of product? Uh, so we had at the time, or I guess by the one, by the time we sold the company, we had the, a few different versions of phone mounts. Uh, we had cell phones. Uh, or sorry, a bicycle seat covers like cushion seat covers. Uh, we had a helmet, a bicycle helmet with like a visor. We had a backpack. Um, what else do we have? We have, we had some supplements, some this, this and that. So random stuff. Did you have

Curt:

like a website that had all this stuff, if people wanted to order it direct from

Jeremiah:

you to yeah. Yeah, we had, so we had a Rome, usa.com. Yeah. Uh, we have that for all. We still have that, but we, uh, uh, we use like Shopify or web flow or whatever it was to like, you know, organ it'd be like a POS system to organize the winners and whatnot. But eventually we realized that like the, the web, the web platform of like selling direct to customer was its own animal. And, and we would have to start scaling like Google SEO and Google ads and Facebook ads and getting this like, uh, organic growth. And we just weren't. Super into that and wanted that job. Yes. So we, and we, we, we w honestly wasted like, uh, six, six figures in one year, just going down that rabbit hole. And we were like, this is a lot harder than it looks. So we're just going to like, stick to what we know in what's working really well and keep scaling what we know. So we kind of, uh, directed after that. We directed everything back to Amazon. So like, you click on our shop on our website, click buy, and it sends you to the Amazon page, um, which ultimately was helpful. Cause it gave us the outside traffic, which Amazon really rewards. They gave us the extra. They

Curt:

like it when you bring new people to them. Exactly. Oh, I get it. Yeah. So you just like, hi, we're a brand. We have a website and everything. We're cool. And all you want to buy. Boom got straight to

Jeremiah:

the Amazon storefront.

Curt:

Interesting. Yeah. You're approaching at this point. So what's your team. Is there several of you doing like Facebook ads and different things like that? Or it's not really like that, it's more,

Jeremiah:

it was very lean in-house. It was just me and Justin and we had one operations man or project manager. Um, and we had cycled through a few project managers until we found the, the last one. Um, and when we sold, we sold the company and we, we had VAs, most of the, most of the like quote unquote team was like outsourced. And this is like a

Curt:

four hour workweek guy. This

Jeremiah:

is his business situation for sure. So

Curt:

how was your lifestyle like for you blessing around doing this and that, or were you actually kind of a 20 hour, a week guy or

Jeremiah:

some blind? So I kind of learned a big lesson with tribe, which was, if you grow a really lean business, all the fires are on you. Yeah. So, and it's really hard to, to have that 30,000 foot view of a business and really steer the ship. All you see in front of you is a fire, you know, and when there's one big problem ahead of you and you just have to keep putting out those fires and, and you know what I'm talking about. Oh yeah. It's like, it's, it's hard to, it's hard to get like the 30,000 foot view of like, this is what's real, this picture. So, so a big proponent of selling tribe was like, I need to get my mental energy back. So immediately after selling tribe. Yeah. So immediately after selling tribe, I was like, we need to start like outsourcing and delegating a lot of the raw, a lot of Rome's work because in Rome was at the time, what was like, well, we, me and Justin can do it. It's not a big deal. And we have like, we're starting to think about hiring project managers. So this is like early 2018, like 2017. And then we were like, If we don't do it now in a year or two, we're going to wish we would have, and like becoming a boss is like a whole nother level of an entrepreneur. So it's a whole nother, like, shape to morph yourself into and a

Curt:

dependency as well. Right? Like if that person that you're the boss of quits and tells you to pack sand, you're like, oh shit. Now I'm like back

Jeremiah:

to square one. Yeah. And then you've got, gotta be your own HR manager and it's like more risk, more work on you initially to then find someone good and go through the hiring process and train them and then hope they do a good job. Um, so we, we did that before we had to do that. Thank God, because then a year or two later, um, uh, late 20, 19, early 20, 20, we were like, oh my gosh, like we were so burnt out. We need someone to take on a lot of this, a lot of the way to this. So by that point we had. Put a lot of thing, a lot of irons in the fire for delegating. So we have like a full service marketing team that was handling all of our marketing and we had a person running our social and Tim Ferris. Exactly. So, and we had like a, a full-time operations guy in full-time customer service manager, managing a customer service team underneath her and a full-time logistics team that was managing all the logistics and time in China and sourcing agents for R and D.

Curt:

And how many calls the customer service team is taking in time to add another person exempt, but that's their problem.

Jeremiah:

Exactly. And I think I talked with her like twice in my lifetime, Justin was the one who managed her for the most part, but it worked out really well where we had a bunch of these legs and bunch of trees or a bunch of branches off of the tree where me and Justin were still in kind of the main vein and like guiding the ship. But we only had the word. 10 20 hours a week, not even. Um, and, and like, that's kind of generous. Like we could, I mean, you can, as an entrepreneur, you're, self-employed, you can work as much as you want. Right. You can endlessly work if you want to drown yourself in it. Well, but a

Curt:

lot of business owners work in the business a lot like you did too for a long time.

Jeremiah:

Yeah. And it, it was a big shift to working, to be working on the business instead of in it. And I was really happy that we did make that shift, um, before we needed to. So we kind of figured out the, the transition of becoming a boss and, and hiring team members and building corporate culture and seeing who fits and who doesn't like, all of that is like a whole nother, it's a whole nother animal that like, it's not my favorite aspect of, of building businesses, but like it's, it's a thing and it needs to happen. So eventually by when, by the time we were ready to sell the business or at the time we were, by the time we were ready to think about selling the business, we weren't in a position where we were like, oh my gosh, get this off my hands. Just a whole bunch of things. We were like, we were like, my project is going to handle most of the acquisition. Like we, we can talk to brokers if we want to, we didn't even use a broker for the acquisition of Rome. Um, because I, I felt comfortable there. I could kind of manage it myself. So it saved a lot of money, a huge amount of mental energy, for sure, for

Curt:

sure. Otherwise it's just a parade of options and this and that. So I'm

Jeremiah:

like,

Curt:

COVID happened about the time that you left off in your story? Was that a big deal one way or the other for your business

Jeremiah:

for Rome? Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Um, initially it was the, uh, logistics issues, which, I mean, initially it was like, oh shit, the world is ending. What's going to happen. We're all going to die. Yeah. It was like, I mean, the grace of God, we, we had one container of our main selling product even to this day, was that cell phone, bike Mount. Yeah. Like 80% of revenue, kind of like main selling books and the hero skew you would say. And it's, uh, uh, we got one container of like probably 50,000 units shipped out of China in like, I think it was like late February. It was like right after the Chinese new year, the second, the Chinese new year was over. They shipped the container and then COVID started. Right.

Curt:

And it might've been

Jeremiah:

months. Otherwise it would have been a long time otherwise. So because of that, Amazon prioritized our listing as essential because we raised our price. Yes you have. Yeah, we absolutely did. And cause we were like, we, yeah, we were like, we need to make this last. Six months a year. We don't know how long it was probably four months before we had another shipment and it was a long and we were normally like every month for the most part. Yeah. And at the same time with the, uh, logistics crisis that has been going on ever since then. Yeah. Um, containers have gone from like, you can ship anything anywhere in the world for five grand to like 20 grand. Right. So it makes a big difference. It made a

Curt:

big difference. Cell phone

Jeremiah:

holders is your product. Yeah. We, we really needed that car ice and, or whatever, very much so, so, um, initially it was the logistics crisis and we somehow were able to squeeze one container out and that kind of saved a lot of the momentum of the business. We still, we still ran out of stock that year and the year after that for like a month, each time. And, and that was a huge, you know, problem. Um, but besides that, because we were one of the only ones who were able to, even though we ran out of stock once or twice. Um, over the last few years for like a month or so. Yeah. Are all, most of our competitors completely have four months, months, like just gone kind of thing. Nobody's able to keep stock. Whoa. Um, I think a lot of people just weren't at the scale that we were at because we live up capital

Curt:

to have a container at a time they were repeatedly truckload it

Jeremiah:

exactly. So they would run out and they all have everyone's volume just drastically increased because the competition was like cut by 20%, consistently

Curt:

20%, more,

Jeremiah:

20% more. And then like everyone else ran out of stock and just like five sellers now have something last

Curt:

man standing and he can sell everything he's got.

Jeremiah:

Yeah. So we, we had our best year ever in 2020, um, even with the stockouts. Um, so then at that point we were like, all right. I, we feel well. Yeah. At that time, we were like, alright, we feel well positioned to, to sell the business. Yeah. Um,

Curt:

seems like a smart time

Jeremiah:

to sell. Yeah. So it was forever. We started talking to people in early 20, 21. Um, and after I, we use the broker for tribe and, but after I had gone through that process with tribe, I was like, I don't really need a broker. Like they're not really doing that much. Besides like introducing me to somebody that I

Curt:

want to sell to already

Jeremiah:

knows about us. Yeah. People were already reaching out. And that's why I said earlier that private equity, uh, largely got into e-commerce in 2020, like with the tribe acquisition 2018. We talked to a few private equity firms and they had really no idea what they were doing. Like they were, they were incredibly smart and they could

Curt:

have, and your business and broken it if they want it to, but they didn't really want

Jeremiah:

to, they were just like, so you like sell products on Amazon. Tell me about that. And we, but nowadays there's what they call aggregators that just buy up every brand in the space. And, uh, it's like Blackstone. Yeah, yeah, exactly. In the first specifically e-commerce businesses on selling on Amazon and they would, uh, the Blackstone of, of Amazon private labels. Right. And there's a number of these aggregators and they would just buy up all of these businesses and, and the multiples were crazy high in 2020. I wish we sold them 2020, obviously. And, but at the same time, everyone knew that 2020 was an inflated year. So the multiples, although they were inflated a lot. Got Retraded at the last minute. So, um, that's what I keep telling myself

Curt:

just to go. Yeah. Um, and where you guys on the same page on that you and Justin

Jeremiah:

kind of, uh, it was definitely, I was more interested in selling the business after going through the acquisition with tribe. I was more like, all right, I'm kind of getting to the point where I'm feeling done with e-commerce. I've been doing this for 10 years. Like I kind of want to move on to something else. I had already started dipping my toes into the world of venture capital and angel investing. And I already had like a real whole real estate portfolio that I was managing and, and all these other, like dipping my toes in all these other areas. And I was like, and like, me and my wife were like, like we had gotten married in 2018. We're like kind of want to settle down and kind of want to have kids. And like, I don't really want this business anymore. Like we weren't like super burnt out, not nearly as much as tribe. We were getting, I was getting ready to move on. So I was kind of pushing him to be like, Hey, these people are literally knocking on our door. Like let's just have the conversation with them and see, and he was very open to it and he was very into it. And towards the end, he kind of got a little bit more of cold feet and then we kind of both did we kind of went back and forth constantly. What's your baby. Yeah. And we were both like, well, if the numbers make sense, like, we'll see. Um, and by the end of it, like, we were both absolutely on the same page and very much like, uh, ready to ready to pass around

Curt:

more than anybody I've met, frankly. You're kind of an e-commerce veteran. Um, if there's people that want to sell products online in today's environment, now maybe you're a little rusty. Maybe you're not, I don't know, but you probably are aware like, w can you give me like a three minute, like do this, not that kind of thing

Jeremiah:

for those people? Um, I would say for one, make sure you have a product market. Um, make sure there's a reason your product exists in the world. Uh, like if you're, if you're analyzing a market and you're like, I have this idea to sell this, this coffee mug and like, it's gotta be better than anyone. Else's, there's gotta be a reason for it to exist for what? So that when people look at it, they go like, oh, I want that one. That's for sure. That's, that's the one that I want. Um, and the more disruptive the better if, and if it's super disruptive, if it really like changes the game and everyone's like, oh, that's, that's seen this, like, have you met this? Um, uh, that, that scale is so much easier. It's like it's night and day when, when something super disruptive and it really fixes that pain point because the share-ability of it is huge advertising, free advertising. And it goes along with the second bit of advice that I would have, which is, uh, start a, uh, social, uh, community around that brand. Because if it's really disruptive, assuming your product is really. Assuming the product market fit is really good and it's really disruptive the, the product itself. Um, you should be able to have like a good mission for the F for the brand. Yeah. And if you have a community and you have a reason to exist, you can, uh, uh, you can sell to those people. Like that's immediately, you have traction and the community I'll give one, disclaimer, the community is something I never did. Um, I never built a community. I mean, we had like email lists of tens of thousands of people and stuff like that. And we had social accounts with like a few thousand followers, maybe 10, 20,000 kind of thing, but it was never, it was never a big proponent of the business, but the people, and like I was saying earlier, you know, we've networked with a lot of people in the industry. So now the way the industry is heading now is, is, is very much towards social and the people I've seen who have seen. The coolest businesses, the fastest had like a strong community behind them, where they were like, they, they launched a product to their community bef like they launched, they, they built the community before they had a product and they just like, they had, they had a mission and a reason to exist and they just built a following around that. Cause you can do that for free, for sure. Like you can just start creating content out there. I don't want to sound like Gary V where I'm just like, get in front of your phone, like eat shit, like produce content, but it's a great way to, to for free, just start scaling an idea and seeing if it works. And it's

Curt:

kind of a run a person though a little bit, right? Like there's gotta be a person that's bringing this vibe forward. Like Gary V or whoever you

Jeremiah:

are. Um, I'm a bit more introverted. I never wanted to be like the face of a brand. So I was never like, I'm going to produce content and like be like in front of my phone, like right here in my garage. So how do you

Curt:

build community without being that center stage? Well for

Jeremiah:

me, I didn't, I didn't do it. And I, that was my big regret

Curt:

for reals in today's world. That's one of the things that takes the friction out of scaling on anchor.

Jeremiah:

Yeah. Cause if you can have that, uh, if you can be like a micro influencer in, in some sort of niche, um, and I'm talking like 5,000 followers, like not crazy, like just like, I have a lot of people in my geographical area that like few thousand people that are hyper aware of what's going on in my brand. Um, like that's hugely powerful. Um, I had, uh, I've heard stories. I've, I've been to conferences where they've told stories of, uh, this one guy. Um, he was the founder of on it. I'll be Marcus. He, he, yeah, yeah. A great podcast. He, um, he didn't an influencer sponsorship with like ludicrous and he had like millions of followers and it was like, He paid him like a, a hundred grand or something crazy stupid amount of money. And it was like crickets, nothing happened, nobody cared, nobody cared. Nobody could trust ludicrous advice on like, supplements. Right. So then, uh, so then he hired some like random, like 10,000 follower, which would be like a micro influencer in some niche that had to do with some health coach or chiropractor practice or something. And he said it was huge. Like it absolutely took off. And that was the, that was like probably 2018 that I heard that story. And then like, I met a good friend of mine. Um, Andy, Andy, and he, he had a brand selling, uh, knives and on like collectible knives on YouTube and all he would do is sell to influencers and micro-influencers was all about the audience. It was all about. Is this person relevant? Do they, do they have my audience? And so can I give this product to them and they will distribute it to their audience and then people would like it. So as long as you had that really disruptive product, that if you was put, if it was put in front of the right audiences eyes, they would just hands down and be like, oh my God, take my money. I need that right now. So like having that really disruptive product back to your question about, you know, lower, the few things, having that really disruptive, like perfect product market fit, um, and then having an audience to sell it, to have something that people need. Yeah, exactly. Which you'd think would be kind of a no brainer, but like the amount of products I've seen out there. And honestly, the amount of products I've launched that were like, I was like, eventually, like there's no need for that to

Curt:

buy the rest of these things, guys still.

Jeremiah:

And like the amount of ideas that have been pitched to me of like, I have this idea for XYZ and it's like, Not really any value here. It's just like another thing. So

Curt:

I want to take a short break and then we'll come back and talk about like what comes next. Sure. Does that sound good? Absolutely. So let's lead us through the exit, you know, deciding to sell. It sounds like that was 20, 21 and you knew there were probably strategic acquisitions out there. Um, might not be the same kind of situation as try, but bring us back to that story if you would. And then let's talk about like, what's next for you? What, what do you want to do when you grow up?

Jeremiah:

Absolutely. Yeah. Um, yeah. So in, in 2020, that was, that was an amazing year in terms of like e-commerce in general, like all of my friends were just like dancing around like

Curt:

Lamborghinis and

Jeremiah:

everyone was so happy that like the world was ending, but everything shifted to the industry that we were all happy to be in. So we were all super happy about that. I also, I went through a lawsuit in 2020, which was just a wild thing, but that like took up all the extra cash, but at the same time, Moving into 2020, we were like, all right. Multiples were so high in 20. No. Sorry. Moving into 2021. Multiples were so high for e-commerce businesses, SAS, businesses, anything excluding physical retail. If you didn't have to be there in person, like the multiples were so high for acquisitions. And even in the stock market, the

Curt:

PEs people, there was money flying all over the place. People had money burning a hole in their pocket. It would

Jeremiah:

seem wild to happen, but it's crazy. Um, Well, so we started with $5 ago. Yeah, exactly. But we'll talk about that later. Yeah. So, um, we, we started courting buyers. We started, we had a lot of aggregators reaching out to us and, and I I'm under NDA. So I can't talk about a lot of the details, but I can say, like we, we had, uh, reached out to a number of aggregators and I didn't use a broker. I mentioned earlier on, I felt confident enough after going through the process with a broker in 2018, that I kind of just was like, all right, I'll we can figure this out. We can do it. I get the valuation process and the lawyer for some

Curt:

documents that use the

Jeremiah:

same that I used them on the 18th. So I was like, perfect. And he happened to know a lot of the aggregators and it was a good, a good fit. And so we reached out to a number of buyers, number of aggregators, and started, started the conversation. And we PR at the time we were. Hey, we're just reaching out because we have no reason to sell. We don't necessarily want to sell, but we want to start the process of talking to people. So like, let me, let me know what year it was. It was a good position for ourselves to start talking to people. And we talked to a lot of people. Everybody wants to grow

Curt:

that plays harder to get

Jeremiah:

a little bit anyway. Exactly. So we thought that was a good place to start. And, um, eventually, uh, I had reached out to someone in my network who I met through my mentor, um, because I knew that he was

Curt:

kind of industry mastermind

Jeremiah:

thing. Exactly. Yeah. He was like a peer advisor through, through the industry that I was working with. Um, and, and said, Hey, can you, uh, he, I know he was intimately connected with a lot of aggregators. And I said, Hey, can you, uh, connect us? And actually, I should say it was Justin that reached out to him. He's, he's a good friend of both of ours, but it was Justin that reached out to him and said, Hey, can you connect us? He ended up connecting us to the people we, we sold the company to, and I can't give the names, but that was essentially how it happened. Yeah. Um, yeah. We sold out here. You

Curt:

are with a pile of money for you, a pile of money for Justin and a bonus for the staff that you did have. Yeah. Yeah.

Jeremiah:

We had a, like a bonus structure for vested equity and whatnot, and it was a good situation. I felt good about it. Um, and then what, um, so I, I, I love real estate. I've been in the real estate for a long time, since 2016 properties, residential and commercial. Um, so I, I own about 25 doors. Um, and I, I owned a few multi-family units and, and in. Back in Maine, um, that I've been kind of, kind of dipping my toes into that world and figuring out like what the real estate game is all about. And I've kind of landed on like wedge deals and value add properties, and I've seen that that's underutilized thing. Exactly. It's a good way to force equity. It's a good way to kind of have an ACE in your back pocket in case all goes wrong because sometimes it does over leveraged exactly that way. Yeah. And I've realized that's kind of the way to go. Um, on top of that finding properties with cashflow and I like real estate. So I've been moving more into that. Um, since the last, uh, property that I bought was a, uh, 12 duplex portfolio in Wichita, Kansas. And, uh, that was super fun. Yeah. It's a good property. It's a good, it's a whole city block of, of progress and that's kind of, that's the biggest kind of real estate thing I've done so far. And I sold some properties in may. Um, and 10 31 into those. And I've been happy about that, but with, with rates where they're at now and, and kind of the macro environment we're in I'm, I'm not, I'm not doing too much with real estate.

Curt:

There might be some deals.

Jeremiah:

Exactly, exactly. Yes. So, excuse me.

Curt:

And so do you want to work in e-commerce again? Or just kind of cool. You're done with that.

Jeremiah:

I like e-commerce, it's a good question. I, I like e-commerce, but I spend so much of my life. You're 26, 26. Yeah. Yeah. It's, it's been 10 years of just rise and grind with e-commerce and I like it. I understand it. And I I've been getting, I've been dipping my toes into the world of venture and in joining syndicates and funds as an accredited investor, trying to, trying to find like, I may have some introductions for you. I would, I would love that. Yeah. And I, uh, It's been an interesting world of trying to figure out like the best way to value companies and the best way to, uh, to see what's overvalued and where value is, and, and kind of the long-term prospects for startups deal

Curt:

spotter. You're like a professional deal spotter, like real estate or companies investments. And that doesn't mean that you're paying too little for those properties or companies or things that you buy. It just means that there's arbitrage opportunity and you can make it stronger,

Jeremiah:

make it work. Exactly. Yeah. And there's a lot out there. That's inflated and inflation is a dirty word at this point. Everyone's heard about it, but it's, uh, there's too many assets are heavily inflated and it's really hard to find. Just decent deals. Yeah. Um, so a lot of the stuff I'm, I've been looking at and the stuff I've invested in InVenture has been wedged deals. It's been stuff that that's, our value adds that I get in an e-commerce stuff. E-commerce businesses. I was recently a part of the acquisition for bodybuilding.com and it was just like right up my alley for what I understand. And I can like value that business perfectly. Cause I, I get it. I was in that. I was in that business for 10 years. I know how to sell more of that. Yeah. So it's easier for me to sort of, to actively

Curt:

like do stuff.

Jeremiah:

Yeah. I can, I can add value where I, where I, where I see fit for the fund, but I'm just like another investor in a conglomerate. Which is fun and it's different and it's, it's a new world and I'm not sure how that's going to go. And the nature of venture is that most things fail. So the odds are against me, but, uh, I like it. It's a lot of, well, that's pretty

Curt:

cool. Well, I wish you every success in that. And, uh, I'm glad you moved to Fort Collins. It's cool to have under 30 year old, two time exit real estate investors, you know, and, and, and angel investors and whatever else. And so, you know, that can only be good things really, I think for our community, um, this seems like the time to jump into our faith family politics segments, which do you prefer to talk about first? And what do you want to say? Um,

Jeremiah:

uh, let's see. Faith, family politics. Um, I guess for faith, I was. I grew up, but when I was born, I think my family was like Amish for a year. It was kind of wild. Interesting. And

Curt:

they joined it and then left sampled it. I didn't know, they were like sensitive

Jeremiah:

my sample. And I think they like immediately broke the rules and were like shunned or something. Yeah. They're like, Nope, can't do that. Your God, you drove a car. And, and then for the next few years I was Catholic, uh, until, and this was like before I even really was, you know, having yeah, exactly. Um, so the majority of my life, I was a Christian and most of my, uh, pretty much my family was all, uh, kind of conservative Christians back in Maine and kind of independent little

Curt:

Protestant churches of

Jeremiah:

sorts. Yeah, exactly. I, we went to a vineyard Christian Church for many vineyard here in Fort Collins. And, uh, I went there for, for most of my life until I moved away. And, um, at this point I, I wouldn't consider myself a Christian. Um, I have. Uh, I, I still believe, I believe there's a God out there that is the creator of everything that is everything. Um, that is a intelligent God. Um, but I don't necessarily believe in a lot of the semantics of Christianity. Um, a lot of the, the details of the Bible,

Curt:

the three in one necessarily. So what do you do with the Christ figure then when you come to that place? It's always the hard

Jeremiah:

part, right? Yeah. Uh, I guess it's, it's not something I, uh, uh, I don't know. I guess like the Christ figure being like, like the father, the son, the holy spirit,

Curt:

the son, like, okay. Yeah, there's a lot. He said a lot of things, you know, wrote a lot of words in our Bible and stuff like

Jeremiah:

that. And so when it comes to the, kind of the details of what's, what's been written, and I kind of view it as like, in my mind, it's like the Bible is. I like to think of the Bible is like a book of magic. It's like this, this incredibly impactful book of like super influential, like, and wisdom distill from centuries of experience, huge amounts of wisdom for centuries of experience, but written by man. And, uh, and I, I believe a lot of that was discerned from, uh, uh, the divine, um, from God. And I don't necessarily believe that the, the son, well, the funny thing

Curt:

is, or whatever, like I it's Hindu or Muslim or a Jew or a Christian,

Jeremiah:

I they're like kind of connected rightly to God. I do feel like there's a. That we all have a connection directly to God. I would agree. Um, yeah. And, uh, I, I do, I do feel like we all have that kind of divine living in us and there's similar Christianity sense, Christian sense of like, we all have God in the whole side of herself as far as that goes, but at the same time, I guess it's just some of the semantics with Christianity or the Bible I'm I don't necessarily agree with, um, the

Curt:

shellfish bed and stuff like, uh,

Jeremiah:

yeah. Yeah. Like I guess people, yeah. I, I view it more as like a lot of the semantics in the Bible in my mind are metaphorically true and not literally true sometimes. Yeah. Um, and. And in some ways, a lot of more reformed Christians, or just maybe a little more progressive Christian or agree with that. And a lot of people say like, no, no, no, that's, that's absolutely not like, this is the absolute truth. Um, and I just don't necessarily agree. Um, and so I don't necessarily consider myself a Christian. I have a lot of, I probably have the most similar religious beliefs to Christianity, but I'm more feel that like, there's this one God out there that is a

Curt:

Judeo-Christian ethic. Yeah. Without necessarily

Jeremiah:

without the framework necessarily. Yeah. Um, yeah. And it was, it was, it was what I was, uh, that was my upbringing. That was my family. And a lot, some of my family has, has drifted away from it and some of them have gotten closer with it and sure. Um,

Curt:

but have you ever studied Greek Orthodox? You know, not really, no. I met somebody last year. It was a candidate. Local think tank. And we got to talking to, he had switched from a cousin church of mine to a Greek Greek Orthodox Saint, not Saint loopholes, but Saint something in Loveland. And one of the things he characterize was that, whereas kind of the Protestant Christian jurors, especially would say, God is infinite. The Greeks would say, well, God is not finite. More of that kind of mystery. That magic, that has things that are true. They, they haven't really changed their services in 2000 years. Wow. Like sending. The Greek Orthodox church starts. They pretty much do the same shit in the icons and this and that. And it is pretty St I'll share it with you later. When I figured out what it was, it was interesting. I listened to a handful of podcasts and things, and I was like, oh, this is distinctly different. And yet the same and maybe more profound. So anyway, if you're exploring some time, you

Jeremiah:

might. Yeah. I, I love, I love to hear different perspectives from different religions, um, and different kind of sub sects of subsets of different religions. And to just kind of hear everyone's everyone's view, I still like going to Christian churches cause I get a lot of value from it. And this was the one thing that I really love about Christian churches is the community, right? There's a great community and there's, it's, it's hard to find another place where there's. Uh, hundreds of people with the same intention, having the same feeling, projecting that out, uh, worship

Curt:

a really good worship sessions.

Jeremiah:

It's pretty cool. Yeah. So like, I really, I really liked that. And you know, sometimes I don't necessarily agree with everything they say and that's fine. I, Justin always used to say, eat the fish and spit out the bones. That's what I like to view it. You know, maybe I don't agree with everything. That's totally fine. Yeah.

Curt:

I think that's pretty cool. Um, we've talked about your family a little bit, but uh, do you want to shower some praise upon Lexi? Yeah.

Jeremiah:

Uh, Lexie's been great. Uh, she's pregnant right now. Oh yeah. And we're having a boy, which is great. Um, I'm super happy about it. And this is my first year, the first kid. And once the delivery date, November early, November exciting be, yeah, I'm excited

Curt:

about. Almost agitated. I could sense the like so excited for him to be here.

Jeremiah:

Yeah. I'm like antsy about it and like excited about it and yeah, it was planned and we have been talking about it for years and we finally felt like, all right now is the time let's do it. So,

Curt:

uh, one of the things I like to ask is, uh, what was it about you that caused her to fall in love and vice versa?

Jeremiah:

Um, yeah, that's a good one. Um, I guess like, so we were, we were high school sweethearts, and so we've known each other for 10 plus years and we kind of both fell into the same, uh, uh, or I guess, so we both are fairly laid back. We both, like, we both have very similar views. We both are, uh, uh, the kind of growth minded in the sense we are. We, we kind of, we bring out the best in each other and, and it's, it's been a very easy relationship and that's not been something that's, uh, uh, The average, I feel like it or not, maybe not the average, but it's not something that's super common. Yeah.

Curt:

And it probably won't last forever. So when it gets hard fight through it anyway. Yeah. Yeah.

Jeremiah:

And of course there's, there's hard, there's hard parts and it's not, it's not always been, you know, great. And of course there's always, there's always ups and downs, but we work really well together and she's very caring and I definitely love her very much.

Curt:

Um, describe your family a little bit, your siblings and, uh, your folks, like what kind of environment was it that you were, you were hustling all this, uh, you know, breaking Disney rules and different things like that. Getting on Amazon probation.

Jeremiah:

Um, so my dad was a social worker. My mom was a stay-at-home mom and an artist and, uh, Most of my, like, but I think both of my grandfathers were entrepreneurs. My mom was an entrepreneur and I think they're my great grandfather on both sides. I think we're also entrepreneurs. Okay. So, but there's always been this like, well, it means

Curt:

kind of a place for that, right? Like there, ain't just all these huge employment centers and things like that. A lot of people

Jeremiah:

have just a lot of small

Curt:

businesses. Yeah. You can have a crappy job working for a small business or you can have a crappy small business. Yeah. Or you can start e-commerce,

Jeremiah:

that's a good way to look at it. Sorry, man.

Curt:

I've never even been to you mean I'm excited to visit. I love the shitty at the same time. Right. North Dakota is kind of the same. You just have a lot more trees.

Jeremiah:

Um, so I kind of always from a young age was like wanting to do something for myself. Um, and my mom was a sculptor. She would like skull. Like baby dolls, like, like literal, like infant babies or newborn babies, like out of clay. And she would just, Scopp kind of for fun. She would just like sculpted right. Is

Curt:

calming for her to sit in the garden and sculpted baby with your head.

Jeremiah:

And she would just sculp the outfits. You'd like use like a baby picture of like myself or my brother or sister or something and just like sculpt it. And then eventually she got really good at it and started selling them on. Well, and she would sell them for a few hundred dollars. Then it was like a few thousand dollars. And then she like built this name, this brand name

Curt:

around three times, as much

Jeremiah:

as your dad. Yeah. Eventually it became this thing where it was like, wow, she had this whole, like self-employed brand where she was like making sometimes she'd make six figures. Sometimes you make nothing. And then she got these deals with like toys R us and Walmart and she, and she would sell plastic versions of her to make these vinyl version. Then she would send the sculpture to China and have them manufactured. And then she would send the kits back to, or like the vinyl kits back to the U S and then she'd sound to distribute distributors. Wow. So I always had this idea of like inspiration to see like the 30,000 foot view of the process. I was like, oh, this is how people do it. Like, you just like send products to China, like manufacture them and they become a big boom, bada Bing, bada, boom. You know,

Curt:

like, yeah. So it's cool. And I saw that inspiration though, even though you didn't understand it at the time, but it

Jeremiah:

seems like it was very much an inspiration. Um, So I, I very much wanted to, uh, yeah, Amy's on that a little bit. Yeah. So it was very much an inspiration and I saw the ups and downs of her business and her kind of going through. The mental stress of it and, and trying to do a lot of things herself and perfectionism and in the downfall of that. And it very much became like a driver for me to be like, like in my early teens, I was like, mom, I'll take over the manufacturing side. I'll I'll handle you do the art and I'll do all this shit, some other stuff. And like, cause she was accepting these like royalty deals for like a quarter of a percent or like 1%. And she was just getting like raked over the coals for these deals. They were using her, her art or her dolls for like in movies and in TV shows for like, they would use them for like babies in like TV shows and stuff that like, you know, in an environment that's like not safe for a baby real babies. Right. So don't throw the baby. Yeah. So, and they, they like wanted her, one of her dolls for like a, the nurse Nirvana, uh, you know, the underwater baby Nirvana. And she turned it down cause she was like a conservative Christian. She was like, fuck Nirvana. But she never said the word though. So, um, so I saw all of this opportunity and I was like really wanting to like help her revamp her business. And I actually launched her on Amazon. Years before I started on Amazon and I was like made the manager of her Amazon account. And then eventually it kind of got to the point where I was like, and she was paying me like five bucks. Every time I sold one of

Curt:

her. You were like the boy on the, not breaking the Ozarks. Have you seen Ozark? Oh, you should watch Ozark. It's pretty

Jeremiah:

good. Yeah. To

Curt:

watch it anyway. It'll make more sense when you do

Jeremiah:

nice. So yeah, that always, that was kind of growing up with my mom being an entrepreneur. And we would go to like expos and doll shows and this and that. And it was a lot of fun and it very much made me be like, oh, I should sell on

Curt:

this. So that's how

Jeremiah:

it

Curt:

all started. Yeah. That's really cool. Yeah. Anything else that you'd want to comment on us as far as family, like you want, this is going to be the first of seven littles or something like that. I

Jeremiah:

don't know. Maybe like two or three minutes

Curt:

to fit in a small camper van or whatever.

Jeremiah:

Exactly. Yeah. Outgrow like a small SUV. Yeah.

Curt:

And what are you and is Lexi still employed and doing stuff or she just full time getting ready to be a mom and,

Jeremiah:

uh, a bit of getting ready, a bit of getting ready to be a mom and a lot of real estate management at the same time. You mentioned that. Yeah. So, so she does a lot of the, like short-term rental management of our properties, which is a lot of fun and she, she likes it a lot because she's always wanting to be like a designer. Um, and one of the like big things in short-term rentals is like providing an experience for people. And I'm like, not that guy. I'm just like where the numbers, like, can I find a pretty manager? I like hire it out.

Curt:

Like, but she's like, she's building customers that come back for years, two years

Jeremiah:

and she's like really outlining every little thing. And this plant needs to be right over here. And I go, it's all this, like, mid-century beautiful kind of mid century modern design and one of our short-term rentals. And she's slowly scaling that. And excuse me, it's a, it's a lot of fun. That's cool.

Curt:

So we talked about faith. We talked about family politics. What do you want to say about politics? You can just start with abortion if you want to. It's the current events right

Jeremiah:

here. Um, so. I, I hate to, I don't want to put myself in a, in a, uh, political box necessarily. I don't like the idea of the whole like left versus right. And this and that. Okay. I grew up very naturally. Well, I guess stereotypically, my parents were very conservative, so they were probably conservative Republicans. And, um, so that's kinda what I grew up in. Um, I I've kind of gravitated much more towards the center over the years, and even when a little bit left for a few years. And I know I just said, I wasn't gonna put myself in a box and now I'm doing it. Um, but the left gut crazy last few labs got crazy that it's like the far left got crazy the far. Right. Got they stay crazy. They stayed crazy. And everyone like the fart rights, they crazy

Curt:

the far left. Wasn't that crazy 20 years ago, you know, they're batshit crazy

Jeremiah:

now. Yeah. And I feel like both sides of the spectrum are pushing me inward. And then like the far right is pushing me left and the far left is pushing me. Right. And I'm just like ping pong and back in the middle and closet libertarian. Yeah. I generally tend to be a little bit more libertarian in the sense of like, I,

Curt:

I like the government, like literally three quarters of my guests are. Libertarians, whether they identify as such or not, you can, you can smell it. Yeah. Well, they, they self-identify when I'm talking to them here on this podcast, because they just don't really, they can't get onboard with everything that the Republican party stands for. They can't get onboard with everything that the Democrats, and especially when you start talking about those,

Jeremiah:

what the extremes are, are wild. Yeah. Um, I, uh, I, I still like the government. I don't want like no government involved, Chris. Yeah, no, I want regulation and I'm super, I'm just not super into crypto, but like generally in the crypto. And I actually believe crypto needs regulations for it to be adopted for like institutionally. And I think stable coins need regulation and that's a whole nother conversation, but, um, I generally am for the government for like certain types of regulation, monetary regulation, certain types of like social transience or an Austrian. Oh, I don't even know what that means.

Curt:

The case. You don't think that you can like goose demand and shrink the money supply and do different things to make it work better. And the Austrians. Well, no everything is made on the individual level at the margins is where those decisions happen. Not like at these aggregate demand levels and things. I,

Jeremiah:

I think the, the, the former, um, only, I guess the former would remind me most of like the, the federal reserve, like

Curt:

yeah, the Austrians would be like, get that federal reserve outta here. That thing is stupid and it's ruining everybody's lives and allowing the government to print a bunch of money, which is inflationary, which is just a different way of stealing from the peasants.

Jeremiah:

Yeah. And I don't know enough about the macro economics to really have a strong opinion about it. Um, in general, I, I like to think of the fed as hopefully on our side in, in helping the, in, uh, helping with helping inflation with monetary tightening and monetary easing. When, when is the. Et cetera. Okay.

Curt:

Well, I'm here to say you're absolutely wrong. I'm just saying it's cool. We're not going to talk about this today, but I want you to listen to this podcast. Number 2 84 from, uh, Lex Friedman. Okay. SIFA Dean, uh, moose, Bitcoin anarchy and Austrian economics. Boom. It's a four hour podcast. And so you'll know a lot more about Austrian economics after that. I won't say I agree with everything, but a lot. Number 2 84, I think 2 84. I got a second to the last one out on looks Friedman.

Jeremiah:

Beautiful. I like Lex Friedman for the most part. It's a little dry sometimes. Well, he's actually my go

Curt:

to sleep podcast. Exactly. Here I am today with my current guests, a feud in her head. Head-on he's a Bitcoin investor and yeah. Anyway, look, I love you. I will be on your podcast. I'll travel to Austin. If you want to have me on there

Jeremiah:

also, I would love to be on your podcast please. No, you're

Curt:

probably not listening, but we'd be honored together if it works out that way, even though that would probably be awkward, but whatever. Um, so let's see. So economic politics. So like if you were going to do one thing to make, uh, our political system better, what would that be?

Jeremiah:

I guess I'll, I'll sound super libertarian for a second and say, I think the government needs to do a little way

Curt:

less. A looser union will stay together. Uh, you union that tries to keep getting tighter and tighter controlled by Washington will break apart in 25 years.

Jeremiah:

Okay. Yeah. I don't know enough about it because really to less yeah. If let the states be different, let the states be different. And, and I, I, I, I generally am more pro-choice in, in the sense of Roe V Wade. Yeah. Um, but at the same time, I'm happy that it's, that it's being pushed towards more of a state decision. Um, so that kind of sounds like both sides maybe, but at the same time, I think

Curt:

that's the same way. Well, I'm more pro-life with some exceptions, but very happy that it's a state decision instead because it never belonged.

Jeremiah:

Yeah. I think less control is better. And I think letting the populous decide on a state by state level of, for whatever decision is I think ultimately the way to go, that's

Curt:

usually where one of my friends has a theory that there should actually be like 5,000 or 50,000 representative. Instead of 435, because that's how many fit in the building kind of thing. And that therefore, each person would be a representative over 10 or 20,000 people. Like I'm the representative for Southwest Fort Collins. You know, I'm the representative for Northeast Fort Collins. And then you go knock on that person's door. If they're being a dumb ass. And there's so much more of them that there's like the lobbyists and stuff would have to work harder. Now you just got to get one out of 4 35, like that's a pretty big payback. If you get what you want done, that's a, that's a good,

Jeremiah:

uh, I like that with

Curt:

digital it's easy, right? Senators could still be to every state, whatever everyone can zoom in. Right. Easy regional zoom is whatever,

Jeremiah:

uh, size of the building. Right.

Curt:

So anyway, um, let's move on to your local experience. Okay. The craziest experience that you're willing to share with our listeners, um,

Jeremiah:

Um, Hmm,

Curt:

nothing

Jeremiah:

crazy. I talked about, I guess I'm a, I'm all in like a business mindset right now. I'm thinking about all the things we've done, all the crazy things. Uh, I guess, did I talk about the Amazon shutting us down,

Curt:

but a big lawsuit that took up all your cash at one

Jeremiah:

point, that was a big one that was really shitty. That was like, I don't even know legally the details I'm allowed to share around it. So I probably shouldn't talk about, I kind of grazed over it before. Cause I was like, um, it wasn't a big deal. It is not like someone got hurt or anything like that. It was a patent lawsuit and it was just, it was corporate bullying. It was this whole terrible thing, but I probably shouldn't share too much about that. Um, at one point in the early days of running. There's been like three times where we went from making seven figures to making nothing okay. And

Curt:

making a hundred grand a month to making zero,

Jeremiah:

the, literally to make them, it was like making 250 grand a month to making like 10 grand a month. And it comes with the, with the territory of having hero skews of having single products that do like them. Yeah. Somebody

Curt:

gets above you or somehow. And then all of a sudden,

Jeremiah:

in this case, it was like a, we had one problem hijackers. We talked about hijackers a little bit. We had hijackers that were like the worst, like just relentless hijackers. And it was, it was beyond mosquitoes. It was bad. And that, that took up a huge amount of revenue for a number of months. And that was, that was a kind of wild story. Um, one of the big problems in the early days was, uh, Amazon as, as draconic, as Amazon is nowadays. And as there are a lot of they're in the limelight, a lot of times for different, you know?

Curt:

Yeah. It's easier for them to get famous for doing dickhead things nowadays.

Jeremiah:

Six seven years ago, it was a, they kind of have free reign over a lot of shit. And they, they, at one point in 2016, early 2016 suspended our, uh, listing on one of our best sellers are our best-selling products are so great, right? When Rome was scaling, we scaled it to about 250 K a month very quickly. And then immediately got shut down for Amazon. And it was the kind of thing where Amazon, uh, pretty much was like, you can't sell this product anymore. It doesn't match your different. And the look you're giving me is exactly the, and like what, what, what do you mean? And so we, I mean, we had to, we hired an attorney, an Amazon attorney who was like familiar with Amazon drawings and, and we ha we had all these different appeals and this man, I even emailed like jeff@amazon.com or objectives, you know, you just add all of them to all the variations, to the CC list and just like send the email away. And one of them did work and I got to his secretary and she was like, okay, this looks interesting. I'm going to send it off. And we never got a reply, but, and of course nothing ever happened of it, but it was just, it just went well, no, it didn't go away. Oh, this is where the craziness happens. They literally just shut down the whole business and were like, you can't sell this product anymore. It doesn't match your product description and would not. And they were like, you're happy. We're happy to have you sell this product again. Just create. And the problem about creating a new listing on Amazon is kind of like what a lot of people might be familiar with with websites. Like you lose all that track, you lose all the traction. Like a new website is like, you have to redo the whole SEO process and like the backlinks and

Curt:

all of that stuff. Almost like our neurobiology with our brains. Like we map new pathways when we learn new things and then you can't go on a different pathway. It's like, we'll just cut out a third of your brain. And then you'll just relearn that stuff.

Jeremiah:

Just make a new one, no big deal. Right. Just do a new one. Yeah. So that's what they said. And that's what we had to do. So what we have to do was create a new listing and take 30,000 units, send them pay 15 grand to send them to my house. Well then Reese. All of them and it took us months so many months. Oh my gosh. We had, yeah, that

Curt:

was useless. If you couldn't move it, you had no more money. Probably. If we buy more

Jeremiah:

inventory, it was a nightmare. We were making nothing. The business was doing nothing for months. So we had to think in literally we were hoping that if Lexi was buying groceries, where she's, where he was working at nine west buying groceries, and I was just like, it'll work. I promise. And we, uh, uh, sent all of them. I think we sent like 20,000 to my house and 10,000 to just Justin's house. And Justin rescued a bunch and I rescued a bunch and I was like giving them to my family by the case, carton insane. We'll pay you $20 an hour. Like get these guns, just rescue these. Here's the, the list of, of skews. Just like the paste them on the new packaging thing. Hmm. Eventually we got all of them rescued and we sent them to Amazon. It took like a year, it took so long and eventually we got it all back to Amazon. And we started selling again on a brand new listing a year and a half to basically the same as basically exactly the same. Quite literally. Was there anything

Curt:

that you would take accountability for that was a little messed up

Jeremiah:

or was it kind of, to be honest? I don't know. Well, there's, there's some things that are like gray areas where like Amazon says, like, you can't use HTML in your description, but everybody does. So it's like I do, I still do now. Like when we sold the company, we were still using HTML and it was like, we had like a certain asterix to like make a little like emoticon. Right. It was like nothing big, nothing major. We weren't like making things bold and like trying to like, I don't know. And, but besides that, there really wasn't much like there might've been V what was likely the problem. Like a customer complained about something and it triggered an automated bot to then say, this listing doesn't match the description. And if we didn't, they refuse to tell you exactly what it is. So then if you don't, uh, now I know years later, because I've dealt with appeals many times since then, I know that now you have to, uh, acknowledge fault. You have to take responsibility for that problem, but you have to know the problem and they don't tell you what the problem is. So you have to scroll through all of your reviews and all of your customer complaints to find the prompt, to pinpoint the problem and have like a seasoned, experienced mind to know like, that's the problem they're looking for. So now I have, after being in the business for so many years, I have an idea of like, okay, that's the problem they're looking for this one, this person said this keyword, and that's what triggered it. So now I can put together these appeals a little better, but at the time I was like, oh fuck. I don't know what their problem is. If you tell me what the problem. Exactly. So we're emailing everyone and trying to fix it. And it was just the most crazy thing. And we had took a year, year and a half to them rescue 30,000 units. And we had like little manufacturing trains or have all my friends over. We'd have them go through like new cause we put new packaging on it at the same time. And it was just, it was this whole nightmare.

Curt:

What are the things about going through those hard times is the galvanization that it has for a relationship, whether it be you and Justin or, or you and Lexi, did you feel that in the retrospect,

Jeremiah:

at the time, for me and Justin, it made at the time we even realized that, that we were very happy that neither of us were very, uh, uh, emotional about it. We were both like, this is what we're gonna do. This is what we got to do. It's neither of us fault, neither of our faults. Like we just have. We have to do what we have to do and we're just going to do it and that's that. And we're going to hope for the best. Um, and we tried not to like be at each other's throats about it, you know, it was, it was, and, and for me and Lexi, it was more looking back now. I'm like, oh my gosh, I'm so thankful that Lexi was not like this clearly isn't working out. Yeah,

Curt:

exactly.

Jeremiah:

She was never like, uh, this doesn't seem to be working and you've seem to have had many problems over and over and over again, it doesn't seem like, you know what you're doing. Uh, you should probably do something else. Like, she was very much like you got this, you can do it. Like she was very supportive. Coach was awesome. And looking back now, I see the value in that. Yeah. Um, especially after like, like I've had family members go through relationships with people and have those spouses not be super supportive. And now I'm looking back and being real

Curt:

friends are the ones that are with you in the hard times. Very much. So, so, um, you got any final words of wisdom? Uh, I think it's time to wrap this puppy up. Um, do you have any for babies or anything like that? What's your color experiences?

Jeremiah:

Um, I live here in Colorado. I have two dogs, a Chihuahua and a ducks in Dutch hound. yeah. And a Wiener dog sausage. Um, they're great dogs. And I got a baby boy on the way, and I'm excited to do a name already for, uh, oh my gosh, dude. Why is it so easy to come up with girl names? I can list like 50 girl names and be like, I love all those names, but guy names. I'm like, I don't, I, I don't, I don't like any of them. Okay.

Curt:

Well, uh, in the comments write about this podcast, I post your favorite boy name. It would be super

Jeremiah:

helpful for me. Thank you. Sure.

Curt:

Hey Jeremy, this has been a fun conversation and, uh, I wish you well, and I look forward to. Kind of the ways that we can keep you engaged in the community of Fort Collins, uh, and, uh, do local things with local people. Absolutely.

Jeremiah:

There was a pleasure to be here. Thank you. Sure. Got speed.