How I Built an Online Business and Sold It. Part 2 | Ep. 56

How I Built an Online Business and Sold It. Part 2 | Ep. 56


Part 2 step by step how I started, built and sold my online business. 

This is a section of a book I’m writing with the working title,

“This way. Living, Loving and Finding Your ‘insert your first name here‘ – Ness. 

I lay out my journey from start to finish. How I…

  • Started with just an idea
  • Built the site
  • Built an audience
  • Marketed the site online and off
  • Raised over $2 million
  • Build a subscription membership on the site
  • Used affiliate programs to make lots of money from the site
  • Got content for the site on a regular basis
  • Built a huge email list
  • Started a podcast to market the site
  • Bought it back from the investors
  • Ran it as a side hustle that thew off six figures a year, for years
  • Sold the site to a large media company

It’s all here. If you follow the steps it can work for you too. 

Let me know what you think by dropping me a a line at B @ Brandon C White dot com. 

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Hello, friends. Welcome to the show. I’m your host, Brandon C White and I am coming to you late night from my artificially created office lounge, listening to the cafe restaurant on my noise dot net, enhanced with the B g M Cafe channel on YouTube.

Well, welcome to part two of my narration of the first chapter or first draft or first piece of my book that I’m writing cod this way. Living, loving and finding Insert your first name ness.

Let’s get back to Part two, where we left off. Let’s published another second Todo Fund the company. We decide to trade stocks with our revenue. After a few months, we managed to get mentioning a regional coding fishing and sailing magazine as the place on the Web for fishing information that really put us on the map.

And I’ll be eternally grateful to John Page Williams and the break he gave us with that right up, Eric and I were feeling good. We were not making oodles of money, but I was offsetting some of Eric’s costs with revenue, and we were gaining an audience.

We’re regaining. Visitors are post daily. Count on the forums was increasing our email list was growing and our revenue was growing month over month. All this kept our spirits high. Besides liking coding and fishing, Eric love the stock market in trading.

I’ve been studying the stock market since I was in high school and learned how to make money investing in other companies, stock and other money principles that would allow you to make a lot of money by doing just a few small things. Consistent Lee. It was the late 19 nineties, and there were some early entrance into the discount online trading sites such as

Waterhouse and Ameritrade. It allowed the average person like us the ability to trade stocks on her own. No stockbroker required. Not only did these online discount brokers allowed trading your own money, but they offered margin trading and margin trading options with little vetting of your personal finances.

At the suggestion of Eric signed up for an account so we could trade together if those brokerage houses on Lee knew there were two guys, one in college, one working on his master’s, sitting in their spare bedrooms, using Internet connections from the college computing lab with desk.

They built themselves because they couldn’t afford to buy real ones eating tuna fish sandwiches, trading money on margin. They in theory, didn’t have Well, well, hey, they approved our accounts, so we went with it in my mind. We needed to take some risks. We rolled with it. We started trading. I suggested we take the revenue we had in trade that to make money to help fund the company.

By this time, Eric was becoming a believer in what we were doing and asked about owning some of the company. I offered him a percentage of the company in exchange for discounted rate on his hourly fee. It only seems fair.

I was still paying him something, paying all the other bills. So I felt you should contribute as well. At the same time, I also realized that he had a stake in the company.

Our relationship would change. So what? His relationship with the company itself, What we did, what we spent, etcetera. He was an owner, and that changes people’s attitudes. I ran the idea of trading the company revenue by

Eric, and he agreed we should give it a try, and we did it, and on window we would be working on the site and the other, we’d have the online brokerage. Would CNBC on the TV in the background I’d be lying that we traded on pure fundamentals.

I thought we didn’t know him, but what we learned was that there was a correlation between what was airing on CNBC and prices. We traded on news on gut and rolled with it From time to time. We lost money, but net net. We were winning.

We turn to really a small amount of money less than 10,000 into a lot multiple tens of thousands in about a year’s time. Of course, we had some help in the way of the margin leverage. It wasn’t our endgame, but we can continue to do it.

It was fun, honestly, addicting. I learned a ton in the process about the market and how to mentally, whether the downs I learned whatever feeling you have with money, no matter how bad or how good will pass. And you can always make more money important note.

I am not recommending that you take up trading on margin with your company revenue to help fund it. It’s highly risky, and you could lose all of your money to take away from me telling you this Part of the story is that in the early stages of any company you have to take risks. Affiliate marketing lessons.

We continued to catch a few breaks with mentions and hard copy magazines and newspapers. Word of mouth continued to happen, and we were paddling into the Internet wave.

About this time, Amazon was gaining some steam in the book selling business and opened a program called Amazon Associates, their name for their affiliate program.

We’re one of the first associates to join the program. In fact, the program was so smaller community that they sent us T shirts. If you can believe it, we build a bookstore with no inventory.

We saw the Amazon Associates program is a great chance to build a bookstore with no inventory, whether it would be a success or not. We weren’t sure, but we picked the best fishing books, wrote a short review about each book.

Heck, I read just about every fishing book under the sun anyway, so why not give it a go? Imagine how we felt being able to build a store in our spare bedrooms, where all we had to do was put together a list of products.

Books, in this case do know fulfillment, have no inventory and just make it available to our audience. Man, why not on the Internet was just getting started in the late 19 nineties and was by no means had a hit mainstream, but it to our delight.

Within a few months, we were getting a check from Amazon with our visitors binds fishing books from our site. It was our first riel experience selling actual products, and it showed us that if we added some extra value to an existing product, a good example reviews of a book that people valued that resource and that could drive sales.

All we needed was traffic. The more traffic, the more revenue. The beauty of it was that our bookstore was open 24 7, and we didn’t eat do a thing once we built it other than updated with new books.

As we discovered them, we put a link to the fishing bookstore on our homepage, mentioned it in our newsletters, and that’s all we had to dio. People came to the site, checked the review of the books, followed the Lincoln bought our fishing bookstore got so popular that publishers were sending me books before they were released, them to review and potentially list in our store.

When they became available on Amazon, I went from being a regular fishermen to being recognized as a valuable member of a group of outdoor writers, publishers and editors.

Affiliate marketing makes passive income or gravy money, as we call it. Once Eric and I saw that selling books could dio we look for other affiliate programs that we’re starting to emerge as a result of the Amazon making the affiliate concept popular.

A travel site affiliate program popped up, and we did the same thing with travel that we did with the bookstore. We build a travel site with a fishing trip theme.

Frankly, I was hopeful of work but wasn’t sure anyone would buy plane tickets, book of car rental or hotel reservations off our site. Turns out people did didn’t make total sense to me then, but years into it, I got it.

We were building a brand that people trusted. We provided quality content. People who visited the site knew who we were personally, what we were trying to dio that we would listen to the feedback implemented when we could and that we were not a flash in the pan. Every time a person came back to the site, something changed.

There was something new to check out. If they emailed us, we answered back personally. It took effort, but it was worth it. We were really humans. We added all sorts of affiliate links over the years that ended up to thousands of month in revenue for us at almost pure profit. There were some upfront work, but then it was on autopilot, producing passive income. For us, it was gravy.

Years later, after I eventually bought the site back from investors will get into that part of the story. Later, I took it to a whole new level building really focused niche sites, which attracted targeted traffic and made thousands of month in passive income from affiliate programs. I bought domain names, built the sites. Some of the site, take care, some of my sold.

This added a whole new dimension to understanding how to make money on the Internet and how to turn traffic into income and passive income. At that long and short of it. Affiliate programs worked. They still dio for us, and we’re a great source of income, essentially pure profit.

We start selling products that we produce. I had some hats and a few T shirts made for Eric, and not and I. So where is our company uniforms, so to speak. When we went fishing, we would, Of course, we’re in uniformed.

The visitors saw the pictures and started asking where they could buy the hats and shirts. We found a local print shop printed off small run of T shirts and offered them that the site. At first, all we had was the option to send us in order form with a check, because setting up a credit card processing back then was a pretty big deal. Sure enough, a few hours after we posted on the forums and are linked to our store on the home page, people started to post that they were sending us their orders.

A few days later, envelope started to arrive in our mailbox. We were in the e commerce business. We were pretty excited. I lived in room was a mess from all the boxes and everything, but it was exciting to be packing orders.

We were in the e commerce business, and the beauty of it was because these were our branded products. The gross margins were great, not quite on the level of affiliate programs, but in the 60 to 70% range. Once we got our first few batches of orders out the door, we ran a contest on our forum.

Anyone who posted a picture of themselves wearing our T shirt or a hat with a fish would be put into a drawing toe win their choice of sweatshirt, which wasn’t available for sale yet. Sure enough, people started posting, and that increased awareness to our visitors that we had merchandise for sale. It also was our advertising for us when people are out and about wearing our stuff.

People wanted that sweatshirt that couldn’t be bought as it more orders came in. We bit the bullet and set up credit card processing on our site. It wasn’t easy, nor was it seamless as it is today. But it worked fine. It also increased our sales once we offered the ability to pay online.

This made Eric and I’m pretty happy, adding the credit card processing was a lesson in how to increase sales. Make it easy for someone to buy your products and people will do it. Motivation is a good lever to use, but when motivation falls, so does the ability of a behavior you’re aiming for. On the other hand, if you make something easy, you don’t have to drive too much motivation.

Easy coupled with a trigger, results in the behavior every time. Another thing that I realized was that we now had a really World Channel to communicate with our customers. We had stickers printed and in each order would include a few, along with the letter that was hand signed by us thanking them.

Customers were surprised to get something they didn’t order a gift from us. They would post on the boards about what they got in their order and that drove. Even Mawr Awareness stuck with us that sometimes customers would talk more about the stickers than the actual item they ordered. We tried something on the order page for the products.

We would promote a free chess speak English sticker with every order this increased sales. This was our first experience with premiums. They work and we continue to use that approach for the life of the company. Oh yeah. Not to mention the stickers found their way onto cars, trucks, boats, which all helped drive even Mawr awareness.

We hold live events one day on a whim. I pushed it on a forum. If anyone would be interested in getting together in person, The post quickly turned into a long threat of yeses. I picked a restaurant that had a bar and told people we’d meet Friday night at 7 p.m. We made the meetings monthly and eventually held him in our offices. Potluck dinners. It was great to meet people in person and put us front and center with our customers to get feedback and hear suggestions they had for features out of those meetings.

Eventually we started holding fishing tournaments that became a source of income for us and was a vehicle to get everyone out and meet in person. Some spectacular goodness for the human race came out of those meetings. Small group of guys formed a nonprofit called Wish of Fish that takes special needs, kids fishing.

All the guys from the site volunteer their boats in time. It’s a spectacular cause and you’ve never seen so many smiles. Another great cause was born to take our veterans fishing, followed by a cookout for everyone. Just like wish of fish. You’ve never seen so many smiles. Creek cleanups were organized where people would spend a day picking up trash clearing brush, etcetera. Sometimes I would show up to these events, and being all that are interactive site could facilitate people getting together, having fun and doing things for one another.

When I was on the water, you could get on the radio and ask if there was anyone from our site around, and sure enough, you’d get an answer if you needed help. There almost always was someone from the site who would answer and help, as if, by chance, something amazing happened for our business. I met one of our viewers who live close to me one day to go fishing.

He was using the site for fishing reports, and somehow we exchange messages one another, and he invited me fishing with him one day. Turns out he was a very, very successful businessman, as in you built to companies, sold the first one for a bunch of money, then built another one took it public and sold it toe Warren Buffet, where he served on the board with him. Luck. You make your own luck.

As we were fishing, we got to talking about business. Yes, some questions listened while he out fish me and what chime in with some feedback between landing fish. We became good friends and fish almost every Friday together for many years he laid out for me what he called a business roadmap.

How to build a business. He was able to break things down into simple terms. Saying what? I spent five minutes explaining back to me in less than a minute. What he did, as I realized later was helped me form our business plan, not a formal document per se. I get to how I did that later in this story, but how to think about our business and logically lay out what we needed to think about. You’re giving me feedback and business advice forever. 20 years now.

Never underestimate how your customers can help you beyond just buying your product. We found product market that by this time in our journey, we had found product market fit for a business.

People wanted the product we were producing and wanted Maura Maura bit. Visitors were telling other people about the site without us having to push them. This isn’t to say that we stopped with promotion, but there was a viral movement going on that was taking on a life of its own.

We were starting to make money, people paying us for what we offered, proof that what we were producing, something of value, and we were getting requests for other features and products. The beauty of it was that we had a community of people where we interacted in near real time, either through our forms or email list, and we were able to get feedback on ideas we had.

We could test ideas without even having to invest a ton of time or money or energy doing them. At this point time, our business model had us making money in a few ways.

One advertising selling advertising to business that wanted access to our highly targeted market. We offered advertising US text links, banners of different sizes and a few other formats to affiliate sales. We had our fishing bookstore through the Amazon Associates Program, a travel website program and a few other random affiliate programs that were related to fishing in some way.

And then we had our branded products and T shirts and hats and our fourth way events. Advertising affiliate sales provided gross margins over 90% and the merchandise over 60 events were not always a huge moneymakers, but they drove awareness for a brand. Eventually, we figured out to sell our products at the events, which allowed us to make even more money. All in all, on gross margin basis.

We had a really good business start. Now we needed to scale the model. We expand too fast and learn painful lessons. By this time, I was starting my second year of my masters in psychology. The site was growing on. We were getting traction.

I thought what we had was a template that we could duplicate into other areas of the country. Why limit to just the Chesapeake Bay Mid Atlantic region? The model was regional fishing reports. Weekly articles covering regional fishing approaches, re sources such as tackle shop listings, tied information message board with local fisherman interacting and a bookstore through them. Amazon affiliate program with fishing books that could be regionalized felt like this was a template. We could stamp out and cover more regions.

And after many late night debates, with Eric going back and forth for a few months, we decided to go for it, and we renamed the site World Wide Angler. The idea that we had was to take the template and expand to the Northeast, where I made a few contacts. The Southeast and Florida start. The idea was that we would take the template expand in the Northeast, where I had made a few contacts, Southeast and Florida to start. We built off the templates and

I worked to fill out everything. It was hard and the workload was getting really tough, but we kept going, raising money from investors. I went to the library every day. I would read a paper to a day, mostly the business sections, business magazines and studies in academic journals around human behavior in some fashion or another.

One day I was reading Time magazine in the front of time. They had a section that would talk about cool people or companies doing cool things. There was a small article dedicated to two guys one day, Jerry Yang and David Filo building this thing on the Internet called Yahoo, which I had already been using to find other sites. The author of the article described it as a phone book for the Internet.

It was really the first search engine made sense to May. The article went on to describe how they had raised money from Sequoia Capital in Silicon Valley, and we’re going to shoot for an I P O. Soon I read this article and thought to myself, If they can do it, so could we. We need more help. Let’s raise some money for this fishing site On my nightly stop over to Eric’s house, I said to him, Let’s raise some money for our business.

I described that article in time about these two guys building a company called Yahoo and how they had raised several million dollars for a phone book of the Internet, which we were familiar with and used on a pretty regular basis.

He was skeptical about the idea of raising money, and rightly so. He pointed out that he nor I had any idea one had to raise money to how to write a business plan. Three. How to build a financial plan for how to build a pitch deck for investors. Five. How to find investors. Six. How to build and grow real business. And seven. We didn’t even know we didn’t even know a very dangerous situation to be in. I acknowledge that all his points were 100% right, but he was forgetting one important piece of information.

When we set out, we had no idea how to put the concept of a magazine online. In fact, there were really no examples for us to even follow. On top of that, we had no idea how to build an interactive site that could also sell merchandise.

Yet we were doing it and it was working. It wasn’t a small scale, but we had proved that it worked. If we were figuring out how to build a business online, why couldn’t we figure out how toe do this business stuff that caused a pretty long pause on his part and mine? I sat there thinking we have been figuring this stuff out, but could we really figure out the business stuff?

Writing a business plan, building the financials, finding investor pitching investors doing the deal deal documents, whatever that meant and growing a business. We both thought about it for a while, and we finally agreed to give it a go.

What do we have to lose anyway? If nothing else, we would learn a heck of a lot. It was hard to argue with the reasoning. They liked the idea of the adventure and possibilities it could bring. I said I would take point on it. He would support me on the back side.

We agreed I went home, told my girlfriend who, in a matter of fact way said, sounds good. How to write a business plan. That night I sat down at the desk I built working on my girlfriend’s Apple L C 4 75 computer that I had taken over from her to build the site and what was shaping up to be a company logged onto the Internet, dying it through the computing lab for free to find information, how to write a business plan.

There were some information outlet out there, mostly bits and pieces. I read all that I could find. I continued at it between working school work for about two months. The information was overwhelming and frankly, at moments completely confusing.

One article suggested this approach and other articles something different. One article said a good business plan should be 50 pages, and others said it should be 20 pages Once said the marketing section should be written this way.

Another article said something slightly different. There was information out there, but I had little to no idea what approach I should follow. I was so overwhelmed that I almost threw in the towel. Was talking to my girlfriend about it at dinner, she said, Why don’t you just go buy a book on how to build a business plan and follow that good idea? That weekend, we jumped in my girlfriend’s red Acura and drove to Borders Books in Annapolis, Maryland. I thought I would walk in, go in the business section, grab a business book Easy. Two hours later, I’m going through all the business plan books, feeling the same way. I read all the things on the Internet, overwhelmed I had.

My choice, is down to three, and I asked my girlfriend what she thought. She suggested the one titled How to Write a Winning Business Plan. That woman’s instinct is good. I bought it, read it nonstop until I finished it and got started writing the business plan. Writing a business plan can be hard. The business plan book was pretty good. I had nothing to compare it. Thio. But it seemed to spell out how to write a old school plan. No one writes long business plans anymore.

One of the challenges was figuring out the answers to the questions in each of the sections. I hadn’t gone to business school yet, So when it said to describe our business model, I even know all the options nor the right way to describe it. It was challenging. I figured things out the best I could. The only thing I knew about sales was what I learned on the road selling door to door. I used that experience in the sales section, described how I saw expanding it in the future market sizing.

I knew there were a lot of striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay, and there seemed to be a lot of boats out there for fishing for him. Turns out, market sizing there’s a lot more than that, and if you get it wrong, you can find yourself wasting a lot of time and potentially losing a lot of money while the Internet was getting more and more information. A lot of the resource is we have today. We’re not available and companies were not putting all their research reports like literature online. I figured a fishing magazine would know the size of the market.

After all, they were in the fishing business selling ads and their circulation would give some indication of the market size. Posing as a potential advertiser, I inquired with a fishing magazine to get their advertisers Kit had some great information, talked about the fishing market, their circulation and segments. They served. I went to the Department of Natural Resource is and ask them for license information and give me a lot of great state by state information found out there was an association called the American Sport Fishing Association and inquired if they had industry information. I hit the mother lode. They publish an annual report which had everything about the market.

Turns out the fishing market is really big. That time it was 32 billion US alone. Saltwater fishing commands most spend per person. I could rattle these stats off pretty easy a slicing, warm butter, But we’ll spare you the fishing talk for today. Business financials. I knew how to use Excel, but I wasn’t a wizard. E taught myself, and Eric was pretty good himself. We managed to come up with a solid financial model. In it, we included all the expenses we thought we would incur. Ultimately, a lot of our assumptions were wrong in the financials, but it was at least demonstrated that we were thinking things through. We learned a lot of hard lessons about financial projects when we grew more later in this story, it took several months involving a lot of late nights.

Frustrations, rewrites. But Eric and I managed to pull together in old school business plan I say Old school business plan because it was approximately 40 pages minus the financials. I would never recommend someone write this sort of plan today, but that was the norm back then, and that’s what was required.

Whether our business plan was right or not, we weren’t exactly sure, but it captured all the things. The How to Write a winning Business plan book said it was required finding and pitching investors where to start the only way I knew how to test if it was a good business plan or not was descended to potential investors. One slight problem. Waas. I had no investors lined up for us, nor did I know how to find investors. It’s not an everyday topic, right? I knew there was a venture capital firm called Sequoia who had funded that company I had read about in Time magazine called Yahoo. It mentioned the partner’s name did the deal.

Mike Moritz, but we didn’t know him from Adam. I did what any newbie person raising money would naturally dio. I printed off a really good nice copy of the plan with a cover letter. Looked up Sequoias address on Yahoo went to the FedEx Door Senate overnight mail. We were excited how could might not read the plan and get excited. We had momentum. Heck, we even had a few people paying us, and we had a big market. Our business was worthy of an investment. We couldn’t wait for his call. In the meantime, I kept searching.

As we were building the site, I kept one of the owners of the Spanish farm up to speed on things he was interested because he was a fisherman and Newsome guys who owned tackle shops. When I told him we were going to raise money, he said he might be interested in investing, but we had to get some other investors the chicken or the egg dilemma. Everyone you know could be a potential investor.

One night I’m reading Washington College Quarterly Alumni magazine, and in it is an article about a recent graduate. We’ll call him Chris, who has become an adventure capitalist with some money had come into. The article, explained that he liked Tech and was looking for deals.

I didn’t know him really well, but I did know of him because he was a senior when I was a freshman. It was a very small college we went to so everyone was at some level familiar with each other, at least could recognize each other’s space. I said What the heck wrote him a letter telling him what we were doing and asked if he was interested. It was a cold note, but we had something in common which we went to the same school, so we knew each other.

Sure enough, he wrote back, we set up a meeting. A few days later, we met in person. I showed up with a Power Point presentation in a bound copy of our full 40 page business plan. He like what we were doing, ask for a copy of the deck and plan so he could review it. He also asked for the full financials, which we had included Screenshots of the Excel Sheets in the presentation.

Luckily, Eric and I had full financial projections and notes that explained our logic behind the numbers shot them over to him via email after the meeting after we sent it to him a day later, he calls us, says he likes our business. Chris agreed to invest $100,000 with the caveat. You wanted to have other investors in the deal because we’re going to need more money. Our first round might not be our last. Also, we’re gonna need business help which other investors could contribute beyond just cash.

Chris explained that we would need to find some investors ourselves, but he also knew some potential investors that might be interested. I told him I had some good news. We already had some others. Investors interested my boss from the spinach farm that got him excited. After I hung up the friend with Chris, I called my boss. So then we had another investor. He was excited. We were building some momentum. Forbes magazine. I kept looking for investors. One day I was reading Forbes magazine while sitting in Eric’s office.

They had an article about a guy who had sold his company and talked about how he grew. Grew it by buying other companies. I thought to myself we could do that. Story had a picture of him on his dock holding a fly fishing rod and the caption explaining that he loved fishing. I turned to Eric and told him, This guy is someone who can really help us with business advice and might even be an investor. You look back at me like I was crazy. A guy in Forbes is going to help us and might even invest. Yeah, right. Here’s CNN’s computer.

I said type in his name. Let’s see if we confined his home address. After a little work, we found what we believed was his address. I drafted a letter explaining that I really liked the article about him and how he built, grew and sold his company continuing. I said that the picture of him on the dock holding the fly ride caught my eye, and it was clear he loved fishing as much as I did. I gave him our elevator pitch and asked him if he’d be willing to give us some advice in the package. I included an executive summary with the letter.

A week later, I’m going to the door to let dogs out and the phone rings a pick up. Hi, Brandon, this is Henry. You sent me a letter about a week ago. What do you up, Thio? I explained what Eric and I had built in our vision. We talked for about an hour and he said, How about you come down to my house in Florida? We can fish talk more about your business. I’m willing to help you. I called Eric and explained that the guy in the magazine called I think Eric was in a little shock, but he was excited. After the initial rush wore off, I started thinking a business trip to Florida sounded expensive. Was I really going to spend the little money we had and take a trip to meet this guy. But that really wasn’t the right question. The right question Eric and I eventually came up with was, How could I not take this opportunity to meet a guy with list level of experience? Little money or not? This wasn’t an expense.

This was an investment in our business. In our future. I booked a ticket called Henry and let him know I was coming. Investors, no other investors. A few days later, I get a call from Chris. He said he had lunch with a guy who had retired from a very well known venture capital firm on the West Coast and moved to the East Coast.

Over lunch, they talked about their hobbies, both of who loved fishing. Chris mentions that he’s looking at two guys who have a fishing site, and he’s probably gonna invest the guy. Asked what the name of the site Waas Chris says, Well, what angler? The guy we’ll call him John says. I know that site. I’ve been using it for a while now. I’d like to meet him. Chris, out of respect for our privacy, says, Let me ask him if they’d be interested in talking. He calls me from outside, and I respond within a resounding yes.

Two hours later, again, email from John explained that he’s retired partner from Sequoia Capital in Silicon Valley movies, loves fishing and had been using our site, and he’d like to meet I immediately right back. But I would love to meet you could against that answer, right. After some back and forth, he decides to come to our office the next day.

I say office lovingly since Eric and I were working out of our spare bedrooms the next day around 11 a.m. I get a knock at the door. Sure enough, it’s John. I open the door, welcoming in. We talked for a minute and invite him to come upstairs to our quote unquote office. He follows me upstairs to the spare bedroom I had set up as an office quietly takes a look around and ask, Is this it? Is this where you run the business from? I get a feeling in the bottom of my stomach. Feel a little hot? You know that feeling and respond. Yes, and my partner has a office in his spare bedroom down the road as well. We go visit if you want, I continued apologetically. This is really all we have. If you are looking to come to some really office and see something more mature, I’m really sorry. This isn’t it.

There’s a silence for a minute. Or at least it felt like a minute while he looks around again. I’m thinking to myself, This is not going to end well. He looks at me and says, Calm down, man. This is how we found Cisco. They were making routers in the living room, he continued. I’m just surprised because your site has a lot of people on it. You put out a lot of content. It’s easy to think you operate it with the larger staff out of a lot bigger office. I explained how we had our phone numbers flirting to answering machine multiple emails, which all went to Eric and I.

How we figured out how to automate a ton of things. We had to figure out this stuff to look legit. We didn’t have a lot of cash, the pitch at lunch, John said. Let’s go to lunch and talk about your business plan and where you want to take this business. We went to a joint in town and he asked me to lay out the business plan e started. Pull out our 40 page business plan deck, and he stopped me and said, Just explain it to me.

The elevator pitch I started talking flips over the paper placement starts taking notes while I’m giving on the pitch and answering his questions at the end shows me an outline with some headings in a diagram next to each of the following. He had notes and diagrams showed how the business worked, as I described it before, things he had on there were people product market financing. He then asked if we had others interested in investing, explained.

We had Chris, my boss, the guy was going to visit in Florida and that we had sent his partner, Mike Moritz, our business plan. But we haven’t heard back yet. John looks at me and says, You sent my partner. Your plan responded, Yes, you cracked a smile, gently explained that the next time I send a plan into an investment for Herm that I get a warm lead.

He explained that a firm like his can see 100 plans a week in the coming years, I’ve learned all the do’s adults when it comes to raising money from angels, venture capital firms, banks and even law firms. I’ve got scars on my back to prove it. Deals happen in some of the most unexpected places We’ll pick up here in the next episode. Thanks for tuning in, and you have any feedback? Drop me a line to my email at Be at

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