How to win with TikTok

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I actually signed up for Hulu just to watch today’s guest on Shark Tank. His company sells freaking shirts; How is he so successful? I’m going to find out in this interview.

Justin Baer is the founder of Collars and Co, a menswear brand.

The podcast is in all major apps, just search for Mixergy.
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Justin Baer

Justin Baer

Collars and Co

Justin Baer is the founder of Collars and Co, a menswear brand.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, they’re freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixer G, where I’ve interviewed entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses for an audience of entrepreneurs. And joining me as somebody who, who’s listened, we were talking before the interview started about how his relationship with this podcast goes back over 10 years and how much work he had to put in to get a company that really is successful.

And I know it’s successful because, I signed up for Hulu just to watch him, just to watch you Justin Bear on Shark Tank. And as soon as you told them what your revenue was, they all went, whoa. Right? Like really out loud. They were prepared to just write you off. Another guy with another shirt, company, who cares?

You give your revenue, get their attention, they give you the big oh, and then one of them says, well, I just don’t like these types of shirts because you make these shirts where the buttons don’t go all the way down. And their short sleeve shirts and didn’t like the shirt. And I go, oh no. This is gonna be a guy getting ripped into.

But no, they like the money, they like the success. They like what you were able to do in such a short period of time with the company. I should say the company is called Collars and Co. And they start negotiating and you Justin, negotiate so aggressively. I was sure this was going to be a conversation where I say to you, you were just using them.

You didn’t really wanna get any money out of them. You just went in there for publicity. But no. You end up negotiating, getting them to take a deal that’s closer to what you wanted, and now you’ve got these two sharks who are on board and then Mark Cuban after being bothered by you, it felt like goes, you remind me of myself.

And I go, this is incredible. I can’t wait to talk to Justin about how he got here with this shirt company. All right, so that’s what this interview is about. How did Justin get here? What happened after Shark Tank and what worked? Like, how is he able to sell his shirts online so successfully? And we could do it thanks to two phenomenal, uh, sponsors.

The first, if you need to hire a developer, go to Lemon Do io slash mixergy. The second, if you know what a DAO is or if you don’t, I want you to listen to my interview series on DAOs decentralized autonomous organizations over at join origami.com/podcast. But I’ll talk about those later. Justin, good to have you

here.

Justin: Andrew, amazing to be here. I am so excited to talk to you, like we’ve been chatting before. I’ve been listening to you for so long and just so humbled and honored that, uh, you had me on, and I’m so excited to kind of share my story and, uh, hopefully add some value to the, all the entrepreneurs listening out.

Andrew: Yeah. Let, let, let me ask you this. I know that after the show ends that they negotiate further and they do d due diligence. Is the deal closed?

Justin: I can’t discuss specifics. Okay. But

it’s gonna close. Yeah, it’s gonna close. Um,

Andrew: Okay. So you’re gonna have Mark Cuban as an advisor investor, and Peter Jones, two

billionaires.

Right.

Justin: yeah, I think it’s actually the first time ever in Shark Tank that, uh, an entrepreneur has gotten a deal with two billionaires on the show.

we ended up with a $300,000 equity piece and a $700,000 line, so a million dollars total. And, um, you know, maybe not the exact valuation I was looking for going. . But, um, I’m really happy with it. I mean, mark has been insanely responsive. It’s, it’s crazy. You know, I’ll be chatting back and forth with Mark, you know, up at like one 30 in the morning and he’s been great.

Um, Peter’s obviously overseas in England. Peter is, if people don’t know Peter Jones is, he’s a very successful entrepreneur, billionaire, but living in England, he’s on the Shark Tank of the uk, which is called Dragons Den. So he’s like the Mark Cuban of, uh, dragons Den, if you will.

Andrew: He started with, um, a cocktail bar that’s, I guess kind of like the thing that Tom Cruise had in the tv or the movie cocktails. And then he just kept building up all kinds of businesses and yeah, he made himself into a billionaire. Okay. And in return for all that, the two of them get to split 10% of your business, right? how would you describe your shirts? I’m trying to describe it to an audience that’s

listening and

not seeing.

Justin: So the idea for the shirt is I lived in New York for 12 years and. Even though the look where you’re wearing a dress shirt under a sweater, kind of what I’m wearing today, it’s pretty much the go-to look for every single guy that works in an office. It’s funny, I was doing some VC pitches, um, before the show, and, and as a part of my pitch, I would just go to the VC’s team page, and 70% of the guys are actually in the outfit.

So I’m like, this is perfect. I’m just gonna use the VC’s own, like team, uh, staff link and just put that into the thing cuz they’re all wearing. So it’s basically like a sweater with a dress shirt underneath the long sleeve dress shirt. So I used to wear it all the time, you know, I mean, you can even dress it up.

You can go on dates. It’s great for work, great for office. I’m like, you know, I hate wearing a long sleeved dress shirt. I just find it really uncomfortable. I don’t wanna pull like long sleeves down. The sleeves, always get bunched up around the elbow when all people care about is the collar. And then also my, my dress shirts, you know, they’re not like $400 dress shirts just as a regular, you know, banana public.

They’re just not as soft on my skin. I’d rather wear like a t-shirt under a sweater. So the pandemic happened and I’m always coming up with ideas and I’m like, you know what? This one’s really itched me. I gotta try and see what happened. So it took me like six or eight months, I’ve got a couple of factories to send me samples and move back and forth with them.

And basically I created this one white version, just plain white. It’s got had this big spread collar on it, but the collar I made sure was like really firm, like firmer than a regular dress shirt. Like it’s crazy firm. Um, and I

Andrew: Because the collars flop out and you look just like a mess. Even though all that happened is the nat, the natural thing that the collar is supposed to do, it just kind of went out, went to the side. Okay, and so you said, I’m gonna make it so that the collar doesn’t

flop

Justin: exactly, I made it really firm, so it really stands up. And then I got these sample. I created a Shopify website and my seven Yearold daughter’s like, dad, you gotta do a TikTok. I’m like, what? She’s like, yeah, I did do a TikTok. So we went in my closet and there she is holding the phone and she’s like, just talk.

So I’m like, guys, don’t you hate wearing dress shirts? Da da da da. They’re horrible, this, this, this. You know, you gotta check out this dress color polo. Boom. We put it out there, it was a Sunday and we sat down to watch TV at night and the Shopify app started ringing and it was crazy. Um, couldn’t believe it.

And my wife was like, I can’t believe these people are buying these shirts. I’m like, I’m telling you, I I, I always knew I had the problem. I don’t know if other guys would, right? It’s not like I did so much market research. I think you see a lot of times entrepreneurs where they have this idea and they’re scared to put it out there.

Um, you know, they wanna do a ton of research cuz keep researching and researching. Are people gonna buy us? Like, you know, what the hell do I have to lose? Um, you

Andrew: how many shirts did you

buy?

Justin: I think it was like three or 400 and we sold out like that. We did 40,000 in the first month. On one shirt with a terrible website, with just me as the model.

Andrew: about it though? I saw your TikTok. It was, and I made this video and the, I made this video is such an, such a compelling type of video. The, I made a fire pit in my backyard. I made, I don’t know, a new closet for myself. I build by building something in, into my, uh, into my bedroom. It was that.

It was, I had this problem and I made this. And that’s a really compelling story. And what’s great about TikTok is you don’t have to have a lot of followers. They will find people for you. And 40,000 from that one TikTok

video.

Justin: pretty much we didn’t do much advertising that first month. Um, I’m, as soon as I saw it hit, I started banging him out, you know, then I was like, oh wait, , I think we’ve got something here. So I started pumping them out, um, pretty consistently, and. . Yeah, it was, it, it just worked. And then I was like, okay, well maybe we have something here.

Maybe we go to a different style collar. Right? So I was making like the big English spread. Maybe I’ll do, uh, shorter, like a semi spread. And then what I’m, what’s what you see me wearing today, it’s more of like an Oxford style, like a button down collar version. And so now we have four different color styles.

And then I’m like, well, let’s try and make some colors. And this just, it just snowballed.

Andrew: And the, the reason that this look works is it looks both dressy and cared for without being too dressy. And at the same time it’s comfortable and doesn’t wrinkle, you know, like if you didn’t have the sweater on top, your shirt would get wrinkled. And so the sweater is kind of a cheat for a lot of guys in Manhattan.

You can, you know, basically sleep in your shirt, get up with if your sweater is on it, on it, cover up any wrinkles.

Revenue now is how much

Justin: Um, we did over 1.5 million last month.

Andrew: well wait, 1.5 million last month. And when you were on Shark Tank, which I imagine was recorded weeks ago, if not months ago, how long ago was that?

Justin: Uh, at the end of July.

Andrew: End of July. So we’re talking about four or five months ago, it was 5.4 million total, and now you’re at over a million a month

Justin: Yeah. It’s crazy.

Andrew: and we haven’t even gotten to Christmas season.

Where, and if people hear noise in the background, it’s because you’re doing a shoot for Black Friday. For this coming Christmas. Impressive. With a profit, is it a million dollar net? No million gross,

right?

Justin: a million gross. Yeah, I mean, a million. What do, what should we did a million and a half last month. Uh, well

Andrew: No, sorry. I mean, uh, the profit is a million dollars

before, what, like is it a million after all

expenses?

Justin: Yeah. A million dollars. Net. Net. Now

Andrew: Net. Net. Your take home is a million

dollars.

Justin: it is, but that doesn’t include, I always tell people this. I’m like, I haven’t taken a dollar out of the. In 18 months, because if you’re gonna grow, this thing is so cash intensive. If you want to double what you’re doing next month, you need to go out and buy all that inventory.

So it doesn’t include, it’s not like a cash flow statement. Um, but you know, if you wanna go out and buy all that inventory, now we’ve gotta buy a ton of inventory. So I’m just putting the money right back in.

Andrew: So you, you make a million dollars, you take that and you buy a million dollars worth of shirts. You have them then sitting in a warehouse

somewhere.

Justin: we do, We have a warehouse. We were in a three

pl, which worked out great until we started doing enough volume and enough styles that it just kind of overran what they were doing. They just couldn’t handle like an, we’ll get an inbound of, you know, 80 boxes and just sorting, figuring out what everything is.

They just couldn’t handle it. So this was actually one of the toughest weeks ever. It was actually two weeks before Shark Tank where we had to move the warehouse and move everything out of this place and into a new spot. Um, . But yeah, so now we’re in our own, our own warehouse, own facility.

Andrew: What happened to sales after Shark Tank? It’s been only a week or so,

but

Justin: Yeah. Um, so far traffic’s up about four x and, uh, sales are up two x. Um, that’s consistently for the whole week. So obviously we’ll have a record week. Um, it, it, I, we’ll probably, I was trying to look at kind of the delta on what Shark Tank bring. It’s probably, you know, three to 400 grand this past week.

Just a

Andrew: What I don’t get is why do you need the sharks? I mean, really $300,000 investment is not that much. A million dollar line of credit is very helpful considering how, uh, cash intense the business is. But you are on a role. Why do you need them? It seems like it’s, it’s the mentorship. What’s the mentorship piece that you

need?

Justin: totally, you know, one, I did apply to a Shark Tank like a year ago. . So it does take a long time. Um, but you know, that is a, that was a big piece of it. It’s being able to go faster, you know, and I, I read everything I could. I listened to every podcast I could about Nantucket guys and Chris over there who’s done an amazing job and they were saying, you know, this is about speed.

We wanna acquire customers as fastballs as possible. We wanna have doors open and be able to get into where, wherever it is, Nordstrom, quickly. Um, and so I think it was that, and the other thing was the real mentorship play. And that’s something actually they cut out on the show. We can kind of talk about, you know, I’m in there for like an hour in the Shark Tank.

They’re only showing, you know, it’s unfortunately it only really only showed most of the last six minutes, not the other 54 where all, you know, all the sharks were kind of loving it. Even Damon, who was already kind of like out, he was already kind of trying to get, figure out his way back in, I think. But, um, either the mentorship part, I.

You know, I grew up in a house and I was so lucky to have two parents that were so pro, just entrepreneurship and never discouraged me, always encouraged me to do all my little business ideas. Um, I’ll tell you a really interesting story about my dad in a second, but both my parents passed away actually a while ago, like 10 years ago.

Um, my dad 10 years ago, my mom, six and a half years ago, and you know, my dad was my go-to, right? I walked to work every day. I talked to my dad and he was a business guy. And um, you know, I kind of lost that. Now it’s just like me and I’m trying to like, create this big brand. Yeah, I have some friends that I feel comfortable with that I think are good mentors, but um, as far as like a Titan who I kind of saw my dad as, I didn’t really have that.

And so I think going on the show was one of the things like. Maybe we can get and, and build a relationship, build a mentoring relationship with one of these sharks. And obviously I had my eye on Mark the whole time and I think he was perfect. And um, he’s been awesome and he’s in touch and I think we’re really gonna grow this thing.

I think this is, this could be it. We’ll see. We’re working hard, that’s for sure.

Andrew: I should say my first sponsor is Lemon. If you need to hire a developer, go to the place where you can hire developers inexpensively. They are personally curated by a great team and they will match you up perfectly with the right fit for you. Go to lemon.io/mixer G and they’ll even give you a lower price than other people are paying.

lemon.io/mixergy. Um, what did your dad do?

Justin: he was a lawyer, but he never practiced. He had a legal publishing business and he ended up selling that. Um, and, you know, doing, doing okay. But he was just, just a business guy. You know, we’re. Kids got Sports Illustrated subscriptions. I got the Wall Street Journal. You know, we would talk about, I got birthday money, most kids are buying toys.

My father said, Nope, you’re gonna buy toys or a stock. You know, you’re

Andrew: Ah, get the stock of the company instead of the stuff they make

the,

Justin: this is what this is And I’m lucky, like I’m lucky. I kind of grew up in this, uh, in this world and I think about how excited they would’ve been to see

Andrew: yeah.

Justin: to see me on, on Shark. I think it would’ve really just, it’s like I was trying to like, it’s like, uh, you know, arch Human Maning not seeing Peyton in the Super Bowl.

I’m not saying like Shark thinks the Super Bowl by any means. It’s not like we’ve made it. But it was, um, it was a fun thing. I know. I think they would’ve been, they would’ve been proud. And it’s just a, it’s just, it’s just one of these bummers, it’s just

Andrew: I have a feeling he would’ve even loved watching you on TikTok, just like really standing up with your, with your shirt for your company. It’s just amazing. Do you, you know what I think a lot about now as a dad, how do you get your kids interested in business without burning them out on it, or being one of these people who says, this is what I did.

You’ve gotta do the exact same thing. You’ve had a good experience with your dad introducing you to entrepreneurship, you’re a father. Now, what do you take away from how to do it? Right.

Justin: Yeah, you know, I, ever since I was a kid, I was coming up with board games and ideas and my dad took me to the Patent and trademark office in Virginia just on like a trip. Cause I had this idea for a dog leash with ki um, one, I think fun story is when I was about 13, I had this idea for our job board for auto dealers.

I’m like, you know, Mon right? I die of mon, you know, monster.com. I’m like, why don’t we do this for, for auto dealers? My dad was like, okay, well go and create a media kit. So I spent, you know, hours creating this media kit, and then he said, okay, well go down the list of auto dealers in the yellow pages and start calling them and see if you can get a meeting.

See if one of these guys will come in and let you talk to ’em. So, . I called down, most of ’em didn’t answer my call. They didn’t respond back. And it was this 13 year old kid. I get someone on the phone from Koons Ford in Rous Town Road in Maryland. I called and said, dad, this guy is gonna see me. You gotta come with me.

So he’s like, all right, well we’ll go in there. So we went in, we sat down at the sales manager’s desk and I’m telling him about the idea. I give him my like printed out Microsoft Word media kit and he’s like, you know, this is a really good idea, da da da. And you know, he didn’t like buy it, but he gave me some really good feedback and I walked that out meeting and I was like, dad, I think he really liked it.

He’s like, yeah, he really liked it. You know, you gotta put some more work and changed some things. But that right there gave me that feeling that, you know what? I think I can do this. And I like made phone calls and I made cold calls. Well, it turns out this is years and years later. My dad called Koons Ford ahead of time and he said, my son’s gonna be calling you.

You take that meeting, he meeting. and they took, and this, this guy took the meeting. Um, you know, it’s just a favor and, um, you know, may, maybe it’s that one thing that, you know, gives you the sparks. I always say, you know, be careful what you say to your kids. Right. You know, they, they have these dreams. I mean, look, if I said I’m gonna be a basketball player, I’m not gonna make it at 150 pounds.

But, um, you know, I think it’s just be careful what you say to them. I, you know, there’s parents out there that, you know, discourage and, I don’t know, I just, just keep that in mind. I think that’s maybe good advice. Just be careful what you say to them when on their dreams and stuff.

Andrew: The worst for me is when I don’t give it the time that it deserves. Like my kid was into woodworking and I always said, whatever it is, I’ll just get behind it and support it. And so I’m getting behind it and supporting it. But at some point you have to actually put in the time to help them. Like your dad went with you to that meeting, he made the phone call.

He didn’t say, well, I’ve got all this stuff I need to do. And that’s where I have to just keep checking in with myself and making sure that I’m living up to what you’re talking about, which is being there for what their vision is, what their goals are. Um, you talked to earlier about the different ideas that you’ve had.

I’m on your LinkedIn profile right now. I see things like charity happenings.org. I see click, uh, excuse me, check in easy.

Justin: Yep.

Andrew: What was the first business that you

started?

Justin: It was actually called the Cure Card. This was in college. This is right when loyalty cards were coming up. You remember you used to walk around with the your keys, and on all the keys there was the CVS card, the Rite Aid card, the Walgreens, the Giant food

card, and I was like, you know what? It would be cool if there was one card you had multiple retailers from different non-competing retailers, and they could share customer data.

And we create this loyalty card and you buy it. But then we were like, you know, let’s throw a cause related on a cause connection to it. And we ended up bringing, uh, Evelyn Lauder’s Breast Cancer Research Foundation. So that was like the cause tie. So now you bought this card. At the time, I think it was like $25, 50% went to breast cancer research.

Um, and then that card gave you discounts every time you use it and they scanned it at all the different participating retailers. Again, I had this idea, uh, and called around cold called just like I did when I was a kid. Called around and Evelyn Lauder’s marketing person said, come on it. So we, you know, we went in, I was in college, I didn’t tell I was in college.

I put on a suit and uh, they were like, yeah, we love it. So fast forward, we raised over two and a half million dollars for breast cancer research.

Andrew: Wow. And so people bought the card, half the money went. That means you sold four to $5 million worth of these cards. How did you sell ‘

them?

Justin: They, you could buy ’em in store. So at the time there was a, a store called Casual Corner. Um, there was, I’m trying to think of the other stores. Um, there’s a jewelry chain. It was, it was like a chain of stores, kind of similar to like limited brands. I’m just blanking on the name right now, but Casual Corners.

One of it’s like the Casual Corner group. They own like five or six store and they were all in on it. Um, oh, it’s Claudia Delvechio. He owned, um, Brooks Brothers also. He owned that whole shape and he like, loved the idea and it made a difference. Turns out my mom ended up passing away from breast cancer, so it kind of like hit home, which is so crazy.

But, um, it, it was wild. So that was like the first hit. And, you know, we were a for-profit company making a little bit, um, you know, we ran the whole business for him. We did marketing in the whole bit. But, um, that was like the first kind of hit for me and we ended up selling that, selling that business, selling that concept.

Andrew: did stores take it in place of their own U P s or U S P? What is it called? Those barcodes

cards.

Justin: Most of the stores that signed up never had it in the first place. So these were like retailers. Like at the time, gap didn’t have a loyalty card. They didn’t even have, and this was like pretty new. We were talking back in 99,

Andrew: Okay. And so essentially what you’re doing is

almost like

Justin: it was

Andrew: it was in 2002 to 2004,

Justin: yeah. Yeah. 2003.

Andrew: was kind of like those old book of coupons, but more sophisticated and more

modern.

Justin: Exactly. Entertainment book. We had that. We had a bunch of them on our desk looking at that, say, how can we take this, modernize it, take the paper out. I’m so, absolutely. It was the entertainment book we were trying to,

Andrew: And did retailers actually participate? How many did you get in there?

Justin: yeah. Oh, there?

was probably 3000 doors across the.

Andrew: Wow. Okay. So then good and bad, what’s the best thing that, that you did there? And then what’s the problem with the

business?

Justin: Um, I mean, it was very successful for the nonprofit, for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Did a great job. Um, it’s hard to bring on retailers. It’s really hard to bring on retailers, especially ones they’re using different POS systems and you’re trying to connect with them and you’re trying to get, kind of get this data sharing.

But, um, it was, it was fun and it was a good hit. And then, you know, soft to the next, the next idea,

Andrew: The one that stands out for me is check in Easy. I think I already was used. Yeah, it’s on your LinkedIn profile. It was used by Google and others. This is software on a device that when you get into an office, they check you in to make sure you belong there. Right.

Justin: an Event.

Andrew: event.

Okay,

Justin: it was event.

Andrew: got it.

Justin: so this quick business, it was one, one of the first check-in apps. This was right when the iPad two came out, right When you used to, you know, used to go to an event in wherever and they’d have a line, they’d have six lines. If your last name starts from A to D go here. Do you remember seeing this?

Andrew: And

they would have these printouts, stapled pieces of paper together. And the problem with me is Andrew Warner is my name, but I changed it from something else, and so they might have had the other name and yeah, it’s, it’s a pain to go back and forth and search for

me.

Justin: exactly. So I was like, you know, they’re doing this paper, let’s make iPad check in. You take your Excel file, you uploaded it to the site, and you can pull it down on multiple iPads in the all talk to each other. And, um, this was another just kind of idea. I was running something else. I had this like master calendar of charity events going on.

And just, this is actually an interesting story for, um, just how connections and meeting people is so important. . I had this, uh, calendar of nonprofit events and I think I met this event planner at some event and, you know, maybe helped him out or wherever it was. And we became kind of friends. He called me like six months later, and then I was kind of building this texting.

I mean this, uh, check it out, but I wasn’t like gungho on it. It was kind of dragging. He called me up and he said, Hey, I’ve got this client that needs to do a, uh, that wants

Andrew: I think the connection just

paused.

Justin: you know, ticketless check-in, can you

Andrew: Uh, you were saying let’s, uh, the connection just paused. You were saying, I’ve got this client,

can you take it from there?

Justin: Yep. So he said, I’ve got this client that wants totally ticketless check-in, you know, paperless check-in. Do you know anything about it? Can you help me out? He says, well, I said, actually, I’m working on building my own. He’s like, oh, great. He’s like, when do you think it’ll be available? I’m like, well, I don’t know who, who’s your client?

It was like, you know, four or five months away. . He said, it’s Google. I said, I’ll have it ready in six weeks. He said, it’s Google’s holiday party at the New York, uh, city public library. They took out the whole thing. It must have been a million dollar party. Um, I said, we’ll be ready, don’t worry. Uh, so that was our first client.

We know we had a prototype. We never used it on more than one iPad. You know, I didn’t have one iPad. I was like, there they wanted 10, maybe 12. So we had 10, 12 iPads going around. And, uh, , I I said, if the iPad doesn’t work, when you scan it, you scan it and you say, welcome to the event, welcome, welcoming. Like, the last thing I need is like the head of Google coming over and be like, like, this isn’t working.

Um, but it actually, you know, 98% of the time worked and scanned. And then from there, you know, someone at Google. Then the Guggenheim Museum was like, oh, is that your Google Party? And they were using this thing and then, , but that just kind of goes, you know, just full circle. It’s like stay in touch, building your network, how important that is.

And it’s just like that one connection with this one event planner changed the whole trajectory really, of, you know, my career and, and, and, and the business. And we ended up selling that business to a, um, enterprise ticketing software. If you think about Eventbrite, but for Oracle, you know, like Oracle’s not gonna use Eventbrite.

They need to use a enterprise, uh, event system. So it was a company called Certain software and, um, they didn’t have a ticketing software, so they, we could just go right into theirs. And they ended up

Andrew: Was that life changing money?

Justin: No.

Andrew: no.

Justin: uh, no. I mean, it, it was, it was, it was good, but I was still working. Um,

Andrew: So here’s the thing that I see, like you really have come up with ideas that make sense and you’ve taken them incredibly far. I think other people with the cure card idea would’ve gone nowhere, would’ve really been stymied by the difficulty of getting into retailers would’ve been locked out of so much.

You took it way further than anyone else. You then went in, we didn’t talk about charity happenings. We didn’t, uh, we didn’t talk about, uh, member techs, which is a texting promotion service. Uh, and I love how you even focused that on golf courses and country clubs. Like you did everything right, and you still weren’t making these outsized wins that other people had.

You were making a good living if you would’ve gone to, weren’t you like an investment advisor at some point? Acquisition analyst. Like if you would’ve stuck with a job, you could have done so much better financially than you had, I imagine, until college and co. Why did you stick with it? Why didn’t you say, you know what?

I think this is not really paying off all this stuff that I see on TV in Shark Tank, and I see online on Andrew’s podcast and others, I’m done with it.

Justin: Yeah. You know, I always said to myself, I’d rather be making $80,000 a year running my own thing than, you know, I see my friends that were in finance in New York, you know, making 200, $300,000 a year. I just, it was something about having that freedom and that potential to make a lot more and to just do my own thing and be creative that I always loved, even from being a little kid.

This is, this has been like a dream of mine. Forever. And I, like I said, I always say to myself, I, I much rather made less money picking my own thing, um, than, than working in a real job,

Andrew: You know, The thing that gets me is I still need external validation, and the revenue is still a source of either pride or letdown. As much as it doesn’t change my life, I’m not gonna live any any differently. Do you have that or have you found a way to not use external numbers as as a measurement of your self worth?

Justin: That’s a great question. Um, I’ve always been, I mean, look, being an entrepreneur, you know, you hear no a lot. You hear no, like, you’re gonna, this is a terrible idea. So I always had this like, internal drive and I don’t care what anyone says. Like of course I’m gonna listen. If they’re like saying, this is a really bad idea, you know, I’ll definitely go to my brain trust and, and listen.

But, um, I don’t know. I just had this always internal drive just as a kid just to, to, to do this, to make this happen. Um, and I think on some of the other businesses that, you know, they had, they had some good hits, you know, singles and doubles for sure. Member techs actually still really cool SaaS company that’s doing really well.

Um, which is what I have still running. But, um, yeah, I, I, I, I just, I just had this, this will to make it happen. I, I don’t, I don’t know, I was just gonna lost my thought there, um, where I was going, but,

Andrew: I get it. What you’re saying is, look, this is who I am. I’m. I, I, I’m not looking for the external validation to make me an entrepreneur. I’m just an entrepreneur and this is what I do, right? Like a musician’s gonna be walking, or a singer’s gonna be walking around her house singing out loud. A guitarist is gonna strum the guitar even if there’s no audience there.

I’m just doing the thing that I’m, that I’m,

here

to

do,

Justin: Yeah, well actually that’s what I was, what I was gonna say I just remember now is, you know, all these businesses I came up with were businesses that I thought had ave were very niche, right? And I always kind of felt like this. There’s riches in the niches, like my texting platform and teching platform just for golf and country clubs.

It’s not for everybody. It can be used for everybody. But we niched out and said we’re gonna be the main player in that business. Um, but by doing that it has positives and negatives. The positives are you could probably like better chance of being successful. The negatives are you’re cat. There’s only four to 5,000 clubs in the whole country.

So this business with collars and co has been the first real business where there’s no real cap. The niche is huge. And it’s been interesting for me, like the first time to be in a, a business where I can really scale. I’m like, the ads are doing well. Let’s ramp ’em up. Um, so internet that is,

Andrew: All right. I wanna know what’s working for you pr, like promotionally and otherwise. Um, but first I should say I am doing a second podcast. It’s about dows decentralized autonomous organizations. And I’ll tell you, Justin, this is not for you. You’re not gonna change, uh, your business model and create it.

But I still think it’s worth knowing what this is. And I think a good way to know what it is, is to look at a company like Bankless. They were a small publishing company. They had a podcast, maybe even two. They had a blog, you know, standard stuff. They had an audience that was willing to pay for their stuff.

So, uh, subscription revenue was bringing in about a million, maybe a million and a half a year. They said, you know, let’s start this Dow decentralized autonomous organization is in, it’s basically a community of people, and then you give them tokens. And the tokens are what they use to vote on, on different ideas and also what they could be paid in.

You know, like you do a good job on something within this community, you get more of the community’s tokens. So they created it, gave it to their community, and they said, You know, just go with it. Our big mission is that we are going to introduce people to Web three. And so of course the community started to create a, a blog and a podcast, and people who were part of it got paid in their token that they created.

But then the community said, you know, why don’t we also create an educational, uh, site where anyone who wants to learn about web three should come in and have this beautiful experience. And sure enough, there are some great artists in the community. And so they did that, and then the community took it even further and they said, well, why are we just teaching it?

Why don’t we do it for people? And a few people within the community decide they were gonna create a consulting company. And so now this DAO has a consulting company. Now the DAO is called Bankless dao, and the the main company is called d uh, Bankless hq. And you think, well, with all this activity in publishing and all this stuff coming outta the Dow, what happens to the publishing company that’s a for-profit organization owned by a few, a few dudes.

Actually, I think maybe a couple of dudes. I don’t know, uh, what the ownership distribution is, but it’s still a small company. What happens to them? They three to five x their revenue, they five x their audience. And that’s because the doo, the more content they were creating, the more they were selling, the more they were doing out in the world, the more attention they were bringing back to the company.

That spun out the Doo and that owns part of the Doo. Anyway, this is one of many stories that I’ve seen of, of creators. I won’t even call them entrepreneurs. I, I love the name entrepreneur, but now people are calling themselves, creators, whatever you wanna call them. These people are getting together and they’re actually building businesses together.

And it’s interesting. And what I’ve decided to do was go and explore what’s working in this space, what’s a little out there, but we could bring back to ours. And if you’re interested in these types of stories, just go to join origami.com/podcast, join origami.com/podcast. I’m not suggesting anyone just jump in there and create a doo because of this.

But I am saying let’s look at what’s there. And I think there’s something really meaningful here. All right. So, uh, coming back to you, Justin, what’s worked for you on TikTok? You’ve, you’ve been creating a lot. I’ve watched a bunch of your videos. What have you learned about the TikTok

platform?

Justin: Talk’s been amazing and actually one of the keys to callers and CO’s success, like we were saying, it was like that first video. What I think is interesting about TikTok versus Instagram is, and, and maybe it’s changing a little bit, but you know, with TikTok, the best content wins. And so if you have a good idea, you’ll see, like someone has said, oh, I have a great idea.

I’m like, oh, well do a couple TikTok videos. Let’s see if people actually catch on and see what they think. Um, TikTok is a discovery app. It’s a place where people are interested in watching videos from people they don’t really know. Whereas Instagram, it’s like, okay, I wanna see what Derek Jeter’s putting up there.

Or, you know, your favorite celebrity or a musician because you wanna try and follow their life. You’re not actually kind of as interested in discovering new things. So that’s why it’s so powerful for an entrepreneur in any business to really look at TikTok and have that as part of one of your channels.

Um, it’s been, it’s been great for us. Um, we’ve got, you know, probably three or four times as more as many fans on TikTok as we do on Instagram. Uh, but as far as a strategy goes, honestly, I’m still testing stuff. I test stuff all the time. Um, our

Andrew: What’s worked for you and then what’s, what hasn’t? What’s

kind of felt like

it bombed

Justin: you know, it’s crazy. The videos I think are gonna do the worst, do the best, and some of the best ones do the worst. I’m like, when I put a video, I’m like, this one’s definitely gonna do great. It doesn’t do that well. Our de our, our best video, our number one view video, which is pretty fun, isn’t one of these like Billy on the street ambushes where we’d see you walking and we’d grab this guy and we’re like, Hey, can we basically, you know, make a makeover?

We also did this boss makeover, which is hilarious, where we go in and, you know, it’s these ex executive says this. What say to us, you know, Hey, could you come in a makeover? My boss, he dresses like,

Andrew: saw he has one of these sloppy collars. He’s not a super in shape guy, but looked like he must have been at one point. And so maybe he doesn’t realize that he’s not the guy he used to be. And so he’s letting himself go and you get him in a shirt and then you get him in a sweater that’s very similar to yours.

And that wasn’t a put on. That was you genuinely going in and

ambushing

someone.

Justin: I mean, you know, we gotta get the, they’ve gotta be okay with it. But, um, but yeah, I mean, we, we’ve done this a few times and there’s something about that, uh, kind of shock value I think for people when they’re gonna see it. You definitely wanna make sure that as first five seconds are key, that you’re catching people’s attention, um, you know, so that they’re not flipping over and sweating pretty quickly, quickly.

But that’s worked really well.

Andrew: guy and I and your various versions of it. There’s one where there’s one where you’ve got 4 million plays where some dude who I think looks good, his shirt looks fine and everything. You stop him and you say, try this. And then when I look at a shirt, he does have that bunchy thing that a lot of guys have where the white shirt has all these ripples underneath their sweater.

And so you change him outta that.

And

he’s a good looking

guy, so of course

he’s gonna look good in your

shirt.

Justin: It works, you know, like goes into Starbucks, bathroom comes out, you know, it’s, it’s got a fun play factor

Andrew: But these are all just you on the street doing that thing. Kind of like the guy who’s on TikTok, who goes, how much do you pay for rent in New York City? Can I go to

your

house? Can I see your

apartment?

Justin: it’s a play on that. We did actually play on the car, um, Nick Faldo, who’s, well Sir Nick Faldo, he’s a six, you know, six time major champion golfer. He was like the voice of CBS up until his past year. He, he liked the shirts. Anyway, long story short, he came to our area and I got him in a golf cart.

I’m like, this would be funny, Nick, you drive the golf cart. And I’ll come up to him and be like, Hey, that’s a really cool car. You know? What do you do for a living? Just like, uh, Daniel Mack does to the,

Andrew: where he just sees people in a car and he says, beautiful car. What do you do for

a

living?

Justin: Yeah. So I went up

Andrew: or they tell him to bug

off.

Justin: in the, uh, in the golf cart and, um, asked him like, what do you do for a living?

So it was funny, we got him in a shirt. But yeah, that kind of stuff usually plays well. Um, but with TikTok it’s just like, keep putting stuff out there. It doesn’t matter if it fails, you do another one. Um, and

Andrew: How often do you do this? You know, the ones that that didn’t do as well are the ones where it’s like guy makeovers and I sometimes go down rabbit holes and watch this stuff where some dude who I don’t look anything like and I don’t dress anything, like, will still teach me how to wear clothes. Like him and I watch it.

I get lost in those things for some reason. So you do those and you put in real effort. I’m looking at one right now that like you’ve clearly done the cut really beautifully. So that when he just tugs at his jacket, the whole jacket comes off and I see him in a different jacket, same shirt, and the whole thing is beaut.

It got only 6,000 views as opposed to some of the others. So how often are you putting these out

there?

Justin: Uh, a few times a week.

Andrew: Okay. And it’s not you anymore. It’s now a team of people who are doing this.

Justin: It’s just me,

Andrew: It’s just

you.

Justin: It’s just me. It’s just me. I’m editing it. And I think that is one of the big skills. If some entrepreneur came to me right now, I would say everything is so much about content. It’s so much marketing, it’s so much sales. If you cannot shoot your own videos, learn how to edit your videos. And by the way, I don’t know how to do anything.

I just watch other tos to try and figure out how do I do this. I’d watch like how to YouTube videos. I’m like, how to shoot stuff, how to use cap cut. But you have

Andrew: Cap cut. Is that what you use?

Justin: that’s what I used to edit the videos,

Andrew: Yeah.

Justin: um, which is like a great editor and actually just, just started using it in the last couple of.

Andrew: On your

phone,

Justin: weeks on my phone, everything’s just shot on my phone. And, but I think it for speed. Everything’s about speed. Content. If you wanna grow fast, learn how to shoot video, learn how to edit yourself, because if I had to send this to somebody and wait for them to do it, and then they get back to me with changes and it,

Andrew: Yeah,

Justin: there’s a huge advantage to, to doing this.

Being able

Andrew: I’m on your TikTok page. The the one where you teach people how to tie shoe laces. That one has 170. Plus thousand. Um, it also helps to, that you’re a very good looking guy. Even I can’t, um, I’m gonna admit it because it’s, it’s me. No, but here’s the deal. Like you take your shirt off and me as a guy, for some reason, I’m checking to see like, what’s his stomach look like?

Does he have

abs? And you look good. You’re, you’re clearly in

shape.

Justin: no

Andrew: Um, do you then pump these up with advertising? Like if you see one take off, do you throw money at it? Has advertising

worked

Justin: Uh, advertising’s worked. Yeah. We see one that

Andrew: TikTok, promoting just the ones that take off? You put stuff out the Gary Vanner truck thing where he says put stuff out and when something takes off, put more money to add

fuel.

Justin: a hundred percent. And every ad I think we have has been a TikTok or an Instagram reel at one point. Um, now some of our worst performing TikTok ads have still become good ads. Um, so it’s, and I don’t like, it’s not a one-to-one relationship that if it’s a really good TikTok, that means we’re gonna push it out.

Snap. We sure will try, but that’s not always the case. Um, you know, because look, an ad is an ad. It’s not as entertaining as a

Andrew: But how do you link over to your site from it? I’m, I know that on YouTube shorts you can say link in the top comment or

something, but I don’t know how you could do it

here.

Justin: organic. They have to go back to your profile and they have to click in. Yeah, there’s no like link right from an organic TikTok out cuz they want you staying on data. They don’t want people leaving

Andrew: And the way you know if an ad works is you have discount codes and you can kind of connect back the discount code to the video that you shot and say, this one didn’t get a lot of views, got a lot

of orders

worth pumping

up.

Justin: oh, well if you’re doing an ad on TikTok, yes there is a direct shop now button that will take you out. But for organic there’s

no, there’s no out, um, we are using some software that actually does track attribution now because especially with iOS 14, you know, people have lost a lot of the attribution. . So we do use a third party that kind of helps us match where that sale eventually originated.

And I think what’s good for TikTok Organic is top of funnel. You know, I wouldn’t get too discouraged that you did a video and it’s got 500,000 views and you only made a few sales from it. I think you have to look at this and Gary B talks about this all the time. It’s kind of, you know, long game, they’re seeing your ad.

Think about it like a billboard, right? You know, you see a billboard or something, you’re not just a kid going home and buying it, it’s just, it’s getting into your brain. Now they’re gonna see your ad again on Facebook, they see your ad again on YouTube, and then they’re gonna buy. So think of that as top of funnel, inexpensive, um, impressions.

Andrew: It’s the software that you use for attribution. Is that triple? Well,

Justin: It is.

Andrew: it is. Yeah. I interviewed them. I didn’t realize how big they were. And then of course, after Apple shut down a lot of, uh, tracking, they became even bigger. What else is working? So is it TikTok Instagram, your site is YouTube shorts working?

Is uh, SEO working? Anything

else?

Justin: Um, we don’t get too much success outta YouTube. Um, I’ll still post some things organically to YouTube shorts. Instagram and Facebook for us has been the best. Now our audience is older, right? So they’re gonna live on Facebook and Instagram more than they will on TikTok. TikTok has a younger audience. Um, our TikTok ads are the worst performer of all three or all four.

Um, we still spend decent money there cuz we do look at it as kind of like top of funnel. Uh, we started, we do some newsletter advertising. We started this past month with Tiki Barber and on radio, just traditional terrestrial radio, uh, doing ads there. And honestly, that’s, that’s just like hearing about Chris and Nantucket and what they did.

And Chris was like, Hey, we just started running radio ads and putting things in airline magazines. I’m like, well, we should be looking at that too. Uh, so yeah, Tiki Barbara has been awesome and we, we did a photo shoot with him recently. Um, he’s just like perfect guy for us. He’s, he’s awesome. Um, so he’s doing radio ads in New York areas.

Andrew: What advice have you gotten from Mark Cuban so far, or from

uh, from Peter?

Justin: Um, so various things. I think the one thing, and, and this is kind of a great, what we were talking about with social, is he wants me to really lean into organic social and actually Mark. Was thinking about, you know, before I started doing these, uh, makeover videos, like Boss Makeover or kind of building on the street ones ambushes.

He is the one that was like, you know, I think you should like think about this. I’m like, God, shit. Mark’s talking, telling me to do this. I gotta , I gotta, I gotta do it like the next week. Boom. I was gonna do one. And so he was like the really person that was like, Hey, I think you really should dive into this.

Lean into the organic, create a show, you know, create this like Daniel Mack type of show with the car we were talking about. Do it for, do it for our industry because no one’s really doing it. It’s crazy if you look at

Andrew: And the thing that’s for your industry is that on the street, I’m gonna take a person and I’m gonna do a makeover of

that

person.

Justin: essentially, yeah. Some type of thing. Or we’ll do a dress color polo challenge where it’s like you’re wearing a sloppy dress shirt. Try this dress color polo on. It’s gonna be a hundred times more comfortable. You’re gonna love the look and if you don’t love it, you can keep yours. Or we’ve take yours and we donate it.

Right. That’s kind of like the bit.

Andrew: And then what do you do then if now J. Crew, and I don’t know if Brook’s Brothers is even around anymore, but any of these other guys who are, are good copycats. Zara’s a good copycat, even though their stuff doesn’t hold up. What do you do if they jump into this and take away what’s special about

you?

Justin: you know, that was a, that’s a great question. And they asked it on Shark Tank. Unfortunately they didn’t air. Okay. I was saying before they don’t air

Andrew: All they aired was someone else is gonna copy it without your

response.

Justin: I don’t know if they said that, but my response to it was, I said, that’s the same thing they said to Chip Wilson when he came up with, um, Lulu Lemon Pants. And that’s the same thing they said to Sarah Blakeley when she came up with Spanks. And that’s the same thing they said to Under Armour, Kevin Plank when he came up with the shirt that Nike was already making.

So I think they can, I think these really big brands, they’re, this is like such a small, like little potato for. , um, like I think J Crew is now finally making uncut untuck IT shirts, but they’re just not like known for that. You know, it’s taken them years to figure it out. They’ve got all these tech specs and, um, so I think if they do eventually do it, I think it’d actually be probably good.

Um, you know, we’re the, we’re the first mover we wanna kind of cement ourselves as the company that actually made this and kind of created this new concept of shirt. Um, well, yeah, that’s, that’s usually my response. I mean, these businesses just like ours were so focused on, on one thing and I think we would probably like throw ’em off course if they actually had to kind of

Andrew: What about Peter Jones? Has he done anything? Has he given you any good

advice

yet?

Justin: Yep. So we’re working with one of Peter’s companies to go global, just like he comes across, he’s. He said he’s Mr. Global. Like if Kevin is Mr. Wonderful. Peter Jones says he is Mr. Global and he has, he owns this company that will help you go, um, global and basically create sites, let’s say in Korea or Japan, um, in all these different countries.

And you know, they not only just translate them, but what’s interesting is they know the holidays, which we don’t know anything about

Andrew: Uh,

Justin: in their countries. Like they’re Black Friday, it could be June 6th, we have no idea. And so, you know, they have come all these local experts that help you run a site.

So we’re gonna

Andrew: got it. So he’s gonna help you create sites. All over the world and not just translate the language and the culture, but also be aware of things like a holiday that’s coming up or something that is socially being talked about that you can jump in. makes sense. All right. You fricking did it. You nailed it.

I feel like the thing that I, that I love about this is it just feels so natural to you. You feel so natural in it. So I don’t know it, I did, I did wince when I was watching that episode where I felt like, oh, this guy is coming across so arrogant, he’s blowing them off. It’s not gonna happen. And then when it did, I felt like, all right, maybe I’m wrong.

What I’m seeing here is a person who has a sense of where he is and enough experience to know that he’s got something and the guts to say, I will lose you, mark Cuban, as much as I want you in here, I will lose you Sharks and Peter Jones, but I want

you and,

and you got

’em.

Justin: Yeah. You know, I, I, I could see that on the show and, you know, looking back, there’s some parts I’m like, ah, I wish I didn’t say that. The bummer is that they didn’t show, you know, most of what I did say and how, like in those other, you know, 50 minutes in there that the sharks just kind of, they, they loved the idea, they loved the brand, they loved the idea of the shirt, um, and.

you know, and, and we had a good report too. You know, you get down to the, to the nitty gritty when you feel like you have something that’s worth, you know, $7 million and they’re offering you three as a 3 million valuation and you’re trying to fight back and look, they’re trying to, you know, they tell you, and there’s always this like, overarching scare factory where they’re like, you know, just cuz we shoot it doesn’t mean we air you.

Andrew: Right.

Justin: we’re like, oh my God. They’re like, you know, we want, we wanna make, this is, this is television . Um, and

Andrew: using it so much. I assumed that I did a bad search before we talked. We talked what? A, a couple of weeks ago. I assumed that I wasn’t searching for it, right, because it was all over. The Shark Tank fans are super fans. There are databases dedicated to people on Shark Tank where you were already there.

I couldn’t find a clip. I said, what did I do wrong? You were promoting it. They were promoting it. Yeah. I get it. If it wasn’t, if it wasn’t on you, even before all that attention, it would’ve

been such

a loss of,

Justin: yeah. Uh, I was so, so, yeah. I mean, look.

I definitely learned a lot. I’m humbled by the experience. Um, I was really fighting for a good valuation. I wanted them to really see the value of what we were doing. And, um, it ended up being great. We got Mark and Peter Jones who have just been awesome, so we couldn’t be happier.

Um, yeah, I mean,

Andrew: I think it’s gonna be a winner for them, don’t

you?

Justin: wish I didn’t say I wish There’s always things I wish they they did say and they did show, which they didn’t. But, um,

Andrew: what do you wish that they included?

What’s,

Justin: just, they didn’t have any of the story. They didn’t have any of the

backstory how it came about. They had a video, Nick Faldo did a video for, he’s like, Hey sharks, you gotta check out Justin’s thing.

Um, they didn’t like humanize me as much as I would like. Obviously, I, they had their, uh, they had their idea of what they wanted it to be, but I think it came across as, you know, it’s not the first time you have a brash entrepreneur on cnbc, uh, talking about their company. But, um, , you know, it came across that, look, I, I learned a lot and, um, I’m grateful to the show and I’m great.

You know, I’m humbled by it and sure, there’s definitely things that, you know, I would change. And I was like, oh, why don’t I say that? But you’re in there and you’re just like freaking out. And I said to my friends, I’m like, it’s a good thing I memorize that first part cuz I dunno what was coming outta my mouth.

Have you ever had that experience where you’re just like, words are coming out, your brain is thinking about something else? Um, and you know, they jumped on me right away. Like, Damon John’s jumping on me. They’re trying to get you on tilt pretty quickly.

Andrew: Oh, I didn’t

know.

Justin: you know, I tried to try and stay calm, but, uh, I, I think at the end of the day it was great and I’m so happy that we got, Mark and Peter.

So it was

Andrew: I think it ended up beautifully for you. It ended up beautifully. You came across as a guy who did well, who had a lot of skepticism confronting you, and you ended up with Mark Cuban saying at the end, you remind me of myself. I don’t know what else

you could have

done

Justin: Yeah, I, that was an awesome quote. We actually had a launch party and, um, I couldn’t see, I didn’t get to hear it until I got home, cuz you know, we’re all kind of celebrating about

it. But it, it was amazing.

I mean, mark, for him to say that was great and I’m just, I’m just grateful and humbled by the experience.

It’s a learning experience. And, um, we’ll just

Andrew: All right. Well the company is called Collars and Co. Do you pronounce it? Collars and Co or

Collars and Company?

Justin: I say Collars

and co for short.

Andrew: Mm-hmm. and I, I’d say you can go to their website, but find them on social TikTok, number one. They are so Fri and I I shouldn’t say they anymore. Now I know. It’s just you. The dude with the camera.

The dude with the phone is so good. All right. Thanks for being on here. And I thank my two sponsors. The first, if you need a developer, you know, already go to lemon.io/mixer g. I’m not even selling them these ads, I just want them to keep doing well cuz I know they’re the Ukrainian company under J circumstances doing well and I wanna support them.

And the second, if you are curious about what these dows are, go to join origami.com/podcast.

Thanks for being on here, Justin.

Justin: Andrew. Amazing. I thank you so much for having me. Congrats to you and everything you’ve done. This has been sweet.

Andrew: Hell yeah. Thanks. Bye everyone.

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