Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner and you know me by now, right? Over seven years doing interviews here with successful entrepreneurs who talk about how they did it. They break down their process here with me.
You know, the place where I get a large number of my guests is from the audience and frankly from past interviewees. A few weeks ago I got an email from a past interviewee who said that he worked with a guy that we should interview. Here’s his email. He says, “I’d like to recommend an interview, anonymously, if possible,” and yeah, of course it’s possible, “With Scott Jordan.”
“We haven’t spoken much recently. However, I do follow him on Facebook,” this guy goes on to say, “And he’s probably the most outspoken CEO you will ever come across. He posts everything on Facebook, including the gorgeous penthouse he’s building and even goes so far to post about his constant marijuana use. He was also on ‘Shark Tank’ and has one of the most controversial episodes there.” So, we invited here.
His name is Scott Jordan. He is the founder of SCOTTeVEST, which makes a line of clothing that lets you secretly take everything with you, just about everything with you. So, for example, if you have an iPad, you want to bring it with you. “Oh, there, he’s got an iPad.” You could stick that in your SCOTTeVEST and no one will know that you’ve got it with you. We’ll show you what that looks like in a bit.
First I should say this interview is sponsored by HostGator. I just got an email, actually, from a listener who signed up for HostGator. I’ll tell you later on why if you need a host company you should go to HostGator.com/Mixergy. I’ll also tell you why if you need a developer, you should go to Toptal.com/Mixergy.
First, Scott, welcome.
Scott: Thank you very much. Good to be on, Andrew.
Andrew: Hey, before we officially recorded, I was kidding you about how I wasn’t going to make you cry and that’s because Mark Cuban–what did Mark Cuban try to do with you?
Scott: Well, you know, Mark didn’t know what to do with me on “Shark Tank.” And later he was recorded in a podcast as saying he tried to make me cry on national television. That’s how much I got under his skin. I basically told him he was out from the moment he sat down and pointed at Kevin and Robert and told them they were out after they offered me $1 million and walked off the stage. There’s a lot more to it than that. I stand for a lot more than my performance. And I use the word performance on “Shark Tank” intentionally.
It’s about entrepreneurship for me and building a business and being passionate about doing so. I’ve written two books, one about just “Shark Tank” called “Shark Bites” that just came out and the other one called “Pocket Man,” which is about building a $50 million empire based upon designing clothing with more features and pockets than anyone else in a very clever fashion.
Andrew: So, when I brought this up before the interview started, I said I’m not going to make you cry. You said something like, “Nobody can.” Do you not cry ever?
Scott: Oh, I don’t know about that. I don’t make a habit of crying. I can’t recall the last time I did, probably when my dog died about a year ago. So, I don’t think crying is appropriate for the business place, personally. But you know, I think it’s inappropriate for someone, a TV celebrity to intentionally try to make entrepreneurs who appear on the show to cry.
Andrew: Do you believe that, really? Don’t you believe that it’s whatever it takes to get attention and secretly you’re glad that he was being provocative with you so that you could get more attention?
Scott: You know, I made the most out of the attention that I got and I was painted as a villain by the editors of the show and I know they’re trying to make controversial TV and I let them do that or enabled them to do that and that’s fine. But no, I don’t think it’s appropriate for people who go on the show or are a lot less sophisticated than I am–they make you meet with a psychiatrist after your turn.
They recognize that they’re there making great TV and they care about their image and they know that the editors are looking out for them, but to a lot of people, it means a great deal what happens there. I don’t think it’s fair to intentionally make any human being want to cry. I don’t think that’s a desired outcome that a normal person should have. I think there’s something fundamentally wrong with Mark Cuban if that’s his goal in life.
But I don’t think Mark is used to people standing up for themselves in that show or his experience. A lot of people probably don’t tell Mark what they really think. I did. I have no regrets about what I told him. We had a spirited debate about patents. He felt that I was a patent troll and by the definition of a patent troll, you’re not in business for yourself, you’re solely trying to sue others. That’s not what I do. I built a very successful business and I protected my patents, as most companies should.
Andrew: Fair enough. You, though, are someone who could stand up for yourself. In fact, early on you told our producer in your career, your dad roped you, you said–that was, I think, your word–roped you into the family business, which was…?
Scott: He owned a cemetery.
Andrew: He owned a cemetery. By the way, was that weird growing up, seeing your dad own a cemetery?
Scott: Not so much. I mean, he wasn’t mortician. There’s a difference. A cemetery doesn’t deal with the actual bodies themselves.
Andrew: The real estate.
Scott: It’s just the real estate. It’s not something you aspire to be as a kid. You don’t want to go into the family business. He did.
Andrew: He got you into it. Did you sell cemetery plots door to door growing up?
Scott: When I graduated college, he wanted me to learn the business. I’ll never forget. It was over Christmas my senior year. I was trying to decide what I wanted to do when I graduated and I started talking to him about, “What would it look like if I came to work with you?” And I didn’t say I wanted to, I just wanted to know how much am I going to make, what are my hours? He announced at the dinner table at Christmas that I came to him and asked to go into business with him. I couldn’t say no to him at that point.
So, I went to work in Baltimore right out of college, 21 years old in some area of Baltimore, literally cold calling people saying, “Hi, I’m Scott Jordan. I have a free cemetery lot for you. I just need you to come by and I’ll sign you up.” I’d knock on their door and they thought I would just hand them a plot, but I had to give them the spiel and give them the whole presentation and the hope is that no one wants one plot. You want one for your wife.
Andrew: How do you get them to say yes to a plot? Who do you call and what do you say that gets them to let you into their homes and entertain this thing? If you called me, I would be shocked and I’d say, “No, I’m good. I’m going to live forever.”
Scott: You have to call ten people to get one to say–
Andrew: What did you say, Scott? I feel like you’re a really good salesman and I want to learn what you did back then that stuck with you.
Scott: I was a horrible, horrible, cemetery salesman. But I was really good at getting people to commit to letting me stop by their house.
Andrew: What did you say?
Scott: It’s a script. “Hi, I’m taking a survey. Are you married? How long have you lived in the area? Congratulations you have a won a–I’m calling from Upper County Memorial Park. Congratulations, you’ve won a cemetery plot. It’s valued at $450. Can I come by tomorrow evening and register it in your name?” A good portion of the people would not hang up and when I got that fire, “Fine, whatever.” “I’ll be by at 5:30.” “Come on by, whatever.”
Andrew: How do you then convert them from having won a cemetery plot to having them be a customer who pays for a cemetery plot?
Scott: If I really knew the answer to that, I would have been successful at doing that. The answer is you’re selling insurance. You paint a picture to the wife that’s sitting there and you say, “Someday, statistically your husband is going pre-decease you.”
Andrew: Isn’t she going to be so angry that you just told her she was going to get something for free and she has to pay for it?
Scott: No, because they actually do get the one plot for free.
Andrew: If they buy the other one?
Andrew: Oh, so you just give them one for free hoping they’re going to invite someone else. Interesting. I see.
Scott: It’s a fairly easy pitch.
Andrew: That’s why you’re asking if they have a family. If you’re a wife buying it for yourself, you’re not going to leave your husband to go buy his own.
Scott: That’s why you want to know how long they’ve lived in the area, they have roots in the area. So, once you have that… But I didn’t like it. Imagine, 21 years old, pimples and all, driving around in my little Scirocco in areas of town before GPS that were not fantastic and knocking doors and I would give three or four pitches a night and in the course of two and a half months, I sold one, I believe.
Andrew: That is painful. And you’re investing all this time into something you never even wanted to be a part of and your dad goes and sells the business and you feel what about that?
Scott: I was resentful. I was confused. I cried.
Andrew: You did cry?
Scott: Of course. I remember driving to work every day working for the guy who bought it who happened to be a legitimate mobster. I wrote about a lot of this in the book as well. It’s entertaining stories. It’s not a preachy book about, “This is how you can win the world in these three easy steps.” It’s the stories of my life and how I came from selling cemetery plots to what I did thereafter in practicing law for a major law firm and coming up with this idea.
Yeah, I was driving to work. At that point, I wasn’t selling door to door, but I was the at-need man, which means that when there was a death, people would need to buy. Now, that’s an easy sale. They died. They’re walking in. Now the goal is to try to sell them a better marker, gravestone, a better this, that and the other thing that they had and then go to all the family members that had just come from the service and try to convince them, “Mom and Dad are here, of course you’re going to want to be here too.”
I’m not a religious person. I don’t believe in all the rituals associated with burial. It was hard for me. What I learned was if you’re not passionate about what you’re selling, what you’re doing, you’re probably not going to be terribly successful or you’re truly not going to be happy.
Andrew: Why go to law school then?
Scott: Like so many other people, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So, it was either law school or business school. I always wanted to be a lawyer or thought I did. I wanted to prolong getting into a career. So, I just went to law school.
Andrew: I see. Right. So, going to law school lets you put off the career for a little bit. You actually go become a lawyer, you get paid fairly well and you still don’t like the job. And then you end up founding SCOTTeVEST. What I’m curious about is where did the idea for SCOTTeVEST come from?
Scott: Well, after I practiced law at a major law firm–largest law firm in the country, DLA Piper is what they’re called now–I knew fairly soon in that I needed to get out. I first worked for an in house company called Brookdale Living Communities as their in house counsel and that was not much better than the law firm. And then one of the people that worked with me at that company started a dotcom company called Next50.com, a portal for seniors. It was like for people, the next 50 years of their lives–Facebook for seniors.
Andrew: Facebook for seniors.
Scott: We raised–this guy was a guy from big finance. He raised about $4 million readily. This was before the dotcom bust, right before or just as the first bubble burst. The business, however, was in Princeton, New Jersey. So, I was commuting every week, Monday through Thursday from Chicago to Princeton, New Jersey to sit in the office and here’s the rub, to practice law. He would not let me involve myself in anything other than legal matters.
This was a startup at the time, for the first year, there were three of us. There is not full-time legal work once you’ve raised the money and you have outside counsel to practice law. So, every time I had a business idea and wanted to involve myself in the business side of things, he said, “Shut up. You’re just a lawyer.”
It’s funny because you get branded as a lawyer once you go to law school. So, I would encourage your listeners if they’re thinking about getting into business and using your law degree as a launching point, don’t do it unless you want to work for yourself. If you do it, it’s extraordinarily helpful for your own purposes. But everyone thinks you’re going to use your magical legal powers on them as a lawyer and they prejudge you. So, I worked for him.
How did I come up with the idea? In the traveling back and forth–this was before iPods–I had my Walkman, I had my big point and shoot, I had cords, I had batters, I had my Palm Pilot, I had the batteries for the Palm Pilot. And I’m traveling and I had no way to carry it all.
Andrew: Why not a backpack?
Scott: I had one but it’s inconvenient. I had a man-purse. I had a fanny pack. I’m traveling. You want to have it on your purpose. I had all those things. You don’t have enough to justify a backpack sometimes, just those devices alone. It occurred to me–actually, it occurred to my wife. I’m handing her all my stuff to go for a hike one day, all my gadgets and gizmos from Sharper Image that I keep handing her this and this. She says, “I’m not your personal Sherpa. Why don’t you invent something to carry your own stuff?”
And that was the light bulb moment, to design an article of clothing much like a fishing vest is today, which hasn’t changed for 100 years, what’s known as a photographers vest, but design it so that it didn’t look as bulky and goofy and used removable sleeves with utility as its primary function. But it had to look great. To this day, we’ve been doing this now 15 years and no one even comes close.
We also filed for a patent for the incorporation of the wires in clothing. That happened–I was walking down the street I had my MP3 player or whatever it was at the time, Discman. I had my earphones in and I walked past a doorknob and I felt like it pulled my ear off. It’s happened to most of us.
Andrew: I’ve had that happen. It’s really painful. And shocking too. It can ruin the earphones.
Scott: You feel like you’re going to grab your earphone and see a bloody earlobe attached to it. So, I saw another aha moment. This is my proprietary hook to it. I’m going to devise a garment that has an internal wiring system so this will never ever happen again.
Andrew: So, you go and create it. I hate to sound like your old boss, but how does a lawyer know about designing clothing? How do you know how to do that?
Scott: No, that’s a great question. I knew nothing. So, I went to the Chicago mart. In Chicago, there’s a lot of clothing marts. I forget what it’s called. I asked how I go about doing that. They said, “Oh, it’s easy. Just go by some fabrics and cut it up.” My wife and I went to Fisherman’s Market in Chicago and we bought what we thought were fabrics that were suitable for it. We bought a fishing vest and we sort of mapped it out and we’re trying to sew it ourselves. It was a miserable experience. So, we hired a designer.
Andrew: Where did you find a designer?
Scott: A clothing designer. A friend of a friend knew–you’d be surprised. Everyone knows someone who knows someone who knows someone that’s in the clothing business. Clothing designers, how many people from wherever you went to school were in fashion design? Where I went, Ohio State, that was a pretty popular major. They all think they knew how to design clothing. She did. She designed highly technical clothing, bras and you think about a bra, it might sound silly, but you have to be pretty specific to the measurements and how it all operates.
So, I found her and I found a factory through a friend of a friend of a friend. The problem is that every friend along the way doesn’t want to make an introduction for free. The clothing business is one of the oldest businesses there is. It’s a fairly established trade market. There are agents and manufacturers and all these relationships. Fifteen years in, a little tidbit of information, I have never been to China to visit my factories. This is highly uncommon.
Andrew: Yeah. I’ve talked to entrepreneurs who have produced things in China, they start out not going to China and then they fly out there and live there for a while before they get the first version. So, before you even found the factory, though, you had the first version, which you call SCOTTeVEST 1.0 and you started to sell it, right, before you manufactured?
Scott: Yeah. We put it online as a pre-order. I didn’t even know what it was going to cost me to make. I knew I needed salary. I knew I needed income. I knew I couldn’t wait to get it. If I had known then what I knew now in terms of long lead times to get clothing made and sold, I never would have had the balls to do it or the intelligence–I would have had the intelligence not to do it.
The typical lifecycle is it takes typically one year. From the day you come up with a style to the day it hits market is a year. Then it’s 90 days thereafter to get paid from most of your vendors.
Andrew: How long did it take you?
Scott: I came up with the idea in December of 2000. I had my first prototype at the beginning of February. I had my website up in April. And I received the products in June or July. So, from concept to receipt of goods, about six months–and build a website and promote it and do all those things.
Andrew: Let’s talk a little bit about promotion. It seems like you really good at getting promotion. You got into Gear Magazine, Playboy Magazine. You got…
Scott: New York Times…
Andrew: Pen Computing Magazine, Digital Camera, Pocket PC Passion.
Scott: That was the one that helped me the most, oddly enough.
Scott: What was that?
Andrew: Why was that one so powerful?
Scott: It’s a guy by the name of Dale Coffing. It’s all about relationships. He was a minister. And he had this incredibly sticky website called Pocket PC Passion. There was this community of people then before iPhones that just loved pocket PCs and Palm Pilots and all things related to there and he had an immense following and he asked me for a sample.
I didn’t have many samples to offer but I sent one and I asked for it back because I only had five. I sent it to him. Sure enough, he posted about it. I’ll never forget, the preorders just started flowing in. To this day, 15 years later, he had more power in terms of influence than many other people that I’ve encountered, many other much larger magazines, including Time Magazine and others.
Andrew: All right. I want to find out how you got into all these publications and what else you did to sell. But first, I should say to people if you’re looking for a developer, I urge you to check out Toptal.com.
You’ve heard me do tons of sponsorship messages here at Mixergy. There’s only one that just about every guest who hears it will write it down or go on their computer to check out because Toptal helps you find developers.
Anyone who’s successful enough to be on Mixergy has hired–chances are most of them–have hired developers and they know how hard it is. You either go and find a headhunter which takes a while and costs a lot of money or you start placing ads, which means that it takes a lot of time to manage all those ads and figure out which of the applicants is right for you and then you spend time interviewing them.
By the time you’ve finally gone through the process, your whole business may have changed and it’s costing you a lot to get them or maybe you start looking for, on the cheaper side, freelancers, people who are going to do a little bit of work here and there for you and you know that you can’t fully count on them. That’s the problem.
In comes Toptal. This is a network of top developers. They already vetted them. They already tested them. They already made sure they are among the top three percent of developers. They’re in their network. So, when you go to Toptal.com/Mixergy, you tell them what kind of developer you need, they go to their network and they say, “All right, we have a client here who needs someone who’s full-time or maybe part-time or maybe a few hours. He’s working on this kind of language and this his idiosyncratic way of working. Who do we get out of our network?” They find a person. They make an introduction.
If they’re the right match, you get to keep on working together. Frankly, often, it’s the first match that works, sometimes two or three. But you get your match and you get going. The developer will start working with you like they are part of your team. However you work with your developers, they will slide right in and they will produce for you like you’ve never seen before. A top developer compared to the next level developer, huge difference.
Now, why should you go to Toptal.com/Mixergy? Yeah, it will give me credit. But you don’t care about giving me credit. You care about your own business. You’re not going to have to remember the whole slash thing, right? Well, if you do that, you go to Toptal.com/Mixergy, they’re going to give you 80 free developer hours when you pay for 80.
In addition, they’ve got a no-risk trial period of up to two weeks. This is one of the most successful ad spots I’ve ever run on Mixergy. They’re really happy with it. If you go to Toptal.com/Mixergy, you are very likely going to sign up and you are going to be happy which will make them happy, which means that they’ll continue to sponsor and I’m grateful to them for sponsoring.
Scott, as a guy who sold cemeteries, how do you think I did here selling Toptal?
Scott: So phenomenal. To be honest, I’m not blowing smoke, I want to talk with you when we end about doing sponsorships with you. It was authentic. You can tell you meant what you said. You had personal experience. It felt true.
Andrew: Thank you.
Scott: I don’t use a lot of developers, but I jotted it down.
Andrew: I figured. At first I saw you saying, “Ha, ha, ha,” and then I saw a little more seriousness in your face and I said, “I’m doing all right here with this.”
Scott: No, you did great. You did great. My experience is–this is about my book and this is about we’re going to start talking about how I was able to promote so well, how I was able to get into all those places–it’s because I was passionate and I believed in what I was doing. It sounds ridiculously simple, but it is so true.
Andrew: Do you ever feel shy about it? I know there are times when I’m passionate about what I’m doing here on Mixergy. There are times when someone asks me, “What am I doing? What’s my job?” And I feel a little shy talking about it. I feel a little shy saying, “Take your phone out and let’s sign you up.”
Scott: Never. No. I love talking about SCOTTeVEST. I love talking about the problem I solve. I love talking about my story. I now love inspiring other entrepreneurs on some tricks that have made me successful because I’ve been able to look back over 15 years and compare what I’ve done and all the other businessmen I’ve seen across the table in deals and I’m able to pull out a couple of key points that I know make me successful.
I love it when someone can embrace that and become successful for themselves, especially if their working for me or with me, I should say, of course. No. If that happens–listen, we all have bad days and days that we feel more passionate about things than others and that’s normal. If you lose that spirit and that energy, then you need to take a break and you might need to consider doing something else.
Andrew: So, let’s go into some of this. I wrote down tricks that you like to teach entrepreneurs. I’m going to come back and I’ll ask you about that. But following up on the question that I asked earlier–press really helped you in the beginning. What did you do to get all these sites to cover you?
Scott: Initially I hired a publicist or a PR agent. I always knew that convincing the press to write stories about me was the easiest and the cheapest way to get to the customers. I knew that we had an innovative product that was worth talking about. And she just worked so slowly and she was so regional and only wanted to pitch to the local Chicago market.
I said, “No, this is an international business from day one. It doesn’t matter that we’re in Chicago. You should be trying to get me on the Today Show and Time Magazine and all these other places.” She said, “Do you have enough inventory if I did?” I said, “That’s not your concern.” I said, “I’ll figure out that problem when that problem happens.” So, the first in many short-lived experiences with PR agents that I hired along the way thinking they had–
Andrew: And she didn’t do it?
Scott: No. She didn’t do it. She couldn’t do it. She thought it was some specialty. It used to be that PR was about contacts. It was about relationships. Even then, if you pick up a masthead of a magazine and see an email, you know who all the writers are. You just have to go out there and attack them. I went after each one of the writers as though they were 100,000 customers.
Andrew: What was your process for getting them?
Scott: I would go to the magazine store, Barnes & Noble at the time–this was when there were such things as magazines. There still are. But it still holds true. I would look at the magazines that were relevant to my product. I would find their email addresses and I would email them press releases and I would email them press releases from me as the owner that were well-written. You have to be able to write well in business. That’s a key–learn how to write.
It’s even more important now than it was years ago because most communication is by email nowadays. Here’s the trick. Follow up. Send a press release and then three days later, follow up. Follow up. Send a sample. After you send a sample, “Did you get the sample?” And give them relevant information. What I learned from that experience is that’s the trick to being successful.
Andrew: Following up.
Scott: FU. I FU everything. I send an email. I flag it for what the next action is. Anything worth starting is wroth finishing. Emails are like ether. Most people ignore them. Anything I start, I finish. I follow up.
Andrew: What software do you use to flag any email you send out so you remember to follow up?
Scott: I use software called ActiveInbox. It just puts a label on it. It’s fantastic. It’s web-based only. On my iPhone, I use something called Mailbox, where every email you can take it out of your inbox and three days later it will pop back in it.
Andrew: I do that too. You know what I use that might be helpful for you? I don’t want to start recommending apps here, but FollowUp.cc. All you do is in the BCC line when you’re emailing something, say Wednesday@FollowUp.cc and then Wednesday the email bounces right back to you to remind you.
Scott: That’s a great thing too. There are a lot of–
Andrew: That’s why I didn’t want to get too deep into software.
Scott: Boomerang, it will automatically follow up for you with a template, “It’s been three days. I haven’t heard back from you. Did you get my email?” I don’t like that. I start my day out every morning with probably 50 emails from prior days that require attention.
I went to New York. I pounded the pavement. My second PR firm at the time got me like five appointments. She was pretty pleased with herself over a five-day period. I said, “I’ve got a lot of time between these five appointments. Can you get me anymore?” “I’ve done the best I could do. I got you in Maxim. Where else do you want to be?”
I started literally–in August in New York, in this black SCOTTeVEST fully loaded, walking around. I went into Time Magazine. I walked in the lobby. I said, “May I please speak to the editor?” It’s like a big freaking building in New York. She said, “Which editor? We have 136 publications here.” I said, “Travel, fashion, computers, any will do.” She laughed at me and she handed me–I’ll never forget it–a contact list.
Andrew: She let you up in their building?
Scott: No. She let me in the lobby and just handed me a calling list.
Andrew: So you can call them up.
Scott: I called, “Hi, I’m Scott Jordan. I’ve got this great company. I’m in town. Can I show it to you?” Sure enough, a day later, I was depressed. I couldn’t get any meetings. I tried my best. I figured what did I have to lost? The alternative was I had to go back to practicing law, which was not acceptable at that point and I had 3,000 units coming in even though I had some success because I was preselling. I still had a lot of vests to sell in order to make a living.
And as I was leaving, literally, I’m in the cab to go home–I was going to leave a day early. I was so frustrated. The editor from [inaudible 00:31:02] Time Magazine calls me up. She wants me to come back. I turn around. I drop off my vest. I talk to her. Within three days later, I’m in Time Magazine. Victory.
But they forgot to put the URL. It was the smallest little piece ever. I had a call center all lined up and all lined up and all ready, not a single order, just like “Shark Tank,” by the way. Some of these, I didn’t get any orders–not one order from “Shark Tank.” People assume that you go on “Shark Tank” and you get on Time Magazine, you’re in The New York Times and you’re automatically going to see sales. It cannot be further from the truth.
Andrew: Pocket PC Magazine seems to have gotten you more.
Scott: Yeah. The niche magazines that were related to people who were actually interested in being on the forefront of things, yeah
Andrew: Hammacher Schlemmer–I love the name and I always have a hard time pronouncing them–you met with them and you said, “Hey, you guys should carry this. This is the kind of innovation you guys love to feature. What do you say?” What did they say?
Scott: You’ve done good research here. I actually represented their landlord in a real estate transaction. I called the guy up who was my client and I said, “Can you get a meeting?” He said, “Yeah, let me see what I can do.” I met with the electronics buyer. He absolutely loved it. He got it 100%. He said, “This is fabulous. Why hasn’t this been on the market? You’re a genius.” People either get it or they didn’t. There’s no in between.
I’ll never forget when he called me back after our first meeting, he calls me back. I’m with my shrink. I’m talking about, “I don’t know what I’m going to do.” This was before the Pocket PC Passion had come through and before I started seeing some of the articles come through. This was at the very beginning and I was at my lowest, most depressed point. The phone rings and it’s Hammacher Schlemmer and I turn to the guy, my shrink, I say, “I don’t need you anymore.” I literally walked out.
So, I’m thinking, “I’ve got it made.” I’m lining up my factories and I’m getting everything done and I’m talking to this guy by email. I say, “Will you send me the contract? Let’s go.” And finally, I had a couple of questions about the contract. He’s not been emailing me back. Finally, I just went to the office and I went to see him. He said, “Oh, I forgot to tell you, I hate to tell you, this is my last day. Meet the apparel buyer.” The apparel buyer and said, “That’s a travel vest. That should be $59 and I don’t care about it.” And I lost that deal.
But it was all good because we were the first apparel company to start a brand on the internet. So, all these years later, 15 years later, 95% of our business is direct to consumer. The margins are great. The market is great. I don’t have to constantly come out with new styles because I have to appeal to a singular buyer. It was a great format for us.
It was a second thought about going on direct to consumer. My web developer said, “Hey, you want be to ecommerce-enable your site?” I was like, “What’s that? How much is that going to cost?” “Oh, I have a thing through Yahoo Stores, $500.” I said, “Fine.” That’s really what changed the trajectory of SCOTTeVEST and my life.
Andrew: I’m seeing the old version of the website right now. You were selling it for $159.99 but if you order by August 1st, 2001, it’s $135.99 for the vest, which you called Version 1.0 right there on the website, really appealing to the techies. You know what? Before I move on to the next thing, let me talk about HostGator, my second sponsor. If you need a website, now you can see–sorry?
Scott: Do it just as well as your first one.
Andrew: I know, or else I might lose respect here. Here’s the deal. We just actually talked about how one little element on a website, one addition could have dramatic impact on a business. You had your website up and running. The guy says to you, “Do you want to add ecommerce?” You add it and boom, you’re now in business and selling direct to consumer.
That’s the power of having a website that you can do whatever you want with. I know there are a lot of really cheap, frankly, websites that do it all for you, but they limit you to what you can do. So, you want to add ecommerce and you want to add this and you want to add membership and you want to add all those things and they say, “Sorry, we can’t do it.”
Well, if you go to HostGator, they’ll let you do pretty much anything you want. Don’t kill babies on there. But anything else, HostGator will allow you to do. That’s in their contract–you can’t kill babies or puppies, but everything else on that website you can pretty much do. And that’s because they’re just a hosting company. Do they make it easy for you to install WordPress? Absolutely. One-click install if you want to install WordPress.
Do they make it easy if you decide just like Scott did that you want to do ecommerce? Absolutely. They make it easy. They give you free shopping cart software. If you don’t like their software, you could because it’s your site. It just happens to be hosted on HostGator. You could install just about anything you want. You hear someone on a Mixergy interview talk about a new shopping cart or new payment process. Boom. It’s your site. HostGator lets you do it and you’re up and running with it.
I know there are a lot of sites that talk about how simple they are. They’re simple because they will not allow you to do a lot of things. With HostGator, you can do just about anything. It’s your site. They just happened to host it. So, what does it cost for this? Frankly, very little. If you go to HostGator.com/Mixergy, they’ll even take 30% off. That means that it will start at $4.87 a month. In addition to it, they give you a $100 AdWords offer, $100 search credit from Bing and Yahoo. I’m telling you, these guys make it super easy.
I just got an email from–just an hour ago–from a guy named Jeff Manning who listens to Mixergy. He said, “Boom, HostGator–I just signed up using Mixergy’s promo code, your commercial on the Market Beat Interview sold me. Haha, good job. Thanks again. Hope you’re doing well,” from Jeff Manning and he sent me a screenshot of his confirmation page after he bought.
I’m telling you, people are signing up. HostGator keeps re-upping with me for a reason. They know that a less sophisticated audience needs a less sophisticated hosting package. But a sophisticated audience like mine wants a package that allows them to do anything. You still want it easy to install WordPress, still want it easy to install the basics, but lets you do anything you want. You want to copy all of Mixergy? Anything you want, you can add it to your HostGator account.
All right. Do you want to get started? Go to HostGator.com/Mixergy. Congratulations, Jeff Manning on the new HostGator-hosted website.
All right. You’re in business now. You’ve got publications talking about you. You’ve got customers coming to your site that are buying from you. What do you do to juice it up, to get more customers? You know what? I see that you’re an ambitious person. I see that you’re putting energy in. But on a website, does it really translate? Can you really go knocking door to door and bring people to come to your site?
Scott: I involve myself with every single blog even before they were called blogs. Every time I had a new product or new sale, at the time when I first started, I just had the one product. Frankly, in our case, it was in Time Magazine August of 2001. September of 2001, we all know what happened, September 11th. It was horrible. Our business dropped to absolutely nothing. It was devastating to the country, to the people that died most importantly and their family, but to every new business especially and every business was impacted.
So, at that point, I had to pivot. I was designing something previously that was focused on techies and primarily techies because that was me. But now with all the travel restrictions that had incurred, you couldn’t bring a laptop case, a briefcase, a backpack into any events at all, including COMDEX.
Andrew: I remember you couldn’t even go into a movie theater with a bag.
Scott: That’s true. So, we pivoted and said, “No bags allowed, but SCOTTeVESTs are approved. So, we used a very horrible negative experience and we changed it to a solution. We saw a problem and we saw how we solved that problem. We have this whole marketing campaign that you’ll find on Wayback, a no bags allowed campaign.
And then we started introducing more and more products as well, which helped immensely. We added sleeves. Everyone said, “I’m not a vest guy. Can you throw some sleeves on there?” which we did. We continued to get more and more press as I could. I got in Parade Magazine, which to this day I have never had a single, even when we were just in Oprah’s magazine, nothing was as close as Parade. That’s the insert on Sunday papers.
Andrew: What do you mean? What did it do for you? Yeah, lots of Sunday papers all across the country have Parade Magazine in them. What did it do to be featured in there?
Scott: Someone discovered my product. The thing with media is once one media finds it, media is lazy, they write about what everyone else has written about. So, they found us. I didn’t even pitch that one directly. But the orders were flowing in at such a radical pace that I thought I was going to be flat out able to sell the company for millions of dollars very shortly thereafter.
Months later, I’ll never forget, I’m walking on the beach in Chicago thinking, “This is it. This is what success feels like. I came up with a great idea, the American dream. I had some adversity to begin with. September 11th hit, but all of a sudden, I’m in. It’s easy street from here on out.”
Sure enough, you’ll learn with the media that it dies out. Interest wanes. You’ve got to get back on top of it. We continued to introduce new products but we had never before seen a singular hit, like 30 million people on Sunday opening their Sunday paper at the time when people read papers reading about this clever solution.
Andrew: So, it didn’t last, but it gave you a big pop.
Scott: A huge pop. Yes.
Andrew: You know what I wonder? Going back to the marijuana thing at the beginning of the interview–you don’t seem like a marijuana guy. You see so high-energy. It feels like marijuana is the opposite of your energy level. Why do you smoke?
Scott: You know, that’s a good question. The first thing, I’m not as huge of a smoker as your friend would reveal. I smoke because I don’t like to drink. At the end of a day, instead of having a glass of wine, I’m not high now. I haven’t smoked in several days. I’m not addicted to marijuana by any means. To me, it’s an alternative to drinking. It’s just to chill out, relax. Also, I find that when I do smoke, I get even more ideas. Every idea that I’ve ever come up with that’s come to when I’m high, I write down. I type. I get an email.
Andrew: How do you do it? I’m so anal. I smoke weed. I have. Nothing happens. Maybe I need a piece of paper to write down my ideas. What do you do to bring ideas? Do you just lean back and say what if and then start writing?
Scott: I’m full of ideas all the time.
Andrew: Do you have an idea right now as you’re listening to this interview?
Andrew: What is it?
Scott: Anyone who’s listening to this interview–it occurs to me you have 80,000 people listening–if they use coupon code Mixology, they will get 20% off their SCOTTeVEST.
Andrew: And 80, not 8.
Scott: Okay. I was thinking during the whole course of this interview is how I ultimately turn a conversation into a way in which I turn it into sales and making sure I wind it back in and convert it to something.
Andrew: What are your sales now? You guys are doing $10 million a year?
Scott: About that. Yeah.
Andrew: And you’re still thinking, “How do I get a few more out of this Mixergy interview?” I think I just lost your video for a second.
Scott: Can you still hear me?
Andrew: I can hear you. Yeah. It’s roughly $10 million a year, right? And even with that, you’re still thinking, “How do I get a few more thousand out of this interview?”
Scott: Absolutely because we need new people. We have an incredible reorder rate. Over 40% of every day’s orders are old customers. We love them. But in order for a business to grow, you need new customers. So, yeah, especially from a consumer brand. The market is massive. If people, your listeners right now are thinking would they like to have a short that they can put their iPhone in and have it comfortable where no one can see it? Full shorts and pants–
Andrew: Let’s have a look.
Scott: I can actually hit an iPad Mini in my shorts.
Andrew: Those are shorts?
Scott: These are actual shorts.
Andrew: Okay. That’s a pretty big bulk there. But I’ve seen it in the jackets. It hides in the jackets.
Scott: Here’s a new shell. We have clear tough pockets here where you can control your–
Andrew: Clear tough meaning I can actually type in on the screen. I’ve seen that. I now know your password.
Scott: That’s only one. You need the iPhone. Yeah, but full size iPad. The iPad pocket in this one, let me move it around a little bit.
Andrew: I asked him to go grab a jacket to show it. There. It’s going right into the pocket. Let’s see what it looks like when it’s closed.
Scott: You cannot tell. The beauty of it is there’s a weight management system. It’s hard because it’s black. Water bottle holders, highest quality zippers–this has another product that zips in for a fleece liner.
We have an RFID pocket here, special material that you could put your passport or your wallet here and the RFID scammers that are out there cannot penetrate your ID pocket, pen pockets, of course the patented personal area network, eyeglass shammy. How many clothing items do you know that have an eyeglass shammy with a full pocket map on it that says all the features so in case you forget…
Andrew: Can I tell you something? In the early days, your stuff looked so geeky that I understood why Steve Wozniak would be into it, but I wouldn’t understand why the average person would be into it. I’ve noticed a couple of things have happened. First, your clothing has gotten better looking. It looks like a rich guy’s outfit, number one. The shirt that you’re wearing now, I’ve seen in white on you. It looks really good. Number two, you’re looking good. You’re looking fitter. You’re looking healthier. What do you do?
Scott: I work out every day.
Andrew: Did you work out in the past? I feel like–I don’t think the Skype video is showing it. It looks like a random thing that just popped out, like I was commenting on your looks. But I was trolling you on Facebook. You look really good. This is a new thing. What happened? I feel like someone actually–you said this on Facebook–someone thought you had a new trophy wife and you were trying to show off for her. You said, “I’ve been married to this person for years.” So, what happened?
Scott: My weight has vacillated from right now 185 to 217. When I was a lawyer, I was 217. One of the things–I’m more efficient, I’m happier when I’m healthier. I think better. The hour I spend on the treadmill, I’m dictating reminders to myself. I’m working while I’m doing so. I live here in beautiful Sun Valley, Idaho. It’s a ski resort. So, right behind my house are beautiful mountains a minute away.
Andrew: Yeah. You gave me a little tour before we started. The place looks beautiful. Is it also because you got richer?
Scott: No. Not at all. It didn’t happen overnight. My first year in business, I ran a half-marathon. So, I was this fit then for two months of the year. The only difference is I’ve decided to make this a lifestyle change all year, not, “Okay, during the summer I’m going to get skinny.” But I fundamentally think you’re smarter. You’re happier. You’re healthier. You invest the time in working out.
I’m not going to get preachy about this. Mentally, you’re going to be better. You are. We have trainers that come to our office twice a week and chiropractors that come once a month and massage therapists and we have dog walkers and stuff. My biggest challenge has been the employees, learning how to become a manager.
Andrew: I want to hear about the issues that you’ve had with them and I also want to hear about the time you replaced yourself. Let’s talk about the time you replaced yourself with someone who was going to be CEO. What happened?
Scott: The first time I did it was horrible. It was about four or five years ago. Our business started doubling. We went from one to two to three to five and I was like, “Oh, my god, if this continues in several years, I’m going to be at $50 million a year and I don’t have the skill set to manage this growth and you hear all these stories that the entrepreneur needs to get out of the way and let a professional manager come in and manager their business.
I said, “Okay, they must be right. I can afford to do it. I’ve got good margins. Let’s find a professional manager.” Instead of doing a proper search, the first resume of a guy who came in from a guy that just got fired from being the CEO of another company came in and he wined and dined me and I was like, “Okay, I guess you can run my company.
There was no corporate culture fit. The people didn’t like him. He got drunk and belligerent within his first week here. And yet, he hired a core group of–sorry about that. He hired a core group of about three or four key executives all making more than $100,000 a year within a very short period of time that I inherited after I fired him. It took us literally three years to unwind that two-month tenure of what he did.
Andrew: He was there for 60 days and had enough time to do that much hiring, that much drinking, that much belligerent talking?
Andrew: What did he say? What was the belligerent thing that he said? Did he make you cry?
Scott: No. It wasn’t one thing. All the relationships I had with the factories–he hired someone to handle our production and manage the whole production department. He had run another clothing company. So, he thought he knew how to manage clothing companies. I was questioning some of her motivations and decisions–
Andrew: Her or his?
Scott: Hers. He was defending her. It was over cocktails after a long day. He’s just like, “Scott, she used to be making $250,000 a year where she was. She’s a bargain. Why can’t you just let her do what she’s going to do and stay out of my way?” I was like, “I’m not used to anyone talking to me that way.” I knew it was the alcohol talking. There was slurring. We were drinking. It was at the end of dinner.
What I later discovered is she moved all of our production to where she used to work. She got a kickback. We then started repricing half the items that she had made and they were double the cost of what we could have had them made if we had stuck with our original suppliers.
So, I completely relinquished control and let these other professional managers it was a horrible experience. But the good news is that after that and recognizing that the people were the most important part of my business and establishing a corporate culture that I married and needed to be successful, mainly following up on things and don’t let me follow up on you, you follow up on me, get that mentality among other things and understanding to take care of the people and just how hard it is to recruit especially where I’m located in a town of 5,000 people.
I just recently promoted someone from within my company, a guy by the name of Marshall. He’s doing a tremendous job.
Andrew: Marshall Rule.
Andrew: He was former executive vice president. That’s the title.
Scott: Yeah. That probably will change. He was hired very–he was previously managing a golf shop in Boise. He hadn’t completed his college education, but he embraced what it took to get some stuff guy. Super smart guy, looked for an opportunity, works very hard, great with people and I’ve stepped into a much more visionary role.
Andrew: So, is he now getting to continue–so, the transition actually is a really tough one. Do you trust that someone who’s experienced can run your company for you and take it to a level that you don’t know exists or do you have someone who’s going to continue what you’ve done because they’re following what you’ve done and they can continue it? The problem with that is you never get new ideas. You never get to see how much further you can go than you’re aware of.
Scott: No. The new ideas now, instead of me spending all my time managing people and following up on people and processes and things that happen when you’re managing a group of people, I am focusing on the new ideas.
Andrew: I see.
Scott: That’s what I was first good at, where the idea is and the creative part of the business. That’s what I truly enjoy. So, while I come up with the ideas, I now bring them to him and my wife, the trophy wife–your first wife, by definition, can’t be a trophy wife.
Andrew: How long have you guys been married?
Scott: 20 years. She is the reason I am successful. She’s brilliant. She’s the hardest working person I’ve ever met in my entire life and as a lawyer I’ve met really hard working people, long hours at least. I bring them ideas. I’m an idea a minute, especially after I smoke a little weed. It’s up to them to say, “Okay, we have the resources to do it or we don’t,” or, “We like that idea. We don’t like that idea. Let’s do this one. This is what it takes to get it done.”
So, he’s focusing on the operations and the people. I’m focusing on the vision and the relationships, having these conversations and others and meeting–I’m going out to San Francisco to meet with a bunch of folks about business opportunities and the like for the company while he’s dealing with the minutiae–
Andrew: You’re getting to do the next thing. You were saying that you had to learn to become a better manager of your team. What did you do badly before that now you’re better at?
Andrew: Give me an example. What’s one thing that you look back on and go, “How did I do that?”
Scott: I think it’s corporate culture–not saying, “These are the things you need to succeed here. If you don’t possess these things…” Trying to hire right, trying to define what it is that makes your people–
Andrew: I don’t get that, Scott, because I remember doing an interview with the author of “Personality Not Included.” He was talking about social media in the early days. He said “You want an example of who’s doing it well? Look at SCOTTeVEST. Look at how they have their dog in the list of people who work there. We’re talking about a whole new way of looking at the world,” he said at the time.
This was before social media too off, “Where you could and you should be more social, where everybody gets to contribute to the culture and SCOTTeVEST is an example of it.” How did you do that? What do you mean by not doing it right? It feels like you had that corporate culture down.
Scott: The external corporate culture. The perception and reality are not the same thing.
Andrew: Okay. So, internally what was it like?
Scott: Internally there was a great deal of turnover. Unfortunately, we still experience that given where we’re located. It’s hard to–
Andrew: 100 people in the last four years left. Is that right?
Scott: If you count contractors, which I can’t–
Andrew: Dozens. For an operation that according to LinkedIn has–
Scott: 15 or so employees.
Andrew: LinkedIn has overstated. They say 29 people.
Scott: Where did you get that stat, 100 people?
Andrew: Our notes from pre-interview said, “Our number one issue that we’re having is recruiting the right people based on where we live. We’re in a resort community. We’ve gone through 100 people in the past four years.”
Scott: Okay. Apparently it’s sourced by me.
Andrew: It could be that we wrote it down wrong.
Scott: What I’ve learned about myself is I like people. I’m wired to like people. I hire anyone who comes into my office and says they can do the job. I am no longer allowed to make hiring decisions. By the time they meet me, they know I am going to hire them. But when you have four people and I’m one of the four people and two of them are customer service reps and the other two are my wife and I and she hates people and I like people and she’s like, “Okay, you need someone, fine.” I would hire, without regard to establishing–
Andrew: I get that.
Scott: I’ve learned that about myself. I like you a lot.
Andrew: I can see that.
Scott: I’m gregarious. I’m charismatic.
Andrew: Were you always like that? I wasn’t. I like you a lot because you like me, but also because I learned how to come out of my shell and talk. I used to be so uncomfortable having conversations and I had to really work on it. Were you always like that?
Scott: I think I always had that in me. But once I became more comfortable in my own skin, it got better.
Andrew: What got you to do that? For me it was I sold my company. I went to Los Angeles and I said I’m going to try to date someone every single night. I’m going to go out every night until I find someone, not like the one, but until I find the one of the night. I shouldn’t be admitting all this stuff. But if you’re showing video of yourself on Facebook smoking weed, I’ve got to be open.
Scott: There was one day to be honest with you, the day my father died.
Andrew: How did that change you?
Scott: My father and I had a very tumultuous relationship and I always was trying to get him to love me. I realized when he died, he wrote me out of his will and there was no more fighting to get my father to love me. I wasn’t trying to prove myself to anyone anymore.
Andrew: And when you tried to prove yourself to your dad, even in your own head, like the dad figure in your mind, what would you do or not do?
Scott: I wanted him to proud of me.
Andrew: I see.
Scott: I wanted him to love me. I wanted him to respect what I was capable of and what I did to graduate at the top–now you’re going to make me cry. Full circle. Yeah, I think the bond between a father–
Andrew: How do you even recognize you have that? I hate to admit it, but since you’re admitting, I’ll say it. I did 102 pushups this morning in 5 sets, like a total of 102. In my head I was thinking, “When my dad sees me, he’s going to see how built I am.” My dad is never going to look at me without my shirt on. But in my head, my dad needed to see that and be impressed. How did it come out for you?
Scott: Same way. I brought him articles of me being in magazines. He was dying of cancer and we were on the outs. I flew to New York. I said, “You’re dying of cancer. Let’s try to make amends here. By the way, I printed out,” because he didn’t do the email thing, I printed out all the articles on me and I wanted him to be proud of me.
He said, “I’ll be right back. I’m proud of you, son. I’ll be right back.” He goes in the other room and he prints out one article on him from the internet. He was a world famous bridge player many years ago. He said, “Look at me.” And I think that kind of sums it up.
Andrew: Ah… I thought for a second you got your pride and no. It was, “Here, look at me.”
Scott: No. It was look at him. He said to me–I’ll never forget these words–he said, “I resent you for all the opportunities that I have afforded you that no one afforded me.”
Andrew: That’s a hard thing to live with.
Scott: Actually, it was helpful to really unpack that and say this is a man who was jealous of my perceived or actual success at the time and that I no longer had to fight to make him be proud of me. I’ve learned a lot about him. We’re all flawed people, myself included. I’m not perfect. It’s unacceptable to have children and make them fight for your love. He literally said, “I don’t want to love you too much for fear someday I might lose you.” What do I do with that?
Andrew: And then when he passed away, you now were liberated of that. What could you do? Could you do things like what I’m seeing on Facebook? I hate to keep coming back to this. It’s not that big of a deal. Is it that you now could say, “I don’t have to worry about my dad seeing this and judging me. Now I can just be myself here?”
Scott: I wasn’t terribly worried about that at that time anyway. Facebook I don’t think existed ten years ago if memory serves me anyway.
Andrew: So, how did you change?
Scott: I just didn’t have that burden to know that there was a chance that maybe someday he would love me or respect me or care for me or be proud of me. It changed fundamentally the equation. It let me grow into my own man.
I think part of the problem with my father was I resemble him in many respects. He was gregarious. He was smart. He was successful. And he felt threatened and challenged by me. He wouldn’t say it. I think in my family relationship, to see another alpha in the family vying for attention from his woman, his wife, it was all sorts of problems. When I cried and my wife–not my wife—
Andrew: Your mom.
Scott: My mom came to my needs. He got jealous. It was just weird. It was just wrong. Unfortunately, it created problems with my sisters after he died because he wrote me out of the will. He said if I don’t make up with my sisters, we’re all going to be written out of the will. I can’t be bought. You can’t say, “Here’s $1 million to make up with your sisters over a fight that will work itself eventually if it should anyway,” and I said–
Andrew: Did it work itself out with your sisters? Why not? You’re loved by so many other people. Why not your family? What happened with your sisters?
Scott: It’s a long story. Unfortunately, I saw my one sister for the first time. I invited her to come up here after 11 years of not talking to her, I invited her to visit about a month ago for a party we had. She wanted to rehash everything and why this.
Andrew: Why what?
Scott: What’s that?
Andrew: Why what? What is it that she was bringing up that she couldn’t let go of, that you can’t allow her to let go of?
Scott: It’s complicated. We need a lot of time to dig deep into it. She wanted me to say that it was okay for Dad to treat me the way he did. She wanted me to say that was okay. I said, “No. I cannot.” She got the money. She had the relationship with my father. They had everything. She wanted me to say I should forgive and forget.
I have forgiven. I’ve moved on. He’s flawed. We’re all flawed individuals. But she wanted me to do this. I said, “Why is that so important between us? Let’s move past that. Be a part of my life. I have many people in my life. I want you to be a part of my life. Let’s go out. Let’s smoke some pot together and enjoy and laugh,” which we had done.
She said, “No, you think you had such a bad childhood.” I’m describing the stories I’m telling you and I think she views this as disrespectful to the man she loves and that’s paying for her home and her this and that from the millions she inherited, so she views this as disrespectful. So, she doesn’t like the fact that I speak my mind. So, I said, “What Dad did to all of us was no different than a sexually abusive parent to a child. To justify even after it’s over doesn’t make it right.”
Andrew: And you could have lied to her and said, “I let it go.” But you’re holding onto the resentment because she had it and you didn’t.
Scott: I’m not holding onto any resentment. I’m just going to speak my mind.
Andrew: You’re not going to not be yourself.
Scott: I cannot lie. Ask me another question. I’ll tell you.
Andrew: How much money in your bank account?
Scott: I will answer any question.
Andrew: How much money in your bank account?
Scott: That… I’ll answer that to you separately if you would like, but not to 70,000 people.
Andrew: Actually, I am wondering why you are so open. When I saw these notes, I thought, “I can’t believe he’s willing to say it. I have LinkedIn Premium. I can probably find out who his past CEO is. How is he able to say this about his dad?” Why are you able to say this stuff?
Scott: It’s liberating.
Andrew: Did you got to therapy to do this or was this a personal thing?
Scott: It was a personal breakthrough. To me, I survived in my family, my household by truth. It was black and white. That was part of the reason my father resented me. I said what I felt. Sometimes you shouldn’t. Because I don’t have a boss, I don’t answer to anyone other than myself and my wife. She doesn’t require that I answer to her at all.
It’s completely–it’s a complete freedom. I don’t have parents. I’m an orphan. I don’t care what my sister thinks of me. I do, but not so much if it violates who I am as a person. I have no constituents. My employees–I care what my employees think and my contractors.
I want to be a good person. I live my life that if I’m not willing to post it on Facebook and talk about it, I’m not going to do it. That’s my barometer. So, there is nothing worse than what you see. Do I smoke pot on occasion in a state that it’s illegal? Yes. If they want to arrest me, fine. Do I lie, cheat, steal? No. Do I tell someone I think they’re an asshole if they are? Yeah. Did I tell Mark Cuban that he’s a jerk on TV and otherwise? Yeah, because I felt it. It’s a liberating experience.
Andrew: I’ve known about your company. I’ve known about SCOTTeVEST, your clothing line for years. I had no idea about the person behind it. I had no idea you were like this. I never even thought to check on your Facebook page. Who thinks to go check on the Facebook page of a guy who makes clothes?
Scott: It’s my guiding principle. I’m not going to do it unless I would post about it. I don’t think about it in those terms, but there’s nothing I would do, if it’s something I wouldn’t want to tell someone–
Andrew: All right. And you’ve written two books that I should have said in the introduction but we mentioned them earlier on. The first one is called “Shark Bites.” This is actually the most recent book. I saw photos of that on Facebook. There it is in your arms, in your hands. The second on is “Pocket Man: The Unauthorized Autobiography of a Passionate Personal Promoter.”
Man, it has been so good getting to know you and having this interview. I love guests who can be fully open. What do you think of now? I just did a search and I see someone else who’s basically copying you. For some reason, when I did a search for your book I ended up on someone else’s copy of SCOTTeVEST, jackets.
Scott: Oh, yes. That’s an interesting thing. This company completely bought my product, knocked it off, went on Kickstarter and within 60 days sold $9.2 million of basically my product.
Andrew: $9.2 million. That’s what you make in a year, roughly, a little less.
Andrew: How pissed are you at that?
Scott: You know… At first I was uber-pissed. And then I just–it validates the market. So, when I tell you this, it’s true. The prism of everything is truthful. So, this is not BS. I was really mad and then I’m like, “No, this is competition. This is what it’s all about.” If it didn’t violate my patent, which I hope he was smart enough not to do, he just exposed a whole market that I was ignoring and that’s Millennials. I didn’t even know Millennials existed until two years ago. I didn’t know how they thought. So, we’re now focusing a brand campaign called Bring It.
Andrew: That’s a good one.
Scott: X-ray imagery, we’re trying to get this market. The market is so big there’s room for it. What do you search for when you didn’t know it existed, in this case?
Andrew: You don’t wake up in the morning and–I guess maybe you do. I don’t know.
Scott: It’s been really hard for us to establish a market and get new customers. Everyone else is in a space that already exists or solving a problem that someone else had. We have travel vests. If you’re looking for a travel vest, you’re going to find us. If you’re looking for a money belt, how many people are? Not enough. We’ll come up as the solution. But it’s hard.
Now, this other company, which hopefully you won’t name, has given us an opportunity to compare to. I’m pretty confident that we’ve been at this–I wouldn’t want $9 million in 60 days. I couldn’t fulfill it. I couldn’t do it. I’ve been doing this now for 15 years. It is a huge undertaking. If he can succeed at this, even with the advantages of knocking off my product, then hats off to him. He deserves all the success and I welcome him as a competitor.
Andrew: Wow. It does look like they actually haven’t sent it out, from what I can tell anyway.
Scott: No. They’re supposed to ship in November and like most other things on Kickstarter–
Andrew: That’s my frustration with Kickstarter and why I just don’t back it anymore. I go there for creative inspiration. It’s nice to see what people are up to. I’ve really given up on the idea that I’m going to pay and I’m going to get–first of all, getting it in the future is not that great. It’s often so far in the future it doesn’t matter. Second, I don’t think I’ve had any Kickstarter campaign I’ve got anything from, let alone get it on time. I could be wrong.
Scott: I just got a notice that something I ordered for Google Glass, a battery extension called Glazer. It was supposed to ship two years ago. I don’t even have my Google Glass anymore. It’s shipping. I wrote back and said, “I cancelled this.” A lot of people don’t know this. You can cancel your orders even after backing.
Andrew: I had no idea.
Scott: Through your credit card company. You get a refund because they offer that consumer protection if it was supposed to ship and it didn’t, you can get your money. It’s interesting because in this case, that other company at $9.2 million, that Kickstarter had on their merchant account, if they don’t ship on the date promised and people want their money back, there’s going to be $9.2 million in claims unless people are willing to say, “Oh, it’s just the way it is. I was backing them. I wasn’t buying.” To me, you make a promise, you keep it. That’s part of my truthful philosophy.
Andrew: Let me end on a higher note. Steve Wozniak, cofounder of Apple, I’ve known him to be associated with your company pretty much as long as I’ve known your company, right? How did you get him connected with you? This is early days.
Scott: Yeah. He placed an order. My wife, who processed all the orders, said, “Scott, you won’t believe this. Steve Wozniak just purchased something.” Within moments, I emailed him saying, “I’m a huge fan of yours, always have been.” He writes back immediately saying, “This is a great idea, excellent accessory for an iPod.” I wrote back, “Can I use that on my website?” He said, “Sure.”
As a result of that exchange, he’s a series of videos for me called Wazisodes. He’s a friend. He offered–if you look at my Facebook page today, he offered to get involved in the Bring It campaign, which is basically a silhouette of a person in all black and the next from is the x-ray of all the stuff and the third frame, it’s the person and it’s going to be Woz. He’s offered to involve himself in that. I’m going down to visit him. He’s awesome. He’s my idol.
Andrew: He really is awesome. All right. You’re awesome. I’m so proud to have you on here. I had no idea you were–that this kind of personality was behind the company. I’m really proud to have you on here. So cool to get to know your company. The website is SCOTTeVEST.com. Thank you for doing this.
Scott: Forward slash Mixergy.
Andrew: Forward slash Mixergy. Interesting to see how it works. Now you also have a way of testing to see whether Mixergy will deliver orders to you to see if you should be sponsoring.
Scott: Put the coupon code Mixergy to save 20% on all your travel clothes . . .
Andrew: Wait, they have to put in a /Mixergy at the end and also put in a coupon code Mixergy?
Andrew: One or the other.
Scott: To save the 20%, you need to use the coupon code.
Andrew: I see. I don’t even need to go to the /Mixergy, just use the coupon code Mixergy.
Andrew: All right. I’m curious to see. If anyone has it, please also send me a photo of yourselves wearing the jacket. I’d love to see that, Andrew@Mixergy.com. I’d love to see that.
All right. Scott, thank you so much. Congratulations on the success. Thanks for being on Mixergy.
Scott: It was fun. Thanks again. I appreciate it, Andrew.
Andrew: You bet. Thank you all for being a part of Mixergy. The sponsors are HostGator.com/Mixergy and Toptal.com/Mixergy. And if you want to subscribe to the podcast and frankly you should or subscribe your friend to the podcast and you should do that too, just grab whatever phone you see, go to Mixergy.com/Podcast and thanks to one of our members, automatically it will go to directly to iTunes and it will open it up or if you’re not on iTunes because you’re not an iPhone user, it will open it up in whatever you have. Really brilliant, Mixergy.com/Podcast. Thanks, Scott.
Scott: Thanks, Andrew.
Andrew: Thanks, everyone.