Hooked on Startups
Episode #28 with Rob Kessler
You are listening to Hooked on Startups where every week you'll hear from some of the most talented, inspiring, and successful entrepreneurs, who share their real-life stories. How they overcame challenges and failures and how they mastered success. Get ready for some of the best business tips, tricks and tactics, and some frank unscripted discussions. Here's your host Matthew Sullivan.
Matthew Sullivan CEO of Quantm Real Estate - Cryptocurrency: Today on Hooked on Startups I am joined by none other than Rob Kessler of Million Dollar Collar. Rob welcome to the show!
Rob Kessler: How are you doing Mathew great to see you?
Mathew: Let me tell you a bit about Rob. Rob, you are the founder, CEO and Chief Inventor at Million Dollar Collar.
Rob: I am.
Matthew: Before that, you were the founder and CEO of NEWD Clothing which stands for Nothing Else Will Do.
Rob: We made clothing and I thought it was a good fun name.
Mathew: It's a brilliant name. NEWD is like nude.
Rob: NEWD clothing.
Matthew: I think that started as a screen printing business in your spare bedroom that grew into a million dollar business. I want to hear all about that. You've been involved in diamond sales, in real estate and most recently you moved from Milwaukee to Los Angeles to build the Million Dollar Collar business. What else have you been doing?
Rob: I've done quite a bit. I always say I sold the three biggest things most people will ever buy; houses, diamonds, and cars.
Matthew: I want to hear all about Placketitis and how you have a global cure for that little-known disease Placketitis.
Rob: So the part of the dress shirt here with the buttons and the holes is called “The Placket” which most people don't know, which is why we're called Million Dollar Collar® and not Perfect Placket™. People would just think, what the heck is a placket? So we called it Placketitis since no one is immune. It doesn't matter if you have a $15 shirt or a $150 shirt. There's just no shirt that has enough reinforcement in this part to hold up the weight of the collar. So after looking at my wedding photos and I looked like a total beach bum instead of the Thomas Crown cool that I wanted. When I came home from the wedding I saw that there was no reinforcement for this part of the shirt. I started with the idea of a collar stay and designed something to go down the front of the shirt.
Matthew: You do realize what's happened in these last few seconds is you've just created a massive problem for anybody that wears a shirt that was not aware of Placketitis? This here this is what happens when you put a shirt on and you go out, you get sort of bunched up here and your collar collapses and as you say you look like some sort of beach bum. As opposed to you when the camera zooms into you, you see this sort of perfect V shape.
Rob: That's what we say, this part of the shirt frames the face. It draws your attention up but if it's like this it just looks sloppy. It's not going to draw the attention up to the face. No one really cares about the shirt, they're looking at the person and your clothing talks for you. To me, it makes a big difference. Even before when I would go out at night you put on a dress shirt because I wanted to look good but if the dress shirt looks like crap because it's folding and floppy it just doesn't give you the presence that you want. You get confidence when you feel good when you look good. You look good, you feel good.
Matthew: The problem is this is quite an expensive shirt even though I did get it at a discount, of course. But now I'm looking at all of my shirts. You think they just look terrible. So that must have been a really amazing moment when you said, hang on, this is a real problem for people. There must be a solution.
Rob: When I had friends telling me thank you for making me “acutely aware of the problem I never knew I had.” I knew I was on to something. It's one of those things you don't really [consciously] notice. Maybe you tug at your shirt a little bit during the day but you don't think about it because you've always been like that. But once you see it…
Matthew: So your background is in fashion, you started NEWD back in '06 or something like that?
Rob:Yeah. I wanted to work with artists to come up with cool graphic t-shirts so instead of having to sell a $1000 painting they could take that image, put it on a t-shirt and do short run, limited edition shirts.
Matthew:And I remember seeing the videos that explained what the company was, it really was a specialist company that where each of these shirts was handmade and hand printed. Almost like a limited edition set of prints but on a t-shirt. Obviously, that grew very well. So you left what was a million dollar business.
Rob: Yeah I was doing well.
Matthew: So logically talk me through this. You've got this whole thing and you decided in true entrepreneur style this is going too well, I'm making too much money.
Rob:Way too comfortable.
Matthew:Way too comfortable so let's blow it all up and bet everything on black and I've come up with this crazy idea. So what could possibly go wrong?
Rob: I was working on Million Dollar Collar while I had NEWD. So I kept thinking about it, I worked on it while I had a chance but I also have my better half that said, "I can't live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin anymore we need to move, let's make a decision." We came to LA for her 30th birthday. I brought her out here and we had a great time and we decided this is where we wanted to live. She's in fitness so it was either New York or LA. We weren't really getting away from the winter by going to New York so we decided to come here. We said we're going to leave Milwaukee by her 31st birthday and we left a few days before that. We sold everything! We sold the house, sold the car, sold everything we had, furniture and everything. If it didn't fit in our F150 pickup truck, we didn't bring it.
Matthew: I guess is the driver behind that is it because you had the challenge of setting up all these businesses? Do you find that you get to a point where you go this is okay but I don't want to be doing this the rest of my life? Where is the challenge, I want something new. Is that where the Million Dollar Collar idea gave you?
Rob: I think there's something about the beginning, starting it. Growing it's great and getting to a point where it's comfortable is fine but the growth and trying to figure it out is what to me is exciting. It changes the day, the added stress makes you focus harder and work harder and I think that's part of starting a new business that is exciting to me.
Matthew: Because this really was starting from a blank sheet of paper, it was an idea. There are other collar stiffener technologies which mainly involve large mechanical devices you wear on your shoulder. It's like something out of the Victorian age. Did you find that you got this idea and it's really using every ounce of your creative and entrepreneurial abilities to get it off the ground so what were the moments where you go hang on this is going to be the biggest mistake of my life?
Rob: Well starting a new product and a new category is always challenging. I didn't really have anything to go on. One of the things that we found most challenging is what do you buy one place on a website and then you get it and you have to take it somewhere else to get installed so you can use it. So we have this really challenging two-step process to even sell the product in the beginning. That was definitely a challenge.
Matthew: Can you describe what the product is? Obviously, there are the people watching the video but for those on the podcast.
Rob: So yeah here's what it is, it comes as a set. This is one shirt's worth because there are two plackets. It's basically like a collar stay except it's quite a bit longer, it's got this little hook on the end. So what happens is you go to your tailor or dry cleaner and they open up these couple stitches. You can see that every shirt is made exactly the same. They slide this in between the layers of the placket so that this little hook hits under the buttonhole and they sew it back together right through the top. It sits in the shirt and gives the reinforcement that you need.
Matthew: The materials I read somewhere that you destroyed a 100 dress shirts trying to figure that out. How did you come up with a material? How did you start the process? There are all sorts of people who have business ideas where they need to come up with something that appears to be very simple like a collar stiffener. But you need the material that can go through dry cleaning, washing machines, and sunlight, rain, sun. What challenges did you face in finding the right material?
Rob: It didn't take 10,000 things that didn't work like Thomas Edison and the light bulb. The very first thing I did was cut open a very think cardboard box, cut open a shirt and show it to my new wife and said, "This is what I'm talking about." She instantly got it. Obviously, cardboard is not going to make it through a washing and drying so that was just to show the concept.
Matthew: Cardboard could be quite good think of the repeat business there.
Rob:Yeah. I literally was cutting up mini blinds, milk cartons, and zip ties and anything plastic I could find. I tested every plastic that was on the market with high temperature and nothing could withstand dry cleaning.
Matthew: So if we go to your house will we see a little sliver of things cut out of everything?
Rob: Yes. Someday I'll have a display of the 100 different styles.
Matthew: All your blinds have a bit missing and your curtains missing.
Rob: Yeah. You take one shirt and it fits in this shirt perfectly and you take it to the next shirt and it doesn't.
Matthew: First of all you said to yourself this is a great idea. Did you find yourself going hang on is this actually going to work? Did you get the people behind the scenes going Rob you're kind of crazy here? You just sold this business, what are you thinking? How did you come over that? How did you get over that feeling that I'm never going to find the right material? These dry cleaners are from hell.
Rob: Fortunately the full R&D was happening while I still had NEWD so I hadn't burned the bridges quite yet. I did not have the patent when we left Milwaukee. That was one thing that was really up in the air. We actually took 10 days to move across the country so we could see the fly-over states. We stopped a few places on the way out. On that 10-day drive not only was it my wife's birthday we got the call that the patent went through on the 10-day drive to Los Angeles.
There is definitely a lot of time, not only is there 10 thousand dress shirt manufacturers or more all trying to put a little spin on their shirts so it looks different. I had to have something that would fit virtually into every shirt. There are a lot of little things that you wouldn't think about and you would think is pretty easy. When people get it they're like, $2 for a piece of plastic? This is not a piece of plastic, this is so highly engineered that we developed the material which is 100% Made in America. It will last the life of the shirt for $2. Goes in once and stays forever, you never have to think about it again. To me when it comes down to it, to 5 or 10 cents every time you actually wear a shirt.
Matthew: It's getting the understanding of the enormous amount of work that goes behind coming out with something that is actually a very simple idea. It seems simple, like a light bulb.
Rob: Make it look like nothing but we've thought about every possible detail.
Matthew: When you came up with the idea, and you thought, "Hang on the only way that I'm going to get these collar, this idea, the cure of Placketitis. I'm going to need an army of people to install these." Was that almost a deal breaker for the idea or how did you come with a solution for that two-stage process? Where someone else needs to actually install in the shirt?
Rob: Every order comes with very strict instructions. Like it's only really three steps. You open the hem, slide it and then sew it back together. A seamstress who has never seen this before doesn't think they can sew through it, they don't think that it will work. There's just a lot of questions. Yeah, that was a huge challenge and we actually... After we got the patents, so January 2016 we went straight to the manufacturer and said hey why don't we license this technology and let's just put it into production and we don't need to deal with this at all. Unfortunately, dress shirts are very inexpensive to make and even by charging a nominal fee for this it would add too high of a cost to them. They thought it was a good idea but they just weren't sure that people were into it. So we kind of had to retool, we're going to have to go to the end user and get them to buy it which now 19 months in we've sold 92,000 sets. So people are going through that pain in the ass process to get it and then find an installer 92,000 times.
Matthew:And then you get the real momentum is when it becomes sort of mainstream. And I think what happens then is that you'll get the shirt manufacturers contacting you.
Matthew: What sort of insights did you get? I know you've been in the t-shirt business but getting involved in more complex pieces of clothing did you find that the manufacturing processes were modern or Victorian or what sort of strange things did you uncover that you wouldn't have expected when you started talking to these dress shirt manufacturers?
Rob: I think it's a pretty old process. Probably 90 or 95 % of shirts come out of one or two factories. So it's pretty streamlined as far as what the manufacturing process is which was to our advantage. Every shirt has two layers in the collar band and two layers in the placket because there are buttons and holes that are tugging there has to be two layers. One layer of fabric would just shred it. There's always at least two layers, this shirt even has I think three layers on this side.
So, unfortunately, because they're about the same that helped our process but we actually did a Kickstarter a couple of years ago where we were selling our own shirt and we were trying to offer this new technology in a shirt. We didn't get to our goal which actually ended up being a really great thing for us. I didn't want to stock tens of thousands of dress shirts in my little apartment.
The feedback that we got from the Kickstarter was why are you trying to compete and why can't I just upgrade the shirts I already own. When it comes to a shirt you really know what fits, what makes you feel good. And to go and buy something blind that you never tried on before is a lot to ask especially a $60, $70, $80 price point. We just really wanted to allow people to take the shirt they already have and make it a little bit better. The feedback we got from the people who have actually gone through the pain in the ass and figured it out and they just love it and they just won't wear a shirt without it anymore.
Matthew: The feedback that you got from Kickstarter is really interesting to hear that. Like you said even though you didn't hit the figure that you were looking for and the crowd and the information that you got, the feedback that you got, how critical was that in changing your overall direction?
Rob: Well a couple things came from it. One, we had done pre-production shirts so I understood the manufacturing process. I know to add this in during production is only literally, barely, adding one step. When they're about to attach the collar band to the shirt they just slide it in and sew on as normal. The stitches are what holds it in place so we know when we get to manufacturing it's not going to be a big deal. We have a few small brands that are talking about installing it now and we're working out the details. Then again, back to the Kickstarter when we didn't get to that goal it was our first pivot of we're not going to make shirts now what do we do? How do we make this so that it goes in? This is not the design that was at Kickstarter. It had a whole anti-roll tab and all this other stuff on the bottom. This had to be thin so it could slide down in between the buttons and the holes on the edge of the shirt. The design changed, we went back to the drawing board after the Kickstarter. It ended up being the right move for us. We saved a fortune, we were looking for $40,000 it would have taken all $40,000 just to make shirts and then it would have been sitting on a ton of shirts.
Matthew:So effectively what the Kickstarter campaign did is give you this crowdsourced intelligence which enabled you to create something that was much simpler but much more scalable ultimately.
Rob: Right, at the end of the day a 100 million dress shirts are sold every year worldwide. Why try to sell tens of thousands of shirts when I can sell to all 100 million shirts. It just doesn't make any sense.
Matthew: Now that you've actually created this thing and you have the patent are you afraid of competitors coming in and people stealing your idea and infringing your copyright? How do you deal with those sorts of tensions and those pressures on the business?
Rob:I'm always fearful but I guess if I did it right from the beginning. We spent 2 1/2 years making sure the material is right. Some knockoff is going to come around and is going to ruin somebody's shirt because the plastic is going to melt into the fabric. That's going to be on them. Anyone who infringes we have a worldwide patent. What I found out in the patent process not only is it insanely more expensive than you think it's going to be, but it's another revenue source for us. As people infringe and they get sued they're going to owe us money and hopefully that patent will eventually pay for itself and generate income for the company which I never really understood before doing this patent.
Matthew: I think another way of actually combatting that is it's a great name that you have which is Million Dollar Collar. Also, did you find that in order to sell this you had to create a really successful social media campaign which is different then what you had to do with NEWD?
Rob: Yeah, branding is all across the board from the name to the recognition to the presence on social media and it's going to pretty hard for someone to come in now at this point oh we have this or we were the first, we did that. We're coming up on 100,000 sets sold, I think we're at 15 or 16,000 subscribers on Facebook and Instagram. We have a definite social footprint that would be hard to combat.
Matthew: Did you have that knowledge and experience before you started the company? Is that something you had to learn in pretty short order to make sure you created that marketing momentum?
Rob: Always learning, always learning. My partner Steve who is Madison, Wisconsin actually does a lot of the technical, social media, website. He does a lot of that stuff. He's very good. I can see the long distance, I always think 5, 6, 7 steps ahead. Even my wife says, "Dude, why are you talking about this, this is so far down the road." You always have to have those steps in the back of your mind so the decision you make today will be towards the decisions and the stuff that you're aiming towards later. Because if you're doing this thing over here and it doesn't line up with what you want to do later then you're just going to have to scramble later and get that figured out.
Matthew: I'd love to know, are there parts of this bigger vision that you can share?
Rob: Well, yeah so we did the end user, we focused on those customers that had that two-step installation process. Right now we're focused a little bit on the installers so we're talking to the 40,000 dry cleaners in North America, the 100,000 tailors. The numbers are so overwhelming. That's where the focus is and we will soon be redirecting traffic at least in North America from our website right into dry cleaners. It will be a one-step process for our customers. We ultimately want to make it as easy as possible for the person that wants their shirts to look great.
Matthew: So I guess it will be the dry cleaning equivalent of would you like fries with that?
Rob: Right, yeah.
Matthew: I guess every shirt would automatically be offered an upgrade. It's a brilliant idea because it's a great marketing strategy or marketing tool for dry cleaners to differentiate themselves from other dry cleaners. For tailors, it's a new product for them to sell.
Rob: It's a really old industry, dry cleaning. Obviously, there's evolution with green chemicals and things like that. Overall the industry is very old. To have new technology coming into that... We actually did a dry cleaning trade show. We got a great response, everybody was like yeah we're always looking for ways for more sales, for customers to stay loyal. What why this is a really great loyalty program. You go back to the same person, you know that they know how to install it. The guy that's dry cleaning their shirt, cares about the way they look. They probably have the higher amount of shirts, 30, 40, 50, 80, 100 shirts in their closet. Not some guys who have 5 or 10 shirts. There's nothing wrong with that but that customer has more shirts is the dry-cleaning client and once they get it in one they're going to want it in every single shirt. So it's a great ongoing revenue for the dry cleaner and there's a constant rotation of inventory.
Matthew: And did you find that a lot of these things like the business model grew so the more that you got involved it was like this inverted pyramid? Where start off with this idea, this gem of an idea on a beach where you were complaining about your shirt and here you are 100,000 units later. What are the plans, how are you going to scale this? Do you see you being part of every person's shirt in 5 or 10 years time?
Rob: No, obviously in order to grow I have to hand things off and that's always a challenge. Any business owner will tell you that when you start out it's usually just you or you and a partner. I still do all the financials and I still am doing all the Facebook ads and I do all that stuff. Hopefully, you can find somebody who is 80% as passionate and as detailed as you are to fill that role and you just have to kind of train them the best you can to deal with 80%. If you get somebody greater that's even better. My goal in this always especially after we had those manufacturing meeting was dry cleaners were going to be where growth was really going to happen. That's where I want to focus.
Matthew: Does this feel different than the other businesses? You were very successful in real estate sales, you were involved in the family diamond business and we talked about the t-shirt business. Does this feel like hang on I really got something here?
Rob: Well the challenge is that I've always been in a relationship style business. If you're going to buy a $3, $4, $10,000 diamond from somebody you better feel comfortable with who you're talking to. Same with a house when you're spending hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions of dollars. I'm protecting you in this deal you need to make sure that I can trust you. I have always been in a relationship salesman and that's the hardest thing I think we're so digital I don't really sell face-to-face, I sell online.
My customer follow-up, anybody who has a problem we're answering emails and Facebook messages as quickly as we possibly can because you have to have some kind of connection between your customer and you even though its digital. That's been the biggest challenge I think that I've dealt with. I can't talk to everybody and I can't be there to install every shirt. Sometimes things go wrong, the post office loses a package or something I just can't do everything.
Matthew: Do you think that was one of the hardest, is that something that is ongoing? Do you think that's going to be a difficulty or is that just a case of you saying come one this comes with the territory?
Rob:Yeah, I have to let go but to me, if I could get my systems a little bit better I can get a few more things in place I can be a little bit more upfront about the communication and let people now that maybe things might happen. Then maybe I can re-fix problems before they happen. Try to minimize the people that have issues, I'm always thinking about how we do that.
Matthew: What would you say would be the best moment if that was one of the big challenges what was one of the biggest, one of the best moments of the business so far?
Rob: I think the feedback has been the most positive and that's what keeps me going. You hear people that say I love it and the positive feedback that we get we put it up on Amazon a little over a year ago and we don't, we never promoted it. We just put it there as an option and we're on the top .1% of clothing products sold on Amazon without really even trying. So people are seeing it, they're figuring it out, understanding what it is. It's exciting we're looking at many different opportunities. And were sold in 83 countries which I never thought I would have this international business. We have people contacting us constantly to be our distributors internationally. The fact that people believe so much in it that they're contacting us that's pretty awesome.
Matthew: So what are the biggest sort of growth challenges that you think that you're facing now?
Rob: It's customer awareness and understanding. Before we met you didn't even know it was a problem and now it's ...
Matthew: Thank you for just ruining all my shirts.
Rob: So I think it's a balance of ongoing customer education so Facebook Ads, Instagram and just staying in front of people. Having the support for the other people who are going to be doing the distribution for us.
Matthew: What do you find, is there anything that you thought oh my God I have to learn this pretty quick? or is there something that came out of the woodwork that you never expected? Is there something that completely surprised you about this business?
Rob: The whole thing surprised me.
Matthew: Who would have thought 5 years ago, hey Rob, in a few years’ time you're going to have invented this plastic thing and you'll be living in some mansion in LA somewhere funded by billions of dollars that you've generated from completely disrupting the shirt industry.
Rob:Yeah I would definitely love to have that knowledge that I have disrupted the industry. That's my long-term bigger vision goal. I look at big changes in dress shirts and the collar stay was invented in the 1880's and then it was non-iron in the 1950's and there really hasn't been a huge shift, paradigm shift in dress shirts. I vision myself and this company as being that, that's what we are trying to do. We want to be in every shirt, we want to be in production at some point it's just a matter of taking the steps necessary to get there.
Matthew: And I think this is an amazing story of finding a problem in something that you wear every day, that is staring you in the face every day, seeing the problem for what it is and coming up with a solution. There are so many entrepreneurs that think that you need to create some amazing technology or the next Airbnb or the next Uber. Really you're getting enormous growing success from just finding a solution to a problem that 100 million people have over and over again every year. What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who are trying to find something to do?
Rob: I think the next fix is right in front of you, just like this, you find yourself constantly doing this and on the biggest day of my life, my wedding photos I feel like I look like a bum. So it was the last straw and so I just started doing the research and I think some people maybe get a little too ahead of themselves. I did as much Googling and internet searching that I could to see if anything even existed which I found nothing. Then it was doing a patent search to see...
You can get on USPTO and do a little bit of digging but really want to pay someone to do that. The first risk was a $2000 patent search to say alright what do you find that may be buried that we don't know about? Then it's just taking it step-by-step. Try not to get too far ahead of yourself but the patents, the multi-million dollar idea, the game changers, they're all sitting right in front of you. It's just a matter of what do you do in your life that's annoying or could be done easier? I sit in a car and I say if this button was here or this was over here I just feel like it would be easier and would be more ergonomic. I think about things in an ergonomic type of way and how can I make life easier. Where should this be so that it fits easier?
Matthew: And is this something that you always had? That awareness, that looking at things slightly sideways or from a slightly different perspective. Is that something that you feel that you've had always? Or is it something you've developed as you become more self-sufficient as an entrepreneur?
Rob: No, I think I've always had it, it's just a matter of following through. This is the first patent that I followed through all the way. My wife and I we sold everything, moved out here did everything with no safety net. So it's something that I noticed. I talked to a buddy who used to put in windscreens, windshields in semi-trucks. Well, they're way up high, they're a pain. He helped build the arm that helps put those in. It was like, this is my job every day, why is it so difficult, he helped build the thing that ... A hydraulic arm that helps put them in. He made a fortune off of it.
Matthew: I think that is such a valuable piece of advice there. As you said earlier, the solution or the next million dollar deal is probably staring you in the face. It's almost the advice to entrepreneurs is just to learn to get out of your own way.
Rob: Yeah, there's something in your life that is so much more complicated than it needs to be. To find an easier way, a solution to that, that could be it, that could be the next thing.
Matthew: And I'm really excited just for you. I can see if you can tap into these dry cleaners, tailors and all of these other industries. Because you're giving them something that reignites that business. That idea of scale must keep you awake at night with excitement.
Rob:I want to pay their lease payment, I want to take a little bit of stress off their plate. Going in with that positive attitude and it's not about me. I'm making pennies compared to what these guys make installing so it's really in their benefit. It's kind of a cool place to be where I'm not just trying to sell a product that maybe it might sell. It's in demand, they just need to educate their customers about it. That's been really challenging getting the message across of how we get it to as many people as possible. Which is why the dry cleaners is the way to go. The small dry cleaners will do 200 dress shirts a day that's 8,000,000 shirts a DAY in North America.
Matthew:I think you are out of zeros on the calculator pretty quickly.
Rob: So the scale of it on the dry cleaning and the installation side just in the US is crazy. Once it goes international…
Matthew:That's fantastic. I can just see it just growing and growing. What do they say, be careful what you wish for?
Rob: It's pretty interesting when people offer to invest in your company and you're not even asking for it.
Matthew: It's like when you're crying because of the Kickstarter campaign. Now a year later you're turning people away. Where were you when I needed you?
Rob: Can I give you money I want to be a part of this? I want to do it on my own but thank you.
Matthew: I think that's the ultimate pleasure isn't it? So turning down money.
Rob: Yeah right. In the bar 8 years ago when I needed a beer at the bar I couldn't get a friend to buy me a beer. But now I got people trying to invest thousands of dollars. Really mind-blowing.
Matthew: It's always a good idea to remain nice to them just in case. If you're making loads of money and people offer you money be polite when you turn it down because you never know. Rob, it's time for the questionnaire. This is a questionnaire I've adapted from the fabulous James Lipton from inside the access studio. I think he used it from a French talk show. I have 10 questions for you. The first question is what is your favorite word?
Rob: My favorite word in business is probably collaborate. I know in this world I can't do it alone so I try to surround myself with people that can help me because I know I don't have all the answers. I also want to give back more than I get. I think that's why my screen printing business was successful. I never wanted to be a screen printer but I just gave a better product, a better delivery, better presentation. I just did it better because I know if you give more, you get more. To me that's part of a collaboration, you ask me for something and I'm going to give you more then you ask for.
Matthew: Fabulous and what is your least favorite word?
Rob: Least favorite word. Mine.
Matthew: I guess that is the opposite of collaboration.
Rob: My buddy told me this one time... You know the guy that just talks about himself. We would call them ME monsters. me, Me, ME That just drives me nuts, it's the biggest turn-off. When you're talking to someone and they say look what I did, oh me here and me this, I got this and I got that, I do that.
Matthew: We used to call them I specialists.
Rob: There you go.
Matthew: So what are you most excited about right now?
Rob: The dry cleaning growth that the company is at. We hired an employee now, we did this show we're about to do another dry cleaning show. The follow up that we're hearing even though the show was two months ago we're calling people and they say I meant to get to you I had this and that. They remember us and they know who we are and it's not like cold calling. That's pretty awesome.
Matthew: And what turns you off right now?
Rob: You know Amazon is so difficult to work with it could just be so much easier... It's like they don't care about sellers that much. It just drives me crazy when all the stuff I have to deal with, with Amazon. They have the greatest thing when you're a buyer and you're a shopper. It takes so much of my energy to just put my products online on their website and sell them. Now we expanded to Canada and Europe and we're looking at Japan and Brazil and Australia. With a company that is as big as they are, soon to be a trillion dollar market cap I should be able to click a button and be everywhere. It's such a pain in the ass.
Matthew: That's amazing. What sound or noise do you love?
Rob: As dumb as it is I have my Shopify app on my phone and whenever there's a sale I get a chi-ching.
Matthew: Oh fantastic. Okay.
Rob: Stop what you're doing I just got a sale. I love it, that's my favorite thing.
Matthew:So you don't turn your phone off at night for that reason?
Rob:No, I try not to. I have off right now which is really hard for me. It would be great if someone ordered right now, cha-ching.
Matthew: It's very Pavlovian, isn't it when you get that thing? And you get that excitement.
Rob: Yes. I don't need likes or shares on Facebook, I like the cha-ching.
Matthew: That's the real thing. So what sound or noise do you hate?
Rob: I don't know, I don't have too many sounds or noises that I hate. Little yippie barking dogs drive me crazy. There's a lot in my building I have a nice big dog.
Matthew: Proper size dog there.
Rob: He's sleeping. He's my boy. Diesel the Rottweiler
Matthew: Chief Adviser.
Rob: Yeah he's my chief adviser. Little yippie dogs I hate that.
Matthew: What is your favorite curse word?
Rob: I love the F-word, man. I can say whole sentences with that, just that.
Matthew:It's such a flexible word. It's a noun, it's an adjective, and it’s a verb.
Rob: It's everything you need it to be.
Matthew: It's the universal expletive. So you're not alone there. So what profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Rob: I'm actually getting my captain's license. I want to learn to fly airplanes, helicopters and I love driving aggressively. As a profession, I am working on another patent so I'm filing that. I don't know. I would just love to be a consultant eventually. I feel like I have certain knowledge. It's easier to sit on the backside. My wife is starting a fitness website and it's easy for me to say you should do this and you should do that. I just make a suggestion and that's great I tell she doesn't have to do it that's fine. I've done so many different businesses that I have a way of looking at things that are a little unique.
Matthew: I can see that. So what profession would you not like to attempt?
Rob:I cannot do 9 to 5. I can't work for somebody else. Truth be told my dad and me, we didn't have a problem but his business is his baby and we said let's stay father and son and we'll go on our own ways.
Matthew: Let's stay related dad. Everyone knows, entrepreneurs are congenitally unemployable so there should be no surprise.
Rob: I love the Instagram thing. I would rather hustle for it 80 hours a week then work for somebody else 40 hours a week. The stress of not knowing where the next dollar is coming from is a motivator. Being in LA to me seeing, coming from Milwaukee some people have money but it's very conservative money there. You might have a big house and nice stuff in the house but people don't flaunt there. Out here it is flaunted and you either are motivated by that or totally turned off and I'm motivated. I love seeing that, that drives me. Being successful and all of the stress has got to be some payout at some point.
Matthew: Definitely. So if heaven exists what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
Rob: At the end of the day, I'm not a very religious person, I think I'm spiritual and I believe that there's stuff out there. To me, I'm just trying to be the best person that I can be. I help people that I probably shouldn't. I have been absolutely screwed over financially by a lot of people. At the end of the day, I won't stop that. I want to be the best person I can be and if I can be and if I can help somebody I'm absolutely going to do it. That's all I can do. So if he says, "Thanks or you helped a lot of people" I don't need to be known for changing the dress shirt but being known for helping other businesses or helping other people that are in need and that's more about it for me.
Matthew: Perfect. Rob, I can't begin to tell how much of a pleasure it's been talking to you. How do people get hold of you, how do they find out more about Million Dollar Collar, how do they follow you, how do they get a hold of these great things you're doing?
Rob: There's no one else named Million Dollar Collar so we're pretty set up with that. Facebook and Instagram it's @milliondollarcollar, the website is milliondollarcollar.com. My email personally is firstname.lastname@example.org. So if there's anything I can do to guide you on the patent process or sales or any of that stuff I've been through it all. The patent is gnarly so I'm happy to help out.
Matthew: Rob, well thank you once again and I look forward to seeing you again soon.
Rob: Alright sounds good Matthew thank you.