Lunch with the Shark
Welcome to another episode of Lunch with the Shark, join us as we dive deep into discussions about business, accounting and finance to help you build a business that thrives. Now sit back and have a bite with your host, the Shark CFO, Vidal Espinosa.
Vidal Espinosa: Well, hello, hello. Good afternoon, welcome to a new edition with Lunch with the Shark, I am your host Vidal the Shark CFO Espinosa. I am really happy to be here with you this Wednesday afternoon, is it Wednesday? Yes, it is, it is Wednesday. Wow, days are flying so fast and time flies everything goes and how are you? Are you on track to achieve your goals for this year, are you on track to achieve every milestone that you set, that you have visualized, mentalized? Clearly stated I hope you are. Today we have a special guest, Rob, he is an inventor, he is a Million Dollar inventor and he is going to tell us his story and we're going to have a little conversation with him. I am going to let him tell you what was his invention, how he came to create it, and it's going to be fun.
Today we actually celebrate National Pack Your Lunch Day. Do you want to see what's in my lunch? I'm having cheese slices, Havarti cheese I actually love cheese, it's really nutritious. I did pack this for my lunch today, no that's not true. It's National Pack your Lunch Day, also we celebrate national Mario Day. Everybody out there whose name is Mario, today's your day but this actually Mario from Super Mario Brothers. Do you Remember that game when you were young or right now if you are a gamer? And today it's actually national Landline Telephone Day, it's not cell phone day it's national Line Telephone Day. Who still has a landline? I don't think, we don't have one. At least I think we have one but we don't use it, I think we must have it for the internet down here but we don't use. Today is also World National No Smoking Day. So if you smoke try not to smoke today, celebrate that day. It is up to you whether you want to continue smoking or not.
Last but not least National Ranch Day. I remember when ranch dressing was the best thing ever on the planet, I think it was the best thing after sliced bread and I remember my mom and my aunt buying the packages, they did not sell it in liquid form, they sold it in a package. They had to make it and they actually sold the package with a bottle where they had to shake it, this was a long time ago. If you remember that, Ranch, wow, but okay today they hope they sign the new bill into law, the 1.9 billion dollars stimulus to incentive the economy, reopen our schools in the U.S., incentive the small business. Another loan to the U.S. population of 1400 dollars and so forth and so on. Let's bring on Rob our guest today. Rob, welcome to the show and thank you for joining us today. How are you today?
Where are you joining us from?
Rob Kessler: I am currently in Los Angeles, California but I close on a house tomorrow in Georgia and will be moving there this weekend.
Vidal Espinosa: Wow, so you are also in the closing process of a house. We are in the same boat then. We're not moving to Georgia or any other state; we are actually staying in California, in Chula Vista. We were supposed to close on Monday now we're not closing on Monday I think we're closing in a week and a half. Damn, how has the process been?
Rob: It's been really easy because my wife's in Georgia, I'm not even there. I have never even seen the house, apparently, it's great, it's on 5 acres, it's 4 times bigger than the house I'm in right now and less than half the price so I'm excited about that. It's actually gone very quick, the market is insanely hot right there so we got the accepted offer on the 28th of February and we closed on the 11th. It was just an 11 day close and there were 9 offers on the house so we were fortunate to get it so we didn't have to keep battling with these same people to get the property we wanted.
Vidal: The market is insane. We were watching the news this morning featuring this couple that they presented 19 different offers, none of them have been approved, 9 of them they've been the highest bidders on those houses but sellers for some reason did not want to go with their offer. A solid offer, good down payment, good approval, good everything, and the market is extremely hot. People think, experts think the prices are still going to go up 6-10 percent more and it's a seller's market. There's no inventory out there. What made you move to Georgia? Leave amazing sunny California even though it's raining right now in LA?
Rob: My wife is a stunt woman and there's a lot of production happening there so she's already worked more in the last 3 weeks this year than she did all of last year. It's a little too slow to open here, it's insanely expensive and just hasn't been worth it for us anymore. We're always up for a new adventure, we sold everything we had 5 years ago and moved to Los Angeles from Wisconsin and now it's time to unload and move on and start a new chapter. We're excited.
Vidal: Unfortunately, California is a very, very expensive state to live in, mostly because of taxes, mostly because of compliances. you are 100% right I was reading a story about Hollywood, just dragging their feet to open back and it's going to take several, several years also because of the movie theatre situation and things like that. Wow, your wife is a stunt woman, you are an inventor. Talk to us about how this happens, it's amazing?
Rob: I think that the two of us getting together that sparked all of this. We both had our goals in life and the two of us have just made things happen. My product came about on my wedding day. We got married in Jamaica on the beach, a very casual wedding so I didn't wear a tie and my brand new freshly pressed shirt was a crumbled mess and I hated it. So I spent all day tugging at my shirt and most of my pictures looked terrible on the biggest day of my life.
I came home from Jamaica and started screwing around with shirts and cutting them open and sticking different materials down and trying to figure out what the right solution was. Everything else seemed to be around the collar some way or another and there's nothing that reinforced the placket. The part with the buttons and the holes down the front that's the part that collapses, there's no structure there. The reason is dress shirts were designed to be buttoned all the way up and worn with a tie so I'm the first person to take a material that we developed and it's a permanently installed piece that goes inside of the dress shirt, it's in between the layers so you never see it. It looks great and keeps the structure here no matter what you do, wear a jacket, no matter what you do all day long it stays perfectly.
Vidal: Wow that is great, that invention came because of your wedding day. You did not like how the shirt looked, you looked in the pictures and you took action. You actually took massive action because a lot of us say, "I wish I could have gotten better pictures if this would have happened." You did the following step after I wish I would have done something differently or I wish I could have done something or I wish I could do something. You did something, what made you do that? Obviously, it got you really upset about your pictures and the discomfort. What happened, what made you do it?
Rob: I just think dress shirts are a go-to for a guy, at least for me it's the most versatile thing I could wear. I can dress it up, I can dress it down, I can button it up and wear a tie or wear it untucked. I can roll the sleeve, you wear a dress shirt when you want to impress people and when it's sloppy and hanging and it doesn't look great then I don't think you're impressing anybody.
It just drove me crazy. I was in an adjacent business in the screen printing and embroidery business so I had a little bit of contact with the fashion world and production. I just said I'm just going to tinker around a little bit with this and see what happens. My wife was insanely supportive and that's what helped me go through 3 years of RND and 100 ruined shirts to figure this thing out. We finally got it perfect, so after we sold everything we owned and moved to Los Angeles on our 10-day cross country drive the patent was approved. That was a reaffirmation that we were doing the right thing. It just lined up right for us and we jumped in with both feet.
Vidal: So what has been the biggest challenge in your business? Have you ever had a business prior to this? Were you thinking as you were doing the research and development in going into business on your own or to market this, what was your train of thought about this?
Rob: I've had several businesses so I'm not unfamiliar with it, my dad's an entrepreneur, my aunt, my uncles. Everybody has their own thing so I've got my foundation good. I started out in real estate when I was 24 years old so that's really your own business when you're an agent because there is nobody really there to support you. I wasn't worried about that, just to figure everything out. The hardest thing about my product is it needs to be sewn into the dress shirt and even though there are 10's of thousands of dry cleaners and 100,000 tailors around Americans typically don't tailor their clothing as Europeans do or Asians do.
Getting over that hump to let people know it's really not a big deal to open up a couple of stitches on your shirt and have them do this. The only thing that is easier is to put a button back on. The tailors that do this once are so easy. It is so easy I taught myself how to sew and I can do any shirt in 5 or 6 minutes. Actually, I just got 80 more shirts on my doorstep today of brands that we buy and we upgrade and we sell on my website. I have a bunch of Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and Tommy Hilfiger shirts in. I taught myself how to sew and it's really easy to do. The biggest challenge is letting people know that it's not that big a deal.
Vidal: There are always ways for improvement like you can just go and pick it up on a rack and wear it but actually, it looks different if you go to the tailor. It's going to take you 5, 10, 20 bucks to have a shirt tailored to your body and make it look better. Even in Mexico, we do it in Mexico. You said you've had multiple businesses, what were they?
Rob: So I had my real estate business, I had a screen printing and embroidery business that I started in the basement of my house and grew that to over a million dollars in revenue before I sold that. My wife and I owned two commercial buildings, we had 32 offices between the two buildings so we did a little bit of real estate investing. We sold those buildings 3 years ago to buy a boat, we bought a 50-foot yacht and started a yacht charter business here in Los Angeles and that absolutely exploded which we're selling that business right now.
My wife has had a gym which she started in the park after work after her corporate job. She became named the #1 trainer in the city of Milwaukee after just two years of being a trainer. She has her own online website for her fitness business. She's a stunt woman, so we have 5 active LLCs between us right now and we're always working on multiple different things.
I think it helps your brain active and keeps you thinking. I love the charter business, I'm a 50 ton Master Captain so I'm the one driving the boat, so when I'm out there it gets me away from my desk and it gets me to think outside the box and gets me away from the grind of doing day to day work away from email. it just gets me thinking and lets my mind wander and I happen to be making money while I'm doing it so it's double great!
Vidal: Entrepreneur gene on you and your wife as well it's amazing. If you don't mind sharing 3 tips like what would be the 3 basic or the best tips that you've shared in your entrepreneurial life or you can share with people who are thinking or have just started their entrepreneur career. I call them self-employed because I don't call an entrepreneur business owner title, they must be earned. Self-employed’s what would be your 3 tips of advice that you can give them?
Rob: Number one is you have to persevere so I've heard no a thousand times with Million Dollar Collar. We've talked to every major brand and there's no reason this should not be in every single shirt that comes off the rack, and they keep saying no so we just keep finding other ways to get this into shirts and get it in the hands of customers. So you have to be able to keep grinding and keep moving forward even if you only move forward an inch you just have to keep moving forward.
Number two is to find a niche, in the charter business and in my business, I was familiar with charters I was running another guys boat and it seemed to me that every other boat was these two-story boats that most of the captains lived on, they weren't very sexy and they weren't very fast. I didn't like the seating and I didn't like the arrangement and the setup for them. When we bought our boat it was totally different than every other boat, it was faster, it had a big u shape seating area so that everybody could sit together, you're always outside, there's just a small down stairs space with a couple of bathrooms so we found a niche, we found something a little bit different and set it all up and we did the same thing with our commercial properties.
The third piece of advice is to find a partner, if you're going to find a partner find someone that can fill in the gaps. My wife is insanely organized, she's totally type A and she helps make my ideas come to life. Not that she's not creative by any means, she's very creative, I kind of come up with these concepts, and now what do we do? I've got a partner in Million Dollar Collar that he's really good at executing on some of those things, my wife was really good at the boat business and organizing it and getting contracts down, and staying in touch with people, and closing sales, and I helped maintain the boat and run the boat and so we have our own things.
If you're going to find a partner it's good to not find someone who's exactly like you, find someone that's opposite of you to fill in the gaps. You're going to fight but I think overall the business is going to be better if you can find a way to work out.
Vidal: Yeah, because both of you have a different point of view, perspectives because you're not the same you actually complement each other. You just nailed it on three tips that every single entrepreneur out there needs to focus on. It's very clear because if you want to sell to the world unless you have the capacity and you're capable of delivering to the world that's perfect. You need a niche, then you can actually focus your marketing dollars and your efforts on that little niche.
Look at the Target logo, they know their market right? Target is like Walmart but they know their market, they don't go to Walmart people they go to Target people. There's a huge difference and also the support from your partner and / or your team most of us look for team members that are like us or follow order people. That's a recipe for failure.
Vidal: Following directions and people that are just yes sir, no ma'am, yes sir, no ma'am. I call them kiss-assers. They don't provide value whatsoever to myself or my company. As soon as I smell one or I get in touch with one in my team they are gone because I don't want people like that. They don't make me grow nor add value to myself. If you add value to your customers but what about your team members adding value to you and your company. Have you ever had an experience like that, that if you have a team that you can share with us?
Rob: We've tried, I've tried desperately to hire people. My dad had 7 jewelry stores with 150 employees and he really figured out how to hire people that believed what he believed. He was very successful at it. I just have not been able to hire people in that regard, we've tried it, I tried it with the screen printing business. I had someone helping me with Million Dollar Collar early on and I have a hard time delegating and saying this is what I need you to do.
My wife and I all of our stuff has stayed fairly small. We're really good at finding a niche, building a foundation, growing a little bit of business, and then selling it to someone else who can take it onto the next level. This will be the third or fourth time we've done that with selling this boat business. That's what we like, that's where we're comfortable and that's where we're going to continue to stay so I know my dad always said if you can get 75-80% of what you want out of an employee then you're great, you're doing a good job.
Ultimately it comes down to you, you're right you have to have people that challenge you and have an open forum that you can discuss. I worked for my dad twice on the sales floor. We had a tough time communicating sometimes because he is sitting up on top saying that I'm making these decisions from up here and I think this is what's good for the company. I'm sitting on the sales floor saying don't forget about this, and we have this and don't forget to consider that. You have to be able to see it from both sides and have an open forum for that. I think that's why he grew so fast and so big is he had a pretty good open line of communication.
Vidal: He listened to understand not just to reply or respond. You being in direct contact with the clients with whoever was getting the service or product they were providing you very important information that you were sharing with the vision of the company right?
Vidal: So how have you dealt with working with your wife and with your dad? Working with relatives, family members, your husband, your wife, your partner it's extremely complicated and it's an art on its own? It's an art you need to know how to deal with it. how have you done it?
Rob: It's funny when I was in real estate and I would see all these husband and wife teams and I would say "I can't imagine waking up next to somebody and working with them all day, and having lunch, dinner, and going to bed and doing it all over again." Then I met my wife and she had a corporate job and I was working from home, we bought this building together and then we built an office which was in between basically our two businesses. We ended up waking up having breakfast together, spending all day together. Our first 3 to 4 years being in a relationship I feel like we got 15 years under our belt because we were seeing each other more than most people do.
We've had some serious battles over the business, because of business. I think at the end of the day we both know where we want to go in life, we both know that we have the best intentions even though it might not always come across that way. If we have a blow-up we reconvene and say look this is where I was coming from and she says this is where I was coming from. Okay, we just kind of missed each other and know that we're on the same level we just work it back out.
My dad and I have been... right now we're closer than we've ever been in our lives but we've battled through work as well. I wasn't the best at presenting an idea. I would say dad your website sucks we need to do this.
That's not a good thing to say to a guy that his heart and soul is in the business. My presentation wasn't always the best. We ended up deciding my dad and I that our personal relationship was more important than a business relationship we parted ways in the corporate world 10 years ago. He has since come back in, he retired from that, and he's very active in both of my businesses, Million Dollar Collar and goTIELESS. I talk to him almost every single day now and it's really incredible tides have changed a little bit because I'm the boss and he's a support guy for me. It's amazing to have a guy who's so successful there at my fingertips any time I need him. It's been great.
Vidal: So he's your mentor?
Rob: Built-in. He started with nothing, grew to the third-largest independent jeweler in the country, and did most of it in a 20-year span. He's gone from nothing to 150 employees and 7 locations. He's seen it all, he's done it all, and as I said, phone call, text, he gets back to me right away. it's incredible, he gets to see my mind and where I come up with these ideas and he helps me implement them and it's just amazing having a guy like that at my fingertips.
Vidal: That is amazing. Your dad, your mentor, your teacher that's great! We're almost out of time, it's been very enlightening everything you shared with us because it's made us understand how to work with our family members, partner, husband, wife, it's complicated but you just nailed it. Communication, clear straightforward communication, and try to learn to separate your relationship from the business. That is amazing. Also, your 3 tips to focus on your company and how to make it grow, that's amazing. Share with us your website, if anyone wants to get in touch with you. Where is your social media?
Rob: Yeah, absolutely. The website milliondollarcollar.com is at the bottom of the screen, we have our technology, our stand-alone product, we have shirts that are already upgraded, we have a mail-in service, we have a lot of great accessories. We have a map of about 650 dry cleaners and tailors that we are already available in. We're on Instagram @milliondollarcollar and Facebook is Million Dollar Collar so we don't really use our Twitter so don't go on there. If anyone has any questions I would be very happy to reach out or to answer any questions about the patent process or your own product and my email is Rob@milliondollarcollar.com.
Vidal: I didn't even go and ask you about your patent process because I am a believer you shouldn't do it on your own, I am a believer that you are an expert in your product not in other fields of the business, so you need to hire an expert to expedite the process and achieve positive results.
That's what I believe in, I don't believe in doing it yourself sort of products for your own business.
Rob: It's just expensive so my advice on the patent is I hired the most expensive guy in town because I knew I was going to put my life and heart and soul into this company so I wanted to make sure I was protected. Boy once you get started that is a rabbit hole that you have to stay on. If you guys are familiar with fidget spinners, the lady patented that and she ran out of money and she couldn't maintain the annual fee and she lost the patent and somebody came around and that became a 100 million dollar business and it was because this lady lost her patent because she couldn't maintain it. If you are going to go in and do a patent, make sure you have deep pockets because the bills never stop coming ever.
Vidal: And you can lose it in a matter of seconds I know, I remember when I was in school and we were in Business Law 2 or something and we were talking about patents and trademarks. There are actually people at the national patent law offices in Mexico just waiting for the expiration of important patents and trademarks so they can register immediately at 12:01 to gain access to those. So it's a very complex world if you don't know about it, hire somebody expert. As you said you hired the most expensive lawyers where you were at. Hire experts don't try to do it on your own because you could lose everything as this lady did. It's sad. Perfect anything else you want to share with us? Any last comments, anything we should do, we shouldn't do?
Rob: You know what I am going to make another plug for my beautiful amazing wife. Fitness and health are a hugely important part of being successful. She has come up with a great website called Transformation Room Fit. They are 10 min workouts that anybody can do, any day, at any time. It's $10-$12 a month, you have unlimited access. It's just nice to get up, get away from your desk, get away from the kids, get away from whatever is going on and knock out a 10-minute workout and feel great, get the blood flowing there's no downside to it. There are really great workouts, a lot of 7 and 14-day challenges and there are modifications but Transformation Room Fit so check it out, get a membership, just have them right at your fingertips. You can watch them on your phone, your tv, anything you need.
Vidal: That is actually amazing. We should probably check it out, you need to change your state at every single moment in your day. If you continue with a routine as you said, it's complex, it's difficult. You need to break the pattern, and you need to shake it. We'll actually share it on our social media and share it again tomorrow and I am going to check it out as well because we do need to break patterns and do some shifts. Amazing.
Rob: I think the first two weeks are free so check it out.
Vidal: Oh cool. So we'll put it on our social media as well. It's been great seeing you, having you, we learned a lot, you taught us a lot of things that we have actually commented on here. You are living proof that we must follow them. Not just listen to them, but we must follow them.