The first real thing would be branching into the trailer industry with Trailers For Cheap. We did sales and service of trailers, basically being a dealer for manufacturers like Haulmark trailers. They manufacture enclosed car haulers, motorcycle trailers, and cargo trailers. The opportunity came from working for an industrial equipment company that was working on a lot of trailers and accessories, and it was just going to be something that would kind of supplement the business.
I feel that regardless of what the industry is, there is essentially a recipe that you can follow from a generic standpoint that will drive any business to success. It’s keeping a reasonable overhead, not trying to grow too fast, and not branching out too fast. With any business, you find an idea that you can market. You figure out what demographic, what group of people you need to reach, and where is your money best in reaching these people, and then from there, it’s adapting with feedback and just building relationships and going from there. It seemed that overhead was one of the first things that kills a lot of companies. They get in too deep and they don’t have the cash flow to be able to support the operation at the scale it was currently at.
In what ways were you able to generate new customers?
Through advertising in a number of places, starting with advertising on eBay. We also bought ad space on racingjunk.com, which was a huge site in drag racing so there are a lot of guys who are looking for car haulers there. You’ve got to have a little bit of budget for advertising to get something to get going.
I learned a lot through SEO (search engine optimization). Uniquely enough, in the trailer industry, a lot of the business is still very old school. Nobody makes use of social media. They don’t understand the importance of search engine optimization. These are websites that were built in 1996. They are not using a content management platform. Half the links are dead links when you try to click on them. They don’t understand that our generation, the people that are becoming the buying power of all these respective companies, we go online to find anything. I didn’t know a lot about specifically how search engine optimization worked, I just knew that it’s very important.
At the company I had worked for doing the race engines, they had brought somebody on that was basically a web developer. He did a little bit of everything and I had learned that was probably one of the best hires we had. It was cheap to bring somebody on and the benefit they brought the company was exponential. Once in my own ventures, I put an ad out to hire for a person with a similar skill set. I ended up finding someone that was a great fit. He was local too so I ended up putting a desk in my office and he worked in my office Monday through Friday from 8-5. I’m a very hands on person so not only did he do his job, I wanted to know about it myself. On top of that, I wanted him to build a couple of websites for me and things like that so it’s easier if they work onsite.
From there, I realized the opportunity of search engine optimization because I would start telling people about it. They want to know what we are doing to generate the calls because that was an industry that had been flooded with companies doing the same thing. That evolved into the Exposure Group which was something that was going to be contract service for web development and search engine optimization that basically offered the same things that he was able to offer me as an employee in my office but to everybody else.
My web developer was going to be able to handle the technical side of things. Also he essentially already had a network of people, mostly in India because you could have labor so cheap, you could pay a guy that’s very qualified for full-time work. They would work for us 40 hours a week every month and $350 would be his pay for the whole month. There is somebody here for everything on our team from graphics to helping with the copywriting, basically anything for building content, writing blogs, even using some things that are more gray hat areas.
Actually, one of my biggest current projects is Silent Rewards and that is based on the affiliate marketing industry. My web developer would always keep an eye on different opportunities and sites he could buy. With Exposure Group, we purchased this company that was already an existing company. It had been running and doing well. It had about 15,000 users on there that were constantly doing things and so we bought it. It was something you can go to and you can take part in offers.
How does Silent Rewards operate?
For example, you would see an ad for a Netflix offer where you can get a free month of Netflix. On our site, you would you earn points towards this offer. So, if you want to do a free one month trial of Netflix, you’re going to earn 800 points to do it. Well, 800 points is worth about $8 so you can do anything from cash out that money through PayPal, redeem it for an Amazon gift card, Hollister, or different clothing companies, etc. Simply put, you can get gift cards or cash for doing offers. Even smaller things like simple surveys. There is a huge opportunity out there to be able to earn money so it’s great for the younger demographic.
What was the cost to buy a website/business like that?
It was about eight months of revenue. I learned that 8-10 months of revenue is about what you will pay for a site. If you have a site that can earn, say, $10,000 a month, you would expect to pay about $80,000-$100,000 for it. If you keep it doing the same thing in 8-10 months’ time, you’ve now got something that has paid for itself and you just have $10,000 a month to blow on whatever you want.
How is Silent Rewards performing since you took over?
It had laid dormant so a lot of the users had left and weren’t really interested in it anymore so it wasn’t doing very much money. It’s the first time that I’ve actually taken an established business, purchased it, and tried to get it rolling again. That is something I’m heavily involved in right now. I’m really excited about it. It’s fun because I like a challenge. I enjoy the entrepreneurial style of starting something from scratch and breathing life into it. Silent Rewards is fun because it’s my first venture into the whole affiliate marketing scene. Somebody else has already done big things with it but is not doing it right now. It’s fun because it’s an opportunity and definitely a challenge.
Tell us about your latest venture Exotic Clutch Technologies (ECT) that seems to be a big focus at the moment.
The main thing that we do is we build after market clutches for Lamborghini and Ferrari. We use Kevlar for the actual clutch material, the same material used in bulletproof vests. We offer a dual friction set up which is going to be a Kevlar and ceramic. Basically, the benefits of these things as many people know in the exotic car industry, the stock clutch in the cars does not last long. It’s for a number of reasons.
Let’s take Lamborghini for example. The Gallardo is one of the highest produced exotic cars of all time. The Gallardo uses a ten and a half inch twin disc clutch while they are trying to keep a low center of gravity, keep a small rotational weight, they made the clutch very small. The material they used, it just wears really fast. In many instances, the clutches last at 6,000-8,000 miles with 13,000-15,000 miles being about the average. The use of it wasn’t a problem because it would take somebody a long time to put 13,000-15,000 miles on an exotic car. Now, Audi owns Lamborghini and the cars have Audi technology so everything about the car from the engine to the brakes to any other area could easily be a 100,000+ mile car and that’s becoming much more mainstream knowledge so people are actually starting to daily drive their exotic. So you’re seeing a lot of Gallardos out there now at 70,000-80,000 miles on them. There’s no reason the engine can’t go longer than any other part. The only weak point in these cars and the only significant expense in ownership is just the clutch itself.
Things really started taking off through there and then from there, I went into social media. I started a Facebook page. People want to see exotic car clutches. They want to see exotic cars getting clutches changed on them and getting worked on. They want to see that different things were involved and what events we’re sponsoring and what we’re doing. I started that and then things really started to take off. I would say around December of this past year, things really started taking off with ECT. It has been around for a while before that but it really started taking off then. When we started the Facebook page, it has been a tremendous amount of exposure. That’s another part of the learning process. I realized that I don’t even have to pay to have a Facebook page and to be able to reach these people. It is a huge amount of exposure and it’s just free, minus the time to get on there and tell people what you’re doing, take pictures, and put them up.
It’s a fitness apparel company that was started by me and a friend that work out. We’d make fun of the same things that anybody else in the gym would make fun of. If you go to a gym, you know there’s that one guy that’s really loud. He is just making all sorts of noise in there and everybody is kind of looking at him like, “Man, this guy. What is wrong with that guy?” We all laugh about it so we made a shirt called The Grunter and it makes fun of this and those sort of things.
We started that, made a nice website for it and started selling some of those shirts, set up a few distributors for it, and again to reach the people, we said, where could we go? Where could we advertise? So this past year, we attended The Arnold Classic. The Arnold Classic is a huge show in fitness and body building and things like that. They have a great manufacturing midway where you can set up and buy. There’s about 300,000 people that attend the event that weekend so a lot of exposure. We went there, set up a booth, and put up a banner. We sold several hundred shirts in a matter of hours. It was insane.
I guess the theme with all businesses, regardless of what industry, whether we’re talking about something in the trailer industry, commercial equipment, fitness apparel, affiliate marketing, search engine optimization, the one thing that holds true for all of them is just basically taking something and breathing life into it. That really happens when you say who do I need to reach and what’s the most cost effective way to reach them? Where is my money best spent? Once you figure out where it is best spent and how you get to those people, it’s a matter of networking, making sure they know about your product and just getting the exposure, as much exposure as possible and then from there pretty much it takes off on its own. You have organic growth. It grows exponentially because the more people that know about it, the more people they know that would have a use for your product and it goes from there.
Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, “Every dream carries with it certain risks, especially the risk of failure. But I am not stopped by risks. Suppose a great person takes the risk and fails. Then the person must try again. You cannot fail forever. If you try ten times, you have a better chance of making it on the eleventh try than if you didn’t try at all.”
Bruce Lee once said, “Don’t fear failure. – Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.”
Those two statements are very powerful. Tons of people have great ideas; however, many will talk themselves out of acting on the idea – thus failing before ever starting. Having a good idea is the easy part. Coming up with a plan that will allow for success and then executing that plan, that’s the true gift. The ability to identify the fundamental pieces that will ultimately be the path to success and then breathe life into them, that’s the hard part. So it’s easy to see, the real talent comes in the execution. Sometimes all it takes is the ability to better implement a design or more effectively reach a demographic.
The idea itself doesn’t have to be revolutionary. Facebook wasn’t the first social network, Windows wasn’t the first operating system, and the list goes on. Exotic Clutch Technologies isn’t the first in the clutch industry, even in the niche catering to the exotics market, but that didn’t stop me from entering anyways. Already, we’re developing products that none of our competitor’s make, and through innovation, they contain solutions that address a void in the market and should better the automotive community as a whole. Some of our competitor’s make a great product, but we challenge ourselves to continually innovate. I don’t want to just make the same thing over and over for years to come. As material science develops, so will our products. So that, combined with what we believe is a more effective marketing strategy for today’s generation, is how we are making large strides as a fairly new player in an old industry.
I would just challenge others to not be afraid to take that leap. To add to the Arnold quote, you will have a better chance at succeeding the 11th time than you did on the 10th… and most definitely than if you never tried. There are plenty of examples out there where people learned from their rejections and failures, adapted, and went on to do very big things.