Jeremiah Adler‘s experience in both creative and real estate industries came together to create UP(st)ART Creative, a company that offers shared living spaces for young people pursuing artistic endeavors. UP(st)ART creates very affordable pod-based co-living communities where young people live, work and play together for $750 per month, half the price of a studio apartment. With eight locations in Los Angeles, they’re expanding their organization to allow young people to travel to any city in the world for just $ 1,000.
He is also the CEO of Agile Medical Systems, a medical pod device company that can triple the therapeutic capacity of each room per square foot and protect caregivers from diseases.
Co-living at UP(st)ART
“…when rent is high and you are a young person and this very vulnerable, important and exciting time in your life where you essentially have to sell your labor, your time, just to pay your landlord. So the idea was, how could your home empower your dreams rather than prohibit that?”
Co-living is becoming increasingly popular as more people look for affordable housing that they can share. Residents rent bedrooms in co-living units, which often come fully furnished with utilities included. It’s everything from cooking space to bathroom access.
UP(st)ART is a community built on the common values of creative people pursuing their passions. Jeremiah got the idea of introducing Japanese sleeping pods from the army when he used to sleep in a barracks with many other guys in bunk beds. “I wish there was just a giant warehouse that wasn’t full of homeless people, that was full of the cool people, pursuing their dreams, who wanted to spend the absolute minimum amount of money on rent and dedicate their time,” he said.
There’s a curation – people have to be artists, actors, musicians, DJs, models, comedians, writers, directors, designers, and dancers. The demographic is the “cool broke kids,” as he put it. Members enjoy access to private sleeping pods and share facilities such as recording studios, self-tape studios, office spaces, fitness studios, dance studios, and art studios. Membership is monthly and provides members with the flexibility they need to continue their careers without worrying about signing a long-term lease.
When the pandemic hit and members were laid off after the stay-at-home order, the entire co-living industry was in chaos. Jeremiah lent his innovative spirit to mitigate COVID relief by establishing Agile Medical Systems.
The company employs the sleeping pods they developed for UP(st)ART to maximize patient comfort and cleaning safety during this pandemic. Eventually, they realized that this initial solution for isolating COVID-19 patients could be re-imagined for another crisis and explored the pods’ potential use to get homeless people out of tents and off LA’s streets.
This may probably remind us of the expression “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” Combining two product verticals – homelessness and medical – seems like violating the first rule of business and entrepreneurship. However, for Jeremiah, this is what excites him to do. “With Agile, the idea was to create an organization with the resources to empower these big ideas very quickly. And so through the joint venture partnership, we can build anything, essentially anything we want immediately,” he said.
Entrepreneurs are not their business
“I was so terrified of losing UP(st)ART because I had no clue who I would be without my company. I was my company.”
Fear of failure stalks the world of an entrepreneur, from losing important customers to running out of money. Once fear settles in, it roots us in place and forces us to play safely. It keeps us immobilized for as long as we are afraid. This means that we’ll avoid taking any chances, stay in our comfort zone, and never make a leap towards our main goal.
One thing that sets real entrepreneurs apart are that for them, courage is not the absence of fear, but the capacity to persist in spite of it. Trevor Henson, someone from Jeremiah’s EO chapter, told him something that definitely changed his mindset: “Coming out on the other side, what I realized is that I’m not my business. What I am is an entrepreneur and that’s something nobody could ever ever take away from me.”
What we ultimately need to remember is that our successes do not define us, and neither do our failures. Failure is not easy, but it is always an opportunity of one kind or another – an opportunity to push beyond our usual boundaries, learn something of value, and make connections that were previously unimaginable. Once we look at fear as a challenge, our minds and body will react differently.
Transcript from Podcast
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[00:00:13] Jeremiah: You wake up with giving up on your dreams is one thing, but accidentally giving up on your dreams.
Like it was such a mind- my gosh. I woke up 30 years old and I hated my life. I was becoming a boring Los Angeles, real estate guy, renting apartments and I was making money for the first time, but I was killing myself working. It was a work to play sort of thing just living for the weekends. And it was this epiphany about how real estate essentially was making people give up on their dreams.
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Jeremiah Adler woke up in March with the startling realization that his co-living business for creatives in Los Angeles was going to be demolished by the pandemic. Instead of burying his head in the sand. He took elements of that business and created a whole new and even bigger potential business, agile Modularity.
We’ll hear about his entrepreneurial roots and what strategy he’s doubling down on for growth. Now let’s get right into it.
[00:02:18] Jeremiah: I think the entrepreneurial journey started in when I was a teenager, just because my parents were poor and wouldn’t buy me anything, which was actually great. I, for some reason, I have this very vivid memory. Every single summer and weekends during high school, I would do yard work and in Oregon they have just blackberries overgrown everywhere and sides spent two weeks clearing this giant mountain top of just the gnarliest sharpest blackberries.
I was just covered in blood, but I wanted a drum set. And so there was a very clear sense of being on my own, not having any parents, rich uncles to help me out and just did the most backbreaking labor for eight bucks an hour.
[00:03:17] Natasha: That’s a pretty good amount for back then.
[00:03:19] Jeremiah: Yeah, I was a hard worker and I saw the fallacy in the idea of an eight hour workday immediately that some other kids would come and work a few hours with me here or there. But they would always clock out and I always would try to consolidate as much time as possible, 16, 20 hour days just yard work.
And that was, it just taught me how to work, which should have made me a great employee in theory, because I’m really good at working. Just like gruff, rugged building things. I love working, yet I was a terrible employee. And I guess you did say my first employer was the US army.
Essentially. I grew up in super liberal new-age hippie, Portland, Oregon in a naturopathic community. It was never immunized, never went to a real doctor and never given antibiotics. And the idea of wealth success was indirectly demonized. I grew up with this hostility towards anyone who would happen to be a little bit more conservative than I would like. Anyone who had a nice car. And just have this really immature rhetorical response to, wealth being ill-gotten, not the product of work.
And bumped around in my early twenties. And it was always doing little entrepreneurial things that obviously in retrospect or the foundation of what we’re doing now. When I graduated college, I directed a pilot called Nick Bradley might be an alcoholic in Portland, Oregon for $4,000.
And this was semi-autobiographical after I got drunk and threw a beer bottle through a fraternity window. And it was a whole to do
[00:05:25] Natasha: And you were interested in film at that time, yeah, obviously you did this project, but film must’ve been on your mind before this.
[00:05:34] Jeremiah: It was, the summer before this senior year of college where I transitioned from going to be a lawyer.
I met the first rich person of my entire life. A woman named Danielle Alexandra. She was the writer and executive producer of GI Jane. If you remember that movie. And I took really the first sort of audacious step of my life. She was volunteering at a summer camp because her child wasn’t comfortable staying overnight without his mom there.
So she was there for weeks. I was a camp counselor and we developed this friendship. I asked to see one of her scripts. I was bold. I gave it back to her with a ton of, and within three weeks, I was in the south of France on a 200 foot yacht with the bunch of writers who were working on a rewrite for a pilot to pitch to Touchstone Pictures or something.
And so this was really the first culture shock. It wasn’t just, oh, I met a rich person. It was, we’re being served by there’s more crew than there are guests on the, 12 bedroom, and it was such a confusing experience because we’re on the French Riviera. And as far as the eye can see there, it’s just these mega yachts and sailboats and just the wealth.
I always have this idea of the, demonizing the 1%. I never realized until then that, oh, the 1%, that’s actually still a lot of people.
[00:07:15] Natasha: Yeah. I wondered if that was your gateway to Los Angeles, also your gateway to sailing. So tell me about that. You came to LA because.
[00:07:26] Jeremiah: So I had written and directed a pilot for four grand in Portland, moved to Los Angeles within six months, I had an agent in ICM. Dan Farah was our manager, just executive produced, Ready Player One. Life was happening the way that it’s not supposed to happen happened very quickly. And in a few year period, I wrote directed three pilots. I got hired to write a script to commercial.
Do you think writing for you is like a super power or the ideation and the creativity of a storyline? What was your biggest talent there?
It’s so fascinating. You bring that up because probably the thesis of the past eight months has been storytelling. And if you look at everything I’ve done in life, it’s been a reaction to what happened right before.
And so wrote, directed upon highlight. Cause I got about a guy that, may or may not be an alcoholic who had all this responsibility thrust on him. That was reaction to my experience there that took me to the next step. And at that point I ran out of money. Like I was broke. I literally had no money.
I had no car. I was riding around on a bicycle and I had $11 in my bank account with no money coming in. No checks waiting to clear, no job.
[00:08:58] Natasha: Where were you living at that time?
[00:09:02] Jeremiah: I was getting kicked out of this mansion in Brentwood that I was house sitting for two years. Then she moved to London. So it was great. My one responsibility was to make sure the dogs didn’t get out.
The dogs got out on and Boulevard got hit by a car and I was kicked out. No money, 11 bucks my bank. Okay. What is next? And that was boring story I got into property management, got a free apartment, but that was the transition where I stopped being an artist completely, unintentionally. Just, I woke up three years later and hadn’t put a pen to paper. I had previously thought that you’re an artist. There’s this idea that you have, that you could never possibly be happy or content doing anything else.
[00:10:00] Natasha: As an artist, for me, that’s all I thought I’d ever do. Period. End of story. And I think a lot of artists, it’s that passion and the ability and the talent that pushed you toward that thought.
But then. Life shows up and shows you a different way. So interesting that your artistry as a writer, producer, director led you to LA and survival led you to doing the property management. And then you put it together and-
[00:10:34] Jeremiah: That’s UP(st)ART.
[00:10:35] Natasha: And you started UP(st)ART Creative which is a really cool endeavor. We can talk about what’s going on with that after you explain what it is, because it’s, it is really cool and it is informing you of your next entity, which I can’t wait to talk to you about.
[00:10:51] Jeremiah: So in reaction to the experience. Wow. You wake up, giving up on your dreams is one thing, but accidentally giving up on your dreams. Like it was such a mind- my gosh. I woke up 30 years old and I hated my life. I was becoming a boring Los Angeles, real estate guy, renting apartments. And I was making money for the first time, but I was killing myself working.
It was a work to play sort of thing, just living for the weekends. And it was this epiphany. About how real estate essentially was making people give up on their dreams. And this narrative, you hear the phrase housing crisis and it’s so rhetorical. It doesn’t really need anything, but the insidious thing about it is when rent is high and you are a young person and this very vulnerable, important and exciting time in your life where you essentially have to sell your labor, your time just to pay your landlord. So the idea was, how could your home empower your dreams rather than prohibit that?
We introduced the Japanese sleeping pod to the US market. Everyone thought we were crazy.
[00:12:18] Natasha: And where did you come to that idea? How did you know about that?
[00:12:22] Jeremiah: The army. When I was in the army, I slept in a barracks with 102 other guys in bunk beds. And I always had this thing in the back of my head. I wish there was
just a giant warehouse that wasn’t full of homeless people that was like full of the cool people, like pursuing their dreams, who wanted to spend the absolute minimum amount of money on rent and dedicate their time. And so Japanese sleeping pods, we started with bunk beds. But then we built the pods.
It might be myself, five generations of them. And in what UP(st)ART grew into was, so the mission was to empower young people, to invest their time and money in themselves rather than their rents. And we did that by building these hyper affordable pod based co-living communities that were built around shared interests.
So there’s curation. You had to be an artist, actor, musician, filmmaker, DJ, pursuing a career in the arts. And it was so much fun. The cool broke kids, that’s our demographic.
[00:13:31] Natasha: So during this time, Jeremiah, you have created something really cool. It’s the answer to what your problem was before, but what were you doing beside that to be creative?
Were you writing at this time again or no time for that?
[00:13:48] Jeremiah: No. I was doing nothing creative. This was the explosion of excitement was transitioning from this mindset of “I would never be happy doing anything”. But being a writer director, because that was my creativity to finding entrepreneurship, which, it’s not a hundred times.
It’s a thousand times more rewarding and satisfying. For me, like to me, entrepreneurship is.
[00:14:12] Natasha: That’s cool to hear you say, because a lot of people asked me, when are you going to perform again? When are you going to create another record? Are you going to go on tour? And I’m just like I don’t know.
Like I am having the time of my life with entrepreneurship. So it sounds like UP(st)ART Creative took you on another wave into, this is your creative endeavor. You can’t deny that.
[00:14:36] Jeremiah: Oh yeah. And again, I had no freaking clue how to be an entrepreneur. Three or maybe four or five months I think after we started, we got an investment, an initial investment offer for half a million bucks, which was. Insane. Amazing.
[00:14:53] Natasha: Did you go out for venture capital or angel or did someone just-
[00:14:58] Jeremiah: I had no idea that this was coincidentally the owner of the summer camp, where I bet the Hollywood producer that I met on the yacht with just weird, crazy series of events. And now one of my best friends and mentors.
But it was the epitome evergreen entrepreneur. He loved the idea. He wanted to invest, and then it came time for due diligence and they said “Great. Can we have a P and L?”
A P and what? “A profit and loss or a balance sheet? You just export it. QuickBooks book. We need bank statements.
Can we see your company bank account?” I was like, I am just using my personal account. So everything was completely commingled and terrible. And we made it about two seconds through due diligence. They’re like “Okay, you guys are definitely not ready.”
[00:15:50] Natasha: That is one of the questions I was going to ask you later, but I think we should talk about it now is how did you learn the ropes of running a business from financial reports to hiring firing culture, scaling growing?
Are you still learning on the job or did you get educated in a more formal way along the way?
[00:16:10] Jeremiah: So the biggest transition happens when we brought in a guy named Jeff Zuckerman. He’s our COO. What people saw on UP(st)ART was a disruptive, new, scalable idea. A billion dollar idea. But it had a completely inexperienced entrepreneur.
And Jeff Zuckerman came in as our COO, he was the founder of PizzaRev. Entrepreneur guy. He had a successful exit under his belt and he was really the one that taught me how to be a CEO. And to me that’s the distinction that the overwhelming majority of entrepreneurs I talked to, especially in EO don’t get that or understand that at all.
You’re a business owner, you’re an entrepreneur, a CEO. That’s something very and you do something very specific.
[00:17:07] Natasha: Did you learn from him by modeling? Or did he really sit you down and go, okay, here’s the deal. If you’re going to be CEO of this company, these are the things that are expected.
[00:17:17] Jeremiah: I don’t think he realized how much I didn’t know by constantly absorbed. The first thing was that my time is more valuable than anyone else’s in the organization which sounds ego, maniacal, and was so hard for me to embrace. Because I had this Portland, Oregon gal, for moving bags of sand and every good leadership is being down on the trenches there as well.
And he’s oh no, absolutely. As a CEO, your time’s more valuable than anyone else’s in the organization. And you need to get over that mindset. And my co-founders immediately split me off into thinking mode and then essentially taught me that the three jobs that the CEO has is, come up with a vision, come up with the money,
and then communicate that to the press, your customers and your investors. That’s really what a CEO’s job is. And I was really crummy at it. First couple of years-
[00:18:27] Natasha: What year did it start?
[00:18:29] Jeremiah: Let’s see. Let’s call it- the year before the pandemic was the professionalization, a full 12 month period where we had an experienced executive team come on board, chief real estate officer, and a COO that professionalized the organization.
Made us LPs, wrote a 300 page operating manual, systematized everything so we could scale to other cities and the opportunities kept coming. Except I was incapable of doing the things that were required to close any of them.
[00:19:11] Natasha: At this point a year before the pandemic. How many places did you have?
Yeah, so we got up to eight places, about 3 million in revenue and we were getting ready for a series A…
Are you profitable?
[00:19:26] Jeremiah: We were. We grew with our own revenue. I never took any significant salary at all. And we just kept plugging the money back in. And we were essentially at what, 350,000 of friends and family money in debt, we grew so 3 million in revenue, but people thought it was cool.
And so coming full circle back to the, your idea of storytelling and communication, the biggest Achilles heel that I had as an entrepreneur, which I’ve since overcoming has just completely changed my life, was the ability to tell a business story concisely when you’re not in the room, basically. That I can always sell the dream and talk to a room full of people.
But we had a very real term sheet a year before the pandemic. $10 million term investment, like a 30 million pre money. I forget it was pre or post, but it’s like life changing dreams come true type of thing.
[00:20:34] Natasha: Yup.
[00:20:35] Jeremiah: And it was a new guy that was raising a fund and he said, here’s the term sheet, but I need a pitch deck.
I love it. I know what it can be, but I have to be able to communicate that to my partners. I need a pitch deck and literally it took, I swear to God, nine months to create.
[00:20:56] Natasha: Wow. Really?
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[00:21:21] Jeremiah: Going from having no idea what a pitch deck is to making a pitch deck. Like I have no competitive advantage. That was really hard for me. And it essentially in retrospect, destroyed for the company because we had a full year when there was capital on the table, everyone thought it was a brilliant idea.
And I couldn’t just get over my hangups and learn PowerPoint. It was literally that simple. I didn’t know how to use PowerPoint. And then finally, okay. Then we hire an investment bank. We got there. But we could have been there in 12 days rather than 12 months. And unfortunately..
Oh yeah, it was April. And so that’s the Woody Allen humor of this. I started a company that was based as a high density COVID company. Right before a pandemic, when, buy magazines phrase of the year, it’s going to be social distancing. Right before we were talking about the social benefit density.
And literally, the entire co-living industry is, has been into chaos.
[00:22:44] Natasha: Did everyone move home to their family?
[00:22:48] Jeremiah: Oh, so this is as a rent arbitrage based company. There’s no worst position that you can be in because you are in this weird middle place where you’re not a landlord, you’re not a tenant, or you are a landlord and you are a tenant, but basically our members are all, the cool broke kids.
They all immediately got laid off by the first day at home order. And then the eviction moratorium essentially means the, there’s 400 beds that don’t have to pay us for the past eight months, yet we’re accumulating debt to our landlords.
[00:23:28] Natasha: Do you own any of the buildings?
[00:23:30] Jeremiah: Oh no. So this was the fallacy that the industry was following after we were. There was this perceived system and rent arbitrage, and, oh, we’re a tech company, not an office space. This is the insanity of the world now. The most valuable private company in the world was a shared office space. Now the entire world’s given up their office space.
I was pursuing high density co-living and so-
[00:24:02] Natasha: It’ll come back, in a year and a half.
[00:24:04] Jeremiah: In theory, yes. I’m much, much too impatient for that.
[00:24:09] Natasha: Of course. You’ve got other things going.
[00:24:12] Jeremiah: Oh yeah. The stay at home order hits. What the hell are we going to do?
[00:24:17] Natasha: I love the idea of UP(st)ART Creative and it sounds like you’re about to make an exit from that company one way or the other, is that correct?
Oh, yeah. Most definitely. Yeah.
So let’s jump right into when I saw you on the news and you on social media, my jaw dropped. I was like, oh my God, this is brilliant. And that idea that you had, I don’t know what month it was. April, May, it was early, early on. You were on the news talking about these modular spaces for, I think COVID and medical uses.
And you now have a new company, Agile Modularity.
[00:24:58] Jeremiah: This is the craziest. Not if it makes any sense at all that a stay at home order here. We had been negotiating a $500,000 loan with a family office to open the ninth property for UP(st)ART. We just wired them $5,000 for their attorneys, the documentation fees.
Then the pandemic kits. It’s clear that there’s not going to be any capital raising. And this family office ghosts us and I bummed out depressed. Like what are we supposed to do as entrepreneurs when we can’t be entrepreneurs? Suddenly UP(st)ART didn’t need a CEO, it needed CPR. It just needed to tread water.
There was no growth. There was nothing for me to do. So after feeling sorry for myself for a week, long lost uncle called who’s a doctor. And he said maybe there’s some way you can use your silly pods to help increase capacity during the pandemic. And I woke up in the middle of the night, started scratching some pen drawings.
It took me eight days to finally get ahold of this family office guy. Got on the phone with them. And I was like no. Don’t worry about the five grand. Don’t worry about the loan. Why would you give us a loan? I have something big. I have an idea. And what we did, change the concept of the Japanese sleeping pod to be a negative pressure isolation unit for COVID patients, because they were, I’m imagining thousands of people were going to be in stadiums as patients dying. We needed a way to separate their germs. And somehow eight days after the idea raised $300,000, no pitch deck, just based off of a napkin drawing. And this started the modular concept basically. And I brought in the largest lobbying firm.
Englander Knabe & Allen in California is an equity partner to handle all the B2G sales. And then Adam Englander became a co-founder later on. And so now it was like, oh we have money. We have lobbyists. These guys play golf with the mayor sometimes. That sort of feels like a grownup in contrast to UP(st)ART.
And then as they were talking to the city about our negative pressure pods, they said, these are great. Can you do something for homelessness? Because every single rec center is being converted to a homeless shelter in Los Angeles. And yeah, sure. Put the inventor cap on and it evolved and evolved.
Today I’ve essentially built the playground, the home that I hope to spend the rest of my life in. I don’t want to raise more venture capital. We’re still taking, friends and family money. We just signed a joint venture agreement with DuraMax US P olymers, giant international manufacturing conglomerate, a hundred million dollar organization to essentially
bring our ideas to life. And so I’ve essentially created a parent company that has some city areas that all follow this common theme that couldn’t be further from living from UP(st)ART. Our product pursuit thesis is making disruptive designs that reduce human suffering and are timely and relevant.
So there has to be a specific reason to do what we’re doing right now.
[00:28:40] Natasha: And where are you with that process? Like, are they being manufactured, built and used? Are they still in the ideation?
[00:28:48] Jeremiah: So we are pre-revenue, I am guessing we are definitely on that transition from pre to post revenue the negative pressure isolation pot, this all started with, is probably a hundred days away from FDA approval.
We expect very big sales. A CEO of a Providence hospital called and said, if we had FDA approval now, they’d buy 700 units for this.
[00:29:15] Natasha: What are the units’ cost approximately?
[00:29:17] Jeremiah: 20,000. 20,000. And they have recurring revenue for us, a disposable filter. They are revenue generating for the hospital and bigger picture that, the, this idea of coming back to storytelling is, as soon as we got, spread with two product verticals, homelessness and medical, it became very hard to communicate to people.
It’s wait a sec. This is violating the first rule of business and entrepreneurship. You pick one thing, you go after that, you can’t go in all these directions. And fundamentally that’s what I wanted though. The whole time I was an UP(st)ART, I always wanted to do the next thing. Next thing, the next thing.
And it would never work. And so with Agile, the idea was to create an organization with the resources to empower these big ideas very quickly. And so through the joint venture partnership, we can build anything, essentially anything we want immediately.
[00:30:23] Natasha: It’s amazing to hear you talk. So the storyline. Went from Portland, Oregon, shunning wealth and money, realizing that you can actually do good with money and that people can be good people with money.
You put away your dream because of practical reasons you had to go and get a quote unquote, real job that led you to UP(st)ART which is, I think, just a great entity. And then pandemic hits and it just kicks your butt. And now you’re using the words, FDA approval.
Honestly, it’s a great therapist. I never patented anything in then suddenly I say it and it’s oh I’m going to start inventing things.
Yeah. What is the most pressing challenge right now for this new venture?
[00:31:12] Jeremiah: So transitioning into a sales or organization, which literally within a matter of 10 days now, it’s obviously overwhelmingly frustrating getting a phone call from a CEO of a Providence hospital saying that, when can I buy this?
I want to pay you $14 million. And you can’t legally sell it because it’s an FDA approval. That’s really frustrating. Now, simultaneously we had just went with DuraMax there, the Home Depot shed guys, they’re the largest manufacturer of storage solutions in the country, but in their making our homeless shelters. Literally 14 days ago is when
the realization came of, we could combine the two things. Our negative pressure pod goes inside of a hospital. And so it’s considered a medical device that needs FDA approval. Our homeless shelters are obviously not, but what the hell are you going to do with those? Now again, woke up in the middle of the night.
Completely redesigned the homeless shelter. And now we have these rapid deployment, modular cubes essentially, that are symmetrical and pinned put together like blocks and literally any configuration you can imagine. So in there 120 square feet each, which is the average size of the hospital room.
And so if you literally wanted to build an entire hospital with these things, you can, they’d move around on the forklifts. Four of them fit per flatbed truck. You can literally, scale capacity immediately anywhere. And the idea is, do not put COVID patients in them, although you can, early on in the past two weeks realized that there’s an inefficiency between having the infirmary tents outside and your COVID did med surge inside.
And so the way we see these being used is your bumps and bruises, your business as usual, your stitches, move all of that outside. And these are sexy, sweet, you would want to go to the doctor in one of them. And then, essentially turn your entire hospital into an ICU and now the public doesn’t have to enter, or the healthy but injured public doesn’t have to enter a contaminated hospital during a pandemic, exposing themselves to risk. And you get an increased efficiency among your hospital staff. So we went from this organization that was not sales focused, that was essentially R and D. Okay. We got a hundred days on the FDA and then the homeless units, that’s a, B2G play.
The lobbyists are doing that. That’s an unhurried three to 12 month sales cycle for a given PO. Now within a matter of days because of the partnership that we created, we can really manufacture immediately and our production capacity. We can increase the US healthcare capacity by 0.8% in 90 days if we max out our production capacity. So everything is in place to change the world, save lives and fathomable wealth, except sales.
[00:34:53] Natasha: And what are you going to do? One of the questions that I was going to ask you, and I think this is probably the focus, is what strategy will you double down on to scale and grow this new business?
So I think your response is going to be getting a sales team?
[00:35:08] Jeremiah: So, no. One lesson I’ve learned, I loved UP(st)ART to death, but done dealing with the public and don’t want to have a ton of employees. We became the bloated organization with 35 employees. It was too much. And so the way that we’ve successfully pursued all these verticals is by outsourcing as much as we can.
And so the whole, I do believe this is going to be successful, is outsourced sales partnerships. Our product thesis, it relies on a low number of high volume customers for a high price point item. Items that are relationship-based. Between all the verticals, the lowest price point we’re going to have is 5,000.
The highest one is 50 grand. We don’t do any B2C stuff. It’s a government fortune, 1000 in NGA. Business women. And so we’re bringing in a VP of sales, but we need to mobilize an army across the country. We can’t scale-
Will they be independent sales reps?
Oh yeah. So very generously commissions, you can make a few hundred grand in the next 90 days.
So in the durable medical world that this is pre-existing and the B2G, there’s just these government brokers, lot of them ex military guys, veterans that connect people with something to sell with the right government agency. And so I want to design stuff, build stuff, and keep a slim organization that as B2G sales five or $10 million purchase order.
That’s the new exciting challenge. I’m curious if you’ve ever experienced this as an entrepreneur. But the transition with UP(st)ART, all the people we hired, it started with my brother, my cousin, my fiance, it was an organization built of peers. Whereas Agile from the beginning, every single person in the organization coming in with stock, is richer than me, more experienced.
[00:37:22] Natasha: I’ve checked out the website.
And I was like, wow, Jeremiah, you’re in deep. It looks like you’re in good company.
[00:37:29] Jeremiah: This is the joy of entrepreneurship. It’s taking that mentality from Portland, Oregon from being a kid of rich successful people or bad to, wait a sec. Hey. Yeah, some rich people are assholes, but the successful people I know, smartest, most engaging, most generous people and just being around them, absorbing that wisdom, is such an incredible growth experience. And to me, that is now thesis of life is growth. The most important thing anyone ever said to me about entrepreneurship was actually someone from our chapter Trevor Henson, we were getting sued there. This is when there was a near hostile takeover of UP(st)ART.
[00:38:16] Natasha: I remember this time. I was around during that time.
[00:38:20] Jeremiah: Oh yeah. In so much, like I was, I couldn’t sleep.
I was so terrified of losing UP(st)ART because I had no clue who I would be without my company. I was my company. And Trevor who had a similar experience, six months earlier. He said, my gosh, these words impacted me. He said, “I felt the same way, but coming out on the other side, what I realized is that I’m not my business.
What I am is an entrepreneur and that’s something nobody could ever ever take away from you.” You can go bankrupt. You can get sued. You could lose everything. But that was just like no, I’m not an artist. I am an entrepreneur. There’s no other option. It’s oh crap. The COVID breaks out a pandemic.
I get kids sit there for 12 months. It gets there for 12, 12 days and sleep. We have to do that. That’s what you’re doing. And it’s the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had.
[00:39:24] Natasha: I’m right there with you. I understand. And I think most entrepreneurs would understand being, being able to be an entrepreneur. It means that you can get slammed down on one side and there’s this comeback bigger on the other. And it doesn’t even have to be with the same thing you got slammed with. It could be a whole new thing. And then guess what, all the stuff that you learned along the way now is amplified and you’re using language and words you wouldn’t even have had access to a few years ago.
[00:39:56] Jeremiah: Yeah, absolutely. And now, as an entrepreneur, I think realizing that, embracing that, which is so.. The joint venture with DuraMax, there were lots of points in that deal. We could have negotiated harder on, but to me, it was like, this is a deal of a lifetime and I should be paying him.
This is a YPO guy, the CEO of a hundred million dollar corporation. And now I get to talk to him three times a day.
[00:40:26] Natasha: Wow.
[00:40:27] Jeremiah: I know you’ve experienced this all the time. This is what we as entrepreneurs, we all have this same conversation with our non entrepreneur friends that you try to help you try to give opportunity for, and rather than doing whatever they can to pursue that opportunity.
It’s- wait a second. What’s in it for me? And that was the biggest personal growth experience I ever had and, it was shedding these childish ideas about what money is, what wealth is, what success is. A year of therapy, I got to where, the therapist said to me, you don’t give a shit about money.
The idea of money, conceptually, yes. Money is a good thing. You want to do that? But, as an entrepreneur, like it’s not the money that comes in or definitely that’s not the rewarding thing. That’s the check mark.
[00:41:28] Natasha: Yeah, for me, I think, I have enough money to do what I want to do. I live a pretty modest lifestyle, but for me, the biggest payout is I get to do whatever I want to do pretty much all day long every day.
There are little things that I have to do that actually I don’t love and I really could and slash should delegate and will shortly, but basically I wake up and I’m like, cool. Like everything that I have on my agenda and everything that I come into that isn’t on my agenda is something I want to do.
There’s no money in the world that can replace that. And I’m interested in what conversation you and I might have in 10 years, what this next venture will inform you to do next.
[00:42:15] Jeremiah: And this is the question, is this just another company? Or why, when I’m not trying to build a company, I want to build an organization that empowers all of my other ideas.
And, Matthew Walk for example, is joining us from EO on the medical side. One of the things we’re doing with this parent company subsidiary model is, we can share all the resources with manufacturing, with lobbying, all of that at the head level. But if we have people that come in and they have an idea, we’re not making everyone sign an IP assignment.
We’re saying, look, if you invest something, it could benefit from our resources. We’ll create a new subsidiary. We’ll split the equity. And then there’s a way to satisfy that urge excitement, the next project and that. I’m excited to see where it goes.
[00:43:12] Natasha: Jeremiah is a truly fascinating entrepreneur from screenwriter to co-living founder, to developing a solution for COVID isolation patients and the homeless. His story is still developing as any true entrepreneur does, we don’t rest on our laurels. We’re always innovating. For more information about me, go to my website, natashamiller.co.
Thank you so much for listening. I hope you loved the show. If you did, please subscribe. Also, if you haven’t done so yet, please leave a review where you’re listening to this podcast now. I’m Natasha Miller and you’ve been listening to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS.