Which one is more important as an entrepreneur: your connections with others, or your own work ethic?
If you ask serial entrepreneur Michael Alden, both of those are vital. I had the opportunity to talk with him, and he told me all about how he went from living in poverty to starting several entrepreneurial ventures and landing book deals. He couldn’t have done it without the help of colleagues he met in his journey, and his ambitious mindset is what motivated him to work hard throughout his life.
Rising Out of Poverty
As a “kid from the projects,” Michael had to do whatever he could to make money. He did the typical things kids do such as mowing lawns, shoveling snow, and running lemonade stands. Then he did something that wasn’t so typical. “I realized that if I had multiple lemonade stands, I’d make more money. And so I’d literally like franchise lemonade stands out with my friends.” That was an early sign of his entrepreneurial mind.
While in law school, he came up with the idea to sell something unusual: “a freeze pop with booze in it.” The idea became so popular that he got orders from around the world! However, shipping it to other countries became a problem, especially because the product melted easily. He had to put that business aside until many years later.
Then, Michael faced another setback. He needed money to continue law school, but he was rejected from a call center job. He talked with higher-ups at the company and got hired anyway — and was very good at his job. “I started killing it in customer service, making more money than everybody, including the managers there.” He answered customer questions, made sales over the phone, and eventually became the company’s in-house counsel. The skills he honed at that job would prove to be valuable going forward.
Success With Blue Vase Marketing
Michael went on to start Blue Vase Marketing, a company that provided a range of marketing services, especially infomercials. The infomercials promoted a variety of things from pet products to dietary supplements to male sexual health products. Unfortunately, this industry didn’t have a stellar reputation. Michael described it this way: “It is a great industry and these products do help people, but unfortunately there’s a lot of bad actors. And when you’re in that space, you get pigeonholed into that space, and you get wrapped up into it, and you have that perception as well.”
Even in such a challenging industry, Michael found success. Blue Vase made the Inc 5000 three years in a row, and Michael made the Boston Business Journal’s 40 under 40 list. His company participated in events with NASCAR and the UFC. But he didn’t stop there. He became a bestselling author with his books Ask More Get More, 5% More, and Blueprint to Business. He also started a marketing business for authors and publishers.
ConneXtion Capital is Born
Michael was most excited to talk to me about his new platform, ConneXtion Capital, which gives everyday people the opportunity to connect with powerful business leaders. The idea came from his own experience. When he was a young lawyer, he went to a trade show in Vegas where he met Mark Bigelow, a media buyer for an ad agency. That one chance encounter opened up many new opportunities.
Michael believes that there is an “access gap” where people who aren’t from privileged backgrounds don’t have access to influential people who can take their career to the next level. “Maybe they can’t afford getting on a plane going to Vegas where all these trade shows are and then get buying a ticket to 10X Growth Con or do all these things, ‘cause they’re just trying to get access to somebody,” he explained. “What if I could provide a platform where we could level the playing field, where you could get access to people, not necessarily famous people, but they could be famous, but the people that you believe that could potentially change your life?”
With that idea in mind, he created an innovative new platform. He wants ConneXtion Capital to help others like him: humble beginnings, no special privileges, but with confidence and a solid work ethic. “I can’t wait to hear when we connected some kid right out of college with a very powerful influencer or business person, and they go on and build the next billion dollar company. I can’t wait to hear those stories.”
No matter where his entrepreneurial journey takes him, Michael will always value his connections with others in the business world. I’m glad I was able to connect with him, too! You can listen to our full conversation on the Fascinating Entrepreneurs podcast.
Transcript from Podcast
[00:00:00] Mike: Nelly has that song, Bill Gates, Donald Trump let me in, right, because people want in and people deserve to be here. And for whatever reason they can’t get in. So I was like what if I could provide a platform where we could level the playing field, where you could get access to people?
Not necessarily famous people, but they could be famous, but the people that you believe that could potentially change your life?
[00:00:24] Natasha: Welcome to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS. How do people end up becoming an entrepreneur? How do they scale and grow their businesses? How do they plan for profit? Are they in it for life? Are they building to exit? These and a myriad of other topics will be discussed to pull back the veil on the wizardry of successful and FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS.
Did you know that I love helping entrepreneurs like you scale and grow efficiently to enable revenue and profits to grow faster so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor more fully? I use real world experience of owning and running a profitable multi-million dollar company that has been on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies in America for three years in a row.
That coupled with studies at Babson college, the entrepreneurial masters program at MIT and Harvard gives me the unique ability to help entrepreneurs see your blind spots and move over the road bumps faster. I help entrepreneurs like you break through your plateau and reach higher levels of achievement. For more information, go to my website, natashamiller.co.
Today, we talked to attorney turned entrepreneur, Mike Alden about book marketing, liquor, popsicles, and his newest brilliant endeavor ConneXtion Capital. Now let’s get right into it.
[00:01:58] Mike: It started when I was a kid, so it started in the winters when we could shovel driveways and mow lawns in the summer and getting a paper route and having the lemonade stand at the end of my street on a hot summer day. And then with the lemon, I realized that if I had multiple lemonade stands, I’d make more money.
And so I literally franchise lemonade stands out with my friends, we’d ride around on our bikes. And so I would provide the product and then I would have a couple of friends on different streets. I would always look at other ways to make money. And as a kid growing up in projects, sometimes the ways to make money weren’t probably really the best way.
[00:02:30] Natasha: Scaling a lemonade stand at the tender age of what?
[00:02:35] Mike: Roughly ten.
[00:02:36] Natasha: Yeah. I’ve heard so many entrepreneurs talk about their youth enterprises, but no one has talked about scaling, which is amazing. It doesn’t surprise me.
[00:02:47] Mike: It’s funny too. I don’t know if it was my mom’s. I don’t remember anyone saying you should do this and we just did. And then also the one thing I haven’t talked about is that, and then it turns into a bit of a controversy too, right?
Because if it’s my lemonade stand and I’m providing the product then the following weekend, the guys that were doing it with me, then they do their own. I’m like wait a minute. This was my idea. So we didn’t even talk about intellectual property and any of that stuff. So that created some controversy in the neighborhood, but you just be like, all right fuck it.
You do yours. I’ll do mine. So that didn’t last very long because I just said why would I work for you when I can just do it on my own.
[00:03:20] Natasha: That’s good training. You had really early onset entrepreneurial training from experience. You had it within you, you’re an attorney. And then what, when did the call center and supplements and long form ads career take place?
[00:03:37] Mike: Yeah. Yeah. So I launched the business for a product called Zeus Juice. I talk about it, my first book as a freeze pop with booze in it. You know what I have them in the freezer. I can even show them to you. I still have them. If you want to see what they look, I wanna see what they look like.
[00:03:50] Natasha: How old are they? Yes.
[00:03:52] Mike: Hold on. Let me get one. Hold on.
[00:03:54] Natasha: I love it. Show and tell. Open that up. Is that like 20 years old?
[00:04:00] Mike: No. So 2016, I relaunched it. So these are real ones. So this is the product. It’s called Zeus Juice and they’re frozen solid. 8.2% alcohol. And we had them in these tubes like this. And so this is the second iteration of that product.
So I launched it when I was younger and I was on my way to law school. And I ultimately went bankrupt because I just was under capitalized. And I learned a big lesson there. And it’s funny, one of the businesses we’re getting ready to launch now, when I was launching that business, the first time, a friend of mine said to me, he was a really great friend still today.
In fact, we’re just talking to him yesterday and he said, “Mike, is there anyone else doing it?” And there wasn’t anyone else doing it. And I was like, cool, I’m the only one. So therefore I’m just going to crush it, and he says “That could be a problem.” And I’m like, “What do you mean? No, this is my idea. This is cool.”
And he said “There might not be a market for it. Why hasn’t Bacardi done this? Why hasn’t Absolute Vodka done this? Why hasn’t some of these bigger brands already done this?” And I’m like, I don’t know. So I was the first one in the United States to get that type of package approved in the United States.
There was another company in the Netherlands called Freaky Ice. And they were just doing a really good job. They did enter the United States, but they didn’t do it. So that was my first like business. And we’re doing some great things were on the cover of Stuff Magazine. Pam Anderson was on the actual cover.
And the article actually said, “Hey, kids want to try this? Oops, this isn’t for kids.” And I’m like, fuck, it’s not going to be good. But actually we blew up as a result of it. It was everywhere. We got hit orders in countries I’ve never even heard of, but I was also under capitalized. I didn’t have the money.
And then the machines that I had making it, they were faulty and I was delivering the product and they were leaking and all over the world, all over the country. And then ultimately I just ran out of money. I couldn’t fix the problem. So I was in law school, so I had to make the decision. Do I stay in law school or do I try and raise money and try and figure out how to raise money? So I chose let’s stay in law school, so I did that.
[00:05:49] Natasha: You just put it to bed for a bit and then you revitalized it in 2016, having a lot of experience in capital or access to capital, right?
[00:05:58] Mike: Yeah. Yeah. So you asked about the call center stuff too, right? So I was in law school. I was broke. I declared bankruptcy. I needed a job or I just needed money. And so a friend of mine was actually working in a call center and she was making at the time, $1,300 a week. This was in 2000, maybe like in 2000, 2001. And I’m like, if you’re making 1300 I’ll like triple that because I’ve been in sales my whole life.
I was a recruiter before that I sold cars right out of college. And she used borderline brain-dead and she’s doing 1300. And so I went to this company. They didn’t hire me. They said they didn’t have room for me. Now I show up there. I’m in a suit. I’m in law school and they told me they didn’t have room for me.
And the call center, by the way, it was like, literally like the boiler room. There were guys on the fucking ankle bracelet and I’m like, you don’t have room for me?
[00:06:43] Natasha: They probably knew you weren’t going to stay long and why to invest time in someone that was just there for it?
[00:06:48] Mike: They’ll probably scared because they were like, oh, they got all these criminals work in there.
And so the HR guy says to me, “We don’t have room for you.” So I went around the HR guy cause I was a recruiter before that, by the way. So I know how to do that. I went around the HR guy, I went into customer service and I got hired in customer service and started killing it in customer service, making more money than everybody, including the managers there.
And they didn’t know why, they didn’t know how, they’re listening to my phone calls. What is this guy doing? By the way, it was the easiest job in the world. Calls were coming in to me. All I had to do is pick up the phone. Deal with their problem, but I was a sales guy, so I would just sell them shit.
So I started to learn that business from customer service to sales, to shipping. I learned all that stuff while I was in law school. So I was going to law school nights. I was taking calls during the day. There were open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So I could just pop in whenever my schedule, they let me do that cause I was doing a good job.
And then ultimately I became their in-house counsel. And that was a hell of a ride. And then in 2008, I started my company doing the same thing, just doing it a lot better than they did. So that’s a reader’s digest version of it.
[00:07:49] Natasha: Is that call center business still happening?
[00:07:53] Mike: So I actually sold the call center. Running a call center is a hard thing to do, especially when half the people that you employed are from your town and you went to high school with them.
[00:08:02] Natasha: It’s an hourly wage gain, right?
[00:08:05] Mike: It’s an hourly plus commission and we’re here in Massachusetts. At the end of the day, really just financially, it just, it wasn’t working for us because it was just too expensive to employ people. So we sold it and I do have outbound guys, those that they’re straight commission, and these guys they’re making consistently six figures year after year.
Even when our revenue has been going down throughout the years, they’re still doing well because these guys they’re professional salespeople and they’re built a massive database of their enemy. It’s our database, but it’s their kind of clients that they work within. We pay them the same commission, whether it’s a new sale or an old sale.
So mostly dietary supplements, books, but mostly dietary supplements, nutritional products. And we sell everything from pet products to joint health products, to male sexual health products, do testosterone, just a general greens product. You and I have talked offline and I get tired of this business because there are a lot of charlatans in this business.
There are a lot of people that make outrageous claims. When I was a lawyer, my old company, they were one of them. But at the end of the day, it is a great industry and these products do help people, but unfortunately there’s a lot of bad actors. And when you’re in that space, you get pigeonholed into that space and you get wrapped up into it and you have that perception as well. And and we saw him on television. So all these different things, but I still do love it. It’s just the business itself is becoming increasingly more difficult.
[00:09:21] Natasha: It looks like you’re distancing yourself as the man on the forefront from that business. And is it that business that you did the long form ads, the TV infomercial?
[00:09:33] Mike: Yeah. And then, so still today we have infomercials that are still on today and I’m the host of the shows. I look a little different now. I look, yeah, I look a little bit different. I usually don’t have the beard and my hair is usually a little tighter and I’m usually rocking a suit and our television studio is actually right out there. And so that’s what it looks like, but yeah.
So you’re still filming those currently. And where can they be seen you just see one of these.
I’ll have to send you some links. They’re on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all over the country, all over the world, actually. So the infomercials are, they’re dying and they’ve changed. The model has changed significantly throughout the years because of just how we consume our media, right?
With all these different on demand, options, and apps and things like this and free channel guides and things like that. So again, it’s becoming more and more difficult to run a business the way I’ve been doing it. So we buy time everywhere, whether it’s discovery network or just your local broadcast station as well.
[00:10:22] Natasha: Do you have an in-house media buyer?
[00:10:24] Mike: I have a media agency that does it, but I have an in-house guy that manages.
[00:10:28] Natasha: Do you know? That was one of my past jobs, I was a media buyer for an ad agency.
[00:10:33] Mike: You did a lot too.
[00:10:34] Natasha: Oh yeah. Yes, I have. We won’t even go there. Okay. So I would love to know what business landed you on the Inc. 5000 or what businesses, which one?
[00:10:46] Mike: Yeah. So that’s my company, Blue Vase Marketing. So look, you and I both know to be able to say that is quite an accomplishment, but at the end of the day, it’s also marketing. And so when I saw..
[00:10:56] Natasha: This is why I’m asking you is, how did you leverage the inclusion on that list?
[00:11:00] Mike: I did. So as a young entrepreneur, you have grand visions and you have ideas and all these things, and most of the stuff is just too grandiose and it’s just never going to happen.
And so the company itself, Blue Vase, we want it to service others as well. And we have done that a little bit, but for the most part, all of our stuff is our stuff. Like when I ship product, it’s our product. When I take one, when calls come in to our call center, it’s our product. And so when we’re doing customer service, it’s all of our stuff. This is our studio.
[00:11:28] Natasha: Are you developing the product? Is it white labeled or is it a combination of all that?
[00:11:33] Mike: Yeah, so it’s on a case by case basis, right? So for instance, I’m going to be doing one next, actually at the end of this week, the gentleman came to us with the product. The product is already done. We look at it from a legal perspective, some of the claims that he wants to make, and we do that.
If we can’t, then we modify the formula. We own the name. We own the trademark. We own the copyright, we own all that stuff. And so it usually comes to us as a product or an idea, and then we license it to them or we license it from them, but we then own all the intellectual property. And that’s how the model works.
[00:12:02] Natasha: At the time you were on the list, you didn’t really leverage that for media, social media?
[00:12:10] Mike: So it was something that, look, one of the things that I’ve always struggled with is that I’m an infomercial guy, right? We sell male sexual health products. We sell stuff on TV, which again, it has that negative connotation and it was more of Hey, like we’re legit. So we’ve been on the Inc. 5000 three years in a row when I made the Boston 40, under 40, it was about me, but it was also about the company itself.
And then when we started to do things like we sponsored Fabrício Werdum in the UFC heavyweight championship fight, where he won that fight, one of our products. We’ve done a ton of stuff with NASCAR, and I didn’t realize the power of those two things more so than anything with my sales guys, because I had a few sales guys send me, “Mike, you have no idea how powerful that is to say that, Hey, we have a car in the spring cup series in the Daytona 500 and we can show it. And we can show that we sponsored Fabrício Werdum for doing the UFC.”
So that right there was something was like, wow. Okay, cool. So that helps just with brand equity and also maybe closing sales. So the Inc. 5000, to be honest with you, is more of just Hey, we’re real. Like we’re legit.
[00:13:14] Natasha: That makes complete sense. Yes. In my industry of the events and entertainment production world, there’s pretty much no one in my field that is on that list. So it makes us look huge. It makes us look way bigger than, the perception is greater than the reality.
[00:13:30] Mike: But it’s a great accomplishment.
[00:13:31] Natasha: It is. To scale and grow a company, to be on the list is a lot of work. It doesn’t say anything about how much profit you’re making, which I have suggested to Inc. to do another list. And I don’t know.
[00:13:44] Mike: This is true. And if they did, I wouldn’t even be on it.
[00:13:47] Natasha: Okay. So you’ve written some books, quite a few, and I want to know how that led to your starting a book marketing division.
[00:13:56] Mike: Thing. Yeah. Book marketing thing. Yeah. So my first book is settled. Ask More, Get More. And it goes back to the Inc. 5000 thing a little bit about why. So the original idea for the book was, is we were going to create a funnel.
We’re going to sell the book on TV. People are going to come in and we’re going to sell them back end programs, coaching and training, all that other stuff that everybody knows about. As we started to do that. I think again, you and I have talked offline a little bit about this. I just decided I didn’t want to do that at the time.
It just wasn’t me. I didn’t want to sell a 1 97 package with the goal of really upselling them to the 9 97 to the two 90. I don’t know. It just didn’t excite me. I didn’t feel good about it. There’s nothing wrong with that. I just didn’t want to do it, but I was writing the book and as I was writing the book, I started to realize I’m like, wow, this is pretty cool.
Like I’ve done some pretty cool stuff. And I think people could benefit from it. And the title again is Ask More, Get More. And I was like, this is a cool title, this great content. And for me as a person, it is more again to build that legitimacy and that credibility factor, to have a book that’s not a self published book, again, nothing wrong with a self-published thing, but I wanted to just step it up a little bit for me.
Because I have a chip on my shoulder. I’ll always have a chip on my shoulder because I’m always that kid from the projects have literally right there. I can see him if I stood on this building. And I see him all the time. And so I’m always going to be that kid, no matter what I do. And people are always going to perceive me as that too.
Now that may be some sort of weird thing that I got going on. I have to work with that with my therapist. So that first book for me was, Hey, I’ve arrived.
[00:15:18] Natasha: And was this one published by Wiley?
[00:15:20] Mike: This one was published by Greenleaf. And when I submitted, that’s funny too, how I’ve even connected with Grant Cardone, because you probably heard me tell the story, but I would go to the airport and I would see Grant Cardone’s books.
And I would see Ryan Blair’s books and I would see Tony Robbins and these other guys, but I picked up Grant’s book. His first one, I think it was Sell or Be Sold or If You’re Not First You’re Last and Greenleaf was the publisher. I didn’t even know who Greenleaf was, but I’m like, if it’s good enough for Grant, good enough for me. Submitted it to them.
They responded with a 20, I didn’t know anybody there. They respond with a 26 page yes, which meant we’ll do it, but you have to rewrite the book and I didn’t want to do that. I’m like, fuck, but I did. And we’ve done some great things with that. And so the other books, the second one is called 5% More. And then my last one Blueprint to Business, I wrote a children’s book in between that as well.
The whole book thing came about when I was on a podcast and I was talking about how much money I’ve spent on my books, which is, I wish I had most of the back, but I’ll see.
[00:16:15] Natasha: Let’s use that number. Say that number out loud.
[00:16:18] Mike: It’s over 2 million. You know what I mean? The first race that I do with NASCAR, the first one was the Daytona 500.
Now I didn’t wrap the car, but even just putting it on the panel was crazy money right in the Daytona. And then I bet I wrapped cars. Like you could see if you look on my Instagram. So I did a lot of insane things. I sponsored my buddy the world series of poker. That was fun actually. He cashed that it’s a long story, but that was fun.
So I did a lot of things. It didn’t sell books. And so I started to think about, I had a mentor say, he says, “Mike, you have this massive database.” We’ve been building it for years. This was 2015 or 16 because we were thinking about the other book 5% More. “So why don’t you look at your database and see what you can do there? See if you can get your people to buy books.”
And I’m like, ah, now we had sold books to them already different types of books. So we said, let’s give it a shot. And that’s really how the whole thing happened. So someone heard me on a podcast, reached out to me and said, Hey, I have a client and I want to get him on the Wall Street Journal.
Can you help? I said I’ve never done it for anybody else, but I’m pretty sure I can cause I’ve done it now multiple times for myself. So let’s give it a shot. And now the rest is history and I’ve been doing it now for authors over and publishers and things like that. And I love it. You and I talk about this. I know you have a book coming out and I just love the world because I also know what it’s like to launch that book. That first book, Ask More, Get More and watch things go horribly wrong and people not by the book and getting bad reviews and all these things. A lot of them you can control.
And so I just learned what to do, what not to do. And I also learned a lot. Most of the publishers have no idea what I’m doing, how I’m doing it. And a lot of it is I talk about it in one of my books that I’ve also written a lot of..
[00:17:49] Natasha: You’re the Wizard of Oz of book marketing.
[00:17:52] Mike: It’s not that complicated, but it has taken so that 2 million bucks that I’ve spent, ultimately it got us here. So if I hadn’t done that, you and I wouldn’t have met, so it was well worth it.
[00:18:02] Natasha: So let me ask you this. You have Blue Vase, you have this book marketing, we’ve got a lot of stuff going on. It seems to me in our relationship that one of your main things that you’re working on is the book marketing, but everything you’ve told me up to now is still working.
Alcoholic ice pops. So how much of your time, how do you split your time?
[00:18:24] Mike: I talked to you about again, about how efficient you are and some of the systems that you have in place. It’s hard, especially when you come up with an idea. Here’s the thing about me is that, when I think of something, a lot of times it happens right after I meditate.
And they always say, when you meditate, don’t act on it, just write it down, think about it, let it percolate. And so when I come up with an idea that I really think is good, that I think that we can do that makes sense, that aligns with our core values, and I think it can help people, then I’m gonna do it.
Now Zeus Juice is not one of those things that, all that stuff that I just said, but it’s a cool idea. I think it could sell, I thought I could sell and it did sell, and I just never want to be that guy that looks back on his life and said I wish I tried, I should have done that if I had only syndrome and there’s so many people do that. And so I’m 46 and a lot of people say, oh you’re just getting started. And that may be true, but we’re starting to get into the second half.
So I just always want to just, when I have something that I think is viable, I want to try and at least take it to a point where we can prove whether it works or it doesn’t. And by the way, in the infomercial world, I’ve produced here at Blue Vase, I dunno, probably like a hundred, but I’ve been a part of hundreds and there’s only a few that work.
So the book marketing thing is something it’s not my core business. It’s not my primary business. The primary business is the stuff at Blue Vase. But to be candid with you, there’s a shift.
[00:19:46] Natasha: It feels like it’s more of a passion. So if I hire you to market my book, which is probably going to happen, how many people are working on that project? It’s not just you, are you the front man? And then somebody else? A team of people?
[00:19:59] Mike: So we have a, so like you, we actually have a small crew here. I think I have total of 20 employees. And when we turn it on, it essentially just works. We have a couple people that watch things, but you do actually get me. So if you’re doing what you and I are talking about, which is a higher level thing, I want to be the one that’s dealing with you, the author, and or the publisher one-on-one because we’re not doing hundreds of books a day or a week or anything like that.
We’re actually doing a very small number, so I can do that. But for the most part, once we turn it on, it just works. That’s the beauty of it. We like to say it’s not AI, but it is systematized that once we turn it off, Even if I wasn’t a part of it, it would just work.
[00:20:41] Natasha: Okay. I love a system. I love a good system. It makes my heart sing. Okay. The next thing I want to talk about, which I’m very into and very excited about for you, but also for myself on many levels is ConneXtion Capital. What are you willing to say about it right now.
[00:21:00] Mike: It’s funny. I was just talking to my CIO is not going to go. I said I said, it’s probably the first time we’re going to talk about it publicly. So I’m writing a seventh book called ConneXtion Capital. And as I was writing the book, I started out to tell a story about when I was a young lawyer. I went to. Trade show in Vegas and I was broke and myself and another guy who now works for me as my director of marketing, we went to this little cocktail hour and we met a guy, his name’s Mark Bigelow, and he just came up to us.
He was a little bit older than us and he handed us his card and he said what he did, by the way, he was a media buyer media agency, and we developed a relationship pretty quickly with him. We just liked him. And that one meeting has changed my life and has changed thousands of people’s lives. And it has connected me with people literally all over the world.
And so I started to tell that story and there are so many things, it’s the six degrees of separation, Kevin Bacon. So as I started to write the book, I started to think about really what’s going on in the world right now. So as a kid who grew up in the projects, money was obviously an issue. Credit was an issue.
But I think that’s becoming less and less of an issue for people. The well people talk about the wealth gap. People talk about the credit gap. But really what’s happening and the most difficult thing for people is the access gap.
Nelly has that song, Bill Gates, Donald Trump let me in, right? Because people want him and people deserve to be in and for whatever reason they can’t get in, maybe they don’t have the type of personality that I might have, or you might have. Maybe they can’t afford getting on a plane, going to Vegas where all these trade shows are.
Buying a ticket to 10 X growth con or do all these things. Cause they’re just trying to get access to somebody. So I was like what if I could provide a platform where we could level the playing field, where you could get access to people? Not necessarily famous people, but they could be famous, but the people that you believe that could potentially change your life.
And then I started to think about those people, the ones that you want to connect with, what about them? What’s in it for them? How could they have a lot of these people like you and me? We like to help other people, even in the same industry, because we, when we talk about the bookmarking stuff, we have this Romano on clubhouse and people come into my room all the time.
We’re technically competitors, but we like to help each other out. It’s just humans. But there’s this disconnect. And so when I started to think about what I could do, as I’m writing the book, I said let’s see if we can create a platform called ConneXtion Capital, where I can bridge the gap, where I can show people how to essentially skip the line.
I tell people it’s like a combination of masterclass, LinkedIn sales navigator, and the Disney fast pass all at once. And so when you ultimately do connect with somebody, like my friend Mark Bigelow, your life can literally change. It’s a cliche thing. People say, oh, your net worth is your network. And people say that all the time, but I don’t think people really necessarily understand it.
And I also don’t think that there’s a difference between networking and connecting. And so ConneXtion Capital, we’re going to connect you, right? We’re also going to show you how to truly build a connection with people. And if that person that you’re connecting with, we call them expert advice.
Let’s say it’s Elon Musk and Elon Musk has a conversation with you. If you develop a connection with him and Elon Musk wants to give you his cell phone number or his email address or whatever, congratulations. And for me, I get so excited because I think about the future. It’s like match.com. You hear it all the time. People they got married right. Then the founders of Match are probably really excited about that.
Like I can’t wait to hear when we connected some kid right out of college with a very powerful influencer or business person and they go on and build the next billion dollar. I can’t wait to hear those stories.
[00:24:37] Natasha: You’re a catalyst for growth and great stories. And I think as you’re coming up to your second half, things like that matter more potentially.
[00:24:47] Mike: They matter more. Yeah. When people think about legacy, like Tim Ferriss. Okay. So Tim Ferris, as a prolific author, but guess what? He started out selling supplements.
My friend, Dean Graziosi, he was an infomercial guy. Okay. Tony Robbins was an infomercial guy. Tony Robbins also sold supplements. He owned twin labs. So there’s a common theme here, with a lot of us. And so it’s not a bad industry, but it seems to be, it’s always like a stepping stone. You don’t hear about people, rarely staying in it for a long period of time.
And yeah, I’m excited. You and I talked about it and I think it truly is going to change the world and we’re getting ready to launch it. And by the time that your podcast probably comes out, I think it’s going to change people’s lives. And that’s why I’m really excited about it. Because again, I wasn’t given access and that’s really the passion there for me.
[00:25:28] Natasha: I wasn’t either. I think access to higher education, connections, I remember just recently, like maybe two years ago, the only person I had to advise me on finances was an Edward Jones agent. And an advisor of mine had said no. You’re way beyond that. But there was no way I had access to the wealth advisors that I have now, prior to that. They don’t advertise. They’re not out hustling. And it’s just being in that certain echelon that gives you access. You know how I feel about this idea. I love it. I want in.
So let me ask you this, at this point in time with all of your businesses that are existing and the ones that you’re growing, what is the number one challenge that you’re really faced with now?
[00:26:20] Mike: So I was just on Clubhouse before we started the podcast. And so I’ve built my businesses and grow my businesses without raising money. I don’t know a lot about that space. I’ve had friends and family put money in some of these businesses here and there. But for me, it’s always been lack of working capital. It’s so we’re always bootstrapping stuff to this day.
And I talk about all the time, like when you get on the Inc. 5000, you have to certify stuff and I have no problem. If someone put a call me out and say, you say you’ve done 300 million, right? Yes. You want to take a look at my fucking tax returns? No problem. But I haven’t kept a lot of it plain and simple. Right?
And so to start a business and to grow a business the way you really want to, you need that capital. Can I figure out a way to borrow money, which I’ve done throughout the years? I borrowed a, from one guy over a hundred million dollars, I powered really expensive, like crazy expensive money, like almost loansharking type money, an actual bank, but borderline usury rates.
So when I think about scaling a business properly, like my friend with the Zeus Juice business, also talked to me about “Mike, whatever you think you need, multiply it times three.” The cool part is that I have built a great team. I have a CIO. My CIO is an actual Mensa. He can’t say that cause it sound like a Dick.
My CFO is a brilliant guy, my director of marketing. So I do have a great team. And so together we work well, we have great infrastructure. So to start a new business, it’s not literally like starting from the ground up. We have systems, we have servers and all the other tech stuff that you need to start a business. But at the end of the day, it’s capital.
[00:27:46] Natasha: Will you go out for angel investors or venture capital for ConneXtion Capital?
[00:27:52] Mike: Yeah. So we’re looking at that right now. So I think the first round, so to speak is going to be friends and family. That’s what like VCs like to see anyway, can you raise a million bucks on your own?
And this, you and I talked about, this is a vodka, that I launched. And I get the Zeus Juice thing and I got all these businesses that I’ve done. I lost the daily fantasy sports company, basically because Jason Robbins who’s the founder of DraftKings was addicted. Like Tracy things you have that is really silly things.
But with this, it’s one of the first things that I’ve ever talked to, anybody, every single person wants in somehow every single person wants to be a part of it. And that’s when I was like, all right, cool. You’ve landed on. We know we have something now look, people like what about if someone else tries to dock you off?
And also the thing, there are things that are close and someone might try and come knock us off, but that’s okay. That means there’s a market. We already know that there’s a market. We already know. That there’s a huge disconnect. And so I’m not worried about even the raising money side of things. I’m really not worried about anything.
I’m just excited just to finally get this thing going. And again, probably by the time this airs it’ll probably be up and running.
[00:28:53] Natasha: One last question for you is you and I met on clubhouse and I actually don’t remember which room it doesn’t matter, but how has that added to your life and your business? How has being on Clubhouse either hosting your own rooms or being in another?
Yeah. I think it has been life-changing so to be able to, especially during COVID to be able to connect with people and to listen to people and learn from people that are smarter than you. I have never seen anything like it up until this point.
[00:29:24] Mike: And so it’s been fantastic for me. I told a story where we were launching some Facebook ads. We don’t do a lot of Facebook stuff and we were launching and I was on Clubhouse got my ear pod in, and I was in my conference room and we’re looking at it. We’re getting everything ready to go. We hadn’t even submitted the ad. Before we even submitted the ad, everything was frozen and we were locked out and said that we can’t run ads.
I forget exactly what it was. It turned red. It was like the world had just ended. Oh, my God, we haven’t even done anything yet. We haven’t even launched yet. I don’t even know what happened. My guys were like, we don’t know what happened.
So I was on Clubhouse and I’m onstage as one of the entrepreneurs. And the guys who supposedly knows what he’s talking about. And I was like, Hey, can I ask a question? So I told everybody what happened. And there was a guy on stage, his name’s Aiden. You probably see him around and he’s doing some great things on there.
And he’d said, “Mike, this is what. This is why it happened, happens to everybody. Here’s what you need to do.” Bing. I did it in less than 24 hours. It was fixed, live on Clubhouse. Like amazing to me that was amazing. And to be able to connect with people like you, look, I’ve done some cool business already with people in club was more specifically where the bookstore.
But we talk about the connections. See, Clubhouse is great. So you can connect with people, but it’s not perfect. Nothing’s perfect. And I think a lot of people at the world of clubhouse is certainly changing, but I would say it has changed my life because it also, the other part is Clubhouse is like going to a Tony Robbins or going to the learning annex at the same time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So if you want to learn about a particular thing, like I told you earlier, I was just in a room on Clubhouse about how to pitch the VCs and angel investors. Cause I’ve never done it before. So how else am I going to learn? I got to learn from somebody or have somebody on our team that knows how to do it.
[00:31:02] Natasha: I feel like ConneXtion Capital, what you’ve built and what you’re building can be as big of a wave as Clubhouse has been in the last year.
[00:31:13] Mike: I agree with you and I’m glad that we’re aligned with that too. Again was just before my CIO is out there and I’m like, he’s putting together a couple of things.
Talk about a couple of other ideas. I’ll tell you this, do you like this? It’s on the same subject, but as entrepreneurs, I talk to you a lot about your business and how systematize it is, and it’s great. And I think you said there’s a Salesforce, I think called you and said, man, you know what, you’re doing this.
We want to know how you’re doing it because you’re using it beyond even what they thought of. But that’s also the thing that excites me. And maybe makes me a little bit nervous, not nervous, but okay. When we do a MVP minimal viable product, it’s not 100% what I want. Like I want it to be, have everything possible right now, but we just don’t.. \
No but you, you’ve got to layer in those things so that people are like for lots of reasons to test it, but also give people something to look forward to.
[00:32:04] Natasha: Don’t give it all at once on the first I know, but I just want it to be perfect right away. And I know it’s not. And as a type, a personality and an author who like will go through and you try and you let you see typos and all this other stuff, that’s a little bit hard for me to do, but I do know that what we have is a beautiful thing and I think it’s gonna change people’s lives.
That was quite the interview ride we had with Mike talk about serial entrepreneurship. It’s so good. He has a solid team to support him. I cannot wait to see and use ConneXtion Capital to learn more about Mike, you can visit the show notes where you’re listening to this podcast.
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 the Tasha Miller and you’ve been listening to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS.