Don Henig is the co-founder of AccrueMe, a New York-based fintech providing funding to Amazon Sellers. Don is also the former president of 3 divisions of a NYSE-listed company that had more than 7,000 employees. Don and his team have funded well over $100 billion in mortgage financing as well as produced 8 feature films. Don is now the co-founder of fintech startup AccrueMe. Don sits down with Chris Snyder to discuss the evolving Amazon seller landscape and how AccrueMe is empowering e-commerce sellers.
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[00:00:05] Chris Snyder here, host of the Snyder Showdown President at Juhll Agency and founder of Financial Services Platform Banks.com. On this show, we take a no bias approach to business success and failure told through the stories of the top entrepreneurs and executives who have them. Join us today as we get the unfiltered backstories behind successful brands. Today's show is sponsored by Banks.com, the world's most comprehensive and trusted branding and discovery platform for banks and banking related products and services. Banks.com is aligning consumer core values with trusted financial institutions, bringing attention and awareness to leading financial brands. To learn more, you can go to Banks.com for partners, or you can send an email to info at Banks.com. Today's guest is Don Henig. He's the co-founder of a New York-based fintech providing funding to Amazon sellers. Don is also the former president of three divisions of the New York Stock Exchange-listed company that had more than seven thousand employees. Don and his team have funded well over one hundred billion dollars in mortgage financing, as well as produced eight feature films. Don is now the co-founder of FinTech Startup, AccureMe, and he is going to talk to us about the evolving Amazon seller landscape and how AccrueMe is empowering e-commerce sellers.
[00:01:34] Welcome to the show, Don. Thanks, Chris. It's going to be fun. It will be. Before we get this kicked off, tell us a little bit about your upbringing, where you grew up, and how you got to where you are today.
[00:01:46] All right. So we have three hours now, right? Yes.
[00:01:50] So I was I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, in Bensonhurst. Everybody watched The Honeymooners when remember, they were in Bensonhurst. I was right on the border of Coney Island. So I went to school in Coney Island. If everybody knows Coney Island, but literally we would walk into Coney Island and it was just a great spot. But then my parents decided that Brooklyn was not getting so, so, so friendly, if you will. It was getting rough. And they moved us to Valley Stream, which was the first town on Long Island. So literally less than a half-hour away. But when people would say, where are you moving to? We would all say the country.
[00:02:31] Exactly. And now I live about a half-hour from there. And going back to Valley Stream is like, oh, my God, why would anybody live here so crowded?
[00:02:41] But anyway, that's a whole nother story. So you never left New York after all these years, you stayed right there?
[00:02:48] Well, I went to school in Ohio for a while, the College of Worcester. And then I, you know, all my businesses, I've traveled all over the world, all actually all over the country primarily for different things. But no, I've always lived here. I love it here. We live on a lake. Chris, you can imagine Long Island. It's surrounded by water where my wife and I and our kids were big boaters. We live on a lake that flows down into the ocean. We're literally an hour or less into the city. It's great. Love it.
[00:03:21] Why did you decide to go to school in Ohio?
[00:03:26] You know, I was a lacrosse player and football player in high school and pretty good. So I had a lot of scholarships. I wasn't big, but I was fast and tough. And so I got scholarships to a lot of schools. And I picked a school which was the college in Worcester because it was a good rated, highly rated school. And I could use sports to get in there. And that's when I changed my entire attitude from just having fun to buckling down and trying to get good grades and growing up if you will. Great.
[00:03:58] I love it. Athletics will do that. I mean, I played football in college as well. And I would say that chances of a lot of the kids, not not a lot, maybe a few of them that were a little more rambunctious. If they didn't have to get good grades, I don't think they would have graduated college if it wasn't for football. Right. Oh, yeah. Because the coach would say if you didn't declare a major in the first with just outside of your first two years, the coach would come to you and say, hey, look, if you declare Major, if you hadn't, you'd be like, well, you have to do that now or you're not playing. And furthermore, you have to have I think at the time it was like a B average in any of your major classes. And if you didn't, the coach would be like, guess what, you're not playing. And furthermore, you're probably going to get kicked out of school because that's it. So I think sports in general, for those of you listening, that maybe have kids that are a bit rambunctious or whatever, get them there and keep them there because it's going to help.
[00:05:00] A lot, yeah, I agree. And Chris, if the coach tells you to get a haircut, you get a haircut, get a haircut, your parents tell you 'get a haircut.' Yeah, come on. I'll be with the coach. You're not arguing. You're just going to do it in a couple of those sports.
[00:05:16] I don't know how it is in today's world, but the coaches were really discussing the sports. We're talking about lacrosse and football. I think they're a little rougher. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. The, you know, the coaches in those particular trades. I have friends of mine who I went to college with coaches at big programs. They're not messing around. And they are if your father was tough, these guys are probably ten times tougher on my father. Absolutely. So. All right. So so then you end up coming home. It looks like you went to Hofstra, right?
[00:05:51] Yeah. Yeah, I finished up at Hofstra. I was a fool. I wanted to I started a business and I, you know, I started working and things like that. And so I went to school full time at night while I worked full time during the day, saved my money, and started my first business as a financial planner. And then that led me into the next business as a mortgage company.
[00:06:15] So you really started your first company, probably what you were like twenty, twenty-one.
[00:06:20] Yeah, I was probably twenty, twenty-one somewhere in there. Twenty to me.
[00:06:24] Like why did you do that. Because you know, back in the day this, this was not, it wasn't normal for someone to be an entrepreneur. Back in the day. Back in the day, you got your degree, you went to a bank, went to work, you sat there for forty years, then you got a pension. Like what? How did you decide to be an entrepreneur?
[00:06:43] I don't know if anybody really decides to do it. It's just something that was in my blood. Like my father was worked for the government. You know, he wanted me to get the civil service. Job security is everything. And what I did was completely against what my parents wanted me to do and thought I should do. When I was 18, I went out and I bought an ice cream truck and my parents sat me exactly like a lemonade stand, an ice cream truck.
[00:07:08] That is a serious upgrade, man.
[00:07:11] I made a lot of money doing that.
[00:07:13] It was a lot of fun, too, and I still have some great stories from that. But, you know, my parents sat me down and read me the riot act basically like, you know, do you know what it means to own your own business? You know this is a big undertaking. This is a big risk. And they were right. I'll never forget how scared I was that first day when I went around. And I go to the high school where kids are coming out of school and police come over and they kick me out. You're not allowed to be anywhere within a mile of the school, my damn. So I go to another place. Please come and tell me I'm not allowed to go there. Then I go driving around. I can't find anybody to buy ice cream. I'm like, oh my God, did I make a mistake? And then I'll never forget my sister's come out and buy ice cream that first day and just gave me that little bit of confidence. And I went out and I found my route if you will. I created a route. Next thing you know, being from New York, I found somebody who worked for the town. And, you know, I tried to get a permit for a big park. And the guy said to me, well, as long as you give me ten percent of your revenue, I'll give you the permit.
[00:08:18] So here I am. I'm eighteen years old. And I said to him, as long as I'll give you ten percent, but I can only I can be the only permit. You can't give it to another food truck. Good. And he agreed and man was it was a home run for me. It was fantastic. Who knew.
[00:08:35] You know what's interesting about that? No matter if it's an ice cream truck or a Kurumi or any of the businesses you started, the real learning in the real work happens when you faced that challenge. Yeah. And that's where and it's not just the one challenge. It's the many of them that you continue to get turned down on in the period of time that you have to survive and really suffer to get yourself to a point where you figure out what to do. And then when you figure out what to do, you know, in your case, you started a lot of monopoly at the park ice cream. Good for you. But that was a pretty good outcome. And, you know, it was a great outcome if you went to the school and simply parked your truck there. It is just that easy. You, I would argue, may not even be where you are today. Right? You had to have that challenge.
[00:09:31] I agree. One hundred percent. So I'll give you one quick thing on starting businesses. It's something that I firmly believe in and I think a lot of people listening would appreciate. I have a saying start stupid. You know, Nike says just do it. You know, in my mind. Yeah, just do it. But, you know, that's one thing. But you'll never know enough information about any business to be comfortable. Hundred percent starting it. So just. They aren't stupid, just go out and do it, start taking the steps down the path and you will figure it out. There's going to be shit coming at you every which way that you never even expected. But you also don't know where the opportunities are yet. You're going to start going down that path. You'll run into the obstacles. And you'll also see those doors that are open that you didn't know were open at the beginning. And as long as you can be nimble to move through those doors and those windows and get around those obstacles, you know, it's a home run. But just just start stupid as well.
[00:10:33] You know what? I love that, because sometimes, you know, I've said about some of the businesses that I've operated and even some of my clients and stuff like that, I've always said if you look at some of these big multinational global corporations. Some of them are really just not that awesome, right? These companies absolutely are not that profitable. The people are not that smart. Right. But one of the things I've always I've always said is, God, if we could just get dumber about what we're doing, maybe we would get bigger and make more money. And my team would always laugh. No, dude, the goal here is to be smarter than everybody else and to build a big business because we're smarter than everybody else. I'm like, well, I'm taking a look around. And I got to tell you, I feel like we're surrounded by idiots. So maybe we just do more with less, stop acting so goddamn smart and just plow through it. And you look at a lot of these founders and they just have this ability to plow through stuff they have to do. They don't care. They're like, oh, somebody told me no. Oh, Billy swore at it in the conference room at a meeting. And some people didn't like it. And they just they just don't care. They're just plowing forward. And almost stupidly, like like you were saying before, just go be stupid and go do it.
[00:12:00] Just go do it. So I'm going to bring it back. Something I've never talked about. But with lacrosse, I was a big lacrosse player and I was a sentiment midfielder. So I was a face off guy and I was a face off specialist, as they call him today. And face offs you have to have it's not about necessarily you have to have skill and speed and all that, but it's about mentality. It's about doing what just what you just said. It's just barreling through. You want that ball more than anybody else on that field and then you you're going to get it. It's the same thing with starting a business. Know, it's like Sun Tzu, the art of war. You know, put put your burn the ships. If you come in by ship, put your troops. How do you win a war if you have ten guys versus a thousand guys, whatever the numbers were, put them out a cliff with a back to the back to a cliff. They're going to fight like hell. They're never going to lose. You know, it's it's an attitude more than anything, I think.
[00:12:59] I've never thought about this until actually just right now. Sometimes I think I was telling you before I was an accidental entrepreneur, but I really didn't feel like I had other choices. It was like I'm not going to go to another office and put up with the same bullshit. I didn't feel like that was a choice. So the ship was burned. Basically, you're on the back of the cliff and then when you get into being an entrepreneur, you start getting into these battles. I never thought about this before until just right now. And of course, I don't know why. I don't know why everybody's sensationalized being an entrepreneur, because it's really, really fucking hard. It's hard. It's super stressful. It's all on the line all the time, like all the time. Every single day your ass is on the line. And so what I was going to ask you is, do you believe that it's more of something you're born with and a personality thing, or do you think that we can pull kind of, I'll say Ivy League, but not not in a way that's negative. But can we pull students that have been good students their whole life, have followed the program, have listened to the instructor, have done the extra credit, but they haven't played the lacrosse game. They haven't played the hockey game. They haven't played the football game. They've got now got their MBA. They're twenty four years old. They're schooled up like a mofo. Right? Maybe three hundred thousand dollars in debt. And now you're going to drop good families. We're going to drop those folks into an entrepreneurial environment. Are or are we really equipping the next generation of entrepreneurs by all of the schooling and just not running hard and doing it?
[00:14:48] Well, I I've not thought of it in those terms, but I would say that you yeah, the schooling is good and everything and having the knowledge is really good. But if you combine that person that you're describing with somebody who came out of a restaurant, who knows how to bust their ass and work well with the consumer and planning for the next shift, even though they're not going to be there to do it, or a single mother who's working two or three jobs and busting her ass and taking care of a kids with a smile, I'll take them any day of the week, any day of the week, because you can't lose if you have that kind of motivation. And that's the kind of motivation like the lacrosse guy going for the ball. It's like you said before, just plowing through. You can have all the knowledge in the world, but you have to have that core motivation to win, that desire to win like nothing else. And if you don't have that, there's no chance you can be successful.
[00:15:44] So was a chance. So you were in charge of three divisions of a fairly large company with seven thousand people? Yep. And maybe we're hitting this on the head a little bit. You've probably you probably hired and fired more people than most people would ever hire or fire or see or manage in their entire lifetime. So did you go after the kinds of folks that we're talking about, the entrepreneurs, or were they a little more regimented? How did you what if there's some advice you could give us on a couple of traits that you look for in human beings with years of experience? It has to be instinctive at this point, right?
[00:16:25] It's somewhat instinctive. But I will tell you that I am what I said before. I would always look at their resumes or their background. And if I saw a single mother, I knew the motivation was there is no chance that she's going to lose. And I met everybody individually because I wanted to know what these people who are who they are as people, you know, it's not just about going out and making money and working. It's about doing things together. So but if I saw somebody who worked in a restaurant for a year or two, I knew they knew how to kick ass. There's no question about it. And I knew they knew how to work with the public. And I knew that they knew how to prepare for everybody else and do it right. I love those people. So, you know, I look for things like that as opposed to I never really cared about how much education they had. I did get concerned if I saw saw somebody who came from, you know, I'm just going to say, working in a bank for ten years now, typically, you're doing one type of job and it's a it's a nine to five type job. And that doesn't work if you want to have it.
[00:17:32] It's about it's inbound to a lot that that's in sales.
[00:17:37] But I mean, in anything, it doesn't have to be just sales. It could be anything. You're in a bank, you know, you're going to be you don't have the pressures that everybody else has typically. Yeah, but if you worked for a small company, a tiny company, and you were the key person. Oh, my God. I know you know how to do everything. I know you're going to work your ass off because that's what you do.
[00:17:59] No, you can't always with those people, you figure out how to remove a virus from a computer. You figure out how to dump the trash. And when there's client meetings, you go down to nose and you buy some bagels. Right.
[00:18:10] It's like they go, yeah, exactly. But I would also you mentioned something else about firing. I had a general rule. When you're growing fast, you're hiring a lot of people and you will make a mistake, of course. And so what I would tell all my managers is when you make a mistake. Fire that person as quickly as possible, because if you actually care about your team, you won't want your team to deal with this person. I view that person as a cancer and cut the cancer out as quickly as possible. Do whatever you have to do, treat the person properly. I'm not saying kill anybody. I'm just saying just get them off your team. Get them out of here. We don't want that type of a person in that attitude in any business I want to be involved in. Yeah, I want positive people that are excited to go to work, that want to have, you know, a conversation in the morning, a conversation at night. You know, I don't want people sneaking in and sneaking out. It's not fun. Let's have some fun.
[00:19:08] Well, it's it starts at the top. Right. And I could tell you already your your leadership style is, you know, you would have a hard time, as I would with someone not being like all in. They haven't brought their ship. That's right. Everyone else is up against it. And they're kind of like, well, I didn't really sign up to be up against it. Right. Right, exactly. Everyone here is we're all ready to go. So you also have to keep them motivated.
[00:19:37] You have to keep them engaged as well. And I know I know you know this, but for me, it was always the most important thing. In every business I ran and built was keeping all the staff, everybody, all of our team members engaged, which means in my mind, my definition is that they believe and they can change the company for the better all the time, and they have the power to do it. And there's lots of ways to do that. But that is the key, I think, to any great business is that you have everybody fighting and pulling, pulling at the same time, rowing at the same time, you know, using the old cliches. But they can really change the business.
[00:20:21] Got it. Let's, um, let's switch gears a little bit and talk about newspaper routes.
[00:20:27] And, you know, it's funny, when we started Kurumi, we talked one day. I tell us something that was interesting that you did. And I said I was the number one salesperson for the Long Island press on Long Island and Long Island, remember, has millions of people that a small place. And, you know, I'm 11 years old. I lied on the papers. I'm supposed to be 13. I lied. I get the job as a paper route guy. Right. So, you know, and then they had a contest and the contest had things like Mets tickets that would be great. And all these other things. I figured out my sales pitch and I went door to door to door to door. And I sold so many papers that my route was, you know, overwhelming. It was too big when I finally, like two years later gave the route, they had to split it up and give it to two people because it was way too big. I mean, literally, if you can picture this, this is just one funny way of thinking about it. Wintertime or in or in the rain or snow when the ice and on the Sunday morning with these heavy newspapers. Yeah. And, you know, you put them in your basket in the front seat in front of your bicycle. All right. So this going back a ways and you hit a little bump like a pebble, but there's so much weight in the front of your bike. The whole by tumbles over you go flying over the handlebars, you're on the ground, you're half unconscious, cut up. You have to pick up all these papers, get them back in and start going again. You know, it's crazy. But anyway, I had a ball bye bye. Doing that. I always had a ton of money even as an eleven year old. Yeah. So what I do, I, you know, every morning before school and before summer camp, if you will, I would meet all my friends at the local deli and everybody got a yoo hoo and a bagel on me, you know. So every day it was it was done that way.
[00:22:26] That's awesome. You know, I'm thinking about my children right now. I have a daughter who is going to be eleven in in December and I have a nine year old son. I, I do not think that they're equipped to manage a paper route. I just don't think the times have changed and that. But this paper routes are seven day a week jobs and four thirty five o'clock in the morning because I mean you have to have them all out by what, 7:00 a.m. or something.
[00:23:00] Yeah. I don't remember. It's been, it's been a few years, but the stupidest thing that my paper route was in the afternoon, except on Sundays it was early morning and then the New York Daily News came to me and said, you know, I was delivered to one of their senior executives and they said, will you take over the route for us in the morning? Like, Oh, shit. Now I have a morning route and an afternoon route to school in the middle and then finish it fast enough so I can get back for practice. Yeah.
[00:23:29] That's the only way to go.
[00:23:31] It was exhausting just to say goodbye to entrepreneurs have made up right stupidity, but drive, desire, energy, all that stuff.
[00:23:42] You're kind of you're kind of applauded for it, I think. How did you get into what's been about five minutes on mortgage lending? I think that was a big part of your life, right? Yeah.
[00:23:53] You get into what you get into mortgage lending when nobody gets into it on purpose and nobody knows what it is until they're in it. And I started a company doing financial planning and I did great with it. I bought my first house, my first brand new car. You know, all that was really a great time. And all of a sudden these other financial planners started asking me about mortgages. I had a commercial lending background, and so they knew I had banking background of some sort. So they asked me about mortgages. I didn't know. So I found the biggest mortgage company. I went, I talked to them. They gave me a big, thick binder of underwriting guidelines. So I read it through and through, couldn't figure some things out, but then I would eventually figure them out. And I started a mortgage company. And next thing you know, I have a pretty large mortgage company, one of the largest in New York state. At the time, I and I started the business by getting hundreds of financial planners to refer people to me, which was fantastic. Yeah, it was great. And then I bought a real estate company and built that. And that was another referral source. And 10 years later, I sold the mortgage company. It was a great run.
[00:25:08] Is there are there some things that really that you learn? Because we're going to we're going to move into AccrueMe which is your latest adventure venture. But are there some things that you thought really helped you, maybe from a transactional standpoint or some things that mortgage dealing in that kind of business? Because that's a tough business, actually, for competitive. You're dealing with a ton of people. There's a lot of customer service. There's underwriting rules. Like, is there things that you took away from that you feel like really equipped you for a Kurumi?
[00:25:44] I got to tell you, I think I took a lot away from that on that equipped me for everything I ever did, you know, on how to build a company and how to get engagement and how to get everybody in the company changing things within the company that you would never know needs to be changed. I'll never forget I started a suggestion box and it was more than a box. We would put it up on a big screen and so everybody could see the suggestions for the month. And I learned early on that if you had more suggestions every month, your company was engaged. Everybody who's engaged with improving the company, if the suggestions slowed down, you had an underlying problem and you better figure it out. But I'll never forget the first suggestion that was put in the box.
[00:26:33] And a woman, Regina, she put in change the lights, change the timing on the lights in the parking lot. Now I own the building. It was a brand new building here on Long Island and we built it. And what do you mean change the timing on the lights? She goes, Well, I want to work late, but I get nervous when I come out of the parking lot because the lights aren't on. Wow. Yeah. Who would ever think that? So, you know, I never thought about it when I leave, you know, like she's leaving at nine o'clock. I'm leaving at 10:00. The lights are on. I don't know. So we took about three seconds to change the lights and everybody worked later.
[00:27:12] I who know now since Regina had that idea for that month she got at that time, this is a long time ago. One hundred dollars, which was a good amount of money and the the recognition from everybody in the company. And it was it was a great experience. But now everybody knew that they could change the company. When I started it at the mortgage company where we had seven thousand people and we started a suggestion box that every said, how could you possibly do that with seven thousand people? Well, we built the technology to do it and a system to do it. And I remember the first suggestion and it was, have the rates on rate sheets is what the way it was done at the time, have the rates go in order? So what do you mean? Well, on the way it was done was on the first page of rate sheets. It was fixed rates and they went from the highest rate to the lowest rate. On the second page, it was adjustable rates and it went from the lowest rate to the highest rate. Like what?
[00:28:08] Who was it? You changed your mind work unnecessarily stupid, but I'm never going to look at that.
[00:28:16] But whoever put that in and I don't remember who did it was a great one. I remember they one that month and then was a lot more money. But you need to get the ideas from everybody. You're not going to.
[00:28:28] Have all the ideas, the best ideas are going to come from the group building, building that company. I mean, was what was the most important thing was the culture? Was it technology? Was it, you know, your rates? Like, what was the thing that made you guys the most successful company? I think you said in in Long Island or New York State, I can't remember which New York State, but we were not the most successful.
[00:28:57] But we went to the top three at the time. But I'm going to go to the mortgage company with 7000 employees because that's a lot harder to do. And without having the right culture, you won't have the right technology, you won't have the right anything because people won't care. But if you have the right culture, then you can build everything around that. And we ended up with the best technology. We didn't need the best rates. We didn't need them at all because we had the best team, the best technology. We had the fastest turn times of anybody. We had the best team by far of anybody, the industry. Nobody left us. Everybody wanted to come. So we built the sixth largest from from scratch, the sixth largest wholesale lender in the nation and the fifth largest direct to consumer lender in the nation. So if you think of Quicken, Quicken was my number one competitor at the time. We were head to head. You know, if you think of loan depot, when those guys we were head to head, you know, before those guys were Quicken was one of my good competitors back then. Yeah. But yeah. So we didn't you know, we built major companies that were extremely impressive and and truthfully, not even truthfully, but without question, the most profitable, according to an independent study done the most profitable mortgage company at the time.
[00:30:23] Wow. That's pretty crazy. Yeah, that's amazing. I worked at lower my bills on twenty five. So this was during a time when you had Ameriquest and you had Countrywide and you had actually companies like New Century. Yeah, it was, you know, it was, it was damn competitive. You also had a bunch of kind of mortgage shots down in Orange County here in California that were, you know, might have 30 mortgage brokers or or loan officers. And to be able to run at that level at the tip top during a really crazy mortgage time. That is commendable. It was fun. I have a question around. Like branding and vision and mission, you you suggested that you guys did so well because it's this culture and maybe your brand people wanted to come there and no one wanted to leave. Did you guys spend a lot of time on, you know, your vision and your mission in your brand, whether it be internal or external? These are things that are really hard to measure. And I think in a lot of businesses that are highly transactional and performance based, they just kind of focus on this kind of direct response marketing model that says we don't care about any of that stuff. We just want to create something that everybody clicks on right now. And then they get this instant gratification, they generate the lead or whatever. How did you feel about the vision, the mission, the branding? What is your take on that with any of your companies, not just mortgage?
[00:32:06] You know, truthfully, it's one of those things that sounds fluffy now. But once you have a vision, if you really believe it and you can get your team to buy into it and understand it and everybody participate on that vision and in that vision, then you're off to the races.
[00:32:25] But it's not an easy thing to do. It's very difficult. Every word is picked apart and it's. And then how do you get everybody to believe in it? And what we would do is we would make up cards with our top principles. You know, they might be five or 10. I don't remember what we had and they would be a little stands for your desk and already had everybody had them.
[00:32:48] When we would have a meeting, we would put it up on the board, you know, on the on the screen, and we'd say, all right, are we living by these, you know, let's go through them. And you have two or three thousand people in a room and it takes a little bit of nerve to stand up there and say, how are we doing? Are we doing this? Are we doing this or how are we doing with this? And by by applause. Yes or no. And we'll know if it's known. If it's no, we better we better improve those things or take them down because you can't you can't live with bullshit. It's got to be real. And, you know, it's not easy to do. But once you do it, man, oh, my God. It truly is. It takes a company from good to great.
[00:33:30] And does that start? I'm assuming that starts at the top and that starts with the founder waking up in the morning and going, look, if I have to come in here every single day, this is how we're going to behave. Yes, absolutely. I mean, it starts with you, right?
[00:33:44] Absolutely. I've always had five rules in every company I've ever worked in. As crazy as some sound, when you when you come in in the morning, you smile and say good morning. When you leave at night, you smile and say goodnight. When I when somebody asked you how you're doing, you say great, because everybody's got problems, but they don't know yours and when. And if you're asking somebody to do something, it's. Thank you. And please, if I ever hear somebody say, you know, take this message with me and that's it. Bullshit, you know, I don't care who you are, that's that does not sit well with me by any means. And I will have no problem telling anybody that, you know, simple rules, man, and the basics is basics are I want to be friendly. I want to enjoy my day at work. So when you come in, smile and say good morning, don't just sneak over to your desk or your office or whatever. Say hello to me and you come by for ten minutes, walk by, say good morning. You know, it's a nice thing to do. It makes it makes a life as opposed to just work and enjoy yourself.
[00:34:49] All those men that I love that perspective. And honestly, I share the same perspective. You know, this may seem controversial, but my opinion is no religion, no politics. Please don't bring your problems to work. Just we're all honestly work should be that place that you can go to and have that camaraderie and not be pulled down. Right. Either by your peers, by management, by people around you, by your customers. If your customers suck, that's going to suck. So a lot of these values and principles have to be pushed on your customers, right? We're world meetings on time. Why are you five minutes late? Right on time to man, I know your pain, but my time too. And I think I don't know. I just think that there's been a flood of. You know, new companies and a flood of cheap capital, and I think that some of the things I see out on the marketplace with how we run these companies, there should not be, in my opinion, some kind of weird integration of your personal life into this place that we call work. Agree. I mean, for you and I might be different because there's not a second that goes by that I don't think about my work for other people that are coming in to do a job there doesn't need we don't need to hear about all of this stuff. I think we need to focus on the company and the job at hand.
[00:36:15] Nobody cares what your opinion is politically anyway. You know, you're not going to change their minds. You know, it's keep it home. Keep it to yourself.
[00:36:23] Well, that's the way that's the way it all used to be. I don't know when we don't know I don't want to bring in all this baggage to work. That's a whole nother topic. Yeah, but I'm glad glad to hear those five those five principles are really easy. They're easy to remember. Yeah. And that's how I'm telling you.
[00:36:41] I started my first company with one employee with that those rules and they stayed with me forever.
[00:36:46] Yeah, I love it. And, you know, honestly, that's how you should be treating your your life partners. Right? This is exactly your family. This is how you treat regular people.
[00:36:55] This is how you treat the people serving you at a restaurant. You have to treat them with respect, learn their names. You know, basic things like that have respect.
[00:37:05] Imagine that. So let's talk about, you know, a crew, me, Eric, you like. How did you guys do this? What let's talk about a Kurumi for the next half.
[00:37:18] Sure. Sure. Well, you know, I was retired for the third time of my career.
[00:37:24] And the last time I think I think you have a problem, you know. Are you Brett Favre? Exactly. Exactly.
[00:37:33] You know, trust me, this last time was five years. And I was not going back. I was done. My golf game was getting good. My boating was fun. Life was great. And one day I was coming out of the city. I don't know what I was doing. And I thought of an old friend of mine from the mortgage industry, Eric and I. I went on LinkedIn on my phone, and I found him and I sent them a little note, just said, Hey, man, I hope all is well. And he sent me a note right back saying, hey, let's have lunch. All right. You I haven't talked to him probably twenty years. So we meet in the city the next week we have lunch and then we had a great time. And then we come back a week or so later, have dinner and then another lunch. And before you know it, he's pitching me on these different businesses. And I keep telling them, no, I'm done and I'll give my input, but I don't want anything to do with this. And anyway, long story short, we started talking about Amazon and that piqued my interest because I love helping people start businesses. I love mentoring people grow their businesses. I just love helping people with their businesses. It's it's fun. I don't charge for it. I just enjoy it. And so that caught my attention. So we went out and I went out to my accountants and asked, do they know any Amazon sellers? And they did. So I called three sellers and spoke with them. One was really small, one was good size, very actually pretty large, and the other one was on the smaller side and but the small one only had twenty eight hundred dollars in his business and I'll never forget it. And he had the same, all three of them had the same desire and the same needs. They all wanted to grow and they all needed capital. And I was surprised that even the big guy needed capital. The little guy. I'll never forget him saying to me, I said, Well, what are your goals? He said, Well, I want to make a million dollars. And he was not young. And I said, well, how are you going to get there? He goes, Well, actually, I want to sell a million dollars, then I want to make a million dollars. And, you know, you're not going to get there if you're starting with twenty eight hundred. But if we doubled that for you and you didn't take the profits out, you'll get there a lot faster than you could any other way. You actually could get there within a couple of years, you know, legitimately two to three years. You could get there if you did it right. And so same thing with a guy with twenty or thirty thousand dollars. If we doubled your capital and you didn't have to make any interest payments or any payments at all, you could be at a million dollars almost with a blink of an eye. I mean, you think about Einstein and, you know, doubling your returns and constantly, you know, compounding your profits. So all the money goes back in and then it goes back in and again. Then it goes back in again. Oh, my God, the numbers are ridiculous. And what it means is that the seller then we'll have to bust their ass to work harder because they're going to have more money. They're going to keep up with the growth. They've got to keep up with it. It's not easy. So they're going to their job is to work their asses off and build a big company. And our job as we see it is to help them with the capital. And we take. A small piece of the profits, but we don't take any ownership in the business, we don't charge them interest, we don't require monthly payments, we don't take a personal guarantee. We don't put a lien on their assets. We came up with something that has never been done before. It's completely innovative.
[00:40:54] You know, the interesting thing about this idea. You've you've owned and operated a publicly held company, right? Yep, we know what taking that kind of money looks like, the scrutiny and the pressure and the stress. I mean, I don't know what the percentage is around the headcount or your emotional time and energy to manage taking that capital. It's got to be an unbelievable time job, right? Oh, it's unbelievable. And then let's work through. Maybe a hard money lender, Uncle Jimmy. Right, let's work through maybe an angel investor or let's work through a venture capitalist in D.C. They're looking for companies that are going to be worth a billion dollars because they're going to wind up with 10 percent of the company or 20 percent of the company and make a couple hundred million. Nobody's going to give. And then let's talk about a bank. Right. So someone with a twenty eight hundred dollar business on Amazon, the bank's not going to still risk model for them to look at the bank.
[00:42:03] The bank is not touching. The bank is not touching. Amazon sellers not touching them.
[00:42:09] Yeah, it's not crypto here. Bank guys like me. Come on.
[00:42:13] This is a very predictable I mean, do your homework, which we know you have to you have to build the technology to predict it. And they're not going to spend the time to build that technology. We did, but they're not going to do that, that this is not their industry. They don't they don't participate.
[00:42:30] So who's this design for? Like, if you had to split these sellers into asset classes, like, how would you determine the asset class sales on Amazon equals tier one, tier two, tier three. Who's this design for?
[00:42:44] You know, I'm not going to go with the size, but it's more the desire. So, yeah, a lot of sellers are looking for money.
[00:42:56] And we asked them, what are you looking money for? What do you what do you need? What are you going to do with the money? Well, you know, I've got I've got a little gap here of a couple of weeks. Amazon holds the money for a couple of weeks and I need to get that money quicker so that I can buy, you know, inventory a little bit quicker by two weeks. All right. That's really not us. You know that. There's plenty of companies you can go to that will do that and fund that for you if that's what you want to do. You know, what we do is we provide you with growth capital. If you come back and we ask everybody this question, what are your plans? And when they say, I want to grow the hell out of this business, I have so many opportunities, I just don't have enough enough capital. It's a marriage made in heaven because we'll give them the capital quickly. We'll give them more than any bank would ever give them. And then they work their asses off and literally they can double their business in months. In a few months. It's it's amazing to see it's and, you know, you feel so good when you see these these people that are young guys, typically young girls that are just kicking, kicking ass and just going at it day after day after day and making it happen. They make mistakes and they hit home runs at the same time.
[00:44:09] I know this is so this is I guess I could say I could use the word unique. You may want to correct me on that. But a lot of it's unique. A lot of the companies that I see out there, I think you hit the nail on the head. They're saying, hey, I just want to get paid a little bit sooner. That's just get paid for my inventory. That's hold the line. I know I'm going to do three hundred thousand dollars in sales. Amazon's not going to pay me until a month from now. So if you could just brought me the cash, I'll pay a little vigorish on it. We're all it. You're you're saying, well, wait a second. That anybody can do that. But what you're saying is so are they do you put constraints or is a rule book for taking money from AccrueMe let's say I'm a small time Amazon seller. I do ten thousand dollars a month in sales on Amazon. I get 20 percent margin. I'm doing two grand a month. Comes back to. Yeah. Snider in margin right. Yeah. Thirty, thirty percent of that we all know goes back to Amazon and shipping stuff around and transactions and returns and like all this crazy stuff. Yeah. So I would call you and say hey I've got this great product, we've got this great idea and like so are you a like a small business consultant almost. And you're saying, hey, I'll give you this money because I believe in you, but you can only spend it in these ways. Are you giving these guys rules?
[00:45:38] You know, some basic rules. But what we do is we are not looking at them individually. We I talked to just about every single one of them personally because I like to know who they are. Yeah, but we're not giving them rules on you. You can't buy this or that. What we do is we look at their inventory and we built a system to analyze their inventory. And we can say no matter what is going on in your world, no matter what you want to do, we could say, OK, over the last three months, six months, whatever it is, you've built inventory that will turn over every 60 days, 90 days, one hundred and twenty days, your profits are going to be X, Y and Z. We know all that's going in. You have some bad inventory that you've been sitting with for way too long that we're going to put on the side. When it sells, you keep 100 percent of it. We don't want any part of that, but when when it does sell, you can buy anything you want. And if you have questions or problems or you want to double check something, we have a system to do that for you. We can you know, you can say, you know, this is what we're thinking and we'll come back to you literally instantly and say, all right, here's something you might have missed or we agree with you. You know, a great, great deal. Go get it. You know, but we're not living their business. We're not in their business. We're here to support them and help them any way we can. But we're not trying to run their business. We think they're the experts at doing that.
[00:47:07] So how does it so how does it work? You you you've likely built some tech that allows you to go into their Amazon account. If they give you permission, there's a connection, probably like a quick books or whatever, I'm assuming. And then what do you do? Did you guys create some algorithms and some tech that said, OK, looks like a good business and therefore we are going to give you X amount of money because this is what the algo told us? Is that or is there a or is there a more qualitative aspect to this with human beings?
[00:47:40] That's not that's pretty much it. We look at their inventory. We know what's good and what's bad. We put the bad on the side. They get to keep that. They can make all the money on that and then everything else. What we do is we will give them up to doubling their capital. So if they have one hundred thousand dollars, we'll give them one hundred thousand dollars. They don't have to take a hundred. They can take five or ten or twenty. But and we tell them only take what you really need. The rest of it is sitting here waiting for you. So it literally will take an hour to put it into your account. So don't worry about that. If you if we approve you for one hundred and you only need twenty today, take twenty, put it to work because there's only one way that they can lose with a bank. You have a bad month, you're making the monthly payments you can lose without question. You could lose, you have a bad few months, you can go out of business and the bank's coming after you personally. You can lose with us. There's only one way you can lose, and that's if you take our money and leave it in the bank. If it's just sitting there, you're paying us for no good reason. If you deploy that money and you're going to get a return on that money, then you can't lose because we're only getting a percentage of the profits now.
[00:48:53] And so let's talk about that. That business model. I don't know who concept of this or where you came up with this, but basically not only you don't get paid unless they actually turn a profit and you only get paid out of the profits. And furthermore, they can defer any of their payments to you out of those profits. Is it for as long as they want or how does this work?
[00:49:19] Yeah, that's it. You know, we have plenty of sellers now using us and deferring the payments completely because they're planning on selling their business. And if they sell their business in a year, year and a half and make no payments and they get a five, six, seven multiple on their business, all they pay us back is our capital, plus our accrued profits. You know, as you said, the profits that were deferred and they keep all the upside. One hundred percent and everybody, even the sellers tell us, you know, you guys are crazy. You should at least take two percent of the business. Yeah. Because eventually it's going to be a big mountain of money. And they were right. But we don't want to be in their business. We want to help them grow their business and we want to help them reach their dreams. And truthfully, we're going to do great because we're going to make a percentage of the profits. We can take them from making your guy from making two thousand dollars a month to making one hundred thousand dollars a month. You're that guy. And it's realistic. It's not not a pie in the sky kind of thing he's going to do. Unbelievable. And so will we. We will do better than a loan if he does.
[00:50:27] Well, how big is this market? I mean, I know that's a bit of a loaded question, but as we think about talking with investors and we think about how big our businesses are, like from a TAM standpoint, a total addressable market standpoint, this seems like this market would be to pardon my friends like fucking huge like this start to be like this has got to be like a trillion dollar market for you guys, like for you guys alone. This could be that big, right?
[00:50:55] Well, yes. But initially we're only focused on Amazon now and we're only focused on Amazon FBA, so fulfilled by Amazon, OK, the Amazon Prime business, because that we can control and we can see and you've got to start somewhere. So we picked a pretty big market of a few hundred billion dollar market and that's where we're starting. And then eventually, later this year will be adding Amazon, Canada, Mexico, UK, Germany, Australia.
[00:51:27] So forth, and then at the same time looking to add Wal-Mart and Shopify, but initially we're just starting with Amazon, which is a huge market. I shouldn't say just it's yeah, you can retire on Amazon. So that's where we're starting. And we're looking to do we're starting stupid, if you will. Chris, we're learning as we go. We've done a lot of things well, where we've built technology along the way. We have more technology coming on. We have a lot of plans to help our sellers do better than they would have anywhere else. So we're learning as we go and we're building. It's terrific. It.
[00:52:07] You guys sell fund or did you raise capital for this business?
[00:52:11] So initially we self-funded and we put out some money without any underwriting, without any technology. We started stupid.
[00:52:19] We wanted to see what we actually gave Amazon sellers without any of this stuff in place. Some of your own money.
[00:52:28] Yeah, exactly. And we went into it saying, all right, let's look at this honestly. We're going to lose money with some of them, of course. And and and but what we will learn from it is we're going to learn valuable lessons on how do we recover when we lose money and what do we do in these situations, because you can't really know what to do until your backs up against the wall anyway. So, yeah. And we didn't lose any money with any of them, by the way. So that was pretty amazing. And I think just about every one of them is still a partner. I think there are two that are not and still good friends with them. You know, I mean, like literally I get calls from them and I text them how you're doing, you know, things like that. You know, we're it's not just a business. But then we went out we went out to we knew we needed more capital, so we went out to a hedge fund in New York City. And it's an interesting story. I'll tell you real quick, my my partner, Eric and I were standing out on the street on Broadway uptown. And before we went in, I said to Eric, Do you know what 242 is? Do you know what 242 is, because I have no idea so and that's what he said and I said, well, 242 is the number of pitches that Howard Schultz from Starbucks made before anybody put money into Starbucks. So I said, yeah, exactly. So I said, we're not going in here to get money. We're going in here to talk to some really smart people that will build spreadsheets like we can imagine that will understand things that we don't understand, that will ask us questions that we never thought. And they'll force us to think about things that we didn't think of. And then our whole goal is if we can get invited back for a second meeting where we can answer some of those questions and some of those concerns, then that's a home run. Anyway, long story short, we got invited back and we went back and we answered more questions and we had a pretty good model, you know. So six weeks later, we got a commitment for a hundred million dollars. So we have one hundred million dollars burning a hole in our pockets for business. One hundred million dollars to invest in Amazon sellers.
[00:54:40] Yes, unbelievable right now. So so the so the number the number two. Forty two is you did it. And what one meeting. I'm assuming you had a lot more meetings than just with this.
[00:54:53] We had more after that, but that was our first meeting.
[00:54:57] So it's almost like you guys raise like a read, right, a real estate investment trust or just, you know, when, you know, there were some companies that were doing this rent business, they really went down hard. Yeah. They would raise these funds where these companies could go buy all this real estate at a discount and then rent it back. And the user would have like a double double ownership stake and then they could rent their way through their mortgage and come into homeownership. But so is the fund specifically like a bank? Is it specifically for lending these dollars? That's what it's for. That's all it's for. That's unbelievable.
[00:55:40] Yeah, that's all it's worth. That's all. So we had to build the underwriting criteria with them. We built the technology to do the underwriting and monitor everything and report on everything. And yeah, it's been it's been pretty interesting. A lot of fun, very different. Man, this is a very different place now.
[00:56:02] Is this a highly regulated business like the businesses that you are used to participating in mortgage and stuff? Because this isn't really loans the way you used to do loans.
[00:56:13] Yeah, we're not lending to individuals.
[00:56:15] So now it's just in the long run, it's still.
[00:56:25] Sure, sure.
[00:56:28] Sorry for that interruption. There's a there is a nest. I don't know if you have nest there.
[00:56:34] Amazing. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. But apparently that was there once yearly run through this entire system and tell everybody that there will be an alarm even though there is no smoke. That's funny. Although I'm in my little quote unquote studio, I wouldn't I wouldn't know if there's smoke here anyway. But back to a Kurumi. This is so so just first of all, I think there are other companies that are trying. There are other companies that are trying to to I guess I don't want to say pretend, but I guess they're suggesting that they're helping small businesses on Amazon by getting them money. And I think and I think what I hear you saying is they're probably taking too much. And you guys are are aligned more closely with the entrepreneurs and the founders of these companies because you're only interested in getting paid back if they win.
[00:57:41] That's exactly it, that's exactly when we when we did this, we looked at all the options for an Amazon seller and the marketing of some of these options were fantastic. You and I would look at them, say, oh, should I take that deal? But reality, when you build the spreadsheet around it, it's not good at all. They're not going to make money with that. So what we did was we built a model that the seller can't lose again. They can only lose if they leave the money in the bank, if they don't use it and we don't want them to do that, we coach them every which way. Just take what you need and you can always come back for more.
[00:58:18] And then you know what's interesting about this? You guys have a lot of smart people there. You raise a lot of money. Have you ever thought about saying, hey, if you want to be in an Amazon selling business, here's a model that you can use to evaluate products that you could sell on Amazon. And if you get committed and you put a little skin in the game, we'll provide you the growth capital. You use our sheets to go and start a business from scratch on Amazon because I can imagine so. I guess first out of one hundred episodes, first time that's ever happened. But what would I can imagine, though, is that you have a lot of people coming to you guys, probably a lot of inbound that says I need money unibody. You run to the model and you're like, dude, this is not good. Your products are good. This is not going to work, is it, at that level? And then now they're having to think about, well, shit, now what am I going to do? These smart guys that these hedge fund guys have all these spreadsheets and quants and algorithms are basically telling me my business isn't going to work on Amazon. I should probably pivot.
[00:59:28] So so our technology, you hit on a few things there. Our technology is suitable for the sellers to use to improve their businesses and to make their decisions better as far as what they're buying. So we are you hit it on the head, man. We are creating new technology that's better than anything out there. And we're not looking to sell it. We're actually going to look to give it to all the sellers, not necessarily to the guys that are just coming into the industry, although that's fine, too.
[00:59:59] But if you're doing, you know, ten thousand dollars a month, so now you're in the business, you're not deep, deep, deep in the business, but you're in it enough. And now you start using our technology and now we give you another ten thousand dollars. So you have 20. Oh my God. You can really make a huge business out of that pretty quickly and safely. So yeah, we're actually thinking right along the same lines and we're not far from it.
[01:00:24] Yeah, that's amazing. We've got a few Amazon sellers, you know, with Juhll, our agency. I own an agency as well, but would be interesting to see, you know, these are relatively one of the businesses. Last year we did seven hundred and thirty three thousand in top line on Amazon. This year, same exact period. We're already at one point five. Wow. And we had a we had a three hundred thousand three hundred fifty thousand dollars month in November, I guess, where we just wrap that up. So I'll look at the numbers. But congratulations. Thanks. I mean, but I think what's interesting about that is getting back to your prior point, like. I don't think we're just looking to get capital so we can defray that timing of getting paid for inventory, the unique and interesting thing about I think what you guys are trying to do is you're trying to provide all the other stuff that maybe some of these traditional finance companies. So it would be really interesting to think about how I introduce a crew, me to some of our clients and say, look. Let's let's run these guys through the sheets, let's talk about how to actually grow the business, so maybe next year, I think we're on target. We'll probably do we'll probably do one point eight. So we'll have grown that business one hundred percent year over year. But how do we get to the next hundred percent? Right. And that might be beyond some of our clients. I don't want to call it paygrade, but they just may not have the experience. And yeah, those kinds of businesses to go from a two million dollar a year Amazon business to four because we are going from seven thirty three to a million and a half. Relatively simple, right. You can make a lot of mistakes and still get there. If we're talking about taking a business from two to four. From four to eight, from eight to 15. Now what. Right.
[01:02:27] So let me give you one thing that anybody listening to this might be able to use a little tip that I actually gave to an Amazon seller today that just from my experience in different businesses, is as you're building the business and you find initially that you're busy, you're very busy as an individual, as the owner, hire somebody to do what you do, almost everything that you do because you are the driver, you are the builder. If you get free, you will not be free for more than a day. You would be so uncomfortable. It would be it's it's unbelievable. You will find new ideas, new ways to build new ideas, you know, things to do in your company that nobody else would have thought of before. You know what? The company will double because of your will. And then as you get bigger and you have different people working for you, look at your key people and see when they're busy and take stuff off their plate, hire people to do their jobs because they're just like you. The slower they are, the busier and bigger your company will get. So just find yourself first and then your key people free them up. You can't lose.
[01:03:44] That's that's great advice, I think. And I fall into this trap, too. I think a lot of bootstrap founders do and newer founders. But you just feel like you have to stay on top of everything. I know. And you just the days get longer. Wait, the stress levels get higher. And I think you make a great point. I think if if we get a little introspective as founders and we go, well, wait a second, I'm probably not the one that needs to make sure the FBA shipment comes in or it leaves the warehouse. And so figuring out what your mission is, figuring out what your values are, figuring out who you are, I mean, I think we probably as founders need to take a bigger stock in how important we are to the future of the company, because if you take care of everything today, what I found historically is if you take your eye off the future, you're on the clock. It will end if you, as the founder and the visionary, do not do new and more stuff. Right. It will end quickly. It's just a treadmill. Yeah, it's awful. Well, I got to tell you, this has been done. I know we could probably we could probably go on a little bit longer, but this has been super fun. Everyone, Don had a cofounder of a crew me there helping sellers evolve with growth capital. You only pay out of the profit. It's literally the biggest no brainer of all time if you're an Amazon seller. I love that, Don. I'm going to introduce you to a couple a couple of our clients or someone on your team. I'm sure you don't do this stuff, but I talk to everybody. Really, I do some seriously. Well, it's important that you guys are in the stage of of evolution and to get this product right. That makes total sense. So we're going to make some introductions here. But at the end of the day, this has been great. Fortunate to have had this conversation to the audience.
[01:05:45] Feels fortunate to have heard some wisdom and advice from an old guy for a little guy, a young little guy that's trying to retire like three or four times. You know, I feel like he's not going anywhere. So next time.
[01:05:59] So if you want to find AccrueMe, AccrueMe.com. Right.
[01:06:08] Right, correct. And if you're looking for me on LinkedIn, it's my full name. Like my mother would call me Donald. Donald h e you find me on LinkedIn. I'm easily reachable.
[01:06:22] Excellent. And we'll put all this in the show notes as well. Don, I appreciate your time today. Thanks. Great afternoon.
[01:06:27] I will. Thanks. Chris is great. All right.