In this special episode, we chat with Chris George, a serial entrepreneur who has successfully started and managed 7 businesses in his career (most recently Founder of Certified). His first business that he started in college, was a debt collection agency that he worked in for almost a decade. His most recent venture was a subscription-based men’s fashion company: Gentleman’s Box. Today, he’s chairman of the subscription trade association, a for-profit association that he co-founded. You’ll want to listen closely because in this episode we discuss business strategy, marketing tactics, and what it takes to be successful as an entrepreneur in any industry.
Chris George 00:00
Legos never go on sale. Apple never goes on sale. Like there's a reason that doesn't happen, and why they've been able to protect the brand so well and why they've had so much success.
Ash Faraj 00:10
Hey, it's ash and you're listening to the ExecuTalks podcast. It's the top career podcast featuring inspiring career stories of today's top CEOs, executives and leaders. In this special episode, we chat with Chris George, a serial entrepreneur who has successfully started and managed seven businesses in his career. His first business that he started in college was a debt collection agency that he worked on for almost a decade. His most recent venture was a subscription based men's fashion company that you've probably heard of before gentleman's box. Today, he's chairman of the subscription trade association of for profit association that he co founded. You want to listen closely because in this episode, we discuss the business strategy, marketing tactics and what it takes to be successful as an entrepreneur in any industry. I am joined today by a serial entrepreneur who has successfully launched and managed seven businesses and most recently CEO and co founder of gentleman's box and co founder of the subscription trade association, Chris George, welcome to the show. Thank you for being here today.
Chris George 01:09
course. Thank you for having me.
Ash Faraj 01:11
I'm in a high school classroom with you. Who are you in high school?
Chris George 01:14
My family's from Iraq, they're born, my parents were born in Baghdad. It's funny stories. I live in a city called Bloomfield Hills where I grew up, which is actually one of the more wealthy cities in Michigan, where my family like they started off wealthy and and like, basically, when I was born, things sort of turned the other way. So I did I live in a wealthy area. My family was not wealthy by any means. Yeah, so surrounded by a bunch of rich, wealthy individually.
Ash Faraj 01:41
That's crazy. My my grandfather actually came from Palestine. So both from the Middle East. Yeah. What so you studied marketing in college? Was that out of interest? Or was that did you What was your idea there was make that decision,
Chris George 01:53
I had a knack for selling. And that's like if you're going into marketing, like you actually know how to sell. And so I think that's sort of why I leaned towards that. I knew I wanted to be in business. I didn't know I'd be an entrepreneur like I am today. But I just I had a knack for selling. So that was like, really it.
Ash Faraj 02:07
So you had a knack for selling What? What was the first thing you ever sold the remember?
Chris George 02:11
Yeah. So I worked at a shoe store called Dunham's was like a sporting goods store. And really what happened was I started working for a company called Circuit City, it was basically the competitor to Best Buy. And at 19, I think I was like the youngest supervisor in the country, and our location. So I was selling computers and TVs and like, I don't even know a single thing about computers. And I was selling them. So like, that's when I started to learn that like I had this knack for selling and was good at it. And that's where I was at for about two, three years until they shut down all the locations. Was there something that's kind of drove you to be successful and whatever that meant to you. Yeah, yeah, it's good point. So I was working when I was about 15. I remember actually, like my neighbor, I used to go like, they were coffers and they had this big yard. And they used to like, hit golf balls. And I used to go grab them, they give me like 20 cents a golf ball. I had this knack for having to work because my parents weren't wealthy. So I had a I think I like a $20 allowance a week, it was like nothing like so I was like working. And I had friends that had like, my friends were very wealthy. So my nap was like, I wanted to be able to do the things that we're doing. So like I went to work. When my dad was working all the time. I I think I just kind of had it in me like I just wanted to hustle and work. I had good work ethic. Like even the sports I played, I used to train hard. I was just like, the mentality, the mindset was, like 100 mph at all times.
Ash Faraj 03:36
Was that was that because you saw the people around you? And you're like, oh, man, I want to be there. I was like, I want to get this brand new car like, or maybe something that you kind of don't know, I'm just curious.
Chris George 03:46
You know, it's, I almost felt like I just, it was like normal to try to sort of like be able to do what you wanted. And I knew that I had to work in order to get those things. So like, it didn't feel like I had to work hard. I just felt like I was doing what I had to do in order to like, keep up with everybody, right? any of my friends. Like I said, I was gonna get 20 allowance and my friends were getting like 200 a week, I'm gonna go I gotta like pick up this delta. Like, it wasn't like, I felt bad for myself as I go, I just kind of work and make up the difference. But like, out of my whole friends group, every single one of the one away to college, I was staying at local college because I couldn't afford to stay in the dorms and like, it's sort of a different, like upbringing. Like I had to work for everything that I had. And I think that was like to my benefit.
Ash Faraj 04:28
The first business you started was while you were in college, which is called eco management services. Is that right?
Chris George 04:32
Ash Faraj 04:33
So I mean, how did that idea come about? Can you tell us a bit about the founding story there?
Chris George 04:37
While I was working at Circuit City, they had actually shut down all our locations. So I literally walked in one day and they're like, here's your severance package. That was my last year at college. And so I had this like notion. I remember thinking that I was in graduate college and probably go sell mortgages or like something and my friend's dad, he was in the collection space and he had asked To help them collect some rent on some commercial property Zeeland, like they weren't answering his phone calls, he's like, he's coughing and falling, I'm telling you work for me, you need to go pick up a check for rent, and I did it. And then he started going to the story of how you start a collection agency, and he made his wealth that way. So he said, Hey, do you want to start one? And like, literally, it was like 21 years old. And I started this collection agency with a mentor of mine that was in the industry for a long time. We were partners, and he knew me well, because I was best friends with his son knew I had a good work ethic. And yeah, we started that business. And I think it was like by 28, I was named president of the Michigan association of collection agencies, I might have been the youngest one they had in like, seven years. But you know, collecting bills is not much different than sales people think it is. But it's not you're convincing somebody why they need to pay the bills and pay their debts. So I was good at it. I was inherently just good at it. I did that for I think was seven years or eight years. And then I sold out my part of that business is very disciplined. You know what, it's just bill collectors, like, inherently, it's, it's a bad like, oh, you're a bill collector, or you're a bill collector. And like, I just convinced them why they should pay. I had like six attorneys that worked for me. And I was like, Look, if you don't pay, like, we're gonna file a lawsuit to cost you a lot more money, like, save the legal fees. And so I was more like just convincing them protect your credit. I took a much different approach, I think, than some of the others.
Ash Faraj 06:22
If there was a moment you can point to during those 10 years, because you did that for 10 years. If you could point to like, Man, this is a difficult moment here. Or maybe there were several, what was that one that was memorable that you can share with us.
Chris George 06:32
I mean, gosh, we started from the ground up. I couldn't pay bills, or pay payroll, once I collected money. I didn't raise any money. So there were some sleepless nights. I mean, I knew that I needed to collect bills, or I wasn't going to be able to pay payroll for the employees. And there was some times where like, I stayed up until like, 1030, making phone calls to the west coast, because that was a three hour timeframe back, just trying to drive as many collections as I could. And there was some sleepless nights, but it's like any entrepreneur, right? You one thing you have to know is that like you're the last one to get paid, their rent gets paid. First payroll gets paid, expenses get paid, whether there's anything leftover, like you've got something left for yourself. And I went through that a ton in that business, especially early on,
Ash Faraj 07:20
I guess, did you have a strategy? And if you did, what was it? Or was it just like,
Chris George 07:23
oh, so yeah, I mean, look at as you I started off with some like when my like my dentist and like my doctor and was like, Hey, I can help you collect these. And then we started buying a lot of debt, you know, so I was purchasing like T Mobile bills and sprint PCs. So So what happened was like it bills went delinquent for like, two, three years, Sprint PCs would package all them in a portfolio and I would pay like two or three cents on the dollar, and buy that portfolio of debt. So like, I bought like $3 million worth of sprint past two bills for like $65,000. Now that three millions out to me, and then I will collect it. And then I will just make deals. So like if they had 1000 outstanding blood come up and say, Hey, you got 1000 bill, Sprint PCs all settle for you for 250 bucks. I only paid like $55 for that bill, and then I'd make the Delta.
Ash Faraj 08:17
Oh, wow. Okay, so that was literally that's like brute force sales right there, man.
Chris George 08:21
Yeah, I mean, like, at one point, it's a think like, when people want to go refinance their home or buy a new home, they got it through their credit, like so that I get phone calls, I can't get this old bill, I need to pay it like right here is the balance, you know, and on the other side of it, like, some people ran into tough times in life, and so I get it, but three years later, like their lead could be very, very different. And they could be you know, more well off and have a stable job and they could afford to pay. So it was really important to sort of identify those people that could pay versus the ones that couldn't and go out and make sure you start more more time and attention to those individuals
Ash Faraj 08:52
before you kind of like left that venture. I think, I don't know if it was acquired or not. But I guess where were you? Like, what was your success? Like measuring? How did you measure whether you were successful or not in those times
Chris George 09:03
a profit profitable business at that point. You know, we were doing we were building as a business, I was built towards profitability. I had about eight employees, very old school industry. And like I had this mindset that I wanted to be in something that was a little bit more tech savvy and or more modern. I was selling things online on the side. And like I just knew that I had to pivot out so I had my business partner buy me out, and that's when I left went towards I started gentleman's box and, and sort of went from there.
Ash Faraj 09:36
Would somebody be able to start that kind of business today? You think,
Chris George 09:39
Oh, for sure.
Ash Faraj 09:40
What tips would you give somebody that is going into that business? Let's say they wanted to start like a debt collecting debt collecting agency.
Chris George 09:48
Probably go work for one for a little bit and make sure you like it. That would be my tip. Like go work for one make sure you like doing that sort of work. Not everybody likes it, but it can be very lucrative buying debt can even I mean, I had credit card debt that I purchased. I mean, can be very lucrative if you like it. I think what's most important is like don't start anything, unless you like doing it. I didn't like book collections are just good at it. If you don't like it, it doesn't matter.
Ash Faraj 10:10
So you feel like those 10 years you kind of like, we're kind of semi miserable, because you didn't like it. I mean,
Chris George 10:16
Ash Faraj 10:17
Shortly after that you started boxing studio.
Chris George 10:20
First of all, one gentleman's box. So I was approached to start gentleman's box boxes studio was something that we started much later after we started sub 10 sub summit. So the timeline was I started gentleman's box, I knew I wanted to be in the e commerce space, I got approached by a friend of mine that had this idea, similar to where the gentleman's box ended up being. I was I bought into it, I did a lot of research identified that everything things were starting to pivot towards subscriptions. And nobody was sort of targeting the men's market. And that's when we launched gentleman's box, which was in 2014, November of 2014, had a lot of success. Early on, I built a relationship with GQ before we launched, that was probably one of the biggest success stories for that business flourishing.
Ash Faraj 10:58
How did do that.
Chris George 10:59
We were at my house, I remember this, like yesterday and newer. When we were thinking about how we wanted the box, I was gonna go into it. And there was a GQ magazine sitting on my coffee table. And I was like, yo, we got to put GQ magazine in every box. And the idea was that consumers could read about the latest fashion and get items in their box ties, dress socks, tie clips, right? So they read about in GQ, get it and get the items actually delivered to your door. And so now came the feet of like, how are we gonna convince GQ to put magazines in our box? Like, who are we were like two three young entrepreneurs from Detroit that don't have anything but a landing page. And so I told my business partner, john, I said, Hey, reach out to people from GQ on LinkedIn. And he reached out to like two or three, there was no response. So then I was like, let's reach out to everybody. Conde Nast. I think it was like almost over 80 different individuals. Conde Nast, we sent a LinkedIn message to and this lady named Cindy theme who's out of the Troy office here in Detroit, she responded and she's like, Hey, this is cool. Come see us.
Ash Faraj 12:04
But this is this is what this is. This is a LinkedIn message.
Chris George 12:06
Yes. The LinkedIn message.
Ash Faraj 12:08
Chris George 12:10
Yeah. And so we go to the office and Troy mindi. We have like a prototype box, like accessories, we bought it nordstroms. And like a landing page, like we don't even have this done yet. And we meet with them. We tell them our idea. And like, they love it. They're like, Hey, we're gonna like send you to New York. To talk to Conde Nast, we got that. So we meet with New York, we tell them that we want to put their magazine and every box will pay. They wanted to charge us like $2 for every magazine. So it's like fine, but the meeting ends. They're like, Look, we love this idea. But you guys are like you haven't even launched yet, in the most in the nicest way possible. They're like, we're a billion dollar company. And you're three dudes from Detroit with like a landing page like that. No revenue, like, right? And so we leave that meeting sort of bummed. And I'll be honest, I was like, Fuck this. I just called the girl back or named Angela, Christos. Or Angie to tell us. I said, Hey, Angie, if I don't know if I lied. I'll be honest. I was like, I have 500 pre signups. I didn't. I said, if I don't have 1000 subscribers, by January, I'll buy 1000 subscriptions. She was like I bet like now we got to put GQ. Like every subscriber got a subscription to GQ. We ended up probably giving them more subscribers to GQ than probably anybody else like we started, since we started getting it for free. And give them the hundreds of 1000s of subscribers to GQ magazine over the course of time working with them. And it was a really good partnership was really good brand Association worked really well all the consumers loved it. GQ loved it because they were getting subscribers for free. And like I said, I mean, it was probably close to a half a million subscribers over the course of time that we've given.
Ash Faraj 13:43
Yeah, I guess the part that I'm kind of the gap that I'm trying to figure out is okay, well, how did you get subscribers?
Chris George 13:50
Well, sure. I mean, look at this, like building any brand, right? We were doing a bunch of influencer marketing. We were running Facebook ads. You know, we were it was just like, it was sort of scrappy social media marketing to launch the business. I think in our first month, it'd be sold like 50 subscribers. And you know, over the course of the next six years, we're shipping out 10,000 plus boxes every single month.
Ash Faraj 14:10
You think a big part of that was understanding how social media marketing works?
Chris George 14:14
I mean, for sure. I mean, like, you had to be super scrappy. And, you know, I think that's where I got to where I am today is understanding marketing and understanding consumer behavior. I mean, there was a couple things really working for us one auction 2014, there wasn't very much competition. subscription boxes were very new. So we were sort of disrupting the way men shop for accessories. We were selling them those accessories delivered to their door value. They were getting over $100 with a product for less than 30. And we were presenting them items that they maybe typically would have never bought themselves, but they would get in the box and it was very appealing. Right. And so that's why it worked. So well. I think it's a much harder business to start now. A lot more competition. You weren't competing with the Amazons as much right? But like everything is about the customer experience. I mean, if you want to go by ties of dress sock and a tie clip, you could go to amazon.com and probably buy it. But you couldn't call an amazon.com rep and ask them should I wear this purple shirt with this black tie, which you could have called one of my customer service reps, and they would have told you, right, so we were building like an experience that you wouldn't get on a retail level, we had to put out an experience that you couldn't get from the big box companies. And that was a big part of our success. It's like being super anal about like customer service, like people. You know, those days, my team had five minutes to respond. And when I started the business, it'd be Sunday at nine o'clock. And like I was answering that email, and we were getting in front of celebrities. We had like redwings players and NHL players in crystal Tang from the Pittsburgh Penguins like these guys signed up, and then they were like posting on social media. No, it was really cool.
Ash Faraj 15:44
And that was organically they were doing that.
Chris George 15:46
Ash Faraj 15:46
That's fascinating. Because then the next question becomes, why do you feel like you're so good at consumer behavior? Or like, how can somebody get smarter about consumer behavior?
Chris George 15:57
I mean, I probably focus on understanding consumer behavior is like one of my lover, like one of my pillars, like my personal self, but comes in a lot of fashions, right, like one looking at data, paying attention to social media. So understanding where the consumers attention is, right? And like what's appealing to them. And a big part of it, too, is like looking at data, the way consumers are making decisions when they're on a website. Like you can use things like hot jar to see where are they clicking, you know, four years ago used to want to push somebody through the checkout process very fast, you still want them to go to the page, click the item Add To Cart checkout. With subscriptions, you want them to start to make sort of what we call micro commitments. What are some questions? Like, how many times do you need to wear a tie? What colors do you like? What's your height? If you were like a celebrity, if there was a celebrity like to look like which one would it be the consumer has to get engaged with the brand. And when you're in a subscription business, you want to build a relationship with them and you want to build a relationship with them, you want to understand as much as you can about them. So a lot of that comes from data. A lot of it comes from paying attention to social media and seeing the trends. Like I pay attention to social media very closely. I'm on tik tok regularly, I'm on Instagram regularly. And that sort of stuff. Like, it doesn't matter what we think as a founder. It's like what the audience tells us frequently serving that with all this data allows you to understand the consumers behavior, which allows you to make better decisions for the business.
Ash Faraj 17:18
So two questions, what are the best books and in that context of, you know, marketing, return behavior? And then what are some tools that you use often,
Chris George 17:26
I'm not a huge book reader, but I do a lot of podcasts, right? So listen to why Simon Sinek I listen to a lot of Seth Godin, I listen to a lot of Gary Vaynerchuk. I also personally have had the fortunate opportunity to speak in front of a lot of colleges. So I've spoken at ASU and while you are watching University tons, and I've got more on the docket, coming in the next two years, but in that time period, I also start to meet a lot of research professors. And the truth is research professors are actually probably like some of the smartest individuals that nobody knows about. They're like, sort of like the quiet and Silent Night. And so I could start to have those conversations with those professors. And they've got a ton of data. And they do a ton of research. And you sort of learn a ton from them, as well, um, I did a live podcast with two professors. And like, we had this amazing argument as to why there should be no coupon code spot ever on any checkout page. And like, it was genius. And like, if you could convince everybody to take away the coupon code spot, everybody get a much better position than they are, what happens with the coupon code spot is like you the consumer starts to purchase regret, they see the spot where they instantly do they Google coupon code for this company. And they get taken to like retailmenot. And if they don't find a coupon code, there's a chance they're gonna maybe not make the purchase thinking they didn't get the best deal. But if you look at some of the greatest brands, like go to apple.com, there's no coupon code spa, Legos never go on sale, Apple never goes on sale. Like there's a reason that doesn't happen, and why they've been able to protect the brand so well, and why they've had so much success.
Ash Faraj 18:52
What was like a difficult moment for you it is the moment that you remember, that was like, Man, that was
Chris George 18:57
Yeah, you know, in 2016, I wanted to go to an event to network with other subscription leaders and in the direct to consumer subscription box space and nothing existed. So as three sort of scrappy entrepreneurs, we said, Hey, why don't we start the first ever subscription box summit? So we started an event called sub summit. We held it in Detroit, September of 2016. And so the difficult moment there was we were three guys on a subscription box trying to cultivate an event with no event experience bringing in leaders for something that never existed before. And I remember it, it was about four weeks prior to the event. I might have had like 15 tickets sold a founder of one of the biggest CRMs who initially said they would come speak backed out and I was like shit, like we're Fox, like, like, this is like we're in like a bad spot here. And I remember like, real quickly before that one of the leaders and subscription boxes at the time was Katia Beauchamp. She was the CEO of Birchbox. You probably remember Birchbox I want her to speak at our events. So I know they're let her know about the event and said, Hey, I'm going to be in New York on Thursday. Can I come see you. I wasn't in New York, but I wanted to see if she was available. She said, Yeah, I'd love to learn more. Come see me. I then booked the flight flew to New York. That was her. And she was like, You know what, this sounds great. But like, I got to talk to my PR team. I'm not sure if I can be there. So you leave that. So I that guy back up. And I was like, Oh my god, like this is this is screwed up. I've got sponsors that pay this money. I don't have anybody attending. I like going through my phone, like legitimately looking at which of my friends I was gonna make common pretend like they were a brand just to like fill this room. And I get an email An hour later from Katya saying she's in the car. And we're like, oh, shit, like, this is amazing. So now we get to start to do promo, like, we've got the CEO and founder of Birchbox coming to speak at the event. So now ticket sales are coming in. But we give a lot away for free. So it's the day it's the morning of the event. And it Ash is just like this. He was like I was in high school, and I was throwing a huge party. And I had no idea if anybody was coming. And people showed up. And it was an amazing event. And Fast Forward Three years later, pre COVID. Our event is over 1000 attendees, over 90 exhibitors, 150 speakers, everybody from Netflix to Disney plus to Sling TV, is now the largest event in the world for direct to consumer subscriptions. And we now have a trade association with over 2000 members. And we have positioned ourselves as thought leaders in the subscription space. So that was some pretty stressful moments. But they worked out. And and and now we're leading this industry, which is really exciting.
Ash Faraj 21:29
Yeah, how many people showed up again?
Chris George 21:30
The first one?
Ash Faraj 21:31
Chris George 21:31
just over 200?
Ash Faraj 21:33
Oh, wow, I mean, there's still like, you know, you didn't know if anyone's gonna show up.
Chris George 21:36
I have no idea. Like, maybe I was like, I could have been 50 could have been 200,
Ash Faraj 21:40
you sold the company to an Alabama firm. I read somewhere that right?
Chris George 21:43
Yeah, October of 2020. We got acquired by cigar Club, which is Alabama firm
Ash Faraj 21:48
what, how did that happen?
Chris George 21:50
As leaders and running the largest event we were sort of front facing for the industry. So obviously, my networks bigger than anybody's when it comes to subscriptions. And so in conversation at one of our events, the founder had mentioned to me that he was looking to acquire new men's brands. I was like, hey, got one for you, you know, so I was just you know, it was a big deal that we run that industry. And I've got the network. So that's how that came about. We were in talks with GQ prior to that. And that was a much different conversation a lot more grueling, very difficult, trying to sell your business is very hard. Lots of due diligence, this other transaction was very easy, you know, very easy to work with that firm, and they had a lot of trust in us. And we had nothing to hide, and we showed the numbers and the business as it was. And there was a lot of confidence for them on that side. Because we were sort of leaving this industry, right, we were gonna have a reputation of like, not putting together a really good business and then selling it. So it worked out really well.
Ash Faraj 22:49
On the topic of networking, I guess, what advice would you have for somebody who just graduated college or just kind of knew in their career? My question would be like, how can you be good at networking, or what is good networking? You know,
Chris George 23:01
I think networking like so if you're going to an event and you want to network, like preparation is probably the most critical part in this only that nobody does. So if you're going to an event, try to identify who's going to be there, identify a handful, those individuals that you want to meet, and do research on them. So that you're gonna have something in common when you're going to speak to them or at least, like have something you can say that decides, hey, I'm Chris, I do this, they hear that all the time. So what am with a different approach, right? Maybe you find out that they golf a lot, or they're, and you golf a lot, and they just go through the course or that they're there on the board for certain businesses that you are interested in or you purchase from. Another part of it too is like when you're going to network, like provide value. First, I think that you need to give, give give before you ask, right? Gary talks about this all the time, I strictly believe in it, too. I like to like live my life, knowing that I have like 1000 favors out there. Because I've always wanted to help somebody, right. And like, now, it should never be a situation where it's like, I do something for you. Now you only, like do things for people and just doing why the goodness of your heart and good things will naturally happen. But if there's somebody at an event that you want to meet, do the research about the person first and then go up to them and talk to him. So now the more you know about the individual the better opportunity you have for building a relationship.
Ash Faraj 24:17
What do you like commonly see that? That is like, Okay, this person is obviously in it for themselves or like, you know, they're they're not,
Chris George 24:24
I mean, anytime you get an email or the introduction is like, Hey, I saw insurance guy talk to you about my insurance that can sell you or like, Hey, I'm a payment processor. I'd love to talk to you about your payment processing. Like that. Don't approach me with that you're never gonna win. approach me and say, Hey, I follow you on Instagram. And your videos are super inspiring. It's been helping me grow my business. Like cool. Now you have my attention. Now I'm going to talk to you what do you do? Right like that? You know? So that's, that's the approach you want to take. Or you might notice based on my social media on my LinkedIn that I have two Huskies that I play hockey, I like to play poker You could easily get my attention in another way. But if you approach me and you're like, Hey, Chris, I'm a PR firm, I want to help you grow your business. And that's all you say, first, I'm gonna be like, cool. Like, there's 700 PR firms. But if you actually go to me, and then I find out that you actually pay attention to what I've done and built a different sort of conversation
Ash Faraj 25:19
makes a lot of sense. my closet. Okay,
Chris George 25:21
well, you should never be asking for the sale and the first conversation ever,
Ash Faraj 25:26
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. So, right, right, right. So but I guess then so that that's getting the attention, right? But what about like, after you've kind of like broken the ice, you made the connection? How do you foster like your networks?
Chris George 25:40
Ask to help them there's something you want me to introduce you to, there's somebody in my network that could be helpful for your business, offer them something of value, but really good way to like, again, you broken the ice, but like, you built the relationship, do something for the individual if you want their attention.
Ash Faraj 25:56
Got it. Okay. Makes sense.
Chris George 25:59
I'll give you a good example. Broken the ice with a company that does PR, for example, they want they want to sign me but they haven't asked me that the guy just got to know me. And we're, we know each other. Well, he comes to me and says, Hey, Chris, I only had this individual I podcast. This is Hey, Chris. I know, Gary. Well, I want to see if I can talk to him for you about being on your show. Like I gotten to be on my show already. But like, okay, pick Simon Sinek like somebody you know that I like, like I pulled the guy multiple. Like now you got me a huge favor, like you just got me somebody that I would love to have my show on my show. Now. I'm like, I want to get to do something for you back.
Ash Faraj 26:35
Just naturally. How did that happen? By the way? So I saw that I saw on your show. It's cool.
Chris George 26:40
I didn't ask him To be on. I asked for his I asked for his head of e commerce. And now I have the strategy. It's like the Little Big Brother approach. Do you have the celebrity dm the agent become poised to the event? Send the agent goods? Don't Don't tell me what the celebrity. So we reached out to this head of e commerce. And the guy was like, Hey, this is actually perfect for Gary, we were doing a good thing, right? I think that probably was appealing to Gary, we were our series called hope and crisis. We're trying to help retail companies that are in the middle of a pandemic that couldn't be in business helping pivot to like online, nothing to grow their business. So I think that probably meant a lot to them.
Ash Faraj 27:15
You know, what are you up to now, you know, you some of the company 2020? What did you do next? You know, what are you up to now?
Chris George 27:21
So we're still growing. So we've got our event in Dallas, September 21 to 23rd it's very exciting, very exciting to be back in person, you know, you know, at our core at SUBTA, we're helping business professionals find profitability through subscriptions. So that's my number one focus. I love helping entrepreneurs grow. But outside of that, I've also got a new products that I launched with a side project passion project, it's a brand called certified so the websites get certified where but everybody sold there's sort of there's it's a streetwear brand with some terms on there that sort of appeal to our younger generation, like certified, verified, confirmed, and I'm a big like shoe wear guy like I like hoodies and joggers and kicks. And so every hoodie sold donates 100 meals to Feeding America. And so I have this ambitious goal to donate 100 million meals. And I think I'm gonna get they're gonna sell million hoodies. And we sold the million gentleman's boxes, I think I do it. But yeah, that's my current passion project. And I'm excited for I just launched it in May, I think we've donated close to 20,000 meals already, which is cool. And just just, you know, cranking it out sucked up, growing that community growing that network
Ash Faraj 28:35
sweet man. So is, is SUPTA a nonprofit, or is it a for profit?
Chris George 28:39
No it's for-profit
Ash Faraj 28:40
Okay, so the business then, okay. And again, there's the hardware, the street where, you know, all those key terms of keywords. Was that because of social listening, or was that like data that you looked up?
Chris George 28:51
We said this term called sub two certified it was for companies to become sub two certified. So I made these hoodies that had the word certified on it. And then all of a sudden, I started, like, I made it for my team. And then people started talking like, how do I get that? Like, why are they this appealing to people, right? And then if you think about, like, certain branding, like the term certified like everybody would want to be certified like it's being recognized and genuine like for who you are, or like recognized for something, right? And so I ended that term and sort of appeal to this generation because what does everybody want on Instagram? They want the blue checkmark. And still the verified hoodies actually the word verify with a checkmark, the actual Instagram checkmark and so the term is one that is appealing because everybody wants to be recognized. They all want the blue checkmark. And that's where that all sort of came from. It's just the consumer behavior. I know that's because look at what everybody looks for. They want followers they want the blue checkmark, they want recognition, and that's why it became appealing.
Ash Faraj 29:52
Something I look for when I decide to partner with someone or hire someone is
Chris George 29:56
they gotta be like, honest person. Like setting up, it's like the personality like I'm more focused on like who they are as a person versus a skill set,
Ash Faraj 30:06
the most important quality and an entrepreneur is
Chris George 30:10
most important quality and entrepreneur is mindset.
Ash Faraj 30:15
Something that has helped me in my past, get past, my fears and insecurities have been
Chris George 30:21
failing, playing, right? Like when you fail, you realize it's really not so bad. And you learn something from it and not be so worried and not not be so scared, or at least not worried about what everybody else thinks about you. Like, then you realize it doesn't matter if you fail, you just keep going. Right? Like all these great entrepreneurs have all failed, like, look at wd 40. Right, like they tried 39 times of the 48 formulas, the one that worked, I mean, KFC tried 1000 locations before the 1000s and nine 1009 location took this recipe, you know, like, when you start failing a lot and you realize this fucking matter and you just need to keep going, then all your fears go away.
Ash Faraj 31:00
Something that I've personally struggled with as an entrepreneur has been
Chris George 31:04
taking on too much not knowing how to say no,
Ash Faraj 31:08
something I do to make sure I feel positive and stay productive is
Chris George 31:12
keep a good routine. Yeah. So routine is critical. So you know, I wake up every morning at 730 I walk my dogs, I answer my first time in emails, I then go into the office, I get home by 430 walk my dogs again for two miles, two miles in the morning, two miles a night. So my second round of emails. So like that routine doesn't change ever. And that keeps me always focused and always getting the work done.
Ash Faraj 31:35
If I were to go back and talk to my younger self in my mid 20s I would tell myself
Chris George 31:40
build a social media presence now. I didn't start till I was like 35
Ash Faraj 31:45
and by building a social media presence, I would imagine that you mean like creating as a
Chris George 31:51
vlog my journey recorded everything I wouldn't have built my life as if I had a camera to fall on.
Ash Faraj 31:57
One setback or failure in my early 20s that I will never forget is
Chris George 32:01
yeah this one deal with Groupon. You're not gonna kindess finish a sentence I had to deal with Groupon that didn't go through like it it would have I just think could have changed the course of my life. But now there's nothing specific man those things to me are like, I forget about them fast. No regret.
Ash Faraj 32:18
The sweetest moment I've felt in my entire career was when.
Chris George 32:22
It's funny, you think I know the answer this sweetest moment. She's, I mean, probably was this, this my 2019 subscription of that. I mean, that moment of getting on stage and thing 1000 people there like was like this feeling of like, wow, we really just built the greatest, largest event for DTC subscriptions. It was pretty breathtaking. And like knowing at that moment that we built the biggest company that ever built and that like this was going to be something spectacular that was going to change the world. Like that's what it felt like at that last event.
Ash Faraj 32:54
And looking forward if I could be remembered for just one thing, it would be
Chris George 32:58
all for having a positive effect on 1000s upon millions of lives.
Ash Faraj 33:04
If I were stranded on an island and had access to one meal, it would be
Chris George 33:07
Ash Faraj 33:08
Thank you so so much for listening. Now if you enjoyed this episode, please please please leave us a quick rating and review on Apple podcasts. We hope to see you again next week. Take care