My parents noticed my abnormal behavior starting at the early age of 10 when my school held a magazine drive and I won first prize by harassing every neighbor within a 5 mile radius until 10 PM every night. When I'd finally come crawling through the door my Mom would be worried sick but she would always tell me how proud she was of me.
My second sign of early entrepreneurship was when I was 12 years old and opened a hot dog stand at the end of my parent's driveway. I drew pictures of hotdogs all over a poster board and put it on a nearby street. Before I knew it I had a line of cars and I was running back and forth from the kitchen where my Mom and I worked together to nuke as many hot dogs as possible. It was pure bliss until a cop car pulled up and shut me down for lack of a food permit.
My first real business idea came to me when I was in college working an odd job of passing out flyers at a local swap meet. I noticed tons of Moms with babies and pregnant women entering the swap meet but no one was selling baby products. I had just received my first credit card for $1000 so I went out and spent all the money on baby products. I almost went out of business after just two weeks and was forced to sell my products for below what I paid for them just to get enough cash flow to eat. I decided I needed a change and a friend of mine Dan Rock said I should sell my baby products on the internet. I thought it was a great idea, the only problem was I didn't have a computer or Internet service (I was really broke and not very tech savvy). The year was early 2001 and the Internet bubble had just burst.
The fact that I didn't have a computer didn't detour me because Dan had one so I went over to his house every day and watched as he built the website. Once the site was live I finally purchased a computer and spent every waking moment on the internet trying to learn how to attract visitors. I'll never forget my first order, what a rush. I actually found out it was cheaper to buy diapers directly from Costco than distributors so every week I would be hauling around a flat bed cart with a ten foot high pile of diapers. I remember all the women giving me strange looks and the guys would just shake their heads in sympathy for me.
I lucked out having a neighbor who was a wiz on Pay-Per-Click marketing and he taught me the tricks of the trade. From there I got into other forms of Internet marketing (affiliate programs, email, SEO etc.) and by our second year we were doing about 2 million in revenue. Unfortunately we grew a little too fast for our cash flow and amassed about 12k in overdraft fees at $20 a pop in one year (sorry Wells). Baby's Heaven was a wild ride and there were so many lessons learned. I'll share all of these lessons and more about Baby's Heaven to come in future blog posts.
My next business was ClientShop.com. It was a website that helped match consumers who were looking for home loans with the right banks. Yep, just like Lending Tree. Once again it was a wild ride and we grew so fast. This time around I was lucky enough to find some great executives and hard working employees to help manage all the growth. We grew to about 60 people and were awarded San Diego's fastest growing company. We stayed focused on mortgage and always strived for creative ways to bring on more customers. We did fairly well compared to competitors and were acquired in March of 2006 by Internet Brands. I retired for about 2 days and then got bored.
In all of my business endeavors I've never been more passionate about a company than MojoPages. Ever since I got ripped off by a moving company, I've been hooked on the idea of creating a transparent business directory where people can share their experiences, both good and bad, so everyone can avoid getting mistreated and enjoy great experiences every time they interact with a local business. I'm fortunate to have a great team here at MojoPages to help achieve this vision. With a lot of hard work and a little luck we just might make it happen. Oh, and we can't do it without you, we need you and everyone across the world to share your experiences so we can all learn from each other which businesses are good and which ones have 'room for improvement' :).
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