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Kevin Delano is the Founder and CEO of Karma Casting, a revolutionary platform disrupting the staffing landscape by bridging the gap between great brands and incredible talent. A proven serial entrepreneur, he has started and led many companies across diverse industries, with revenues ranging from two million dollars to $90 million with up to 400 employees.

With extensive experience in innovation, strategy, corporate structure, leadership, and operations, Kevin possesses a strong market know-how in sales and marketing. Over the past three decades, he has founded and co-founded numerous businesses, including Consumer Impact Marketing, LAUNCH!, IMD Health Global Corp., Airntell Aerospace, and Sootsoap Supply Co.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [04:33] Kevin Delano shares his entrepreneurial journey starting his first company
  • [07:35] The reasons to work in a small agency
  • [10:45] Kevin explains how he acquired his initial clients 
  • [17:10] The value of being transparent as a firm 
  • [19:14] How to acquire and retain staff 
  • [21:12] Kevin shares his insights on having a leadership team 
  • [25:31] How do you plan for an exit?
  • [31:37] Kevin talks about Karma Casting and what it does 
  • [41:46] How Karma Casting is solving issues in the gig economy 
  • [46:20] Who are the ideal partners for Karma Casting?

In this episode…

Running a business is an arduous challenge from top to bottom, with an overwhelming number of tasks to manage. So, what can you learn from a successful entrepreneur who has founded, led, and exited numerous companies?

According to serial entrepreneur Kevin Delano, it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and commitment to grow a successful business. From creating great products and services to building a reliable team, a business owner must always be on their toes. Having great talent is not enough; employee retention is equally important. Good leaders know how to keep their team motivated, happy, and engaged. Effective marketing strategies can also help a business reach its target audience. He shares how he successfully grew multiple businesses, and is now disrupting the staffing landscape by bridging the gap between great brands and incredible talent.

On this episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast, Dr. Jeremy Weisz sits down with Kevin Delano, Founder and CEO of Karma Casting, to discuss the secrets to success as an entrepreneur. Kevin shares his entrepreneurial journey, how he acquired his initial clients, how to hire and retain staff, how to plan for an exit, and what Karma Casting does.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Special Mention(s):

Related episode(s):

Quotable Moments:

  • “In life, you don’t get good luck, you create the luck.”
  • “Don’t doubt yourselves, you are smarter than what your consultants know about your business.”
  • “Surround yourself with people smarter than you.”
  • “You need enough talent to fulfill all the client’s needs.“

Sponsor for this episode

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Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90xAtariEinstein BagelsMattelRx BarsYPOEOLending TreeFreshdesk, and many more.

The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.

Podcast production has a lot of moving parts and is a big commitment on our end; we only want to work with people who are committed to their business and to cultivating amazing relationships.

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Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:01 

You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz.

Jeremy Weisz  0:22 

Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder of where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today is no different. I have Kevin Delano with And Kevin, before I formally introduce you, I like to point out some other episodes, people should check out other podcasts. This is gonna be an amazing episode because Kevin has started and sold multiple companies. And it’s really a rarity to see someone who started and sold so many companies. There was an interview I did Kevin with Cameron Healy, who started KETTLE Chips, which he grew. And speaking of serial entrepreneurs, he couldn’t help himself. And he started Kona Brewing Company and started restaurants around Kona Brewing Company. And it always looks sometimes amazing from the outside. But like when we dug into the story, there were some hard times and there were some challenges along the way, especially with growth. And he was totally open and shared a lot of these. And that’s what I love about these interviews, people just, it looks great from the outside, but it’s hard work is the bottom line. So that was a great one. I also did one with a Kevin Hourigan who started an agency back in 1995. You remember those times, Kevin, and his agency and his business had to evolve, he still has an agency Spinutech now, all these years, and so it’s just amazing to hear his journey and so many more, so you can check out on and this episode is brought to you by Rise25. At Rise25, we help businesses give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships. And how do we do that we actually help you run your podcast. We’re an easy button for a company to launch and run a podcast and we do the strategy, the accountability and the full execution. Kevin, we call ourselves the magic elves that are running around making it look easy for the hosts in the company kind of like what you do with Karma Casting. Essentially, your team is running around helping people with events and promotional products and everything else. Well, that’s what we do for podcasting. So, the number one thing in my life is relationships. I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I found no better way over the past decade to profile the people and companies I most admire on this planet and share with the world what they’re working on. So if you’ve thought about podcasting, you should if you have questions, you can go to and email [email protected]. And let me formally choose Kevin Delano as founded and co-founded. This is at least six businesses I can count there’s probably more that I could not find over the past 30 years. And he’s started and led companies across a variety of industries. Revenues range from 2 million all the way above 90 million with employees up to 400. Karma Casting is one of the fastest-growing and largest talent marketplaces in North America. We have Sootsoap, which is an all-natural line of personal soap products designed and tested by firefighters to detoxify. So it’s not just to clean that detoxify skin here and combat odors. Airntell Aerospace drone surveillance search and rescue. Kevin just he can’t get enough like I don’t know how you find the time you have, IMD Health global Corp which they took an old paper-based and verbal-based education process and digitize it for healthcare professionals. They sold that to a publicly traded company, actually, and consumer impact marketing CIM, which was Canada’s largest third-party sales and marketing agency, over 300 full-time staff 7000 field staff achieved over $90 million in revenue and sold to mosaic and then LAUNCH! which was a marketing agency for brand creative and grew from one to 25 staff over 10 million and sold that. So, Kevin, thanks for joining me.

Kevin Delano  4:17 

That’s quite an intro. Thank you, Jeremy.

Jeremy Weisz  4:19 

I think you earned it. So take me back to your early 20s. What was the original idea for a business?

Kevin Delano  4:33 

Yeah, it was interesting. I was in college in the east coast of Canada. Dalhousie and I was working at a restaurant and I loved working at the restaurant. Honestly, to this day. I’ll tell you it’s one of my best jobs being a waiter in a bartender I just loved it had more disposable income then probably than I do now. But life was pretty free and fancy and I got a summer job, being a Gatorade sales rep and this was back when Gatorade was launching in Canada, we had one product to sell orange. And if we could take it around to convenience stores, and try to convince a convenience store manager who’s sitting in the back shop, often very dirty cutting off the face of a head because it was just like, the types of stores we had in the east coast of Canada, very fishing orientated. And it was downright dirty. I said, you know what, I’m going to try this thing called sales. And I got, and I loved it. I absolutely loved it. And that spawned a whole career change for me, when I started college, I was going to be a doctor until I went to my first lab. And I said, I don’t have the patience for this, nor the aptitude to do that. And so I was a bit lost, took this opportunity, and turned it into a great career. And my early 20s, I graduated when I was 21. And I had to make a very quick decision when I graduated, to either go work for a big conglomerate, at the time it was Quaker Oats, which owned Gatorade at the time, comfy job, company car, good benefits and perks, all those great things, maybe I get to go to head office in Chicago, or I could go work for this tiny little marketing agency in Toronto. And if you’re in Canada, going to Toronto is like going to the Mecca. It’s like going to New York City or Los Angeles. And so I never wanted to go to a big city, I didn’t have a place to live. I didn’t know anybody. I found a coast to sleep on for six months, I couldn’t afford rent, I couldn’t afford my food. But I worked at this small little marketing agency, which had won the Gatorade contract. If I fast forward from that two years later, I was running national programs, I could afford things I could buy them and get an apartment. And the rest is really history. And I stayed at that company, which as you acknowledge is a company called Mosaic. And I stayed there for a couple years, and they were doing big programs with Pepsi. And I decided who’s doing coke. Right? I didn’t recreate the wheel. So I created my own agency called CIM with a couple of partners, and we were 25 years old. And the rest is history. We went at it and created a really cool company where a young guys and not very corporate at all, we didn’t want corporate policy we wanted to work hard, play hard, and we played really hard. And we created something known in the Canadian landscape is the CIM Magic and that magic to this day still exist with so many of the folks.

Jeremy Weisz  7:24 

So what was the original idea was CIM. And I want to hear too, why did you choose the small marketing agency over Quaker?

Kevin Delano  7:35 

There was a gut instinct there that I thought I would be able to foster my career faster, moving to a big city. Working for a small agency, I knew I’d be thrown to the wolves. And I was as a student, working a territory for Gatorade, I was doing things I never thought I should have been doing in terms of budget allocation expense accounts, all those stuff. And I knew I wanted to grow fast, there was just something burning in me. And I also knew through research, that if I go work corporate, you’re going to stay in a job for five years, then you’re going to get promoted to the next job for the next five years. And that is just not the way I’m cut. I’ve never worked a corporate job. I know I would never survive in a corporate environment. So I’ve had this entrepreneurial burning spirit the entire time. And so it was just a gut call. I’m going to move to a city and live on a couch. And hopefully I’m going to make it.

Jeremy Weisz  8:22 

It sound like you knew yourself a little bit because sometimes, maybe someone else’s personality would make sense. Like, yeah, that corporate sounds much better. But for you, you knew that was not going to be your path. What was the original idea of the services when you launched Consumer Impact Marketing? What was the initial offering?

Kevin Delano  8:44 

Yeah, the initial offering was brand sampling. Like it was simple. Our first client was Wrigley’s Gum, and they just needed a bunch of students to pass out gum. So it wasn’t very complicated. And we were growing nicely in the experiential marketing what is referred to now as XM experiential marketing. We were growing nice, but there was a big tide changing in the North American landscape. US offices were right sizing and downsizing. And the Canadian industry was hit really hard with that. And so companies in Canada, which had a traditional sales force, Heinz, Wrigley, Kraft, American Express, Microsoft, I could go down the list these companies were right sizing and outsourcing at a never seen before pace. And we made a critical decision to really pivot and get into the third-party sales force management. And we did that and so our business grew to 100,000,000, 75% of it was Salesforce management. And that’s where we had thousands of people. We would replicate a sales organization structure VP of sales, regional sales managers, sales reps, but they were all contract, and most of them at the same time for permanent part time, which typically back then were moms. They didn’t want to work full-time. They left the workforce to have babies They wanted to go back and work two to three days per week. That was the bulk of our workforce. So we found the right source of people with expertise, we found the right economic model. So when we go and work and pitch Heinz ketchup to take over their Salesforce, they had 53 full-time people. We replaced them with 53, part-time people. We had the same number of calls, same sized territories, same everything, what was eliminated the Friday afternoon golf games and go to the pub early on a Thursday afternoon because their Salesforce has been there for 20 years, and this is what was happening. So that was the big pivot that turned that business into a huge success.

Jeremy Weisz  10:36 

How did you get your first initial key clients because you say, oh, it really that doesn’t sound so easy to me just to get Wrigley?

Kevin Delano  10:45 

No. I mean, the big one, as it turns out, was Gatorade. And so there was a lot of good luck. I would say along my career, people say yeah, you don’t get good luck. You create the luck. Well, I’ve had a couple I could say it was good luck. Like I really didn’t have the decision. I think we made a lot of great decisions along the way to keep the journey going. But I was a summer student doing Gatorade. Two years later, I start my own company with a partner. Gatorade was owned by Quaker Oats. We’re also doing Pepsi. Pepsi launched a sport drink back then it was called all sport. And all of a sudden, there was a big war over who was going to buy Gatorade. So Coke was in the running. Pepsi was in the running Quaker was trying to sell it off, and they sold it. And they sold it to Pepsi. So what happened at that time is Pepsi said, under an agency, you can’t have both products. And they were forced to push a product elsewhere. And since I had great relationships there, I was running the national campaign, they called me and said, can you guys handle this? That was a $10 million contract overnight. So we took from a little summer sales, Gatorade opportunity, I turned that into a $10 million program. And that was the anchor to our ship that grew us to 100 million for sure.

Jeremy Weisz  12:01 

So at that point, how many staff do you have? Because you have to go out and then start frantically sourcing staff?

Kevin Delano  12:08 

Oh, yeah, yeah. And so, when we talk staff, there’s the column, the sales reps, or the field reps, or the marketing reps, that was the flux, at the end of the day, we rolled up to about 7000 tactical staff, our head office staff, as we grew the business, we started with two or three of us, and exponentially, we were just adding 10s and 10s and 10s of all the time. And so, at that time, let’s say a year into the business, we probably had 40, full-time staff, on employee benefits, etc. And we probably had about 300 tactical staff. And then it just keeps every client we added, we were batting. Even though from a sales perspective, RFPs were being issued, the Canadian landscape was outsourcing like crazy because the American landscape was putting pressure to reduce costs. We were winning close to 70 to 80%, of every RFP that came out and these were multi-multimillion dollar RFPs. And so it was just the perfect storm. We were on a high industry was outsourcing. There was a large pool of talent who are untapped before these permanent part-time moms? And it was the perfect storm.

Jeremy Weisz  13:15 

How do you account for winning that high percentage of RFPs?

Kevin Delano  13:21 

Well, I would tell you now in hindsight, two things. One was personality, and two was results. So we had the reputation of being the young guns in the industry, we had some competitors, including Mosaic, we were the young guns, we weren’t afraid to say no, we weren’t afraid to call a spade a spade. We weren’t very polished. And people were buying that they were like, these guys are authentic, they’re transparent, and they’re not afraid. And so they didn’t get any bureaucratic BS from us. And I’m not saying Mosaic does that. But they were a much larger, bolder organization than we were. And so our personality shone through and we rolled up our sleeves, we were the CEOs, and we were the ones doing everything. Like we were cutting the territory’s training sales reps, like and our competitors wouldn’t have, you wouldn’t have seen the CEOs do that. So personality was critical. And I think that the second thing was results. I mean, we were all in, we had mortgaged our houses, we had mortgaged everything to start this business. And the failure was not an option. So we if a sales rep was sick, we got in our cars and drove to those stores and made those sales calls. And that’s what it took for us to produce the results we were producing. And then it was how do you scale that and get to make sure you got the right training process. So while the rest of the team around you would take the same mentality to drive success for our clients brands?

Jeremy Weisz  14:44 

What was one of those times you remember now it seems it’s a great story, but then it was painful that someone last minute quit or couldn’t make it and you had to literally hop and drive somewhere.

Kevin Delano  14:58 

Dozens and dozens of times. I mean, literally, I used to, and I’m not kidding you, I would cry, I would get whether it was not so much on the tactical team, the tactical team, I think we could figure out, because there was lots of resources for it. But the management group, the full-time employees, we were a small entrepreneurial company, there was not a lot of process, we really didn’t even have HR, we didn’t have a lot of forms. We didn’t have a lot of stuff ready to go. And so people we were attracting to our agency, were loving the Spirit, they would get inside, and maybe they came from a corporation like Coca Cola. And they’re like, well, where’s this, where’s that we’re like, we don’t have it. So if you want it, we should create it. And that wasn’t for everybody. And so we had high turn. And I remember when our management group were turning, it hit me personally, I took it personally, because we were young guys. And I was personal relationships with them, they’re at my house, they saw my kids like, it was personal, I would cry. And I would lose sleep. And I’m like, and we finally got to a point where I realized, the business is bigger than the people. And it’s bigger because of the people, but it’s bigger than the people and I can’t lose sleep over every single person that’s going to make a change. And that really changed my outlook on people. And even today, when somebody on my team talks to me that I’m not over happy and all that stuff, and they’re nervous to talk about it, or whether it’s compensation or career pathing, I am the first one to say, look, if this isn’t the right fit for you, I’m going to support you, I’m going to be a reference for you. And I will help you find the right place of where you should belong, if it’s not here, and I would have never done that as a youngster. And some companies don’t do that when they say I’m leaving the door hits you in the ass, I don’t do that. It’s not worth that we’re on the planet once be nice to people, and it comes back to you. And maybe that’s serendipitous for the name of my company called Karma, because we believe in a lot of good karma.

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