Jeremy Weisz 5:35
If people now rather listen to this, they’re younger, they’re like, Oh, you just go on WordPress, there was no WordPress, there was no easy way. Nothing like that, that
Rod Holmes 5:42
there was HTML code and and, and databases and scripting languages. And that was it.
Jeremy Weisz 5:52
Yo said forced Rod, like you said, you were forced at the time. What did you mean by that? Because mathematics,
Rod Holmes 6:00
math education. Yeah. Now and computer science education, I got a degree in math and computer science. But that was back when computer science meant it was a building that you went to and typed on a little green screen and had to go walk and get a green and white paper printout of what you just wrote. But no, I always call myself a very reluctant entrepreneur, because I am. Everything I’ve done, I kind of enforced. My, one of my main clients in Tokyo was three m, Asia, it was called Sumitomo, three M. And I walked into work one day where I was kind of the outsourced head of English training for Asia. And I walked in one day and the head of Human Resource Development, called me into his office and said, Rod, we love you, we hate your company, we’re firing your company, it’s too bad, you don’t have your own company. Because if you had your own company, and you bid at this price, and hence your input, they said hidden. And then he pushed across the phone number and said, here’s some attorneys who might be able to help you. And yeah, so I had I was like, okay, so I formed a company in just a matter of days and bid as I was told to bid and won the contract. So that was my first company was, was three m basically forced me to create a company.
Jeremy Weisz 7:39
That’s pretty amazing.
Rod Holmes 7:41
Jeremy Weisz 7:42
what brought you to Tokyo.
Rod Holmes 7:45
Um, so you had mentioned, my wife and I did two year bicycle trip around the world. And we were running out of money in Thailand. And we had heard that you could make just loads and loads of money teaching English in Japan. And this was when Japan was, you know, the King of the Hill, the origin second behind the United States, and everybody was afraid that, you know, Japan was going to take over the world. And, yeah, so we went there. And we, we had custom suits made in Bangkok, and showed up in Tokyo, and within four days had like, seven job offers. I mean, they just couldn’t get enough people there. And we selected one. And we worked there for about a year and a half, just teaching English. And we were working like crazy. We each had like two jobs. And we were just stuffing yen into our pockets. And then we went back out on the road for another about nine months. Like and kind of finished our trip. Yeah, biking. And then we ended up back in the States, went back to school, and then went back to Tokyo
Jeremy Weisz 8:53
went back. So that was the impetus for the biking trip. Um, so you say it so casually. Yeah, we just went on a, you know, around the world bike bike trip for two years.
Rod Holmes 9:07
So after college, well, my wife and I met in college, and she wanted to hitchhike around the world. And I just said that was insane. And I was working in bike shops in college. And you know, we were dreaming and I said, Well, I’m never going to hitchhike around the world, but I’d ride a bike around the world. He’s like, Okay, that’s good. And so we kind of kept that. And then she found a couple of books about people who you know, Memoirs of people who had written around the world, and we just devoured those and it’s like, okay, we’re definitely going to do this. And I ended up I was supposed to go work for for Boeing and be a computer engineer. And there was a strong engineering strike and I lost that job. And I just called up this bicycle company called Cannondale. I had a Cannondale and I thought it was great. They just started making bicycles. And I called him and said, Are you hiring? And the woman said, we can’t hire enough people. Yes, you’re hired. And he said, Where are you? And I said, I’m in South Dakota. And she’s like, you know, we’re in Connecticut, right? Like, yeah, well, maybe you should come out here. So I flew out, and they offered me a job. And then on my first day of work, they they asked, you’re married, right? Yeah. And they said, Would your wife like a job, we need more people, we need more people. So we both ended up working at Cannondale where we got, you know, access to prototypes and all kinds of stuff. And so we geared up for free. And then we got very lucky and got a free place to live on a French restaurant tours, estate. And I took care of his swans on his private lake and mowed his acres and acres of lawn, and my wife polished their acres and acres of silver. And that got us a free place to live. And so that allowed us to save money. And we were able to then take off after four years with enough money that we thought could get us around the world.
Jeremy Weisz 11:22
So was there any hesitant of going on this trip? No, no, no? No, how old? Are you right over time? How old? Are you when you went on the bike?
Rod Holmes 11:36
When we left on the trip? We were 25 or 26? Yeah. And no, we had been devouring books about people, you know, various people riding bicycles and motorcycles and hitchhiking around the world. And it was there was no fear. It was just, you know, it can’t happen soon enough.
Jeremy Weisz 11:59
Yeah. Not fear from like that standpoint. But from like a career standpoint, you’re Oh,
Rod Holmes 12:07
yeah, no, we’ve made the decision that we were going to retire at 20, you know, in our 20s and retire for as long as we could and then we would have careers, you know? Yeah. And that’s kind of what we’ve done.
Jeremy Weisz 12:21
I love that. So you went back to Tokyo, though? At some point?
Rod Holmes 12:27
Yeah, the first time we were there, all we did was work. And we couldn’t, we didn’t really enjoy the city, we didn’t enjoy the culture all that much. All we did was work. Because our singular goal was to save money so that we could go traveling again. And, and as we after we left, and we were traveling, and then we were back in the States, we realized what kind of a opportunity we had squandered. And all the stuff that we disliked about Tokyo was self imposed, just because all we did was work. I mean, we were working from eight in the morning until nine at night, you know, as many hours as we could, because we were being paid by the hour. So um, yeah, if we made an agreement that we were, when we went back, we would do something new, that we’d never done in Tokyo at least once or twice a month, and we would leave Tokyo, and go out into the countryside, and into Japan at least once every six weeks. And that changed our lives there. And now for me, Tokyo is the most I it’s my favorite place on the planet. I absolutely love Tokyo
Jeremy Weisz 13:48
Talk about the evolution of the digital agency for a second word, it start off and then some of the, you know, turning points.
Rod Holmes 13:58
Sure. So um, when I returned to the States, I was selling my two companies in Tokyo and dealing with that at night and during the days I didn’t have anything to do my wife and I wanted to buy a house. So I thought why don’t I get my license, my real estate license, maybe that will save us some money or certainly learn something so that we’re not walking in, you know, totally naive. And so I got my license and I got my broker’s license. And I started I met a guy there who had just sold a seat on the Chicago Board of Trade and he had, he was taking his money and going to invest it in real estate. And he and I, I talked him into starting an online brokerage and there wasn’t enough there wasn’t a red fin there wasn’t an online brokerage at that point. And we were going to do discount brokerage, you know, 4000 bucks will get you onto the MLS, usually Show the house, you sell the house, you give us 1000 bucks and you pay the other side, you know, whatever you negotiate. And we were a little too successful. We had something like 300 listings in a few months. And that caught the eye of the Illinois Association of Realtors who somehow got a law passed making us illegal. And so that was I think, that was a wake up call to me about the politics of you know, I didn’t even think about the fact that I would be undermining these powerful people. And they just shut me down. And by this time, I, you know, I had two kids and I needed insurance or in the States, you need health insurance. So I ended up, we closed that business had to, and I went to work for a middle sized real estate brokerage kind of being the CEO. And was just running, they had like 300 agents and four locations, and I was just running the operations. I’m there, I had to hire a marketing manager, and I hired a guy named Ben Robinson, because out of the 100 resumes we got he was the only one who mentioned Google, you know, and, and SEO and PPC and, and hired him. And he, he started teaching me I knew, I knew a ton about the web, but I didn’t know anything about digital marketing. And he started teaching me and between my tech in his marketing and his digital marketing, we’ve made a really good team, we took our medium sized digital marketing firm to the top of the Google search results pretty quickly. And then when the crash came, our firm was sold. And we were I was offered a job in the new in the company that bought it our firm. And I was telling him, you know, no, you need Ben. He’s the smart one, I can talk about it, but he’s the one who can do it. And they’re like, No, we want to hire you. And I’m like, I’m telling you, I don’t know how to do it. I know how to talk about it, but I don’t know how to do it. And they were like, Well, you know, we still think it would be best for us to hire you. And I’m like, you guys are idiots. So I didn’t go work for them. And during this time we’ve been successful. People were noticing that this little firm was beating out all the big names that you know. And we started getting asked to speak. And through those speaking gigs, we were getting side, we had a little side hustle going of doing SEO and PPC for small businesses on the side. And I just told Ben, I’m gonna make this work. He went to work for the Alzheimer’s Association. He was the head of their analytics for a while. And I got us I got him so busy that he was working all night and all weekend. And he finally quit the Alzheimer’s Association and we opened up an office in Lincoln Park, which was kind of halfway between our houses. And we got started.
Jeremy Weisz 18:21
Amazing. What did you do for for hiring, but what the evolution of the hiring,
Rod Holmes 18:27
the hiring was kind of slow for the first two or three years. It was just Ben and I. We did hire a guy that we knew in Montana, who had built our real estate companies website, we hired him as kind of a contractor to help us with with all the technical stuff that SEO requires. So he was with us pretty much from the beginning or very close to the beginning, and he’s still with us. But our first full time employee didn’t happen until probably year two or year three. And we hired somebody to take over I was the PPC guy. Ben was the SEO guy and we hired a PPC guy, woman to take over my responsibility so I could start doing other stuff to try to help us grow. Um, we are Ben and I are very focused on we’ve never put a diamond to the company. It’s all been growth through cash flow. When I was at Cannondale, I experienced, you know, over 200% growth, and I knew that the hell that creates, and I just did not want I’m afraid I’ve always been afraid of massive growth because it just destroys people. And so we were very cautious, and we only grew through our cash flow. We never invested in the company in with money. So we’ve been very slowly growing. And so we’re 12 years old now. And we were only up to, like 15 people. So we’re not about becoming a huge company we are about being a company that is very, a great place to work is, first and foremost. I don’t want to go somewhere where there is strife, and people are not happy being here. And me included. So that is our Paramount goal is to have a place where people want to work. So we’re a small company with big company benefits. We’ve got, you know, you went to work for a large company wouldn’t get much more than you get here. But we only have 15 people now. And that’s we’re adding people pretty quickly at the moment. And we’ll probably be at least closer to 20 by the end of the year. But it’s it’s unusual.
Jeremy Weisz 21:19
How do you maintain that culture? Because you kind of can get a sense of that you. You want to be able to serve the clients, you also don’t want to be too stressful and like just worried about growth, growth growth. So how do you what do you do to maintain the culture,
Rod Holmes 21:38
we I would say it starts with hiring, that we hire, for fit, and for smarts. And then we train people. We don’t hire people who you know, we’ve hired a few people who are pretty good at PPC. And then they they come in and we but they have to fit, they have to fit the culture of the company they have to fit, they have to be interested in what we offer. So for example, we’re an open book company, meaning we share our p&l every month. And everybody knows how they tie into the p&l. And all goals are set inside of of the p&l. And that’s what runs our business is and it adds an enormous level of security to people. Everybody knows our situation. Everybody knows how we did last month, and they know they’re going to get paid. You know, they don’t have any fears of you know, during the pandemic of Oh my god, you know, what’s going to happen? Everybody knew everybody knows every month exactly where we are. So I think that’s a big part of the culture is being an open book. company.
Jeremy Weisz 23:04
And why did you decide to do that?
Rod Holmes 23:07
Um, I am everybody here would tell you I’m a I am a if you’ve ever heard of the company, Zingerman’s.
Jeremy Weisz 23:15
yeah, my wife went to University of Michigan. I’ve been there a few times. Yeah.
Rod Holmes 23:21
Yeah. So Zingerman’s is a family of businesses. They’re huge. I mean, they’re all mostly food based and restaurant based. So I’m sure I know. They’ve had a hard time but I started reading. Are you white twigs, books. And he was the first business writer who really resonated with me. And a big part of their company is being an open book company. And as soon as I learned about it, I was like, of course, why isn’t everybody like this? So yeah,
Jeremy Weisz 24:00
what how do you present it monthly?
Rod Holmes 24:04
is it’s evolving. One of the biggest parts of our company is is like, my gut from all of my clients in Japan is Kaizen, which is now fairly mainstream word of just continual systematic improvement. And God, I forgot your question.
Jeremy Weisz 24:24
I could see it being like when you’re presenting it, I could see you getting really granular or like, broad.
Rod Holmes 24:33
we simplify, we, we simplify the people who developed open book management in a book called The Great game of business. They were very, very granular, where we’ve simplified the p&l. So it’s not like we just spit out a p&l out of QuickBooks. It simplified to the point where it’s, it’s granular enough that people know they can have an impact. Like, we’ve got five The SEO tools that we’re using, you know, if we got rid of those three, that number every month would come down from $600 a month down to $300 a month, we should do that.
Jeremy Weisz 25:11
So it’s easy to share granular, like expenses and things like that.
Rod Holmes 25:14
Yeah, especially expenses, especially, I mean, the revenue side is pretty, it’s basic, it’s just, here’s the PPC line. Here’s the SEO line, here’s the web development line. And it’s that’s not as granular but the expense side, you know, we, everybody asked, Well, do you share salaries? And it’s like, No, we, that’s just one line item, but we’re a service based business. So that’s our biggest expense by far. But then everybody sees the tax lines, everybody sees the health care line, you know, so they know that the benefits that they’re getting are not just free, that they’re coming out. And they everybody understands we hire somebody, and these love these rows go up? You know, so do we want to do that? As a company? Do we want to hire people? Or do we figure out how to get a little more efficient, and, and squeeze more out? So it becomes very much, you know, my partners, and I have to lead, of course, but we lead people to help us make decisions. I mean, you know, I have my druthers, I would like to do it this way. But if I’m asking people, you know, if we can put off hiring somebody for three more months, you know, we get this, this and this, and here, you can see it, that makes those conversations much, much easier than you need to work harder. You know it. So I would say that’s, that’s a massive, massive piece of our culture, but then in hiring people who appreciate that.
Jeremy Weisz 26:56
Are they affected by that? Rod? As far as like, I don’t know. As far as the compensation plans go.
Rod Holmes 27:02
If we’re, we’re, that is our next step. So that’s why I said Kaizen is this is evolving, and everything evolves, everything improved. And that’s our next step. We are now getting to the point where we’re sophisticated enough with our tracking and, and our goal setting and everything that Now our next step is is to start doing profit sharing.
Jeremy Weisz 27:26
I’m wondering, Rod, this is really interesting, and thanks for sharing this. Yeah, what have you found, that people suggested, from the expensive side, when you presented this that has helped? And then I’d love to hear also, from the probably, if people are looking at the PPC, SEO and web development line items, they may have suggestions that be like, Oh, we could offer this? Or maybe there’s different service? Or maybe we should stop doing this? So start with the expenses part, or whichever one? Yeah, one side.
Rod Holmes 28:00
When we introduced this, suddenly, people started thinking about where we were spending money. So one of the things that we do is, every Friday, we all go out to lunch. So the arguing starts on Tuesday, at Where are we going to go to lunch this Friday, and and we all literally pack up and go to the restaurant. And and, you know, that was never on the table. People are like that has to be preserved no matter what. And and it’s like, Okay, how do we do that? And it’s like, well, I’m using these six tools. I mean, that’s an example. Because we have, we have salaries and benefits. And then we have tools. And that’s basically it. And then I mean, we’ve got an office, but our office is very inexpensive than electric can. And they can’t really impact that. So that’s just one line item because they can impact that kind of stuff. But what they can impact is our costs of the tools that we use. And in similar, similar things. So people started coming back and saying, Oh, my God, I didn’t realize that I was spending $1,000 a month on all these tools. And I don’t use three of them once like well turn them off now. So like now
Jeremy Weisz 29:22
we have tuesday and friday lunch.
Rod Holmes 29:26
So that was that was huge. And then I’m in if we had huge savings at the beginning. And now it’s it’s not like our expenses are plummeting. They’re not, but they’re not creeping up either. kept in
Jeremy Weisz 29:43
check. Yeah, exactly. That’s great. I love it. What about suggestions on the revenue? Yeah,
Rod Holmes 29:49
well, the revenue side, the biggest thing that came out of that was a system for cross selling, that everybody started focusing on. Well, you know, I talking to my clients every month and I’m doing PPC, but they really could benefit from Local SEO. And so they start talking to them and say, Hey, would you like to talk to Rod about, you know, maybe how local SEO could help you. So cross selling became an institutionalized part. And we have monthly goals of, of, of cross selling, and or at least introductions to the idea of, of additional services. And then the other thing that it provides is, I mean, all most companies have shared will share to some degree revenue. And, and, you know, it creates this, you know, oh, my God, we have to go into the meeting this month and say that, you know, our revenue was down this month. And we better figure out why. And we better have explanation of why it’s not going to happen. So there’s, there’s friendly oversight of everybody. It’s like, okay, we have to stand up in front of everybody and explain why we we dropped from this revenue number to this revenue number over this month. And maybe there’s a absolute rational explanation, and maybe it’s seasonal, or maybe we lost a client or whatever it is. But there there has to be an explanation.
Jeremy Weisz 31:23
No, thanks for going in that that’s, that’s really valuable. I could see. I mean, just having it be having it kept in check with everyone and also the cross selling piece, people are just exposed to the different things that the other departments doing, if that weren’t the case, they wouldn’t know they’re kind of in a silo, I imagine, have read services they work on.
Rod Holmes 31:43
Jeremy Weisz 31:45
Um, I want to get a little bit so people understand a little bit more about what you do. And there’s one interesting case where I wonder if you can just talk about a little bit which I was researching about mammograms. So.
Rod Holmes 31:59
So one of our clients, if any of you or any of your listeners are in the Chicago area, they’ve probably heard of advocate healthcare. And then, so advocate was one of the largest healthcare groups in the country. And then they merged with Aurora, which is in Wisconsin, to become advocate Aurora, and they are now I think, top five healthcare groups in the country. And we do all of their PPC, we do a lot of analytics for them and, and consulting on SEO. And they’ve been a client of ours for 10 years, we’ve been working with them for 10 years. And they several years ago, I had a campaign for in October, of course, breast cancer awareness month to get women to sign up for mammograms. And they, we didn’t have anything to do with this. But they created in their an agency created the most amazing video. And the way that that video advertising on YouTube works is you’ve all experienced it, you go to watch a video, you have to watch a commercial for five seconds, and then you can click skip. And the way you pay for that is if you watch 50% of the video, then the person the company pays. If you watch less than 50% of the video, then it’s free. And so this company this the the the advertising, the ad company that they hired, made this amazing video that we lovingly called BAM boobs. And it’s called that because in the first five seconds, you see this just darling little girl sitting in her bedroom, and she goes and then one day I woke up and bam boobs and and that’s at five seconds. And of course, only women see this video, because we can control gender we can control you know who’s who sees video, and nobody clicks skip, nobody click skip. And then they switch gears and they start pulling at heartstrings and then it’s two sisters saying we go and get our mammogram together every year. And there’s a middle aged mother with her older mother saying My mom is still here because they found it early and pulling it heartstrings. And then they say, get your mammogram today, results tomorrow. And amazing just an amazing, amazing ad. And we launched it. And about three hours later we get a call from from Google saying there’s something wrong With this campaign, because the conversions are just too high, and you’re getting people signing up, I mean, the ultimate conversion is they sign up for a mammogram. And, you know, YouTube ads is about branding. It’s not about getting SEO, direct
Jeremy Weisz 35:18
Rod Holmes 35:19
It’s about branding. So something’s wrong. You’ve set up the analytics incorrectly. So can we have some people go in and look like Yeah, fine. We got a call a half an hour later going, Oh, my God, this is really happening. You’re getting like 80% view rates. And you’re getting, you know, massive numbers of conversions. Women are clicking and signing up for a mammogram. We’ve never seen this before. So we ended up, you know, and Google was watching and amazed and emailing us and calling and, and they ended up doing a case study on it. And and, you know, we can’t take full credit, we didn’t make the video. And it was brilliant. But what we can take credit for is, is the targeting, and making sure that the people who needed to see it did see it. And we can also take credit for the the cost that we you know, we did all of this at like two cents per view, which is nothing. And yeah, so we ended up Google doing a case study on us and Advocate, and it was just a massive, massive success.
Jeremy Weisz 36:36
That’s amazing. What kind of what platforms did you end up putting it on? Or getting it across? Was it just you just burn? Yeah,
Rod Holmes 36:43
yeah. For, for anybody listening, if you are trying to raise brand awareness, if you are trying to raise message awareness, like get your mammograms, there’s nothing that comes in second place to YouTube. And this is based off of research studies that I’ve been a part of, with advocate, and, and other a couple of other very large clients of ours, where Google does brand lift studies, and, and TV comes in second, and they’re so far behind. And their cost is so outrageous that it’s there’s no there’s no competition, YouTube, crushes everything for brand awareness, brand, lift, and message, lift and awareness. So yeah, but we’re big, big proponents, given the right circumstances, if you’re trying to sell computers, you know, and all you want is somebody to click and buy, because you’re the low priced seller for something. That’s not what YouTube’s about. YouTube is about letting people we work with a national chip brand. They’re they’re new, but they’re selling nationally. And there’s a rice based chip tortilla chip instead of corn. And where we run YouTube ads, we don’t have a conversion metric, because people have to go into the store and buy. So connecting these YouTube ads to to sales is almost impossible. But the company is just super, super clear where we are running ads, they have a greater percentage, a much greater sale than places where we’re not running yet. Right. And quantifying that is very difficult, which is frustrating for us, because we’re all about numbers. But the evidence is just super clear. We’re getting their message out and people are maybe, you know, walking down the aisles going on there that is I just saw, I’m gonna grab a bag.
Jeremy Weisz 38:42
Yeah, it’s tough. It’s not a direct to consumer company, they can just go Hey, get a free sample, we’ll ship it to you because they have to go to the grocery store to get it. So Exactly. Yeah, I totally get that cooler. You know, you mentioned that you you serve a wide range of clients, right, who are ideal clients for you.
Rod Holmes 38:59
So because of our 10 years of working with advocate, and because they and their team are so open to innovation, and collaboration, and we’ve worked together with them for so long that we have our largest vertical is healthcare, and in particular, hospitals and hospital groups and clinic clinic groups. It’s not, you know, it’s probably about a third of our business all, you know, so it’s not, it’s not our whole business by any means. So healthcare companies, there’s no matter when advocate and er were merged. We were put up against a massive New York agency that everybody knows the name of, who was doing Aurora’s PPC. And we came in and, you know, the two marketing departments sat down and looked at the numbers and looked at what was going on in Advocate what was going on in Aurora. And they’re like, Oh my god, these, this is just absolutely astonishing what you’re doing, we didn’t even know you could do all of this stuff. And and so we won the game, we won the merge. And and so it’s very difficult for anybody to find I have yet to find an agency out there who knows, has as much institutional knowledge about how to market hospitals and their services online than us. And we’re a tiny little firm in Chicago. But we’re very, very tiny but mighty. Yep, exactly. titanum small giants. Um, and then. And then the other one is, is we do a lot of work with a manufacturing and b2b. We’ve got a lot of, you know, like, sexy businesses like selling wire and cable online, or a global magnet maker who you know, sells magnets sells millions of dollars of magnets a day all over the world.
Jeremy Weisz 41:10
I’m curious how you charge first, and how it evolves? Because I know a lot of who start their agency early on, they totally undercharged in the beginning. And if you’ve had a client for 10 years, how you’ve navigated what you charge them, than if it’s if it’s changed, as far as like, you know, your grandfather, then are you just offered other services? What’s your thought process around that,
Rod Holmes 41:38
um, I can’t go into too much detail on
Jeremy Weisz 41:41
Yeah, you don’t want to share what you charge and just like, um,
Rod Holmes 41:44
well, we, we base all of our fees off of an hourly rate. And currently, our hourly rate is $175 an hour. But we also do projects. So everything that we do, it starts off with a research project, it’s PPC, or SEO, research, strategy, development and setup. And those are well defined, and we just, we have a set fee for those, because we know what it’s going to take. And then once those are done, then we fall into a retainer of sorts, where it depends on what, what our role is, some, some of our clients take our research and go, I’m gonna hire a couple of interns and make a run at this myself. And it’s like, go for it. Yes. And others just say, you know, we don’t want anything to do with this, you do it all. But most of our clients are somewhere in the middle, we’re doing part of it, they’re doing part of it. And and we we develop a a, you know, after we’ve done the research, and we’ve got the setup, and everything’s done, then there’s just a, what do you want us to do? Well, that’s, here’s how much that will cost. And here’s what we recommend we do. And here’s the budget that we recommend, monthly. So that’s what new clients do older clients, it’s just a matter of, of, of communication and negotiation. And it’s not like me coming in saying, you know, it’s, it’s problem solving, I approached negotiation purely from a problem solving perspective of, you know, I can spend my time making more money working for somebody else, but we want to work with you. So here’s what I need. You know, and, and so with our clients, I mean, big clients, like advocate, they’re very willing to talk. And, and, you know, make adjustments. As with everything, there just has to be a rationale. You know,
Jeremy Weisz 43:50
I love to hear about, first of all, thanks for your time, and I suggest anyone can go to PilotDigital.com to check out more, learn more about what they’re doing. And they have a full write up of that case story. If you go to PilotDigital.com/case-studies, they have some really cool stuff on there. But I want to know, what’s Top of Mind now I know, there’s a few things right, you’re about another company and then manufacturing, I’d love for you to touch on a few of those things, too.
Rod Holmes 44:22
Um, so my wife and I intended to retire to bicycles and continue bicycling, but because of, of knee problems not born out of cycling, they were congenital knee problems. We were not going to be able to do that. So we’ve switched to motorcycles. And so I’ve entered into this world of what are called adventure, touring motorcycles, which are on road off road intended for long, long distances take you to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska kind of stuff and it’s The only market the only motorcycle market that’s growing and it’s not just growing, it’s exploding, exploding so much that Harley made their first off road motorcycle ever. And it’s an add adventure motorcycle, um, but my wife and I want to go overland from England to to either either vloggers bloggers veloce stock, I can’t say it, Russia or down into India and having the gear and us on a motorcycle overburdens a motorcycle. So I started, I decided I was going to have a trailer made and I found a design online pretty good, but nobody was making them. A couple prototypes have been made, but nobody is making them. So I made a PVC prototype of what I thought I want. And I was gonna just take it to a metal shop here in Chicago and have somebody make it for me. And one of my partners saw my PVC prototype, and a week later, he came in with all kinds of market data and said, this needs to be a new business. There’s a lot of demand for these and no supply. We wouldn’t be on our own in this market. We need to start a business. And that was about nine months ago. And we’re just about to launch prototypes. And if anybody is interested in that you go to Roamtrailers.com. Roam R O A M Roamtrailers.com. There’s nothing there yet. But a place to sign up to get information. The only information we’re putting out now is through email. But that’s all going to change in about a month, then the website will be up and we’ll have had stuff but prototypes should be done. We’re going to unveil the trailer at the BMW national rally in Great Falls Montana at the end of June. And yeah, it’s exciting times. Very, it’s amazing.
Jeremy Weisz 47:00
There’s this company I think that could help market it’s called pilot digital. Have you heard of it? And that’s
Rod Holmes 47:05
this is goes back to zero mins and Zingerman’s family of businesses. And they have, we are trying to create a core, that pilot is the core of a bunch of businesses, that whatever they do marketing, and digital marketing is the core of how they grow. And this is going to be a global product. I mean, we’re going to sell more of these in Europe than we will in in the US. And you know, we can only do that through digital marketing. And so pilot is the core of the business. You know, no
Jeremy Weisz 47:44
r&b a few more minutes. There’s one thing you mentioned, before we hit record, I’d love to hear your quick take on which is there’s some companies you work with that you will take equity.
Rod Holmes 47:55
Yeah, yeah. So we’ve only done a couple of times. And they are both of them were one of the biggest one. And I’m not going to go into the business of what it is because the owners don’t really like publicizing this, but they came to us. And they basically followed some very bad SEO advice and gotten kicked out of the Google index. So they were gone. And they went from making hundreds of 1000s of dollars a month in revenue to nothing. And they came to us and asked, you know, can you solve this for us? And we looked at it and we said, Yeah, but it’s gonna take six months and at least a couple $100,000. And they laughed and said, Yeah, right and left. And then a month later, they showed up and said we’ve talked to and we gave them how we would fix it. And they came back a month later and said you were the only ones who had a plan on how to fix it. And everybody else was actually more expensive. But we can’t afford $200,000 to fix this because we have no revenue now. Will you take a percentage of the company to fix it. So we ended up not taking equity. We ended up with a revenue sharing agreement, where we in perpetuity, get a percentage of revenue. And we we fixed it and we’ve brought the business back Unfortunately, it was a business that was that was devastated by pandemic but it’s already coming back. And yeah, we’ve made our money back a couple fold, and it’s just gonna get better and better we have.
Jeremy Weisz 49:34
Rod. This has been fascinating. I really appreciate you sharing.
Rod Holmes 49:38
Thank you very much for having me.
Jeremy Weisz 49:40
PilotDigital.com check out more episodes of the podcast. Thanks, Rod.
Rod Holmes 49:45
Thank you very much for inviting me it was a lot of fun.