Scott Jordan, CEO, SCOTTeVEST
Vested Interest: Scott Jordan’s Journey From Lawyer to Clothing Designer to Master of Promotion
When Scott Jordan became frustrated with carrying his devices around and wanted a better option than fumbling with bags, he quit his job as a lawyer at a startup and launched SCOTTeVEST—a travel outfitter that specializes in multi-pocket clothing, specifically built around the tech gear we all carry.
That decision, 14 years ago, was made based on a philosophy that has guided much of his entrepreneurial journey: Anything worth doing is worth doing now.
Scott Jordan’s first product, the eVest 1.0, has morphed into a full line of clothing for men and women and a company that has landed on Inc.’s Fastest Growing Companies list three consecutive years. With global sales exceeding $10 million and Board of Advisors that includes Steve Wozniak (yes, the Steve Wozniak) and Kenneth “Hap” Klopp (cofounder of North Face), SCOTTeVEST has traversed the startup desert and reached the land of milk and money.
How to Build an 8-Figure Business
The entrepreneurial journey is one of continuous learning, and for most of us, the learning starts immediately—Scott’s journey is no exception. He’s spent his entire career thinking on his feet and reacting quickly. In his early visions of SCOTTeVEST, he dreamed of developing the product, patenting it, and then licensing the idea to clothing companies. What he discovered was that clothing companies do not want to license a concept, especially one that is patent-pending. Time to pivot…
The proof-of-concept, eVest 1.0, took several months to produce and even then Scott was struggling to get the product into a catalog. Time to pivot again…
On a lark, Scott took his web developer up on a suggestion to add an e-commerce page to his site, and since he was not finding traction anywhere else, he doubled-down on PR. Going after every media outlet at his disposal, his company became the first apparel brand to get their start on the Internet.
Fourteen years ago, there were other brands selling clothes on the web but they all used their sites as extensions of their brick-and-mortar stores and catalogs; SCOTTeVEST blazed the 100% online trail for clothing retailers.
As a direct result of Jordan’s PR efforts (call it DIY crowd-funding), SCOTTeVEST racked up over 100,000 preorders, all before lining up a factory to produce the product. To this day, more than 90% of sales are direct to the consumer via the SCOTTeVEST site.
Scott Jordan – Self-Taught PR Wizard
So how did this lawyer-turned-entrepreneur become the driving force behind his company and a PR maverick? The short answer is: out of necessity.
Jordan quickly realized that traditional Internet marketing methods (SEO) could not work for a product that no one knew existed. He had to focus on telling a unique story. To do this he set out on a mission to identify every interesting opportunity into which he could interject the SCOTTeVEST name. As Jordan puts it, “The Internet levels the playing field—issue a press release—write the story for them and you will get a lot of traction.”
When Delta Airlines refused to allow SCOTTeVEST to advertise in their in-flight catalog, Sky Magazine, fearing the product would cut into their baggage fees, Jordan issued a press release, and used the opportunity to capture attention for his brand.
When IBM threatened a lawsuit over the use of an italicized “e” in the original SCOTTeVEST logo, claiming a similarity to IBM’s e-business logo, Jordan again issued a press release and pumped up the David vs. Goliath angle. Jordan agreed to change the logo but with the caveat that he could sell through the existing inventory. Soon, IBM employees were calling Jordan to get their hands on the last of the “IBM-e” logoed merchandise before it disappeared.
In perhaps his grandest example of embracing controversy, Jordan appeared on the hit TV show Shark Tank and famously told all three sharks that they were out, after personally phoning Steve Wozniak to verify that he should not take the Sharks’ deals.
When questioned about his motives for appearing on the show, Jordan is quick to point out that he was realistic about the possible outcomes from the beginning. He knew going in that there was a very low likelihood that he would get the deal he wanted, but that, at the very least, he would get exposure to more than 6 million viewers.
While going through the interview and contracting process to appear on the show, Jordan was surprised to learn that simply mentioning the SCOTTeVEST name on the show would give the producers of the show 5% equity in his company—a move that would cost him approximately $1 million. Time for another pivot…
Instead of pitching SCOTTeVEST, Jordan pitched its wholly owned subsidiary, Technology Enabled Clothing, a move that significantly reduced his financial exposure. What resulted was one of the longest segments devoted to a single pitch in Shark Tank history. But the main focus was on the banter between Jordan and the Sharks, not his product.
While his appearance on Shark Tank did nothing for sales and actually left him holding millions of dollars in inventory, he does not regret the move. “Everywhere I go I get recognized—people are interested in my story.” Since then, Shark Tank has done away with the 5% equity clause and Jordan has written a book, Pocket Man, dissecting his journey to become a successful entrepreneur.
In recent PR moves, Jordan purchased a three-wheeled Polaris, covered it in Pocket Man stickers and drove it up and down the California coast speaking at universities and holding fan events. He is also working with Indiegogo on his first crowd-funding venture to launch the latest SCOTTeVest product, the Ultimate Pocket Fleece, in an effort to expand his customer base and gain brand exposure.
The Vest Without Investors
Jordan is proud of the fact that SCOTTeVEST has been 100% self-funded until this point. To get things rolling he took out a second mortgage on his house and borrowed more than $100,000. Bootstrapping forced him to analyze each new product on its own profits and losses.
Now he has no investors to answer to and has gained tremendous experience. Jordan notes that, “You are a lot smarter and more careful when you are using your own money—it made me a better business man.”
Bootstrapping is a move that has paid off for Jordan; he was able to move quickly and respond to market demands, but without the hassle of answering to investors. He cautions new entrepreneurs against raising outside funding unless it is absolutely necessary. Outside funding “comes at the cost of your time” and as any entrepreneur will attest, this is your most valuable resource. Giving it up may cost your business more than it gains from the funding.
The Road Ahead
In addition to his upcoming Indiegogo campaign, Jordan is releasing a new book, Beyond the Tank, a collection of insights from other Shark Tank alumni. The proceeds of this book will go to charity. The goal is to promote the message that Shark Tank is first and foremost a television show, and not a place to raise capital.
SCOTTeVEST will continue creating new and innovative clothing that lives at the intersection of function and fashion, combing tech and attire.
Scott’s Inside Scoop
On this long journey to success, Scott Jordan has picked up a few gold nuggets to share with Foundr readers:
- Do your own PR and do it well
- Whenever possible, embrace controversy
- Do not focus on IP, execution is far more important
- Do not raise outside funding unless it is absolutely necessary—if you must, understand that the money comes at the cost of your time
- FU Everything! Follow-up. Follow-up. Follow-up. If it was worth starting, it is worth finishing. Employ a system to ensure that every email and every interaction is pushed to completion.
- Create the job you want and be enthusiastic and focused in its execution
- How to use the power of storytelling to sell a product no one’s ever heard of
- The power of PR and spin, how to make the best out of a bad situation and come out on top
- What is controversy and why it isn’t always a bad thing
- Answer to the question of whether or not you should bootstrap or go after investors
- The strategies that Scott used to get his name and his business on the map
Full Transcript of Podcast with Scott Jordan
Nathan: Hey guys, welcome to another episode of the “Foundr Podcast.”. My name is Nathan Chan and I’m your host coming to you live from Melbourne, Australia. And guys, I just want to say thank you for taking the time to invest in yourself as an entrepreneur and using our interviews to level up. So it’s about 3:30 a.m. here and I’m getting my hustle on, looking forward to a good sleep in but need to start batching these recordings of these podcast episodes a little more so we can get a little more organized. That’s about it. This is what’s happening with me, just working super hard, hustling as hard as I can to get you guys as much epic content as I can.
Listen about today’s guest, Scott Jordan. This guy, he knows how to hustle. I can tell you that. Speaking of hustle, this guy knows how to hustle and he knows how to get press-free startup. He knows how to cause controversy. He’s done some cool stuff. He’s the founder of SCOTTeVEST. He’s been on Shark Tank. He’s friends with Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple. You know, there’s so much gold shared in this episode. This one is not to be missed. I know I say this all the time, but I only bring the best stuff, all right? So trust me when I say this, this is a great one. Scott absolutely crushed it. So much to take away especially when it comes to PR, especially when it comes to getting things done, especially when it comes to some interesting stories around Shark Tank.
So that’s it for me guys. If you are enjoying these interviews, please do take the time to leave us a review. I’d love to hear that you joined the show. It helps us grow. Tell your friends about the show. If you do like the show, you also might wanna check out the magazine and go to foundrmag.com/itunes or foundrmag.com/android. All right, now let’s jump to the show.
So I’m gonna ask you my favorite question which is my first question is how did you get your job?
Scott: I created it myself. About 14 years ago, I was frustrated with carrying around all my devices while I traveled. And it occurred to me that other than man bags and fanny packs, there wasn’t really anything out there on the market that dealt with it. And at the time I was working for a real jerk as a boss, commuting quite a bit, and thought to myself, “If I can’t start my own company on a good idea at this point in my life, I’m never gonna do it.” So I quit my job and…my day job. I was a lawyer for an Internet startup company and started SCOTTeVEST.
Nathan: Now can you tell us a little more like 14 years ago, how did you get your first sale?
Scott: I started SCOTTeVEST as a clothing company. A lot of your listeners might not know about us. We’re a clothing company designed to hold all your electronic devices. My first product was called the eVest 1.0. And we’ve since evolved to a company with over 50 different products for men and women, ranging from pants, underwear, vest, jackets, shirts, hats, a full line of clothing. So how did I get my for sale? It’s a great question because without revenues you’re not in business.
At the time, I planned on basically just patenting the concept of wiring your electronic devices to a lining of a clothing article and licensing it under the trade name “technology-enabled clothing.” And what I discovered was holding companies were not apt to license a concept especially for a patent pending. So I decided that I needed to come out with a proof of concept. So we came up with the eVest 1.0 and I soon discovered that it would take several months in order for it to produce and even longer to find a buyer to put it in their catalog. And I write about a lot of these experiences by the way in my book, ”Pocket Man on Amazon.”
But as I was putting everything together I decided to have a brochure website. This was 15 years ago, mind you. Not everything was on the Internet. And my web developer said, “Do you want a e-commerce to enable your site? It will cost you another thousand bucks to do so.” And I said, “Yeah, sure, why not.” Little did I know when I said, “Yes, sure, why not,” that I became the first apparel brand to start on the Internet. Many other brands that, you know, use the Internet as an extension of their existing catalog, and others at the time, but none had started on the Internet.
So I put some prototype versions on the website saying, “Coming soon: This is SCOTTeVEST. Order now.” And I went after all the bloggers. I don’t even think they were called bloggers at the time, media and the like, to write about this concept. And I spent a lot of my time and effort focusing on PR. I’m kind of a master of PR and understanding how to manipulate the media in a positive fashion to tell the story and make their lives easier. And before long, we started getting…very quickly we started getting pre-orders for a product I hadn’t even lined up a factory for. I had no idea what it was gonna cost me to produce and I was already selling them before they were being made, the sort of the precursor to Kickstarter and Indiegogo, which is kind of ironic because we’re experimenting with an Indiegogo campaign next month, which is not common for an established business but we’re looking to continue to grow and expose our business to new consumers and it’s one way to do it.
So we had over 100,000 hours in preorders, you know, based upon the media attention and the Internet. And to this day, 90% of our business is direct to consumer on the internet.
Nathan: Wow. Very interesting. There’s a few things I’d like to unpack there. First thing’s probably, can you give us an insight to where the company is at now?
Scott: Yeah. We have 15 fulltime employees. We’re located in Sun Valley, Ketchum, Idaho. We have been named on Inc.’s fastest growing company list for three consecutive years. We don’t disclose our gross sales, but we’re doing well in excess of seven figures or actually eight figures I guess now. Six figures is 100,000 and seven figures is a million. We’re in excess of $10 million. We sell throughout the entire world. In fact, 12% of our business comes from international customers, the largest being is England, Australia, and Canada. Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, is on our Board of Advisers along with Hap Klopp, the founder of the North Face.
Your fans may recognize me if they’re fans of the hit TV show on ABC called “Shark Tank.” The only entrepreneur ever to point at three sharks and tell them they were out. It was fun. And, you know, where…I’m living the dream and working hard every day. I have no desire…we have no outside investors. We were profitable since our second year in business and have maintained profitability each and every year thereafter, increasing along the way. It’s not without its road bumps and, you know, hiccups along the way but I managed to do pretty well in light of the circumstances, especially during a down economy.
Nathan: No, look, you are living the dream. I follow you on Facebook and you’re always doing these cool, interesting stuff.
Scott: You know, I try to keep it…my life interesting, my work interesting and combine the two. I mean most recently, having written a book ”Pocket Man,” I bought this crazy three-wheeled vehicle called a Polaris Slingshot, decorated it with all sorts of ”Pocket Man” icons and logos and went around the country, starting in Las Vegas and up and down the coast of California and speaking at universities and a variety of places and holding fan events and meeting great people. And I think that if you can create the job you want and be enthusiastic and passionate about it and focus on the bottom line, of course, you can be immensely successful. I know I have.
Nathan: Look, I definitely want to touch on, first of all, probably Indiegogo thing because I’m curious. I’ve actually interviewed the founder of Indiegogo, and I’m curious like you said that you wanted to tap into a new market. From my like knowledge, and we’ve never done a crowdfunding campaign, but it’s one of the best ways to bring an idea to life and really validate a concept. But most of the market generally comes from like PR, all your existing audience if you have a current community, which you guys do. So I’m curious that you apply around that. Can you go a little bit deeper for me on that?
Scott: Yeah, I’m happy to. I’d love to measure back after it launches to see whether the ideas I’m talking to you about now come to fruition. So, you know, we need to expand our customer base. We find that our current customers keep coming back for more. Four in 10 sales on any particular day are from existing customers. But in order to grow the business, which is a fantastic rate of return, but you always have to balance that because you want new customers because those new customers are gonna keep coming back. And, you know, it’s difficult when we don’t have a big marketing budget and advertising budget to acquire customers. And what do you search for on the Internet when you didn’t know it existed? A multi-pocket clothing that hides all the pockets inside? You know, the typical SEO doesn’t work for us, I mean at all.
So, you know, we focused a lot on PR, telling our storage and media which we think is unique. And they’ve been…if you do a Google search you’ll see how much they’ve written about us. So as we scratch our head trying to, you know, see all these other clothing companies launch on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, one was a silly hoodie with a few pockets raised several hundred thousand dollars. Another was a hoodie designed to hold your beer. You know, and I think that raised close to a million dollars ahead. I mean, ridiculous sums of money for these not so innovative concepts in clothing, but with a clever video and a clever story.
And we thought to ourselves, “Well, you know, here’s a great opportunity to expose our brand to a whole new market that probably is not aware of our products.” Now granted that, you know, most of the products are fledgling companies that are just trying to get off the ground. But, you know, look at Pebble. Pebble went, not only initially and they, you know, when they did tremendously well initially, but the second round, you know, for their new Pebble Watch they went back to Kickstarter. And they were anything but a startup at this point in time.
So they were just using the platform to activate not only their audience who they owe their success to but, you know, the new audience that they wanted to gain. So I’m using it quite differently and I expect…to be honest with you, some people are gonna give us some blowback because they just say, “No, that’s not what Indiegogo is for. Indiegogo is really to launch a company.” But that’s not true. I mean the outline is pretty clear: you can launch a product. So we’re launching the ultimate pocket fleece which represents the coolest product that we’ve ever made to date with I believe it has 17…don’t quote me, I lost count. It might have a few more, 17 hidden pockets, removable sleeves, the personal area network to wire your devices to one another and just we’re doing an awesome video. I just shot it today.
And we’re making it clear that unlike a lot of the other products that you buy on Indiegogo or Kickstarter, I thought so myself it’s really frustrating because it’s a crapshoot as to whether or not they’re actually gonna produce the product. We know we’re gonna produce the product. We’re certain. You know, it’s going to be produced and people are going to love it. And so much so that, you know, Indiegogo has a little-known feature that they reserve for only special products where they offer people insurance to assure them that, you know, that the product will be made, otherwise they get their money back and they charge, I don’t know, 5, 10 bucks for it. And it’s highly likely that they’re going to incorporate that feature for our product launch. Let’s try and do it by the end of June. We’re shooting for and we’re excited about that.
Nathan: Awesome, that’s…
Scott: What do you think? What do you think? Give me a…you’re the first outside person I’ve talked to about it.
Nathan: Oh, thank you. It’s really, really interesting because I’m like on the other side of the table where I believe that’s these crowdfunding platforms are a brilliant way to bring an idea to life. And it’s interesting because I…and also because we’ve done like a whole crowdfunding issue so I’ve interviewed some crazy people that have raised, you know, a lot of money on Kickstarter or Indiegogo. And most of the attraction comes from PR, so I think you do really really well on that front because it sounds like you’re really really good at this PR stuff so I’m really interested to see how it goes.
Scott: Well, stay tuned. Let’s do a follow-up.
Nathan: Definitely. My question is, you said you’re really good at PR and you talk about promotion a lot. Let’s touch on that, like what do you do to get a lot of press? How do you approach this Indiegogo play to get a lot of press?
Scott: I think there are some challenges for the Indiegogo play to get a lot of press. I don’t know how trustworthy unto itself it is. I’m working in conjunction with Indiegogo ‘s team. They were thrilled to have me. I was really vacillating between Kickstarter and Indiegogo. And so, they’re gonna go to some special lengths to help us. To be honest with you, I don’t know how trustworthy necessarily this product and this is per se. I can talk about some other things I’ve done that I think are much more relevant to your question. You know, whether it be when I first started, you know, 15 years ago right after 9/11 at no bags were allowed into…at the time it was Comdex, not even CES, but Comdex and other big conventions and hotels and sporting events. There were no bags allowed.
And I had a big campaign that says, “If you’re not allowed to have a bag, you know, you can put it in your SCOTTeVEST.” And I promoted that heavily and got coverage. And IBM threatened to sue us over. It looked too similar to e and e-business solutions. So what I do is I issued a press release, David versus Goliath. And I had people call…how ridiculous is this? I agreed to change the e to a non-italicised e and sold through the remainder of my product. But in the meantime, people from IBM were calling me in an attempt to get the final e version, the IBM e version of SCOTTeVEST. There’s a pattern of embracing controversies. So rather than running away from a controversy, I embrace it and I talk about it. I make it a serious situation.
When Delta airlines refused to allow me to advertise in their in-flight magazine because we said it saved baggage fees, we issued a press release that said, how silly is this? And sure enough, if you do a Google search for SCOTTeVEST and Delta Airlines, you’ll come up with hundreds of thousands of articles from major news media talking about, you know, this controversy. And most recently, you know, Sky Mall was announced that they were going bankrupt and out of business and I thought, “Oh, here’s an opportunity to possibly buy a major brand for very little money,” and insert myself into a conversation. And do a Google search on SCOTTeVEST and Sky Mall and you’ll see I was on CNBC a month or so ago talking about it. Ultimately, I decided not to purchase it, and I was very serious about the possibility of purchasing it. But, you know, things didn’t work out the way I thought it would. They lost all their contracts with their airlines.
You know, there is an event coming up here called Owlman Company which is a private equity bank that hosts all the billionaires. I mean, this is the most exclusive event in the world. George Soros, Murdoch and, you know, Bill Gates and it’s technology and media and they come up here…it’s about 350 billionaires. And so, it’s in my backyard, so I’m hosting a corresponding event to coincide with it where I am welcoming the media, you know, who is shunned from this event. And I’m saying, “Come hang out at my office, enjoy my fiber optic bandwidth. And if there are any deals to be announced that are not allowed to be announced on the property of the resort, they can come over here.”
So it’s just looking at every opportunity and saying, is there something worth talking about? Is there something interesting? Even if it’s not necessarily all positive, you know, inserting your name into it… And with the Internet, you level the playing field. You issue a press release. You contact some reporters. You write the story for them, and you’d be surprised you’re gonna get your story out there.
Nathan: Awesome. There’s a lot to take away there. So I have to ask like that stunt with Shark Tank, was that on purpose to create controversy?
Scott: I’m not sure your listeners are aware of this stunt.
Nathan: Let’s go through this one.
Scott: Okay. So I applied to be on Shark Tank with my company, SCOTTeVEST. And I did so primarily for the media attention. We didn’t need the money, but I would like six million people at the time and now even more learning about my company. Now, I would have welcomed some money, of course. You know, we’re completely self-funded. It would have been nice to raise a little money, put some in my pocket after all these years. So, you know, I did want the money. I wasn’t going on solely for the publicity, but primarily for the publicity.
Nathan: Most people do.
Scott: Well, they should. They resented me because I was the first person who got accused of only going on for publicity. But you’re full is because the likelihood of you getting a deal is very slim to none. And if you do get a deal, the likelihood of it actually closing on the terms that you liked that were presented on TV are even slimmer. So you go on and you’re foolish not to take this as a promotional opportunity. So when I applied for SCOTTeVEST, I read the contract and deep on page 42 after having gone through hours of interviews and approvals and getting to the point where a contract was finally presented to me, I realized that just by appearing on the show I’d give 5% of my business to the producers of the show whether the deal was done or not.
Now, this was in season three. They have since changed the rules primarily because of me. Having read that, I said to myself, “Well, I’m not gonna give 5% of a company that is worth over $10 million. So it would be approximately, you know, a million dollars of equity in my business to the producers in exchange for nothing and possibly about edit.” So instead, I pivoted and presented a wholly-owned subsidiary, technology-enabled clothing, a licensing company which had limited revenues which I controlled and I presented that company instead. So was that a stunt? No, it was just smart business. And, you know, it was ironic because the sharks all tried to bid on the retail company. And if I dared mention the name of the company SCOTTeVEST, I would have given away 5% merely for mentioning it.
So you can imagine how hard it is as nervous as I was on stage to talk for over an hour about my company without ever mentioning the name of the company. You know, and if I had it would have cost me a million dollars. I don’t know how many people could have done that. So it’s an entertaining episode in Season 3 Episode I believe 12 under the brand name “technology-enabled clothing.” You can find it on YouTube if you’d like.
Nathan: And I will link to the show notes in the podcast. I’m curious. So you said that if you mentioned like the name SCOTTeVEST, they would get another five…like would get…
Scott: They would have gotten the 5% of SCOTTeVEST as it stood. I was willing to give them 5% of the subsidiary because, you know, the subsidiary was worth much less and that’s how I presented it too. I didn’t present SCOTTeVEST. You know, they tried to edit it as if I did a bait and switch and everyone was very clear as to what I was presenting.
Nathan: I see. So right now to this day they own…
Scott: Well, up until a month or so ago, within three years after the airing of the show, they had a right to exercise the option at no cost. And up until two months ago, I was…I had a partner. They did not exercise their option. Mark Cuban, who I got into a massive fight with on the show, I mean like…and thereafter on Twitter. I mean it’s just…he’s kind of a dick. But, you know, he doesn’t believe in patents. I mean the first question they ask every entrepreneur and one of the things they’re gonna advise entrepreneurs is don’t focus so much on the uniqueness of your idea. Don’t try to focus on a patent that no one else can do. Focus more on the execution of the idea.
And I think a lot of entrepreneurs, myself included, get caught up, unless I have the perfect idea that no one is doing that I can’t be successful. It’s not so much about the idea. It’s about the execution and building an enduring brand.
Nathan: I just want to ask you also like how did it feel like telling those guys where to go and, you know…
Scott: It felt awesome. I can’t lie to you. I mean, you know, I really did. I mean, you know, I controlled the room. I mean in that show everything is designed so that the entrepreneur is on a lower part of the room. They’re in their chairs. They’re looking down on you. The lights are on, you know, and they’re throwing questions at me left and right and I’m answering all their questions. And they were dumbfounded. They didn’t know what to make of me. They really didn’t. So much so that, you know, after this…after the episode taped at the very end I was shaking everyone’s hand and they congratulated me. They had never seen anything like it since then and thereafter. It was exciting.
But, you know, I would have preferred that, you know, it didn’t focus on the controversy and that it would have focused on the features and benefits of my product. I mean the fact of the matter is it didn’t do anything for sales. We bought millions. Let me emphasize, millions of dollars’ worth of inventory in anticipation of the show generating millions, multimillions of sales. You know, we did some calculations and thought six million people, you know, I was the longest segment. It was over 21 minutes. They’re usually 7 to 12 at most. And that we thought for sure that, you know, this was gonna generate sales. The Friday night it aired, the sales were identical to the Friday night previous.
Nathan: Wow, really?
Scott: The reason, it was… Yeah. People just assumed they were gonna sell a lot. You’re not, not necessarily. Well, in my case, you know, you walk away with great TV. You walk away with, you know, an entrepreneur who was a lawyer and presented, you know, as a bit evil. And you don’t walk away with, “Hey, that was a great idea.” There was a 30-second segment, you know, that was taped where I took everything out of my SCOTTeVEST and I showed how many…all the pockets and features. And if they had aired that portion, that 30 seconds, I would have sold millions of dollars. I’m not kidding you. But they didn’t. You know, they have so much other good material, you know, ranging from when I called Steve Wozniak, and Woz agreed for me to tell them no and to, you know…pointing at them and telling Kuban he was out the moment he sat down. I mean it was awesome TV. It really was.
And it felt good because it, you know…not because I was treating them disrespectfully, although some people would watch it and come to that conclusion. It felt good because they were baiting me. They knew that if I said the word SCOTTeVEST I had to give 5%. That’s all they kept trying to get me to do. And they kept negotiating for a company I hadn’t presented. I was like, “This is ridiculous, guys, you know. I’m not here to, you know…take an investment in that company. You want me to come back on and release the 5%? I’m in. But up until then, I’m here to pitch a different company for a different valuation.”
Nathan: No, this is really really interesting stuff. I’m so surprised that you didn’t get an increase in sales.
Scott: Nope. Again, it was just people went to the website to see if I was still in business. But, you know, but it wasn’t…the way it was edited was such that it wasn’t about the company or about the product. It was about me as an individual arguing about patents. And I remember where I was going. I mean every entrepreneur who gets on there, they ask ”Oh, is it patented?” You know, and everyone says, ”No, I have four patents pending.” And, you know, but no one has a patent when they walk in there. In my case, not only do I have a patent, not only did I have a patent was examined and reissued, but I successfully defended it against, you know, 20 of the most…the largest clothing companies in the world including Ralph Lauren, North Face, Under Armor and the like. And to have a patent is meaningless.
And so, you’re willing to stand up and defend it and spend the money and time associated with it. It’s really not valuable and that’s what they attacked me. And let’s remember, you know a little company called Levi-Strauss?
Nathan: Of course.
Scott: Jeans? Do you know why you know them?
Scott: Because when they first came out, they came out with dungarees. Dungarees were very common for railroad workers, construction workers and the like. They came up with the idea that if I use a rivet to attach these dungarees in addition to stitching, I can sell a lot more dungarees because they’re gonna be a lot sturdier. And they patented the rivet. If they had not patented a rivet and clothing, they would have not…you would not know their name. They would just be another clothing manufacturer from the 1800s that went out of business. Did you know that?
Nathan: No, I didn’t know that.
Scott: Look at every Levi’s label on the back of your pants. You’ll see a patent number. That’s what it relates to.
Nathan: Wow, that’s really interesting. So I guess the question is was it worth going on Shark Tank? You didn’t get increase in sales. They made you look like a fool.
Scott: You know, my wife would say no. I don’t think they made me look like a fool. You know, others may disagree. But, you know, 50% of the people who watched it loved it. And 50% thought I was…treated their beloved sharks disrespectfully. You know, my wife would say no because we had spent so much money buying all this inventory in anticipation of selling through. And I agree about the sales. And that’s why I went on. But I can’t go any place in the world where someone recognizing this. And it leads to a conversation. I get to meet people. Now when they hear the story and the backstory, they’re more intrigued. I wrote the book, the book’s doing very well, again, ”Pocket Man.”
So, you know, it’s a long tale. It wasn’t as immediate of a result as I would have hoped and expected. But, no, I don’t regret doing it. In fact, you know, I would love to have an opportunity to go on again and this time, you know, present SCOTTeVEST as the company now that they’ve gotten rid of the 5% which, by the way, Mark Cuban, ironically enough, he’s the one who I’d gotten the biggest fight with, who on a podcast said his sole goal was to make me cry on national TV which he clearly didn’t do as anyone who watched the episode. But he said he wouldn’t go back on the episode unless they waive that 5% because, rightfully so, he said you guys should be making TV shows. You shouldn’t be partners in these businesses. So they waived it.
Nathan: I see, I see, I see. Okay. No, this is really interesting because you don’t hear this side of the story.
Scott: Well, I’m actually gonna be writing another book called, ”Beyond the Tank.” I’ve talked to a lot of the other entrepreneurs in the show, and I’ve collected a bunch of quotes. It’s gonna come out in the fall. Proceeds are gonna go to charity. Letting people know the other side of the Shark Tank, what you don’t see on TV. You know, and I think that a lot of people will be fascinated by it. This show has been tremendously successful and it does a lot of good. It educates people. But let’s remember folks, it’s a TV show. It’s not a place you go to raise money.
Nathan: So you know, well, actually, you know, that’s a really good question. What is your thoughts on bootstrapping versus raising capital? You know, so are you still 100% funded?
Scott: Yes, 100% self-funded. You know, when I first started, I never thought I would do it all by myself. I took out a second mortgage on my house, borrowed about $100,000 and I thought that as with everything else, you borrow, borrow, borrow and raise money and you shoot to go for an IPO within three to five years. And I could not be happier that I went about it the old-fashioned way and the old fashioned way was finance it myself. You know, try to be profitable as quickly as I could. You know, analyze each different business project has its own P&L. And as a result, I don’t have anyone I answer to other than myself and my wife was the other partner in my business.
Had I gone the other route and raised money, a lot of people forget how much time and energy you spend, you know. First of all, your initial raise and then, of course, there’s always a subsequent raise and a subsequent raise thereafter, and the communications with all your investors. That time is extraordinarily valuable especially when you have so many other things that you need to do to build a business. That’s not to say I wouldn’t have liked to have…the thought of playing with other people’s money. But when you’re using your own money, you’re a lot smarter or more careful about it. And it’s enabled me to be a better business person I think.
So I would encourage, you know, people…two big takeaways we’ve talked about. I’m gonna talk about the third which I think is the key to my success. The two that we’ve talked about so far I think are huge. Well, three. Do your own PR. Do it well. Embrace the controversy whenever possible. Don’t focus so much on the IP, the intellectual property. It’s not the most important. Execution is the most important part. And don’t raise outside money unless you absolutely need it and know that it comes with a price that you haven’t considered. And that’s the price of your time.
The other piece that we haven’t started talking about which made me successful is the concept of FU. I FU everything.
Nathan: What does FU mean?
Scott: Well, it means a lot of things. The way I use it, it means follow up. I flag every single email I get or receive, and I put a date on it and…if I send an email, I put a date by which I expect a response. If I don’t get the response I send another email saying, “Hey, two weeks ago I emailed you. What can I do to make this happen?” until I reach a natural point where it’s dead. And you’d be shocked at little teeny technique for not just in business, but in life. I get so much more done and so many people, they think, “Oh, it’s an email. Oh, I can forget about it.” Well, not if you email me. I’m never gonna forget about it and we’re gonna see it through to conclusion and hopefully that conclusion is gonna make us both some money.
Nathan: You know, I love that point. That’s actually something… It’s funny you mention that. It’s actually something I was…I touched on into and somebody interviewed me this week as well because, you know, we get a lot of pitches for people wanting to, you know, be interviewed or be on a magazine or be on a podcast or whatever. And I always…like we’ve got our editorial counter filled for 2015. And I always say, you know, by all means, touch base with us in the near future. Not one person ever follows me up.
Scott: In our case, you know, as you know we’ve tried to schedule this several times and, you know, and I know a lot of times were my fault for not making it. But I’ve always reached back and we started it…if it was worth starting, it’s worth finishing. So…and open the door and I’m gonna come on through and I’m gonna keep knocking on the door until I get what I want.
Nathan: No, so you’re persistent and you got really good follow up. There’s actually a tool for everybody, if you use Gmail, that’s very very powerful that I use for follow up too. Like, for example, I’m trying to get Elon Musk on the magazine so I found this head of PR at Tesla. And there’s this tool which a Gmail plugin called Rebump and what you can do is you…before you send the email you press tick on the Rebump plugin. And if you do not get a reply, you can set automated emails to go out as follow-ups and you can template these emails which is really really cool. So you don’t even have to set a date aside or put a date on your calendar. You just tick that button, have it all set up with the templates and you can do as many follow-ups as you want. All on automation.
Scott: That’s cool. I use a similar tool, it’s called Active Inbox. And, you know, I used to use Outlook reminders. And, you know, the problem with Outlook reminders is if you have an email chain, and I send on average 9,000 emails a month, email threads. If you do the math…
Nathan: That’s a lot.
Scott: Each thread, it can… I’m email mad now and each one is a follow-up. You know, a lot of them are follow-ups and that’s how you get so much stuff done. I believe that, you know, in today’s business that’s how you communicate. And the better you can communicate via email, the more stuff you’re gonna get done. But so with Outlook when you set a reminder on an email, and that email is part of a thread with 10 different or 20 different emails within it, you can have 10 different reminders to the same email. So I am a huge proponent of get away from Outlook as soon as you can and move over to a Gmail-based web client and utilize this either this Rebump or in my case Active Inbox which is very inexpensive and enables you using labels to set reminders.
And every day there’s 50 emails, no less than 50 emails are set for tomorrow that are reminding me some as silly as did I get my Apple Watch, just reminding me I’m…to some as important as did I get a check from a company who told me they were gonna send it last week. Everything pretty much happens in email, so I cannot emphasize enough. If each one of your listeners would employ a proper follow-up program, they’re gonna do so much better in life and in business.
Nathan: That’s a fantastic tip. I really like that one, Scott. So, look, we have to work towards wrapping up. I just have one last…two last questions. One is how did you get in touch with Steve Wozniak, and also was it founder of North Face?
Nathan: How did you get them as advisor?
Scott: I had a collection of people from SCOTTeVEST. Steve Wozniak was one of my favorite stories. He placed an order on my website and my wife who was processing the orders forward to me the email saying, “You’ll never guess who placed an order.” And it was Steve Wozniak. And within moments rather than struggling over a two-page treatise on how much I love him and admire him, I just wrote him immediately because I think that whatever’s worth doing is worth doing fast. That’s another one of my principles. I wrote to him thanking him for his order, knowing that he had just placed it, and it was fresh in his mind. And I’m a big fan of yours. Love, Scott. You know, a very simple email on the… He writes back saying, “Oh, my pleasure. It’s a great accessory for an iPod.” And I wrote back, “Can I use that on my website?” He said, “Sure.”
Within a day, our cover of our home page said, Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, says SCOTTeVEST is an exceptional accessory for your iPod. That’s how I initially met him and then, you know, you remember those iconic iPod commercials with the multicolored backgrounds and the guy dancing with the white wires and, you know… I came up with…this has to be my biggest blunder and I know we have to wrap up. But I’ll make it quick. I said, “Steve, I have a really great idea. I know you’re a funny guy and you like humor. Would you act in this commercial spoofing Apple’s commercial, but instead of dancing around, you would trip over your wires like a goof and then someone hands you a SCOTTeVEST and you’re dancing perfectly?”
He says he loves it. He thought it was hilarious. And I thought about it, because he was kind of a heavyset guy, I thought it was maybe mock my product and make it a little kind of like Chris Farley-esque. And I said, “You know, Steve. I thought about it. Maybe let’s not do it.” Now, how viral would that have gone?
Nathan: That would have been really funny.
Scott: If you search YouTube for the funniest iPod spoof, you’ll find the one that we actually did and imagine it was him. And Hap Klopp came up to me at a tradeshow and asked me a bunch of questions. And I said, “And who are you?” And he says, “I founded a little company called The North Face.” And our friendship has lasted ever since.
Nathan: Awesome, awesome. I’m a big fan of North Face. It’s quite big here in Australia. I just bought like a nice big vest of theirs like one of those puffer vests. They’re really warm for winter. So, look, loving this conversation, Scott. Last question. And that’s just like, is there anything that you wanted me to ask you that I haven’t asked you and where’s the best place to find your book? You know, if anyone wants to get a SCOTTeVEST, you know.
Scott: Well, I appreciate that. You get…I’ll answer the first one. It’s the easiest one. Buy our products online. It’s SCOTT, S-C-O-T-T, eVEST, V-E-S-T, SCOTTeVEST. The book is available on Amazon. And, you know, that would be what I’d like you to ask me about because your listeners can really…will really appreciate the book. The book’s called ”Pocket Man” and it’s entertaining. It’s like the stories I’m telling you now but in a better order, more well-thought out but it’s how…it’s sitting down with me and asking me a series of questions of how I got my start and how I was successful and what bumps along the way there have been. And it was intended not to be a traditional business book. It was intended to be first and foremost entertaining.
And having said that, you’d learn a bit while you’re being entertained. And I think you can finish it in under two or three hours and it’s called ”Pocket Man” on Amazon.
Nathan: Fantastic. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today, Scott.
Scott: My pleasure, Nate. I enjoyed it.
Nathan: Yes, so did I.