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DealQuest’s BEST OF: Company Founders

This week I’m pleased to bring you another round-up of the BEST OF DealQuest guests. Our category is Company Founders. You’ll hear from Niles Heron, Julia Pimsleur, Brian Smith, Damon Gersh, and Chris Wilkerson! If you’ve been a founder, are currently a founder, or would like to be a company founder one day, this one’s for you!

The Need for Organic Growth: Niles Heron

Niles Heron is the Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Popdog. This is a technology and services company focused on fixing core problems in the esports and live streaming industry. He firmly believes that entrepreneurship is about building good systems. For Niles, this means solving problems at scale. His work has taken him from Detroit to San Francisco and back to Detroit. He’s worked with companies in biotech, automotive, aerospace, technology, and entertainment.

Niles has an incredible perspective. He’s one of those guests who demonstrates that he truly understands what it takes to create a business that actually has traction. In addition, he truly gets how you can leverage that traction through deals. On the show, Niles really gets to the heart of what it means to show up fully in your business and engineer deals that take things to the next level.

You can listen to a snippet of his interview on this week’s Company Founders BEST OF episode. Or, you can listen to our full interview on Episode 33 of the DealQuest Podcast!

Million Dollar Women: Julia Pimsleur 

Julia Pimsleur is Founder & Chief Empowerista at the social venture Million Dollar Women (MDW). During her nine years as CEO, Pimsleur raised angel and venture capital to succeed. It was then that she discovered fewer than 3% of all women entrepreneurs reach $1M. Additionally, less than 4% of venture capital is invested in female founders. To help change those stats, she teaches women how to fundraise. This led to her authoring the best-seller, Million Dollar Women​: The Essential Guide for Female Founders Who Want to Go Big.

Julia shares that her current work is directly tied to her early experience as a founder. She had been exhausted and burnt out as a business owner and parent. After some time, she realized she desperately needed a new way of running things. She took what she learned, and turned it into an organization that empowers women to stop being solo octo-preneurs (with 8 arms going in every direction). Instead, she teaches them how to truly become empowered entrepreneurs. Her episode is a reminder you don’t need to be a huge company with large revenue numbers to make meaningful deals. Instead, you can grow your business from exactly where you are now!

You can listen to a snippet of her interview on this week’s Company Founders BEST OF episode to hear more, including an early deal Julia made with PBS that created a 6 figure sales difference! You can also listen to our full interview on Episode 34 of the DealQuest Podcast.

The Founder of UGG Boots: Brian Smith

Brian Smith has charted his own course to become one of the great entrepreneurial success stories of our time. In 1978, he imported six pairs of sheepskin boots from Australia. At the time, he had a dream to build a business where every American would eventually be wearing the product. And that’s how one of the world’s most recognizable brands began. Since then, sales of UGG products have exceeded a billion dollars in each of the past six years.

Brian shares how his own enthusiasm for his work garnered an early $20,000 investment (with no business plan or fancy pitch deck!). That early cash infusion is what helped the company get started. He also notes that UGG took years to take off. (For some reason, as many California retailers didn’t see the need for a sheepskin product!) Year one of sales only saw 28 pairs off the shelf, with retail buyers he had been counting on ultimately  turning the product down. 

By year three capital had run out, and sales were only at 20,000. After a beer with a friend, Brian recognized he had a messaging problem. By changing his marketing message, sales skyrocketed to 200,000 within a year. That marketing revamp turned everything around. (It also ran the company out of money — a whole new problem!)

You can listen to a snippet of his interview on this week’s Company Founders BEST OF episode. You can also choose to listen to our full interview on Episode 8 of the DealQuest Podcast!

Identifying Your Industry’s Choke Point: Damon Gersh

Damon Gersh is the President and CEO of Maxons Restorations, Inc., an innovative leader in the property damage restoration industry. Damon is a winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the Fast Company Award for Leadership, and Inc. 500 and Inc. 5000 awards. Damon is also a Past President of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization New York City Chapter, the co-founder of the Gathering of Titans annual entrepreneurial conclave, and the co-founder and Past President of Restoration Affiliates, LLC.

He wants to know: do you know the “choke point” in your business? By identifying the restoration industry choke point, Damon was able to transform his market and take his business to the next level. He was also skilled at garnering loyalty and thinking BIG about how to lock up the labor market. As a result, he figured out how to make sure his firm got the job…even if they were technically the “second call” on new labor needs.

You can listen to a snippet of his interview on this week’s Company Founders BEST OF episode, or you can listen to our full interview on Episode 25 of the DealQuest Podcast!

Lifestyle By Design: Chris Wilkerson

Chris Wilkerson is the Founder and CEO of High Bar Capital, which specializes in funding, acquisition, and management of high-quality businesses in niche markets. It’s all done with the goal of growing businesses while also increasing their value. 

Chris shares important lessons he learned while doing deals of his own, and he offers specific scenarios and strategies that highlight why it is important to know who you’re dealing with and what they truly want. Part of this is understanding what the “other” side wants. It’s not enough to just know what works for you. You have to consider the desire on both sides of the aisle!

The ability to create a positive impact on everyone involved in a deal is his top priority when evaluating whether a deal is worthwhile. This also means considering his employees, his clients, and his family. Part of being an entrepreneur is creating the lifestyle that he desires. He shares his wife and himself call this their “lifestyle by design”, which involves considering long term deal impacts, which goes beyond just financial implications.

You can listen to a snippet of his interview on this week’s Company Founders BEST OF episode, or you can listen to our full interview on Episode 22 of the DealQuest Podcast!

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.
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