Four Score Holdings, LLC , Founding Partner
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How did you get to where you are today? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path? What inspired you to work on this business idea?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
Thank you for the question. Um, would inspire, you know, how did I get to where I am today and what incidents inspired me I work in. You know, I worked in technology for 20 years. When I was very young. I started working, um, in information technology support and systems management. I think, you know, 21 22 years old. Um, what led me to where I am now working on engineering, design, construction, and real estate development is a good foundation of technological understanding of different industries. Uh, when you're supporting, uh, enterprise level business on the back end, Um, even in the early years of your career, you understand what's critically important for for the business in terms of, you know, facets of the business to capitalize on and how those businesses operate. Um, understanding the back office elements of larger businesses. Um, like, uh, legal and health care and, uh, manufacturing things like that. Um, you know, it made me look at other facets of technology, uh, to become involved in and at the time, um, 22 years ago or however long ago that waas the internet was quickly becoming one of those business tools that people need to understand how to use. Um and that was similar that industry I spent. I spent a lot of time in that industry in, um technology and Internet marketing, helping people build websites and advertise their businesses. And you start to find that the things that are important to the business is that you are supporting in terms of I t infrastructure, the same things air also tied together and important when you're marketing your company in making this new tool being the Internet, um, you know, critical for those businesses. So you learn a lot about a business when you try to find the value in those technology services for their use and profitability. Going from I. T. To Internet marketing introduced me to a world where I could work for just about any business I wanted to because clearly understanding their technological needs, um, their outward projection in terms of marketing their businesses, I had to learn about how a lot of businesses worked. Um, so I found a company after a while that I was able to help significantly with their I T infrastructure and Internet marketing and watching how they did business got me interested in architecture, engineering, design and construction management. So, um, sort of a long winded answer. But, uh, I never saw myself in construction 20 years ago. Uh, developing real estate. You know, when I was working on computers, when when that industry was really exploding, you know?

What products or services did you start with? How has your product or service offerings evolved over time?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
um So just to be clear, the business is still a startup, And, uh, and my focus on this business was primarily the real estate and the location, Um, finding a place where it's a manufacturing business of medical bio farmer products. And and so So, you know, the products that I think you know, the product development piece of this business is not my forte, right? What I do is I look at their operational needs, help them find a location that facilitates distribution. Um, finds the right community for these folks to do business in and attract talent, um, and find them a space for all their operations that suits their needs for the price that they need. Right. So So So my involvement in this business is a little unique in that, um, and not like, not unlike other startups. Um, typically, the founders of these businesses provide, you know, a vein of service or business or expertise, right? As one of the founders with those optics eso that the business team is more successful. So that was my that was my role. But the evolution of the product, I think, is, um you know, uh, medically and culturally relevant. And I do expect their industry Thio, you know, evolve quickly

Can you walk us through your first few weeks, especially challenges, when you started your business? How did things change over the next few months?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
So, um, that's a loaded question, too, because of the current pandemic environment. And in this industry, you know, obviously retail was handicapped, um, in manufacturing in in in some regards right through the last six months, with with what we're envisioning. But, um, in the first few weeks that critically important elements of this business or well planned, um, I think that the biggest challenges our understanding where our market entry, the formal market entry, where we're absolutely able to release products, um, consistently with some continuity is a challenge. And mostly because of the state of the market related toe, you know, the business being allowed to be open and operate with the with the number of people that we want in the building. Um, if the pandemic wasn't an issue, I would say that that looks a little bit different because you're you're free to have as many people in the building is your occupancy allows and you're able thio, um, you know, meet with people in person that you're hiring where, um you know, um, that's been complicated in in the recent months. So? So I think the challenges ey're not so different. Um, pre pandemic post pandemic in this environment. But I think I think the biggest challenges in businesses who are wholesaling and retailing products, um, you know, are are basically driven by supply chain your talent and your your customer retention. So So those are the Those are the biggest challenges for us because some of the products that are being manufactured or manufactured all over the country on bond in differentiating yourself from your competition, um, along with the other things I mentioned are probably the most critical elements of success in the early life of these businesses.

Who were your early customers? What marketing approaches, channels and promotions did you use to reach out to customers? What worked and what didn't?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
so we have a little bit of Ah, we have a little bit of a backlog and supply chain here, right? So? So there's there's more customers than there is product in the market for the specific, uh, products we're selling. Um, I think that, you know, Yeah, we we had always planned on that and our projections financially. Um, you know, I think what you know, our power anticipated and actuals, uh, will be healthy. Um, but, you know, those differentiators, um, for us are largely regional at the moment. So when there's more, um, demand than supply. Um, you know that Can that can really help you so long as you're paying attention to efficiency and you're addressing the customer's needs. Um, I think some of what we've seen with the supply chain breaking down over the last six months, you know, we have this very healthy e commerce market were unable to sell our products through e commerce. Right? So it's really foot traffic and brick and mortar. Um, that that's going to make or break our success. Um, but at the same time, the supply chain issues, even with a brick and mortar store, uh, can also hurt us. So, so being able to commit to the level of demand, you know, based on the supply that's available, I think that's going to be a critical piece and pivotal to, you know, the first six months to a year of sales, you know?

How did you hire, incentivize, and track the progress of your marketing team including agencies and part-time workers to scale the customer base?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
It's largely it's big data, right? Um, you know, analysis of your market, understanding your customer segments and and where those aligned with your business goals, um, is critically important. I have enough experience in marketing and Internet marketing and doing this for all types of business, whether they be service based, product based etcetera. Um, we haven't had to rely on external Resource is for marketing those products. Um, you know, my my forte was search engine optimization. And you know, the people who capitalized on that early realize that if you can understand your market segment and you could turn that around and lead them to your product through their online behaviors, Um, even though we're, you know, supplying our customer base regionally, um, that still helps us quite a bit. So, um, you know, you're tracking all of that. So not just how much you're spending, how much money is going out the door and the different types of marketing or visibility that you want put actually tracking customer behavior based on their market segment in what you're putting out for a marketing message. If if you can't improve the results of your marketing efforts, if you don't track them. So this is ingrained in me from Internet marketing, from driving website traffic turning, uh, you know, unaudited instant to customers through email marketing, but also putting yourself out there so that you can attract those customers in the search engines in a very specific niche of your market. All of those things are being done. The tools that we're using are they're very mature. They, you know, are already producing proven success. And you know where you don't have to design something, um, toe work for you, that's that's a That's a win, right? Because if the value of this, if the value of the service provides the result that you want, why reengineering?

How did you finance your business at the start? How have your financing needs and fund sourcing strategies evolved over time?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
um So the way that we financed you know, I have I have four or five partners. Um and we, um we did whatever we could to minimize our overhead costs for pre operational exercises within the company. So, um, we brought in people. We knew that the biggest expense for us was to prepare the manufacturing and retail space. So the founding partners for this business, um, we're professionals and all facets of permitting licensing and entitling the business to exist in the industry that it's in, um, developing the real estate to be attractive for the bigger investor to come in and put their put their money into the business. And and, you know, uh, the team grew over time, So at first it was an idea and a location and some of the skills that's we needed to get this done right. Um, as time goes on in the business becomes more riel. Well, now, if you want to bring on a partner, the advice that I give to people is think about where you are in the process and what the risk really looks like for them at that time. The next few partners that we brought on, um, we brought on at the right time. Thio keep us going and and really hit the goals that we had for ourselves over the next few months. And and And we calibrate that investment to the level of risk so that, you know, even though we're all equal shareholders, um, you know, some endured more risk than others. And you pay for that a little bit, so I don't I don't think it's unlike any other industry or business. Um, but I think you know where you start and where you end up isn't always what you expect, right?

How did you manage the legal and accounting needs of your business? Would you manage your legal and accounting needs any differently if you have to do it again?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
I wouldn't do the legal part any different. One of my partners is actually attorney who is very experienced in the industries in which we work. He was my first partner. So, um, you know, anybody thinking about that type of need? I mean, if we did not have someone who could direct us on the legal aspects of our business in the very early stages, we would have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars more to get to where we are. Okay, The financial and accounting. Um, you know, we had some very good financial people who were tangentially related, tow us and saw opportunity and what we were doing. So they were happy to help us at very low or no cost, um, to get us pointed in the right direction. So, um, I think that, you know, it's a good point because having that in house legal, we think about the first six months of operation knowing that we need the right financial person in the organization that shares our values and visions for the business. Um, but that is, you know, the the type of business that you create and go out to market with is what's going to attract the right talent, right? And, um, you know, I mean, particularly in this job market. Um, everybody's looking for work right now, and, you know, it's it's nice to think that, you know, you compare three candidates, uh, in terms of their resume, But until you really get to know someone and know whether or not they share your values, you know, the financial aspect of your business is is critically important and having some agility and flexibility there, um, I think is what you need to keep in mind. Um, a lot of people's resumes well read, um, you know the way you wanted to when you're looking at someone for that business, um, to manage that portion of the business. But I do think you have to dig a little deeper for something that's so critically important to the organization. You know,

What kind of suppliers and vendors do you need for your business, if any? How did you negotiate terms with them when you were starting out? How terms changed over time?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
so vendors and suppliers air everything. Tow us because we're manufacturing a product, right? And so, um, you know, supply chain considerations. E mean, everybody knows the basics here, you know, leverage your buying power and flexibility and payment terms and find supply chain. You know, folks who are gonna be true partners in your business. You have to look at it that way. Um, you know, there's been a lot of shortages of products out in the supply chain lately, and costs have been driven up and lead times for those products to get to your building. You know, increasing. Um, so so you know, in a lot of the people in this supply chain are very similar. I mean, the difference between packaging for, you know, a bottle of, say, Tylenol, right? You go to the grocery store, and there's five different types. Um, it's really about quality. And in that agility and flexibility to serve your business. Right. Um, over time, you you wanna you wanna be able to rely on that, um, religiously. So So, um, you almost have to look at how that business is running. Operating as well. Just calling in 800 number and sourcing and product is not enough these days, right? So, um, remaining competitive All relies on your margin and the reliability of your supply chain. So, for us, um, you know, I'm hoping that we're gonna get creative here and what we're dealing with in the current, you know, business environment. And, uh, we're gonna overcome the supply chain hurdles, but they certainly have. They certainly have already created some hurdles. And And I see, I see that maybe alleviating over the next six months to a year. Hopefully, um but but but that's that's how I see things going, You know, the near term is that we probably still have a little bit of pain. Thio go through. Um, but this time next year, you know, I'm hoping we're in the clear And what will happen? What you'll see happen with the people who understood the supply chain problems and the complexities of the environment business environment we live in now. I think there will be stronger companies for it. So So I think, um, you know how that's going to change. I I don't have an answer for that, but I'm optimistic that what we're all going Yeah, what we're all going through right now is going toe actually make business easier to dio

What were the challenges in building the initial team and how did you overcome them? How did the team's composition, responsibilities and team-culture evolve?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
So we were all working for other manufacturers and distributors. Um, in this industry, prior to coming together as a team. And what was unique about our team was that we had all worked together on the same projects in the past. Um, and, you know, I think the complexities of bringing the team together and aligning them, um was, you know, you can split hairs over how you wanna building, toe. Look how you want the process to flow. But there were these critical elements that everybody understood. Um, and and we were fortunate for that, Uh, it's hard to bring people into your team who don't have explicit experience in what you're doing and getting them aligned with the folks that dio they're always catching up, right? They're learning. So, um and sometimes you have to deal with that if you're raising money, right to solve some of those problems. Um, but we were fortunate in that everybody understood, you know, they could see the force through the trees. Let's say you know, not getting not getting hung up hung up on the minutia that that that doesn't matter or distracts you from the real goals, which is, um, get to market as quickly as possible with all the tools that you need to be successful

What qualities do you look for while hiring your team members? What kind of questions do you typically ask from candidates?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
um so, you know, Team Building for me has always been a more informal. I've not Let's put this way. I've not been in a hiring role as often as you would expect in the different, um, you know, I have been I have managed people and I have built teams. But, you know, typically the formal responsibilities of hiring and and deciding between candidates has been someone else's responsibility. But, um, what I'm looking for is, you know, and you know, you think about the people have been wildly successful with start ups. You know, people like, you know, who started Microsoft and PayPal and eBay and places like that. I mean, that's my generation. That's where I learned a lot of, you know, work ethic, right, because when when an industry and an opportunity is new, there is no time to rest or your behind. So I look for the perseverance, stamina, um, the flexibility and the forward thinking minds to understand that punching a clock for eight hours a day is not going to get you. You know, that's for when, when, when you know when you are treating your employees fairly and you're contributing profit sharing and all of those things. Everybody has been sent advised, um, you know, role to be successful and s o understanding that, you know, there's, there's, there's there's business minded folks out there. And then there's career minded folks, right? And and you have to understand what you're looking for. Um, you can it make exceptions one way or the other for different attributes of those employees? But what I'm looking for, somebody who wants toe own their role as a piece of this business and understands that this is the type of company we are right?

Who were your competitors when you started and how did the competition evolve? How did you create a competitive advantage and a unique selling proposition?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
regionally located. Um, for us, there are a lot of people who have been in the market longer than us, are more successful and and have done this for years. We we supported a lot of those people when they started up their businesses. Um, part of my goal is hopefully to eventually be acquired by one of those visionary folks that, um, was very successful. And and so, you know, differentiation for us was really just understanding the market as it exists in offering a customer segment and a business that is complimentary to what already exists in the market. So, um, I think I think a very good understanding of what your customer base looks like and what the market, the addressable market looks like. You confined gaps that will differentiate you if you're looking to go the long distance alone. But the reality is, we've seen a lot of consolidation in the economy across multiple market sectors, and sometimes that's an inevitable reality. So, um, so I think that having you know, thinking it would be wonderful if we became the largest company in the country that sells the one thing that we do, but I would also feel right. That right, that's that's a dream scenario. Um, but for us, we're just happy to have come up with a good idea to serve a segment of the market that is attractive Thio some of the some of our competitors. So So we might be a little unique in that way and that where we used that as a differentiators set ourselves apart and have a little market share for ourselves, someone else is gonna find that attractive. And maybe that helps us double down on the success.

What were the major exciting and memorable moments? Were there also any moments that almost got you to quit? How did you get past them?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
So you know, the the exciting moment and a happy moments or easy. You know, when things formalized and you've raised the money that you need in your business is permitted and licensed. Uh, you know, the local and state level, Um, you've achieved something that less than 10% of the people trying to do will actually achieve right? So So, though those are easy, um however, the local landscape in terms of where we wanted to put our business and how we realized that largely hinged on the types of permitting and licensing we needed with the local municipality, which then fed the state process. And at the time, there are a few businesses trying to come into town. The town had an area that wanted they wanted the development of these buildings in a certain area, and we responded to that. That's why we came to that town. There were people who held some political clout in the town that wanted to be ableto do this in another area which wasn't as attractive to the residents, and but it was a lot of money they were gonna put in. They were about 10 times our size and the town sort of favored the economic prospect of that over our modestly sized business. It took us a year longer than we projected to permit the business, which meant we had to hold on to that real estate. We had to keep contracts for the services that we were, you know, providing into the building and on the site. And, um, there was a point where I had sleepless nights thinking, Wow, we are about halfway through and we could lose every all the time and the money that we put into date. Um, And what you have to do is, um, worry about the things that you can control. Really? Figure out what those are so that you're not distracted and dragged down by the things that you cannot super important, you know?

What three life lessons have you learned over your career? If any, please also discuss your experiences facing adversity, or trying something unusual.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Oct 15 2020
um So the biggest thing is, opportunity doesn't always present itself in an obvious way. Um, and what I mean by that is when I started working in I t I never thought for, you know, a minute I would end up in, you know, engineering, design and construction. Right. And I talked to you through the path to get here. But with any one thing that you're doing in your career, if you understand all of what's possible and within your reach, then nothing is impossible. Because if you understand clearly where you are and what you need to do to get to where you can go, Um, even if you're in the very early stages of your career first to third year, um, understanding all of where you can go with that is critically important. And so So don't always look at the path that others have charted for themselves and have become successful doing because if something's easy that everybody is going to do it. Okay, Um, the other thing is, ah, nobody cares about your stuff more than you. Nobody is going to take control of your career path and trajectory, and you have to make that happen for yourself. So if you're putting the responsibility for your success, Uh oh. Well, I didn't get into the school or I didn't get to work at this company or, you know, I wish I just had a little more money so I could invest for myself. We'll figure that out because nobody else is going to do that for you. Right? Eso work ethic is critically important. Um, and, you know, it kind of seems like a weird answer to your answer, but it's it's like keeping open mind. Um, sometimes things happen for a reason. And just because, um, like, you've seen my you've seen my job history on LinkedIn. Um, so, um, I worked for this engineering and design firm for for 15 years. Things weren't going the way I wanted it to. A non opportunity landed in my lap. Um, it it immediately made me think. Well, how can I leave? You know, 15 years of institutional knowledge behind go to this company. They're startup. I don't know how successful they are or how successful they're going to be. They had just they had just entered the markets. Um, you know what happens if I fail or what happens if that company fails, Right? What I learned while I was there, it was so much more valuable than what I would have learned. Being at the company I was with for 15 years, even though I ended up, um, getting laid off in March and out of work for 67 months gave me a greater perspective for what I wanted to dio. So sometimes something that happens to you, that is maybe disappointing or seems like a negative thing can actually provide, you know, some opportunities. So I think that I think that it probably ties into the first answer I gave you, which is, uh, the opportunity that's available to you is not always obvious, right? So So so trying to find the upside of just about everything.