There’s all types of challenges in scaling a company. It’s like a puzzle. If you’re a resourceful person, you’ll always find a way.”
Rich Gorman is an entrepreneur that leverages the internet to achieve scale across a diverse portfolio of businesses. His entrepreneurial pledge came at the age of 19, where he found himself working 3 jobs in college while handling a full academic curriculum. As a top sales performer at CompUSA, Rich helped his boss get promoted to regional manager. Prior to leaving for his promotion, Rich’s boss had ensured Rich would have spring break off that year. That message was somehow lost in transition and the new GM hired refused to grant that spring break vacation to Rich. Rich left for spring break anyways and was subsequently fired.
Thereafter Rich dedicated himself full time to life as an entrepreneur, and within 1 year had gone from an $8 hr. employee to a business owner generating 6-figures in monthly. Over the next 15 years Rich Gorman would go on to launch ventures across a wide range of industries. The one common characteristic of all of these businesses is that they harnessed the power of the internet, specifically search and social, to scale.
Where did the idea for NewsLauncher come from?
In 2017 I exited NewsLauncher via a sale to a strategic Private Equity buyer that needed the software for their portfolio of news media properties.
The initial idea for NewsLauncher was to create a marketplace that connected brands with publishers to seamlessly launch sponsored content. By making it convenient to brands and pubs to connect, the thought was that we would have the ability to scale sponsored stories sales. Going direct to a publisher to place a sponsored story is a laborious process.
After we built the technology and loaded world-class publishers such as the AP into our platform, we found that it was extremely difficult to get the marketplace to move because each publisher had different conditions and time tables for launching sponsored stories.
Listening to the market reaction to NewsLauncher, I optimized the model to enable publishers to customize the software to their exact needs. That way if a publisher wanted to allow for bylines, they could add that option to the software and a brand could programmatically submit a sponsored story with their brand byline.
The optimizations to the model gained instant traction, allowing for adoption of the software across dozens of publications. Working closely with one of first adopters of the technology allowed us to start the conversation with their holding group for a sale…the rest is history.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I wake up at 5am and hop online with my development teams in Eastern Europe. My meals are pre-made by amazing girlfriend and coffee is on the pot ready to go.
After meeting with my developers, I check my emails, voicemails, and text messages, then take the day from there.
I don’t believe entrepreneurs should bog their days down with pre-set meetings. Unless there is a mission critical meeting or highly important call, I keep my schedule open and play the day by ear.
How do you bring ideas to life?
First and foremost, I only consider new ideas when I have the bandwidth to take them on.
If I have the bandwidth, then I build a business model around the idea, asking myself venture critical questions such as:
– How much will it cost to bring this idea to life?
– What’s the timetable to revenue/profit? What does that revenue/profit look like?
– What is the likelihood that it will succeed?
– Who are the top competitors in the space? As a side note if there are no competitors we typically do not enter the space, although there are exceptions such as the NewsLauncher venture.
– Does this idea have the potential to scale to a billion dollar business? If not there needs to be a strategic reason to turn the idea into a business.
– How are we going to differentiate ourselves and win market share?
– What could disrupt our idea in the future? Think FB to Myspace, or Google to AskJeeves.
– What are the civil risks involved to compete on par with our top competitors.
– What are the margins of profit? For smaller margins how quickly can we hit economies of scale?
– What resources are needed and where can we get them from?
In my opinion, business plans are a waste of time. Instead, build a sound business modeling that is flexible to market feedback.
What’s one trend that excites you?
How quickly big data can drive scale at low costs!
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
The one habit is that I don’t have a lot of the bad habits of entrepreneurs. I don’t use drugs, I drink very moderately, and when I have free time I spend it with my children/family.
As T Boone Pickens once said, “nothing good ever happens past midnight.”
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t become friends with your staff. Instead, stay solely focused on making your staff more money and giving them a better career trajectory.
Also, avoid the party scene completely. Great business models win on their merit, not on “relationships” that are cultivated via wining, dining, and entertaining.
I can’t help but to shake my head when I see people partying with their employees, clients, and vendors. Instead, win longer term relationships by providing a superior product at lower prices.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
I honestly believe that marijuana is the worst drug an entrepreneur can use. It fogs your memory, which hurts your confidence levels. Additionally it kills your motivation in the work place, causing a-motivational syndrome.
If you’re able to function in the work place as a pot smoker, imagine how good you would do if you didn’t clog your mind up!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I keep pushing forward no matter what and seek things through till the end.
If you’re going to shoot for the stars, expect lots of challenges along the way.
I’ve been sued, had smear campaigns waged against me, filed a corporate bankruptcy, business partners have stolen, employees file frivolous unemployment claims, etc.
It’s all part doing business in America, and while things aren’t perfect here, I can tell you that we are unbelievably fortunate to have the opportunities that we have in this country.
So, in short, I recommend that you keep pushing forward no matter what. Things always get better when you don’t give up.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Be resourceful. Resourcefulness is defined as “having the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties.”
If you’re resourceful you’ll find ways to grow your business.
There’s all types of challenges in scaling a company. It’s like a puzzle. If you’re a resourceful person, you’ll always find a way.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In 2015 I bankrupted Brand.com, an 8-figure annual business that I founded and scaled based on a $500 investment.
I’m an entrepreneur, and failures happen. Overcoming this failure was like swatting a fly off my arm:
– I relentlessly litigated against the folks that attacked my business, resulting in millions of dollars in damages, one of them committed suicide on my birthday in 2016, and the others are currently in a world of legal trouble.
– I have diversification across a number of models and am resourceful, so pushing past a failed venture is the normal course of business for me.
Failures lead to you to successes, and in hindsight the Brand.com business model could have only scaled to a $100M or so…and would have required us to hire hundreds if not thousands of people just like leading PR firms Edelman and Ketchum.
In the zeitgeist of the times, having that many employees for that little revenue is not worth the headache.
When reflecting on any failed venture, you learn a lot. From business modeling to industry sector to how I structure deals, you adjust and move on.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers? (this should be an actual idea for a business, not business advice)
If you want to make huge money and are tenacious, tap into the billions of dollars worth of contracts that our Federal Government makes available to bid on: . Think War Dogs, but much bigger.
Once you learn how to bid on contracts, you can go after deals where overnight you’ll make millions.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why? (personal or professional)
On New Year’s Eve, I took some very special family members out to dinner. It was a priceless time and cost about $100.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Jira. It is a project management software that we use primarily for application development management. We also use this technology manage dev ops, design, and just about everything in-between.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
E-myth revisited! Starting a business requires that you are the entrepreneur, manager, and technician in the beginning.
In order to grow the business, E-myth helps you learn how and when to move out of the technical and managerial roles. It’s a must read for entrepreneurs.
What is your favorite quote?
Vision without execution is hallucination. – Thomas Edison
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.