Rick Elmore

Founder of Simply Noted

Rick Elmore is an entrepreneur, sales and marketing expert, and former college and professional football player. Rick started his football career at the University of Arizona as a Defensive End. Following graduation, Rick was drafted by the Green Bay Packers as a Linebacker. Rick went on to play for San Francisco, San Diego, Arizona, Cleveland, and Washington, before retiring from the National Football League. Following his football career, Rick translated his competitive drive to medical technology sales, where he received multiple honors and rankings for top-level performance at the companies he worked for. It was during this time that Rick discovered the power of a handwritten letter, a tactic he successfully utilized to create and build relationships with leads and customers. This, along with a prototype developed while studying for his Masters in Business Administration at the University of Arizona, later became the inspiration for launching Simply Noted, an automated handwritten letter company founded on the idea of making it easy to create simple, scalable, powerful, and meaningful real penwritten communication. As Founder and CEO of Simply Noted, Rick developed a proprietary technology that puts real pen and ink to paper to scale handwritten communication, helping businesses of all industries stand out from their competition and build meaningful relationships with clients, customers, and employees. Founded in 2018, Simply Noted has grown into a thriving company with clients of various sizes across the country including in hospitality, real estate, insurance, nonprofit, franchise, B2B, and others.

Where did the idea for Simply Noted come from?

Listening to a lecture in Business School while studying for my MBA, a professor was talking about success in marketing, and everything was nominal. Then the professor said handwritten notes had a 99% open rate. I had an “aha” moment at that time and began to think about how I could help those in business better utilize this marketing strategy to build relationships and find greater success. After developing the right technology, I launched Simply Noted as an automated and scalable handwritten notes service.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I am usually up around 4:30 a.m. in the morning working with my developers and reviewing progress on current projects or planning future projects. I work out at 5:30 a.m. for 1 hour and then come home and spend some time with my family until 8:00 a.m. From 9-5, I am working “in the business.” Family time is from 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. and then I either go to bed or work on developer projects. I make my day productive by aiming for 1 small win and 1 big win in a day. If you do not have a way of identifying progress you will go crazy thinking you are not getting anything done when in reality you are, but you are just so close to what you’re doing you cannot see it.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I’ve learned as an entrepreneur that if you’re trying to bring an idea to life, you just have to try and try until you succeed. That’s exactly what I did when developing the Simply Noted technology that writes handwritten notes automatically and at scale. I did the research to find the right technology that would be a good starting point and then adapted it until it worked for my ideal purposes. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked. Over the years, I have continued to update this technology to make it work better and more efficiently.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Honestly – it’s handwritten notes! Especially during the coronavirus pandemic, more and more people are coming back to handwritten notes to feel connected to others. Handwritten notes convey a level of sincere appreciation that email, text, social media, etc. cannot do. Handwritten notes leave powerful lasting impressions that can last days and weeks as the recipient is constantly reminded of the gesture since the note often is saved and displayed in the home or office. Make someone’s day and change the world one smile at a time by picking up the pen, paper, and forever stamps.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

As a former professional athlete, one habit that I developed that I keep with me as an entrepreneur is feeding my competitive drive. I was always driven to be the best athlete I could be, and now I’m driven to be the best business owner and founder I can be. I am happy to reflect on the success that I’ve had so far, but I’m always driven to do more and be better, which makes me more productive as an entrepreneur.

What advice would you give your younger self?

To launch a business, it takes ten times longer than you think it will. Get ready for the hardest, most painful, challenging times in your life. Yet, it is the best, most professionally satisfying, and wonderful thing you can do for your personal and professional growth in your life and career.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Anyone can accomplish anything they want, just most people are not willing to make the sacrifices to get it.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

One thing I do every day as an entrepreneur is follow up; I do not quit. I have always been relentless in everything that I do, and it has helped me be successful at multiple stages of my career. Without thoughtful follow up, you could miss out on important opportunities.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

To get my first customers, I utilized the very method I would be promoting. I mailed out letters that were written by our robotics technology to potential leads. At the end of the letter, it said “by the way, this was written by a machine.” When people see how real and great the automated handwriting is, they reach out to us to learn more. Just from the first round of letters, I calculated an 18,566.7% ROI. We’ve continued to use this strategy to build relationships and gain new customers.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Unrealistic expectations – In the beginning, I overestimated how easy it would be to build a business and underestimated everything it would take to do it and the time it would take. It took patience and persistence to develop a new mindset.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

A cards and letter subscription service. An individual could subscribe to receive a box of hand-picked stationery and cards each month that is relevant to the time of year to encourage people to send more handwritten notes.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Lunch with a mentor. I am constantly asking successful individuals to grab lunch and talk to them about their journey. You can learn a lot from someone who has already done it and build a great relationship at the same time.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Zapier is the ultimate tool for any business, it allows you to automate everything. I would highly suggest everyone learn this tool.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

How to win friends and influence people” – I read this book every January. Dale Carnegie lays out the foundation for having a successful life for both business and personal. Highly recommend this book to anyone who is just getting started in entrepreneurship or business and looking for some guidance.

What is your favorite quote?

“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.” – Vince Lombardi

Key Learnings:

  • A handwritten note can have an incredible personal or professional impact.
  • Becoming an entrepreneur is one of the most challenging experiences, but that makes the moments of success that much better.
  • In business, following up can make the difference. Never quit following up on potential opportunities.