jeremy crawford

aka: "JerCraw"

STARTUP KING . Chapter Seven (Fallout)



There is so much more to the Fuckup part of this story, so I will unpack a bit more before we pivot into the comeback details. So here is the Fallout. 

So right after Robert cut me the first larger check, it was Go Time! I packed up a little U-Haul trailer we towed behind the Escalade, and loaded up the family for destination: Scottsdale, Arizona – “the AZ.” It was such an exciting time! I can’t even explain to you the feeling as we traveled back down to Arizona on that road trip. I got on the phone with my executive team the week before I left, right after I signed the deal with Robert. Everyone was so excited. This was really happening.

We pulled into Scottsdale, Arizona, in the afternoon. We had crashed in Vegas the night before. 

*Wait a minute! Time for a quick writing detour. 

Actually – the funny thing is, right now, as I’m writing this chapter, I’m literally on a WestJet flight from Calgary to Vegas. It’s December 11, 2019. I am about 30 minutes from touching down in Vegas tonight, and it’s been one hell of a day. I’m on the third flight of the day because I was flying standby thanks to my Bros – Steve Kehler, who has me as his WestJet companion. It’s helped so much the last couple of years as I’ve been rebuilding my life and working on my new startup. I thought I was going to Vegas next week, but my buddy Shaphan messaged me yesterday and said, “Looking forward to seeing you in Vegas tomorrow.” He invited me to the A4M Healthcare and Wellness Expo and Conference. This is going to be an awesome event for my new healthcare startup. So, today is actually the day this book; Startup King was supposed to be released. I set the release date for December 11, 2019, back in October to push me to finish this project. I was asked to speak at an event a few weeks ago, and so I pushed hard to write the Introduction and the first three chapters so I could promote it at that event. Well, the truth is, A LOT of life happened the last few weeks after being back down to Arizona with my new company getting things set up for 2020. So I pushed the release to February 20, 2020. Such better numbers anyways. Just look at this > 02.20.2020. Damn! That’s Hot!!! Lol.

Ok, so I already know the last couple of these chapters are going to be written while I’m in Vegas for A4M. It’s actually kind of cool – because there are some crazy things going on in my life today that being me right into the Comeback part of the story, but I have to unpack a couple of critical details from the Fuckup chapter first. The truth is – this book could be very long as I transition into this next chapter, but I’m going to save it for Startup King II. So back to arriving in Scottsdale in the afternoon after crashing in Vegas with the family. 

We pulled into Scottsdale and went straight to the Audi dealership, where I was taking delivery of my new Audi R8 Spyder. Yes!!! This was my gift to me for getting KULT to this point. I was ready to celebrate this win by dropping the top and listening to that V10 engine roar as we drove up to our place in North Scottsdale, up in the mountains. Taking delivery of that car was a moment I’ll never forget. Never.

As I was lying in bed, I was looking over at my wife Amy and started to think about how fast life can change. It was just a few months earlier, and Amy was fighting for her life. It almost felt like a Dream. I was so incredibly thankful at that moment. Grateful for my two beautiful and healthy daughters. Thankful for my beautiful, and now healthy wife, AmyCraw. Grateful for this opportunity to get the team together and get KULT off the ground. It was like Christmas Eve – you know that feeling when you’re so tired, but you just can’t sleep because you’re so excited? Then the mind eventually shuts down, you stop thinking, and you’re gone. Lights out. It’s a new day.

The next day I walked outside to unload the U-Haul trailer and just stood behind the house looking around at the beautiful Desert, the mountains, feeling the heat from that spring AZ sunshine. It was magical. I could feel my creative juices flowing. I started to think about all the amazing weeks we were going to have in the coming months as we put all the pieces of this KULT puzzle together. I couldn’t stop thinking about how blessed I was to be in this position to truly focus on developing the product and not have to worry about raising money. You can’t understand the feeling unless you’ve truly carried the weight of a startup. It’s a painful climb to juggle all the things you have to do in order to get to that moment. I had to feel that moment truly, and I did. You have to take the time to celebrate the wins! Yes, I was celebrating mine. 

I jumped into the R8, dropped the top, and drove down to Starbucks to get a coffee and get my wifey her favorite at that time, a Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte with a Bacon Gouda breakfast sandwich. I think I had one too! That was a beautiful drive. It didn’t sink in fully until the following week when we started to make some big moves.

The first big move we made that week was buying a building for our KULT headquarters. It was a building that was available for purchase next to the office we were using with one of my buddies from church who became our VP of Sales and Marketing for KULT. He helped me negotiate the purchase details, and we closed quickly. It needed a Reno, so we got to work on that away. We purchased the building in June if my memory is right, and moved in sometime in August. 

We pushed hard! It was a beautiful home for our KULT familia. You can learn a lot about your leadership team doing an office renovation project. I learned there was a lot of bullshit flowing around between the trades and my leadership. Don’t be afraid to call people out if you feel things are sliding off the rails. Accountability is everything when trusting your team to make critical decisions. Your leadership team needs to be able to “Own Their Shit” – or they have to go. Period.

So we officially opened the new office and started moving furniture, equipment, and new staff in. These were exciting days. I remember our first executive team meeting in the new boardroom like it was yesterday. Once we made decisions on the HR company that would be handling all the employee on-boarding, payroll, and all that good stuff – it was time to have a serious conversation about who would be our COO. I had a CFO, and I had a VP of Sales and Marketing, but the missing piece to our team as our Chief Operations Officer. I had someone in mind, but it wasn’t going to be easy. He was living in Northern California. He had a very successful run working with large corporations in the US. His latest home was Target. He was in Regional Management. We agreed to meet down in San Diego and play some golf. 

So Amy and I headed to Cali. We had an awesome round of golf catching up about life and the families. I still have the photos from that day. I finally put it on the table. Michael – what do you think about moving to the AZ? There’s a COO chair with your name on it! Why don’t you and the wifey fly in and meet the team? I would love for you to see what we’re doing, and then you can step away and make a decision knowing what we have on the table. So Michael agreed to put it on the table with his wife, Julie. 

The day after he got home, I got a text message that they were going to take me up on my offer. So we booked the flights, and Michael and Julie were in Scottsdale the following week. No need to book a hotel. We had the guest suite ready at our home. I was so excited to pick them up at the airport and get them in front of the team. So we had them down to the office to meet the team and a tour of the executive suite upstairs where we would have our offices side by side. Michael was ready to move in! It was feeling good. We had a serious meeting as an executive team in the boardroom and put it all on the line. Julie started talking about how she was going to have to start looking at some part-time work in Scottsdale for herself. The lights came on for me. How about an Executive Assistant? How would you like to work here and assist our executive team? We could really use your help. This would also help them stack their income a bit. It all felt perfect. So they wanted to take all of this home back to Cali, pray about it, and see what God had to say. We would talk about it in the days to come.

The next morning they woke up and were getting ready to go back, and Michael came up to me in the kitchen and said: “We’re in!”. I was so excited!!! “Jacked out of my bananas,” which was one of my favorite sayings. This was really happening. Now the big question. How soon can you start? We needed Michael yesterday! I can’t remember the exact date, but it was a very short window. They went home, got the familia together, coordinated the movers, and were back in Scottsdale. I remember the first day he started to like it was yesterday. We went for breakfast along with my CFO and my VP of Sales. It was Go-Go Time!

One of the first things Michael did was sit down with each employee and find out where they were at in life and where they wanted to go. One of the things I was passionate about was creating a culture in our company that would encourage each individual to become the best possible version of who they wanted to be. We would support them with personal development, healthy food supplied for them in the kitchen, monthly team book studies, happy hours, and so much more. It was all about creating the right family. Michael had a real heart for people. He also had a servant’s heart. One of the things I absolutely loved about him was – he was always in early, started his day in the word (reading his Bible), and praying. He was often the last one to leave the office, and just always went above and beyond what his role titled him to do. I would often see him post a video on Facebook sharing his revelations for the morning from his devotions. I just loved having him around. I trusted Michael. He truly had my back.

A few weeks went by, and Michael had some concerns about my VP of Sales. I wasn’t there all the time, so he was indeed my eyes and ears. He let me know he wanted to talk about what was bothering him. So we went for breakfast. He put it on the table. The long story short was our VP of Sales was a bloodsucker. He was taking his check, but not really showing up. I had done a lot to help him with the mess he was in with his Dad and their family business and the stress that had put on his finances and his family. Michael was basically telling me we had to get rid of him. This was hard to hear. I loved my VP. He was my Bros! They had just had 

their first baby, and I just couldn’t agree to have him fired. So I told Michael I would invite him over to my house and have a heart to heart with our VP and see where his head was at. I sent the message and teed it up.

He came over, grabbed a beer, and sat by the pool in my yard. I looked him square in the eyes and asked, “Do you want to be here? At KULT?” He seemed a bit confused by my question. He out his back up and was quite defensive. I pushed him a bit more. Come on, man – we all know you’re pulling into the office parking lot early, but going over to your Dad’s office and working there until it’s officially start time at KULT. It’s like it’s just a job for you — just a paycheck. Honestly – I’m disappointed. I also confirmed that I wasn’t the only one who was seeing it. He assured me this is where he wanted to be and would tighten things up for us. The meeting ended, but it didn’t feel right. After that moving forward, he was around more, but it all felt awkward. Michael told me something just wasn’t right.

So a few weeks had passed by, and we were ramping up for the official launch party of KULT iD. Everyone had a lot on their plate. It was stressful that last week pushing to the finish line. We could write a book just on the details of the whole KULT story. So it was the week of the launch party, and Robert was coming in a few days early. I thought he was going to stay with us, but he booked a room at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. He had bought so many cars that year I couldn’t keep up, but there was this one car he had just driven across the southern US. That week Robert spent a lot of time with my CFO. One of the things we needed to get signed was the investor documents. All our investors had signed these documents, but Robert always had an excuse, and just wouldn’t do it. 

Yes – another damn Red Flag

So I pulled my CFO aside and asked him to make sure we had those details in order. He did some nice things for Robert that week, like taking him for a tour of the Ping golf factory as he was friends with the owner, and had a custom set of clubs made for him. They spent a lot of time together, so I was assuming it was getting done. 

*Don’t ever assume! Always ask and confirm. 

That same week we had coordinated our Canadian sales team to fly in for the launch party, and we would throw a staff golf tournament and a Christmas Party. It was a bit early for a Christmas Party, but we had season tickets for the Phoenix Coyotes, and they had comped a suite for one of the games as part of the deal. I thought this would be a great way to get the team together and have our party. So we did 

it that week. This is where the Sheeet (“shit”) really started to go south with Robert. We only had so many tickets for the suite, so by the time all our staff and their dates were confirmed, we didn’t have anymore room in the suite. Robert was in town with some of his friends from Canada, and since he was our largest investor, I wanted to make sure they were taken care of. I offered up our four company seats, the second row off the ice, right beside the player’s bench. We also had access to the BMW Lounge, which included a dinner buffet for each game, drinks, and some other fantastic entertainment features. Robert seemed thankful with this, but later found out he was pissed about not being in the suite with the staff. Honestly, looking back now, we let Robert get too close to everyone. Investors should never have that kind of access. That was one of my Fuckups! Robert ended up leaving the game in the second period with his friends.

The next morning we had teed up a breakfast meeting over at my CFO’s golf club so Robert could introduce us to his friends, who were also his accountant, a lawyer, and a financial advisor. He wanted them to meet my CFO and me. So that morning, I sent a text message to my CFO and asked him if Robert had confirmed for breakfast. Robert had a problem with respecting people’s time. He liked to do what he wanted, and many times would just cancel meetings without letting anyone know. This morning was one of those 

times. No, he wasn’t late, he wasn’t coming. He was taking delivery of another car at our office, a new Ferrari he had purchased from a dealer in Boston. I had driven over to meet my CFO for breakfast, but by the time I got there, it was unclear if Robert was coming. He eventually let us know they wouldn’t be joining me. I was upset as we had put time aside for this. The launch party was happening that night, so there was a lot going on, but we had made time for them. It was disrespectful.

So I left breakfast and headed over to the office to see how things were coming along with the launch party. I pull into the lot, and you wouldn’t believe what I see. Everyone is there getting into these cars Robert had purchased. There was the new Ferrari which Robert was driving, and my VP was with him, then some older Porsche Kit Car, and another couple of cars. Robert could see I wasn’t impressed. Just clueless. Once again, another example of our VP not showing up and getting the job done.

I had flown in a couple of friends from Canada, and a couple of my investors for the launch party. We all met up for an early dinner in downtown Scottsdale. As we were sitting around visiting, just after placing our orders for some food, I had the surprise of my life. My sister comes walking into the restaurant with her husband, comes up behind me, and says, “Hey, Bro”! I thought I saw a ghost!!! I couldn’t believe it. They had flown in to surprise me for the launch party. It was the best surprise a brother could get on the big day. I had my parents there, and now it was complete with my sister. I was so excited to share this significant moment with them and to show my sister around AZ. So we all finished up the eats, and it was time to head home and get ready for the big night.

I had to get down to the Hotel early to meet up with a buddy that I had flown in to discuss the possibility of joining our executive team. Bill had run Virgin Records in Canada, in a previous life. I was excited for him to meet our team and see what we were building with KULT. I had also asked him to share his story and chat with our staff the next morning at the office before he flew out. He had such incredible energy. So I got to the hotel and met up with Bill. As I walked in, I saw Robert and his buddies sitting at a table in the lounge. I walked up and introduced my buddy Bill to everyone. It was a very short meet and greet. The energy with Robert was off, and the energy with his buddies was terrible. Bill and I headed over to a quiet corner off to the other end of the lounge to finally sit and chat about some business. He was interested in joining our KULT team in Scottsdale. We talked about a lot of different things that night, but the most important was the timing in all of it. When could we get him to start with our team? How fast could we get him to the AZ? He had a family back home in Toronto, so it wasn’t 

going to be a smooth transition for him, but we were both excited about the possibilities. We had no deal yet, but it was on the drafting table.

It was Launch Party Time! We headed up to the rooftop patio where our event was happening. Everything was in place. It looked amazing! It felt like a big Hollywood event. Our team had done such an incredible job lining up all the details. It was time to celebrate all the hard work. 

Clients were showing up, friends, and I was working the room. I had flown in one of my favorite House Music DJ’s from Montreal, Canada, Jojo Flores. He was setting the mood with the tunes, and I was getting ready to coordinate the details of when it was my time to come up and say a few words to everyone. As I was coming off the side of the stage after checking where the Mic would be and where I would stand during my talk, a couple of Robert’s buddies approached me. It was his Financial Advisor buddy, who was taking over all his investment decisions moving forward as they had known each other for a few weeks, according to Robert. He was a neighbor in a condo building where Robert was renting a unit. His lawyer buddy and his accountant buddy were also there. They cornered me and started asking questions about Robert’s position with our company, KULT. They specifically wanted to know his stake in the company. So I made it very clear how many shares he had purchased, and how he was a silent partner, a non-voting shareholder. You should have seen their faces! It was like I had just robbed them of millions of dollars. I don’t have any proof of this, but I was convinced at that moment that Robert had misrepresented his stake in the company to them. I made it clear to them that this was not the time or the place to discuss Robert’s portfolio with KULT. I also explained that we had set some time aside earlier that morning to meet as Robert had requested, but they were a no show due to the car delivery at the office. Things were starting to heat up.

Later that evening, our COO, Michael, came up to me and explained that Robert’s buddies were starting to disrupt and were harassing the hotel staff in front of our guests. His one buddy, the financial advisor guy, was walking up to the hotel staff and was asking how much the party was costing us as they were the ones who were actually paying for the event. I told Michael I would go over and chat with Robert about it. 

So I went up to him and asked if we could have a moment to chat. I asked Robert if he was enjoying the party and what he thought of it all? He liked it, but his tone was off. I could tell something wasn’t right. I brought up the fact that his one buddy was causing a scene, and I wanted Robert to ask him to knock it off. I told Robert that if his guests weren’t respectful, they would have to leave the party. It was clear they had been drinking all day. 

Robert raised his voice to me and said, “Who the fuck do you think you are? If it wasn’t for me and my money, you wouldn’t have any of this. This is my party. I am the one who is paying for all of this”

It was a very heated conversation. My family, my staff, my guests, could all see what was going on. I had to shut this down immediately. I told Robert this was not the time or the place to have this conversation. I also told him I didn’t appreciate his words and his tone. We had worked so hard to get this app built and this event together. Robert was just a silent partner. That was what I wanted, and that was what we had agreed to. I made it clear to Robert that I was going to meet with my executive team and my lawyers, and I would let him know how we were going to move forward. I also wanted him to be respectful of the event, or he would have to leave with his guests. It was just a few minutes later, and they all left.

Robert and his buddies went downstairs to the hotel lounge and were having their own party down there. I heard they were talking a lot of trash about me, and specifically my CFO. Robert was talking to people about how he had been screwed over by me. I had taken advantage of him and how our CFO was on drugs, specifically cocaine. Talking shit about a man who had taken him to the Ping Golf factory just days before, and truly rolled the red carpet out for him. This couldn’t be further from the truth. My CFO was one of our neighborhood pastors from our local church in Scottsdale. This was absolute bullshit. Robert was telling people I was stealing from the company, and his buddies were going to get to the bottom of it.

So the night ended. We had some amazing moments with our friends, family, staff, and clients. My oldest daughter Thalia had shared her personal story about her struggle with online bullying. We partnered with a charity that night, the CyberSmile Foundation, to raise money in support of online bullying victims. What we didn’t know yet, was that our entire family was about to become victims of online bullying at the hands of Robert and his trolls. Yes, that night, it all began and started very early the next morning with a demand text message from Robert in the middle of the night. He demanded I come into the hotel first thing in the morning for a meeting with his buddies. He wanted me to come alone, no executive team, no lawyers. Just me and “The Books.” He had rented a boardroom at the hotel where we had our event. I made it very clear to Robert I would not be attending his demand meeting. I had no clue who his buddies were, and I was not interested in attending any demand meetings on behalf of the company where I would have no witnesses, no executive members, no one at the table with me. Everything about it felt wrong, and it was.

The next morning I came walking out into the kitchen to make some coffee, and my Mom was already there. She looked upset, and walked up to me and said, “Look at this text message Robert sent me last night. He’s kicking us out”

What? Robert had sent my parents a text message telling them due to the disagreement he was having with me over KULT, that they were now going to have to move out of the house he had retired them into. Just a few months before all of this, Robert had asked my parents to quit their jobs, and move to BC into one of his investment properties, take care of the property and manage some of his personal affairs while he traveled around the world. They would also look after his cat. Now because of what was going on between Robert and me with KULT, he was kicking them out and sending them back to nothing. 

They had no home, no job, nothing. I was so confused. What the hell did KULT have to do with my parents, their home, and their agreement with Robert? Nothing! It was clear that we were dealing with a Monster — an absolute Freak. My parents were shocked, hurt, disappointed, speechless, stressed. I told them not to worry. They could move out of Robert’s house and move into our home in Sherwood Park until all of this was settled. So that’s what they did.

The story just goes on, and on, and on, but we don’t have time in this book to unpack the rest of this crazy story. I will write another book that will unpack this horror movie our family lived for the months and years to follow from this point in the story. Here is a very short, high-level version of what happened in the months and years to come. 

Robert filed a bogus lawsuit against us, my COO, and my CFO. We were sued by the law firm that was dealing with our future patents for KULT iD and our technology – the shoppable tags. Yes! Our law firm sued us. Can you believe this shit? They claimed at the first hearing that they missed this in the conflict check, and withdrew from the case. The lawsuit continued with replacement counsel. Our first lawyer threw us off a cliff. The court ordered a Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”) and in the order prohibited us from leveraging any of the business, and my personal assets. Our first lawyer never gave us a copy of this Order and testified under oath to this in court. Since I never received a copy of the order, I leveraged the office building asset and borrowed against it so we could meet payroll and take care of the staff. Just days after doing this, I was held in Contempt of Court for violating the TRO Order, which I had not received. The Court ordered that I pay a $10,000 fine per day until the mortgage that I had put on the building was paid off. I had no way of doing this since all my assets were now under this TRO Order, and I now had the full details on 

what was going on with this order. Our first lawyer was such a disaster, that he even came to our office, met with my executive team after this TRO Order was issued by the Court, and told us it was “Business as usual.” Absolute bullshit.

Then our lawyer convinced us the next move was to allow them to have a receiver appointed, which would be a good thing for us because they would come in and do a proper valuation of the business and all the assets and allow us to buy Robert out. So the court had a receiver take over the company and all the assets. Our lawyer withdrew from the case right after the receiver was appointed, and we were left with nothing but a mess. 

All of this happened days before Christmas. That’s when the harassment started. He harassed my wife, my two daughters, my parents, and of course, myself. He has also harassed some of our extended family, business associates, and friends.

We litigated for over eight months. Each day that $10,000 fine added up. There was no end in sight. We lost all the motions with our new legal team. It was clear the court was not interested in the merits of the case. It was an absolute railroad job right from the beginning. The Court was going 

to order a warrant for my arrest for not paying the Contempt of Court fines, and this would be a warrant for my arrest out of Civil Court. According to our lawyers, this meant if I ever entered back into the US, I would be arrested and put in jail until the fines were paid in full. If we couldn’t come up with the money, I would stay in jail. So we offered to settle. What do you want, Robert? He wanted EVERYTHING! Our home in Canada, our home in Scottsdale, the mobile application, the business, the assets of the business, the office building, our personal vehicles, and for us to walk away with nothing. Over four years of my life flushed down the drain. 

During our legal battle, I had to experience Slander and Defamation on a national scale. A biased media reporter from the CBC News in Canada published multiple hit piece articles about me. After we settled the lawsuit in 2016, we offered all the emails, text messages, videos, photos, documents, and other communications in the attempt to have a fair and balanced conclusion to the story that would focus on all the facts. The conclusion was once again biased, one-sided. This reporter later published again after the settlement agreement creating more damage and mental health challenges for our family. 

After settling the lawsuit, the harassment continued and Robert had a private investigator following our family around. He even had us followed from Edmonton to Calgary when we decided to move the following year. He would send harassing emails, text messages, messages through social media, phone calls, voice mails, and even a death threat on a postcard mailed from Spain. We went back to court, this time in Canada and had a Protection Order filed against him in Calgary. That Court Order was renewed and extended another 18 months because he wouldn’t stop the harassment. The Judge said he crossed the line when he went after Amy and our girls.

Roberts lies and misrepresentation of the facts have led to irreparable damages to our family, both financially and mentally. He continues to this day with his lies, slanderous accusations, and defamation. The harassment was one big joke and game to him, but to our family – it destroyed us. It almost took my life. On a cold November afternoon, just three months after settling the lawsuit in late August 2016, I parked my vehicle on the south side of the High-Level Bridge in Edmonton and wanted to jump, and take my life. My mental health was an absolute wreck. I truly believed there was no way for me to come back from this. I had let my family down, over and over and over again. The mental pain was so real that I just wanted it to end. I had worked so hard and pushed harder and harder in life to get where? Here? This bullshit life?

~ Rocky Balboa (2006 film)

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth, but you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that! I’m always gonna love you, no matter what. No matter what happens. You’re my son and you’re my blood. You’re the best thing in my life. But until you start believing in yourself, you ain’t gonna have a life.” 

So how does someone come back from all of this? Great question. 

Now it’s time for the Comeback.

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An intimate story through the journey of an entrepreneurs life. The dreams, the broken dreams, depression, a new dream, and the legacy project.

Jeremy Crawford, Serial Entrepreneur and Founder of No Bull Biz, tells all in his very real and raw startup story. He opens up about his Mental Health challenges with Anxiety and Depression, and how the thoughts of Suicide almost pushed him over the edge of a high-level bridge in Canada.

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