jeremy crawford

aka: "JerCraw"

STARTUP KING . Chapter Six (Fuckup)

~ JEREMY CRAWFORD

STARTUP-KING-Cover-Print-Ready-Final

Welcome to the chapter titled: “Fuckup.” Yes, I said the F-Word. I am sorry for anyone that I offend with this book, but this is my story. This is a raw and real story – so everything is going to be real, including the language that is used throughout this crazy story. The truth is – I really did mess this up. It wasn’t all my fault, but in life, you have to “Own Your Shit!”. It was a “Founder Fuckup” and mostly led by my ego. You might want to highlight this line below because it’s the absolute truth. But, before we get into the Founder Fuckup story – we still have some exciting Rise content. So let’s get into it. Let’s go!

Your Ego will be the most expensive thing you will ever own.

I started to really focus on product development for my big idea and completed a solid working prototype for my mobile app, which I was calling KULT iD. I decided to go with the word “KULT” in the brand because it was all 

around loyalty for brands. Providing the technology and community to turn loyal brand influencers into literally sales reps for these brands and their products. What was in my business plan was something very different than Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest. We paid our users for creating content. We would license brands and their products to our platform. This new concept was going back to 2013/2014 we called “Social Commerce.” Turning the conversation into transactions. 

When you studied the habitual behaviors of you and me on social media, most of our spending online was an impulse and heavily influenced by our friends and family, and our “Tribe.” Do you like that? I thought I would slip the Tribe in there again. So what we were doing was providing the platform and community for these social influencers to create content, tag products or services into a post, and when someone touched the tag and purchased that product or service – our member got paid. So for example, if there was a $100 product licensed to our platform, and the licensing rate was 20% of the retail price – there would be a $20 sale royalty generated with that transaction. We would split that $20 50/50 with a member of our community that created that sale. They would get an alert saying their mobile wallet was credited $10, which we called KULT Cash. It was so exciting! So I had finally figured this thing out, and it was ready to take on a life of its own. 

Now that I had this prototype working, and I was able to present and allow potential investors to experience this concept entirely, it was time to get back on the phone. I started to reach out to my current investors and began by showing them where I was at with everything. They were excited! I asked them for investor referrals and explained we need to raise some big money and finally get this thing off the ground. So it happened. I started to get appointments to present our startup project, KULT iD. Within a couple of weeks, I had raised enough to get back in the game.

At this point, I hadn’t quit my job yet. I had only been working there for a couple of months, and we were financially stable again. It was nice having that steady income and not having much stress. Another fantastic thing about that job was, I left work at work. The office never came home with me. That was so different than running my own business. Work was always at home, and I could never turn my mind off of it. All you entrepreneurs out there know what I’m talking about. It’s just the way it is for us, right? I had promised my family a trip to Disneyland for our first family vacation in what was a very long time because of Amy’s poor health. So I booked some time off during the holidays, and we took off to California for a week. It was such a nice break from everything. Truthfully, I couldn’t stop thinking about KULT iD. Everywhere I went, I saw opportunities to use this app and create content. I could be 

making money wherever I went. I thought this would be so cool for a single mom that is trying to make ends meet on a minimal income, and she can jump on our app and potentially make a few hundred dollars per month. That idea got me really excited! So I wanted to get back to it.

After we left Disneyland, we headed to our happy place in Scottsdale, Arizona, for a few days. I wanted to connect with a couple of close friends that I wanted to bring on as part of my executive leadership team for KULT iD. So I got together with my two friends and gave them the update. I let them know I had raised some good money, and we were ready to get this thing going. I also said we were going to have to raise more, but this would get us up and running and start the development of the app, the actual coding. So we flew back home. 

The first day back at the office was so hard. All I could think about was being back in Arizona and getting this company off the ground. There were a couple of minor things that had happened at work as of recent that I found really strange. Amy had agreed that these things were offside, but not big enough to resign and walk away from this income and stability for the family. So we were barely back home, and our dryer was about to die. So my wife and I decided to head out and do some appliance shopping. We never drove around to many stores, as there was only one store I would shop at. Here is a plug for Trail Appliances (“Trail”). One of my buddies I grew up with had a cousin who worked in sales at Trail; his name was Devin – so whenever I needed appliances, or I had someone who did – we would always connect with Devin. They always had some great deals on scratch and dent units. At one time, I had a construction business, so we would get some good contractor rates as well. 

*Remember this: It’s not about what you know, but who you know. Build and maintain a strong Economy Tribe (“ET”) for life and business. What is an ET? Just a sexy way of saying network. Build a Strong Network of contacts to do life and business with. This way, whenever you are in need of something, or you know someone who is, you can leverage your economy tribe and understand you or your connection will be taken care of.

So we met with Devin and found the perfect washer and dryer set. It was a smokin deal! While we were shopping, my Dad kept calling me. First of all, my Dad never calls me. So here he is calling me over and over again, and I kept ignoring the call. Finally, I walked outside and took his call because I thought maybe it was an emergency. Maybe something happened to Mom? The last time this happened, my Dad had crashed his motorcycle out of town on a

secondary highway. So I took the call. You’re never going to believe what happened next. Here we go.

Hi Dad, what’s up? “Oh, hey, buddy!” my Dad answered. He sounded very excited. The next part of our conversation blew my mind. “Where are you guys?” he asked. I explained we were out shopping for a washer and dryer and were heading back home. He wanted to see if we wanted to get together for dinner, but he couldn’t resist telling me this news he wanted to share. There was no way for him to wait until he got to the restaurant later that evening to tell me. So my Dad continued by unpacking this crazy story. “Jer, you remember Robert, my friend from the church? The guy you met at church a couple of months back that was going to lend you his truck? Robert?” my Dad asked. Yes – of course, I remember Robert. What happened? “You’re never going to believe this, Jer! He won the lottery!” my Dad explained while literally laughing out loud. I said something like, What? Are you kidding me, Dad? Is this a joke? “No, Jer! He won the lottery, the LottoMax. $50 Million Dollars!” my Dad exclaimed! No way!!! $50 Million??? That is crazy!!! 

So my Dad continued to explain to me that Robert was doing something very special for him. You see, a few years back, when my Dad had his motorcycle accident, he wrote his bike off. The insurance company had messed the policies up, and there was no collision coverage on his motorcycle. The collision coverage was on a little scooter he had, but not the bike. So he had no way of getting his bike replaced. It was too expensive. Robert knew about this and took my Dad to the Indian Motorcycle dealership in the city and told my Dad he could pick out any bike he wanted. It was a dream come true for my Dad. Amazing!!! 

What was even cooler about this was right before I took my family to Disneyland, my Dad and I had gone to the motorcycle show, and he showed me his dream bike. He sat on it, and I have a picture of him at the show before all of this happened. I wanted to buy him that bike once my company took off, and I was in a place to be able to do that for him. So now Robert was buying him that bike. This was too cool.

So we got off the phone, and later met up for dinner. At the moment it hadn’t really hit me – but during dinner, while I was talking with my Dad about his new bike and he was showing pictures of it, it finally hit me. The bell started ringing. The alarm in my head was going off. Oh ya!!! My Dad’s friend from church won FIFTY MILLION DOLLARS!!! Holy Bananas!!! It isn’t every day your Dad’s friends become multi-millionaires. I realized at this moment over dinner that I had to get a meeting with my Dad’s friend and show him what I was doing with KULT iD. So I brought it up with my Dad. Dad – you know I am trying to get my company funded so we can fully launch KULT iD. I know Robert just won the lottery, but could you get me a meeting with him? I will treat him the same way I treat all our potential investors. I will go through our pitch deck and show him the prototype of the app, and if he’s interested, great! If he isn’t, no hard feelings. I move on. 

My Dad was very protective of Robert. My Dad told me he was probably being overwhelmed with investment opportunities and didn’t want to bother him with my idea. I was like, Dad! I am not asking for you to pitch him, or to ask him for money for me, I just want an opportunity to show him what I am doing. My Dad agreed to bring it up with him but at the right time. It wasn’t going to be a call he would make that night or even the next day. He would wait until they were talking again and then casually bring it up. I was cool with that. Thanks, Dad, I appreciate it. I bought dinner that night and crossed my fingers.

So it was a couple of weeks later, and I was on the phone with my Mom, and I asked her if they had spoken with Robert? She said yes, a few times. He was talking about buying a home and having my parents move into it. He wanted to help them and get them into a position where they could retire. So they had been talking about some potential properties that might work. He wanted to have some large storage for the vehicles he was buying. He was a car lover and was purchasing some rare, special collectors. So I had to ask my Mom. Mom – has Dad brought up KULT iD with Robert? She said, “I don’t think so.” So I asked my Mom to remind Dad again to bring it up with him. There would be no pressure. I just wanted the opportunity to show him what I was working on. So I got the call I was waiting for the following week. Robert had called my Mom at work about something, and asked her how her son Jeremy was doing? So this was my Mom’s opportunity, and she took it. She started to explain to him that I was heading back down to Arizona to get my startup off the ground. She told him it was going to be big, like Google or something. She told him she couldn’t explain it to him, but that he should talk to me about it. It was the perfect “pique” Mom. Good job!!! 10 points for MamaBear! So then I got this text message from my Mom. 

Mom: Guess who called me today?

Me: Who?

Mom: Robert. Can I give him your number?

*Mind Talk: MOM!!! Are you kidding me? You’re asking me permission to do what I have already asked you to do for me? This makes no sense. She’s an awesome Mom, though. No one is getting my number unless I give her permission. In this case – it was a non-issue. Yes!!! Of course, Mom. Let’s Go!!!

Me: Yes! Of course, Mom. Find out when we can chat on the phone.

So my Mom gave Robert my mobile number, and later that day, I received my first text message from him. He asked me to call him at a specific time over the weekend. So I did. When we got on the call, he wanted me to explain my idea in detail over the phone. I said to Robert that it would be impossible. It would be like trying to cut his hair over the phone. It wasn’t going to happen. I gave him my high-level pitch, the virtual 30,000-foot view. Ok, he was starting to get it now. There was more to it than a quick conversation over the phone. I asked him where he was, and he explained he was in the Vancouver area. So I offered to fly out there and show him my idea in detail. He said that would be great. So we agreed on a date and time, and I flew out there shortly after we spoke on the phone that day. He offered to get me a room to stay in where he was staying at the time, so I took him up on that offer. When you are in startup mode, take advantage of all the help you can get. Every dollar counts.

So I arrived in Vancouver in the evening, and Robert was going to pick me up. I came walking out of the terminal and called him on his mobile. He said he was just a few minutes away. I explained where I was standing, and a few moments later, he was pulling up in his Porsche 911 convertible. So I jumped in, and he took me to where we would be staying that night in White Rock, BC. We went to a pub just down the street from the hotel. I remember we had some appys, and a beer. Crab cakes, and a couple of other things. The crab cakes were amazing! We chatted a bit about life, and I gave him an update on where I was at with everything. I told him I was planning on heading back to Arizona to put my executive team together and get this project off the ground. We left the pub and headed over to his place. He had invited me up to his room, so I headed up after getting settled into my room. It was starting to get late, but he wanted me to do a full presentation on KULT iD. I suggested we go through it together in the morning as it was getting late, but Robert wanted to see it and didn’t want to wait. So I got out my laptop and opened up the investor presentation. 

I went through the entire investor presentation deck and then did a demo on my iPhone of the mobile app prototype. The mobile app prototype software was really cool. It used the screenshots I had designed and allowed you to load them through the mobile app experience, complete with a mobile app icon right on your phone. There was no code yet, but it was a powerful way to enjoy the user experience and see exactly how the technology was going to work. Roberts mind was blown! This is what he said to me at the end of my 

presentation. “You came up with all of this, Jeremy? All on your own?” Robert asked. “Yes, I did.” – I replied. “This is nothing short of genius what you have come up with here. I gotta tell you, Jeremy, I wasn’t planning on making any high-risk investments for at least a couple years, but you have my attention here. This is going to be a very large company, Jeremy. Do you realize what you have here?” Robert asked. “Yes, Robert. I know this is going to be a very large and exciting project for us. It is going to change the way brands market their products through social commerce.” I replied. Robert wanted to keep the conversation going but in the morning. We said goodnight to each other, and I headed down to my room to call Amy. She wanted to know how it went. I was exhausted, but still very excited. I told her I think I had a good chance of putting something together. He seemed very interested, and most importantly, he understood what I wanted to do with this platform. So I hit the pillow, and it was lights out.

The next morning we went for breakfast to this little greasy spoon around the corner in White Rock. It was an amazing breakfast. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. If I could pick any meal to go out for, on a treat day, it would be breakfast. I just love it. So over breakfast, we talked a bit more about KULT iD, and Robert had a few questions for me. He then explained how he had to go downtown to Harry Rosen’s to pick up some clothes he had ordered. 

Harry’s was an upscale men’s clothing store in Canada with luxury clothing brands. Definitely a clothing store for the affluent. He wanted to know if I was interested in going with him and how long I was planning on sticking around. I said sure, let’s do it, and I was planning on staying until we were done our conversation about KULT iD. Every investor is different. Everyone has a different way of doing business, so you have to be flexible. You can’t do cookie-cutter presentations and treat everyone the same. You must always focus on building the relationship. The truth is, people, do business with people they like. If they feel rushed (*no pun intended), or if you apply too much pressure, you are at risk of them not liking you and walking away from the table. So I was all in at this point. Robert was interested. Very interested. So I was there for as long as it was going to take for us to put a deal together.

We went downtown to Harry’s, and I watched Robert drop A LOT of money on clothes. He was walking around the store after looking at the clothes he had ordered and was just picking random things to buy. I always said that when I came into money, I would still shop at Winners and the Nordstrom Rack – the discounted retail stores. I just couldn’t stomach spending regular retail prices on clothing, especially luxury clothing brands. Once he was done shopping, he suggested we grab some lunch in the hotel that was connected to the mall, the Pacific Centre in Vancouver. It 

was a restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel. We walked in and sat at the bar. Robert ordered some seafood appetizers, and we had a drink together. At this point, he was starting to feel comfortable with me and was beginning to remove his walls. He was beginning to talk specifically about how big KULT iD was going to be, and how I was going to need people in my life that would protect me. He was telling me there would be people who would come along and try to steal this company from me, and I was going to need some tough people on my team. He was dead serious with me. So serious that he asked me if I had ever physically beaten someone up? I told him there were a couple of times in my life when I was younger that I had to defend myself physically, but it was never violent, to the point where someone got hurt. He continued by bragging about putting someone into the hospital. He said you need to be able to fight. You need to be tough, so people won’t take advantage of you. 

Ok, Red Flag Jeremy!

 Did I get that one? Yes, but I was still sitting there. I let him unpack that a bit more, and he suggested he would be the big brother for me. He also referenced the fact that he believed God had brought him into my life to help me and protect me. Was this his way of saying he was going to invest? Was he really coming in? It sure sounded promising.

After that serious conversation about how big this was going to be, and how I needed protection and he was my man, we moved into a more casual conversation. He was talking to me about how he had gone into the local convenience store the day he found out he had won the lottery. He was living in a small town in northern Alberta at that time. He had a few lottery tickets he hadn’t checked yet and went to the store to get some cat food. When he got to the cash register, she scanned his tickets, and he was a 50 Million Dollar Winner! He was explaining to me how it felt. He had asked her to lock the door to the store, and they called the lottery number to confirm he was, for sure, the winner. He said he felt weak, almost to the point he thought he was going to collapse. It was overwhelming. I just couldn’t believe it was that much. He felt like he was going to win the months leading up to that. It was a feeling he had. He really felt he had the right numbers. He just believed he was going to win, but not that much money.

Then he started telling me about his crazy neighbors that lived beside him and how they had this noisy dog that wouldn’t stop barking. It drove him nuts. So he asked me, you want to know how you get rid of a noisy dog that won’t stop barking? You leave a nice cold bowl of antifreeze out for the dog and problem solved. Whaaat? Did he really just say that? Did Robert just admit to killing a neighbor’s dog? 

Another Red Flag

This was fucked! I literally felt sick to my stomach. Do you know what they say about someone who hurts animals? Read this description published on the “PETA: People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals” website at peta.org: Acts of cruelty to animals are not mere indications of a minor personality flaw in the abuser; they are symptomatic of a deep mental disturbance. Research in psychology and criminology shows that people who commit acts of cruelty to animals don’t stop there—many of them move on to their fellow humans. “Murderers … very often start out by killing and torturing animals as kids,” says Robert K. Ressler, who developed profiles of serial killers for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Original website link for PETA: https://www.peta.org/issues/animal-companion-issues/animal-companion-factsheets/animal-abuse-human-abuse-partners-crime/

So at this point, there is a Major Red Flag here. What did I do? Nothing. It makes me physically sick when I think about it. I did nothing. An innocent little dog lost its life over this freak. This monster let me be clear here. I’m not saying he is a serial killer, or that this was normal, regular behavior for Robert, but this happened. It was a joke to him. He found it funny. 

What I should have done was recorded the conversation first of all, especially after he started bragging about being a physically violent person – to the point of putting this guy in the hospital. Then I should have stood up and said the following to his face. “Robert, I don’t know you very well, but I do know this, anyone that would hurt an innocent dog and then brag about it, is someone who I would never do business with. I don’t know who you think you are, but you need to make that situation right. You make me physically sick!” Then I should have walked out of the Four Seasons Hotel restaurant, grabbed an Uber, picked up my things from the hotel where I was staying in White Rock, and headed straight to the airport – never looking back. Opportunity Deleted. But no – I Fucked Up! 

I am disappointed to say that is not how it ended that day. I completely overlooked this moment. I let it slide by like he was talking about stepping on an ant. You see, this is the problem when you are chasing a dream with tunnel vision, and the opportunity to be fully funded as a startup is right in front of you. All your problems solved. All your dreams become a reality. So at what price will you sell your soul? 1 Million? 3 Million? 5? That day I decided to put my headphones on and ignore the warning alarm that was going off all around me. This wasn’t one Red Flag. There were several Red Flag’s, and we are just getting started.

Later that day, we headed back to White Rock, where he had some of his friends meeting him at a pub down the street for some drinks. He wanted me to come out and meet everyone. Maybe he wanted them to check me out for him? I don’t know what he was thinking, but at this point, even with my headphones on (“not literally on”), I just couldn’t look at him the same way after our conversation that afternoon. Here I had someone in front of me that bragged about beating someone up and putting them in the hospital, and that wasn’t the first or the last time that had happened and was also joking about the fact he intentionally took the life of an innocent dog. This was so messed up. I had so many emotions. I was excited about getting the money I needed to fund my startup, but I was conflicted about who I was getting to know on this trip. This was not the same man I thought I had met back at my parents’ church the previous fall. I let Robert know I would be leaving in the morning to fly back to Alberta. I left the pub early and went back to my room to collect my thoughts and called Amy with a positive update. No, I didn’t tell her about the dog.

The next morning I woke up, and we agreed to have one last breakfast together before he would drop me off at the airport. During our breakfast conversation, I presented a couple of options for investing. We discussed where he was at with a commitment amount, and he was leaning towards putting in 1 Million Dollars. That would be massive for us! 

Robert wasn’t ready to make a signed commitment at this point, but he was close. He told me he had a trip planned to Hawaii for a month that he was leaving for next week, and asked me when I was planning on heading back to Arizona. I told him I was going to head down there next week. He said he would like to come to Arizona after his trip to Hawaii, check out my place, and meet my friends that would be involved with the company moving forward. I said that would be awesome, and told him to let me know on firm dates when he knew so I could plan around it. He dropped me off at the airport, and we left it at that.

This is a very long story, and so for the sake of this chapter not being written into eternity, I will shorten up the details that remain. After I returned home to Alberta, the following weekend, before I left for Arizona, I had my family over for dinner. My Mom and Dad, and my sister and her family came over. I was sitting on the couch watching TV with my Dad, and my brother in law when my mobile phone rang. It was Robert. He had just arrived in Hawaii and couldn’t stop thinking about KULT iD. He kept saying how big this was going to be, and it was all he could think about. I believed it was going to be like the next Facebook. A billion-dollar company. He asked me to meet with one of his friends who happened to live in the same city as me. I agreed. I met his friend right before I left for Arizona. Robert also asked me if I would consider coming to Hawaii to visit with him and 

continue the conversation as he was interested in putting a deal together. I explained to him that I was very focused on getting KULT iD up and running and wasn’t interested in coming unless he was serious about putting an investment deal together. He said he would follow up with me after I met with his friend, and after he had a chance to get his opinion on KULT iD. 

Robert reached out to me the same day I met with his friend. It was later in the day, but he was bringing up the trip to Hawaii again. He said his friend would be joining us on that trip. If I was ready to commit to the trip, he was going to have his assistant book our flights and make all the arrangements to have us there for the following weekend. I would be flying to Hawaii for the weekend. Crazy right? Well – this is the story of my life. These things are just normal for me. 

I explained to Robert that I had never been to Hawaii before, and it wasn’t something I wanted to experience without my wife Amy there with me. Especially since I had almost lost her the year before to Kidney Disease, it was a big deal to me. Since Robert had offered to cover the costs for my trip, the flights, the hotel, the food, the golf, everything we would be doing – I explained how I wanted my wife there, and I would cover the costs for her flights and her stay there. Robert lost his shit! He said, “No way, Jeremy! This is not how a professional businessman handles meetings. There will be no wives present”. He continued to explain how he has read many books about successful businessmen who don’t travel with their wives on business trips. He was standing his ground on this. 

Red Flag? Again? 

Yes! Absolutely a Red Flag. So what does Jeremy do this time? 

I pushed back. I told Robert I disagreed with him on this issue of bringing my wife. I didn’t care about the books he read, or what other people’s opinions were on me traveling to Hawaii with my wife. If he wanted me there, then I would be bringing Amy. Period. I continued to tell Robert that maybe at this point, it would be best if I didn’t come to Hawaii. It sounded like this was going to be a deal-breaker for him, and if Amy wasn’t welcome, it was definitely a deal-breaker for me. He responded by telling me he would give it some thought.

In my mind, there was no thought required. I had made up my mind. Based on his response to this, it was most definitely a Red Flag, and at this point, I should walk away from this man. He was offside, and this is not how anyone I 

am in business with would react to me wanting to bring my wife with me on a business trip. It wasn’t like she was going to be sitting there in our meetings, listening, taking notes, auditing the entire conversation. No. She would be getting some well deserved R&R, sitting by the ocean on the beach, reading a book, or whatever else she wanted to do. It would be none of his business what she would be doing. It would be my room, and if I wanted my wife to stay with me, that shouldn’t even be up for debate.

Later that day, he texted me, apologizing for the way he reacted to me wanting to bring my wife on this trip. He said she would be more than welcome to join me and that he would be making arrangements for us to stay together. I wasn’t sure why he was trying to sound like a hero by making arrangements for us to stay together, but I later found out he was planning on his friend and I bunking together. At this point, I had only met his friend once – for about an hour. Sorry Robert, but I wasn’t going to share a room with someone I don’t know. So the story now looking back was so stupid, to begin with. Like he was planning a Boy Scouts weekend or something. 

I told Amy what had happened, and how Robert had lost his shit on me for wanting her to join me on this trip. She was offended by this reaction, and rightfully so. She had no interest in going on this trip with me now after learning about this. So when I updated Amy later in the day with this apology, and how Robert wanted both of us to join him in Hawaii, it was still a hard sell with her. I know – you’re probably rolling your eyes and saying, what? A hard sell to go to Hawaii for the weekend? Yes, Amy isn’t like that. She would much rather it be a planned trip for us or our family, and have no business involved — just a relaxing, private trip for us to have some downtime. I was still very upset with the way Robert had reacted to all of this, and I still wanted to pull this opportunity away from him completely. Everything was starting to add up. He wasn’t the man I thought he was. I told him I would let him know the next day. I wanted to sleep on this and see how I felt about everything in the morning. Amy and I talked about everything that had happened to this point that night. We both agreed this was an amazing opportunity to get KULT iD funded and get this project off the ground. So it was final. I would let Robert know in the morning; we were heading to Hawaii next weekend.

The next morning Robert’s assistant booked my flight, and I booked Amy’s flight. We were able to get on the same flight together. We were also on the same plane as his friend, even in the same damn row. So we were off to Hawaii. We landed and headed straight to the hotel. I rented a car when we got there so I could enjoy some of my downtime with Amy touring around. The car ended up being very handy to have 

on this trip as Robert hadn’t purchased a car over there yet, so we needed it to get around. Yes, that’s right. He didn’t rent a car, he ended up buying a car, a Porsche over in Hawaii while he was there for four weeks. He then later bragged to me about how he left it in valet parking when he left, not to return until next year. This was his world. So the first evening, when we arrived, we all got together for dinner and just had a very casual conversation. It was honestly very awkward, considering Amy was there, and everyone was aware of what had happened just a few days before us arriving on the island. At one point, Robert brought it up and apologized again in front of Amy and was hoping she wouldn’t have any hard feelings towards it all. He tried to explain himself, but she knew he was full of shit. She was there for the sunshine, the palm trees, and of course, the ocean.

The next day we hit the golf course, just Robert, his friend, and myself. There was no business talk until the back nine. We finally started to talk about some business, and his friend was leading the conversation with some questions. Questions they had obviously discussed before we had arrived at the golf course. So we had a good discussion about everything which led us back to the hotel later for drinks. We sat around a small table in the lounge area of the hotel. Robert was a couple of drinks in and started to poke fun at the valuations of some of the social media platforms 

out there. Or as he put it, the insane valuations of these companies. Like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. At one point, as the drinks kept coming for Robert and his buddy, he commented on how fraudulent these valuations were. Fraud this, and fraud that. 

Red Flag? Yup! 

The conversation went downhill quickly, almost as fast as the WinterStart Men’s Downhill ski race at Lake Louise. 

*Sorry, I was a ski racer in a previous life, so that was my immediate mind flash while I was typing “downhill quickly.” 

Robert and his buddy were getting quite rude about these tech companies and suggested that the only smart investments were in hard, physical assets – like real estate. I defended the tech world I was apart of and tried to explain the value behind a habitual member of a community like Facebook. The ad revenues are driven by having such a consistent audience. Just think about it, how many times have you checked Facebook today? Once? More than once? 10x? You probably can’t even count. So there is massive value in people like you and me being that engaged with a platform such as Facebook. It is a part of our everyday life today. 

So I started to pack up the KULT iD opportunity and suggested that it might be best for Robert to focus on making more investments in real estate as this was a space he understood and felt more comfortable in. I suggested that our startup probably wasn’t going to be the right fit for him and his money. He put his back up and got very defensive. Robert raised his voice and said he was still interested in investing in KULT iD, and wanted to help me, but was struggling with the valuations of these other platforms that I had shared with him as something for us to strive towards. Then came the very first investment commitment, but he didn’t want to call it that. He called it a gift. 

He turned to his buddy and told him – you, as my witness, I want to help Jeremy and his company. Jeremy, your parents, are very good people, and I want to give you some money to help you. He asked me how much I would need to start on the development of the app. I told him we didn’t have any firm numbers yet, as there were a couple of different options for us for development. I told him we needed to raise about 1 Million USD to get this thing off the ground. He was not interested in that type of investment at this point. So he continued to press me for a number that would be within his range of commitment at that moment. I shared with Robert – approximately how much it was going to cost to get our office open in Arizona, hire our first two executives to help me run the day to day until I had finalized my investor visa. 

I would then be in a position to run the company. I also explained this would include us getting a sales team started that would allow us to start working on acquiring brands and revenue for supporting those brands with digital products alongside our digital agency, KULT Labs. It was a six-figure number. 

Robert committed without any hesitation. Jeremy, I will give you the money. You can walk into my private banker’s office in Edmonton when you get back home and pick up the bank draft. He continued to say that he didn’t care if I gave him shares for this money, that he just wanted to help me, and it was his gift to me. He said he would consider more of an investment once he had the chance to visit me in Arizona and meet the team. I was very happy with his generous offer, and I accepted. I told Robert he would receive shares from me personally for any amount he invested, and that was my commitment to him, even though he was calling this commitment his gift to me.

Amy and I traveled home back to Alberta, and the next day I went to his private banker’s office downtown Edmonton and picked up my bank draft for $150,000.00. Not a bad gift. It was Go Time for KULT iD. I picked up the bank draft on April 22nd, and on April 28th, I was on my way back down to Arizona, “the AZ.”

I had recently come to terms with a fully furnished home for rent in Scottsdale, Arizona, and negotiated directly with the owner who had to move out of state due to a family emergency. It was such an awesome home and an awesome deal. I had it structured as a Lease to Purchase, with a sizeable early closing discount on the purchase price. So I was excited to get down there and get settled before the family came down. The first order of business was coming to terms with my executive team as they would be handling the day to day operations of KULT at first during my immigration applications. So we worked out those details, and my one buddy from church had some extra office space that we could use for now until we got up and running. It was all lining up. 

Oh ya, another Red Flag here. Don’t Hire Friends or Family! 

It doesn’t matter how good your friend is, when it comes to business, the conversation will never be the same when trouble strikes, and trouble does strike. You will read very soon what I am referring to specifically. This buddy would eventually throw me under the bus, and the damages would cost me everything. I mean everything! Not in every case does it not work with a friend or family member, but in most cases, it just doesn’t work. The emotions are at a different level. You will always hold back from doing the right thing for the company because you don’t want to hurt their feelings. It’s so hard to make the big moves with them in the decision. There are also moments when they will leverage the personal relationship with you to position themselves, in many cases taking advantage of you. It’s almost like being robbed in bright daylight. This is how it feels. I know other business owners that just won’t do it. It’s a rule for them, and they don’t break it. This rule sucks, because I love working with people I like, but there is so much factual evidence to prove it just doesn’t work. If you do end up hiring a close friend, or family member, just make sure the expectations are crystal clear. You put all the details of the professional relationship in writing, so if you have to make a big move, it won’t come as a surprise to them. It will be Black and White.

We started to hire and train the new sales team that would be working on acquiring brands for KULT iD. These were exciting days, seeing it all come to life. The next week Robert was flying into Phoenix, and it was showtime. I had been looking at some large space as part of the vision on where I wanted to take the company as we grew, and had some space planning drawings created for the future headquarters of KULT labs. I couldn’t wait to share this vision with Robert and introduce him to our leadership team. The day finally came, and he was in town. I picked him up from the airport and planned a casual fun day doing one of the things he really loved in life. Driving Cars. Fast Cars! I rented a new 

Audi R8 Spyder, and a new Porsche 911 4S, Cabriolet. I wanted to treat him, as everyone around him had their hands out. I wanted him to come into town and get looked after for a change, so this was a good place to start. 

There was this awesome back highway you could take from Phoenix up to Sedona. Highway 89A. I had some bikers tell me about this road, and it was love at first drive. It was like driving in a scene out of the movie Mission Impossible. The roads and the views are just breathtaking. Driving this route was like therapy for me. I was excited to share this experience with Robert. So we hit the roads and started driving up. We were both having a blast. We traded cars back and forth. It was an awesome trip. We got to Sedona and grabbed dinner at one of the BBQ spots in town. There are so many great spots up there. We talked mostly about life, not too much business over dinner. He started to open up a bit about his past and started to share his story. Then it was time to head back into the city. He stayed at my place on this trip. 

The next morning we headed into the office for a formal introduction to our executive team, our VP of Sales and Marketing, and our CFO. These were both friends of mine from church, and one was actually a community pastor who had a background in healthcare. He had previously been a business owner and had owned an assisted living residence. He had a nice exit from that business and had moved into ministry, but still had the itch for business. His passion, numbers, so the CFO role was a perfect fit. My other friend had been running an insurance adjusting business with his Dad. That was a complicated story. He handled most of the sales for the company, so this was all just too good to be true. 

You know what they say about that? If it’s too good to be true, then it’s probably too good to be true.

The meet and greet went amazingly well with Robert and my team. There were even some emotional tears shed on how this was all coming together. It was like a match made in heaven. So we continued over to the vision space to show Robert what KULT could look like once we grew it to the business we were planning to build. It was a massive space! Too much to really wrap your head around as a startup, but it was my dream, and I was sharing it with him. I literally put the plans on the table and walked him through the vision of what I wanted to build there in that spot. It was an awesome day. 

The next day Robert wanted to go around and look at some cars at different dealerships. He had fallen in love with the AZ. He was thinking about buying another car, and keeping it down there so he wouldn’t have to rent a car when he came into town. He asked me if it would be ok if he kept his car at my place. I had no problem with this idea. So I took him to one of my favorite used car dealerships in Scottsdale, where I had been shopping for a used vehicle. I purchased a car through them the year before, just before Amy got sick. Robert fell in love with a beautiful Mercedes AMG full-size sport coupe. It was black on black. A sexy beast. He was planning on heading up to Las Vegas to see a buddy the next day, so he wanted to take this car with him. So he drove it and bought it that day.

We went out for dinner that night before he left for Las Vegas. We went to my favorite Rib spot in the city of Scottsdale, Houstons. We finally started to have a real heart to heart conversation. I started to open up about my past, my childhood, and some of my big failures as an adult. Both personally and in business. He began to open up about his family background and how he had no more family. He had disowned most of his relatives. He was really a solo pilot in life. It was a sad story. It was clear that he had never dealt with the emotions associated with that pain. 

Red Flag? Yes. 

We will come back to that point in the Red Flag review at the end of this chapter. 

Robert told me that night over dinner. He wanted to increase his investment commitment from the $150k gift he had given me the month before. This was exciting news! I was patiently waiting for this moment. He asked me to give some real thought to what kind of deal I wanted to make with him. How much of the company would I be willing to move over to him and bring those details in a proposal, and we would go through it when he got back from Vegas. So I did that. I gave it a lot of thought and really felt like I had the perfect deal to offer him. I put it in writing and was ready to present it to Robert when he returned to Scottsdale. 

He came back from Vegas, and we were scheduled to both fly out the next day to Calgary, where he was going to pick up another new car he had just purchased. It was a brand new Maserati Sport Coupe. It was beautiful. So we hadn’t had an opportunity to go through the proposal at this point. He wanted to get the Maserati to one of his properties in central Alberta, which would be on the way back up to my place in Sherwood Park. We dropped off the Maserati and picked up his black Ferrari he had also just purchased. Car’s everywhere. So we jumped into his Ferrari and headed to my home. It was pretty late when we pulled up. I was really excited to see the family as I had been gone for a few weeks. I invited Robert in to stay with us, but he wanted to grab a hotel downtown Edmonton. I brought up the fact that I wanted to go over my proposal with him regarding the 

investment, and we both agreed to have breakfast in the morning and go over the details together. 

So he came by my place in the morning and picked me up in the Ferrari. We went to Cora’s in Sherwood Park, one of my favorite breakfast spots back home in Canada, and went through my offer to him. He said, “Jeremy, this is a very, very, fair deal. I am really happy with this. Let’s move forward with this deal. This is a very, very fair deal, Jeremy”. This was how Robert spoke. So I pulled out a pen and asked him to sign it. 

*Below / on the next page is a copy of the deal (2 Pages) we signed together that morning. Robert’s signature and personal name has been redacted for his privacy.

It was a hand-shake deal in writing, a bar napkin contract really, just a little more organized. It was for the amount of my personal shares I was going to sell to him, how much he was going to pay for my shares, and what I was planning to do with the money. We both agreed that those details would go into the official share subscription agreement and the shareholder agreement. It was official. We had a signed deal. My startup was funded. KULT iD was going to become a reality!

I could barely wait to get back home and share the news with Amy. If my memory serves me correctly, she was out for a run when I got back to the house. So I shared the news with my girls first. Then once Amy got home, I went bananas with excitement! What does going “bananas” mean? Let’s just say I was, really, excited! I felt at that moment that I had won the lottery. I had waited my entire life to get to that point and have a company fully funded. The guarantee that we could fully develop this product. It was a moment, a feeling I will never forget. My daughter Thalia had taken a video of me telling Amy this incredible news, and I had no idea she was recording. It was a very special moment. A massive win! I was officially a Multi-Millionaire at age 35.

Ok, so you’ve probably asked yourself now, so where is the “Fuckup”? Jeremy, this chapter is titled “Fuckup,” so where is it? What did you? What did you do wrong? Well, here it is. I did the deal. I presented it. I signed it. I had him sign it. I took the money. That’s it. I took the money from my Dad’s friend Robert. The lottery winner. That was my Big Massive Fuckup! Massive!!! I chose to ignore all the Red Flag’s and still move forward with the deal. I let Robert into my life, up close and personal with my family. Up close and personal with my business partners. Up close and personal with my employees. I trusted a man who had clearly spelled out for me in Big, Bold, Black, and White letters weeks before that he couldn’t be trusted. He didn’t have the character to be in business with. I was willing to shelf all that evidence, ignore all the warning signs, ignoring all the alarms that were going off – so I could get the money. This was my Fuckup.

Red Flag (“RF”) Review Checklistfuckup

RF1: He continued by bragging about putting someone into the hospital.

RF2: You leave a nice cold bowl of antifreeze out for the dog and problem solved. Whaaat? Did he really just say that? Did Robert just admit to killing a neighbor’s dog?

RF3: He said, “No way, Jeremy! This is not how a professional businessman handles meetings. There will be no wives present”.

RF4: …started to poke fun at the valuations of some of the social media platforms out there. Or as he put it, the insane valuations of these companies. Like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. 

…he commented on how fraudulent these valuations were. Fraud this, and fraud that. 

RF5: Don’t Hire Friends or Family! It doesn’t matter how good your friend is, when it comes to business, the conversation will never be the same when trouble strikes, and trouble does strike.

RF6: He had disowned most of his relatives. He was really a solo pilot in life. It was clear that he had never dealt with the emotions associated with that pain. 

Damn! Those are a lot of Red Flags.

KULT-Crawford-Rush-Agreement-Page1
KULT-Crawford-Rush-Agreement-Page2

work with jeremy crawford

speaking

Coaching

Consulting

STARTUP KING get my book

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.

STARTUP KING is written and published by Jeremy Crawford and the No Bull Biz Group. © Copyright 2020. All Rights Reserved.
cropped-cropped-JC-Logo-Red.png

All booking requests must be made in writing. Please email your booking requests to > connect@jeremycrawford.me

© 2024 All Rights Reserved by Jeremy Crawford