Carlos Cashman is a serial entrepreneur. Most recently he co-founded Thrasio which is an acquirer of Amazon third-party private-label businesses. The company has raised over $130M from top tier investors such as Western Technology Investment, RiverPark Ventures, WTI, Upper90, PEAK6 Investments, and Harlan Capital Partners. Prior to this, he co-founded several companies including Asset Performance, Course Advisor, ConstellationCK, CueNotes, and OrionCKB.

In this episode you will learn:

  • Why Carlos says startups should share their business plan more
  • Why raising debt is a more advanced strategy than equity fundraising
  • The core of all great businesses
  • Where he gets his ideas from

SUBSCRIBE ON:

For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.

Moreover, I also provided a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400 million (see it here).

Remember to unlock for free the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

About Carlos Cashman:

Carlos Cashman co-founded Thrasio which is an acquirer of Amazon third-party private-label businesses. The company has raised over $130M from top tier investors such as Western Technology Investment, RiverPark Ventures, WTI, Upper90, PEAK6 Investments, and Harlan Capital Partners.
 
Prior to this Carlos Cashman was CEO and Managing Partner of Internet marketing sister companies, ConstellationCK and OrionCKB Marketing.
 
Over the past twenty years, Carlos Cashman has worked with numerous successful start-ups as an executive, founder, investor, and advisor in the US and abroad.
 
Carlos Cashman is an active angel investor and involved with several charities related to promotion of global peace and education. He serves on the Board of Directors of SecretBuilders.com, an immersive online educational world for children, as well as Asset Performance Technologies, an advanced data and analytics provider for heavy industrial equipment he co-founded in 2003.
 
In 2005 Carlos Cashman co-founded CourseAdvisor, a leading Search Engine Marketing firm in the post-secondary education industry which was sold two years later to the Washington Post. CourseAdvisor was designated one of the fastest growing companies in New England and voted one of Boston’s Best Places to Work in 2007.
 
The first company Carlos Cashman founded, Opus360, went public on the NASDAQ in 2000 and was sold in 2001 to Artemis International.
 
Carlos Cashman graduated from MIT which he attended with a full scholarship from AT&T.

 

Connect with Carlos Cashman:

* * *

FULL TRANSCRIPTION OF THE INTERVIEW:

Alejandro: Alrighty. Hello everyone, and welcome to the DealMakers show. I think the entrepreneur that we have today, you’re really going to enjoy the conversation. He’s done it so many times. I was getting dizzy just from learning his story. You’re really going to enjoy this one. He’s been there. He’s done it many, many years, so without further ado, let’s welcome our guest today. Carlos Cashman, welcome to the show.

Carlos Cashman: Hello. Thank you for having me, man. It’s fun to be here.

Alejandro: So, originally born in Illinois, but raised in Oklahoma. Tell us about your upbringing.

Carlos Cashman: [Chuckle] The easiest way to describe it is, the city I was born in Illinois was called Peoria. If you’ve ever been in the ad business in America, there’s a phrase they used to always use: will it play in Peoria? My thinking was, Peoria was the most average city in America, so the idea was if the ad will play in Peoria, it will work for America. Well, a few years later, Peoria became not the most average. Another city took over as the most average city in America. Guess where? Tulsa, Oklahoma. So, I moved from one to the other. I don’t know if it followed me or what, but it was like the classic upbringing in suburban America. It’s a great place to grow up. I enjoyed it.

Alejandro: That’s amazing. How did you get into all these computer things? Were your parents or anyone in your family also entrepreneurial, or how did you get this thing about thinking about the future and dream about solutions where others see problems?

Carlos Cashman: I think people, kids in particular, naturally do that. Look at any child before the education system has stamped it out of them, and don’t get me started there. They’re all creative. They’re all trying to come up with things and solve problems. I think it’s natural. I was just able to go with it because of where I grew up. My parents were not entrepreneurs. My dad was a banker. His favorite magazines, Business Week, Forbes, and stuff like that – I’ve been reading those since I could read since I was in second or third grade because they were around. Back then, we only had three channels of TV, so you had to find something to do. But there was a real culture of learning in the family. My mom took a job selling encyclopedias just so we could have a set of encyclopedias. I don’t know if you know how expensive encyclopedias were, but they were $1,000 to $2,000. As an employee, she got a discount. I guess that was entrepreneurial of her because she had to go from door-to-door selling those. So, we had a real culture of learning. These business magazines, you’re just constantly reading business stories that are exciting and fun. I also did something and built something. I think that’s where the seed was planted.

Alejandro: How did you get into computers, Carlos?

Carlos Cashman: I saw the Apple II, and people were learning the Apple II+, Apple IIe back in the late ‘70s, early ‘80s. We had one in my classroom at school. It turned out also that a couple of my best friends’ fathers had computers. Any kid would just be fascinated with a computer. One of my best friend’s fathers worked for HP, I think, and he had one of these serious HP Workstations at home. This was a monochrome screen, the green and black—orange and black screen with text only basically. We had floppy discs. I don’t know if anyone would remember this, but the size of records. It was an actual floppy, but people probably don’t remember today. They were 12” – 16” to a side. They stored probably 2k worth of data. We learned how to boot up games on there. We would play stuff like NetTrack or Dungeon, these simple, text-based games, but it was fun. To a kid, it was fascinating. You could spend hours doing that. With the Atari 2600, too. All that stuff was a really good time. That got me interested. Then, having the Apple II at school, and then it was one of those things where I had a friend who was really into it also. He had one at home, Chris Chang. We would skip recess for months to try to figure out how to make a dot move on the screen using Basic. We had to teach ourselves the Basic language with these books that they had. No teacher there knew how to use it. So, we just stayed at lunch and taught ourselves how to use it. It was great, and I was very fortunate to have access to that. I never became a phenomenal programmer, but I spent hours programming. Then I got my own DIC-20 and did basic programming on that.

Alejandro: You ended up landing in MIT, where you typically have some of the best engineers in the world. How did you land in MIT?

Carlos Cashman: It’s funny. I mentioned Chris Chang in fourth grade because he ended up moving in sixth grade. We lost touch, and we both ended up in MIT at the same time when we were 18. Totally randomly. We hadn’t talked to each other in 14 years. So, it must have been something about playing with the Apple II for the two of us. You know, MIT, it’s funny. I’m not a super-tech geek, and there were brilliant people there. I went there because I read about MIT in Omni Magazine back in my fifth grade. I read about the media lab, and it got me super excited about what they were doing there. I had never heard of MIT at that point. But I said, “Wow! That’s the kind of place I want to go to school.” As you get in high school, and you move along, you start to hear—I was a social guy. I played all these sports, and you hear the stories, “They’re just nerds. All they do is study.” I started thinking, “I don’t want to go to school there. There’s no way.” I was looking at other schools, and I’d be more excited about UC Berkeley. I always wanted to live somewhere like California, where there are palm trees. What you find out when you do go to the schools is that it’s hard, it’s intense, but it’s not just a bunch of nerds. They’re extremely well-rounded people. They have a lot of fun, very social, and I got to do a school visit early on, and I discovered that and had a fantastic time, so I did end up applying. Luckily, I got in and ended up going. It was great. 

Alejandro: Very cool. Then after this, you left. You go to New York City to do movies, and then basically, you finally get into this startup world. I mean, you found a job at a startup, and I know that there’s a funny story there.

Carlos Cashman: Yeah, I love how you just glossed over, do movie, move to New York to make movies, what else do you do with an MIT degree? [Laughter] As they say, “Everybody wants to be in pictures.” I enjoy writing—the creative aspect. I had an attorney brother who had grown up in the industry, so we both moved to New York to try to do that. With an MIT degree, rather than be a waiter, I actually tried to get hired at CompUSA, and they wouldn’t hire me, believe it or not. They wouldn’t even interview me to sell computers. I think they thought I was joking or something. What ended up happening was, and this is indicative of a lot of things in my life and my career. I talk about being opportunistic. As an entrepreneur, I think you have to be. I was fairly new to New York. I didn’t understand the subways at all at that point. I couldn’t afford to pay for cabs or anything. I was like, “If I’m going to go to work, it has to be somewhere I can walk from my apartment. So, I picked out a 10 to 20-block radius from my apartment, and I said, “How do I find companies that have computers here?” There was no internet back then, so I went to the White Pages—Yellow Pages and White Pages. The computer section was like half the freaking book. I went to Computer Software and Services, and it was about 36 to 40 pages of listings of companies. I said, “Okay. I’ve got to narrow this down. My name starts with CC, Carlos Cashman, so I’m going to go to the C section, and I’m going to pick the first four companies I can walk to from my apartment, and I’m going to go drop off resumes.” This was literally how I did this. The second company on the list was a company called Comley Corporation. They didn’t even know they were listed because they weren’t supposed to be in that building. They were a startup with ten people. They had literally bribed their way in by buying the super a case of whiskey, and they were in this office building on some floor. No signs. Nothing. It was half-empty, and I had to literally go knocking on doors to find who these people were. It was a phenomenal, exciting company that was doing RAID software and hardware. It was just starting to grow. The founder of that was a guy called Ric Calvillo, who’s a great entrepreneur and still a very good friend of mine. We’re still in touch, and we both still live in Boston today, and we’ve done some business together many times. I walked in and founded Comley Corporation and worked there for a couple of years. Then the whole startup piece of my career took off faster than the movie business thing did. So, there you go.

Alejandro: Yeah. And you never looked back. That’s how you got hooked into the startup world. Then, I understand that you went to Frankfurt Balkind, Mr. Balkind, also being your mentor and providing great guidance. What were the three lessons that you took away from this experience and that you got from him?

Carlos Cashman: From Frankfurt Balkind. I don’t know about three. Let me think about that for a minute, but for sure, there’s a big message of quality. That place was an unbelievable source of talent. If you look at some of the top creative directors in the world today, many of them have gone through a two-year stint at Frankfurt Balkind. It was like MIT with design shafts, man. It was intense. From Frankfurt Balkind, what did I learn? One of the major lessons was quality. The people and the talent were fantastic. He and the team had a real eye for talent across the board and letting the talent do what it needs to do to succeed. It was an intense environment, but it was also nurturing in a lot of ways, I think. When you’ve got great people, they can do great things. It was something I saw in practice there. Another thing he taught me, which carries over more than just the design and creative world, is that the phrase, “Creativity thrives in a box.” It’s really fascinating when you think about it. I’ve seen this over and over. If you take a group of people and say, “Here’s your task. You have to create a design for this ad for Pepsi. Whatever you want, anything. It’s tough. They can get stuck and can spin in circles. But when you say, “You can only use black, red, and blue, and it has to fit on a page that’s 8×12,” and you give them a bunch of rules, you give them a box to work in it makes creativity thrive in a way you never thought possible. It’s fascinating. You can see it in these competitions at MIT, where they give you a box of junk to build something, like 270, and say, “Build it.” It’s phenomenal. It’s amazing to see what people do, where a lot of people can get stuck and lost when there are no bounds to work within. I’ve carried that lesson over for years. I’ll give you two. How’s that?

Alejandro: Got it. That’s good, and this was a nice segue into you going at it and building your first one, which was Opus360. This was a spinoff from Gray Peak. You raised some money, and you got caught in the middle of the dot-com bust. How was this experience for you? Tell us about it.

Carlos Cashman: That was my MBA, man, basically. It was a fantastic experience in a lot of ways. It was also really tough in a lot of ways. I joined a company, Gray Peak, very early as an employee. The co-founders were friends of mine. I built software there. We sold Gray Peak to USWeb in a couple of years. This was the late ‘90s. It was getting crazy and frothy. We spun out my company, at that time, to sell the software I developed for Gray Peak to other services companies. Opus360, we raised 50 million dollars. I did the whole Sand Hill Road thing going up and down in Silicon Valley meeting everybody, pitching. I learned how to craft a business plan, how to talk to investors, how to do all that stuff. At Opus, we also built the organization to several hundred people, including several acquisitions and a fairly sizable acquisition, about a 100-people company in LA. Great company and great people. I got experience across the board in that whole thing. I say I’m the poster child for the dot-com boom and bust. It was crazy. With all that money—one of the biggest things I learned there is it can be defocusing. The companies that I’ve been a part of that I’ve seen have been much more successful. The hit rate is higher. I think when you’re struggling, when you don’t have a lot of money, it’s the thriving in a box kind of thing. But when you’re forced to get creative about how you do things and generate revenue, you can end up in a much healthier place more often than not. Too many entrepreneurs nowadays think that entrepreneurship is making a deck and pitching Sand Hill Road and raising 20 million, and then you have a party. That is not a business. That is a model, and it works fantastically for Silicon Valley. Phenomenal world-changing companies come out of there, but the hit rate is tiny. The backers who back those things, it’s great for them. They expect a 1/10, 1/20 hit rate to be massive, but all the entrepreneurs – every time they do a company, it’s an investment, they stay above, they watch it, but they can sit on ten boards. As an entrepreneur, you do one thing with your time. That is the most important thing you can do, and you’re going to spend years on. The low-end of a couple of years. The high-end ten years. So you’re not going to have a lot of swings at bat. It can be tough. Building successful companies and strong companies, the model that’s healthier for entrepreneurs is to do it in that less-funded, hungrier kind of way I thought. Opus was not that. We had tons of money. We had Herman Miller chairs in a designed office. We had real business. We sold enterprise software for millions of dollars. We had customers, and it was going, but we weren’t profitable. That wasn’t our core focus, so it was a challenging time to go through all that, build that, raise all that money. I wasn’t entirely pleased with everyone I met in that process, and then going public in 2000. Our offering was literally canceled twice that week. The week of April 7, 2000, the market crashed 700 points on Monday. The bankers called up and said, “You’re not going public.” At that point, you need the money. You’ve lined up all this stuff. It’s crazy. Then the market came back 500 points on Tuesday. It’s like nowadays. They said, “We can take you public,” Then it crashed again. They said, “We can’t.” It was literally a game-time call at 8:00 am on Friday morning, and they said, “Yeah, we can sell the shares. We’ll get it out.” And we got it done. Everyone thinks you’re public, your loaded. I learned the meaning of the word paper money. I was 28. I was worth more millions on paper than I had in years, but it all disappeared. I left there, losing money. The money I had invested in that company was more than I took out. We’re talking 100 grand I put in, and I took out less than that and left there in large amounts of debt. But I learned a lot. It was an interesting experience.

Alejandro: I can imagine. Then after this, it’s interesting because we could go for hours. Your experiences are unbelievable, but after this, you went, you lived on a motorcycle, you met your wife at Match.com—really amazing. Then after this, you were thinking, “What’s going to be next?” Then you went to a brunch with some friends of your wife, and this opened up your mind to the fact that it was possible again. Then after this event, you started launching and rolling out companies. What I want to do here is, I want to mention the companies, and you tell me, what was the lesson learned? Then we’re going to end up with Thras.io because I want to spend some time on Thras.io. So, the first company, Asset Performance. What did you learn from Asset Performance?

Carlos Cashman: Asset Performance Technologies, Inc. – long name. I went the opposite of all the dot-com cute names intentionally to make something very complicated. What I learned there—this goes a bit to the quality thing, but we had a phenomenal product. You can’t go wrong with a high-quality product. The company went through ups and downs, highs and lows over the years, but at the heart, there was a product that no one else had. It was a type of preventive maintenance, heavy industrial equipment, very complicated stuff. The company was ultimately very successful because of that. That focus, if you build something great, you can make other mistakes, but that’s at the heart of what you’ve got to do.

Alejandro: Very cool. Then, next one, Course Advisor.

Carlos Cashman: Course Advisor, great company. It grew very quickly here in Boston. After two years, I sold it to the Washington Post. Speed can be a weapon, we learned. There’s no fault of the Post or ours. Right after we sold it, the government came crashing in on the for-profit school industry who are most of the buyers of the education leads we produced, and that whole space got hammered down. Had we not moved quickly and done a deal we would have been in a very bad place.

Alejandro: Then you moved to California, lived on a vineyard, an unbelievable story, Carlos. And you start ConstellationCK. What was the lesson with ConstellationCK?

Carlos Cashman: ConstellationCK, there are still lessons going on. I’ve still got the business. Too complex an idea can hurt you. We had a pitch that there’s no way I can frame the core idea to make the people we needed to partner with us to make them understand it would work. It was newspapers and magazines. I got industry and was losing money. We were bringing them a way to make a lot of money, but it hinged on complex understanding SEO, and Google, and they were all deathly afraid. That killed it out of the gate. We couldn’t find enough people because it was too hard to understand.

Alejandro: Then, after this, you did CueNotes. What happened with CueNotes? 

Read More: Geraldo Thomaz On Raising $140 Million To Create The Future Of Ecommerce

Carlos Cashman: CueNotes: don’t build a feature; build a product. CueNotes was an awesome feature for something like YouTube. VH1 Pop Up Video for music on your phone or on your computer. It was like Twitter for songs, where you could put facts and information in there. People could follow each other, and you could learn about songs and people. It was really neat, but ultimately, again, this relied on someone like YouTube, or Vimeo, or Sony partnering with you. If they didn’t, it was tough to make a go of it – the old consumer acquisition piece. Customer acquisition was too tough. We also undercapitalized it. With more capital, it might have been successful.

Alejandro: Then, the next one is OrionCKB, but here’s the cool fact: OrionCKB, you actually sold this one, and at the same time, you sold Encyclopedia.com, and then Asset Performance.com all at the same time. What was the lesson there?

Carlos Cashman: Get great people around you. I sold three companies and still wasn’t home for dinner every night with my wife and kids at 5:00. I had amazing teams in each one of those that were able to do most of the stuff and get those things done, and just needed my guidance at the top. I’m always about people. You’ll see this as a recurring theme in what I do. When I see a task as something to do, I ask who and not what? I love people. I love meeting people, and then finding opportunities and matching them up with people. The way I was able to do those three is because I had amazing teams, and we had great people in each one of those things.

Alejandro: The one that I really want to touch on is Thras.io – what a rocket ship. Let’s talk about Thras.io. How did this come about, and how did you guys bring it to life?

Carlos Cashman: If we go into the details of a lot of these companies, you’ll see a daisy-chain effect going on, where I’m in one company, and something I need or learn there leads to another one. I just go after these opportunities. Everybody has these moments and go, “Oh, this would be a good idea.” I just do it. I can’t help it. When I see something that needs to get done or can get done, it’s an opportunity to make money, I just almost have to go after it. It drives me crazy if I don’t. While at Orion, we had a lot of e-commerce customers, and we were starting to learn about the Amazon ecosystem. I saw the opportunity that was happening with direct to consumer, and the supply chain around the world had been largely figured out and automated. China had automated manufacturing to a degree. I still think people don’t particularly appreciate how strong and how deep it is. Now, you had people able to ship product. A couple of people with a good idea can get it built and shipped from Asia to the U.S. and sell it through a third-party logistic provider who would do the warehousing for you. Man, you never had to touch the product. You’d help design it, but then you shop the Shopify site, bring customers and you’re in business. Or, you sell it on Amazon, obviously. Learning and seeing all that was amazing and watching this happen. A lot of these were our customers from Orion, and I started saying, “Maybe I could do this.” We started looking at doing the rollup of the small e-commerce businesses. It’s fairly challenging because you get ten of these doing 2 million dollars a year each. Yeah, you can roll those up, but there may be ten different e-commerce software packages they’re using. Big commerce, WooCommerce, Magento, Shopify, or whatever. They may have ten different 3PL relationships. It was complicated, and while looking at all that, we started looking at Amazon and learning what the third-party seller marketplace there, which was very similar. You’ve got a lot of very small solo and duopreneurs building great businesses, but they’re selling a handful of products, and it’s all on Amazon. What they have to do is get the product to Amazon, which that’s not that tough on vastly simplifying things, but essentially, you find a product. You get it manufactured. You get it to Amazon, and Amazon gets the customers. You’ve got to learn Amazon’s system and play their game. That’s saying a mouthful, but that’s where this started. We were modeling an e-commerce rollup. We learned about Amazon, got some data there, and said, “Let’s try this on Amazon.” We didn’t know where this was going to go. Honestly, I just bought the first business. We didn’t even have the right incorporated structure or anything. We saw, and we liked, bought it, and said, “Hey, we could probably get a few more.” I could have bought one or two more, but we looked at this and saw the opportunity was bigger and that there were more of these available. I had bought a profitable business. This goes back to what I was saying about making money, not just making a deck and getting someone to give you money to go after something as a success or as a business. It’s not. To me, a business is something that buys product for x and sells it for y, and the difference between y and x produces a profit with all your expenses figured in. When we went after this, it was like, “This is neat. We may or may not figure out how to do it, but at the worst end, we’ve got products that we’re selling on Amazon to make money. The best side of it would be, there are a lot of these out there. They’re really good businesses. We can find them, and we can learn and get better at operating them and bring something to the table to improve it, and therefore produce great returns, and therefore entice investors to come and get involved. It turned out better than my wildest dreams, frankly, that we were able to do that quickly and effectively.

Alejandro: How do you guys make money at Thras.io?

Carlos Cashman: Well, we sell stuff on Amazon. We buy leading products, category-leading products. You’ve got to start with something great. You’ve got to start with a great product. We buy people who have done that, and they’ve got fantastic reviews and ratings, and they’re producing a lot of revenue. We’ve been profitable since the start because we went out and bought out a handful of these businesses. They had reasonable margins, and if you build it carefully and intelligently, you can make money. When we sell, we have a margin on everything we sell, and as long as y is greater than x and your costs are under that, you can produce profit. That’s what we do.

Alejandro: Wow. In no time, literally, we’re talking about you guys starting the business in 2018. How much have you guys raised for the business?

Carlos Cashman: We’ve raised about a quarter of a billion dollars, 250 million, some give or take a few.

Alejandro: Got it. And I’ve seen valuations being reports of over 780 million, and you don’t have to comment on that. We don’t want to get anyone into trouble. It’s unbelievable the fact that this type of value is already on a business in such a short time. It seems that you guys really hit it hard on the product/market fit.

Carlos Cashman: Yeah. Exactly, we did. I would always rather be lucky than good. Honestly. We were in the right place at a good time. Frankly, I thought we were maybe a little late to the party when we started. There were other companies out there talking about doing this at the time. It sounds simple. The best business ideas are simple. You tell the people to get it right away, and they say, “Why isn’t someone doing that yet?” However, the reality is, you could take 20 people, give them each 100 million dollars and say, “Go copy Thras.io’s business model. I would bet you a significant amount of cash that you might get one success out of that, and the other 19 would burn through a lot of cash. It’s just not always easy to do. You’ve started companies. You’re an entrepreneur. You get it. I tell entrepreneurs, “Don’t hide your idea. Tell everyone you know the idea. Copy business plans and leave it in every Starbucks you go to because no one’s going to copy it.” No one’s going to do it. It takes a lot to make it happen. It’s hard. We were able to do that. I’ve done this a lot of times. I stayed in touch with great people. Inside Thras.io are people who are my customers at Orion, friends of mine from Orion, partners from Opus360, people I met at my first job over the last 30 years. All these people I’ve been in touch with, they were all the first ones to come in and get involved and hit the ground running. My partner, Josh, the same. He’s been an entrepreneur several times. He’s been an investor. He was able to bring great people to the table quickly and understood the capital structures. I’ve never met anybody smarter or more capable perhaps at all than Josh, frankly, but certainly when it comes to capital raising and structures and all that. We funded a lot of this with debt. It’s not all equity. The 250 million dollars includes a fairly significant amount of debt in there as well because look, we’re buying profitable companies, and that’s a smart way to do it. That’s an advanced way of funding a company, and many entrepreneurs don’t understand and wouldn’t understand and wouldn’t understand how to access those markets. This was a fairly advanced kind of play. At the scale we’re doing it, this was entrepreneurship 505, not 101. It’s been fun. It’s been great, and yes, it’s been a rocket ship. It was late 2018 when we got this going, and we’re low to mid nine figures in revenue already, profitable, and we’ve raised a significant amount of cash to go after us.

Alejandro: I see that you guys have been growing like crazy, the team too. I’m seeing now on LinkedIn Insights the growth in the last year is like 371%. How do you grow a team so fast, and you guys continue to keep your eyes on the ball in terms of the values that you give to these people that are coming in?

Carlos Cashman: I’m doing the numbers right now. The growth is actually more than 600%, but whatever. Let’s not split hairs.

Alejandro: How many employees do you guys have now?

Carlos Cashman: You’d have to ask me up to the minute, but a few days ago, probably about 250 around the world. A lot of these, in the U.S. FTEs, we’re probably low hundreds. We have three offices in the U.S. Now, we have 130 offices where everybody is, but before we all had to go home, we had an office here in Boston. We have one in New York and one in Houston. Now, all these people are working at home, but then we have large offices overseas, the Philippines, Pakistan, Portugal, Ukraine, and Eastern Europe, there are different offices spread around with a lot more people. And how do you grow that? It’s not easy, man. I tell you. It’s hard luck, hard science skill, everything with luck put all together. A lot of entrepreneurs may have heard me go through this example before, but a company I think of as a supersaturated solution. The first people you have, your first hires, and the first team are like the seed crystal that drops into that. If you know what happens with a seed crystal and a supersaturated solution, that’s how you form crystal and form a crystalline structure. If that seed crystal was malformed, if there’s something wrong with it, the crystal that forms is brittle and screwed up, and it will break. But if that seed crystal is solid and tight and good, you will form a strong, healthy, beautiful crystal. Building a company, it all starts at the core and getting great, great people. If you bring those great people, they bring great people. If those great people bring more great people, you can build something amazing. Any company, whether you’re a biotech company or Tesla or us, it’s all just getting a bunch of people to agree to go after a goal together. That’s what entrepreneurship is. That’s part of why I love it. It’s building this team. If you get that right, there’s no way you can’t do it. No person can do it. No founder can do it. It’s just not possible. I couldn’t hire 300 people in a year, but people can. It’s amazing, and what’s so exciting to see is when you do start getting that right and seeing it build. The first points at which really significant things are getting done inside your company that you had nothing to do with. That’s awesome. Someone calls you to a meeting and goes, “Look. We saw this problem. Here’s what we did. Here’s the solution we developed.” It blows you away. “Yeah. Maybe I’m not that important.” If you’ve got a great team, you can do all this stuff. I’m sure you’ve seen that too. You’ve built companies. You know what I’m talking about.

Alejandro: Yeah, absolutely. I hear you. Here’s one thing that I typically ask that I’d like to ask you here. Imagine you go to sleep tonight, and you wake up in a world five years from now, where the vision of Thras.io is fully realized. What does that world look like?

Carlos Cashman: Wow. In five years? Believe it or not, I don’t think that far out. [Laughter] I think it’s one thing that keeps me happy. I think pretty immediately. I live in the moment. For Thras.io, I do think out a year, always, at least. I’m always pushing everyone to be ready because in a year or two, where do we need to be or where you need to be because of this rate of growth. It’s really hard to get your head around from those people. What I see for Thras.io is a consumer products company that is second to none that manages tens of thousands of products, online marketplaces, and online direct selling. That’s Amazon, but it might also be FlipKart in India. It might be some other system in Europe. It might be Walmart as well. We are producing super high-quality products from a nimble and flexible supply chain and getting them to consumers wherever those consumers are. I’d say it will probably be dominated online, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see us with some products that break out in retail and other channels. At the end of the day, you want to be selling where the consumers are. We will be a consumer-products company designed to run tens of thousands of products, and even individual brands in a way that people haven’t seen before. That’s not a direct analog, and it’s easy to point to the new Rubbermaid’s of the world. People always talk about CBG being Unilever and P&G, and the like, they tend to be more consumables as a chemical. Those are decent models, but they’ve had to go the other direction. They’re businesses that were built in the last century for what made you successful then, and they’re having a hard time adapting. You watch their return on equity and stock value over the years, and it’s been getting hit, hit, hit. I think that’s because we’re waiting for a new model. I see Thras.io as being a multi-billion-dollar revenue company, very profitable, and growing into whatever new directions it needs to, to reach consumers.

Alejandro: That’s amazing. One question I typically ask the guests that come on the show, Carlos, is – your journey is remarkable. I’m wondering here if you had the opportunity of going back and having a chat with your younger self, even though that younger self probably wouldn’t even listen.

Carlos Cashman: He definitely wouldn’t. [Laughter]

Alejandro: If he would actually listen, what would be that one piece of advice that you would give to your younger self before launching a business knowing what you know now and why?

Carlos Cashman: Man, that’s a tough one. You’ve got to give me these questions before to give me time to think about it. [Laughter] I really don’t know. A lot of times, that question implies that you would want something to change, and people go back and say, “If I only had known this, I wouldn’t have done that.” You regret it. I don’t live with an enormous amount of regret or any at all. My decisions and my choices that I made are what got me here. Yeah, I could have done something different. Who knows, but who knows what would have happened had I done that. So, frankly, I don’t think there’s anything that I would want to go back and tell myself. I wouldn’t change it. Go do what you’re doing. That’s not the answer you’re looking for, but I don’t really have anything to offer to my younger self for that reason. If you say, “What would I offer to a young entrepreneur?” It’s too much. I couldn’t do it in one sentence. We could sit around for an hour or a couple of hours. You’ve got to believe in yourself. It’s easy to say and hard to do. I ended up with a lot more success, for me, when I followed my own instincts and gut and not try to glum on to someone else’s vision and someone else’s idea if that makes any sense. But that can lead you into very bad places, too. How many businesses planned entrepreneurs have you seen that just can’t—they hear that you’re never supposed to give up, and they’re pursuing a terrible idea? And you just can’t get it out of their head, and they won’t figure it out, and they’ll waste years on it. 

Alejandro: 100%. When you were talking, you reminded me of the butterfly-effect when Aston Kushner goes back in time and buys something and another set of problems opening up. I totally get that, Carlos. For the folks that are listening, what is the best way for them to reach out and say hi?

Carlos Cashman: I would say LinkedIn. Message me on LinkedIn. I don’t accept random friend requests until I get to know somebody, I won’t connect. But I’m reachable on LinkedIn. I’m easy to find: Carlos Cashman. I respond, and I’ve had a lot of great conversations there and then have creative connections and met people there. It’s been great.

Alejandro: Amazing. Well, Carlos, thank you so much for being on the DealMakers show today.

Carlos Cashman: Thank you very much for having me. It’s been fun. I appreciate it.

 

* * *

If you like the show, make sure that you hit that subscribe button. If you can leave a review as well, that would be fantastic. And if you got any value either from this episode or from the show itself, share it with a friend. Perhaps they will also appreciate it. Also, remember, if you need any help, whether it is with your fundraising efforts or with selling your business, you can reach me at alejandro@pantheraadvisors.com.

Facebook Comments