Embarking on the journey of entrepreneurship is similar to setting out into an uncharted desert. You forge ahead, fueled by ambition, without knowing exactly where the path will lead. Ross Cohen is our guest on the Dealmaker’s Podcast and talks about his experiences in the world of startups. He has partnered with Joshua Levy, who is the co-founder and CEO of BeenVerified.
BeenVerified has attracted funding from top-tier investors like Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital, Morgan Stanley Credit Partners, Morgan Stanley Tactical Value, and ROCA Partners.
In this episode, you will learn:
- Embrace the initial naivety of entrepreneurship, as it can be a powerful driving force for growth.
- The entrepreneurial journey demands both freedom and an unwavering commitment to the grind.
- The dawn of the Internet age presented an unprecedented opportunity for innovation and business growth.
- Pivotal moments, like being denied entry into the family business, can serve as catalysts for exploring new ventures.
- Balancing academics and business-building during college years can lay the foundation for future success.
- Recognize the importance of pivoting and adapting to market demands, even if it means shifting away from the original vision.
- The power of data cannot be underestimated – it not only empowers consumers but also provides invaluable insights for scaling and diversifying business ventures.
For a winning deck, see the commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400M (see it here).
The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks
Remember to unlock for free the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
About Ross Cohen:
Ross is the COO and co-founder of LTV. He is also the co-founder of BeenVerified. Ross has overseen LTV’s emergence as a leader in the data and information space.
A graduate of Rutgers University, Ross lives in New Jersey with his wife and two kids.
See How I Can Help You With Your Fundraising Efforts
- Fundraising Process : get guidance from A to Z.
- Materials : our team creates epic pitch decks and financial models
- Investor Access : connect with the right investors for your business and close them
Connect with Ross Cohen:
Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:
Alejandro Cremades: All righty hello everyone and welcome to the deal maker show. So today. We have a really inc incredible founder. You know a founder that you know has been building his company since he’s 25 you know he’s going to be walking us through you know the way that he’s gone about building you know his business and his journey. You know from starting. With his first company at a very young age to then starting another one you know in college that now he’s actually been able to grow into more of a holding you know of ah of companies. You know that he is definitely rolling out and and some interesting stuff. You know we’re going to be talking about fundraising how to go from. 0 to 20 employees and then all you know to hundreds of employees like he has now and they also negotiating for every single dollar They’ve been profitable for a long time but without fartherdo. Let’s welcome our guests today Ross Cohen welcome to the show.
Ross Cohen: Thank you I Appreciate you having me alejandro. Thank you, It’s good to be here.
Alejandro Cremades: So born in New York a new yorker so give us a walk through memory lane. How is life growing up.
Ross Cohen: Ah, life was good I grew up in. Ah so I was born in Brooklyn moved out to New Jersey central New Jersey probably about age four you know, middle class. Um dad was an entrepreneur. My older brother wound up being an entrepreneur. Kind of my father always pushed me to just not put a ceiling over my head and and really pushed me to start a business so started my first business at 16 and and kind of been running from there ever since.
Alejandro Cremades: And how is it like to to grow up in a family of entrepreneurs. You know, Obviously you had the opportunity of seeing them at a young age going through the cycles. The apps, the downs. How was that for you.
Ross Cohen: Yeah, So I think you get to see like from the inside you know it’s Funny. My dad was always um, willing to kind of play just just almost spitball with me right? So I would be able to see the ups and downs like you said I think there’s um, look I I think you have to love what you’re doing because I think they’re like. People say that there’s entrepreneur. Yeah, it comes with freedom but I don’t know what freedom that actually looks like because it is a grind and I think every day even watching my father who was in the garment Center Um, growing up. Um you know had his business and every day it was different. You know I think ah the ups and downs are so high and low that it’s It’s almost hard to find this equilibrium to some Point. So. I did see that and I kind of knew that going into it and um, you know it was great to have my dad along the way, especially in the early stages of my business for somebody to kind of have a you know in-house consultant if you will and um, you know it it did lead me to starting my own companies and and I’m I’m glad that I got here and but you know every day looking back was a lot of stress and a lot of grinds. So yeah.
Alejandro Cremades: No kidding now 16 sounds to to be the h when you got you know, really the roll up of sleeves and and getting going so so what was the triggering event there. So.
Ross Cohen: But we got here.
Ross Cohen: Yeah, so I you know I think I always just had this bug I think I don’t know I don’t know if I inherit it or if it’s something that’s just in innately in me. um I just um I at that time it was kind of like you have to go back 7 you know so I’m I’m 42 I started at 16 um, it was like the birth of the internet at the time I just knew there was an opportunity. There was something that was was larger here than you know than that my parents have seen or you know his generations before him have seen so it was an opportunity to start a business um with very minimal capital at that time taught myself to code. Um and you know. From there you know said hey what are what are the opportunities they start with a lot of different things. You know, put out little different internet websites I was doing websites for companies I would try to go you know door to door to some local companies and say hey you should be getting on the internet. It’s kind of into the next best thing so I did that for a little bit and then yeah started started. Just kind of growing from there understanding coding and development and started the business and started to generate some real revenue. Um, and and then grew that you know really and right into college. Um, and so that that was an an amazing experience and the internet really kind of gave it to me. Um, and. You know my dad always said he was never going to let me into his business so I had to find my own way. So I did.
Ross Cohen: Um, yeah, the problem.
Alejandro Cremades: Hey Ro sureel sure about that. So yeah, so what we’re gonna do is let I’m just gonna be rebooting here my computer because I got kicked for some reason you know this software is pretty startupy. So let me let me look back from the other computer.
Ross Cohen: Um, yeah.
Ross Cohen: Yeah.
Ross Cohen: Yep.
Alejandro Cremades: All right? So let’s see here. Let me just hit this a stop.
Ross Cohen: Yep, so um, so yeah, so I think the triggering event for me was um, quite simply my dad basically told me you know he wasn’t going to let me into his business at 16 um, you know just thought the Garmin Center wasn’t for me and just didn’t see a long life there. Um, and ultimately I proved that to be right? Um, so I think it was the. For me the birth of the internet was an opportunity to um, you know start a business with you know, very start a business with very low cost infrastructure I learned to code at the age of 16 so I started to got my first computer which was a tandy computer taught myself that um and then. Went to just door to door to businesses originally and that was the the first version of it was kind of you know, starting going to these companies door to door saying hey do you need a website trying to get them onto the internet. Um, ah you know again at this time it was really the birth of the internet nobody had websites so that’s kind of what I started in the beginning and then um, gradually. Mutated that into another business. Um grew that to where I believe kind of kind of ah cat myself out and from a revenue perspective grew that to about $4000000 and just felt like four million a year and felt like that was that had a ceiling over its head. Um and then started to look at other opportunities and see what what was best for me.
Alejandro Cremades: And obviously you know you were growing this company that you had startup 16 and then you get into college and obviously that opened up things you went to rockers and you did economics and then and and and what happened there because you ended up selling that company to 1 of your besties.
Ross Cohen: Come forward. Yeah.
Ross Cohen: I did.
Alejandro Cremades: And then and then you start another one. So so what was that transition like.
Ross Cohen: Yeah, so that was an interesting one so all throughout college I stayed close I went to rutckers in New Jersey I stayed close to home I promised my mom that I would graduate college I was already kind of you know, making decent money already in my in my first business. Um. Let’s call it ah low 6 figures very low 6 figures but at 16 17 18 nineteen twenty that’s you know that’s real money at that age. Um and promised my mom that I had to attend college and graduate so went to rutckers um got an economics degree. Um, built that business in our attic in our house. Um, my business partner and I who also happened to me my best friend. Um, you know built that business in our attic all throughout college felt like again, you know we we pushed it pretty hard. It was a business process outsourcing company. We we built that to really whereas you know as high as we felt like the revenue could go. Um, he was looking to kind of continue to stay along that path. He felt like that was the best opportunity for him as we were leaving and exiting college and graduating. Um I at the time however felt like I learned an enormous amount about startups about just yeah, we were outsourcing to India and to the Philippines you know when you when you’re starting a business like anything else. And running a business you learn so much just about you know, just what it takes the grind. Um and I felt like 4000000 you know at that ceiling at that revenue number was while a great business. Great small business for anyone just I felt like there was more that I had to give and.
Ross Cohen: Um, in the mid twenty and you’re in mid in your when you’re in your mid 20 s I think there’s no better time to start a business I think you have the least amount of risk right? associated with it. There’s like the worst that could have happened was was starting another business and it fails and at that time I had a but you know a little bit of money saved up. It was had an opportunity to go start another company with. Ah, somebody that I went to high school with who we were both kind of the computer nerds if you will at in our school. Um, he had started another company at the time the kind of the stars align because his company raised a bunch of money they wound up failing who’s actually a precursor to like Friendsster and and really Facebook it and so. You know I’d followed what he was doing along. We’d always exchange emails throughout the years saying hey how’s everything going. What are you doing and we’d exchange ideas and from there from the you know we said hey let’s why don’t we just start something together and and we put a bunch of ideas down on paper and then kind of like I said I had a lot more to give and and felt like. No other time in my life in my mid 20 s than to take the shot and the risk I you know I did have a girlfriend who actually became my wife but you know no children and no other risk. Ah no other responsibilities and no other expenses and there’s no better time at that time. So.
Alejandro Cremades: So so the company you know that you ended up a building you know right out of college. You know that was being verified. So um, how does you know how did being verified. You know how did you guys start to to really push that because I know that.
Ross Cohen: Death.
Alejandro Cremades: The first three years were not easy. You guys were investing quite a bit on the product but it sounds like you guys were not turning a coroner what was going on.
Ross Cohen: Yeah, so when we started being verified a lot of it came out of my previous experience. So my previous experience was hiring a lot of people from um from India from the Philippines a lot of the people that we hired actually didn’t have the credentials that they said they did um you know so. Would claim that they could do these things for us and ultimately a good portion or a good percentage of those people actually never really worked out. Um so that kind of gave us the the impetus to say um you know how do you know who you’re dealing with online and again you have to take this back seventeen years like to the the days of Craigslist right? Like so. Craigslist was the place where you were interacting where you were buying and selling where you were hiring where you were looking for the next place to live. Um, so you know that was at that time this really big black box of people who you had no idea who you were dealing with so we said what if we could add a layer of authenticity and verification to the internet and so. The first version of that idea I’ve been verified was hey we’re going to tell people that we could have them come to our site and allow them to verify themselves. We’ll verify their education. We’ll verify their previous experiences and work history and we’ll do that using. Third -party sources and offer them a seal. Almost I don’t know if everybody could remember because I’m going to date and age everybody here, but there was veraign the verasign seal that used to be on websites to say that this site was secure. We wanted to be verasign for people. Um, and so we built went out we raised um a bunch of money from my my co-founder actually was working at the time as a trader.
Ross Cohen: We went to his boss his boss us. You know we said we’re gonna leave. He’s leaving his boss said why don’t you come in and pitch me the idea and shout out to Mark. He basically said I have no idea what you guys are talking about but I have $200000 to give you so here it is and raise money from him. We started the business and then um. Again, really went after this verification layer for the internet we wanted to be this backbone and really sell into third parties. We had early conversations with twitter before twitter was twitter verified. Um, you know so we we built this layer. We built this product and ultimately found out that you know. Pushed it but it was really hard to get into. You know the match dot coms at the time they didn’t really want a verification layer. You know again I want to be clear. This is seventeen years ago so you have to go back to the early days of the business but we burnt a lot of money really you know with 4 people building a product that I would say. Was amazing that but nobody really wanted. Um, and ultimately what we found out was that by doing all of these verifications by understanding what we were doing with these with these people in this you know. Everybody I guess the best way to put this is that everybody believes in themselves and their identity of themselves and the authenticity of themselves. So what we wound up learning in this whole process but but was that people didn’t want to ultimately verify themselves but they wanted to verify the other people that they were dealing with so that’s kind of the birth of been verified in a pivot that was made there.
Ross Cohen: You know, burnt through a lot of capital along the way so we wound up raising another $600000 on top of it. At this point we had already pivoted so we saw some traction seeing what it looked like to collect public records. Let people understand and search and you know, um, go out with a message of you know who’s driving that. Who’s driving your children’s carpool. Um, you know, really? yeah, really just really utilizing public records in people’s everyday lives and do consumers want information to kind of better help make decisions for them. Um, so yeah I mean look from there. It really became a game of of. Dollars in the bank were the only dollars that we were ever going to have to kind of push this business forward. So it was crucial that we spent all those dollars in the right spots and and it was a lot of it I’d say it came from like just negotiating deals. Everybody’s trying to separate you from your money and and as a business startup the biggest and largest asset you have besides. Cash flow and revenue is the assets that you have in the bank which are the dollars that you raise so every dollar that went out was not another dollar that we had to spend towards marketing. We had to spend towards hiring that we could spend towards you know, really infrastructure and building and scaling so we were you know. Somebody at our company had to become the chief negotiating officer and you know I picked up that role pretty pretty early and honestly we we played every role. Um, you know so I’ll you know give you that I’ll leave it there but you know we we were the coders in the beginning we were doing the design.
Ross Cohen: We were the cfos we were that I’ve marked up my share of illegal agreements and I’m and I wasn’t a lawyer you know I don’t recommend that. But um, you really have to play every role you know in the beginning and the early stages to get to where you need to get to.
Alejandro Cremades: So at what point did you feel that you guys were turning a corner.
Ross Cohen: Yeah, so we you know we felt like we knew that the verification but bringing people and partnering with sites to do the verification layer for them at this time you know I think we was just you know one of those. Um. 1 of those. We were really early to something that I don’t think the internet was ready for. Um, even though we felt like there was a necessary verification layer needed um and to this day there really is no, you know, ultimate authority for verification of who you are on the internet. Um, you know I think that there’s there’s been um, a bunch of strides there but um. You know? So what we saw there was early traction in people that wanting to look up and understand who they were dealing with with with other people so we use that um you know as the now new backbone into our next pivot which was starting beenverified.com um, ah so and from verify benverify dot com. Then created a television commercial and ironically we were looking and saying where is everybody marketing. Everybody was marketing at the time on Google um, you know we had tried a little bit weren’t able to crack it. This is again, let’s call it year 3 4 5 in the business. Um, so we said you know what? my I had a good friend that was working at Mtv. Um, and he was. You know he was a director writer director for Mtv and said hey we’re thinking about making a television commercial What do you think we could do this on and what’s the budget so we set out for about a $15000 television commercial budget filmed a commercial brought in people ironically from Craigslist as actors said come off the street. We wrote a spot.
Ross Cohen: um tested that spot and and this is a great story that um tested that spot on a you know we bought a couple of ads one of them was on the hallmark channel um, and it was during a Halloween episode of something in the middle of June um. You know we we start the commercial runs where’s about 4 of us as employees still at this time. Um and we were watching in the conference room as the television commercial runs live for the first time and we’re like ah this is our last dollars and this is what we spent it on and we see nothing right? We wait about five ten seconds and all of a sudden we have. Google analytics open or its precursor to Google Analytics at the time and we see a rush of traffic to the site and all of a sudden. It’s going like this this is ticking up and then boom crash. Our servers went down so I think from that perspective from that point on we knew that we we found our product market fit. And it was people looking to understand and validate other people’s credentials and that was ah you know that was the impetus for us continuing to build the business and grow from there.
Alejandro Cremades: So obviously you guys kept a growing the business and this is now sixteen years in I mean you got started at 25 now you’re 42 so I mean incredible journey. So I guess you know at what point does it become evident. You know to you guys that maybe the way to go is not to keep pushing just.
Ross Cohen: Oh yeah.
Alejandro Cremades: 1 single entity being verified and and more creating like a holding company to do other kind of stuff too.
Ross Cohen: Yeah, so I think always in so as we as we grew from there so we ran a lot more television. We scaled that up to I’d say you know at our probably at our peak back then you know call about. Ah, five six hundred thousand dollars in marketing every dollar that we were taking in revenue we were constantly reinvesting right back into the business. We continued to grow you know the amount of data that we were licensing out the public record data that we were bringing in. We were getting better at understanding learning and matching our customer support team grew. We had to build a call center. Literally everything that you you know that you could think of from a small business hiring different more developers. We started an iphone app that was immediately successful had millions of downloads. The second we launched it and the thought of that was because of the television commercial so you know then we knew that we had to also bring in some other more online marketing which was you know. Really getting good at Google ah you know and pushing Adwords. Um, so started to get there started to get traction bring I’d say about ten fifteen people into the business of that time before we hit our first kind of 5000000 in revenue. Um, and then you know we always knew that this was like been verified was just the start. We felt like there was. Ah, huge opportunity and in information data-driven consumer businesses. Um, and so from there you know we knew we still had to stay focused because I think ultimately if you put yourself into multiple if you’re if you’re looking at multiple opportunities you’re you’re destined for failure. So.
Ross Cohen: We kept our heads down for really around 1012 years. Um, building been verified growing that subscription base really understanding what our customers needed what they were were requesting um being able to service that community and using been verified almost as a testing bed. So. Because we were able to sign up so many users using our marketing got really good at marketing and so using that testing bed What we saw was there were opportunities within this information market because been verified was really if you think about it illness as a really wide funnel. We were talking to everybody. It was for our daters. It was for ah you know people checking their kids and who were driving the carpool we saw real estate agents on the on the platform. So What we saw was that you know the next one that we built was that people were checking phone numbers. So We said you know what we’re going to start to understand what are these businesses inside have been verified that we could actually roll out and go deeper. Right? So One of those opportunities was with real estate agents. We actually wound up seeing a good percentage of our of the of our audience signing up who were real estate agents and we said Wow So this this actually probably is an opportunity to start a different data company and we started one called Neighborhood. We started another one called ownerly.com neighborhood. Actually it was for real estate Agents. Wholesalers Home flippers home buyers and really dive into that data and go deeper than we were. We were able to do and been verified So again targeting that audience speaking directly from a messaging perspective about why they need this information how they’re going to be educated and use this data to drive their own businesses.
Ross Cohen: Um, and then so again using been verified to scale this really why net would identify different business opportunities within been verified that we were then able to spin out into multiple other holding companies and um, you know so that’s where that idea came from.
Alejandro Cremades: So what? what has been that that process too of testing ideas validating them and then you know launching them into actual business like you did for example with ownerly or with bumper and so forth.
Ross Cohen: Yeah, so that one was it was every time we would get a new data set. We would say okay so how does this data set and I’ll give you an example so we we actually started bringing in a lot of different data sets obviously at this time so Ben Verified Grew from a data perspective. We have this underlying foundational data layer. Um, and within that data layer. We identified opportunities and audiences that were calling different data sets. Um and part of one of those data sets was actually us bringing in um vehicle history data. You know, brought in a very light version so we would always try to test the market and say again. Product market fit almost within been verified so we were able to use been verified as that testb bed bringing in a small amount of vehicle history data and say okay, let’s put it up as another search object in our site. So once you’re a subscriber you’re able to see all of our searches in our platform and then put in vehicle history search. Right? off the bat. We saw that people were started searching their ah vehicle history and wanted to see what you know again, it’s it’s if you think about it’s almost a background report on a vehicle and it was it was analogous to what we were doing kind of with people and with phones and properties at this time. So again that that led us to say wow there is a market here you know and we know that. Carfax is is the £800 gorilla but there’s an opportunity for us to say can we grow this business an outside business. Um, so again, we look at been verified as that that top of funnel test bed if it’s large enough we’ll then take that data set out and then spin it out into proper to a different property what we we ultimately built was really this.
Ross Cohen: Amazing platform underneath like so an a B testing platform. We are able to to target audience and segments in marketing based on the channel that we’re providing it by the actual ad. Um, you know and analyze all of our data with a number of bis so we’re able to take all this really large marketing data and a B testing and then this platform that’s Easy. We now can easily spin up new brands identify different audiences spin that data out. And then talk to those specific audiences because what they’re going to do now is now that it’s broken out. They’re able to tell us hey we actually want titles in in vehicle History. We actually want um to know ah service data in vehicle History. So again, go deeper and ah in a larger moat for that specific audience um with the. But again all leading back to this underlying platform that we built to allow us to continue to scale marketing and a B testing.
Alejandro Cremades: So obviously it sounds like you guys you know had like this incredible model you know and you had now you know about 6 or 7 you know different brands that you were operating under the umbrella of now they’re holding company called the Lifetime value company. So. Ah, what point this had become you know, interesting. Perhaps the idea of raising money. So.
Ross Cohen: Yeah, so you know we we raised money in the early days and as I said so we raised friends ah friends and family from my co-founders previous boss we raised another I what I would call another friends and family around. Um where it was um. You know again, it was that $600000 in the very early days. But what we learned in the as of that process was we didn’t want to be beholden to investors at that time. Um, and I think what we said was we have to make every single dollar work and we need to try and get as profitable as possible so that we don’t ever need money I think you know. 1 of the mistakes that I’ve seen you know, very early entrepreneurs and I talk to a lot of entrepreneurs and I help guide and consult when I can um but what I see the big one of the bigger mistakes they make is there’s for a long time in the market. There was this growth at all costs you know mentality and excuse me. And I think that this growth of um, ah, all cost. Mentality is actually a flawed mentality and as you’re seeing in the market proving out to this day now every company that was growing at all costs now needs to get profitable so you know I think my cofounder and I um, there’s there’s a saying that I believe came from Goldman Sachs because 1 of our earlier cfos I always used to say it to us which was. Be long-term greedy don’t be short-term greedy and what that really means is really look to the long-term and don’t make any short-term decisions and for us. Um, you know we felt that we wanted to control our own destiny and by controlling your own destiny. That’s really trying to get profitable being cash flow positive even though we were investing every dollar back for growth.
Ross Cohen: Were cash flow positive I’m able to keep reinvesting that back in what we saw was an inflection point where we said wow there are a lot of different businesses within this beenverified set that we’ve seen now you know we’ve now identified people who are looking for vehicle. History. We’ve identified real estate agents homesale ah home flippers wholesalers. We’ve identified people who are looking for phone numbers. We’ve identified people. Um you know, looking for ah homeowners that were just trying to understand their own neighbors and properties. Um, and what the values of their properties were so once we we were able to build this platform where we were able to roll out this many companies so easily. Um, using the platform that we had already built to build been verified the crm the subscription service. You know there’s a lot that goes into understanding subscription services. Um, the customer support teams that we’ve built. We have 3 different call centers that are hundreds of people those that that are outsourced. Um, so once you’ve kind of built this foundational layer. Um, you’re able to take this platform and say what else can we apply this platform to so we then looked to the outside investment community and said hey we really? we’re really on something here. We built this underlying platform that we believe is better than yeah, you know 99.8 Percent of anything that’s out there. You know we’re able to. Ah, we built in a large marketing team a large product team. You know we have really great resources that we’re able to apply into different teams and we call them pods and each one of these pods can go after different pieces of the business and so yeah, we we look to the outside investment community. We wanted to see if there was kind of an appetite for what we’ve built and.
Ross Cohen: Ah, you know went to a number of investors. Um, wound up choosing Morgan Stanley and and raising one hundred and fifty million dollars in the end of Twenty Twenty um and it was under the thesis that that we we are going to continue to use this platform and invest in it to continue growing and scaling these businesses that we’re already in. And identify new opportunities because we are now signing up, you know millions of people a year um into these platforms and those millions of people a year are helping us identify other business opportunities in the information data space.
Alejandro Cremades: That’s Amazing. So now. Obviously you know when you raise money, especially raising the amount that you guys raised 150000000 I mean that’s a lot of Zeros You know it comes with a responsibility and. And also you know with pushing for realizing a vision a vision that you shared you know with the people that are investing the money. So if you were to go to sleep tonight Ross and you wake up in a world where the vision of the lifetime value is fully realized. What does that world look like.
Ross Cohen: That’s a good question I think you know it’s like it’s like the old saying that like the the journey is the destination I’m not sure you know I think that there’s you know obviously you know investors need to capitalize on their investment and they need to identify an exit opportunity and I think that you know ultimately. Um, you know we have shareholders we that you know we’re beholden to we have employees who we’re Beholden to are also shareholders. Um, you know I think for us, you know, getting to a great outcome doesn’t necessarily mean us having to sell or having to go public. I’d like to kind of leave that um to the board and the board and I and I said to the board. But you know those conversations said at the board level as what’s the best opportunity for the business. So but at the same time it’s it’s um, you know as an operator you have to think a little bit more short to the medium term. As a shareholder and ah and a larger shareholder in the company you have to think to the long term and what does that look like so you know I think it’s an interesting question when you say what does realization realization look like um, you know I don’t I can’t give you a great answer because I’ve actually you know. Written a blog post and I’ve said where it’s almost like the desert less traveled right? You’re continually when you started you don’t know where you’re going. You’re just gonna travel along this desert There’s gonna be mirages that look like exit opportunities along the way. But ultimately you find out that they’re just mirages but you know you continue on that journey through that desert and.
Ross Cohen: I’m still on that journey and I don’t know what exactly the exit opportunity looks like but I would love to say that a realization continues for us to invest in the platform that we built identify more opportunities. You know we’re at a size now where we’re looking at um acquisition targets for us. Um. What are things that we can now plug in right bolt on so instead of starting like we started bumper from 0 to you know x millions. Um, you know what are opportunities where we’re seeing. They’re already at this this inflection point of maybe they’re drewing 5 to $ 10000000 we could bolt them onto our platform teach them optimization. Um. You know run marketing for them. Um, and and really bring in you know those acquisitions and help them scale and I think that that would help to prove out this platform that we built and whether those are 100% acquisitions where where this primary shareholder is ltv or whether the minority stake we believe that you know we’ve scaled businesses. Um, you know. To over $100000000 in revenue and we we want to be able to prove this platform has tremendous value in a consumer business model.
Alejandro Cremades: So then let’s talk about now the past but doing so with a lens of reflection because you’ve been pushing. You know this company for 16 years you know and you’re way to 17 I mean that in dark years you know is in the startup world is absolutely incredible. So um, imagine I was to put you into a time machine. And I bring you back in time maybe to that moment where you are at ruckers you know university and thinking about you know What’s the next the next chapter as an entrepreneur entrepreneur going to be and imagine you had the opportunity of a sitting down with that younger Ross I’m being able to give that younger Ross 1 piece of advice before launching a business. What would that be and why 17 years in
Ross Cohen: Ah, so I think you have to have you yeah looking at and saying ask you know talking to my my past self. Um I would say just go for it I think ultimately, that’s what I did at the time then too and I think you know I think you just have to go for it. I think that the you. All the things that you’re going to encounter my my cofounder and I actually talk about this a lot and I think that being naive is actually what got us here you know for a lot of years being naive thinking that we could build this to a billion dollar company is part of the process like so for me to go back and and with my almost. Too much critical self I think at this point where we’re we’re like so critical about all these opportunities we do get thrown a lot of you know deal flow and looking at ah you know I’ve gotten my share of a yeah I’ve made my share of investments and startups and stuff so you almost become more critical and I’d actually rather leave my old self more naive because I think that was what ultimately got us here. Um, and not knowing the future is is is the win and not not telling them all of the pitfalls that you’re gonna hit and all the things that you’re gonna need to deal with and how hard management is like when you start a business nobody tells you that you’re gonna have to be a manager of 350 people like that’s just like that’s not even something that crosses your mind. You’re just. You know you’re excited. You’re trying to build this product. You’re trying to get it off the ground you’re trying to launch your vision and strategy. Um, and you’re learning new things every day. Um, and I still learn at new things every day but they’s different I mean I think at this size of the the game. Um, you know you’re managing from a top down and from a strategy perspective and.
Ross Cohen: It’s just a different you know it’s a different place than when you’re in a startup mode and I’d I’d hate to ruin the naiveness that I had and I know that not naivete looks is the word that almost is looked down upon but I actually think and from a startup perspective. You need it. Um, you know, ah you need it.
Alejandro Cremades: I love it so Ros for the people that are listening that will love to reach out and say hi. What is the best way for them to do so. So.
Ross Cohen: So yeah I mean I’m on ah I’m on Instagram at at Ross co Ross r o s s c o h I’m on Linkedin Ross Cohen um you could you. If yeah, anybody that’s a entrepreneur that’s looking to touch base I’m happyly happily you could email me at Ross at ltvco.com. Um, yeah, I’m out there so and more than happy to talk to entrepreneurs. Ah as they looking to scale their journey.
Alejandro Cremades: Amazing. Well easy now rush thank you so much for being on the dealmakerr show today. It has been an honor to have you with us.
Ross Cohen: Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure Alex I really appreciate you having me.
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 [email protected]