He then built his own marketing agency and started generating hundreds of thousands of dollars, which he then invested heavily into the stock market, only for the recession to hit.
No matter what, though, Adams was always learning. And this is, like, really, really high quality content. So, in order to grow the business, to be able to make an impact, which is our goal now, this is what my dream and vision is, is to build a household name, entrepreneurial brand that impacts the lives of tens of millions of people with our content on a monthly basis. We have to produce content at scale. So, you know, we have to scale up courses as well which is really, really exciting.
And you can see, I take so much from these interviews. She actually has been on this podcast and actually lives in Melbourne. So, if you go to foundrmag, foundrmag. Very, very smart guy, I was lucky to catch up with him in Sydney about six months ago, learnt a lot from him.
This is a great conversation, we talk about leadership, we talk about teamwork, we talk about investors, we talk about raising capital, we talk about bootstrapping, we talk about growth.
Very, very cool, really great. This is a really, really, really, really valuable episode. So, the first question I ask everyone that comes on is, how did you get your job? I look at it as just living life man, and doing what I love every day.
Well, it started right around that time, 18, I dropped out of the University and I wanted to learn about the stock market. I was very interested in how these companies became successful and what the Wall Street was all about. So, I created an online community where people can come and talk about the companies that they were investing in, they were trading, they were interested in.
And what I realized was, one, I wanted to create a community so that I can learn from other people that were gurus at picking stocks and investing so that I can, you know, basically get some kind of mentorship through the community. And then, two, I just saw an opportunity in the marketplace where it was something that I was looking for.
And you kind of give some sense of credibility. So, if you had four or five gold stars, it meant that you were ranked over a hundred times and you can actually see that he was a…that he knew what he was doing.
So, that kind of rating system is what worked. And I ended up getting about 10, active members talking back and forth on the site and that was a lot back then and I guess, it still is in a way. I can actually make money doing this. And that was the very first online business, I guess, if you would call it the real business back in, you know, back in elementary school where I was flipping lollipops. And then, in middle school, t-shirts.
And then, high school, you know, everything from fake IDs to car parts, you know. But yeah, my real first real business was this online community called StockSpot. So, what happened next man? You started advertising, started building it up? And they were very interested in how to leverage the internet to tell us their story and to get exposure for their company. This was back in, like, and they looked at me as a young guy that understood the internet.
So, they brought me on board. I helped them redo their website, did video marketing, PPC advertising, got them written up on my forum, got them written up with other bloggers. And they taught me what was called investor relations and public relations, to understand the, kind of, the investor side of things, and the, you know, and what PR really was. And that led me to my first real failure, that kind of opened up my eyes.
I helped built that company out to the largest shareholder base, any small cap company, 18, thousand shareholders. And that was the first day I did public speaking, I looked like a baby, I was nervous.
CEO pushed me out there. I said a speech and introduced the management team. They came up and they were basically about to prove the concept of the Nano battery, showing that no energy was being used. And they told me to turn the device on, then it would shoot energy, creating this infinite shelf life battery that had power on demand.
And they did the demonstration, I hit the button. This is my big break. And my career, yeah, that was like, you know, I was devastated. So, I decide to open up my own agency to do that for other companies and I went all-in. And it was the best, it was amazing. I was flying around the country, meeting all these innovative companies and learned helping them tell their stories.
This is not how I want to build the legacy and maybe known for this. And by the time I was 25, and the market recession, like, hit the United States, if you remember around… Nathan: This was right around to and I lost everything. And this is when I had a really big, like you know, ego check where I was like, you know, I thought I was this young guy in my 20s that had everything, you know, had it all.
I finally gotten my first Bentley, Penthouse, I was flying all over the place, I thought I was invincible to now, boom, it all disappearing. This is kind of where they sell all the fake handbags, and watches and stuff. And she had to, in the middle of the winter, watch so that nobody stole the fake handbags, just to make a little bit of money, to help put food on the table with my grandparents. No one is even paying attention to the economics.
So, I started doing documentaries on the economy, and I started doing documentaries on gold and silver commodities, and building a newsletter based on… I still, to this day, have the website, inflation.
And I did a documentary on the student loan debt crisis, which was one of the first to expose that got on news, Bloomberg, Fox Business. And my passion for content grew. And I started to leverage that not only to do documentaries and build my own newsletter but leverage it to help other entrepreneurs with digital marketing for their companies while partnering with them.
Wall Street is tainted. And we just started freaking hustling, man. We just started interviewing each other, building out WordPress site, you know, freaking, hitting up every friend we had to share our post on Facebook. You know, real, like, guerilla style grassroots marketing to get it going but we loved every second of it and we were all in. You know, we were completely committed.
We got some of the lead investors like Greycroft, some of the biggest venture capitalists to get behind us which was a blessing and a curse at the same time. And he made an offer within six months and that was, you know, one of the toughest decisions of our life. I was the blocking vote, long board meetings, but we started just seeing how Facebook was changing algorithms and there was a risk that our traffic could have gotten hit and we wanted to give security to the people that believed in us, day in and day out.
So, we ended up going through with the deal. And, you know, I feel like being an entrepreneur is like a fellowship. So, we got a ton of questions for you. First one, you said when you raise capital for Elite Daily, that it was a blessing and a curse at the same time. What did you mean by that and what are your thoughts on raising raising capital for your company?
You know, be a tech entrepreneur and go raise a lot of money and then spend a lot of money. And I think that makes you a better founder and a better entrepreneur. Reason why I said it was a blessing and a curse is, you know, there does come to a point where when you do get traction, like, Elite Daily did, you need growth capital. But at the end of the day, VC looks at you as like, kind of, like a number man. You know, I feel if you can raise money from some more strategic angels and get people that really understand your vision and will be there for you every step of the way, that will really bring contacts to you, that will really pick up the phone.
You know, I had an investor, Ryan Blair, who became a dear friend of mine. When he came in, he… You know, I mean, throughout the whole acquisition process, he would be in, like, Holland, you know.
So, you gotta be careful and really pick your investors smart. You gotta be very careful how you set up your board, you just gotta to be careful. If I were to go back and do it again, I would do it the same way because one of the things and reasons why we went and got, you know, venture capital was, it solidified us in the marketplace.
There was a partner early on that came on board that we gave a little bit too much equity in the beginning, thinking that they were doing more than they actually did. And brand equity is legit, you know. And, you know, when I would fly to freaking… I remember, I landed in Italy, Milan because because I had a…one of my other companies was doing something there and, you know, people, they knew Elite Daily. It was something that they read in a daily basis, it was part of their routine, it was a trusted source that they loved going to, whether it was for, like, just for laugh, to get some authentic news, or to stay in tune with what was really happening with business.
They need to monetize quickly, quickly, quickly. You know, revenue is extremely important but your product is everything, and your customer, and the people that are, you know, that are gonna be using it. So, we focused on that for a long period of time and built this brand equity. As you can see, the traffic was 80 million unique visitors. You know, five times revenue. We just really started getting bigger deals and more native advertising and, you know, we were solidifying our brand so that, you know, big companies were started to pay us.
And it was gonna live on no matter what. So, you know, we did it. I was depressed for a little while after the exit, like, not knowing, like, if it was the right decision. But looking back now, our traffic did fall in half and Facebook did make those changes and it got way harder to continue on the growth trajectory that we had in those three and a half years.
So, the timing was right.