#21 – Shane Foss: Starting, buying, and selling companies – bankruptcy, turnarounds, and more.
We welcomed Shane Foss to the show. Shane shared some incredible insight on business transactions and solving business problems. You will absolutely love this episode. And as a reminder, you can now WATCH the podcast on my YouTube channel so be sure to check it out!
AUTO-TRANSCRIBED – PLEASE FORGIVE ANY ERRORS OR TYPOS
Aaron Spatz 00:05
I’m Aaron Spatz. And this is the Veterans Business Podcast. A podcast centered around the stories of US military veterans, and their adventures in the business world following their time in service. Its stories of challenges and obstacles, and an inside look at how veterans find their life’s work, their purpose, and their post military lives. Welcome to the Veterans Business Podcast. My name is Aaron Spatz. So excited to have with us today, Shane FOSS. Shane is a he’s an Air Force veteran. He is a career professional in the medical services industry. His career has taken him all over the country, quick study his background, you’ll know that he’s been here, there and everywhere. But he’s now finally in the Dallas Fort Worth area as partner with Castle development group. And as the founder and CEO of REI health. So Shane, thanks so much for joining us today.
Shane Foss 01:01
Yeah, thanks, sir. Really excited?
Aaron Spatz 01:03
Absolutely. Man, I reached out to you. You know, we’ll forgive the fact that you’re an Air Force guy, we’ll let that slam on now. No, I can’t I can’t be can be too hard on you. I’ve got I’ve got some extended relatives in the Air Force. So you know, I gotta be nice, mostly. But no, but I mean, I, you know, I guess on that note, you know, share with us a little bit about your, your little bit your inspiration behind going into the military could be for any number of reasons. And give us a little bit of sense of what you did and kind of how that played out for you.
Shane Foss 01:38
Yeah, absolutely. So my, my story is pretty interesting, because I went in and listed but like everything else in my, in my life, it was it was funny. I started off in college and really didn’t know what I wanted to do and kind of floundered a little bit. And I was working at a sporting goods store up in Duluth, Minnesota. And I was sitting there and and, and I literally one day, I was like, I’m going to be here the rest of my life. I don’t do something. And so I literally went down to the recruiting station, and I went to talk to the Navy. And the Navy guy was out for lunch and Air Force guys like, Hey, come on over here. So I started talking to the Air Force guy. And I literally signed up for maps that day, and said, I’m gonna this one, I’m doing mine. So yeah, so I went home that night, and I moved back with my parents, and I was working full time but and I told him, I said, Hey, I’m joining the Air Force. And she was like, what? And, and I said, You know what, look, I can go delayed enlistment. There’s a job that I really would like. And it’s my recruiter, we talked about a bunch of different opportunities. And one of the things he said was, hey, I had a really good buddy of mine, that was a scrub tech, surgical technologist. And he assisted surgeons during surgery. And I said, Sign me up. That sounds awesome. And so I went down, I took my took the ASVAB went down to maps, and I got my delayed enlistment. And I went in there, it was five months later went in September. And yeah, it was, you know, what, for me was the greatest experience of my life. And the best thing for me because I went in, at, basically, I just turned 21. So I went in, I was a little bit older than a lot of the new recruits a little more mature, say a little bit. But, um, but it was a, it was a great humbling experience. And it was really the focus that I needed. And I did very well in basic training. You know, I was sort of dorm chief and I was, you know, I, I ended up when I went to tech school, didn’t really well there. And, you know, it was, it kind of scared me straight, if you would write I mean, when you’re in the military, you’re always afraid of all these external things that are gonna end up in Leavenworth, or you’re going to get washed out or whatever. And so, it was, it was just a great experience. And then so, I absolutely loved what I was doing, you know, being a surgical technologist was, was, for me, it was, you know, just an opportunity to learn and continue to learn and, and then I was when I was stationed at Wilford Hall, we were a level one trauma center. And so it presented an opportunity to go back to school and at that point, I decided I wanted to go back and be a doctor. And so I talked to Colonel Fryman, who was our O IC, and she said, Alright, you got to keep your grades up. And but I worked basically 40 hours over the weekend. And then I took 18 credits a semester during the week and worked part time job while I was in the Air Force, and I graduated, I got out in September, graduated in December and the rest is history.
Aaron Spatz 04:58
That Wow, not that’s That’s amazing. And to think you’re, you’re only a door away from joining the Marine Corps or more a couple days from going into the army, God forbid, right
Shane Foss 05:08
now, but man, it was whoever was paying attention at the time, right?
Aaron Spatz 05:13
I mean, that I mean, I’m just sitting here laughing because it’s like, holy cow, like, you’re like a recruiters dream. It was like, door number one, or door number four or whatever. And it’s like, you know, whatever, whatever job they needed. I was like, man, here we go. And it’s just, it’s neat. Yeah, and it’s like, I don’t talk to people every day from like, surgical tech world of the Air Force. And so that’s, that’s a, that’s a unique opportunity that you had, and then you tell, tell us a little bit about that, that transition then of you going getting additional education and, and then, you know, your, your pathway out?
Shane Foss 05:51
Yeah. So it was it was awesome. So we had at Wilford Hall, we were training residents. And we were trying to residents, we had Vamsi, which is Brooke Army Medical Center, right, right across the city. And so we had some of the residents come in, so I got to, I got to experience orthopedics, cardiac general, and EMT, and all of these had just great learning experience or, and so when I was transitioning out, you know, the goal was really to finish graduate school, college, apply to medical school, and had plenty of support from leaders around our organization. And I ended up meeting my wife, we got we got married that August, right before I got out, I met her in college, and she had already been accepted to medical school. And so we, you know, got out applying to medical school. And then, you know, a year later, she ended up pregnant. And somebody had to work. And so, it was really interesting, because I, I have always been a salesperson, I mean, my whole life. I’ve always been, you know, a talker, somebody that works hard. And, and so it was funny, I just, I worked with these guys are called orthopedic sales reps. And they were there on the weekends with me working, you know, when we do a nail or you know, or a broken hip fracture. And so they were like, Hey, you want to come work with us. And so I went to work with j&j. Right out of right out of the military. did really well, and then moved on to strike orthopedics? Yeah. So it was it was a good transition. Because, you know, one of the things about the military that, you know, and we have a lot of military veterans that work with us here at Castle development, one of my key partners, Matt is he was in Marines, and he was in recon. And so, you know, they, they do what they say, and they’re trustworthy. They’re, you know, we’re, you know, we’re a simple bunch, right? I mean, just kind of, you know, at face value, it’s a handshake, and you kind of do it. And so, it was from a transition standpoint, it was, it was interesting coming out of out of out of the military, but it was good transition, ready to make that change and, and been focused on it ever since. It’s perfect. My son just graduated college. And he and I are having the talk right now, but possibly joining the military, he’s looking at maybe going in and as an officer, so we’re kind of walking through that and looking at the different options.
Aaron Spatz 08:26
Yeah. Wow. That’s amazing. And he’s got a ton of options to know the Yeah, yeah, it’s a, it’s definitely an exciting time. And in and I’ve seen that I’ve seen a lot of people go into sales. And my theory is, you know, you’ve either got it, you got, you’ve either got to be the best sales guy in your organization, or you got to hire the best sales guy for your organization. Right. But the, the journey for a lot of people outside of the military, I’ve noticed, like they avoid sales, and I feel like a lot of us would be really well served if we just embrace it, and just go into it. Like, what, what, what’s kind of like, What’s your stance on that? What’s your opinion of people exiting out and just starting a career in sales?
Shane Foss 09:10
Well, look, I think sales is sales is interesting, because, you know, in the military, you have your SOPs and your protocols, and you follow right sales is no different in the sense that you have to make a certain amount of, you know, depending on the industry, of course, but as long as you’re consistent making the calls and you know, understand your product, your job and move on and then you know 90% of sales is showing up right as long as it you know, you have a halfway but, you know, good personality. But, you know, I think that sales is a great paying job as well. It’s just when your income from the military, having that income that is variable, and taking a chance on yourself was probably a little less stable. So it’s a little more difficult for a lot of veterans get coming out but But yeah, I, I’m a firm believer in sales because in sales drives everything in an organization. Yeah, yeah. But I’ve got, you know, I’ve got a real good friend that went to West Point, I went to grad school with them. And we were partners in grad school, and he’s at Microsoft now. And he is an ops guy. And he dominated like for us in our, in our, in our group for our team that, you know, in grad school, he, I mean, he organized every he did stuff that I would never be able to do. So I think everybody does find their niche, right. It’s got to do it. You’re good at
Aaron Spatz 10:36
Yeah, no, no, it’s true. It’s true. And no doubt you’ve, you’ve had quite the interesting career. I mean, so you, you moved across the country, a couple of times, you’ve taken a few different roles. And I was looking at your experience earlier, but you know, you were you were VP of Sales and Marketing before moving into President role. And then you’re doing Chief Commercial Officer and operating officer before. So share with us a little bit about that journey, that story of how all that kind of progressed for you.
Shane Foss 11:06
Yeah, I think, you know, you’ve got um, there’s a couple things, I think. So when I was. So when I was a salesperson, VP of sales, we, we it was a private equity back organization. Anytime I’ve left an organization, I always look at, what am I going to learn? And what am i How am I going to grow. And I would never go into a role where I know, I’m just going to dominate because I’m going to be, and because I know it, because I’m going to be bored. And I you know, so I’m a learner, and I like to, I like to, I want to go into something that’s gonna be a stretch. So every opportunity that I look look for is how do I learn different industry? And how do I learn to build on my, my skill set to where you know, with, which is my ultimate goal is where I’m at today. So I’m, you know, with, with VP of sales roles at a private equity backed manufacturing company, but we sold orthopedic implants, which is where, you know, my bulk of my career was, so that was really interesting for me, but understanding the manufacturing aspect, and then building, building up a sales strategy and then executing on it for that was really interesting.
Aaron Spatz 12:21
Yeah, that I, I can’t imagine like how that kind of came full circle for you. It’s like, yeah,
Shane Foss 12:25
yeah, it was, it was really interesting. But you dig in and you learn, right? You just you sit down with people, and you spend the time to, you know, the engineers to understand how its manufactured. I mean, I have a whole new respect for people, like you look at your computer, and you look, which is, by the way, what my buddy does at Microsoft, he he sources, everything from for all the laptops and stuff from from Korea. And so I look at like this microphone, and, and it looks like a simple piece of machinery, you but putting this thing together and all the SOPs and I mean, the blueprints, it’s amazing, all the little things that need to get manufactured. So yeah, it was a great experience. And then from there, we bought a business, which was back in medical device, and it was a distributor ship. And we turned that around and sold it three years later. And then from there, I went into the chief commercial operating officer role for a company that it was private equity backed again, but it was it was a neuro monitoring company. So I I understood the business a little bit, but not a lot. It was more clinical sales. So it was a great learning experience for me, you know, so we did really well there, sold it. And then and then a buddy of mine called me up that was CEO of pro or excuse me, not pro owner of employee to rack which where I was the CEO. And he said, Look, I need somebody to come in and help with build a strategy on this. And so we went in, built a strategy executed on it and sold literally almost, what less 11 months later after I got there we sold. And so I stayed on six months and, and but then that’s when I came up with the idea with for Hurray. And I was I felt at that point, I was ready for ready for to go out on my own basically. And I built the strategy built the, you know, really looked into the market tried to understand the niche, and you know, it’s worked out okay, so far.
Aaron Spatz 14:32
That’s pretty, that’s pretty remarkable. I like Yeah, I mean, you see the progression of your career, like, you know, starting out, you know, when you were like sales and kind of just working your way up, but then also you you’ve been able to be a part of, you know, the the sales transaction of public business and so like, like, what is what is that experience like, you know, either as the owner or as like one of the chief executives, like how does that how does that process play out like What did you learn through that journey?
Shane Foss 15:02
A great question. So I’ll give you a couple couple examples. So I’ve had, again, really, you know, blessed with great experience. So, um, the first the first exit I had was, it was my business and the company had come back and said, We’re gonna buy back your business. And we want to, because now you’re profitable, you turn this business around, we want to, we want to bring it in house. And so that was a little stressful, because when we bought the business, there were obviously we were one of, I think, 32 what they call distributors. And, you know, obviously, this is a $7 billion company, they’ve got a lot of little loopholes in there. And it was just, it was very stressful during that transition. But you know, we ended up okay, everything ended up okay. And financially, we did well. So that was, it was it was a good experience. The next one was actually we were in a stalking horse bankruptcy. So we had gone into this business. And basically what had happened was sales, we were driving revenue, and we’re doing great. But on the back end, I learned a very valuable lesson, we had these young guys that were a part of the private equity group that said, hey, you know what, you’re paying 5% to collect, you know, all of the billing for this neuro monitoring company. And we can do that in house. So I was like, Well, wait a second, guys. We don’t have any experience, and oh, no, we can do it. Well, the problem was, they couldn’t do it. They went from collecting, you know, 5 million a month to 500,000 a month, right. And so we spiraled quickly. And so anyway, long story short, we had what was called a stalking horse bankruptcy. And it was, but it was a really good experience, because we had our whole, you know, I think one of the things that the military does for you is it gives you the sense of purpose for people. And I was I got on a call, and, and it was, I’ll never forget this, it was our CEO, CFO, controller, and chief legal officer, and we get on the call, and the CEO goes, Why Shane? You know, we just it how he talked, it was, it was really weird. I literally said, Are you firing me? And he goes, No, no, but we’re all quitting, because we’re going through stalking horse bankruptcy. And we feel there’s some legal obligation here and data. And I was like, he goes, Are you quitting? And I said, No, I’m not quitting. We got 230 people out in the field. Plus, we got another 60 people in the house. And you know, what’s gonna happen? Everybody, they’re like, Well, you know, we don’t know, at this point, they’re, you know, they’re bringing in a consulting group to do the stalking or bankruptcy. So we, we met with the lead, the lead guy, and, and my sales team. We had townhall meetings across the United States, we met with everybody. And we kept that whole group together, worked with the acquiring company. And it was a fantastic learning experience. I mean, look, it wasn’t my fault. But I was I was helping with that transition. And so we, we made that specialty care was the name of the company that bought us, and, and they’re a fantastic organization, and they took great care of the people. And we ended up keeping about 80% of the business. So they made, they had a great transaction for a very low cost. But all the people went with them, except for 20%, that did something different. And so I thought it showed a lot of character for our sales team or organization do that. And, you know, we got a lot of people that were would call us and say what’s going on, and there’s so there’s so a lot of trepidation that goes on in a in an exit, you know, whether it’s a positive or negative acquisition. And so it’s, you know, that military bearing has always stayed with me, how do you how do you keep your cool, hey, let’s, let’s not go histrionics and go left or right, right, let’s what’s our mission, let’s make sure that we keep people, you know, focused on, you know, the positive, and let’s keep the keep the front moving forward.
Aaron Spatz 19:16
And that’s amazing for, for me, and for anybody else listening or watching this, like, give us the quick two sentence definition of that flavor of bankruptcy.
Shane Foss 19:27
So basically, what happens is you put all of your financial sales, all of your information in the share drive, and companies will come in and Bill, they’ll sign an NDA. They’ll look at all the details. And then what they’ll do is there’s a bid, that’s for a specific date, and then they have to have their five first final bid in right. So the stalking horse is the first bid that goes in, then everybody else is stalking that first bid. Okay, what it looks like so it’s It’s a very, you know, it can be a huge winner a huge loss, right? So if you go in and you bid, let’s say $5 million, and another group comes in and bids five and a half million, and it could be a complete windfall, but if you go in and bid 6 million and you win, and you end up with 2 million in revenue, I mean, it could be a complete dud. Right. Gotcha. So but our, you know, our business we went for a few years now. So it’s, I think it was just over 5 million, I think they kept at least we kept 80% of people, I think we kept at least 60% of the business, which was fantastic. So it was a huge win. Yeah. For for that organization. So
Aaron Spatz 20:47
that’s, that’s, uh, yeah, I mean, that’s amazing. Tell me about the, you mentioned. Yeah, tell me about when you mean, you bought when you bought the business, because that was your that was your first foray into, into like, ownership. Right. So I pray that like,
Shane Foss 21:03
stressful, you know, you’re writing, you know, you’re writing a really, you know, big check, and then you’re, you’re signing for a lot of money as well. You know, we were, I think at that point, you know, 58 million, so close to $60 million in revenue. So it was a big business, you know, we had over 60, we had 60 employees, and the business was broken. They hadn’t hit their number sales objective in five years, as a matter of fact, every other business is growing by 10% a year, they’re losing 20% of their business year. So functionally, it was a broken business, which is, you know, honestly, that’s what I love. That’s, that’s my specialty. I love going into broken businesses. You know, rallying the troops, looking at it, from a strategic standpoint, looking at it from a financial standpoint, but also a sales strategy standpoint, start executing on that, getting the right people in place. So but yeah, it’s a it’s a it’s stressful. Yeah, it’s very stressful.
Aaron Spatz 22:09
I can only imagine cuz you’re, I mean, like, I imagine going into that, like you gather as much information as you possibly can. You’re trying to get a sense of the polls, and the p&l balance sheet, just really trying to understand what makes that company tick. And, you know, like, and then you’re going through all the possibilities of how you could turn around, right, and maybe some key hires and some key people that you want to bring in to kind of turn the ship around. But yeah, like, I can understand how that would be, that would be so exhilarating. Especially when it works. But like when it’s but when you’re like, you’re the one signing for the loan, you’re the one signing for all this money. And yeah, I can’t imagine. I just I can’t imagine that that stress level.
Shane Foss 22:54
Yeah. Yeah, it was hard. Because the, you know, the first three months, we lost a bunch of salespeople, and we lost business. And, you know, we had to make up that business. And then we had, you know, it was, you know, the culture was just toxic. I mean, we had some really bad apples in the in the group, and, you know, you have to, you have to work through it. And when it’s your money, it’s even harder. But yeah, it’s good. You know, I think that, you know, you have to be positive. And, you know, when you look at stuff, you have to be realistic, but you have to be positive. And, you know, you have to have confidence in yourself. You know, I think, you know, again, always going back to the military, you know, I remember that my first night when we get off the bus, and I know the Air Force’s doesn’t compare to any other basic training, so I will use this lightly. Oh, good. Yeah. But what was funny was, we get off the bus and, you know, it’s like midnight, it’s, it’s, you know, mid midnight dark, right? And light. Under this one. Even I remember we get out and we’re all you know, rainbows at that time, different clothes, haircuts. And I remember this drill instructor sitting there with sunglasses, and I thought, oh, here we go. And, and he starts yelling at us that second we’re, we’re running out, we go upstairs to our dorms and you know, they put these locks around your neck and you got a key and a lock and lock your locker. And I just remember sitting there with him screaming in my face, trying to unlock that darn lock. And I’m like, son of a gun, and I can’t unlock it. I’m thinking, How dumb Am I that I can’t even unlock that basic lock right now. Right? And then you come out of there, you know, 10 feet tall and good about yourself? Yeah. So you know, it’s Yeah, business is the same thing. You start. You got to learn from your mistakes.
Aaron Spatz 24:45
I love it. I love Yeah, I love the parallel there. No, that’s great. Yeah, cuz you’re, you’re putting under a lot of stress and duress. And yeah, and everybody’s experience is different. But because it’s all relative to you, you know, so yeah, I’m saying the same. In business, you know, so it’s like, you know, a million dollar problems, meaning it could be nothing to somebody who’s, you know, managed $100 million? Sure problem, you know, so but that’s the that’s not the, tell me about so like, so understanding your journey because it’s been, it’s been a pretty, pretty wild journey like been been been pretty cool. So like help me understand then the, the that inflection point that that turning point that that day that hour or whatever it was I don’t know if it was a cold one late at night or you’re on a morning run or doing something and you are no is it was when you’re in the shower, right? Like all the best ideas come over in the shower. But no, but like what, what inspired you to go in to go into business for yourself at this point and like, start starting something and going on that journey.
Shane Foss 26:00
It was, honestly, I just didn’t want to work for somebody else anymore. I was at that point where, you know, from a maturity standpoint, it’s kind of I just I had seen so many mistakes made, you know, the the hubris not listening to anybody else. And the you know, are they you know, you’re, you’re just just wasted money. And I and I just told myself, I gave myself a short window of time, a couple months. And I said, Alright, this is what you’re going to do, you’re going to work through this hurry idea. And you’re going to see what you can come up with. And, and actually, after a few months, I came up, I got a lot of interest I got, you know, I was able to really create a pretty nice footprint for the network. And, and then, and then I bought the business from my original, my original partner, and which was you know, you talk about your first five hires, that’s a, that’s the other great, great story to get into is you your partners. But um, but what had happened was I was kind of at the point am I going to do this is this a viable option. And what was funny was, I was actually interviewing for a position, you know, a senior president position with an orthopedic company where I’m very comfortable, and have a lot of credibility in that market, a lot of experience. And I remember sitting in there with the CEO going through this, and he was talking me out some stuff, and I literally looked at him and I was thinking, if I have to do this, again, I am going to die. And so I just literally I walked out of there, I called my wife and said, on both feet in I’m turning down this job offer and it was a big ass job. I’m just gonna say that. And, and, you know, so. So, you know, my wife was like, go for it, just do it. And so we did it. And, you know, I look back and you know, when change thing. And you know, I think you talked about partners and business, I think your you know, your first partners, your wife, or your husband, or your significant other. And, you know, you got to have, you got to have that support at home, because I’m going to tell you right now, I didn’t pay myself for what two and a half, almost three years, lots of stress made wrote big checks out of my checking account to keep the business afloat. And she heard every night me coming home positive saying, we’re almost, we’re almost there, you know, and, and she, you know, she trusted me. And so, you know, it’s a big deal. And so, you know, you got to you know, it’s, you know, I know a lot of us look at business partners, as you know, who’s in the office with the every day. But, you know, when you go home, you know, your wife, your kids, I mean, my kids, they know everybody in our office, they know, you know, they look at it as their business. And it’s, you know, they know, you know, the importance of what we’re doing.
Aaron Spatz 29:04
That’s amazing. I love the way that you phrase that and in how do you put the emphasis on the spouse because I couldn’t agree more than not agree more if it if it’s not for the for the steadfastness and the patience and the trust from the homefront. I mean, your your torpedoed, and or it’s going to be or if you’re not torpedoed is just going to be like 10x harder to get to where you want to be. And so, no, I absolutely love that. What. So you’ve alluded to it now a couple times, like let’s just go, but like with partners, so outside of the home front. You know, obviously we’ve seen tons of comp, I mean, I’ve seen tons of companies, I’ve been a part of tons of companies. Even in the startup world, I’ve been a part of those as well. And so I’ve seen it both ways. More often or not, it’s co founders But I’ve also seen just, you know, single single founders. I mean, I’m an example that I’m, I’m a single founder for this, but But you know, like, Do you have a Do you have an opinion, I guess is what I’m asking you have? Do you think it’s wise? To co founder or multiple partners? Like, how does that work in your world?
Shane Foss 30:21
Yeah, I think, you know, look, I’d never say no to that. Because with Castle development, I have co founders, you know, Matt, who’s Marines recon, and then Andrew, you know, incredibly blessed to have them as my partners, they’re, you know, not only, you know, wonderful friends, but they’re, they’re great business people, they understand the business. And, you know, from a trust factor, you know, you know, I couldn’t, I couldn’t have done, you know, or they couldn’t have done it without me. I couldn’t have done all of them. I mean, it’s just a symbiotic, but I mean, just great partner. So I think partnerships are very rewarding. But I think you have to, you have to be very cautious when you’re going into partnership, and you got to make sure, you know, it’s funny is when I didn’t have the insurance experience, when I started, hurray. And so my first partner was, you know, a 30 plus year insurance veteran, and, and when we got down to it, all of the stuff that were kind of the, I mean, if if I’m, you know, looking back, I mean, all the signals are there for just don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. And luckily, we had a, we had a clause in the contract where I could buy a mountain. So I did, but, you know, it’s, yeah, you just got to be careful, because it’s a marriage, it really is, you know, it’s an absolute marriage. Because you, you know, you’re financially tied to get there, you know, you’ve got to be successful. So I think, what’s at Castle development, why we’ve been so successful is everybody brought a different level of experience. And so that, that was really, you know, and we got along, and we really liked each other. So, so I think that was, that was a really, you know, that’s why we’re successful with that business. Where when he started, it was he definitely had a different skill set. But right away, I knew that it wasn’t I he would never be in our day to day business. Right. And so it was, you know, I should have known from that point, but yeah, it was it was a couple months in and we just made the decision to split and it worked really well.
Aaron Spatz 32:33
Yeah. Well, I mean, it’s, I mean, it’s good. I mean, you’re like, it’s a learning, it’s learning experience, you know, and so it’s yeah, just you just reinforced your own, maybe your own gut on certain things. And so now, it’s like, you’re just gonna, you’re gonna roll with that gut, man.
Shane Foss 32:50
Yeah, you just, I’m lucky. You know, the other thing is, he can’t cry over spilt milk, either. You know, I mean, you make mistakes. You know, you brought up ulu looted earlier. You know, your your first
Aaron Spatz 33:01
five hires. Yeah. That was asking next, actually, yeah,
Shane Foss 33:05
yeah. So you know, you, you know, when you’re in a startup situation, it’s, it’s, you know, you have to find people that want to work hard, do multiple jobs, wear multiple hats, for less pay, write your hours. And so I had a couple key people that I hired, that are still with me today, that worked with me at our last job, where we actually did, and not only do I consider them, dear friends, family, but they, you know, I knew they’d be, yeah, they like this environment, and they just do well. And so, you know, they’re still here, but one of the first hires that I had to get was an insurance person. And, you know, he was no longer partner founder, he was just somebody that from a sales standpoint, and insurance and, you know, he just didn’t make me just, he just wasn’t a good fit for us. Right. So after, you know, a year, year and a half, almost two years, we, we made a change on that front and haven’t looked back, but, you know, my advice would be, take the time, you know, I, I probably rushed that higher, you know, with, with a couple other people. You know, I’d already worked with him for a few years. And so I knew him really well. And I knew that they would, you know, do well, and of course, I was right, they’re still here, but this person, I did probably take enough time and I had, again, it’s that gut feeling. I was like, just get it done. So we can move and I should have waited a little bit longer. But you know, hey, you live and you learn and it’s, you know, I know he he’s doing something else doing well. And so, we, we what we did was for our series B funding, so we went out to the market and raise money for second time. First round that I raised was really friends and family. We just raised enough to kind of prove the concept. Okay, and then the second round We went out and got strategic investors, so people in the insurance space people, I could specifically help us reach your goals. And one of the things that came out of that was our new head of sales are present. And, and that’s been a, that’s just been a night and day change for us. You know, it’s, it’s, you know, when you’re in sales, you know, the impact of a good salesperson, people. What’s funny is, you know, I was doing most of the sales and my salesperson was not so now it’s, you know, now, I don’t know, he’s doing a great job, right? That a huge impact right away? Yeah.
Aaron Spatz 35:37
Wow, no, well, talk us through them the, you know, and feel free to use any example from your past experience. But like, you know, those those first few hires, like, you know, what, like, what are you taking on, you know, on board for yourself? And because it’s obviously, you’re probably, you know, in a startup phase, I mean, you’re, you’re wearing 10 different job descriptions, at least. And so when it comes time to like, you know, hand that hand one of those off to somebody, you know, what is, what are those first few look like?
Shane Foss 36:11
Yeah, yeah. So I think the key, depending on your business, I think, you know, sales, sales, obviously, is key. But the other, the other side of it, that you really need to take into consideration is your operations. And that includes, you know, ops can include marketing, it can include your distribution, and include your IT stuff. And so long is, is our CEO, and he, I hired him, he was, you know, higher number, I think, two or three. And, you know, I mean, I, he’s, you know, he’s mid 30s, and, you know, he’s incredibly talented. And, and, in, you know, you have to have that one key hire, and long as that key hire for us, he is, you know, he, he was able to manage the IT side of it, the, our infrastructure, our back office, he’s the guy that you go to, and he’s like, Okay, let me figure it out. Right. And he actually did all of our initial marketing material. And what’s funny about that is he did such a good job, that, I mean, we got everybody that we presented to is like, this is the best marketing material we’ve ever seen in this industry. This is incredible. And so, you know, we, we just recently kind of transitioned him out of that, because he’s, we have some other big projects going on, that he’s managing, but, you know, it’s funny, guys, and girls, just people like that, that you can, that you can find, you know, you need to keep them treat them, right. And this, you know, I mean, they’re just, they’re a diamond in the rough. And I think in a startup situation, every successful startup has that one person. And then then you’ve got the other person, Kim was our other person that I work with her at my old job. And, you know, funny story about that, when you a great life lesson is when you take over in a new role, and you, you’re going to get a lot of people in your ear, take 30 days before you make any decisions, and just talk to everybody and look at the data and understand, I had so many people telling me I needed to fire, Kim. And then to come to find out when I started looking at the data. And actually, I look at everything, and I’ve interviewed everybody at the end of 30 days, I find out that she did about 90% of the work of the whole group. And so, you know, so you know, blessed to have her on the team. And so I was really able to, you know, because for our product, our our provider network is our competitive advantage. And that was the other thing, being able to give that to somebody with her breath of experience and knowledge and ability where she is just, you know, I was able to create the product, but then she took it to the next level. So you need to have that person that can, you know, from a product standpoint, you need to have that person from an operation. Because that operations which so key, there’s that scalability. And then what you can do is as you grow and you’re able to bring more talented people on, you’re able to kind of peel off little things, right, which give them more time to really focus and so, you know, long right now started off with darn near the whole company. Now. Now he’s down to a much more manageable narrower slice, which you know, makes him happier. And, you know, it’s easier for him, but you know, never got a complaint out of him on, you know, on all the other work that he did. Right, right. So your key, your first hires are really important. You know, Kim was actually employee number one. Wow. And so, and she’s still here and, you know, she’s just, you know, one of the best people I know. So, you know, as an entrepreneur, you you’ve got I think The most successful entrepreneurs know that what they do really well, and they know what they don’t know, don’t do very well. And you need to fill those gaps. And, you know, long is definitely my alter ego, right in the sense of, he takes care of everything that there’s no way, he knows that I’m not going to run through a Gantt chart and run through stuff. But, you know, hopefully, except now, but, but I’m a good salesperson, and I can sell the message. And then Kim, on the other hand, she’s, you know, she’s the Bulldog taking care of this day in and day out stuff on the network and has done such a good job there. So, you know, you just got to find those people that you know, that, you know, have the certain skill sets that you don’t know that and go with
Aaron Spatz 40:45
it. Yeah. Love it. Yeah. Love you hiring counter to your strengths and in getting shored up in those places. Yeah, no, I mean, I love that. Yeah. Tell me about the, like, the just the beginning, like the the early days, when you’re trying to get customers, you’re trying to like, Break Even you’re trying to keep the lights on? Like, what were some of the things that you found or, you know, helped you turn a corner? What What were some of your experiences during during those moments?
Shane Foss 41:22
So I was at a meeting one time, it was an investor meeting, and the co founder of Waze was talking there. And, and he’s a very, obviously very skilled and successful entrepreneur. And he started off the presentation with one little phrase, and it said, Love the problem, not the solution. And what he means by that is, identify your problem and make sure that it’s a big enough problem and love that problem. And make sure that you’re always trying to address that problem. But your solution, don’t fall in love with that, because you’re going to, you know, pivot 50 times until you get that right. So I think what, what really allowed us to turn the corner was we listened every day. And we we changed, right. And I don’t mean, I don’t mean whimsically changed. I mean, you know, if one if one customer said oh, I don’t really like this, we didn’t go change it that trunk state. But if they said, hey, you know, you’re not addressing the problem here. There’s some, then it’s like, okay, listening, we understand that. And, and so, really, for us was getting out, and just doing right and then adjusting as we we went, and we were always making micro adjustments to everything, whether it was a presentation, the product, what we offered. And it’s it’s really, I think, having that, you know, it’s really the humility to say, this isn’t, you know, my product isn’t perfect, right, and just listening. And, and understanding that, you know, you’re going to break a few eggs along the way. And, and that’s what you know, that’s what you do. And, you know, it’s funny as we were laughing, because we we started off, of course, as a startup, you don’t pay for anything. So we use free conference call calm. And I would present to employ workers and brokers. And the first two years I did 440 present webinar presentations in two years. 440 I mean, wow, that that doesn’t include the hundreds I did in my office. Right. So you know, you the only way the only way to learn is by doing right? You just got to go out and you just got to keep, you know, pushing and then, you know, just understanding that, you know, your problem really doesn’t change, but your solution has to I love that. Yeah, yeah, I do, too. I mean, I thought it was so profound. Yeah, he sat at my table, and he’s a goofy looking guy. And I introduced myself to him, and I was like, oh, oh, there you go. I mean, he’s a big timer. He’s, he’s a he’s a mega millionaire.
Aaron Spatz 44:16
Wow. No, I mean, yeah. I mean, I’ll, like, I’ll be thinking about that for quite some time. It’s just it’s very, very sustained to the point. I love the way it’s phrased. I love the problem. It’s not a solution. We have a phrase in the Marine Corps. I am sure all branches of military have users but you know, don’t, don’t fall in love with your plan. Right? Like we, we might, we might, you know, think that there’s one certain way to pull off a certain operation and we you know, we’ve got this elaborate or not plan, whatever it may be, and we but we love it. And then, you know, things don’t go right and you don’t execute that plan. And so, so yeah, it ties back into to the, to the humility that you talked about. So like, you know, you’re you’re really you’re hitting on all the major things is like, you know, love the problem, not the solution. Listen, be humble. And so like, be be willing to kind of take a little bit of criticism, because it’s just gonna make you better it’s gonna make your product better your service better whatever it may happen to being and so I yeah, I absolutely love that. Thanks for Thanks for sharing that.
Shane Foss 45:24
Yeah. But it’s just like what you were saying with, you know, the plan. You know, what is it Mike Tyson said, Everybody’s got a plan until you get punched in the face, right? That’s the absolute truth, right? It’s true. No, that’s true. Yeah, but so true. What,
Aaron Spatz 45:42
tell me about your, tell me about your goal setting process like being, especially being a sales guy, but just in life in general. I mean, you definitely seem like a guy that, you know, you, you, you’re a high on the, on the achiever level, like you, you know, you’re kind of like me, my everyday starts at zero for me, it’s like, I’ve gotta, I gotta be productive, or I’m gonna be like that day suck. But no, but tell me tell me about like, your goal setting process. What does that look like for you? Personally, but also for
Shane Foss 46:16
professional? Yeah, sure. So. So from a start with a professional. So from a professional standpoint, my goal is really simple. And that is, from any business that we’re in, I want us to be the best I want. My goal is for us to, to be looked at in the industry for our little space that when they say, Hey, what are you looking for, for benefits for part time, hourly workers, they automatically say, oh, hurray is the norm. Right. That’s the that’s the baseline that everybody else is judged on. So with that, then how do you get there? Right. So then it’s at what stage of the game are we at today? Right. So we’re to, in my opinion, where we’re at right now. We’re 50% of the way there. And so what’s the next step? And so that’s what I’m, we’re always looking at? So yeah, right now, you know, from a business standpoint, it’s, it always starts with revenue, where were you at revenue wise? Where are you at, then from a profitability standpoint, then? And then going from there, right. So it’s, it’s executing on that. So there’s always metrics on that, whether it’s NPS profitability. So that’s how I that’s how we build internally, what what we look at. So being the best period, right. So from my standpoint, personally, what I, you know, what I strive for is, money comes, right. I mean, I think that if you judge yourself from a monetary standpoint, look, I’m never going to be as wealthy as Warren Buffett or videos guy. I mean, look, the bottom line is I don’t, I don’t look at it. From a monetary standpoint, I look at it, you know, I’ve got my wife and I hit her 25th wedding anniversary this year. And, you know, we have two beautiful children, my son just graduated college. And he’s, you know, he’s a wonderful, wonderful person, my daughter is a junior in high school, now a senior in high school, as of last Friday, and, you know, as a beautiful person, and, you know, both our kids want to be around us. And look at that, as you know, that is a huge win. You know, for me, I want to keep enjoying what I’m doing. And that’s, you know, that’s my number one goal. I mean, even I don’t care if I cash out for 5 million 100,000,020, you know, whatever it is that we cash out of this eventually, you know, the question is always, you know, do we do we, is it a win for everybody involved? Is it you know, our people, our people happy, right, you know, my dad’s biggest thing, you know, he’s a blue collar worker up in northern Minnesota, you know, worked for at&t for, you know, almost 40 years. And, you know, I think the one thing that he’s most proud of me, you know, 2425 employees now, right, that didn’t have jobs before. And so, I think that the money will always be there. I’ll always work I mean, I just, it’s just in my DNA, I enjoy it, right? I mean, I you know, I look at I look at people that retire and you know, what a waste of talent in my opinion, right? And so, it’s just, you just work differently. And so. So personally, if I’m going to do something, whether it’s playing golf for, I’m always gonna look at improving and getting better right now, no matter what I do, just why I don’t, which is why I don’t run with it. My wife anymore I can’t if I can’t be the best I’m just not going to do Yeah, I hate running. Oh my god. And and so my way you know it’s what happens when you’re running is you talk to yourself too much and I just I get tired of myself so I’d rather play basketball or do something
Aaron Spatz 50:20
nice nice. Yeah no I love I love challenging myself mentally I you would think being a being a former US Marine I’d be like this avid runner and I’m I have to force myself to enjoy it. That’s, that’s something I love. I love completing triathlons, I use the word complete, not compete.
Shane Foss 50:43
Right. But that’s good. Yeah, absolutely.
Aaron Spatz 50:46
Yeah. But no, it’s a no, I know I can. I’m saying all to say I can relate to your pain. Just real quick, as we’re as we’re kind of winding down here, like, what? What advice would you have for veterans? And I’m really more thinking about the guys that guys and gals have been out for three plus years, right? They’ve been in, they’ve been in the civilian workforce for three, four or five years now. What advice would you have for veterans that are considering starting their own business, they, you know, they want to be be an entrepreneur, or they they want to go to work for themselves, whatever, however, we want to phrase that, but what like, what advice would you have?
Shane Foss 51:29
So I would think, first and foremost, I would talk to other entrepreneurs. And try to, you know, really, you know, get an understanding of what what that entrepreneur is really means, you know, because there’s, there’s a lot of different, there’s a lot of different ways to go, whether you’re, you know, buying a franchise, or, you know, or, like me, I started in a brand new industry I really didn’t know much about so, you know, there’s different levels of what what you’re going to do, and just, you know, ask for help, I think that’s the biggest thing is making sure that you take the time up front, to really look into the business, the market where you’re starting and stuff, because, you know, there’s a lot of people, especially on the on the franchise side, that will take your money gladly. But, you know, you just you got to do your homework. And if you take your time to do your homework upfront, you’ll have a really good opportunity to be successful. And, and don’t be afraid. But there’s, there’s so many good organizations out there that will help. You know, look, I’m always open to anybody to call in and talk to you from an entrepreneur standpoint, I think that as veterans, we definitely need to stick together. At you know, it was funny, as you know, I think that we put it out there on our website were veteran owned. And I think that’s an important stat was, in fact, one of our carriers said, why would why do you have that out there? I was like it just because you’re asking that question. I got an issue with. Right. You know, so, you know, just ask a lot of questions. And don’t settle. Don’t settle for, you know, what, you know, with the franchise the same? Yeah.
Aaron Spatz 53:16
No, that’s that’s crazy. The tell us real quickly how people can find you what, you know, like, you alluded to what hurt you to what Ray health does, but but just just quickly share with us what, you know, what, what it is that you that that you’re up to? What problems are you solving and who your ideal client base would be?
Shane Foss 53:40
Yeah. So for for Hurray, we, um, we’re, we’re not a major medical, we’re a fixed indemnity accident policy that basically axes covered coverage for your basic health version healthcare needs. And we’re low cost, we’re, you know, our ideal client is larger clients that have, you know, large hourly base that are uninsured, and that can’t afford a major medical, but we were a health health insurance product that basically is there to you know, I go see a doctor, I’ve got we have our own provider network, we have a mobile app, where you can go there it’s a $25 prepay no balance bill. So we really protect them against that, you know, really the ever ever frightening, balanced bill that you know, most people get when they go see a provider. So yeah, um, so yeah, so we were coming out with an individual product in September, which would be great. So if you if you want to use a lot of people will use us as a supplement to their high deductible health plan because we’re $1 One there’s no deductible. And, you know, we, we, we take care of most you basically to healthcare, so, yeah, so it’s, you know, this, this market is huge because it’s a huge underserved market. It’s funny, nobody wants to. Nobody wants to take care of the hourly population. And so we’re, we’re filling a big, big void in the market, and glad to do so. That’s our focus.
Aaron Spatz 55:20
Absolutely. I mean, you identified an opportunity and, you know, focus on the problem, right, not the solution. So exactly, your, you got the problem, and you’re getting crafty with how to solve the problem, you know, and it’s, it is an opportunity. So I’m, I’m, I’m excited for you. I think that’s, I think, thanks, stellar. But no, I really think you Shane, I just, I just really want to thank you for taking time to, to just to chat with me for the last hour. It’s been a really has been a lot of fun. Thanks for Thanks for going a variety of directions. I’ve I’ve truly enjoyed it. Yeah, absolutely.
Shane Foss 55:55
Me too. Aaron, I really appreciate it. Thanks for doing this for the veterans. I mean, I think that, you know, we need more more people out there, sending a positive message, especially with everything going on with you know, our boys need to need some positivity moving forward when they get back and you know, that need something to look forward to. So I really appreciate what you’re doing. Yes, sir.
Aaron Spatz 56:17
sincere pleasure. Now, what an amazing time with Shane, I so enjoyed hearing his story. And as you could tell, we move through quite a bit of material pretty quickly. And so we’ve got, like, I’ve loved and appreciated his background and his story of just how he’s had all these different business experiences, from, you know, surgical technician, through sales, and then slowly kind of doing different roles at a higher level. And so, no doubt, wide variety of experiences, and you could tell with his demeanor, his personality, you know, he turned even negative experiences the positive one. So, I think the power of attitude is so, so huge, and I think it’s a, I think it’s one of the super, you know, superheroes, super abilities of people in businesses, you know, maintain a great attitude. I love what he said about, you know, love the problem, not the solution. And I think that’s a great way to approach business is to think of ways to solve the problem, it focused on the problem centric, and rather than, you know, falling in love with the solution, you know, in itself. So, anyway, it was a it was a fantastic time, I am incredibly grateful that you stuck around and listened and watched. Thank you so much. If you haven’t already subscribed to my YouTube channel, I would highly encourage you to do so. It’s not very hard. It’s a great way for you to you can actually see the interview which which is amazing. But certainly if you’re listening to this on Apple or Spotify or wherever you are listening to podcast for audio, please you just hit subscribe and or follow. That way you get notified the next time when we have the very next episode. So anyway, thank you so much for joining me today and talking real soon.