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#34 – Claude Shires: How to laugh in the face of challenge. In this incredibly HILARIOUS and very insightful interview, Claude shares with us the struggles he’s endured to get where he is today. Comedy is part of who he is, and the struggle has been real also. You’ll leave this interview feeling inspired while also laughing at his antics and humor. So grateful for him sharing this amazing journey.

AUTO-TRANSCRIBED

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 then inside look at how veterans find their life’s work, their purpose, and their post military lives. Just real quick before we get started, this episode is absolutely hilarious. But you need to know that there is a little bit of language scattered throughout the episode. So just a heads up. Welcome to another episode of the Veterans Business Podcast. Thank you so much for tuning in this week, I’m super excited to announce our guest. We welcome Claude shires. Claude served in the Marine Corps prior to exiting the service and ultimately landing in Los Angeles. Claude is the founder and CEO of laugh lounge, an app that focuses on streaming comedy content. In addition to that he is a busy man that doing all sorts of busy and crazy things there in LA Claude, I just want to sincerely thank you so much for joining the show, man.

Claude Shires  01:08

Thank you so much here, and it’s great to be here, man. And yeah, I’m just proof that you never know where you’re going.

Aaron Spatz  01:16

Yeah, well, let’s Well, then let’s let’s get let’s go ahead and just go and walk down that journey, then. So share share with us. What what caused your younger, crazy self to go sign up and join the Marine Corps of all of all branches? And then share with us a little bit of your experiences there?

Claude Shires  01:31

Yeah. 100%. So, you know, there’s another friend of mine, who’s a comedian named Danny Bevins. And he has the best response to that question ever. It’s like, and I’m gonna steal it openly here from my own, which is basically like, I joined the Marine Corps, because I got tired of my parents trying to tell me what to do. You know, and the recruiter was like, sign here, tissue will tell you what to do. And so before I knew it, you know, they go to Parris Island, and I remember being like, this sauce is not like the commercial at all. I was like, sir, when do we get to fight the giant evil test piece, you know, and he’s like, shut it queer. And I was like, wow, wait a second. This is not a commercial at all. So. So I, you know, I found myself I think that was the first time in my life, you know, that I was like, I come from a big family. There’s eight kids and whatnot. But I feel like that was the first time in my life, I’d had true accountability. You know, Amy, when the instructor was like, I was like, sir, by the way, just to say, you know, I lied about the thing. I did smoke weed. And, you know, he’s like, son, that time has passed. You know, your excuses don’t matter anymore. Son. gratulations. July, it’s going back now get over there. You know, I remember being like, you know, in boot camp, and just just you just want to get out of everybody does. You’re like, Dude, this is not what I would do now. Like, Oh, dude, I fucked off mistake, you know, but then you get through it, you know? And you’re like, Oh, God, thank God, I did that, you know, cuz you know, the time you don’t want to you’re like, Dude, this is like, not what I want to do. And then they would bust my balls, the rest of the cycle. They’d be like, Oh, baby showers and be able to get over that. We’ve got there. Yeah. I’d like Go on, sir. Just we got there though, sir. Sir, seriously, and, but basically, that was it for me was was really, you know, being able to, you know, at such a young age, I was 19 I don’t know how you’re doing it, but but going in there and just, you know, felt like it’s the first time I really ever had any true parenting, you know, like, it was like, Oh, my God, and I can’t get out of it. So you know, it, you know, forced me to to be responsible and to bite off more than I could chew and to be willing to look bad in order to look good. All the things you need as a community and actually to you know, and and then I believe, I think to me, that was the beginning of a you know, what, I can jump in with both feet and survive and, and my life is pretty much been that ever since.

Aaron Spatz  03:47

Man. You came out the gate strong to man, that was awesome. But it makes sense, right? With your with your background and what you do. I mean, bravo, job well done. But just a little bit, then, you know, what did you do when you’re when you’re in the Marine Corps? And then and then talk with us a little bit about your, your journey out?

Claude Shires  04:12

Yeah, absolutely. So when I hear them refer I was it Oh, 431. I was the embarkation specialist. My original, the original title was oh, 411, which was integrated maintenance management clerk, whatever that means, right. So basically, what what our job was was was logistics and what’s called readiness, affordability, which is if you go into a unit and you have a motor table, and you have like a missile pole, and you have Intel, and you have drones or whatever it is that you have, there’s a certain number of you know, those vehicles, those men, those supplies that you need to be ready to go at any moment’s notice. So it’s our job to basically tie all that together and then report to the CEO. So we’re 98% ready to go to war today. If we have to go like we’ll do tomorrow, you know, and so, it put me in a position kind of right off the bat. get my ass kicked by a lot of department heads cuz I was like Lance Corporal walking to serve I see your documents and he’s like you want your son was like No sir I just want to look at to make sure you’re good to go and all those modifications so I’m sorry started out as oh four Ember basically managing supply and working with supply enlisted by the way I you know, I wasn’t smart enough to think that I might want to go to college first I was like no, no go, you know, enlisted just like my old dad, my dad was a Marine. So my older brother was a Marine. And they tried to stop me, but they couldn’t stop me from myself. So anyway, I went in as Mr. And then I, when I was getting out, I was actually going into what’s called Field imagery interpretation, which is basically like, it’s like a fancy name for cartographer or Map Maker. So when I got out, I was trying to transfer into this intel unit. And then I blew my knee out in a snowboarding accident, not military related, obviously. And then I just at that point, I was like, you know, I’m not going to keep going down this road. But But yeah, I started this Embark. And when I go out I was I was transitioning into cartography is what I wanted to do, I thought it’d be cool to do what Google Maps does now and your phone probably 10,000 times better.

Aaron Spatz  06:12

Right? Yeah, no, that’s wild. That’s a wild. That’s a wild story. And, and that, yeah, that that’s really cool. You can’t you you come from a you come from a family of service. So I think that’s, yeah, I think that’s remarkable. And so that’s one thing I’ve noticed, I think there’s a you know, there’s two groups, it’s kind of obvious, it’s like, it’s either true or false. There’s two groups of people, but like, you know, but you either come from a family where service was was a big thing, and you’ve got like, this whole lineage and culture that you come from with that, or it’s like this total impulsive decision to just go sign up, you know, so that’s pretty cool. Share with us, then your journey then making it to Los Angeles. That’s, that’s always a fascinating study.

Claude Shires  06:58

Absolutely. So of all places. When I was in the Marine Corps, when I got out of the Marine Corps, I was in Aurora, Colorado, I was in just outside of Denver. And there’s I was a test this unit there, Max 23, attachment alpha and air control swatter just off of what used to be Lowry Air Force Base was all gone now. I believe. But anyway, so I was at University of Colorado, that’s where I used partially some of the some of my GI Bill money to, to go to college. They’re the best six years of college ever to, by the way, like, you know, it’s always funny to even have that to like, you know, you go to school, you’re like, 24 years old, 25 years old, in college, and there’s like, kids are like, 2021, or you serve in the military already. What’s crazy, you feel like you’re older. You’re only like four years older than everybody else.

Aaron Spatz  07:46

Right? You just feel like a lifetime. Yeah. Feels like

Claude Shires  07:48

a lifetime. Yeah. And they don’t know. They don’t know what suffering is yet. These kids don’t like to be hungry. Like you just got the m&m eating like an MRE ham slice you know what I mean? Like, they don’t they don’t get that so. So especially in Boulder, Colorado, which is like as hippie dippie like, as you can possibly get, you know, very cool town. My twin brother actually still lives there now, but basically what Colorado and then I thought, I was convinced that I wanted to get my you know, that I wanted to be a doctor or something in medical in the medical field, right. So I got moving on. I started my degree in biology and got ended up getting my degree in molecular biology and a minor in Spanish. And then I went to school in Spain during this time when I was like after Marine Corps going to college. So then I decided to go to Spain and do this famous family for just, you know, look, by the way, if you want to, like learn speak another language, like textbooks just aren’t going to do it, man, you got to go to the country. You got to get dropped off there. So I went to Spain, I lived in Spain for a summer with a family that didn’t speak any English. Like so literally like man, you’re gonna be translating or doing the worst mime you ever could be toilet paper. Yeah. So, so long story short, is I made my way to San Diego. And I finished my degree in biology there and then my minor in Spanish and then I started working at the Comedy Store, which is in San Diego to La Jolla, right so I started working at the Comedy Store on the weekends like the door guy, you know, it’s like the Marine Corps door guy you know whatever and and so I started you know doing stand up and and again you know, I just have to keep going back to that like you know the military like you’re jumping in you’re going in with both feet so you know, you know being needy and being willing to look bad you know, comedy was seemed like the next logical choice so so became a paid rather the Comedy Store and started going up and doing doing jokes about you know, being in the Marine Corps you know, being you know, just such a welder material the hurry up and wait at all, you know, like, you know, the like, oh my god, this is my paycheck. What do you mean my contracting starts when I got to my MO fasciae like there’s just all these shit and they’re all these great realistic stories, you know, real stories of your past that you had that you can reach like a realistic experience in the audience for that, rather, and then I think that like for, you know, for them, it’s a real win tic tac toe, you know, to go through that experience without having to go to boot camps, you know, like we have that first day we wake up and go, Oh my god. So I feel like there’s a real catharsis and doing stand up and talking about all these experiences. And then the breakdown for me was, like, do even at the Comedy Store, which is arguably the mecca of Stand Up Comedy in the world on Sunset Boulevard, as a paid regular weekday night, you’re still getting 15 bucks, you know, like, $15 per performance is like, Dude, I thought the Marine Corps sucks. Yeah. It was pay goes, you know, so, in their whole philosophy is that they’re basically going to get you, you know, visibility that will get you other work, right. So, but, um, so I fell into this thing where I was on the road working, you know, making like five grand a month if that, and then pay, you know, 2500 bucks a month for a place in LA, that I had to be on the road to be able to afford that I couldn’t stay out, like, where’s the logic there? You know, so, I learned how to edit video. And then I got a job as a video editor and learning in my garage is read now. And the thing I loved about video is all of the control that you have as a video editor. Like when you’re in a stand up comedy world, you got no control. It’s how many people show up? How drunk are they? Where are you in the lineup? How many comedians on the show people funnier than you? Where are you, you and me. So so the video editing part really resonated with a part of me, I think, don’t want to control so having to learn learning to video edit, and basically gave me a little bit more, you know, opportunity to make my own income, set my own hours. And hey, man, I live in LA, everybody’s got something to be edited video. So I learned how to basically separate career outside of stand up as a video editor, which I fell in love with. And then, you know, I started editing comedy specials for like, you know, friends of mine at first, like, Oh, he’s got 15 minutes, and he wants to make it look like a good five minutes. So I would put that together for him, you know? And then somebody eventually said, Hey, do you want to edit a comedy special for network? And I said, Sure, you know, again, you know, just jumping in with both feet, and then figuring out how, like, you know, to format it correctly, and cover my ass to make sure that you know, I knew what I was doing. And then I started getting to those and edited about 30 of those probably. And then I was in I was in a meeting one day on a conference call. And I’ve been hired to do the streaming and the editing for this Amazon show was was a dream job. It was literally it was it was small bars in San Francisco live stand up comedy brought to you by Petaluma brewery, right. It’s literally like, you know, like and all they wanted me to come in and do all the live streaming. And they asked me, they said, Do you want to direct? And it was one of those things that was like one of those moments again, you’re like, Dude, I really do. But I’m like, Oh, my God, do I do this? So I said, Yeah, of course I do. You know, typical, right? Yeah. And then they hang up those like, oh, shit, what do I do now. So I been around enough to know that I need to hire people right away that are better than the target. This is exactly what I did, right? And I was willing to give a little bit of the pie away, because I was like, do get me through this first season. Don’t make me look like an idiot. I puke well enough on my own. And so and so I did. And then by the end of the first season, I was like, oh my god, we did it like holy shit. So they gave us a second season. And then we did that. And that was like off to the races. So now kind of having learned all of the accidentally learned the video infrastructure. I was like, Look, we should start a streaming service for live stand up specifically for stand up comedy. And that’s what laugh lounges. So it’s literally take all of that stuff that I just went through and put it into like a, you know, a package. And that’s really what laughs lunges. So it just goes to show you. Like, look, I thought Santa comedy was gonna define me and make me cool. And like, you know, prove to every girl that rejected me in high school that I was somebody or something, you know. And when I found out it was enough, I kept going past what I thought was good for me that I ultimately came to what was best for me. Yeah, so I guess the take home message is, you know, if you’re going through shit, just keep going, you know, because the next thing might be the perfect thing. You know, but you just got to keep moving.

Aaron Spatz  14:07

Man, I love that. Yeah, and Thanks for Thanks for sharing. Thanks for sharing that story. Man. That’s, that’s really a that’s incredible. And I love how the, and I’ve seen this in my own life multiple times. I’ve seen this in lives of some of my friends to where, you know, you you stumble into something kind of kind of by accident, or it’s by necessity, right? You’re like, Okay, I got to pay the bills. So I need to do something to help myself. And then that ends up opening a door to something else. And that door opens it up to something else. And next thing you know, you’re like, way over here somehow. And you’re like, Man, how did I end up here? Like that’s that’s crazy, right?

Claude Shires  14:44

Exactly. Yeah. Wow.

Aaron Spatz  14:46

So talk us through the story of of take us through the story of laughs lounge then. So like, where did that Where did that come from? Like, where was that birth? Like, how did you think of that?

Claude Shires  14:57

So what happened was I was doing The Amazon job. And I was and I was and I was literally, like I was pretty much I was willing to do every job on set, right? Like, like when you get to set it like, first off, I feel like video production as a rule has this glow about it. That’s like it’s like it’s kind of glow from a distance. But the closer you get to it, I explain Hollywood to people I go, it’s like the wizards Palace from from a distance, you’re like, oh my god, it’s glowing. When you get here, you’re like, oh my god, this is like Cloakers as feet, it’s gross, like, you know, so. So being willing to learn, like the hardest, and like the rudest jobs in chat, like carrying sandbags, running cable, not having an ego, you know, being willing to like jump in with both feet was really kind of the key for me, because I ended up accidentally learning how to do the technical directing job, you know, wiring the cameras together, I don’t want a camera operator and not a director of photography. But basically what happened was we learned this bigger infrastructure. And then it came to this point where it was kind of like, why don’t we just do this ourselves, you know, how you have your idea, and you think it’s a good idea. And your your supportive spouse thinks it’s a good idea. Of course, honey, that’s a great idea. You know, and then you have like your friends that are like, Dude, what are you talking about? That’s crazy. And so, you know, kicking this idea around, like, you know, with my loving spouse who had just kind of burned through another startup, that was a failure. So she wasn’t in like, such a great mood to hear a pitch, you know, and then I had like, my friends on the other side who were like, you know, to Laflamme sounds like a cool idea. But, you know, how are you going to do that? And, you know, like, the whole thing. And so, the litmus test in the moment that I knew that I was going to do this, no matter what, for me, was when I pitched it to my friend Mario Joyner, who’s Jerry Seinfeld’s opener, right, he flies around, and there’s 20 minutes in front of Jerry in front of these, you know, huge crowds and corporate gates. And so he was like, Do you want me to show it to Jerry, you know, like, he’s like to like, Really, dude. And I said, Please, man, look, let me just use my friend card. Could you just please show it to him? And just see what he says, even if he hates it, they’ll just give me like, you know, a sign. Well, dude, the next day, like, I literally woke up and I had like, 10 Missed calls on my phone and like, 13 messages. And my friend had sent it to Jerry and Jerry had called my friend and left a voicemail, which I’ll send you by the way. And as he left the voicemail, and is basically Jerry was like, I love this is amazing. Like, I can’t even believe like, it’s such a great idea. Like, it’s very forward thinking. And yeah, I was like, Oh my god. So I literally, like, I took that voice message. My wife, of course, first, it was like to listen to this. And she’s like, Oh, my God, that’s great. And then I took it to like another couple friends of mine, I was like, getting all hyped up. And I was like, Alright, I gotta put together a plan from Seinfeld. And it just, that was it. I was like, Dude, you know, I need to get I need to go put a plan together. So basically, long and short. I was like, fixed into Seinfeld’s people, and they loved it, they’re like, Look, I’ll give you an endorsement, I’m not going to give you any money, because it’s just an idea, you know, go out and build it. And so I was like, Great, thanks, dad. But at the same time, I was like, you know, I get where he’s coming from dude, he’s made I have, I’m trying to like, you know, I was honored with the opportunity. So I took that endorsement, I put it in my deck. And then I literally went out, I just started hitting the bricks. I was like, Who wants to help me build this, you know, I started assembling a team. And of course, nobody wants to at first and then I got one investor, you give me 100 grams, right. And then I got another investor give me 100 grand, and then I put my own money in, and we build the MVP, which by the way, is like literally, I think that’s the best thing that whether and you don’t have to go to school for any of this, I just want to say that you just have to be willing to jump into the meat Shredder, right? And surround yourself with smart people so that you can learn it. But you know, if it can be done, you can do it. That’s my philosophy. If there’s some other dude doing it, we could do it. I probably believe that to a dangerous extent. I wouldn’t try that with surgery or shit like that. But when it comes to non life threatening occupations, if you will. And so so basically what happened to us I raised that little bit of capital, which seems like a lot of capital, but when you’re building software, it’s it goes quickly, right? Plus, you have to like found the company do the trademark, you got to get all the stuff that you need to go your EIN you got to build the corporate documents, you got to build the company, you got to hire people, you got to protect this, you know, all that shit. And if you don’t have never done that, you know, the corporate world has its own language anyway. It’s like my God, I know. I know. I know what it’ll be just what a pain in the ass register this day, you know, do your corporate stuff, you got to do your minutes. You got to have your board you got to have your and then how do you take money? You take it and save those you take the options, all that stuff. So long story short, is that that’s like it’s literally like its own life course to hell. It’s like its own corporate bootcamp, you know, and, and you basically you have to learn all that stuff, and then you take that stuff and then you go start pitching it, you know, you got to come up with a financial model, which if you’re not a financial analyst, which Why would an unlisted lance corporal in the Marine Corps know how to write a financial model? You know? So, so for me, it was really about learning, you know, kind of the hard way, OJT. And then, you know, finding out like, do you know, I presented a financial model, for example, that I didn’t write because I’m not a financial model is my partner who had worked for the company wrote it, but he didn’t present it, because he didn’t understand it, because he didn’t show up to the meeting, we should have been the first time. So I go to present this financial model to somebody who knows what they’re doing. And again, it’s like sometimes that Marine Corps go get into trouble. I was like, oh, present this shit. So I get up there. And I’m gonna present this model in front of like, seasoned sea level veterans, right? Exactly. Yeah, no, like this. We talked about 10%, or at least a billion dollars in two years. So I literally got my ass handed to me, dude, I had another forget, I had, I had a suit, like sport coat on, and I had pit stains on the outside of the sport coat. Like, I was like, Dude, this is the most uncomfortable. I’ve been in the group of men since boot camp, you know, I mean, and, but it was so great for me, because I walked out of that meeting, like, you know what, I got my ass handed to me right now in front of my CTO, friend of a few other people that were just like, Dad, I was awkward. So So basically, it was, it was so good, though. Because I learned a couple things. Don’t talk shit. If you don’t know what you’re talking about. Don’t try to present something you don’t understand. If you don’t understand it, go learn it. So then I went back to the same company, with a new financial model that I hired, somebody gave me a little bit of equity, you know, kind of a hybrid deal to help me do this, which is part of the thing, being an effective communicator, if you don’t know it, say you don’t know it, hire somebody to figure it out and teach you and give that person something to be part of your team. Because look, what I’ve realized is that more than anything, it’s a team that’s going to take you across the finish line, it’s not going to be your ego, what you think is so great for you, it’s going to be how well these people work together under your charm, charisma and influence to go make this into a success. Right. So anyway, long story short, I went back to the same company, and I got content licensing deal after I presented a real model to them, right. And so it’s just one of those lessons, dude, you gotta like, you know, they want to see you like, go back to them with what you’ve learned, not just like, take your ball and go home. You know, I mean, I think that’s really where we as veterans have the advantage. Because you go, you know what, dude, I’m used to getting punched in the face of the funeral stick in front of all my friends, you know, whatever it is. So, yeah,

Aaron Spatz  22:28

no, no, it’s like, it really earns their respect, because it’s like, okay, this this guy who, like took some pretty harsh criticism, he didn’t know what the heck he was talking about. And he went back, he had the humility to go back, learn it, figure it out, refine it, tighten it up, bring it back in and re pitch it and like, oh, wow, any and, and he actually sounds like he might know what he’s talking about for a few minutes.

Claude Shires  22:53

Yeah, exactly. And I have to pull it around. I think that yeah, that’s, that’s part of the thing is just be like, Dude, don’t take it personally. Yeah, they want you to be a winner as much as you do. If they’re gonna invest in you, they want to see success, you know? Yeah.

Aaron Spatz  23:06

Yeah. So I mean, are you able to share? Like, how much? How much did the company raise, like, Were you out on that hole?

Claude Shires  23:12

So where we are now is we raised half a million bucks, you know, we’re just north of 1500 subscribers, and growing, you know, which is, you know, this is kind of a silver lining in this COVID. But we’re growing every single month. And, you know, it’s, you know, we’re out raising, you know, a million and a half to 2 million right now, to grow this company, we have a partner program that allows us to share the revenue with the artist or the club, which is what we wanted to do from the beginning is, you know, last one just builds on partnership, like if our partners succeed, we succeed, right? So we basically give them 20% of the subscription revenue off the tops of them, you know, we give apple 30% We give a platform tax of 20%. And we take our cup. So basically, it’s it’s a combination of both the comedian, social media and the club’s social media that’s really generating the revenue for us to create this content for everybody. So somewhere, we haven’t raised half a million initially from angels, you know, and then now we’re going into, I guess, there’s always this debate on the round nomenclature, there’s like, get your get your friends and family round figure fools round your friends, families, and fools, then you got your car, your age around, you got your seed. So technically, we’re at, we just did an angel round. And now we’re going to do a seed raise for a million, right, a million and a half to two, depending on you know, what this next quarter generates. But basically, that’s what we’re going to because, you know, the other part of learning this whole process is understanding where you’re going to go, how you’re going to get there and what you need to get there truthfully, like, you know, that’s part of why the financial model is theirs, because it’s like, Look, you better come to the table with some real data to back up your story, you know, so, so that’s been part of the thing too. And I just want to say real quick that getting into the science, the incubator in Santa Monica has been, you know, hugely helpful for us because just like I have my moi You know, I have my knowledge point, I have my lane. You know, it’s like you can’t learn everything, there’s no way that you can take on everything there is in our world and still have a family or anytime for yourself. So the incubator came in and really filled in the gap in our knowledge on the marketing and coding and stuff that we needed to implement in our code for attribution so that we can see what partner to pay or what club to pay or who to pay what you know, who was being, you know, a top performer and how we can compensate those people. Because yeah, I know so much, but I can’t code man, like, come on. I’ll forget how to, like use toothpaste or something if I try to learn something.

Aaron Spatz  25:35

That’s, that’s pretty remarkable. And I think I want to come back to the story maybe a little bit later on. But let’s, let’s kind of take a take a sidestep or maybe even go back a little bit. But we’d love would love to learn more about, you know, like, what have been some of the, what have been some of your bigger struggles and challenges. I mean, you mentioned a different another startup that you that you’ve been a part of like, yeah, would love to hear that.

Claude Shires  25:58

So the first startup that I was in was a crowdfunding platform. Well, the first one was actually a YouTube channel that was stand up comedy related called stand up ads, which has gotten now it’s actually just become the lifelines YouTube channel. But then I was also in one, I was a crowdfunding platform for YouTubers. And do I took the worst deal a person could take this is what I’m saying. Like, this is why it’s important, I think, yeah, if I can just call it a couple tools during this time. Like, there’s a really great book out there by Brad Feld, I forget whose co author is what’s called Venture deals. It’s an absolute, like, just it’s a non starter to go even open a company. If you haven’t read this book, I think in terms of raising, you know, I mean, if you’re going to raise money, you have to read venture deals, because it cuts through all the BS of what you’re actually doing, which is raising money and selling part of your company for the money that you’re getting. Right. So what I did was I took 10% of a company for $200,000 of my life savings, right? This is like, this is what not to do in business. Okay. And the partner, the guy who was in there, it was it was his idea. And it was his baby, but I loved it. And I was really kind of sold on it so much that I couldn’t even see I was just like this, it was like, he was like, basically, I took this deal 10% 10% of the company for 200 grand. And then I earned another 10%. And he had all the other 80% for the same money. But I was like, No, I didn’t try to talk me out of it. I remember being like, Dude, I got this. But this one you realize, like, it’s so great to go through these terrible experiences, because then you learn what not to do. And that every company that you go out forward, you just, you know, you can apply that knowledge to not making the same mistakes. Now listen, when it comes to the valuation people can tell you whatever they want in their company, and whatever mental value that they can sell you on. There’s no rule. Yeah, I mean, I know honestly. So that’s where you have to be careful because people can scam you people. You know, try to take advantage of your your, your your ineptitude, or just inexperience, you know. So, so yeah, I got my ass handed to me, the company folded my partner basically went out and used our technology to create, you know, a competing platform, and I had to sue him. And it was just like, No, I do not want to go through that. I wish I hadn’t read that book. Before I did this deal. Yeah, I mean, so. So yeah. And it was it was one of those things that, you know, it’s they say, try to fail quickly, fail early, not often, but fail fast. So like, if you go apply, if you try to create a business and it’s not working quickly, that’s great. Like you just but that’s why should be abandoned. You know, the problem is when you try to be so bullheaded, that you start three of your years of your life, you know, going into something that you don’t own, if it’s gonna go into the can, you know, and that’s where, again, you know, being the entrepreneurs, like being a talent scout, you know, find people that you can bounce your ideas off soundly, not your spouse’s, like, you’re just a great as well you do is gonna, you know, I mean, you might be the greatest and but still, even the greatest needs that a CFO, you know, you need somebody that can be accountable. So, you know, what your vision is being turned into reality on paper, you know, which I think we, as the entrepreneurs sometimes have this, this, this lofty vision, and you need people that are accountable, you know, on the ground financially to be like, Oh, this is a great vision, but we can’t afford to do this if we’re gonna stay afloat for that. So, so yeah, that was part of the thing was, you know, not having not having business experience but wanting to do it, you know, and I think that you can do that, but you don’t want to put your life at risk for something you want to put your family’s well being. Yeah.

Aaron Spatz  29:29

Wow. So I mean, I’m kind of like an obvious question, but I mean, what did you do after that? I mean, like, what what happened? I mean,

Claude Shires  29:36

well, what happened was is I had taken this you know, I was doing stand up comedy I was doing you know, all the editing I just hadn’t been hired by Amazon yet. So I taken this left turn in 2013 to go into tech right to learn about like, you know, how the, the pieces in technology work together so that I can understand it because I felt like I was just getting left behind as a video editor and a comedian. You know, I thought kinda like, you know, kind of I know, I can’t just go on the road all the time. Now I have a wife and a daughter. And you know, I guess, you know, tech just seemed like something to do, but it seems out of my reach, you know, it seemed impossible. So what happened was I met this dude who was intact and we became friends. And we started the other business, the one I took a terrible deal on and it collapsed. So after collapsed, and it was kind of in the rubble, you know, just like my wife’s peice daughter do just burn through all this cash. You know, literally like, like, all I have is paper, like Rubble, you know, and so I remember being in those moments and just being like, just destitute this can be, but what I did is I just, I started taking on more editing jobs again, right. And somebody asked me if I could do the show in Amazon, that I could already doing the live streaming, I was already taking on the video load, I was already teaching, they asked me to direct so I said yes, to now I had this experience behind me what it’s like to be part of a company you don’t own but to be running CEO, and co founder. So then after the ashes of all that, when I was working for Amazon, I was like, You know what, God’s gonna take care of all this, you know, it’s not an, you know, whatever your faith is, I happen to be, you know, it’s mine, but I just happen to believe in, you know, power greater than myself, and I just kept doing the next right day. I was like, you know, what, I had to, like, come clean, my wife be like, Look, this was a mistake. I know, I put our life into it, I apologize. Like, you know, I just probably some things I could have done better. But then when I got into working again, you know, like faith without works is dead. Like, you might think things are gonna be okay. But you know, just like I was saying earlier, be willing to pick up a sandbag, be willing to get back to work. And look what happened. So I got back into video editing. So I was doing, you know, kind of nonstop, I started directing. And then before you knew it, I knew how to edit video, and learn how to direct and knew all this stuff was so hey, do you why don’t we do another startup, which, by the way, is the real sell to your spouse? It’s not the first one that you do, because they’ll love you anyway, and the first one, but it’s after you’ve burned down the house and blown away your life savings. You’re like, Dude, I have a great idea. Yeah, that’s like the real moment. And so it was a Seinfeld voicemail after you know, I burned that thing to the ground, basically, not through any action of my own. But just being in the mix. And taking two URL deals that after the fact that was you know, with that new knowledge in hand, and new tools, video directing video editing, understanding workflow, understanding comedians, and understanding how to stream that gave me the ingredients to make this new startup, you know, so it’s basically like, every single thing that happened along the way was either a brick or mortar in the Stone of, you know, the pillar that would become laughs lounge in some way, you know? So it’s like, I don’t regret as much as those experiences were painful. They were all valuable.

Aaron Spatz  32:51

Yeah. No, I think that’s a great, that’s a great lesson and a great attitude and being able to take all the all the beatings and beat downs. And, and, I mean, the disappointments and the frustrations, and the tears and the stress and all that, right. And it’s real man, like, these are real, this is real life. And, and there’s another guy to talk to you about startups. And it’s like, it caused me to kind of think of this vision and I would love I would love to hear your insight on this because you’re more qualified on this than I am. But you know, there’s this there’s these two paths, two paths that we see people on, right you’re you’re in the corporate world. And I think of it like a staircase, you’re climbing kind of upstairs and you’re on like a landing and you go upstairs you go into the landing and you’re maybe a stay around there for a long time and you keep but you’re kind of climbing right? That’s like the corporate path. The the entrepreneurial path is like this other door you open up and it’s like this gold staircase that you climb and it’s like disco lights and like, flashy, you know, all this all this crazy crap, right? You get to the top of staircase, and then you fall off and you just fell into the Grand Canyon. And now you’re trying to like put together like a hang glider as you’re going on.

Claude Shires  34:06

Yeah, yeah. Um, so my take is That’s exactly right. It’s your Steve Harvey has this book out that I haven’t read the book. But I’ve seen a few excerpts from it. I feel like I could do to characterize this the entrepreneurs journey perfectly. Which is like it’s basically like look to your point if you want to get up there. You want to take that journey if you want to you it’s like you have a wingsuit on but you don’t know how to use this you know so you go out there and you jump and do the first time you do it like exactly what happened me to plow down the road it’s like beaten, broken a little bit Blondie like Jesus Christ, what the hell just happened to me. Like I want to be Instagram I want to be a billionaire. You know, you just go oh my god. Like it doesn’t happen that way. And then you start turning into your dad if you go through the experience of learning like oh, we just take some some shortcuts at Well worth going, and you wouldn’t be wrong, you know? So my experience is that is that, yes, you can get there, but it’s not going to happen without the efforts, just like any more than, you know, like, like a rocket can go to the moon without any fuel, you know, the experience is that you need to be a success. And I think that we see this more often than people realize out in the world, when you see these kids that have all this money that they’ve inherited, or a company that they’ve inherited, and they just crash that shit, you know, because you can’t know what there is to know without going through what there is to learn. It’s just not a possibility, you know, and I think that the too many people and I fall in, in the same group, is that you have an expectation that you set for yourself on what it’s supposed to look like, which always comes into contradiction with what it is. And that often looks like disappointment, you know, so like, set your expectations, to say, you know, minimize your expectation, it says my way all the time, but I didn’t, you know, minimize your expectations, and then understand that, like, the best thing that you can bring to the table is your experience and your knowledge and your willingness to learn, because that’s the only way it’s gonna get you over the hill that you don’t understand. That’s really our job. I think just like entrepreneurs is like, who’s gonna be willing to do the work even though it’s Sunday? Yeah.

Aaron Spatz  36:19

Yeah, no, I think it’s a great, it’s a great visual. And that’s, I mean, there’s just tons of great insight that you’re peppering in here. And it’s just, it’s really phenomenal. Because, I mean, you take the, you take the disappointments, and you couldn’t have gotten to where you are without those disappointments, you know, because I was like, you learn something from it, there is a, you know, because I always laugh when you’ve got people that have made, you know, have made it right, we will know these people. And they have their own stories about like, how they, how they got there. And I think that this is in a previous episode recorded, but talking about survivorship bias, and how it’s like your, your, your bias, like you already have kind of kind of a tainted view of how you got there. Because you got there. Yeah. And everybody gets there.

Claude Shires  37:05

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And I think that, like, you know, you can see the fallout from it, you know, and other people, you know, it’s like, people get stuck. And now, I think the best thing that you can be as an entrepreneur is to be empathetic, and to like, you know, to those that are so we’re all just trying to learn, you know, not all Mark Cuban dude, that guy like, crushed it, you know, I mean, but he does have something I love that he says it’s like, you only have to be right at one time. Yeah. Yeah,

Aaron Spatz  37:35

that’s true. I mean, I always like to say you’re, you’re only one phone call away. Yeah. And you’re one email, you’re one message away from, from your life changing, right? So and then it’s on us to do to do the work to be in a position where we where we could take that phone call and turn it into something, right? It’s like, yeah, you gotta you gotta be ready, like you’ve got, you’ve got to be as ready as you can be, you know?

Claude Shires  37:58

Absolutely. There’s a great quote from Bob Evans, that I love about this. And he’s like, about luck in there, too. So unlucky luck is when opportunity meets preparation. Right? Like, our job is to be prepared, you know, he comes over, he goes, What do you feel like you could run this company on $2? million? Yes. So

Aaron Spatz  38:20

wow, no, that’s awesome. What, like, you know, I mean, you share the some of the some of the disappointments and the things you’re going through. But yeah, I mean, what other what other lessons learned? Like, is there? Is there anything else that you feel like has really served you? Well, as you’ve gone forward? I mean, I mean, obviously, going through a failure is a great way to learn, if you’re in you are wise enough to recognize your your missteps, or just the the environment that you’re in, and you can go back and analyze that and learn a lot from that. So there’s that. But is, is, is there anything else? Like? Yeah, I mean, maybe it’s related to family? Or maybe it’s related to just, you know, how the team gets formed, you know, who are the first people you have to get bring onto the team? Like, what is it? What does that look like for you? First

Claude Shires  39:07

off? Well, I would say that, like, Don’t give out, don’t give out the pie, like to anybody that isn’t willing to the definition of a founder is somebody who puts in money, right? You got to put in money and found that thing. So I didn’t know that. So I gave a couple founders positions away a few times, you know, to people who didn’t actually put in the capital, but so it’s a that like, the biggest thing is make sure that everybody understands that you’re on the same playing field. Because, look, if you don’t mind hiring your friends, you better be totally cool. firing your friends did I mean because like, I’ve had to do both, and it sucks. And like you might, if you want to be CEO of a company, you’re gonna have a lot of people hate your guts, and not want to hear what you have to say. And you’re gonna have to be responsible for all the decision making in the company. Right? So the key is knowing the relationships that knowing what’s needed knowing how you’re To get there who’s going to finance and what you’re going to do the company that company up into, and nobody gets debt part of my friends, nobody gets yet until they’ve invested their equity, you include it. So the key is knowing your corporate structure, knowing how you’re going to take money, knowing how you’re gonna invest your employees and protect yourself, you know, all those things are so critical, and there’s so on, intuitive to know, you know, you literally have to go out of your way to learn how to apply knowledge that you don’t know something else you don’t know. So just understand that, that that you don’t know everything and be willing to learn and being willing to, you know, always get a lawyer on the team, let me just tell you that right now, because otherwise, you’re gonna spend, I spent $28,000, on my first startup to with lawyers, before I coded anything. Yeah, I mean, so if you’re gonna do a startup, get somebody who’s a corporate lawyer, as your friend and get them on board right away. And then I would say, build a founding team that really, you know, don’t just go given the idea that somebody who was in the room at the time that you came up with it, you know, which I’ve done to, you know, the key is really, you know, identifying what it is that you want your life to look like, because remember, the entrepreneur, the CEO, the founder, though that combination is it’s your child, it’s your baby, every single day, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, it’s your email, it’s your social, it’s your responsibility. And if you’re going to take that on, it’s just like having a relationship with another spouse, or having a kid or whatever it is, so So just understand what you’re getting into, you know, honor, the commitment of what that is, and be willing to be truthful, most importantly to yourself, if it’s not working, have the honesty with yourself to be like, Look, we do have a conversation, because I don’t know if this is gonna work or not. And I hope that’s enough.

Aaron Spatz  41:49

Love that. And then thanks, thanks for sharing that. That’s, I mean, again, you’re you’ve been, you’ve been throwing a lot of really, like really awesome pearls of wisdom. And I hope everybody’s taking note, because there’s been a ton of just really awesome, like, little phrases or sentences thing in here that are just, I mean, to go back and like, really understand some of your journey as I mean, it’s a great, it’s a great learning opportunity, you know, it’s like, and that’s, and that’s part of the point of us, right? Like we, we can learn, we can learn by going through our own pain. And I think I even think some of that is a lot of that is healthy, it can be healthy. And then but but then wisdom has also been able to learn from the mistakes and the lessons and the hardships and other pain that other people have gone through. So maybe you can avoid a little bit of that. You’re not going to get all of it. But maybe,

Claude Shires  42:39

yeah, they they, there’s a good There’s a great saying, which again, I don’t even know that this applies to me like, but, you know, smart people can learn from their own mistakes, right. Like, genius level people to learn from other people’s mistakes. Yeah, yeah. No, don’t try to take that on too.

Aaron Spatz  43:00

Yeah. And it’s and it’s, it’s, it’s hard because because it’s unless it’s you The Nimbin it’s like real. Like, it’s no it’s no longer a it’s no longer theory is actually yours. Then, how can people find you give us I mean, we’ve already talked a little about last lounge, but I’m happy to talk a little bit more about it. So So share share with us, you know, where people find you how can they get get laughs lounge, all that good stuff?

Claude Shires  43:26

Yeah, absolutely. Well, yeah, you can always find me on LinkedIn that’s like, they’re like, everyday posted jokes every day jokes of the day, and download lessons at the you know, on the app store if you’re on iOS or Android you can do on the Google Play Store where they’re on Apple TV. And we’re pretty much gonna be on every OTT like Smart TV, other streaming services like broken up all pretty soon and yeah, you know, and by the way, somebody will announce this here the veterans podcast we’re gonna make the last match app the stand up comedy apps free till active duty military. So we’re basically like, you know, who needs to laugh more than the military man there’s USO shows like saved us remember? Yeah. Always reservist in Iraq and they come out they’re like everybody have a great weekend. How’s your weekend going guys?

Aaron Spatz  44:13

That’s awesome. Well, that’s great, man. Thanks for Thanks for doing that I’m so if you’re watching this make sure you share it to your active duty folks so that they can they can they can grab grab hold of this but, Claude, I just want to thank you, man, thank you for Thanks for spending so much time with me and I really really appreciated your insights and it’s been it’s been a true true blast.

Claude Shires  44:35

Last Man same here and I’m appreciate the time, man, thank you for your service. I appreciate you. Let me talk about myself for 40 minutes

Aaron Spatz  44:47

what a what an awesome interview. I love, love clothes energy, which I’m sure you loved it as well. He was an absolute blast. But don’t don’t let that I mean, don’t let the comedy is great. But don’t let that preventing you from going back and hearing and understanding some of the like golden nuggets of information that he shared and there’s a ton of wisdom and really practical application that that you can apply to your own life to your own business ventures to whatever you’re working on. So I really appreciated him and his just his openness to share through some of the some of the struggles some of the some of the trials he’s been through but then also mean look, look at where he is like I’m, I’m cheering this guy on and I want to see him succeed. And so I mean, I would, I would highly I would highly encourage you if you would so dare do so to go over and grab grab his app and download it and do all that. So anyway, thank you for for tuning in and sincere pleasure to produce this for you till next week.

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