Have you ever had a guilty conscience about your job and the work you’re doing?
Have you ever had debt you thought would never leave?
What about this thing called AI, curious about it?
This week’s episode covers an inspiring story from serial entrepreneur Joe Stolte sharing his struggles of debt, fatherhood, four successful exits, and the future of AI in business.
This is an episode you’ll absolutely want to hear.
Normally I don’t talk much about people’s back stories on this podcast because I want you to get strategic and tactical takeaways for growing your business.
But this story was too interesting not to share.
Tune in to hear Joe’s story of how he’s started 5 fast growing tech companies, from debt to multi-millions in 12 months, another that went public, and more.
Continued Learning: How to Maximize Efficiency and Revenue
- Want to know what’s keeping you from doubling your sales in the next 12 months? Take our quick QUIZ to get answers: Howtodoublesales.com
- If you’d like to have a profound breakthrough in your business, schedule your breakthrough call with a LIVE expert here: Chetholmes.com/Breakthrough
- Claim your FREE chapter 4 from the top 10 most recommended marketing and sales books of all time! Visit: Ultimatesalesmachine.com to find out how you Create 9X More Impact from every move you’re already making to win clients!
*this transcript was mostly generated by AI, please excuse any mistakes
Amanda: Hello everybody. I have something special for you today. I was talking with a C E O. His name is Joe Stolte, C e o of future scope.com. It’s an AI software for newsletters, uh, and I wanted to talk to him about AI and bring it to you all since we’re talking so much about AI in the world today
but I was shocked actually where the conversation went. We were on a Zoom and he started telling me about, Him being a serial entrepreneur, struggles that he had, the moment when he was at his lowest, and the debt that he had incurred from his first business to then lead into his second, which, um, hit seven figures in under 12 months, which then led to a third, which went public.
And him managing hundreds of staff. So very interesting story. He has, including some stories about cocaine and hookers. I mean, it, it goes, it goes to interesting places, , but all very entertaining. So I’m sure you’ll enjoy this week’s episode from debt to multimillion dollar business in under 12 months.
Here is your daily dose of the Ultimate Sales machine coming to you from the new edition. Visit ultimate sales machine.com to get your copy or multiple copies. Hi, I’m your host, Amanda Holmes, CEO of Chet Homes International. What you’re about to learn has assisted a quarter of a million businesses to generate billions of dollars working faster, better, smarter.
Joe: after my first startup, um, failed. I mean, it was, it was bad. Like I had left like a, like a quarter million a year job and moved to LA to like be a startup founder. And after two years the company was, We got left on our, on the altar in our Series A.
We got dumped so hard, we got played, and I didn’t, I never saw it coming. Anyway, so I’m, I’m like, I think I was like 35,000. I used to have a number memorized. I don’t anymore. It’s $35,000 in change, like in debt.
I was at Whole Foods and I was trying to, it was like one of those hot days, you know, where it’s like, It was really hot at the time to, to date the story.
It was when the ALS challenge was going around the internet. , do you remember what that is? Yeah, yeah. There was a huge drought in California, so like to dump buckets of water. It was like, cause it was hot. I’m walking to Whole Foods Venice, and um, I go to buy like, um, like a bottle. Like, like I, I went to grab like a, like a ice cold bottle of water and I grabbed, purposely grabbed the bottle.
That was like three behind it. So I was like, it’s the coldest one, you know, get my, I got my, my hot food from the hot bar. At the time I was actually vegan, so it’s just a bunch of vegetables or whatever, and I go to pay for it. And like my card is so overdrawn that like, it declines . I’m like, it, it just the most, it’s like one of the most embarrassing things that’s ever happened to me.
So I make some like stupid lie. I’m like, oh, I’m gonna go to my car and get the other card. And I just walk out and I’m just like, demolished. Like, it’s like the longest walk home of my life. And, um, The next day my, uh, roommate and I went out to eat and he’s like, oh, I got you. You know, we went to this tuna burger place in, um, in Santa Monica.
And, um, of course I wasn’t eating tuna. I just went for the ride. And I, I remember listening to like a program with your, with your dad, and it was talking about, Like, like selling to service-based businesses basically. Hmm. And at the time I, this was like when social media was really starting to, like, it’s like everybody’s parents were coming to Facebook and everyone was going to Snapchat.
And like a lot of small brands, especially service-based businesses, they had no idea of like, how to even use social media for their business. And I was like, why don’t we just make a, an agency that helps them do that, you know? And, and we did ended up being like, very successful on a cash basis. And we sold the business in a year.
Wow. I came up with the idea from just thinking, man. You know, like, like whether that’s like your father, like Che or like the Jay Abrahams of the world. Like there’s like this millions and millions of dollars of transactions that have been done from, you know, service-based businesses to service-based. I was like, why don’t we just start one of those that’s not tech, but we’ll get money.
And we did. And it was awesome. And we crushed it. We was like a multimillion dollar business before 12 months. And it was, it was amazing. Wow. But I, I never would’ve thought of that if, uh, if I hadn’t listened to like those program. From your dad in the early Oh,
Amanda: I love that. Okay, so first one was a tech, second one was a service space agency.
Then the rest of them, the five that you’ve done or have all been in tech
Joe: then otherwise, well, there’s one before. The first tech one that’s not worth getting into. Uh, the next one was, uh, a company called lottery.com, if you’ve heard of that. Mm-hmm. , we, we did, um, we. Basically you print mobile lottery tickets on the mobile phone, so you don’t have to have a physical ticket.
And then, oh, okay. I invested in the company and then I joined as coo, so I was like, um, you know, basically running the business. Um, okay. Everything with the engineering team and anyway, so yeah, and came from the earliest days until, you know, we were well over a hundred employees on four continents and we were, we were virtual like way before [00:05:00] covid.
This is like 20 15, 16, 17, 18. Woo. So that was the next one. Um, I left before this happened, but that company went public on a SPAC for 500. Wow. 20 million, 26 million, something like that. Oh, wow. Yeah. And then, um, then I had, I just, I. I took a break. I had like this real, like this huge epiphany, um, like that I was in the wrong place and I was doing the wrong work that I wasn’t called to be doing.
Um, and I didn’t really know what was next, but I knew that like I, what I was doing, I was not meant to be doing. Like, I just, that’s like that, whatever. That was like the startup stuff. And we were very active in like, uh, crypto, you know, like, like this. We, we like invested in the Ethereum ICO and all that stuff early.
um, just right place, right time, you know? Okay. So, so, but I just felt. That was the wrong place for me to be in, you know, uh, at a very deep level. I, I was very convicted that I needed to get outta that, so I
Amanda: left. Was that around when you started having children? I’m just curious, did those [00:06:00] intersect?
Joe: So, so there’s actually a fun story here.
So like, um, at the time, uh, we were, we were raising money for lottery and um, I think the time this particular round was like over 60 million and we had just, okay, I just met with the family office that had agreed to invest and I was in, um, And, and afterwards they’re like, Hey, let’s go party. You know, so we’re in New York and I’m in like a, like a penthouse or whatever of this hotel and I’m in the middle of a discussion with this person who will not be named and he turns around the person that was making the investment in the company and he turns around in the middle of our deep kind of conversation at two in the morning and like does a line of blow.
You know, just very casually. And what’s funny is like that was, that was kind of the environment that I was in like every other weekend, you know, and a different place in the world. And then why has that happened? Like the doors opened and like I look over the guy’s shoulder and there’s like all these women coming in and a guy installing a stripper pole and like, All these women are stripper.
So I was like, in that moment, I very clearly heard a voice in my head, my intuition, God, whatever you want to call it. And it was a very clear [00:07:00] question. And the question was, you know, what decisions are you making right now that you’d be proud to explain to your son later? Because my son, my, my wife was in LA pregnant, you know, like three, three months from the due date.
Wow. And so, yeah, it was just very, uh, it was a very unsettling question. So I excuse myself from the conversation I went back to. My hotel, I packed my stuff, I slept on the floor of the Newark airport and I flew home. And then I basically made a path to get out of that whole world. And I just went through a massive like transformation, like figuring out soul searching, who did I want to be and what kind of impact did I want to make on the world as an entrepreneur or a father or husband or leader.
And that’s, uh, you know, that really took me on this journey, that reset me, you know, in a lot of beautiful ways. And, um, you know, so there’s like a hard geared turn in my, or change, if you will, in my entrepreneurial journey, just in terms of like my intentionality around what I was doing. Um, yeah, so, so yeah.
And then from there I, um, I did whatever good entrepreneur does when they’re going through a [00:08:00] transformation. I started a coaching practice, , which, um, you know, which was super fun and it was so funny and it was very lucrative. It was quite successful financially. Um, you know, I. Um, you know, we were, we, we were very quickly able to build that to a seven figure business, but I knew that was like, that’s not where I was gonna like hang out.
That was like a waste station. It wasn’t the final destination. Hmm. And a friend of mine who I’d worked with at lottery had taken over as c e o of a company. He asked me to join him. Um, I joined as the Chief Revenue Officer and um, you know, that’s actually when I met. Yeah. Yeah. I was inheriting a sales team that I, I knew needed to be transformed and, um, yeah.
And so that’s why I started revisiting Ultimate Sales Machine and I made everyone on the team read it. And that became like our, our go-to-market strategy, because we couldn’t do like, advertising and cannabis on like the digital ads. Oh, oh yeah. Yeah. So we did, uh, we we did a Dream 100 with a direct mail campaign.
You know, we would send [00:09:00] people like, And it was during the pandemic, right? So like we couldn’t even door knock, like, so we, we would send people like these socks that look like sushi and then with like an offer, like to call us like a sales letter. And it looks, and then, and then what was the tie-in between sushi socks and you should call us.
Well, it was like, get on a call with us and I’ll buy, I’ll, I’ll basically DoorDash you sushi. I’ll like, I’ll buy you lunch and we’ll have lunch. Hilarious. On a call. And, and I, and what I promised to unlock, you know, some large number of dollars in your business for free. Just get on a call with us and we’ll help you with your business.
How did that convert? I mean, at first it was weird and slow, but then it, it really started to work. You know like, like, well cuz like it if you have the right strategy, right? If you have a Dream 100 and a direct mail campaign or a DM campaign or a social campaign or whatever that is, and then you have, you have a really great product and then you have a system after you sell it to get them to like the aha moment of your product experience or service experience quickly.
And then you ask for a referral, [00:10:00] it doesn’t even have to work that good cuz one client turns into three pretty quickly. So if you have the backend really well figured out, then the r o ROI of the effort is quite high. And that was the case for us.
Who was a Dream
Amanda: 100 for you in that you were selling to distributors, you were selling direct to consumer?
Joe: Yeah. No, it was to, it was b2b, so we were, we were selling, uh, compliance software in the cannabis industry. Um, which is legally mandated by ev all the states where cannabis is either like recreationally or medicinally legal. Um, but you know, it’s like, it’s like changing like an e r p. It’s like, it’s like, it’s like open heart surgery.
It’s a big switch to, to like switch what you have to something else. Okay. So we went after people that we thought were like earlier in their journey that maybe didn’t have that. And, and it was easier for us to come in with a clean slate. So our, our target prospect. We, we started with like perfect information.
We had every licensed cannabis user and like all the states we operated in mm-hmm. . So we kind of knew like their, their size and it was, we have really [00:11:00] good data basically. Wow. So that was it. And then we just, we were relentless. We would mail like two times a week. Follow up with two times a week. Yeah.
Direct mail. It was, it was, it was, it was. We bombarded people, but it was funny. It was a good copy. Yeah, it was funny. And um, you know, we had, we had people call us back and it was literally like, I felt like, like a story out of Ultimate Sales Machine people was. like Okay. W like I’ve read these letters to our staff so many times.
I feel like we owe you a call back. You know, just, just because it’s so good, you know? And I was like, great, like, you know, like, and I wasn’t like, I was running the, the marketing and the sales department and doing a rebrand, so I wasn’t taking the sales call. So I would just hear about these things for my team, but it was hilarious.
Oh, that’s, you know, and so good. And, and there was like, it was funny how many people doubted it. Is this still gonna work? You know, like this seems like old school. And I was like, trust me, it’s gonna work.
Amanda: is. So where did you get that Deter? Deter or that clarity and trust? Because it is a hard thing to get the whole [00:12:00] team to rally along
Well, I think two things. One, we didn’t have a choice. It was the thick of the pandemic lockdowns and we couldn’t do digital advertising. So there was like some requirements or some environmental factors around that. Okay. But the second thing is that my, even before I went to college, cuz I started my career in corporate America and.
I was studying direct response marketing. You know, I was studying like, like you can see a up there, Gary? Yeah. Yeah. And this, this book here is like Bill Burn Box, the book on advertising that changed everything in advertising. It’s like all the best ads from the, the heyday of the 16th. Oh really? You know, visuals and everything.
It’s an amazing book if you can find on Amazon. But I was studying like you. Like Halbert and, um, all the great copywriters, Eugene Schwartz, like you name it. Mm. And like my, my introduction to like how to market was direct response marketing. Okay. And then I, um, when I, I went to, I went to college and I worked in management consulting.
I learned about [00:13:00] strategy. So then when I started listening to your dad’s material again, I was like, this is brilliant because it’s like this great synthesis of like brilliant strategy with. Like Guerrilla direct response tactics that work, you know, kind of combine together. And usually I meet salespeople that aren’t very strategic.
They just have like a lot of energy, a lot of effort, and make enough calls. I’ll get enough deals done. But the, but the, but the fusion of strategy and persistence is magic. And so I just, I’ve seen that work too many times in my life to not to know. Like I just knew that if. We’re strategic and did something that no one else was doing, and we made people laugh during the pandemic that, oh, that’s of, of emotion worth tr conveying to somebody.
And that’s valuable. You know,
Amanda: same thing everybody needs through the recession. Okay. So, uh, we’ve just started this, I mean, this has been recording, right? We’re just gonna continue cause this is so too good. It’s too good. So, um, I’m sure another thing topic ai, right? Yeah. It’s, it’s been on the. [00:14:00] Periphery.
People have been thinking about it. Some people are more advanced than others. Can you, what got you into what you’re doing right now and tell me, tell me about this world that you’re living in.
Joe: Yeah, so we ended up selling growth flow. Um, took it from about a million in revenue to eight, and then we sold it for 62.5 million, kind of right before the tech.
That’s a nice multiple. Yeah, no, it was great. It was great. And I think if we would’ve waited, I don’t know if we would’ve gotten as great of an outcome. Um, but I, you know, at the time I knew the sale was gonna happen and I got introduced to my current business partners, Evan Pagan and Dr. Peter D Mendez who, I dunno,
Amanda: your business partners, Evan Pagan.
Joe: And that’s funny cuz like I tell people that, and it’s like, sometimes people like, oh my God, I can’t leave your partners with Peter. But like I was like more impressed by being able to be the business partner of Evan Pagan, cuz I learned so much from his content too, you know? Oh,
Amanda: he’s so wonderful.
He took care of me a lot. Right after my father passed, he would just check in and say, how are you doing? Let’s get it on a 15 minute call. [00:15:00] Like I, I’d never met anybody that actually was productive in 15 minutes until I met Evan Pagan Oh. Like who? Just really product. Yeah. In every, in every, I mean, majority of the time, the 15 minutes turned into much more, but, but he always checked in on me and I was like, that’s so wonderful of you.
And I never forgot that. Okay. Yeah. So you met your business partners?
Joe: We met those guys and I’ll just say like, I can’t understate, I can’t overstate what Evan has done like in my life in terms of my thinking and just years before I met him. He’s another one of those guys that just had a tremendous big thinker.
Amanda: Yeah. You’re always talking meta when you’re talking to him. It’s, yeah.
Joe: Actually, when I. When I started my entrepreneurial journey, like he’s, he got me like listening to his programs, what started me meditating. Oh, wow. That’s cool. Yeah, so super cool. Anyway, so. Ai. Yes. So I met these guys and they had, this tool was, it was amazing.
They had an Alpha product where they were using AI to make an automated email newsletter for Peter and his audience. Hmm. And it, and it was [00:16:00] like over a hundred thousand subscribers. It was going out five days a week and had like a 60% open rate. So it was just extraordinary what they built. Wow. And I was like, cool.
How many customers is, does the business have? They’re like zero, basically. And I was. You know, look guys, I, for the last three years I’ve been in a closet sending sushi socks, selling cannabis software. Like I can sell this, you know, this is amazing. So it just seemed extraordinary. And then I started to really like, Dive into the industry.
You know, one of the things I learned in management consulting was how to like really synthesize information quickly and ramp up on an industry. So I started going really deep into like AI and the possibility and, and the tool that they had built. And, um, you know, eventually I said, well, let’s bring this to market and if it works, Make me c e o I became c e o last year.
We raised a little bit of money, but the, but the thing is, I, I, I, I started, the more I dug into ai, the more I was just blown away. Like, I was calling like some of the smartest friends I knew in tech and I was like, why aren’t we [00:17:00] doing AI stuff? Like, this is insane. And, and it, and it was just, it, it’s mind boggling how important it is.
You know, it’s going to be as important as electricity. I genuinely believe that. So if you want to understand how AI is going to transform everything, go. back And reads stories about how electricity transformed everything. Go back and like read narratives and watch movies, and it’s going to have that level of an impact maybe even bigger.
Everything is going to have AI in it, everything is going to have a certain kind of computational intelligence that, um, that we just don’t have today. And, and if you can see the world through that lens, you can start to get a little glimmer into. We’re just at the beginning, we’re at like the, like the top of the first inning of this AI revolution.
And I, I got that immediately when I started digging into it. And so when I became c e o, you know, I just used that enthusiasm to help people. I, you know, and we, we, we work with small smb, right? So if you’ve got more than a million in revenue, but like less than 50 in a [00:18:00] small team, you maybe have a customer list of emails that you know, you know, you could be communicating with them more consistently.
Mm-hmm. And we have an amazing product. That can give you a consistent communication to your customer every single week, and it will get better results than a human can because it’s watching what every single one of your subscribers is doing, and it’s customizing the newsletter in aggregate to make it more and more interesting for your specific audience, for your customers, for your people.
Um, and it’s, it’s, it’s extraordinary. I mean, it is like, I’m baffled at what AI is doing right now. Like every day I heard about a new cool use case and even the things that we’re building, it’s. It’s incredible. It’s a whole new,
Amanda: that is shocking to me. So I had this experience the other night. I was on Instagram and I was writing a message, a direct message to one of my close friends and I, and I was talking about how I was, um, it would be really great if I had more friends that were acrobats because I really wanna get better at acrobatics.
Yeah. I was a gymnast for 16 years, so [00:19:00] acrobatics was interesting to me. Amazing. And um, and then, And then I went to videos to start watching videos. And then every video, as soon as I wrote that in the direct message, all of my videos turned into acrobatics videos. And then I kept sharing it to my friend going, look at what the algorithm is doing.
Look at what the algorithm is doing. It’s sending me all of these acrobats. Yeah. How amazing. And then, While I was talking to that person, then it started giving me feeds of, of videos that I knew that person would like to watch. I’m like, look, now the algorithm sending me videos that you’ll like, it was like so polar different from what I would like.
And I was so fascinated how much it kept my attention and I was so cognizant of it, right? Because I was showing, look at this, it’s showing me what I wrote, and now it’s showing me what you would like to see. So I’m sending this to you. So we continue talking on the platform while I continue to watch these videos.
And I was also sharing, I don’t watch Netflix. I go on Facebook [00:20:00] watch and you can go to Facebook watch and it’ll give you videos based on what you like to see, right? Yeah. So. I had, um, instead of watching a whole show, I’ll go on there and it’ll give me 15 minute to 20 minute. Uh, Uh, shortened versions of shows.
So I’ll watch a show Triple Time on Facebook Watch, and I don’t have to go through, uh, Netflix to curate it. I’m just going through and picking every three I watch, and it turns out to be like the strangest of things that capture my attention. I would’ve not even really noticed it until the algorithm starts curating it for me.
So, . I’m thinking, and I’ve been observing this, I’m finding it very fascinating because as I’m as a marketer, right, I wanna figure out how can I grab the attention of my, uh, people that are consuming my material. So yes, in short increments, right? Micro content is important. Yeah. And then the consistency, because it used to take seven different touches for someone to capture the attention and remember your brand.
But now, [00:21:00] 500 times they have to see it before they remember it. It’s just absurd. Yeah. So as I see, I’ve been observing this and experiencing this and finding it fascinating and applying it to how I make my presence online. And then when you said AI for curating of subscriber, I’m feeling that what I’ve been experiencing on Facebook, on Instagram, you can do in a.
Joe: Yeah, that’s, that’s a very good analogy. I think the thing that people should wrap their head around, if you’re a marketer, this is obvious. If you’re not, it’s that when every time I’m on Facebook, like I have to pay to reach my audience. If I, if I wanna do that with, with any scale or intentionality. Yeah.
But if I have like an owned marketing channel, like, like s SMS or email or Yeah, even like Telegram or Slack or whatever, like that’s my list. I can communicate to people for the most part without paying for. But then bring that same kind of AI algorithmic logic to optimize for what I’m sending them. You know, it’s very difficult for like, like you [00:22:00] can write, even if you have like a really, really worldclass copy and you really understand your market, that’s awesome because that’s a really good input to start to get people’s attention because even the best direct response marketers weren’t looking at how every single individual.
Right. And then making that, that, that kind of like aggregate calibration and who has time for that if you’re, unless you have like a bunch of data scientists and a huge team. So we’re trying to do is like really democratize that so that you can build AI intelligence for your audience. Like what do they wanna see and what, what are they most interested in?
And then if you’re creating content, you can see what they’re most interested in and what you’re most excited about. And then make content where it overlaps. And as a, you’re kind of de-risking. The creation process because they’re more likely to be interested in it, right? Because you know, they’re interested in similar, more content.
Amanda: a ton of market data for you cuz you know, empire Research Group. So 40% of content online actually hinders the probability of a sale. Mm. Because we don’t understand how to put the right content in front of our buyers, which would be [00:23:00] a great. Um, uh, smoking gun for you, I think. Oh, I love that. Good stat.
Yeah. And for every dollar you spend on email marketing, you get on average, uh, $42 back. Mm. So yours is just on steroids? Yeah. I, my advice has been hire a copywriter. If you don’t do copy, right, email is the, the gold that you’re sitting on that you don’t even know about. Cuz so many people just don’t treat their list or their customer database or their prospects very well unless you get into the digital marketing savvy person.
But a regular, you know, HVAC company or a doctor or a you know, manufacturer, they don’t. , they don’t, they don’t do that kind of work. So Yeah. It sounds like you help them bridge that
Joe: gap. I love that. Yeah. And, and, and what the vision that we’re, that we have for the company is you want to build like the world’s first AI C M O for a small business.
So what does that mean? That means like with a, right, like you can write a prompt or like, if we could be in the Zoom meeting and I could, [00:24:00] you know, if we call our AI ace, I could say, Hey, ACE, uh, send a three. Email sequence to my unengaged email subscribers to get them reengaged and unsubscribe the ones that don’t.
And it will just know all the logic of an an email sequence. Like if someone clicks in the beginning, don’t send ’em the next two. It’ll personalize it based on their interactions with you. So if they’re a doctor, it’ll say, you know, Dr. Holmes versus, you know, Ms. Holmes or whatever. And it will Wow. And it will personalize the message, right?
And then if we have your social media data, your LinkedIn or your Twitter, it’ll bring that data in to make the, make the copy more personalized, right? And so, and it can do that with machine-like precis. And it can measure and aggregate how it works across the different people that it’s, that’s sending to, and it gets smarter every time.
It does. and you can just send it a prompt and it’ll do it. And that’s not like science fiction is coming in like 10 years, like that’s a few months away. Like we’ll be doing that this summer for our customers. We’re doing that for ourselves right now. Every, every week we send 5,000 emails that are personalized to each person.[00:25:00]
The copy is mostly the same, but each one is personalized. The individual? Yeah. The body copy changes based on how they interact with our data.
Amanda: Woo. And where do people find you? How do we know more about.
Joe: Awesome. What’s today? Uh, you can find [email protected] and then I’m sure it’ll redirect. But in, uh, in just a few weeks, about a month, we’re rebranding to daily.ai.
Ah, okay. Future scope.com for right now.
Amanda: Okay. Thank you. Holy cow, that’s such great information. What a crazy, amazing story you have.
Make sure to get your copy or copies at the ultimate sales machine.com. There’s a lot of special bonuses that you can’t get going to Amazon, so make sure you check it [email protected]