Aaron is the founder of Modify Watches. Have you not heard of this incredible time-piece? Modify Watches are super-dope, interchangeable watches. You can mix-and-match faces and straps to create the “Mod” that allows you to make your statement, whether (quiet) or LOUD.
- “The only true wisdom, is knowing that you know nothing.” – Socrates click to tweet!
- Another young Entrepreneur and another start-up with friends. They were all talented, but not in all the right areas. Listen to what went down, and the reasons why.
Entrepreneurial AHA Moment
- MVP. Not Most Valuable Player in the Entrepreneurial world… instead, it stands for Minimally Viable Product. Modify Watches is one. Listen to why they turned down Shark Tank because of it.
- EntrepreneurOnFire on Monday, Rachel Ray on Tuesday, Today Show on Wednesday, and MSNBC on Thursday. Not a bad lineup for Modify Watches, eh?
Small Business Resources
- Asana.com: Task Management for Teams
- AVC.com: Internet commentary by Fred Wilson, a New York-based venture capitalist.
Best Business Book
- Peak by Chip Connely
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John Lee Dumas: Okay. Let’s get started. I am simply thrilled to introduce my guest today, Aaron Schwartz. Aaron, are you prepared to ignite?
Aaron Schwartz: Absolutely!
John Lee Dumas: Alright, man! Aaron is the founder of Modify Watches. Have you not heard of this incredible timepiece? Modify Watches are super dope, interchangeable watches. Mix and match faces and straps to create the mod that allows you to make your statement, whether quiet or loud.
I’ve given Fire Nation a little overview, Aaron, of Modify Watches, but why don’t you take it from here and tell us who you are and what you do?
Aaron Schwartz: Sure. So my name is Aaron Schwartz, and I’m proud to say I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. Modify is my second startup, and I started it a few years ago with my friend, Gary, and another buddy, Ashil. The idea of the company is let them – fans and customers – show their colors. So I’m a History major and a consultant with an MBA. I’m definitely not a designer, definitely not the most fashionable person in the world. So we’re just trying to create products that let you kind of tell your own story.
We love Threadless so we try and do a little bit of a crowdsourcing model. We like Zazzle so we try and do a limited edition kind of custom runs model. And we love Zappos, so a lot of customer service. You take all those and you’ve got our first product, which is this interchangeable watch. Yes, we’re moving on to some other interchangeable products too.
Outside of that, for me, I coach basketball and I work a lot. So I’m not as exciting I think as I want to as a person, but I’m a happy guy.
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs] That’s all that matter. Aaron, I was an American Histories Major. I had nothing to do with Communications in college. So believe me, we’re in the same boat here. We just are following our passions here, which is creating something awesome. So thank you for being that entrepreneurial spirit and thank you for having that, just passion, and going forward with that.
Aaron Schwartz: I like it. Thanks.
John Lee Dumas: So Aaron, we’re going to transition now into our first topic, and that’s the success quote because EntrepreneurOnFire, it’s about passion, it’s about excitement, and we want to get the motivational ball rolling with your favorite success quote. What do you have for us today?
Aaron Schwartz: So mine’s a bit tame, but I actually think it’s pretty critical if you’re going to be like an entrepreneur. So it’s by Socrates and it’s “the only true wisdom is knowing that you know nothing.”
John Lee Dumas: I like that. It is tame in some sense, but it has a lot of meaning behind it. Why don’t you take it down to the ground level and how have you applied it to either this current startup or your past current startup.
Aaron Schwartz: Sure, sure. So I’m 30. My brother is a couple of years older than me. I remember being in high school and he was just starting college. He gave me the best advice that I’ve heard, which is kind of equivalent to this, which is you don’t know what you don’t know. Right? I really thought long and hard about that and I kind of applied it to everything. It’s made me ask folks a lot of questions, it’s made me assume that any obstacle I come across, it’s not that it’s impossible to get by, but it kind of gave me the encouragement to say like I don’t know it, I don’t know all the possible solutions, but I know somebody who does.
So in my first business, and now in the second one, like I said, my background is as generic as they come or I guess as general as they come. Being a management consultant was great. I learned a ton. Being an MBA was great. I learned a ton. But every day, we come across new things, and kind of taking that in stride, I think it has helped humble me a lot, and it also just forces me to ask a ton of questions which enables me to meet new people and come up with more innovative solutions I think to the roadblocks that we run into.
John Lee Dumas: Absolutely. At EntrepreneurOnFire, it is all about the journey. So your journey as a history major getting your MBA, it’s all kind of transpired into what you are now, which is the entrepreneur. So it’s all very important. We’ll use that to transition now into our next topic, which is failure. As an entrepreneur, we always have trials and tribulations that we are facing every day, day in and day out. Throughout our journey, it is just fraught with challenges and obstacles. This is about your journey, Aaron. Can you take us back to a failure or a challenge that you’ve had that you really had to overcome and that you learned a lot from?
Aaron Schwartz: Sure. So I think our business, I wouldn’t call it a failure, but I would call it an incredibly difficult challenge. I started it with three friends and I remain good close friends with all of them today. The issue was we had a lot of big ideas. It was a sustainability business and we were trying to make it fun to be sustainable. Kind of there was a points aspect, there was some infrastructure aspect about we’re trying to encourage folks to refill a water bottle. Right? Because that small action, you save a plastic bottle from a landfill. The idea being is you kind of train people and you start with high school and college kids. The more they take mini sustainable actions and the more they’re thoughtful in their decisions, the more impactful it will be as they consider what car to buy, if they’re even going to buy a car. As they consider what house to buy eventually.
So it was this very big idea, and a lot of those aspects of that business have come out on a lot of other cool startups, but the challenge was we had this huge idea and we had a terrible team. Not terrible people, not mean people, but we were poor MBAs. One had come from biotech and had a patent. He was brilliant. The other had come from finance and was great operationally, and the other one was also kind of [fine] with real estate and great. Then like I said, I was a management consultant. But we didn’t have any design minds on the team and we didn’t have any tech talents. So it was like this big idea that we loved, but just absolutely the wrong team. We struggled through for a year-and-a-half. I don’t know. It was a lot of work for an incredible amount of learning, but maybe not much financial outcome.
John Lee Dumas: So let’s take it down to the ground level. What was a lesson that you can truly look back at and you can say that you pulled out of that experience?
Aaron Schwartz: Yes. So we started this during business school. In the second semester of my first year, the entire summer in between first and second year, and then almost all of the second year, I worked on this. During my second semester of my second year, I took a class from Steve Blank and Eric Ries. So customer development with lean startup methodology. If you’re an entrepreneur, I don’t think you might [have to] if you’re an entrepreneur. If you’re anybody doing any work anywhere, I think you need to read the work that these guys have been putting out, “The Lean Startup.” I think Steve Blank’s new book is “The Startup Owner’s Manual.”
Anyway, so I took this class. The big ideas from the class from the class were one, you don’t know anything. Don’t build a product for yourself. Build it for your customers. So lesson one is get outside your four walls of your office and go talk to as many customers as you can, and figure out what they truly want. That’s more of a Steve Blank lesson. Then the Eric Ries lesson, which is equal if not more impactful, is do you have a minimum viable product.
So we were trying to build this exceptional product. Again, without having yet really talked to customers, but the idea is take a step back, make a viable product. So you can’t produce junk, but it doesn’t have to be pretty. Right? You just need to really kind of sell the story and get feedback from folks. So that’s completely changed how we approached Modify. It could not have been a better lesson.
John Lee Dumas: I love that lesson. Eric Ries with The Lean Startup has so many great lessons with just that book in general, and it does just speak exactly what you were talking about, is to you want to create a minimally viable product because they were talking so much about creating this perfect product and they were trying to spend so much time before launch, and then as soon as they launched, they realized they spent all this time doing all these features that the customers didn’t even necessarily want or need. So you never know what your customer is going to want until you launch. So launch as quick as you can with a minimally viable product, and then adjust from there with the feedback. How did you do that with Modify Watches?
Aaron Schwartz: Yes, sure. So the idea for Modify came from my partner, Gary. He had been traveling in Asia and he saw some interchangeable products. The value proposition is pretty clear if you can actually interchange something. So you buy one watch, you’ve got a watch. If you buy a second watch, you’ve now got four because each face can interact with each strap. So we thought that was very cool both from like a cash value to a customer. Like you can get a lot of looks for a lot less money than buying individual pieces, but also from projected savings to just it’s more fun. Right? Like you can always mix and match and you can match your outfit.
So we knew we wanted to do this business, but we didn’t exactly know what that business would be. Would we just be a watch company? Would we do a lot of other products? So I was very insistent from day one where I said, “Listen, we’re not going to spend any money. We’re going to put up a very cheap website, which ended up being a Weebly website. So it’s kind of a drag and drop website tool where you say I want an image here and to check out here and whatever.
Then what we did is we actually ordered products online, and then we rebranded it. So we were taking somebody else’s product and saying this is now ours, and we were really conscious of what that would entail. Like the quality would be okay, right? The watch would tick, but maybe there would be a scratch on it, right? So it was truly a minimum viable product. It was viable, it let customers know, hey, we’re a watch that’s interchangeable, but it was minimum. It wasn’t beautiful and it was fine.
So what we did is we immediately sent out an email to friends and family as quickly as we could once we got the product in hand, and when people bought, we’d send them a second watch for free. If somebody came back and said, “Hey, it’s defective,” we’d send them a third one. If they came back again, we’d say, “Listen, we’re going to refund you, but we’ll send you a fourth one.”
The idea at the beginning was we do not care about money and we don’t care about profit. We’ll take a loss on every sale, right? We would refund anybody who asked for it, and in fact, even if they didn’t ask, if we knew that we “screwed up,” we’d immediately refund them and say, “Hey, I refunded you, but there’s another one” because what we were interested in was one, did people buy a single watch, or did they like the idea of the interchangeability? Was there some value there? We thought there was, but we wanted to test it. Then two, we wanted to see, if there’s this value, how do they interchange? Do they buy very colorful wrist straps? So the difference between maybe the face and the strap is the strap, you can see it across the room and you really make a statement. If you’re wearing a pink wristwatch, which I’m wearing today for our breast cancer awareness partner, anybody across the room can see it. But if you’re wearing a pink face, it’s a muted statement let’s say with a black strap.
So we were just trying to understand the customer psychology and what they liked about it. Then once we thought we’d learned enough, we called as many customers as we could and we just got a ton of feedback. So some people said we want a backlight, and some people said we want a calendar, but almost everybody said we want water resistance and everybody said we want a smaller size, and everybody said we want it to be more durable.
So we took those learnings, which were a couple of months. Again, we “lost” some money on that, but that was fine because it was an investment in getting as much information as we could. Then we invested, I think, like in round numbers like $60,000 or $70,000 in reinventing the product with all of the customer feedback we got, but we didn’t add the special feature of a calendar because 5% of people wanted it, but we did add water resistance. So if I was building a watch from scratch, my ideal watch has a stopwatch and a calendar and whatever it does, but we learned enough from starting with the MVP that we only did the product.
John Lee Dumas: I love that. Now, my next question is, one, did you have investors, and two, if so, how did you convince your investors to allow you to take a loss on every product?
Aaron Schwartz: Yes. So we did not have investors. That was the second piece of it. We wanted to save time and we wanted money. So I think we each put in maybe $500 or $1,000 upfront, and we did with a back [Unintelligible]. We both had fulltime job offers. So after a couple of months, Gary actually ended up taking his job and he has been at Samsung in Korea for a couple of years and he loves it. I’m still an advisor, still involved in business, but I kept deferring my fulltime job, and then eventually they were like, why don’t you stick with what you’re doing and you come back if you ever need to. So it was great, and I guess I get to give a little plug for the White Consulting because they’ve been as supportive as anybody in this journey.
So from the beginning, it was our money, but we were making [Unintelligible] the next product is. At some point we had a couple of products we were pretty excited about investing, and we finally took a very small amount of money in March of this year, but we’re considering starting a fundraising round right now. I’m actually flying to New York in a couple of days for a few meetings with investors, but it’s one of those things where I don’t want to play with somebody else’s money until I’m 100% confident in what we’re doing. So any investor who would be concerned about me testing isn’t an investor I want. Right? Like I don’t have the answers, and you need to know I don’t have the answers, and even when we get great, we could still do better. So that’s kind of our approach.
John Lee Dumas: I love that. Thank you for sharing that insight with us which is very, very interesting.
Aaron Schwartz: Sure.
John Lee Dumas: So we’re going to move now to our next topic, which is the other end of the spectrum. As an entrepreneur, you have your trials and tribulations, but you also have those beautiful moments where you have those aha moments. Now, obviously, Aaron, you have inspirational moments probably every day. These little aha moments that just keep you going, inspire you, and just propel you to that next level. Can you take us back at some point in your journey when you actually had this great light bulb come on, this aha moment that just burst to the clouds? Can you take us through that time?
Aaron Schwartz: Yes, sure. So I’m the kid when I was like 10 who started a bank account with my buddy and we put in half of our allowance and we wanted to start a baseball card store. I’m Aaron with two As and he’s Andrew with one A, so we’re going to call it “Triple A Baseball Cards.” Then when I was in college at Colombia, we were a couple of blocks away from Barnard College and there were a ton of students and there was no fast food near the campus so I got a Subway franchise. Then after the New York Marathon, I would buy shoes and then resell them on eBay. So I always had these ideas. Some really silly, and then some when I was living in London. I tried to become the distributor for vitaminwater before it was bought by Glaceau. So some of the big ideas I was super passionate about.
What my aha moment was with Modify, so we do this minimum viable product and it’s fun and our friends love it and everybody likes the color [Unintelligible] and it’s cool that we’re doing this business, but for me the aha moment was that I didn’t need to think about this as a watch. I mean obviously, it is a watch. It’s a timepiece and it’s fashionable, but I look at the product that we’re selling as a vehicle for me to build the business I want to build.
I know it might sound a little convoluted, but some of my favorite books are like Peak by Chip Conley, Danny Meyer’s book. Danny Meyer is – I’m going to screw it up, but it’s Union Square. All the good restaurants in New York. Gramercy Tavern, etcetera. I love “Delivering Happiness” by Tony Hsieh. So a big thing for me is customer service, but not just like smiling and saying “thank you,” but like really going over the top. Not with the goal of like becoming best friends with folks, but letting them know that, hey, if you’re going to give me even $0.25, like I’m going to be incredibly grateful because you’re letting me live my life. So that was one piece.
The second was, like I said earlier, I’ve always really admired throughout this just this idea of like we, the company, don’t know what you want. You just tell us what you want and we’ll make it. Zazzle or CafePress are kind of equivalent companies that have a different angle on it. So I started to look at Modify now as like I’m a watch company and I’m competing with Swatch and with Mix In, but more as like we don’t have to compete with anybody. We just have to do what we want to do and do it well.
So for Modify, that means we wrote a handwritten note with every customer order. When somebody comes back a second time, it’s not the exact same thing. We say, “Listen, thank you so much for coming back.” That happens very frequently. We’ve got a really high repurchase rate. When somebody orders a watch as a gift, we throw in an extra strap as a thank you. We don’t tell the recipient that that strap is from us. We make it seem like it’s from the person who purchased because it’s a better gift that way. Right?
So I think what led to that moment is I had spent my whole life admiring different businesses and trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t and what [Unintelligible]. Then like I literally just think of Modify as a platform for – it’s not just a watch company. I don’t think of us as a watch company. I think of us as – it may sound like a personalized service, get you what you want company.
That keeps me happy every day because I do not read watch industry reviews. I literally don’t care when somebody sends me something about a competitor. Like I care as much as I can learn from what they’re doing and say those guys are doing a great job and I can get better, but I don’t care about are we losing market share or anything like that because we’re just building the business we want. It’s pretty liberating and I think it’s more exciting too. That opens you up to kind of build as you wish.
John Lee Dumas: That’s a great focus, Aaron, and that really does allow you to be the leader in the industry instead of just chasing others in your own industry. So I definitely commend that. I love the specificness that you got down to with you would send an extra band with an order to really improve that order and that gift in general. That was an action you took because of your aha moment. Can you give us one other really cool action like that that you do because of that aha moment that you had?
Aaron Schwartz: This may not be as exciting on a day-to-day basis, but we do a lot of custom orders. So we customize I think 13 different designs for Google. So those are either as employee gifts, yearend gifts, or recruiting tools or products that are sold in their store. Then we work with DeWalt and HP, we’ve got some license partners. Anyway, we’ve got all these big brands that we work with. It’s kind of like the secret side of our business. Not really a secret for I let you guys in, but we don’t talk about that through Facebook or when we’re talking to kind of individual consumers.
Pretty much every time we do one of those orders, we’ve got kind of a menu of options. So you can customize packaging and you can engrave the back of a watch. So we’ll do a fully custom watch and it’ll be only for your group. We treat those partners exactly the same way where if we’re doing a design, and then like they’re close but they can’t afford the extra – let’s say it’s $2 for some feature, for engraving or whatever it is, but we know that it makes the watch better. Like we’re talking companies that have tens of thousands of times more revenue than we have, and we’re still saying, “Listen, we’ll take the loss on this because you’re a fan. Your recipients will like it better.”
I think it’s not a long term flight of like, oh, they’ll come back because they’re grateful. It’s we’re making people happy and that should make it better. The entire experience with the product will be better. In the long run, it should benefit everybody. If it doesn’t, that’s fine. We’re okay taking a little bit of our “loss” in exchange for making a better product.
John Lee Dumas: I love that. We’re going to use that to move into our next topic, which is your current business. You have shared a lot with us about your current business. What you do, what your philosophies are, and I really love everything that encompasses Modify Watches. Can you tell us one thing that’s really exciting you about your business today?
Aaron Schwartz: Yes. There’s a lot that excites me and a lot that stresses me out. So it’s fourth quarter. So a couple of things are on my mind right now. This week, we were just featured on Spin.com with an exclusive. We got a license with Live Nation for Deadmau5 whose electronic dancing – like this amazing artist. We customized a watch for them and we launched it today. Tomorrow, we’re going to be on Rachel Ray’s show. On Wednesday, we’re going to be on The Today Show, and Thursday we’re going to be on MSNBC. So like we’ve been building for two years and building this good foundation, and now we’re just starting to see a lot of really nice press hits. No one thing is going to carry the day or anything, but it’s nice to see it comes together well. It’s exciting for our whole team, it’s exciting for our designer who’s this incredible graphic designer who’s run a studio for a decade whose name is Ashil. Now he’s seeing his stuff literally everywhere. So that’s very cool.
The second thing that’s exciting for us is retail. In the same way we are kind of a little too ambitious about our customer service approach and we grow slower than we maybe need to because we don’t want to grow faster than we can service every customer as if they’re kind of our best friend, we, for two years, refused to go into retail because we don’t want to take on a retail account where let’s say that there’s an issue – you can make any issue that we don’t have the capacity to handle it.
So two months ago, we were finally like, okay, we’re ready, and we think we can do this. We picked up maybe 20 boutiques across the US, and that’s pretty exciting, but we just had our first major retail account, which should be BestBuy. So we’re doing a custom watch for them, but not as a gift to employees. We’re doing the custom watches, a unique product for all their stores across the US. So that’s pretty exciting for us right now. A little scary, but I think we’ll be okay.
John Lee Dumas: Man! Rachel Ray, The Today Show, MSNBC, EntrepreneurOnFire – all in the same week, all in the same breath.
Aaron Schwartz: [Laughs]
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs] So Aaron, we all here at Fire Nation love Shark Tank, and I think I know the answer to this question, but would you ever accept an invitation to go on Shark Tank to potentially get in fronty Shark Tank, and I think I know the answer to this question, but would you ever accept an invitation to go on Shark Tank to potentially get in front of Daymond John?
Aaron Schwartz: So this is really interesting, and I’ll be very blunt about this. So I used to live in London, and before Shark Tank, there was Dragons’ Den. I watched that show all the time because I thought it was awesome. I think in Canada they call it Dragons’ Den too. I really like Shark Tank. Forget the theatrical nature of it, I think it’s amazing. Well, when we first started, we were asked to go on. We went through the application process and everything, and then I realized very quickly that even if we were on for 20 seconds and it was a complete fail, we couldn’t handle the push of customers that would come to our site. We didn’t have inventory, we didn’t have a good enough product. So we decided not to do it then.
At this point, I think it would be an incredible opportunity. There is a constraint with Shark Tank where when you go on the show, whether you get an invest nod, they take a piece of your company. I think it’s a choice between a bit of equity with common shares or like a percent of your operating income indefinitely. So at the time, it didn’t make sense for us at all. Today, it’s something where that’s a huge – like that’s forever, right? It’s not a little bit of value that somebody is taking. I’m not writing them a check today, but it’s as we grow as a company, we now have a little less asset that we can use for hiring or use for bonuses, or however you want to think about it.
So the value of Shark Tank is you get the equivalent of a couple hundred thousand dollar ad spend on live TV. The downside is there’s a cost because there’s a cost with everything. I think it’s very reasonable, but it’s just something that we need to consider as a company. I do like the show and those are absolutely some investors I’d be very curious about. As much as I love Daymond John, I think Mark Cuban has got to be the one. The only topic I’m comfortable arguing about anymore is the NBA. So I think it would have to be Mark Cuban.
John Lee Dumas: Awesome! Well, we’re working with Barbara’s people right now to get her on the show. So when we do, we’ll give you guys a plug and we’ll see if she can pull some strings for you.
Aaron Schwartz: I like it, man. Good luck. She’s pretty spectacular.
John Lee Dumas: She’s awesome. She really has it going on.
Aaron Schwartz: Yes.
John Lee Dumas: So Aaron, we have now reached my favorite part of the show. We’re about to enter the Lightning Round. This is where I provide you with a series of questions, and you come back with amazing and mind-blowing answers. Does that sound like a plan?
Aaron Schwartz: No pressure at all.
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs]
Aaron Schwartz: Let’s do this.
John Lee Dumas: What was the number one thing that was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Aaron Schwartz: I think I was always waiting for permission. I don’t really know from whom and I don’t know for what, but I was always waiting. Like I didn’t think I was “ready.” I kind of realized that just by having that first business, whether good or bad, it didn’t matter because it made me a significantly better entrepreneur. So my advice is just start. You don’t need permission.
John Lee Dumas: What is the best business advice that you ever received?
Aaron Schwartz: It’s still a minimum viable product, whether it’s for Modify or for personal things or any business I’d ever do in the future. Thinking about everything as an MVP is very, very impactful.
John Lee Dumas: The name “Modify” even speaks to the MVP because you’re willing to modify your product, your watch and what have you.
Aaron Schwartz: Absolutely. That’s all we do. We assume we don’t know anything and we just let our customers tell us what to produce. I mean that is literally written on our packaging.
John Lee Dumas: I love it. What’s something besides that, which is obviously working for you, but what’s something else that’s working for you or your business right now?
Aaron Schwartz: I finally [Unintelligible] again. So I guess for me, that’s a plus. For the business, honestly, it’s maybe going a bit slower than we maybe like to by focusing every day on that personalized customer experience. So never sacrificing that in exchange for a little bit of growth.
John Lee Dumas: So Aaron, you’re a young guy. You’re 30 years old. I’m 32. So I’m pretty curious to see what your answer is going to be to this next question. Do you have an Internet resource that you’re in love with like an Evernote that you would recommend to Fire Nation?
Aaron Schwartz: So there are two things that I do in the Internet every day [Laughs]. Number one is I use Asana, and I literally just started it. I tried it a couple of months ago. I didn’t get into it. As we’ve gone busier, Asana is amazing. Absolutely amazing. Then the second thing I do on the Internet is I read AVC.com as in “A Venture Capitalist,” AVC.com. It’s awesome, absolutely awesome. Go through the archives.
John Lee Dumas: Wonderful! Just give us a real quick 10 second sum up of what Asana is.
Aaron Schwartz: Asana is basically task management/project management. I’m trying to get my whole team on there. Basically, we’re an email-based company, and it’s getting super painful because we email each other. Plus, obviously customers email us. That part is great, but we’re small and we’re lean, and so we just need much better task management, and Asana really helps.
John Lee Dumas: Awesome! Exactly what I was looking for. Thank you. So what’s the best business book that you’ve read in the last six months?
Aaron Schwartz: Peak by Chip Conley. I’m going to butcher the name, but he’s the founder of Joie De Vivre Hotels. So an awesome boutique hotel chain. I think mainly on the West Coast and they’ve got a couple elsewhere. It’s basically taking Maslow’s Hierarchy and putting it into business. It’s all about your investors, your employees and your customers and making sure that everybody really gets fulfillment from their job. Peak is an awesome book.
John Lee Dumas: Wonderful! We always link all books and links to you all on our show notes, so it will all be there.
Aaron Schwartz: Cool!
John Lee Dumas: This last question is my favorite, Aaron. It’s kind of a tricky one, so take your time and digest it before you answer. If you woke up tomorrow morning and you still had all of the experience, knowledge and money that you currently have today, but your business had completely disappeared, forcing you to start with a clean slate, which many of our listeners find themselves with right now, what would you do?
Aaron Schwartz: That’s interesting. There are a couple of things that make me happy on a pretty daily basis when I get to spend the time doing them. So I don’t think my first would be starting a new business and trying to kill it. I think I’d first play a lot of basketball, as silly as that may sound. Being an entrepreneur is all encompassing and I want to find some friends and just play some hoops.
The second thing is I’ve got a bunch of friends with different startups, and I just want to go help them with their businesses. I’d do it now, not for equity, not for salary, just for the learning, and I find that I learn more from that than anything else that I do on a daily basis. Then of course, I’d want to call my parents and say hey. I like talking to my folks. So instead of running meeting to meeting, I’d maybe spend a little bit longer on the phone with them.
John Lee Dumas: So it would be Aaron Schwartz, consultant/hoopster?
Aaron Schwartz: Absolutely. I’d call it hoopster/consultant, but that’s your call. /good child.
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs] I love it, Aaron. You have given us some great advice throughout this entire interview, and we are all better for it. Give Fire Nation one parting piece of guidance, then give yourself a plug, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Aaron Schwartz: Okay. It’s a little daunting of a question. I think the guidance that I’d give to anybody who’s interested in being an entrepreneur is just start. It’s easy. Make it easy on yourself. Just start something. No matter what the idea is, it doesn’t matter if it’s a good idea, you’ll learn so much from the process and it’ll make you kind of reenvision how you do whatever is next.
Then a final for myself, it sounds like I’m trying to get a date or something. Check out ModifyWatches.com or our Facebook page, Facebook.com/modifywatches. We’ve got a really active community. We’re launching all of our fall collection, including a Tetris watch and a Deadmau5 watch and some Major League Baseball watches and a bunch of other designs soon, and we all have design kind of competitions where you all tell us what to produce and we’ll try and make it for you.
So thank you very much for your time. This was awesome and very fun.
John Lee Dumas: Thanks a lot, Aaron. I really had a lot of fun myself. I love talking to bootstrapping entrepreneurs like yourself. Fire Nation, we salute you, and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
Aaron Schwartz: Looking forward to it. Thanks so much.