Aaron Singerman the CEO and Founder of REDCON1 discusses the mindset it took to build the biggest fitness supplement company in the world. He also discusses the obstacles he faced while starting the company and the pressure of being the CEO of REDCON1.
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Successful entrepreneurs are the ones who get up after getting knocked down and figure out a way, even when it may seem impossible,Speaker 2:
I got to make it a mix. I got to make it a mix. Well, I got a negative.[inaudible] call it.Speaker 3:
Hello and welcome to the Cottonwood Connie show, where you get to call in from anywhere in the world and ask Collin anything that you want. I am your cohost, Jeff. And today we got a special, special guest calling in from Boca, Raton, Florida. He goes by the name of Aaron Singerman and is a founder of the biggest baddest fastest growing supplement brand in the world. Red con one. We're going to go into how he's been able to build this empire, starting from only five employees going all the way to now over 150 employees. And he's expanded to over 80 countries around the world. Don't get too intimidated because we're going to go back into his roots and how you can actually do it yourself. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome Aaron Singerman to the show.Speaker 1:
My first question for Collin, you know, like calling him, I've started a multiline finger business. Collin started a huge business and along the way, every entrepreneur runs into difficulties. No matter how successful he may seem on Instagram or social media, life throws you a punches to the face, clean, you know, no matter how good you're doing, you're going to get hit eventually. And so Collin, I was going to ask you in your business history, what's the biggest thing that's happened to you where you, you know, where you felt like you got punched in the face and you weren't sure if you're gonna be able to get up or the biggest struggle you can, the pops in your head.Speaker 4:
Yeah. Well, several men and it's it's going on currently, right? Like look at the inflation cost, um, steel right now. And that industry, it is we're up, uh, 387% and we're buying direct from the mill, right? So I imagine my competitors are 450 500% increase because they're buying it from a distributor to a broker. And more than that, the challenges have been outside of my control. I can't control, uh, the steel and nobody can predict that. And the challenge is you don't even know how to preplan, because quarter after quarter, there's no historicals for this type of inflation. And at some point it's, it's also challenged where I can't even find freaking steel and I'm buying into November from all the way up in like, um, Minnesota, I'm buying from different steel mills that I've never bought. So now I've got inflation, I've got transportation, LTL to get it to me on top of that. And I'm already buying steel more than a quarter in advance just to make sure I have enough. So these types of control measures, it's, it's, it's a lot easier to control something that you've got some form of control over. But when you look at what's happening economically, um, those are challenges that at some point you're going to have to figure out like pivot we're right now, we're getting into, uh, last November, we started selling shirts. So we're selling about a hundred thousand shirts a month. Um, and, and people think redlines steel, it's just steel products, but we, we sell a shitload of like canvas steel products. We're about to get into like welcome customizable, like doormats. Um, and so pivoting and trying to force things outside of just steel, because I it's hard for me to even bind it to begin with. Um, I'm curious, what about you, man? Cause I mean, and, and you know, the first, I'll say this for entrepreneurs guys, like if you're just starting out, it's going to make you 10 times better in the future, these setbacks or setups for your future. I've went through times where I'm like, how the hell are we even gonna survive? You know, I'm floating cash. I'm looking at liquidity, I'm trying to project out and it's like, wow, what do we do somehow? We just keep showing up every single day. And my mentality is just win the day. If I can win the day, I'm going to win the year and I'm going to figure it out. Um, but that's kind of that separating factor. So, uh, but what about you brother?Speaker 1:
I think what you just said, it's important to Collin. I just want to echo that is the successful entrepreneurs are the ones who get up after getting knocked down and figure out a way, even when it may seem impossible when other people would quit, the people who, um, that truly are successful because everybody goes through something, you know, we're unique times right now. Um, and in fact, you know, you brought up, we, we have supply chain issues. We have tremendous demand it, right? Kind of one that we can't fill. So every month we're losing three or$4 million in revenue or more than we would have picked up. And thankfully the brand is still, we've been smart enough to, to prepare with multiple manufacturers. So we're still doing we're, we're up into the right and we'll have a well over a hundred percent increase over last year, but we could have been much, much more, but that wasn't, that's not scary. What was scary was when COVID was happening, right. When COVID started happening. And we started thinking, I started thinking about, well, if we have a, a mandatory, you know, where we're, nobody can do anything or that the postage is shut down or, or that the warehouse will be shut down. Because as you know, Colin, uh, a large part of our business is direct to consumer and it was able to sustain us during COVID. We didn't, we didn't have to fire anybody. I didn't have to let anybody for low anybody. And very, very lucky. I didn't make any money. I lost money. I had put money back into the business. Um, but we survived because that direct consumer business. So when they started talking about having a lockdown where there would potentially be no mail, uh, or at least no, uh, FedEx and potentially not be able to have our, or our employees work in the warehouse. I ended up buying out of fear, buying 25 Cox, 25, sleeping bags, these and was enlisting people to live in the warehouse and pack, you know, even myself to stay in the warehouse. If I need to, for two weeks to if assuming that USBs, we continue shipping, uh, out of necessity, out of fear, because, because of the size of red con, you know, we need about seven or 8 million bucks a month to stay, to stay flat, to, to survive. So at the, at the size of the business, it'd be, you know, every, I told my employees, Hey, if this happens, you know, we're in trouble because I don't have enough money to keep the business alive for months. Um, with our burn rate, you know, it's not possible. So that was scary. And then, you know, I had a partnership dispute years ago in another business that seemed like the end of the world. And if it, if I wouldn't have had that partnership dispute, retcon, wouldn't be here. I would still be with that other company and probably been miserable. And the company wouldn't be doing anywhere near what red kind of is, but when it happened and, uh, and I was separated from this business that I built for five years, like all of a sudden unexpectedly, it felt like it was the end of the world. But just like you said, it ended up being the beginning of a whole new much better world.Speaker 4:
Yeah. Yeah. And letting go. I think it's just like that because you have so much inner belief in yourself and you have, you've been in the industry a long time. And as an entrepreneur, like you start to it after you've done it a while you, you start to understand that, like, look, I can go into any vertical and that inner belief in that faith within ourselves, like you're opening gyms, you're opening, you've got your new, uh, food distribution company. Uh, and you just think outside of the box, and you're thinking about a couple of things. This is the way I think of it. When I look at you, you know, you're in consumer, you know, your avatar, you know, your distribution outlets, you know, your fixed and variable costs of what has to happen in order to break. Even you're looking beyond, if this were to happen, what's going to take place. And so that forward thinking, knowing I've got, this is my consumer, this is the other lines of area of focus that I can tap into, uh, that could also be safety nets and fail-safes and Ascension model. So as we're acquiring customers at a higher end, every single year, it's going to get more and more expensive. I can also push them into these other entities that feeds the ecosystem. Um, so I think that's beautiful, man. I think you're a genius when it comes to that,Speaker 1:
We've been very fortunate to have a business that the primary business red Cohen has been strong enough that we have enough of a fan base and evangelical fan base so that we opened the gym that you, that you've been to, um, kind of by chance. And then it took off and then another gym in our recovery and the meeting. So all these complimentary businesses made sense all of a sudden, because I realized if people love red con this much and they're willing to cause they like the brand buy the food. For example, you brought up the red column meals make sense. You know, it just makes sense to give it a shot. And, uh, and it's been, it's been really great, but I think you also said something important, Collin, about believing in yourself. That's I think the biggest key is being able to bet on yourself and believe in yourself because a lot of people have a ton of self doubt. And in a lot of people tell me a lot that, you know, how do you, how do you believe, how do you know you're going to succeed? And the truth is nobody is born with that. You know, you have to build up belief in yourself and having success certainly helps you believe in yourself. But I tell people that even if you don't naturally believe in yourself, if you pretend, you know, I hate the fake it till you make it thing. But there's a lot of truth to that. If you believe you're going to succeed, if you really get in your heart, believe it. Chances are you probably are. And certainly if you believe you're not going to succeed, you're almost certainly are. That is a big, big thing.Speaker 4:
A hundred percent man. And I think that also like, um, yeah, askpete believers. See, I believe that, uh, when, when like a key, let's say a key executive or a manager leaves your company. It used to like stress me out big time. And now I'm just comfortable in uncomfortable situations. It's, it's crazy because like, I believe one that so many doors have opened that to me, it's divine. I, you know, maybe it's just, God's blessing has been bestowed. I show up every day. Um, and I feel like it starts to become, because it's, you know, we're almost six years old, actually. We started our company in the same year and, and it's, it's now become where I don't worry as much about the day-to-day. I know that somehow somebody is going to come in and they're this person that left is no longer needed. They outgrew their position. So don't stress about it. And then the next person that comes in, it's like, all right, I want to hire where I want to be, not where I'm at currently. And so I challenged my employees to always like, you know, push forward. Like I need, I don't want to put somebody in front of you as far as like a leadership tier. Cause we have like multiple tiers, just like you. Uh, I'm curious on your side of you, how do you handle when a, let's say like a key leadership spot that's that's like a big decision maker. What does that look like? Mentally? Has it been easier as you're navigating? Because I'm sure earlier stages for me with red line is I'm still, I'm still, I started red line at 26. I didn't have experience before this, but it would stress the out of me. I'm like, oh my God, how am I going to, I don't even know how to cut these steel products. Now I got to figure it out. My main guy that was cutting, you know, and, and over time it's just been like, well, you know, Hey, somebody else is going to come in and they do. And I figure it out.Speaker 1:
So for us, we've been really fortunate in that, in the recent, you know, last year and a half or so, we haven't really, we had a very little churn out the, at the top levels, but we hadn't think of one person risk. Soon as you start talking about it, the guy who really designed the look and feel of the brand, uh, we call him young Lawrence. Uh, w Lawrence came on, he was one of our very first employees. And he designed, he really came up with the look and feel of the branding for the brand. And, uh, one day he, uh, he came, you know, he started at like, I don't know, we're probably paying them like$15 an hour or something like that. And, you know, by the time we had this conversation, he was making, you know, about a hundred grand a year or something like that. And he came up to me and said, Hey, Aaron, I want to give my two weeks notice. And I was like shocked because he was such a part of the brand. And I thought he loved the job. And I was like, man, why? And he said, I'm 27 years old. And you know, I've always worked for somebody else. You know, I never worked for myself and I always wanted my own design firm and I've saved up my money and I'm not married. I don't have kids. I think this is the right time for me to try to go on my own and give it a shot. If it's not now, when will it be? And I was like, well, man, I didn't want, you know, can you say that? Right? So I was like, well, what if I pay him more money? And he's like, no, man. He's like already made my decision. And like, it's not about the money. It's about being my own boss and giving it a shot and seeing if I can be like you and me great at my own business. And there's nothing you can say about that. And he left and, uh, um, I was like, well, what now? You know how the guy created the look of the brand, the feel of the brand. He created our brand book. And then, um, and then JP who our art director now applied for the job. And, uh, he is all his creative is warrants and way more organized. He was older, more experienced. He did commercials for, you know, fortune 500 companies. And I looked at his resume and met him as a person. And I'm like, wow. And the crazy thing is just like you said, you know, as great as Lawrence was and the tree is still doing great. Now, I don't know. I haven't kept up with him. Um, we ended up with a better, a better person and I wouldn't have ever found, uh, JP, if Warren's, hadn't decided to go out on his own, I hope warrants is kicking and making way more money and having fun. But here we are with JP, who's done a phenomenal job and brought the brand to a whole nother level by,Speaker 4:
And then, uh, you know, what I love about this too, is like, for me, like I I've challenged some of my guys here cause I love entrepreneurship. Just like you. I tell him like, lo I tell, uh, David, like, dude, we need to create kind of a roadmap. I don't want to lose you. But at the same time, if this is what your goal is, I want to help you hit that goal. And I think that like reversing. So then they can also challenge themselves with, you know, time, distance, direction, no distractions. This is what we're trying to accomplish. They want to start their own business. I'm all for it. I'll freaking help you, but there's also a right and wrong way to do it too. And we've had people that, you know, has gotten confidence around, uh, me being a pretty successful entrepreneur thinking that they can go and do it and we make it look pretty easy, but it's not easy. Um, and so it's just kind of a reality, but that's how you learn it's through those, those setbacks. But I love to challenge my employees and, and truthfully, I, I love to see when somebody takes that, that, that leap of faith, especially like bringing up, man, I want to be like you, um, that's a good feeling, you know, as an entrepreneur to have that type of, um, inner competence to say, man, like you're doing incredible things. I want to try it. You know, who am I to say? Well, I don't want to, I don't want to stop you from, you know, not hitting your own personal goals, go for it.Speaker 1:
I wish I had something at the time to tell Lawrence like that. Like, there's nothing you can say. If somebody says that you can't be like, no, you shouldn't, you shouldn't, you shouldn't strive to be like me.Speaker 4:
Right, exactly. But now you can become a lot more comfortable in those situations. I have. Uh, just like you, it's just, something always comes into play. Do you have any advice for maybe an entrepreneur that's wanting to just first get started? Um, they're first starting in their business and it doesn't have to be, uh, maybe it's their first one. What would you say that first kind of overall step is them?Speaker 1:
The thing that I know, the first thing I usually tell people is make sure that your product or service or whatever it has some differentiating factor. Um, because like, for example, you'd mentioned, you're selling tons of t-shirts. Now, if you had just started with t-shirts, you never know where you'd be. You built the brand first. So like using t-shirts as an example, if my t-shirt is red concert is 1999 and you're going to start a t-shirt company and it's just going to be t-shirts and going, gonna sell for 1999. Why would anybody buy your t-shirts? Right? It has to be some differentiating factor, something that you stand for as a brand or something that sticks out or something you do different with a shirt or something, right. It can't just be the same as everybody else. You need to have some differentiating factor. You've only started red kind of one. And I had other successful varying degrees of successful supplement companies. I knew if we wanted to be, you know, big, if we wanted to be really big and monumental in the biggest company in history, there had to be something different. It couldn't just be, you know, another, whatever, another name that doesn't really mean anything. It doesn't stand for anything, a company that doesn't stand for anything just sell supplements like everybody else. So that's the first thing is that you have a good business idea. Hopefully it's something that you love or are passionate about, but then make sure that there's a reason. Why would anybody buy your thing, your, your gadget, your gizmo, whatever, uh, it has to be different. You can't be the same as everybody else.Speaker 4:
Yeah, I agree. And also to add to that air, and I would also say like, really know who your key demographic is. So then you know how to kind of reverse hack what that is. So, you know, I'm sure you've got kind of a key metric avatar. This is your perfect person on the male side and the female side for us. It's predominantly women, 40 to 65 plus Christian conservatives, married homeowners. Um, and that's really who we're trying to hone in and target on. Uh, but I think to, to kind of caveat to that, that's extremely important, uh, from a branding aspect and also like knowing, uh, who your end consumer is. You can keep them in mind. You can think about the copy, the creatives, uh, the value propositions behind it and knowing who you're targeting, you can speak directly to them a lot easier than just going super broad. I think I see that mistake a lot. They don't really,Speaker 1:
I think it's important because too many people want to be the thing for everyone. Right? Where do they go? I want to make this whatever gadget it's got, everybody appeal to everybody. So for Edcon, it's 20 twenty-five to 34 year old males. Right. And, uh, you know, that are pro-America blue collar, um, you know, kinda the, what you'd think red would be pro military, et cetera. And we have a lot of firefighters, police officers, first responders, active duty, former vets that are, that love the brand. So it'd be really easy to be like, well, we're doing really good with that. So let's pivot and try to get, you know, the Collins 40 to 60 year old women. And that would be great, right. But that's a big group of people that I mentioned, right. But enough to sustain a multi hundred million dollar business easy. So the one thing that I noticed, some people want to be everything to everybody. And sometimes with some things you just can't beSpeaker 4:
Yeah. Less is more. I say that all the time. Like when you offer too many things, it's consumer friction. It's, there's too much like what do I buy? And they walk out with nothing. So less is more. And I think the best thing is to test and just to jump in with both feet, don't overthink it. Don't have that mentality of, oh, I'm gonna, I'm gonna build out all of this perfect business plan with, it's gonna shift, man. I'm telling you, it's going to shift a hundred times. Uh, I'm sure your business has pivoted several times from when you first visioned it to where it is currently. And that's every business in existence because the market and the world is constantly evolving and changing. You have to change with it, or you're going to be left behind.Speaker 1:
So no doubt in a constantly changing situation. And if you're the same static as you were six years ago and you never change or adjust or adapt, there is no doubt that the world have passed you by. And we've seen that in sports settlements where the big brands from when me and you, when you were, you know, on the cover of every magazine, those, those brands are not, they're not doing it anymore. They're, they're heading down downhill. There were some are gone altogether.Speaker 4:
What do you love if you had to pinpoint one thing about your impact at red con and what you do, what would that be?Speaker 1:
I mean, from the, from the customer side, hearing from the customers, uh, so much, so much positivity and seeing, you know, the, our closed Facebook group, who's got 10,000 people in there that are all tier operators are part of the affiliate program. We have 30,000, but 10,000 plus are that so seeing the excitement over the brand is always is, is unbelievable. Uh, but for me here running it, you know what my job has changed so dramatically from basically being like the main operator to now, I'm like the main coach. So seeing the teams get build out and things that they're, I mean, one of the things that's like, it's good and negative is we have the, you know, meet multiple, multiple meetings a week, but in the marketing meeting, uh, or even the sales meeting in the marketing meeting, sometimes I'll hear stuff that they're doing that I didn't know that they were doing that is like, uh, awesome and excited. And I'm be like, whoa, I didn't know. We were even doing that. And there'll be a, that's like, there's, it's a double-edged sword. I love it. But also like kind of passed me by a little bit. Um, so it's, uh, there's a lot of good things, man. I have to be honest. All of it is fun. There's a lot of stress too, but, um, it's, it's gotten too, we got kind of past the initial building phase, which is also my, one of my favorite things is building and starting and having the excitement of building into like a whole different kind of almost corporate corporate corporate phase, where we have a lot of smart people there doing a lot of stuff that I may not even be aware of. Um, so it's interesting.Speaker 4:
No, that's, that's, I love that too, because I'm the same way concept to reality building it, watching it grow. But I love also seeing people take ownership and see seeing them take something and run with it and not needing to ask for permission from everything as long as there's integrity in mind, and you kind of know the distance direction, what our values stand for, uh, owning it and then walking in and having everything pre prepped. Cause I like you, we've got a very, very strict cadence on, uh, meetings with different tiers of leadership and same times of the week. And it's that, that, that cadence is extremely important to keep. It's also a form of accountability where not accountability from a negative side or a positive side, but knowing that there's visibility, I see it, nobody wants to be that guy at the table. It's like turning in a bad grade or something that's really, really. Even if it's not their department, they don't want to deliver that news. And if they really respect you as an entrepreneur and as a business and as this person in general, nobody wants to convey that. So there's more ownership. Um, so, um, I 100%, uh, relate to that and that's, that's very similar to where I'm at as well. So, um, so I'm curious, uh, Aaron, if you were to die tomorrow, what do you want to be remembered for?Speaker 1:
Um, if I died tomorrow, I'd want to be remembered for being a good person, a good father, a good husband, you know, um, making a positive impact on people in the world. You know, if I died tomorrow, I'd feel like I didn't, I died too soon. Cause I wanted to make a bigger impact to be honest with you. Um, but I mean, I think that I would leave a legacy and a very strong legacy behind with my three little boys and, uh, all the people that we've been able to touch with through, through red con and, and uh, and I mean that ultimately that is what's important to me is making that big impact on the world. And, you know, red con is I think for me the first step towards doing that. So I w I, I sure hope I don't die tomorrow, um, so that I can make that impact.Speaker 4:
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