The year is 1930. Amid The Great Depression and 11 years into prohibition, a few savvy entrepreneurs found a way to keep their corner shop booming.
While most shops were struggling to stay open, the demand for alcohol seeded a new era of secret bars and bootleg distilleries called "speakeasies".
In the small town of Portsmouth, Ohio, the Distel brothers stand tall in front of their corner store with trucks full of inventory... and the local's best kept secret.
When I was 12 years old, I emptied my piggy bank all over my bed to count how much I saved...
I couldn't believe it. $1,000 cash was laying there, and the only thought in my head was, "How many lava lamps can I buy with all this?" Answer – 37.
That was at the end of a hot Georgia summer in 2004 after my first season of mowing lawns.
I was a skinny 12 years old who could hardly do a pushup much less push a lawnmower. Then I remembered a family friend had a riding mower sitting in their backyard collecting dust.
Since I didn't have any money to buy it, I asked to make a deal. "Can I buy this riding mower today and pay you once I get a few lawns?". We shook on it and I got to work.
My first lesson in business came from my dad. He taught me how to market my lawn business to get my first handful of customers. (AKA my founder-member launch)
One Sunday, we walked around knocking on every door in the neighborhood. I was so nervous to sell, even though we knew almost everyone in the community.
After knocking on all 50 doors in the neighborhood, 20 answered, and 4 accepted my lawn care service for $25/mo.
I did it! My first $100 MRR (monthly recurring revenue). I remember my excitement as I practiced driving my red riding lawn mower around the neighborhood all weekend.
The next important lesson came during a game of Monopoly with my mom. She said, "The secret to winning the game is every time you make $100, put half back into savings to make upgrades later."
While she was talking about the game, I applied the lesson to my lawn mowing business.
By the end of highschool, I had dozens of clients on weekly or monthly subscription and a team doing the work while I focused on the accounting and marketing.
10 years after mowing my first lawn, I decide to sell the business to my mechanic. I wanted to build an online business.
While studying at The University of Georgia in their new Digital Marketing degree, I started a branding agency called Bravado.
Quickly, I found myself in the freelancers trap, always chasing new clients because branding projects aren't recurring.
I needed to escape the freelancers trap by adding subscription services into my agency.
That's when I got introduced to my mentor, Dave Rogenmoser. He had done exactly that – built an agency to $30,000/mo by offering advertising services on subscription.
This was the first time I ever attended a webinar. He described exactly what I was struggling with – inconsistent income, always in "sales mode", never experiencing compound growth.
His answer to all these problems was 1 word: continuity.
And for $997 he was going to teach me how to get it. I made the decision that instead of going on Spring Break, I was going to spend my savings on this internet stanger's coaching program.
Within a week, the program paid for itself. I learned how to generate leads, position my offers for recurring services, and hire a team to fulfill on the work.
Before I turned 23, my agency had grown to $8,000 monthly recurring revenue from client retainers.
Then I got a text at midnight changed my life forever...
My relationship with Dave grew from mentee to friend. Once I drove 2 hours to Atlanta to help his fiancé move and meet him for the first time. I was shocked to discover he is 6'8"!
(You can never really tell how tall people are on Zoom.)
One night, I got a text from him, "Hey dude, what would you think about moving here to work with us?"
He explained how much they had grown, with over 800 people that purchased his course and countless success stories. They built quite a tribe and reputation! But there was a big problem...
Dave was exhausted from constantly doing webinars just to get more sales.
Ironic right? The continuity problem his course solved for agencies was the same problem he fell into with his course.
He shared his plan to restructure his $997 course into a membership to build recurring revenue. This would give him the freedom to focus on his family and other opportunities.
Obviously, I accepted. At 23 years old, I packed my bags and moved in with Dave and his wife in Annapolis, Maryland.
We called the membership The Entrepreneur Alliance: a community of marketers that share strategies and resources to help each other succeed. The core message was that entrepreneurship can be lonely, and this community is an outlet to connect with like-minded people.
Within 6 months, EA grew to $35,000/mo in recurring revenue subscriptions. We built an automated marketing system that scaled with ads and videos.
Very quickly, we started to recognize a few challenges our members complained about which sparked some new ideas.
A benefit of building a community is you discover their frequent pains.
Dave and his partners were looking for a way to solve members problems by building software tools for marketers. Little did we know, that software would impact internet marketing forever...