From founding a hotdog company boasting "weiners as big as a baby's arm" to starting an online liquor store after leaving his job with the television show, American Pickers, Sam's career has broken the 9-5 mold to say the least.
Here's his story...
1. Tell us what you do in 2 sentences:
I’m one of the founders of The Hustle, a newish media company that hopefully all of you people will know about in a few months. I write, do sales, take out the trash, and other odd jobs.
Hell yeah... if that person is smarter than me, they’re paying me a lot of money, the company is doing amazing stuff, and I’m learning a lot. I don’t get why people look down on cubicle jobs or working for other people. Both working for others or yourself can help improve the world, make you rich, and can be fun as hell (actually, working for yourself is way less fun, tbh). Plus, working in a cubicle is 100% more productive than working in a hammock on a beach.
And I only run a company instead of working for other people because I was constantly getting fired when I was a kid. I’ve been fired from at least 6 or 7 jobs.
3. How did you become a serial entrepreneur?
Since high school I’ve gotten fired from most positions I had. I use to be a smart ass, so everyone would fire me. Now I’m still kind of a smart ass but I’m not mean. Turns out people like others who do stuff their own way.
I also wanted to make money when I was young and finding stuff on your own to sell was the best way to do it. My parents are entrepreneurs so making money on my own was just considered normal.
4. How did you get the idea for Hustle Con?
I’ve always loved concerts but don’t know how to play any instruments. So I thought, “I know lots of tech nerds like myself… what can I do that’s like a badass concert?” TED conference are obviously a lot like concerts, with the theater setting and low light, but they cost like $10k for a ticket, which is lame, so I wanted to build an alternative. And that’s how the conference came to be.
Register now to attend this year's Hustle Con on May 13th in Oakland, California.
For The Hustle, our media site and the bigger part of our business, we thought it’d be fun to make articles, movies, and images for a living. Most business/news content on the web is complete garbage, so we want to fix that.
5. What did you do next?
The first Hustle Con took 7 weeks to set up. I gathered 15 speakers via cold email, rented a venue, found a sponsor to pay for the venue, and then began sending weekly emails to an email list of 200 people. Word spread from there and somehow 400 people heard about it and paid money to come. It was very profitable. So I used that money to start the business.
6. What is the hardest part?
You’ve gotta have balls of steel to run a profitable event because most conference ticket sales come in the last 2 weeks. While I don’t exactly have steel balls, I have gotten used to the pressure. We’ve also built technology to help with ticket sales and getting the word out, but it’s still hard.
7. What’s the best part of running your own business and HC in particular?
Also, my personal goal is to create 1,000 jobs. It feels good to create something that gives someone the ability to make a living, learn, and provide for their family. Figuring out how to create lots of jobs is the biggest motivator for me.
8. What are your plans for the future?
Become the next CNN or MTV. The Hustle is going to be the world’s next big media company. In 20 years I want to be like Conde Nast or Hearst Media with offices around the world and dozens of publications across different verticals.
We’re going to be the brand that 20-something wanna-be entrepreneurs say “I’m going to take down The Hustle” when they’re trying to raise money for their idea.
9. Any startups or founders you’re obsessed with?
Reddit. Best website ever. Amazed at how they created that community. Quora is also a goldmine of information. When you think about it, practically every question you have has been answered on Quora.
In terms of founders, I’d say Jack Smith. He started or helped start Vungle, Shyp, and Coin (all of which are probably $100m+ companies) by the he was around 25. He’s one of my closest buds now and is hands down the most confident, strange, nicest, and interesting person I know.
10. What do you suggest for people just starting out and starting their own businesses?
Act as if. Recognize that 90% of your ideas and products are going to suck so hard it’s not even funny. At least at first. But that’s normal. Keep going and act as if you know what you’re doing. I’ve talked to founders of billion-dollar companies and they’re like “I have no idea what I’m doing. This is awful and will fall apart any second.” Everyone has those doubts, so don’t let the self doubt get to you – act as if you’re confident and you’ll figure it out.