Today’s guest on the Niche Pursuit podcast is long-time entrepreneur Steve Novotny. Steve has always had the business bug and started his first side hustle — a YoYo repair service when he was just eight years old.
He later developed a white label book site on Amazon back when the site was just a book store and, a little later, a SaaS company for the golfing community. He built the Golf site out to become a massive blog that became a huge success and profitable business, which he eventually sold to a well-known brand.
One of the interesting things about Steve is that he didn’t take the traditional route when building the website and brand that many of us do. And as a result, it’s great to hear his thoughts, advice and strategy behind the process.
But as you can imagine, the golf website is the main topic of conversation, and Steve lays out his specific approach, strategy, and tips for us all to learn from when building our websites and businesses.
Some of the expert tips, strategies, and advice from Steve Novotny Include:
- How Steve looks to solve problems
- Understanding your market
- Why solving problems makes you money
- The process he has for partnering with others
- How he finds experts and solutions
- Salespeople and connectors
- How he got 25k golf enthusiast (Clients) names from a golf show
- Hustling tips for building his golf site
- Think not what your market wants but what it needs
- How Steve expanded his website nationwide
- The number one tool in his toolbox
- Why he sold the golf website
- The process of selling his website
- Who purchased the website (Huge Brand)
The interview concludes with Jared and Steve talking about Steve’s latest business ventures and the tactics and processes he has used to make them successful. As always, this episode has a lot of helpful advice and tips, so take notes and enjoy.
Links And Resources Mentioned During The Steve Novotny Podcast Interview:
Watch the full interview:
read the full transcription:
Jared: Welcome back to the pursuits podcast. My name is Jared Bauman, and today we’re joined by Steve Novotny, Steve. Welcome on board.
Steve: Hey, thanks for having me. I sure appreciate it.
Jared: Yeah. Yeah. Today’s gonna be a lot of fun. You certainly brought the bright to the podcast. I love it. For those of you, uh, listening, you can’t see that, uh, uh, not only do you have a, a very bright yellow shirt, it, does it match?
What is that in the pack or is that a, is that a, a bowling king pin or something?
Steve: Oh yeah. So, uh, is there a bowling king pin right there? I
Jared: think there is, I’ll show this to you. Are you a bowling guy?
Steve: so, so, uh, one of our projects, we demolished a bowling alley it was really sad, Jared. Uh, it had been there for, I wanna say 65 years and the owner came to us.
He says, Steve, you know what. It cost us more every year to run this comp, this bowling alley, but people aren’t willing to pay what it takes to run it. So I’m selling it and the whole neighborhood had a conniption fit and they thought we were really bad guys. And, uh, but now it’s a beautiful, 130, 40 unit apartment complex.
Jared: Well, that leads dly into what we’ll be talking about today. You , you, you have your hands in real estate today, but you’ve got quite a, a storied, uh, past. And I mean, I think people are gonna be really excited to hear some of the other ventures you’ve been a part of prior to real estate. Why don’t you catch us up on a bit of the journey and a bit of your background, and then we’ll, we’ll, we’ll talk about some of the meat and potatoes for today’s.
I. Yeah, no, that’d
Steve: be great. Well, I’ve always been entrepreneur at heart when I was eight years old. I started my first company and that was a yo-yo repair service. And I had quite a few employees. Uh, the problem was the whole neighborhood were my employees, so I didn’t have many, uh, clients uh, but man, could we Polish a gray yo?
So anyway, long story short is I’ve always been entrepreneur looking to, to solve problems for revenue, which is really what entrepreneur does. But then I got married and my wife and I, we went and we did, uh, uh, pastoring together. I, I was a youth pastor for a lot of years, and then I worked in the big churches.
And then, uh, through that process, I realized that the business edge of my brain was always going. And so, um, I, my boss at that time was a super cool guy. We were pastor in a very large church and he was, he was my, uh, head pastor, if we will. And I said, can I make you a deal? I said, how about. I give you my paycheck back, but I still pastor it.
I said, I love pastoring, but I need to have time to go start some ventures that it’s in my head. And so I’ll give you my paycheck back. I’ll be here every Sunday, but if I gotta go down on a business trip, you’ll let me do that. And he says, I don’t have to pay ya. And I said, you have to Amy . And uh, he said, okay, that sounds like a pretty good deal.
So anyway, uh, that’s how I started, uh, Steve Navani enterprises that was in 1997, if you will. I’m aging myself a little bit, um, currently today, 61, but then, uh, from that, it took off and I did various ventures and entrepreneurial ideas. Uh, I helped, uh, develop, uh, one of the first white label, Amazon book sites that, uh, was real unique at its time.
Now Amazon’s way more in the books, but people sometimes forget Amazon started just by selling books. That’s right. That’s
Jared: right. It did.
Steve: Yeah. And so we created a white label site where nonprofits could have an Amazon type bookstore on their website. Uh, but it would be labeled as if it was their bookstore.
And we just did some behind the scenes, uh, connecting for, uh, distributors in the area and they got to be their own bookstore and sell books all across the nation. So anyway, I just kept developing things like that. And, uh, eventually, uh, started a, a real successful, uh, what I call internet SAS company, which is what a lot of people in each pursuits do, which means software as a service, you either sell a product or do you sell service?
If you sell a service, you don’t have to worry about delivery of a product. And that’s why I loved it so much. And so we started a software as a service product for the golf community. And, uh, that was a great time enjoyed. It, learned how to do things. And then in that process, when I sold that company went off into product and property development, which I had a niche for that cuz somebody a few years back taught me how to build a house.
And I thought, well, if I can build a house, I can build a duplex. And if I can build a duplex, I can build a Plex and then why not do a fourplex? And then, well, heck let’s just figure out when do an apartment complex. And so that, that’s kinda what I do.
Jared: Well, you gloss over that in three or four minutes as though, um, as, as though it’s a quick hit, each of those on their own are pretty fascinating and interesting.
I’m so curious to go back to where you first got the concepts along the Amazon business you made back in nearly. I mean, cuz you’re right back in the early days, I mean, Amazon was just a bookstore hadn’t pivoted into the, the behemoth it was. And you had been coming off of pastoring, which I’m, I’m guessing there wasn’t a whole lot of, um, you know, business development and uh, uh, biz dev, as we say, like how did you get the idea for this?
And then how did you go about executing that first project? Uh, you know, I’m just curious how you put it all together.
Steve: Yeah. Well, you gotta remember a lot of times you don’t necessarily need to invent the business, but you just need to know how to promote the business. You know, uh, there’s that great book tipping point by Malcolm Gladwell.
And he talks about the three people that you need to make things work. There is a market Maven, which means that they know their product and material or service. There is the connector, which you go to them, if you wanna find somebody else. And then there’s the salesman and you need one of those three to be successful in some aspect.
Well, the connector and the salesman is kind of my heartbeat. That’s where I’ve always been. It really doesn’t matter what it is. If I like the product and believe in it, I can sell it. Mm-hmm so. In the nonprofit community and in the church community, they’re always looking for mechanisms to raise additional revenue.
It’s just, you know, they live by donations. And so we got to know, or I should say me personally, got to know a gentleman who had created a software that interfaced with book distributors across the United States. And that interface allowed us to make a website to connect to their dis distribution system, essentially creating an Amazon.
Yeah. But for the nonprofit world. And we could specify what niche of books, magazines, and distribution materials that they wanted on their website. They could hand select that. And so we would go to these nonprofits, say, Hey, do our white label. We’d make 5% on everything. And so that’s how we got into that.
It just, it was one of the things where. Serendipitous. I met a guy that knew a thing that needed people to go out and get the word out. And I said, well, I know how to get the word out. And that’s how it started.
Jared: the golf site that you mentioned. And I think that this is maybe something to camp on for a little while.
Obviously the audience here is broadly speaking, very, very invested in building websites. Um, yes. Talk about the Genesis of your golf. Yeah,
Steve: well, we invented a company that’s known today as golf now. Dot com. When we first started it, we called it by area codes. So in my area of Seattle, it was called golf two oh six.com.
Oh, okay. Yeah, it was, you know, that way it kind locally niched it, if you will. The problem was, it was at the time when everything was exploding in the internet. Right. And it was right at that point where even phone systems were starting to go to internet protocol. So all of a sudden they realized that they got so many people coming online, particularly with cell phones that they needed to up the area codes.
That’s right. So from 2 0 6, my area that I serviced all became 2 0 6 4 2 5 2 5 3 and three six.
Jared: That’s right? Yeah. 360. Oh, I recognize. Yeah. And so
Steve: all of a sudden I had to have in the region that I was running was Washington and Idaho area. I had to come up with new website, domain names and all this stuff.
And then we just realized as a large company that that’s not gonna fly. So we went on a word search and we figured we bought actually back in the day, golf now.com. I think it cost us $9,000. Wow. And that’s what it’s known today.
Jared: Where did you get, I mean, are you a avid golfer? How did you end up lining up the golfer?
Steve: It’s a funny story. Cause I’ll tell you what happened is, is that I loved the golf and I had three kids and every weekend it was soccer, baseball. I mean, you name it. And I recognized that my golf game was going downhill real fast. So I thought, dang, how do I figure out how to be able to play on the weekday versus the weekend?
And so I met a friend who knew a friend that had this software and I was working with the original guy, uh, his friend, I was working with him on another development and he says, you know, you should talk to my son. He’s starting this new golf company. And he meets people. He is just pulling it out of beta.
And I think you really get in the woods in it. But long story short is that this is during the.com bomb. If you remember, most of your people remember, but in 2000. We everything was going.com. If you remember, there was pets.com, there was this.com and there was all this silly investment money being rolled into these dot coms.
I’ll never forget that super bowl that year, all these dot coms were there. And I think 75% of the advertisement on that super 2000, those companies weren’t existed in 2001. Wow. Just like overnight. Right? Well, this group of two guys. Developed this interoffice software, where here was their idea. They thought if we gave every golf course, a computer with a private network and they could interface back and forth, they could trade tee times with each other because you gotta remember in a golf industry, what you’re wanting to look for.
A tee time, right? Yep. I mean, it’s very common now. Uh, just like you book an airline ticket online, they said, well, let’s just do a, uh, let’s do a tee time online. So their idea was this network, this computer, uh, it was all where there was an internet and an internet. It was right at the birth of the internet.
And so you could have a private network versus a public network. Well, that eventually went away. Now we just have a public network with firewalls. Okay. Um, so I just, uh, they, they went bankrupt. Basically. They were in the.com. They lost about $20 million, but out of the bankruptcy, they came out with owning the software and the software was the secret to the sauce.
They didn’t have any money, but they had the software and they figured out the mouse trap and the mouse trap was forget the computer systems, forget all that, just get a website, outgoing and figure out a way to connect the golfer. That’s online to the golf course. That’s in his neighborhood and married the two on the internet and let them do business together.
And that worked
Jared: so that, and you were, and, and to coin the phrase that you’ve already used a couple times, you were the connector there, you brought the audience to, I was the connector
Steve: software. Yeah. Yep. And I was the salesperson because honestly, Jared, it was a hardcore sale. I had to go because I had two customers.
I had the golfer, but I also had the golf course owner. So I had to convince the golfer that I had, the golf courses he wanted to play at. But then I had to convince the golf course owner that I had the players that wanted to play there. And this was the beginning. And you gotta remember, um, people were leery of the internet in the beginning, right?
So golf course owners thought everyone wants to play my golf course. All I have to do is stand here behind this counter, have some Snickers bars and some diet Cokes. They’re gonna buy that. They’re gonna go play my courts. And maybe after they go eat of my cafe, well, what happened is people stop playing golf as much.
They couldn’t believe it. And here’s why it happened. They called it the tiger effect back then. This is when tiger woods first came on the scene. Mm-hmm . And when he did that, they thought there would be this huge young community of golfers that would go out and play. So they doubled the amount of golf courses in the United States within 10 years.
Wow. But they found something about American people. They didn’t take up golfing the way they thought they would for a couple reasons. Number one, golf is very difficult. So you don’t learn very well. And number two, golf takes elite, least four to six hours to play, and most Americans are super busy. So.
When that happened, it created this huge amount of supply. So golf courses were now interested in talking to me with the new technology about how I had all these golfers that wanna play their golf course. If they allow me to send them there and I wouldn’t charge ’em as cent. Wow.
Jared: Yeah. So how did you go about building this brand that got traffic?
You know, I mean, obviously the software, especially for the time is amazing. It’s revolutionary, it’s solving a huge problem, but I mean, conceptually, it makes sense, but how did you get this site, the website, or as you transition from many sites into just the golf now.com property, how did you get so many golfers to come, uh, to your.
Steve: Well, here’s where the selling comes in. Right? Cause I told you, you need a salesperson and a connector. So it was my job to connect the golf courses to my golfers. And I had to get my golfers. And what we found is what was needed is that to make this work, we literally had to send sales people out into the masses.
We had to go to every area and we had to hire people to be the regional sales manager. So I was like the regional guy in all of Washington state in Idaho and little parts of Canada. And it was my job to control this area. And I actually bought what they called a license. So it’s not a franchise, it’s a license.
And the difference is, is that a license gives you the right or permission. To, to make revenue on a product and you have to give the owner of the, of the license. I’m the licensing. You have to give the owner of the license or a revenue share. He doesn’t have to pay for marketing. He doesn’t have to do this or that.
If he does something, he has to let you do that. But he it’s up to you to make it run where a franchise is totally different. Mm-hmm you, they’re more controlled. They more give you a perfect mouse trap. They hadn’t figured the mouse trap up yet. So I had to pay back in the day, and this was a lot of money back then, especially for me, I, I had to write a check for, you know, almost $40,000 to have the right, to sell a product that wasn’t even proven.
Right. But Jared man, I saw that I saw that this thing would work because I was a golfer and I was internet savvy. Uh, and that was the other thing, you know, you, I realize there’s these there’s these people like me at the times, I was in my early thirties that were embracing the internet and I know this place, this thing was going to boom and explode by the, when we first started our golf company, we literally hand the golf course pro a page.
Remember those back in the day, every doctor had a pager and then pagers everyone. Their mother had a pager and then it was a blue Blackberry and yada yada yada, and they would get a beat. And then it would be Joe Schmo, 2:20 PM, play golf. By the time we sold the company, mm-hmm , everything was completely interfaced and they had electronic T sheet systems and they would just stand there and then we’d just start filling up and propagating their times.
Mm-hmm and, uh, and I got to see that whole process take place. And so my job that’s, this is a long answer. Sorry about this. So I had a dilemma. How am I gonna get people to use my site? And believe me that I got all these golf courses and the golf courses wanted to know how many people I had. So here’s how I did it.
This is hardcore selling 1 0 1 I’m. I’m telling you I had to work my butt off every year and probably in your area too. There’s what they call a golf show where it’s about the beginning of the season, January, February, and you go to the, to the exposition center and you see all the latest clubs, all the golf courses show up.
It’s just like a big golf Fest. And if you’re in a golfing, there’s a good chance you’re gonna be there. And that’s where my client was. So I rented a booth, this, the standard booth that cost me like 1500 bucks a month. But on the side, I went to the owner of the golf show and, and I said, I got a deal for you.
I said, if you will give me the database of every person that went to that show. I’ll write you a big fat check and you just keep it between you and me, cuz he didn’t do that. He didn’t sell his database cuz that was his bread and butter. And I said, I will also promote you and everything I do and you’ll help me build my database.
And so I did that and I received probably about 25,000 names on that first golf show. And out of those 25,000 names, probably three to 4,000 became users. Mm-hmm so that’s how I got it started. But here’s the other thing that’s interesting, Jared, when I would go to golf courses, they would say, well, Steve, this looks good, but how many golfers do you really have?
And I didn’t have any golfers. So here’s what I said. This is what a salesman says. We are gonna have thousands. How many do you have? Well, it’s growing right now and I can promise you there’ll be hundreds of golfers that love to play your golf course. I never completely answered the question because if I did I say why don’t think, and then that puts me on the same playing field as him, like, well, he doesn’t have any, and I don’t have any, then what does he bringing to the table?
So that was a little bit of the selling mechanism right there. It was the chicken or the egg kind of thing. Right? So after three golf shows, I had the biggest database of golfers in Washington and Idaho and golf courses started now coming to me. And, uh, but it was hard core selling and that’s the thing in life.
Some things you’re just gonna have to go out and you’re gonna have to pitch yourself. You’re gonna have to tell people how, how are they gonna make a buck in this? You know, why should I buy your product and not anybody. And that’s a great thing with good websites is that they compel you, right? They compel you to do something.
They compel you to buy that course, or they compel you to buy this service or that product. So I was the compiler and I had to tell these guys how to do it. It was about a five year process. And when in five years we were rocking and rolling, but this is an interesting tidbit of information within 12 months, I’d paid off that $40,000 and I was profitable just because it, the, the, the, the product worked.
Jared: where was the monetization of the, of the, of the site for you? You talked about how you didn’t make any money. I think you said you didn’t make any money necessarily for referring someone to the golf course. So where did the charges sent you? Okay, good. You’re you’re selling me already so I can tell, so, so where was the monetization underneath the, um, underneath the infrastructure of all this?
Steve: So, Jared. At the end of the day, what is the one commodity that a golf course has that expires
Jared: the one commodity a golf course has that expires time. It can’t use the next day.
Steve: It’s the tee
Jared: time. The timing of when people can, can actually sign up
Steve: every 10 minutes. Right? If you don’t fill up that 10 minutes, it expires.
It’s like a, it’s like a piece of fruit on a fruit stand, right? There’s it’s good until it’s not, and then
Jared: it’s not. And
Steve: if it’s not, it’s not. So I said, I’ll make a deal with you. And I would look at their T sheet. I say, do you know that you have 50% of your tee times every year expire worthless? I said, do this, give me your bad tee.
And usually the bad tee time was an hour before
Jared: Twilight. I was about to say, is this where Twilight rates got, uh, created? Are you the one? Are you the one who created Twilight rates?
Steve: Dude, I’m the one that created the horse race in the golf industry. I’ll just tell you straight out. So we said, listen, your hardest tee time to sell is an hour before Twilight because who wants to pay full rack rate?
If at two 30 you could pay half price. So I said, if you try and do that in your, in your pro shop, everyone’s gonna get all pissed at you. I said, how about you have online exclusive deals and I’ll sell all those at different prices. Just like an airline. I tried to tell, ’em say, look at your golf course, like an airline.
If you had everyone raise their hand and say how many paid this rate on an airline, it’ll only be usually one to two hands. Everyone’s paying all different rates. Mm-hmm they’re yield managing their amount of available seats. Why Tom said yield, manage your golf course. It won’t lose your value. They’re always worried about value.
Well, da, da, da. I said, well, that’s why we only do it under certain time constraints, but for me, give me your tee time an hour before, and I’ll make the revenue on that one. . And so every day I had 3.2 players that I made revenue on and I could charge whatever price I wanted. And let me tell you brother, that tee time always sold because I priced it right.
So that was our red hot sale. The day I forgot what we called, we called it like the fire tee time or something like that.
Jared: My, uh, my first job, I was a wedding photographer and, uh, first business I started and, you know, it reminds me a lot of that because there’s about 25 prime days a year to get married.
Those there, those, those summer Saturdays. Right. And so you’re always getting booked out for those 25 Saturdays. That’s a given, but what about the other 325 days of the year when no one wants to get married in a Tuesday or on a Sunday in December, could have used your help in, uh, in that industry as well.
But , you clearly have this approach. And I, I, I wanna highlight it at this point in the interview because, you know, I don’t wanna over characterize people, but certainly I think website owners nowadays tend to rely on more traditional methods of growing their site, perhaps. Uh, obviously we talk a lot about SEO on here about putting content on their side, about building links, networking.
Uh, that sort of thing, you clearly have this approach you take, whether it’s to your online businesses or even other ventures, you’ve, you’ve mentioned where you really go out and you you’re really creative about the opportunities that you think of and about the ways you connect. I mean, you keep saying that word, but the ways you connect, uh, solutions to problems, can you talk about.
This from a high level, maybe, especially speaking to people who have websites, but aren’t in the business of doing that right now with their website. It might be missing some of these opportunities. Yeah.
Steve: Because as you mentioned, SEO, linking social media. I did all of that. I totally glossed over all of that.
Here’s what I did. Okay. And so this is where you’ve gotta, you’ve gotta decide your market and what your market needs. All right. Not what they want, but what they need. And my market needed somebody to guide them to some of the best deals in town for golf. This is golf industry specific, right? And so I became the golf guy in my area.
So I had this great tool in our software where we had interfaced interface, a direct email system. So not only did they go to my website, but every night I would send them fresh tee times that would integrate where they could just click a tee time and boom, and go right into the system and they could buy it.
And it was so much funder. I wake up in the morning and I sold $3,000 in tee times. I was just. I just love sunny days. And this is Washington state, right? This is like Arizona, Arizona. Their worst time is in the summertime. Right? My worst time is rainy days. It happens to be Seattle. So what happened is that newsletter is that I connected with them on a personal level.
I was the golf guy. They knew me. Oh, you’re Steve golf now.com, right? Yeah, that’s me. Oh yeah. I read your newsletter. And I would, and here’s what I did. Everyone loves to talk. Right? Why does people magazine sell people? Magazine sells because people want to get the inside gossip scoop about how somebody’s underwear got exposed and now they can see, see all these things that happen.
Or there’s, there’s different people in Hollywood row and they’re just as human as we are. Right. So I was the golf guy that was telling people. The golf course, I would interview the manager. I would tell ’em the special deal they have going. And I just became the guy. And so every email, instead of just doing this totally, you know, basic website with tee times, which is what they want, I would always have a little storyline like a blog.
So they always knew what was going on. And then I’d use that for the golf courses, because then I’d start selling more tee times, right? They got all these tee times and I’d say, Hey, for an additional tee time, I can promote your golf courses this week. And so then I would get one, two and three tee times.
You gotta remember that’s important because a tee time is four players, times $50. Right? So I’m making. 3.2 was my average. So I’m making $175 every time somebody books my tee times, seven days a week. If you think about this, if I’ve got a hundred golf courses, which I think we were like an 80 or something for my region times average of five tee times a week during peak season, right times 80.
I mean, we were making some dough, maybe it was rock and roll. It was awesome. How did
Jared: you expand it? I mean, it’s national from, and I’m guessing like, you know, you keep talking about Steve, the Washington and Idaho guy. Did you expand it outside of that? And how did you make these connections with golf courses nationwide?
Steve: Yeah. So here’s how that worked is because we gotta remember. I said I was a licensee, my friend owned the software and so he owned some prime markets. He owned, uh, Phoenix. He owned Portland Scottsdale. And then there were other states that they sold licenses to. And here’s what happened. Jared. There’s no way I could expand at my level other states.
Um, it just was, no, I didn’t have the capacity. Right. I wasn’t a full service sales team. I, I, I, I didn’t have that, that capacity, but I knew I could handle this area. So I got it at beta. My friend developed it, I developed it with him and I owned basically Washington, Idaho. So the whole nation took off because there was about 20 other guys, like.
And we are all sharp sales guys. We all loved golf. We knew how to talk golf. That’s another good thing. You gotta know how to talk the lingo, right? Whatever pursuit you’re in, you need to be able to talk the lingo. And we were able to PO push that and do that. So that’s how went nationwide. And eventually, uh, international.
Jared: Wow. Well, golf now.com today is huge. I, I, I was looking at some of the stats before it’s over 32,000 pages on it. Domain rating of 83, according to ah, refs, you know, you haven’t, you haven’t owned it for a while. You, you, you did sell it off. What, what was the, what was the prompt and the process like to sell it off and to move on?
Steve: Yeah, it was a tough one. I’ll tell you. I, I had some internal dialogue in my. and I had raised it to a point where I pretty much had peaked my market out. You can always make more, you can always do more. We started creating websites for golf courses, uh, and they were completely interfaced that gave me an extra tee time of day.
Uh, we started bringing in T sheet systems. We ended up buying a T sheet system company, probably the best in the nation. There was about 30 different T sheet systems and we interfaced with all of them. And that’s why nobody could duplicate what we did. Jared. Our secret sauces was really what we call middleware.
Our software was middleware. Not only did it have a website that connected golfers, but we could, we created language for every platform out there on the mainstream. So we could they’d say, oh yeah, well, we got this system. We said, great, not a problem. We got an API for that. We can connect right to that. So, uh, so we did that.
So I really had to focus on my region and what I, what we did. But there was an internal voice in me that said, Steve, do you want to go down to infamy as just the golf guy? Because for me, I love golf, but you gotta remember. I started it because I wanted to play on the weekdays and not the
Jared: weekend. I was gonna ask you at some point how that worked out for you.
Steve: You know, the funny thing was Don got it. My golf, my golf company only made money when I was behind a computer. Yep. I mean, you know, I, I would definitely have to go out and see the golf courses that was a given, and I try to get a few holes in, but the majority of my time I needed to be on the phone and then I needed to be just running the computer.
Well, I don’t
Jared: know. I don’t know if you know this, but you could have worked a good saw day there. I heard from someone who’s a good deal at Twilight. You could have picked up on. So
Steve: yes, I could have done a very good deal. You’re right. Yeah. Uh, here’s the other thing I thought thought interesting. And this is again, knowing your market.
I found that my golf course guys started resenting me unless I went and talked to them. so I had to do a soft touch at least every two weeks, which is a phone call. And I had to do a hard touch, which is, I mean, I went and visited them typically every six weeks.
Jared: So this is a lot of work. Yeah. It’s a lot.
It’s a full job. Yeah. This was not a, um, you know, punch a couple buttons, strike of a deal and you’re off to the races and can sit back and sit my ties. This was, this was a lot of active work on an ongoing basis.
Steve: I didn’t know what I was getting into, to be honest with you, I’ll tell you what happened in the timing was so good.
And then I’ll tell you how we spun it off is I was learning how to do housing and building development. Again, I have no building acumen in my body. Uh, other than I had a dad that was a DIY dad. So I could fix a, a, a leaky sink. I could fix a toilet. I could change my breaks. That’s just kinda the way my dad was.
I appreciate him doing that. I was the apprentice. I hated every minute of it, but I learned a lot. And so what it taught me is that I could learn to do things. That’s all it taught me. It taught me that a skill can be learned, and these were mechanical skill sets. So at the time when things were growing, but I was also doing other pursuits and that was P building the whole.
Country crashed in the housing market, 2008. Yeah. Everything crashed, everything stopped, everything houses were going for half price. So all of a sudden my ambitions of being a builder developer just D died overnight. But I had in my hip pocket golf now.com and I thought, you know what? Now’s a great time to go in fulltime.
Let’s take this thing and let’s rock it, it to the moon. And so it was perfect timing and, and I leave it, I leave it to God to give him thanks that I knew what to do when to do it. It just happened. So it was full time and, uh, it was, but the timing was perfect. And so I did.
Jared: And so that, that that’s, I mean, I remember, oh eight, obviously a a, a seminal moment, certainly not only just in real estate, but in the entire global economy.
And so you, you use it as a great chance to go all in, it’s it, it reminds me a bit, I mean, we’re interviewing so many people this year in 2022 that have made big, big, big accomplishments on the back of the hardships that, that started with COVID in 2020. And we’re starting to hear these success stories.
It almost reminds me of another kind of global situation back in 2008 and how you used it as an opportunity to go all in on something. And clearly it turned into a huge success. You gotta
Steve: remember one man’s problem is another man’s business, right? I mean, that’s all we’re doing. All the entrepreneur entrepreneur does is solve problems, right?
If you can solve a problem for a thousand people, you’re gonna make a thousand dollars. If you can solve a problem for a million people, you’re gonna make over a million dollars. You think about it? What is, what, what do bill gates do with, with software? He solved a problem for billions of people. He’s a billionaire, so you’re just learning to solve problems.
And I realized that I was solving a big problem in the golf industry. Just like when I do building I’m solving problems to help people have good shelter. Um, so that’s what you learned to do. That’s what everyone on this website and, and, and on your podcast and on each pursuits, they’re just learning how to help solve people’s problems.
And that’s why it’s a good thing. That’s really what work is. Right? Work is something that you should never despise. The work is lovely. What makes work difficult is the struggle. Mm. But you gotta remember that struggle and growth are the same word. We like to say, oh, I really want to grow in this. But what you’re saying is I really wanna struggle, but if you don’t struggle, you don’t grow.
And so, uh, you just have to learn to embrace it. So I had to embrace, embrace the suck and how, how much work it took if you will.
Jared: So why did you end up selling the site? Why did you end up, I mean, I know you’ve talked about your passion for developing and for building, uh, and that’s where you ended up, but what caused you to make that transition?
Steve: got stupid offers. Well, it’s a good reason. Yeah, we, uh, we got a call, um, from ESPN and they wanted, they liked our, our mouse. they, they, they thought that’s cool. Mm. And they were about ready to give us an offer. And so we were talking about, well, how do we evaluate this? You know, we’re trying to figure out what’s the value of our customers, because all I really had was, you know, they’re gonna eventually develop their own software.
Right. They’ll use parts of ours, but what they’re really saying, we want your database. Right. That’s what it comes down to. Yeah. They wanted my golfers and they wanted my brand. So when that happened, the big boy on the block decided they better give us a call first. And that was Comcast. So Comcast called us up and most people don’t know this, but Comcast owns many networks.
They own universal studios. They own all these different media labels. One of them, which is the golf channel. Ah, they own golf channel. And, uh, Comcast. And the guys at golf channel says, we love your program. We love your product. What would you be willing to sell it for? But here is the hard part with it because what happened, this is really fun.
I’ll tell you this, and then we can move on. Any other stuff you wanna do? So here I am, things are rocking and rolling in this golf now.com. We’re doing great are owners of our licensers, which were basically, let’s just call them the owners of the main beast, right? They own the most territories, although they didn’t own all of it.
They just owned some cherry spots. They said, uh, we’re talking to golf channel. We’re thinking about selling to them. Here’s what they had to say. They may be calling you because they couldn’t sell our T. Because I had the license for my area. It was like a hardcore contract that could never be changed. Uh, and I was grandfathered in to anything that happened to the mothership happened to me.
So they eventually sold the golf channel, which I was super excited for them. It was great to do all of a sudden overnight on the golf channel. There is $10 million a year in paid advertising for golf now.com and I didn’t have to pay a dime overnight. I’m on the golf channel. So not only am I the golf guy, but now I’m the golf channel guy that sells tee tabs.
And, uh, that lasted for about a year. And then the phone started ringing. Yeah. Steve, Hey, this is Joe Schmo. Great, great sales people, by the way, masters trained big business Dartmouth, uh, Harvard, Comcast buys the best. I’m just telling you straight up. That was a great experience. I’ll tell you about that in a minute.
Um, man, we love your product. We own this, that, yeah. They’ve told us all about you guys. You’re doing a great job out there. We’re interested in buying your thing. What would you be willing to do? Well, listen. You should come to uni, you should come to Orlando. Visit us at our corporate center. Let’s sit down.
Let’s talk. So they, they flew me and I had a buddy of mine who I had convinced. And you wouldn’t believe how much I had to convince him. Finally, I finally told, ’em said, listen, you would be stupid if you don’t pull out at least 30 grand and buy the state of Tennessee, that’s where he lived Tennessee. And I think he took part in Georgia.
I forget. I said, just buy it. And he was a golfer and he was a sales guy. So I knew he could do it, just buy it. Thank me later. Anyway, he, he did that. So we both went out there, saw all the different areas where they, you know, and the funny thing is the golf channel studios. Weren’t very big, every little scene that you see in the cameras is just a corner of a warehouse.
surrounded by offices in the middle. And all the golf, little Hotty girls there talking about how to fix your swinging out. They’re all bumping around. You’re meeting everybody and all that. So we had a talk, they talked about how they wanna sell us. So then here’s what happens. We all go home. I get the call from the big Kahoona from one Philadelphia place, which is the headquarters of Comcast.
It’s the 60 story, high rise. And Jared, it was hardcore selling. He goes in there and he starts telling me how my bad my market is. And you know, they’re really trying to, to improve. They’re gonna do their best with me and what they can offer. And he throws me this low ball offer. And, uh, and fortunately I had been at sales for a while.
I knew everything that was going down, but again, I was thoroughly enjoying the process because here I am, as a young entrepreneur being trained from the brightest mind, mm-hmm in business. I mean, Comcast has always been on their game from the very beginning, look at how they have acquired. I think they’re the dominant media player in the industry today.
Right. So here’s what I did. I strung it out as long as possible. I played hard to get, I wanted more information. I needed to talk to this guy, to that guy. And I had a Harvard education of how to sail and close a deal. And, uh, anyway, long story short is from, no, I’m not interested. Let’s talk later. Talk to me next year.
And I hung up. Wasn’t rude. I was just not willing to discuss that with him. Eventually six months later, we arrived at a price and then I had a golden handcuff that I could not compete in that market for five years, which is pretty big. I don’t do that these days. Yeah. Um, but with that golden handcuff, they still had to.
So I didn’t make as much money, but I got the chunk for the, for the license, which to this day I can’t disclose, but I’ll say it’s seven figures and I got a monthly revenue because they tied my hands from ever being in the, in, in the industry again. But to go through those contractual obligations, oh, I cannot tell you how much I learned.
I bet. And yeah, it was, it was unbelievable. And here’s the interesting, I found most contracts are almost exactly the same. Mm-hmm, there’s little nuances, but the same contracts and operating agreements and LLCs that I put together today for apartment complexes and multi-families is almost exactly the same, except for a little less than 20% from the smartest brains in the room.
And so, you know what it told me I can compete. I can compete in this field. It helped me not be intimidated, cuz I went through that process and that’s why I think entrepreneurs, they need to just dig and not be intimidated, go in bold and go in and learn whatever the craft is. Find the people that are doing what you want to do and decide that’s my mark.
I’m gonna do what they’re doing. I’m gonna try and do it a notch better. And, and that’s what I tried to do. And through that process, I just learned a bunch and eventually sold the company, um, which I regretted for a while. I wasn’t the golf guy anymore. I had to go down and infa me as just Steve, but it’s all
Well, congratulations on, I mean that’s a very fun success story, you know, and I think at the end of the day, um, you were able to perhaps find something completely unique that at the end of the day was what. Ended up getting bought. And perhaps that’s one of the great lessons that people can pull from this in their side, hustle, their startup, their entrepreneurial journey.
You’re able to find something that was so unique that at the end, it didn’t matter. That had to be, it had to be bought because it couldn’t be recreated. And, um, and what a fun story, what a fascinating end to a fun ride you were on for quite a while, it was a long, it was a long journey.
Steve: It, it, it was a fun journey.
I mean, I enjoyed every bit of it and it shows you too, that side hustles, if they’re really gonna be successful, end up being full-time hustles, right. Something’s gotta give right. I mean, you can’t do five side hustles. You, you, you eventually something goes dominant. It’s always 80, 20 rule. 80% of your time should be devoted to what makes you the most amount of money.
Mm-hmm um, so, so, but yeah, no, it was a great ride. I learned a bunch and, uh, I developed great relationships with people, uh, and. It, it was worth every, every time, every
Jared: minute of it. So you transitioned into real estate. We, we only have a few minutes left here, so, um, you know, but I, I would like, I would love to hear how that’s going and, and, and if you’ve kind of taken some of the similar, uh, approaches to your, to your real estate, your, your construction endeavors, and then, um, what your, maybe some big takeaways from, from your time there.
Steve: So, um, uh, yeah, a matter of fact, I’m gonna start codifying everything I’ve been doing, uh, and, uh, eventually be promoting and, you know, do what everyone else does. We sell the 10 courses that do the X, Y, Z, but it’s very usable information because I find there’s a lot of people out there that would, would wanna take a step beyond just remodeling.
You know, a lot of people are in the flipping business, cuz that’s what they’ve really promoted on TV, but you’ve noticed that not many people tell you how to build a brand new house. And not many people tell you how you can build a 30 unit complex. And the only difference between building one house and building 30 is just more problems.
If I build a house, I have to solve a hundred problems. If I build an apartment complex, I have to solve a thousand problems, but the problems are all the same thing. Right. All the same stuff. It’s just more problems. It’s 30 of them.
Jared: there’s just
Steve: right. It’s 30 times, right? Yeah. So, um, uh, anyway, so that was just a great say.
And, uh, gimme the original question. Jared, I lost
Jared: track there. You have some fascinating takeaways from the golf site, and I’m wondering what the fascinating takeaways you have from now, your success in building
Steve: homes. Yeah. Thank you. So, so here’s the thinking. If you go to anyone who. Got half their wits of them and can do things is entrepreneurial let’s say.
And you said you can build an apartment complex. They would look at you and go, I can’t build apartment complex. I’m not a builder. And I’d say, I’m not a builder either. I actually look at people. I tell ’em, this is the number one tool in my toolbox right here,
Jared: the connector, again,
Steve: it’s a connector. It’s all about connecting.
So what I did was is I had a friend again, it’s good to have friends. I had a friend that was a very successful builder and he wanted to build apartment complexes. And we are coming out of the crash of 2008 to 2012. Right. So I built my golf business. I spun it off 2000 and I said, you know what? I got a deal for you.
You got the, know how I got the money. Why don’t we start a business and we’ll partner together and you’ll teach me the trade and I’ll be, I’ll be the behind the scenes guy. I’ll be the finance guy. I’ll be, um, the guy that helps runs the permits and figures all that out. You’ll be the guy in the field.
And then eventually, you know, we’ll just kind of both do that. So he was excited about that because now he had a sugar dad
Jared: and oh, he just got to do what he loved
Steve: and he still got to do what he loved. And so what happened is I was able to learn, um, how to build and how to start from new, uh, because here’s an interesting thing, Jared, I spend more time again, behind my computer.
Working through process to get a piece of land ready to build mm-hmm and it’s called entitlements. Mm-hmm you get a piece of raw land, but it’s not ready to build because you have to figure out where the sewers go, where the water goes, what are you gonna do with all the water that’s on the site? They wanna drain that out.
There’s just all these lists of problems that you have to solve. And the majority of that is done by talking to people by hiring contractors that are engineers and civil type people. And by just processing and processing. So when I build an apartment project, it takes me three years and two of those years are just behind the computer, takes me a year to build, but two years to get it ready to build.
So I learned from golf now that I could take a problem and deconstruct it and figure out what it takes to do it. If I had one thing. A good mentor and I’m telling you all my life, that’s what it’s been for me. It’s been mentors. There’s been people that I could clinging onto, or I could bring value to the relationship.
And in return, they shared with me the skill level that they had. And I think that’s where we’re always at. Right? If you think about your major markets in your life, major pivots, a lot of times it came down to a person mm-hmm or a group of people that helped lead the way for you. And so I’m now in the building industry.
and I have taught several people how to take a house from, from foundation all the way up to live in that house. And then I’ve done apartment complexes and people give us money to invest with them because they don’t have the time to do that, but they have the money just like I get back in that day. And so now we build apartment complexes and we have a kind of particular mouse trap that we do.
We do a particular type of product we found through the years that our style of apartment complexes work the best. Everyone wants to buy them the best. Um, matter of fact, my apartment complexes. If we go into a huge recession, I will be completely. because I build a particular product. That’s not your high rise unit.
My product is what we call garden style three floors or less, no elevators. If we can help it, it’s almost like building a big house. It’s the kind of apartments you saw around your college campus, that all your friends lived in. Right. And the difference is, is our units are brand new. So everyone always wants to live in a new unit.
And, uh, and so when things get tough, the people that are in the expensive apartments come down and live in my apartments. Cause they’re nice. Right. Uh, but I have people there right now. And so it’s just, uh, it, it is just as a, is a product that will always be needed. Again, it’s something that people need, it’s solving a huge problem.
And the more I can solve that problem, the more apartment you
Jared: well, you’ve, uh, you’ve been a, uh, you’ve had a laundry list of, of, of good one liners and takeaways today. I think if anything else, it’s been a very inspirational. Hour in the life of, of, of, of Steve and learning about, I mean, some of the things that, the connect, the connections that you create, the, the way you look at solving problems, um, the tenacity, I will say that you bring to each problem that you’re solving and go get ’em, uh, roll your sleeves up, get dirty, and don’t give up, uh, expect it to be work, embrace the work and love the work.
I mean, so many good takeaways. You, you went from creating a, um, an Amazon storefront to a golf booking platform to building apartments. I mean, what a, uh, what a progression that is, um, where can people get in touch with you or follow along with what you’re doing? If, if they, if they are, if they want to,
Steve: yes, I’m working.
Uh, I’ve been so bad at this and, and I know better cause I’ve built so many websites and, and platforms. Um, um, I’m developing a brand new website that’ll be released in about two months and it’s called find your life.com. So you wanna find your life. So I’m gonna talk about solutions to new business ideas, new, uh, you wanna learn to build a house that’s gonna be on there.
Uh, you wanna learn how to develop your real estate. It’s gonna be on there. If you are a brand new landlord, you won, learn how to property, manage your own products. Don’t give it to another guy. You can do it yourself. Mm-hmm, , there’s just some simple rules and formulas you need to do. And again, I just learned it from someone else and, and that’s the biggest takeaway.
You know what? I was never the golf guy. I was never the best golfer, but I became the golf guy, cuz I helped the golf courses solve a problem, making more money. And with apartments, I realized that there was a big need there. And I was real fortunate that in my area there was. Again, if there wasn’t a need, then I couldn’t sell the product, but I’d find something else.
I’m trying to figure out what I’m gonna do when I really grow up. And I think what it is, I’m just gonna kind of teach people what I’ve learned and give them great ventings for opportunities and just kind of carry them along the way. Be a mentor to others as others were mentor to me.
Jared: Well, we’ll, uh, we’ll be following along for that moment that you do grow up yeah, whenever that does come, Steve, thanks so much for coming today and, uh, congratulations on your success.
It’s really fun to hear the inner workings of a story behind what is now a, a large brand and then all the other areas we touched on. Thanks for coming on
Steve: board. Yeah. Hey, it’s a pleasure, Jared. Thanks for the time and the best of luck to all your, all your listeners. Perfect.