Vincenzo Guzzo, CEO of Cinémas Guzzo | From Movie Theatre Magnate to Dragon’s Den Investor

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About The Guest

Vincenzo Guzzo is a Canadian entrepreneur, philanthropist, and television personality. He currently serves as CEO of Cinémas Guzzo, Groupe Guzzo Construction inc., Guzzo Medical and Guzzo Hospitality. He has also opened a chain of Neapolitan pizzerias called Giulietta in Montreal. He and his wife raise money for charities through the Guzzo Family Foundation. Guzzo was a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, he was knighted by the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic and is a member of the Order of Malta.

In 2018 Guzzo joined the cast of the CBC Television business reality show Dragons’ Den as one of the investor “Dragons” in season 13 and season 14.

Talking Points

  • 1:03 – Vincenzo Guzzo’s Origin Story.
  • 5:57 – How Did Vincenzo Guzzo Build Up His Cinema Empire?
  • 11:37 – How Has The Movie Theatre Industry Is Evolved?
  • 19:18 – Lessons Learned From Building His Business
  • 23:39 – The Mindset Required To Start A business
  • 25:19 – Getting into Politics
  • 41:09 – What Was The Story Behind Dragons’ Den?
  • 45:38 – What Does Vincenzo Guzzo Look For In Entrepreneurs?
  • 53:49 – What Is The Best Marketing Advice That Vincenzo Guzzo Would Give Somebody For Their Startup?
  • 55:44 – Where Do People Connect With Vincenzo Guzzo?
  • 56:27 – What Was The Biggest Challenge In Vincenzo Guzzo’s Career And How Does He Overcome It?
  • 56:45 – Who Is The Mentor Of Vincenzo Guzzo?
  • 57:03 – A Book Or A Podcast Recommendation Of Vincenzo Guzzo? 
  • 57:46 – What Would Vincenzo Guzzo Tells His 20-Year-Old Self?
  • 58:08 – What Does Success Means To Vincenzo Guzzo?

Show Links

  • https://www.instagram.com/lordguzzo/?hl=en
  • https://twitter.com/Guzzo_Vincenzo?s=20&t=14kZUJOZiak_2uIidAlJYA
  • https://www.linkedin.com/in/vincenzo-guzzo-47263318

Podcast & Newsletter Sponsors

ATHLETIC GREENS – https://athleticgreens.com/success

GRIN – https://grin.co

TRADE COFFEE – https://drinktrade.com/successstory

HUBSPOT – https://hubspot.com

 

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What is the Success Story Podcast?

On this podcast, you’ll find interviews, Q&A, keynote presentations & conversations on sales, marketing, business, startups, and entrepreneurship.

The podcast is hosted by entrepreneur, business executive, author, educator & speaker, Scott D. Clary.

Scott will discuss some of the lessons he’s learned over his own career, as well as have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures, and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas, and insights.

He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their stories to help pass those lessons onto others through both experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs, and everyone in between.

Website: https://www.scottdclary.com

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Machine Generated Transcript

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

business, people, theater, pandemic, movie, success story, politicians, den, dragon, movie theater, shopify, athletic greens, coffee, vincenzo, mortar, find, invest, build, sales, months

SPEAKERS

Scott D Clary, Vincenzo Guzzo

 

Scott D Clary  00:00

Welcome to success story, the most useful podcast in the world. I’m your host, Scott D. Clary. The success story podcast is part of the HubSpot Podcast Network. The HubSpot Podcast Network has incredible podcasts like the salesmen podcast hosted by wil Baron. Now if you work in sales, you want to learn how to sell or you want to peek at some of the latest sales news and insights. You need to listen to the salesman podcast. The host will Baron help sales professionals learn how to find buyers and win big business in effective and ethical ways. If you think any of the following topics resonate with you, you’re gonna love the show, how to find and close your dream job and sales 12 essential principles of selling digital body language, how to have better zoom sales meetings, or how to tell a remarkable sales story. If these are topics that would interest you. Go check out the salesman podcast wherever you get your podcasts or at hubspot.com/podcast network. They my guest is Vincenzo guzo, aka Mr. Sunshine. He’s an entrepreneur, philanthropist television personality. He serves as CEO of cinema guzo group guzo construction goes on medical guzo hospitality. He also has a chain of pizzerias in Montreal. He has a foundation, the guzo Family Foundation, he was a recipient of Queen Elizabeth the Second Diamond Jubilee medal. He was knighted by the order of merit of the Italian Republic. He’s a member of the Order of Malta. He was also an investor and a dragon on Dragon’s Den, he has built an empire across multiple industries. We spoke about his early days as a single child building, one cinema from cinema guzo into the largest private cinema movie chain. We spoke about how he diversified, got into construction got into real estate got into medical, hospitality, all these different businesses that he’s built successfully, we spoke about risk. We spoke about him navigating the pandemic things he had to do, doubling down the opportunity of the pandemic. Then we spoke about some political things, some things that he has observed through the two years that we’ve navigated this pandemic, with the political environment decisions made people that have been making the decisions. He’s decided he had one point was even thinking about going into politics. And we spoke about how politics and business sometimes could be married up and why some people that are excellent in business, maybe would make incredible politicians, and some reasoning behind that some logic behind that. Then we finally spoke about business marketing for brick and mortar, how he navigated the marketing for brick and mortar through the pandemic, how he drives conversions in his actual movie theaters, how he measures conversions, and ad dollars spent from online offline marketing some of the most successful marketing tactics that he’s used in his theaters to scale them to again, the largest private movie cinema organization in Canada. So some great business ideas, some great business conversation, entrepreneurship, insights, marketing ideas for brick and mortar, we covered a whole gamut of things. Let’s jump right into it. This is Vincenzo Guzzo, serial entrepreneur and Dragon.

 

Vincenzo Guzzo  03:26

Well, so I’m Canadian. I’m born in Montreal, born raised in Montreal, went to school, London, Ontario, you know, my first university degree in economics, and then came back to law school, was actually planning on moving to New York and being Harvey Specter before Harvey Specter even existed, you know, the, the guy with the relationship issues, and childhood issues, and so forth and so forth. I’m an only child. So God knows I have issues if I want to have them, right. But I guess, you know, the old man had a different plan. And he said, Look, give me a year, let me you know, come with me in the movie business, see what you think of it, and so forth and so forth. And then I realized that, hey, you know, within a few months, I realized there was more litigation for me in the movie business than there was probably in New York City, you know, getting other people’s problems. And then from running movie theaters, you know, we opened construction division to build their own theaters, and then to build their own real estate from construction. We went into owning real estate, and so forth and so forth. And, you know, through this pandemic, if anything, you know, we bought another shopping mall, that we have a theater in, and we’re looking at other real estate. I mean, I would tell you today, you know, if we look at the books, most of the value of, you know, the whole Guto family comes from the real estate division, the movie theater, you know, when they work, and which they haven’t done in the last 24 months that much. But when they do work, they’re a great source of cash flow for, you know, the real estate division and so forth and so forth. And so From there, we’ve gone into the restaurant business. And now we’re going to go into the retail food business. I mean, you know, me being on Dragon’s Den on CBCs Dragon’s Den, you know, is a great opportunity to bump into up and coming entrepreneurs and help them, expand their business, but also be part of that success. And also have a, you know, share the equity and so forth. You know, one of the one of the, I guess, one of the most fun deals I did was with Rudy Ladd, which is a T Shirt Company, but then, you know, there’s a hidden gem in there, which is called good pantry, which the pandemic has done everything to prevent us from launching that even bigger than it is. But, you know, that’s a revolutionary icing product, which, you know, you’ll see if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll you’ll see I often post or repost some of their stuff. But that’s, I suspect that that’s gonna end up being a 50 $60 million company within the next 12 to 24 months.

 

Scott D Clary  05:57

Amazing. It’s and and all this came from it’s funny, I’ve seen this play a few times, actually what you did with your theaters, and then you moved into real estate. This is like the traditional McDonald’s play. And I seen it a few other times where you actually have a great business so I’m still curious about the the movie industry and and how you built that up? Like, you know, you probably started with one theater, and now I think you’re the largest independent movie theater owner. So you’re not competing with like, you’re, you’re not like the AMC you but you’re the you’re the largest independent, right?

 

Vincenzo Guzzo  06:27

Well, that’s right. So my independent what it really means is, we’re not a publicly held company, we’re one of, you know, a homegrown theater circuit, right, so, AMC is a monster, so it’s in a world so as Cineplex so on a on a all all, all types, you know, mixed in, we’re Canada’s third largest movie theater operator, we’re actually Canada’s privately our largest, privately owned Canadian owned operator, I believe the last time I checked in North America, we were either 25 or 26th. insides. So, you know, we gradually grew it from a one screen complex, to a three screen complex to a multiple screen complex. And then, you know, in 1998, is when we said, okay, let’s, let’s try and take this over. Our complexes are often associated to, you know, the AMC complexes, because they are these large 1816 1412 screen complexes, the big difference between our complexes and I’d say other people’s complexes, while food is, you know, a cornerstone of the business, you know, popcorn pop, and so forth. We chose in 1998, not to go with the extended restaurant experience, but we chose to go with the entertainment experience, meaning what you see today, in the US, where you’ll have a 90,000 square foot 10 screen complex, but there’s 50,000 square feet, that’s really amusement space. So we did that. But we didn’t, you know, so our entertainment section is roughly 15 20,000 square feet out of a 40 or 60,000 square feet footprint. So that’s where the difference is, we felt you can eat anywhere, but you really can’t have an entertainment, arcade experience or virtual reality experience anywhere, just because cities were shutting down the whole amusement sector, you know, they’ve always associated those sectors to negativity, they didn’t want them in your schools. And so far, and so far, in Canada, at least I know, in the US, it’s a little different. We now have redemption that, you know, has appeared in in Quebec for the first time in, in a lifetime. I mean, it’s probably the last territory in North America that allowed for redemption. So we know that what do you want to dance in is when you actually where you can actually play and make, get back points for play and so forth. And that you can exchange that for prizes, or for movie admissions, or for concession stand products, which is something called back was never, never liked. I mean, they associated too much to gambling so that you know, now they’ve accepted it. So we’re gonna, we’re gonna head that way. And so we still believe that going to the movies is more than just, you know, watching a movie, it’s actually an outing. So we have full fledged bumper cars, we have full fledged, merry go rounds in our theaters, you know, everything to dry and left. So So in other words, you don’t have to go to a Six Flags or to an amusement park, you can actually go to the theater, an idea.

 

Scott D Clary  09:41

Just want to take a second to thank the sponsor of today’s episode, athletic greens. Now I’m super happy that I partnered with athletic greens because I literally use them every single day. Now I’ve known about athletic greens for a little bit, only because I tried them about two years ago way before they decided to sponsor the show. I noticed that in winters when I didn’t take athletic greens, I would get sick as a dog. When I did take athletic greens, I wouldn’t get sick at all. So it turns out that when you take one scoop of athletic greens, you’re taking an absorbing 75, high quality vitamins, minerals, Whole Foods sourced superfoods, probiotics and adaptogens. So this is incredible for your immune system. And the special blend of all of these ingredients supports your gut health, your nervous system, your immune system, your energy, your recovery, your focus your agent, so I take it one scoop every single morning. It’s lifestyle friendly, meaning whether or not you eat keto, Paleo vegan, dairy free, gluten free, it’s going to fit that diet, which is important for me, because sometimes I like to go a little bit low carb, if you’re already taking a multivitamin, this can completely replace that in the morning to choose a high quality vitamin with ingredients that your body will actually absorb Athletic Greens definitely takes care of that. And it’s way cheaper than actually getting all the different vitamins, supplements ingredients, if you’re going to buy them separately, to make it easy athletic greens is giving you a free one year supply of immune supporting vitamin D, and five free travel packs. With your first purchase. All you have to do is visit athletic greens.com/success. That’s right, that’s a special URL they put together just for success story podcast listeners, again, that is athletic greens.com/success to take ownership of your health and pick up the ultimate daily nutritional insurance. I mean, like that’s where people are going, they’re going for entertainment. And I’ve heard you actually this is this is a great point. Because through pandemic, obviously like, you know, you know, this is a elephant in the room for especially for your business. It is a major, a major thing that impacted you, of course, but let’s talk about let’s talk about the industry talk about how it’s evolved, talk about some of the things that you’ve had to navigate, let’s talk about the fact that that social component that you’ve built up that you doubled down on like previous to the pandemic and then double down on again, during the pandemic. Just talk about that. Because I think that future of movie theaters, what you’ve done, what you believe what you’ve predicted is all so relevant to somebody who is trying to navigate, where they’re going to take their business in the future, how to future proof how to figure out if this shit ever happens again, what do I do with a brick and mortar like you? Like, you have a playbook for what you did over the past two years, which I think is exceptional. So I’d love to I’d love for you to break it down and just talk about that.

 

Vincenzo Guzzo  12:26

Yeah, well, you know, look, one of the things, you know, pre pandemic, I was a brick and mortar guys, I didn’t, you know, I always love to say, you know, online shopping is convenient, but it’s not sexy. versus, you know, brick and mortar is sexy, there’s an appeal to it, there’s an experience side to it. And I remember Michele Romanow telling me, what do you mean by online is not sexy. And I says, Well think about how most people are going shopping right there in their dirty t shirt and probably a pair of pajamas of either pajamas or boxer shorts, there’s turned around one time too many. And they’re in the room and they you know, and so forth. So the fact of the matter is, we had started the construction of a new theater, the for, you know, COVID. And we opened it on the 17th of December this year, only to see it closed down three days later. So, you know, that’s a $12 million investment on our part in the middle of COVID, which was a cash flow draining experience. But at the end of the day, that is what I think a lot of people who are successful in a crisis period is they will live on a string shoe budget, because they know investing during the crisis is when you know when times are cheapest to do it. And then it’s after the pandemic that everything explodes. Right? So for example, you know, we have real estate that now we’re going to not build a theater on and we’re actually going to build some industrial space on it. Because industrial has become so hot. And we know we have anywhere between 24 and 36 months to make that happen to take advantage of the hotness of you know, of industrial space. So it’s it’s illusionary to believe, you know, and everybody thought at the beginning of the pandemic, that this was the nail in the coffin, you know, for movie theaters, right? People were gonna get used to staying home and people were gonna get used to streaming stuff and so forth. You know, I think everybody’s got to realize that not everybody lives in a 14,000 square foot home. Nobody lives in a mansion by the sea in Barbados, right? Not Not everybody does that. And so the average person lives in a 600 to 1000 square foot home, they don’t have room for live theater space. They don’t have room for a streaming, you know room that’s dedicated to streaming and the truth of the matter is, if I work nine to five in an office, the last thing I want to do is recoup myself up and close myself up again. You know, when I go home and vice versa If there is a reality that we will be, you know, I guess working from home more? Well, if I’m going to work from home nine to five, then the last thing I want to do is entertain myself from five to 12. Again at home, right? I

 

Scott D Clary  15:17

mean, like, I feel that way, you know what I mean?

 

Vincenzo Guzzo  15:20

That’s right. I mean, people need to. And so in a very awkward way, when we close down the first time for roughly, I’d say, three months, when theaters reopened the go back to the theaters wasn’t as strong and in fact that and that worried a lot of bankers in a worried a lot of people in the industry. But in reality, it was just a question of analyzing what was going on properly. Right. And so we reopened in, I would say, July 2020 20. And business open that five 10%. And so everybody’s saying, Oh, my God, what’s going on? Well, you know, California was still locked down. New York was still locked down. Those two markets represent 20% of the North American market. studios were not releasing their hot, you know, a rated movies. So why would people go to the movies, right? And three months is a vacation. Well, what happened after that is when they re close theaters in October, and we didn’t open till May of 2021. Well, now you’re talking about eight months, now eight months, as I like to say the jail sentence, right, and, and nothing better to appreciate freedom than to go to jail for eight months. And so I think when we reopened in June, it took three weeks for us to be back at 7080 90% of business. And if it wasn’t for, you know, our government asking for vaccine passports and read confusing the play game, or the blade book, sometime in early September, I think business would have been back to 100%. Already. In fact, when we opened our new theater on September on December 2017, with Spider Man, that weekend, we were at 180%, you know, of regular business of 2019. So the business was back. And I think the fact that people missed going to the movies. And the fact that most people got through every single possible episode of whatever was worth watching on Netflix, or whatever other platform exists out there. I think everybody said, hey, you know, what, enough is enough. I mean, we need to socialize, whether it’s socializing, in a distance, way in a distancing way, right. And going to the movies, as I will always said to the public health authorities is socializing with distance ideation before the sensation was even a word, or even before we made it a word in our vocabulary that everybody knew, right? So you go to the movies, you sit down in a dark room, you don’t sit next to anybody unless you’re forced to unless you got 100% Full auditorium, everybody’s like, you know, I was like to say, I walk into a 300 seat auditorium. And if there’s 50 people there, and anybody comes in, sit right next to me, he’s gonna get a stare, and I’m gonna look at him say, seriously, you have nowhere else to say.

 

Scott D Clary  18:14

The guy has something wrong with him if he does. That’s great.

 

Vincenzo Guzzo  18:17

Right. And it’s got nothing to do with COVID. Right. So I think social distancing is just the element that was always there and movie going experience. And so we’ve seen it we reopened theaters, you know, on the, on the 11th of a no, sorry, on the eighth of February. Yeah. And, I mean, we didn’t have any new movies, all the movies were all the Christmas movies, we never got to play. And we ended up at about 70% of business. So bad, you know, older movies. Yeah, that’s right. You know, and like I said, it’s at a time where it’s traditionally you know, q1 is traditionally the weakest cue of the year. So that we’re back to 80% with you know, government authorities still always talking with the subliminals in these these underlying threats and fear factor and fear mongering and everything it’s just insane, right? I mean, I think everybody’s had enough of our politicians and I think we’re ready to move on with or without them as I like to say

 

Scott D Clary  19:18

how did you Okay, is there any anything that you’ve learned with your business anything you tried differently anything that you optimize and proved it differently launch new projects like during COVID That you were just like, let me just try this let me see if this is going to keep us afloat? Even if movies don’t open for the next five years I still have another thing to go down or another path to go down anything you tried that stuck

 

Vincenzo Guzzo  19:41

well we never look we never had the we never believed that the the clothes that the shutdowns were gonna last longer than you know, then they in fact, they’ve lasted longer than we had ever predicted. Right? That’s that’s true to demand most people without you there. Yeah. So you know, we did launch our own popcorn line or own consent.

 

20:00

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21:12

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Vincenzo Guzzo  23:14

Shin line of chocolates. You know, part of that is for retail part of it was for theaters, you know, we worked a lot on stuff that we worked part time on, all of a sudden it became, you know, full time work on right. So I, I suspect 2022 and 2023 will be a big year for us on the retail food side. There’s a whole bunch of projects coming out of Dragon’s Den that, you know, we we didn’t have that much time to work on. But now we did, right because all of a sudden, the movie theater wasn’t taking 24 hours of our of our time and our way of thinking, we also took a chance, like I said, on buying other real estate that was you know, retail based and entertainment based. And so we expect to see, you know, frustrations from that come up. So, you know, the truth of the matter is if you’re a business that you believe in, you know, I guess you doubled down on it, if you were in a business that you knew, was a sort of a temporary Well, that means you should have already planned, you know, to have gone on in something else right invested in something else, which wasn’t necessarily our case. I think in our case when we invested in the restaurant business when we invested in the food service business, it was more of a complementary business and then it became on the forefront of our business.

 

Scott D Clary  24:36

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Vincenzo Guzzo  27:24

know, we know we’ve made mistakes like everybody else. I mean, had I known this pandemic was gonna last as long as they was gonna last. I mean, I would have gone in the medical supply business, I mean, for sure. Right? It was, it was a no brainer. The problem is, I don’t think I think a lot of people got laid into that game. And, you know, and it blew up differently, because I don’t think anybody thought this was gonna last this long. I mean, you know, if anything has really come out of this pandemic is is how better of a job we all need to do when it comes to electing our public officials. I mean, it’s a joke. I mean, you know, we’ve been lied to we’ve been, you know, not necessarily and I want to correct this, because, while we’ve been lied to, I don’t think we’ve been lied to, because there’s a big conspiracy, a big reset of any of that, you know, a meeting of the minds of the Illuminati is that, you know, decided to conquer the world. I hear that crap. I mean, I No offense to the politicians, I know. But, you know, I know way too many politicians, and none of them have the IQ I’ve ever come up with a conspiracy theory.

 

Scott D Clary  28:29

You know,I’ve always said the same shit. It’s like a snowflake. You know, we got to do, you know, we got to do, we got to find we got to have maximum ages forced retirement. And we got to have we got to have better salaries and incentives to go into politics. You have all the guys that go to SF, going into politics, I don’t know how the hell we’re going to do it. But that’s what I think we have to do.

 

Vincenzo Guzzo  28:51

Look, today, I was giving an interview. And somebody said to me that we needed to invest more in the, in the, in the educational space, you know, the directors of all of the universities in Canada got together and are complaining to both Ottawa and their provincial governments that they need better funding. And I said, Well, you know, while we’re on the subject, I’d like to know why a rector of a university makes $100,000 between salary and expenses in a premier of a province or the Prime Minister of Canada only makes 250,000 Right? I mean, it doesn’t, doesn’t give us very much incentive to attract the best talent possible in politics, when we’re paying such measly dollars. And, and look, you know, I’m all for you got to do it for the cause. But if you really want to track the best talent, start making it worthwhile for everybody to forget their private sector jobs that half a million dollars and half a million dollars and start looking at the private sector and the public sector, and then you’ll get better results. I mean, if you look, it was a bit of a and I’ll use the word even though you know, it may be deadly. I mean, it was a bit of a shit show where, you know, decisions were made. I mean, we have public health experts being paid three $400,000. And we weren’t listening to them, because we felt that the general public wasn’t going to understand. Right? So in all intents and purposes, we need to remember that the people we elected didn’t even have respect enough for us to actually tell us what was going on or not going on. And at the end of the day, if you if you really look at it, in Quebec, at least, it’s a it’s a, it’s a health care issue. It’s more or hospitals could not take the flow of people falling sick. But it’s 30 years that that we’re over capacity in our in our hospitals, why and why are we why haven’t we done anything about it? And then we have a premier here who 30 years ago was a minister of health, and he seemed as confused as anybody else. Right. So I think ultimately, you know, we should, and I think while I don’t want to, you know, throw too many flowers to the, to the trucking protest in Ottawa. You know, I think I think they did light up a flame. And I think that, you know, there’s a bit of a, how can I say, I think there’s a reminder there, that people have a breaking point, you know, if there’s anything we can learn is that enough is enough, we can push only so much, until people break. And what sad is, is that I, you know, I would only like for people to understand that. You know, protesting in Ottawa is great. But you understand, there’s people that live there. And the politicians we were trying to annoy or the politicians, we were trying to get their awareness, they weren’t even at work. They were hiding, you know, our prime minister was hiding somewhere in one of his country places, you know, somewhere else living beside the noise. Yeah, that’s right. They were living by beside the noise. And I think that we need to understand that when every time we protest, while we are protesting for a great cause. I think somewhere along the way, we are creating inconveniences for people. And eventually, like every, you know, like every government, you know, that the goes too far. Even protests just happen to go too far. Or shouldn’t point and so forth. So, you know, I think we need to remember that everybody has a breaking point.

 

Scott D Clary  32:25

You’ve so you’re obviously you know, you’re the you’re the successful business leader. I’ve seen this with with you and with Kevin O’Leary at 1.2, you know, just to quota to reference another, another Shark Tank, Dragon’s Den person. You were both looking at politics, you were looking at politics, you’re both looking at conservative leadership and running. Why does that not happen? Why did not happen for you? Why did you not make that, like that transition?

 

Vincenzo Guzzo  32:53

I think I haven’t made the transition yet for the simple reason that I, you know, maybe I feel that I haven’t done everything I need to do yet. on a on a private sector level. But also because, you know, I think there’s, there’s, there’s a time and place for private sector people to go into politics. Right. And this time around, I know that I didn’t say it the first time around in 2019, and 2020. But this time around, I had the opportunity to save, which was you know, the first thing that happens when somebody like me throws his name in that, you know, in the ring is, but he’s got no political experience. Well, after two years of COVID, I can say, are we really looking for somebody with political experience, really, after the two years of political experience that we’ve had, is what we’re looking for another politician to run the country really, if that’s what it is, I mean, then we then it is true, that we just never learned, like, or we like the abuse as as a as a general population, we just like to be abused. Right. And I think that somewhere along the way, you know, people need to realize that when we’re putting aside the money we could make in the private sector, and willing to go into politics, it isn’t because we only think we could do better. It’s because I think we can do better for everybody. And, you know, at the end of the day, you know, you can think what you want to Kevin O’Leary, you have to remember that Kevin O’Leary is as much as as shark tank or Dragons Den is a reality show. You know, there is a bit of drama diarization there, right. So when he’s when he says he’s gonna scratch you like a cockroach, it may not be what you want to hear from a future politician. But you have to remember that that’s a show and there’s got to be some soap on my side. Do it. Yeah, some dramatics do it right. And so, and I mean, but ultimately people need to understand that, you know, we’re business people. And business people cannot be mavericks and renegades and also be bipolar and crazy. I mean, you know, at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, why is it that in the private sector, we shine and our employees, you know, get great salaries, and some of our employees become our partners through stock options, etc, etc? Why couldn’t people benefit from that? Right? I think that the biggest people blocking successful business people from going into politics isn’t the general population, I think it’s the politicians, you know, and I call them career politicians. I mean, you know, I have, you know, the first guy who announced his, you know, his candidacy in the latest conservative leadership race, is somebody who’s never had a job apart from being a politician. Right. So it’s very hard for me to explain to that person what it is to be a business person, when he’s got no empathy. He doesn’t, he doesn’t know what it’s really like to be a business person. And he can surround himself with the people he wants, you know, there’s nothing better than feeling the pain yourself. And if only we can put, you know, the truth of the matter is, if only somebody could really put the sentiment of the pain that entrepreneurs went through during COVID. I mean, a lot of people don’t realize that I may have lost, you know, I posted this. Recently on Instagram, I said, I said, the Post said something like, politicians didn’t save our lives, they actually wasted two years of it. You know, in other words, there was no life to be sought to be saved. I mean, the people who, you know, the people who didn’t die, it’s not because the politicians did a great job. It’s because the circumstances just didn’t call for those people to die. Because ultimately, our system wasn’t in place. We, like, you know, in, when when COVID started, we add pas de to medical supply. It’s hard to believe that we had millions of dollars of outdated, expired medical supplies. So it’s as if we never even saw this one coming. Right? And then somebody’s gonna see it. But how? How would you have seen it coming? Well, look, for one thing, we always have a float, we always, you know, expect the unexpected. It’s just, yeah, I mean, you know, did we expect a nuclear war? If we can compare it to that on a medical sector? No. But that, then again, that’s all my sector. So I wasn’t supposed to be privy to that and be aware of that. But, you know, I think ultimately, what business people need to face on a regular basis, is adversity every day. Politicians don’t. And so, you know, if I had to choose an elected official for the future, I would not choose a peacetime President or Prime Minister, I would try and elect somebody who’s a wartime Prime Minister or wartime president, because if you can govern during a crisis of a war, you can govern during peace. It’s easy, right? And just so you realize, I mean, the analogy that I’ve done is basically tells you something. If you look at the United States of America, every president who is who has had wartime experience, when they became president never went to war. They managed whatever they did not to go to war because they knew the casualties of a war. Every president was taken us to war was one that never saw a day of war. And so for them, there was no pain. It wasn’t their pain. It was maybe the cost of doing business call it right. Business people go through regularly. Word time pain. Right? Mean, bankers aren’t happy with business people these days there. You know, if it wasn’t for potential PR disasters, most banks would have called back a lot of loans. And a lot of business people would be in trouble today.

 

Scott D Clary  39:32

Well, you were negotiating some of your buildings, right? You were negotiating you were calling people I heard you know, you put a stop payment on on everything. You were stopping the payments going through like that. And it’s and it’s, you know, it’s sad that only the only reason why they negotiated was because of a PR disaster. But that’s it is what it is.

 

Vincenzo Guzzo  39:54

I mean, I I’m a landlord and I had to, you know, the expression is put some water in my Why are diluted my fine? Yeah, my alcohol because I knew that if I was too strong and too hard on the people, they would go belly up. And that didn’t serve me as a businessman. It didn’t serve the property well to see people, you know, close businesses there. It did not inspire anybody. And what did it give me to put somebody into bankruptcy? Right, but not everybody sees it that way. Some people, you know, and unfortunately, I have to live with the fact that being on Dragon’s Den and sometimes being hard nosed on the show, you know, some people think, oh, you know, I’m gonna show him, you know, and so, you know, we bought ads, and let me tell you, when I bought ads, I butted heads. And then and there’s no reason for me to accept to be bullied in any way. But, you know, that experience that that, that reality that that we went through for the last 24 months, prepares people. It prepares you for the hardship, it prepares you for the empathy. I don’t know what our politicians did during two years, right? I mean, I have, we have opposition politicians who wrote books, you know, during the two weeks, it two months, two years, sorry. And they released memoirs, I don’t know what the hell, you’re releasing a memoir, in the middle of a pandemic, others got their full salary. I mean, it’s easy to be in politics, and get your full salary and tell people, we’re almost out of this. And then it lasts another 18 months. Right. So, you know, it’s sad that, you know, sometimes guys like I or guys, like, you know, Kevin get judged. For for a bit of a character we play sometimes on reality TV, but at the end of the day, I mean, you know, I’ve always said that some countries don’t appreciate their own success stories. But those success stories are appreciated elsewhere, right, when you have movie producers, and directors leaving Quebec, and going to Hollywood and being success stories, but yet, you know, we weren’t willing to invest in and in BIM says a lot about, you know, the, the knowledge and the intelligence of some of our politicians.

 

Scott D Clary  42:16

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Vincenzo Guzzo  44:48

Well, you know, I mean I’m a character right. So, you know, I was always a doctor. Yeah. You know, I’m the kind of guy that you know, because I’m an only child and because, you know, I have my issues like Harvey Specter had, you know, I always debated my stuff. And I knew that, you know, some debates were better at publicly than, than in private. And so that opened up the door to Dragon’s Den wanting a character they needed somebody who gave a different perspective than, you know, the traditional. And so, you know, it’s been a it was an ongoing discussion, you know, they wanted a certain point, there was discussions and me being on the French Canadian Dragon’s Den and I said, why? I don’t know if French Canadians, you know, like my English humor once in a while. And then when I got on the English Dragon’s Den, it’s, I don’t know, if they liked my quirky Italian humor sometimes. Right? So it is what it is. But I mean, at the end of the day, I mean, you know, I’m, I’m a numbers guy. I mean, you know, it was funny, like, you know, as so, you know, I got on Dragon’s Den in 2013. So it was season, season 13 and 2018. And so, over the years, you get to know the dragons a little better. And it was funny, because last year, during one of the pitches, Manjit was sort of looking over and looking at what I was writing, and I looked at it as what she said, What are you writing, and it’s about the numbers. And she says, You know, it’s unbelievable, how quickly you come to the numbers. And now you can easily validate, you know, the contradiction or, or the validity of the numbers that people and that’s one of the, you know, I always like to say that when you’re dyslexic, you’re weak in one thing, but other senses develop quicker, and the numbers one got developed very quickly. So I can usually come up to the numbers and smell somebody who doesn’t know their numbers really quickly. Right. And so I think that, you know, every show needs that kind of a person. So we need, you know, the bitchiness of, and I’m using bitchy with a small b of you know, man, Jeet, you need some times the, the toughness of Michelle, you know, and so for instance, so they were looking for somebody who just said it as it was right. And every once in a while, who may come up a politically correct this mistake. You know, I don’t know if you remember, there was one of the pitches were lanes swinging a baseball bat with a towel on it. And they said, You got to swing the bat, like, you know, this way, and I’m trying to, and he says, Why don’t you come and show me and said, Look, I don’t have to show you nothing. I’m Italian. I know how to swing a bat. Trust me on this one. Right. So you know, it scandalized. Everybody’s Oh, my God, then you just like, Oh, what a stereotype call there, right. But let’s be honest, I mean, you know, I’m ever tie in Origins. So I’m allowed to make a time jokes, okay? The same way Jewish people are allowed to make Jewish jokes, and nobody else is allowed to, I can make Italian jokes. That’s it. And so I don’t really because of my independence, I guess, in my own life, I really don’t feel I owe that political correctness that much. So I become a funny character. You know, I was chased to be on Dragon’s Den, because of the fact that I didn’t hold anything back. You know, in the nice thing, my concern was when I got onto dragons, and my concern was that I used to use the F word way too often. And I said, You guys are never going to be able to get a full sentence out of me, without the F word. And this is okay. It’s an edited show, we’ll cut it out, we’ll find a way. But over time, I got used to not using the F word all the time. And so it actually made me a more polite person, I guess. Do

 

Scott D Clary  48:52

you now when you you mentioned you’re a numbers guy, and that’s important, obviously. But when you work with businesses, what do you look for in entrepreneurs? Is it because I know that people are numbers focused, but they’re also founder focus, too. So a lot of people invest in the founding team, even if they haven’t quite figured it out, yet. They feel like the right people are going to get it done. So what do you look for?

 

Vincenzo Guzzo  49:12

I actually look for somebody you know, I always say to people, partnerships or business partnerships are like a marriage. So you’ve got to have the same you know, the same goals in life, the same vision in life. You can’t be just about the numbers. And sometimes the numbers issue is more, you know, when I when I sometimes realize the numbers don’t match, it’s more to make the person realize, okay, you realize you’re losing money, right? Like, because everybody comes to the den and tries to say, oh, you know, we make lots of money. But the problem is when you do the math, you’re negative. Now why you’re negative, maybe just because you haven’t applied the energy in the right place, right? I mean, the cost of goods may be off because of various reasons or etc, etc. And a lot of people don’t do the accounting properly, in the sense of if you’re reinvesting. And basically capitalizing expenditures, you’ll actually make money on an accounting level, but you still have a cash flow burn. And that’s okay. Because all businesses need to reinvest, and so on and so forth. So, at the end of the day mean, what’s most important to me is, is the person who I’m going to invest with going to be somebody that the marriage the business marriage can last? Where am I going to just be in a short term relationship, which is, we got different visions of life, right? I mean, if somebody sees my presence in their life, as a business partner, just as the guy was going to throw money to it, I don’t, I’m not a guy who likes to just throw money at a deal. I actually like to go in, try and help the management team try and see how they can restructure and how they can be lean, mean, the worst. The worst deals are the deals that I had the hardest time with are the, you know, the tech deals, right? Because they’re the ones who have $25,000 burn rate per month. And I really don’t know what, what they’ve done. And I tried to figure it out. And, and many times I look at Michelle and sort of try and gauge her interest in it and say, like, it doesn’t make any sense, right? I mean, it just I don’t get it. And we see it, the hardest thing we have, you know, in our business is selling online, right, when we look and try and promote online. Yeah, I mean, I can spend the money. But how do I actually trace it back from spending the money to an actual sale? Right?

 

Scott D Clary  52:01

You spend it online. And when somebody walks in your store, you’re saying it’s like watching your movie here? Got it? Yeah, yeah.

 

Vincenzo Guzzo  52:07

That’s right. Because at the end of the day, my businesses are brick and mortar. Yeah. Right. So it’s fine that I promoted something, but how do I get, you know, how can I validate that actually, that $50,000 ad purchase on Google or whatever? How do you? You know,

 

Scott D Clary  52:26

how do you do that?

 

Vincenzo Guzzo  52:28

Well, no, but that that’s the biggest problem we have on a continuous basis. So what we need to do every time is try and compare one, you know, movie to another movie, and then we got to try and find the same type of movie. Right? Try and generate, you know, so for example, we know that when we went out and said, We’ll do cheap B Tuesday, every day for the healthcare workers. So we saw the organic growth of the of the ad, we saw that you know, and now we can actually quantified because we know, we see how many $7 You know, a healthcare worker admissions we have, so we can actually monitor that, right. But if you don’t create a distinction, it becomes very complicated. In our business, right, so unless I can track back, either a coupon or something, it becomes very, very complicated. So the tech side of the business is always very hard for me to evaluate. But, you know, I’m part of a, you know, I’m partners in a company called Auto promo, which uses text messaging couponing. And, you know, I use it for my theaters. And I try and push it to try and increase the data that we have and, and try and find a way to better, you know, so for example, we used auto promo for the theater opening, and to give away invitations to come to the theater opening. The problem was we had a really hard time even geo locating or geo blocking. Who were we giving the coupons to? Because 514 is 514. So that’s Montreal, greater Montreal, when it comes to cell phones? How do I know I’m giving it to a specific area? Right? Those are all of the issues that we have with the tech. So sometimes I need to feel that the founder isn’t only looking for a quick build and sell or, or, you know, I’m building a technology which is going to be bought out, you know, and then I’m out of the business, right?

 

Scott D Clary  54:30

But they are so but that that founder is so emotionally involved in the problem that they’re solving that they’re going to figure out a way to fix it. Actually, that’s right. We got it. We got we got to connect offline because I do know a guy that I had on this show that’s building a piece of tech that sits in Wi Fi routers in a brick and mortar tracks the person back to their home computer so you can measure I don’t know if you ever heard of stuff like this, but there’s stuff out there this

 

Vincenzo Guzzo  54:53

Yeah. So we have we have companies. So when we have to justify the pricing for on screen advertising. What we what we did is we there’s a company that monitors people coming in and out of your premises, yeah. And they actually connect with the cell phones. So they can’t really tell you who the person is. But they can tell you how many cell phones walked in and out of your premises. And so they can do the math and determine how many single users walked in and saw the ad didn’t see the ad. And you know, and it’s a more, you know, concrete way of validating the whole the whole traffic in the movie.

 

Scott D Clary  55:38

I just want to take a second and thank the sponsor of today’s episode, HubSpot. Now, the new year might have you thinking ahead to what you want out of your career. So when you think about your success story, what do you actually picture? Is it retiring early with a beautiful view of the skyline? Is it leaving a legacy with your name on it? Or maybe it’s helping influence and change some of the world’s most pressing issues? Whatever it is, writing your success story starts by working smart because when you work smart, your success story writes itself. A HubSpot CRM platform helps your marketing campaigns work harder and smarter. With intuitive visual workflows and bot builders, you can create scalable, automated campaigns across email, social media, web and chat. So your customers hear your messages loud and clear. Are you tired of your content, not adapting to mobile, making it difficult for your customers to absorb your message a HubSpot CRM platform optimizes your content for multiple devices so that you can reach your customers, wherever they are, which is just smart. Learn more about how you can transform your customer experience with a HubSpot crm@hubspot.com If somebody if somebody was going to do you mind if I know that I told you 45 I just want to ask a couple more questions. If you’re if you’re cool. If you have something then yeah, but

 

Vincenzo Guzzo  56:53

yeah, we’ll do one more just because yeah, I gotta, I gotta I gotta I got other meetings to go to and I know

 

Scott D Clary  57:00

you do. You’re popular man. I know. I know. Okay, so just one last piece of advice, because you’ve built such a huge brick and mortar, franchise, establishment empire, whatever you want to call it? How did what’s the number one thing that you would tell somebody in terms of marketing, measurable marketing that you would do? If you’re just starting off a brick and mortar restaurant and movie theater Cafe Jim, was the thing that moves the needle the most for you.

 

Vincenzo Guzzo  57:29

I will tell you that still today. When we do TV ads, it’s very awkward, because you know, everybody who watches TV still right? But yeah, leave it or not. If you when we whenever we run a TV campaign, we see an automatic reaction to that TV campaign within one week of running that campaign. So if we open a new theater, and we advertise that that theater is open, we have an automatic, quicker reaction. Going through the theater versus online versus paid newspaper versus radio. TV is still a very, very captive audience. And I think that nothing, nothing beats a 32nd visual of what’s going on. I mean, you know, when we sell movies, today, studios will still invest in TV, they will not invest in newspaper, but they will in TV. TV is still very hot, you can actually you can actually show an experience through TV. I don’t think you can feel an experience of going to a restaurant or to a theater, through radio or through a static app.

 

Scott D Clary  58:49

Very smart. Okay, let’s let’s close this up. I want to do rapid fire, but like you can do rapid fire that just a couple quick questions, little insights into your career. But most importantly, before I ask those questions, where do people connect with you? Where do people go check you out? What’s your social? What’s your website? Anywhere you want to send people?

 

Vincenzo Guzzo  59:06

Well, I think look, you can go on Instagram I’d Lord good. So you can go on Twitter. Good. So Vincenzo. I mean, I’m on Facebook, you know I’m almost everywhere. I just signed up to tick tock I haven’t done anything thoughts yet. But um, you know, I guess those will be coming. You know, God knows what, what my people are preparing for me on that level there. And then you know, I mean, you can reach me on on LinkedIn as well. So you know, I’m on all those platforms.

 

Scott D Clary  59:37

Awesome. Okay, we’ll link all those in the show notes. Okay, so rapid fire. The biggest challenge in your life for personal professional, excuse me, what was it? Had you overcome it?

 

Vincenzo Guzzo  59:48

I think I still go through it. There’s, there’s way more things that I’d like to do in a 24 hour span, but I haven’t found a way to get 48 hours worth of work in 24 hours.

 

Scott D Clary  59:58

All right, good. One person there’s been many but one person has had an impact on your life who was it? What did they teach you?

 

Vincenzo Guzzo  1:00:05

My dad and I think he still teaches me that you know no matter how crazy times are those storms will always pass and they’ll always be sunshine at the end

 

Scott D Clary  1:00:17

smart a book podcasts something you’d recommend people go check out

 

Vincenzo Guzzo  1:00:21

oh well I mean your podcasts for sure.

 

Scott D Clary  1:00:24

Thank you man. Do you have any others any of your any other favorites?

 

Vincenzo Guzzo  1:00:28

Why you know me look I do a lot of podcasts one of them that I enjoy doing the most was the drive by with freeway Frank I saw that one yeah, that was a good it was a long it was a long one I great time doing it with him freeways a friend so you know, we know each other. But you know, I also think one of the one of the books that everybody should read, you know, find a condensed version and find a ballgirls version of the prince. You know, it’ll teach you you know what politicians think they know and what you should know.

 

Scott D Clary  1:00:59

Very good for Kelly, your 20 year old self one thing what would it be?

 

Vincenzo Guzzo  1:01:04

Ah don’t waste time started earlier. You know, I

 

Scott D Clary  1:01:11

last question. Oh, go ahead. Sorry.

 

Vincenzo Guzzo  1:01:13

I wasted too much time sometimes on things that I shouldn’t have wasted time. So if I can get back on I pay a lot of money to get back time.

 

Scott D Clary  1:01:22

Last question, what does success mean to you?

 

Vincenzo Guzzo  1:01:26

Success means being able to do whatever the hell makes you happy.

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