Zac Litwack, Partner at Savage Ventures | How to Growth Hack a Distressed Company

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About The Guest

Zac Litwack is a partner at Savage Ventures, an expert digital marketer and growth hacker. He started a music company in 2010 which produced a gold record and 9 figures in streams, and subsequently grew a healthcare technology startup to multiple 7 figures in revenue.

He recently led marketing for Savage portfolio company OutKick, which quickly scaled to 7 figures per month in revenue and sold to FOX less than 1 year after its launch.

He is currently Chief Marketing Officer / Owner of American Songwriter and Total Frat Move whose properties reach 20+ million people per month and leads growth hacking and high tempo testing across Savage’s portfolio companies, including MyDrHank, a 7 figure D2C online pharmacy brand focused on the male senior market.

Talking Points

  • 09:16 — Side hustle venture capital firm.
  • 15:33 — How to scale distressed companies.
  • 21:04 — The importance of being a VC / operator.
  • 36:27 — Setting up an exit strategy.
  • 38:58 — The importance of testing for growth.
  • 52:21 — How to start in start-ups.

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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 story to help pass those lessons onto others through both experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs and everyone in between.

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Machine Generated Transcript

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

company, people, scale, ventures, called, audience, brand, podcast, startup, business, super, year, savage, strategy, months, sports betting, digital marketing, run, digital marketer, monetization

SPEAKERS

Zac Litwack, Scott D Clary

 

Scott D Clary  00:00

Welcome to success story, the most useful podcast in the world. I’m your host, Scott D. Clary. That success story podcast is part of the HubSpot Podcast Network. The HubSpot Podcast Network has incredible podcasts for you to check out like remarkable people hosted by Guy Kawasaki, of course, brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network. The remarkable people podcast with Guy Kawasaki helps you better understand the changing world with interviews from thought leaders, legends, and iconoclast. If you are interested in business leadership, entrepreneurship, he interviews the best of the best leveraging connections that he’s built over his career. Here’s some of the episodes and interviews that he’s done. He’s spoken to Seth Godin, marketing God blogger author, he’s spoken to Pat Flynn, entrepreneur power podcaster and popular YouTuber he’s spoken to Jen Lim, happiness evangelist and author of beyond happiness you spoken to Steve Blank, author, entrepreneur, and startup whisper if you want to listen to incredibly intelligent conversations with some of the most remarkable people on the planet. Listen to remarkable people podcast by Guy Kawasaki, wherever you get your podcast today, my guest is Zac Litwack. He is a partner at savage ventures now savage ventures specializes in the acquisition, turnaround and rapid growth of established and emerging media brands in the world of entertainment, sports, music, online culture and more. Zac is also a serial entrepreneur himself 2010 He built a music company which produced a gold record and nine figures in music streams. He subsequently grew a healthcare tech company to multiple seven figures in revenue. More recently, he led marketing of the savage portfolio company out kick, which he scaled along with his team to seven figures per month in revenue and sold to Fox in less than one year after its launch. He is a venture capitalist and an operator. He is currently the Chief Marketing Officer and owner of American songwriter and total frat move, whose properties reach 20 million people per month. He leads marketing growth hacking, testing in all of savages portfolio companies, some of the things that we spoke about the importance of not only being a VC but being an operator, and how he’s leveraged his experience with some of the portfolio companies to see the success that they’ve seen. He walks through how he started scaled and sold out kick to Fox in less than one year for almost nine figures, we spoke about a general strategy that savage ventures takes to build a company and to plan for a successful exit from the start, as well as the strategy that Zac and his team use to scale and grow their portfolio companies after they’ve been highly distressed and what he does to turn them around. So let’s jump right into this a couple startup lessons venture capital lessons acting as an operator as well as scaling growth lessons, all the good stuff. This is Zac litt wack partner at savage ventures.

 

Zac Litwack  02:59

Let’s go thanks for having me on man. I’ve listened to a handful episodes. So it’s almost a humbling experience to be on this podcast. I super appreciate it. So my origin story. Well, I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, I picked up a guitar and thought it was cool. And honestly, I thought the girls thought it was cool too. And so I started practicing guitar, more than working on high school assignments. And I ended up going to music school just outside of Nashville at a school called MTSU. It’s in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and I decided to stick around and and ended up actually starting a company in college and music production company with at the time my best friend and we we for the first like four or five years at a college we didn’t make a single dime, I actually maxed out some credit cards and had to call my dad one time for help. And then like our fifth or sixth year in, we actually started having some success, we produced a couple artists that ended up doing really well. And but at that time, my business partner and I had a terrible relationship. And we like it dude, it was so bad. It was so toxic, like we walked in the same room as each other and we’d like can speak to each other. And so that was us being young and I think being poor at communicating and honestly going through like four years of like not making any money and like scraping by strains or like it’s a start. It’s a it’s a startup story. But so I sold my share of the company like all of our royalties, we owned a couple of studios to him and basically paid off debt. So I was like at square one like six years into my professional life. I sat on the couch for like three months I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I started applying for jobs at like Sony Music and even though I had some top 40s back in like 2015 2016 like they didn’t want to talk to me excited no like real music, business, traditional music business expertise, except, like I figured out how to produce these artists and scale them on channels that they didn’t even know about at the time, like on digital essentially. And so Thankfully, my friend called me out of Atlanta and said, Hey, dude, I heard you sold your company, I could use some help with my app startup called split. When do you want to help me? And I was like, Sure, dude. Sounds fun. And so I jumped right back into a startup. And I did that for about a year we it was restaurant technology we were trying to sell to restaurants. And we were trying to acquire app users to use the app within the restaurant that connected the point of sale. Honestly, we were, we would still be too early, probably in 2021. With this tech, knowing how slow the restaurant industries have adapted technology, even through COVID, I thought they were pretty slow to do it. Anyways, like I did that startup, I did another startup did another start another startup, I failed miserably for how many more five years?

 

Scott D Clary  05:45

You just ran it through all these steps. So what were the some of these ideas were they were they it was called the as you can talk about, or

 

Zac Litwack  05:52

one was called my boothbook. We basically ever tried to make the moving process better. And we actually had an LOI with Home Depot at one point in time to like, be our one of our premier service providers. That was also a two sided marketplace where we had vendors, we were doing b2b sales, basically sign up vendors, and then like moving companies, you know, utility companies, that sort of thing. And then we were going to acquire app users, that company didn’t even really raise it much money, we actually self funded it for a little while, and then it fizzled out because everybody had a jobs except for me, of course. And then that then I did a couple of other startups. One was called healthcare blocks, which is a HIPAA compliant platform as a service on top of Amazon Web Services. So you can basically launch your app on our platform, which is just basically built on top of Amazon. So this is back in like, you know, 2016 2017, when HIPAA compliance was like, still this very authorial, like, hard to understand thing for everyone, honestly. And so. And people started developing healthcare apps. So we made it really easy to deploy apps in a HIPAA compliant manner on top of Amazon, that company actually raised a little bit of money, we did a little bit of revenue, but still wasn’t a slam dunk, I think it’s still around, although, and I think I have some stock, but I don’t know where it’s at, honestly, I haven’t caught up with that company in a while. Let’s see what else there are probably five or 10, I don’t think they’re worth going into. But eventually, I wound up working for a company here in Nashville, that was a healthcare technology company called go check. And we basically built this iPhone app that traditionally, that could take a picture of a kid’s eyes and basically give you instantaneous feedback as to whether that kid had vision problems. So it was a super innovative healthcare app. And that company was like my first like, semi somewhat successful startup, where we grew it from, like, you know, a couple 100k in revenue to a couple million and like just over a year and raised a bit of money. And towards the tail end of that, I was kind of getting burnt out on that company. And I was kind of feeling like, I could do more, essentially, because we just had this one product, one market, it was worldwide, but we were basically selling pediatrics, you know, worldwide. And so I partnered up with my friend Sam to start savage ventures last year. And this has been my first what I would call no pun intended, quote, unquote, success story.

 

Scott D Clary  08:21

Very good. So you took the money. So the the money that the you use for savage ventures was from that last, that last success? That was the the one that was actually successful, that made you some money that allowed you to basically start a firm that are a venture capital firm. And what did you how did you exit that last venture? The the the pediatric one,

 

Zac Litwack  08:46

we raised a series B, and I exited at that point. So I raised at the funding event, or excuse me, I left at the funding event.

 

Scott D Clary  08:55

Okay, so then how so what was the what was the for you at least? Why did you want to start funding more startups? Because at this point, you’ve gone through about 10, you’ve had one success. It doesn’t even sound like you took much time off. It seems like you just jumped right into now being a funding source or an investor for more startups Correct.

 

Zac Litwack  09:16

Yeah. So Sam, my current business partner savage ventures, and I actually started this company on the side, back in 18. So I was still doing the healthcare startup, started a company called my doctor Hank, which is a direct consumer pharmacy brand. We specialize in erectile dysfunction medication for seniors. And I’ve expanded the product suite a little bit, but still focused on the senior market. And that company was actually doing okay, I threw up a landing page, we found a partner to operate that company down in Florida. He built out a call center. I stood up some Facebook ads. And so we had that company at the like back in 18. We started that company. And then we also got an opportunity to purchase this Music Media. A company called American songwriter for super cheap. Like I don’t, I didn’t have a lot of money when I started savage ventures, but it was it was a super cheap acquisition. So we had these two companies that were doing revenue that that were profitable at the time. And then we we’ve been scaling those companies up in June, we got an opportunity to joint venture with this guy named clay Travis, who’s a pretty prolific like sports journalist and reporter, and he had a national radio show, and he had a blog essentially called out, get the coverage. And we were able to scale that company with him and sell it to Fox in June, so we started in June and sold to Fox in June, it was actually under a year in total, which was pretty cool. And then we also purchased total frat move last year, all of our acquisitions and investments so far, Scott had been like, pretty small, like we’re writing, you know, 500k to a million dollar checks. And a lot of times, we’re actually not writing them writing checks where we’re creating deals where it we we de risk ourselves by, you know, saying, hey, we’ll buy your company for a million dollars, but we’re gonna pay you out over three years, right? Or five years or so we’re writing a $50,000 check or $100,000 Check. And we we have high confidence that we can scale the company. A lot of times what happens is we scale the company so quickly that we’re not actually writing checks, it’s just coming out of the company’s cash flow.

 

Scott D Clary  11:28

So I think this is really interesting, because when we when we first connected, we were talking about this. And I think that that’s something that people with a little bit of extra cash, don’t consider when they want to talk about how to invest or how to put their money somewhere. So how did you find these deals? So what are you looking for, like, these deals? Obviously, are one of them, like total frat move? That’s, that’s a pretty well known name. But how did you find these deals? How did you negotiate these, these setups where you’re writing a very small check, and you’re not just pumping a million dollars plus into these into these companies so that they can help scale? Because if you’re finding a company that is only worth, for example, a million dollars, and you’re you’re putting in 50,000, the founder, changed the perspective, from a founder perspective, I’d be like, Well, how is this 50,000 going to do anything for me? Like I’m already I’m already hurting, I’m already. I’m already not doing great as an organization. 50,000 isn’t gonna do much at all. So then I have to trust that you’re gonna take it to the next level while I’m still giving up an equity position.

 

Zac Litwack  12:36

Yes. So American songwriter, let’s start there. It was a magazine brand, it was a 36. Well, at the time, 34 year old brand, song, right, very famous songwriters. And artists love the mag and love the brand, because they grew up reading it, and they learned how to, you know, help write their first song by reading the magazine. So there’s a lot of brand affinity and the brand is just very strong. But we didn’t really have digital presence. So that’s an opportunity for us to say, Okay, this is a match with our skill sets. And this company is owned by an older gentleman that was ready to retire. And his number was pretty low. Like he didn’t want that much money to retire. He’s so like that that’s a situation that with total frat move, it was it had a lot of words, it was a somewhat distressed asset, where in 2016, I think they were doing like million dollar months. And fast forward to 2020. You know, they were probably going to do a million dollars a year. And so the owners, and also it’s just, I guess they were in this in a kind of like a life stage to where they started this company when they were in their mid 20s. And they were entering, you know, their their early to mid 30s. They have families now, like do they really want to be running total frat move. And so they made some mistakes back in 16. That caused them to burn a lot of cash and lose a lot of revenue. And then they were getting to the point in their life where they didn’t want to run this type of brand anymore. So we were able to get that brand for cheap as a result. We knew it had works. We knew we were going to have to do a lot of work to scale it. But similarly to American Songwriter it so I had a strong brand affinity Scott, it sounds like you’ve at least seen the Instagram handle or heard of the brand before.

 

Scott D Clary  14:18

Yeah, I knew I knew I knew them in university. Yeah, so you already moved? Yeah.

 

Zac Litwack  14:27

So those are the types of deals we’ve done. And but what I’ll say is there’s always like a, and then without kick, it was different in the sense that there was an existing audience. It was clay, Travis’s kind of side hustle. He had this blog that he wrote on and he had a couple of contributors. But what he did have was a national audience that he didn’t know how to monetize. So we were able to do a joint venture with him. We agreed to invest up to x dollars, and I don’t want to say that publicly yet because

 

Scott D Clary  14:58

what No, no, that’s cool. I just think It

 

Zac Litwack  15:01

has been scaled the company so quickly where we I only think we ended up investing like 30 grand or something like we agreed to invest up to a mount, but the company was so profitable out of the gate, that we didn’t really need to invest that much money. So we’ve made investments that are pretty low risk. Sure, I mean, if total frat boo fails will be on the hook for, you know, four or 500k more probably at this point. But that’s not a huge deal, you know, spread out over 25k allotments, you know, per quarter or 50 allotments I don’t remember exactly what it is. And and so so

 

Scott D Clary  15:33

you’re looking to go ahead, but no, I was gonna say so you so you, you find you find distressed assets, that and you and you immediately understand and take it and you look at them and you see an opportunity to move into a different channel different medium scale them that way. So what was the when you look at an asset? What is the what is the playbook to basically move into another medium or another another channel that hasn’t been exploited yet? Because something for example, like out kick? That makes sense. Okay, so maybe that’s, you know, that’s a side hustle that you can sort of more legitimize or put more energy into, but something like total frat move, where they’re already on all social? Like, I don’t think there’s too many mediums that they haven’t touched. That’s a different playbook. So but you have confidence in scaling either of those. So walk me through your strategy for when you take a look at a brand or an asset that you you do a deal with, and how you want to grow them.

 

Zac Litwack  16:34

Yeah. Yes, total frat move has a lot of social handles, but a lot of them had been pretty much deprecated like the the TSM Instagram and Facebook hadn’t been posted to in over a year. So but that till that tells me that there are followers that we could potentially reactivate there. And so we start posting relevant content there and just gauge the engagement. For total frat move that we had, I always develop these like high level monetization hypotheses before I actually drill into the channels. So total frat move, it’s like, we could probably do merch because we’ve got millions of Instagram, like very engaged Instagram followers. The previous owners never really did merch, if they did, it was with maybe a brand partnership, and it was kind of a one off. So we thought we could we could scale merch, we’ve kind of proven that out like we were starting to have low six figure merch months, which is good, which is good start. The second hypothesis I had was that we can integrate sports betting which will prove out this football season, we haven’t been able to prove it out yet. We had a lot of success with sports betting on how kick and total frat move has a similar but younger audience. And we have a plethora of learnings from especially on the paid media front, by leveraging an existing audience and scaling sports betting more proudly on channels like Facebook. And so I think we’re going to be able to do that with total frat move, just like we did for alkek. My third hypothesis was, we are going to be able to create a website because they didn’t really have a website, it was really just a social being. It was like a social organism as a company, it was super weird. They had a website, it was haphazardly published to sometimes. And it served honestly a better purpose for the TFM girls brand than anything. So I kept the TFM girls, the old website, STFM girls, I launched a new website, we actually built out an editorial team that’s publishing regular content, and we’re gonna try to increase pageviews as a result. And then there’s all sorts of things that we can do when we actually own that traffic. Like, for example, monetizing via programmatic, maybe developing some sort of membership component. But those are our three focuses, right now. It’s increase audience and distribution as a result of that increasing merchandise sales and website traffic, and then the rest will kind of take care of itself. Because we get the company for so cheap. Our hypothesis in general was like, worst case, we make our money back. Like there’s no way we don’t lose money here. And so again, it’s it was like a really easy decision for us were like, literally, they were like, Hey, we’re interested in selling. And we were like, cool. Here’s our price. And they were like cool, sounds good. And we like it was two days or something. We did it. It was a worm DAC was it’s all it’s all timing right? They were really ready to get out. The company wasn’t doing that well financially. I mean, it was doing is profitable. It’s due to revenue, but compared to what it had been even three years, four years prior, it wasn’t looking good. They had some institutional they had a an institutional investor. Also that had invested a couple million dollars and he was anxious to get kind of new fresh blood and and ownership and we’ve we’ve got a good my business partner Sam has a much deeper media background than I do. He’s had a couple of exits in media too. So like we come with a really deep media track record, man at the time out kale Affleck was exploding when we purchased TFM. So it was it was a good deal all around, we flew out to Austin signed the contract, had some drinks, and then went to work.

 

Scott D Clary  20:12

Awesome. Okay, so, so this so if somebody, I’m just what I’m trying to model out the way you’ve done this, I think it’s very smart. So you’re not putting in huge investments you’re finding you’re finding assets at the right time, potentially distressed assets, you put in a small check, you’re you’re agreeing to a deal to purchase it already at a low price, we’re putting in an even smaller check. You’re paying off your investment with actually revenue from the company, you develop a high, high growth playbook for the organization, you’re just sort of doing like a holistic review of like their monetization options, different channels, and then you’re finding new ways or new avenues to explore. And then they use executing on that. And you you are not just part VC, you’re obviously part operator, too. So how, how involved? Are you in these companies? What’s your what is your actual role? And is it like a CMO? I was just taking a look at Yeah,

 

Zac Litwack  21:04

it’s kind of the resident chief marketing officer, I guess that’s my background is even in the music business. I was doing a little bit of digital marketing. But when I ventured into all the failed startups, that’s when I really learned how to do digital marketing. Some people call it growth hacking I’ve been I’ve been on on the product teams before, it depends on what your goals are acquisition or activation retention. But yeah, so we operate the companies too. And it’s a beautiful setup, because and we’re still kind of learning as we go skydiving, we’re only a year and a half into this thing. But it’s cool, because we’ve got a bunch of savage ventures employees, and those people are all the creative people that you want to stick around for the long term like growth hackers and developers, people that I’m spending a lot of time like coaching and nurturing to to run experiments, like, like, I think is the best way to run experiments, at least the data has proven that out. And so like the we’ve got a lot of savage ventures, folks that are becoming really good digital marketers, and we’re building out a dev team so that we can fix technology super quickly, if we ended up purchasing a company like TFM. And honestly, our growth, hackers can do all the technical marketing stuff. So that’s not a big deal. And then when we sell a company like alkek, to Fox, that nucleus stays intact. And, and also it allows us to distribute talent as we really need it so that we’re not with so there’s no waste of time. I think that like people in big corporations, like middle managers and stuff work like 30% of the day, but we have so many companies and so little time, like our growth, hackers should be working at least, you know, seven, but focus seven or eight hours a day, there’s too much to work on for them not to be and so it allows us to stay super efficient. And it allows us to scale a lot of shit done. And that’s part of the reason I think why we’ve been able to grow the company so quickly. And then also one other components savage Ventures is exchanges we have in house HR, and accounting. And so literally, that those services again, are spread across a portfolio which keeps our existing properties or portfolio companies super lean. Like we don’t have many FTEs for the companies for like a company like Dr. Hank, we’ve, we’ve got a call center and a lot of customer support. But for our immediate properties, we’ve got an intern or any customer support. You know, we’ve got obviously writers some of the some of the writers are FTEs but dude aren’t companies are super lean or apexis. So if you take savage ventures people,

 

Scott D Clary  23:28

amazing. Okay, I want to walk through, I want to walk through the playbook that you deployed for our kick, because that was obviously successful. So you can’t talk specific numbers, but it was a nine, almost nine figure exit. So a very high eight figures, if not mistaken. Yeah. Um, so it was it was a good exit. Okay. So you got in, you got into our kick. It was it was a blog that was being around I guess, yeah. Some of the joint

 

Zac Litwack  23:55

venture with clay Travis, he had a blog called out kick the coverage that was doing, I don’t even know who’s doing a million sessions per month. I don’t think it was back in like, April, May of last year. But he had a national radio show. So we had a decent sized audience. But he wasn’t he didn’t understand or have the wherewithal to figure out how to get in front of that audience on social and drive that traffic to the website and do all sorts of fun monetization things. And so it was a good marriage in that respect, where like he had an existing audience we could build off of, and not to derail your question, but like, that’s sort of what we look for. If there’s an existing audience, we could scale like, I like turning, I think we’re best at turning stuff from three to 10 versus turning stuff from zero to three, just because it’s more efficient, because we know how to go from three to 10. So we’d get by more threes and threes could be like we’re doing a million dollars per year, we want to 10 right or something like that. Or we’ve got an existing audience of like, a million people. And we want to scale that’s 10 million, whatever it is, it’s like 10x Eight and like literally we more than 10x Doubt kick and 11 months.

 

Scott D Clary  25:01

I just want to take a second and thank the sponsor of today’s episode Shopify. And don’t you love that sound as a sound of another sale on Shopify be all in one commerce platform to start, run and grow your business use Shopify gives entrepreneurs the resources once reserved for big businesses. So upstarts, startups, and established businesses alike can sell everywhere synchronize online and offline sales activity, and effortlessly Stay informed you can not only sell your product, but you can reach customers online and across social media networks. With an ever growing suite of channel integrations and apps including Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok Pinterest and more. You can gain insights as you grow and detailed reporting of conversion rates, profit margins, and beyond whatever you need to track Shopify can track for you. And remember Shopify was built to liberate commerce for entrepreneurs and big businesses alike. Shopify is tirelessly reinventing tools of growth and scale for over 1.7 million businesses of 1.7 million businesses trust Shopify. To help them organize their online and synchronize with their offline sales. You should be able to use it for your business as well connect with your customers drive sales, manage your day to day, accept all major payment methods and integrate with any third party app you could possibly think of. If you want to try out Shopify right now go to shopify.com/success story that’s all lowercase for a free 14 day trial, and get full access to Shopify, his entire suite of features grow your business with Shopify today, go to shopify.com/success story right now. Remember, success story is all lowercase. That’s shopify.com/success. Store. I just want to take a second and thank the sponsor of today’s episode, get abstract. Now what does get abstract, get abstract finds rates summarizes top business books, articles, and video talks into 10 minute abstracts to help people make better business decisions help people level up upskill they give you the most important pertinent points, they cut all the fluff for you. If you’re like me, you love to read, you love to watch little video segments, you love to read articles, you grab a new book, but you run out of time. And this is where get abstract really helps because they make sure that they find the most important most impactful business books, articles, talks, and they summarize it for you. So you get the main takeaways. The main points have over 22,000 texts and audio summaries in areas such as leadership, finance, innovation, health and science. So if you want to level yourself up and you’re running out of time, get abstract is a great tool absolutely love it. Now they put together a special offer. For everybody who has access to our podcast listener, there’s no stress, there’s no risk in trying it, they’re giving you a month free. So if you want to use it to get the most relevant points from books, if you want to use it, even test drive a book before you purchase it, or if you want to use it to discover hidden gems or pieces of work that you maybe never even knew existed because I have an entire team that curates all this content for you. You can go to get ab.li That’s get ab GE t ab.li/success. And you can get a free month of get abstracts you can test it out, see what the summaries are like you can see what the abstracts are like, you can see the library of content that they’ve created. So that is get ab GE t ab.li/success. So how did you do that? So walk me through what were some of the main some of the main growth hacking digital marketing things that you did without click that Okay, excuse me, that really worked?

 

Zac Litwack  28:40

Yeah, a couple things. One is, so I think there are three components to scaling something TEDx in 12 months, there’s people and I mentioned savage ventures earlier. So we had the right people, we had good growth, hackers, knowledgeable digital marketers, good writers, etc. And a person that knew how to build out an editorial team. Dallas is our like Resident chief editorial officer who has a deep background in sports. So we have the people, then you need the process, I have a process called high tempo testing, which is basically like a can band board, if you can imagine like a Trello type of situation where you’ve got your idea backlog, and then you just drag something through this workflow. And there’s a quantitative system to rank your ideas. And all the ideas tie up to whatever monetization levers we’re trying to pull or test. And so like an idea might be like, let’s run Facebook ads against, you know, our, our membership offering to this audience with this type of ankle or whatever. And everything links up to our core, like four or five things we’re trying to test as far as monetization is concerned. And then the third thing you need timing. Just like I mentioned, timing, purchasing these companies, you need timing, like you can be the best marketer and you could have the best fucking product like my restaurant app that I told you about fantastic product, but it was 2015 Teen or something like DoorDash wasn’t even a thing. Like it was not even an idea in someone’s head at that point on think maybe they were going through YC at the time, I don’t know. But they I don’t think they’re around. You need timing. And so the content that clay likes to cover is literally like politics and sports. And think about where we were in the middle of 2020. When we launched this thing, it was just super polarizing content that was very timely. And so it presented the right time to scale audience super quickly. Like I remember, we launched our YouTube channel, for example, like from scratch, and we had like, 50,000 subscribers in like two months or something. It was wild. And we had a couple videos with a million views, because the content was perfect. Yes, we’ve got a video production team. Yes, we know how to, you know, optimize videos, you know, titles, tags, etc. Yes, we know how to do we know how to test these channels, but like, you still need that the timeliness of whatever your offer is, right. And so those three components existed for our case, we didn’t know it, obviously, when we started. But when we started to scale it super quickly, we did. And so through through that process, you basically test different monetization tactics are monetization levers that you can pull, we had meant our membership offering, we had driving traffic to the website and monetizing it programmatically. We and those are kind of like, you know, staples and media these days, we had merchandise and other staple media. So we were testing all of these things. One of our other tests, though, was sports betting. And going back to timing, again, sports betting had just become legal the year prior, and the state’s in like four or five different states. And in another four or five states, we’re about to go online at the kickoff of football season. So here we are with a really growing audience that super passionate and engaged. That is a mixture of sports and politics that trust our brand. You know, I think in October and November, we scaled traffic to the point where we were doing definitely probably about 10 million sessions per month. So it was a pretty sizable website, considering we went from like 500,000 sessions, you know, four or five months prior. And so we had a bunch of website traffic, we had a bunch of eyeballs. Facebook also was super interesting, in the sense that we were posting again, very timely, very well written editorial content there. And even though we started our Facebook page, pretty much from scratch, we had maybe like 60 or 70,000 followers. We were we had posts that were reaching five to 6 million people organically. The algorithm was just really liking our some of our Facebook content.

 

Scott D Clary  32:38

Do you think it was timely is that you think that’s why it

 

Zac Litwack  32:41

was super timely. Again, we were posting content that people wanted to read about because this was 2020 the election was coming up, I mean COVID was happening, because and our brand literally is a mixture of politics and sports. And it’s it’s all about the optic brand was all about free speech. And it still is obviously and Fox obviously was a good partner in that respect where it was conservative leaning, it was it was basically free speech capitalism, like everybody should be able to do or say whatever they want to do within this guardrails I talked about earlier. And a ton of America resonated with it. And obviously a ton of America likes sports. So it was like a one stop shop for your, you know, what you believe in, and also to read about a game, you know, it was like, really cool. And so our fourth monetization test was sports betting. And like I said, we had this audience and four or five more states were due to go live. And one of those states was Tennessee and Clay’s from Tennessee, we’re here in Nashville. And basically long story short is through a lot of experiments. And through launching sports betting, we got to the point where we were doing million dollar weeks in profit through sports betting a mixture of organic because we had quite a bit of website traffic. And we had this an email list and, and we had obviously a lot of reach on Facebook and YouTube and some reach on Twitter, too. But also, we were running a ton of experiments around paid media, especially on Facebook. And Facebook’s algorithm is a little wonky these days because the iOS 14 privacy updates that happen. But back then, literally I would just target broadly like here are the 10 legal states. Here are the three creatives I wanted to test here the three copy variations I wanted to test and honestly I could let like Facebook do its thing. And around the biggest sporting events like when Tennessee went live with sports betting and I think they had a big promo for like the UT versus Kentucky game or something. And then the college football championship. And then we get to the Super Bowl, which is February of this year. We had so many learnings like we had paid media dialed and we knew what organic channels worked best through what mediums were the best. And so when we hit the Super Bowl, we almost did a million dollars, I think on Super Bowl Sunday, just to give you some cons for some texture. Yeah. So basically when you go into immediate property, you need timing. Obviously you’re any company and you need to test a bunch of different monetization levers to see or offers is another way to call them. If you just have like a singular product, it would probably be like angles is what you would test but, but you test all of these different things and you find one that that is clearly working, and then you like, quadruple, you 10x down on it, you like, literally just focus on that, and scale it. And that’s kind of what we did. And boxes, one of Fox’s top three kind of priorities for 2021. One of them was sports betting. And because our content also was was, was a good fit from like a conservative political standpoint, it was a no brainer for them to come in and purchase us probably sooner than we would have sold prior.

 

Scott D Clary  35:42

So that was actually I was gonna ask you, did you do all of this with an with an early exit in mind? Obviously, you had some sort of exit, you wanted to make your money back. But and the founders probably wanted to, like they will they have founders clay wanted probably to get some money out of his blog. But did you? Did you actually do this with exiting in mind? Did you think that far ahead? Were you thinking Fox has a you know, Fox has been discussing sports betting that’s a potential exit partner? Or was this just a happy coincidence, like serendipity that this happened after you went to sports betting? You had a brand that was really working well with like the fox brand? And and how did that transaction come to be?

 

Zac Litwack  36:27

Yeah. So any company we take on whether it’s total fraud, never out cake, or American songwriter, we want to sell it as quickly as possible. We’re not in the business of building these big giant legacy companies. We, myself and Sam, my business partner, we absolutely like when a company gets large to the point where we have to worry about like HR. And we have to worry about like pal ticking and stuff like that we held on to the company for too long. So the alkek story is hopefully something that we will be able to repeat many times over. Now will they all be less than one year and selling it for almost $100 million? Probably not. But they could be like two or three year holds, I would say three years would be pushing it. And it could be a similar story, right? And so we wherever we acquire a company or start a company, that’s our mindset, it’s like scale it and sell it as fast as possible. And so and with the allocate situation, sports betting is just such a hot market right now. It’s like probably top three, I would imagine the United States as far as like growth last year. And so or at least interest. I don’t know about actual dollars, because only 10 states are live right now. But the fox wasn’t the only one that was interested. There are other companies that were interested other large media companies, Fox just made the most sense because of how how great of a fit the content was, you know, otherwise, like if they were just purchasing us for sports betting revenue. I don’t like what like the other companies were more so doing it just didn’t feel right. Because we have we had other very good read revenue streams just a lot smaller, like our programmatic stream is six figures per month. Or, you know, like I said, our website traffic’s pretty healthy. Our brand partnerships are are solid, I think we did some six figure months. And so like, we were doing a decent amount of memberships do we had six figure membership on so it’s, it’s like we had other we had a really strong profitable company, it’s just a sport spending revenue was by far the largest revenue stream. And it happened to be a really hot market. And it still is a hot market going into this football season.

 

Scott D Clary  38:36

Are there other considerations to say somebody is, is doing the same type of thing as what you’re doing? Are there considerations for introducing new revenue streams? Being sensitive to existing audiences doing it so that it doesn’t have a net negative impact? Or is it is it just about testing and putting stuff in and just iterating on new ways to make money and bring it to an existing audience? Is there any things you have to think about?

 

Zac Litwack  38:58

It’s all about testing. A lot of our a lot of people inside of our kick were very hesitant to like blast our audience with sports betting promos. And I was like, well, we don’t know until we know. And it just so happened that a lot of our audience was present should embedding great. And you could we could kind of see it organically when we started publishing some sports betting content, you know, people navigating over that we would include it in our newsletter and, and I think we did some surveys. So you could do some things up front that that allow you to like gauge how fast you can experiment with a new offer that you’re unsure will resonate with your audience. But at the end of the day, if they’re really loyal fans, I don’t think it matters too much. Like if they just see an offer they don’t like from the company that they really like and they’ll just be like my preferences. I don’t like this and that’s fine. I’ll continue to consume the other content that I really like or continue to do whatever I do with that company or purchase. Like there are a lot of companies I’m sure it’s got that you you consume their products. If you don’t like all their products, so you don’t like some things that they’re doing, or some things that they’re creating are made for you. So I’d say, go harder than you think. You can go like piss people off, like, get to the go to the point where you think you’re gonna piss people off. And I bet you’re not even 50% of the way there.

 

Scott D Clary  40:17

I love that. Yeah, that’s smart. That’s I think that people I think people’s have to I think founders are well, I guess, you know, in your case, a venture partner, sometimes you have to get out of your own head as to what your audience is okay, with, that, I think that you won’t know until you know, but do you have any ideas for people that are more hesitant, like how to test and how to how to pull and how to get some feedback, just to make them feel a little bit more comfortable, even, even though I hear what you’re saying, I don’t disagree with you. But are there some strategies that you’ve seen effective to actually get some feedback from the audience before you launch something new?

 

Zac Litwack  40:49

Yeah, if you will, for Firstly, if you screw up, and you do have a loyal audience that likes at least one of your products, if you screw up, it’s a great opportunity for you to be human, and say, Hey, I screwed up. And it’s actually a great opportunity for you to start talking, you know, more in a one on one capacity with your customer base, at least through email. And maybe it’s your customer support team that’s doing that. So I’d say every step of the way, you should be as aggressive as possible, because you’re aggressive. Like I said, it’s probably not even aggressive enough for and this is specifically for startup. If you want to be a high growth startup, you’ve got to run more experiments than you think you shouldn’t be running or can be running. As far as like polling and surveying, just send out an email saying, or do a twitter poll or whatever, wherever your audience is, just say, Hey, do you want lighter eyes, like it’s super simple, people complicate the heck out of this stuff, it’s pretty simple. Just have a conversation, like you and I are having with your customers, see what they like, see what they don’t like. And you can do that, obviously, be it via like forums, or polls, if you have a large audience, and you just need to get a high level aggregate. But you could also have some one on one conversations, if you’re just starting out, and you’re like going through a beta test. And what’s cool about that is you can actually make them feel like they’re a part of the product creation, even though like ultimately you have the decision. Just making them feel like they have a say, is super powerful from like an influence and persuasion standpoint, and they’ll probably be lifelong customers and advocates.

 

Scott D Clary  42:18

I love that man. And you know, one thing that I’m bringing, I keep hearing you say not explicitly but you you are so okay with testing and trying new things, and iterating. And even when you know how many founders get stuck in their head, and they run the same playbook for five years, and it’s not working and they keep running that playbook. You just go in and and you don’t really have you know, I think you’re actually at an advantage because you don’t have that. That I guess that love for the company like it’s your baby like a founder would have that I actually think can hurt them in the long run because they get stubborn about what’s working. What’s not, like everything you did, the founders could have done without you. But they they probably stuck in their lane a little bit too much.

 

Zac Litwack  43:04

Yeah, probably. That’s interesting point about how founders are super close their product. In some cases, it’s like their life mission or whatever. We view it as just we’re capitalists so we do it as this is an investment. And we’re going to try to grow the investment as much as possible. And because it’s our investment, we have ultimate skin in the game. And like I told you earlier so far, the numbers haven’t been crazy, like really just 500k Oh, well. Like I probably spent that much throughout the music industry days, NAD probably not quite that much, but

 

Scott D Clary  43:34

it’s not like 20,000,015 Yeah,

 

Zac Litwack  43:37

sound like 20 million, it’s not like we’re gonna be broke, you know. And because we have five or six companies it kind of reduces risk in that respect to what I found is certain months like one company will kill it and then the next month like the other company will kill it and some companies won’t do as well certain months because of certain factors. And so if you’ve got five or six you’re kind of diversified in that respect if you view it that way. But yeah, dude for like you people need to view their business as their livelihood and they need to think about it through the lens of like capitalism. And at the end of the day, even though this is your passion project, it needs to be a viable business. And to do that you need to be super aggressive in your go to market plan and strategy and execution, especially your execution. I am blown away by the fact that I read these like 10 to 15 page strategy Google docs when the company doesn’t even have a customer yet or they have you know, like a couple $1,000 and Mr. I’m like, What the hell are you doing? Just go out to start testing. Like literally you’ve wasted months writing the strategy doc but you don’t know what your fucking strategy needs to be. Dude, you don’t know that until you go to market like go to market, start running experiments, launch a Facebook ad anybody can do it like get start getting some feedback. That data is going to inform your strategy. You shouldn’t be creating a strategy until you’re at like a million dollars plus in revenue in my opinion, just a waste of time.

 

Scott D Clary  44:59

And also you have to figure out economics of scale to write. So if you do figure out a strategy, and you run ads, and you, that’s fine, that’s great. But all of a sudden, if you’re trying to run a million dollars in ads per month, maybe that same strategy isn’t, isn’t valid anymore, right? There’s, there’s, there’s limits, not limits, there’s going to be ceilings on a on a strategy that you set up, and you have to keep figuring stuff out. So I think that also people over over engineer a strategy, and then they realize it, it’s not going to take them from 100k Arr to 100 million Arr, it’s not going to be the same strategy that you’re just going to run throughout the whole lifecycle of a company. And that’s, I’ve seen that actually, as well, where, okay, so we have the strategy, actually. So again, you don’t want to name names, if the company is uncomfortable talking with us about where two companies before, and they were an older company, not not not big, but older. And they were doing, you know, a couple 100,000 Arr. But they’ve been running the same playbook as they’ve gotten the first 100k. And they want to scale that up to a million. And the economic scale didn’t work out the AD conversion, the return on adspend wasn’t there. And it was self service, software application. And they had to completely revamp how they how they took their product to market. And it was a mix of even understanding what their brand and how their customers perceive them moving up market to mid market and enterprise, just hiring a sales team that was going outbound versus just pure self serve, and all these different things that made the founder uncomfortable, but ultimately was what brought them to the point where they could be acquired. I just want to take a second and thank the sponsor of today’s episode, HubSpot. Now, the holidays are here and that means client gifts, maybe your classic type that goes for the champagne or the gift basket or maybe you’re a little irreverent and you go for the custom bobblehead, or monogram Stress Ball gifts are a great way to show your customers that you care but what clients want, what they really, really really want is time and attention and a little bit of love. The HubSpot CRM platform helps your business connect with customers consistently, consciously and shows them a whole lot of love. new customer centric features like a CRM powered CMS means your marketers and developers can personalize the customer experience and ensure that the intention you give your customers is reflected in the data that is timely and relevant to your customer portals keep ticket conversations going between customers and reps offer access to your knowledge base and can be customized to fit your brand all without coding a thing. It’s a customer gift that keeps on giving. Learn more about how HubSpot CRM can help build, maintain and grow your customer relationships@hubspot.com just want to take a second to thank the sponsor of today’s episode manscape I want you to set your New Year’s resolution with good intentions I want you to set a resolution that you can actually keep and join the 4 million men worldwide who trust manscape now if you don’t know what that is, I’ll explain in a second but if you do, you need to take advantage of our exclusive offer go to manscaped.com and use code 20 success for 20% off and free shipping. Now what’s manscape well manscaped is the global leader in below the waist grooming to now you can take your below the belt grooming to the next level with their performance package 4.0 and brand new ultra premium body wash and the performance package 4.0 You’ll find a signature lawnmower 4.0 This is an electric trimmer designed to trim hair on loose skin and just know that with the lawnmower 4.0 The advanced skin safe technology reduce cuts and next to your most delicate parts. It also comes to the 4,000k LED spotlight that will shine a light so that you don’t mess up when you’re trying to clean up for a great 2022. And of course a grooming routine isn’t complete without smelling good. Apply the crop preserver and crop Reviver before showing off your 2022 manscape self these unique formulas take care of the smelliest parts of your body. Keep you smelling fresh This is a big boost in confidence that you need in 2020 to kick your discomfort and your poor hygiene to the curb, use the best tools for the job and get 20% off and free shipping with the code 20 success@manscaped.com That’s 20% Off with free shipping@manscape.com and use code 20 success. It’s a new year, no pubes in 2022 with manscape so those were

 

Zac Litwack  49:25

all experiments like I was talking to a b2b sales leader friend of mine and he was like, Should we try out this call center? Should we do this? I was like dude, if you got the budget and you’ve got a sound ethicist try everything. And what will probably end up happening is some stuffs gonna moderately work and you’ll continue to do that some stuff is gonna fail. And and then you’re gonna have one or two experiments that just like transformed the business like our sports betting monetization experiment without kick for example, or we’ve got one for American Songwriter called it’s just our contests we have these singer songwriter contest And we launched those digitally via paid media last year, and those have been transformative to our ecommerce revenue going from like a traditional, like old school magazine company into the digital world. And so like you and we’ve tested like 20 other, you know, ecommerce offerings, right and purchase one is working really well. So you might have to test 20 or 30 things, but that one thing that works is going too far out pay the 19 that don’t

 

Scott D Clary  50:26

do you think that what you’re doing now? So you’re in how many companies? Are you in now? Total? You’re in a like,

 

Zac Litwack  50:32

so we’ve got? Yeah, we’re still operating alkek We’ve got Dr. Hank, the director, consumer pharmacy brand, we’re gonna try to grow that to like 500 KMR, in the next 12 months to sell that. And then we’ve got American songwriter, which is the biggest question mark, in my mind as far as like, growth potential and who would actually buy it? Because with Dr. Hank, it’s more like an outbreak situation where it’s timely, right? It’s like, direct to consumer healthcare. It’s valued very well, right now, coming out of 2020. companies realize they need to figure this stuff out. And so it’s it’s subscription revenue for the most part. And then we’ve got also total frat move, which it’s still early, but I think that thing is going to be a monster, merchandise, sports betting, we’ll build some audience, probably not as monsters alkek was, but we’ve got a great brand there with existing social distribution more so than, well, way more than what we started with the alkek. And then we’ve also got savage media, which is our video production company. And we actually are dabbling in real estate, we purchased a building in Germantown here in Nashville, that’s going to be the savage media headquarters. So we’ll have a big video production studio there that will service all of our companies, but I think we’re going to be launching more shows for Fox and alkek. To

 

Scott D Clary  51:47

some awesome, okay. And, and for somebody who wants to follow in your path and just realize that they can negotiate a deal for 30 or 50,000 bucks, which is money that a lot of people can invest it can afford to invest? Is this something that they could first of all, I just love some advice from you, for somebody who wants to get into this purchaser first portfolio company? Or also, if somebody is still working, do you think this is something that they could do as a as a side hustle? Or Is this too much involvement for that?

 

Zac Litwack  52:21

Now, it’s definitely a full time thing. If if you have some digital marketing expertise, I’d say get really good at that. And then start investing some dollars. Because worst case scenario, you can find, you can squeeze out like a over one rule as and probably not lose that much money. If you’re like a decent Digital Marketer. If you’re not a good digital marketer, I’d go find one and then team up with that person, like if you’ve got 50 to 100k, that, that you want to invest in a very high risk, more high risk, but like interesting things like that might be a good way to start. But I’d find a good trusty Digital Marketer, and give that person like partnership level access to your, you know, portfolio or whatever. That’s kind of what happened was Sam and I were, I haven’t really invested a lot of money. It’s been more so my time. And I’ve got insane digital marketing expertise. So and Sam’s got a really good, he has a really good track record of media, he has a lot of deal flow. And that’s one of the reasons why we partnered up is and so like, that synergy is super strong, where he’s got really good business expertise. He’s got really good, he’s got a track record of success of scaling and selling companies, especially media. So he gets a lot of deal flow, he has a deal flow, I have knowledge on how to scale this or take advantage or take action, you know, execute off the deal flow. So it was really good, happy marriage. So maybe more people out there can find a marriage like Sam and I have.

 

Scott D Clary  53:42

Yeah, it’s almost like the it’s almost the opposite of when you’re trying to start your own company. And you’re looking for a technical founder. Now you’re looking for a non technical marketing venture venture partner almost. So it’s a little bit yeah,

 

Zac Litwack  53:54

yeah. Once if you find someone with deal flow, and you could go I just heard I think it was on I think it was on the My First million podcast you sands podcast. I think that’s that podcast is on your network here at HubSpot network. Yeah. Yeah. I think I heard this. This guy came on their podcast, I think he started this company called micro acquire. Super.

 

Scott D Clary  54:14

I know, I know, I know. I know, the founder, Andrew. Okay, I’m gonna have him on too. Yeah.

 

Zac Litwack  54:19

So he has an early. Yes, he is a marketplace for this. So if you’ve got 30 or 50 grand, and you’re very interested in like doing a startup, let’s say you’re in a corporate job, and you’re interested in maybe doing startups full time and or you’re interested in investing or whatever that might be a good place to start to, if you don’t have deal flow. Other than that, I would find someone but deal flow. And then you would definitely the missing component therapy, digital marketing expertise, tactic or smart marketing expertise.

 

Scott D Clary  54:44

All right, I want to I want to bring out some rapid fire questions before we pivot. Any last thoughts on stuff you’re working on now? And then also, most importantly, if people want to reach out to ask you questions, social email, website, whatever. Do you want to draw?

 

Zac Litwack  55:01

Yeah, savage up Ventures is the website, there’s a contact form there. I’ve read all those inquiries, personally. And then LinkedIn, DMS, good. I’m more active on LinkedIn and Twitter, I’m active in Twitter DM, so you can definitely be me there. But I honestly like to stay off of social media. I’m on social media all day long for my companies. And then just too much for me, you know?

 

Scott D Clary  55:25

Alright, so let’s go through some rapid fire biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your own personal or professional life? What was it? How did you overcome it?

 

Zac Litwack  55:34

Yeah, it was leaving the music industry having that really toxic relationship with my best friend turn, business partner. And then, you know, fast forward five or six years, we couldn’t even talk to each other in the same room as each other. We were actually he’s the best man in my wedding to basically reinventing myself, I had done some digital marketing man in the music industry, but I was doing more like just producing like, I was actually recording the records and producing them and, and I literally had to transform myself, like reinvent my career, because I had spent the last eight or nine years before that, learning how to be a really good music producer and bass player and, and recording engineer. And I spent like, 5% of my time digital marketing. So that was probably I sat on the couch for three months. I even cried a couple times, like in my wife’s arms, like, can you imagine her like, It’s okay, baby, it’s okay. It was it was not I was not in a good state, I was super depressed. And luckily, my friend called me out of Atlanta, like I mentioned earlier, and I got into the app game, the startup game, and ended up loving it. And as a result, here, I am, like another six or seven years later, one of the top digital marketers in the world. And at least I think so I’ve spent, who knows? God knows how many hours doing it. And had my first like, real deal success, story and business. Just super cool.

 

Scott D Clary  56:52

Amazing. How did you reinvent yourself? How did you how did you double down on digital marketing? What was your? Was it just grinding it out? Where did you go

 

Zac Litwack  57:01

Grinding it out? You can learn anything on YouTube and YouTube? Yeah, it was it was a thing back then. But like I was, I would just say yes. So for example, when I was trying to grow split, we had no marketing expertise. And I was tactically like our leader of marketing and sales. I was just like, oh, we need to do this. I don’t know how to do it. We don’t have any money to hire somebody, I’m gonna figure it out. And 99% of your answers are on YouTube, or on Google. And you can go there and find your answers. And then that knowledge just compounded over, you know, a three to four year period. Also another key to I think how fast I grew as a digital marketer, or I’ll fast I transfer my career was not just saying, Yes, I’ll do anything and everything related to marketing. But also it’s working with multiple companies at the same time. Because during that period, yeah, I was doing split pretty much full time. But I was, you know, dabbling in this other company that it wasn’t even getting paid for. I was just trying to do it. And so like, that’s the reason I have like 20, something probably like startup failures is because I said yes to every opportunity. I tried it, I failed at it. And through those lessons, I got really good really fast. So it’s like I went on a accelerated version of like becoming a badass Digital Marketer by working three to four companies at a time and saying yes to everything. But yeah, dude, I remember the first time I said yes to like a real deal marketing consulting project, this company is gonna pay me 30 bucks an hour to run paid search ads. I had no idea how to do it. I’d never done it before. I was like, Yeah, I’ll do it. And that night, I stayed up all night. I read up about it, like, everything from like, how you modify keywords to how you can test ads. And I guess I’m naturally kind of gifted at marketing in general. Like it just it’s like, like when I first picked up the guitar, like I mentioned earlier, marketing, like kind of clicked for me too, and especially like, taking science to marketing, which you could do in 2021. But But yeah, so like I said, Yes to paid search. And it was a little bit of it was a little bit clunky, early on with that company that hired me. But due three months later, I was making them a crapload of money off the $30 an hour they were paying me I remember they had like a five to 10 row as we were scaling it across like six or seven markets. And so every for everyone out there that’s trying to get into a new career or reinvent themselves or just like kind of feeling down in the dumps. Just start saying yes to more stuff. And then what ends up happening is you get really good at something and then you have start saying no to most things, but you don’t get there until like where you are with me right now. Like where you are in my shoes. Like I’m starting to say no to stuff now. But for the last seven years, I’ve said yes to literally everything. Amazing, and then I’m asleep sometimes.

 

Scott D Clary  59:47

Well, listen, man leveled you up really, really quickly. So that’s good. That’s good. It’s, yeah, you throw yourself into something you you know, you sink or swim and most people figure out a way to swim if they want it bad enough. For sure. All right, let’s Okay. Next one, one person who’s been very impactful in your life, there’s probably been a few but pick one. And what what did they teach you? What did you learn from them?

 

Zac Litwack  1:00:13

I’ll just go with Sam maybe because it’s like top of mine, my current business partner. Yeah. But he’s someone I looked up to in the music industry, or excuse me in the business world. Interesting story about how I met him. By the way, I was doing some networking. As I got a year or two into my digital marketing career, I was just interested in networking with other startup people and stuff like that. And it this one week, I networked, like grabbed drinks with which I don’t recommend doing, by the way is described random drinks, unless you’re actually going to take action off of like the conversation. A lot of people just will grab coffee, and I wait, I’ve wasted 1000s of hours grabbing coffee. I wish I just was running digital marketing experiments during that time, but I ran into three people. So I was kind of I was becoming a decent technical marketer. I was like building websites, you know, scaling ads, and and I was talking to people that didn’t even know like, what WordPress was, you know, and so like that, but, but three people this one week said, Hey, dude, you should really meet the same guy. And no one would give me his freakin information. Like they were being they were very guarded on his information. He’s just like, internet. You know? He’s this internet like magician, he scaled all these media properties. He lives here in Nashville, and I perked up, dude, I’m like, This guy’s in Nashville. Because Nashville, it’s getting better. But it’s pretty much like a music and healthcare town. Like there’s some good technical people here. But now, but back in like 1617, it really wasn’t that great. And so of course, being the good digital marketer I am I scraped his email using this Chrome extension called Duck Soup, which I think we talked about, actually, personally now. And I love him. And I was like, I was like, I’ve got to make, I’ve got to make this count, you know, because like, this is a guy that I clearly need to meet. I’m almost nervous sending this email out. And so the subject line was, Who the fuck is Sam savage. And that got his attention. He opened it and responded like 30 minutes later saying, dude, let’s meet for drinks. And so what he what he’s taught me and we met for drinks, you know, like a week later, we ended up starting a business, the Dr. Hank thing, like a year after that, and then obviously, we’re scaling the crap out of savage ventures now together, which is cool. He’s taught me a couple things. One is life is way too short to work with people and to work on things you really aren’t, don’t like to do. Like, you don’t have to be like, going back to what you were saying earlier, you don’t have to be super passionate about the companies, you’re scaling. Like, you know, like, it’s your, it’s your lifelong, you know, like passion or whatever. But you need to really enjoy the people you’re working with, the environment you’re working in, and generally enjoy, like what you’re doing inside of the companies. Like I don’t really like adult or I don’t like total frameless content anymore being like a, I mean, it’s kind of stalled. Jake, I say that, but look at it.

 

Scott D Clary  1:02:57

It’s like, it was really funny. It was funny, like when I was in college, right? Like,

 

Zac Litwack  1:03:02

well, I mean, it’s so funny now. And in this way, I just don’t, I don’t have time to look at that content anymore. Because I’ve got two young kids and a bunch of companies to work on. But so that’s one is like, life’s too short to do something you don’t want to do. And that could be applicable to your personal life too. Like, if you’re in a bad if you’re in a relationship you shouldn’t be in, if you are getting married, if you really don’t want to be whatever it is, like get out, just do it, you’re gonna it’s gonna suck for like, three months, and then it’s gonna be your life’s gonna be like transformed, just making those decisions. And then the second thing I’d say is, like, just be don’t be afraid. like I am, I’m pretty because of kind of watching Sam do things he like, just has a very, not laissez faire, but like, he just has a very, he just doesn’t have a filter. He’s always himself and he will like literally call somebody that’s like super famous, super respected, you know, or whatever, and have a conversation. He’s just like, he’s, he he’s, he’s relentless about connecting with people and networking. And it doesn’t he doesn’t get it doesn’t he doesn’t let it bother him if that makes sense. I’m having trouble explaining this one. But like,

 

Scott D Clary  1:04:16

no, he’s just, I get it. He’s just like, he’s not he’s not. He’s not. Not threatened. But just he doesn’t place people on a pedestal. He just yeah, he treats his treats everyone

 

Zac Litwack  1:04:29

like Like, he’s he’s their friend. You know, not not a friend. But like, everyone’s on the same. Yeah. And we don’t really have like, I help like, I coach our marketers and stuff. But I savage ventures, we’re pretty much on an even playing field, you know, except when we sell company. Obviously, the contributions will be differently, but But yeah, so those are the two big things. I think I learned from him.

 

Scott D Clary  1:04:52

That’s awesome. That’s awesome. I respect that. I don’t I don’t know Sam. Well, maybe we’ll have to have him on one

 

Zac Litwack  1:04:57

day. If you can get him on I’ve been pushing him to do more stuff like this, but he’s a super private person too.

 

Scott D Clary  1:05:04

That’s fair. That’s fair. You know, maybe I’ll just have to be, I’ll have to be Joe Rogan level and then he’ll fly out that probably

 

Zac Litwack  1:05:12

do this podcast got him. Okay. He is He is more private i The feedback that I’ve given him recently though, is like you need to start it. Because we, as part of me being on here or just me talking about the podcast, it’s like I really want to get the savage ventures brand more out there. But as we work on our because it’s the our portfolio brands all the time. But we have spent no time doing this average ventures brand other than I clip, our designer, redo a logo, and I threw up a one page WordPress site, which is like three pages, you know, earlier this year. Other than that, I really haven’t spent any time on the brand.

 

Scott D Clary  1:05:44

Yeah, and that’s that will attract more deal flow to you have that strong brand that will attract some really incredible talent not say that you can’t find it. But I mean, you’ll get some startups to come out of the woodwork that that want to work with you. Because you’ve had some you’ve had some really great successes. So it’s nice to be in that spot right where you can where you have the ability to choose who you’re working with. And you’re not hunting for more deals. But yeah, for sure. We’ll we’ll figure it out. We’ll figure it out. All right. What would be a book podcast audible, something that you would recommend people go check out that’s been, it’s been useful for you.

 

Zac Litwack  1:06:19

Man, I could go all day long. So as part of like saying yes to everything. I also became this, like, I had never really read books up until I started this digital marketing and like entrepreneurship journey. And then I, I was doing it one point time, like a book a week. And I think that was part of the transformation process for me. Just developing a daily reading habit, which is usually like 30 to 45 minutes before bed. I’d say the top like five books are influenced by CI Aldini. I forgot the exact name. It’s like influence how to persuade and influence people or whatever, by Robert Cialdini. It’s like one of the most famous marketing books of all time that he wrote didn’t write it as a marketing book. And actually, it came that he just came out with a new version two, which is a lot longer and more updated for the digital age because the book was published, I think back in like the early mid 90s. i That’s a really good one.

 

Scott D Clary  1:07:16

But I don’t think I have it. I might know, I don’t have it here. It’s its influence. I think it’s a power of Persuasion. Persuasion.

 

Zac Litwack  1:07:27

Yeah, something like that, by Robert Cialdini. Yeah. There’s a book by Tim Grover called relentless that I have mixed feelings about four or five years after I read it. But he was Michael Jordan’s coach, if you saw the Michael Jordan documentary that was released on he was on Netflix last year, or whatever he was interviewed in there a couple times. That’s a really good book about what it takes to actually be the best. And a lot of people don’t want to it’s not for everyone. And what Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade went through to be the best at their craft, and how he coached them through that. That’s a super good book. What else comes to mind?

 

Scott D Clary  1:08:06

Those are good. Those are good books.

 

Zac Litwack  1:08:08

Dude, I could walk back in the office right now we’ve got a stack of books. I read a book recently, that was interesting. And it kind of shed some light on our alkek success in that, like we, we didn’t really realize that at the time. But we took advantage of changes of legislation that was passed inside the government. And so there’s a book called the clipper ship strategy, or chip, it’s a clipper ship, I think the clipper ship strategy. And basically the clipper ship strategy was back during the Gold Rush, there was a very high demand on the entire west coast of the United States. And then there, there was some there was equipment basically being manufactured at low cost on the east coast of the United States. And clipper ships were these new ships that could go really fast and take all the equipment that they needed, basically, the pickaxes that they needed, and bring them around the bottom half the United States and up to California. And so they can manufacture these pickaxes for like, you know, $1 or 50 cents or something on the East Coast and sell them for like $20 on the West Coast. And the margins were huge. And so it’s just like, take advantage of different circumstances. And he goes into how you can do this with government in the more recent years. And how like there are these funnels of money that are created by the government when new legislation is passed and how you could build companies around that. It was fascinating. Definitely more of like a dry read. If but if you’re into like, if you’re diehard about like being an entrepreneur and growing companies that might be an interesting read. And then podcasts ever I would read if you’re trying to be a good digital marketer, the Marketing School podcast is good. Prepared. Yeah, yeah. With with him and then there, Sue. Yeah. Eric Sue. That’s a good one if you’re like just getting started In technical marketing, because it’s like these five minute sound bites, the perpetual podcast traffic is good for ads, especially Facebook ads, I think that’s run by Digital Marketer. And then all the all in podcast, which is a newer one, which is just basically like for very prolific investor billionaires, too. I know, I know that. Yeah, that’s a really good one like Jamarcus on there and some other folks. Yeah. And then I’d say the fifth podcast, I listened to a bunch of Noah Kagan’s podcast because he’s, he’s got a good marketing mind. But he also has, like this interesting business sensibility to him. And so he talks about, like, he interviews a lot of fascinating people. And he’s also just a really good interviewer. So that’s an entertaining podcast that actually you’ll learn something from to maybe your podcasts, his articles, as well, I actually, candidly did not listen to a bunch of episodes, until we met last week. And obviously, to prep me I know, but when I downloaded it, it’ll definitely be on cycle. Every week, I listen to podcasts, and I warm up at the gym. So I appreciate that every habit.

 

Scott D Clary  1:11:06

That’s how you get it out there, man, and Nashville, go to a conference, and then all of a sudden you got another download. So yeah, maybe not the most scalable podcast growth strategy, but

 

Zac Litwack  1:11:14

it works. Airplane, airplane flight gets you. Going back to economies of scale, I don’t think it’s very good. Unless you’re average down, like a couple grand. That would be

 

Scott D Clary  1:11:28

your downloads, or downloads of it. If you could tell your 20 year old self, one thing, what would it be?

 

Zac Litwack  1:11:36

No, be afraid, like? Well, first of all, you’re young. So you should definitely start companies and be a lot more risky, even though I’m more risky now. And I talked about how we kind of de risk that. But I’m being way more risky now than I ever was in the business world. And I should have been doing this when I was 2122, or whatever. In fact, in the music industry, or like fourth or fifth year, and we started having success. And one when we started having success, I kind of shelled up or like, you know, balled up and I was afraid to you know, take advantage of that opportunity. And so, and now I have kids, and I can’t work, you know, all night because I’ve got to wake up with kid at 3am or probably 6am. And, and I value sleep a lot more these days. Because again, I have kids. So like, yeah, absolutely go all in and like take a ton of risk. Because worst case scenario, you maxed out a couple credit cards, but you’ll learn so much from that experience that even if you didn’t want to do the entrepreneurship thing anymore, any company, any good startup would hire you in a heartbeat for six figures. In fact, you actually learned a lot of great skills like digital marketing skills or development skills or whatever.

 

Scott D Clary  1:12:50

Very smart. And last question, what does success mean for you?

 

Zac Litwack  1:12:59

I mean, right now, I’m just trying to get to total financial freedom, like Fe status, like so I could do whatever I want to do. And then obviously, that means I can take my family along that journey so that they have total financial freedom. I think success also changes as you go through stages of life, like, my 25 year old self would have said, like, get married, my 21 year old self would have been like success is like getting drunk at a party and taking a girl home, you know, or whatever, right? I think it changes. So in my mid 30s. It’s I built these digital marketing skills that I know I can leverage we have proof that we can scale companies. We’ve got somebody brewery here. And my three to five year goal is to get total financial freedom. And then after that, success will probably look different. Maybe it’s traveling or with my family or something like that. But I’m solely focused on getting financial freedom right now. So success in a three to five year timeframe would be total financial freedom.

 

Scott D Clary  1:14:00

Amazing. All right. That’s all I got, man. That’s it. Those are that was good. I was very good.

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