Podcast: Why Investing in Multiple Industries Is a Wise Move, an Interview with Jeff Smith

By Ryan Tansom
Published: July 12, 2018 | Last updated: April 15, 2024
Key Takeaways

Jeff Smith, serial entrepreneur, shares his reasoning for investing in a multitude of industries – including ones he has no experience in – and how to be successful in them.



About the Host

Ryan is an entrepreneur, podcast host of the show Life After Business and the co-owner of Solidity Financial. Having personally experienced the hazards of selling a business, he joined up with his friend Brandon Wood to educate others on the process. Through their business (Solidity Financial), they provide a platform for entrepreneurs called Growth and Exit Planning that helps in exit planning, value building and financial management.

About the Guest

As CEO of Jet Dental, Jeff Smith leads a growing company dedicated to improved Oral Health for employees in business’ and organizations nationwide. We take a World Class Dental Team to the workplace making dental care more convenient and accessible to everyone in the workplace.


Smith started his career working for industry giants including Proctor and Gamble, and Toshiba. Since striking out on his own, he’s spent more than two decades starting or acquiring six companies, including Cerberian, ClearPlex and Beehive Brick and Stone, bringing them to successful exits.

Other professional highlights include several awards recognizing his performance, including:

  • 2013 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year (West Region)
  • 2013 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year National Finalist
  • 2014 Utah Business Magazine’s CEO of the Year

If you listen, you will learn:

  • Jeff’s entrepreneurial beginnings in the high tech industry.
  • The goals he had for his first business.
  • His time in the internet filtering industry.
  • Why he invested in his company and why it was a good decision.
  • The value of strategic planning.
  • Why you need to stick to what you know.
  • How Jeff tries to disrupt any industry he enters.
  • Jeff’s goals for Jet Dental.
  • What Jeff means when he says, “filling a hole in the market.”
  • How Jet Dental has disrupted the industry.
  • When to know to leave the company.
  • The importance of keeping your emotions in check.
  • Why you should try to keep the same advisors from deal to deal.
  • Why you need to know your priorities and stick to them.

Full Transcript

Announcer: Welcome to Life After Business, the podcast where your host Ryan Tansom brings you all the information you need to exit your company and explore what life can be like on the other side.

Ryan Tansom: Welcome back to the Life After Business podcast. This is episode 101. Today’s guest’s name is Jeff Smith. Jeff was entrepreneur of the year for one of the companies that he ended up selling. I met him at the EY entrepreneur of the year award in Palm Springs and I was chatting with him and he was telling me all these different stories about multiple companies that he had started, grown and sold – everything from a brick-and-mortar business to a software company, to a healthcare company, and now he’s in the dental business and I’m just sitting there going, wow, I have to have you on the show because that’s ridiculous. How do any of those different industries correlate? Well, after hearing Jeff’s story, it’s about creating value in the marketplace, creating a good experience, growing people and really understanding where that business and that industry is going. So Jeff has so many different pieces of good wisdom throughout the different stories that he tells, so he shares how he grew and sold some of the companies. Then him and I get into a really good conversation about how he balances his passion and love for growing value and mentoring people with the eventual exit and with the eventual financial situations that you’re going to have to deal with and he has three different priorities that he discusses and how he’s able to balance that mentally and capitalize on everything that he’s grown and the value he’s created within this company. So I really think that this is a must listen to. He’s got a lot of different experience from the different exits and the different ways he is capitalized on his ventures as an entrepreneur. So without further ado, here’s Jeff Smith.


Announcer: This episode of Life After Business is sponsored by Gexp Collaborative. Their proven process gives you clarity on all of your exit options and how those options impact your financial success, timing and future happiness. Sell your company on your time frame to the buyer of your choice at the price you want.

Ryan Tansom: Jeff, how you doing?

Jeff Smith: Great. Thanks for having me.

Ryan Tansom: Yeah, I’m looking forward to having a conversation with you. You and I met at Palm Springs on it and a really nice day at the entrepreneurial of the year award, a conference by EY and unfortunately we’re not there right now, but you and I got a little bit of a taste of that after having some conversations about surfing and all the fun stuff that you enjoy doing. But you know, what really caught my attention when we were chatting at lunch is how many different things you’ve done and you had told me you went, oh, I was doing mortar business I had a mortar business, software business and now I’m doing dental and so I just was too intrigued and get you on the show. Um, but you know, maybe for the listeners, Jeff, let’s go back. Like when did you decide or accidentally jump into? What was your first entrepreneurial deal like? How did you end up becoming an or jumping in with both feet?

Jeff Smith: I was in high-tech for almost 18 years, so I had a, I had, uh, a rep firm where I repped manufacturers in the computer industry in southern California and when computers are really taking off the computer industry, so that was really fun. And then, um, I was a company Megahertz, went public, and then I had my own software company that was, did Internet filtering and I sold that, um, in a, in silicon valley after about five years to a, we did sell to a public company. So, so I really started with high-tech really and for several years.

Ryan Tansom: So, you know, was it for the sheer exposure that you get from other people that were doing this? Did you start the rep firm or did you, did you like, how did you decide that, okay, I’m going to own this company now, here’s what I’m going to do? Or was it just kind of the nature of being in California and kind of the stuff that was going on that you decided, okay, well this just makes sense?

Jeff Smith: Well, I guess it was kind of my start of being a serial entrepreneur. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur and um, but I just had to find that time, that moment. So I was always kind of looking. But yeah, there’s that time of Oh, if I’m secure in a job too, how do I move to taking the risk and going right. And so, um, luckily I was with a manufacturer that that said, hey, we have manufacturer rep firms and if you want to be our rep in southern California, we will, because our rep had retired, we would be delighted to have you do it. So it kind of lessened the risk. So I just felt it was time to go and I found other manufacturer that was willing to have me them.

Jeff Smith: And so really from day one I was doing really well, meaning that there’s tremendous cash flow from the, from the beginning. So it was just kind of something where you kind of have to keep looking for those opportunities. You have to be patient and then when the time comes and you can be filled at the right time, you can do it. So…

Ryan Tansom: What were the manufacturers?

Jeff Smith: Um, back then it was called Megahertz and there’s a company called Targets they would make faces and they’ve been around for long time, but then I had Kodak digital cameras and then I had Intel way back when they had these different ships that they sold. So this is really like, like 1990 to 2000. I had it from 10 years.

Ryan Tansom: So what are some of the milestones because you know, some of the kinds of different avenues I want to go with your experience is you know, what your vast amount of accumulated knowledge from these different ventures because you know, a lot of people struggle with the first company that they’re building or you know, it’s cash flow and they’re just kind of grinding away versus okay this is an asset. How am I going to sell? I mean, did you intend to sell it or what was the milestones or the kind of the evolution with the first company that you had, how did you… what kind of mindset and what was the triggering event and how to out of that whole journey work?

Jeff Smith: Well, I felt like, I think the first time around it, I didn’t- kind of like you when you sell your company. I didn’t know a lot, you know, I didn’t know actually what happened when I had my first company. It’s kind of like an ad agency. Have you have a reference? It’s kind of like about you. What I mean by that is you’re kind of the value and so when you leave there’s a lot to sell. So it’s harder. Like when I say an ad agency, if you have a small ad agency, it’s hard to sell it because you’re kind of, you know, you are the agency really so that. And I was making all these manufacturers money, like I would like somebody would come into the market and I would help them get into distribution, help them do really, really well and go wow. I just made them a lot of money, you know? So I was getting good cash flow so I was getting paid commissions and doing really, really well. But I realized I wasn’t developing a lot of equity. So it was, it was great because I actually was able to accumulate a lot of cash and invested and then when I wanted to start the company later, I had my own money to put in as opposed to just getting investors, I could put my own money in. In addition to an investor’s least, but you know, I’m kind of bought in and into a deal. So really the first one I didn’t really have much of an exit per say. I sold them and I just got paid over a three year period. But that’s when I said, look, I’m going to start a company where I can, where I can get equity and leverage myself and so that I can, you know, have more of an event, you know, where you’re getting, you know, future cash flows and, and have a nice event where I can get some cash out and um, you know, provide some retirement for my family. So the first one I didn’t really know. It wasn’t a big event, it was a good cash flow along the way, but there wasn’t much of a, an event when selling it.

Ryan Tansom: Did you, was there an event that happened where you said okay? It was like… where was that realization? Did you talk to someone to someone and say, Hey, by the way, you’ve got essentially a very high paying job here, or you’re going to have to work for someone. Did someone approach you or did that realization come in that part of the process?

Jeff Smith: As far as the first one?

Ryan Tansom: Like where you started to realize, oh, can the values mean I’m gonna have to work for three more years to transition relationships…

Jeff Smith: I think what happened is literally when I was, I was literally repping manufacturers that would come. They’d be new in the marketplace, they’d had this good idea and I would help them through their distribution and go, wow, I just made these guys a bunch of money and you know, they sold this thing for 100 x, you know, whatever. Why am I not doing this myself? And that’s when I started my first high tech company after that because I felt like I had connections and knew how to create value from a sales and marketing standpoint. And so that’s when I decided basically literally being in the middle of helping other people be successful, which is great by the way. I didn’t regret it at all. I just thought, you know, this is probably something I had to think about. And then I learned from them, oh, so you actually raise some money and then you build value and then you sold this company and um, you sold to private equity or you know, you did a strategic. And I started learning about that process as I saw the manufacturers I represented go through that process of starting up to exiting. And so I literally, through them, I actually saw how that I got to be good relationship with these folks. I started learning kind of how that process worked and how they raised money and then how they exited and how and how people. Some of them did it pretty well and had thought through. So I learned from them. So when I did my next company, I helped me in raising money and then in um going through that process and exiting.

Ryan Tansom: So let’s kind of take it in steps in throughout the, the, the journey or when you used… so that, that um, Internet filtering company. So you have for five years… So like did you, what was your thought process going in when you started it? Did you know, did you have a certain dollar amount? With more the end in mind? What was your goals from… Did you think about the exit? Did you think of what timing, valuations, all that kind of stuff? What was the kind of the process there?

Jeff Smith: I think I did maybe too much. So, I mean, I think that the first thing that I think if you think about when you’re starting companies just about building value and focusing on that, you know, I mean you’d have to think about the exit because you have to have um, you have to be thinking about how you govern the company. If you were going to have an exit, meaning that you have to have good corporate governance and you know, you can’t be running out spending money, you know, especially if you raise money of course, then you, then you don’t have that, you can’t make it like a family business at that point. You had a fiduciary responsibility to your investors, obviously. But of course you have to think about the exit on some level and they make you think about it because you know that the investors have to have an exit, right? So once you take money then you have to have an exit, right? You have to have a way for them and you have to understand what their time frame is. You know, I mean some of these guys are funds or like an eight-year fund. And so you were a five year deal and so they kind of, they even put it in the, in the agreement, you know, that you have to, you have to exit at some point. So unfortunately you kind of have to think that way. Hopefully with private equity or VC or some kind of money that they have. You have a time frame that is realistic to really build value and so you know, of course they can help you as you go along as you, as you bring money in from folks.

Ryan Tansom: So did you, you said you didn’t raise money on that, the Internet filtering company. So did you…?

Jeff Smith: I did. I actually did. I put my own money at the start, which is good because I was able to create some value in every round. I put more of my own money and so I participated in every round of funding. Like we did like four or five rounds that I put I put in every round, which I think was very helpful to me because I was able to make quite a bit from that as opposed to the just the common shares didn’t do as well and so I was able to do really well in the investment piece as well as…

Ryan Tansom: Can you walk us through that? Because I think it’s, there’s a lot of mystery around, you know, where are you finding these investors? How do you do the rounds? I mean, what are you pitching to them? You know, what was, what were you describing to them, which was your plan and how they were going to doing it and how they get their money. And I mean, what was, what was the appeal for you and the business for them?

Jeff Smith: When I, when I went to, um, raise money, um, I told them how I put my own money in and they really liked that a lot, that they knew I was kind of invested, you know, it was kind of all-in. I think um, when you do a startup, I think that investors want you to kind of be all-in, um, when you get bigger, like a bigger company, like the ones I’ve done before in my last company was 250 million. Then it almost kind of works against you if you’re all-in because you’re very timid about things because you’re like, if I make one mistake, you know, I lose everything. And especially when there’s so much there, there’s so much value there. So with a startup, I think investors like that you’re kind of all in. I’m in a startup mode because they wanted to make sure that you’re, you’re, you’re there for the long haul. Um, so I think having me put money was very good I think from that perspective. And some people, if they don’t have the kind of fun to put in, you know, they’re putting a bunch of sweat equity and typically upfront to, to prove the model out and hit milestones to then collect the next, then to raise the next money then the next uh…

Ryan Tansom: So with that many rounds in that first one, what was the exit strategy that you were pitching to them? Did you have buyers in mind or valuations in mind?

Jeff Smith: Um, so I think I told them, I think what I show to them as I look clearly there’s strategic investors out there and that that’s probably the most obvious and they loved that. And that’s we ended up doing, by the way, was a strategic. But we also felt like we could, um, we can get, potentially could get private equity, um, in the, you know, that we, it was very high margin that we probably could get private equity at some point to come in, but we end up doing strategic and they really liked that because I think we’ve got a lot more value out of it because they could take, you know, one plus one equals 10 for them, right? Which was, we provided so much value for them.

Ryan Tansom: What was some of the, you know, was there a time horizon and in, you know, it maybe some context behind this stuff is like, you know, I think a lot of people, ideally it is a strategic buyer, which is what you’re moving towards. How do you know, how did the operational and strategic decisions in the company, how did those decisions reflect your ultimate goal? Because I think some people will not do certain- not bill out certain products if they, you know, if they’re going to be competing with the person that they want to sell to. So yeah, I think, you know, recalibrating all that stuff. How did you know, was there a certain things that you were doing to march in that direction?

Jeff Smith: You know, if you think of the book good to great, they always talk about you want to be the best of the world or whatever you do. And so sometimes the best way to be the best is to be, to make the world smaller, to make sure that you add value. So I was always focusing on… we were, we… What we did is we provide internet filtering and we were kind of like the Intel inside of URL filtering, if that makes sense. Meaning that we were building a URL filter that would work for back then they were like firewalls or they were boxes, you know, they were um, were they control the data floating in and out of the data that floated in and out. And so we were at a motto was like an, which is almost like in the cloud before there wasn’t a cloud, it was they called asp model. But back then we had had this idea that, you know, we, the filtering will be off the box and so you don’t have to wait at box down. So really works good for small little hubs that you know, that you would, I can’t think of it. Who are the brands now, like links us or I don’t know who… back then it was, uh, we were with a top three. Sonic was on the top three that we had an OEM relationship. So we thought, wow, what is this focus on being the best at, that will be the Intel Inside and then we can win that. So our, our company is probably more of a, was probably more of a, a service on top of another. We kind of realized, Gosh, we’d probably be better off just being a service for these big boxes and not have our own box or anything, but just be that piece that they would need and wouldn’t really be able to develop. We felt that we had something that we can, we can win at and not worry about competing because they’d be better off just using us. And they would try and try to develop themselves because they have to do whatever they do. So we were able to, we got patents on it, we’re able to develop something that was unique, that would really work with anybody we worked with, could use our service and we could be that.

Ryan Tansom: So I think for maybe some context, what are the other companies that you’ve bought and sold and started and sold because then I want to maybe circle back Jeff, because I, you know, I think there’s all these strategic decisions, like you talked about patents and all these different things that create value and I think there’s a lot of like a lot of entrepreneurs that they don’t really understand where the value is for the different exits. So aligning the value with the potential buyers, you know, so we can maybe circle back, but what was the, what are the other couple ones? Because they’re super unique.

Jeff Smith: Yeah. So after that I was really- I bought a brick company, literally it was a brick company [Ryan interjects: software to bricks!]. My buddies always laugh, brick-and-mortar. But what I realized is that there’s a lot of boring industries where they’re good, their skill, like for example, if you’re a a mason, you’re good at being a mason, you’re, but you’re not necessarily good businessperson, per se. And so what we realized, and I won’t go into detail too much, but basically we realized that you realize what’s the real value in buying. What we realized that people just want to have a beautiful home and so they want the exterior to look good. That’s what they really want. And so he said, ah, so we can build a killer show room, we can take pictures and we can make it a wonderful process for a woman because they’re usually ones are making decision on the outside of the home, on the home. So, um, so they can literally not make a mistake, right? They can pick these colors that’ll all go together and it’ll look beautiful on the outside of the home. And so we realized what we, what job we were really doing, and we’re like, what job are we really performing. We realized the real job was that, that it wasn’t about brick so much, it was about, it was about having a pretty exterior and pulling it all together.

Jeff Smith: And then once we figured that out, we took over the market and we had the best showroom and we had the best solution for the market. And so everybody came to us. Um, so we really focused on creating value, but using technology because we were at high-tech guys for that marketplace to make it easier for everyone. So we had by far the best technology, any of our competitors is, we just made it a much better process using technology. So we thought, gosh, let’s use technology in these boring businesses like brick-and-mortar for heaven sakes is boring. But we made it. So it was, we realized it wasn’t about brick and mortar was about, it was about picking a, you know, the exterior of your home that you’re going to have a mortgage on for 30 years. So it’s, it’s really, it’s a big, big, big purchasing decision, right? If you screw up and don’t make it look good. It’s very disappointing, right? A lot of money that he’s like, oops. And so we thought, well, if we can make beautiful- help people pick it, that is what we’re all about. So we’re learning what the real value was and, and creating value.

Ryan Tansom: Did you buy a company? Did you start one?

Jeff Smith: Yes. So that was the first time I bought one. So before that I started from scratch and then I said, man, I liked whole buying idea because then you already are kind of further along and so [Ryan interjects: You got cash flow] yeah, you have cash flow. And so we really kind of bought some cash flow in a way. So we started with cash flow, right? Like we already prepare ourselves salaries and everything. So because we had a couple exits, we had the cash flow to do it ourselves, so my business partner that was, he was with me at Cerberian, which was the company. He actually helped me or him and I went in together on this and we had a 29 x return in two years. We literally bought the company and five times the business, it’s still, you’re doing well today by the way, and five times the business and with the casually put down it was a 29 x return for us over a two year period.

Ryan Tansom: So I mean, I don’t know if you’re comfortable sharing some of the top line. I mean like how, like what was the size of the structure? Maybe employees are top I mean… how did you guys grow so fast?

Jeff Smith: It was kind of smaller. Um, we only had I think what, maybe 30 employees or something, but we went… we did, I think I want to say… we did I think $40 million and I think our EBITDA, we um, I think we ended up getting like 13 X EBITDA, so it’s a pretty good multiple.

Ryan Tansom: What was, and was, was that what kind of strategic buyer and private equity firm who were you marching towards?

Jeff Smith: There was a company that was doing building materials. So they were doing like, um, roofing and siding like nationwide and so they, they were looking for, they loved our model to do it nationwide. They said you guys are the best we’ve seen for what you do for selling exterior solutions, um, and we want to be able to grow what you do out nationwide so you know, we can take it to other markets, we’ll just use your model.

Ryan Tansom: And when you guys bought it, did you, I mean, was it, you know, thinking about it more like an investment and creating value, like you were saying, was there a timing or a dollar amount or like something that you were marching towards or did that kind of, you know, how did that fall?

Jeff Smith: Well, at the end of the day we said, look, this guy just had this lifestyle business. He has all these exclusive brick and he just, you know, he probably makes 800 k a year and so he doesn’t do any marketing and he sells, but we could just tell that he had by far the best bracket if we marketed, told people about it and created this, the best room in, in, in, in this country. And as I mentioned, we found out what our job really was that we could do really, really well. And we did. We, we, we just, it’s kind of, it was underperforming for what they had, right? Which is fine, right? I mean if you’re making a hundred thousand and you’re happy, that’s great. You know what I mean? He vacationed a lot. He just didn’t really care to grow it. So, which is fine. There’s nothing wrong with it. We just thought, wow, we, let’s let the whole world know about that are, you know, let’s let the rest of the state and surrounding states know about it and we can increase the sales significantly.

Ryan Tansom: So on a couple of these, um, the, you know, both those exits that you’ve talked about, where did you find the buyers? Did you hire an investment banker? Did you like have someone knock on the door or did you knock on their door?

Jeff Smith: So the biggest one, when I met you, I was an alumni for entrepreneur of year, so the next company I’ll just, and then [Ryan interjects: yeah, no, keep going. Absolutely.] Was like, well I won’t go. There’s one called third plex. We did a windshield film for um, and we ended up selling that. It was kind of underwhelming to be honest with you. I kind of started it, we got some patents and we just couldn’t. It took forever to heal after a year. So I’m like, this is killing me. Let’s just sell part, let’s just sell it off. And then we’ll keep a piece of it. There’s a windshield film for cars and we were selling into like rental car companies. I bought this company about 20 million in my partner did and then we grew it to over $250 million called Ingram Medical. And that was what we got entrepreneur of the year for me and my partner for Utah and we were finalists in national. That’s when- So when I met you, that’s what I was back for this alumni going back there. That was the biggest company. We had 1,100 employees. That was like 20 people to love on our, if that was by far the biggest company I had been part of. And so, um, that was our biggest and hardest one just because it was a lot of people and a lot of volume and…

Ryan Tansom: Well, and what’s interesting too is like, you know, when we were at the EY conference and what, you know, as you kind of look at these different journeys that you’ve gone through $250,000,000 in revenue in 1,100 employees, you know, you get the best of the best advice, but I think there’s also, you know, there’s just holes in the process for sure.[Jeff interjects: For sure.] You know, and so many times even accompany like that and maybe even look what’s going on with, you know, with Comcast and Disney and all this stuff going on right now it’s like, you know, it’s really just businesses buying other businesses for their buying cash flow or buying strategies or go-to-market strategies. But no. So a lot of that stuff happens naturally out of a conversation Stereo at the EY conference. Like Hey, I should buy you. But like did you know what you wanted and why? Did you know how much it was worth? Did you have timing… like, did you have people that were helping you enter that or did he just kinda come in?

Jeff Smith: So um at, I actually used. So there was a back to beehive, that was the first time I’d used it, an investment banker, and there was a person that focused on just the building industry. So he said, you know what, you’re kind of small because you know, with investment baking typically you need to have a certain size. Obviously for somebody in the medical, I mean, obviously 250 is a good size and you know, that was easy to get investment bankers. We were talking to the, the largest, you know, that was easier to get in anchor for that. But it was harder when your team was smaller, but actually found a boutique one. They focused on that industry. He literally said, you know, I think I got a buyer for you. He literally brought two buyers in and the second one bought it. So it was kind of unique in that it was a fairly simple process. We kind of, we wanted, they were willing to pay it. So I was actually kind of surprised like, wow, that was easy. I’m a thinker and we actually, um, we did two private equity rounds, so we made money but we just wanted to use them. We made money. They’re really good EBITDA, but we wanted to, to exit little by little. So we actually did three rounds so we actually sold to private equity to, to sell off little by little. Does that make sense?

Ryan Tansom: Yeah. Did you so did three rounds of the same PE firm or did you…?

Jeff Smith: Different, different. And that way we could keep running the company and have fun, you know, and there’s no need to really sell it, but you could kind of get some, get some retirement for your family and, and uh, but still own it and just little by little sell it off. So that’s kinda how we could still keep a piece of the company. But with that one we actually had an. I also did a debt round where I used a couple times where I used I bankers for raising debt and they’re the ones that focus on just that. And that was great because they whole process brought these guys in. It was really very helpful to help you run your business.

Ryan Tansom: Can you explain that for the listeners, Jeff? Because like I’ve had, I’ve had some people on the show where we’ve talked about PE recaps and kinda how that works and second bite of the apple and some of that stuff. But um, you know, there hasn’t been a whole lot on like actually just raising money for debt and how is that different than equity versus all the other different ways?

Jeff Smith: Yeah. So we did. So we did both. We raised money for debt and equity so that way we get leverage, you know, we could obviously as shareholders, because all the money was going to the shareholders and I was, you know, the largest. So I was getting debt money, which was nice because you’re still keeping, you know, obviously a lot of the company. And so raising debt obviously is nice because you don’t lose any of the company, but you have cash available to you. We can put debt on the books for the company and then you can… I got 1 X EBITDA, which is very low. They’ll do as much as three or four. So it was, it was pretty low, you know, mean it was pretty conservative. But allows us to leverage our money instead of just getting, selling equity, we’re also able to put some debt in the books and get the shareholders some money to pay out.

Ryan Tansom: And who are the players that are usually. I mean, when there’s, assuming you said the I-bankers actually go the raising? Is it specific banks that they’re running their pension funds or like were they actually find on the debt for, for the whole deal?

Jeff Smith: Um, I think um, when we did it, we just had, we had uh, the I-banker was going to banks that would provide the debt work. Sometimes there’s mez depending on the, there’s mez lenders that do just mez only um, we were actually going to banks. So the bigger banks like bank of America was like that.

Ryan Tansom: So when you started the, you know, the last business you said, so you went from, what was the, what was the original one to 250 million? Like how, like what was it going?

Jeff Smith: Was that what went for 20 to 250 million? The funny thing is it was completely different business. That was, we bought a wholesale business completely pivoted to direct consumer model. So it was like that money completely went away. So it was almost basically starting from scratch. We basically start a new business where we were selling direct to consumer, so we had zero revenue in that area, but we raised the wholesale to kind of get us there, you know, over a couple year period that we just pivoted.

Ryan Tansom: Did you, for when going from wholesale and direct to consumer, were you upsetting other distributors or anything like that along the way or was it a different product or service that you were able to market?

Jeff Smith: Yeah, I mean in the healthcare it’s kind of, it’s very monopolistic, like you know, they only have like three or four major PBMs and yeah, they have exclusive contract. So yeah, we are definitely disrupting and upsetting people for sure.

Ryan Tansom: So you know, as you look at all these different ventures that you’ve gone on and just the sheer quantity of the people and the conversations that you’re having around value creation returns and you know, different rounds of financing and stuff like that, you know, what are the different things that you’ve seen that really have extreme value when you’re looking at stuff like that, you know, is it, is it patents, is it management team, is a contract and all these different things you’ve probably seen because you know, what have you, what, what maybe surprised you or what did you continue to gravitate towards because you saw the success?

Jeff Smith: I think when we’re looking for an idea, I’m looking for something where I feel like I can provide value. And so what drives me is two things. One is providing value, like just seeing like the new companies started Jet Dental. It’s so cool to see this idea and see there’s a hole in the market right there is definitely gentle. I think going to dentists sucks and I thought what if we can make it a better experience? That would be really cool. Good. So some of those things become very personal, like even junior go. I, I think it sucks. And so if I could make it better, I can relate to it, you know? So we were. So we always look for things where we can create value and I think I’ll have fun doing it, right? Like I said, this will be fun. You know, I think some people confuse passion with like, you know, like I have a friend, I like surfing like and I do too, I’m like, but I’m not going to start a surfing businesses. I think that business sucks. I just don’t think, I don’t think you can make money and I want to, you know, I’m in the business to make money what I’m doing right. Unless I’m doing a nonprofit. And so I look at the dollar size too, you know, like, well what I mean the opportunity. I’m like, I don’t know. There’s a lot of opportunities, a lot of people in that business. And I just, I think people think that if they’re passionate about something like surfing or some industry that that’s the passion to me, it has nothing, obviously it has nothing to do with what I’m doing so much meaning to what industry or whatever it’s about am I creating value and I’m making a difference? You know, Ingram medical I felt we really made a difference for diabetics’ lives and the people we work with and get dental work.

Jeff Smith: Totally making a difference. I mean you look good. I look every day at people I work with and the people we serve and it’s exciting to me. It’s two things. It’s the people I work with and seeing them grow and then seeing it, seeing this, that you fill a hole in the marketplace and satisfying customers. It’s super exciting to me. No matter what you do, it doesn’t have to be, you know, surfing, which I enjoy. I mean that’s just a hobby that has nothing to do with work, but…

Ryan Tansom: So what’s your definition of filling a hole in the market?

Jeff Smith: I just see that where there’s a need and I go, wow, we know we can fulfill a need. So what we saw is that people were not getting their teeth cleaned like they’re supposed to write like you’re supposed to be preventative, right? You’re supposed to your teeth cleaned every six months and get an exam and people aren’t doing it. I thought, why? Well, who the hell wants to go to the dentist and you know, you call your dentist. He’s like, well, I’m available in four weeks. You know, I’ve gotten these two weeks and by the way you can go Monday through Thursday from nine to three. It’s like, holy hell, it’s worse than the bank. We say bankers hours. I will call them dentist hours, you know, like… and I’m not saying there’s another dentist that’s not best for the consumer, you know, when do you want to. I’d really go at 6:00 at night. I don’t want to go. I don’t do it when I’m at work, come to me. So that’s why we had this idea of like let’s just go to businesses, the businesses in the, in the, in the country and let’s just bring the dentist to them and just do it right then there? And then all of a sudden we got everybody coming in so that all the people that weren’t gear teeth cleaner now getting them cleaned and now they’re back getting good oral health and we have found two people had oral cancer, so we basically saved two people’s lives because we caught it early. I mean you get early detection of serious diseases in your mouth if you can get it early.

Jeff Smith: And so we got people back on oral health and feeling better and that’s very rewarding. You know, getting people to [inaudible] you’re twice as likely with GMS, half America has gum disease are twice as likely to get a stroke and three times likely to have a heart attack if you have gum disease. I’m like, well that’s kind of a serious thing and if we can fix that, that’d be awesome. So it’s just, I think he’s just looking for, you know, for needs in the marketplace and that’s why I think it’s kind of unique what I do because I think most people are in a business, right? Like maybe they work for IBM, they go, oh, look at this cool idea. I’ll go start my company on it. When I was with proctor and gamble straight out of school, I know several guys that left because, you know, it wasn’t a big enough market for P&G and these guys said, hey, look at this hole we found in this consumer packaged goods area, right? And they start a business. I think it’s a little unique to do what I do, which is kind of like going a completely different area that’s, that’s kind of unique and different. I would recommend it actually. I think it’s better off to be in an industry you’re already in and have contacts and then you know, find an opportunity or see a need in the marketplace. But I think you have to. It’s kinda like heads up, right? It’s looking for opportunities and kind of have that desire and passionate and kind of just finds us away. My opinion. Like if you really work out in, you’re passionate about, you’ll find a way. You’ll find that opportunity if you’re always looking and thinking about it.

Ryan Tansom: And it’s interesting because, I mean honestly, Jeff, since we had lunch back in November, I’ve told you a story about Jet Dental, I don’t know how many times because I’m just like I hate the dentist and I can’t really believe how inconvenient it is. And explain to the listeners like, so you kind of brushed over about hours and stuff, but like explain like how you translate that into the business model because I think it’s so fascinating when you really go, okay, well because most people say well a dentist’s office isn’t worth anything because it goes with literally it goes right back to that ad agency model, which is what you described because they’re working in their trading dollars for hours and then if they leave then they don’t have a job or they don’t have the company.

Jeff Smith: Well they can sell to their dentist but you know what the deal… So you could work your whole, you know, life let’s say for 20 years and what you want, you sell it for, you sell for 80 percent of the, of what you collect in a given year. That’s what you sell for. That’s crazy. So like if you’re doing a million a year, uh, and I’m talking about revenue, right? Let’s say it’s a good dental offices, maybe there’s about a million that’s probably pretty good for a dental office. You’re a selling thing for him to ground like God damn. That’s like mostly that’s bad, but it’s not like necessarily it doesn’t, you know…

Ryan Tansom: It’s probably an earn out too, right? Or like they have to work for it.

Jeff Smith: Yeah, kinda, sorta. Well, yeah. You know what they do, they do a typical out but then they’ll say, but I need you to stay on for a year because I need you to make a transition. And so I don’t know, I just, it’s, it’s, um, it didn’t seem that exciting to me, but I just think consumer, we just felt like consumers would love what we’re doing and it has where like every major western, every major, but most big companies here in Utah, we started, we got into all of them and all this, we call them silicon slopes companies. All the high tech companies were basically every one [unclear cross-talk]…

Ryan Tansom: Well explain it. So explain to the listener. So, so how did you take the old dentist model and then actually change it from like the timings and explaining how to like how you’re going to the company? So I think because I think it’s just, it’s just genius.

Jeff Smith: It’s kind of a disruptive idea, meaning that dentists, they’re still doing their thing and that’s great. It’s just kind of a different ideas. Like we’re delivering a different way and I don’t think it even really… Matter of fact, I’d argue we’re not even hurting the, we’re kind of creating a better oral health. So we’re just increasing [unclear] what’s happening is. So what happens, we go into a business, we meet with HR and we say, hey look, let me just come to your and just, you have dental insurance. It covers preventative, it covers your exam, which includes x-rays and teeth cleaning. So it was just what you would do an oral hygiene appointment when you go to dentist’s office. And so he said, why don’t we just go there and we’ll do them in your office? And we showed him how we could do it. And then we started, once we hit the, you know, a few big companies and everybody started jumping on, you know, Sinclair Oil and we have a lot of nationwide companies too – Southwest Airlines – and so we, once we show them that, that people wanted to do it, so the HR people would send a, an email from us, they sign it, they go, holy mackerel, everybody was signing up that I’m going to get 20, 25 percent of company signing up, which is pretty, you know, you’ve got to do a 2000 people companies.

Jeff Smith: So we’re doing like eight or nine people in our, um, with a dentist, a whole bunch of hygienists. And so we realized there was a big need for people really want it. We had, I had a single mom and she goes, you know, I have four kids and I can come bring them to the office. And we did a whole family in one hour because, you know, most officers going to have one or two hygienists and we have seven or eight. And so we were just saving people tons of time. And then we’re getting people to come that normally wouldn’t go, so we’ve found is 80 percent of people that come to sign up to come to the days that we’re there have not been a dentist now for two years. So we’re finding we’re creating a whole new market. We’re basically people that weren’t going are now going and so now we’re getting a whole bunch of dough going and that we can do the basic dentistry that can be like if they have cavities, we can do it there or a crown or we do teeth whitening too, by the way. So we want to give him a confident smile. Invisalign so we can get teeth straightening because we go every quarter. We can kind of watch them and see them. So we’re kind of getting this clientele and base that we come every quarter back to the business and then we get… then every six months you get your checkup. So we’re seeing the same people over and over. And then if they have more complicated things we refer that to the dentist. But we’re finding people that just haven’t been into your analysis that they’re going and now they have work that needs to be done and we can, we can do a lot of it. Then we can refer out. We, we can’t do this more complicated thing that, you know, needs to be done in an office. So we’re actually increasing health and awareness and more preventative and therefore we’re increasing the dental share in our market. We’re just getting new business, if that makes sense.

Ryan Tansom: So you can just hear the passion in your voice. And I think, like I said, the reason I told that story so many times because it’s just awesome. You can hear the fact that you’re having fun while you’re making money and, you know, I’m just curious like when you look at these different companies in the different industries, in the total spectrum of the things that you’ve talked about on a daily basis, what do you, is it creating things and disrupting markets that’s fun for you? What’s your definition of fun and then what happens when you’re no longer having fun and how do you mitigate damage?

Jeff Smith: I think, uh, for me the fun part is, is twofold. One is creating value. Like it’s so funny because we just had this idea and it’s working. I’m like, you know, he goes, some of the biggest companies in our valley and they’re all signing up with us. It’s like, wow, this is awesome. I mean one largest companies that have called Vivian and having them, you know, one largest companies in the valley that’s successful, you know, worth a few billion bought by Blackstone. You’ll, I mean our company nationwide and this is great. Like why wouldn’t we do it? And having them say, why wouldn’t we do it and why hasn’t someone done this before? It’s pretty exciting. And then sort of the customer, how the customer say thank you, thank you, thank you. The wonderful testimonials we get and how appreciative they are for our service. That just drives the heck out of me. And then to see our employees grow and you know, we have a lot of people, most of our employees are women. And, and to see them grow and tell them how much they appreciate, you know, guys, I’ve never been a manager before and teaching is something that our trade, how to be a manager and people have this untapped talent and to see them go from managing nobody to several dozens of people and perform and do well. That’s exciting too that we can mentor and help people become managers, you know, so we’ve done it over the years. We cannot though I still have a ton to learn, but we can pass it onto them and help them grow. So I think seeing customers appreciate what you do and love it and give us a great response and help us be better and to offer more services and do it better. And then number two, senior employees grow. And when you’re a growing company, obviously you can provide more opportunities for people to grow because they can get management opportunities and promotions. And so those are two things I think drive the… [Ryan interjects: How do you…] So both really is what it’s all about for me. Growing fast. I love growth. I love people growing, I like the company growing. It’s exciting. Growth. Growth to me is what I love to do.

Ryan Tansom: So what happens, you know, do you have like an internal gauge of like, okay, I’m kind of maybe reaching the end of, you know, my passion or maybe not passion, but the fun run line here or how do you determine… Like now is it, is it a market timing or is it an exit timing or value timing or is it just, you know, a personal enjoyment timing? Because I think the reason I asked that as so many people, it’s too late because they burn out and then they can’t do the hard stuff.

Jeff Smith: That’s a good point. Well, one thing I tried to. I think… in my opinion, most people go to work because they want to grow, they want to feel like they’re providing value. It’s all kind of a you. I know the Todd, the CEO of Vivant said he goes to work every day and tries to create value. And so that’s what I try to do is if you start feeling you’re not creating value or you don’t want to create value, like you’re kind of done in burnout, you’re starting to get that direction. I think it’s a good time to. Okay to. That’s one trigger for sure because if you, if you’re not passionate, excited about, you absolutely should get out because that’s what’s gonna drive. The whole is your passion. I think the way I look at things as is, I kind of look out ahead and think Harris, partly for me, it’s like once it gets too big, it’s just not fun for me anymore, you know, once it gets too big. So I think I’ll know about that when that timing is, you know, but right now I’m just having a good time and I’m just trying to build value. So at any, at any time along the way we could exit, right? Because we could say, look, we’re upgrading good value, we’ve structured this company in the right way and there’s just always value being created and so we could exit anytime.

Ryan Tansom: Well, I think you just hit on a huge note, um, that, you know, kind of a couple of different ways because so many times I see where the entrepreneurs burnt out and then they didn’t do this to create value and to be able to exit at any time and then it’s just too late and you know, what are some of the things that you have done or do or recommend or wish you would have done to make sure that you can pull that ripcord whenever you want? Was there, you know, people that you’ve met with or the financial, like what is the way, you know, obviously the less stuff that you said about, you know, continuing to create value for the customers and that kind of stuff in growth is an important thing. But is there other stuff that you have done so that way when the opportunity arises or you feel that triggering event that you are ready?

Jeff Smith: Well, I think, I think there’s a couple of things be thinking about. One is I think, remember I’d mentioned before, I think when you’re a startup mode, you’re not thinking about acting at that point. Well, you’re thinking down the road, but it’s not, there’s not the value there and so you’re trying to create value so that down the road you can? When you get to a company where you’re making a lot of money, I think it can kind of work against you if you have all your eggs in one basket. It’s like it’s like going out and buying Apple stock, right? Like that’s kind of in particular, but you know, obviously that’s going to go up and down, up and down. So, but if you have every single thing in your company and you have a lot of value and let’s say that you could literally retire off that easily, my opinion is that you’re better off to take a piece off the table if it’s, um, a smaller piece and not have that stress of like you have everything in this one company. I think in my opinion, and there’s varying opinions on this, but you should probably take some off the table at some point so that you can take care of your family. And that’s just the way I look at it. People probably look at it different differently.

Ryan Tansom: No I think you bring up a really good point, but I think that brings up a, a kind of a piggybacking question for me because I even spoke in front of a group today that has very substantially big size companies and you know, private equity ready, you know, or the size and stuff like that, but you know, even kind of like, I think a lot of people can relate to your passion or your enjoyment for your people and your customers. What- There’s a lot of horror stories out there about people coming in they quote unquote want to take some chips off the table, but it totally goes a different direction. Right? Someone comes in and it’s either ownership or the majority are, you know, they bastardized the culture or the customers of the model and all these things. How do you, how do you avoid something like that or how have you avoided it?

Jeff Smith: Well, I think you need to take enough off the table. You know, my buddy from New York. Uh, I’ll clean it up a little bit. You said, you know, you kind of want to get your FU money, so you kind of make sure there’s enough that it’s substantial so that if things do go south, you’re okay financially, if that makes sense? You may have lost a lot of the table, but, but, but you, you know, you, um, I mean there could have been more there, but you know, you were able to do it. The other thing is when we did the first time, we will actually, both times we had, um, they were minority. Um, so yeah, there are yet, but I think once you go to a majority, I think you’re kind of, it’s probably time to somewhat checkout. Well not you couldn’t work there, but I think that once you go to the majority then if they don’t do it the way you want, it was like, oh, well, you know, I got a great payday and you know, it’s their company. And so they can, it’s their decision. So at some point, you know, once, once they buy the majority of you have to realize, well they’re, they’re the majority so that, that can happen. And um, it’s something that you have to be prepared that could happen and so both your gender minorities and I think as you hopefully can control that as far as at least culture and things like that. There’s probably some triggering events even as a minority that they can, in other words where they have some, you know, some veto power over us and that’s par for the course of just selling the company. Things like that. You should have control of the board and the kind of things you mentioned shouldn’t happen, you know, because you can control that.

Ryan Tansom: Well, I think that’s, you know, there’s a lot of assumptions and you know, all of these private equity firms like, well we like majority. But I think to your point, if I’m hearing you correctly, is if you’re creating value and doing the things that you want to, you can go find the person that wants minority.

Jeff Smith: There’s a lot that want minority, by the way. There’s, there’s a lot of companies like that.

Ryan Tansom: I think it’s false notions that everybody wants the majority because that’s what everybody says, you know, because there’s…

Jeff Smith: No, there’s quite a few that’ll take that, that’ll do the minority and I, I think that in an exit, I think if I, when I think of minority, I’m like, I want to stay on for longer, but I just want to take some chips off the table. I think it’s harder to sell majority and say, well I’m gonna take some chips off the table then I give it the more majority. Well that’s kinda, you know, once you could do that, once you’ve crossed that threshold then you know, you have to realize that you are not in the majority. And so, um, things like that can happen. So you have to prepare for that, makes sure you have enough chips off the table that you’re okay with walking away at some point.

Ryan Tansom: So then, you know, after you do a couple of, you know, is that what you did with that one? Uh, one of the business, a couple of minority rounds of PE firms and then, you know, what’s the, what’s the ultimate bundled wrap to sell? Is it, I think you said you sold one to a public company or a, you know, how do you then get everybody what they want and are these minority, um, people coming on board with timelines and, you know, return expected.

Jeff Smith: Yeah, that’s the downside to it. It’s like you’ve got to realize that once the clock starts ticking and you know, people are expecting something down the road maybe five years and suddenly have a contraction in five years. They kind of have the option to, you know, make something happen. And so I think, um, I think you have to realize that once you take money than you do… you are kind of married to these guys now you know, and you have responsibilities. So there’s, there’s some downside to a two or certainly some responsibilities now to doing it. So I think some people, you know, what I think they know their personalities, they know themselves and so, you know what, I just want to sell out. I’m done, you know. So there’s different varying reasons for people wanting to, to exit and get out. But um, for me it’s like if you don’t feel like you’re adding a lot of value anymore or you just feel like you need to get some chips off the table, combining those together as tough, you know, thinking that through and um, but I think you always need to think about value first. Am I creating value? Am I enjoying being part of this? And there’s market conditions to you might say, guys, there’s a lot of risk now and I probably… might be a good time for me to take some [unclear] out because the risk factors are high, you know, and there’s competitors and there’s probably partying so many bigger. Maybe make sense, because I know all this thing I built may go away if I know if I’m not competitive. And so you have to look at market dishes too as well.

Ryan Tansom: How is it, you know, as you’ve done the minority stuff, I’m assuming because there’s this emotional factor of all this stuff, right? Because you are so bought into these babies, especially you with creating these things. I mean, it’s your, it’s your second child and you’re so tied into it with your personality and your thoughts and ideas you’re like an artist, so you know, what is the experience you’ve had with these different journeys with the emotional transition? Did it take you awhile while you had the company? How did you, or did you have the next idea from each of these stepping stones that it was easy for you? I mean like how did you cope with that?

Jeff Smith: I think it’s very hard to much, I think, but I think that’s probably the mistake a lot of people do is they get too emotionally involved and they’re not. They’re not thinking about it clearly. I think you need. I think you need to have some people help I think where there’s an I-banker or you know, somebody that can look, can look at this more objectively and help you. Because I think people make too many emotional decisions in these things and they’re not thinking clearly, you know, it’s their baby so they think it’s worth more than it really is. That’s not, that’s not realistic. You know? And so they get too emotional about it and they have to. I think you need to. That’s why that was helpful to me to have some outside folks help me and maybe a mentor, somebody else who has gone through this, talk to them through and just try to talk to you straight about it, you know, and say hey, here’s the deal. And that was very helpful to me to have some people that are, that can look at this not emotionally to help you make decisions because I think that’s a big mistake people make is they get too emotional about it. They’re not really, they’re not being logical either. You got the logical side of it too. What’s the reality? What’s real reality of the situation?

Ryan Tansom: Yeah especially when you’ve had the experience where you, you, you, you grow in experience where you know, you do it once and it’s, it can be like literally traumatic because they didn’t think about any of that stuff.

Jeff Smith: And so it helps. Helps going through that. And I’ve had good advisors. I’ve had the same attorneys for all my deals, like the same exact guys I know them really, really well. And that’s been helpful. They have a lot of the same advisor that I trust almost as friends, not just, you know, absolutely had that kind of relationship with them and that’s maybe that’s unique or not, but that’s one thing good about being a different histories. At least I had the same attorney and you can talk straight to me and I had the same CPA and so it was helpful for them to kind of look at things logically and talk to them. And I had a couple mentors that had spots in all companies that could help me. And uh, some of the private equity guys I work with, they had a lot of value. They’re very, very helpful and you know, and a good board is really, really helpful. The bigger you get, the more, more a board can be helpful. So I think the board can really help you be level-headed about a lot of these things and help you not look emotional and get a lot of different opinions before you make your decisions. So having a good board, have good advisors and then, uh, you know, and then having an i-banker. I mean I just probably had a lot of advice and help so I had to make a decision at the end of the day, but it was helpful to have a lot of different viewpoints before making decisions.

Ryan Tansom: I think you’re using other people’s experience to build a budget instead of using the hard knock school way of doing it. [Jeff interjects: Well for sure.] So as we’re wrapping up here, Jeff, that you’ve got because of all the different things we’ve talked about and all the good experience that you’ve had and you just dropped a bunch of amazing stuff right there. Is there one thing that you want to highlight that we talked about? Or if there’s something that we haven’t talked about that you want to kinda, you know, bring to light, what would it be?

Jeff Smith: Well ironically it’s almost like it’s a paradox. You know, we’ve been talking about, about thinking about the exit stuff like that. I think people think about the exit too much and not creating value. So I think the number one thing is, is keep your priorities straight, which is look all the best companies I’ve seen. I’ve met a lot of guys that have been successful in this valley, you think lots of these high-tech companies, the ones that have been the most successful are the ones that are passionate at what they’re doing. They’re really focused on creating value first and you know, trying to win in the marketplace and then you start thinking about exit other things as part of the process and you do it by thinking ahead and, and, and if you think of, you know, doing strategic planning and thinking about a year out, two years out and think, you know, I always have quarterly offsites and yearly off sites. We think about those then, but you know, then then you get your nose to the grindstone, you focus on value. So they number one, always focused on value and building a company that you can be, you know, you’re taking care of the customer, do all those things are the most important thing. And then the, the exits will work if you do that. But if you try to think of the exit first they just don’t. It doesn’t work, you know, you don’t create value in focusing on the exit instead of focusing on taking care of customers. And that’s when people I think screw up.

Ryan Tansom: Well, it’s interesting and I agree with you wholeheartedly. However, I think you’ve got a unique dynamic that I think, you know, I want to maybe ask you one last question, which is how do you balance those two because that’s so many times, Jeff, that I see people don’t think about the exit as well, so like maybe, I don’t know if it’s circles or people that you know, that that’s, you know, and it’s kind of that the tech world where grow to sell, grow to sell, grow to sell and I do agree with that, but then there’s this whole other sector of midmarket America that it’s grow a passion. It’s my life and it might be a 20, a hundred million dollar whatever sized business that, but it’s all their life. How do you balance, because you mentioned like five, 10 minutes ago that it’s… You also have to think about it logically. So what have you done that like literally allows you to balance the value creation, the fun, the enjoyment and the logic behind it?

Jeff Smith: I think I, um, we always- I always focus on priorities and I write those down and then I am just really disciplined to that. Um, my priority is always number one, building a great team. And then number two is to build value for whatever we’re doing. That’s number two. And then number three, I think about, Oh hey, there’s this financial side to it that’s really important. We have to actually make money. So I did those, that order build team first. So I don’t forget any of them by the way. So some people, like I said, like to your point, you make a great point. Well yeah, but some people, you know, focus on that instead of, you know, they focus on just building value, building value. I think about, well, what the exit going to look like? And um, so as part of that, you know, making money part, I think about the whole thing from like, oh, by the way, we need to have to be cash flow positive. That would be really nice. And then what’s the next step, what’s the next step? And some people don’t worry about cash flow positive because they’re focusing on- you know, these high-tech companies. Folks I just built, you know, depends on what your strategy is. My last business, I bet it was like we never made money at Ceberian because we were, it was like to build, build, build, grow, grow, grow, and, and you know, don’t worry about making money. Well that’ll happen later. And the company that bought us made a lot of money off what we did, our technology and the last company I’ve been, I’ve been more about, you know, it’s been more like, like a Warren Buffett kind of the business, which is okay, we’re going to actually make cash flow.

Jeff Smith: And that’s been more about, you’re more of a… So the goals have been a little bit different but, but as part of that I think about, oh, how would I accept, what would that look like and how would I govern the company to, to get to do that. Even like the way I set the corporation. How would I do that so, so if somebody wants to acquire us, what would, how would it be easy for them to do that based on how we set things up. So I think about that in that bucket. But yeah, you have to think about all of the above. Those are three areas I had the big, big areas I think about finances, but that to me it’s like the third priority, but it’s not like I don’t do it. It’s still a priority. It’s like top three.

Ryan Tansom: You realize that in your experience at if you have that stuff in order and you’ve kind of got that plan, then you can almost kind of forget about it as well?

Jeff Smith: That’s exactly. That’s a great way to put it. That’s kind of my point I guess a little bit which is you’re doing the right way and you set up structure right way and it kind of takes the exit kind of takes care of itself if you plan for it. When I went to buy Beehive Brigham and the guy had been buying snowmobiles, is it like it was such, it was so screwed up. I mean, it was like, it wasn’t thinking about you just get this cookie jar and put money in it and he’d take it whatever you want. It was so screwed up. It was hard to even buy it, you know, because it was so yet thought through that at all. And so, um, we try to think. I try to think of all three areas, but like you said, it’s important. I just, I just don’t think he’s, I just don’t think you screw up or that you change the priorities. I think it is one, two, three and that is however you want to do it. But the exit is not number one, but it has to be thought of. Right. To your point, it’s. That doesn’t mean it’s not important, number three, but it. But you, it is three. It’s not one or two.

Ryan Tansom: And it’s one of those, like you said, it’s almost liberating because if it’s planned for and it’s technically built in nuclear, you talk about it, but then you can just go have fun and build value.

Jeff Smith: That’s right. I mean, I really felt at any point we can just sell it like, oh, I want to sell today. Okay, great. We’ve set it up properly. We can show value, we can jump, you know, we can see how it could be. It’s to win for somebody. We’re not planning it right now, but it’s funny because I’m. When I sold Ceberian, they came to us, which is awesome. It was so awesome. Right. They come to you and say, hey. It was funny. As we had. We said, oh, we think we have this other guy that’s interested in too. And then that weekend we went and talked to that company and they said, yeah, we’re interested. So then we were able to go back and say, you know, we have somebody else that’s interested too, so we’ll kind of work with both of you guys. What’s funny is that very next week they said, hey, you know what, we’re not interested in anymore. We of course didn’t disclose that to them. Hey, they’re not interested anymore. We didn’t say anything. We just, we didn’t lie either if they would have asked us, I would have said yeah, it went so fast that they didn’t know that they were out and so it really created more value because, you know, they knew somebody else looking at it and you know, we probably could have talked to more people too, by the way. So there was value for other people to be interested, but we, we kind of create a little bit of competition so it was nice that it helped, um, put together something where they wanted it and they paid top dollar so it was just time to sell and it was like, Hey, we knew he was going to be the strategic. Probably good timing. And the, again, we talked to the board, we talked to advisors and after talking a whole bunch of people we said, yeah, this is the right thing to do.

Ryan Tansom: I think you covered so much ground and I think it’s a, it’s a ton of, a ton of good information. I mean it’s the, it’s the balancing act, which you know, you’ve got enough experience to be able to do it successfully, which is awesome and I, and I can’t thank you enough for coming on the show. What’s the, uh, what’s the best way for our listeners to get in touch with you?

Jeff Smith: I’m at [email protected]. I’m Jeff J e f f[@] j e t d e n t a

Ryan Tansom: Thank you so much Jeff for coming on the show.

Jeff Smith: Thank you, sir. Take Care Ryan.


Ryan Tansom: Well, I really hope you enjoyed that episode with Jeff. I’ll tell you what, I really can’t wait till his company Jet Dental comes into the twin cities because I would love to have my dentist show up right at my door and clean my teeth. Well, if there’s any major takeaways besides that, that I have with my conversation with Jeff was right towards the end when we started talking about how you have to have it all planned, but if you have it planned then you don’t have to think about it. So knowing what your moves are going to be allows you to really then just focus on having fun, creating value, mentoring people and doing all this stuff that you need to do, but also being aware and being prepped. So if the industry changes, if things happen and you get a knock on the door from someone that wants to buy your company, you have all your ducks in a row and you know what you want and why. And I was really able to see how at peace he was because he knew those things and because he was prepped he was able to really just enjoy everything that he was doing until it was either no longer fun or until he, until he got the offer and until he sold his company. So having those three things in order and those priorities and always thinking about them I think is extremely important and something that we should all strive for, which is why we’re doing what we’re doing at GEXP Collaborative. Because if you have a growth and exit plan built, then you can go have fun and forget about all the other technical stuff because it’s already done. So if you enjoyed the episode, go on itunes, give me a rating. Otherwise, I’ll see you next week.

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Written by Ryan Tansom

Ryan Tansom

Ryan runs industry-specific podcasts on his website which pertain to mergers and acquisitions, and all the life lessons he wish he had known then. He strives to bring this knowledge to his listeners in a way that is effective and engaging by providing new material each week from industry experts.

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