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Bootstrapping to Exit: TimeSlips CEO Mitch Russo (Part 7)

Posted on Sunday, Mar 4th 2018

Mitch Russo: The dot-com bust then hit. It was April of 2000. The stock market started to do what it’s doing right now. It was just crazy. I realized what was happening. Our customers were going out of business. When the dust settled a year later, we had lost 30% of the furniture retailers. Another 30% of the furniture manufacturers had gone out of business. We basically knew that the end was near. I wound it down. We found a buyer.

Then I went back to my roots, which is basically being a business consultant. I started helping other companies. One of the friends I made from the TimeSlips era was a guy named Chet Holmes. Chet is an incredibly interesting guy, I would say, high-persistence sales guy. He ended up selling me a lot of advertising space which turned out to be a blessing for the company. We stayed friends all these years.

Eventually, he invited me into his company to help him solve a problem, which I said I would do. I came in and figured out how to hire and staff his sales department. We tripled his sales force. We started raising sales considerably over the course of about seven weeks until finally I called him up and said, “You’re all set.” He said, “What am I going to do with this $18,000 check I have with your name on it?” I said, “We didn’t agree that you were going to pay me.” He said, “For every person you hired, you get 2% of everything they sold. That’s $18,000. You want it or not? I want you here. I want you help me build this company.”

We worked together for three or four months when he said, “I need to bring you in. We’re about to start negotiating with Tony Robbins. Tony, you, and I will be meeting on the phone Thursday night to see if there’s anything worthwhile about putting the three of us together and building a company.” We figured out all different ways we could potentially do this until everybody came to a solution that everyone seemed to like.

We agreed to start a company together. We basically rented a 500-person all in Las Vegas, had a huge event, did fantastic presentations, recorded all those presentations, added workbooks to go along with them, and turned that into a program which we then used to sell millions and millions of dollars worth of products. By the third year, we were growing at 100% a year. We had grown over $25 million in sales with 300 people working as staff.

Then the tragedy struck. At that point, Chet was diagnosed with leukemia. In a matter of months, unfortunately he passed away. I just decided that I was done at this point. I resigned. That was when I wrote my book The Invisible Organization. Since then, I’ve been building specialized programs for companies.

Just this last week, I released a software product – my first in many years. I built a SaaS company called I patented a process for matching accountability partner together and then guiding their accountability sessions. We’re just starting to market this into the community.

Sramana Mitra: Your storytelling was excellent. I enjoyed your story. It was a pleasure meeting you. Thank you for your time.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Bootstrapping to Exit: TimeSlips CEO Mitch Russo
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