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Quiet Giant Ramon Van Meer – Just a Regular Guy Shooting for a Billion Dollar Valuation
Ramon Van Meer is the Founder and CEO of Alpha Paw, a pet-focused company that creates unique, honest products that contribute to the health and happiness of pets everywhere. Alpha Paw has been featured on FOX, NBC, Allure, and many other popular sources.
As a serial entrepreneur who specializes in growing and selling businesses, Ramon is also the CEO of Growth Hacker TV, the Founder of Van Meer Capital, and the Co-founder of Toodledo. His life goals are to become the Marcus Lemonis for tech companies and to finally beat his son at chess.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Ramon Van Meer discusses the driving forces behind his success
- The importance of checking your ego at the door when starting a business
- How Ramon found the courage to ask for help and advice despite his introverted personality
- Ramon talks about reverse engineering the process of selling his business for $100 million
- Why Ramon decided to bring his fulfillment in-house instead of outsourcing to a 3PL
- Growth through acquisition vs. growth through SKU expansion
- Why Ramon doesn’t use Amazon for his business
- Ramon shares his 10-year-old son’s goal to feed every shelter dog in the world
- How Ramon and his son, Victor, bought a business through Craigslist that later became Victor’s Doggy Cookies
In this episode…
Are you eager to take your business to new heights, but don’t know where to start? If so, you’re not alone—and today’s guest may just have the strategies you need to overcome your fears and turn your growth potential into growth prospects.
Serial entrepreneur Ramon Van Meer knows the value of real growth opportunities, in business and in life. After experiencing homelessness as a teenager, Ramon moved to the United States as a single father without a college degree. Despite the odds, Ramon slowly began to build his now staggering entrepreneurial career by growing multiple businesses to exponential success. After following positive growth trends and investing in future opportunities, he was able to achieve a million-dollar exit—and now he wants to help other entrepreneurs do the same.
In this episode of the Quiet Light Podcast, Joe Valley sits down with Ramon Van Meer, the Founder and CEO of Alpha Paw, to discuss his inspirational journey toward entrepreneurial growth and success. Listen in as Ramon talks about the importance of authenticity when networking, how to cultivate growth opportunities that result in million-dollar exits, and his son’s goal to feed every shelter dog in the world. Stay tuned!
Resources Mentioned in this episode
- Ramon Van Meer on LinkedIn
- Alpha Paw
- Victor’s Doggy Cookies
- Joe Valley
- Quiet Light Brokerage
- “Incredible Exits: Ramon Shares Story of his High 9-Figure Sale” on the Quiet Light Podcast
- “Blogging His Way To $9M in Cash – Ramon Van Meer” on the My First Million Podcast with Sam Parr
- Hustle Con
- Bill DAlessandro on LinkedIn
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Quiet Light Brokerage, a brokerage firm that wants to help you successfully sell your online business.
There is no wrong reason for selling your business. However, there is a right time and a right way. The team of leading entrepreneurs at Quiet Light Brokerage wants to help you discover the right time and strategy for selling your business. By providing trustworthy advice, effective strategies, and honest valuations, your Quiet Light advisor isn’t your every-day broker—they’re your partner and friend through every phase of the exit planning process.
If you’re new to the prospect of buying and selling, Quiet Light Brokerage is here to support you. Their plethora of top-notch resources will provide everything you need to know about when and how to buy or sell an online business. Quiet Light offers high-quality videos, articles, podcasts, and guides to help you make the best decision for your online business.
Not sure what your business is really worth? No worries. Quiet Light Brokerage offers a free valuation and marketplace-ready assessment on their website, quietlightbrokerage.com. That’s right—this quick, easy, and free valuation has no strings attached. Knowing the true value of your business has never been easier!
What are you waiting for? Quiet Light Brokerage is offering the best experience, strategies, and advice to make your exit successful. To learn more, go to quietlightbrokerage.com, email [email protected], or call 800.746.5034 today.
Hi, folks, it’s the Quiet Light Podcast where we share relentlessly honest insights, actionable tips, and entrepreneurial stories that will help founders identify and reach their goals.
Joe Valley 0:24
Hey, folks, thanks again for joining the Quiet Light Podcast. Today’s episode, as always, is brought to you by Quiet Light Brokerage, where each and every advisor on the team has built, bought or sold their own online business, I’ve sold close to 100 million now. And that used to sound like a big number. But you know, Walker and Brian got one closing in a couple of weeks for 20 million, Brad’s working on it, believe it or not pocket deal for close to 25 million where he’s got two offers on it. Don’t be overwhelmed though, if you’ve got something for half a million or 2 million in value. That’s kind of our sweet spot. And we’re here to help. First and foremost, if you don’t understand the value of your online business, you probably don’t understand the value of your greatest asset. So I would advise you strongly to reach out go to who quietlightbrokerage.com click on evaluation form and let us help. That’s what we’re here to do. First and foremost, most of the people that we help we talked to for months or years at a time before they begin to before they list their business for sale. And one of those folks that I’ve helped is this guy on the line now his name is Ramon Van Meer. And let me tell you a little about him. He’s actually a good friend of mine now. I was sitting outside a dojo my son was working out. And I get a call from a former advisor here in the team says hey, look, I sold this business for this guy. Ramon you remember him is great guy loved him. And he’s looking to sell the next business. Let me just tell you how the numbers went in Ramon’s history and a little bit of background. And yes, I’m gonna maybe embarrass you a little bit here. Ramon. Ramon is from Holland, he was homeless at one point as a teenager, a serial entrepreneur, not college educated. A single father came to the United States first business he sold it I may not get these numbers exactly right. But somewhere around $7,000 second business he sold somewhere in the $20,000 range third business he sold somewhere in the $220,000 range. And the next this is the one that I got the call from and we achieve was in the just under $9 million range. And he’s not done yet. For those watching on video, there’s an image behind Ramon’s head that says Alpha Paw and there’s a picture of a unicorn back there. And he just explained to me what a unicorn is and what his goal is a unicorn valuation for those that don’t know, is a business that is valued at a billion dollars not sold for but valued. Is that right? valued at a billion dollars.
Ramon Van Meer 3:07
Yeah, value. But of course my goal is to exit the you know, have that unicorn exit.
Joe Valley 3:15
Yeah, one day. So all round guys here. Not only is the entrepreneurial journey, the personal journey, the triumphs, there’s a few tragedies along the way as every entrepreneur and individual has in life. Are they not just all impressive, but on top of it all? He’s actually just a humble nice guy. He had to clean up his office in the background before we started recording. Yes, he’s actually just like the rest of us. It’s usually a mess. My camera is zoomed in on only the clean things in my office. I had to ask my dog to leave before we got stuck in the carpet before we recorded I thought that would be an interesting part of recording. But I passed on it. Anyway, Ramon, welcome back to the podcast. One of the one of the reasons we’re having you here again, and having you and thanking you for tolerating us taking more of your time is that we’ve produced a video a little mini film on your story called Quiet Giants. And you tolerated Chris Moore coming out and getting you up at the crack of dawn not that you’re up at the crack of dawn anyway, not up to the crack of dawn anyway, but that’s going to come out folks on October 8. In conjunction with this podcast. Thank you for listening if you’re listening right now, after the recording, I’d suggest you go to Quiet Light Brokerage and do the search for Quiet Giants or go to our YouTube page and look for Quiet Giants you’re going to see and hear and get to know remotes full story and it’s just simply motivation is what it is. And that’s the purpose of this episode anyway and he stopped flapping my jaw. Ramon, how are you today?
Ramon Van Meer 4:55
Doing great. Thank you so much for having me. Again.
Joe Valley 4:59
Again. Thanks for joining Joining us again. Look, what is it that drives you? What is it that motivates you in in Victor’s what, 10 years old now your son in the, in the last 10 years, you’ve gone from a negative net worth to a pretty positive one are now shooting for a unicorn valuation? What is it? Is it simply money that drives you? Or is it the, you know, achieving that next hurdle and the learning and the knowledge? What is it? Help me out?
Unknown Speaker 5:30
Ramon Van Meer 5:32
It’s definitely not just money. Of course, money is a part of motivation. But if it was just money, I would have retired probably after, you know, selling the soap opera blog, I put everything in boring as you know, index funds, and you know, live happily close, quiet. It’s more of a journey, it is building cool things, helping you know, other people. And, and also see, like, see if you can pull it off, basically. So, I in my career as an intrapreneur, most were failures, but it’s all across the board. It’s not like I was passionate about, you know, one thing and I just, you know, dedicated 20 years of my life on, you know, becoming the best knitter or like writer or whatever it is, it’s for me, it was always across the board from selling custom eight, pin Jada’s online that I sold, you know, for $20,000 that website to a stock broker software that I, you know, helps build and then, you know, sold subscriptions to, to a soap opera blog that, you know, I never actually watched a soap opera episode in my life. So it’s more also like the challenge and see if you can pull it off. And learning along the way I’d love to learn.
Joe Valley 7:03
What’s fascinating is that you you’re not Hispanic with pinatas as part of your life growing up, you’re not a stockbroker or trader, you don’t know how to do that. It’s not what your skill set is. You’ve never watched a soap opera. I’m assuming now because Alpha Paw is a pet related business that you have. I know you do. You’ve got it. You’ve got a dog, I assume you’ve got pets. But that doesn’t mean that you then become an expert on the subject. How is it that first and foremost that you? What do you say to somebody that just has a fear of their lack of experience or knowledge, they say I don’t know how to do that. You don’t know how to do this either yet you’re doing it you don’t have experience in all those things that you’ve successfully built and sold in terms of the the niche itself. You I would want to say you don’t know how to build a value a billion dollar valuation company because you didn’t work for one and you don’t come from the private equity world. You know, you’re just a guy hustling and working hard. And you said something in there that was helping others mean meaning you’re a good human. And I think that makes a difference. But how do you? How do you get beyond that? I don’t know how to do that, too. I’m not afraid to ask kind of thing. Yeah. Which is a major challenge and roadblock for a lot of people.
Ramon Van Meer 8:24
Um, yeah, I think it comes natural that I’m having like zero ego go into something and try to ask advice and help from people that have been doing it already, or have done it in the past. And then not, you know, my ego was busted 20 years ago, like when I had these big failures, like, you know, I was, I had a, I was promoting, like parties, like rave parties, like these EDM, like so I rented a big hall, got famous Dutch DJ, playing EDM, and, you know, was bragging to everybody that’s going to be the party of the century, everybody should come. I was able to get on local TV and newspapers with interviews and boasting like, oh, man, if you’re not going to be there, you know, you’re gonna miss out. I need a 2000 people to break even. And it was a huge, huge square footage, like a huge Hall. And at the end in the middle of the night, basically, there were like 200 people there. hundred of them were friends, family, you know, people that I knew. So basically hundred sold tickets, and I still have to do a freaking TV interview within the background and empty hall. And like I was early 20s and I was so sick to my stomach of embarrassment like fog like Yo, what’s wrong and like, what Like, I worked my ass off for months, and this and I really believed in it, and then I still have to stick around and do this freaking TV interview. So long story short, my ego has been, you know, humbled many, many years ago. So, not to be afraid or embarrassed to fail or to make mistakes, or, you know, I think that really helps me today to just, you know, fucking anything worse than that is not going to happen anymore. So like, yeah,
Joe Valley 10:29
I think failure is part of the entrepreneurial journey, or, you know, athletic journey or political journey, whatever it might be. Failure is just part of it. And you’ve got to accept it and not take it personally. But personally, have you ever approached someone and said, Hey, can you help me with this? Can I pick your brain on this? And they were rude and said, Hell no, go away?
Ramon Van Meer 10:57
Um, that’s a good question, actually. Uh, well, definitely. Now, it’s easier because I think, you know, the more,
Joe Valley 11:07
you’ve had some success, they know who you are.
Ramon Van Meer 11:08
Yes, exactly. Or I can ask, you know, I’m friends know, with people that have, you know, big network. Yeah, if they Google me my name, there’s some stuff coming up. So now it’s becoming easier. And then I always say the biggest asset is your network. And you have to really build that up. And it takes time. Let me
Joe Valley 11:28
give you let me give you an example, though. The last time we saw each other was in St. Pete at the Blue Ribbon mastermind event. And I remember one of the presenters, there was a young woman, I can’t remember the business that she was talking about. But she was Lord to come be the CEO of the company. And she could have talked about it. Later in an event I saw you down at the luncheon just picking her brain walked right up, started talking to her out of the blue. And I think 90% of the people in the room wouldn’t feel comfortable with that, because she was such a great speaker and so impressive. And her pedigree you walked right up and had a long conversation with her and pick your brain about that. Is that a certain courage that comes with your success? Or have you always been that way?
Ramon Van Meer 12:15
No, actually, as you know, like, I’m taking my personalities the opposite. I’m a very introverted person. I don’t like public speaking. I don’t like to be on stage. I don’t like to be on camera to be honest. I will typically not just walk up to people, I don’t know.
Unknown Speaker 12:35
Ramon Van Meer 12:38
again, those cases I think is, especially if you’ve come from a position like hey, I, you know, you’re doing a great job. I want to learn from you. What I’ve learned myself is that 90% 90 plus percent, especially in the industry, we are in, people love to help other entrepreneurs. And especially if it comes across authentic, not just like, Hey, you know, I just want to use you for your information, but no, like if it’s an authentic request. That’s how I met Sam Parr and part at Ron he’s the founder of Hustle Con and the newsletter, the hustle. And I went to his first conference, many, many years ago, I was like, 300 people. This was before his big newsletter success. But I find them on Facebook. just messaged him, too. Hey, I just went, Oh, I bought a T shirts actually. Say the hospital or whatever. took a picture of myself. Send him to Facebook Messenger. Hey, I was yesterday. They’re big fan. I got the T shirt. Check me out. I would love to invite you for coffee. And he said yes. And I ended up actually investing in his company. We became really good friends. He now advises me and all my companies. And I got a lot of really good relationships through that friendship. And it was just me messaging him
Joe Valley 14:14
and just putting yourself out there. Yeah. And I love the part where you’re not just trying to you know, make it one sided. You’re helping Sam as well you guys. You know, you obviously become friends. Sam’s a great guy for anybody that hasn’t checked out the hustler trends or hustle con or any of that please do yourself a favor and check it out. Sam’s one of the other folks that I would you know, you know be part of the good human club if if I was to create such a club hippie hippie right there at the top with with Ramon but putting yourself out there it’s funny the sending the picture. Like the reason we do video like this is because it just breaks down barriers and you took a picture of yourself and you sent it to them. I had a Conversation with. I think it was Scott Volker a few months ago that he was trying to early on reach somebody. And instead of just reaching out cold, he actually shot a quick video of himself on the screen. He said, Hey, so and so I love your book. This is what I think I could help you with and, you know, not looking for anything in return. I don’t even know if that’s exactly what he said. But it was the breaking of the barriers and reaching out and being human and not necessarily being afraid of. What if they say no, we’re not teenagers anymore, right? I’ve got two of those. And, you know, asking a girl on a date is horrifying. What if they say, Oh, yeah, yes. It’s okay. rejection is part of life failure is part of being an entrepreneur. So put yourself out there, but help first is what you’re saying. Right?
Ramon Van Meer 15:43
Well, yeah, or be authentic, like so now, after our podcasts, and I did a podcast with Sean it’s The Hustle as well. So I get some people asking, you know, questions to me to like, especially through LinkedIn. And if I don’t answer to them all because I just don’t have the time but if I noticed, it’s just like, or you’re just out there just like for yourself basically, I don’t respond. But other messages that are more sincere and you know, authentic. Then I jumped on a call with as many people as
Joe Valley 16:20
you can and help them so blanket candy emails, stopped doing it people get person Yeah, make it sincere, make it authentic. The other podcast that Ramon just mentioned is called My First Million with Sean Parr, I would definitely recommend listening to that. It’s part of Sam’s group as well. And it’s it’s fantastic. You’ll get much deeper, fuller detail a remote store there. If you if you like listening to podcasts, I’d go to that one as well.
Ramon Van Meer 16:45
Yeah, let’s not very quick plug sent too much. But he has like, he taught me actually how to cold email really good. Like he’s the master. But all his speakers, he doesn’t pay actually for his conference. They all come for free. And I think he has an article there like he’s just Google Ads, I think, or video where he breaks down like, Okay, this is if you want to reach somebody doesn’t matter if it’s a CEO of Pandora or the founder of you know, then he, you know, this is how I did it. And it’s pretty, pretty simple. So
Joe Valley 17:22
definitely check it out, folks in Sam, if you’re listening, we’re happy to plug in because you’re a great guy, and you’re helping so many people with what we do every day. Let’s talk about your your unicorn. Back there in the background. One when you sold. Thank you. Yes, he’s for those not on video. He’s pointing to it. When you sold your last business require like you had never really done physical product e commerce businesses. You found this one. You took what was a business doing less than a million dollars in year a year in revenue, and doing some amazing, amazing things. A friend of ours in common. Matthew DeWalt, who’s a former and I get this wrong. He wasn’t the CFO of Priceline, but he was up there. He calls you one of the top five digital marketers he’s ever met. And being a guy at Priceline, he could tell he’s met a lot of people Ramon’s trying to be humble, shaking his head back there going. That’s just you know, I, I give him too much beer. That’s why he says that that’s not the case at all. Um, you you you make the leap into e commerce. You’re How is it that you go about saying, you take this business is doing less than a million in revenue, and you’re trying to shoot for a billion dollar valuation? How long does it take? How do you figure out? How do you we talked about this in the interview for the book? How did you reverse engineer what it takes to sell your business for 100 million dollars, which I think is your goal, which may be changing and growing? How did you do that? Was it again more conversations? Do you read? How does it work?
Ramon Van Meer 19:06
Yeah. Um, so yeah, this case, I bought this business. I’m a and so there was already an existing supply chain and existing product. And so then I can just focus on the growth, but because I never really done it. So I had to learn along the way is go look at other companies that you admire. And first, actually, Sam again. Again, I hate to be broken record, but he introduced me to another friend of his Roman Roman con. And he is also like a legend in e commerce. And I asked like, Hey, can I pick your brain? I like how do you do this? How do you do that? Then, after first meeting, I sent him an email, say, Hey, you know, I’ve never done this. I don’t know how to ask this properly or like, for sure you get many of these emails requests. Do you want to be come my mentor? Like, is it okay to mentor? And? And, you know, he said yes. So he started mentoring me,
Joe Valley 20:22
what’s in it for him and the mentoring aspect.
Ramon Van Meer 20:26
So we go back and forth. It’s like, I want to give him equity. So typically, in mentorship or an advisory role, you give up equity or Phantom units. So but up to today, he has not accepted it yet. So we’re gonna have to fight for it later that he’s gonna accept my, my equity, but typically, an advisor, mentor, you give equity in your company?
Joe Valley 21:00
Did you offer that right away? Or did you just go the humble, please? Would you consider being a mentor, can I pick your brain?
Ramon Van Meer 21:06
No, I offered right away, because, and if you accept this or not, he’s gonna get it, I’m just gonna deposit it into his, you know, son’s bank accounts or wherever. But I think if I approach everything that if you help me become a better or, you know, learn or helping the business to get more revenue, I want to share that with you, I have to share it with you has to be a win win.
Unknown Speaker 21:38
Joe Valley 21:40
your situation with with gold planning and things of that nature, I’m thinking back to the sharing of, you know, wealth and goals. In last exit. I know you wrapped up some employees and you they benefited from it as well. But I remember the one of the one of the buyers visited you personally and said that your goals on the whiteboard behind the conference table that you guys were meeting at, were just incredible. And it was more about the number of people that you wanted to help. When it comes to I mean, I we get the the connection and asking for help and mentoring. And in this case, saying, hey, look, I’ll give you some, you know, a small share in the business and, and of course, there’s like, Come on, let me just buy you a beer. And we’ll have some conversations, and it leads to a great friendship. And I love that you’re going to just deposit money to his son’s account, whether he likes it or not. That again, good human doing the right thing, thinking about others first. But goal setting, like how did you pick a number of the exit that you wanted? And how do you manage your day to day tasks to get not wrapped up in just responding to emails and always looking at that bigger picture? It’s challenged, I would imagine.
Ramon Van Meer 22:53
Yes, but I like for me personally, and everybody has different styles or opinions about it. But for me, personally, I like to have an exit strategy when I start something, because then it’s for me easier to reverse engineer. So to give you an example, my initial target was to sell alpha pa $400 million.
Unknown Speaker 23:21
Joe Valley 23:22
mind if you know, it’s not too big of a goal, okay,
Ramon Van Meer 23:25
yeah. But, uh, and to be honest, like, even if it, if I didn’t hit it and still sell for 60 million, it’s gonna be great exit. So it’s not like, if I don’t use it, like, oh, if I don’t hit that target, then I’m a loser. It’s a failure. I think it’s just, if you reverse engineer from your ideal target, so hundred million, you kind of know, okay, selling on on, you know, a marketplace online is not going to the buyer is not going to be that like, you know what type of buyers you have to go after, then you can do research, okay. $400 million pet company, what type of company or who would be our ideal buyer or potential buyers, so you can make a hit list. I have one here too. And you can make a hit list of potential buyers, then you can look and do research. What other similar companies did they bought in the past? And what did they look at? Did they look at revenue? Did they look at profit? Did they look at just brand too delicate user growth, like the different metrics and every I think in every different level, like maybe you know, a website, up 2 million is more focused on EBIT our 10 million like there’s specific ranges where for example, the metric is just ever like profit last 12 months profit, a you know, put a formula on it but you know hundred million dollar acquisitions, they also look at other things. So in the pet space, for example, and other spaces, they look more often at revenue. And you know, doesn’t really matter if you have 12% profit or 18%, it’s more revenue. So then you can reverse engineer, okay? In order to sell 400 million, I need to, we need to have our metrics at XYZ. So we need to do 30 million in revenue, 10 10 million, whatever those those numbers are. Now that creates, but you know, what’s revenue, what profits what to focus on?
Unknown Speaker 25:39
Ramon Van Meer 25:41
they start talking to like, I’m already talking even though I don’t have an exit date in mind, I already start talking with bankers and private equity and try to talk, I reach out to people that work at my kill list companies, and just try to pick their brains and just to you know, like, how many acquisitions like what was what was the last acquisition, what was the valuation? You know? Why did they bought XYZ company and why not start a company like things like that. So you can already you know, basically, steer the universe basically, to that outcome.
Joe Valley 26:27
If that makes sense, and, and you can do that while juggling the company that you’re growing as well obviously. For those that are listening, instead of watching, I want you to understand that Ramon is sitting there in jeans and a T shirt I’m sorry, shorts and a T shirt. He lives in California. Fortunately, safe from the firefight. forest fires in the moment. regular guy you’re not in a big corporate office with a team of 100 employees. All and let’s let’s talk about staffing and whatnot all in with employees and VA. How many do you have today? All Park I know, I get hard to keep track of them all. But sometimes I know.
Ramon Van Meer 27:15
So we made a decision two months ago to bring fulfillment in house. So for people that are not in e commerce, when you sell a physical product, a big part of your you know, operations is like you need to store all your products in a warehouse. And you need a company or team to put it in shipping boxes and ship it you know, ship your product to the customer. So I decided to bring it in house. And so we have a warehouse in office in Las Vegas. And including the warehouse team we’re now in VHS you know less than 20 people
Joe Valley 27:58
less than 20 people including the warehouse folks, how many how many folks are at the warehouse?
Ramon Van Meer 28:02
Joe Valley 28:04
nine So prior to that you were like 10 people Yeah. Which is pretty amazing. And in regards to the warehouse you know it’s you’re not a warehouse operator, you know running the fulfillment center you’re choosing to do that why did you make that choice? versus outsourcing to a 3PL Was it because of that big picture goal and growth that you needed in margins? Or is it just a need to control all of these touch points of your business?
Unknown Speaker 28:39
Ramon Van Meer 28:41
It’s like the fulfillment in house versus using a 3PL and other company to do it for you is an ongoing debate basically, typically people don’t advise you to bring it in house because and I’ve learned now as well like I still don’t regret the decision but I am living it now that it is it took it’s like basically running a separate totally different business with different challenges, issues, etc. But three reasons I think having control over the user experience of getting your packages on time and you know the correct products that’s a huge benefit. Versus you know, going with a three PL doesn’t mean there’s no headache to like I had to have a full time person basically not full time but like, like every day to where issues of the wrong product sands or they they had delays and they were like four days behind like people ordered last week and still products were not shipped out or they suddenly found six pallets of my product. In warehouse like they
Unknown Speaker 30:02
just like sounds like Amazon. Oh my goodness.
Ramon Van Meer 30:04
Yeah, exactly. So having more control over when the products go out like now for example, we get emails, because sometimes we’re often now you order in, you placed an order in the morning, you already get your tracking them in afternoon, and we get emails saying like, Oh my god, this is amazing, so fast, you know, appreciate it. And cost saving. Definitely, you know, three pills a day make money on a lot of things, you know, pick and pack fee really adds up.
Unknown Speaker 30:45
Joe Valley 30:46
for the person, when you decided to open up your own fulfillment center, you’re nuts, by the way, but good for you. It’s obviously gonna work out. Did you? Did you bring somebody on with a ton of, you know, fulfillment experience, obviously, to sort of run that ship for you?
Ramon Van Meer 31:01
Yes. So when I made the decision, all my friends and advisors advised me not to do it. And but I’m a little stubborn, in that sense of like, I want to try it. Like, my mindset to I think this is also important is that 99% of your decisions, you can always go back from the only thing I won’t be heard is your ego basic. And really, we don’t carry ego, okay, we’ll bring fulfillment in house, it’s a shit show headache, fuck it, which is the back, I will just hire a couple trucks and ship all my products back to the same three people that I’ve worked with. Like, there’s not really it’s not the end of the world basically. And, you know, I like it, I learned a lot. I the big thing is, is to is when you do it yourself, and the whole team, everybody in my team, including my myself, it’s like we’re trying to find ways how can we ship this more efficient? How can we ship? How can I make this box? Smaller? How can we maybe put this package in this other package? So we don’t have to pay double shipping? And we just do. So everybody’s mindset is about like how can we make the user experience better? And how can we make this cost more cost efficient?
Joe Valley 32:24
to necessarily get that from a 3PL? No,
Ramon Van Meer 32:27
it doesn’t matter. I have friends that are huge. econ brands work with a 3PL and they’re still just a number, like four to 3PL like they don’t have.
Joe Valley 32:40
So it makes sense. You know, we I think you’ve met build elisandra we had him on the podcast, he’s a friend of quiet lights down a Sharla elements brands, by the way, they have a pet related brand as well, a pet food related brand as well, and do the same thing they fulfill on their own because they can they can do it better than the people in the fulfillment center care. It’s not for everyone. Obviously, we’re not advocating everybody go develop a fulfillment center. I like to say be careful of promoting yourself to your own level of incompetence. Ramon has yet to determine what that level of incompetence is obviously because your your heights keep growing and it’s pretty damn amazing. Let’s talk about growth through acquisition versus growth through skew expansion. Mm. Which approach Are you taking? Because when you started this journey, you bought one brand, which had more or less one skew? If I recall that did the bulk of the revenue. Have you simply expanded skews for the most part? And that’s accounting for most of your growth? Or have you continued to acquire other brands to put into the Alpha Paw portfolio and that’s helping you grow more?
Unknown Speaker 34:00
Ramon Van Meer 34:02
In my case, I’ve done both. So I bought when I bought this business, it was just one product lines, whew. But the product has or has a ceiling. Basically, there’s only X amount of potential customers that needs this product. You know, so it was not this is not a product for all dogs. It’s for you know, specific breeds. So there’s there was a ceiling. So, you know, I knew I cannot get to 200 million or a unicorn status or whatever, with just this one product. Right. So then I bought a couple other smaller brands that actually were only selling on Amazon
Unknown Speaker 34:57
Ramon Van Meer 35:00
Took them over and then brought them off Amazon and just added rebranded rebranded those products to Alpha Paw, and started selling them in our on your own Shopify. In our Shopify store,
Joe Valley 35:15
hey, in that regard before I forget,
Ramon Van Meer 35:18
Joe Valley 35:19
Amazon versus Shopify or your own website, you’re really not an Amazon guy here, you’re driving most of this revenue through your own traffic, owning the customers creating repeat experiences and things of that nature. Is that is that an accurate statement?
Ramon Van Meer 35:36
Yes. And I know, several people, and we are both friends with several people that are very successful on Amazon. Sure. Me personally, I think, if you want to build a brand, like a real big brands, eventually you’re going to have to go off of Amazon, in my opinion, you know, Amazon owes your customers. And I think there’s more value if you own your customer and customer data. No, you know, I know, Joe Valley has two dogs. One is called gotcha dogs named yafei.
Joe Valley 36:24
Dasher and Willow, for those that want to know that
Ramon Van Meer 36:26
show Willow, and they’re excellent, you know, they’re one is two years, one in six years, whatever, the and the breeds, then, you know, I think there’s a huge asset, if you build a customer database of you know, that information, that’s going to be value. This can be a high value for potential buyer,
Joe Valley 36:48
when you have that customer database of information, does it help inform your decision on your next cue expansion or purchase in terms of brands?
Ramon Van Meer 36:57
Yeah, so especially when you already have a customer base, or have a huge following on social media, instead of, you know, making an assumption, Oh, for sure, people will love, you know, XYZ, you know, let’s just start this product and buy a cup of containers, what we typically do is, is following we first ask our current customer base, is this a product that you use? If so, how many? How often do you buy it? Where do you buy, like a survey about a product idea. And we share it across social media, our email list, etc, etc. Then, if that’s a positive, positive signal, and I know, you know, surveys are not waterproof, you know. But if there’s a positive signal, we try to drop ship first, that same product, so we can learn the economics behind how Oh, face running Facebook ads for days products, without buying, you know, hundred thousand dollars, a million dollar, whatever the is an inventory, run Facebook ads, email marketing, all kinds of stuff. And then we can see how much it costs to acquire customer and what’s the return on adspend, etc. If those are also positive, then we start looking at to sourcing, you know, the product herself, and then that whole process starts of sourcing ourselves.
Joe Valley 38:39
That’s a great way to do it so that you’re not investing a ton of money and inventory and have it be a bust each and every time. Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 38:46
quick questions back to the
Joe Valley 38:49
skew expansion versus buy and bolt on what what percentage of your and ballpark numbers current revenue is from businesses that you’ve bought versus maybe expanded skews from those businesses? And that’s probably an impossible question to answer.
Ramon Van Meer 39:09
Yeah, well, I could answer this is that in the beginning, I to increase revenue. I acquired several
Unknown Speaker 39:19
Ramon Van Meer 39:20
Yeah. Now I’m more on the other side where I just try to develop because a couple things like you never know. I’m still looking but like, I want to you know, we’re working on healthy doggy dog cookies, right for my son is involved in that project. But there’s no dog cookie business for sale at the moment, right. So as often we come up with ideas and you know, there’s no company that you can buy, right? So we’re not going to wait for an acquisition to get into Product skew, which is then start ourselves. But I’m a big believer in growth by acquisition because especially if it has other assets, besides, you know, sales data or sales history, if they have an email list, if they have a customer base database with addresses that you can send, you know, direct mail to, maybe they are also an Amazon and have a huge history and alar, large, you know, a lot, maybe many reviews, things like that. So we do the approach, basically both. But at this stage, because we need to add a lot more products, we were actually launching most of our products ourselves. Yeah, it’s like, it’s not a like acquisition.
Joe Valley 40:51
Yeah. How important in your unicorn valuation your your personal exit goal is the recurring revenue aspect of the business model that you have, versus this is for folks, I’m talking about a one off sale of a growing apron versus you know, the propane that people have to get on a regular basis of course, get that luckily for the tank, but recurring revenue versus one off sales in this large valuation approaches. Is it critical that you serve shooting shooting for a certain percentage of total revenue being recurring? Or is it just case by case basis?
Ramon Van Meer 41:30
Most of our decisions are basically have to answer yes to the question, will this eventually get us more recurring revenue basically. So it’s very important, I think it’s going to help lower your valuation. It’s, it’s good for your own revenue, because it compounds right your revenue growth, especially if you have a good product that people will keep buying.
Unknown Speaker 42:02
Ramon Van Meer 42:05
I Yeah, definitely. When we look at new products, the number one question is is a recurring product, this is a product that everybody needs, you know, because we need every day, every week, every month, whatever that answer is, okay. But it’s not if it’s not If the answer is no, this means that we right away scrap that idea, but then it really has to have some other things like a high margin or like super, you know, a big ARV or other questions. But yeah, recurring is
Unknown Speaker 42:46
very important for us
Joe Valley 42:48
at it. Got it. For again, for folks that are hearing this for the first time, I want you to definitely check out the quiet giants episode, where our cmo and filmmaker Chris Moore, dragged Ramon out of the bed at the crack of dawn bored him to death with preparations and questions and all that we get to see Ramon in his real world and his real story, and it’s inspiring Simply put, I think, I think that the title one of the words is the fighter in there because a little bit of bit of your background but also because you’re just focused on never giving up and fighting for success while being good human at the same time. Being a single father to Victor and doing what you’re doing in terms of that you know, the organic cookie business their dog dog biscuit does this is by the by the way is that is that website live yet?
Ramon Van Meer 43:52
His life. So yeah, you watch this. Here it is you have a dog. This is going to be my first plug I ever did. But this one my son so I don’t feel that bad. But yeah, victorscookies.com. And he is going to donate for each bag of cookies that he sells. he donates one meal to a shelter dog. Wow. So his mission is actually pretty simple. It’s like his mission is to feed every single
Joe Valley 44:22
shelter dog in the world. There’s victorscookies.com feed every shelter dog in the world pretty. Again, the van Meir ambition is so damn impressive. I mean, he’s 10 he wants to feed every dog shelter in the world. The goals you don’t set them lightly, that’s for sure.
Unknown Speaker 44:45
But he can
Ramon Van Meer 44:47
you know a little bit very proud of that little bit. But yeah, he came up on a within itself. So one of my co workers shot a video. Like an like a commercial like An ad with him. And I didn’t read the script. I didn’t saw anything until it was a finished product. And then yeah, he came up with idea like, yeah, my mission is to feed every single shelter doc in the world
Joe Valley 45:16
at an incredible rate. I told remote folks, I told them a month or so when I got when I heard about this that I wanted to have Victor on the podcast, and I’m going to make good on that. Victor is probably more of an introvert than Ramon. So it may be cute and shy and stumbling, and I’ll pull as much information out of them as time comes. I think everybody here should go to victorscookies.com. And and buy some, buy some dog biscuits, organic dog biscuits for your pet, or your neighbors to do that today, please, I’m gonna guess
Ramon Van Meer 45:52
we make it ourselves. So it’s not like a like a white label. You know? You know, that’s another company Vic Baker’s making its own or whatever. It’s like we actually it’s our own recipe that we own. And we have a professional kitchen. And of course, he has a baker actually has an employee already. Helping.
Unknown Speaker 46:15
Ramon Van Meer 46:16
Yes. And she’s amazing.
Joe Valley 46:18
Let’s, let’s, if I recall the story, you Yeah, you didn’t go out and buy equipment raw from a you know, manufacturer or anything like this. You put in you found a business that was established and but older and modified it and or is that still hold true? Where you found this through Craigslist originally? Yeah. This is this is I I just want you to just cover this real quickly. But this is what entrepreneurship is all about folks, is it you have to go out and and seek it and find it and attack it and climb that hill? And don’t let the traditional ways get in your way and these obstacles that you know, you’re like, I don’t know how to do that, or I’ve never done that. Or, you know, they’re gonna say no, just you got to go out and find a way to do it. And that’s exactly what you did in this situation. Okay, I’ll be quiet now tell us what you did to actually find this business. And
Ramon Van Meer 47:15
yeah, so I don’t know anything about baking, cooking, especially in a dark cookies. So I just put an ad out on Craigslist, looking for somebody that knows knows something about doc cookies that will pay for your time to pick your brain. I forgot like hundred dollars for an hour or something just or half hour just to jump on a call. And you know, sometimes you don’t get anything at all. But in this case, in the same day, I got an email back from a very nice gentleman said saying that he used to have a doc cookie company very small but still was selling in some local supermarket chains and pet stores. And he was actually also an author turned out to be an author of a book about healthy dog foods like you know, what should you give your dog whatnot it was really important that you know the cookies Victor’s going to sell or healthy and yeah, jumped on a call with him not actually with the mindset all I want to buy it is I just went very open minded to it just trying to learn as much as possible. And just in that conversation, I just asked him Hey, like, do you still own this company and recipes and he said yeah, so everything. Oh, are you open to selling it so and he was so we bought eight original recipes that we own now. And alongside with everything and very sweet man he even sent us his actual cookie cutters and his dough roller like he’s he said this The package is all his his whole thing. In the same thing, okay, now we have the recipe and we know a little bit more about it like you know what to do what not to do with licensing permits. He taught us everything. Now we need to find somebody to make you I cannot make you know, hundred bags a day or victory neater you still have to go to school for a couple years at least and put an ad out looking for you know, this is idea. My son and I are working on a doc cookie company and turned out the first or second email we got was Jamie who is the head pastry chef at Caesars Entertainment So, not only knows she knows how to make anything pastry, like from cookies to whatever, she also knows the economics like calculating how much up to the sense, you know, of ingredient goes into each cookie. If we just do one cookie less then we can, you know, save X amount of dollars per bag. So also like the economics behind it. And yeah, amazing, amazing fight.
Joe Valley 50:33
Brilliant. I love it. You just didn’t know where that journey was going to take you when you put an ad in Craigslist. Or where the journey was going to take you when you bought your first business on Flippa which is I think where you started and eventually sold it at first one for twice what you bought it for, which was a big sale of $7,000 or so give or take. It’s It’s It’s an amazing journey, Ramon you’re you’re you’re good man, a good heelan a good great entrepreneur and a good friend. I appreciate you tolerating another 15 minutes of me poking you with questions. Oh, I’m sure I’m really excited to have the public. See the Quiet Giants episode with a fighter you Ramon Van Meer, because it’s motivating and inspiring. And I think it’ll get some people off the I wish, I wish I wish and on to the I’m doing it. I’m taking some action and moving forward. I expect to succeed even though I will fail along the way here and there. And that doesn’t bother me at all. I’m still going to do it. If remote can do it. I’m going to do it to kind of attitude. So you’re good man. I’m gonna as soon as this is over, I’m going to victorscookies.com and look for an order. So you tell him to look for an order to send a North Carolina here shortly. I beg everybody else to do so as well. And check out alpha pi is it alpha pod.com? Yeah, check out Alpha Paw all the products and sign up folks see how see how Ramon does the marketing become a customer pay attention if you want to learn something, become a customer and you’re going to see how they treat you and how they reach you and how they inspire you and, and and help you first and foremost and and then you become a customer as well. And maybe someday you too will have a unicorn valuation a billion dollars. We’re gonna have to have you back on as long as you promise when you and I, I yes, I just said, I’m sorry for taking up more of your time. And now I’m saying I’m gonna have to have you back on. But as long as you promised that when you hit that hundred million dollar exit, or whatever the number might be, that’s going to have so many zeros, it’s going to make most people’s head spins, that you’ll still be wearing. shorts and a T shirt and your high tops and you’re not going to change it all. Promises, of course. Alright, last question. What’s your favorite type of drink? Beer, whiskey and what’s your what’s your, what’s your vice there?
Ramon Van Meer 53:13
Well, you should know because we’ve been, you know, down that rabbit hole a couple times, but I typically if I don’t drink often, but if I drink it’s it’s vodka.
Joe Valley 53:27
Okay, random question. There’s the answer, folks. Ramon, you’re a good man. Appreciate it. Everybody. Look for the Quiet Giants episode coming out. Same day as this October 8. Extra.
today’s podcast was produced by Rise25 and the Quiet Light Content Team. If you have a suggestion for a future podcast subject or guests, email us at [email protected] Be sure to follow us on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to this show wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.