Over the past 25 years I’ve started companies, I’ve acquired companies, I’ve co-founded companies and I’ve sold companies. Of course, along the way I’ve shuttered a few, and seen a few investments sink, rather than swim. Here’s a snapshot of my history with business ventures.
In 2001, I co-founded Esquivel with designer George Esquivel. The business operates a leather atelier, focusing on handmade shoes from it’s Orange County, California workshop. The company has collaborated with Tumi, Tommy Hilfiger, Chloe, Florsheim, and appeared on the feet of America’s top celebrities, athletes and business icons. George Esquivel was a 2009 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist. The company continues its growth as one of the most desirable American-made shoe brands.
Trademarkery operates one of the most innovative solutions to trademark management, TrademarkBank. TrademarkBank offers tools to search trademarks, docketing and calendaring for attorneys and non-attorneys, as well as an easy-to-use watch service to monitor for potential infringement. This company has been my brainchild, and is operated from the offices of my law practice.
Pouch Pal is an innovative solution to the problem of today’s baby food pouches being squeezed by youngsters. Patented in 2015, the product is under license to Tee-Zed, which operates the Dream Baby family of worldwide brands. I was a co-founder and continue as owner and advisor to the company.
Modern Cooperage makes patented barrels that allow wineries to control winemaking in ways never before possible. I co-founded the company in 2010. Modern Cooperage is now being used by many of the largest names in the wine business.
I was among the founding investors to back Mako Labs in 2012, a fledgling company developing apps, games and software supported by ads. The company grew from two partners to 20 employees and one of the largest companies in the space only 18 months later. The company has become a leader in ad supported virtual reality apps, and continues to be an innovator and leader in ad-based software and ad platforms.
In 2005, I co-founded eChristian, Inc., a company that would go on to become the largest provider of Christian audiobooks on the web. In 2016, the company was sold to audiobook giant Recorded Books and it’s owner, private equity group Shamrock Capital.
In 2007, I co-founded and launched Guild, a trade show operating in Las Vegas during the MAGIC trade show, bi-annually. The show was an immediate success, but was shuttered in 2009 after competing operators kicked our ass with low prices and better venues.
In 2005, I co-founded and invested in the launch of international trading company, Asia Direct. The company was operated by my longtime friend and business partner Cory Verner. After many adventures and misadventures in China, Vietnam and Thailand, we were on the brink of success on or about the Summer of 2008. When the markets crashed and our business evaporated, we were quick to scale down, and now the business functions to broker legacy deals, and ensure that we have a reason to continue our adventures in China.
In 2003, I acquired Mission Sands, a struggling vacation rental company in Mission Beach. Under my wife’s management, the company doubled in revenue each year for three years. We sold the business after four years and move into other ventures. The business continues to grow as one of the leading vacation rental companies in San Diego.
Is that logo a little off kilter? Well so was this business. But, I took it over in 2001 and six months later sold it for six figures. Sometimes business ventures are quick flips, like this. Other times a venture is a 15 year overnight success. In a few instances, you flop. That’s just business.
In 1993, I sold my landscape company and opened an adorable little coffeehouse in Hemet, California. For me, as a 23 year old entrepreneur, it was a smashing success. But, once my wife learned that “we” were pregnant, we sold the coffeehouse and move on with a more interesting, albeit far less profitable career, as a pastor and vice principal of a Christian school.
At age 19, I launched Cricket Lawn Care from the back of my 1988 VW Golf. I landed some good accounts, then swung a deal to take over a struggling competitor and that got me into the bidding to take over the City of Orange Water Department. After growing this business for four years, I sold it and opened a coffeehouse.