Drew talks to Seth Haber about how they rescued streetwear retailer Karmaloop from bankruptcy in just 10 months. What went wrong, how they fixed it, and what they learned from it all.
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You may have heard about Drew’s involvement in turning Karmaloop around – from bankruptcy to profit in just 10 months.
But what strategies went into accomplishing this? What growth paradigm were they operating under?
And how did Karmaloop get in that position in the first place?
In this much-requested episode of the Nerd Marketing podcast, Drew talks to ex-Karmaloop CEO Seth Haber about that 10 month period of rapid growth. What they did, what they didn’t expect, and what they learned from it all.
- Why Karmaloop went bankrupt before Drew and Seth came onboard
- How Seth ended up as CEO
- The things Seth didn’t expect to be so difficult about turning Karmaloop around
- Kanye West’s role in keeping Karmaloop afloat
- How Drew underestimated how difficult it was going to be to get the marketing platform up and running
- Winback campaigns – Getting back old customers vs. acquiring new ones
- Breaking into the footwear market
- What Seth is most proud of after his 10 months at Karmaloop
- The value of a company full of people that care about each other
Links / Resources
- If you haven’t already, listen to this episode on growth paradigms to better understand how Drew approaches eCommerce growth.
- To learn more about data-driven strategies that grow ecommerce businesses, just sign up for my mailing list.
Prefer to read rather than listen to the podcast episode? No problem, you’ll find a text transcribe below, and you can also download it for later.
Drew Sanocki: Everybody, welcome to the Nerd Marketing Podcast. I’m here today with a guest who needs no introduction, Mr. Seth Haber, [crosstalk 00:00:15] former CEO of Karmaloop, the company where I was the CMO.
Seth Haber: Thank you for having me.
Drew Sanocki: How’re you doing?
Seth Haber: I’m good. I’ll try not to talk over you for the rest of this thing here.
Drew Sanocki: It’s fine. It’s fine. I’m used to that. Now we’ve got probably five or six listeners. Our listeners care about ecommerce. They’re very curious about retail. Everybody wants to know the story of Karmaloop. How did they go bankrupt? How did we grow them out of bankrupty and then the process we went through when we sold the business.
Seth Haber: Cool.
Drew Sanocki: I could think of no better guest than you.
Seth Haber: I appreciate that.
Drew Sanocki: Probably because I don’t know what I can and can’t talk about and I’m just going to follow your lead on that.
Seth Haber: Oh, man. Here’s hoping I get that right. I think, for me, it’s important to say that neither of us were involved in the business before it went bankrupt. My involvement started really very, very shortly before I took over on, I think it was May 27th, so really maybe a couple of weeks’ head start to that. A million stories going around but I think the one thing that was really clear, after having been involved for a little while, was that Karmaloop was a fast-growing, exciting business. They took a significant amount of money from venture capital guys or private equity guys, whatever you want to call them, and they were asked to and went for broke, went for gold, and tried to build a massive company. Along the way, it didn’t work. Why it didn’t work, I wasn’t there so I can’t tell you. Everyone’s got a lot of theories but the truth of the matter is it didn’t work and that led them to going bankrupt.
Drew Sanocki: I want to say they got up to $100 million in revenue at some point or close to it.
Seth Haber: Yeah. I think one of the most … probably over it, but I think one of the questions we’d certainly have to ask or find out is how healthy was that? I think that getting to that point was eventually part of the problem with the bankruptcy.
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Drew Sanocki: Yeah. Part of the reason you signed on and a big part of the reason I signed on was because Karmaloop was one of the most iconic online retailers. This was one of the bigger success stories certainly coming out of Boston, certainly the biggest one in streetwear. I think it transcended streetwear. Right?
Seth Haber: Yeah. Karmaloop was and is right now extraordinarily a successful and important retailer, compared to the size of the streetwear industry that I grew up in, even to this day. Part of the problem is they tried to open up new businesses. It wasn’t just Karmaloop. They did Miss KL. They did Boylston Trading Co. They did Brick Harbor. They did Monarch, which was kind of like a Birchbox, like a box of the month type club. They spent a lot of money trying to do a lot of other things, not to mention Karmaloop TV, which I’ve heard numbers up to like $14 million were spent on that project.
I think that’s where they went wrong was trying to do things that weren’t Karmaloop. I think the job that you and I walked into was trying to figure out what the company was like with just Karmaloop and PLNDR and how that worked and how to build the company to be healthy with just those two pieces of the puzzle. I think we did a good job and that’s what I think eventually led to making the company interesting for Strategic. That’s kind of the back end of the story. Eventually, we had the thing making sense and someone could understand it. It made it a lot more profitable to be part of Strategic than to be on its own. The beauty behind a good deal is that everyone can win.
Drew Sanocki: Comvest ended up involved for a number of reasons. Did they reach out to you or did you find them?
Seth Haber: A mutual friend, actually, reached out to me and said, “Hey, I’m friends with this guy and they’re looking to meet people who understand this industry.” I don’t know for sure how Jonathan thought … He may have gotten an email from Dan. I’m not sure. Then we had one of those Seth meet Dan, Dan meet Seth. We talked on the phone. I went down. They asked if I could answer some questions in general about the industry and whatever. You know how that consulting thing works. Then the conversation turned into are you interested in doing this? Are you interested in running this company?
Honestly, at first I wasn’t so interested and then pretty quickly, they got me excited about the idea. I may have been a little naïve and gotten a little excited about something that was going to be a little harder than maybe I thought it was. It was exciting and in the end, I’m really glad I did it. It happened fairly quick, once we got to know each other.
Drew Sanocki: Yeah, and you ran one of the biggest or the biggest streetwear apparel retail-
Seth Haber: Trade Shows. Yeah, we ran, in my mind, it’s the eStreetwear Apparel Trade Show. I don’t know that I feel like there is anything else but that may be that I’m a little bit loyal, to say the least. We were not just the trade show for streetwear but we were the trade show for action sports. We were really the trade show for California lifestyle and what turned into a broader lifestyle. It is called the Agenda Trade Show.
The brands that were sold on Karmaloop were pretty much all brands that I had significant familiarity with. They were people I had known for a decade and worked with for a decade. I think that was one of the really fun and exciting things. The first task I had when I got there was to get on the phone with every single brand that we needed to do business with and try to rebuild those relationships and give them confidence that, even though things hadn’t worked in the past, that myself backed by Comvest money would be able to run this business well and be a good business partner to them.
Drew Sanocki: That’s what Comvest … I think what they saw in you was somebody who could repair those bridges to the brands that Karmaloop used to carry and no longer did because they left in bankruptcy.
Seth Haber: Yes. I think that’s true.
Drew Sanocki: The six months or so that I knew you, you were on the phone fifty percent of the time with a brand, trying to get them back.
Seth Haber: Yeah, and there were times when I was on the phone constantly. I wouldn’t even dare to put a percentage. The first two months, I was on the phone until midnight every day because it’s nine o’clock in California and that’s often when the brand owners are available, after the work day. It was just a non-stop process of getting the industry comfortable that we were somewhere you could send product and it would be treated properly and it wouldn’t be pushed out the door in a manner that hurts their brand.
Certainly growing businesses sometimes get themselves into that cycle. Unhealthy growing businesses always get themselves in that cycle. That was one of the thing I had to do and I’m really proud we were able to do it. The brand roster, I think, is as strong as it’s ever been. I think getting some of the brands back that had been there, that was part of the challenge. Then getting a couple of new brands that hadn’t done business with Karmaloop in the past to try to make it a little more exciting, that was a challenge. We were successful with that, maybe not as successful as you’d want to be but there’s always more.
Drew Sanocki: The first time going up to Boston when they had just announced you as the CEO, are you thinking this is going to be a layup like a piece of cake or did it turn into something bigger than you thought? Was it harder than you thought to-
Seth Haber: I’m going to say I didn’t think it was going to be a layup but I still hoped there was room for a non-layup but still much harder than I thought. I think, on a few levels, things were not as I had hoped. The first one was the customer, in general, and the amount of damage that had been done to those customer relationships and how the damage control was really not handles well, in particular, during the bankruptcy period. No one was really focused on that. Everyone was focused on their own survival. It’s not their fault, but at the moment when these customers were being burnt and problems were happening was the moment when Karmaloop was probably the least responsive that it had ever been. That’s not good, both to brands and to customers.
That customer relationship was hurt. I think everyone knows that Kanye West was talked about a lot during the bankruptcy. I think he created excitement around Karmaloop that maybe delayed some of the bankruptcy problems. I don’t think we had an honest view of the problems that we might have had during bankruptcy because of his unique ability to create excitement around a brand. When he was talking about the traffic was high, that may have confused some of the projections we made. I think that was a real issue. Then I think-
Drew Sanocki: Did you ever get on the phone with Kanye?
Seth Haber: No. We did speak to a number of people who represented him. I’ll venture to say you never know exactly if they do but yes, we did speak to a number of people theoretically on his behalf.
Drew Sanocki: I was the only guy who he reached out to directly throughout this.
Seth Haber: Yes.
Drew Sanocki: Okay.
Seth Haber: Exactly.
Drew Sanocki: I underestimated … Going back to the customer problem, I totally underestimated that. I looked at Karmaloop on paper and I saw just what anybody else would see. You’ve got probably the biggest email list certainly in the category, like in the millions of kids who just love streetwear. Then you’ve got millions of people visiting the sites every month that you don’t have to spend a penny to acquire. These are just people typing in Karmaloop because they know the brand. I thought, to some extent, “Hey, this is going to be relatively easy to reengage these customers and bring them back.” I totally underestimated the hatred.
Seth Haber: Yeah, but it wasn’t … Look, as you and I both discovered, this was such a unique situation where the brand really, and I don’t want to get into how it happened. I want to be really clear about that, but the brand took from a lot of kids and in bankruptcy, people lose things. That’s really sad. One of the things that we had to come to grips with was the reason bankruptcy exists is so the good parts of something that the world is going to lose a lot from either way, can continue and the world can benefit from that. In this case, it was seventy jobs and the untold jobs that are supported through the brands that Karmaloop sells and the joy that the customer gets from it.
In that period leading into bankruptcy, a lot of kids bought product and spent money and never got the product for it. You and I obviously had nothing to do with that but that was something that really wasn’t clear until we were in the saddle and we had made the decision to go forward and to try to fix it. That was a really sad thing and those were decisions made by other people at a time when there weren’t a lot of good decisions to be made. As I said, neither of us were there. I think that’s very unique and I don’t think there are many people you could talk to or case studies you could have gone back to that would have accounted for that behavior right at the beginning of the dip period or right before the dip period, I guess. That was a unique problem.
Then dealing with that problem became realistically that and other problems became, I don’t know, I want to say somewhere between sixty and fifty percent of our senior staff’s time for the first two months and thirty percent of their time for the next two or three months after that. We were putting enormous energy into dealing with issues from the bankruptcy that you would have hoped that the bankruptcy consultants and the lawyers that make so much money would have had cleaned up. Again, not being there, I can’t explain why it didn’t happen but it certainly wasn’t what we walked into.
Drew Sanocki: I could speak to the marketing side. Even things like just getting Google AdWords set up again, getting Facebook ads running again because these guys had all shut Karmaloop off. It was harder and took longer than we thought.
Seth Haber: Yeah, it was a sad situation on a number of things. Then, as you and I both know, in sixty years, we’ll be talking about the Klaviyo situation and-
Drew Sanocki: Who’s going to be talking about that?
Seth Haber: Me and you in sixty years.
Drew Sanocki: Okay, we’ll talk about it.
Seth Haber: Over a barbeque beer. Do you remember plugging in Klaviyo?
Drew Sanocki: This was one of my things. I went in and I figured email marketing is going to be critical to the success of Karmaloop. We’ve got this big untapped asset there and what better than a system like Klaviyo that allows you to do a lot of segmentation, targeting, life cycle emails. We haven’t discussed this yet, but Karmaloop was built on an IT platform that kind of dated back to 2001. They kept adding on it, tweaking it, customizing it, which gave a very, I guess, custom solution but it was hard to do a lot of things that now you can do just off of Shop FIRE or off Magenta. There are no plugins for our custom solution. Email marketing was one thing I thought we could get email marketing off the custom stack, get it onto something like Klaviyo and then really work that email marketing program. All parties involved told us it would take a couple of weeks. It ended up taking us like two months and that wasn’t even 100%.
Seth Haber: Yeah, it was two months to an operable solution and there were constantly exceptions. It was through no fault of any individual human. It was just the reality we had walked into. All the man hours that went into that were not man hours that were going into solving other problems. That was the other journey that we had encountered.
This business was thought of as going to be a half a billion dollar business or something. They loved to throw bodies at problems. It was just the mindset of a very well-funded company, that the people, even if they weren’t fully necessary right now, they would become necessary so let’s get them on board and get them into our culture and into our system. I’m familiar with it but obviously, when we got there, we needed to be as lean, as efficient and kind of have everyone multi-tasking as much as possible. We just thought that was not the company we had walked into.
I think that’s the part I expected was to be taking a company that had planned to be huge and tried to get it to the right size and find the healthy place for it. There were just certain hurdles that looked like they were going to be easy and that turned out to be really hard. That all cost time and money.
Drew Sanocki: Yeah. Upgrading the tech stack, the email marketing stack, I thought would be a month or two. I think our experience just getting the email on the new server sort of burned us out or left a bad taste in our mouth, so we didn’t even try the ecommerce stack. Just to set the picture, this was in the fall so everybody was getting ready for holiday, too, and it’s not the time that you really want to do much as far as the IT platform is concerned.
Seth Haber: Exactly. You’re not going to take your risk right before the biggest two months of the year.
Drew Sanocki: We went in and we hammered hard on win-back campaigns and tried to get that … You know, we had these defecting customers, these people who were burned by Karmaloop through the bankruptcy process. We really wanted to try to get them back and I would say we, at the end of the day, just really had mixed results there. It wasn’t a win like we thought it would be maybe because they were too burned out. We must have tweaked twenty different offers to those customer cohorts. I think I came to the realization that instead of trying to win them back, we’ve just got to create a new customer. We’ve got to acquire and nurture a new customer instead of trying to get the old ones back.
Seth Haber: I was amazed at how successfully we were able to do that. If you had told me going in we’re going to do this with new people or really old people, because that’s kind of some of the new people. They hadn’t shopped for two years, so they weren’t focused on what the last two years had been. If you had told me we were going to do this and the brand name was going to be able to acquire customers the way we were, I wouldn’t have believed you. You were exactly right. We really started to have even more success when we stopped focusing on the people we had just lost and we really focused on acquiring a new customer that liked what we had and was responding to the message we were able to send. I was not thinking that’s what we’re going to do when we arrived.
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Drew Sanocki: I think we did a really good job in building up just like a high-performing retailer. From all the metrics we saw, we were getting much better at things like ship times, customer service.
Seth Haber: All the stuff we did, we went from a company that had constant customer service complaints to a company almost, I think, within … I’d say by the time we were fully integrated into the new warehouse, we were off to the races. We did a great job. We unleashed Iesha to do a great job with customer service and gave her the resources to do it. I was kind of shocked. We were really able to get it together fast. Maybe it was because we focused so much because we knew that the customers were so angry, that maybe we overcompensated. It went really well. She did a wonderful job leading that.
Drew Sanocki: We got in there May, June. We were sort of cranking by August, September. Then we had our holiday offsite. I think we nailed holiday. I don’t know … I would assume you agree. I think it was like a good holiday. The board seemed to be happy.
Seth Haber: I think holiday was great. You just wished there were two of them.
Drew Sanocki: Yeah. Then I think in January or February, we started … You probably knew this the whole time but there was one … I don’t want to say glaring deficiency but one category that you weren’t able to bring the merch for and that was footwear. Right? That was for a number of broader strategic reasons.
Seth Haber: Not just our strategy but sometimes the strategy of the footwear brands.
Drew Sanocki: Yeah, like Nike pulling back. They’re not selling through retailers like they used to. We paired that with knowledge of the customer. We knew that footwear was just a great category in the past or had been a really good category. I think you put those two things together and started to think of a footwear strategic partner to get more merch through our pipe.
Seth Haber: Yeah, it was clear that the only way … It wasn’t just relationships, which were obviously needed, but just the investment alone we weren’t going to be able to make. In order to have enough sneakers in your size nine and a half in the blue sneaker that you want just in stock all the time. That way you start to trust this is where I need to go to buy sneakers. We were buying two … Even if we got the right stuff, we weren’t getting enough pairs of it to meaningfully convince a customer over a long period of time that we were a great sneaker retailer. It was a little bit more like oh, there’s a couple of pairs here and there. It just wasn’t big enough.
It was clear to me that while streetwear had gone through … It always has gone through ups and downs, but the strong part of the market and the part of the market that was meaningful was footwear right now. While we may have had a customer that wanted to buy something from us, we weren’t going to have enough sneakers for them to buy from us. That was leaving an enormous amount of money on the table.
Both to the credit of myself and the people internally who were talking about it, and then really the board when we told them about our beliefs, it was everyone’s willingness to say, “If we believe this money is on the table and we’re not going to pick it up, let’s go out and meet people and show them this money is here and see if we can all share and do better because of it.” Throughout that journey, we discovered additional efficiencies that … You know, we starting to look at our business and wanted to put together a plan that would help other people see what we thought of this business. The strategics were, I will say, very interesting. We ended up with a great partner in Shiekh. I believe he’s already doing quite well and will continue to do quite well with the business.
Drew Sanocki: Shiekh being Shiekh Shoes out of LA, a big footwear retailer on the West Coast.
Seth Haber: Yeah.
Drew Sanocki: I think when we initially started those conversations, it was like is this going to be a partnership or is it going to be an acquisition. We didn’t know.
Seth Haber: Yeah, and I wasn’t in the middle of those conversations as much as the guys at Comvest and the guys at Shiekh were. I think right away everyone was aware that there was money on the table and it wasn’t just with these guys or with Shiekh but everyone was aware that there was money on the table. Everyone wanted to kind of get to know each other and look at this and go, “How do we stop sending the money to various service providers and how do we stop having other people sell sneakers that we could sell?”
I think as that process, and as I said, I wasn’t in the middle, but I do think that as the process evolved, the guys out in California realized the business was better for them to own it and own it now and take advantage of all the upside that they were going to unleash rather than do a partnership where they were going to have to share in the upside that was available. The guys at Comvest, our businessmen with a capital B in the truest sense, they know how to make the right deal at the right time.
Drew Sanocki: I agree. I think that was a key partnership with a footwear retailer. You and I were talking about other ideas like going into private label and at the end of the day, I think the board wasn’t as interested in something like that.
Seth Haber: Yeah. They’re not … You know, you and I are entrepreneurs at heart, even if every day of our life isn’t spent starting up a new business. We kind of have a salvage the best part of the assets and get on and do something great. That’s the way our brain is. They, in a beautiful way, are a little more simple. There’s money here. There’s a lot more money if we can simplify how much it costs to run this business and someone’s already got some of these costs taken care of. Even just the warehousing cost and the real estate cost of warehousing was enormous for us. To go to someone who owned that building was enormous. Yet, they don’t need to do it the hard way. I think they got it really 100% right. That’s just my opinion, though.
Drew Sanocki: If you look back at the ten months that you were sort of at the helm, what are you most proud of?
Seth Haber: In hindsight, I think that there was a much greater chance that after three months there was no business than I ever let myself believe. The fact that we stopped that falling knife and found a way to build a new customer base … If you think about it, we had to do it with all new customers. If you had told me that would be possible and the fact that we would find a way to turn on the customer acquisition machine again, which is the one thing that we haven’t talked about, but it took you some time and it took some testing. I’m pleased that I gave you the freedom to do that testing, but that’s where my role ended on this particular piece.
The ability to start collecting emails at a very fast pace and a large number and to turn those emails into sales over time, I think that’s incredible. We saved… There was a chance there was nothing left. There were a number of times that people came to us trying to buy the email list, trying to buy PLNDR, trying to buy different pieces. I think the fact that … I didn’t know what I was protecting it for but I think the way that I protected the business and protected the asset left us at the end, and the fact that you were able to help in this particular case, to really rebuild the viable part of the email list, is that we left the board and we left ourselves something to sell and to make some money off of. There is a very real chance that, again you said all new customers, there’s a chance that there was nothing. I would say that’s the thing I’m most proud of. This was a good deal. This was a good deal for all involved.
Drew Sanocki: It was and I don’t how much we can get into numbers but the company was still losing a lot of money coming out of bankruptcy every month. Right?
Seth Haber: Significantly less at the end than at the beginning but yeah, we had not crossed the line into funding all of our activities. Now I think we could have gotten there. There were some choices made to maintain a certain quality of staff so that we could get to a place in the future, for example, yourself. Some of this was choice. I don’t want to look at it like it was a cash fire because it certainly wasn’t.
Yeah, it was not a business that was bringing those guys positive money every month. I think we would have been positive in ’16 but again, it would have taken to holiday to achieve that, or at least back to school. I think these guys, I imagine, are profitable already. I’m very confident they are and if not, very, very close to it. It’s a wonderful thing. They’ll do very well.
Drew Sanocki: Are you still enamored with retail or are you just sort of burned out on the whole thing?
Seth Haber: I think third party retail is more challenging than it’s ever been. I do think that the Internet, but not just the Internet, just the proliferation of smart people have enabled brands to sell directly to their customer quite easily. I think that it makes very little sense for a brand to sell directly to its customer and have a third party retailer selling to that same customer unless there’s a very unique locational like at the beach or at Disney World proposition.
I think that’s very hard and I think brands and stores are all going to have to come to some group decision about how this is going to work because it’s hard to compete against your brands. That’s just tough stuff. As retailers, we finance those brands. People don’t think about it, but a retailer writes the check for that product and you finance that brand with your check and that purchase order is a factor that helps them finance those orders. These retailers are imperative to these brands’ process but then they use the overages that the retailers finance to undersell that exact retailer because their margin is so much bigger.
Drew Sanocki: Sometimes, yes.
Seth Haber: Yeah, and look, in the end the funniest thing is the retailers, at least in a lot of the spaces, outlast the brands that go out. That’s the funniest thing because the brands are the ones that sign that huge warehouse leases and sign all these other contracts they can’t get themselves out of in order to support the never-ending growth. One of the smartest guys I knew compared the leases to debt. He said, “These leases are just debt payments. They kill you.” I’ve seen it so many times with the brands.
Drew Sanocki: Karmaloop lives to fight another day and that reason.
Seth Haber: Yet Karmaloop lives to fight another day. Exactly.
Drew Sanocki: Yeah.
Seth Haber: So does PacSun and Tillys and Zumiez. They’ll all be there.
Drew Sanocki: What else you got, Seth? Any final thoughts on the Karmaloop experience?
Seth Haber: You know, I think … Maybe it’s not something I didn’t know but every time you see it, it’s pretty amazing. People in organizations really do work for each other and with each other. The human element of the family that’s created, sometimes under great stress, is valuable. I really felt like we kept together a good group of people who cared about the process and I don’t think we would have gotten there if we didn’t have the people that liked each other and worked for each other and supported each other.
I think there may have been some instinct to bull in the china shop it but that wasn’t the direction I went. I’m pretty pleased about that. I think certainly at the top we made some changes and I think that was smart and worked out but if anyone is going through what I went through again, one of the things I would say is there is value in having the people in the company care about each other and to be careful with that.
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Drew Sanocki: Yeah, you were great at that. For ten months, you went up there Monday through Friday every week, up there being Boston from New York.
Seth Haber: It was Monday through Friday, but it was close.
Drew Sanocki: You had a kid in the middle of it.
Seth Haber: Yeah, I did. Yeah, I did. It was hard. It was hard. I think the group was really helpful and really supportive and not perfect but really, really supportive. I think nurturing a family in a positive environment where the relationships they had before I got there mattered to me and I respected what they had been through, I think bought me a lot of help and support when I needed it because of my wife being so close to having a baby and then having the baby. I think that’s kind of what I went through.
A lot of smart advice about … In a healthier business where I think you just clear out some people and you clear out some debt payments and you’re ready to go, I think go ahead and be really aggressive. In a world where you’re going to need more than that to figure it out, I think you’ve got to try to nurture the group as a positive thing and let them have that and also, let them be angry. Let them have some anger because they lost vacation days. They lost bonus money. Their friends got fired and you need them to be able to perform for you.
Drew Sanocki: It’s a tough job buying bankrupt companies.
Seth Haber: Yeah.
Drew Sanocki: And operating them.
Seth Haber: I think the buying them is easier.
Drew Sanocki: Yeah, than operating them. There’s that certain skill set of going into a demoralized team that’s just been through the ringer and trying to give them hope again and convince them that you’re not going to lay off the rest of them or something.
Seth Haber: You know, it’s funny. At breakfast this morning, not breakfast; it was coffee but who cares where I was. This morning …
Drew Sanocki: Which was it? Did you eat food?
Seth Haber: We didn’t eat food because the muffins looked bad. They were all spotted. They had too many spices in the muffins. They’re telling me about black pepper. I’m like, “This is a muffin? C’mon.”
Drew Sanocki: This is another Podcast where I just talk to you about food and your opinions on food.
Seth Haber: That’s all I’ve got, man. That’s all I’ve got. Either way, he asked me if I would ever do a bankruptcy again like would you ever do this again?
Drew Sanocki: The guy selling the muffins asked you this?
Seth Haber: No, no, no. Our buddy.
Drew Sanocki:n Got it.
Seth Haber: Our buddy that shall remain nameless. I said to him, “Oddly enough, probably not but if you told me I could go in there with Drew and maybe like someone … If I now had it to do over again and I could go in with the team of people I had, that I not only worked with but liked working with, because you and I got to know each other through this project. It might be fun to drop in like a Navy … I don’t want to make an analogy that’s just totally inappropriately disrespectful of your service, but to drop in like Navy Seals and just take over five or six people that you’ve worked with before and you know how to do it.
You have this team and you execute as a team, I think that would be extraordinarily rewarding but it’s more because I like the idea of a team of people arriving at an operating business and having comfort in working together from that experience in the past. That’s certainly not what I was able … It was certainly one of the things I wanted to do, but it certainly was not what I was able to get just because of Boston being such a hard place to recruit. I wasn’t able to do it. but it would be fun to do. Do you know what I’m trying to say?
Drew Sanocki: Well, you’re kind of thinking of doing that next. Right?
Seth Haber: You know, everyone has a different view. I look at it more like I’m … I look at the time the guy … I looked for ten seconds of background looking at a company that wasn’t business and the guy wanted to kind of shut it down and make some different life decisions. I look at the year and a half he spent getting this started, just proof of concept and starting it. I don’t know that I view it as a failed experiment in any way. I just look at it that he kind of got to the natural year and a half point and moved halfway around the world instead of doing this. It’s a little different. Now many I am a slight gluten for trying to improve something that’s out there. There is some truth to that.
Drew Sanocki: More in terms of your assembling this team to bring in, like a lot of the work now is trying to find that team that’s going to go in with you and-
Seth Haber: Exactly. I wish I’d known that’s what you were talking about. No, that’s exactly what I’m trying to do. In fact, I want to go into this with a team of people and I think it will be so much more rewarding and fun and maybe own less of something but have a better experience doing it.
Drew Sanocki: I like it. Well, Seth, I appreciate you being on the Podcast. Come back here again some day.
Seth Haber: Yeah, I hope if you’re listening, my friends, I hope things are good in San Francisco. I just said hi to one quarter of your audience.
Drew Sanocki: Yeah, and I think we did a good job in case Comvest has the Google alerts on. Drew Sanocki, Seth Haber and Karmaloop. They’ll be okay this this.
Seth Haber: I hope so.
Drew Sanocki: We loved our board. We love the people who bought the company.
Seth Haber: Honestly, I cannot tell you how surprised because you don’t know. You just have no idea and there’s some rumors. Just good dudes. Just good guys. No other way around it. I love them. Robert … They’re great guys. That’s all I can say. I really .. They’re smart as can be, focused, definitely want to make money and no bones about it, but good people, man. I’m shocked. What are we? A year out and I just wholeheartedly believe that.
Drew Sanocki: I think the way they can have ten portfolio companies … A guy like R.O. can have ten and they are all different. Some are B2C, some are B2B in different industries and he can grasp the key success factors of each one and just sit in a board meeting and give you advice that you hadn’t thought of. That’s impressive to me.
Seth Haber: Oh, man, yeah, absolutely, and the flexibility of thought and the speed, it’s awesome. It’s awesome. It’s so quickly, you feel like you’re talking to someone who does it all day and then you realize in five minutes, he’s going to be talking about car parts. It’s like, “Auto lighting? Really?” Yeah, smart guys.
Drew Sanocki: All right, man. Thanks for being on the Podcast. I appreciate it. If anybody wants to get in touch with Seth, you’ve got to go through me.
Seth Haber: That’s how I want it.
Drew Sanocki: Yeah. I’m the gatekeeper but reach out if you want to be put in touch with Seth. I’ll talk to you next week on the Podcast. Thanks, Seth.
Seth Haber: Later.