JN: I’m not sure I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Rather, it was something that intrigued me. Ramit, when he came in to business school, he was probably going to Wall Street. He did an entrepreneurship in venture capital, I worked in entertainment.
One of the most valuable parts of business school is the opportunity to explore for two years. It took talking to people, doing internships, doing part-time jobs for Ramit to learn he didn’t want to be on Wall Street.
RV: It’s just over 18 years that we started the company and we look at it in phases.
The first year was definitely its own phase, but I would wrap the next five years into that, the entrepreneurial high-growth phase for the business.
In 2009, we started transitioning to a company on a larger scale. We hit $10 million, $12 million in sales and we had to make the transition into being managers. We happened to take our private equity investment right around then, in 2010.
We were still growing very rapidly. We reached about $20 million in sales and we took a chunk of cash, put some in the business, made an acquisition, took a little bit out for ourselves ... We hired a chief marketing officer and a chief of this and a chief of that.
We blew a ton of money. We scaled up the people side of the business and just started losing money hand over fist. Two years after we had taken that private equity money, it was all gone and then some. We had to put all the money we took out back into the business, and we spent the next three or four years digging ourselves out of that hole and rebuilding the business in a new format.