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From Elon Musk to Exit of His Own

November 19, 2021 |  

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Ben Kellie got his start in the aerospace industry, helping Elon Musk figure out how to get his rockets to land on a floating barge without blowing up.

In 2015, Kellie left SpaceX to start The Launch Company, where they supply hardware parts and consulting to a growing list of new aerospace companies like SpaceX. Less than five years after starting, Kellie was approached by Voyager Space, a private equity-backed group rolling up new space companies. Kellie sold a majority stake in The Launch Company but held on to a sizeable chunk giving Kellie financial security for his young family and a significant upside in the next chapter of The Launch Company’s development.

Strap on your harness because you’re going to learn a ton in this episode, including:

  • What Elon Musk is like to work for.
  • How to bootstrap a hardware company without giving up equity.
  • How to keep your Intellectual Property when doing consulting.
  • The fine line between “crappy and scrappy”.
  • How to structure your role as a CEO after an investor puts money into your company.
  • The difficultly of separating your ego from what your company needs to reach the next level.

About Our Guest

Ben Kellie is Founder and CEO of The Launch Company, an aerospace hardware and services company based in Anchorage, Alaska that helps both emerging and established New Space companies get to orbit faster, cheaper, and more reliably. Launch Co. has bootstrapped hardware to orbit, worked launches on all three coasts, and was recently acquired by Voyager Space Holdings.

Prior to starting Launch Co., he worked for SpaceX in Recovery where he led the field development and commission of “Just Read the Instructions” and “Of Course I Still Love You,” the SpaceX Landing Barges for the east and west coasts. He served as “Deck Boss” during the first missions and was first on – and last off – the barge during landing operations.

Kellie graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks cum laude with a BS in Mechanical Engineering where he was active in the Spacegrant program helping build and launch a suborbital rocket flight as well as conducting CubeSat research on the Vomit Comet. He also has a MS in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on nano-fluidics, energy conversion, and graphene synthesis from the Ohio State University. He lives in Anchorage with his growing family and when not exploring the outdoors, likes to play music, write stories, and go on adventures.

 

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Transcript

Disclaimer: Transcripts may contain a few typos. With most episodes lasting 60+ minutes, it can be difficult to catch some minor errors.

John Warrillow:

Welcome to another edition of Built to Sell Radio where it is my job to help you punch above your weight when it comes to selling your company. Today, we’ve got a fun story from Ben Kellie. Ben Kellie used to work for Elon Musk at SpaceX. He left SpaceX to start his own company, The Launch Company, and sold it less than five years later. Great story, tons to learn from. I want you to listen for a couple of very specific things. Listen to how he protected his IP intellectual property when he was doing consulting, which he did to fundraise and cash flow his business. It’s the protection of the IP that I want you to make sure you listen for. He’ll talk about how he bootstrapped his business invested 1200 bucks and ultimately built an arrows space company by getting his customers to help him finance the business.

He’ll talk about the fine line between scrappy and crappy and how to tow that fine line. He’ll also talk about how he structured his deal. I know a lot of you may be looking at a private equity investment and here you’re going to need to separate your role as owner of your company and that of CEO. And I think Ben does a really nice job in this episode, talking about the two different hats he wears and how he structured his deal to make sure he was protected in both areas. Here to tell you the entire story is Ben Kellie. Ben Kellie, welcome to Built to Sell Radio.

Ben Kellie:

Glad to be here. Thanks.

John Warrillow:

I want to go back to Ohio where you started your education. So I’m trying to tell my son about, and he’s too young to understand it, but how engineering and business skills, when you combine those two, it’s like a superpower, right?

Ben Kellie:

Yeah, absolutely.

John Warrillow:

You did that. Tell me about your education. Because I want to tell him about it after the show.

Ben Kellie:

Okay, cool. So I actually started education. I went to university of Alaska and I got a undergrad in mechanical engineering. And I was interested in business then, but I’ll be honest with you. I’m only ever really interested in business as a way to do cool things. I don’t love business for business’s sake. It’s this convenient vehicle for doing really cool stuff with hopefully really cool people. And so I ended up going to grad school at Ohio state and I fell backwards into this business builders club, which it was just a group of young people met, I think every Tuesday night in the student union and just would pitch each other ideas, try to form little teams. And this was a hundred thousand years ago when the iPhone was fairly new.

So everybody’s building apps and they’re trying to build the next thing. And I always felt like the odd duck, because I was like, well, I want to build hardware. And I ended up working on some of those things. I had a friend in my grad school lab, we were tinkering on a little hardware product together. It was like this thermal electric generator that would produce five volts and an amp of power to electrical charge an iPhone if you were off the grid and convert heat to electricity, no moving parts. And so we were always playing with that stuff, but I ended up convincing my advisor that this business class should count towards my degree as an elective.

And I had to petition the dean, I think, and maybe the board. Anyways, it was a big deal. But it ended up being a really transformative class. It was at night and it was half engineers and half MBAs. And they took real IP off the Ohio state shells off the back catalog and they handed it to us and they said, pick the IP you like, build a business plan and try to create a business out of it. And they had investors come in and we did this whole thing. And I was just like, oh, this is great. We ended up working on this little cancer detection thing and my masters was in micro and nano fluidics. And so this was a nanofluidic device. And so I knew what I was talking about a little bit. And it was really, really fun to work with the business cats on that and put all that together. So I was hooked after that.

John Warrillow:

Oh, wow. That’s incredible.

Ben Kellie:

Yeah. [crosstalk 00:05:12].

John Warrillow:

I’d love to find out what happened to all those folks, those MBAs plus the engineers. Do you know the backs stories of any of them? At this point I didn’t know that-

Ben Kellie:

I didn’t keep up with too many of them, but I know that some people came out of that class and they were bound and determined. They were like, yeah, we’re going to go raise money. And they pitched to these investors the last day of class. And I think some of them joined up and went and did some ventures. So real things were coming out of that and real IP. It was really cool.

John Warrillow:

And after that, you went to work for young Mr. Musk at some point?

Ben Kellie:

Yes. So, gosh, spring of 2012 I joined up with SpaceX. They were just starting to build this launch site in California on Vandenberg air Force Base, south launch complex four east or Slick four E as we called it. It was this old Titan pad. And we came in, some people had started a little bit before and were starting to convert it. I came in as it was ramping up and was assigned a couple pad systems, didn’t know what those were, but had to figure it out pretty quick.

John Warrillow:

This is like the spaceship comes down and it’s got a land on the barge. Right?

Ben Kellie:

Well, that’s next.

John Warrillow:

Oh, okay.

Ben Kellie:

This is a launch site first. So this is where this is the west coast site to shoot these polar orbits to shoot around the north or south north. And anyway, we ended up converting this whole site. It was a ton of fun, but it was really, really, really hard work and definitely school of hard knocks stuff, learned a lot, ran into a lot of things and made a lot of mistakes. But had good leadership and had good mentorship and was able to overcome that and learn a lot. But then yes, after that went, I actually quit and was like, hey, I’m going to go do a hardware startup. Thank you for the memories. And I think I moved to Seattle and I think I was there six weeks and they came up and were like, hey, we’re going to build these barges and land rockets on them in the ocean. I was like dang, got to do it.

John Warrillow:

Sounds cool, man.

Ben Kellie:

Yeah, it was too cool.

John Warrillow:

You sound like you had a kid in a candy store, like you’re working on these projects that are unbelievable. It’s fantastic. What’s Elon Musk like to work for?

Ben Kellie:

Is this part off the record? Can we stop the recording?

John Warrillow:

No, it’s on the record.

Ben Kellie:

I know. I’m just kidding. You know what? The thing I’ll say is Elon knows how to get the absolute most out of people.

John Warrillow:

Okay. We’ll leave it at that.

Ben Kellie:

We’ll leave it at that. But you know what? I’ve seen a lot of people get crunched up and shoot up. I got crunched up and shoot up a little bit, found myself on the backside and feel stronger. So overall a great experience for me and a great process.

John Warrillow:

So how did K2 start? What’s what’s the backstory there?

Ben Kellie:

Yeah. So the backstory is from the barge. I was on the barge for SpaceX and we’re couple hundred miles out at sea. We’re on a support boat and we’ve got this barge and we’re trying to land rockets on it. And they, at that point tended to come down and explode. They would land and self destruct more than they would land and still be a rocket. And I think Elon coined the term RUD, rapid unplanned disassembly or something like that. But yeah, [crosstalk 00:08:16].

John Warrillow:

I think. Isn’t it right?

Ben Kellie:

Yeah. They would just RUD all over the deck. And so anyway the punchline of the thing is we would fly drones from the support boat to the bar to be like… I was deck boss. So I had to swing on this rope between the boat and the barge. And so we were just like, is this safe? Well, not the swinging that was not safe, but the drone part is this safe for us to go over and be there. And I’m flying these drones. I was like, man, this technology is come a super long way. This is 2014 into 15. I said, man, this technology’s come a super long way really, really quickly.

And I grew up as a bush pilot in Alaska flying groceries to towns off the grid right off the road system. And I was like, man, I bet we could use this in Alaska. My brother was in oil and gas. I texted him when I got back to port. I was like, dude, I bet there’s an opportunity here. And he’s like, yeah, I’m up on the north slope of Alaska. And they’re just starting to talk about drones. And I was like, boom, there, perfect time. Let’s go. And so that’s how we got into it.

John Warrillow:

So what was the idea, the principle of K2, what was the Genesis of the idea?

Ben Kellie:

The whole idea was how do we use drones to do dirty, dull, dangerous work that prevents people from having to get involved or get hurt. And also in Alaska, when you’re talking about flying out to remote areas to monitor climate change or map different mineral rights areas for tribes and for regional corporations, it’s one of those things where it’s like, gosh, they’re spending $10,000 an hour sometimes just getting humans out there and gear and equipment.

And I was like, we could fly out with a backpack hike in, map the whole thing get out of dodge. So it made a lot of sense to me. That was never the long term plan. The plan was, how do you bootstrap a company, make a little bit of money so you can eat and then figure out what the skill opportunity is? We wanted to start building payloads to put under the drones. We wanted to start building different technologies to enable the drones to work better in arctic weather, things like that. But we had to eat. And so that’s what we started off doing was a drone service company.

John Warrillow:

And so when you say we had to eat, you mean you had to offer consulting services to other companies in order to use drones?

Ben Kellie:

Well, yeah, exactly.

John Warrillow:

You essentially [crosstalk 00:10:17].

Ben Kellie:

We did. Exactly. We sold our time and then we liked it because it was a feedback loop and it was also a way to get paid, to get smart. And I’m a big fan of getting paid to learn. And so that’s what we did as we were going and then we ended up flying some of the first LIDAR on a multirotor in the state and [crosstalk 00:10:37].

John Warrillow:

You lost me there. LIDAR is a form of navigation or?

Ben Kellie:

Yeah, it can be used for navigation. In this case we were using, it’s a rotating laser beam.

John Warrillow:

Okay.

Ben Kellie:

And what it’s essentially doing is it sends out this like PWM pulse, width, modulated thing. And it’s listening for the echo, just like radar listens for echo, but it’s at the speed of light. And then, so it can penetrate trees and find the ground and the tree layer. So it’s like really great technology for doing sounding, for doing distance operations.

John Warrillow:

And so the original monetization of K2 was billing for projects by the hour, essentially hiring out your expertise to these companies that wanted to deploy drones. Did that ever evolve? What was the evolution? How did the launch company come out of that?

Ben Kellie:

So the way the launch company came out of that was we found that essentially we had put the cart before the horse and we were very excited about a technology, but we weren’t necessarily selling a solution. And I think that’s something I try to talk to people a lot about now is like, oftentimes, especially in aerospace, people are selling a technology. But you should be selling a solution. And so we’re like, oh, well this drone can do X, Y, and Z and blah, blah, blah. And they’re like, okay. But we weren’t able to speak in the terms of like, it increases safety this much. It’s going to save you this many people hours, it’s going to do X, Y, and Z because we didn’t know yet. We weren’t able to just create these statistics from thin air.

And so it kind of created an issue. And so we ended up pivoting to training because a lot of people were bringing drones in house fast pretty quickly like, cool, well, we’ll train. And then the numbers just didn’t add up. The juice wasn’t worth the squeeze. And so what had secretly kept us going during that time, we never took on any money, any debt, anything. I was moonlighting and consulting to space companies and selling my expertise again. But this time space companies, and I guess I just had this moment where I was like, if these people will call a drone company in Alaska, to help them with their spaceship problems, there may be a market opportunity. Now I’m no business genius, but I just put two and two together here.

And so in the January of 2019s, just one push in three years now. But we pivoted over and became the launch company. And that felt really audacious to me because keep in mind, I was just maybe hitting 30 and had been in the industry six years, maybe not even. And it was just one, but the gift of SpaceX was we did so much in such a compressed amount of time that you really felt like a couple of decades of experience of the things you’d been a part of and things we’d seen. And so anyway, that’s how Launch company started. I was like, well, what if I just did this thing that makes money, but I stop doing it in secret and I told people about it.

John Warrillow:

So your moon landing, helping these companies.

Ben Kellie:

Yeah.

John Warrillow:

And then the Launch company was it set up as a consultancy to begin with? Or did you always have the hardware vision in mind? Take me through what your original business model was?

Ben Kellie:

Yeah, it was honestly very similar to what I did with K2, just in a different space where I was like, well, I definitely want to build hardware. I definitely want to help these companies quit reinventing the wheel around launching rockets. I was just watching people go through the same pain of these very convoluted cycles. And I was like, man, we can interrupt that cycle. But the way to do it is we have to just jump in now. There was so many companies that were so far down the road that if you tried to sell them a complete solution, they’d be like, no, not interested. And it was funny because I had learned the power of market research at this point, the hard way. And I was asking was like, hey, what if you could just lease a launch site?

And they’re like, no, no, no. We do this all ourselves. We’re vertically integrated. We’re blah, blah. Fast forward two years, and everybody’s like, yeah, we would love to lease a launch site from you. This is horrible. This is hard. And so we’re seeing a lot of that traction start to happen. So our early bets were right. But we were able to iterate our early bets in real time because we’re helping companies get to launch. We’re building [inaudible 00:14:38] days, we’re building expertise. And then finally that step happens where I remember I was on a customer site, we were trying to get these things called QDs. They’re fueling, fitting that half of it is on the ground. Half of it’s on the rocket. They meet together when the rocket takes off, they have to snap shut, not leak and let the rocket space. But you need them for spacecraft for both stages of the rocket for in stage and all these places on the vehicle.

And this company just could not provide them to us. They refused. And I was like, well, send us data and send us this. They’re like, no, no, no. You send us $100,000 and in six months we’ll send you a prototype. And I was like, man, these guys do not understand new space. And I was on my soapbox having a rant and my client looks at me and goes, why don’t you just build these for us? And again, real business genius here. I was just like, okay. And so we went from a blank sheet of paper, working through ASME standards, working through seal designs through the parker manual, all of this really esoteric stuff in. And we put a part on their vehicle for test in eight weeks. And I was like, hmm, we’re on to something here.

John Warrillow:

And this is just, this little widget that has… It’s not like a launch site. It’s like a little piece of the puzzle.

Ben Kellie:

Exactly. And the model became like, well, there’s a gold rush going on. Let’s sell some picks and shovels. And so we started selling these QDs and we didn’t even really market them. Like the other company… Remember this guy and I’m good friends with him. He’s a great guy. They called me and he’s like angry. And he’s at another company. He goes, I heard you sold QDs to so-and-so. I was like, oh yeah, we did. He goes, ugh, we need QDs. I was like, would you like to buy some? And he’s like, yeah. And I was like, okay. And both of those companies have since flown our QDs on their vehicle. And what we did then is we… The thing I think we did well is we designed them to be modular. So they’re all the same. None are precious.

They’re designed to be the same, so you can get them quickly and off the shelf. And what I started to realize is like, oh, what SpaceX did on the vehicle side disrupting this time scale and in the supply chain, we can do this on the supply chain side. All these suppliers to aerospace are like, oh yeah, we need six figures. And we’re going to goof around for a while. And we’re like, hey man, here’s a part. And space companies love that because they’re out of time, they’re out of budget. And what you’re really selling in the aerospace sector is relief. Like when somebody can call you and be like, can you do this insane thing and in no time flat, and you say yes. That’s the best feeling in the world for them. And for us too.

John Warrillow:

Let me pause you because-

Ben Kellie:

Yeah. Sorry.

John Warrillow:

-when I went to university, I would never have gotten into engineering. So I took an arts degree and the engineers were the smart kids. You went to engineering school and then you went to another engineering school. So you’re going to have to be very slow with me. Assume I know nothing about aerospace.

Ben Kellie:

Okay.

John Warrillow:

But I do know that Jeff Bezos has got something he’s trying to put up an orbit. I think he already has. Richard Branson got this thing that looks totally different on the pictures that I’ve seen that goes up. And be like a crazy airplane that go. And of course SpaceX, the physical hardware all looks totally different to me. To my eye, some look more like the shuttle and others look more like airplanes that have… How is it possible to create the same widgets, these QDs that would work on Bezos’s aircraft as well as Elon Musk. That seems really out there to me.

Ben Kellie:

No, that’s a great point. And so the key in engineering is solving the prom at the interface. And so the interface is just like, where does their stuff end? And where does the other stuff start? And man, actually, this is something that I’ve branched up before and I’ll try not to [inaudible 00:18:27] my soapbox. Projects fall apart at interfaces. People can tend to get the big pieces figured out pretty well, but then getting those pieces to go together and work together and translate whether that’s code, whether it’s electrons or atoms or bits or fluid particles, it’s always a challenge. And so we’re solving the interface. And so no matter what they’re actually trying to do they need to put fluids. They need to put nitrogen and helium and whatever their fuel is and whatever their oxidizer is.

Most people use [inaudible 00:18:58]. Some people use other things. They need to put those on board, no matter what the mission is, they need these inert gases and they need oxidizer and propellants and things like that. So we’re enabling that portion. Think about it this way, every car on the road. Well, okay. Let me put it this way. Every car on the road either needs electrons or fuel. Let’s just take fuel for now because it’s a little bit easier. There’s a million different electrical plugs for cars right now. But every car needs gas, no matter what it looks like.

Every ICU car, but it’s the same hole you put the nozzle in. We’re trying to sell the nozzle and the plug. So no matter what is you’re trying to do, you can pull up to a gas station. Now the next piece for us is building that gas station because right now people are buying our interface and they’re still fumbling with their gas station. We want to sell gas stations and we’ve started to. And in fact, if you could see through my computer screen, there’s a large shop where we’re putting together these mobile fueling containers for the air force right now. And we’re working to sell those to rocket companies as well.

John Warrillow:

So cool. So the QDs are the first product. You build them. And did you build them to spec to do the rocket company say, look, we need them this wide and this long and to hold this much fluid. Did you build them to their specifications?

Ben Kellie:

The original ones we did.

John Warrillow:

Did you hold onto the IP for that? If it was their spec and their engineers who designed it, who owned the IP for the QDs, did you own it? Retain it? Or did you?

Ben Kellie:

Yeah. We retained it. And so what we did originally is the original company needed this very, one-off very strange thing and we designed it and we sold it to them including we’re like, yeah, you can keep that IP, because it was one off enough that. And then we went and did our own thing and redesigned from the ground up again. And so if you look at the two fittings they’re very, very different because they different purposes. But what we realized with the second one was, hey, we can make these modular enough that they could go on any vehicle and then those are ours and can go forward.

John Warrillow:

And you own the IP in that case?

Ben Kellie:

Yes.

John Warrillow:

How were you getting the money to do all this stuff? The other guys wanted a hundred grand up front in six months. Were you charging up front or did you raise capital or how did you get the money?

Ben Kellie:

Yeah, this is the part that even I am a little bit shocked. We raise no money. I put $1,200 in a business bank account six years ago and we’ve been going ever since. And we’re into seven figures and have 20 people and [inaudible 00:21:27] to space. So I don’t recommend it necessarily, but what it was, was was a lot of drive and it was also just a lot of niche expertise. I knew that that opportunity was there and that we could make the most of it.

So the way we built those QDs was when we sold a few small ones and then this company called us the guy who was like sold all those QDs. And they bought mid six figures of QDs from us. And I said, great, 50% upfront. And they’re like, okay. And so we used that money to go and get them built, get them created, test them, qualify and make sure everything was good to go, send them all out and then got paid on the backside. But we usually, we often used… Through our history we don’t have to anymore, but through our history we used the profits from billables, the margin from billables to pay for hardware development.

John Warrillow:

So what billables meaning hours?

Ben Kellie:

Yeah. So we do a lot of consulting hours to all the major new space companies.

John Warrillow:

What would your proportion of hardware to consulting be at the time of sale? Where were you on a proportional basis?

Ben Kellie:

Yeah, we were probably at… It’s probably, 66, 33 on billables versus hardware. But I see that flipping in the next possibly even next six months. I think it could flip and become 66% hardware or 33% billables. Pretty quick. We’ve got some stuff on [inaudible 00:22:49].

John Warrillow:

Okay. So you’ve got the QDs of the first win and they’re working. What was the next product?

Ben Kellie:

Yeah, so the QDS were a huge win because it was that first piece of trust. And it was that first thing that you could point back to and be like, well, we’ve built hardware. And you take that step and so the next piece and keep in mind, we’ve only really been the Launch company for two and a half years. So we’re telling very short time scales here. Is these mobile fueling units we’re building? So we essentially had been doing design hours for companies and taking things to the point where all the drones were released, all the parts were ordered and then their technician teams were going off and building things.

And we were saying like, yeah, God speed, good luck. Give us a call. And then we’d go down and help put it together and do field operations and stuff. And I was just like, man, we really need to get to the point where we’re also delivering the product. And the first time that happened was January of this year. So QDs were like 2018, 2019, and then 2020 was about building this next product. And that’s taken us to present time.

John Warrillow:

Which is the mobile fueling unit.

Ben Kellie:

Exactly. Mobile fueling units.

John Warrillow:

And when you say mobile, you’re not talking about in space, you’re talking about movable from one launch site to another, am I getting that accurate?

Ben Kellie:

You’re getting that accurate. But you’re also talking a little bit about our roadmap because we are starting to work on orbit refueling as well. But yes, right now we’re talking about there’s spaceports all over the world. We are going to move these fueling units from one spaceport to another to enable vehicles to come and go and launch as needed.

John Warrillow:

Cool. Let’s talk about the exit. So you’re two years in or three years in.

Ben Kellie:

Yeah, two.

John Warrillow:

Seems a little early. What happened?

Ben Kellie:

A lot of things happened. First foremost I have two kids. So I’m always looking at them and I found out my daughter was on the way right after I quit SpaceX for the umpteenth time. And I was sleeping on an air mattress in my brother’s place, eating sandwiches out of a cooler. And I was like, oh, I’ve got a kid. I got to get this going. And so I’ve been a very, very driven and I think every bootstrapper knows that feeling of like, hmm, I’m staring at the ceiling fan as I am trying to fall asleep and I’m adding up all the money that I have versus the money coming in versus the money I owe everybody else trying to make sure it’s greater than zero.

I’m trying to make sure it’s in the black and not in the red and just a lot of stress. And then you couple in the fact that we could be taking money home and doing really well, but instead we’re reinvesting that because we have this vision for hardware, because we just have this really cool team that’s like, we want to build space hardware from Alaska. We want to live where we love and we want to do the things we love, no compromise. And so it’s really, really tight, really, really stressful at times. [inaudible 00:25:42] also be times because cashflow is lumpy with hardware where you’re just rolling. You’re like, oh, everything’s great. Were going to live forever. And so what I wanted to do was I realized through the course and I understand the pandemic’s ongoing, but during the early days of the pandemic, I realized I was forced to slow down a little bit.

I’m working from my kitchen table and my wife Jenny is also an entrepreneur. So we’re running two businesses out of this little apartment at the time. And I was just like, man, something has to change so we can get to that next, next level. And I realized just how almost… Audacious is the friendly word. Hubris is the possibly more accurate unfriendly word. I was just like, man, we’ve been dodging some bullets and we’re coming away with the feeling that we’re bulletproofing and that’s not the right takeaway. I was like, how can we scale to the next level? How can we get these big NASA contracts? How can we get these big, prime, these big things to some of the big established players, because I realized how fragile we were in that if we’re not building a SaaS business where maybe you’re charging $5 a month to a million people. We’re charging maybe five million or a million dollars to five people.

And so I was like, oh gosh. If these people go away or something happens to their business, we’re not very resilient. So how we build some more resilience and how do we get to the next level? We can’t stay here. And so I had three options on the table. I had turned down over the years, traditional VC. It wasn’t really aligned with our vision. We believe in this calm company thing. We work really, really hard when we’re here. Then we go home and enjoy our families and our lives. And we enjoy being in Alaska where we love to be and blah, blah, blah. So I didn’t want us to all just be like sprinting through these VC cycles. And I also believe the market is so early, really in new space that we don’t know what it is.

A lot of people say, oh, launch is figured out. I disagree. Being on the inside Launch isn’t figured out, and we have a huge opportunity there, but there’s these other bigger opportunities on space, on orbit refueling and propelling depots, there’s lunar opportunities. And so it’s like, man, how do I get there? But how do I stay flexible enough to respond and go where [inaudible 00:27:59]. VC wasn’t compatible with that. That was like, sit in a room, have the vision go full speed. And I was like, well, that seems reckless to me because it’s so early. We had this revenue based opportunity where it was like, oh yeah, you pay X amount out until this cap or in perpetuity. And it didn’t quite feel like the right fit.

John Warrillow:

Sorry, that’s the second option you were [crosstalk 00:28:19]?

Ben Kellie:

Sorry. And that was the second option.

John Warrillow:

Describe that one for me. That’s like an earn out where you would’ve worked for a company for a period of time. Help me just-

Ben Kellie:

Yeah.

John Warrillow:

-clarify that a bit more.

Ben Kellie:

It’s revenue based financing is like this hot new thing. There’s a company… Not a company. There’s a fund I really, really like that’s doing it. We weren’t talking to them about it. In case they watch this, I don’t want them to think I’m talking about them. There’s a fund that we really love and work with but it wasn’t them. We were talking to another fund that was like anti unicorn. They’re like, oh yeah. And I have friends that raised from them and they love them. And I think if I was running a different type of business, it would’ve been perfect. I loved the team. I love their vision. They’re so super cool. But for us it was just like, wow, you can take on high sixes to low sevens of cash from these guys.

And then you’re paying back based on your revenue year over year. Like some percentage of your revenue, you’re paying it back to a three or a 10 X cap. I can’t remember. And then they also get a warrant. If you go and do another round, they get clued in on that because they have a warrant from going early. It’s a great model. It’s a model I think for a lot of businesses, it’s perfect, but it just didn’t really fit us because again, with hardware being so lumpy, I was just like, well, they might come into the year and I might have all my cash tied up in this project. And then I got to give you 7% of what’s left or whatever the number was that could hurt me. And so it didn’t feel right for me in that way.

John Warrillow:

And that’s by the way just called revenue based financing?

Ben Kellie:

Yeah. I think that’s what people are calling it. And I also had some local investors try to do the same thing, but it was also that that was not really a great option for us either. So yeah, it’s getting harder. And I think it’s something that can make a lot of sense. If you’re building a consumer product and you need cash for tooling or to buy materials, I think it makes a lot of sense, because then you’re just going to sell a bunch of these things and give them that in that percentage. But for us, we’re still figuring it out and it’s lumpy enough that it was like, man, I can’t guarantee you some percent of the revenue. I might need that. So that’s where we were at.

The third option was this new company called Voyager space. They’re the non-private equity, private equity. And so they’re not private. They’re rolling up different companies, but they have this 30 year vision to enable humanities most audacious missions, I believe is the tagline. And man, they really back it. I could tell from the first phone call with Matt, their present CEO, that it was like going to be a good fit because he was just, he’s like, cool, man, tell me about your business. I tell him about my business. He’s like, all right, great. He’s like, we know you from X, Y, and Z. We know about your business because we back channeled it. He’d already done all this work and he’s just like, we are interested in a majority acquisition of the Launch company.

I’m like, oh, okay. Dope. And I just hadn’t really thought about it. And we talked a few times and it’s like, man, these guys are a good fit. And their CEO, Dylan Taylor has really great experience in finance. And he has really great experience bringing companies public. And I was thinking about my own career, when you’re in your early thirties and you’re running your business, like, well, how am I leveling up and what am I doing this [inaudible 00:31:36] to the next level? And I was like, man, this is a team that can get us in with NASA and help us go international and help us do all of these big things. And if we win something big, they can back us financially to actually make that happen. And they loved our vision. They loved our team and culturally, we were aligned. Culture is like number one for us here. And so it felt like a really, really great fit. And we decided to-

John Warrillow:

Let me just pause you there. So the VCs of pitch too, you had these guys revenue based. Did Matt approach you spontaneously or how did… Was it out of the blue, you get this call from this guy named Matt and you’re like, well, how can I help you?

Ben Kellie:

Almost pretty close. We were working with the first company, they acquired [inaudible 00:32:16] space systems. We were working with them on a bid and they were like, well, what’s the deal with this company? And I was just like, man, they’re cool. They do this and X, Y, and Z. And then they started to dig in, but I had actually talked to Dylan maybe six months before and he was just like, oh yeah, man, you guys sound great. But you’re a little early. Let’s wait and see where things go. And then six months later we just ended up having an incredible year.

John Warrillow:

Ballpark, where are you revenue wise at this point, if you’re allowed to talk about it or number employees or some proxy for size?

Ben Kellie:

Yeah. Proxy for size, this summer we hit 30 during some surge work, but we hover just around or over 20, usually.

John Warrillow:

20 employees?

Ben Kellie:

Yeah. But at 2019, we had one. At the start of 2020, I think we had four or five.

John Warrillow:

Talk about Launch company.

Ben Kellie:

Exactly. So that’s where we’re at. And we have a roadmap of doing a lot more. I mean, I had not probably share actual revenue numbers because of some stuff we’re doing with Voyager, but I would say every year we’ve more than doubled our revenue thus far. So been grown quick.

John Warrillow:

So Matt says, hey, we’d like to take a majority. We’d like to buy your company effectively or buy a large-

Ben Kellie:

Exactly.

John Warrillow:

-majority of it. What was your reaction then?

Ben Kellie:

Man, I’ll be honest. I don’t think we have enough time to go into my reaction. I felt great about it because it was aligned with the vision and I love what they’re doing, but there’s also like, I mean, I’m not going to lie. There’s this ego part where it’s like, well I’ve turned down money before. We’ve always found a way. Somebody else’s name is on the paycheck. It doesn’t say launch company on the paycheck anymore. Just one of those things. And I was like, what do you actually care about? And I was like, what I actually care about is having resilience. I care about being able to execute on our vision. And when you look at our team, people have kids in mortgages and dogs and dreams. And so it’s like, man, what is the best step to take care of them and to let them level up in their career and have some resilience and have some upside. And I was like, okay, this is it.

This is the way to do it. So I really had to remove my ego from it. Easier said than done. And it took a little bit of time to do, but I know we’re I guess almost exactly seven months later. Did I do that math right?

John Warrillow:

Yeah.

Ben Kellie:

Then seven months later, I’m super happy with it and it’s going really well, but it was hard. It was hard for me because you want to just keep doubling down and keep betting. But this was the ultimate way to double down because they’re helping us build a process. They’re helping me level up on forecasting and financials and all those things that I never actually learned. I’m an engineer running a company, I’m just doing my best. And so it’s been really, really great for all of us, I think overall.

John Warrillow:

And so at what point did Dylan or Matt raise the specter of the number they wanted to offer you that did… It sounds like they initiated the conversation. Did they give you a letter of intent or did they-

Ben Kellie:

Yeah.

John Warrillow:

-talk about it verbally or what was that? How did that come up?

Ben Kellie:

I think it was two phone calls to a letter of intent being in my inbox, which helping other founders now, I think was the biggest signal that these guys weren’t goofing around. I think you can have these phone calls with people and they talk to you and they want to blah, blah, blah. These guys did not do that. They were like, here’s what we’re talking about. Here’s what we think. If this ballpark makes sense to you, let’s send an LOI and let’s dig in. And man, I really appreciate that, because it’s respectful of everybody’s time and that’s just how we operate. So yeah, I think it was second phone call, maybe even first, but second phone call I think we were talking numbers and multiples and then LOI hit the inbox. I mean, within seven days from phone call to LOI.

John Warrillow:

And when you talk multiples, are they… How did you guys think about multiples? Because I’d imagine the multiple on hardware is very different than the billable hour stuff. How did you guys think about multiples?

Ben Kellie:

It was interesting. I have a friend that runs a search fund and he helped me behind the scenes. [Sharet 00:36:22] really great guy in Toronto and he helped me behind the scenes kind of think about the correct multiples. And I ended up not having to think about it because they came with that multiple. And so I was just like, okay, this works.

John Warrillow:

They came with the multiple Sharet thought was fair. So Kellie, what was Sharet telling you in a range? Can you give us a range of what he thought was like [inaudible 00:36:43]?

Ben Kellie:

I think five to seven on [crosstalk 00:36:46].

John Warrillow:

Oh, times revenue.

Ben Kellie:

Yeah. Or EBITDA, I guess. I think five to seven on EBITDA is something that we had considered like a good range. I won’t commit and say that’s necessarily the range that we went with because I don’t want to air too much out, but I think he was saying look for something in that range. Or if you can’t get that range, look for other upside. What are the other reasons you’re doing this. With hardware it can be hard because margins can be thin, especially early on as you’re building process and you’re buying tooling and blah, blah, blah. But we were billables heavy heading towards hardware. And so our margins were pretty strong. And so we were able to make it work really well.

John Warrillow:

Got it. And was the offer… I’m assuming usually with a private equity deal we’re going to buy 60% a controlling interest, but we want you to leave a portion in. Was that the structure they used with you? So you’ve got some skin in the game still.

Ben Kellie:

Exactly. So we were able to structure it where I still have single largest individual shareholder type thing. So there’s a lot of upside because they were very clear. They’re like, dude, we’re not trying to take this and just stuff it into something else. We want the Launch company to be the launch company and to work with all these other companies to build this bigger machine and build these bigger opportunities. And so it was one of those things where like, they really wanted me to stay engaged and they gave me really nice terms that showed me like, hey, we’ll give you this and not tie it to X, Y, and Z. But you are saying you’re going to stay. And I’m like, of course, I’m going to stay. I’m going to do this, that and the other. But it’s great as a bootstrap founder, to be able to take liquidity to the point where for me it’s not de demotivating.

I think maybe in some cases it could be, or I think VCs certainly feel that way for trying to do secondaries or whatever. Like, oh, that could demotivate you. It’s like, actually it lets me sleep at night. It lets me not worry. And now I can really bring my focus to the game and go to the next level and make that second large chunk worth a lot more. And also they’re helping us set up shares for the team. So we immediately set up a form of profit sharing. And then we also are setting up longer term, some other great ways to… We’ve always just done informal bonuses that were as part of a percentage, but now we’re going to have a formalized program to keep people tied in and let them obviously share in the value they create. And so all of those pieces were in place from like second phone call and then came through on LOI. Because I was just like, these are things that are important to me. And they’re like, cool, this is what’s important to us. So long answer to a short question and I unfortunately have to beat around the bush a little bit, but-

John Warrillow:

No, no. I totally appreciate that. But I like hearing that there’s a structure in place where they’ve got the majority, but then they’ve left you in to participate in a significant way in [crosstalk 00:39:42] side.

Ben Kellie:

Exactly.

John Warrillow:

That makes a ton of sense. And what has been the experience? What’s the biggest difference for you in the last seven months compared with the seven months previous. I get the fact that you can sleep at night now.

Ben Kellie:

Sure.

John Warrillow:

And you’re not worried about the basic stuff. But I’m thinking of your day to day work. In what ways has that changed that you’re now majority owned by someone else?

Ben Kellie:

Really the biggest promise they made was we’re not going to mess with what works. You’re a company to run, so I’ve got a board now, never had a board. I’ve got a board now. I’m one of the seats and there’s other people as well. But on our matrix, we have a board matrix. Almost every decision is mine. And so what’s great is that most things haven’t changed, but I’ll tell you the single best part. And what I realized I was missing is that there is now somebody else who cares about the finance side. I was the only person in the company really dealing with finance. We have a fantastic operations director and she’s just unbelievable. Rachel Williams, big shout out. And she runs a lot of the finance and she also has stepped into that role.

But prior to that, it was just me being like, there was always this tension, God man, we need more tools or we need more people. We need this. And looking at the numbers I’m like, well, gang, we got to maybe figure out how to do this. I used to joke, there’s this fine line between scrappy and crappy. And you know, we’ve got to just tow this line. And so now it’s really great because we’re doing forecasts six years out, we’re building budgets. Where I’m like, hey, I think this is going to be tiring. We’re going to have this cashflow issue here. Cool. Let’s brainstorm how we can smooth that lump out. I have somebody else in the owner’s box who is trying to say hey, how can we help you succeed? What do you need? And then there’s capital available to make pushes or to take big bets or to do things. And that man, that is a very freeing feeling because now it feels like a sandbox. I mean, we can just go play.

John Warrillow:

So cool. What is a board matrix? I don’t know that too.

Ben Kellie:

It’s like an approval matrix. So Ben can spend up to this amount of money without asking anybody. Ben can hire or fire, Ben can do just the things that you need to go to the board for versus daily operations running. Should Ben commit to this $100 million contract. It’s like, maybe you should talk to the board because what if you’re signed up for more than you can chew. It’s just things like that.

John Warrillow:

Got it.

Ben Kellie:

And that’s actually been nice for me because I like having somebody that can bounce ideas off of. [inaudible 00:42:22], hey guys, this is what I’m really thinking about. And one of our board members is super active with me day to day, almost where we’re just getting up and running. And he’s like, okay, cool. I get how you’re business works now. I see how everything is. And we’re structuring it in a way that makes sense for us, but in that lets us grow and build operations and build process. And so that for me, you talked about engineering. For me engineering systems for a long time was really, really fun. Now engineering this company is really, really fun. Building all the processes, building the autonomy, investing in the people, all those things that make the mission happen has become my new passion and something I really, really love.

John Warrillow:

That’s really cool. It’s interesting I’m asking about the private equity group, because I did an interview a little while ago with a woman named Sherry Deutschmann. She built a company and one of the key parts of her culture was an employee profit sharing program. And she got acquired by private equity group. And months after the acquisition, they came in, looked at the line item, variable comp and they said, okay, well, let’s get rid of that, because that’s going to lift our EBITDA by six percentage or whatever. And she kicked in screaming said, no, you can’t take away that. That’s a key part of our culture. And they said, yeah, but it’s a huge part of the expenses of the company. We’re going to get rid of it. And they got rid of it.

They went from 52 employees or something like that. Sherry left. And soon after they were down to like seven or eight of the founding, group of employees, because they’d sort of hollowed out the secret sauce, the magic of the culture. You’re running a space company in Alaska, that’s weird. That’s a pretty unique culture. You guys are into the environment you’re living in and you want to do cool stuff. You have this whole culture of, what you call it? A calm company.

Ben Kellie:

Yeah.

John Warrillow:

In what way has having a private equity backer impacted your culture?

Ben Kellie:

That’s a great question. To be honest, we did. And this is something I give Voyager huge [inaudible 00:44:22]. They did multiple AMAs. Ask me anything with the team and Matt Kuta, the COO and president just showed up and was like, what do you got for me? And our team was relentless. They were just like, what are you going to do to preserve this culture? What are the pieces of the culture here you like the best? What do you think about X, Y, and Z? Even to the point where I’m a pretty straight shooting right to the point guy. I was like, whoa. And that’s just like… Matt afterwards was like, I love that that happened because it shows how much they care. And everybody to me, both sides responded perfectly.

And so that was really great. I just sent a big culture email yesterday about we do these like quarterly, all hands where it’s just like, hey, what are we up to? How are we doing? Blah, blah, blah. And I sent a follow-up because it’s starting to get dark outside and it’s starting to be a change of season. We’ve all been inside for two years, things like that. Or however long it’s been times a little strange right now, but you know what I mean? And it was just a check in and I forwarded it to the board and got immediate feedback of just like, it is so good that you’re vocalizing these things because a lot of people have a vision for that. They want their company to grow, but they don’t vocalize it.

Nobody else can pick it up and play the same sheet of music and blah, blah, blah. So culture has not been an issue. And I’ve had to push hard on a few things business wise with Voyager and they’ve always showed up and been like, what’s going on? How can we help? And so I don’t see a cultural issue. I think they know that that’s the secret source of Launch company. Similar to the story you’re saying is like, I think they recognize what makes us special is the people. A company is nothing but a group of people. And they’re working really hard to preserve that and grow that. And I have one-on-ones with Dylan. And we talk about that quite often and I know he’s aligned. So those were things we spent a lot of time on during due deal actually. And it was less like ones and zeros or whatever, accounting stuff. And it was more like, how’s this going to feel? What’s this going to really smell like? Just real quick, I had friends in Ohio that went through the exact same thing that you’re describing. So I was very cautious about that.

John Warrillow:

Skeptical or conscious of it. What was the toughest question out of interest that Matt fielded? You said that one question made you scream a little bit or squirm a little bit in your seat.

Ben Kellie:

Our engineering director, Robert Doty, great guy, great friend. He just goes hi, quick question here. Sounds like all of the changes you guys are talking about are going to fall on Ben and Rachel to implement, Rachel being our operations director. How are you going to help preserve their time and make sure they’re not getting distracted from what’s actually important at the business. And I was like, oh man.

John Warrillow:

Oh, that’s great.

Ben Kellie:

It’s a fantastic question. And they were like straight talk. They’re like, while we integrate, it’s going to be a little messy and we’re going to have to figure this out. And we’re all learning together. He’s like, but we’re all on the same team. We’re going to figure this out and we’re going to get the systems built. We’re going to go from your systems, which work great for a team of your size. We have to transition them into systems that can go public and can scale and can do all these things. He’s like, you got to just understand that we’re all learning together and we’re all going to do our best. And I was like, yeah, that’s the most we can ask for. I was like, show up with a good attitude and do your best. And that’s it.

John Warrillow:

You know, hindsight’s 2020. And I think every time I’ve done one of these interviews, I think every founder has had something, some small thing or some big thing that they would do differently if they had the negotiation over again. In your case, you had three potential exit options, VC, the revenue based financing, and then Voyager. If you could rewind the clock and do it all from scratch, what might you do differently if you had that to do over again?

Ben Kellie:

Yeah. Man, I think really the biggest thing is I wish that I had studied and researched more about the process before I went into it. That’s something I mean, I’ll spend six months picking out a television set, you know what I mean? And reading reviews and comparing this and blah, blah, blah. I felt naive and I think it was one of those things… I think it’s something like when people are buying a car and they’re like, they want to come off as experts so they don’t ask dumb questions. I think I wish I would’ve asked a few more dumb questions along the way.

And that’s part of the ego possibly too. It’s just like, man, I should ask more dumb questions, but I was trying to convince these guys that they were getting a smartie and not somebody that knew what they were doing. I was fiercely Googling and doing research, but I wish that I would’ve just gotten smarter, but you’re also running the business day to day. So now you’ve got this whole new… Anybody that’s been through due diligence knows it’s a lot of work. You’ve got this whole new work cycle on top of your normal work cycle. And so I think researching and understanding better would’ve been the thing.

John Warrillow:

Can you think of one dumb question that you should have asked because people are listening to this right now and they’re like, I know exactly what he’s saying. I don’t want to look like an idiot. I want to sound smart and intelligent and informed at the same time. I don’t know everything there is to know about selling a company. So what one question do you wish you maybe had an answer to that you now know?

Ben Kellie:

Man, I’ll have to think about it. I think really the biggest thing is then the reason I wish that is not because anything happened where I felt tricked afterwards, like, oh, I bought the undercoating. I didn’t need the undercoating or whatever. I think it was more about like, man, I sure did waste a lot of time on this little TLA, three letter acronym that I didn’t understand, which.

John Warrillow:

Sorry, what does TLA stand for?

Ben Kellie:

Oh, It’s a joke. That’s the joke. It’s a three letter acronym.

John Warrillow:

Okay.

Ben Kellie:

It’s just any little three letter thing you don’t understand.

John Warrillow:

I see. Okay. Got it. See, there you go.

Ben Kellie:

But that’s the point. So it’s just one of those things where it’s like, I wasted a lot of time and slowed down the process, like hanging up on these details. And the rest of my life I tried to run 80, 20. How can I get 80% of the way there on 20% of the whatever. And I didn’t do that here because I think I was playing a little scared and they ultimately gave me some great terms that showed a lot of trust. And so I gave some things back that showed a lot of trust. And that’s what Matt said. He was just like, we just got to trust each other. We’re working together. And I hear people squinching and squirming when they hear that.

John Warrillow:

Yeah. Like me. [inaudible 00:51:04].

Ben Kellie:

Because that’s true. But at the same time you need to have good trust. Good fences make good neighbors, whatever. You have to have good trust built on the boundaries and the legal documents and whatever. But there’s always going to be those little points where your lawyer’s like, well, they could really pull this over on you. And it’s like, dude, they’re going to own a majority of the business. They could fire everybody tomorrow. I mean, at some point there’s a diminishing return on those little details. And I think I spent too much time on some of those. I’m not at all advocating that you go and sell your business without talking to a very good lawyer, many, many, many times. And getting anything that somebody says on the phone, get it written down and agreed upon with a hard number and a timeline.

I’m just saying that past that there’s little pieces. Man, do they matter? And are you going to blow up the deal on it? So for instance, you’re buying a house and it’s like it’s going to need smoke detectors. You got to do health and safety and all the good stuff, but it’s like, oh, but the painting side. And the guys are like, well, I’m going to walk away. It’s like, do I really care about the paint? I’ve got 30 years to paint that wall. It’s little things like that.

John Warrillow:

Yeah. Makes sense. One of the things that we talk a lot about is the separation of your role as CEO, that hat. And then the role of shareholder. Because right now I’m mindful that you are both in your company. You’re both the shareholder, but you’re also running the business day to day. What is the mechanism if you can talk about it, if you can’t, I understand, by which you could be removed as the CEO and still be a shareholder? How does that work? If you really screw up or they just want to get rid of you for whatever reason, can they blow you out and keep you? Do they have the right to do that? And how does that all work?

Ben Kellie:

Yeah. I won’t go probably into too many specifics. But I will say that there’s got to be a way to get rid of the CEO. And you know what? And this is maybe a good example of a detail that I think we spent a good amount of time on. Not too much or too little where they’re like, well, Ben, maybe you’re not CEO forever. Maybe you want to go and do other things or you grow within Voyager. That’s our hope. We want you to come up through the company and do all these cool things. You might have to hire a guy. They’re like, now what if you’re on the board and the person you hire is a nightmare or whatever. And they’re like, we got to be able to get rid of that person. And they’re like, you got to think through the future.

I’m like, okay. So what’s the balance of thinking to the future, but not getting hosted now. And I think one of the best ways to do it is like, there’s ways to do it, where it’s like, will you let go at the… Are you serving at the pleasure of the board and will you let go or will you let go with cost? And that we drew a line there and we also drew a line on essentially a payout that would happen if it was without cause and how that would work. And it’s structured in a cool time based way where it makes a lot of sense, but also the cause piece is important. And I know the people out there again are going, like, you can make anything look like for cause.

And I guess that’s true, but also that’s where maybe where it comes to trust. We have a good board. If I have to have every little thing built up where cause is X, Y, and Z and blah, blah, then it’s like, should I do this deal? But instead it’s like, well, look, these people want me in this thing. They want this to grow. The next person we’ll hire, we’re going to… If I’m not CEO forever just saying, we put somebody else in there someday. We will do a very good job hiring that human. And it’ll be in a similar piece. And so there is these kind of sticky parts, but we did put somewhere protection where it’s like, cause, no cause, and then there’s this essentially both the non-compete and the payout, there’s a time mechanism to them that is variable based on how things work out. And so it protects people, but it also lets them protect their own livelihood.

John Warrillow:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. But either way your equity would remain?

Ben Kellie:

Yeah.

John Warrillow:

That’s treated separately from an employment group?

Ben Kellie:

Yeah. We did structure a certain thing where [inaudible 00:55:18] without going to specifics, I’m sorry. I can’t. That’s another piece. I’m also used to just being like, oh yeah, here’s everything I wrote down in the agreement. But I should not.

John Warrillow:

You might get a call from Matt or Dylan on that.

Ben Kellie:

They’d be like, hey buddy, not great judgment here. I think there’s also a piece where over time you are allowed to say, I’m allowed to maybe if I want to sell X amount per year or whatever. And so yeah, it’s one of those things where they don’t want me to have say a phenomenal year, sell everything, get out and be like, good luck out there. And conversely, I don’t want them to buy the rest on a down year. And so we have some mechanisms in place that make both parties happy and how that timescale would work.

John Warrillow:

Got it. That’s super helpful. And you’ve worked, I’m assuming with a lawyer on your end. They would’ve had legal team that you had won on your end.

Ben Kellie:

Yeah. We were fortunate. I think one of the things I tell bootstrappers all the time is like, what are the things you can hire away immediately? Where is it not valuable for you to be spending your time? And where do you also… Are you afraid? For me it was always bookkeeping and legal. And so we went out and got a lawyer we really couldn’t afford and that paid huge dividends. When eventually we went through this process because they were like, oh yeah, we’ll call the M&A office in LA. And I was like, awesome. This is great.

John Warrillow:

Glad you have one of those, because I don’t. That’s awesome.

Ben Kellie:

It was really useful for us.

John Warrillow:

Ben, I know you got to go and this has been amazing. Where can people reach you if they want to reach out and say hi? Are you social guy? Where can people reach you?

Ben Kellie:

I am on LinkedIn. Ben Kellie, K-E-L-L-I-E. And then I’m on Twitter @NorthRoadBen. You can always go to Ben Kellie, B-E-N-K-E-L-L-I-E.com. I got a little landing page there and you can shoot a note over and say, hey, I got a little newsletter I write about building hard things, doing it well, bootstrapping to space, things like that. I’m just getting off the ground. So come sign up and follow along.

John Warrillow:

That’s awesome. And I have a feeling that we’re going to hear more from Ben Kellie in the future. I just have a sense. So I’m going to stay in touch.

Ben Kellie:

I hope so.

John Warrillow:

And I want to hear how the journey ends and we’re refueling spaceships in orbit and all kinds of crazy stuff. You can educate me on this stuff. So [crosstalk 00:57:36] thanks for doing this.

Ben Kellie:

Hey, thanks for all your time. Thanks for having me on. This was great. Be safe out there and have a great day.

John Warrillow:

Hey, if you like today’s episode, you’re going to love my new book, The Art Of Selling Your Business. The book was inspired by the cohort of my guests over the years who have been able to negotiate an exit far better than the benchmark in their industry. Sometimes two or three times more than I would’ve expected. I was curious to understand the tactics and strategies of these entrepreneurs and what they do differently from average performers. The result is a playbook for punching above your weight when it comes to selling your business. To learn more, go to BuiltToSell.com/Selling, where we put together a collection of gifts for listeners who order the book. Just go to BuiltToSell.com/Selling. Built to sell radio is produced by Haley Parkhill. Our audio and video engineer is Denis Labattaglia. If you like what you’ve just heard subscribe to get a new episode delivered to your inbox each week. Just go to BuiltToSell.com.

Outro:

Thanks for listening to Built to Sell Radio with John Warrillow. For complete show notes, with links to additional resources, visit BuiltToSell.com/Blog. John is the founder of The Value Builder System™. To find out how to improve the value of your business by 71% visit ValueBuilderSystem.com. John is also the author of Built to Sell: Creating A Business That Can Thrive Without You and The Automatic Customer: Creating A Subscription Business In Any Industry. Connect with John at Facebook.com/BuiltToSell or on Twitter at John Warrillow, W-A-R-R-I-L-L-O-W. Thanks for listening.

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