David VS Goliath Podcast – S1 – Episode 27 – Curt Kempton
Nobody brings sexy back into business like Adam DeGraide and Curt Kempton. Curt is the CEO of Responsibid. This high tech, high growth software platform is built to help service businesses everywhere make more money all while having more fun.
Adam DeGraide: Hey everyone, it’s Adam DeGraide. Big news, David vs. Goliath. Shop on the davidvsgoliathpodcast.com website. Get your iPhone covers, your cups, even cups like this. Check it out. A lot of fun. Support the show, show off your swag, we really appreciate it. Onto the episode.
Coming up today on David vs. Goliath.
Curt Kempton: If you don’t like working, I can teach you to.
Adam DeGraide: You are the only one that can bring sexy back in your business. You know it’s one of the best podcasts in the world.
Speaker 3: Welcome to today’s episode of David vs. Goliath, a podcast dedicated to helping small businesses leverage technology to not only help them compete against their large competitors, but win. Your host is currently the CEO of Anthem Business Software, a three-time Inc. 500 recipient, and a serial entrepreneur with a passion to help small businesses everywhere find, serve, and keep more customers profitably. Please join me in welcoming your host, Adam DeGraide.
Adam DeGraide: Hey everyone, it’s Adam DeGraide with another episode of David vs. Goliath Podcast, where we champion the small business and we feature their stories, their tips, and the tricks in how they’re taking on their giants and winning in their respective markets.
Well today we have Curt Kempton from ResponsiBid, who’s going to be on the podcast coming up in a few minutes. And it’s going to be a great interview. I found out about this software from a vendor that I actually used recently and I thought it would be great to bring it to my watchers and my listeners.
Today’s episode is brought to you by Anthem Software, where you can find, serve, and keep more customers profitably with their all-in-one solution built specifically for small businesses of software, marketing and consulting to help you find, serve, and keep more customers profitably. Visit anthemsoftware.com to learn more and take the 120 second video tour.
You can visit us online at davidvsgoliathpodcast.com. There you could subscribe to receive our email newsletters and you can also apply to be on the podcast. We’ve recently featured some amazing businesses who have gone through that application process, got accepted, and have been recently featured on DVG, so go check them out a few weeks ago.
Anyway, we’re really excited about today. And the other thing, I don’t know if you noticed, I’m wearing the DVG shirt. Which is also on our store, and that’s pretty cool too. And to remind you really quick, my book is out. It’s a children book, it’s called The Adventures of Jackson: The Young Field Mouse. It teaches kids about bravery, gratitude, and the value of listening, paying attention to details. You can find that on Barnes & Noble and you can also find that on Amazon.com.
Well with no further ado, Curt welcome to the David vs. Goliath Podcast.
Curt Kempton: Hey, thanks for having me, Adam.
Adam DeGraide: I’m so glad to have you. I actually wanted to interview you. I met your company through being a customer of one of your clients. I hired a pressure washer to come and do my house, he came over, he walked around, did a video. I said I need a quote. Quotes are hard to get as you know from service providers, hence the reason why you built the software. Although that evening, I had this professional text message sent to me. I clicked on it, it had this beautiful link, the video, everything was well-organized. And I called him, I said, “Alex,” I said, “I’ve got to interview the guy who’s building this company,” because I thought it was so well done. Being someone who builds software myself, I always admire simple and well thought out software, and it definitely looked like you had that in ResponsiBid.
So for the watchers and the listeners of David vs. Goliath, tell them a little bit about what ResponsiBid is and then we’re going to back into how you got involved in doing it.
Curt Kempton: Sure. ResponsiBid is basically we call it a sales funnel automation that sits on top of most people’s CRM. So everybody who has a home service company knows that they’ve got a piece of software where they keep their customers and they do their invoicing, they got a calendar, all their employees live in there. And it’s got all the bells and whistles to run the operation. The problem with most of that software is that it doesn’t really curate a very great customer experience. Or at least it doesn’t even really attempt to curate that, it’s not that it’s making a bad customer experience. But most estimates that you would generate in that type of software is what I call ultimatums. Ultimatum estimates. They basically say, “Oh, you want your house pressure washed? It’s either $600.00 or you don’t do business with me at all.” Like that’s basically what the estimate looks like. Do you agree to it?
We don’t believe that’s how people buy and we’ve tried to curate an experience that either your sales reps out in the field can use, same exact system you can use over the phone if that’s your speed, or we even allow it to be installed on your website so that customers can actually take themselves through the process. You know how it is, like 10:00 at night you just realized, “Oh, I got to get something done.” You know that even when you’re Googling you know you’re going to leave voicemails for people that hopefully will call you back, maybe they will, maybe they won’t. They’ve got forms on their site that you can fill out and give your name and email and request a quote.
But really what people want in that moment is to know how much will it cost and how soon can we do it? So our software integrates with the CRM they’re already using in order to build that front-end experience for the sales rep or the customer themselves to sort of get, “Do you want A, B or C scenario,” and get that customer to take that mental baggage that they’ve got in their brain and book the job and know that they’re getting the right job done.
Adam DeGraide: Yeah it was interesting because when I got the quote, it basically came through it said, “You can have this option, A, B or C. You could request one of the other ones.” I didn’t notice if there was any revised or suggestions, I didn’t really pay too close attention, I just accepted. I don’t even remember which one I accepted, and then I believe I even fulfilled the ability to pay for it at some point in time also through the software. Whether it was a CRM or your software, I’m not too sure.
But I was very fascinated with how professionally made this company, that I know is a relative startup, look. And as David vs. Goliath, like somebody who has passion for helping small business, who builds CRM for small business myself, always looking for new functionality and features to add into that software, I really love what you did. And this is birthed out of… It’s not like you have a massive software background. I was reading on the pre-show sheet right here, in my formally nicotine stained hands… Which are not nicotine by the way, that was many years ago, I stole that line from the late great Rush Limbaugh… Was the fact that you graduated from ASU, you were in the service business yourself. You built it, you sold it in 2014 and then started ResponsiBid. Is that an accurate quick assessment? And for the listeners and watchers, tell them a little bit about your journey of… I’m always curious, what did you go to college for, are you doing what you went to college for?
Curt Kempton: Oh crap.
Adam DeGraide: Yeah, so these are interesting questions. Because my buddy Tim Sawyer, he has a podcast where he interviews people that look for alternatives to the four-year college education. Because the vast majority of people who get the four-year degree never really end up using it in some cases, and then they’re in a lot of debt and all these different things. So you went to ASU, you graduated from ASU, is ResponsiBid responsible for your college education or your life experience?
Curt Kempton: Life experience, for sure. Yeah, so I graduated… I had two kids… So I got married halfway through college. We had two kids by the time I graduated from ASU’s business school. And I got the Outstanding Graduating Student Award. So…
Adam DeGraide: Nice.
Curt Kempton: Well, I wasn’t going to walk even because I’m busy with the family and I’m trying to start a bike shop at the time. So I didn’t even get a robe or anything for it. But they called me up and they’re like, “You need to be at the graduation.” And I’m like, “Eh, it’s all right. I’ll be all right.” They’re like, “No, you don’t understand, you got to be there.” So I ended up borrowing my sister’s… My wife’s sister’s robes, because she graduated from ASU too.
Adam DeGraide: Oh that’s nice. [crosstalk]
Curt Kempton: Showed up and found out, “Oh, I’m winning an award.” Yeah, it came to my waist, the [inaudible].
Adam DeGraide: It was like a kilt. It was more like a kilt than anything.
Curt Kempton: Yeah. Luckily I wore pants underneath it, but yeah it would’ve been pretty sketchy. So when I show up to the graduation I get this award, we’re on our way home and my wife is like, “Man, that’s so cool. We’re going to be rich, aren’t we?” I’m like, “Uh, yeah baby. You’re a lucky girl!” But the next day after graduation I was working on setting up a bike shop, that’s what I thought I was going to be doing. And went through college with that whole intent the whole time. I was racing mountain bikes and road bikes and all that stuff. And that was what I thought I wanted to do. And I realized really early on with the two kids that every weekend, retail was just not going to work for me.
So I read a book called Millionaire Mind, and actually Millionaire Nextdoor and Millionaire Mind are same author. But essentially it’s just a bunch of surveys of millionaires that points out the people who become millionaires are people who do things that nobody else wants to do. Everyone thinks that it’s movie stars and athletes, but in reality firemen and junkyard operators are the number one millionaires in the world.
So the thing that just kept coming on my mind was number one, I don’t want to work retail. Number two, I want to have to go home when the sun goes down so I can be with the family. That’s what I’m trying to build. And I just kept getting this phrase, “We don’t do windows. I don’t do windows.” I just kept thinking about that phrase and I thought, “Well if I’m going to go where nobody else is that’s what I’m going to do.” So…
My wife was quite shocked when I told her that I was switching gears. But it was the best thing for my family. And I realized in that business, the business you said that I sold, I sold in 2014 but I started ResponsiBid in 2011. I started with… You’ve heard of Infusion Soft haven’t you?
Adam DeGraide: Oh totally, yeah. 100%.
Curt Kempton: Yeah. So I was one of their first customers with my window cleaning company, I was in with them really early. And a guy in my neighborhood was their webmaster.
Adam DeGraide: Oh wow.
Curt Kempton: Yeah, so I was already using their software to run the automations for follow up emails and stuff. But I’m watching amazon.com and this eBay thing, they’re just taking off and they’re doing amazing things. People are starting to buy stuff online. And I kept getting all these forms that would come in from our website requesting a quote, and then by the time I’d get back to them they’d already gone with someone else.
So I met with the webmaster in Fusion Soft, and at the time they were allowed to do side work. That ended up getting kaboshed about halfway through my first project with them. But we built an online web form that could automatically give a quote. And it was really rudimentary. But I’ll tell you what, that changed everything. And from that point forward I knew my passion wasn’t really in that window cleaning world. That’s when everything shifted. My passion was about automating gorgeous systems that makes it possible for business owners to actually enjoy the life that they’ve set out for when they started their business.
Adam DeGraide: That’s awesome.
Curt Kempton: And from there I did chase two rabbits for a while. Between 2011, 2014 I was running both businesses trying to figure out what’s going on the software. My college degree had stopped helping me about three days after I graduated. I didn’t even know what kind of entity to set up. Adam, I didn’t know [crosstalk] or what.
Adam DeGraide: No they don’t teach… And this is the problem. This is the problem. They don’t teach you, like where do you incorporate for the best tax benefits?
Curt Kempton: I have no idea.
Adam DeGraide: Yeah.
Curt Kempton: I have no idea.
Adam DeGraide: What structure should you have to protect your assets and minimize your tax burden?
Curt Kempton: Have no idea.
Adam DeGraide: Like simple things.
Curt Kempton: Yeah.
Adam DeGraide: They don’t teach you.
Curt Kempton: Yeah. You know what else I didn’t know? I didn’t even know how to set monthly goals and budgets for a brand new business.
Adam DeGraide: So what the heck are they teaching us?
Curt Kempton: I mean I basically knew how to tie my shoes.
Adam DeGraide: It’s crazy.
Curt Kempton: As far as [inaudible].
Adam DeGraide: So you have two kids, you’re in college, you’re running a bike shop. And I think you alluded to the fact that we don’t do windows, you said, “I’m going to do windows.”
Curt Kempton: Yeah.
Adam DeGraide: Am I right in saying that?
Curt Kempton: Yep.
Adam DeGraide: And so your business, from a service contractor perspective, was, “Hey, all these bozos don’t want to do your windows? No big deal, I love windows.” And then you figured out how to stop losing quotes, save yourself some time and energy, met some sharp cats along the way. That is awesome.
Curt Kempton: Yep. Well and the other thing was is that in the window cleaning world there’s an association called the International Window Cleaning Association, IWCA. And I realized, actually it was Clate Mask, I was at a focus group. It was actually being run by, at the time I believe it was Scott Martineau that was running that meeting. So they’re co founders. But he was trying to figure out product stuff and Clate walks into the room and he goes, “Hey guys, I’m excited to hear you guys are doing this thing today. But I got quick question before you get started. Tell me about company culture.” And so they’re going around the room. And basically I’m in the room with a bunch of high end people, so to speak. There’s real estate agents, there’s a person running a chiropractic office, there’s a dental office manager there. Basically just people who weren’t running window cleaning companies, how about that?
All right, so I’m sitting at this table. He goes round the table and he’s like, “What do you guys do for company culture?” The first person was like, “Yeah we give everybody one day off a week, we just work Monday through Thursday and we let them spend Friday, Saturday, Sunday with their families.” And I remember at the time I had a helper, so I remember thinking, “Wow that’s pretty cool.” But the next person was like, “We actually rent a cabin up in the woods for two weeks a year and we just let all the families come up and use this cabin and do this thing.” And I’m like, “Oh wow.” And now I’m starting to feel like one of these things doesn’t belong in the room. And I’m starting to scratch my head thinking, “What am I going to say?” I’m trying to think of a story I could tell.
Adam DeGraide: Yeah what story can you… “Hey I give my guys fresh, clean towels to rinse off the windows.” Is that…
Curt Kempton: That’s about what I was at.
Adam DeGraide: “But, I have it engraved with their name.”
Curt Kempton: Yeah if I could embellish the truth maybe. But that was the thing, as it’s coming around to me it gets to the part where the next person up is like, “Hey we send everyone to Disneyland with their families for a week.” And what I’m hearing is, in my own mind the way I’m processing it is, “We have a rocket ship and we send people to Mars, and we do…” This is so out of the realm of possibility for me that I feel completely like an idiot.
So when it gets to me, and I wish that the world would open up and just suck me inside and I don’t have to answer this question, my hands are sweating and I feel so stupid. And I just looked at Clate and I didn’t know what else to say, I said, “Well my business, it’s not sexy like all these other businesses. But,” and I said, “But,” and he cut me off. He’s just like, everything just got quiet. The whole room got quiet. Clate’s looking across the table at me [crosstalk]-
Adam DeGraide: You said the wrong thing.
Curt Kempton: I said the wrong… And I didn’t know what I had said, I was like whatever I said, how can I get it back in my mouth? Because this-
Adam DeGraide: Yeah exactly.
Curt Kempton: And I was already nervous, but now I’ve got the CEO of Infusion Soft puts his hands down on the conference table, does the whole chest resting in the shoulder blade thing. He’s staring across the table at me, it feels like his nose is about to touch mine. I know there’s a table between us, but I’m so embarrassed and nervous. And he says, he looks at everyone else at the table, and this was so embarrassing. He looks at everyone, he’s like, “I’ve got this.” And I’m like, “What does he have? What did I say? Did I say something…” And he looks at me and he takes one hand off the table and he points it right at me and he says, “Shame on you. Shame on you if you don’t think your business is sexy. Who are you waiting to make your business sexy? Are you waiting for maybe your employees? Maybe your employees will step up and make your business sexy for you, or maybe your customers. Are you waiting for your customers to make your business…”
And I could feel the tears starting to well up in my eyes. I was so nervous, embarrassed. I felt like this is the worst thing that could possibly happen to me. But what he said after that, it just changed everything for me. He said, “If you can’t make your business sexy, because that’s your right as an entrepreneur, then you need to go do something else.”
Adam DeGraide: Yeah, no doubt.
Curt Kempton: “Because this is your job.”
Adam DeGraide: That’s right, and you know it’s funny, I got to take a break here pretty soon. But what I love about that story is you are the only one that can bring sexy back in your business. There’s nobody else that’s bringing sexy back but you, my man. And so he’s got the chest…
Curt Kempton: That’s right.
Adam DeGraide: I love that man. And he’s profound by the way, because he can’t love your business more than you can. And for the watchers and listeners, this is a profound moment. Do you love your business more than anybody else? Because if you don’t nobody else will.
Now we got to take a message from our corporate sponsor, Anthem Software. We’ll be right back.
Speaker 3: Anthem Business Software system is designed to specifically help small businesses just like yours find, serve, and keep more customers profitably. We do this by providing you with the most powerful software, automations, and marketing services to help your business compete and win in this ever changing digital world. Take a short video tour at anthemsoftware.com.
Anthem Software: every business has a song, let our software sing yours.
Adam DeGraide: And we’re back with Curt Kempton, who’s bringing sexy back to the quoting system in the service industry. Now Curt, is it true that not only was it important for you to see that your business is sexy but that the software’s truly powered by Dunder Mifflin. And Michael Scott has been your CTO and your chief programmer, clearly, because of the Dunder Mifflin world’s best bidder. Obviously you’ve been inspired by the episode. Is this true that Dunder Mifflin has been powering your software for all these years and… You know what’s so funny? I just had this instinct that you had [crosstalk].
Curt Kempton: I got-
Adam DeGraide: All right guys, for the watchers and listeners. I swear, only thing I saw in the back was a Dunder Mifflin book. But my instincts told me that there was going to be other Dunder Mifflin things. Matter of fact, I’m showing the watchers and the viewers right now, upstairs in my game room in my house I have a wall of my favorite sitcoms: Seinfeld, The Office, and Arrested Development. So the viewers and the watchers are looking at that right now. But no I’m just kidding.
So Curt, when it comes to ResponsiBid and you think about that lesson your learned from the CEO of Infusion Soft. And then you went on and you sold your company, you decided you were going to build software to help businesses like the one you sold.
Curt Kempton: Yep, I mean basically-
Adam DeGraide: You didn’t do it alone. Hold on, you didn’t do this alone.
Curt Kempton: No.
Adam DeGraide: And you left that meeting saying to yourself, “I got to get a fire inside of me, I got to see my world differently.”
Curt Kempton: Yeah.
Adam DeGraide: And then you probably bought some people along. So how did you prepare yourself to make sure that there was passion and belief in ResponsiBid that would translate to your partners and investors going forward?
Curt Kempton: Well what I learned was is that if you think that you can just go out and build a business for yourself that your customers will just fall in love with, then you’re going to be really sad and disappointed for the whole rest of your life. So this company exists to bless people. That’s employees and customers, those are the people that… But people don’t exist for your business. And I had been going about it all wrong.
The reason that ResponsiBid exists is because following that conversation, the following four years ResponsiBid was voted the most professional image of any window cleaning company in the world. And it was because we kept building systems to be a customer service company that happens to do windows. When we-
Adam DeGraide: You know what’s funny? It’s funny you say that, and I got to stop you right now because this is firing me up. Oh I should probably not show people my credit card numbers. But this is a wallet that I would carry around. And I would go give speeches to sales people around the country, and business owners, and I would say, “The moment that you care more about this than your perspective client and customer is the moment this is empty.” And I would literally, so this is, I’m not kidding, this would be in a room of thousands of people. Curt I would literally say, “So…” And I’d throw it down in front of them. And my cards and cash would scatter. And I’d say, “Don’t pick them up, leave it right where it is.” And I would go for another 20 minutes of my talk and wouldn’t pick it up until the end.
Because what you just said is so true. If you care more about that it will always be empty, but if you care about your clients, your customers and your prospects… My wallet has always been full. And it doesn’t mean you don’t think about money and that we don’t care about money. But if that’s your primary motivation… Are there people that can do that and get away with it and get money? Yeah. But that’s like, what good is it if you profit the whole world and lose your soul, right?
Curt Kempton: That’s what I was just going to say, is that if you [crosstalk]-
Adam DeGraide: At the end of the day it’s stuff. It’s stuff. Money is stuff. House is stuff. People and relationships and legacies are passed on through humanity. And it’s not what we own. There’s nothing we can take with us, it’s what we leave behind. And that comes with our influence and our teaching of people. That’s fantastic Curt, kudos to you.
Curt Kempton: Well I think that’s where the thing is, is that people start to get a little bit of success with the money and they start to give all of the praise to how great their company is. When in fact it was never due to anything other than how successful were you at providing value to your customers and your employees?
When you said I didn’t do it alone, the fact is is that… And I think I can do it without being emotional, because I don’t have a picture of him in front me, but [crosstalk]-
Adam DeGraide: If you start crying I’m going to have my producer put a little teardrop in the top corner, so hold it together. Keep it together. No I’m just kidding, you do whatever you do.
Curt Kempton: I’m a crier, I wish I wasn’t. The thing is, is that the people who work for me are so good, so much better at what they do than I could be, than I even would attempt to be, they have built this empire [inaudible] ResponsiBid because they’re as excited about the crusade as I am.
Adam DeGraide: That’s awesome.
Curt Kempton: And the reason is, is because we know what value we provide to our customers. And they know that the company exists not just to bless our customers, but we are looking for opportunities to help… And if you’ve read the Dream Manager you get my feeling here is that the idea is that this company exists to help my employees reach their dreams. And they do it via software that helps their customers to reach their dreams.
Adam DeGraide: I want to encourage you Curt, because this is your first probably big software opportunity. And potentially high future exit because of the value you’re bringing. You’re going to be amazed at how many entrepreneurs you’re mentoring right now and they will go on to do great things. In some cases bigger and better than you. And because I have, my gosh I can think of at least 15 to 20 people that have worked alongside with me and my first three businesses that are multimillionaires today with their own businesses.
And that is rewarding man, right? Because you’re not just affecting their lives, you’re affecting their future employees lives, their future employees families lives. And if you have a company of 50 people, you’re impacting thousand people. If you have a company of a hundred people you’re impacting 10,000 people. I mean it’s just, you don’t really realize it when you’re in it. But the moments of clarity come when you realize why you’re in it and you’re in it for the right reasons. And so I love the fact that you get teared up, because I can see the passion in you. You’re obviously a kindred spirit. I guess I’ve gotten a little bit more emotional as the years gone on, but I definitely have an attitude of gratitude. And it makes all the difference in the world.
What does your team look like right now? I mean how big is it? I mean you don’t have to get into numbers if it’s relatively small, but even-
Curt Kempton: Yeah, we actually just hired our 12th employee.
Adam DeGraide: That’s awesome!
Curt Kempton: Plus we have developers overseas. We’ve got five developers overseas, we’re actually trying to hire four more. So just as fast as we can. This has been a gang buster last couple of years.
Adam DeGraide: Good for you.
Curt Kempton: Yeah. I feel-
Adam DeGraide: Good for you. Now do you have a marketing manager? Do you have a marketing director or anything like that or…
Curt Kempton: Yeah we have, so actually just hired, it was a great catch, we just hired a gal from another CRM that… Things weren’t working out at that CRM and for whatever reason she went on the market. And as soon as I heard she was on the market I just snatched her up, man.
Adam DeGraide: That’s great.
Curt Kempton: And it’s exciting.
Adam DeGraide: It’s called effective capitalism.
Curt Kempton: Well you know what’s great? Is that when I reached out I said, “Hey, I heard you’re on the market.” She’s like, “Do you have a position open?” I’m like, “Well that’s funny you would ask, I was just calling…” She said, “Oh my God [crosstalk].”
Adam DeGraide: It is exciting, by the way. I’ll tell you, you’re going on a great ride because I always tell people that I glaze over around 50 employees. Once my companies get to about 50 employees I start to walk around like this. You’ll experience that. And enjoy it, it’s a beautiful place your business is at right now. And the key is relationships, you’re so right. The core group of people that are with you right now can be with you at the end. And it can be very rewarding and fulfilling for everyone that’s involved. Now how do you get the word out to prospective clients? I mean are you doing AdWords and social media? And SEO? I mean what are some of the things that you’re doing in your business to do that.
Curt Kempton: So we’ve tried AdWords and Facebook ads and it kind of fell on our face. I do think that with our new marketing manager we’re probably going to learn things we didn’t know that might open up that back up. But affiliates have been our biggest thing, because everyone knows they need a CRM. But it seems like there’s no… I can’t find any search volume for sales funnel or customer self scheduling or intelligent quoting or package pricing for the service industry. We’re not getting a search volume for the key words that we actually need to be for, so there’s an element of education that people need.
Adam DeGraide: Oh that makes sense, because the buyer doesn’t realize they need it.
Curt Kempton: Yeah.
Adam DeGraide: So they’re not even looking for it.
Curt Kempton: Yeah. We have a technology that’s incredibly cool that I wish people were searching for. I thought it would happen, “If you build it they will come.” Which is a joke. But we built this technology that basically reads the calendar of a CRM, and then when a customer goes to schedule themselves our technology will figure out which of the employees are capable of doing it, how fast they can do it, who works together, and then offers the customer the best drive time, available times without blowing the day out of whack, capacity wise.
So it takes all these algorithms in. It’s incredibly great for people who for example who have a call center that doesn’t even know how to give quotes or schedule. They can just enter the numbers in ResponsiBid, get the price: good, better, best options. The customer chooses the option, they’re offered five dates, they schedule it, and now there’s only three minutes of drive time with the perfect crew that doesn’t go over. And it’s this really cool technology, and no one is doing any searches for customer self scheduling. Probably because they think that it’s an art that can’t ever be done via data.
And so I’m hoping for the day that there’s search volume and we can actually do an AdWord on that, because I think people would have their minds blown.
Adam DeGraide: Yeah well if there is search volume you’ll be there, because you’re one of the ones that helped create it. That’s amazing man. So listen, we got to take another break from another sponsor. But when we come back I do want to talk to you about a few things. I want to talk to you about your family, because I clearly I can sense that you’re a family guy. And so am I, and so I’d love to hear about your family. Some pet peeves you might have. Some hobbies you might have, things you collect. And then we’re going to transition into some advice that we can give people that are trying to start their own businesses or maybe struggling, or maybe getting ready to exit their business. Some advice as well, too.
So you’re with Curt and Adam. This is the David vs Goliath podcast. You know it’s one of the best podcasts in the world. Where are you going to get content like this? Nowhere but here on DVG. Here’s another message from another sponsor, stay tuned we’ll be write back.
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Adam DeGraide: And we’re back for the final segment with Curt. Curt it’s been so much fun having you on here. And when I was reading this I think you said, “Do you collect anything?” And you said, “Yes, kids.” I have two sets of children.
Curt Kempton: Okay.
Adam DeGraide: 27 year old boy, 25 year old daughter, who has just made me a grandfather to-
Speaker 3: Oh congratulations!
Adam DeGraide: Yeah I’m a brand new grandfather, less than three weeks at this point when the recording’s being done. Probably a month and a half to almost two months when it’s actually going to air. And then I have a two year old grandson. I have a six year old son and a three year old daughter. And so you collect kids, I collect kids. And they’re amazing. There’s no greater joy in the world than having children that love you and that you love them. And it’s amazing. Unless they meltdown on an airplane, then you try to hand them off to the person in front of you or behind you.
Curt Kempton: We’re passed that stage, brother. We’re past that.
Adam DeGraide: My three year old just melted down yesterday on the way back from Key West, it was pretty funny. But anyway tell the listeners a little bit about your family dynamic. You’ve been married for a while obviously, you got married in college you said. How many kids you have?
Curt Kempton: So I have four kids. Been married 21 years. My oldest daughter is 19 years old. And that’s crazy to say. I’ve got a 17 year old son, I’ve got a… 17, 14, and 10 year old sons. So three boys, one girl.
Adam DeGraide: So your girl, is she out? Is she still home or…
Curt Kempton: She’s still home but she met the guy that has really interested her, so things look like they are starting to pick up towards that marriage road. So I’m not sure how much-
Adam DeGraide: My eldest daughter, by the way, my eldest daughter got engaged at 19 and tried to get married at 19. I begged her, I said “Just make it to 20.” So we compromised, we made it to like two weeks before she turned 20. So, and I was an absolute…
Curt Kempton: [crosstalk] got married. [crosstalk]
Adam DeGraide: I was such a basket case at the wedding, Curt. I was like… My legs were shaking, they had to bring a fan in to put it on my face. They’re like, “Dad are you going to be okay?” I’m like, “No. No I’m not, I don’t-“
Curt Kempton: How do I recover from this?
Adam DeGraide: No, but the weird thing happened man. As soon as the lady said, “It’s time,” this peace came over me and I walked my daughter down the aisle to this amazing guy who I love and is a great son-in-law and a great father. And what a blessed man I am. So you’re getting close to that. I mean how do you feel about that? That’s kind of…
Curt Kempton: I would like that comfort very much that you’re talking about.
Adam DeGraide: You’re not going to get it right now! It’s probably way too early for that. But man you know. Hey listen, life’s a journey. But that’s amazing. So you have four beautiful children.
Curt Kempton: Yeah, and they are. They’re all incredible and so different.
Adam DeGraide: And do any of them work in the business? Have they ever tried to intern in the business or…
Curt Kempton: So funny you say that, my oldest daughter she actually is our UX designer. She works with… She’s going to college for UX design. But she does all of our user tests and wire framing development, and she brings everything to prototype through Figma. You’re probably familiar with Figma?
Adam DeGraide: Yeah totally. And so she’s actually the one that builds the look and feel?
Curt Kempton: She does. She just took that job over a couple of years ago, yep.
Adam DeGraide: That is special, that’s really special.
Curt Kempton: It really is. Now the funny thing is, is that I’m not her boss. That’s the craziest part is that she works under the CTO.
Adam DeGraide: Yeah.
Curt Kempton: She doesn’t work under me. So we work together but we talk about work over dinner and she [crosstalk] about my-
Adam DeGraide: But you can still tell the boss when she’s not working. You can still say, “Hey listen, she’s on Instagram. She ain’t designing anything.”
Curt Kempton: Yeah. I could totally bust her chops. I mean, but the thing is, is that she warns me about what’s going to happen in my development meeting the next day. She’s like, “Oh you’re going to love what happened today.”
Adam DeGraide: Oh that’s good though, that’s really great. What a great dynamic to have. My wife is my CFO. And of our personal life, all of our different businesses, our foundation it is a blessing to be able to work with family and keep that relationship. That truly is a mom and pop feel. See the crazy thing about people is that companies come in all shapes and sizes, and small businesses range from a solepreneur all the way to 500 employees. But you never lose sight of the most important things.
Now what do you guys do for fun? Do you have any hobbies personally? Or is your hobby just working like a freak and… I mean I have buddies of mine that literally that’s what they do, they work.
Curt Kempton: So I [crosstalk]-
Adam DeGraide: And I have other buddies of mine that don’t work.
Curt Kempton: Yeah. If you don’t like working I can teach you to. I like working my mind all week, but on the weekends we have a property out in the middle of the desert. And so I’ve usually got a pickax or I’m driving a tractor or I’m doing something else that is [crosstalk].
Adam DeGraide: Now do you wear a cowboy hat when you drive the tractor? Or is it a baseball cap?
Curt Kempton: Well I do baseball cap days, but when it’s a big full sun day I’m a cowboy hat kind of guy.
Adam DeGraide: That’s great. I’m going to be throwing a cowboy hat on pretty soon this summer. I’ve got a whirlwind tour that we’re doing, and I’m going to be a city slicker.
Curt Kempton: Ah, where you going?
Adam DeGraide: I don’t want… This is the national podcast so… We’ll just say I’m going a bunch of different places and people will find out about it when I get back. So it’s…
Curt Kempton: Okay.
Adam DeGraide: But I’m definitely throwing on my cowboy boots and my cowboy hat. I’ve got this really cool… Actually I’ll show a picture of me right now. Here’s a picture of me in my cowboy hat, so my watchers check that out. Look at that bad boy hanging out there. Not too bad as a cowboy with the leather jacket on. But yeah, I could see you out there in a tractor riding around, having fun. That’s awesome.
Curt Kempton: Yeah.
Adam DeGraide: It’s awesome.
Curt Kempton: Building stuff. Just I love working with my hands. I love cutting stuff with saws and just building stuff. So that’s basically how I rest. And I love doing it with my kids. I love working with my kids. Now I’ve got one kid that, he loves snakes and animals and killing stuff with his bare hands. So when we’re out working… I’m afraid of snakes myself, so when we’re out working I feel a little more comfort when I know that I’ve got a kid who will walk right up to a snake and just… First of all he knows if it’s poisonous by looking, and then secondly he knows… He like picks it up, he’ll cut it and skin it and make a hat band out of it.
Adam DeGraide: My idea is not chopping things up, my idea is tickling the ivories and playing some guitar. As you can see.
Curt Kempton: Oh. Well I see a drum behind you, a drum set.
Adam DeGraide: Yeah I’ve got guitars, drums, keys.
Curt Kempton: Yeah.
Adam DeGraide: Beautiful piano. It’s awesome man, it really is cool.
Curt Kempton: That’s awesome.
Adam DeGraide: Now courage. It’s no accident that you have your own business, you sold one previous. It takes courage to do that. Where did you get the courage from?
Curt Kempton: Its funny you say, I think I got the courage from having my back up against the wall. I knew when I was operating in the… When I was in college and I was working at a bike shop, managing a bike shop, if anyone knows Mike’s Bike [inaudible] I used to work there and then Focus [inaudible]. I learned that small business was an important thing for me, but you also know I was going to college and I had two kids and I had to figure out how to provide for them. And I learned that gosh, if I’m going to make something out of this I got to go build something with my own two hands.
So I think that I grew up in a house that was very… We were poor. And I say poor not because we… We had a car and we had a house and I never worried that we weren’t… Actually I didn’t worry too much about whether we were going to eat or not. But just to give you an idea, when my parents took me to Disneyland I remember that was a massive deal. And I remember that when we got there my aunt had… And I was already feeling so guilty that they were paying for me to go to Disneyland. But my aunt who was there said, “He can’t go to Disneyland with those shoes, his toes are sticking out.” And I remember my parents taking me to go get Payless Shoe Source, remember that?
Adam DeGraide: Yeah I totally remember Payless. “Doesn’t it feel good to pay less.” Wasn’t that the jingle? Something like that.
Curt Kempton: Yeah I think so. I just remember when I walked in there I remember my parents were going to have to buy me shoes and I cried the whole time thinking, “I’m spending all their money on shoes, I can totally use the shoes we have. Why are we are doing this?”
Adam DeGraide: Yeah that’s crazy.
Curt Kempton: So when I got married I sort of I had the wrong idea about money. I viewed money as something very scarce. And things have changed a lot since then, but I think the courage sort of came from the fact that if there’s not that much money in the world the only way I’m going to get it is if I start going out and getting it myself. And I had the epiphany that if you work 50 weeks a year and you make $50 an hour, working 40 hour weeks, that 100,000 a year. And I think that that equation alone was enough for me to go, “I can go get $50 an hour. I can do… That is not hard. I can do that.” And then I realized that just because you’re collecting $50 of revenue every hour doesn’t mean you made $50 an hour. But it was a good jumping off point. And I think that having my back up against the wall and growing things and sort of like that story I told you about Clate Mask telling me that if you’re going to build something that’s great it’s got to come from you.
And it just built and those courages came in layers. And to the point now where I just, I honestly this is something I’m still working on Adam, but I honestly walk out my backdoor almost every day, pinch myself that this is real and say, “Do I really deserve…” Like the people that work for me, “Do I really deserve… What if these people find out that I’m an imposter?” And you just have to-
Adam DeGraide: Clearly, clearly you’re an imposter.
Curt Kempton: I’m making it up as you go, you know?
Adam DeGraide: Well and most entrepreneurs do.
Curt Kempton: Yeah.
Adam DeGraide: And so I’m incredibly blessed and I’ve been able to patchwork all that courage together to be who I am today. And like I say, I’m still working through issues. But the fact is is that I know what I’ve been able to build up to this point is just a culmination of putting together incredibly smart people who are incredibly invested in the same crusade that I’m on. And we are absolutely kicking butt and taking names together. It’s so fun.
Curt Kempton: That is so awesome man. It has been so great having you on DVG. Have you had fun being on the podcast today?
Adam DeGraide: Absolutely, this is fun man.
Curt Kempton: Dude it’s awesome. I’m going to have you back on in about 18 months to hear the progress. How can people find you?
Adam DeGraide: If you go to responsibid.com you can chat and talk to me there. You can email me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Curt Kempton: Spell that, I was going to say spell that for the watchers and listeners.
Adam DeGraide: Yeah. S-Y-M-P-H-O-S-I-Z-E.com. You do not want me to name any companies for you. Between ResponsiBid and Symphosize, you guys leave the naming to yourselves, not me.
Curt Kempton: Yeah definitely, clearly.
Man Curt, it has been awesome having you on David vs Goliath. Another amazing episode is in the bag here on DVG where you get education, inspiration, and most importantly some great tips for activation. We’ll see you next week, have an awesome day.