From NASCAR to Junk Removal Empire – Ted Bullard
Ted is a serial entrepreneur with more than two decades of experience in leadership, sales, and marketing. He started his career in franchising by selling wireless and telecom services in Boston.
Perhaps, in not such a distant future, if you live in the U.S. and have something in your house that you need to get rid of – you will be working with teams or using the product built by my guest today – Ted Bullard. Ted is a serial entrepreneur with more than two decades of experience in leadership, sales, and marketing. He started his career in franchising by selling wireless and telecom services in Boston. As his career continued to grow, he managed marketing and advertising at NASCAR, Curvature, and TopCoder. Now he's busy running a junk removal franchise, Junk Raider, as well as building a SaaS platform, Service Raider. In this conversation, I'm hoping to learn about his path and the challenges he's had along the way. I hope you enjoy it!
Explore Service Raider: https://www.serviceraider.com
Explore Junk Raider: https://www.junkraider.com
Please note, the transcript below has been generated automatically.
Stephan Mazokha (01:24)
So, Ted, for the sake of somebody who doesn't know you, what should they know about Ted Bullard? Okay.
Ted Bullard (01:29)
First and foremost, Ted Bullard. I am a happily married 25 years in January with six children. My oldest is 23 and has given me one grandson, and she is expecting again. We're not sure because it's early. We're not sure if it's a boy or girl. But my youngest is four, so I've got quite the spread. So I've got 4815, 22 and 23.
Stephan Mazokha (01:59)
And how old are you?
Ted Bullard (02:01)
Stephan Mazokha (02:03)
What would you say were sort of the biggest pushes that made you start your own thing instead of going to look for a nine to five?
Ted Bullard (02:10)
So after I got married, I did the traditional thing that I think most people do. You get married, you want to have a family, you want to have kids. So I need a job. I need a nine to five job. My dad was not an entrepreneur. He was military, very straight laced, and so I did not have any reason to necessarily want to be a business owner entrepreneur. But I was always different. So what I mean by that is I was the guy that when I went to work, I did not like in the corporate world. I started off right out of after I got married, I got on with Lanier, selling copiers and faxes, and I was the youngest guy there by far. I was 21. The next guy to me was probably 40. And I got in frankly no college degree just because I sold myself. I just walked in and said, hey, I can do this. Give me a shot. I'll show you. And they did, and it worked out. But what I hated was how stuffy everything was. Everything was so what I call corporate zombies today, but everything was just so corporate. Everything. You had to talk a certain way. There was certain vernacular, certain buzz words. You had to learn. You had to dress a certain way. Everything was just so formal, and I could not stand it because I'm really just not that way. So I did it though, to provide. And I think maybe a year into marriage, I was at a mall and I saw one of my buddies there and he was at a kiosk, actually a little cart. You know what those are? The carts in the middle of the mall?
Stephan Mazokha (03:41)
Yeah, of course.
Ted Bullard (03:42)
So he was sitting at a cart and I see all this stuff all over the cart, and I'm like, what in the world? So I go up to him. I was like, what are you doing? And he said, yeah, man, I'm selling these cell phone accessories. I was like, cell phone accessories? Cell phones were really new back then. I mean, they were these let me see. It was like this big they were these big bricks, these Nokias. If you were to break your phone 20 plus years ago, you couldn't just go to a cart or kiosk like you can today and get that new part or have them fix it while you wait. You had to actually ship your phone away and it could take six weeks. So it was a big deal. So John was like, listen man, I've got all these accessories on this one place. And that way if you need something for your phone, including like a new faceplate. I was like, what's a faceplate? If you need a battery, if you need a replacement antenna. Cell phones used to have antennas. He's like, I've got every accessory right here. I've got these holsters. And I was like, man, this is awesome. So he tells me his business model and he's like, you know what? I'm going to turn this into a franchise. Long story short, I was so hooked. I was like, this is amazing. So the more I learn about it, I was like, that's what I want to do. So I didn't have the money. That was the first problem. It was like $25,000 to be a franchisee. That was upfront cost, not counting the royalties or anything else. And I was like, well, that's a problem because I have like, no money. So I'm reading all these books. I was a prolific reader, especially back then. A couple of books that I was reading really just stopped me in my tracks. One was Rich Dad, Poor dad by Robert Kiyosaki. The other one, though, was called Victory secrets of Attila the Hun. And I don't remember who wrote it, but the premise on that one was basically, stop building someone else's empire. Build your own empire. And then rich dad, poor dad is talking about learn how to make money. Work for you, don't work for money that way. You're making money while you're sleeping. So, man, I read those two things in tandem and was like, that's it. I'm going to build my own. I'm building someone else's empire. And so I went to Wireless Dimensions was the name of the company. I went to their headquarters, met with their guys. It was very clear I didn't have the money. But they were like, look, you're tenacious. You've been here like, five times trying to figure out how to make this work. We've got a guy, one of our current franchise owners that may want to invest in you. He may loan you the money, and you're just going to pay him back with interest. I was like, great, I'm young and dumb. I don't understand interest rates. So I meet with this guy and he said, yeah, I'll help you out. I'm going to give you 15,000 in cash for all this stuff. The rest is going to be credit towards inventory, and it's going to be these terms, interest rate, 60%. And I was just like, all right, great.
Stephan Mazokha (06:23)
Excuse me. You said 60% interest, zero.
Ted Bullard (06:26)
Stephan Mazokha (06:29)
Oh, my God. Okay.
Ted Bullard (06:30)
Yeah. But again, I had no understanding really of what that meant. All I'm seeing right now is my dream is going to come true. So I said, done. Here's the deal, though. I was able to pay that back within, like, six months with that interest rate. I paid it all back, and I went into it looking like it's his money to begin with. I'm paying him back with his money. Technically, I couldn't have done this and made this additional margin to pay him back if it wasn't for his seed money to begin with. And I think that mindset helped me. Maybe just being dumb just kind of was helpful. In that instance. I was ignorant, didn't realize what I was getting into, but it worked out as the bottom line. So I get into that business within six months. I not only paid him off, I opened a second location. Within another six months, I did a merger with a guy that was struggling with his business and pick up four more locations. Now I've got six. And now I'm building this reputation of I've got this little cart, a cart, tiny, the size of my desk. I've got this cart, and I'm going to do $80,000 in one month off of a cart. I was outperforming big inline retail stores in that mall, and that's when it just really hit me of if you have the right people, if you have the right what I would call the process, if you've got a great process in place for how you do business, you're going to win. And the biggest thing was customer service. And I don't know where that came from other than books, but I was always a stickler for outstanding customer service because everyone says that. Every business says what sets us apart is our customer service. Yeah, right. As soon as that customer complains, when your server comes around at a restaurant, how many times do they go, oh, so sorry, we're going to comp your meal and we're going to give you a $25 voucher to come back? Dude, it never happens anymore. But when I was young, that happened all the time. So customer service has just changed. And I was dedicated to that idea that I was going to have outstanding customer service, even as if it meant taking a loss. And I did. Many times I looked at that as a marketing expense. So that store did so well. Now I'm getting a reputation from corporate of there's other owners that are struggling. Would you consider helping them out? So I did that. So that also just built my confidence in terms of sales and running the business. But in all honesty, man, I was a terrible businessman. And let me explain that I was really good at hiring guys that were fantastic in sales. I was great with spotting talent, guys that I knew they could sell anything. But that's very different than knowing how to run a business. And I really didn't understand how to run a business yet. Thank God I had my wife who did all the bookkeeping and kept me as organized as possible. But man, I learned so much from all those mistakes early on and I'm so grateful for it. The business grew and grew, and about a year and a half into it, I was in a position to potentially sell those carts for almost a million dollars. And that would have been incredible. Well, I come home one night and Marilyn is sitting on the I walk in the house. Normally her and the kids run up and they'd greet me. I walk in and it's silence. I was like, this is weird. So I open the kids doors. They're already in bed. And keep in mind, I mean, I was working from I usually left the house around at the latest, say 830, because I had to get there early before the mall opened. And then the mall closed at ten. So I'm usually home at maybe 11, 11 30. So I'm gone all day. But normally the kids are up to greet me. When I get home, they're in bed. I'm looking around, I don't see her anywhere. I go in our room, don't see her go in the bathroom. As a last resort, flip the light on and there she is sitting on the floor, just kind of staring at the wall in front of her and she's just sobbing. So I was like, I thought something happened. I was like, what in the world? What's wrong? And she said, I just hate it here. I hate it here so much. And I was like, wow, bad. She said, I have no friends. We have no family. I mean, I had a bunch of friends, my employees, but my poor wife didn't have a lot of friends. We tried to get active in a church so that she could get plugged in there and make friends. Just could not. We went to so many, could not find one that we just really clicked with. It was freezing cold, which she hated. We're not used to that. So during the winter, she's like, what do I do with the kids? I can't take them outside. It's freezing. So she's stuck in the house all day, stuck in this apartment all day. So she was miserable. So I'm out there living it up, having these huge days. We're all high know, when we hit our certain numbers, I would take the guys. I'd rent a limo and take them to Dave and Busters. So it was like summer camp for adults. Like, me and my buddies were all hanging out, having fun all day. Meanwhile, my wife is putting on a good front. She wants to be the supportive wife that's doing it all. And she did until she couldn't, until that one day when she just broke. And so I was like, you know what? If you're not happy here, if you're miserable, what's this all for? I'm doing this for you. I'm doing this to make a bunch of money and be a good provider, because that's all my dad ever said. And she's like, but I don't care about the money. I don't care about the success. I just want you home. I want to spend more time. I don't ever see you like you're gone from morning until night. And man, it just hit me so hard. And I was like, you're absolutely right. So despite a sale that was pending, I called corporate the next day and said, I need to get out of here. I want to sell this business. If I can sell it to corporate, I will, because corporate had their own stores. If this could be a corporate owned store, great. But I'm going to be moving probably back to Florida, even if it's temporary, to figure out what to do next. So that's what I did. And corporate was able to take over. And I basically just and I didn't just break even. I made a little bit of money, but not a whole lot. And I've never regretted it because my wife and my kids were happy. We got out of there. We went back to an environment that was much more conducive to us and our backgrounds. Anyway, that's how we went from that business back to Florida. And then when I got to Florida, then it was a matter of, what do I do now.
Stephan Mazokha (12:35)
I see. Let's move on. So I know that you have been involved with NASCAR. Do you want to share a bit about that story? How did you get into that business?
Ted Bullard (12:46)
Yeah, so once I got out of the wireless business, I really had no idea what to do next. And I was thinking about opening a Subway franchise because I still wanted to stay involved and do my own thing. Once you are your own boss, it is very difficult to ever work for someone again. Very difficult. So I just enjoyed my family for the first few months after I sold that business. And then I had this really interesting opportunity. That same guy that started Wireless Dimensions, I saw him in the mall one day and he's like, hey, man, congrats on the business. What are you doing now? And I was like, nothing. I'm trying to figure out what to do next. So he asked me to help him out with his business to help kind of streamline his operation. This was the founder of that whole franchise, and so that was a huge compliment I did, but I got restless doing that. And maybe a year later, my sister and her husband came into town. And this was my first time meeting him. Well, he owned a car dealership in North Carolina. In Mooresville, North Carolina, in fact. So we start talking. He tells me about what he's up to, and he said, listen, I'm getting ready to open a used car dealership, but it's going to be highline, meaning it's going to be exotic cars, really expensive cars, and I need someone to run it. Would you be interested in running that business for me? And I was like, maybe let's talk about it. Long story short, we ended up coming to an agreement. So that's how I got to North Carolina, is I moved up here to start that car dealership with him as one of the owners. And we did that for maybe six months. And that was a disaster because he and I just butted heads so badly. And so here I am again, like, what am I going to do? What's next? So, word of mouth, one of my friends told me about this marketing gig with this NASCAR team, and I was like, man, I have never seen a race I've never watched. In fact, I used to make fun of NASCAR because it seemed so boring. Just a vehicle going around and around and around. Like, at least in Formula One racing, it's a road course, so it's all over the place. And that seemed more exciting. But he said, look, he needs help with just creating some deliverables. He needs a presentation, basically a pitch deck. He needs just some basic stuff, a website. Can you help him with that? I was like, let me just at least meet with him. So I'll go meet with this guy. I did end up helping him out but I was so underwhelmed with the business and not a knock towards him. I just mean I was underwhelmed with what NASCAR was doing at that time. They were chasing the same drivers. You want a driver that can hunt, that can fish, and that loves to race anything. I don't care if it's racing, and I'm not kidding, Stefan. They will race lawnmowers. They race school buses. Racers just want to race something, especially up here where I live. I'm serious. I live 3 miles from a drag strip, and I hear it every Thursday and every Saturday. They just race. It's an addiction. So the other guy that this race team had hired as a consultant on the finance side, I ended up meeting him one day. We start talking. Turns out he was really good friends with Carlos Slim's son and was highly educated. He was from Mexico, was an attorney, was an accountant. Just a brilliant guy. And we just clicked. We got along great. We go out to Olive Garden later that night. We start talking, exchanging stories. We're complaining about what we hate about NASCAR. Why doesn't someone do this? And finally he says, Why don't we start our own team? And I was like, what do you mean? Why don't we put our money together, and why don't we start our own race team? I was like, well, mostly because I have no interest in NASCAR. Like, I think it's goofy. He's like, I hear you, but here's what you're good at. Here's what I'm good at. We're just going to apply that to NASCAR. He was a huge race fan, by the way, but he's like, I think we could do really well here if we go after this model that we've been talking about. Well, the model that we'd been talking about was, why aren't more teams going after foreign drivers? Why aren't they going after Formula One guys and trying to recruit them in the NASCAR? Because if you do that, especially if you focus on the brick nations, if you do that, you're going to pull the fan base from India, from China, from Russia, from Brazil, from wherever it is you're going to pull those fans over here. And we could then potentially do a joint venture with NASCAR where we own the broadcast rights, the distribution rights, so that as those races and other content is put out there in those other countries, we now are a partner in. So huge goals. But we decided right then and there that's what we were going to do. So we did. So we put a race team together, and what we essentially did was we leased a race team. We knew that every year there's race teams that are under budget. They don't have enough sponsor money. So we said, why don't we go to those teams and have them treat us like a sponsor? But instead of just putting a sticker on the car, we want to actually not own the business with them, because I don't want to worry about if so and so shows up to work that day. But I do want to be in control of certain aspects, like from a marketing standpoint, and I want to control who the driver is and which races we're going to go to and those types of things. And we found a great team that was willing to do that, that had the best equipment or some of the best equipment in the business. So that's what we did. That was also a very unique model at that time. So then it was, how do we find a driver? So we ended up finding a driver from India and from China, and we chose those nations because combined, you're talking 3 billion people. And we looked at said in NASCAR today, it's all the same sponsors. But if we go to India, for example, what if we get Tata Consulting, Tata Steel, what if we get those big companies? What if we go to China and start picking up some of those huge companies and bring them over here to NASCAR? So that was our model. Well, we end up reaching out to two of these drivers. One was Narayan Karthikhayan from India, and at the time, he was the fifth most popular athlete in all of India. So to put that into perspective for Americans, that's like Tom Brady. That's LeBron James. I mean, think of your top five athletes, and he was top five. So, long story short, we go back and forth with his agent, and he agrees he was interested. So he comes to the US. Races in a NASCAR vehicle, does a trial, loves it, and now he's in. So we sign the rain to a deal in the NASCAR truck series, and we go to China and find this guy named Daryl O. Young, who was one of the best drivers in China at that time. So we recruit Daryl over. We end up going with Narain as our primary, quite honestly, because we just couldn't manage both at that time. Whether from a budget standpoint or just the logistics, we just felt like we couldn't do it right with both drivers. So we settled on Narain. Narain raced, I think, ten races that year, and ends up winning the most popular driver in NASCAR in the truck series.
Stephan Mazokha (19:44)
Ted Bullard (19:44)
About this for a second. An Indian driver, no one could even pronounce his name. Narain Karthikeyan, a bunch of that's.
Stephan Mazokha (19:52)
For one thing, dude, they could not.
Ted Bullard (19:54)
Even pronounce his name. And now he's winning the most popular driver in the NASCAR truck series in I think that was 2009. That was incredible. At the same time, we did in fact put together that deal with NASCAR where we co owned we did a broadcasting rights deal with NASCAR, where we co owned that footage. So any races that aired in NASCAR, we had access to that to advertise to put our sponsors on there from India as an example. So it was working. We had just filmed our first pilot episode of a reality show called Fast Lane with Narain, and it was going to air in India and the US on Fox Sports at the time. So we've got it all together, and out of nowhere, we get a call from his agent who lived in Monaco saying, hey, bad news, guys. Just very cut and dry. Bad news. But Narain's got an offer for Formula One and he's probably going to take it. And our hearts just we were like.
Stephan Mazokha (20:50)
What team did he go to for NF One?
Ted Bullard (20:54)
I don't even remember the team. I'd have to look it up. And it wasn't like Red Bull or one of the top teams.
Stephan Mazokha (21:01)
It didn't exist then, I think.
Ted Bullard (21:03)
I'm not sure who it was, but it wasn't like in the top three, top five, but it was still a good team. And compared to what we could pay Narain, we couldn't touch it. Partly because we knew that Narain and he understood that we can't pay you the salary that you're used to making. However, if this goes according to plan, and it's a gamble, if it goes according to plan, sponsorship wise, there's going to be a tremendous amount of money in that for you, plus merchandise, plus the reality TV show, plus plus. So everything we made, Narain was going to get a piece of that, and God bless him, he agreed and jumped on board. But once Formula One, once that team made that offer, it was too good to turn down, so he left. So now Miguel and Are, at this point of going, do we continue? Do we reach back out to Daryl? Or do we just spin this thing up and become a marketing agency and do the same thing for other drivers or other teams like we've done here? And in the end, we decided to just part ways. Not amicably, of course, but we decided to part ways. And that way Miguel could focus back on his other businesses. Being an attorney and accountant, from what I hear, those are pretty time consuming. So Miguel was able to go back to Mexico and focus on those businesses, and I decided to really get out and just focus on marketing.
Stephan Mazokha (22:16)
Ted, let me ask you this. While working on this, since you were entirely new to this industry, what was it like to work with those people? Because from what I hear, this is a very cutthroat business.
Ted Bullard (22:27)
Absolutely. Well, you're talking about yes, yes. So there was an expression that we kept hearing over actually two of them that were really funny that we heard over and over when we first got involved in NASCAR. One was, if you want to make a little bit of money in NASCAR, start with a big pile. So start with a lot, and you might make a little because it is not a business that people get into to make money. It's just not. If you're talking a business, it's usually very wealthy guys get into it really, because they just love racing and they can afford to lose money. Truthfully. So we didn't fully appreciate that, but that was absolutely true. But the second thing we heard over and over is you're going to find better morals amongst pirates and hookers than here in NASCAR. No offense to people inside of NASCAR, but the reason is because of what you just said, great people inside the sport, by the way, but it's so cutthroat almost by design. It's so cannibalistic. Everyone is chasing each other's sponsors all the time. And that's part of what we did not want to do. That's part of what we refused to do. We were not going to go after. Like, literally, you would see other race teams, kind of like writing down all the sponsors on the hoods of all the other teams, and then, you know, as soon as they get back in the office, they're calling all them, hey, listen, I know you're signed up as the primary sponsor of these guys, but we didn't want to do that. We felt like there's so much meat on that bone in these other markets, in India, in China. And if we just use our brains, we can probably figure out a better way to bring on sponsorship, including through media. And at that time, that was such a novel new concept, but we felt like we could leverage social media and we could leverage and anyway but yes, it's very cutthroat almost by design because of the sponsorship model. And if you'll notice, very different than other sports. If you're an NBA team owner, you're not chasing sponsorships in the same way, partly because the guys aren't wearing it now. They started to recently, but not the same way. They have all that revenue that they receive from the sports properties, right? The NBA gives them a big chunk of that revenue for those teams. Plus, not only that, but think about it. You have a home team. So I know if I want to go see the Hornets, if I want to go watch them play, I can go to the Charlotte Hornets. I can go to that arena. I can buy merchandise right inside that arena and support that team right there. NASCAR doesn't have that because you're traveling from place to place to place to place. It's not like in North Carolina. You have the Carolina Panthers. You have the Charlote Hornets. You don't have that with NASCAR teams right here in North Carolina. You've got probably 90% of the race teams. The NASCAR teams are right here in this one place. So it's a very different model. But yes, very, very cutthroat. Having said that, I developed great relationships, some of which I'm still in touch with to this day, still work with them in different capacities and. I learned a ton. A ton. Not just about the sport, but about business and how things work, and just a lot of learnings out of that experience.
Stephan Mazokha (25:25)
Wow. I've just Googled all of this, and it's incredible. We're going to need to plug in a couple of photos on the video just in the background to sort of show this some proof, I guess. So let's pick up this conversation and switch over to the recent years. So now you've done all this. You have all this experience at NASCAR in your belly. You've been at the phone company, you've been successful at selling franchises, and how did you get to junk removal?
Ted Bullard (25:55)
So here's how the junk removal came to be. My kids, I had gotten them into landscaping and mowing lawns, that kind of thing, every summer just to make extra money. So one day, driving home from helping my kids mow someone's grass, they made $40 to mow this person's grass, and it took them about an hour and a half. And that was with me helping. So I've got my mower. I've got one of them is on a weed eater, one's on a blower. And it still took us an hour and a half on average from start to finish, not counting travel. So I'm on the way home and I see this little yard sign that says, junk Removal Pickup Truck $75. And I was like, wait a second. Someone's going to charge $75 to put a bunch of junk in their pickup truck? That is doable in about five minutes versus what my kids are doing? It's taking them an hour and a half, and that's with my help. And it's $40. So that's when the light bulb went off. Dude, I had no idea that junk removal was this huge industry. So I go home and I start researching it, and I'm like, what? It is a multibillion dollar industry. This is crazy. Not trash. I knew trash was huge because of waste management and other big companies. I didn't realize junk removal, this niche was that big. So now that seed is planted, and I'm just thinking about it constantly. So I decided about a year later, it was time to start that business, and I called it Junk Raider. Where did that name come from? I honestly don't know. Where does creativity come from? I don't think anyone really knows. But that name honestly just hit me. I was just sitting there trying to think of what's a good name I'm on. GoDaddy and Google and doing my research, and I like the connotation because we're here to raid, to take away all of your junk and obviously dispose of it. So I started that business in February of 2018, along with my partner, Davis Davis Fisher. Shout out to Davis. And Davis had never done a business, had never owned, operated any kind of business, but he always wanted to. He had that entrepreneurial bug in him as well. And Davis was one of my hires at the It company. He was one of my managers there, and we just got along great. We are so different in so many ways. Davis has got more like your personality. Very laid back, very smart, very methodical, very organized. Whereas me, I tend to be wide open, and I need someone like Davis in my life because he helps keep me organized. So if I can just be the vision caster, come up with the ideas, and you, Davis, can help execute on those things, we're going to have a great relationship. And he was like, absolutely. That's what I'd rather do anyways. So that's how that came to be. So Davis and I started Junk Raider, and in our first ten months of business, I think we did maybe $90,000 in business. Now, we've since done that more than that in one month. But we started off just not having a clue, really, because we did not want to buy into a franchise. We wanted to start our own thing and maybe actually create our own franchise system one day. So we start off with just a couple of guys. A guy that I had hired, a friend of my dad's, my son, who was at the time, he would have been, I think, 16, and one of my nephews, who was, I think, 15 at the time. And that was our crew. I had a truck. I went and bought a brand new trailer, like with these really high sides, four foot high sides, and that was our junk removal setup. And so we did $10,000 our first month, and we thought, wow, this is really good, this is great. We're killing it. And about ten months into it, though, we lost that manager. And so now we sat there a month later and we were like, man, what are we doing? We don't have a manager. We both have full time jobs. I was working a full time job. So was Davis. We couldn't step in and actually run that business. So I met my future, my now son in law. He came over to basically see the new house and hanging out, and I said, I want to go outside and grab something. And he was like, oh, do you need some help? And as soon as he said that, I was like, well, that's interesting, because a lot of young guys are just so complacent, they're not going to volunteer to help. So he goes out there and helps me. And dude, he was such a workhorse. I just sat there and watched him, and I was like, I wonder, is he doing this to impress me, the dad? Or is this really who he? So three months goes by and I realize that's who he is. This guy is such a workhorse still. He is such a workhorse. Anything physical, anything manual labor, dude, he is all about it. There is no pretentiousness. He loves it. And that's hard to find a young person that loves to do hard, physical labor. So James started full time in January, and that's been now almost five years later. Let's call it four and a half years later. So what started off as this entry level junk removal, basically grunt labor guy, he's now a co owner. We gave him a piece of the business. He's now one of our main managers. We started with that truck and a trailer. Now we have five trucks. We have pickup truck no, I'm sorry. We have two dump trucks, and we have two big box trucks. We have a skid steer trailer. We have all this equipment now, and it's because we stayed with it. We had a big setback in October that year, but we stayed with it. We brought the right talent on board and grew it from where it was at 80,000 that first year, where we did just under a million last year. And we've grown not only in equipment, but our personnel. We've got right at I think we have ten employees today, and we just finished franchising the business. And we've got potentially up to 15 pre franchise locations already sold. So the paperwork for that franchise system literally just was finalized yesterday. So now we can officially sell those franchise systems. On top of that, over the last four and a half years, we started building a software company. So about six months into that journey with Junk Raider, the waste management company, junk removal company, we had been looking around with other software systems to use because we started off day one with a system called House Call Pro. Shout out to house call pro. They do a great job. They're a little pricey, especially for startup companies. But we were like, man, this system is great, but there's so many features that really we don't need, and yet we're paying for them. So that was where the idea came from, is what if we built our own software? I had a background in marketing and also in the tech space, so I knew I'd work for companies like Topcoder, where that's what they do is they develop software. So we were referred to a development team that ended up being the best team that we could have ever found, truly. And they transformed our business, and not only because they could do what we needed to be done, but they really immediately acted as a trusted advisor and a thought leader. They went so far above and beyond just, hey, here's the feature that you wanted. That's what we had been getting from our previous two development teams. They didn't just give us this feature, they would, in fact, push back and say, hey, that's probably not the right feature to be building right now. And in fact, you dummies should probably have something called a features roadmap. And we were like, what's that? So they just brought this level of sophistication and knowledge because you don't know what you don't know. We didn't know. I had never been in the weeds of software development stepan. I had been the marketer. My job was not to take all those complex weeds and market that. My job was to synthesize all that complex information and make it palatable for the masses so I didn't have to get in the weeds. I didn't understand what some of those nuances were. But this team came along and taught us all this stuff and held our hand and really helped us get from where we were, which was we had to start over. Just so you understand, the software was so bad that the previous team had built. It was outdated. The code was bad. They did an audit for us. We realized it was so bad we had to start from scratch. You can imagine that was the last thing that we wanted to hear. We had spent at that time a good amount of money, a lot of time, a lot of heartache. And now we're being told we've got to start over. But they were right. And so we did. We started over. Two and a half years later, we have an incredible product. Is it as good as House Call Pro and some of those big boys? No, not yet. But House Call Pro wasn't their first year in business or their first two and a half years in. It takes time, but we're so proud of how far we've come. It is an incredible product. And here's the really cool part. We're now using servicerater for our junk rater business, for our junk removal company and all of our franchisees are mandated to use that same software. So as that business grows, servicerator grows along with it. Plus we're going to obviously grow that on its own. So we're really excited about both of those companies working together and I think the future is really bright.
Stephan Mazokha (34:36)
Why do you think that the software that you guys are building is the primary, the best solution for your franchisees? What is the reason why you would mandate this to them versus giving them a chance to use something they prefer?
Ted Bullard (34:49)
Great question number one, because of the uniformity, the consistency, if it's our software, we know exactly what you're doing. If you get stuck somewhere, we know exactly how to fix it because it's ours. Here's another one. If we start finding that there is this feature that we had never thought of but our franchisees uncover and we realize, wow, that's a really good feature, why isn't that in our roadmap? If it is significant enough, we may decide to pivot and move away from all those features that were in queue and focus on that one. You can't do that. If you're signed up with one of the big boys, they're not going to do that for you. They can't. They can't do that. But when it's your software company and you have an incredibly flexible, smart, handsome CTO, you can go to that person and you can say, hey, listen, here's this new feature. Hopefully you'll agree with me that we can move things around. That makes a massive difference. Truly, when you're in the driver's seat, that makes a huge difference. Here's another reason, though, and this one is probably much more consequential. Truthfully to the masses at least, is the price. These other companies that I and I could rattle off ten of them right now. They have great products. Great. It looks great. Visually, it works great. The problem is most small business owners. Unless you have a ten to 100 million dollar home service based business, you don't need something so advanced. And we realized that because we were the customer, we were like, what do we need a customer? Like Junk Raider for the first five years, maybe even the next five years? We don't need something that is as robust as salesforce. That's. So many options and yet all those companies have a price that is in some ways, it's out of touch with a lot of small or at least startup companies. Some of these companies. Starting off, it's 249 a month per person per month. So if you have ten employees, you're going to pay $2,500 a month for software. That is not an exaggeration. That is a fact. So we looked at and said, Why? Why don't we take a model? More like shopify. Let's make it affordable for the masses. Maybe it's $29 to get started. Maybe it's $49 if it's month to month instead of a yearly agreement. And as we develop new features, let's hide them behind a paywall. But that way, if you need it, it's there. And it's only $5 for this. It's $10 for this? Maybe it's 50 for this new feature. But that feature the cost of the feature should be commensurate with the value that it adds to your business. But we're not making you have every feature for this. $300 a month per person. Or even maybe it's only 249 a month for the entire company. But. Still, that's a lot of money when you're a startup. So that was our idea coming into this is not only will we have a great product that works, but it's going to be affordable to the masses.
Stephan Mazokha (37:36)
You seems to have a very big, ambitious plan. Where would you envision this whole vision of the Raider family? I would say in, let's say, the next five years what is your plan for this?
Ted Bullard (37:48)
Great Question. So the idea Is To have under that Raider family. The Raider Umbrella is really A consortium, an assortment of different products. So one would be a marketplace. We want to develop a marketplace that really pairs. And by the way, that's not new. There's a lot of marketplaces out there where ours could be very unique is the fact that if you're an existing Service Raider customer, you have special access and or special pricing, whereas if you're not with Service Raider, that's okay. We still want your business with the marketplace, but the pricing may be a little bit higher. Also, if you're a Service Raider customer and a job and opportunity comes through the marketplace, we can put it directly in your inbox, and that's unique. So we see the day coming where there's this marketplace where the blue collar worker, if you're the plumber, the electrician, whatever, you can create a profile on there, put your skill sets. You're rated all that that we've seen from some of the other competitors. And then on the other side, you're the customer, and you can find that provider right there in your area, and you can narrow down that search to exactly what you're looking for. So we just see the day where we're pairing the right provider with the right customer. And again, if you're a service rater, it really is going to work well for you, because we can drop those opportunities right there in your inbox.
Stephan Mazokha (39:06)
Are you planning to be nationwide, or are you sticking with the certain states at this moment?
Ted Bullard (39:11)
The truth is, I would love to say nationwide. I'd love to say global. I'd love to say we could get to a .1 day. If someone is watching this and they are thinking about getting in a business for themselves, I want to leave them with a nugget to help them. Truly. Like, if I could go back at 45 and tell Ted at 20 years old what I would think would be incredibly impactful information to fast track me, this is what I would tell them. I would say, number one, do a self inventory and know who you are. Early on, I felt like I had to wear every hat. And to some extent, you do when you're a brand new business and you don't have employees yet, for example, you do. You have to figure this stuff out. If you don't know how, you figure it out. And if you are not smart enough, you leverage people around you. Here's the other piece on that note. Stop pretending you're smarter than everyone, or stop pretending you are smart enough to do that one function. Sometimes you're not. And that was a hard truth for me to follow or to swallow, I should say, is maybe I'm not as good as I thought I was. Maybe I'm not as good as Stefan at this or Davis at this or Ryan at this and that's okay. What's really helpful is to know, what are you good at, Stefan? And then once you have that locked in, it doesn't mean you ignore these other things that you're not good at. You should always be sharpening the blade to get better. But if you know that your primary skill set is marketing, well, great. Let's drill down again. What in marketing? That's a wide brush. Are you good at building websites, presentations, putting plans together. Strategy, data analysis, figure out exactly not just what you're good at, but what do you enjoy? Because I'm good at a few things and I don't enjoy any of them. So it's not just important to know I'm good at this, but do you enjoy that? Could you see yourself doing that every single day? No. Okay. So now that you know what you're good at, find out what is it that you enjoy and then really focus most of your time and energy on sharpening that blade. The other areas where you struggle, acknowledge it. That's what I would tell Ted from at 20 years old. Don't pretend that you're great at these things. And if you know you stink at this, just say it. Hey, guys, I'm not the most organized. Hey, guys, I'm not a great financial. That's not my background. You do not want to put me in charge as the CFO, but you do want to put me in charge as your VP of Sales. Your VP of marketing. That's more of my strength and it's what I enjoy. And when you tap into that, here's the magic. When you tap into that, everything falls into place because that's the real you. You shine, you flourish, and you attract people like you. Who you are is who you attract. Your energy is going to attract other people because they can see that you love what you do and they want to be a part of it. So that's one of the biggest things, Stefan, is I would say, really know who you are. Do a self inventory and don't put on any kind of pretenses. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses.
Stephan Mazokha (42:01)
Thank you so much, Ted. This was inspirational. This was, I hope, slightly life changing for some of the folks who are going to watch this. Thank you so much for your time. And you know what? I'm looking forward to following up with you maybe a year in because I think this is the project worth following.
Ted Bullard (42:20)
Thank you very much Stephan. It's been a pleasure.