March 1, 2023

E101: Acquisition Entrepreneur Gia Cilento Talks Roll-Ups In The Chocolate Industry - How2Exit

E101: Acquisition Entrepreneur Gia Cilento Talks Roll-Ups In The Chocolate Industry - How2Exit

Gia Cilento is an acquisition entrepreneur and a co-founder of a couple of projects that I'm working on. In this conversation, Gia shares her origin story and how she got into the space of acquisition entrepreneurship. She started her own project when...

Gia Cilento is an acquisition entrepreneur and a co-founder of a couple of projects that I'm working on. In this conversation, Gia shares her origin story and how she got into the space of acquisition entrepreneurship. She started her own project when she was only 8 years old and wanted to make some money for her family. She eventually made her way into corporate and then book publishing and also started her own marketing agency. She loves the challenge of being deadline driven and enjoys working for herself.

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[00:00:00] Ron Skelton: Hello and welcome to the How2Exit Podcast. Today I'm here with Gia Cilento. She is an acquisition entrepreneur and a really good friend of mine and co-founder of a couple of the projects I'm working on. I just wanted to have you on the show today, share the knowledge that you have, and introduce the world to who you are and what you're working on. So thank you for being on the show today. 

[00:00:19] Gia Cilento: Well, thank you. I'm really glad to be here. And, we have some history. I like working with you, obviously. So I'm really happy to be here. 

[00:00:28] Ron Skelton: So that's a unique trait in itself to, they're not a whole lot of people that can, say that in a, in an honest, single voice. I'm joking. I'd be the one. I'm honestly directly one of those guys. You either love or you hate and I'm okay either way with it. So, that's cool. So let's just start off with like, your origin story. You've got a varied history in entrepreneurship. You've been mentored by some really awesome people.

[00:00:52] Let's just kind of get a, just start with like what you've been doing before the acquisition entrepreneurship, and [00:01:00] then we'll get into kind of how you got into the space and we'll go from there. 

[00:01:03] Gia Cilento: Cool. Yeah. Geez, I've always liked working for myself. I've worked for other people. I've been employed and had the j o b, but, I think I, I started doing my own thing the first time when I was eight and I saw something in the back of a comic book. I was like, let me go and see if I can make some money this way, cuz, we needed milk and eggs and stuff.

[00:01:21] I have a lot of younger siblings. So, I got the bug and I've always loved kind of going out on my own and doing something. I did spend some years in corporate and it was fun, but it was also, you were doing someone else's bidding. Coming into COVID I was involved in, book publishing and I had started my marketing agency and I've been in doing marketing for years and, publishing for years. I started out in newspapers and magazines and just, It's so much fun. Deadline driven on a, daily or weekly or monthly basis. But, so at Covid I, I was like, something big is happening here. I need to do something a [00:02:00] little different because things are changing rapidly. I think it was like February, March, and then I was looking online. I did a few different things. Billy Jean, his marketing just really, I just love him. He's just nothing is off limits with him. At least, almost nothing. And I found that really refreshing. Love him. And, then I found Roland Frasier and thought, this is cool. Like one of the main things that caught my attention was ethics.

[00:02:27] His program is called Epic Ethical Profits in Crisis. And I really like that because I feel very strongly about, integrity and ethics and honesty, honor being able to trust who you're working with. And I dove into that. I was involved in his second iteration of the online course and he started it even before Covid happened. He was talking about the small business crisis with all of the baby boomers retiring kind of at the [00:03:00] same time. I mean, within the 20 year span. I don't even know what the percentage is, but millions of small businesses are going to close. That I found very exciting to be part of that, to help small business owners figure out how the hell they're gonna, can I say hell? 

[00:03:14] Ron Skelton: You give me anything you want on this show. I clicked that adult button just in case. One of the things I might get Dan Peña on here and then we'll have to really watch it. 

[00:03:22] Gia Cilento: Yeah, I'll try not to drop any "F bombs" here. But yeah. I worked with, went through Roland's course and met a bunch of great people and I did Jeremy. I worked with Jeremy's course and, and then Eric and I got involved with, I met Eric in Epic. So we went into a partnership together and acquired a company and, it's called Relevant Tools and, just kind, I lost my, my. 

[00:03:50] Ron Skelton: That's okay. 

[00:03:51] Gia Cilento: Lost my train of thought. 

[00:03:52] Ron Skelton: You're at the stage right now where you've, you've been through Roland's course, you've met Eric, you partnered up with him. You guys bought, you did [00:04:00] a, a deal where you've got a ownership interest in relevant tools. Did you eventually end up owning the whole thing? You're still working with the original founder? 

[00:04:08] Gia Cilento: We're still working with the founder. We've had to pivot that company. It was kind of on a, you could consider it that it was in distress. It was declining. I consider it CPR. It's been a road to figure out how do we pivot this company, cuz it, it started out as an email service provider. And ran like that for about 20 years. But, along the way it started doing other projects. So as we dove into that, Eric and I both had experience in using email, but we had never owned a SaaS, an email marketing SaaS. Getting involved in that and figuring out how do we, the competition there is so steep and, I think it's saturated in some, to some degree.

[00:04:52] And then you have the big giants like, the MailChimp and Constant Contact and et cetera. We started diving in what's the client base, what are the case [00:05:00] studies, what has it been used for? And we have taken it now and we're concentrating in on, parks and rec departments, as our very micro niche. And what we can do for them is, it's a membership based thing. So people registering, there's events. So managing the membership, managing the registration. This, SaaS can really do that very well. So we've been focused there and now we're diving into that. Sometimes I felt like, like gonna pull my hair out, trying to figure out how to, save this company.

[00:05:33] And I think we've come up with a really great solution. It's a nice little micro niche. There's not a ton of competition, so there's a really good way for us to shine. 

[00:05:46] Ron Skelton: It's interesting. So you picked up something, it already had a proof of concept, been around for 15, 20 years. Had product market fit at some point, or it wouldn't have lasted that long and all of a sudden it just, the product market fit maybe doesn't fit so [00:06:00] much anymore to where you're not competitive in the space. So you guys had to carve off another, niche and verify product market fit on that one too. 

[00:06:09] Gia Cilento: Mm-hmm. Yeah. 

[00:06:10] Ron Skelton: So that's still going and moving forward or? 

[00:06:12] Gia Cilento: It is, yeah. We're, in the middle of, creating some video, creating some campaign, collateral. And, we've been testing out different ad campaigns and, having a lot of fun with that, using some AI to help, stimulate some creativity. Like, oh, that looks, you know. I love the AI and it's just so exciting to play with that and Eric is, he introduced me to you. He loves the tech, he loves all of that tech stuff. 

[00:06:39] Ron Skelton: Awesome. I've been to the AI stuff. No, I've known Eric for quite a while. She's talking about a mutual friend of ours, Eric Gudinski, I got his name right?

[00:06:47] Gia Cilento: Gesinski. Yeah. 

[00:06:48] Ron Skelton: But a guy is, stellar in the tech space. He's just, understands anything tech just deeper than I do. And I've been in that space for a while. I met you [00:07:00] through, a big project we had going on where we were doing a marketing roll up. I interviewed you, through and Eric and brought you guys into that project. It didn't inland we wanted, but we learned a lot. So, we won't take that project too far on this conversation. It's probably been beat to death on the show already. When that project wrapped up, you and Eric and some of the other guys are, you're working on, on something I jokingly refer to as the Tootsie Roll. And that's a joke. This is a brilliant project. They're doing something cool. So don't let my demeaning it. But tell us what you're working on, and correct my, slang that I've given you and calling your, your roll up a Tootsie Roll.

[00:07:36] Gia Cilento: Well, that's really funny because it's in the chocolate industry and the fact that you say Tootsie Roll, I know some people consider that chocolate, but that's not chocolate. It's not chocolate. If anyone loves chocolate, you know what I'm talking about. If you have an urge for chocolate and somebody hands you a Tootsie Roll, you're probably gonna like throw it back in.

[00:07:53] Ron Skelton: Yeah. That's not what you're wanting, right? Yeah. I get that. So yeah, I think we're going off track here. So let's talk about this chocolate roll up. You [00:08:00] guys are doing something cool. You're looking for chocolatiers and 

[00:08:02] Gia Cilento: Chocolatiers or chocolate makers. There's a difference. 

[00:08:05] Ron Skelton: Oh. What's the difference between a chocolatier and the chocolate maker?

[00:08:09] Gia Cilento: Chocolate maker takes the raw product, like the cacao and, and creates a bar or a, I don't, they're called something but nugget, something that you can melt. And then create, and a chocolatier would create, say a Bon Bon. They would take those, the bars and the, the nuggets, the pellets and melt them down and create their own recipes for kind of like, if you ever went to a Godiva store and you bought the Bon Bon's that were, $50 a piece. But it's like that. So that's the difference. One is taking the raw product and making, either they can sell the bars or they make the product that then goes to the chocolatier and then the chocolatier takes that and creates their specialties. And everybody has their own. There's a lot of different variation and flavor and [00:09:00] ingredients.

[00:09:00] Ron Skelton: So you guys are buying and, it's a roll up strategy. So you're going to buy an anchor, or work with a chocolatier that's an anchor and then add onto it. Is that the strategy?

[00:09:12] Gia Cilento: That is the idea. We're going to, right now we are doing the search for the anchor. We would. Be okay with 10 million, but we're really looking for something between 15 and 20, 25 million, top line. And then we wanna work with them to grow that main anchor company through, bolt-ons, tuck-ins, complimentary businesses that might, lend to the growth and also tuck-ins of something similar. Say if it's a chocolate maker, maybe we wanna look to other companies between the 1 million and 5 million top line that, that might have retail space or they might be a chocolatier. Just to make something really attractive for the end-buyer. 

[00:09:54] Ron Skelton: So what's in it for the chocolatier, chocolate company, chocolate maker? Are [00:10:00] they getting to exit now or they're needing to work with you for a little while, or?

[00:10:04] Gia Cilento: Well, a rollup, is gonna take a couple of years, right? And the idea is there, there's a really nice uplift in your multiple that you can sell for, and the amount not, that you can, your valuation is going to increase. So in the end, you're gonna be able to exit your company for a lot more than you could at your current state. That's what we're looking for. Somebody who's interested in, exiting whether they wanna retire or they wanna go onto something else, within two to three years, we wanna have, a good year, maybe six months to a year to bring in the bolt-ons at tuck-ins and bring in the other companies. To grow the main anchor. And then another year on the books to have that consolidated financials. Actually have some solidity, have some, show growth, show, integration and, stability for the end buyer. So they know that what they're buying, [00:11:00] the company that they're buying actually has some substance to it and can then, whoever it is, can actually make a good, investment.

[00:11:09] Ron Skelton: So we have a listeners all around the world. Is this primarily in the United States or do you have a geographical preference to where the anchors and the add-ons are?

[00:11:19] Gia Cilento: I think it, primarily in the United States. Especially for the anchor, it depends on, I would imagine that if there's some company that, is not in the United States, Canada, England, Europe, we have been talking to people. There are some smaller companies in Canada that were for sale that could be good bolt-ons, geographically speaking. There were also some people we've been speaking to in, England and in Europe, who are, uh, involved in, in bigger companies that could provide either, references or referrals.

[00:11:53] Or could be a potential buyer. And, I think it'd be okay if the [00:12:00] anchor or, I mean some of the bolt-ons were in Europe. It depends on the anchor really. Whether it makes sense to, to go outside of the geographically. Cuz you're talking about if it's an end product, chocolate is meltable. So shipping it long distances, if it's the raw product that's different. So say if it's a supplier, some of them are not in this country. And so it would make sense to, Ooh, sorry. Let me sit right still. But anyway, so does that answer your question? I think. 

[00:12:31] Ron Skelton: Yeah, it does. Absolutely. So I was just curious as, so you're looking for anything in the supply line, because I mean, technically you could buy, a I'm gonna mix it up, the chocolatier or the one that actually takes the cacao, and, turns it into the ingot or the bar or run and call out the little pieces for the other people to use. You could buy one of those, and then technically you could find somebody who does imports of exports or, imports of cacao and buy an importer. So you, and he has all the [00:13:00] connections to the farms and all the different places and knows a variety of it. Or you could buy a distributor. There's all these different things or here I live in wine country, there's something like probably couple thousand, tens of thousands of vineyards, within a hundred mile radius.

[00:13:14] I'm not joking, I think it's thousands of vineyards, micro vineyards and stuff. They all have gift shops and they sell coffee, I mean, chocolate to go with their stuff. And a lot of those guys, they're looking for, unique products. You might be able to find someplace that just gourmet makes white labeled products for companies like that.

[00:13:34] Gia Cilento: Yeah, there's all, I mean, it's really wide open in terms of who we can work with and, it really does depend on the vision of the anchor. And that's where we've been working. We've been honing in. Just to go back a little bit, how we chose the chocolate industry. 

[00:13:50] Ron Skelton: That's what I was asking. Cause I helped work on the spreadsheet on how to pick the, how to pick an industry that's ripe for rollup. Let's step back into that a little bit. I helped put together a little spreadsheet tool that [00:14:00] helps select, helps you compare different industries and figure out which one's right for you for your next rollup. And then you, your team took it a little further and put some numbers to it and waited the matrix and did some cool stuff with it. And I used the version that came from your team now. Tell me about how that, tell me about the selection criteria. Why chocolatier and why chocolate?

[00:14:16] Gia Cilento: Walid Costandi was in the, IMA roll up with us also. He pulled this team together. And he's really great with those spreadsheets and putting in all the formulas and he and Eric worked on, I don't know, it's not my forte. I can use Excel, but they put that together in such a great way that it helped us hone in and put numerical weights on everything. I don't even remember how many points that we had, maybe 30 that we were weighing. We did research for a couple of months. I think we researched about a hundred different industries. And chocolate, go ahead.

[00:14:53] Ron Skelton: I was gonna say the spreadsheet I started off with had at least 20 slots for things to choose from. Yeah. And you guys bumped [00:15:00] it down to 30 And then I had a spot, I had it out lined up to test, 15, 20 different industries against each other. Cause I was looking at different ones. So, and you guys took that a little further too. So I knew you, you spent months. 

[00:15:14] Gia Cilento: It went broad because we wanted to, to get a good grasp and we didn't wanna limit ourselves. We narrowed it down to the top five and Chocolate was in there. It was really surprising cuz we were, I was thinking, Hey, manufacturing, we gotta do, it could be cardboard, it could be plastic, and we come up with chocolate and everybody of course is, I mean, everyone on the team kind of, loves chocolate. So that part was, I was like, can we really work in something that we all enjoy? That was, surprising. But the profit margins are great too. And the industry has a couple of big hitters, but a lot of trying to, my nouns are gone. 

[00:15:50] Ron Skelton: Fragmented. One of the selection criteria for Rollup is it's a fragment industry. Yeah. Fragmentation. There's a lot of small players out there. Nobody's already, gobbled them all up. Another one we, I put on the spreadsheet that [00:16:00] it's important for me to look at is a high profit margin. And I joke around him cuz it's ours to mess up, not ours, to improve. Right. So pick an industry where it runs, they run really well. They have a lot of profit margin and it gives you room to make some adjustments. You gotta like the industry and there's gotta be some other stuff in there that is like, historically. They just have a hard time exiting.

[00:16:23] Which really good the marketing roll up we did was amazing cuz there's an artificial ceiling inside of marketing agencies that keep them from getting bigger. So they either have to merge or buy another company or something because they hit this little artificial ceiling where they're, they're not big enough to keep the talent that they grew and train, but they're, those people are wanting to move off, but yet they can't go get the clients that, those that talent wants to work with. So there's an inherent issue inside of that. I think chocolate is, there's a certain point where like that I think it might be the logistics of it, right? Once you grow out a shipping outta your local [00:17:00] area, you've gotta really change your game in order to be bigger. 

[00:17:04] Gia Cilento: Right. And Covid had a big impact on that. The supply chain kind of, went crazy and just like, just about everybody. And shipping it, the end product can be really tricky too because you've gotta, you gotta put ice packs in there and sometimes, depending on what kind of chocolate you put together, it can, different parts of the elements of the chocolate can shift and some of them can kind of, so it changes the color, it changes the texture. It's not gone bad, it just doesn't look good anymore. So you have to really, I mean, there's a lot of science. It's a very specific method and you have to do it right.

[00:17:38] Right. And you have to do it well. And so shipping can be a problem. And like I said, supply chain, getting the growers, some areas where people are growing cacao, they're, there's strife. A lot of them are economically challenged. So there's a big push to be very fair to the growers, to provide them [00:18:00] with the means to have a good price, recompense compensation for all of the work they're doing. So there's a, it's anything where you have that kind of raw product being created, and grown in, areas all over the world. And every area has its different flavors too. It's a different flavor profile. There's just so much that goes into, into the supply chain. And, you've gone through Roland's program with, he's come up with, I'm sure it's not novel, but the acquisition wheel. There's a lot of possibility in the acquisition wheel itself, which if you haven't taken Roland's program, it's just really what other types of companies can you acquire or create an alliance with or partner with that can benefit your company and benefit them as well. So, from media to community groups to supply chain and et cetera.

[00:18:53] Ron Skelton: Right after you did Roland, you guys spent, you and Eric both spent what, a year with Jay Abrahams too, right? 

[00:18:59] Gia Cilento: Two years. Two [00:19:00] years in the mentorship program. We just finished in December. Yeah. So it was, it was an incredible, and we're gonna go spend some time with him in May one-on-one or, face-to-face, which, he's pretty, brilliant. Absolutely for marketing. But, just how do you run a business? How do you make sales? 

[00:19:16] Ron Skelton: I think he's probably one of the best minds that we have right now. And a lot of people don't know who Jay Abraham is. I think he's one of the best minds we have right now on growing a business, cross-selling unique ideas, upselling, cross-selling, just thinking outside of the box type of guys. 

[00:19:31] Gia Cilento: Yeah. And his discernment, his ability to discern what's going on in your company. You can talk to him for like two minutes. And he'll come up with a plan for you or just, I mean, he is brilliant. It's wonderful to be able to, to talk to him and hear his brilliance is really amazing, so. 

[00:19:49] Ron Skelton: Cool. And then, we're moving through all the stuff you're working on. You guys actually have a little bit of an advisory thing too that grows, scale, exit, right? 

[00:19:57] Gia Cilento: Oh yeah. Eric and I, that's, that's something that we created a [00:20:00] couple of years ago and yeah, we work with companies to help them grow at, I mean, grow, scale and exit. So our position is to, we'd like to partner. We can do a one-off kind of consultative type of work with companies where, we'll come in and we'll put together a blueprint for you, spend a few hours, work with you. You will come out of that meeting with, with a plan in hand. This is what you can do or we can work with you to take that plan, make it happen. We like to work for equity or, cash inequity com combined, depending on the company, if it meets our goal or our needs too, if we think we can work well together. But yeah, I enjoy working with business owners who are passionate about what they're doing. And I find that a lot of fun. Fun is important to me. It's one of my, it's like, it's gotta be fun. 

[00:20:52] Ron Skelton: Funny as I put that on that right. On the, evaluation of companies I might wanna get involved with. I went through the same thing, but [00:21:00] I was really close to pulling the trigger on doing, acquisitions of coffee companies. So it's same type of, you're still buying beans or you're still, dealing with, fair trade practices, countries that are, where the farmers aren't being treated perfectly, the way they should be. So you got, there's still all that fair trade type of, ins and outs. And the reason I like the coffee is people become so loyal to their brand of coffee. You can build subscription models, recurring revenue, and, different roasting companies, you could buy. My goal was, is to buy multiple roasting companies, move 'em all into subscription base, teach 'em each other's rest recipes.

[00:21:35] So if somebody was busy, another person could roast, If they have the right bean and the right recipe, they could make that roast and get it to that customer. And the only reason I switched gears was, I ended up moving. And realizing I like to be able to pull the trigger and move if I need to. So you see the stairs behind me. I live in a tiny home. We were talking about this before the show. I live in the Redwood Forest of Northern California and I've, I can dart off to the ocean, [00:22:00] to the vineyards or to the mountains depending on which direction I go at any given time. I like that.

[00:22:05] And I don't care what anybody says. If you buy a brick and mortar company, you have to expect to be able to, and we willing to go to that company on a regular basis. Especially for the first six months to a year. So, I was looking at that. Now I'm doing buying newsletters and blogs and stuff I can run virtually from anywhere in the world, cuz it, it lives up to my nomad lifestyle. So, let's take a second real quick. We're gonna talk about that cuz you and I are working on a really cool project in that space. We're about 30 minutes into the show and this is a time where if you are one of the sponsors, we do a shout out for you. This week's shoutout is to, Sweetwater partners.

[00:22:42] They buy, grow and Sell. They're out of Texas. There's thanks to Sweetwater, partners. They're an acquisition company looking to buy B2B companies in Texas from the range of 1 million to $30 million in revenue. And, if you guys are interested in learning more about that, make sure you check out our [00:23:00] newsletter Deeper. They're featured in there. They're one of our founding partners inside of the newsletter now. So thank you for that. And, we're gonna talk about another really cool newsletter coming up. And if you were a sponsor, this would be a spot for your shot. I have to start putting that in there.

[00:23:15] You gotta like, let people know that you're willing to take on sponsors. That's funny as I was listening to, one of my, the guys I like listening to on the show and I asked, they were talking about how you got his first sponsor. He says, I just started like 30 minutes. I started going, if you were a sponsor, your spot would be here, and then somebody would email him and call him and go, Hey, I'll take that spot. So, I decide where 

[00:23:31] Gia Cilento: like the billboards, you know? Your ad could be here. 

[00:23:34] Ron Skelton: You're ad here. That was your ad here spot. And then, the Sweetwater Partners, they're a founding member of the newsletter that we just launched for this podcast, the How2Exit podcast. It's called Deeper. That QR code at the, upper left is that, and then you and I just launched on the same day. Not that I'm a glutton for punishment. You and I launched a really cool newsletter called The Hub, the Acquisitions Hub. 

[00:23:57] Gia Cilento: That's right. 

[00:23:57] Ron Skelton: And let's talk about that. Let's talk about what we're [00:24:00] doing and, I'll put that QR up over here so people know how to join there. So here's the QR code to, to check this out as we talk about it. 

[00:24:08] Gia Cilento: Yeah. It's, well, within my background in publishing, I just, I'm just love it. And I'm not nomadic right now because I have, I have my 91 year old mom living with me. That kind of keeps me at home a lot. But the fact that I can do publishing from anywhere and thank God for Zoom and other, video conferencing tools is, it's gives me the ability to do this kind of work with you. And then, I love newsletters. I love publishing. So I've been having a lot of fun with that. Talking about, in our space, in the small to medium business size businesses and mergers and acquisitions in that space, there hasn't been a lot there. There hasn't been something that can consolidate what's going on out there so that you don't have to go searching for, how do I do this? Or who's doing [00:25:00] what, who can I trust in this space to learn from? And, how do I find something out? So that's.

[00:25:06] Ron Skelton: You and I were talking about that, and so I started looking around too and I was like, there just really isn't any source out there where there's like a, there's a dozen newsletters out there if you're doing middle market and above. And there's whole websites around it. When you're talking the micro deal, which is anything they call micro, m and a. Now anything below 5 million, if you go in the micro, a micro to mid-market or small business, basically, I don't know, I don't know if we've ever actually formally said, but I kind of view our, the hub is pretty much any deal, 30 million and below, right?

[00:25:39] Right underneath the radar of the P and E guys. So depending on the industry, the P and E guys will dip below that 30 million in revenue, $30 million acquisition price. They'll dip below that in some industries, but most of the industries, that's kind of 25, 30 is where they're, that's their floor. So we're out there collecting news, what's happening, reviewing [00:26:00] podcasts, including this one, many others, we probably looked through 10 or 15, 20, picked the best four or five episodes that week, and review that. When you look at news, right? Like what's happening in the news space? We have a, like, we call it news slash knowledge, cuz sometimes it's a blog post about a learning topic, right?

[00:26:18] And then we cover events happening in the space. Give you cool people to follow on social media. There's just, we're having fun with this, right? I think this morning we released our, as of this show, this morning, this show. I'm gonna take the evergreen away from the, the video. But, as of this morning, I think was, our third issue, right? We're just looking for people that subscribe to it and tell us what they're looking for. Be honest. It's pre pliable at this stage. If we had a, a group of people that said, Hey, we actually really need X, Y, Z, Gia and I would, and our teams would, put that together for you guys. So we're trying to build what the industry wants and, this is something you and I wanted. Like we wanted to be able to go and, [00:27:00] take a glance and see what's going on in this space and, learn from other people's mistakes, gather knowledge from other people's insights.

[00:27:07] And that's the beauty of a curated newsletter, is you don't have to figure it all on your own. You can see what's going on, how they're doing it, what they're doing, and then take those ideas and apply 'em to whatever projects or something you're thinking about. 

[00:27:21] Gia Cilento: Yeah, exactly. And then, and like you said, it's a space that, that, we saw a need and, and we really hope that people are going to find what they're looking for. And like Ron said, if you can tell us what you are, what you need, we will model it on what the market needs. Give us a shout, subscribe, let us know what you, what you need. Talk to us. 

[00:27:45] Ron Skelton: If on week one I'd have told you this industry needs more content, this industry needs more content on week two, I would probably have said, yeah, I still think it needs a little more content. This week was the first time we looked at stuff and not all of it would fit in the newsletter. Right? We found enough good content [00:28:00] out there. Maybe it's just a good Newsweek, but we found enough good content out there where some stuff just didn't make it, right. Some good stuff. We put all the, what our goal is, we look at everything that's like good, and then we figure out what's great and we put that, the best of what we can in there and not make it too long. It's pretty long newsletter. But, we try to, not have it be, 50 million items for you to read. . 

[00:28:21] Gia Cilento: Well, I mean, the thing is you might not read everything, but it is there. You don't have to go and you don't have to Google, you don't have to search three pages and pages of search results to see, what can I look at? Where, how can I find this? And that's what we wanna build, eventually add more, say the overflow to our website and just have a kind of a, like a, not a library, but a resource where you can find things for our arena. We're not the PE guys. 

[00:28:50] Ron Skelton: If you're listening to this and you can't see the video right now, you want to go to The Hub. That's T H E H U B dot A C Q hub dot [00:29:00] com and that'll take you there. Eventually it's gonna be, I kind of jokingly call it the Swiss Army Knife website, where, if you want to figure out, what you need and where to find it, we'll have that on there. We'll put all our news articles on there. But we'll also, like, if you're looking for companies that help you do with due diligence or, a lesson on how to, how to read, messy financials. I've seen a lot of lessons on how to read income statements and balance statements.

[00:29:24] I want, the second I find somebody who's done a really good job of like, here's mom and pop's financials, and here's how you put it in and, actually move that to a standard income statement balance sheet. When I find that lesson, we'll put that all over everything just cuz I, learned, I've learned it through my own, pain, sweat and tears, I don't think I could teach it. That said, our goal on the ACQ Hub, the acquisition hub, is to be the hub, to be the center of everything. You need to point you at the right resources. And then the newsletter, right now, we started with that first is to what's out there? What are people talking about, what are they doing? [00:30:00] And, start gathering that stuff up so we can figure out what goes on the hub, what goes on the website.

[00:30:05] Gia Cilento: I mean, it's, not just meeting a meet a need, but it's kind of a passion project for us. We like to, help people know. Spread, spread the news.

[00:30:14] Ron Skelton: If you guys are wanting to be, and that's another thing. If you guys are out there and you're in this space, you've got a big win or something, you want a story written about it or something like that. Have it written up in this shit, share it with us. Gia is our, co-founder and chief editor of it. So it all has to go through her. I'm kind of the nerdy guy. I fix the software and I go hunting things down and I hack really cool tools that we can click on it and put it in a, a task. Look at this article later, type of little tools and yeah. I'm the resident nerd, co-founder guy, but when it comes down to what content makes it there, I kind of rely on her. Cuz you have the news background.

[00:30:46] Gia Cilento: And I love your nerdiness. Thank you. Thank goodness for nerdy people.

[00:30:51] Ron Skelton: Yeah. Cool. So let's go back to you and what you're, all these different things, like how do you manage all of it? I know I've got a million things everybody's asking me. I'm asking you cuz people ask me [00:31:00] the same. How do you do all the different stuff?

[00:31:02] Gia Cilento: I'm constantly looking for new, like the tool that you put together new, I guess not just tips and tricks because I've tried so many of them and they don't last over time. And, right now I'm really just on a day-to-day basis. I'm looking at what I have and what do I have to do today and setting up. I've looked at things like EOS and I can't even think of some of the other ones right now, but, the thing that struck me is setting up a cadence of my week.

[00:31:33] Eric and I did it for a time too, and it really helped structure, but we have a quick, it's supposed to be a quick call, but, it turns out to be sometimes a half hour, 40 minutes, because number one, we like each other and, so there's a little bit of how was your day and how's your wife, and, that kind of thing. But really the cadence of every day we're gonna check in, we're gonna talk about what are you doing today, what am I doing today? And that sets it, it's not, it's a little bit easier than [00:32:00] filling out your daily calendar, of to-dos because I'm checking in with somebody else. And so there's,

[00:32:06] Ron Skelton: I live by my calendar. There's, if it's not in my calendar, it doesn't happen. 

[00:32:09] Gia Cilento: I get it. I know. And I have my calendar, I've got my phone filled with crap on my calendar. But having the accountability of working with somebody else, and I'm telling them, this is what I'm committing to today. And I've been, it's helped me move further along at a faster pace, more easily. So, that cadence, whether I do it with someone else or not, having the cadence on a daily and a weekly basis and a monthly, so I have my end of week set up, my end of month and my end of quarter, kind of using that 12 week year process. Every 12 weeks going through and, all right, where are we?

[00:32:48] What are we doing? What did we meet? What did we miss? Let's reevaluate, let's set up for another 12 weeks. And then checking in with that every week and every month. And it, at the end of the week, it's like, [00:33:00] what did I accomplish this week? Did I hit my goals? Did I, again, it's very similar. It's just iterative. And having that, that rhythm, like the Tootsie Roll dance that we talked about, neither one of us know. But, having the rhythm really helps. I mean it. And, clipping, trimming, making sure, okay, I was involved with a bunch of projects at one point and I felt scattered. And so trimming down, focusing in, I've got a few things, but some of them are kind of, they fit together well. So I'm not doing something totally different over here and something, and there's another project that we're working on that I wanna touch on before we, sign off.

[00:33:40] Ron Skelton: No, we got plenty of time. So the, I love what you're doing there in that I do the same thing. My evaluation process, and you'll hear this, you've probably heard this a million times cause you've been in many meetings, is I boiled it down to three questions. What did we do really well? I always start with the really, well, I was reading something where one guy was referring to, and his boss used to walk in and go, where did we find the blueberries this week? Right. [00:34:00] And like, where did you find the little treats? What did we do well? So I always start off with the, the win. What did we do really well?

[00:34:05] And a little bit of analysis. What did we do really well and how was it really well? Right? And then, What could we have done better? And then the third question, like, we could have done X, y, and Z a little bit better. And then what did we totally miss? Like, is there anything we should have, like we just, we should have done. We didn't even think about, we totally missed it, and now we know it, we missed it. Right? I know that there's this, there's things, there's things you think, and there's things you don't know that you don't know, right? When you say, what did you miss? If you really missed it and you don't know you missed it, you don't know.

[00:34:31] And that's why we ask our, you guys for like the hub, what are we missing? Because there's gonna be things we don't know that we don't know. There's things we don't know that we're missing. And by you pointing it out, we can go, okay, well, one person said we're missing X, Y, and z. And then when two and three and four people go, you're missing y. Okay, well we've got five people out of X, Y, and Z that says Y needs to be in this, so let's put Y in there. So that's one of the reasons reach out. Reach out to us and tell you, tell us what you're looking for in this space.

[00:34:55] We're building tools for you that in benefit us and you. [00:35:00] So the only way we build those, the way you need them to make them work for you is for you to speak up and tell us what you need. So, cool. You said you had one more cool thing you're working on. What is that? 

[00:35:08] Gia Cilento: But yeah, I mean, as a result, I think you said you, you referred, Bridget over to us. Bridget Ludy. 

[00:35:15] Ron Skelton: I think either Bridget or somebody that knew her came to one of my, I do a, a twice a month, actually, it's today, at around four. But twice a month I meet with acquisition entrepreneurs. Usually about, 15, 20, 25 of us will get in a room and we're like, where are you at? And what you need help with kind of thing. It's a networking thing, but kind of a, mostly networking, slightly mastermind type of stuff. Cuz our goal is to help each other move forward a little bit. And we have new people in the room. It's a Zoom call. But somebody came to that meeting and brought that concept to me and said, who do you know?

[00:35:49] And then I passed that contact to Walid. And it said, you're talking about the hemp versus or C B D hemp, cannabis, chocolate. 

[00:35:58] Gia Cilento: Yeah, it's actually [00:36:00] a recipe or a process that Bridget Ludy came up with. She's been a chocolatier for, like 40 years. Her chocolate really, developed a great name. And then she got diabetes and she had been working with cannabis and hemp for a long time, apparently, helping veterans with their, just, I mean, P T S D or all of the other pain. It's, well known that hemp and C B D and cannabis have a big impact in that area. And about four years ago, she was diagnosed with diabetes suddenly as a result of a virus. It blew her away. She was just apparently nearly died. She didn't know that she had it. She had this virus and, she wasn't getting better. She went to the, and the virus actually caused the diabetes, so she's type one.

[00:36:47] It led her down this path of really creating a good sugar-free chocolate and that, that is then infused with hemp. She also has a recipe for cannabis, which she's looking to license, and we're working with her to [00:37:00] help find people who wanna license that for their states. But hemp and hemp seed is actually legal nationally. That's why it's like, let's stick with this. But hemp seed has the same benefits and without any thc, without any, so you're not gonna get loopy. But you are gonna get the benefit. And then that's for her, with the sugar free, there's no blood sugar change. And I think she's, I just interviewed her and we're kind of putting that video together for people to, hear her story and why she came up with this process. And, it's very compelling. So we wanna, for anybody who has diabetes or a family member with this kind of an issue, if you love chocolate, there isn't anything out there that tastes good.

[00:37:45] Ron Skelton: My wife just told, got told that she's borderline. I'm a heavy guy. I'm blessed that I don't have it. It doesn't run in my family at all. Both her parents were diabetic. So she's testing her blood daily now. She has a little glucose meter and everything. She doesn't have to take any medicine or anything, but [00:38:00] she just has to watch it. And, she's like, trying out different sugar-free type of stuff and not very many of is good. Yeah.

[00:38:06] Gia Cilento: No, it's, I've tried before too, just because I don't wanna eat sugar, cuz the body doesn't, what is the body is like, what the hell is this stuff? It doesn't know what to do with it. But to have something that tastes good and I've tried some of these, they're and she has different flavors. There's raspberry and there's like Kona coffee, something or other that is like that is really good. I love the raspberry, I love chocolate and raspberry. But the chocolate flavor itself, the temper on the chocolate, it's just really well done. And we're working with her to help get the manufacturing going.

[00:38:37] She needs to kind of get a bigger plant and, wants to get the attention of the people who do have diabetes. Who want this and need it. The benefit of the hemp and the flavor that you can't she can't eat partly anything anymore. You've gotta change your diet so much. So having the ability to have some kind of yumminess is really important. You wanna have still have good flavor. So that's [00:39:00] something we're working on. And she's a lovely woman. She's just, she's so passionate and is so much fun to work with somebody who loves what they're doing. And this whole, I'm passionate about it. I just wanted to bring that up because, I think we're going to do a, a crowdfunding with her. 

[00:39:14] And I think that'll be, so when we launch that, I'm gonna let you know and you can let your audiences know and, I think that'll be really great for people who have diabetes and are looking for something that tastes good and can also help with the, some of the symptoms without impacting the blood sugar levels.

[00:39:30] Ron Skelton: Yeah. I actually have, I know some people in this space for the, an anxiety and PTSD space and charities around that. I'm prior military and, I'll tell very many people, but I'm low, I've been diagnosed with PTSD at a low level, anxiety issues and some other stuff. So I deal with my own set of stuff. That said, I know one of the guys that's leading the, leading the charity has some cool products. He was in the cannabis space for a little while. Actually. I don't know what happened in that. He was actually teamed up with, Jordan Belfort for a little bit on a cannabis [00:40:00] project.

[00:40:00] And I think it went sideways or gone. But he still has the, anti-anxiety, the company and stuff. So as you get that going, I can make introduction to that. Those guys, I don't know him very well. We used to live close to each other when we were both in Dallas. We were friends on social media, both prior military. And then, if you know anybody who's high, high A D D or high, P T S D type of stuff. You might make plans to meet somebody and decide you're just not going out in public for a little while. So there was a few times where I was like, Hey, let's, I sent him an email or something, Hey, we should meet up. Yeah, yeah, let's do that soon. And I ended up moving outta state before he ever even like, got in the same space. I support what he's working on enough that I'll make the introduction to you guys. So. 

[00:40:38] Gia Cilento: Yeah. I love that. I love that any kind of, anybody who's interested in, the A D D, the P T S D, the relief of the symptoms, and then also because it's just so many people are suffering. There's a way to help and that's what, that's why we kind of jumped in with Bridget because, we all know people who need that kind of help. Either the pain, I mean the pain alone, [00:41:00] you know what it's like being in pain. It sucks.

[00:41:02] Ron Skelton: Yeah, it's interesting. I don't even, I don't think I've ever shared this on here before. I have actually had, not one, but two, maybe even three panic attacks, where as a heavy guy, if you're heavy and your heart starts hurting, you go to the hospital, right. And the first time was years ago. I went to the hospital, think I was having a heart attack. Get there. They run all these tests on me like, Sir you're not having a heart attack, you're having anxiety attack or a panic attack. And I'm like, I am not anxious. I got in like, you're just getting too excited. I don't get excited either. You realize, wait a second here. 

[00:41:32] Gia Cilento: That's, it's scary. 

[00:41:33] Ron Skelton: It's one of those, it can manifest a duff, a bunch of different ways. Now, I'm a weird cat. I do meditation. I do all kinds of other stuff just to do stuff. I'm really not in my own spec. So I've been able to manage mine with, through that type of method. I can really tell when I'm starting to tense off. I can tell when things are starting to come on early and then I rarely, I do have medicine for it, but I rarely need any of that just because,[00:42:00] I say rarely, once every few weeks or something, I can feel an anxiety attack or something starting to try to pop up.

[00:42:05] I take a CBD based product and it relaxes me just enough. I hate feeling loopy. I don't want to take anything that makes me feel high or anything like that. I've had all the cards and license, when in states you have to have a license to get it. I got 'em and then tried 'em and like, I do not like that feeling. I just don't. 

[00:42:23] Gia Cilento: A lot of people don't. They don't wanna feel loopy, and that's why I think, if you do wanna feel, a little high and cannabis product is great. If that doesn't bother you. If you like it, if it helps you relax. I meditate a lot too. I mean, that helps me. I've had anxiety too from different things back in life. I think we all, I wasn't in the military, but it happens. 

[00:42:43] Ron Skelton: I don't, I'll be 51 no more. I don't think he can make it this. I don't see how any natural human being can make it to 51 without having a little P T S D and a little anxiety.

[00:42:53] Gia Cilento: A little bit of something. Yeah. Right. 

[00:42:55] Ron Skelton: So, let's wrap this up. So if people wanna reach out and like, work with you on a [00:43:00] project or set, tell you about something they, they want to work on, or they got a chocolate to your company, or, they, have an in for your, your CBD slash cannabis chocolate lady, just they've heard something on this show that intrigues them and they wanna connect with you. What's the best way for people to reach out? 

[00:43:18] Gia Cilento: LinkedIn is a great way. I'm the only one, the only Gia Cilento on LinkedIn. It's not hard to find me. And, if you, wanna email me I think those are the best ways. I don't know if I should give out a phone number on here. 

[00:43:32] Ron Skelton: Yeah, probably not here. Hey, if you, and if you want us to, like, she's actually listed on all the, every single page of our, newsletter. If you wanna reach out to her there, her links to that, subscribe to that. Subscribe to the hub, figure out what's going on in this industry. Let us know what you want us to put in there. And then she's the editor and co-founder of that. So you'll be able to see her. I think we make you the author of almost every article anyway. So you'll be able to click on there, see your profile, have your, I think yeah, if you filled out your thing on there, you'll actually have all your social media links on there too. [00:44:00] So that'd be a way for them to find that is, to go through the, the newsletter. 

[00:44:04] Gia Cilento: Excellent. Yeah. Any of those ways. I'd be glad to hear from you if you, even if you have a question, you wanna reach out with a question or you have something you want us to add into the hub, please just reach out and and I'll get right back to you.

[00:44:16] Ron Skelton: Awesome. Well, thank you for having, for being here today. I thank you for, your time. I thank you for partnering with me, on some of this. There's just certain things that just are enough work. You don't wanna do 'em on your own. When I made up the, I made up my mind I was gonna do something like this, I was like, I need somebody on there. So, I started with you cuz I was like, if I could pick anybody to be on this with me, who has news experience, newsletter experience, who would be a great editor? And I thought, I'll see what, I know she's really busy, but let's just see what she's up to and if she's willing and, thank you for saying yes.

[00:44:47] I already owned the domains. I'll tell you how fast I move. You can attest this to everybody listening. Pretty much ready, aim, fire. I mean, ready fire aims. 

[00:44:54] Gia Cilento: Yeah, it was, I know you're like that just for the past. I'm excited about it and I really appreciate you bringing me on your [00:45:00] show and, dubbing me to, to come and work on The Hub with you. I love it. I love this kind of stuff, and you made it really easy with your techy, nerdy stuff. So, I'm really grateful and glad to be here and, I'm looking forward to what we create with this. 

[00:45:13] Ron Skelton: Me too, and I'm looking forward to making it easier and easier so we can spend more time on finding the best content. The less we have to do the tedious stuff, the more we can focus on, finding the right content and if we can't find it, start starting to hire writers and actually starting to write some of the best content. I think that's our next phase. Let's get this iron down. Let's get a few more weeks behind us and let's figure out, do we need to start writing articles? Do we need to start reaching out to everybody in inside, all the subscribers, and go, what are your wins for the week? Can we interview you and write an article about something you're working on? Or a success story you had. And, eventually I can foresee us having, writers writing content.

[00:45:46] Gia Cilento: I like that idea. What's your win? What's your win this week? Get people involved because some people don't have anyone to share that win with. You can't always count on your family. You can't always talk to your partner, your spouse, or your kids.[00:46:00] 

[00:46:00] Ron Skelton: Oh, you should have seen my wife eyes when I told her about, Hey, I hacked this little tool and I click on it now it just throws it in Asana. And she's like, Uhhuh, uh uh. It's really like, we spent hours doing this the week before. Now we can just click a button and it's like, it's there for us to look at later. And she's like, uhhuh.

[00:46:16] Gia Cilento: Yes. And you can, and that's a good thing. Okay. I'm happy for you. Right. The kind of glaze like, oh, isn't that lovely.

[00:46:23] Ron Skelton: Well I appreciate you being here. I think it's a fun show. Let's call that a show and hang out for a few seconds afterwards. 

[00:46:29] Gia Cilento: Okay. I love it. Thank you.