Resources for Buying and Selling Online Businesses

Hearos Founder Shares Journey From Startup to Exit


Doug PickFor 28 years, Doug Pick was the Founder and CEO of Hearos, a global company specializing in the development and manufacturing of innovative foam earplugs. It was a self-financed, vertically integrated, global consumer packaged goods company that he successfully exited to private equity. Doug is now the Founder and CEO of DAP Ventures and focuses on empowering delightfully disruptive brands to intelligently grow, avoid painful pitfalls, and achieve extraordinary outcomes.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [03:25] Doug Pick talks about his journey running Hearos and the challenges he faced
  • [15:29] Actionable tips for creating the best product
  • [18:03] Hearos’ journey in online marketplaces
  • [21:36] Doug explains how the company thrived in packaging and branding
  • [28:45] How Amazon Basic selling impacted Hearos
  • [31:25] Doug’s exit process from Hearos — and advice for entrepreneurs exiting their businesses
  • [37:49] What Doug’s currently undertaking and what’s on the horizon

In this episode…

Many people dream of becoming entrepreneurs, but only a few know how to become prosperous entrepreneurs. So what can you learn from someone who has built up a business for over two decades and successfully exited?

With only $15,000 in savings, Doug Pick decided to start his ear plugs business — one that he could control. He made countless mistakes and faced many challenges in the process, but with time, he successfully grew and scaled the company into a multimillion-dollar business. He now shares his journey and lessons learned from startup to exit.

In this episode of the Quiet Light Podcast, Joe Valley sits down with Doug Pick, Founder and CEO of Hearos, to discuss his entrepreneurial journey of growing and exiting a business. Doug shares his story of founding Hearos, tips for creating an outstanding product, how to thrive in the e-commerce space, and advice for entrepreneurs planning an exit.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode

This episode brought to you by Quiet Light, a brokerage firm that wants to help you successfully sell your online business.

There is no wrong reason for selling your business. However, there is a right time and a right way. The team of leading entrepreneurs at Quiet Light wants to help you discover the right time and strategy for selling your business. They provide trustworthy advice, effective strategies, and honest valuations. So, your Quiet Light advisors aren’t your everyday brokers — they’re your partner and friend through every phase of the exit planning process.

If you’re new to the prospect of buying and selling, Quiet Light is here to support you. Their plethora of top-notch resources will provide everything you need to know about when and how to buy or sell an online business. Quiet Light offers high-quality videos, articles, podcasts, and guides to help you make the best decision for your online business.

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What are you waiting for? Quiet Light offers the best experience, strategies, and advice to make your exit successful. To learn more, go to, email [email protected], or call 800.746.5034 today.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:07

Hi folks, it’s the Quiet Light Podcast where we share relentlessly honest insights, actionable tips, and entrepreneurial stories that will help founders identify and reach their goals.

Joe Valley  0:18

Hey folks, Joe Valley here. Welcome back to another episode of the Quiet Light Podcast. Today’s guest is guy named Doug Pick, he owns a company or owned a company for 28 years called Hearos Earplugs. And he is sharing his experience sharing his story and really an expert in longevity of a business and an expert really, in taking businesses to retail, whether it’s CVS or Costco or Walmart, or Target, whatever it might be, he’s somebody that at the end of this, give out his URL, you might want to reach out if you’ve got a great brand doing really amazing stuff online, on Shopify, on Amazon, whatever your platform is, and you just need some help, some advice to kick down the door over at CVS, it took him 14 years to get into CVS, it’s happening a lot sooner these days. But he might be somebody you want to reach out to and talk to about it, because he’s been there. And he understands the pitfalls of it, and the benefits of it as well. But he’s also an online entrepreneur, he was an early adopter to selling online built his first website in 1997, we compare the cost of our websites, because I built my first one in 1997, as well, we talked about that very briefly. And then really just talk about his journey about building the business from basically a shed out behind his house in Southern California to working with a local group of handicapped folks, providing them with services or jobs, and then helping him grow his business, some of the challenges that he had in the 08 09 recession and how he had to change his model a little bit and invest in manufacturing equipment, and what mistake he made there that was pretty substantial and how he got through it. All sorts of great stories here. He’s a great guy. Great success story of longevity as an entrepreneur. It’s a great lesson. Let’s go to it. Doug, welcome to the Quiet Light Podcast. How are you?

Doug Pick  2:47

I’m doing great, Joe, how are you?

Joe Valley  2:48

I’m good. You and I are about the same age. And sometimes when I have guests on that have incredible experience in history and success. I feel quite inadequate. Before hitting record, you said you did the same thing for was it 25 years?

Doug Pick  3:05

28 years?

Joe Valley  3:07

My comment was I got out of bed for 28 years. That’s the one thing I’ve done. Some days not fully. No, I get the itch after seven years or so. Else, but 20 years is impressive. But what was it? Why don’t you share your story a little bit with the audience?

Doug Pick  3:25

Sure. You know, I just want to comment on that 28 year timeframe. Because you said seven years. And there are some that believe that life goes in cycles of seven years. And no joke, Joe, when I started my business, it was April 1992. And when I moved on from my company, it was April 2020, almost 28 years to the date or for life cycles, if you believe in that.

Joe Valley  3:55

Yeah, I wonder if during those 28 years, if you looked at the first seven, the second seven, the third seven and so forth, if you were moving on to different roles within the business or starting new ventures within the business, expanding to retail things of that nature, I’m approaching next month will be year 11 at Quiet Light, I sold my business through Quiet Light in 2010 joined in 2012. So this will be year 11. And I know for the last four years, I’ve been doing something different or marching towards something different within Quiet Light. So there’s always that aspect of it. I had to move on to something because I generally go at 110 miles an hour burn myself out and need to move on to something else. And that’s what I do as well. So were there breakdowns of different roles within what you did? And we’ll get to what you did.

Doug Pick  4:44

Yeah. No, I mean, and we can just kind of bounced back to the intro because I can take you through the starting of the company. And then we can go from there. So real quick. It was April of 1992. And I had just moved on from A&M records where I was very fortunate to have been recruited by the Chairman of the Board Jerry Moss, because it was my dream to work in the music business. And at that time, I was managing a rap artist who was super talented, he can rap, he could sing, produce, write, dance, he had a great personality. And I just thought he was going to be the next MC Hammer. And for those that I’m probably dating myself now, but MC Hammer was the guy.

Joe Valley  4:45

I had those parachute pants myself back in 1985. So I know who you’re talking about.

Doug Pick  5:42

So I thought I had the super talent, I wanted to be the next Jerry Moss, or David Geffen. And what I learned really fast, unfortunately, is that I can’t control other humans. And his objectives were a little bit different than my objectives. And so I learned that I wanted to be in a business that I control. And so I just started studying business opportunities. And I came back to this niche of earplugs. And I was like, kind of this is kind of cool, because this is a highly consumable product. There’s no big multinational multi anything conglomerate that this little entrepreneur with $15,000 in savings would have to compete against. And the competition at that time was literally doing nothing from a branding, marketing, packaging, sales promotion, you name it, this was also pre internet. And so I just started researching this category. And ears and ear plug manufacturers because I didn’t have the funds to build a factory, nor did I have the experience. And before I knew it, I had discovered or I should say, I was delivered this brand name called Hearos from the gods above. And the unique thing about how I spelled Hearos, was it spelled H-E-A-R, like I hear you O-S. And that was a very fortuitous time for me to have discovered that I trademarked the Hearos brand. And I just got to work. And from 1992 until 2008, I built Hearos as a fully outsourced company. And I can describe a little bit more about that. But with Hearos, and its sister brand, Sleep Pretty in Pink, I had created by 2008 2009, the number one and number two bestselling foam earplugs in the retail space with relationships at Walmart, Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS Guitar Center. And then when the economy corrected in 2008 2009. The retailer’s recognize that for them, they own the traffic, they own the customers that were coming in. And therefore, what they started to do was recognized categories as commodities. And the importance of that was that they could then create their own store brands, and increase their profit margins. And when that happened, two things occurred. One is I realized, I felt as though I had one of two options to go, because I was a distributor at that time of 3M earplugs. And so I decided, well, I could either stay as a distributor of 3M earplugs, if I did that, I really wouldn’t have access to my creativity and energy and passion to innovate, because I would just be selling products that three makes and by the way, they make incredibly wonderful products.

Joe Valley  8:48

So just let me get a clarification. You are distributed of 3M earplugs, but did you rebrand them with the Hearos brand?

Doug Pick  8:55

Of course. And that kind of that kind of dovetails back to what my model was, which was, I had built a $7 million top line business, selling approximately 20 million pairs of earplugs a year, from a guesthouse in Los Angeles, brilliant with one employee. And I was an outsourcer essentially, before it was kind of hip and cool. 3PL I didn’t even know that term. At that point. My thing was, I want to maximize profitability, because at the end of the day, that’s the importance of a business is high profit margins. And so what I was able to do is form a relationship with a nonprofit organization in the North Valley of Los Angeles called New Horizons. And the special thing about New Horizons is that they were basically built to help provide productive services for mentally and physically handicapped adults. And so as it turns out, by the time of the economic correction, the Hearos business was providing 200 full time jobs for these mentally and physically handicapped individuals. And they just loved putting these foam pieces into packages. And they also served as my distribution hub logistics as well. So I was providing 200 full time jobs to the mentally and physically handicapped

Joe Valley  10:24

You were shipping your products out. They were acting as the 3PL, the packaging and kidding, and all that stuff.

Doug Pick  10:31

Yeah, and they were subsidized by the state of California. And so how that from an economic standpoint, how that helped me, a lot of entrepreneurs will recognize when I say 3PL will charge for pallet space, they’ll charge basically for every movement of their staff or their assets. And the cool thing about New Horizons was, there was no charge for inventory I basically occupied almost all of their 20,000 square feet. And I didn’t pay one penny in inventory. And all of their services were basically built in because all they wanted to do was help to provide these services for these mentally and physically handicapped adults. So it was a real win-win relationship. And then jumping ahead post the economic correction is I ultimately decided that I wanted to take my saved pennies and put it into a manufacturing facility, because that’s what I felt for my retail partners was really the yellow brick road. So I looked at the retail partners truly as my partners, how could I help to reduce their costs? How can I provide innovation and how could I build enterprise value for the Hearos companies? And so I started by investing a million and a half dollars in a manufacturing facility in Los Angeles, only to find out that the engineer that I had that on was a fraud.

Joe Valley  12:01

No, see, I was just gonna say wow, you’re the grown up in the room. You built your own manufacturing facility. You did it. Congratulations.

Doug Pick  12:08

Yeah. Well, that’s where the blood sweat and tears came in? Because the challenging thing about the earplug market, which people think, oh, this little piece of foam. What do you buy this in China for a mil a penny? No, actually, it’s incredibly complicated in science. And the thing about it is that prior to starting my own manufacturing company, I had no sense of what it was to make an ear plug. And that’s because the manufacturers in the space will not let their partners see the manufacturing, it is truly tribal knowledge. And on the planet today, there’s probably maybe six or seven men or women that know how to do it. Right. Because polyurethane foam is incredibly difficult to work with. What’s that?

Joe Valley  13:04

Are you one of them? Did you continue in success?

Doug Pick  13:06

Oh, yeah.

Joe Valley  13:08

Sony. Yeah.

Doug Pick  13:08

Exactly. That’s where the blood sweat and tears came in. And fortunately, thanks to LinkedIn, I was able to identify an individual that truly by the grace of God was available that had no restrictions to his ability to help. His name is Tom Wagner. And I call them super Tom, because he came in and he took the machine that we had, and he actually made it functional, to the point where I was able to reboot it and build it. And then by 2016, what I recognized was that funding an earplug company in the retail space, with also an interest to move into the industrial marketplace was something that I just simply couldn’t afford to keep doing. And so I raised the white flag, I did it all wrong. I didn’t develop a book. I didn’t bring in attorneys or auditors or anything like that I just raised right, the white flag and I just started talking to my network, say, hey, I’ve been doing Hearos for about 25 years, and I’m ready for something new. I’m interested to sell a portion or all of the company. And fortunately, I was introduced to a really great entrepreneur. And we hit it off and he had the same vision as I did. And he had a much larger company. And long story short is by the end of 2018, we completed an acquisition of all the Hearos companies. I worked for the company for two years. post-acquisition grew sales of my 26 year old company 50% in that time, and really led that large company and gross margin contribution as well as sales growth. And then I moved on to a Metaverse company and here we are today. So I hope that provides an encapsulation of my journey so far and lots of questions for you to ask?

Joe Valley  15:06

Yeah, I so many questions. So looking back, you know, people in the audience thinking, God, I need to start a product. They’ve got to think about all the boxes that advisors would tell them when trying to create a brand, make it small and light so it ships easily, with great margins, and so on and so forth. You look back and you’re like, you must have hit the jackpot on all of those things.

Doug Pick  15:29

Yes, the earplug marketplace was beautiful in that regard. I learned from USC as entrepreneur program, how to do a viability study that was a critical piece of learning. Because there are those that come up with the greatest idea since sliced bread. And the key is to vet that idea to make sure that if you’re going to invest your heart, soul and time and money, that what you’re doing has merit. And that’s where after I did the research on the earplug market, it just continued to keep propelling me forward. And I’m like, I’m onto something here. And I think sometimes with entrepreneurs that are so excited to be their own boss, sometimes they don’t take the time to really examine if it makes sense, because in the entrepreneur program at USC, the objective was not necessarily to write business plans to then start companies. The objective was write business plans to understand if it makes sense to start companies. Because at the end of the journey, you may find that that doesn’t make sense. And I’ll tell you very specifically, Joe, when I moved on from my Metaverse company in March of 2022, that’s exactly what I came back to. I was like, Okay, I’m coming back to CPG. I’m going to develop the next Hearos type of product, not in earplugs, because that’s a marketplace that I’m not able to work in now. But I started researching new vendors, new ideas, new brands, I was buying URLs, I trademarking and I was really getting excited. But I would tell you by December of 2022 nine months into it, I said to myself, what I’ve created thus far, is not good enough. So the reboot began. And that’s actually been a very exciting time, because I figured out what those next steps look like and how I can create massive success with my experience and network and knowledge base.

Joe Valley  17:43

Okay, we need to dig into that a little bit. First, there’s where that wasn’t ordered towards online sales. You’ve talked about big box retail and things of this nature. At what point did you leap in or dabble your toe into the online marketplace selling Hearos?

Doug Pick  18:03

Well, are you talking about for Hearos? When did we go into? Yeah, yeah. Oh, very early on. As soon as the internet and e-commerce was open for business, let’s say. And I’m just gonna guess. Sometime around 96 97, we started selling because the cool thing about the internet when it started was, it was a medium of communication between brands and their consumers. And then it became a way to do commerce. And I’ll give you an example of how the market in earplugs changed. When I first got started selling earplugs over the internet, we were selling 20 pairs of foam earplugs for 14.99. And then we would pay for freight? Well, I think at the end of the day, I was earning something like 80% margins on those sales. And we were probably doing between six to $10,000 a month at the very beginning, because people just wanted value that was actually value for their purchases. Today, if you look online, you can probably get 60 pairs of foam earplugs for, I don’t know 999 Something like that. So the value proposition has changed a lot and the efficiencies that the Internet brings brought savings to the consumer. I could share with you that we were among the first to sell on Amazon. We ultimately had a $2 million business selling through Amazon through their FBA program. And then in a fun stroke of luck. I sent one email to Jeff Bezos. And through that one email within 48 hours I was receiving phone calls from some of his top brass I didn’t hear directly from him. But I received an email saying, hey, I got a note saying that you’re an earplug manufacturer and that you’re interested to provide earplugs for Amazon for sale. We’d like to work with you through that one email was able to close a deal with Amazon supplying all of their Amazon Basics earplugs.

Joe Valley  20:21

You’re the guy that kicked off the Amazon Basics that everybody hates. Is that what you’re saying?

Doug Pick  20:27

Yeah, it was really fun.

Joe Valley  20:29

Good for you, man. That’s awesome. Yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah, so I’ve looked online, I see the Hearos online on Amazon. I’m going to have you dig deep. And very quickly, can you remember how much you pay for that first web site back in 1997?

Doug Pick  20:45

It would only be a guess. And I would say 1000 bucks.

Joe Valley  20:51

Okay, that’s a lot. It’s 20 times more than I paid 50 bucks. Way back then. I was doing radio TV advertising. And we just threw up a website. And man, the sales just every day, it was shocking what happened with next to nothing. It obviously, if you were doing Google paid ads pay per click back in the day. Not only has you gone from 14.95 for selling, 20 pairs to 60 pairs for 10 bucks. But your cost of advertising has gone up a tremendous amount as well, I would imagine. But you’ve got a brand name now sort of people search for the brand name. I know it’s not yours anymore. But did you?

Doug Pick  21:36

Well, that was also one of the key goals of what I set out to do with my brand. When I first started, I had no experience about how to package earplugs. I didn’t really know anything about branding, I was in the music business. So what I did was, I was like, okay, I’m gonna go study brands. So no joke, I went to the local drugstore. And I remember sitting on the floor of the aisle, staring at Colgate toothpaste, Coca Cola, Anheuser Busch, Gillette, the big brands that had the dollars to invest in packaging and branding. And when you look at the Hearos packages, even to today, so I designed with my designer, all of the packaging that anyone will see on the website, across all the brands, every product, every brand name was one that came from between my two ears. And so the packaging today that you’ll see is actually it’s a combination of from a branding standpoint, Gain detergent, that’s who I emulated. And then from the actual package, we emulated Bic razors. And that was simply by going to the whether at the time it was walking, Walmart and Walgreens and CVS, and just seeing what was going on. And like, oh, that’s really cool. I think I can apply that. So just take pictures, make notes, and then bring it back to the designers aid. This is cool. I want to bring this to the marketplace. And I would encourage anyone who’s listening to the podcast, look at what’s going on in the category. And I would venture to guess even to this day, Hearos is one of the most innovative, attractive packages that you’ll see in the category. Because that was just what my objective was, I wanted the package to scream at the consumer look at me. And so I hope that is what people see when they look at those packages.

Joe Valley  21:48

Everybody take a look. I’m restraining myself from looking at Gain detergent and whatnot. But as we’re talking now, I’m curious, how quickly did you add to your packaging and retail?

Doug Pick  24:00


Joe Valley  24:01

Immediately. So when you launched the website, when online business was open, did you immediately get traffic where you were not needing to do paid advertising, because of the size of the retail distribution that you had?

Doug Pick  24:17

Well, just for clarity, I’m someone that strives for the delightfully disruptive. And I wanted to combine that to empower my retail partners. When the internet first came to life in a sense, the retail marketplace didn’t take it seriously. It wasn’t what it is today. The formula was when I would go for meetings with the big retailers. The questions would be so tell me what you’re doing from an ad spend on TV, radio and print. Yeah, of course, internet. What’s that? We don’t care about that. Now that’s the beginning of the marketing process, one thing I did. And again, my whole thing was to try and empower the retail partners and drive sales in a way that really what they’re interested in is how do you drive customer foot traffic through their doors, that was one of the ways that we wanted to appeal to say, we’re a good partner to you. So, in 2006 2007, my brother and I joined forces, and we created a campaign that utilize the internet to build brand equity. And the campaign went like this, we ran ads to drive people to our website so that they could get a free pair of earplugs, shipping your plugs through the mail was not terribly expensive. So the cost of acquisition of those people for trial was very low. And we could if we wanted to, we could have gotten 15,000. Well, I’ll call interested parties per day. So you receive the package in the mail, in that small envelope was a pair. And you could decide whether or not you wanted Hearos, or the female brand that I created was called Sleep Pretty in Pink. That was the first pink ear plug in the marketplace directed towards women that slept with snoring Joes. And in that package was a bounce back coupon. So you try the product, you might like the product. Now take this product to Walmart or Walgreens, and redeem it to save on your next purchase. And also, if you really liked the product, we wanted to use YouTube, which was also a new medium at the time, post your favorite video, create a video on your phone and tell the world about how Hearos or Sleep Pretty in Pink helped you or create something fun. And for that if you won the contest, you could win $5,000 or an iPad or some other interesting thing. And that’s how we stood out.

Joe Valley  27:12

So you’re a pioneer in almost everything that everybody strives to do today.

Doug Pick  27:17

Well, we’re just having fun. We’re thinking how do we utilize this medium? We were also the first one to do an app in the marketplace. So for Sleep Pretty in Pink, we created a Sleep Pretty in Pink app. And what that did, was it measured snoring Joe’s snoring. Oh how many decibels. Oh, no. Is he snoring?

Joe Valley  27:43

You’re giving the wife a tool to use against their house. See, see how bad this is? Right?

Doug Pick  27:49

Yeah, well, you can do it on the Hearos app as well. But again, it was always about for me with Hearos, and any brand I work with. It’s when we drive when I drive a company. I am not looking in the rearview mirror. I’m looking forward for what is the cool next thing that nobody’s thought of.

Joe Valley  28:11

And I want to get to that. But I have two questions first. Yeah, I want to go forward and see what you’re up to today. But I’m gonna go back to the Amazon Basics. Right, that phone call you got from Amazon saying hey, well, you meant manufacture these for us. Back then, they were 14.95 for 20 earplugs today. They’re $10 for 60 earplugs. How did Amazon Basic selling earplugs and competing directly against you when you’re doing $2 million a month in revenue? Or $2 million a year? I forget what you said, how did it impact your business if at all?

Doug Pick  28:45

Well, to be honest. So that deal was actually done much later on in the evolution of the earplug category. And I think to this day, I don’t know that Amazon kept it afloat not because the product wasn’t great and not because the value that Amazon offered wasn’t fantastic. In many companies, there is a revenue threshold that they require. And my sense is because I’m not with Hearos anymore, and I don’t have those internal workings of knowledge. My sense is that it just didn’t meet the threshold of what they require to keep a category alive for someone to actually monitor it for them to manage the inventory etc. Yeah, but I do know that the value that they offered was good and at the same time, overall in the land of consumer products, there are really two types of customers there are those that will only buy brand, I should say three. There are those that will only buy brand. There were those that will buy brand and select store brand and there are those that will only buy storebrand. So, from the mass of opportunities at four Hearos in the earplug space, I don’t imagine that it really impacted much of the sales, because we had fanatical customers. And that was the other thing about what I set out to do with the business was, I wanted to create the Kleenex or Coca Cola of earplugs. I wanted when someone tried the products and loved the products that they didn’t think of it as these are just earplugs. When we got emails from consumers, they’d say, I love Hearos. And if you ask them what kind of earplugs you were, they’d say, Hearos or Sleep Pretty in Pink. And that was really cool. That was that was just a great feeling to know that people were passionate about something that that I started in my apartment.

Joe Valley  30:53

And something as simple as an air plug, which is pretty amazing. Okay, so my second question came around your deal, right? You just threw up the flag? Why? Flexa? Hey, I’m, I’m done doing this for 17 years? Who’s interested in helping me or buying some of this company? Did you exit fully after two years? Or do you still own some of the company? Question number one? And number two, knowing what you know today, are you satisfied with the value that you got? Oh,

Doug Pick  31:25

Yeah, no, it was a fantastic opportunity. So first question is I don’t own any of Hearos anymore. It is owned by another company. I’m not involved have not involved have not been involved in any way, shape, or form since April of 2020. And Am I satisfied? Absolutely. In life, you have your chapters that you live through. And in many regards, I lived through four chapters, if you look at the 28 year span of Hearos, and it was a wonderful run. And now, let’s bring on the new opportunities. And the next challenges that are in front of me.

Joe Valley  32:05

Normally I’m still gonna ask you the question, but normally, I’d say, what do you recommend people do for a period of time after they exit their business fully? takes great question month off a week off a year. But you did it when the pandemic hit. So you will probably self-isolating and sort of directly because of that. But realistically, let’s say that I’m exiting my business today, or anybody in the audience about to pack it out, hang their cleats up, and they’re an entrepreneur, and they’ve got that I can do this mentality, or I can do that. And they want to jump on to something else when, I’ve got a good friend that sold for $9 million, and jumped right into something else the next day, and he regrets it. He regrets not taking time off. What is your general all-purpose recommendation one size fits all, for people that exit.

Doug Pick  32:59

I’d say one word, breathe. And I say that because for 28 years, Hearos, aside from my family, and my personal life, it was 365 days a year, seven days a week, and even up to the exit and post exit. It’s just work. And if you have the luxury to be able to take a moment to just catch your breath, go on a trip, enjoy yourself. Let your mind heal. And truly I do mean heal because the other thing I can share with you, Joe is the challenge of just what we deal with as humans working in America Day is high stress. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an entrepreneur or you work for somebody, it’s high stress. COVID added another element of stress. And I was tired. I mean, fatigued. And I’m not kidding when I tell you I needed about a year to let my brain heal. I didn’t. I went right into working with one of my best friends in a high tech company because I was excited. So I can’t say that there’s a one size fits all. I would just encourage those that have the good fortune to exit to give yourself grace, enjoy. Be good to yourself, be good to your family, take a trip, sit on the beach, whatever is your zen do it and then when you’re ready come back to what you want to do if you want to. I have a friend who exited for nine figures. And his probably biggest challenge is figuring out which helicopter he’s going to fly today and that For him, and I asked him, I said, you know, Hey, are you going to get back into business? And he’s like, no, I think I’m good. So it just depends on what level of an exit takes place. And to what extent you want to get back into the game, some are just addicted to the thrill of creating, and building.

Joe Valley  34:09

Yeah. I saw a interview with Matt LeBlanc from friends the other day, and he said, You know, I took a year off. I don’t like to work. So I took a year off, I had been grinding it for a long time. So I took a year off, and then you know what, I kind of liked doing nothing. So I took another year off, and it’s been five years or something like something along those lines. I think as entrepreneurs, like you, like you said, 365 24/7, I guess there’s something about approaching my bedroom when it’s time to go to bed. And a lot of entrepreneurs have the same affliction. You’re tired, you’re ready, call into bed, and all of a sudden, your mind goes, boom, right to business. Did I do this? Should I do that? What about this? And you might, it’s crazy. And my wife will tell me, that I’m not always present sometimes because of the fact that it’s 24/7. How has stepping away from Hearos impacted the relationships with the people around you now that you took some time to breathe?

Doug Pick  35:23

Well, I would just say, for me, I’m just more mindful.

Joe Valley  35:30

Don’t tell me you got divorced and you’re estranged from your kids, please.

Doug Pick  36:35

No, no, no, no, no, no, I have, I am amicably separated, I have a great relationship with my children. And I’m just very mindful of time. And I’m 54, I’ll be 55 next month. And I don’t know that I have tomorrow. And so I want to just make sure that the people around me know how much I love and care for them. And when I’m with them, I’m present. That’s really important. Because as you say, when you are in the throes of your objective and your passion. And Joe, I think that’s a cool thing, that you are always thinking about your business that tells me you’re engaged, that tells me you’re passionate about what you’re dealing, and that’s a wonderful thing in life, to be passionate about your mission, whatever it is, and that it’s rewarding and fulfilling for you. Because otherwise, it’s not a lot of fun.

Joe Valley  37:38

So now that you’ve moved on from Hearos, and you’ve started some other stuff, what exactly are you up to today? You said you’re a lot of research, so tell me what your what’s going on?

Doug Pick  37:49

Yeah. Well, I’ll say this COVID was a real roadblock to growth, I’d say for myself, and probably for most people because of being isolated. Sure, we had zoom. But there’s nothing that can replace that face to face, shaking hands with somebody sitting across a table brainstorming in person. And so I’ve had two recent experiences. So I mentioned to you that as of December of 2022, I realized that I needed to think through what I wanted to do again, and what DAP Ventures would be. And so the company is open to a lot of different things at the moment. So first and foremost, it’s products and opportunities that I might create. I’d be very honest in saying to you at this moment, I personally haven’t created in my head, something that I think is amazing. And what I found is in collaborating with individuals. So for example, I’m in process of developing a new sleep brand, not in earplugs but a new sleep brand, with a content creator on TikTok that has 15 million viewers, followers, I should say, I’m in development of a feminine hygiene product with another content creator. I’m speaking currently to nine different companies that are in revenue that are in the consumer product space that I’m excited about, that I think have great potential. There is a CBD company that I’m looking at for a CEO position could be fractional. And then there’s also a tech company that I’m really excited about that I really liked the CEO. I like what they’re doing and being able to share their opportunity with how their tech can positively impact those online is just natural and fun. So in the grand scheme of things, I’m open to a lot of different. And probably within the next few weeks, I will be biting down on 123 or four opportunities that will lead me to focus because that’s really the thing when you don’t have focus, you really need focus. And that’s where I’m headed next.

Joe Valley  38:26

That’s a lot of stuff you got going on.

Doug Pick  39:39

There’s a lot yeah.

Joe Valley  39:42

You sure you want to do all of that?

Doug Pick  40:07

Well, it’s really fun because the all of these opportunities involve people. And bear in mind I was in isolation with my business for almost three decades. So to be able to collaborate with people, those that are content creators on tick tock that adds a whole new element. And an omni channel distribution is really fun. Because whether you’re doing direct to consumer, plus Amazon plus retail, or you do it individually, each one has its own set of challenges. And then it’s worth pursuing.

Joe Valley  41:06

Excellent. Before you invest in the TikTok business, make sure that Congress doesn’t pass a law or ban TikTok in the US, I’m sure it’ll be awful for those content creators doing so much. Unless, of course, you know, the Chinese are truly spying, which I’m not an expert. And I don’t have an opinion on. Doug, this has been great. Thank you so much for sharing your journey, the ups and downs, the mistakes, the triumphs, and what you have going on now. There’s so many people out there that need this type of advice, maybe hear that you made a mistake with a car notice on that first manufacturing plant, or you invested a million half dollars, we all screw up, right? Yes. But the younger entrepreneurs that are out there in the world and our children and whatnot, they don’t know it, they can’t, I don’t know. Feel it the way that we felt it. They have to go through it, unfortunately. But hopefully by sharing stories like you’re sharing, it’ll make them think twice and do a little bit more research before jumping into that new brand or new business. So thank you for sharing all of this. How do people connect with you? How do they reach out to you what’s the best approach?

Doug Pick  42:25

They can do one of two ways either through LinkedIn, it’s always easy, or they can visit and send me an email. It’ll go directly to me.

Joe Valley  42:34, pretty easy, excellent. Doug, thanks so much for joining us. I appreciate it.

Doug Pick  42:39

Thanks, Joe.

Outro  42:41

Today’s podcast was produced by Rise25 and the Quiet Light content team. If you have a suggestion for a future podcast, subject or guest, email us at [email protected]. Be sure to follow us on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.

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