Steven Cox Interview on The Big Biz TV Show – Transcript

| January 16, 2012 | 1 Reply

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Our next guest is named Steven Cox. This is interesting because when you were gone.

Yeah.

Darren Hardy, the publisher of Success Magazine, who was a fantastic co-host by the way, that was good.

All good.

And he said to me, now look, I've got this guy, this entrepreneur guy that lives in San Diego and I came home that night and flipped on the T.V. and the guy was on channel 6 and here he is with takelessons.com. Steven Cox. Steven, how are you brother?

Great, how are you guys doing?

Great to talk to you.

Yeah, awesome.

So you were a serial entrepreneur they say. Right?

That's all I know, start-ups.

Boy in this economy, I talk, I talk about the fact that in this economy, because of the jobless rate, people had to reinvent themselves either by starting new businesses or or by reeducating themselves more than any other time in history. So what a better time if you're gonna reinvent yourself, if you want a business to kind of maybe think outside the box a little bit.

Yeah absolutely. That's what we're seeing. You know a lot of people, when they first start and we interview a ton of people in our company and they go, "Oh, well we're just not sure. Is it risky to join a start-up or start our own venture?" But if you take a look around today, everything's going to hell, right?

Yeah.

It's all of the big Oh, yeah.

Companies are sitting here, and it like, "Oh geez, we can't, we have to lay off people here, and lay off people there," and-

Sure.

I think the best protection you can have is developing your own self.

Sure.

And starting your own business or getting involved in a start-up, it's just as safe as a large company.

Tell us about, well.

And they got more power.

Well, I see this all the time. You look at the stocks for National University, you look at the stocks for University of Phoenix. Those stocks are going through the roof because people are reinventing themselves.

Right.

But then, the numbers also show that there's been more entrepreneurial activity right now than there ever has been in history. And I believe that's because people have to. Tell us about what you guys do over there.

So, what we do is, the name of our company is Take Lessons.

Take Lessons.

Yeah, so we've created a marketplace. Basically, there's a three billion dollar industry out there, and in essence you have a ton of musicians out there, and I don't know if you've heard, but sometimes artists are not necessarily the best at business.

Sure. Yeah.

Yeah. So, what we've done is we've developed out a marketplace where our artists can make a living doing something that they love to do.

That's unbelievable.

Yeah, so instead of having to collect money and try to market themselves online, which a lot of folks don't understand how to do. We do all of that for them and in essence they can come to our side, if they qualify as one of our certified instructors, and now we have instructors in about 3,000 cities all across the U.S.

Wow.

They can make money doing what they love to do instead of working at Chili's or working retail or something like that.

Or both.

It's just awesome.

Yeah, or both. Yeah, that's where the whole idea came from, it's to keep my drummer, keep my drummer out of Chili's.

So, so it's keep my drummer

Out of Chili's dot com was taken, so you couldn't have that one.

It's like a political statement. Keep my drummer out of Chili's.

Keep the saxophone player out of a bar.

You know what they call a roomful of drummers?

What? Prison. Oh no!

Thank you.

So this is interesting concept because what you have done, and I'm not comparing you because what you have is so unique, but it's almost like Craigslist meets Angie's List for the local music guy, right?

Yeah, if we really look at it, we take a look at it and say Craigslist was what we call services 1.0 all the way.

Yeah.

And we have a general theory that there's coming a services 2.0 on the web. And what you have, Google has created this opportunity where you can find literally anything you want.

Right.

Millions of results all over the place. The issue with that is that there's now millions of results to search for.

Sure.

So what we believe is that there will be big, big brands that get established that basically do for services, what Amazon has done for product. And basically says, here is the safest

Sure.
Oh, sure. Because remember Amazon was books when it first started.

Exactly. Yeah, yeah.

Let me ask you this. Couldn't you, couldn't you move this into other ancillary services and I'm not talking about like handyman services like Angie's List, but I mean there's so many under services. Well, one thing you don't talk about is music teachers.

Exactly.

Until you try to find one.

Right.

Yeah. 3 billion dollar industry. 54% of all households across America do it. Yet it is very, very typical to find someone.

Yeah.

How do you know what to look for?

I'd be like, it would be It would be the same, it would be in the same category, it would be in the same category as the pet business. You know, the humanization of the pet business is turning into 14 billion-dollar industry.

Right.

And it's under services so you can't. I mean, in New York City, you can find somebody to walk your dog.

In San Diego, California, if you're going on vacation for a week?

Try it. No way.

You can't do it, so there's a tough- Steven Cox On part of our entrepreneurial series on the Big Biz show, we kind of show you other businesses out there you may not have thought of. And it's, I love entrepreneurial activity. I love it, especially when a guy comes up with something. When we come back from the break, we're going to hear about how we actually came up with the idea, which I think you'll find is an interesting story.

Steven Cox, Take Lessons, takelessons.com.

I think I want to be a music teacher now.

You have to learn how to play, Russ.

Well, you know you got to start somewhere, Mark.

Russ "T" Nailz, Sully, Big Biz show, bigbizshow.com. CBS, ABC, Armed Forces, Biz Television, our website bigbizshow.com. Follow me on Twitter or @bigbizzradio. Don't go anywhere. Alright, back to our guest.

Yes.

His name is Steven Cox. He is the founder and CEO of takelessons.com.

Great idea.

And if you're just joining us, it is a clearing house of music teachers.

A lot of times when you hook up with a music teacher, or not hook up, but, you know.

Who knows?

But if I had a nickel.

Hey,
I want to learn how to play the flute!

Alright. Come on over.

No, but you hook up with the wrong type of personality because everyone learns at a different, some guys, yadda yadda yadda.

Hey, what were the metrics involved when you put that together, when you decided who you were going to take, who you're not going to take and that type of thing.

Well, we've been in business for about fi
ve years, and so it really took us a couple of years to really decipher down what makes a great music instructor. And for most of our people, most of our customers, they're beginner.

Yeah.

What they have is, they have a general fear, it's like are people going to make fun of me? Do I suck?

Yea, yes, yes and yes. Let's get past that.

And so, the whole idea is, there are a ton of great musicians out there.

Sure.

And they all play, and they, you know, all passing about it.

It's unbelievable.

Sure.

But what we really look for is not only, can they play, but can they make that beginning student, which is most of our customers, feel awesome about music?

Sure. Right.

You know because so many people, they try and if they don't get that positive reinforcement back with social approval.

Oh yeah.

They're out, they're done.

Yeah.

Cause some old music teachers are like "NAH!". Oh, man. Sorry. Scary.

Yeah, exactly. Risked a knuckle or duster to get rid of those guys.

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

So, let me ask you this. So how did you start?

This came out of necessity, out of a fellow musician that needed some help, so you did that to bring me to the next step

Sure. So I had done start-ups, and I was kind of taking a little time off. We had finished a start-up and I was down here in San Diego, playing in a band. My whole family is very musical, and I'm kind of the least musically-oriented out of them. So I was a lead singer in a rock band, and my drummer, he was an incredible, incredible musician.

He had a Master's degree in music performance.

Wow. Wow.

I'd just tried to buy a house in Encinitas which is basically impossible on a musician's budget, just found out that his wife was pregnant with her first kid.

And reality hit him, like right between the eyes.

Yeah, he was like, "Dude, I gotta quit the band." I'm like, "Wait a I was like, "You can't quit the band, if it means I'm not gonna get dates, if you quit the band."

Yeah. Yeah, right!

Because you're the only one good in the band.

Yeah. Oh!

Yeah, and so I started talking to him, and I was like, "Yeah, well, I'm not making a living doing this, I'm gonna have to take a job at Chili's."

Yeah, right.

And I said, "Uh-oh, well we can't have this." So I said, "Are you recording? Are you, you know, what's going on?" And he said, "Well, I'm trying all that stuff," and I said, "Are you teaching?" He said "Dad, I've got my poster hanging up at the C VS drug store."

Yeah!

"I can't find enough students." And me, I come from an internet background. I said "Well why don't you just use the internet?"

Oh yeah! Bing! Who? Where?

He's like, "I don't know how to do any of that stuff."

Right.

I said, "Well, okay, well I'll help you do that."

Right.

And we really started designing the whole methodology for how do you go about finding a really awesome instructor down on a hyper-local level. The localized level to the ZIP code.

Yeah, yeah.

And that's where.

Oh, right. So if you live in New York City versus one of the boroughs, you can find somebody in New York City. Or if you Opelika, Alabama, you can find somebody in Opelika, Alabama.

Right.

Or in San Diego, if you know, the.

Yeah, a lot of times.

In walking distance, sometimes.

Yeah, like in San Diego, we try to find someone within about four miles.

I've got two teenage girls that took lessons. I come from a music background. And one of our biggest things was safety for those kids.

Right.

How did you guys tackle that part?

We have a seven-step hiring process that we walk every single instructor through.

Nice.

Last month, we had about 1100 instructors apply to work with us.

Wow.

We ended up recruiting about 8o of those. So, we're very, very specific. Not only do they have to have the right.

Well Russ, looks like you better stay on the air for a while cause.

Yeah, well thanks for being our guest. We got to go now. Anyway. Try us again next year.

Yeah, well, whatever.

I 'm very, very peculiar about who we take in

Sure.

And they have to pass not only all of the criteria

Oh good.

But we also do background checks, criminal background checks and big deal when your.

Oh wow

Yeeah.

So, it's Craigslist type of a site.

It's Craigslist 2.0. It's the next version.

How did you get, so if you look at the website, ladies and gentlemen in takelessons.com, you didn't do this in your backyard. This took some money to do. Was this out of your own pocket? How did you guys get started?

When we first got started, I funded the company.

Family and friends? Credit card?

Yeah, so it's just basically off, you know, another venture we had done.

Sure.

So I funded the company. And then we had some friends and family did a couple of rounds of Angel Investors, here with local tech investors. We had raised a total of about 1.7 million that round.

Wow.

Last year, we signed a big deal with Best Buy and we are now teaching inside of Best Buy stores across the nation. You may not have even known that they have done that, but that is something they have started to do.

Wow. No.

And with that, we had the ability to expand the business.

Sure.

And so we took our first round of institutional capital last year in May. It was a company called Crosslink Capital. They led the round. Did 6 million dollars. This the same guys who did Pandora.

Sure.

And then backup investors did, you know, Facebook, Twitter.

Oh, wow. Yeah.

All the big heavy weights in the internet space settings.

So what's the next step for you? Do you go public with this thing? I mean, what's the path of liquidity for you. Do you sell it to a Craigslist type thing? I think what people think about these things, well that guys got a cool little business but the investors isn't getting involved and hanging on for the next 20 years.

Yeah, right and that's true, you know, they're always looking for, "What's the return?"

That's the exit strategy, yeah.

And for us, we have very, very patient investors.

Oh, good.

And so that will allow us to really build out where we are. We're very, very focused on music. That's where we want to be at this point.

Nice. Good stuff man.

Well good for you brother. I really appreciate it. And this is the type of things our listeners, our viewers need to hear is that, even in this economy you got a good idea. Good ideas and talent will get you a long way, right? Steven Cox, ladies and gentlemen. Take lessons, takelessons.com. Thank you, man.

I hope you took lessons on that interview, everybody.

Yeah!

Go visit the website. Alright.

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Category: At Work, Speaking, Start-Ups

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