Founder/CEO of HearMe: Adam Lippin
Adam is a serial entrepreneur – he founded Atomic Wings (32 restaurants, exit in 2017), is the CEO/Co-Founder of professional cuddling service Cuddlist and CEO/Founder of HearMe, an emotional wellness app that connects people to trained and empathetic listeners for real-time chat. It’s a non-therapeutic, human-centered approach to combating loneliness and disconnectedness.
More than a third of all Americans experienced severe loneliness during the pandemic – but it’s at the point where it’s now become a public health crisis. Loneliness is likely to increase your risk of death by 26%; loneliness, living alone and poor social connections are as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day; and loneliness is actually worse for you than obesity.
Adam was inspired to create this platform because of his own experience dealing with addiction and loneliness. His experience in Alcoholics Anonymous (where the supportive relationship between a person in recovery and their sponsor is foundational) played a role in developing this peer-to-peer solution. Forming connections based on shared life experiences is a core platform aspect.
Gabriel Flores 0:01
recording in progress. Hello, everyone, and welcome to the shades of entrepreneurship. This is your host, Mr. Gabriel Flores. Today I am here with Adam Lipton. Adam, how are we doing?
Adam Lippin 0:14
I'm doing well thank you for having me.
Gabriel Flores 0:17
I'm excited because we're gonna talk about something unique. But first, let's before we get into your your current endeavor, let's actually get involved. Who is Adam? Can I get a little background?
Adam Lippin 0:31
Sure. So my name is Adam Lippin. And I'm currently living in Louisiana. We came here early in COVID, to ride out COVID for a few weeks from New York and wound up staying here. I'm a serial entrepreneur I have had, this is my third real business. I've had a bunch of businesses that have sort of like lasted a short period of time, but I've had different businesses and different verticals, and love my family, I love to bike ride and hike and practice yoga, and read and yeah, I'm generally pretty good guy.
Gabriel Flores 1:10
Nice. So New York to Louisiana.
Adam Lippin 1:14
Yeah, so my husband is from South Louisiana. And we live on the LSU Louisiana State University lakes. And he always wanted to have a house on the LSU lake. So he got one about eight years ago that we were using as a vacation home. You know, we have relatives here. And we're not living here.
Gabriel Flores 1:31
Adam Lippin 1:46
It's been a pretty interesting couple of years. In fact, the new coach moved three houses down from us,
Gabriel Flores 1:51
oh, well, maybe I get some tickets (lol). But before we get into that, let's talk about atomic wings. What is it tell tell the world what we're doing.
Adam Lippin 2:01
So I founded atomic wings, about a year or two after I graduated. college, I went to school in upstate New York in Binghamton. And I fell in love with wings, which were invented in Buffalo. And I actually trained up a Duff's and the anchor bar, the places that are credited for starting at anyway, I just fell in love with wings, and I bought myself a bucket of wings. And I would go into my dorm room, and I'd locked door because people would smell it. And I would literally eat 50 Wings by myself, and I was a wing fanatic. And I moved back to I moved to New York City upon graduation, and you couldn't get great chicken. So I lived on. I lived on 32nd Second Avenue for any of you know, Manhattan, and it wasn't like a neighborhood that people really went to at the time if you live there. But there was a pizza place that had chicken wings. And it was always really a lot of people were there and, and eating wings. And so I started to ask people like, oh, you know, you look familiar, where are you from? And people were coming in from Jersey from all over the city for these wings. So I thought I can really kill it by bringing authentic buffalo wings into New York City, doing the traditional way. So I started with a kitchen in a bar on the Upper East Side. I was growing it to 32 locations, which I franchised and a very successful wholesale business, and I sold all of it about five years ago.
Gabriel Flores 3:24
Wow. So let's let's take a step back. How did you go from, you know, just starting there doing it? You said from the bar? And then to, you know, 36 locations, franchise locations? How did you just grass root at the whole way? Did you get some venture capital? How did you start that?
Adam Lippin 3:42
So I never got venture capital. For this. My current company is a VC backed company. I mean, spit and glue. I mean, I started it, I was looking for location, I went into a bar to go to the bathroom. And I saw this kitchen that wasn't really being used. I approached the owner said, you know, let me take over your kitchen. You know, we'll figure out a rent. And I'll help bring people to your for you somewhat. And it turned out to be So we made an agreement. And at the time he had he was giving out free wings like happy hour. And you know, he's like, I can't I can't you know, these people come for the wings. I said, yes, they're eating your food and they're drinking one beer and you're losing money. And then let me bring in people that you can make money from. So that's how it started. And I literally went down to the Bowery, which at the time, which took place in year three that used restaurant equipment. And I just figured it out and I went step by step by step and I would go to Buffalo a lot. I befriended the owners of the anchor bar, which is where buffalo incorporated and this place called Duff's, which is basically where the university kids hung out. And I got the recipes. I use the same suppliers and I brought it to New York, and I called the Mayor of the City of Buffalo. And I said Buffalo has ever The bad reputation. And I said, I'm going to promote the hell out of buffalo in New York, I'm opening when restaurants invited me to Buffalo, he gave me the cube, the city pictures that were taken was in the front page of the local paper in Buffalo. And before we even had to sign up, right, it gave the location. And I'd see people walking up and down the street with like, a newspaper that family members that lived in Buffalo send to their kids that now live in the city. And that's how we started. So it took off from there.
Gabriel Flores 5:30
So how did it continue to grow from just you know, you mentioned the bar scenes to the franchise,
Adam Lippin 5:35
so I kept so this was on the Upper East Side, this success, this location became successful, I start I found the location, the village, East Village, the West Village, the Upper West Side was a very inexpensive way to start a business because the infrastructure was in place. So it was an untapped business and delivery is very big in New York City. And that's how I started and I ran, I did that for maybe six or seven years. And then I opened my first freestanding location. And then I opened some more freestanding locations. And then I think when I was about 12, or 13 locations, I decided to franchise so I went through all the regulatory processes to be able to franchise and then that became another business because I was selling franchises as opposed to running individual stores, very different business model, but I think was important to really have an understanding of how to open and own and run restaurants in order to be able to sell them. And one thing that I think I did, which was really smart was we private labeled our sauce, I started out using Frank's Red Hot and you know, barbecue sauce off, you know, things that you can get from a distributor, and I was like, Wait a second. So I took proof these tests these profiles with a hot sauce, and all these different sauces. And I went to a private label manufacturer, and we started private labeling sauces, and ultimately, I distributed those sauces, wholesale as well.
Gabriel Flores 7:06
So now, this is a lot of great stuff. Because when you talked about the difference between financing and owning the business, I would love to I'd love to kind of dive into that a little bit because it is a little bit of different business strategy. So can you give folks at home because I'm, I've never sold franchise? So what what kind of things are you thinking of when you're going in versus owning a restaurant to selling a franchise? What do you what do you think you
Adam Lippin 7:31
own restaurants, you run the restaurant, you're in charge of sort of everything to do with it. And then if you're successful, what you realize, and you have a few locations that you have developed a system of operating, right, you have recipes in place, you have some rough manuals in place, you know how to do inventory, your ordering process in place. And so what you've really what I created really was a was a franchise, essentially a business in a box, right? So you you give someone and you train them, the how to run a restaurant, the systems and the procedures, here's your signage, here's your kitchen equipment, specs, here's how large your counter is, here's your lighting plan, etc, etc. So you allow someone to do what you've done successfully for themselves. And in return, they pay a royalty a percentage of the income that they receive. And it helps grow your brand. One of the most things that I'm most proud of this, that I as a restaurant owner, I employed a lot of people, and I was part of the economy. And as a franchisor I was allowing people who had a dream to open their own business to have that support their families, and grow and grow themselves financially in that way. So it's very gratifying.
Gabriel Flores 8:54
Nino you mentioned, when you're doing the franchise, you have to kind of get down to the granular measurements, right of like, Hey, this is where it's gonna be placed. And this is how you're cooking it for this long and this temperature, what are some of the regulations that you had to go through? When going through the process of becoming a regular becoming a franchise owner
Adam Lippin 9:12
franchise in the US is probably the most highly regulated business Oh, really. You have to be you have to be audited, and you put together what's called the uniform friend, it's a uniform franchise, you FOC unified franchise offering circular that details to specification exactly what you're offering. Because if you say something, and it's not true, you committed a crime, right? So you need to be really careful that you're offering represents truth. So if you're saying this is the recipe, and this is the food cost, and this is sort of the you know, everything that you say you're you're you it has to be accurate, right? So you have to be really careful and have all your ducks in order. Rightly so, because someone is investing. They're building out a store. They're paying you Money, that you better make sure you give them the highest likelihood of success in order to have a replicatable business, everyone needs to replicate it the same way, or it gets bastardized, and, you know, I'm sure I, you know, I'm sure a franchisee his grandmother made the best garlic parmesan sauce in the whole entire world and everyone should eat it, but that can't replace your garlic parmesan, your menu spec, because people when they go to, you know, different restaurants at the chain, they expect the same thing. So there's a, so there's a compliance aspect to it, there's making sure you're very clear and your guidelines, training is incredibly important. You know, you become someone that checks a business, versus running a business.
Gabriel Flores 10:53
It's almost like quality control.
Adam Lippin 10:56
It is quality control, its total quality control, and its marketing, helping marketing support supporting the overall brand. So you go from trying to make them, you know, one best store, and you're you have literally a legal fiduciary responsibility to do your best to make sure that you're supporting your franchisees.
Gabriel Flores 11:16
Now, I imagine, you know, being a restaurant owner, and then you know, of pivoting into the franchise, they're both have some difficulties. And what are some of the difficulties that you realize going through this process, I like, Oh, I didn't know that was going to be an issue, either one from the restaurant side, and then also from the franchise side,
Adam Lippin 11:35
from the restaurant side, be prepared to work tremendously long hours, be prepared for everything that can go wrong, go wrong, you will be prepared to be in the middle of a shift, your you know, your fan belts on your exhaust system will break. Something will happen, the electric blew off the via, you know, a leak in the ceiling, the fire department was so up for a random inspection, it is a really difficult business. And if you are an individual owner, you have to really mind your store. So just be prepared to work really hard. You don't need to be incredibly smart to own a restaurant, but you need to really have your eyes open and be prepared to work hard as you're able to grow. And you can hire managers that are good and competent, then your role sifts have it. But if you have one or two restaurants, you make sure you're working a lot of hours. And you really have an understanding of where your money is going. You should know the names of your customers, you should, you know, have that kind of report, you need to build a loyal audience base and you need to deliver a really good product really consistently, all the time.
Gabriel Flores 12:52
Now when when did you decide when was it like the kind of aha moment for you to say, You know what, I'm going to go ahead and sell because you mentioned you now you sold the rights of the franchise. And so now it's when did you decide that?
Adam Lippin 13:07
So I ran my company, I ran stores for 10 or 12 years, whatever wasn't an eye franchise for the rest. I had my business for a total of 25 years. And it's fantastic. I supported my family, I made a nice living. I had a lot of outside interests. And it was really wonderful. What happened for me personally is it no longer fed my soul. I mean, we were I was at a store opening that was being opened in Maryland, right? And part of the franchisors you are the cheerleader, you are the advocate, you're there to really make sure that you know what you're doing is the most important, most special thing in the world. But it really was no longer true for me. Like I didn't really personally care if there was another atomic wings somewhere. It's wonderful. The people that bought it are blowing it up, and it's great. But for me, I lost my personal passion. It's really hard to do something that you're not personally personally passionate about when I founded the company. I really cared about the size of the carrots and like everything was really meaningful, and really important for me. And as I grew my interest started to shift and wasn't I wasn't passionate. So when I became not passionate about it, I knew I couldn't be my best and I was therefore doing a disservice to all of the other people involved in that's when I realized I had to sell.
Gabriel Flores 14:32
Now was this your first business that you started?
Adam Lippin 14:35
It was I started this business. When I was 25. I graduated college I was I ran the mayoral campaigns in upstate New York. I moved to the city and I was a commercial real estate broker. I started another business between being a commercial real estate broker I had for those of you are old enough to remember phone lines. I Add for another call manager numbers and the time and you basically call the number and you got information. So had line, the Wall Street hotline, I partnered with financial companies to get the latest in stock bond, the financial news and I partnered with media companies to provide the advertising. And I did the same thing for Linnea to disperse the Latteria, the line of sports and lotto and Spanish. And then it had like a party line like, like meet people connection. So I started that, and that did incredibly well. And then while I was doing that, I had this dream since college, not that many years ago to like, bring authentic buffalo wings to New York. And so that's when I started doing that.
Gabriel Flores 15:45
Awesome. So look, I'm gonna I got to ask about this one 900 thing now, how, how did you one brilliant, frickin brilliant. How did you think of this idea? And then how did
Adam Lippin 15:58
it work at the time, and I was visiting Los Angeles, and there was a billboard, and it was for a phone sex line, non scandal of the West Coast. And I'm like, This is fucking brilliant. So I get back to New York, I called the phone company. I said, Hey, I was in California. So that's not an American, I get one in New York. This will I think this was like October. And they said, you know, towards the end of the regulatory process, give us your name. And if it passes, we'll let you know. So I got a call a month and a half later. And they said it just passed. I was the first person in New York to have a 900 now. So that's how it started.
Gabriel Flores 16:35
Me and so how did you monetize that?
Adam Lippin 16:38
So well, the services were 99 cents for the first minute and 45 cents for each additional minute. Oh, wow. Right. And so I worked my ass off. So for the party line, I would literally, I worked selling course real estate. And my my territory was New York, Boston to Buffalo. And I'd get in my car at night. And I would pick different bars. And I would put little flyers on the cars and get kicked out of parking lots and you know, the whole thing. Bad. And I advertised on local cable TV before cable TV was like, but it was still like a community little challenge channel thing. And then when I started the Wall Street hotline, I reached out to a friend of mine that worked in Wall Street and said I want to do this, you know, how do I get this information? Well, you know, let us partner with you. And we'll give you a seat like a physical chair right on the on the trading floor. And the stock ticker goes around. And it gives you the latest stock bond if nationalists. And so I basically hired, you know, a kid to sit there. And we gave him a script into today's financial news onto this national thing. Just read the ticker. But stock bond is this number. And this was pre when everyone had Bloomberg terminal, right? Yeah. And so we were able to give real time information which people that traded really cared about it before they had access to it. And so that's how I did that one. And then advertising in New York City is very expensive. So I went to some media people cranes, business cranes, New York Business, and said, Hey, why don't you partner with me? You do the media, I'm doing the content. And that's how that happened.
Gabriel Flores 18:23
So so let's let's, let's catch up here. We were at the one 900. We went ahead and did atomic wings. We now sold the franchise. So
Adam Lippin 18:33
yeah, so first I didn't read I went from college, new marketing company, commercial real estate, the phone lines, atomic waste.
Gabriel Flores 18:41
Now you have a new company, you said it's venture backed by Oh yeah. So talk about that one. When
Adam Lippin 18:46
I turned 50. I just sold atomic Juanes. And my whole non working life other than being a parent was yoga and meditation and I was on this spiritual quest. I was really so I started teaching yoga, leading meditation retreats, you know, I went to India a bunch of times and my life my avocation was about sort of a spiritual sense of development, etc, who am I all that stuff. And loneliness was I had, I had been really lonely as a child and for various reasons. And loneliness was a really important part of it basically led me to drugs and alcohol and leverage meditation all in ways to find a way out. And I realized for myself that I couldn't drink my way out of feeling, right. It just, it hit me even further from other people. And I could meditate and do it really well and really get a sense of peace, but I could also just connect with from people. So I knew that really, the only way I'm gonna have a true happy life is to be in connection with other people. And for me, that was a really big challenge. I was gay. I knew it when I was young and disconnected from other people, all these different factors and so loneliness was a big deal. And so turned 50 I sold atomic wings, I wanted to bring my application to life. So really wanted to deal with the loneliness crisis under President Obama, the Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who's the current Surgeon General said that loneliness is the number one health crisis facing our country worse than smoking 15 cigarettes a day worse than obesity. And that resonated with me and my personal experience. So it's like, what can I do in the space, and I started a professional cuddling business called Cutlass, and it's still around, I still own it. CUDD L is t.com. And we trained and certified people to be professional cuddlers. And then people that want to have that service can, you know, go online, find someone who booked sessions, and everyone laughed at me, right? So I have like, I'm from this New York Jewish family. So when I told my great my freedom, I am free to like, become a doctor, what are you talking about? Right? Then when I said, I'm selling this to sell to be? You can imagine, right? The comments that I got, oh, man, people told me, I'm not going to sell a business, just having chicken wings, because I wasn't thinking at the time. And I was like, watch me. And the same thing with cars I have this ability for sometimes, if I, if I visualize something, I could sort of make it happen. Right. So I know, I need to know where the end is. So that helps me figure out where to start to get to the end. So I have the end goal in mind. Right? So I started that business. And it became very, very successful, we helped a tremendous amount of people. So think about people who are physically disabled on the autism spectrum, you know, they've lost a loved one, it's very profound. And I can get into that if you want. But we've really got a sense of just how lonely people are and how much people really need to feel a sense of connection. We did some studies on our users, people are lonely, they're really disconnected. They want to feel seen, heard and validated, and have a human connection. Many of us don't have that human connection. So I have this business. People started to call in, and you know, reach out to us and say, I don't have $100, I'm not near one of your practitioners, can I just talk to someone. So I knew going into capitalist that this wasn't going to be like the great scalable business, right? Then the light bulb went off. It's like connecting people solving loneliness through mobile technology, right? Can can happen. So we have the technology apps exist at this point, right? There are tons of people that want to be heard. And there's tons of people, if given some training, can be there for other people. So I mentioned earlier that I'm gay, I grew up feeling really disconnected. I wanted other gay people to talk to I didn't have that. I knew I didn't need therapy, there's nothing wrong with me. In that regard. I just felt lonely and disconnected. So I felt like if I could connect people, other people with a similar lived experience with some basic training, then that can go a long way towards solving loneliness, and ultimately addressing a mental health crisis. Because as I said earlier, loneliness is the number one crisis that leads to a lot of mental health and physical health negative outcomes, right. And I also knew that I had an experience that could be very beneficial for someone who's going through something similar. And I knew that like if I had been, you know, and so we started this company hearing with the concept of connecting people based on shared lived experiences. So we have different filters that people can choose from LGBTQIA. Relationships, university, disordered eating, body image, COVID-19, etc. So people are able to find working moms, people are able to find the people that they can relate to, they instantly feel comfortable, and they have them, they just communicate with each other.
Gabriel Flores 24:04
You said something extremely important that I really want to make sure that our listeners are definitely here in this. One thing you mentioned, you know, you said you are gay. And then you also said, there's nothing wrong with you. And that is so true. And so for those folks listening at home, that are struggling, either with obesity or being coming out of the closet, or any of these things that people are constantly telling you that you should not be. I'm here and I'm here with my boy Adam, right now, we're telling you, you're okay, there's nothing wrong with you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. You are beautiful in your own skin. Please don't let anybody else tell you that you are anything different than perfect, because it is your imperfections that make you perfect to somebody else. So please, for those folks that listen, Adam, thank you so much for bringing that up. Because it is really important for people to understand that there is nothing wrong with you. And in fact, there's something wrong with our society that keeps telling us that there's something wrong with him because it is it is the beauty of Of all of our, all of our makeups that make this world I keep talking about constantly, we are a global community of entrepreneurs, right? It's not just the United States, not just Oregon, it's to global community. And so, you know, having having that wherewithal is so important. Now, the cuddling the cuddling thing, I must say, I want to just
Adam Lippin 25:19
comment on that real quick, because I think that's really important. So from a personal perspective, absolutely, we're, you know, there's something wrong society that tells us that there's something wrong with us, but inherently, we're all depending on your religious or spiritual background, we're all children. We're all we're all equal, we're all right. Um, we all we all are very different. But that being said, if you're thinking of starting a business, right, you to have a business, you're going to work really hard, and you need to really to have a business and not be authentic. And to. So if you so basically, I guess what I'm trying to say is like, having a business, what people knew when I was selling chicken wings, right, is that I was really passionate about this product, this product is not a life saving, changing product, but I knew they knew I'm out there trying to make the best chicken wings, the most authentic buffalo experience. And I'm serving it with love. And I know that sounds crazy, but I meant it. And it really, and I think it, it manifested, right. So having a purpose. And being authentic to that purpose is more important than having a great idea that you're not 100% behind, because you will have like a marriage or anything, right, you're gonna not always be in love with it. But if you don't have that initial passion, that's going to drive you through the hard times, it's going to make it more difficult. So obviously, you want to make money. But if you go into the business with that, as the goalpost, it's gonna be a lot more difficult. Like I wanted to solve the problem that you couldn't get great chickens in New York. Right? Right. So it's, it's
Gabriel Flores 26:57
just the way that you hold it. It's very true. You know, I think we've we've interviewed a lot of entrepreneurs on this, on this podcast. And it's ringing true. And I hope the listeners are really starting to take a take note of this is, it's the passion that drives your business. A lot of times, you know, if you're passionate about something that no longer becomes a job, right, and it actually becomes something you're passionate about you're doing. And so I really do commend you now. Now, you mentioned you pivoted into the cuddling, right. But now you're, you're pivoting again, to a new company hear me. So
Adam Lippin 27:30
I want to do something that addresses loneliness at scale. CutList addresses loneliness, on a nice level, but it doesn't address loneliness at scale. So I wanted to do that. And technology exists. When I started my first phone line business, it was essentially a fancy, you know, member answering machines, right? Where like, people got connected that way. Technology changes, right? So the technology exists to connect people in massive ways. Social media, the problem is it can do it can connect them in healthy way healthy ways, or unhealthy waste, right? So how do we connect people in a way that's going to make them feel better, and we're going to do it by creating a situation where there's no stigma, there's no judgement, the the concept of being there is for support, there's no fear of missing out and you're able to bring your entire self you're not sort of creating a narrative. So I'm on LinkedIn, my LinkedIn profile, I had someone help me crafted. So it's like 3x, founder, emotional wellness, whatever. It's curated for a particular persona. And people do that with Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and all the other ones. Tik Tok. So, I wanted to create the anti social media, I wanted to use technology to help solve some of the problems that technology created. So that was that and, and just being able to support people at scale using people. So there's a statistic that came out a couple of years ago, pre COVID, from the US government that said, in order to solve the existing mental health crisis, you need four and a half million new therapists, right? A that will never happen. Be, you still don't sell for access, affordability and immediacy. And in Los Angeles, right now, only 2% of therapists, licensed therapists are non white. So you're certainly not solving for addressing, meeting people where they are with the identity that they relate to. So finding care even if you can afford it, is really difficult. Imagine if you can't afford it, you don't have insurance and you want to talk to someone that you feel like you can relate to from a cultural perspective. So that's a huge problem to solve. And based on my personal experience, therapy wasn't the answer. Right? human connection was the answer. So I want us to do that.
Gabriel Flores 30:05
You know, you've you've throughout this conversation, you've said, connection and connecting and connect, right? Connecting folks together. How important is networking to you.
Adam Lippin 30:16
So networking in the business sense is important networking, I mean, networking in the sense that all of us should be able to get something off their chest and feel less lonely. Because all of us deserve that. And interestingly, how do you really feel better, right? I love getting a massage, like the next person, you know, self care is a big buzzword. But if you really want to feel better, help someone, be there for someone else, if you really want to, you know, have a spiritual experience, or impact you, you can't do it by just doing getting massages, or whatever you really need to, you know, in AAA, it says, If you want to feel self esteem, do an assumable act, right now. So being able to use your experience to be there for someone else be there for someone else is incredibly powerful. So that's really important to
Gabriel Flores 31:12
me. Nice. Now. So you've you've said entrepreneur, I mean, you went from the 900, you are doing commercial real estate, atomic wings, you're doing hear me, you're doing all sorts of you doing the cuddling business. What has been hard about being an entrepreneur?
Adam Lippin 31:33
It's lonely. You are by definition. So there's a few things right. So one is you really know where the bodies are buried. So you have to you have to be, you have to be the cheerleader for your business, get people on board. But you really know like, Oh, my God, the websites in really bad shape, and my assistance is quit. And I don't know how I'm going to do this, right. So you have to almost speak out of both sides of your mouth. Right? By definition, when you're creating a business, whatever business it is, you're selling something that doesn't really exist yet. Right. And especially if you're going to something that you're basically creating a market, which I find really interesting, I seem to be drawn to that, like, all of the bins that I've started are created. And you know, we're early adopters to sort of markets I saw need. So it's lonely, because just because you see other people don't, right. It's just you have to worry about everything, you're worrying about the money, you're worrying about the product, you're worrying about everything. And sometimes you can't pay yourself, and sometimes you maxed out your credit cards. And so financially, it's all over the place. It is an emotional roller coaster. So you can have a morning, where you have a meeting with a potential client, and you're on, you're so happy, right? It's like, everything's amazing. And then you have a call with your developer, who, you know, the code broke, and the apps going to be down for you just go through all of these incredible highs and lows, and my business now was house has outside investors comes with a whole different set of challenges. I mean, when I had my own business, I could feel bad about myself, but I'm not presented to the board every three months, right? where their money is on the line. And you know, and so it's a very, it's very different. So don't start a business and run a business unless you have an understanding that you're gonna be on a roller coaster. And you're gonna work really, really hard. You know, when I had atomic wings and I cashiers that would complain that the customers are panes and this night, and they're so difficult, like, you're at a bar at two in the morning. Who do you think your customers? So I think you need to have that understanding that it's going to be critical going into it. So everything doesn't blow up and be catastrophize because it's your expectation that things are going to be challenging.
Gabriel Flores 34:00
Good point. Now what has been easy? Has there anything been easy?
Adam Lippin 34:06
No, nothing is really easy. But it's incredibly gratifying. So as the lows are low, like I'll get an hour read a review from a client from a hearing, you know, I feel so heard now that person really understood me it was so nice to get things off my chest, I was able to resolve what I was going through. So you get a lot of positive affirmation. So with atomic wings, knowing that I was there supporting people financially and letting them support themselves financially, is hugely gratifying. Being able to employ people and have them make a living because of your hard work is incredibly gratifying. With catalyst. You know, having someone who has a disability have that experience and share that they can like, really, for the first time in 10 years like feel their nervous system relax into their body. It's incredibly gratifying. So you have really gratifying moments, and you latch on to that, you know. And so it's, I don't think anything's easy, necessarily you have easier days than others. But the gratification is incredibly, you know, it's like a sports high, right? If you've ever been an athlete, you know, it's not the it's never easy. You work really, really, really hard. And you get these moments of ecstasy and elation, where it's all worth
Gabriel Flores 35:23
it. Now, you've mentioned a lot of great words, you've talked about your passion, right? You talked about gratification. But what motivates you? What continue? What what makes you get up every morning to keep going?
Adam Lippin 35:37
Yeah, so I don't know if your listeners do you've ever heard of the Maslow's hierarchy of need? Yep, I have a pyramid, in the lower part of the pyramid is, you know, food, shelter, right? Then after you have, you have community, and then you have family, and then you have, you know, basic, all of your needs met, right? So you're financially able, you have a sense of community, you have some kind of family or, or love around you, you're eating when you want, etc. But the top of the pyramid is called self actualization, right? And so hopefully, I'm at the point where, like, I've met the first four parts of the pyramid. But what do I ultimately think for most people, it's What can I contribute? How can I be my highest and best value. And so for me, my highest and best value seems to be starting businesses. And now that I've achieved success with the business that wasn't a you know, it's not wasn't a social enterprise, it was selling chicken wings, right, right. Now, I want to start a business that has a social mission. And for me, the added fun is, I've never done a venture backed business. So hear me to have that experience of bringing in investors have it like no rocket ship, and sort of being in that learning that whole world of like Silicon Valley and in you know, in raising money, and series A and Series B. And what all of that means, has been a tremendously fascinating experience for me. So I feel like a kid learning and then having a board of people that are there to support you, and that you have to be accountable for. So all of this for me is in my mid 50s is really new. And I think it's important. For me, I'm learning a lot. And it's funny, because I have someone who's a Columbia, Columbia University, grad student is my intern for the summer. And he's actually working with me. And I read an article the other day in the Wall Street Journal, and it was like, older people have it all wrong, right? They think the younger workers need to learn from them. The reality is because technology is changing, everything has changed so much, you have this opportunity to learn a whole new way of thinking and doing things. So I'm having this experience now in my mid 50s. Working with this, you know, since Ben who's 24, who is teaching me so much, right, we're so I don't know, I think being you know, like Brene Brown says, you know, Curiosity is our superpower, right? You know, so I think staying curious, staying vulnerable, wanting to learn, but for me, like actualizing, if I feel I feel in my career, right now, I'm doing something very important. And I feel like if I can do something very important, and have a successful exit with, like, you know, a real exit, that'll just be cherry on the cake. And and it's fun, right? So I think you have to have a level of fun, even with all the hard work, etc. So
Gabriel Flores 38:39
I like it. No, what? No, obviously, you got to have fun, but sometimes there's not fun. What are the what keeps you up at night as a business owner?
Adam Lippin 38:50
Everything I mean, what keeps me up now at night primarily is technology, because I'm not a technologist. And so, you know, we are not a technology company in the sense that, you know, but we we use technology to create these connections. So that keeps me up at night. You know, thinking about how to make sure that we have the the the development the tech team is doing everything need to be doing. I don't, I'm not the sales aspect doesn't keep me up as much. Yeah, it's just, you go through your checklist and everything and you look through, okay, who is who, you know, who are the people in the company? What are they doing? Where are they at and to sort of like you just keep your eyes open and wide. And so for me, I guess my biggest not sleeping thing would be technology. But really what you do is you'd have your checklist, and you're really looking to see what's going on where can I be a service? Where am I going to just be a pain in the ass and get in people's way? I can't tell how many times you know, I just reach out to employees and start ask Asking them things, asking them to do something. And then a day later, my chief operating officer calls me and says, Can you stop bugging people? You know, part of my challenge right now is like, what does a CEO of a venture backed business do? Versus someone that's used to doing everything?
Gabriel Flores 40:17
Right, right. Now, this next one is kind of a two part question. You know, how do you continue to push your brands forward? So hear me and cuddling business, right? You have to multi business going at one time. So how do you kind of market and brand and kind of continue to push it forward? And then where do you see both those companies in the next five years?
Adam Lippin 40:36
So Cutlass, I had to make a decision and know that I'm putting so much energy into here me that I brought in someone who's ahead of growth and a partner. So I recognize my limitations. And I recognize that I cannot put the energy and time into it, I need to then cut my shares in half, cut myself, whatever it was to bring someone in, in this person. Her name is Keeley Shoop is up, you know, tick tock genius. She's like, one of the leading voices in professional cuddling and she is rocket shipping this company, she's taken to places that I didn't have the capacity to do. So I think part of being a leader is recognizing what you're good at what you're not going to get it and making sure that you're compensate for that. So that's sort of catalyst. What was the question again?
Gabriel Flores 41:24
Yeah, and then we're so Cutlass marketing and branding. How do you how do you continue to market and brand both of them? And then where do you see yourself in five years?
Adam Lippin 41:32
So Cutlass? So Cutlass, they basically turn the reins over, right. And I'm now shepherding out and caretaking in a new canoe, you know, I'm extricating myself out. So I can really focus on my new project. In terms of marketing and branding, for hear me, it's really fascinating, right? So we have our free app, which anyone can get connected, etc. In real time. Well, how do you make money, right? It's like I have a, I've had a not for profit by sort of reality without wanting talking about profit revenue. I wanted to see if this problem could be solved. So we have an enterprise side where we sell into enterprises, and we have certified peer specialists with listeners that are there specifically, that have a deep understanding, and we you know, other bells and whistles for them. For every member they bring on. We have a giveback program where we donate that to a particular organization. So that could be part of branding, that were relatively new ones, but you look at Tom suka bombas socks, the mission of giving back Ben and Jerry's, right, so that's gonna be a big part of our marketing campaign. And our branding is about, you know, you, you talk we listen to you be yourself, we listen. And I think that message is really important. And I think it resonates with people. So I think that's very helpful. But yeah, we have a PR firm that we just hired, which got us on the show. We have a marketing agency that we're working with, we have a head of communication, which is coming up, which did a rebrand and we have a social media and stuff. It's a lot of work, to be completely honest. But I think if you have a good product, it resonates. It also attracts. So it's attraction and promotion, right? It's inbound and outbound.
Gabriel Flores 43:29
You know, you've been an entrepreneur for for years in over 25 years, I think it was something like that. What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs something, something that maybe you wish you would have known? Coming into the boats? There's
Adam Lippin 43:41
two things one is, you know, my fifth grade teacher, I guess I was inquisitive. You say ignorance is bliss, right? Part of not knowing so young entrepreneurs have that advantage? I don't know. So you just bulldoze through it. And you figure it out. So I wouldn't want to take away that. Why'd I just go for it? Because you can do that. Right? So I think, if you really want to do something, here's my advice. If you if something is if you're really passionate about something great. If you're passionate about that thing, three months, six months, a year later, and you feel like so for me, it was like if I can visualize the outcome, I can make it happen. So have a plan. It doesn't you don't have to know how you're going to get there. But if you have an end goal, like I wanted to bring authentic buffalo chicken wings to New York City. It wasn't about how many restaurants we have. How many were selling, that was my goal. So it's like oh, how do I do that? Well, hey, I use the best wings like they use in Buffalo. Hey, you know Tom from the anchor bar, who's your wings supplier? Right? What hot sauce to use. Let me go to train your new kitchen. So it's like really have deep understanding of your product and your why behind I did. So I guess I'd have a y. And if you don't have a Y, wait a bit, the Y may come or or doesn't. But don't try to force a why? Because it's too important. Great, great
Gabriel Flores 45:13
point. Now for the listeners at home, how can they how can they find you? How can they connect with you learn more about you work? Can they get hear me or is it out yet? Or where can they get some more so hear me dot app, just
Adam Lippin 45:23
go to our website, or go to the Apple or Android store? If you just Google Adam Lipin li PPI N A lot of stuff will come up or Adam at hear me dot app. I'm on LinkedIn, Twitter. Hear me dot app is the website if you're interested in CutList go to cuddle list.com and atomic wings, soccer doing a killer job. So let's go to atomic wings.com.
Gabriel Flores 45:48
Love it. Love it. Adam, thank you so much for your time. I really do appreciate it listeners at home. I really do hope you took the time to listen because there's a lot of great nuggets in this episode. So Adam, thank you again so much. I'm excited for what you guys going on. Really just connecting communities together are really doing a lot of great work from the mental health area too. So I'm really, really excited for you guys and hear me I hope you guys continue to get going. For those folks that are listening at home please visit me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn. You can also visit the shades of e.com and please sign up for the weekly newsletter. Thank you and have a great night.