Get to San Diego. I was going to become partner in the business and own this thing with him. And literally, two weeks after I get there, the friggin’ meltdown happened to the economy and everything tanks. You know? It just, the rug got pulled out from under us. And it turned into a disaster.
I licked my wounds. I came back to Connecticut and I said, wow. I can’t do mortgages. The mortgage business makes me sick to my stomach. I’m going to be a realtor. How am I going to build my brand? And I said, well, real estate really doesn’t fire me up all that much. I want to build a business that gives back.
I’ve always, you know, I think every one of us have something inside of us. We all have a gift. We all have a message. And even, no matter what you have to do, but if we all just literally just have a belief, whether it’s your God given talent or a message or even if you don’t believe in a God, it’s like have a belief or start having a belief that there’s some real significant purpose why you’re here.
You know what I mean? And what’s that meaning behind it. And I didn’t know what the heck that was, but I was like, you know what? Real estate doesn’t seem like that’s it for me. So I want to build up a brand. I want to give back along the way. I want to help charities and I want to have a meaningful life.
So I decided to create what I called the New Perks card. And this was to build up my brand for my real estate little practice. This was to do some good. And so what it was, was the shape of a business card. It could fit in your wallet or purse. And it had discounts to about, it was actually about forty-five businesses in West Hartford, Connecticut.
You could flash the New Perks card when you walk into a restaurant. You see the little decal on the window that says We Proudly Support the New Perks Card of West Hartford. You waltz in there, flash your card, you get 50% off a bottle of wine. Every time you go in there. And this was good for a year.
So it’s so good for consumers. It was great for the business owners because they got new foot traffic to try their restaurant. And then what I did, I tied it to charities. I went out. Pounded the pavement. I got Make a Wish. I got Heart Association. Alzheimer’s Association. Some of the biggest non-profits in the world and I got them on board. They didn’t let me use their logos. They didn’t hardly let me use their name.
Jack:But they let you give them the money.
Nick:Yeah. Oh, yeah. They were actually the most, it was disgusting. They were so awful to work with, to be honest with you. I probably shouldn’t mention their names, but anyway. It was very tough to work with them because they’re so big. And I was just a small company.
But anyway, I wanted to give back. And so what happened is that when the consumer bought the card for twenty bucks, ten dollars went to advertising and then ten dollars went to charity. And so that was my, nothing went to me, which probably wasn’t the smartest business idea. But I figured, I wanted people to know that there was nothing financially in that for me. I was going to use my time to build it. And my benefit was that I was going to get a lot of the brand benefit.
Everyone would know I was the guy behind it. And that would be good for my real estate business. And my goal was, if I had five thousand people, that I had their addresses in the town, I knew that that was going to result in a very big real estate business. I knew the direct mail numbers, if you will. That was my end goal.
So here I go marching in. Got the whole thing set. I start hearing things from my parents like, wow! We’re really proud of you. This is amazing. People around me start to see, wow, I think Unsworth actually has one. This guy’s going to do it. This is like, this is his breakthrough. We watched him fail again in real estate. This is his big moment. This guy’s, this thing’s cool. It’s working.
I’m on the statewide morning show and all the papers. I did a ribbon cutting party. I had the mayor of West Hartford cutting the ribbon. And two hundred people came to the event. And we, there was some other fundraising stuff. We raised five grand right there.
And, so things were good. I was getting the signs of success and I was riding high.
Jack:You clearly had a winner. What you just described. You had a winner. You’re thinking, okay, man. This is it. The wave is building and he’s about to ride it home. Now, how did you manage to screw it up?
Nick:Yeah. I had a winner. I’m thinking I’ll franchise this thing, you know? So I had the winner. And so I start talking with the other business owners. They’re like, wow, looks this thing’s really picking up. We’re getting a lot of foot traffic. Things are happening.
And then they said, man, you’ve got to take this thing to the next level. You’ve got to go out and get, you’ve got to bring on an advertising company. You have to like market this thing. And I was like, yeah, it’s starting to work. So let’s, yeah, I’m totally down with it. I talked to a handful of business owners.
I got highly recommended to this one advertising firm that was in this area. Four guys. They each had twenty-five years of experience. These guys touted that they knew how to drive and build businesses. And they literally said, “We have your best interests in mind.”