About this episode

When COVID hit our country, many businesses were forced to make hard decisions. They had no choice but to respond to the changes that were happening in the marketplace. For Kelsey Carroll and her husband, this was even more true. They owned a live events company called Toss Up Events and had to decide if they would sell all their live assets and fold up shop or come up with something that would meet the needs of their clients. They chose the latter and it became Stand Up Stations.

Headlines will tell you that economic downturns are great times to start a business. However, most of the examples they provide are huge venture-backed companies. Kelsey’s story, on the other hand, provides a real-life example of a startup story in the midst of economic disaster. In just eight months, Stand Up Stations exceeded any and all projections they had for their previous live events business. Tune in to hear their story as we put 2020 in our rearview mirror and start to focus on 2021.

In this episode, you'll hear.

  • How entrepreneurship affected the progression of Kelsey’s relationship with her husband.
  • What the transition from owning her own business to being an employee at a PR firm was like for her.
  • How she and her husband’s respective journeys intertwined.
  • Their plans for their live events business going into 2020.
  • The discussions they had as things began to get shut down.
  • How they got to Stand Up Stations from there.
  • Where they started finding customers and spreading the word.
  • How they funded their venture as they grew.
  • What makes Stand Up Stations so unique.

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The Startup Story is now on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/jamesmckinney
The Startup Story on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thestartupstory

Stand Up Stations: https://standupstations.com/

Kelsey on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kelseycarroll/
Stand Up Stations on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/standupstations
Stand Up Stations on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/standupstations/

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Episode transcript

Kelsey Carroll, founder of Stand Up Stations

Kelsey Carroll: Hi, this is Kelsey Carroll, founder of Stand Up Stations, and this is MY startup story.

Every wildfire began with a spark. Every superhero has an origin story. And every single startup has a moment that they point to as their beginning. And every founder has a purpose that drove them in the midst of all obstacles. THAT is The Startup Story.

[00:27]

James McKinney: Hello everyone and welcome to episode 99 of The Startup Story. Have you secured your chance at finding the golden pickle? Wait, have you not heard the news about the nationwide search for the golden pickle that's worth nearly $12,000? Well let me give you the details really quickly. Last week was a nationwide launch of our newest brand, Grindology, and to celebrate our launch our friends over at Design Pickle are collaborating with us for a nationwide search for a golden pickle valued at nearly $12,000. Now, you might be thinking what am I going to do with a $12,000 golden pickle, James? Well, maybe I'll sell it and pour the proceeds back into my business.

Well, let me just be very clear. It is not an actual golden pickle. One lucky Grindology member is going to find this golden pickle, as I'm using air quotes, and while you won't be able to sell it, it will definitely be able to help your business and here's how. The one who finds the golden pickle in the first shipment of Grindology will win a full year of Design Pickle's pro service that will provide the winner with unlimited graphic design services for a full year. Imagine jumping into 2021 with the resources of unlimited creative services from Design Pickle. Their pro service costs nearly $12,000 but one lucky Grindology member will receive this price absolutely free.

Now, thanks to our attorneys I need to pump the brakes on the hype machine for a moment and mention no purchase necessary to enter. You can visit Grindology.com/goldenpickle to learn more as well enter without a purchase.

Now back to the hype. Grindology is an entrepreneurial subscription box that is created to help fuel your grind. Every shipment will include two bags of uniquely crafted coffee specifically roasted for you, the founder, hustler, entrepreneur, creator and make. Each shipment will include an exclusive mug that speaks to the unique nature that is you, the entrepreneur. And lastly, every single Grindology shipment will include a copy of Grindology Magazine, the newest entrepreneurial magazine in the market. Well, the reality is I probably should stop calling Grindology Magazine a magazine, because it's more like a tactical manual just for entrepreneurs. Every single issue of Grindology will be chock full of real tactics from real business builders, not journalists. Learn real marketing funnel strategies from those who are doing it. Learn specific user acquisition strategies from brands employing those strategies now. Hear funding tips from startups that are just a bit farther along the capital journey than you are. Like I said, real tactics from real business builders. We ship our first box in January 2021, just two months away. It'll be an exclusive shipment so make sure to secure your box today at Grindology.com. Let me repeat, this is an exclusive shipment. We only have so many boxes for our first shipment so get your box today at Grindology.com. Now let's jump into this week's episode.

My guest this week is Kelsey Carroll, cofounder of Stand Up Stations. Stand Up Stations was established in April of this year in response to the loss her previous business, Toss Up Events. COVID shut down all live events so Kelsey and her husband were forced with a decision to make: do we just sell all our live assets and fold up shop or is there something we can create to help solve the needs of our clients? And well, they went with the latter and that became Stand Up Stations.

In just eight months since Stand Up Stations began they exceeded any and all projections they had for their previous live event business. I'm incredibly excited for you to hear Kelsey's story because so many headlines talk about how economic downturns or disasters are great times to start a business, yet every single example that tends to be provided are some massive venture backed company. Yeah, it's a bit easier to start a business in an economic downturn if we have tens of millions of dollars pumped into us. Well, Kelsey's Startup Story of how she and her husband created Stand Up Stations is probably the exact real world Startup Story that we need to hear as we put 2020 in our rearview mirror and begin to focus on 2021.

[04:31]

Kelsey Carroll: My mom, she went into the office and she worked for a bank, and she was very Steady Eddy with that, you know the paycheck. She was very inspiring tome as a woman, and my dad he was an appraiser and so he did own his own business. He was an entrepreneur. And so he worked from home and actually when I was a kid I thought he was a photographer because we would drive… He would say, "Come on, get in the car. We've got to go take picture of houses." And this was before Trulia and Zillow and everything, and all those services that do that now.

And so we would go and take pictures of houses and buildings, and go get them developed. And he would scan them into the report and write that, and so I just thought that was really funny when I had that realization like oh, he's not a photographer, he's a real estate appraiser and that's his job. And so he kind of exposed me at a young age to making your own schedule. He would be very present with us in the day and then probably work all hours of the night so that he could try to fit it all in.

[05:36]

James McKinney: I love that I have listeners that heard you say, "He would take photos and then have it developed," they're like, "Have it developed and then scanned? Why wouldn't you just take the JPEG and put it in there."

[05:45]

Kelsey Carroll: Well actually I think he probably glued them before scanners existed.

[05:49]

James McKinney: I love it, I love it.

[05:50]

Kelsey Carroll: Glued it to the paper.

[05:51]

James McKinney: It's so funny. Again, it is amazing how far technology has come in 20 years. Last 10 years for sure, but 20 years you go back it's amazing to think the way we did things back in the day.

[06:02]

Kelsey Carroll: Yeah.

[06:03]

James McKinney: It's quite remarkable. So you saw your dad as a business owner. You knew he worked on his own so there's a mental framework that begins to develop. So as you were going through your childhood years, what did you think you wanted to become?

[06:17]

Kelsey Carroll: Well I recently wrote this post on LinkedIn that when I was young I wanted to be famous. I didn't know what that meant. I liked watching a lot of TV and Regis and Kathie Lee, and Rosie O'Donnell show, and I was like wow I want to host a talk show, I want to be on a talk show, I don't know. I just liked being like on camera. You know, my parents, I don't know if this was a good thing or a bad thing but they just instilled confidence in me from a young age-

[06:39]

James McKinney: I love it.

[06:40]

Kelsey Carroll: … that whatever I wanted to do I would do it. And so you would see me, first and second grade, I'd do a full Gloria Estefan at the talent show, Get On Your Feet. I had a sparkle top, I went to the salon and got like a perm, like a full hairdo. I had no like vocal training or barely, I took dance a little bit but not like I should have this much confidence to do it. And I recently watched a tape and I'm like even now, in my thirties, I'm like, "Wow, I can't believe I did that." I had no fear. Obviously, that came later in the pre-teen years and self-conscious and things like that, but it's a double edged sword. You definitely have that moment when you're coming of age, you're like, "Wow, I'm not as cool as I thought I was."

[07:26]

James McKinney: Yeah. That's a harsh realization, I'm not going to lie. I remember that moment where I realized I'm not as cool as I thought I was.

[07:32]

Kelsey Carroll: Yeah, and so I just thought if I put my mind to it I could do it.

[07:35]

James McKinney: As you're growing up, siblings? Do you have siblings?

[07:39]

Kelsey Carroll: Yes, I have two older brothers.

[07:41]

James McKinney: So you're the baby.

[07:42]

Kelsey Carroll: Yes.

[07:43]

James McKinney: Interesting.

[07:44]

Kelsey Carroll: And the only girl.

[07:45]

James McKinney: And the only girl.

[07:47]

Kelsey Carroll: Yeah.

[07:48]

James McKinney: That's usually not the position of a risk taker. That's an interesting… so growing up, what's the age between the oldest and you?

[07:55]

Kelsey Carroll: So we're just two years apart.

[07:57]

James McKinney: Two years apart all the way down, okay.

[07:58]

Kelsey Carroll: Yeah.

[07:59]

James McKinney: So seeing that you had siblings and you have to watch how they did things, especially through high school and after high school, coming to the end of your high school era what did you want to do, knowing that you wanted to be famous, as I'm using air quotes?

[08:11]

Kelsey Carroll: Well the big turning point for me was freshman year of high school. I grew up doing all these different activities and I'd do this soccer team and that volleyball team. I played the clarinet. I was never like expert at any of these things, but I was like I just want to do all the things. So I was like do I want to try out for volleyball or soccer, which path do I want to take? The world is my oyster. Showed up to soccer tryouts, thought I did awesome. Next day comes, I didn't make the team. And so for a 14 year old, this is like your world is crumbling down, your life is ruined. And I remember being so distraught and just so surprised because I thought I was good.

And so I was looking around at what I was going to do. I heard about cross country. My brother, four years older than me, he ran track. He was really good so I was like okay, I'll try cross country. It's running, right? I didn't even know there were races at this point. So I just like, I was like okay I like running, I'll run. I'll do that. So end up being pretty good. Ran on varsity my freshman year, and that moment, and I like to share this with a lot of young people and my cousins and things like that who think their world is ending, rejection is just redirection.

[09:26]

James McKinney: Yes.

[09:27]

Kelsey Carroll: And so that moment changed the trajectory of my life because I went and ran track, and was recruited, and went to Georgetown University to run, and that's where I met my husband and that's my entrepreneurial journey started there.

[09:41]

James McKinney: That's incredible. All because of really a freshman I don't want to say decision because you didn't have the decision to not make the soccer team but because of a pivotal moment in your freshman year, you can see how critical that was for many years to come. And so one, incredible that you got a scholarship for cross country at Georgetown of all places. That's a remarkable university. But still nonetheless, if it was baseball or football, I could see there be aspirations of what your professional adult career life would be. There isn't one for cross country. I mean I guess there's Olympic hopes possibly, but as you're entering Georgetown what did you think you wanted to do?

[10:22]

Kelsey Carroll: Well I knew that I liked art. I liked reading and writing. My SAT score was a little higher in that than the math, and so I was an English major which still is very vague, kind of leave it up to see what happens. A studio art minor because I always wanted to have that every… It made it that you had to take a class every semester. So I did water colors, acrylic painting, digital art which was very handy when I did advertising later. I still didn't know what I wanted to do really until I met my husband Alex, and so that's like kind of the beginning of the next chapter.

[10:58]

James McKinney: But up to this point, no aspirations for entrepreneurship? No desire to be a business owner? It was just something to do within the creative space if you will?

[11:08]

Kelsey Carroll: Yeah. I mean looking back I was entrepreneurial in that I never asked my parents for money. If I wanted spending money I had a babysitting empire. I loved taking the money to the bank and depositing it, and I had a little bank book. I would hand them the cash and then they'd like… it would go through the machine and say I've got $80 more than last week, and so I had my little bank book and I was able to use that to pay my tuition to high school actually.

[11:37]

James McKinney: Really? Wow.

[11:38]

Kelsey Carroll: Yeah. When that happened and times were tough, and I remember the senior trip to Disney World we went on, I was like, "Come on parents, where's my check?" And they're like, "Look in your bank account that you've been saving for the last couple of years." So looking back yes it was like a part of my life, and you know selling Girl Scout Cookies and candy. That always energized me. I never was like, "Oh my gosh I have to do that." I was always like yes, I'm going to be the number one sales person, get the Brownie badge on my vest and things like that. But I think that was all subconscious. I never really like knew the term entrepreneur, I'm going to be that. It was just kind of like happening.

[12:18]

James McKinney: Now I read an article, maybe it was a post on LinkedIn, where you talked about part of the outcome of marrying an entrepreneur is that you become a cofounder at some point in time.

[12:28]

Kelsey Carroll: Yes.

[12:30]

James McKinney: And so we know that part of your entrepreneurial journey is meeting your husband. So one of the things that is part of my story is my wife didn't realize she was marrying an entrepreneur when we got married. It was kind of a rude awakening as our life progressed. Did you know that you were marrying an entrepreneur when you met, well progressed in a relationship, with your husband?

[12:52]

Kelsey Carroll: Yes. He was very busy working on two different business ventures when I met him, and he was an entrepreneurship major in McDonough Business School.

[13:02]

James McKinney: Then you definitely knew.

[13:04]

Kelsey Carroll: Yes, which excited me and I was kind of like with our powers combined, world domination is in our future, right? Because he just was… had no fear, and he was just kind of aggressive in the ways that I wasn't with communicating and things like that. And I brought the creative and I guess feminine touch, feminine approach to his ideas. So we started collaborating like right when we met.

[13:34]

James McKinney: So from the get go you were helping with some of his ventures?

[13:37]

Kelsey Carroll: Right, and it was like we were starting to date so it was like we could go to the movies and get pizza or we could sit in front of his computer and like figure out how to make his website better.

[13:46]

James McKinney: That's awesome. That sounds like a fantastic date. But at the same time we know that your story doesn't go from college to running a business with your husband, it takes a different path. So what was the thought process and decision point as you both were finishing college as to where you went career, he went somewhere else?

[14:08]

Kelsey Carroll: Right. So I met him my senior year and in my mind I was going to move to New York City, live with my girlfriends, work for an ad firm or marketing and just kind of live that dream because I grew up in Long Island and that's just what you did. You either lived in Long Island and took the train to the city and then commuted home, or you lived in the city and then when you were too old then you moved to the suburbs. So when I met him, it just opened up this whole world and he was from Texas and I had never been there. And so it just kind of seemed like an adventure, and so we did actually work together through college and when we graduated we both moved to Austin.

And so we started a little film production studio. They had released two documentaries. We went on a… I mean this is a whole other podcast but we went on a trip around the country for two years doing shows at colleges and churches, showing the documentary. And I was doing the marketing for them. long story long, when it came time for him to raise money to make a new movie I was like okay, I think I'm going to go get an adult job so we can get health insurance, because we were like 25 or 26 and getting off our parents health insurance. I was like, "I'm going to go," so I just Googled PR firms in Austin, best PR firms in Austin. And I just started applying, and so I started my career in social media and marketing then, about 2013 or 2014.

[15:32]

James McKinney: Okay, so 2013 you get a, I'm going to use your words an adult job. And now you're detached from your husband's venture. I mean from a salary perspective we'll say you're detached from it. I mean there really is no detaching from it.

[15:46]

Kelsey Carroll: Because we were making, we're running that business and it was called Riot Studios, and so we decided what we were going to pay ourselves, and so we thought $25,000 split between the two of us was enough to get paid at the time.

[16:02]

James McKinney: What was life like back then? Obviously you had no kids at the time so things were a little bit leaner, but you did have college degrees so there had to have been some expectations of what life was going to look like afterwards.

[16:11]

Kelsey Carroll: Oh yeah. My mom thought I was crazy. She was like, "that is not even minimum wage," and I was like… you know I had stars in my eyes and newly engaged, and moved to Texas, and you know don't worry about it, we'll figure it out. And so there were times we slept in the office in between leases. We would shower at Planet Fitness because there's no shower at the office.

[16:33]

James McKinney: I love it.

[16:34]

Kelsey Carroll: Which I found out is a very common thing for people to do who don't have housing so. I guess we didn't eat very fancy and we were just kind of like let's just do this.

[16:42]

James McKinney: And this is while you were engaged right?

[16:44]

Kelsey Carroll: Yes.

[16:45]

James McKinney: So you hadn't fully committed to him yet.

[16:47]

Kelsey Carroll: Yes.

[16:48]

James McKinney: Was there any part where you're like is this really what I want for my life?

[16:51]

Kelsey Carroll: No, no. there's no hesitation.

[16:56]

James McKinney: So you were all in on the craziness that is entrepreneurship?

[16:59]

Kelsey Carroll: Yes, yes. And I talk about marriage a lot because Alex and I are a team, but also marriage is like that's an ultimate business venture. You're partnering and you have the same goals, and different perspectives and challenges at a lot of points. But I just knew that we would be… I don't know, maybe it's that confidence from the get go that my parents instilled in me somehow. I was just like, "No, we're going to figure it out."

[17:26]

James McKinney: All right, so this is 2013 you get a job at an Austin PR firm. Your husband is still with the studio, trying to produce a new film I think is what you had mentioned.

[17:36]

Kelsey Carroll: yes.

[17:37]

James McKinney: And so as you find employment at the PR studio was that a hard transition for you? Because there is some freedoms that come with running your own business obviously. There's a lot of stresses that come with it. So you turn in some freedoms for other freedoms by being an employee. Was that a hard transition for you?

[17:56]

Kelsey Carroll: I don't think so. At the time I was just really excited to get the paycheck, to get the health insurance. I ended up meeting like so many awesome people that I still keep in touch with today. When I first joined the company, the way that ad agencies and PR agencies work, it's all about billable hours much like a law firm and so you can't just hire people and hope you get business. A lot of times it's like you close the business with a client and then you have to staff it right away. So they had just closed business with HP, Hewlett Packard, and they needed somebody to help with their Twitter with @HP was the handle. I had been on Twitter like a couple times, but they were like, "Oh, she's young, she'll figure it out."

So that was my first year and just getting to do customer service pretty much for @HP people complaining about things on their printer not working. So I think that it was just very exciting being exposed to the company is called WCG, or W2O group, and they were a very entrepreneurial mindset, and they did a great job empowering the associates to be a part of bigger conversations. And so me and my friend Blair, who did we think we were? We were like… I bet all the mid-level people were like, "Oh gosh." We like wrote the values for the company and we presented it to the CEO, and we're like, "These need to be instilled," and they were just like, "Okay. Why do you have all this free time? Shouldn't you be working?" but you know it's kind of like that's what I learned to respect so much in any manager or boss that I had. They sit back and in their mind they might be having these hesitations of like why, this isn't that important, or like who do you think you are. But they bite their tongue and they just kind of let that person flourish in their little role and feel like they have confidence, and they can build on that the rest of their career.

[19:53]

James McKinney: You know it's interesting hearing just that one story about the values presenting to the CEO, it sounded like you almost treated that position as if it was your company.

[20:01]

Kelsey Carroll: I don't know. I had that feeling that… One of the values actually was #addvalue. If you're not adding value to a project, to a conversation, to an email chain, to a phone call, then just hang up and try to find something where you can. And so what is the value that I can add to the HP account and how can I help grow the account? And that's what my main goal was for the time that I was there was how can we get more business.

[20:32]

James McKinney: Excellent. So now you're focusing on sales.

[20:35]

Kelsey Carroll: Yeah. I didn't even know. It's like I didn't know what I didn't know. I was just like I would see their creative on their other channels and be like oh I can do that, I can do it better than that in paint. So I actually asked, "Can I have Photoshop on the computer?" and they're like, "You're not a designer," and I was like, "Okay. I'm just going to buy it myself then." And I would just make little images. I'd have to still get it approved and things like that, but they're like, "Oh my gosh, this is like so funny. They're making fun of other companies or they're like sending a Valentine to Intel which is one of our partners, and then they responded."

This is five years ago I guess, five or six years ago, when brand accounts were big and people followed them to see what they were going to say, and millions of followers and things like that. And I was just kind of like… it was more just like a fun challenge for me. Clearly I wasn't making any money off of it, the agency was. But that was like a really fun thing to be a part of. And then also learning how things work in big companies which is completely different when you and your friends are behind a computer.

[21:39]

James McKinney: Correct. And you were with a professional service firm, right, and now you're not. You're a full blown manufacturing operation. So I'll be curious to see, to hear some of those takeaways from that time with PR firm to now, but let's continue on with a journey through your career. So how long were you with that PR firm and then what was the next step?

[22:01]

Kelsey Carroll: So it seemed like 10 years but it was just without.

[22:04]

James McKinney: It seemed like 10 years, I love it. What was it about it that seemed so long? Because it sounded like you were just having a blast and a great time.

[22:11]

Kelsey Carroll: When you're working for an agency, even though it's billable hours you're still working like, you wake up in the morning, you have emails from clients that you need to address. Before they go home to their family they're saying, "Hey, can you do this, this, and this? Change the deck, update this image, communicate this and that," and then they get to go home, and then you get to do it. And so I worked there for two years and then I had the opportunity actually to jump over to work for HP. So I became really good friends with my client and she kind of gave me the DL that they might be trying to hire somebody to add to their team, so I was like wait I'll just be doing the same thing I'm doing now, get paid more, and I get to be the one that emails early in the morning and late at night, and then my agency partners get to help me execute. So it was just such a cool experience to be able to do that.

[23:03]

James McKinney: And di you stay in Austin for that? Because HP is in San Jose if I'm not mistaken.

[23:07]

Kelsey Carroll: Yes. So HP and then later Hewlett Packard Enterprise when they split to be a B to B company, they before 2020 just supported work from home and remote working. So I was a contractor for a year, which meant I wasn't officially employed by them so I could work from wherever, and then once I started doing that I was like I'm just going to keep working from home, and they're like, "yeah, do it."

[23:32]

James McKinney: What years were you with HP?

[23:34]

Kelsey Carroll: It's all blurring together but like 2015 to 2017, and then when they split into two companies I joined Hewlett Packard Enterprise and I was there for three years. So I was HP for five years. And it was a lot of the same people that I was working with the whole time.

[23:51]

James McKinney: So the end of your HP time would be when?

[23:55]

Kelsey Carroll: I ended employment November 2019.

[23:58]

James McKinney: 2019 so just last year.

[24:01]

So here's the interesting thing about a cofounding team that is a husband and wife team. So up until now right now in Kelsey's Startup Story she's about to leave HPE to go all in on Toss Up Events, which is something that her husband had been working on for a little while now. But when you're married, it's not like you both have completely separate journeys and are not involved in each other's independent experiences. No, well to quote the kids, and by kids I mean those in their twenties, "You're all up in each other's business."

See, Kelsey and her husband Alex had numerous ventures together throughout their marriage. When they were in college together they created a business called Hoyas Connection that was pretty much like Groupon before there was a Groupon. And after college they traveled around the country promoting a movie they made, and in doing so they were selling DVDs at each screening, and they ended up making over $100,000 doing so. And like most entrepreneurs, they were always having conversations about a business idea, and one of those conversations led them to develop a startup called Quick Picks that they eventually sold.

What I'm getting at here is that while we've been listening to Kelsey's Startup Story her husband's story is also relevant because the two stories are intertwined, and it's in the intertwining of each other's respective journeys where they saw an opportunity to provide a solution together. So as we move along in Kelsey's Startup Story it's in the final few years of her time with HP that sets up her fulltime leap into entrepreneurship.

[25:23]

James McKinney: So you're doing social media for HPE. What other things were part of your role? Because obviously it set you up to want to take that leap to work with Alex fulltime on the venture you guys had been building on the side. So what were you doing with HP?

[25:37]

Kelsey Carroll: So with HPE we got to launch an entirely new brand that was going to land in the Fortune 100 the day one.

[25:46]

James McKinney: That's incredible.

[25:48]

Kelsey Carroll: I got to play a very small role, I should emphasize, in making that happen but with social media being still the new innovative area, I got to just become the de facto expert on HPE social. And so we studied the new brand guidelines, but a lot of it is taste. You know the designers and agencies would submit creative and it would be my job to say this is approved or give them feedback which is difficult when there's no standard. So it's just kind of like my taste and what I think my boss will like, which is probably more important than my taste. That was just so cool to be working with such high caliber talent on it because when you're launching a new $10 billion company, brand I should say, you bring in all the New York BDO and creative agencies, and everything from the social to all the advertising, website, and events. We got to figure out creative ways to infuse the fresh look, fonts, colors. It was fun.

[26:57]

James McKinney: So just as you said that phrase, "When we were launching a $10 billion brand," there's so much about that and what you said afterwards. It's like that is not a Startup Story. No one has $10 billion from the get go. No one has BDO coming in with branding. There's so much about that that's almost like Willy Wonka-esque. It's like the dream world.

[27:17]

Kelsey Carroll: Oh yeah, blank check kind of. I definitely wasn't in the financial decisions at this point. I was the one, the minion doing the work that other people told me to but because I guess confidence coming out of left field, yes this looks good, no this doesn't look good. And a lot of times because I was more into the social media than maybe the executives were I would be presenting my point of view and why we should do something, why we should start an Instagram account when that was a new thing. Why we should spend time and energy on it. If they had pushback, I had to stand my ground a bunch.

[27:59]

James McKinney: That's awesome. So were you just social there the whole time?

[28:01]

Kelsey Carroll: So I started in social and then kind of as social kind of starting blending with sales, websites, marketing I moved into doing events and so we had this HPE discover conference in Europe and Vegas twice a year. So we have a social media hub. Yes it's social but it's still like build outs and physical structures. And so I did that and then my final two years I worked in advertising, and so that was advertising campaigns for different product lines and so got to work with people that actually created the product and those teams, and bringing them to market. We got to work on this "Tame the IT Monster" campaign which was super fun.

[28:49]

James McKinney: I feel like I know, I remember that one.

[28:52]

Kelsey Carroll: Yeah, it was like a red monster.

[28:53]

James McKinney: Did it have like national commercials?

[28:54]

Kelsey Carroll: Yeah. It was like Super Bowl and things like that, so got to figure out how that showed up at events and then I became like the monster lady for the team. So somebody was like, "Can we make a mascot costume?" So I was talking on Skype to people in China that were going to manufacture it and they would send pictures and they would send renderings, and I'm like, "The fur is a little too curly, it needs to be shorter." Like all this stuff that I was just like why would I ever know how to do this? Just embracing it and being like this is hilarious. We would be on phone calls, like I can't believe this is my job. Like the teeth are too flat, they need to be sharper. Like all this he looks too made, he needs to be happy. And then actually bringing that suit to events where people could get in it and wear it, and people take pictures.

[29:43]

James McKinney: You know one of the things that when I think of our time together, one of the things that keeps coming to mind as a strength for you is that you're really good at making sense and understanding what initially starts as an unknown for you. Some people call it problem solving, but there's another level to that. Social media was an unknown within the brand world if you will. The entrepreneurship was an unknown. HP this event space was unknown. Launching a new brand unknown. There's so many things that really had no known support if you will that you had to solve for. Obviously, where we are today especially when we get to what COVID did to Toss Up Events, I can see how that strength probably played… not probably, did play out really well for you guys. So let's talk about your last couple months at HPE as to what Alex was working on and why you chose to leave HPE. So what was that season?

[30:46]

Kelsey Carroll: That was actually a great segue into think about creating this events company with Alex because I was so lucky to be exposed to our sponsorships team. So aside from the monster, I was also becoming the advertising point of contact for HPE for our sponsorships. So we sponsored the Golden State Warriors, the new Chase Center, Tottenham Hotspur football club, Disney Parks and Resorts, like all these amazing brands that we get to work with. My job was figuring out how our brand showed up within the sponsorship.

So if we had a page in the program at the college football something or other, I would work with the agency to figure out which one, how big, all the fonts, and the things like that. And then with Golden State Warriors when they built the Chase Center we were doing all of the… we, HPE was doing all the networking in the stadium and all about connected experiences. So they're going to do a press event, they're going to do a jersey drop from a crane, and what the signage would look like, what the email would look like, and things like that.

I say all that because then I got to be exposed to all like the whole sponsorship and sports world and what that looked like. I saw an opportunity for innovation there, especially with brands and the venues and the sports teams. It was like okay, you go to the game that's like the thing. And what else could you bring to it to amplify the experience? Not only for the C Level executives that get to sit in the box but for everybody. And so at that time Alex and I had this idea and we call it Toss Up Events but at the time they were just calling it The Game. And we thought we could create a new game that was like corn hole, skee ball, but at a large scale.

And so we started with throwing tennis balls into five gallon buckets, and then we built a stage so that it would be elevated throwing it in. and we invited our friends out to try it out and they're like this is really fun. It's basically kind of like a drinking game but also anybody could play it. That was like the goal. We wanted kids to be able to play it, we wanted older people, girls, guys could compete. Because things like bowling and beer pong, like girls and guys can compete. That's the most fun. If you're going to go play golf with your husband, you're never going to be able to drive the ball 400 yards or 300 yards. So we wanted that and it was just more like let's create this fun game.

Meanwhile, I'm still working for HPE and Alex is kind of just like, you know he's working in commercial real estate at the time so this was like a weekend… no kids yet, no kids. And so we went from being like could this be a venue like Top Golf and you have different types of holes or different types of courses that you could play, and the food and beverage and things like that. And then my experience with doing events with HPE, SXSW, we're like this could be like a mobile thing that brands could bring out or venues could bring out to have something for their guests to do.

[33:58]

James McKinney: Like a new brand activation.

[33:59]

Kelsey Carroll: Right, and we've all been to stadiums where there's the football toss and there's spin the wheel. It's usually something very low lift. You pop up a tent, you have a brand ambassador, you're paying $10 an hour, they have to hand out a card or a coupon. We're like there's got to be a better way, right? Nobody was asking us to do this by the way. I don't know why we thought this would work.

[34:20]

James McKinney: So that becomes Toss Up Events.

[34:23]

Kelsey Carroll: So that becomes Toss Up Events. Well, our first event was with the Boy Scouts, like our official first event. Our first real event was probably our third event. We did an event in Houston on Discovery Green right in the middle of downtown for Mattress Firm. So they had their bed talks it was called. They invited all their franchisees and they had their two day conference, and they were having a big party on the lawn with lawn games and things like that. And so we built them a custom Toss Up game, score keeping technology. We brought all our friends and our parents down to help out and register people to play that game. Made a video and used that to sell it to other brands.

[35:09]

James McKinney: That's awesome. So why did you leave HP?

[35:11]

Kelsey Carroll: Well-

[35:12]

James McKinney: You built this on the side. Alex was doing commercial real estate, could have done this. Why did you leave HP?

[35:18]

Kelsey Carroll: So a major reason in 2017 I had my first child, Max, and had maternity leave. Went back to work, he went to daycare, I was still… Alex left commercial real estate to do Toss Up Events fulltime. I was working for HPE. About three months into my maternity leave I was pregnant again. So had to go out on maternity leave again and when I was thinking about coming back, full intention of coming back. I was on this career path. I had an amazing team that supported me and thinking about coming back and just seeing how fast they were aging and growing up, I didn't want to miss it. And so yeah, decided in November that I was going to be a fulltime, stay at home mom slash doing anything Alex was doing.

[36:11]

James McKinney: That's awesome. Now just for clarity you actually left with the intention of really just kind of helping casually with Toss Up Events.

[36:22]

Kelsey Carroll: Helping as much as I could, not to the detriment of my children's upbringing.

[36:26]

James McKinney: Yes, yes. So this is November of 2019 and again just a year ago from the time your episode airs looks very different than now. If you can think back to December of January of 2019 what were the plans for the business going into 2020?

[36:47]

Kelsey Carroll: Well at this point for Toss Up Events we had been slowly growing, getting more events, more employees, trying to figure out how to be profitable but at the same time just trying to get our name out there. And so we were poised to have a very big year. We were going to have three different setups at every UT football home game. We had new games coming out. So fun when you think about it. We had this Ring on a String where you throw the ring and it hooks onto the Texas Longhorns instead of just like a regular hook, and basketball was like Golden State Warriors and Byron Nelson Golf and all these PGA events and tennis. We had $3 million of business booked. Like yes, we're going to do it, not just in the pipeline, through the end of the year and a lot of that was mainly in the spring. And on our busiest weekend which happened to be March 11th 2020 we had five different trucks out, everybody was on the road. We were in denial at that point probably. We could have seen the signs if we looked. That was the end of events.

[38:01]

James McKinney: Yeah. That one weekend was the final events for Toss Up Events and for 2020 at this point.

[38:08]

Kelsey Carroll: Yeah.

[38:09]

James McKinney: It's been an absolutely crazy year. So let's talk about the realities of that season. There are probably entrepreneurs listening that have lost everything because of 2020. Let me rephrase it. It's not 2020, because of COVID and the way in which it was managed. This is not the podcast to talk about our opinions on how it was managed, but this is the podcast to talk about the realities and the hardships of being an entrepreneur in that season. Coming out of that weekend, March 11th, what were some of the thoughts and discussions as it related to really your livelihood? Because you were in live events, that was your business, and things were being shut down, and then April gets shutdown by the federal government. What was going through your head from a financial perspective, employees? You just moved into a new space. What were these discussions?

[39:06]

Kelsey Carroll: At first, like I said, it was denial in the fact that how did we not see this coming because we were always thinking we're so innovative, we're so ahead of the curve, we're so great at what we're doing. You're scratching your head like what did I wrong? That's at least what we felt, and why did we even get into this business, it's so fragile. Clearly. We felt like we were living in the future a little bit because we still had friends that were like going about their business and we were like… we had to let everybody go pretty much. And I think to Alex's credit he is a very fast decision maker and he doesn't waffle at all. He makes a decision and just follows through, sometimes leaves some bodies in the wake when he does that.

But I think we talked to some of our mentors right when it happened and they were actually in oil and gas and said, "Yeah, this is not going to be take two weeks off and get back on. You need to batten down the hatches. You need to tell your people that we don't know what's going to happen but we just need to furlough you, and we've got to figure it out." And luckily we had a lot of young people still attached to their parents and things like that so it wasn't absolutely destructive as it could have been, but we were in shock.

[40:33]

James McKinney: I have to ask this question because live events, and it affected us. Again, Startup Story audience had grown so much in 2019. We had plans at the Dallas Cowboys headquarters at The Star to do a live event for entrepreneurs. It was going to be huge and two weeks after we made the initial announcement for it we had to push out the date, because I thought there's no way live events are not coming back. I couldn't fathom that being a reality.

Well, then when sponsors of bigger brands started telling me, "Yeah, we're going to cancel that contract," or, "We're not going to sign the one we've been talking about for the last couple of weeks," I had to start looking like okay, maybe they see something I don't. But I still had a hard time believing live events would not come back in 2020. But I wasn't in that space like you guys were. I didn't have all my eggs in that one basket, and that basket being live events like you guys did. Did you actually think that live events weren't coming back, or did you think how do we carry on for the next two months before they do?

[41:41]

Kelsey Carroll: We did not think that they were coming back anytime soon. We were thinking 2021.

[41:46]

James McKinney: Really? So because of insight from others you said we're done this year with live events, that's not happening.

[41:52]

Kelsey Carroll: Yeah. We were really surprised that they're having football at all. We had a little bet with our parents that they wouldn't and we lost in a way. They're still having it but no fans. But we went against the grain. We thought we were being innovative in a way that a lot of experiential marketing was tech driven, and put on this headset and you'll be like inside a store and you can see our product or something like that. We were like nobody wants to do that. People just want to throw a ball, they want to compete with their friends, they want to hold their beer while they're doing it. And so our events by nature were very high touch, and so it was throw a football, kick a football, jump as high as you can, kick a soccer ball at the LA Galaxy game. All of those things that nobody is doing right now. And the fact that nobody was asking us to do that either. None of our clients were like, "When can you come to this event?" It was just like ghost. We were just like ghosted.

[42:48]

James McKinney: What happened from a financial perspective, those contracts? I assume deposits were provided.

[42:56]

Kelsey Carroll: It was different for every client because some of the clients were like, "I don't know if we're going to make it through this," because they were very reliant on gatherings.

[43:07]

James McKinney: Okay, okay. So what was the first conversation with how to pivot out of that?

[43:11]

Kelsey Carroll: Well we did have from years prior we did have some money in the bank, and so we were weighing the okay if we keep paying everybody while they're doing nothing, this is how long it would last. Do we start selling everything now or do we wait? And so skeleton team, you kind of run all those different scenarios financially. And so we were lucky that we had that. We had certain clients that were generous and said, "Hey, we're this big company, you can get a credit for future events." Hopefully in the future we'll have those events.

But then others are just like, even people that were storing cereal for a certain company at our warehouse were like, "Just donate it." Pallets and pallets of samples and things we were going to give out. And so it was just like different for every client. But yeah, financially we were in actually a good spot for you're looking at everything because we did have that money to be like okay what are we going to do with this. Are we going to just hibernate or are we going to try to get everybody back working on something constructive?

[44:24]

James McKinney: And again what are those conversations? Because again you're from live events. I can kind of see the live event space as a brand activation, so I can kind of connect the dots on how we get to Stand Up Stations from just a pure marketing sense. But what are the conversations that you and Alex are having? Because again, there's a lot of unknown and the media was propagating all kinds of doom and gloom and fear. And so you have this chunk of money in which you can leverage for your safety and stability, or you can leverage it for a potential new venture to help calm the seas through the storm. What were those discussion points? And then how did you get to Stand Up Stations?

[45:11]

Kelsey Carroll: So we were thinking okay, there's no events now, everybody is scared to leave their house. Then the "normal" having events, people going to concerts, things like that. What are the steps that everybody - venues, people - that they have to take to get back to normal other than things that are out of our control like a vaccine? And this was even before masks were a thing at all. This is when the CDC was like meh, doing a mask doesn't do anything. And you're like really? How is that possible? Okay, whatever, we don't have to wear masks. But obviously it's different now, everybody wears masks and it's normal.

So we thought okay what will venues feel safe having people, people will feel safe attending events? And that would be things like having a hand sanitizer station and we know a lot more now than we did back in March about crowds and things like that. But we're like hey, what if we made a hand sanitizer station and just like Toss Up, which was a brand activation, we could brand them in a way that sponsors would pay for them for the venues? So at no cost, if your Cowboys stadium they have like a hospital sponsor, like a lot of local sponsorships at stadiums are hospitals and things like that. Instead of saying hey you get a sign in the outfield, and this was the same sale that we did for Toss Up. You could get a sign in the outfield or you could have this insane like tennis game that people could hit a large tennis ball and have a fun interaction with your brand. So this is still people interacting with their brand but it would be like getting something useful like hand sanitizer, something that we didn't know much about at the time.

But we did a little research, does this exist. And we found that it did exist but on a very like non premium level, because at the time hand sanitizer stations were in the corner. Maybe when you go visit your family in the hospital to see the baby, oh gotta sanitize before you hold the baby. But it wasn't like front and center you must use this, because you're like oh I'll just wash my hands later. And so it put it to the forefront and we again saw the opportunity of like the bar is pretty low here. So not to mention the whole PPE shortage that was going on as we're looking at these websites and it literally says like three to four months before they can deliver the product so get on the waitlist. So we're like oh my gosh, if we could get this out now we'd be helping all these people get what they need. And so in the beginning it was very oh you could sell it to sponsors, and then we realized everybody needs this. Nobody has needed this before and they need it, and we could make it for them.

[48:05]

James McKinney: How were you getting hand sanitizer when there was back stock? That and toilet paper, right?

[48:12]

Kelsey Carroll: LinkedIn was a great resource. We just did our research. We got connected with this guy in LA and he owned a lot of chemical companies, pivoted at this time as well because they had ethanol, they had the isopropyl alcohol, they had the facilities to make it. And so we didn't want to just have it squirt out tequila, we wanted it to be nice.

[48:35]

James McKinney: Or do you?

[48:37]

Kelsey Carroll: Yes, yes. And so we got a sample and we're like let's do it. And then the same thing with the dispensers, we were just buying them off of Amazon at the beginning and we're like whoever has it, we'll just pay way over what they're actually worth to get up and going. And then we became, even locally here in Texas, like, "Oh my gosh, you have that? Yes, I need 10, I need 15. " within a couple of weeks it was just like we needed help, and so we called everybody that we had to furlough and we're like, "Get back in the office if you're not terrified."

[49:11]

James McKinney: So from March 11th, within a matter of weeks you were bringing back the people you had furloughed.

[49:16]

Kelsey Carroll: Yes.

[49:17]

James McKinney: Because of how busy Stand Up Stations had become?

[49:20]

Kelsey Carroll: Yes, and so we didn't have… our website wasn't ready yet. We also didn't have any manner of shipping this at all.

[49:26]

James McKinney: So how were you busy then? Who was hearing about you? What was your sales outreach?

[49:30]

Kelsey Carroll: Yeah, we started with our Toss Up clients and so The Star in Frisco, they were one of our first ones, and it was just a lot of people that probably felt bad for us that said yes in the beginning honestly.

[49:40]

James McKinney: There was a lot of good will among the business community for sure.

[49:42]

Kelsey Carroll: Yeah, and so they were like, we had the sob story. It wasn't a sob story, it was the story. It was the true story.

[49:47]

James McKinney: it was real.

[49:48]

Kelsey Carroll: Yeah.

[49:49]

James McKinney: it was what it was. So in April you're shipping these stand up stations.

[49:53]

Kelsey Carroll: Right.

[49:54]

James McKinney: Was version 1.0 the branded units or were they just the basic stand up with a plaque above that said, "Sanitize Here"?

[50:04]

Kelsey Carroll: Yes, we started like premium, premium. It was like $600 so we had a heavy, 62 pound stand which we still sell, and the branding on the top. And we included the dispenser, the stand, and a gallon of sanitizer. And so that was like the package that you get. Since then, you can buy each component separately and things like that, but we actually called… Alex is connected via the movie stuff that we had done, to this guy Ray Washburn who owns Mi Casina and Taco Diner among other business ventures in Highland Park Village, and said, "Hey, do you need these for your restaurant? I can give them to you at the end of the week," and that was our first big, once we're in there we're legit.

[50:55]

James McKinney: Wow, incredible. So you went into 2020 with, under Toss Up Events, with a projection of $3 million in the pipeline. The world falls apart in March, you pivot to Stand Up Stations in really April we'll say is when you started shipping product. 2020 has looked very different. How much more successful is 2020 turned out for you than you had thought going in under Toss Up Events?

[51:23]

Kelsey Carroll: Financially it is definitely more money. We've done over $11 million in sales-

[51:31]

James McKinney: That's awesome.

[51:32]

Kelsey Carroll: … since March.

[51:33]

James McKinney: In a matter of months.

[51:34]

Kelsey Carroll: Yeah.

[51:35]

James McKinney: it's incredible.

[51:36]

Kelsey Carroll: That is like the tie up with a bow, oh my gosh it's so great. But within those last couple months it's been a rollercoaster, especially in July and August, we import just the dispenser part from overseas and so boats coming, and then we have to meet at the dock. Alex and I, there's companies that will probably do this for us but every time we've bought inventory we've had to push all our chips into the center and say do we want to keep going, or do we want to ease off a little bit? And so we had to buy about 6,000 dispensers from China and they had to bring it over on a boat, and go through customs, and we flew to LA in June when nobody was flying, you know in a bubble, and meet them and we drove them back to Texas in a box truck.

[52:31]

James McKinney: Wow, wow.

[52:32]

Kelsey Carroll: That was because we had a customer that was like, "I'll go with you but I need it in my warehouse by Friday," and we didn't trust other companies to be able to do that for us.

[52:45]

James McKinney: Especially in that environment. Nothing was reliable in that season.

[52:47]

Kelsey Carroll: No. We got out to LA and they're like, "It's delayed a day, it's delayed another day." And so we ended up having to meet them at like 1 in the morning.

[52:57]

James McKinney: Oh my goodness.

[52:59]

Kelsey Carroll: And make sure that they got there.

[53:01]

James McKinney: From a capital perspective, from a funding perspective, everything was focused on the PBP plan. Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of applications and just managing that. From a capitalization for all the inventory you had to buy now, how were you funding this venture as you grew?

[53:19]

Kelsey Carroll: So like I said we did have money in the bank and we did buy actually the first round of inventory on our personal credit card.

[53:29]

James McKinney: Yep, of course. Of course.

[53:31]

Kelsey Carroll: So that was fun. And we just kept reinvesting. Now, when it was crazy in July and August, we were making six figures a day on the website, and there was a point in which the stripe holding the money was an issue, and so we did need a gap loan for a couple of days in order to buy more inventory. Just things like that of are we really going to risk it all again? You know. And so every time it's just like okay, I got my husband, my kids, we're not going to be on the street. All this. A big thing with Alex and I is like our faith and just knowing that all this is just, this is the icing on the cake. We're here, we're alive. If we lose everything, air quotes, again it's okay.

[54:22]

James McKinney: That's awesome. My wife and I have said that numerous times back to my story which you can hear in episode 50. I have lost everything but them, and it's for that reason. I'm willing to take a ton of risks because I know I won't lose them. So that perspective matters for sure. But as you look at your business and you're having to learn a new product. You're having to learn the manufacturing side of it, the sourcing side of it. I assume there are probably regulations around having those chemicals and products at some point. So many things you have to learn so quickly, and whether it be related to those, whether it be related to the funding, whether it be related to the logistics side, the client side, the government side, whatever the case may be, what has been your single greatest learning over the last seven months?

[55:10]

Kelsey Carroll: I think a lot of entrepreneurs get caught up in oh it has to be perfect, even down to a LinkedIn post. It has to be the perfect picture and the right amount of paragraphs, and the right amounts of bro-etry in order to get the most likes. And I think that what we've learned is speed and just getting it done, moving onto the next thing, is the number one thing that we've learned, just we could spend time and months making a whole advertising campaign for our new sanitizer that we're launching, but if we just make it available and make it smell good, make it actually work, people will buy it and we'll be able to move on to the next thing.

[55:46]

James McKinney: We've had Jason McCann of Varidesk on the show a few times, and one of the things that he has stated from the early days was that they weren't the first standup desk, but they saw it at a concierge level. They saw it as a premium brand and an opportunity to provide something at a service level that wasn't the norm within office furniture if you will. Do you view Stand Up Stations in the same light, knowing that there are other dispensers but do you view it as a premium brand and the service that comes along with it? What makes it so uniquely different?

[56:20]

Kelsey Carroll: Definitely. We've won a lot of business with white glove deliver, with assembly, things like that. Even just people calling and talking to me or Alex directly on the phone, and just being normal and saying, "What do you need? We have it," and not be this whole mystical process of PO's and request for pricing, this whole secretive thing. It's like it's on the website, you want to buy it, if you don't like the price call me and maybe we can make a deal. I think that's the point that we're at right now. There was this really cool story downtown Hayes in Kansas, they called for a quote. They were getting just different quotes from all these different companies, and they said, "Hey we got a grant from the CARES Act to buy PPE and things like that. We want to buy hand sanitizer stations for all of our local businesses with that money and just give it to them.

[57:15]

James McKinney: That's awesome.

[57:16]

Kelsey Carroll: We were like, "Yes, let's make it happen." They're like, "Hey, we have this much money. Whatever we can get from that." That's like the dream.

[57:24]

James McKinney: yes, yes.

[57:25]

Kelsey Carroll: And actually the church in downtown Hayes did the same thing. So they ended up getting 200 stations, and we created a new product for them which was like kind of an interchangeable sign. We have a very premium sticker that we do, and they were like "Hey, we don't know if we can get 200 logos by when we need it, so can you just do one where they can print it on their own?" and so we created a new product for them, and now we're going to sell it with a little frame.

[57:51]

James McKinney: That's awesome.

[57:52]

Kelsey Carroll: Yeah.

[57:53]

James McKinney: Having gone through what you've gone through this year, and now it probably looks a bit rosier than it did in March and April but having gone through what you've gone through, do you think anybody can be an entrepreneur?

[58:05]

Kelsey Carroll: I think anybody can be in the royal sense, but it takes a certain type of persistence and optimism to be an entrepreneur, and be able to dust yourself off when there's challenges, and when you get punched in the stomach.

[58:25]

James McKinney: Because that definitely will happen.

[58:26]

Kelsey Carroll: Yeah.

[58:27]

James McKinney: Yeah, it definitely takes a… I believe it too, it takes a unique breed of person. I think the capacity is there. I think the technology is there, the resources are there. But I too think it takes a very unique type of person to want to take this path.

[58:44]

Kelsey Carroll: You need to be very comfortable with being uncomfortable, and that's one thing I took away from long distance running. Fifteen laps or twelve and a half laps around the track is a 5K and that was my event, and so it was 16 or 17 minutes of pain. And Alex was a high school running back so he knows pain as well, and so it's just kind of being able to have the mental toughness and the perseverance all help you as an entrepreneur if not drive you.

[59:18]

James McKinney: Yeah. One of the questions that I ask every founder is about gratitude, and the reason I ask that question about gratitude is because we don't get to where we are today based on our own effort. There are people that have contributed in some way, shape, or form. There's the quote we are here today because of the shoulders we've stood upon. And usually I ask that question from a lifelong perspective, but I'd like to narrow that window a bit because of how relevant your story is to a recovery period in 2020. So when you think back to that last seven or eight months who are the people that you look back to with such immense gratitude for their contribution to help you get to where you are today and recover from you were earlier this year?

[60:02]

Kelsey Carroll: I think the number one group would be our parents. In the beginning especially with the kids, and being able to help Alex and being able to be here and going all in, they would watch the kids for us. And they're very cute but it's hard. It's hard work. And my mom flew in from New York. I think back even just a year ago Alex was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome in November of 2019 and his parents were on vacation in Europe, and my mom had to fly down and help with the kids so I could stay over. He was in the hospital for a week. He had plasmapheresis where they change out the plasma in his body. His parents came home early from their trip but I just think about I need to remember that when my kids are grown up, and how much even though your kids are adults they still need their parents.

And we still need you, parents. You're probably the only ones listening at the end here, but we need them and that's a part. It takes a village. You know it takes the team to raise the kids and it doesn't just like happen without help. Everybody on our team that was furloughed, they could have been like, "Really guys? You didn't think this one through?" but they were flexible. They had to learn about hand sanitizer like we did, so they came in and learned the ropes. And Ben who is our operations director had to learn how to ship these things all across the country to Canada, and Mexico, and Europe and that was in his court. And so just I mean it's really hard for entrepreneurs to trust sometimes with a lot of important tasks, but this was one where it was like there's too many things. We can't be micromanaging everything, and so just amazingly grateful for everybody, all of our employees, our whole team. All of the contractors and designers and sales people and operations.

[62:03]

James McKinney: I love it. Absolutely love that perspective. And speaking of perspective, we've been talking to tens of thousands of listeners about your story at just a high level, hearing the journey of Stand Up Stations through COVID. But I'd like to, if I could, bring that conversation down to the one. I call it a mentoring minute, so whether that's with one of my frustrated entrepreneurs, the one who has an enterprise and maybe is just really dealing with the challenges of 2020, and not quite sure if they're going to be able to come out of it. Or maybe it's the wantrepreneur, the one who has got a 9 to 5 and a book full of dreams and ideas on what to do, but there's a level of fear. Maybe there's some narrative that they're too old, or they have a mortgage and kids and they can't take the risk. Whatever the case may be. There's something holding them back from moving forward on those dreams and ideas.

Or maybe it's the defeated entrepreneur, the one who did lose everything this year and they love hearing the success story of Stand Up Stations amidst all this, but they're just ready to check out and they don't think it's meant for them. If you could have coffee with just one of those people, what would you say to them?

[63:09]

Kelsey Carroll: So if you're out there and you have an idea for a business, or you've tried multiple times and not gaining traction, discipline is in your control. There are plenty of things that happen throughout the day. Things like waking up 15 or 30 minutes early to have time for yourself. Pray, meditate, work out, start your day right, that can have a huge impact in the rest of your day. Things like habits form, good and bad, and so if you start your day with discipline in mind you will form those good habits that will then impact your business, and hopefully the people around you.

[63:56]

James McKinney: Once you've had a few moments to process all the value Kelsey Carroll brought us in this week's episode, please hit me up on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram and share with me your thoughts on this episode. And lastly if you've been around The Startup Story for any length of time, then you know how much emphasis I put on the idea that entrepreneurs support other entrepreneurs. Well, Stand Up Stations is only eight months old and awareness is everything. So visit standupstations.com, check out their offering, and consider ordering a station for your business.

Actually, what would be even more helpful is for you to tell someone about their brand. We hear from almost every single founder guest awareness is key, so follow them on Instagram and Facebook. Just search for Stand Up Stations on both those platforms, and then share that account with a contact of yours. Just kind of comment on a picture with someone that you know that might need to know about this product. I say it in every episode because I believe it with my very being, entrepreneurs support other entrepreneurs so let's show up for Kelsey in a huge way as a way of saying thank you for all the value she delivered to us today. And now for my personal ask.

The Startup Story community has been so incredible about sharing our podcast with others, but we have more stories to tell and more people to reach. We too are a startup and word of mouth is everything, so please follow us on Facebook and Instagram @TheStartupStory or on Twitter @StartupStory_. If you're on LinkedIn, please search for The Startup Story and follow our company page. LinkedIn is a really powerful way to raise awareness of the show. But the most impactful way you can help us grow our audience is to leave a review on Apple Podcast. Or if you listen to the show via Spotify, then please simply share the podcast directly from your Spotify app or wherever you listen to the show.

These simple actions can make a huge impact in getting these amazing founder stories out to the masses. And please make sure to tag or mention The Startup Story when you do share so that we can connect with you and say thank you directly. I'm so incredibly appreciative of the fact that you listen to the show each and every week, and I look forward to sharing these amazing stories with you every Tuesday with hopes of encouraging and inspiring you to start your story.

If you like this podcast and are thinking of creating your own, consider talking to my producer Danny Ozment. He helps thought leaders, influencers, executives, and authors create, launch, and produce podcasts that grow their business and make a real impact in this world. You can contact him today at emeraldcitypro.com/startupstory.

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November 17 2020
Kelsey Carroll, founder of Stand Up Stations

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