Kelcey Lehrich is cofounder and CEO of 365 Holdings, a company that buys and grows ecom brands. He’s also the face of MBAcquire, where he teaches you how to take advantage of the “silver tsunami” (aka the spike in old people) and buy your own recession-proof business this year. For example, Kelcey acquired an emergency food business for pennies on the dollar. It blew up after the pandemic hit. He also bought a cloth diaper biz that took a while but now it’s cranking.
“But for us,” Kelcey says, “the number of at-bats, the number of reps is really important. Because, on average, we will have plenty of winners, but we need to keep swinging in order to hit the homers. And so for us, observing that dichotomy of planning versus reality, and getting enough at-bats has been a really important learning lesson for me. Also, we look for businesses that are diverse, stable, and established. We’re not incredibly talented growth marketers. We’re not gonna take something and just send it to the moon.”
“Not to say that we don’t know how to grow a business,” he continues. “Of course we do. We’re running marketing all day long, every day. But I don’t presume I’m gonna find something for sale and just 10x it. We’re much more likely to look for things that are very diverse, very established, very repeatable. And then, just try to make a bunch of incremental improvements along the way and let those compound. That’s really our playbook. Looking for lots of little tweaks that can compound.”
In terms of what types of businesses you should be looking to buy, think micro brands, Kelcey suggests. Organic peanut butter. Vegan leather belts. Hypoallergenic dog brushes. Sheepskin towels to dry your car with. “I think we’re just at the beginning of the unique product-market fit you can unlock with targeted ads on the internet,” he explains. “Sorta these long-tail brands. Now, the hard part, obviously, is these aren’t gonna be 9-figure brands. Very few of ’em will go public. None of ’em should raise venture capital. Just good small businesses.”
What about running the day-to-day of all these businesses? “We really embrace taking on as much responsibility for the business as we possibly can,” Kelcey says. “We use no outsourcers, no agencies, no consultants, no contractors. Every business process that needs to happen? Happens on our P&L. We don’t use outsourced call centers. We don’t use outsourced fulfillment. We don’t use outsourced customer service. We have some manufacturers that are outsourced; we can’t produce all the products.”
“But when it comes to running the business,” he continues, “all the responsibilities are in-house. There’s no ad agency that’s responsible for hitting our revenue goal. Our own marketing team is responsible for that. So I think we’ve kind of discovered for ourselves that owning all of those resources in-house is really valuable because we can spread those resources across our portfolio of brands through a shared services model. It’s been really really powerful for us to have a high quality team and do it all ourselves, which has helped us scale up quickly.”
What else? Kelcey’s really big on culture. So much so that they usually hire based on whether or not someone fits that culture, as opposed to whether or not they have the particular skillsets they’re looking for. Also, winners keep score. There’s an attitude around metrics and an accountability to the numbers that’s very important to them. Execution is super important. Setting a goal and working hard to achieve that outcome. Lastly, EQ over IQ. Smart people are great, but emotional intelligence is even more important. Check out Kelcey’s MBAcquire course for more insights.