Do you have a great idea for a business but just not sure whether or not you’re ready to take the plunge?
Many entrepreneurs start out with the very same feelings. We can easily get flooded with anxieties related to financing, marketing, and even competition.
During this week’s episode of Do The Damn Thing, Laura Foy picks the brain of a life-long entrepreneur, Scot Rubin. He’s made a huge name for himself in gaming, TV, and beyond. He’s also the owner of Nitropod… opens in a new window to Nitropod website…, the future of ice cream.
But how did he get started? What challenges did Scot face? And, how did he achieve success in so many different ventures?
Get all your questions answered and find out how he did the damn thing!
Read the script:
Laura: Hey, everybody. My name is Laura Foy. Welcome to HipCat Society’s Do The Damn Thing, the weekly show where we talk to solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, superpreneurs – anyone out there doing it. And this week we have a very special guest. With me is Scott Rubin. Hi Scott.
Scot: How’s it going, Laura Foy. How are you?
Laura: I’m doing quite well. Thank you for joining us today. Scot, first of all, is a dear friend of mine. We’ve known each other for many, many years. We work together on a few things in the past. You may or may not have seen. We’ll talk about that in a little bit. But really, why I wanted to have you on this week, Scot, is because you are a lifelong, diehard, one might say glutton for punishment, entrepreneur. You’ve been doing this – startups, whether you’re starting with a brand new company or it’s your own company – really forever. Right? I mean, have you ever really worked for the man?
Scot: I did. I worked for the man for a long time and then kind of said, “You know what? I need to create.” My dad was an entrepreneur. He had his own – my dad was one of the first people in the world to fix those old digital watches, those like LED red watches. So people from all over the country would send their watches to a post office box, and me and my dad would go and pull all the boxes of watches and bring them home. My dad would fix them. And be kind of was his own boss. And then he had his own watch store as well. So I kind of always saw him as his own boss, and coming up with ideas and making them happen.
Laura: Very cool. Now, Scot, you and I know each other from years and years ago, back in New York City, we worked at a company called pseudo.com, which I guess you were my boss. I mean, I think I was the boss, but technically you paid the bills. So, talk to me about how you started that, right? So Scot’s a gamer. You like to play video games, and you did what people nowadays just dream of. You monetized that.
Scot: This was literally 1995, HTML web version 1.0. And I was in college, at Brooklyn College. And I was taking an internet computing-type class. And the guy was like 65, 70 years old – had never been on the internet, and he had a Mac. So we didn’t have a PC. And I had just gotten through building my own little 386-33 computer to play computer games. And this magazine called NetBuide came out, and it was all about how to make your own webpage. This is in 1995.
And I decided I was going to try and make my own webpage. And what I found was, and what really the light bulb in my head was, at that point, Warner Brothers, or anyone else, could not make a better website than I could. The technology was at such a base level that if you had the skills to do something incredible, it didn’t matter. You just needed to go: text and images. And in my head, I thought this is a magazine that can go on forever. And so I started to teach myself how to make webpages.
And then I figured – they had some radio shows about politics on the internet. They had some movie talk shows. But I was a video gamer, and there was nobody talking about game. So I decided I was going to call up game publishers and do phone interviews with the developers, digitize them on my computer and upload them to the internet. It took about five hours, but within the first month of doing that – uploading these interviews – people from 24 countries were coming to the website and downloading them.
Laura: Wow! So would you say that it was more of a right time, right place? Cause one of the things we hear from our audience is: “Everything’s been invented,” or, you know, “There’s nothing new anymore.” But you know, obviously, I would argue against that. However, your story, that particular story, is maybe like – were you just at the right time, right place?
Scot: Well, I mean, it was a window of time. So it didn’t have to be right then, but the internet was becoming a reality, and there was a gold rush. A lot of people smarter than me made a lot more money and came up with a lot bigger ideas during that time period. Every week – new websites. We’re now almost 30 years later, and every week – new websites, new ideas – there is no shortage of ideas. You will have them, but it goes beyond the idea. Everyone can have an idea. Executing that’s the hard part.
Laura: Right. And just remember, guys, we are live. So if anyone has questions, please go ahead and just enter them in, and we’ll do our best to get them answered. This is Do The Damn Thing. We’re talking with Scot Rubin.
So, you launched the All Games Network… opens in a new window to All Games Network website…, which we touched on, and that actually blew up. I don’t know all the details, but I know you ended up joining Pseudo, and then that turned into G4, the television network, which you were the one that the founders of, which has a massive following. Their best show ever was clearly G4-14.com.
I can see the natural path line from that. Okay. You know, you’re making websites, you love gaming. I can see that progression. How then did you transition to what you’re doing now and explain to us exactly what you are doing now?
Scot: I make ice cream with liquid nitrogen. First of all, I never cooked. I hated being in the kitchen, cleaning, and some might say I wasn’t a great driver. And there I was with liquid nitrogen, ice cream manufacturing dairy plant in California. I have a state-certified dairy plant. I have a commercial kitchen. I have a LA County food truck commissary.
And it was really about magic, and delight, and watching people eat this ice cream made right in front of them. And the wheels were really just, wow, that’s cool.
Laura: Ideas come. I’ve heard that thoughts and ideas come.
Scot: But it wasn’t really a business idea. Oh, this is cool and fun. But what happened was people started to eat as soon and say, “Oh my God. I’ve been eating ice cream my whole life. This is the best thing I’ve ever had.” And when you start to hear that over and over, you go, “Okay, well, maybe there’s something here.” And for me, having been in this kind of media industry for so long, where you come up with an idea that you got to write, and you got to get people to shoot it and edit it, and then it’s got to be distributed, and then they have to sell it. By the time you’ve seen the fruits of your labor – sometimes it’s a lot further down the road – you need this huge amount of people to make that happen.
And so I wanted to shift to something that was – I give you a product. You pay me for it—end of story. And the idea of this kind of cash transaction- I mean, the foundation of a lot of commercial retail business, but for me, it was kind of detached. And what I found was there was so much joy in making something myself, selling it to somebody, and seeing their reaction. And then getting paid for it. That was pretty cool too.
So that was kind of the idea. It just kind of started with, wow, this is a great product. Well, no one’s really doing it. I’m in Los Angeles, where it’s pretty much warm 11 months out of the year. This is a great place for it. And it’s been six years now, and I’ve done celebrities, movie premieres, Now we’re doing wholesale.
Laura: So you love it?
Scot: I do love it. I do love watching people eat it and their reactions.
Laura: There’s a similar thread there with media. I mean, we used to love making television, and we love watching people enjoy that creation.
Scot: I’ve been an entertainer. I like to make people smile. I could make people laugh. I feel like I’m cheating a little bit because it’s sugar, and sugar is a drug. So, of course, they’re going to put that in their mouth and go, “Wow, that’s great!” But it’s organic. We don’t use preservatives. We don’t need any stabilizers. So you’re getting the cleanest, freshest ice cream that you can get. You can’t buy it anywhere in the supermarket. We’re changing that.
Laura: Now, would you say that your past experience with launching the All Game Network, to launching Pseudo, to launching G4, all of those things – did they help you? In terms of your business planning, when you went to launch this own business, or was it a lot of like figuring it out as you go?
Scot: It was like figuring it out every single day. Being an entrepreneur, you better have a really stiff spine because you will get knocked down. And I was knocked down on a daily basis from the LA County Department of Public Health, the Department of Transportation HAZMAT division. They didn’t want me driving around with tanks of liquid nitrogen. Every single day, I was dealing with some issue, and I had to learn the food truck industry and bookers in LA, and the health department and LA County is the hardest.
You have to figure out things. But that, to me, is what makes being an entrepreneur so exciting. Instead of going to the same office, picking up the same paper, doing the same thing every day – every day is an adventure, and every day, six years later, is completely different. Every week is different. Every month is different. And that, to me, is what makes being an entrepreneur so exciting.
There was so much joy in making something myself, selling it to somebody, and seeing their reaction. And then getting paid for it. That was pretty cool too!
Laura: Yeah. I totally agree. And I feel the same way about marketing, Scot. Every day is different. I don’t get to talk to you every day. Only on the best days. So let’s talk about this business. You’re launching a new business. You’ve mentioned you’ve done celebrity events. I mean, there’s no shortage of those in Los Angeles; all of these like amazing functions, I’ve seen pictures. How do you get started? Do you have a social media page? Do you invest in a lot of marketing? Is it word of mouth? What do you do?
Scot: Marketing is very important. But I have to be honest. I have spent, in six years, zero dollars in marketing. The reason it has worked out this way is because I’m doing something very niche, very unique, and there’s not a lot of competition. And I have a name that really can’t be confused with anything. And so, when anybody types in “nitrogen ice cream” or “futuristic ice cream” or “futuristic dessert,” I pop up.
Google has been very good to me. Almost all my responses come from Google. But I know that’s not for everyone, and I know not everyone has a product or a business that just magically looks cool on video. You see our process. It’s kind of engaging. It kind of captivates you. So, all of those things played into my marketing strategy, knowing that I could just go to an event with a thousand people – they see something they’ve never seen before, and they’re like, “Wow, this is cool!” The phone rings a couple of days later. “Hey, I was at an event. You guys look really cool. Can you do this movie premiere?” Word of mouth has really been our best marketing.
Laura: Wow. That’s amazing! You mentioned Google has been kind to you. I mean, you had to do some SEO optimization, something?
Scot: Zero. But only because it’s liquid nitrogen ice cream. That’s what they’re searching for. And if you are even in New York and you type in “liquid nitrogen ice cream New York,” Google loves me so much – then I come up, and I get calls every day from New York, from Hawaii, from Florida. They type in local. Google gives my result first. They think I’m in their city because they type that name. So, I have to say Google, in that sense, has been amazing.
Laura: Yeah, that’s amazing because here in Colorado Springs, we got a liquid nitrogen shop recently. I haven’t been to it now in the days of COVID. But I would imagine that you’d come up even above them. Do you find that there’s a lot of competition in your space?
Scot: Not really. Now, with COVID, even less. It’s a very unique thing. It’s not just dessert. There’s science. There’s danger. Liquid nitrogen is 320 degrees below zero. It can burn you. There are some issues, you know, dealing with tanks. And when I go to a party, I bring 60 liters of liquid nitrogen. So it’s not easy to jump into. And I kind of liked that because it took me years to get over that first, you know, business, especially startup. It’s like this roller coaster, and there’s always like this. It never goes away.
But that first kind of when you’re like going up that thing and you’re just at the edge – that was like two years for me. And then it went really scary for a while. And so you just kind of have to be ready to adapt. Yeah, ready to kind of take every challenge as it comes and don’t get frazzled. The ability for you to have some backup plan – I think that’s the danger. Don’t have a backup plan.
Laura: No safety net! Just all in.
Scot: You’re all in.
Laura: I like it. You know, there’s a concept in marketing called blue ocean and red ocean, which basically is like: A blue ocean is when you’re kind of there swimming around all by yourself, and all the sharks come in and feed and make the category or industry cluttered, and the ocean turns red with blood. So essentially, you found and created your own blue ocean, which is really the secret to success. When we were talking earlier about is there anything new? Can you invent anything new? It may come inspiration may come from where you least expected, but you’ve essentially created your own blue ocean.
We’ve got a question here from Shannon Mackey. She says, “How do you keep such a strong mindset with all of the ups and downs and the roller coasters that you just described?”
Scot: It’s hard. Everything else, like, is the product good? That was solved early. It didn’t keep me up at night. That was actually the easiest part of it. But money, finances, keeping your cashflow going. There were many nights where I would sit and lay in bed and look up and go, “Oh my God. Tomorrow this whole thing is going to come crashing down.” And that happens multiple times. Your ability to stand there and get up the next day and build again – that is what makes a successful entrepreneur. You have to take the scary parts and use them as fuel and lessons for the next one because there’s going to be more scary stuff. It never changes.
And really, once you get comfortable and you’re like, “All right. I got this figured out.” Well, now you have to scale. Once you start to scale, you’re going to enter a whole new world of new challenges and new frustrations.
Laura: Christopher Gunner has asked if we could get a recap for those late to the stream. Well, put those late to the screen: This is Do the Damn Thing for HipCat Society. And we’re talking with Scot Rubin, who is a lifelong entrepreneur. And we are just trying to tap into some of his wisdom, and assume his knowledge, and talk about his experiences launching all of these mega industries.
I mentioned earlier that there’s a nitrogen ice cream shop – I’m not sure of the term technical terminology – near me. I don’t even know their name because I don’t eat that junk. I only eat yours, which was delivered to my house this morning, by the way. Thank you. Do you find that you get a lot of like what they call “cheater brands” or people trying to sort of ride your coattails?
Scot: So, yeah, there are a couple of other liquid nitrogen places. There is a chain called Creamistry. It’s a different experience, a different product. Ingredients are everything. Everything we do is organic and locally sourced, so that helps. But when it comes to competition and you know, some people – everyone’s different. I don’t look at or follow on Twitter, Instagram – anyone that’s in my space. Zero! Hey, did you hear about it?
I don’t want to be influenced by someone else. I don’t want to be distracted by someone else. If you’re spending time focusing on your competition and what they’re doing – that’s seconds, minutes, hours, you’re not focusing on your product and what you can do and what you can be doing better.
And the customers will tell you if what you’re doing is right, and you don’t need to look at your competition to figure out if what you’re doing is right. And when you get that good relationship with a customer, they’ll tell you what they want that you’re not doing. And I just think that the less distraction, especially from, “Oh, I was doing that first.” I don’t even get into that cause I’m not looking.
Laura: One viewer wanted to know if the tapes in your background are old G4 tapes. And then someone else, excuse me while I get up, actually noticed this, and I didn’t want this here for the show. This was real – that this was the background. I don’t know if you got that. Let me go here. This was a comic that was drawn of Scot, myself. That’s me—the really awesome one. I’ll upload a picture later. Anyways, people are noticing our backgrounds. So are those G4 tapes in your background?
Scot: Those tapes are literally a small slice. You know, when we were on TV, on the internet, Laura and I worked together in 98, 99 on the internet. And those things were never on YouTube. All the shows that Laura did, I did – everything we did at Pseudo – thousands and thousands of hours have never been seen on the internet. So I have been digitizing tapes from Pseudo, from All Games Network, and from G4 over the past few months during the pandemic. But there are literally another 600 hours left. So slowly, I’m going to digitize that. And hopefully, we can put together a show where we show off some of the best stuff from the gaming era before YouTube and all that kind of stuff.
Laura: Awesome. We are getting some questions about it, and then we’ll get back on track. But we’re getting into questions about the new G4 – you knew they would be coming – and whether or not you and I would be involved in that. Would you like to field that question, Scot?
Scot: I literally just this past week built a computer with my son for computer gaming. So I still play games and X-Box and PlayStation. So between all these hours of history of gaming and current gaming and the future of gaming and VR, there’s plenty to talk about. So G4 TV, Blair, whatever. Let’s make it happen.
Laura: All right. Cool. I knew that was coming. So we had to get that over with. Let’s get back on track real quick. So I want to know what you would say to the people who are afraid. You’re an inspirational guy. You’ve always inspired me. You give wonderful speeches. If anyone is having a wedding, I suggest you invite Scot. So, what would you say to them to get them off their butts and to do the damn thing?
Scot: Well, I have to say that people always talk about how it’s so hard now, and this generation has been screwed by the generation before, and there’s no opportunity. And I want to tell you all: That’s absolutely the most insane thing you could possibly think! Readjust your thinking.
When I was a kid, if you wanted to make a TV show or a radio show or anything – a book, the people that had the equipment and the distribution were so out of touch and out of reach that it wasn’t even something you could even consider. Now, your computer, your iPad, even your phone can produce music, videos, comic books – anything! And the distribution is right at your fingertips. So instead of waiting for some company to think you’re awesome, you have the ability to put that out there now and let the people decide if you’re awesome. And if you can’t get advertising, create a Patreon and allow the people to fund you directly or create a Kickstarter at Indiegogo.
So there’s literally no excuse for not taking the idea you have and at least trying to run it to the goal posts. The tools are there. There are so many free resources, websites – access to every tool that you could possibly need for either cheap or free. So the only excuse is that you’re afraid. And if you’re afraid of failure, think about what you want for success. You put it on a vision board. You put it on your wall, and you look at it every day. And I guarantee you, if you work hard, I promise you it will all happen.
Your ability to stand there and get up the next day and build again – that is what makes a successful entrepreneur. You have to take the scary parts and use them as fuel and lessons for the next one because there’s going to be more scary stuff.
Laura: Do you have a vision board, Scot?
Scot: I’ve always had vision boards. Everything I’ve ever wanted to come true has started on either a piece of paper or on my wall, or I used to use my desktop wallpaper to make things come true. I would stare at it every day, and that’s how I would get it.
Laura: And I wasted hat space with a picture of Leonardo DiCaprio.
Scot: Well, you never know. He might show up.
Laura: You mentioned waiting for other people to kind of buy into your ideas. Did you have partners? Did anyone help you with the funding? I mean, you had to require some money to get this all up and going, right?
Scot: Yes. Every, at everything I’ve ever done, there’s been people that have helped me. Maybe it wasn’t a lot. With All Games, it was thousands of dollars to keep that thing running before I sold it to Pseudo and was able to pay that person back for what they invested.
With the ice cream business, it’s a little bit of a longer game, but I have investors who had said to me, “You run, and you take this as far as you can. Don’t worry about paying me back right now. Worry about growing the company and turning that investment into something bigger.” So, yes, you need people. It’s okay to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask people for help that doesn’t require money. You know, sometimes somebody can just do something for you that doesn’t require money out of their pocket. You gotta be creative and especially with funding is financing, credit cards, and stuff. Don’t dig yourself too deep. And try to just be creative with financing.
Laura: Now, one of the things that I would imagine was a huge boost to your company was the Chase campaign, right? I mean, let me see if we can show some here. Talk to me about how this came about. This campaign was everywhere. I mean, it was online. I believe it was in print. How did you get found for this, and what has it done to your business and sales?
Scot: Yeah, so it was a total call to my voicemail from the casting agents saying – they don’t know if I’m interested, but they saw an article about my business. They’re looking for unique businesses, but they have to have a Chase bank account. So I happened to already have a Chase bank account. I thought I was being picked. So I was like, “Sure, I’ll come in.” I went in, and it was like, 60 people in this room, all auditioning for this commercial. So I was like, “Oh, okay.” I brought ice cream. I was thinking I was going to give it to them. “Thanks for picking me.” And I just take the video and then I hand it to my boss. I’m like, “Do you want to give the ice cream to them?” And he’s like, yeah, “Sure.”
So I didn’t really know what was going on. I just answered a bunch of questions. And then, about a week later, I got a call saying, “The director really likes you. He wants to come to your kitchen and kind of meet you.” So I said, “Okay.” The director came, and he was a film and TV director that does really high-end commercials. And I gave him a kind of tour of my kitchen. I showed him how the ice cream was made. He had never seen it before. And I just talked to him about my story, and he was like, “It’s you! You’re the guy!”
So they picked me and a woman who owned a natural wine business and a man who makes furniture using reclaimed wood. And it was for the Chase link business card. And we became the face of this campaign. Movie theaters, TV, internet, print. It’s been running now for three years. It’s gonna run for another year. They shot it over three days.
Laura: Obviously, it was cool. It was fun. You know, you’re a television guy at your core, so I’m sure it was an amazing experience. But did it correlate to actual revenue? Did it increase your sales?
Scot: Yeah, got more calls. I got a lot of notification calls from people looking to invest. I got calls from India, and Russia, and Sri Lanka. How do I do nitrogen in Sri Lanka? I got all these people wanting to kind of take the business around the world.
It brought me business from around the world and the opportunity to expand the business into other parts of the country. So, you know, a free million-dollar campaign doesn’t hurt. FedEx, I know, does small business campaigns where they give grants every year. A lot of my time has been spent filling out applications for business opportunities and a variety of different grants.
Laura: I mean, it really sounds like you are the perfect example of someone who’s using everything available to you. Do you know what I mean? You’re out there; you’re working it, you’re killing it. You’re exploring free tools. You’re looking at marketing campaigns. I mean, you’re really doing what everyone, what they say you’re supposed to do. Right? You’re the textbook example of a success story.
Scot: I don’t know about that. But I know that if you just do it – that Nike phrase is real. A lot of people, I talk to them, they have ideas, and they’re like, “Oh, I’m going to do this.” And then the next time I see them, “So what’s going on?” “Yeah, I’m totally doing it.” And it’s like, the idea is exciting to them. And this is my big piece of advice: Whatever your big idea is, your business idea – think about the day-to-day. Write down every single thing that’s going to happen in a transaction with the customer. Write down what a week looks like because I’ve done probably 500 parties over the last few years because we’re a big party event business. But that’s not this job. This job is a lot different than that.
And so, those are the things that you have to be willing to love and embrace to take your idea from idea to execution. And I think a lot of people get the idea, and then the first time they start to figure it out and go, “Oh, this is actually…” But I would say that that is when you need to push through and keep going. If it’s not fun and you don’t enjoy doing it, then it’s time to get out. Because if you’re not having fun doing it on the hardest days – There’s going to be a lot of hard days.
Laura: We’ve got just under a minute left. So I don’t want to keep you any longer than promised. But I think what you said is really poignant. I mean, I know even myself, I’m not a solopreneur – I’m a franchise. But still, I did the damn thing, and there’s so much about it that I didn’t know going in. And honestly, had I known, I might not have done it. So it might be a blessing. And same for you, perhaps where it’s like had you known all of the low down nitty-gritty, would you have still done it?
Scot: Yeah. Although I was early with nitrogen, I was early with internet TV and gaming TV. So, who knows? Maybe in 10 years, I’ll be doing something else in the world would be eating a lot more on nitrogen.
Laura: I almost guarantee in 10 years you’ll be doing something new because you’re that kind of guy. You’re an entrepreneurial spirit. And we are out of time, but thank you so much! Thank you for joining me. I love you. And I miss you. Thank you for the ice cream.
Scot: Bye everybody!
Laura: And everyone else, see you guys next week. See you later, and Do The Damn Thing! Bye.
So please like us on Facebook… opens in a new window to HipCat Society Facebook page…, follow us on Instagram… opens in a new window to HipCat Society Instagram page…, and connect with Scot at nitropod.net… opens in a new window to Nitropod website….