In 2004, I started my first company with the world's first hot pepper nasal spray. I had no money and literally started with $350 at my kitchen table. Since we had no money to advertise, we relied on publicity for free advertising - particularly on the web. As the head of marketing (and everything else), I was always looking for ways to use popular media to get our brand out there. For small businesses, getting noticed was hard and the mainstream media only publicized their favorite big brands.
We were struggling to get noticed as a start-up in 2004 and that's when Donald Trump came into my life. "The Apprentice" hit the airwaves and as a struggling entrepreneur, I was captivated by the new television series. The show was an instant hit that gave a jump start to many small businesses by bringing entrepreneurship back into the news.
As chief marketing officer, I got the brilliant idea of contacting Donald Trump to interview him about being an entrepreneur and taking chances. I figured I could use the interview on our website to push our brand online.
I called every phone number and emailed every address I could find for several weeks with no reply from "The Donald". Every intern, secretary or producer I spoke with was professional, yet rudely stern when it came to sheltering everyone in the Trump organization. After hours of scouring web fan forums, I found what I believed to be Donald Trump's personal email. So as a desperate entrepreneur, I sent the email - expecting a Bounce Back or No Reply.
Five days later, I was shocked to see an email from Donald Trump at 12 AM. At first I thought it was a joke or maybe a computer scam of some kind, but I opened the email anyway. It's been more than a decade, but I remember it pretty well.
"I don't have time for an interview, but I appreciate your praise for the show. You're obviously looking to use my name to boost your brand, but at least you're honest about it. Pepper nasal spray is an interesting concept. Call the office tomorrow and tell them I said George Ross will give you a 10 minute phone interview", Donald Trump.
I called the next day and sure enough they set me up with George Ross, Trump's "right hand man" who was also featured on The Apprentice. I interviewed George for about 15 minutes with all kinds of questions about Donald Trump and small business. He was awesome and the interview drove our brand like crazy on the web. I even landed a feature for the world's first hot pepper nasal spray in the Wall Street Journal thanks to Donald Trump.
Thanks to Donald Trump's kindness, we grew our company from a $350 kitchen table idea to more than one million dollars a year. Our close encounter with Mr. Trump created jobs and helped our family achieve the American Dream.
Unfortunately we lost our American Dream in 2009 after making a bad deal with a big Wall Street firm, but we have clawed our way back with Sinus Plumber hot pepper nasal spray and Greensations.
Not trying to make any political stance here....I just thought this was an interesting personal story...