Ashtan Moore | [Top Agency Series] Raised by Hippies and Building Businesses
Smart Business Revolution

Ashtan Moore is a Co-founder and Partner at Model B, a Washington, DC and Atlanta-based digital marketing agency that helps companies and entrepreneurs increase sales, communicate with key audiences, and drive influence in the marketplace. He is also the Co-founder and Advisor to Ironclad Accounting and Finance and is a member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Washington, DC chapter. With a background in engineering, Ashtan built Model B’s digital marketing platforms to employ smart algorithms and help companies use the power of big data online to achieve nearly any sales or communications objective. 

In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran interviews Ashtan Moore, a Co-founder and Partner at Model B, about his entrepreneurial journey and what he learned from running different businesses. Ashtan also explains how his parents influenced his career choice and how he evolved into digital marketing. Stay tuned.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • What Ashtan Moore learned from running a business in the cannabis PR space
  • Did managing two companies at the same time affect Ashtan’s cannabis business?
  • How moving around the country as a child impacted Ashtan’s life and career choices
  • Ashtan talks about his inspiration to start building companies and how he evolved into digital marketing
  • The 2021 economic environment’s impacts on Ashtan’s business and what he has learned since joining Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO)
  • Ashtan talks about the people he respects and shares his contact details

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Sponsor: Rise25

At Rise25, we’re committed to helping you connect with your Dream 100 referral partners, clients, and strategic partners through our done-for-you podcast solution. 

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We’ll distribute each episode across more than 11 unique channels, including iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. We’ll also create copy for each episode and promote your show across social media.

Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90xAtariEinstein BagelsMattelRx BarsYPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk,  and many more.  

The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.

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Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:10

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.

John Corcoran 0:40

All right, welcome everyone. John Corcoran here, I’m the host. And you know, every week I get to talk with smart CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs of all kinds of companies and organizations. Go check out our archives got lots of great episodes with folks from Netflix and Kinkos’ and YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, LendingTree, OpenTable, and many more. I’m also the Co-founder of Rise25 where we help connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. And my guest today is Ashtan Moore. He’s a Partner and Co-founder of Model B. It’s a Washington DC and Atlanta based digital marketing agency that helps companies and entrepreneurs to increase sales, communicate with key audiences, and drive influence in the marketplace. He’s also the Co-founder and Advisor to Iron Clad Accounting and Finance, and a member of Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) Washington, DC chapter. 

And of course, this episode is brought to you by Rise25 Media where he help b2b businesses to get clients, referrals, and strategic partnerships with done for you podcasts and content marketing. Go check us out at rise25media.com or email us at [email protected] Alright, Ashtan, happy to have you here today and to dig a bit into your story. And I want to start with a company that you founded about five or so years ago now. And you launched a company that was in the cannabis PR space, which unfortunately didn’t work out. It was a bit of a learning experience. I guess. The Yen eventually had to shut down the company. But take us back to that experience, particularly and, you know, as you’re winding up the company, and you’re realizing maybe some of the mistakes that were made along the way or missteps. What was going through your mind as as you’re having to wrap up this company?

Ashtan Moore 2:27

Yeah, John, do you ever wonder if maybe we contribute to because I feel like every time I get on a podcast, we talk about something bad? I’ve done so we maybe

John Corcoran 2:39

Yep, let’s podcasters were bad story enablers. I guess we just love that stuff. You know? Yeah.

Ashtan Moore 2:46

I mean, I’ve I think every failure I’ve ever had is the only reason I’m good at anything. So

John Corcoran 2:53

yeah, we’ll get to the good stuff. We’ll get to the good stuff later. We just got to start with the bad stuff because it makes us better. Okay,

Ashtan Moore 2:59

as long as it’s related to companies and not my teenage years. I’m totally in for that. Me there.

John Corcoran 3:07

Believe me? I don’t want to delve into that. So cannabis, PR company nerve, it’s called okay. Alright, so

Ashtan Moore 3:15

nerve. I’d love nerve nerve is a great company. Did it failed, though? Yeah. What was?

John Corcoran 3:21

So what are some of the lessons from that then? Well,

Ashtan Moore 3:24

we started off. So headcount was a problem. So as a young founder, who doesn’t really know how to build companies, you kind of get obsessed with the idea that having a lot of people working for you makes you successful, or at least me, maybe everybody else is smarter than me, but that’s what I thought I was like, okay, lots of people, I’m successful. But, you know, also, as a young founder, you don’t really look at, you know, gross revenue comparative to, you know, the bottom line. And so that was, I think one of our biggest missteps was that we all we always stopped way too far ahead. Now, I do believe in agency land professional services land, you do need to staff ahead, if you have a good pipeline or any company and manufacturing, you know, you have a big order coming and you got to make your things, the same thing. But we we did it without a great pipeline, and also with a weak marketplace, a very weak. We were charging at a price point where not only could the majority of our clients not afford us or prospective clients that we were set up to service. There’s also a really interesting part of this. I founded this company with a woman named Devin Devin Richardson, who I call the queen of cannabis. She’s still in the industry. Talk to her last week. She’s amazing. But she would have to run around the country with a with a bag stuffed full of cash because in cannabis, you can wire money or brain checks, because you can’t take dollars across the lines legally. So that was super dangerous. Right? Yeah, yeah.

John Corcoran 5:13

Yeah. So you had so that small, minor detail having to get cash from your clients? Yes, yes.

Ashtan Moore 5:21

When they could pay us. And that was the other flip side, it was just we got into the market. And this is something you always I mean, now today, I always look at I say, Who are we serving that we’re providing value to them? So they give us $1, they get $3 in value, it doesn’t have to be three hard dollars. Like we’re not we’re not a cash machine. But like, how does the company either, you know, make $3 in Marketing Land or save $3? And, and, you know, accounting lands for every dollar given to us. And, you know, I think it was just such a young mark yet, and we were overburdened with our costs that we eventually had to shutter. But I say young market, I mean, you know, is like either Philip Morris or the cannabis startup, you know, on the corner in your neighborhood, there wasn’t like today. They’re, they’re great. I mean, maybe I should call her and see if she wants to try it again.

John Corcoran 6:21

Yeah, it’s interesting. I mean, you say you were starting this around 2017 time period. And I don’t can’t remember when California, you know, here in California legalized marijuana. But you know, it’s a kind of one state at a time, Colorado, Washington State. So I’m thinking that 2017, maybe was kind of still in the beginning of that trend.

Ashtan Moore 6:43

But I can tell you that it wasn’t legal in DC at the time, it is now. Virginia, it’s now I think, a slap on the wrist. I mean, then it was, it was like it was like, it was like the Wild West. And you know, everybody wanted to be a big company. And you just have to ask yourself, whenever I tell this to two young founders, and I always say I need to change that word, and stop using young, I mean, green or fresh founders. I’m like, This sounds like a great idea. But who’s gonna pay a million dollars for this solution that that doesn’t make sense, like, who’s even going to pay 1000 for it, like, you need to fit the value, you’re driving to what you’re charging in terms of the money in the market, we just didn’t have enough people who could afford the rate that we needed to charge based on the number of people that we had in the company. And so eventually, we had to, you know, shut the doors, I think it was, I think we were in it to win it for about a year and a half. And we had a bunch of great clients. Actually look the clients up the other day, and I could only find a third of them are still solvent, which is representative of like the kind of what the market was like at the time.

John Corcoran 7:57

Yeah. So, you know, I’ve had a lot of guests on the show who had company failures. And sometimes the reason was because their their efforts were divided, they had something else they were working on. So you also had Model B at the same time. Was that an impact? Because you had more than one company or your efforts are divided?

Ashtan Moore 8:18

I’m nodding yes. But I’m not in agreeance of what you’re saying. So so I’m in a really unique position for most of the companies that I’m a part of, which is I have the blessing, I’ve the best job in the world. Most of the time, what I do is I’ll bring the client and help scope and, and there’ll be a handoff. At ironclad I don’t even help scope, but I just I just helped to make people aware that the offering exists and that it’s for entrepreneurs like me, because it’s very entrepreneur focused bookkeeping company, even at Model B today. I generally just scope and coach, I was scoper. And I’m a coach or so I spent today I have a bunch of partners and a from Model B guys in from Atlanta, Virginia, Ohio. I spent, you know, three or four hours with them just talking through the bottlenecks in their company. Because I’m a co founder with a great operational model of the organization. My role is really sitting down with the other folks who they’re having bottlenecks with and helping them get those out of the way. So my my, what I do in the day to day is actually not arduous. So it allows me to bounce around a little bit and just make sure that we have the right connectivity. Yeah. And the example with nerve directly as I was just doing the same thing for nerve that I was doing for Model B. And a lot of that was scoping, and in some cases the work would actually be divided between Model B nerve so very careful about being in two In many places at at the same time, and I always start whenever I build a company with great operators or I won’t, I won’t get after it. Like, I know that I am not skillful at many things, what I’m great at doing is connecting people and helping to connect a company to something that’s going to help it grow. So that’s really where I sit almost all the time. Well, that’s a

John Corcoran 10:23

valuable lesson. There’s a lot of entrepreneurs that struggle with that idea of getting themselves out of the business. They’re not stuck in it. Was there a key moment when you learn that? Was that something that’s kind of always been with you? Or, you know,

Ashtan Moore 10:39

I’ve always known I’m not very good at anything. So I well, so for me, it was actually if you run back through my my history, I started a company when I was in my late teens, early 20s. That I essentially fat it by sprinting revenue into it. Like I would just throw and not what had too high of a headcount as well as called more enterprise solutions. Just like my last name, I’m sorry.

John Corcoran 11:13

I have no idea what they did. But what does that mean sprinting revenue? Because I’d love to do that. How do you sprint revenue into your company, you shove