Jason Rosenbaum | [Top Agency Series] Acting, Bartending, M&A, and Digital Transformation
Smart Business Revolution

Jason Rosenbaum is a Partner and COO at Crowd Favorite, a digital transformation company that provides software development solutions to established and startup brands. Founded in 2007, Crowd Favorite was an original WordPress agency focused primarily on enterprise clients. Over a decade later, they have evolved into a multi-discipline, digital consulting firm specializing in enterprise-grade digital strategy and elite open source development.

In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran interviews Jason Rosenbaum, a Partner and COO at Crowd Favorite, about building a digital agency and the lessons learned from doing M&A rollups. Jason also talks about his acting background, building a cannabis business, and how Crowd Favorite has changed over the years. Stay tuned.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • Jason Rosenbaum’s experience being an actor and the lessons he learned from rejections and mistakes 
  • How working as a bartender and in retail influenced Jason during his acting years
  • Jason talks about building a business in the cannabis industry and selling products through e-commerce
  • How Jason’s family and friends reacted to his education and career choices
  • Why Jason exited the cannabis business and how he started a new one
  • What inspired Jason to go into M&A rollups in 2014?
  • How Crowd Favorite has changed over the years and how it currently positions itself
  • What Crowd Favorite has been doing to acquire and retain good talent
  • Jason talks about the peers he respects and shares his contact details

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Sponsor: Rise25

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

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:01

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

Hey, John Corcoran here. I’m the host of this show and it is such a pleasure every week to talk to smart CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs of companies ranging from Netflix to Kinko’s, YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, LendingTree, Open Table, go check out the archives. There’s lots of great episode for you. I’m also the Co-founder of Rise25, where we help connected b2b business owners so they’re ideal prospects. A quick shout out to Carl Smith, the Bureau of Digital, who has helped introduce me to so many great people. And today’s episode is no exception. Jason Rosenbaum is his name. He’s a partner and CEO at Crowd Favorite, an independent boutique, digital transformation company that helps do software development for established and startup brands. If I butchered that, then I’m sure Jason will help point that out in a second or so basically, they create really complex websites for companies and for people and help connect the digital experience. So the human experience which is something that’s really relevant today, for so many different companies that haven’t been online or that are moving online are realizing that that there’s, there’s less of a divide between those things online the offline experience. 

So we’re going to talk all about that he’s also got a really interesting background, having done acting, for many years worked on a bunch of different startups in different industries. So we’re gonna we’re gonna get into that in a second. But first, of course, this episode is brought to you by rice, reified media, for helping b2b businesses to get clients referrals and strategic partnerships with done free podcasts and content marketing. You want to learn more about how we do it, go to Rise25media.com or you can email us at [email protected] All right, Jason. So let’s start with acting. I want to know like what was that experience like and I want to get to also the relevance of it to what you do today because you know, I cut my teeth in politics. I remember going door to door facing rejection people slamming doors on my face. And now I’m glad that I did it because rejection is just such a great tool to experience especially when you’re younger. And possibly there’s no profession that experiences more rejection than acting because you have to go and try out and face just face it right to your face. So tell me a little bit about your acting career.

Jason Rosenbaum 2:53

Yeah, certainly I don’t have a proclivity for like things that are highly successful right it’s either startups or trying to be an actor it’s like could you pick the longest possible No, I you know, I always had a you know love for the movies when I was a kid it was something that you know, I was brought up with by by my my folks and so it’s played a big role in our in our household and so I got that bug early on and probably the best parental advice that they ever gave me was when I was ready to drop out of college that they said no, why don’t you stay stay and finish and then you can go do whatever it is you want to do so that was

John Corcoran 3:29

now that you’ve got this secure BA in English that didn’t fall back on?

Jason Rosenbaum 3:34

That’s right because if you remember I say that as a as a fellow BA in English holder say as I’m gonna date myself a little bit here, but you know, in 1999, when I graduated from college, an English degree you know, meant you were maybe going to be a teacher, that’s pretty much what they thought that you were going to be. No, you know, acting was great. I mean, I think you know, certainly the rejection part probably is the most significant you know, sort of life lesson you take from the experience. I mean, definitely developing thick skin in general, is probably just good for most people as they go through life. As they sort of bang their their head up against the rock of life, right. So develop some calluses is always a good thing. It also makes you care less about being accepted, which allows you to be more creative and innovative with how you’re expressing yourself, not just in this doesn’t just apply obviously, to acting, you’re asking about relevance in in business as well. And I think that certainly applies there. I think you know, if you’re a believer in what you’re bringing to the table that’s different than maybe what the next person is going to bring to the table. And you really put it out there and you give it your all and you’re able to sort of let your inhibitions go. I think the product that you’re able to deliver to whoever it is you’re delivering it to is unique and differentiated and even if they’re not buying it, you know, I think you’ll stand out and at the end of the day, I think that’s that’s what a lot of relationships are about because We meet a lot of people all the time every day even more. So now virtually right? So, so yeah, rejection was definitely a, you know, a part of that learning experience. I also think, you know, getting comfortable with failure. I’m a big believer that mistakes lead to success, not the same mistakes over and over again, right? But we encourage people in Crowd Favorite, make money, make mistakes, make new mistakes, that’s our that’s the trick, right? Make as many new mistakes as you possibly can. And that’s how you learn, you know, those mistakes, those failures, failures, which are really just precursors to success, right? I mean, you walk in there, you figure out, you know, you get feedback, hey, why did you know? I didn’t like this, I didn’t like that about your audition, or whatever it is, you didn’t have the right hair color? Well, I can’t control that, you know, six foot five, I can’t control that, you know, do you start putting away things that you can control and that you can get better on and then you also put away things that you can’t control, and you’re able to move past? And that just brings more, again, bringing it back to the relevancy of our business, and then you’re able to bring a more optimized experience to whoever it is you’re engaging with at that time.

John Corcoran 6:05

Yeah, I you know, I don’t want to gloss over how hard it is to be a working actor. Because the I grew up in Los Angeles where the joke is every waiter is a struggling actor, right? It’s not a joke, like, you know, especially in Los Angeles. That was me. I was in Los Angeles. I was bartending out there. And what was that, like, you know, doing auditions during the day working at night?

Jason Rosenbaum 6:30

Well, certainly easier when I was in my early 20s. And I had a lot of energy and was really excited about, about everything at that time, I will say, you know, I never lived in California. So I moved I moved route out there right after school, I got a very boring job as a mutual fund analyst at GE Capital. So I can make some money. And then I moved out to California with my girlfriend at the time. And, and it was different, different environment, Los Angeles, I’m an I’m a New Yorker, obviously, a very different, very different experience, different groups of people, different types of people. It was high energy. I remember when I first moved out there in 1999, I didn’t get a cell phone until like, 2000, end of 2000. And my agent would leave answering machine messages really dating myself now like, where my next audition was to be yelling at me to get a cell phone. What do I need a cell phone for? wasn’t like I said not to up on the technology at the time. But um, but yeah, I mean, I think, you know, the experience out there was hustle, right? I think you learned how to be you also, I learned also very quickly, you know, what my brand was, you know, what worked, what people were looking for, from me, you know, and what they weren’t looking for, from me, I was very much like, the beer guy, the boyfriend. You know, though, like east, you know, Hollywood will very quickly sort of take you in a login screen as possible, right? And so, but you know, you’re just trying to make it you’re struggling and you’re just trying to get by so you take you take, you know, pretty much whatever is gonna come your way. And, you know, as you start to become more self aware about what’s working, and where you’re finding success and what’s not working, where you’re not finding success. And then is that overlapping with what you actually want out of it. And I think, you know, one of the reasons I was leaving that industry was that overlap started to get further and further away as I got a little bit older, the things I really wanted to do, wasn’t getting access to do but the things that I didn’t really want to do anymore. I was having, you know, I was getting plenty of access to that kind of stuff. Yeah. But also the experience, I mean, not just the acting, but you know, what do you have to do to actually survive, right? And that’s what led me into bartending in the hospitality industry. And you and I were talking about that earlier. Just how hospitality and retail I had jobs in both shout out to the Mondrian hotel and to Abercrombie and Fitch in Santa Monica.

John Corcoran 8:50

Did you work there? I did. I did. That was my first job on Third Street prominent at Abercrombie and Fitch right after college. What year was 99 wow it for me it was I think was 98 actually wow that’s so funny. Yeah, small

Jason Rosenbaum 9:09

Well, I went in there to be a floor sales guy at the time I was in decent shape. And they were like, Oh, you graduated college. You should be a manager in training. So you know, I wound up doing that training program and best thing about that job was taking the kids off the floor and then going to a college campus. And Reno recruiting. Yeah, I knew

John Corcoran 9:29

I never did that. But that would have been an awesome job. Yeah, it was very, they did. They said the same thing to me about management. Like they offered me at one point I remember I turned it down. Because I didn’t want to like pursue that opportunity. And I knew if I did, then I probably would not pursue other opportunities.

Jason Rosenbaum 9:47

Yeah, you know, and that’s what I realized after I went through my first holiday season, managing a retail store like a flagship store, west of the Mississippi type of retail store. We realize I never want to spend another Christmas in retail ever Ever Yeah, but value invaluable experience, right customer, customer experience customer success. And the hospitality part of it, you know, bartending for a lot of years, which I did, you know, you learn how to read a room, you learn how to understand what people want before they know what they want. And I think that is definitely translated well into, into my roles later on in my

John Corcoran 10:25

career, for sure, there’s such great skills he learned from waiting tables or from bartending from that kind of face to face interaction with people social etiquette cues and stuff that you learn credibly,

Jason Rosenbaum 10:37

I use restaurants all the time as a metaphor for our business with the team all the time, you know, from, you know, we want to have certain, you know, type of like reservations and reservations out for a while, that’s our pipeline, you know, we want to be able to, you know, you can provide great service and great food and a great experience, there may always be a customer who’s unhappy for whatever reason that they’re unhappy, I think, you know, your job is to create a business environment or a work environment where your team and also you know, new customers are ready to come in, if a current customer is unhappy and wants to move on that. That’s part of life, too, right? So there’s a lot to learn from these industries.

John Corcoran 11:16

We were talking beforehand about being open to different opportunities, and you were playing softball on Sundays, and you end up meeting someone who becomes your business partner, and you are very early on into the cannabis industry. This is we’re talking about 2008 2009. I don’t think it was, I think maybe, you know, illegal for that