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23 Jan

Ep. 87 – Jerry Ropelato – Founder of WhiteClouds

“Sometimes I just see things that I just look at it. There’s always a better way to do that. I like solving problems. To me, creating a successful business is all about solving a problem.”

Jerry Ropelato – Founder of WhiteClouds; Creating companies by problem solving; Identifying acquisitions; successes and failures; loving the game.

Segment 1: (Length :04:00) – General Updates; Introduction to Jerry Ropelato and his journey as an entrepreneur; Creating companies by problem solving; Not being afraid to fail; Being flexible.

Jerry’s finer points:

I would start off by saying, I think I have what I call the entrepreneurial curse. When I see things and I look at things, I'm always thinking how can I improve upon that.

“My first company, I started in 1978, believe it or not, a long time ago. Here, again, I was trying to solve a problem and I think as I’ve grown up and I’m always looking for that next opportunity.”

“Sometimes I just see things that I just look at it. There’s always a better way to do that. I like solving problems. To me, creating a successful business is all about solving a problem.”

“I really think if you’re not solving some kind of problem, maybe you should ask yourself, is that really a business that you should be involved in. To me, solving problems makes great businesses.”

Yeah, I think that one thing that most successful entrepreneurs have is they're not afraid to fail. They're not afraid of risk either.

“I think a lot of people are held back because they’re just afraid to make that first jump, just jump in and do it.”

“I love Nike’s brand logo, ‘Just do it.’ I think there’s so much truth to that if you’re going to be an entrepreneur. You just need to jump in and do it.”

“Now, in my case, I think, as I’ve gotten a little smarter after having a few failures along the way, you probably take a little more educated look at the business you’re looking to start.”

“How are you going to drive revenue? To me, if you can’t drive revenue, probably not a good business. I will say this, I think every single business I’ve started, what I thought was going to be the primary revenue driver, it changed.”

“I think people need to, when they start businesses, be flexible. Don’t be such a purist that you’re stepping a little outside your mission statement when you finally find a revenue stream.”

“I think you can still accomplish a lot, stay close to that mission statement, but in the early stages, I think you’ve got to be flexible.”

Segment 2: (Length :08:00) – Talking with Jerry Ropelato; Identifying acquisitions; Successes and failures.

Jerry’s finer points:

I've been more involved, I have an existing company and I'm trying to grow the company. I used acquisitions as a growth method, or a growth strategy to actually provide growth for my company.

“Typically, I look at probably acquisitions from two perspectives.”

“There’s the perspective of someone wanting to buy a company and live the dream of ownership. Typically that’s for people who are probably creating a lifestyle business. Are they buying a sandwich shop or an oil and lube company, a pizza shop or a franchise of some kind? That’s typically not what I’ve been involved.”

“I’ve had some really great acquisitions and I’ve had some that probably weren’t as great. I think they probably come in two types. One is more of an opportunistic, someone’s struggling or they’re going to go out of business and you actually pick them up for a fairly inexpensive price. I think there’s others where you’re actually looking at it as a buy versus build scenario.”

One of the early acquisitions I did, I acquired space.com. It was originally created by CNN's Lou Dobbs and astronaut Sally Ride and Neil Armstrong.

“They built a great company. They put literally tens of millions of dollars into it, but could never get it to profitability. When we looked at it, we saw some opportunities there. We picked it up really right before they decided to close it down. We didn’t pay a lot for it. We were able to actually double revenue in about 45 days, get it into a profitable situation.”

“Now it’s a thriving web property with about 12 million visitors a month. Just because a little knowledge we had on being able to monetize web traffic, we were able to turn that into a very profitable venture.”

“All of them haven’t been a successful as that. I did one other acquisition. Here again, one of those where you move very quickly. It was a company that was struggling and literally, they were trying to figure out how they were going to make payroll.”

“On Monday, this was on a Thursday, sat down with them and I agreed to acquire the company without doing any due diligence. That was probably a lesson learned for me. We ended up getting some great software out of it. It just wasn’t quite the company that we were hoping it would be. That’s kind of a valuable lesson.”

You've always got to do your due diligence. Even though sometimes you may think you can skip that step or lessen it, I would highly making sure you do proper due diligence.

Segment 3: (Length :10:00) – Starting companies for the right reasons; WhiteClouds and it’s inception; Loving the game.

Jerry’s finer points:

“My advice would be don’t even worry about the acquisition or the end game. It will take care of itself in time.”

“Sure, there are some things you can do to make yourself more familiar to potential inquirers through PR and things like that, but I think it’s more important to create a company that’s growing.”

If you can get the profitability, that is extremely important. If you build a good company, you don't even have to put yourself up for sale, acquirers will find you.

“My advice is don’t be thinking a lot about the end game. I think a lot of people get in wanting to start a business and they think, ‘I’m going to sell it here in two years.’ I don’t think that’s a good, healthy way to look at starting a business.”

“I think start the business with the idea of coming up with the right solution to a problem, building the business as smart as possible and the acquisition will take care of itself.”

“My last company, Purch, we had a very successful company. After 10 years, frankly, I was kind of feeling the itch again to go start another company.”

“It was getting so large, it’s time to bring in a really professional team. I thought, that would be a good time. 2013 is when I decided to do that.”

As I started thinking about what's the next company I wanted to start, I definitely wanted to be in technology, and I really narrowed it down to probably one of two companies, either a 3D printing company or an internet of things.

“I just felt from a futuristic perspective they’re early and a lot of growth potential. Then I had to really make sure, well, what’s the problem we’re trying to solve? That was something we struggled early on, really, was what problem were we trying to solve.”

“I think as we’ve moved forward, that problem is, is really helping businesses create personalized products. Everyone likes personalized products but businesses typically don’t have a good way of solving that challenge for them.”

“We found that most 3D printing companies out there did not focus in on color. If you’re building end products for businesses, they pretty much have to have a color in them. We live in a color world and if you’re doing prototypes, things of that nature, you can get away without colors. If you’re helping businesses create end products, color had to be a big portion of that.”

“That was one of our early struggles, finding the right printers that had that capability. We accomplished that. We work with a lot of companies now, to build those end products.”

One of the coolest things we do, today, is we'll take CAT Scans or MRIs from someone that's considering surgery and we work with hospitals now to actually 3D print that particular portion of the body. Is it a broken bone? Is it a tumor or they're trying to figure out, are we going to go in and remove that lump or that tumor.

“From an outsider perspective you would say, we’re all over the board with different verticals. In a sense, we’re really not. We built a platform that virtually allows us to take in any type of file or software interface that comes into our system and it still follows the exact same process.”

“It isn’t like we do anything different for a different vertical. Even though it sounds like we’re well diversified, our process internally is one in the same. It makes it very easy if we have a customer come to us that maybe in a new vertical for us, it’s very, very easy because of the platform we’ve built out and the software interfaces we can easily do that. It makes it very easy to be very broad.”

“The first year was very tough. We really decided that we needed to be working with businesses, provide a service to them so they can go to their customers. For example, if you want, if you’re big into gaming and you’re into Halo 5, for example, you want to print out that personalized Halo 5 game character in your own pose and personalized to you, we work with Microsoft.”

I think the love of the game. I just think that that's part of it. I think that what allows me to keep going is probably more important.

Segment 4: (Length :03:00) – Hustler Thought of the Day:

Grit is that 'extra something' that separates the most successful people from the rest. It's the passion, perseverance, and stamina that we must channel in order to stick with our dreams until they become a reality. - Travis Bradberry


Jerry Ropelato – Founder of WhiteClouds

  • Founded WhiteClouds, a cloud-based 3D Printing company, in 2013, and it is the world’s largest full-color 3D printing service provider.
  • WhiteClouds uses 3D printing technology to create stunning Architectural, Entertainment, Medical and Video Game Models.
  • Worked with brands such as Marvel, Hasbro, Target, Toys R’ Us, Major League Baseball, Lord of the Rings, NASA, Harry Potter, Dreamworks, Halo5 to name a few.
  • Been featured in Engadget, PC Mag, Inc., Mashable and Wired.
  • Mr. Ropelato has over 30 years of technology and internet media experience.
  • Prior to founding WhiteClouds, Mr. Ropelato served as the Founder and CEO of Purch, the world’s largest Technical Media Company that produces news and reviews and reaches over 100M monthly unique visitors.
  • He’s been involved in 14 company acquisitions and has founded 8 startups (5 of them were successful) and still hustles today.
  • He’s also raised $185M in 4 raises and has pitched over 200 VC’s.


Matt Gottesman

Matt Gottesman is a global digital strategist and technology advisor, creator and editor-in-chief of Hustle & Deal Flow™ - an online magazine dedicated to the world's entrepreneurs, creators and makers, a Social Media Influencer and a consultant on New Media and go-to-market strategies for investments in digital marketing, technology, websites, mobile applications, eCommerce, social media and content.

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