How to Launch a Successful Business by Never Taking No For An Answer with Michael & Brian Speciale
When you avoid the pity party, you will realize your dreams.
Michael Speciale and his brother, Brian Speciale, co-founded Cozy Comfort Company LLC in 2017. The brothers invented the patented, wearable blanket The Comfy. In today’s show, they share their experience on Shark Tank, the challenges of entrepreneurship, and why you have to say “no” to the pity party if you want to succeed.
“Anything can happen in life, even in the darkest hours and darkest places.”
—Michael & Brian Speciale
Cozy Comfort Company
Michael Speciale and his brother, Brian Speciale, co-founded Cozy Comfort Company LLC in 2017. The brothers invented the patented, wearable blanket The Comfy in February of 2017, which in less than two years went from an appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank to more than $70 million in revenue—and more than $150 million in gross retail sales. The company is now among the five most successful companies in Shark Tank history, as well as Corcoran’s most profitable investment in her twelve seasons on the show. 10 million The Comfys have been sold to date. It’s important for them to let others see they are nothing special and anyone can live the American Dream too.
“Once you see that opportunity, you’ve got to seize it. You’ve got get off the couch.”
—Michael & Brian Speciale
Cozy Comfort Company
Hello, I’m Michael Kurland, CEO and Co-Founder of Branded Group, an award-winning national facilities maintenance and construction management company that services multi-site commercial properties such as retail, restaurants, healthcare facilities, and educational institutions.
Welcome to the BeBetter podcast! Each week, I interview thought leaders from a variety of industries who will share their stories and the lessons they learned as they strive to be better for their clients, partners, employees, and their community. Are you ready to Be Better?
Michael Kurland (00:02):
Hello, and welcome to another episode of the BeBetter podcast. I’m your host, Michael Kurland. Joining me today are Michael and Brian Speciale, co-founders of the Comfy. Welcome to the show, Michael and Brian. Michael, why don’t you to go first. Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do and then, Brian, you can jump in right after.
Michael Speciale (00:28):
Hello, everybody. I’m Michael Speciale. This journey started about four years ago. Before we were doing this, I was actually a pool man. We call it a swimming pool man. I owned my own pool company, cleaning pools, fixing pumps, that type of thing. Kind of an entrepreneur at heart. When we came up with this idea, Brian will tell you a little bit about himself as well, but we were both kind of entrepreneurs at heart, kind of came together with my brother, and started this thing called the Comfy. This oversized, wearable blanket basically. It took us about six months to go from idea to getting in front of the Sharks. We can go a little bit more into that story, if you’d like. It happened so fast. Doing it with your brother is an absolutely incredible ride. I will let Brian tell you his side.
Brian Speciale (01:21):
I was in TV and video production. Michael was cleaning pools. Michael was going through a divorce at the time that we came up with this idea. It was a real dark time in his life, and he was staying at my house. He wakes up one morning. He looks over on the couch, and there’s my seven-year-old son at the time, Saxon, sitting there wearing one of my old Arizona Cardinals hoodies. It was gigantic on him and swallowed him up. Michael looked at that said, “Bro, you think they make something like that for adults?” We had a blanket lying the back of the couch, so we kind of put two and two together and decided to make the world’s first truly wearable blanket, which is what the Comfy is.
Like Michael said, we started this four years ago now. It has been the most breakneck, unbelievable, crazy ride of our lives. If you would have told me four years ago when I was a struggling TV producer and Michael was cleaning pools that we would have this company and that this year is going to do a hundred million dollars in sales, I would have looked at you like you were nuts. That just goes to show you that anything can happen in life, opportunities even in the darkest hours and in the darkest places, if you just happen to lift up the cover and look for those opportunities and see it and decide to go for it, great things can happen. I guess we’re fortunate enough to be a testament to that, Michael. It’s been an incredible ride.
Michael Kurland (02:32):
Really excited to have you guys on the show. I definitely want to talk about Shark Tank. I’m sure the audience wants to hear about that. Let’s talk just a little bit more about the pre-Comfy. You said you were a struggling TV producer. Where were you in life? Where were you mentally? What was going through your head on a day-to-day basis?
Brian Speciale (03:00):
Where most people are, trying to make ends meet, trying to survive, trying to break through into the next level of TV production that I was trying to do. I was trying to create reality shows for the major networks. It’s a very, very difficult path to take. I was a TV news anchor for a long time and then owned a TV production company, but struggling, trying to make ends meet, trying to find sponsors for these firearms-related shows that I was doing at the time. Doing just enough to get by and hoping that the next big thing was going to happen at some point. It hadn’t at that point. Little did I know, the next big thing was when my brother went through his divorce and that was kind of the impetus that led to everything that’s happening to us today.
Michael Kurland (03:42):
Michael, let’s talk about that a little bit because I can relate. My story, as the audience well knows, is I moved out to California in 2013 after getting divorced and fired. I could have crumbled like a folding chair and just gotten the next job to make ends meet to keep pushing down the road or I could take the leap of faith and move to California and start Branded Group. Here we are almost eight years later. Michael, tell me about where you were, what your mindset was, and everything leading up to the inception of the company.
Michael Speciale (04:18):
Honestly, I was absolutely down in the dumps, without a doubt. Like my brother said, I was going through divorce, a really tough divorce. I’ve got a couple kids. It was honestly the last thing that I wanted in the world. My brother, he took me in, which was incredible to have him to lean on him during this time. I was at his house. It was about three or four months before I saw his son sitting on the couch there, saw him sitting in my brother’s old sweatshirt. It just absolutely swallowed him up. That was just kind of a light bulb moment, going from just the depths of despair and sorrow. A lot of us know it going through divorce, that type of thing. It’s just absolutely awful. It gave me something to latch onto with my brother to change my focus on where I needed to go. I still had the swimming pool business. I was still running it for the next year while we were getting Comfy going. We knew it could be a success. We just didn’t know how to make it a success. We knew we had a great product, but how do we get it out there? I was still working all the way through, even all the way through Shark Tank and everything else, still cleaning pools and running a couple of guys, just a small business.
Once we got on Shark Tank and we got the deal, that’s when I went ahead and sold that business and went 100% into Comfy. It took me out of the despair, and I thank my brother a lot for that, for taking me in. That was the opportunity right there. Once you see that opportunity, you’ve got to seize it. You’ve got to go get off the couch. We could have just let it go and not done anything about it. We looked into it for a couple of weeks, trying to find if there was anything like it out there. There was not. We just fed off each other’s energy. There’s ups and downs always, but we fed off each other and made it happen. We have done that for the last four years and that’s why we are now currently the number three product in Shark Tank history. We’re Barbara Corcoran’s number one company. That is because of, honestly from Brian and I from the beginning, pressing each other and never stopping, never giving up. Pity parties last about 30 seconds with us. There’s opportunity in anything. Negative news, there’s always opportunity there. You just got to find it and keep pushing forward.
Michael Kurland (06:33):
We say it a lot here on the show. You can be a victim or a victor.
Michael Speciale (06:40):
I like that. I’m stealing that, man.
Michael Kurland (06:42):
All yours. I stole it from my wife, so I’ll give credit where credit’s due. It’s all about that victor mentality. You took a negative thing in your lives, and you spun it and you turned it into, like you just said, a hundred-million-dollar business, which is amazing. Congratulations on that.
So, you see Saxon sitting on the couch. He’s playing video games. He’s wearing this oversized hoodie. What are the next couple of steps? You see it. You’re like, “Do you think this could work?” You research it. Tell us that story of how it first came to inception, then we’ll get into Shark Tank.
Michael Speciale (07:23):
Brian just told the story briefly there, but it was just that light bulb moment, looking at Saxon, sitting there with his arms pulled in and his knees pulled in and the hood up. He’s just peeking through there, and we locked eyes. I said, “Man, you look so warm and honestly comfy.” Wouldn’t everybody like to have that feeling: that warm, secure feeling, obviously? I just looked over at the big bro and said, “Man, you think they make these for adults?” There was a blanket laying over the back of the couch. It had Sherpa lining, real fleece-y like. We can make it out of that material. We kicked it around for a couple of weeks. We looked for it and couldn’t find anything like it and that’s when we decided to go look for a prototype, which we found actually in Mesa, Arizona.
Michael Kurland (08:12):
How did the first prototype get built? Was it you guys cutting up a blanket and sewing it together or did you find someone?
Brian Speciale (08:21):
We bought a bunch of blankets, and we took it to this guy. We told him what we wanted him to do, and he looked at us like we had three heads and like we were nuts. He thought about it and he said, “Okay. I guess I know what you mean.” He put together the first prototype, and it came pretty darn close. It only took one more revision after that. The guy nailed it. It was exactly what we had envisioned, so it was really as simple as that. I hate to say it was simple because it wasn’t, but everything kind of lined up for us, Michael. It’s been ridiculous.
Michael Kurland (08:52):
Michael Speciale (08:53):
We kept pushing.
Michael Kurland (08:54):
That’s great. Take me from the second shot at the prototype until Shark Tank. How long was that? How many years? How many weeks, months, whatever.
Brian Speciale (09:08):
We got the prototype sometime in May of 2017. We had to be in Denver to audition for Shark Tank at the end of May in 2017; I want to say it was May 23rd or something. We had a couple of copies of the prototype made, and we went up to Denver, Colorado to audition just like everyone else does for Shark Tank. We stood in line for a good portion of the day. I think something like 40,000 companies a year apply to be on Shark Tank, and there’s a hundred or so that end up on the show every year. The odds are stacked against you.
Michael Kurland (09:48):
Talk about the audition process because they don’t really show a lot of that. You just see the product come out on the screen and the Sharks telling you yes or no. Tell us about like everything behind the scenes that you had to go through.
Brian Speciale (10:01):
About four months before they actually go to film, you start going through one of the audition processes. Again, we were in Denver. Michael and I knew that we had to stand out. All throughout this process, our past entrepreneurial spirit, my past in TV production knowing what TV producers look for, all that stuff really kind of came together and really helped us through this process because we knew the one thing: we got to stand out. How are we going to stand out? They see pitch after pitch after pitch. Oh, my God. Falling asleep, telling their story. How are we going to stand out and make ourselves different and make ourselves memorable? We’ve got a great product. We know that, but that’s not enough. They’ve got to like us. We always wanted to be on the Christmas episode of Shark Tank. That’s how crazy we were. It was that specific. That was our vision, so we came up with a jingle for the company. The song we did was Tis the Season to Be Jolly.
Michael Speciale (11:10):
[Singing] Fa la la la.
Brian Speciale (11:10):
Yeah, that song. So, we did [singing] Tis the Season of the Comfy Fa La La La. That kind of thing. We knew we were going to do that. We are not performers. We’re not singers. We suck at singing, so this was nerve wracking because you go into this room finally when it’s your turn. It’s a size of a living room maybe, and there’s five different tables with a casting producer behind each one of them and five different pitches going on at the same time. We kind of felt a little bit bad even though Michael is like, “Bro, I don’t care. This is our moment!” that we were going to drown everybody out, and it was going to be nuts because we were going to let it go. It wasn’t going to be like, “We’re Brian and Michael Speciale, and this is…” No. We were going to belt out this freaking song, and so we sat there.
We get in there, the producer is just like this. It’s the end of the day. She’s worn out. She’s tired. We said, “Hey, nice to meet you. Just so you know, this is going to be a little loud, so we apologize in advance.” We looked at each other and took a deep breath, and we just started belting the song out. Suddenly the producer is sitting there like asleep. She grabs her phone, giant smile on her face. She starts rolling video on us. The other producer stopped. They were coming over, so I guess we kind of stole the show because we decided to be loud and obnoxious. Honestly, couple that with the fact that we had this incredible product, the next day or the day after they called us and said, “Alright. You guys are moving through to the next step in the process.” The process was four months long of just endless paperwork and talking to producers and them telling you every step of the way that just because you’ve made it this far, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be on the show. It doesn’t mean you’re going to come to LA. It doesn’t mean you’re going to pitch in front of the Sharks. Every step of the way.
Finally, they told us toward the end of the process. Our producer kind of went dark on us. She finally said, “Guys, you’re too soon. You’re too new. You guys don’t have a website. You haven’t sold any products. We love you guys, but you’re going to have to come back next year because they just decided you guys are too new.” Michael mentioned the pity parties that we like to have. We had a pity party for 30 seconds tops and then I grabbed my video camera. Again, our past experiences coming together. I went over to my brother’s house. He had moved out by that time and was living on his own, and we filmed a little skit called The Top Five Reasons Why You Cannot Cut the Comfy from Shark Tank. They had already said, “You’re done. You’re out. Come back next year.” We said, “That wasn’t good enough. We’ve come this far. We don’t know if Shark Tank is going to be back this year. If we go down, we’re going to go down swinging.” We put that video together and sent it off to our producer. She took it into the show runner, Clay Newbill, the next day, and by that evening, they said, “Alright. You guys be in LA next week.” We didn’t take no for an answer, and we got ourselves on Shark Tank.
Michael Kurland (13:59):
Wow. That’s that is quite the backstory.
Brian Speciale (14:03):
Quite a ride.
Michael Kurland (14:03):
And quite some insight and some perseverance, too. You guy definitely did not take no for an answer, and you definitely shot your shot. Wayne Gretzky would be proud. You miss every shot you don’t take. You guys didn’t not take the shot. That’s awesome. That’s great.
So, you get on the show in LA within four months, this whirlwind, right? You don’t even have a website. You haven’t sold any anything. You just have a prototype, and you guys have a name. Am I right? And then you’re too new. You basically talk your way onto Shark Tank. Round of applause for that. Take us through being on the show because you mentioned, Michael, third best-selling product ever on Shark Tank, with all this stuff that was against you. It wasn’t really against you, but from their point of view, against you. You get to LA and then what happens? Let’s talk about that.
Michael Speciale (15:03):
It’s funny you mention the name thing because we are called the Comfy now [Brian laughing], but, when we got there, there was another part of the story. We were called the Cozy from the beginning. Another part of the story: Once we get there, first is what you do is they bring you in the day before you’re going to shoot in front of the Sharks. You have to actually go in front of all the producers and do your pitch, which is actually more nerve wracking than anything because they basically tell you, “They’re not going to clap. They’re not going to say good job. They are going to tear you down.” We said, ‘Ok. That’s pretty terrifying, but they’re testing you more or less to see if you will freeze.” We get up in front of them. I think we basically nail it. We know we did because they said they weren’t going to react at all and, by the end of it, they were all clapping for us.
Michael Kurland (15:48):
Michael Speciale (15:48):
Actually, one of the producers said, “Man, can you teach other entrepreneurs how to pitch?” [Laughs] That gave us so much confidence at that point, so we’re thrilled. We’re on top of the world. We’re like, “Okay. We’re going to be on tomorrow in front of the Sharks. We’re going to nail this thing.” They pull us into the back room and say, “Oh, by the way, if you guys want to go on tomorrow, you have to change your name. You can’t be the Cozy.” It got back with the lawyers and everything. They said, “No. There’s some products out there. They’re Cozy. We don’t like it.” Whatever reason it was. They said, “You’re out. You can come back next year if you like. We like you guys, but you are still pretty new.” We had to make the decision right there. It was another 30-second pity party. “Okay. We come back next year. We change our name right now, knowing we’re going on in front of the Sharks. The next day, we said, “Nope. Forget it. Let’s change the name.” We came up with The Comfy. It was kind of on our list in all that. The problem is we had to change our song lyrics. We had to change our shirts that we had made.
Brian Speciale (16:41):
Michael Speciale (16:41):
The Cozy was embroidered on the pocket of our products, of the 10 prototypes that we brought with us. That’s all we had, so we had to cover that up with a patch. We made it all happen within basically 24 hours, and we were standing in front of Sharks doing the pitch 24 hours later and making it happen, but that’s another reason. We didn’t know if the show was going to be canceled the next year. We didn’t know where we’d be at. We just knew we had to make it happen, and we did.
Michael Kurland (17:09):
Totally. That’s a lot of adversity, dealing with within 24 hours, so for you guys to pull that all together as well. This just a great story. I love everything I’m hearing.
You changed the name. [Laughs] I’m just thinking myself. What if the day before we went live and opened, my lawyer called me and said, “By the way, you can’t be called Branded Group now. What? “Okay, we will be Branding Group.” Again, you guys just roll with the punches and get shit get done, and that’s a great BeBetter story.
Tell me now: You go on the show. You’ve done all these last-minute changes. You went through the divorce. You created this product. You’ve gone through four months of whirlwind craziness, and then all this adversity along the way where everyone told you no. You said, “F- you. We’re going to do this anyway.” And now you’re finally here. You’re walking down that long hallway. Tell the audience about that because I want to know.
Brian Speciale (18:16):
That is the most surreal experience. Everybody’s got their own trailers right on the lot, and we stayed in there most of the day until they finally came and got us and took us to the studio. By that point, we’re in a green room in the studio. It’s freezing cold in there, and you can actually hear the other pitches going on, like the person going on before us. If you strain, you can hear the Sharks. It’s like, “That’s the show! Holy crap! This is amazing!” And that just makes you more nervous, honestly, as you’re sitting there listening to that, knowing that that, “Oh, my God. The Sharks are in here. We’re close. We’re that close to walking down that hallway.”
Michael Kurland (18:55):
It would almost be better for you guys to go first, probably, so you don’t have to build that anticipation. Didn’t mean to cut you off.
Brian Speciale (19:03):
Seriously. They finally come and get you. You’re standing in front of those doors. [Laughs] I remember the doors were open. Michael likes to tell that story. The doors were open before they closed them, and so you could see out to the set. It’s directly in the center of it. Directly where the doors open and close, the first thing you see is Mr. Wonderful.
[Michael Kurland laughing]
Michael Speciale (19:25):
With the power pose.
Brian Speciale (19:28):
With that power pose. It’s like, “Holy crap, man. This is crazy that we’ve watched the show for nine years and now we’re about to walk down this hall.”
Michael Speciale (19:36):
Keep in mind, this is first time seeing the Sharks. That’s what’s crazy about it.
Brian Speciale (19:39):
They don’t see you. They don’t know anything about who’s coming in to pitch. They don’t know anything about the business until you get out there and you’re standing in front of them. So, those doors open, and the first thing you see is the door opens. There’s two camera operators, and they’re backing up as you’re walking down the hallway. You don’t hear the music like you do on the actual show, so that makes it a little awkward in itself. It’s dead quiet. And then that last door opens, the second set of doors, and boom. There’s this thing that you have seen for the last nine years. There is Robert Herjavec, Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Lori Greiner, and then there’s Kevin O’Leary, and they’re staring back at you. You’re staring at them. You get to your spot, and you don’t immediately start your pitch. You have to stand there when you get there to your spot and look at them, and you have to stand there for a minute while they get all the different cutaways and the different shots, and everybody gets set. That right there can make you shrivel up and die because you’re sitting there, not saying a word, and just these people are staring back at you. These titans of entrepreneurship are staring back at you, and you’re staring right at them. We, fortunately, knew that something like that could possibly happen, and so we were prepared for it. We just smiled at him and looked confidently at him and went up and down and just looked at each one of them in the eye and smiled because you know they’re sizing you up.
Finally, after that minute or so, the producer goes, “Begin,” and boom then you’re off and running. From there, you’ve rehearsed and hopefully you’re ready for the questions they have for you, and it goes by really, really quick. We were such a new company that I don’t think we had the greatest answers to the questions because we didn’t have results and customer acquisition costs and all that stuff, so we were probably in there 20-25 minutes, I would guess. They cut it down to 15 minutes total of content that you saw on TV, but that was it. Absolutely surreal. We got the deal, and you’re just walking on air. It’s like, “Is this even happening?” It’s so incredible.
Michael Kurland (21:36):
I didn’t see the episode yet. I want to go back and watch it now because you guys, like you said, third best-selling ever product. Did you get rejected by anybody? Did it come down to the last one or is this all made for TV where they right off the bat, “I’ll give you a million dollars for 20%” or how did it go?
Brian Speciale (22:00):
Lori was the first one out, right?
Michael Speciale (22:03):
Mark was the first one out. The second one out was Lori, which we were keen on her.
Brian Speciale (22:08):
Pissed us off.
Michael Speciale (22:08):
Yeah. That really upset us. She compared us to the Snuggie, which tells us immediately when anybody compares us to Snuggie, it’s like, “Well, you’ve never obviously had one of these things on. Period.” Because this is anything but the Snuggie. You try to get up in a Snuggie and walk around. You’re going to trip on it and hit your face. [Kurland laughs] She didn’t get it. And that goes back to a thing. You think the Sharks kind of know everything. They’ve seen everything. They absolutely do not, without a doubt. If they all knew what they were doing, they all would have chosen us because they would have loved to have us in their portfolio. Mr. Wonderful got out later on, but it was basically Robert and Barbara kind of speaking on going in a deal together. We could kind of hear them talking about it and all that. Brian and I were saying, “Oh, my God. They might offer us something here.” Then Robert comes in and low balls us basically and tries to get us without Barbara. I think that fired Barbara up to make a better deal than Robert had offered us and that’s when we basically went with it.
She offered us $50,000.00 for 30% of the company. We would come back and counter it at 25%. She said, “No, I’m sticking at 30%. You guys don’t have any sales. You don’t have anything I can help you grow.” We basically knew when she said 30% that we were going to take it at that point.
Michael Kurland (23:21):
Definitely. You guys had no sales. [Laughs] You had a prototype.
Michael Speciale (23:25):
I think I said at the beginning, but we were from idea to standing in front of those Shark at that time. It was six months. All at once.
Michael Kurland (23:33):
Michael Speciale (23:33):
During all the stories that we’ve been telling you about and everything, keep in mind that we were also having to get production going, sourcing factories, getting our product on the water, so we could launch Shark Tank night and actually start selling products. So much going on, 24/7.
Michael Kurland (23:48):
I believe it. That’s the behind-the-scenes stuff that isn’t sexy at all, but that’s the hard part. That’s the stuff that you’re working the 12-13 hours. Not that we sold anything sexy, or we had anything fun to go on to announce our opening, except to our old clients. It was talking to the lawyers. It was getting the lease. It was building furniture in the office. That was the stuff that we had to do, so we could put phones on a desk on day one.
Brian Speciale (24:21):
You have to do it. Guess what? When you’re an entrepreneur, no one else is going to do it. You have to do it.
Michael Kurland (24:24):
No one else is going to do it.
Brian Speciale (24:26):
If you don’t do it, then you’re going to fail. You have to do it.
Michael Speciale (24:27):
Big enough where you can have people help you out.
Michael Kurland (24:31):
Exactly. It teaches you everything about being an entrepreneur. It makes you remember. The beginning days are some of my least favorite times because I worked so hard, but they’re some of my most favorite times because they’re so humbling. I can go back to those days and say, “Hey, I did this.” I haven’t asked anyone in my company to do anything. I’ve never done myself. I digress on that.
Here we are now. We’re in August 2021. You guys are the third best-selling product ever, and you guys are about to or already hit a hundred million dollars?
Michael Speciale (25:12):
Retail sales wise, yes.
Brian Speciale (25:17):
Just this year.
Brian Speciale (25:19):
That’s just this year. Lifetime retail sales, we’re well over 300 million in retail sales. Our revenue is really good, but we’re almost doubling year over year.
Michael Kurland (25:32):
Let me give you both a round of applause real quick for everything that you guys have done and how far you’ve come in four years. Now, this is the BeBetter part, right? We’ll start with Brian. Where are you now? How has your life changed? Give a little two-minute pitch on what it’s meant to you and where you’re at.
Brian Speciale (25:53):
It’s not all glory. It’s not what everyone might think because almost every dollar that comes into the company, we put back into the company. When it comes to that and then writing checks to the IRS, which become bigger and bigger. Super fun, guys. We live a great life, but it’s not like the multi-millionaire lifestyle or anything that we do. We’re the same dudes and doing the same things that we’ve always done. We’re playing a golf course tomorrow. That’s another thing we did. We didn’t get to play golf during this for like two years. Now, we’ve reached the point where we can start playing some golf. To show you the taste we have, we’re playing this place called Cape Creek Municipal Golf Course tomorrow. I think it costs 19 bucks. You see the little guys out there in tank tops and stuff like that. Right up our alley. We’re every man. Nothing to go to our head.
Everything’s just all about making the company continue to grow. We had a meeting today. We’re going to do a pop-up experience in New York City in Manhattan for November and December this year. That’s going to be absolutely unbelievable, but that’s another thing that’s just like, “Holy crap. Is this even happening?” We’re talking about spending hundreds of thousand dollars on retail space and not even knowing what’s going to happen. It’s been an amazing ride, but we’re the same dudes and that’s not going to change. We wish it was a little bit easier, right, Michael? Not every dollar that we make has to go back to the company necessarily, but if you want to grow and you want to reach the biggest of your visions, that’s what has to happen.
Michael Speciale (27:30):
Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us.
Brian Speciale (27:31):
Hell no. Hell no.
Michael Speciale (27:31):
These are first-world problems, and we understand that. But we have a focus. We’re so competitive that we want to keep this company going and keep growing. We could have pulled back after we did really well the first couple of years and potentially sold it and cashed out and all that, but that’s not what we’re about. We wanted to keep it going and putting every dollar back in is the only way you can do it if you want to continue to grow almost doubling every year. There’s no other way to do it. You have to use basically your own money. Instead of it coming to Brian and I, it goes back into the company and that’s just how it has to be if you want to continue to grow.
One of our motivating factors is there are so many knockoffs that have come out against us, obviously, from very early on and protecting our IP. We have at least five patents now we’re coming up on. Nine more are going to be issued, so going after our competitors, the knockoff artists, that are trying to make a quick buck off of all of our hard work is extremely motivating to us. We speak to lawyers more than anything at this point. [Laughs] All our different sets of lawyers, but it’s part of the deal. That’s what keeps, especially me, motivated on a daily basis. Just keep pushing forward. It’s not always about the money and all that. In a way, it’s another baby to us. You have to keep nurturing it and letting it continue to grow. The security is nice, for sure.
Brian Speciale (29:05):
We’re lucky we have each other when it comes to that kind of stuff because I can’t imagine doing this alone. I can’t imagine. I can’t even fathom it, just from getting it started to where we are today to have your brother along for the ride. I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Michael Speciale (29:24):
We’re very different people. We’re brothers to the end. We all have each other’s love, best interest in mind, all the way to the end. We pick each other up all the time. Entrepreneurship can be a very frustrating ride.
Michael Kurland (29:39):
Brian Speciale (29:39):
I totally agree. I don’t know where this would have gone if we weren’t in this together, for sure.
Michael Kurland (29:48):
I’m glad to hear you guys have each other. I have my business partner, Jon. We aren’t brothers, but we say we are because we fight like it a lot of the time. I can tell you I feel very similar. I could not have gotten Branded Group to where it’s at now without his support. He does what he does very well, and I do what I do very well, and they do not cross over. I stay out of his world. He stays out of mine. We make the high-level decisions together. We probably bicker about them. We don’t play golf. We usually just go to the bar and have a beer. That’s our watering hole stories and war story time.
I’m happy to hear you guys are in a better place though, and things are working out. You guys are just trudging forward. You guy are great guys. Great brothers. Great story. I just want to thank you guys for coming on the show. If the audience wants to get ahold of you guys or the Comfy, how can they do so?
Michael Speciale (30:51):
That’s thecomfy.com. Find us online.
Brian Speciale (30:54):
Thecomfy.com. You got it. Perfect.
Michael Kurland (30:58):
Thank you so much for being on the show. Audience, until next time.
Thank you for tuning in! I hope that today’s episode inspired you to become a purpose-driven leader in your career or your community. There is no doubt that when we lead with purpose, we can change lives. If you enjoyed today’s show, I’d be grateful if you would take a moment to rate us on your preferred listening platform.
To learn more Branded Group’s “Be Better” experience and how we provide industry-leading on-demand California based facility service, construction management, and special project implementation, visit us at www.branded-group.com. Be sure to follow us on social media and you can also reach out to me directly on LinkedIn. Until next time, Be Better.