Joel & Ephraim–Part 1

SOCBOX

Joel & Ephraim (our COO & CEO) answer questions like: How did you meet? What drove you to start a business together? What do you appreciate about working with each other? (Plus, how Joel bought his way into the company with omelets...)

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Video transcript

Ephraim Ebstein: “Well, I guess we met when we were little kids, I can’t remember; do you remember?”

Joel Richey: “Yes, so Ephraim was a little guy. He can’t remember because he was running around and doing things like playing with bugs. And that was when—”

EE: “But then later, I started hanging out when I was like 15, around 15, I started hanging out with Tim, his younger brother, and then we started hanging out, but Joel was… He was like engaged, getting married. He was like 21, getting married, and we were messing around, so we weren’t really like hanging out too much with him. But then we started, we went to a speakeasy like 2010.”

JR: “Yes.”

EE: “And what happened buddy?”

JR: “Well, we — I love this story because Tim invites me to go with his buddy, Ephraim, and we ended up hitting it off. We ended up talking the whole night, just sharing stories, talking about work and business, and we said, ‘hey, let’s let the good times keep rolling,’ so at least we start working out together.”

EE: “Yeah.

JR: “We start to, you’re like, ‘let’s go to the gym.’ We start working out and getting serious about that, started talking about business, he was talking about his situation as a high-level engineer, kind of frustrated with the business situation.”

EE: “Yeah.”

JR: “And I was a little frustrated with business ownership because I had all these ideas and I just wanted to start over so that’s kind of the birthplace of where we started to talk about FIT.”

EE: “Yep. We started whiteboarding… We whiteboarded for 11 months before—We had decided we’re going to do this, and we’re like, ‘All right, let’s do it.’ And then we started whiteboarding it out for about eleven months.”

JR: “Now, little tidbit during the whiteboarding session. Ephraim would come over in the morning, early, after we would work out together, come over to my house, I would make him omelets. So I kind of feel like my way of buying shares in the company was through omelets and he would just sit there and chomp down on the delicious omelets and then he’d be like, ‘You ready to whiteboard sesh?’ Right?”

EE: “Yeah.”

JR: “And we would go out to the whiteboard and we would just be like, ‘Wait a minute. Let’s take excellence, let’s build out what we think is the most amazing business model for excellence, for the best service model possible.’”

EE: “That’s what we wanted.”

JR: “We were not thinking about money, not thinking about profits. How do we create excellence?”

EE: “Yeah.”

JR: “And then what would that look like? How would we align with people’s actual needs? And then we worked backwards from there. We said ‘Hey, what would a 10-million dollar company look like and how would we start?’ and that’s kind of the birthplace.”

EE: “We created our departments, how we were going to do service. In fact it took us a long time. We didn’t—when we got our first contract and we started business, we still didn’t have our logo yet. We didn’t have a website, we still didn’t have a logo, but we had contracts, we were incorporated, we were ready to go.”

JR: “Yeah, we had basically no polish, and then I’m sorry, I’m just, I can’t—I love this part, because I have my little diesel Jetta.”

EE: “Yeah.”

JR: “And you were servicing clients in the passenger seat. That would have been the, basically the office. And the living room. And we would drive to the next sales call, right, and I would be driving and figuring out how to get there and you were on the phone or taking care of somebody. And then we would like park on the side, we weren’t quite sure if, you know, this Corporate America was ready to see a Jetta out there.”

EE: “They weren’t ready to see that.”

JR: “No. So we would walk around and then just like with our—”

EE: “We don’t want them to see the Jetta, but we were suited and booted, with the tie.”

JR: “We’re delivering on this ‘team model’ and this is the team, so that was fun.”

EE: “Yeah.”

JR: “But we were selling pretty quickly and people really really got excited about it.”

EE: “Yeah we had—There’s a few people who had worked with me previously. They had a good relationship. So we didn’t chase any of the customers at my company. We chased most of the ones that had left. So we got three I think, three of them, and then we got—and then word started spreading because we were just talking to everybody and working really hard, so yeah. It was awesome.”

JR: “Ephraim was extremely energetic as a human being, just an outdoorsman, loved life, one of the most hospitable persons I’ve ever met. So his door is always open, he constantly has people at his house; doesn’t matter where he lived, what he was doing, he’s always had people. And because he’s a spearfisherman, which is like the coolest thing in the whole wide world. You know, he just always had fish. So there was just an abundance of good times with Ephraim. Everybody loves Ephraim; he loves to share. So that’s the type of person he is and was and when we reconnected, I was excited about working with him because of his energy and his passion for doing what is right for the customer. I mean he loves people so that’s a really amazing quality, to have high-level technical skills and love of people, and you know, I had a background in business. So I thought, ‘why don’t we bring some of my knowledge about business and sales which wasn’t even as good as Ephraim is now in sales, but at that time, it was a good thing and then he brought his expertise and we both—We would start with an idea that was just half-baked, and by the time we were—this is before we worked together— by the time we were done, it was an hour and a half later and it was completely built out. So I realized that we had something unique as a team. We riffed off of each other and we—it wasn’t really me choosing to work with him or him choosing to work with me. We just knew we had to work together.”

EE: “Yeah, definitely. So Joel is super energetic, he’s the guy, like, if you talk to him, he can get you to talk about anything. You just feel open right away. So he’s got that magnetism, but right away when it came to… Like when we started kind of working on stuff together, it just felt great. Like, man, this is how I want work to feel like every day. And I enjoy working with a good team. And so it was like man, why—it wasn’t that I was working with terrible people, but I didn’t have that. I was like, this is what I want to work with, and I know if I align myself with Joel, that we could build something really really awesome. And so that’s what we did, we built it up and we’ve done pretty awesome. So yeah, it’s been a great decision. We work really really well together. And I think that’s one thing that you know, unfortunately, most business partnerships don’t end too well, and they usually kind of crash and burn and it’s because the partners don’t see eye-to-eye but, you know, not to say that there’s never difficulties, but we always work through it and so it’s awesome.”

JR: “I think just to add—thank you for your words—I think too that the thing that Ephraim and I have that was really easy is: We could disagree without being upset.”

EE: “Yeah.”

JR: “And I think being able to disagree is what makes us stronger. So like, I don’t agree with you, but let’s work through this.”

EE: “Right.”

JR: “Or, it’s not even about agreement, but I see it from this angle, you see it from that angle, and we always could come to a happy medium and we would yield. It wasn’t always about winning.”

EE: “Right.”

JR: “And I think that’s still the case. We spend—sometimes we’ll be on Teams or you know on our conference system Zoom or whatever we’re using, and we’ll just stay on, you know, and just be working together and riffing. So it’s a partnership that is very very very unique and I think it’s—I’m very happy.”

EE: “Good.”


Video transcript

Ephraim Ebstein: “Well, I guess we met when we were little kids, I can’t remember; do you remember?”

Joel Richey: “Yes, so Ephraim was a little guy. He can’t remember because he was running around and doing things like playing with bugs. And that was when—”

EE: “But then later, I started hanging out when I was like 15, around 15, I started hanging out with Tim, his younger brother, and then we started hanging out, but Joel was… He was like engaged, getting married. He was like 21, getting married, and we were messing around, so we weren’t really like hanging out too much with him. But then we started, we went to a speakeasy like 2010.”

JR: “Yes.”

EE: “And what happened buddy?”

JR: “Well, we — I love this story because Tim invites me to go with his buddy, Ephraim, and we ended up hitting it off. We ended up talking the whole night, just sharing stories, talking about work and business, and we said, ‘hey, let’s let the good times keep rolling,’ so at least we start working out together.”

EE: “Yeah.

JR: “We start to, you’re like, ‘let’s go to the gym.’ We start working out and getting serious about that, started talking about business, he was talking about his situation as a high-level engineer, kind of frustrated with the business situation.”

EE: “Yeah.”

JR: “And I was a little frustrated with business ownership because I had all these ideas and I just wanted to start over so that’s kind of the birthplace of where we started to talk about FIT.”

EE: “Yep. We started whiteboarding… We whiteboarded for 11 months before—We had decided we’re going to do this, and we’re like, ‘All right, let’s do it.’ And then we started whiteboarding it out for about eleven months.”

JR: “Now, little tidbit during the whiteboarding session. Ephraim would come over in the morning, early, after we would work out together, come over to my house, I would make him omelets. So I kind of feel like my way of buying shares in the company was through omelets and he would just sit there and chomp down on the delicious omelets and then he’d be like, ‘You ready to whiteboard sesh?’ Right?”

EE: “Yeah.”

JR: “And we would go out to the whiteboard and we would just be like, ‘Wait a minute. Let’s take excellence, let’s build out what we think is the most amazing business model for excellence, for the best service model possible.’”

EE: “That’s what we wanted.”

JR: “We were not thinking about money, not thinking about profits. How do we create excellence?”

EE: “Yeah.”

JR: “And then what would that look like? How would we align with people’s actual needs? And then we worked backwards from there. We said ‘Hey, what would a 10-million dollar company look like and how would we start?’ and that’s kind of the birthplace.”

EE: “We created our departments, how we were going to do service. In fact it took us a long time. We didn’t—when we got our first contract and we started business, we still didn’t have our logo yet. We didn’t have a website, we still didn’t have a logo, but we had contracts, we were incorporated, we were ready to go.”

JR: “Yeah, we had basically no polish, and then I’m sorry, I’m just, I can’t—I love this part, because I have my little diesel Jetta.”

EE: “Yeah.”

JR: “And you were servicing clients in the passenger seat. That would have been the, basically the office. And the living room. And we would drive to the next sales call, right, and I would be driving and figuring out how to get there and you were on the phone or taking care of somebody. And then we would like park on the side, we weren’t quite sure if, you know, this Corporate America was ready to see a Jetta out there.”

EE: “They weren’t ready to see that.”

JR: “No. So we would walk around and then just like with our—”

EE: “We don’t want them to see the Jetta, but we were suited and booted, with the tie.”

JR: “We’re delivering on this ‘team model’ and this is the team, so that was fun.”

EE: “Yeah.”

JR: “But we were selling pretty quickly and people really really got excited about it.”

EE: “Yeah we had—There’s a few people who had worked with me previously. They had a good relationship. So we didn’t chase any of the customers at my company. We chased most of the ones that had left. So we got three I think, three of them, and then we got—and then word started spreading because we were just talking to everybody and working really hard, so yeah. It was awesome.”

JR: “Ephraim was extremely energetic as a human being, just an outdoorsman, loved life, one of the most hospitable persons I’ve ever met. So his door is always open, he constantly has people at his house; doesn’t matter where he lived, what he was doing, he’s always had people. And because he’s a spearfisherman, which is like the coolest thing in the whole wide world. You know, he just always had fish. So there was just an abundance of good times with Ephraim. Everybody loves Ephraim; he loves to share. So that’s the type of person he is and was and when we reconnected, I was excited about working with him because of his energy and his passion for doing what is right for the customer. I mean he loves people so that’s a really amazing quality, to have high-level technical skills and love of people, and you know, I had a background in business. So I thought, ‘why don’t we bring some of my knowledge about business and sales which wasn’t even as good as Ephraim is now in sales, but at that time, it was a good thing and then he brought his expertise and we both—We would start with an idea that was just half-baked, and by the time we were—this is before we worked together— by the time we were done, it was an hour and a half later and it was completely built out. So I realized that we had something unique as a team. We riffed off of each other and we—it wasn’t really me choosing to work with him or him choosing to work with me. We just knew we had to work together.”

EE: “Yeah, definitely. So Joel is super energetic, he’s the guy, like, if you talk to him, he can get you to talk about anything. You just feel open right away. So he’s got that magnetism, but right away when it came to… Like when we started kind of working on stuff together, it just felt great. Like, man, this is how I want work to feel like every day. And I enjoy working with a good team. And so it was like man, why—it wasn’t that I was working with terrible people, but I didn’t have that. I was like, this is what I want to work with, and I know if I align myself with Joel, that we could build something really really awesome. And so that’s what we did, we built it up and we’ve done pretty awesome. So yeah, it’s been a great decision. We work really really well together. And I think that’s one thing that you know, unfortunately, most business partnerships don’t end too well, and they usually kind of crash and burn and it’s because the partners don’t see eye-to-eye but, you know, not to say that there’s never difficulties, but we always work through it and so it’s awesome.”

JR: “I think just to add—thank you for your words—I think too that the thing that Ephraim and I have that was really easy is: We could disagree without being upset.”

EE: “Yeah.”

JR: “And I think being able to disagree is what makes us stronger. So like, I don’t agree with you, but let’s work through this.”

EE: “Right.”

JR: “Or, it’s not even about agreement, but I see it from this angle, you see it from that angle, and we always could come to a happy medium and we would yield. It wasn’t always about winning.”

EE: “Right.”

JR: “And I think that’s still the case. We spend—sometimes we’ll be on Teams or you know on our conference system Zoom or whatever we’re using, and we’ll just stay on, you know, and just be working together and riffing. So it’s a partnership that is very very very unique and I think it’s—I’m very happy.”

EE: “Good.”