AMA: David Packouz
The David Packouz AMA is happening on 25th April 2018 at 10:00AM PST (1:00PM EST)
David Packouz is an American entrepreneur, inventor, and musician. He is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Singular Sound – a company focused on making technology that empowers musicians to create better music. Under his leadership, the company launched the BeatBuddy Drum Machine Guitar Pedal and raised nearly $350,000 from Indiegogo. Subsequently, it became one of the most successful music accessory crowdfunding campaigns in history. The BeatBuddy has also received every major recognition in the musical instrument industry, from the industry’s highest honor of “Best in Show” at the National Association of Music Merchants to Guitar World’s Platinum Award for Excellence, and also induction into the Guitar Player’s Hall of Fame in 2015.
Prior to founding Singular Sound, David was an arms dealer during the War in Afghanistan and partner of AEY Inc., a major weapons contractor for the U.S. Department of Defense. In early 2007, AEY Inc. secured a nearly $300 million U.S. government contract to supply the Afghan Army with ammunition and weapons. David’s arm dealing story was published in the 2015 book Arms and the Dudes by Guy Lawson, and was produced into the 2016 film War Dogs by Todd Phillips. He is portrayed by Miles Teller in the film.
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David Packouz – inventor of BeatBuddy and CEO of Singular Sound – Transcript
David Packouz is a former arms dealer, subject of the movie, War Dogs, musician, inventor of BeatBuddy and CEO of Singular Sound.
The AMA with David was held on Wednesday, April 25th, 2018. This transcript has been edited for punctuation, grammar, etc.
WelcomeDavid Packouz for his first AMA! As a side note, he’s looking to hire a digital marketer.
I heard you’re in (or moving to) South Florida – is that true?
Yes, we’re based in North Miami.
WOULD YOU DO IT AGAIN?
As they say, “All’s well that ends well…” So yes, though if I knew the future, I would have avoided some mistakes.
Could someone use that same website you used for the government contracts for any type of business?
Yes, FBO.gov is where the government posts requests for all types of materials, from fighter jets to socks.
How accurate was the movie?
Semi-accurate. It’s Hollywood. For the real story, read “War Dogs” by Guy Lawson. That’s the real story.
Similar thought here, do you think there are in general good opportunities for start-ups in the government contract world, if done with compliance, diligence, etc.?
Yes, the federal government is the biggest customer in the world.
What channel do you find the most success with for your new company? How do you use video to market?
Facebook, Amazon, international distributors are the most lucrative vectors, though Instagram is gaining traction. We use demo and testimonial videos.
What are some skills you’ve picked up gun running that you apply to your current business?
Work ethic — you only succeed if you work harder than your competitors.
Where was your favorite place that you traveled to, and your leastfavorite?
China is my favorite. India my least favorite (the cities at least).
If you had to get into sales again, would you choose a few big money contracts, or many small money contracts, and why?
Small to build a reputation, then you can go for big. Many small can make as much as a few large.
What is your morning routine, to take on the day?
Wake up at 7am, gym 8am, work from 10am to 7pm.
What is the best purchase you ever made?
Has that life journey changed the way you interact with people?
It made me appreciate quality people more than short term opportunity. If you don’t like someone, they’re not worth working with.
Favorite recently read books?
Sapiens by Yuval Harari. All humans should read this book.
So, you’re looking to hire a digital marketer, can you explain the role?
Singular Sound is launching three new products this year, and we’re looking for a very smart, data-driven musician (this is non-negotiable, you must be in the musician culture) to make sure that our digital vectors are optimized for these products.
May have missed this, but what are you working on now?
We make technology for musicians. We’ve launched a few best-selling products and are developing several more right now:
What books or skills you would recommend to start and run a business from a startup to a large company?
Venture Deals by Brad Feld for raising money and Traction by Gino Wickman for running a business.
How much time do you allocate in a day for reading/podcasts/jamming/inspiration vs. day-to-day work?
I think the important thing is to not waste time. Keep track of what you do, and you’ll soon realize how much more time you have to improve yourself if you just use your time wisely.
What music are you listening to most often these days?
A lot of Imagine Dragons right now. But I like Spotify recommendations to discover new stuff.
Your career has been dotted by controversy, yet you somehow manage to always come out on top. What crisis/reputation management tools and tactics do you attribute to your continued success?
Never give up. Cliché, but crucial. And foster your own creativity. If you’re creative, you can thrive in any industry.
Are you planning on starting a podcast or vlog? Interviewing musicians that use your products would be great valuable content.
This is a good idea… perhaps!
How much sawdust can you put in a Rice Krispy treat before anyone notices?
I have not collected the data… but let me know if you do!
What’s next for you in terms of business and how important do you think it is to get married/start a family?
Singular Sound is launching three new products this year. I’m super excited to bring musicians around the world new abilities that they’ve never had before. As for family, it all depends on how much you want/don’t want it. Figure out what you want first, then make your priorities list.
Did you ever think about getting a traditional job after your conviction, or was entrepreneurship the only way for you?
I did work for a non-profit for a few years, but I’ve always been much more passionate about entrepreneurship.
Are you allowed to own any guns? If so, which is your favorite to shoot?
Unfortunately, I am a convicted felon, so it is illegal for me to be in possession of a firearm. I could get 10 years in prison. So, no more guns for me.
For the youth, besides never giving up, and improving creativity (Great stuff), what would be your advice for them?
READ BOOKS, best way to expand your knowledge and depth. And do something you are passionate about — it’s easier to work hard at something you love.
Are you Mac or PC?
Both, actually! Our BeatBuddy manager software is on both platforms, so I have a laptop of each.
What spiritual or ethics system do you follow?
Rational Humanism — greatest good for the greatest number of people.
Have you ever done Transcendental Meditation — if so, how was your experience?
I do meditate, but I’m not sure it’s the Transcendental variety.
If you were going to do it all over, what would your career/life path look like?
I’d buy a huge amount of Bitcoin in 2008.
Do you play the guitar? If you do, which one’s your favourite?
I love my Martin acoustic and my Gibson Les Paul electric.
What kind of online marketing has worked best for you and/or what channels are you looking to explore further?
Facebook has worked very well. It’s all about the targeting. We’re still figuring out Instagram and putting more focus on YouTube.
How important is it in your opinion to have a partner to own/run your business?
It’s important to get someone with a complementary skill set to your own. Figure out where you are weakest and find someone who is strong in that. It’s much easier when you work with someone you like than on your own.
Was the movie accurate in portraying your partnership?
The movie was somewhat accurate about portraying us, though in real life Efraim was more of an asshole. Jonah Hill portrayed him as a nicer guy than he was.
How did you feel when you got sentenced with seven months of house arrest? Were you scared it could have gone way worse?
I was ecstatic that I didn’t get any prison time. House arrest is a little vacation compared to prison.
Is your whole team in Miami, or do you have remote team members?
We have some technical people who are remote. Though we prefer local people for marketing, because it’s all about brainstorming.
Who are you looking to meet in order to advance your business/entrepreneurial endeavors?
More smart people. Right now, a smart data-driven marketer who is a musician is our top priority.
Have you tried any influencer marketing?
Yes, it’s very effective if the influencer in question doesn’t cost much. We have had great success giving free units to respected musicians with an audience of other musicians.
Are you and Efraim still buddies and if not, do you miss him?
No, he still owes me a few million dollars that I’m suing him for. Honestly, he’s a jerk of a person, and I was thrilled when we stopped working together.
Fun fact, Efraim isn’t fat. He must have been so pissed to have Jonah Hill playing him.
Fun fact: he wasn’t fat at the time, but is now.
He was doing too much cocaine at the time to be fat, though he couldn’t get any in prison. And yes, he was SUPER pissed that Jonah played him.
I’m assuming he didn’t have that laugh either, but it was a great touch.
No, that was Jonah Hill’s creation.
Did Hollywood consult you in any way when they were making the movie?
Yes, the screenwriter spent two weeks in Miami with me collecting stories.
Do you know what Efraim is up to now?
I think his main business is filing frivolous lawsuits. Last I heard he was suing a pharmaceutical company because he claims the medication he was taking turned him into a sex, drug and gambling addict.
Overall, was the arms trading fun/interesting or too seedy/chaotic?
Most of it is grinding work of contacting suppliers for prices and figuring out logistics. The fun, interesting part of travelling around the world is actually a much smaller part than people think.
Is it safe to say that you won’t want your kids to meet Efraim?
I wouldn’t want any person I care about to meet Efraim.
Do you want to use your story/fame as your grow your business, or do you prefer to keep them separate?
I use whatever opportunities are presented if they seem like a good idea… it all depends on the specific context.
Obviously Efraim is a tool…how/why did you partner with him?
He was 18 and had already made $2 million. I figured I could put up with an asshole to make some fast money… big mistake.
Do you like Indian food? Or Indian girls for that matter?
I just didn’t like India’s polluted cities.
How did your family react to your story, and what is your relationship with them now?
They were traumatized, but they have since forgiven me, and we now have a very close and warm relationship.
What did you learn about negotiating through this experience?
Negotiating is about who can come up with a better reason for things to go their way. Though the best negotiation is when all parties feel like they’ve ‘won.’ Efraim saw it as a win-lose situation. I prefer win-win, always.
Do you have a special morning routine to help you cope with tough times?
Exercise helps more than anything. It gets the nervous energy out and calms you down.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Sweets. I know they’re bad for me, but SO GOOD!
Thank you all for attending!
I tried to answer as many questions as I could.
Thanks for doing this!
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