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Thrive with Eric Harrison feature #129 of Together Talks

"Together Talks" feature #129: Thrive presented by KLS, freight company

Some Background on Thrive

Today's edition of "Together Talks" campaign, KLS had the opportunity to interview Thrive and Founder, Eric Harrison. Thrive is the only community built for bootstrappers. 90 percent of companies fail because there’s no playbook for building a business on your own. The resources that do exist are almost never created by someone who’s bootstrapped: it’s rare to find someone who truly understands what it’s like to be in your shoes. Their members are vulnerable about their challenges, and passionate about helping each other solve them. If you're building your business from scratch: they'll help you win—against all odds.


When did the company begin?

February 15th, 2024.


Story of how it was created?

It was a journey, a problem I felt personally myself. Thrive is my second company. I started a business when I was 20 years old. We did cultural change management consulting for these mid-market companies. We would go into companies of like 50-ish employees who disruption in their C-suite and we would build mission-obsessed teams is what it was called.


We had this business for about two and a half years, I ran it with three friends of mine. We got it up just over six figures, two years in. But I always pretty candidly tell people we were pretty good at selling it, but didn't have an idea how to run a company. We were kids and kept managing to step on landmines that continued to nearly put us out of business. We had about a four month runway of cash reserves left and I searched for a company or group of people to support us. I simply couldn't find it. We decided to cut down the company. I moved from Illinois to Philadelphia and took a job for head of sales with a startup. I was fortunate to learn from the Founder and get a better understanding of bringing a product to market, managing money, and how to hire and retain good people.


Around this time I was talking to bootstrapped companies as it was our target demographic. People keep asking why I'm not sharing the stories of these Founders. That motivated me to soft launch a podcast and then soft launch a community, Eventually I came to a realization that I loved talking to these Founders. In October, I made the jump and quit my job to start Thrive full time.


Meaning behind the name?

I was active in Boy Scouts of America basically my entire life. That is where I first met my Co-Founders of my first company. In 2019 and 2020, I was the National VP for Boy Scouts, together with my friends were essentially doing a consulting program. It was called a high-performing lodge, which was not resonating with 16/17 year-olds. The program got rebranded to Thrive and it connected really well. I always enjoyed it, loved the name, and wanted to give it another shot.

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What separates your company from competition?

I think we are the only legitimate community that welcomes all bootstrappers. There's a business called the Hampton, which does not serve the same market we do, but is a very similar idea. They are designed to be a very like high-end, high-growth brands. I think we also indirectly compete with Chamber of Commerce for example. Any entity that promotes community or coaches or mentors. Anybody who feels they need people in their corner. You can get that from a lot of sources obviously.


I would say we compete against those options. We separate ourselves by providing the exact resources that companies need to get through the mud and survive. We're not the consultant in this scenario. I think a lot of people when they first hear about Thrive think that. We actually don't sell anything. Our whole role in this is to connect our members with the people that can be transformative in their business. Getting them connected with the right seven or eight people, I think is more transformative than any amount of money for a company. We play that role, the connector, I think, better than anybody.


Define the strengths of the company?

The brand is very differentiated. It looks cool and sounds cool to talk about. The brand is compelling externally and there is a good story behind it. We have really loyal people that are part of this. These individuals have become better sellers for this than any story that I could tell. A prospect or a potential member who is willing to get it on the ground floor and give us very honest feedback is incredibly valuable.


What have been the biggest challenges?

When I started Thrive, I was coming off of my first company, services around $20,000 for three month implementation. Then the startup I worked for, it was $40,000 dollar for a month implementation. Going from those to selling a $10 a month subscription was very different in my head. Previously it wasn't relationship sales, instead it was identifying a pain point and providing the solution, i equate it to a pain killer. But with Thrive I wasted about two months because my sales approach was off.


I was utilizing a quick sale mentality instead of a nurturing relationship. We have since pivoted to a relationship sale. We aren't selling a commodity in this community. It is a feeling and being connected with the right people. What we are selling is trust that we can provide the value we are offering and connect members to the right individuals to help them grow their business.


The other challenge was my role within the company. I started by being head of sales. I'll estimate another 45-60 days I wasted with this mindset. Every single day I was spending eight hours on LinkedIn talking to new people trying to grow our memberships. What was happening is our actual community was suffering due to lack of engagement. This alienated some members who invested in us to provide them the value we sold. Once that clicked for me and I transitioned to head of community it has been a huge change for the positive. As of last week 82% of our members have come from referrals.


Reflect on a goal you set and how it made you feel to accomplish it?

We had low engagement for a while, like I just mentioned, and we were hosting these webinars that would only have a few people in each one. It was frustrating. We were bringing great speakers and a bunch of people paying for this and then they are not coming. But the feedback I was getting from my advisors was how much energy am I putting into getting our members excited about these webinars.


I had to reflect and the answer was no time. I had a realization that if I didn't figure this problem out, members would continue to have a bad experience. I challenged myself, I didn't put a number on it, but I wanted more than the three or four people we were having attend. For that week's webinar I didn't sell to any new people, I focused on getting our existing members excited about what we were providing them. That webinar we had 48 people/ It was such a cool feeling to be able to take some pictures and share what this community is capable of.


Goals for upcoming year + Next phase of the company?

We would like to be close to or above 3,000 members. Currently we have over 100 and another 100 plus on trial.


What were your concerns about making this transition?

We were making no money on Thrive as a free community. Leaving my six figure job and saying I'm quitting today. I had some mental thoughts of if I could pull this off. I believed it was a good idea, but nobody knew how to make it an executable idea. Because we weren't making money, nobody could see the vision. I was constantly asked what the product was, but now people are understanding the product is getting people connected with the right people.


How have you learned to be the face of the company?

It started with me being on LinkedIn all the time. Now I've changed to where I spend two hours a day on LinkedIn and the rest is engaging in our community. I spend a lot of time talking to these folks, highlighting their wins, helping them work through tough challenges, and connecting them by making introductions, I see that kind as my whole role now.


How have you grown as a leader?

The learning definitely continues. My first company, there were probably 10 or 15 things that I messed up that contributed to us closing. My biggest takeaway was definitely that I still wanted to be an entrepreneur. When I started my first company I didn't have a reason as to why I started it, but with Thrive it is different. There is a passion and a mission behind it.


I'm now more locked in on my why. I experienced this first hand and believe I found a solution to that problem. My focus now is how do we figure this out for the customer, not what will I get out of it. If we solve their problems it will take care of ours. The first one definitely humbled me quite a bit, but it gave me perspective and a good grounding. But despite it ending it showed me a glimpse of how fun this can be when you get it right.


What do you need to work on as a leader?

Managing people. While I did a lot of it in the Boy Scouts and it did not translate well into the workplace. Surprisingly a lot of people that run companies who I have relationships with from scouting, mention how leading kids at 15 is vastly different than leading adults who rely on your for their livelihood. Honestly, I think I poorly managed people with my first company. Now my mindset is understanding finding not only good people, but the right people. Being well equipped to train, include, and lead them that will allow me to retain them as Thrive grows.


What aspect of entrepreneurship do you appreciate the most?

There is no cheat code. You can lie to yourself, but it won't do any good. You have to put in the work to see results. I appreciate the challenge and journey and getting to do it my way. Working with other Founders, I appreciate the jump they have taken and the discipline and determination they possess to see their vision through. Knowing what it is like to go through that lonely chapter and being able to support them is very rewarding.


How do you balance running a company and celebrating achievements?

It is definitely something I struggle with. My brain is always on with work, it doesn't shut off. partially it is because I love it, but also because I want to grow it. Two things have been helpful for me. One, at the beginning of the week, I write down what winning looks like for me for the week. Whatever happens, if I accomplish that list, I feel like it was a productive week. It has given me a benchmark for how to measure my activity and performance. The other thing I started was a creating a podcast. We haven't launched it yet, but we meet weekly for lunch or dinner and those conversations are extremely reflective. It forces me to identify not only the bad things or things I didn't get to do, but also the good things.


When was the first moment you felt like you could breathe?

That week I spent more time engaging and we had the huge webinar increase, I was balancing sales and community engagement. If I spent time on sales we'd get more sign ups, but engagement would suffer. I'd focus on engagement and the results would be great, but no sign ups. The webinar we ended up getting 11 people from it who signed up. That was the first time it felt like a real company because both were working in sync. Getting the new customers that day in that capacity was super intriguing. These individuals were speaking our praises and discussing how we were helping. That sparked more interest and attention coming our way which showed the power of this community when we kept our word on the value we provide.


Was there a moment where you doubted the fate of your company?

It was about two weeks after we launched and I had reached out to a ton of people on LinkedIn and i was just pitching our company instead of trying to develop relationships. Over 200 intros and we didn't get a single member. I was wondering if I had made a mistake starting the company. But at my weekly dinner, an advisor told me I wasn't selling it the right way. That mindset flip to focusing on a nurturing relationship started to see positive traction.


What types of members make a good fit for your community?

We do have some members in there who are six or seven figure businesses. But I believe that early-stage entrepreneur in that "lonely chapter" are the ideal members. They have an idea that some say is crazy to consider, but they believe in their idea. That early stage bootstrapping can join our community for support and guidance. They want to make this work because it'll change their life, but they just have not figured it out yet. Being able to provide someone the connections to six or seven people that can guide them is incredibly valuable.

If you had a magic wand and could change one thing about your industry what would it be?

I wouldn't change anything from the fundraising side, but within the consulting community industry, I wish the right kind of people who had actual experience were the ones teaching and guiding. Unfortunately many people fall into these traps were they trust people who claim they offer something that they can't back up or provide. Being able to remove those types of people and companies and help people find their tribe before they step on landmines.


Do you have a moment that brings you the most joy?

To understand that moment, we have to go back to when I created my first company. I was sitting in my college college fraternity house in the basement while my friends were out doing God knows what, while I was trying to be part of our company. I sent a text to a real estate company we were trying to pitch to. It was around a 10k proposal and they agreed. It was the best freaking feeling of my whole life. At 20, $10,000 is like $10,000,000! It was the coolest feeling.


Now, having people in Thrive who are first time founders that reach out to me and share that they closed their first client today. I know exactly how that feels. I think it is the most surreal feeling in the world. But I also remember how it felt like. Nobody reached out for me during my moment. But being part of this community I take the opportunity to celebrate with our members. I appreciate seeing these individuals reach that feeling and then watching and helping them grow. It is the best part of this job.


Piece of Advice

If you are starting a company or if you're in the early stages of entrepreneurship in particular, there are thousands of pieces of information out there. You should do this first, should do this second, do this third, etc. For me, these three things have really changed my life and the way I run this company.


Figure out why you're doing what you're doing, you've got to have that locked in.


Shout it from the freaking rooftops. Post that everywhere, everywhere in your audiences, tell everybody about why you're doing what you're doing until people are just forced to want to root for you.


Last see every conversation as an opportunity. I can't tell you the amount of times in my first company, I ignored a conversation with somebody because they weren't a prospect. Now I've taken that call in this company and they've connected me to somebody that fundamentally change the way I think about my business.


Interested in being featured with "Together Talks"?
KLS is booking our upcoming schedule now!
Contact us as we would love to learn your story and share it amongst our audience.
Weekly we provide 2 companies our platform to expand their reach courtesy of our campaign. Let's collaborate!!!
In Closing

KLS wants to thank Thrive and Founder, Eric Harrison for today's "Together Talks" feature. Follow along for their journey with their social handles below!


Together Talks with Thrive feature #129 - presented by KLS, Klimson Logistics Solutions, freight company

Business Resources!

Look at our new page HERE designed to provide excellent opportunities that may be of interest to you. These are a compilation from our chats within our "Together Talks". If you have any suggestions please let us know as we would love to provide more valuable insight to our community!

Klimson Logistics Solutions - Together Talks with Thrive feature #129

*Klimson Logistics Solutions is an Industry Leading Customer Service 3PL. Our focus and commitment to our clients has us striving to be the BEST customer service 3PL for LTL, FTL, Reefer, and Drayage in the country. KLS, freight company, is a 3PL providing nationwide logistics solutions. KLS shipping services include: LTL freight, FTL freight, Reefer LTL freight, Reefer FTL freight, and Drayage. Klimson Logistics Solutions thanks you for viewing our marketing campaign, "Together Talks". If you have any interest in being featured or questions regarding your freight operations please contact us today!


Why KLS?

Our precise and reliable effort.

We handle every shipment with the exact same process. It does not matter if you move one shipment a year or ten per day, you will receive the same level of customer service from us. When we started this company, we had one goal in mind, treat every shipment like it was our own. With our vast knowledge of the industry, we understood what a customer would want from a communication standpoint. We applied that process to be the standard here at KLS. Our reliability and being able to depend on our consistency is why we have such long-standing relationships with our clients.


Our Process?

Every shipment in our industry starts with a quote. We are firm believers that time is money, thus we strive to have quotes back in a 5-10 minute reply time for LTL and FTL, any FCL quotes are at the mercy of the carriers getting back to us. For LTL we have the flexibility to quote both off of NMFC and also Density depending on the carrier. Utilizing our services, you’re allowing us to use our expertise to class your freight accordingly to ensure we are providing the best rate we possibly can.

Once a quote has been submitted and a client chooses to proceed with KLS handling the arrangement of the shipment our full process begins. We create the BOL that will be used for the shipment. If it is a new location for our system, we will obtain all the important/special details (reference numbers, contact details, shipping hours, closed for lunch, dock/doors, etc.). We meticulously build every detail into our software for all future shipments involving that location. After we have both locations built and necessary reference numbers have been applied we will tender the shipment to the carrier. We use this method because it provides us a real time pickup number from the carrier to obtain updates prior to pickup. Our staff will either email the BOL directly to you or to the shipper (at your request) the minute after the tender has been accepted by the carrier. LTL carriers require a 2 hour window prior to close time in order to schedule it for a same-day pickup attempt.

The following morning you’ll receive an email from us. It will either provide the reason the pickup was missed (driver’s trailer filled up, driver missed the close time, truck broke down, shipper said no freight, etc.) or if the pickup was successful you will receive the PRO (tracking) number from us, along with the eta for delivery. Our staff will track it throughout the duration of transit and advise if anything happens that will alter the estimated delivery date. The day the shipment delivers we will email you with confirmation and the POD (Proof of Delivery), should you require it.

Your shipment has been quoted, scheduled, picked up, and delivered. The next step is waiting for the carrier to invoice us and make sure the rate matches up. If it does, we close out the invoice from the carrier in our system and automatically your invoice is created and sent to the requested party at your company. In the event the carrier has an additional charge on their invoice “Variance”, we will never send you an invoice with an additional charge without first identifying you of the charge.

Let us repeat, NEVER WILL WE JUST BILL OUT AN EXTRA CHARGE WITHOUT YOU BEING NOTIFIED.

You are our customer, we represent you. Should the carrier provide an extra charge on an invoice, “Lift gate, additional weight, reclass, detention, etc.) We notify you of the charge via email first. Second, within that email we identify what is required should you choose to dispute the charge. Again our goal is to honor your request, if you want to dispute, we will dispute. During a dispute we will provide you updates every step along the way. Once a dispute is closed out, whether it is approved or rejected, then we will invoice you as the invoice has been resolved.

For reference, our company only had 6.2% of all shipments go to dispute in 2022 and we successfully won 91% of those disputes on behalf of our customers.

This is our process for every single shipment you move with us. We don’t cut corners, we don’t hide from difficult situations. We believe in being available, honest, and transparent. We don’t ever want to tell you that a shipment is lost, damaged, misrouted, but it is our duty to notify you the second we find out something has gone wrong. We hate to present bad news, but it is part of the job. What you can guarantee is that we will work a shipment all the way through and turn over every stone until we get a resolution for our clients.


Services offered?

Our core business is LTL and FTL. Within these options we have options for both dry and refrigerated/frozen. We also offer FCL/Drayage options. Our company as a 3PL has nationwide options and services clients across the US.


Let’s breakdown our services more in-depth

LTL: Standard and Guaranteed CFS (Imports & Exports) Tradeshows Hazmat Anything that is on a pallet can be moved LTL. Typically LTL is up to 10 pallets, but the sweet spot for a carrier is 6-8 pallets at most for an individual shipment. LTL quotes are good between 5-30 days depending on the carrier. LTL can be quoted either via NMFC or density to determine the class (we do this for you).

Volume: Anything over 10-12’ of space in the truck is the technical rule for a volume shipment. When we run a quote for you we will determine if it qualifies for volume and provide you a rate if available. Volume moves allow you to get a reduced rate for larger shipments. The caveat to volume shipments it the quotes are only valid for 3-7 days and they move on capacity between terminals. If a terminal is backed up they will move their LTL freight first before the volume freight, which can lead to longer transit times for volume moves.

FTL/Dedicated/Expedited: 53’ Dry and Reefer 26’ Box trucks with lift gate Sprinter Van The main difference for FTL vs LTL is space and transit time. For standard pallets you can fit either 26 or 30 pallets in a 53’ dry van. The other main difference is transit time, for FTL each day counts in the transit time, whereas LTL does not count the day of pickup, weekends, or holidays in their transit time.

Reefer/Frozen: LTL and FTL We specialize working in the CPG space with food manufacturers. We regularly deliver to the following locations: Kehe UNFI Core Mark DPI Wegmans Cugini H.T. Hackney Netrition HEB ALDI Chambers and Owens EBY Brown Nassau Candy Harris Teeter Wakefern NU INC Long Distribution

What makes KLS different?

There are thousands of freight brokers and 3PL in our industry. Barrier to entry is rather easy and agents or owners will often hire sales people without any intention of properly training them. It results in high turnover for many freight companies and a forgettable experience for the client. We choose to operate differently through our consistency. We truly care about doing right by our clients and prospects too. While we would love to help provide our services to every company we speak with, that just isn’t realistic. We won’t always be the right fit for every company that moves freight and that is ok. Our authenticity as a shipping company sets us apart from the competition and that is backed up by our testimonials. We also run a marketing campaign bi-weekly called “Together Talks”. We interview, highlight, and promote two businesses every week. Our goal is to grow our network, make new connections, and learn something new with each collaboration. Check it out on our website and if you’re interested in being featured reach out.

Our company also runs a year long charity promotion. Book your first shipment through KLS and we donate to the charity of your choice in your name. Our way of thanking you for giving us an opportunity to show you the KLS way and what makes us one of a kind. This entire package is what we offer to every prospect and every client. Our goal is to help provide answers that customers may have when it comes to shipping. We want to always be available as a resource and will always offer a lending hand whenever we can.

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