Joe De Sena
Founder at Spartan Race
Joe De Sena is the Founder at Spartan Race – has a lifetime’s experience in entrepreneurship, building a multimillion-dollar business in college.
Joe De Sena’s next phase centres on transforming the lives of 1 million obstacle race enthusiasts participating in the worldwide held Spartan Races, using email to market the event.
Tactic that has had the biggest impact on Joe’s success
Authenticity and promoting life in business
Result if you follow the steps in Joe’s session
Transform lives through your relationship and brand
Full session with video, notes, audio and discussion inside EHQ Club. Learn more
Expert session snapshot
So anyway, I kind of played around for a decade from 2000 to 2010. With this idea kept putting on races kept losing money, it was kind of a, it was a hot, painful hobby. In 2010, I get the idea. Sit around a kitchen table or whatever, you know what, let’s shorten the length of some of the race we’re doing rather than making them 500 mile events.
Let’s get them down to an hour digestible, you know, an hour, three hour, seven hour type events, let’s call it Spartan. It was a tough one to get my head around because here I was. I was doing those big events and so was I diluting what I was interested in by shortening them. And so I had to make sure it remained like that.
Anyway, Spartan was born 700 people showed up to the first event, doesn’t sound like a lot. But compared to getting seven people to come do some of the crazy stuff I was doing, 700 is a big number. So from 700, we went to like 1200-1500.
By the way, I needed 3000-4000 to breakeven. So I was still losing money. Like many of the entrepreneurs watching this and listening to this, what ended up happening which is a good thing.
I got so deep into this, I spent so much money. Because I lost money the first race, I lost money, the second race, I’d already lost money for a decade with peak that I had no choice but to make it work.
You know, I’m gonna hang a left turn here trying to get it to make less noise. I’m going to hang a left turn here on what I’m explaining to you. I am in Vermont, I ended up investing in a bunch of businesses in Vermont, a bed and breakfast, a general store, a farm, and I had the vision before Spartan was born that I was going to find young entrepreneurs, like the people listening to this show, and I was going to provide them something I didn’t have.
When I was building my business I didn’t have financial support, I didn’t have somebody there like a safety net. And so I said, I’m gonna have this general store completely built out inventory and I’m gonna go find a couple of young entrepreneurs that are dying to own a general store in Vermont.
It’s crazy. That sounds I’m going to take away all the pressure of the mortgage payments and all the things I had, I’m going to do the same thing on the farm or buy the cows, the tractor, everything’s paid for. Find a couple young farmers that want to do rotational farming, do some good in the world, take away all that pressure, they’re going to be successful. I’m going to do the same thing with bed and breakfast.
What I found is really interesting for your audience, what I found, they all failed. May say to yourself is counterintuitive. How could they fail? If they had no mortgage payments, everything was taken care of. That’s exactly why they fail.
They failed because I think I think the reason we succeed in business is we have to, we have no choice, our backs against the wall. We mortgage our house, we sold our life, we did whatever we had to do to get this business off the ground. You have no choice but to succeed. It’s only then I think that you succeed. And that’s what I’m doing in Spartan.
Here I was 30 years in to saving money and building a nest egg so that I could have a family on a farm and just kind of coast downhill with the latter part of my life. And I found myself after two years blowing most of the money on this thing called Spartan.
And I was so hooked financially and so indebted and so committed. I had no choice, I gotta make this work. And so now we’re six years in, and we’re making it work because I got a choice.
So you know, I wish it was a more, I wish it was a more glamorous story than that. I wish I could say I was so smart and had the foresight. No, I was so freaking committed. I invested so much money, we’re gonna make this work.