Michael Cohen — CEO at Team Whistle on Wall Street to Digital, Scaling $0-100M, Leadership, and Exits

April 13, 2022 by  Chris Erwin

Today we publish our 22nd podcast episode. Links to listen and full transcript are below.

This interview features Michael Cohen, CEO at Team Whistle.

We discuss being denied by a Goldman Sachs recruiter, when wearing a suit can be bad for business, being on the launch team of Whistle Sports, why the movie The Martian inspires his leadership, executing an M&A roll-up strategy and going from $0-100M in revenue, exiting to ELEVEN Group, and learning how to “play it where it lies”.

I’ve known Michael for over 15 years, and he’s one of my favorites to share industry notes with and riff about all things creator economy. And we have some wild stories from back when we worked together as investment bankers in NYC right out of undergrad…

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Interview Transcript

The interview was lightly edited for clarity.

 

Chris Erwin:

This week’s episode features Michael Cohen, CEO of Team Whistle and Chief Transformation Officer of ELEVEN Group. Michael was born in Long Island and grew up with parents who worked in tourism and technology. He decided to migrate to Atlanta for college, kicked off his career in a financial training program at Wells Fargo, but he soon returned to his home turf in New York City to be an investment banker, where Michael learned how to tell stories with numbers. Of note, this is where we first met and actually worked together for a few years.

Michael’s career then progressed into private equity and strategy consulting, but he left to take an early bet in digital media and helped launch Whistle Sports in 2014. Today, Michael is the CEO and has spent the past year integrating the business into its new owner, ELEVEN Group. Some highlights of our chat include being denied by a Goldman Sachs recruiter, when wearing a suit can be bad for business, why the movie “The Martian” inspires his leadership, executing an M&A roll up strategy and going from zero to a hundred million in revenue, and learning how to play it where it lies. Now I’ve known Michael for over 15 years, and he’s one of my favorites to share industry notes with and riff about all things creator economy.

Telling his story has been a long time coming, so let’s get to it.

All right, Michael, thanks for being on the podcast.

 

Michael Cohen:

Chris, thanks for having me. Been a long, long time that we’ve known each other, so I’m excited to chat with you.

 

Chris Erwin:

Yeah. This has been a long time coming. I think I’ve been asking you to be on the podcast for almost over a couple years now. There was some assumed perhaps missed emails or lack of responses or who knows what, but finally able to make it happen today.

 

Michael Cohen:

I take the fifth, but I’m glad I’m glad to be here today.

 

Chris Erwin:

All right, Michael. I’ve known you for a long time. I think dating back to 2006. This is … I know. It’s pretty crazy to say that. It’s almost over 15 years starting in Wall Street finance into the world of digital media. A lot to talk about today, but let’s start where you grew up, if there’s any glimpses into your early career. Let’s rewind a bit and tell us about where you grew up and what your household was like.

 

Michael Cohen:

I grew up in Long Island in New York, a nice, quiet suburban town called Jericho. I have an older brother and my two parents as well. The town was a very small town. Everybody knew each other, which was great, but also a little bit of a bubble. And so I think having grown up in that environment, it was something that I liked a lot, but also knew it was something I needed to get out of and experience the world a bit different. And I think part of my childhood allowed me to do that. My mom worked in travel, which allowed us to go to all different places. Some I appreciated at the time. Some, I certainly did not as a kid. Whish I could go back and appreciate some of those more, but again, this is well before we had digital cameras, let alone Instagram.

 

Michael Cohen:

You couldn’t experience a culture the way you potentially can today through Instagram or other apps. I got to have a feel for other cultures around the world through that lens. And then my dad worked in and around technology for his entire career, which was pretty awesome. He traveled to Japan a lot. And I would always … We went to the consumer electronic show, when CES was actually consumer electronics, or at least more prominently consumer electronics. I would inevitably have some new gadget. I remember a small, little TV that had a massive antenna that I got channel two on, which was great, super exciting as a kid. And then I definitely had the first MP3 player, which I think it was called the Diamond Rio.

 

Chris Erwin:

It could hold five songs?

 

Michael Cohen:

Yeah. It literally had I think five songs. You could upgrade the memory and you might get eight songs. It was literally the coolest thing ever, but you’d use it to go for a run because you had a Walkman. That was the only other thing. And if you do more than a 20 minute run, that’s kind of it. But I think being around my mom and dad who were both working, gave me a strong appreciation for hard work and work ethic. I think both of the industries that they were in gave me perspectives that I probably wouldn’t necessarily have had. I’d say my older brother, in terms of work ethic, not to say he didn’t have great work ethic, but he is wildly smart. And he didn’t actually have to work all that hard to do really well, which, on the other hand, I believe I’m somewhat smart, but also had to do a lot of hard work to keep up. That’s just something that’s always driven me.

 

Chris Erwin:

Michael, I think you have many moments of great intelligence, so don’t cut yourself short there. All right. With your mother in travel, your father in tech, did you have a sense of what you wanted to do as a kid? Did a lot of people in your community work in New York City? Did they work in finance? What were you thinking about your careers you were preparing for college?

 

Michael Cohen:

Yeah, we had a lot of different folks in the neighborhood. Some worked in finance, some accountants, a variety of folks that worked in different industries. I think for me, business was something that was always an area where I wanted to focus. I knew I wanted to be a business man at that time, follow predominantly in my dad’s footsteps and be able to work with a great company and travel, be a part of important meetings, a big team. All that stuff was important to me. Exactly where and what that meant was certainly TBD. Again, we didn’t have internet, and all that stuff wasn’t as prevalent as it is today to sort of understand all the options and choices.

 

Chris Erwin:

And actually, a quick tangent to that … As a kid, what were your hobbies? What were your passions? What did you do outside the classroom?

 

Michael Cohen:

Played a lot of sports. I grew up in a neighborhood that after school, all of us would get our bikes. We’d go to a park. We go back to the school. We’d play pick up basketball, roller hockey, baseball, you name it. We were out until dinnertime. And that was just awesome, being able to always be playing sports. And then at home, I would say because I was able to get exposure to a lot of the technology, I probably had the latest and greatest computers, these massive machines, and got to tinker around with that. So played on the computers. I probably had the first CD burner that existed, and turned that into a little entrepreneurial business in high school, selling CDs.

 

Chris Erwin:

Burned popular CDs that you would buy at the time and sell them to your friends?

 

Michael Cohen:

There was a very popular dance mix. I don’t remember what it was, but it was one of those things that … I don’t know if it was Tower Records or one of those [inaudible 00:08:06] things that you get 22 songs or something on. And it’s a mix. I had this CD burner. My friend and I, we started selling these CDs for a few bucks to our friends. It was a nice little side hustle back in high school.

 

Chris Erwin:

Okay, so there’s a little bit of an entrepreneurial bend in you. I see that. You decide to go to college, and you go to Emory university in the south. What were you thinking when you went to Emory? What was the plan there?

 

Michael Cohen:

It was interesting. My brother had gone to Emory. I went down to visit him, Emory in Atlanta, Georgia, early 2000s. The “dirty south” was really having a moment in terms of growth, in terms of pop culture, a really awesome vibrant place. I think for me, having grown up in more of a smaller neighborhood where I knew a lot of the people, I think feeling like a bigger fish in a smaller pond was something that was more exciting. And I think looking at Emory, looking at the curriculum, the school wasn’t super small, but at the same time, it would give me warmer weather and the ability to feel part of the movement in pop culture happening at the time.

 

Chris Erwin:

And so from there, you end up going into finance, right when you graduate, which I think is around 2005. And I think you end up at Wells Fargo. What was your thinking there for your first role out of school?

 

Michael Cohen:

I’ll back you up a little bit. At Emory, I majored certainly in business, but with a concentration in finance and marketing. And again, I had always had the desire to be a leader, wanting to be the head of a company someday. Didn’t know exactly what that meant at the time, but that was always something that was important to me. I remember going to a … The school had put on a road show of meeting different investment banks. I got to go to Goldman Sachs, the cream of the crop. I remember this so clearly. I had my suit on, I had studied, I had the vault guides. I knew every question that could be answered. I was ready, and the presenter started off his presentation. And he said, “None of you in this room are going to get a job at Goldman Sachs right out of school.”

 

Chris Erwin:

Why are you there?

 

Michael Cohen:

I’m like, “Well, this is sort of the most deflating thing ever. And I’ve been preparing for this for an ungodly amount of time.” I was so angry for so long, but what I took away from that has stayed with me for my entire career, and it’s something I pass on. Because what he then went on to say was, “I didn’t start at Goldman Sachs. I started at X company. I then went to Y. I went then over to company A, and then I went to company B and ultimately got to where I am today as a managing director at Goldman Sachs.” And his point was that not all career paths are linear. You have to have different experiences along the way that ultimately allow you to become a better managing director at Goldman Sachs, or wherever you were going.

 

Michael Cohen:

Fast forward, that stuck with me. I didn’t get a job at Goldman Sachs and actually, for the first time in my life, I decided to take a different road. I stayed in Atlanta after I graduated when a lot of my peers were moving back to Manhattan and New York. Again, Atlanta during this time was really booming, and I was excited about the city. I worked for Wells Fargo in their corporate banking group, where we were lending money to large Fortune 500 companies.

 

Michael Cohen:

It was a really interesting experience because it was so foundational in terms of learning and the training program that Wells Fargo had. It was just an incredible training program, got exposure to a lot of different people, a lot of different industries that we were covering. And it really gave me a very solid foundation. Ultimately, it was something that I would say, started to lay a very strong finance acumen for me down in Atlanta. I stayed down in Atlanta for a year after graduation and worked at Wells Fargo. It was a two year training program and my focus was all right, it’s not investment banking, but maybe I can complete this training program in one year versus two years. So I completed all the training requirements.

 

Chris Erwin:

This is actually where we have a lot of overlap. Right after undergrad, I also started my career as a corporate banker. I went to the Bank of New York. It’s now known as BNY Mellon. Similar to you, we were lending to Fortune 500 companies across a variety of industries. So paper manufacturing, TMT, energy and utilities, and much more. I remember spending a lot of time pouring over financial statements and getting into all the details. I learned a ton. Follow up question for you, Michael, is what did you like most about the training program?

 

Michael Cohen:

What was great about the training program is that, and I remember this so clearly, they taught you how to hold your plate and a glass at a cocktail dinner. They taught you how to answer the phone. And you think about these soft skills that you take for granted today. Most people don’t even use a phone anymore, let alone know how to actually pick up the phone. Go to a cocktail party, how you’re supposed to hold the glass on the plate with one hand so you have the other hand free to shake someone’s hand. Little fun things that you learned outside of just the core finance and accounting.

 

Michael Cohen:

But what was interesting, and why I ultimately decided to move back to New York, was it was a little too slow for me in Atlanta at the time. Still very much a nine to five attitude in that city in terms of where I was, and the opportunity to advance as fast as I would’ve wanted. This is when I got the opportunity to move to New York, and I landed a job at Waller Capital, which is where you and I had worked together.

 

Chris Erwin:

I remember that first meeting where I think you had just joined within the past handful of months. This is I think in 2006, and very similar experience to you, incredible training program at Bank of New York, learned a lot from the leadership there, but wanted something that was more faster paced. Wanted to jam in the hours while I was young in my twenties. I remember coming to an interview at night in the office, and this was a small office, at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, or one rock, and meeting at the upstairs meeting room. It was in the dark. I walk in and I think we do a 45 minute or hour interview. And I was like, “Wow, look at this guy. He’s got a similar background to me, but he’s super sharp. He’s very confident. And you got me very, very excited about the role.” The interview I had was okay.

 

Chris Erwin:

But I guess it was good enough to give me the job, because I remember getting an offer letter shortly thereafter and then joined the company a few weeks after that. I’m curious, one of the things we talked about before was building three legs of the stool. Each of those legs being finance, operations, and strategy and leadership. What do you think that you got out of your experience at Waller Capital? And then you moved to The Cypress Group thereafter, what was the financial acumen that you were really building at that point?

 

Michael Cohen:

I think it was a few different things. It was a core foundational skillset in corporate finance and accounting, which is really understanding how the numbers work, how an income statement, a balance sheet, a cash flow, not only how that works, which I think I learned in Wells Fargo, but in investment banking and at Waller capital was more of how it’s applied. Because what we did was we were advising companies … As you know, you worked there, but we were advising companies on raising capital to support their businesses and more often selling the companies. Helping them with the most important moment of their lives to sell them to somebody else. How do you write a story based on these numbers and present them to the marketplace? I think that was …What I learned there was really the combination of how to use numbers to tell stories. And certainly learned a massive attention to detail.

 

Michael Cohen:

You talk about Jeff Brandon, who we both worked with. I remember what he said to me. He goes, “In our business, 99% right is a hundred percent wrong.” And that’s really stuck with me. The detail side of that, because what he was trying to say was one wrong number calls out your credibility to a client, to a potential buyer. And it’s cast judgment, cast doubt on the rest of the financial model. So we really, the threshold for being correct was there was really zero tolerance. It taught you how to double check, how to triple check your work, how to work with others, like yourself, to ask questions, to make sure that you were approaching things the right way.

 

Michael Cohen:

I would say the storytelling with numbers, the attention to detail, and then again, work ethic. Because we worked long hours together to ultimately be able to deliver for our clients. And you had to find a solution. I’ll give you an example of that, which was, we had a pitch, it was a very large pitch. We had done the pitch deck. We were all ready. Again, Waller Capital was media and telecom. I don’t think we hit that early, but we spent a lot of time focused on cable companies. These cable companies, if you zoom out of a map of the United States, it’s like a puzzle. There’s pictures of this map that we would often use in our pitch decks to show how some different assets, where a strategic fit of different areas. Well, that needed to be part of a physical pitch deck.

 

Michael Cohen:

And unfortunately the files were so large that they couldn’t print out. Again, this is ’06, so didn’t have these great printers that you can buy off the shelves today. And I had said to the managing director, “Look, sorry, there’s just nothing I can do. It won’t print. It keeps jamming. It won’t print.” And the response was like, “That’s just not acceptable. I need this for a pitch tomorrow morning. It’s got to be at my house in Greenwich by 4:00 AM, because I’ve got a 6:00 AM flight.” So, okay. And I’ve got my new shoes on, my new suit, my investment banker gear. Meanwhile, I’m living on a couch at this point, and I go down to the financial printers on Wall Street, and begging them to take this file. The financial printers were the people that actually printed out all the 10Ks, all the SEC documents that had to be physically printed back in the day.

 

Michael Cohen:

I begged them to find a way to get this file open. Ultimately after going to three different ones, I found someone that was able to print it. They printed it. I bartered with them, so instead of charging with me, we said, “Hey, the next virtual data room that we use will go with you.” And I took a black car all the way to Greenwich. I dropped it off. My feet were all blistered up. Ultimately got home, got a couple hours of sleep, and back in the office by nine o’clock. While going through that, I was obviously fairly frustrated and tired and exhausted, but it taught me that every problem has a solution. You just have to work it hard enough. I think those three plus years at Waller Capital really instilled a core foundation in how I work, and not only what I know, but how I work and what I really am able to do.

 

Chris Erwin:

Very well said. After investment banking for a few years, you then head to private equity. You head to the Cypress Group and Torque Capital. Tell us about experience and what the training was there that was setting you up for the rest of your career.

 

Michael Cohen:

Wat was really interesting coming out of Waller Capital after three years was, I don’t know how many different sell side mandates we were on, but probably, 30, 40 over my time there. Sell side is when, as you know, when you’re selling a company to the marketplace, so you’re representing a seller and you’re going out and you’re positioning them to a marketplace of buyers to ultimately sell it. Now, what was really fascinating for me, and what I wanted to do, was go on the opposite side. Okay. You sell the company, now what happens? A buyer buys it, what do they do now? How do they operate it? And Cypress Group was a two and a half billion dollar private equity firm. I would say they were focused on diversified industrials and manufacturing.

 

Michael Cohen:

And for me, what I wanted to get next in my career was a broader exposure to the economy. No better way to do that than getting more involved in industrials and manufacturing. The other side of it is I wanted to be involved in the actual operations of the company. Cypress was sort of nearing the end of its fun life, but really was focusing on portfolio operations. It would give me an opportunity to really roll up my sleeves, work with various executives in each of these companies that they had owned, and literally be on the front lines of operations. And I think that was an incredible experience, particularly because the fall of Lehman Brothers happened during that. When you have exposure to everything from automotive companies to kitchen cabinets during a recessionary period, how do you operate those businesses?

 

Michael Cohen:

It’s one thing when you can’t stop selling kitchen cabinets. It’s another thing when home builds are cut in half, and you’ve got a massive manufacturing line needs to be retooled or relooked at. And so how do you fix that? I was able to go to many interesting places similar to our days in Waller Capital, driving around the country and various markets, and get on the manufacturing floor. What I remember very clearly are two things. One, the first company I went to that we owned, I was wearing a suit, tie, nice shoes, clearly bringing a New York aura to this company that was in Tennessee, I believe. And it was like, who is this guy? What is he doing here? How can he possibly help me?

 

Michael Cohen:

I quickly learned culturally, you can’t get things done by decree. What I quickly did was, the next day I changed. I was no longer wearing a suit. I was a little bit more suitable, but I started just asking questions and listening. What I took away was, what are the biggest pain points that the CEO has, that some of the senior managers have. And ultimately I came away from that trip knowing that if I could solve some of those pain points for them … And some of them were fairly easy. Some of them were, “Hey, I need just better communication between the board and us,” or, “Hey, there’s this issue that keeps popping up.” These were fairly simple, but it just required connecting of dots to do. And I did that, and what was magical out of that was the respect and credibility that I was able to get.

 

Michael Cohen:

From that point on, I was able to acclimate and get involved in these companies in a way where I started to be able to understand truly what would move the needle for them as operators, versus me wearing a New York private equity hat. And that was probably the most fun I had ever had. It really reinforced my desire to really be an operator. I had now investment banking, private equity experience. After two years … Private equity was a two year program. You signed two years, and then you’re typically off to business school or you do something else. Ultimately, I had asked the head of the private equity firm for his advice on what I should do next. I said, “Hey, should I go to business school?”

 

Michael Cohen:

I had taken GMAT. I had done well. He was a big golfer. He said, “Play it where it lies.” He goes, “You’re sitting in the fairway. Why would you go to business school? You’ve already got the education. Everything you would’ve gotten, you’ve seen. You’ve been operating. You’ve been operating through these tough environments.” And this was about the time where we saw an opportunity in the market to create what I would call a lower middle market distressed fund that would focus on these smaller companies that were forgotten during the post Lehman era, that were still extremely valuable, had a lot of asset value, again from manufacturing, whether that was equipment or what they were doing, but just were victims of the challenging environment. Going in, helping to restructure those, bringing those back to life, was awesome. It was the best. After two years, I joined a couple of folks there.

 

Michael Cohen:

We created this vehicle called Torque Capital Group. It still exists today. We made a couple of investments. I was really part of the very beginning of a fund, the very beginning of the investment that we made, putting together a hundred day plan, living in places like New Hampshire and outer Georgia, really working with the operators on what is this next iteration of the company. That was just such an incredible experience. What I took from that was ultimately, I was more excited about the top line growth side of things, the innovation that was happening in Silicon Alley. That then led me to the next stage of the career.

 

Chris Erwin:

Few interesting notes there. One, in terms of really listening, and being aware, and understanding the cultural nuances when you’re working with different companies or leadership … I feel you on that because I remember you and I used to do this. We used to do the cable tours when we were in banking, and I would show up to the middle of nowhere, Missouri or middle of nowhere, Wyoming to a cable head end, where we were representing the seller. The private equity company, their buyer, and their leadership and diligence team would come out. They’d all just be in general outdoor work gear. And I’m showing up in a suit, slacks, nice leather shoes. I was totally the odd man out. I thought that dressing nice like that would get me respect in the room, or respect in a situation because I was typically 20 years younger than everyone else that was there.

 

Chris Erwin:

That was not the case, and I learned pretty quickly that I got to adjust the wardrobe. And I got to listen more to the people that are around me if I’m going to have an impact in this situation. I think that’s very right. And your boss, I think at the Cypress Group said, “Play it where it lies.” Probably around that time, it’s 2011 for you, I decided to go to business school because I think I realized I was making a change where I wanted to change geographies. I wanted to change roles. I wanted to change industries, and I felt that I didn’t have the right skillset and I didn’t have the right plan. I needed to reset and take two years to get the operating experience that I needed.

 

Chris Erwin:

It’s funny, we took two different paths, but ended up in pretty similar industries thereafter, and pretty similar roles that have diverged over the past few years. It’s just funny to kind of reflect on that. All right, so then after Torque Capital, we’re going to get shortly to your rise in digital media at Team Whistle, but I think there was a quick stint of strategy work that you were doing. Tell us quickly about that, and then we’ll get to your current role now.

 

Michael Cohen:

So now, I’ve got the finance acumen under me, I’ve got the operational acumen under me, and I see very clearly what I need next, which is more of the strategy work that was missing. What I was looking for at the time was, do I jump into a startup and take some sort of role that’s … I think at the time everyone coming from private equity or MBAs was looking for a business development role, or a strategy role within these companies. I got some really great advice from an angel investor who introduced me to the CEO of Fahrenheit 212, which their whole mantra, how do we take an existing asset, existing distribution channels, existing marketplace position, and how do we leverage that to create a new product, a new technology, bring that to market and ultimately build a startup within a Fortune 500 company?

 

Michael Cohen:

I was advised by this angel investor who said to me, “Go talk to Fahrenheit. I think this is a great bridge that will ultimately get you into more of that operating role, that startup role, but this is a great place to go. You’ll have the ability to work with large Fortune 500 companies that you’ve been working with, but you’ll also be able to help them work on new products, new innovation, very exciting activities.” And so got the job where I was an engagement manager. My role there was to lead different engagements. I got the opportunity to work with everyone from Citigroup, to Samsung, and a number of others in between, but big companies and big challenges that we were trying to tackle for them. One of the best pieces of advice I got from the founder, a guy by the name of Jeff Valletta, stuck with me. He said, “Free yourself from the fear of failure.”

 

Michael Cohen:

What he was saying was a couple things. One is, in innovation, you’re going to fail sometimes, but if you play your hands scared, you’re never going to innovate. The team that we built at Fahrenheit was there to support you. So it was one, the team around you is here to support you, so don’t worry about you failing. And two, don’t worry about the product failing because you’re going to learn from it. And it was about iteration. It was a great environment to frankly, retrain my brain because in banking and private equity, when you hit a wall, you think about how do I financial engineer around this? How do I cut it? In innovation when you hit a wall, that’s opportunity.

 

Michael Cohen:

It took me a number of months to sort of retrain my brain on that notion that this is opportunity, and so how do we innovate around it? How do we innovate through it? What does this mean in terms of opportunity? That to me was an incredible experience. I was at Fahrenheit for about a year, and then I left and ultimately started my own consulting company. And why did I leave? Well, something interesting happens when you work with Fortune 500 companies and you deliver them, at least in my experience there was you deliver them this great strategy. You deliver them this great idea. They sign off on it. Two things happen: one, the person who’s the key stakeholder gets promoted and it’s no longer their problem. Or two, they decide to take it internally. They’re like, this is great. We’re going to run with it from here. The idea of me getting to build a startup within a Fortune 500 company was not really a super viable path. You’re able to bring the strategy to life, but often, they’re going to run with it on there.

 

Michael Cohen:

So obviously lots of internal stakeholders, lots of different things you need to do. And being inside the company was how they were able to be successful with it or take it. But at that point, I was very confident in the skillset that I had built. And so I started my own consulting company called, Who Is M. Cohen Ventures.

 

Chris Erwin:

Can I just ask why, Who Is M. Cohen?

 

Michael Cohen:

A friend of mine was more advanced in the social media space at the time than I was. In terms of branding and everything, I was like, “I need a Twitter handle. What Twitter handle should I do?” I couldn’t redo my AOL handle from high school. So he’s like, “What about who is M. Cohen? There’s so many Michael Cohens out there. What about who is M. Cohen?” And so I took that as my Twitter handle, and then I just started branding a lot of other things with it. I liked it.

 

Chris Erwin:

Hey listeners, this is Chris Erwin, your host of The Come Up. I have a quick ask for you. If you dig what we’re putting down, if you like the show, if you like our guests, it would really mean a lot if you can give us a rating, wherever you listen to our show. It helps other people discover our work, and it also really supports what we do here. All right, that’s it. Everybody let’s get back to the interview.

 

Chris Erwin:

After Fahrenheit and after Who Is M. Cohen Ventures, you joined what is now known as Team Whistle back in 2013. I’m curious to hear, from your point of view, how you ended up making this transition. Because I do remember when I was graduating from Kellogg, I was working for a company called Pritzker that actually invested in Big Frame and Awesomeness. I joined Big Frame back in, I think July 2012. I remember increasingly getting calls from you being like, “Hey Chris, I see you’re working at Big Frame. You’re in the YouTube MCN world, what’s going on there? What are you doing? How are you building?” And I remember the frequency of those calls really ratcheting up. I think there was an eventual call I got from you, which was, “Hey, I joined Whistle.” And I thought that was awesome. I loved having one of my financial brethren making the move into digital media where there’s going to be some more quantitative focused minds and strategy minds entering the mix, which we needed. But how did that come to be from your side?

 

Michael Cohen:

I was doing the consulting thing as Who Is M. Cohen Ventures. One of my clients was the Whistle, and I was doing consulting for probably six months. I had a number of clients, probably had five different clients. And I wasn’t sure whether I was going to just keep building a consulting company or do something else. It would actually, frankly, gave me the opportunity to date a lot of really interesting companies. I worked with small seed stage companies, some more funded companies, and some actually Fortune 500 companies as a consultant. But, I would say what got me to join Whistle was two things that happened. One, I would come home and I would talk to my wife and she said to me, “What’s interesting, you talk about all your clients. When you talk about Whistle, you say, we. When you talk about your other clients, you say they.” It was a really interesting, subtle observation that she had made.

 

Michael Cohen:

And then too, Chris, as you know, back in time, this was a wild west. Not many people knew what YouTubers were. It was probably the only platform that had creators. I don’t think the term influencer was coined yet. And then Disney comes in and buys maker studios for a billion dollars. I sit there and say, well, one, there’s a great team, a small team, but really interesting people that are here. And then two, there’s just got some validation in this industry that perhaps there is some validation coming from Disney.

 

Michael Cohen:

At that point, John West, who was the founder of Whistle, said, “Hey, we got to raise some money, so I can’t have my finance person as a consultant. So you going to join? You can create a consulting company anytime in your life. There’s not going to be many opportunities you get to join a company at an early stage like Whistle.” And he’s a great salesman and a great mentor and friend, so I jumped on board. At the time it was called The Whistle and that began the nine plus year journey that I’m still on right now.

 

Chris Erwin:

Got it. When you first joined, what was the mandate? Was it, “Hey, Michael, we need to raise money. Let’s get the model and the deck together”? And then the money’s raised, what was your mandate immediately thereafter?

 

Michael Cohen:

They had raised some seed capital. Really I joined in 2013 and I would say our public launch was January 1st, 2014. And the premise of what we were trying to do was if you were to reimagine ESPN today, how would you do it? That was the question that we were asking ourselves at the time. It would be very different than what was happening back then. Traditional media, in our view, underserved today’s generation. It was mostly a one way broadcast directly to you from the old guys with gray hair, talking about the glory days, talking about this scandal, that scandal. And, when I came on, the mandate was to help figure out what’s the initial strategy that we want to take this on. Our view was, looking at how ESPN came to be and studying it, was ESPN came to be on the back of cable and satellite providers. They bought sports rights and, again, they sold them and then sold it to Telcos and had licensing fees and all that type of stuff.

 

Michael Cohen:

Our view was that the next company was going to be built on the back of social media company. Instead of cable and satellite, you’re going to have the Facebooks, the YouTubes, et cetera. But our view was that instead of sports rights, it was going to be social influencer rights. And so the first step of what we did was we created a sports MCN, like a Big Frame before us, or a Maker, or Style Hall. All these others that were either generalists, or they were very vertical focused, Style Hall being more fashion and beauty. Tastemade, being more around food.

 

Michael Cohen:

There was still room for sports. The first thing that we did and that I was part of, was really trying to come up with that strategy. Once we landed on the MCN strategy, which, our view at the time we came after a number of other companies, was instead of this actually being the destination we’re trying to go to, it was more of the vehicle.

 

Michael Cohen:

And what I mean by that is, we would create this MCN, we’d have a lot of creators under our belt. It would give us access to tons of data, which would then give us the ability to learn more about the audience and then figure out how best to serve that audience. So I would say the initial part of me coming on was helping with the capital raise, putting the deck together, putting together a financial model. But in order to put together a deck in a financial model, you of course need the business strategy. Looking back nine years, it’s very easy to tell a linear story on what we did, but between us that’s BS. We all know building a company is not a linear story. So that was the first piece of coming on.

 

Chris Erwin:

When you launch in January of 2014, did the launch go as expected? What surprised you?

 

Michael Cohen:

We were so focused at the time of being a very good for you sports media company that we launched Dude Perfect, as I’m sure many people know, one of the largest creators in the world. I think they were only 2 million subscribers on YouTube at the time. Now they’re multiples of that. They were one of our launch partners and a number of others were. We had PR around it. It was great. And then we’re watching YouTube videos and we see you can block certain categories that you don’t want to run ads. Our whole premise was certainly no alcohol, only really positive advertisements that could go on it. We didn’t want soft drinks. We didn’t want certain junk food. I think we got served a Pepsi ad or something, and it caused a whole panic of are we having sugary drinks?

 

Michael Cohen:

Are we allowed to have sugary drinks? Are we not allowed to have sugary drinks? And I think that was a funny moment. But at the time the rally cry was build our subscribers, the subscriber network, on subscribers being on YouTube. We had different targets that we ran after to bring creators on, to hit a certain subscriber threshold, which, was more of a proxy for the size of our audience and how we would be able to monetize it. But I remember that early on, it was getting a little over spooked on a very non-controversial ad that ran in pre-roll on YouTube.

 

Chris Erwin:

Yeah. And I have to ask, what was it like for you to start working with creators for the first time? For me coming out of finance, so venture capital, business school, Wall Street. I was very accustomed to working with private equity leadership, sophisticated investors, C-suite executives from the companies that we were representing. Transitioning into this intersection of digital media technology and entertainment, working with creators and personalities, working with the representatives that manage them. That was an entirely new world for me, both working with those talent and the reps in house, and then also out of our building as well. Did you have a lot of creator exposure early on at Whistle?

 

Michael Cohen:

I would say I wasn’t leading the creator efforts. We had an awesome person named Julie Kikla who came from YouTube that helped us launch that. Dev Sethi then came on, who I know has been on your podcast here, but definitely got exposure to the different creators. I would say that my diversified experience in the past very much helped me for how to navigate, how to partner with these creators, who very often were not sophisticated businesses. And certainly at the time they weren’t. First and foremost, they’re in incredibly talented, innovative creators that they’re most suited to creating incredibly engaging content. The monetization side of it was where we came in to help them.

 

Michael Cohen:

And so trying to apply a commercial acumen to a creative acumen often was easy to meet with challenges. But I think my prior experiences … Where the story in private equity where had to really acclimate to the people around me, working in the strategy roles, and having empathy for what it’s like to be in a larger company, what it’s like to be in a smaller company, understanding both a commercial desire, but also a creative of desire, and how that all works together. I would say it gave me the tools to have a lot more empathy for it. Certainly didn’t prepare me for the world of mom-agers and dad-agers, and how intensely passionate those folks are about their sons, their daughters, but I was prepared. But I’ve learned a lot in terms of how to partner.

 

Chris Erwin:

So phase one, with the initial launch of Whistle, call it the MCN stage, and some learnings there. And then I think there was a decision where working with the team, you guys then enter phase two, where you’re investing in intellectual property, audience growth, capabilities. This is I think where you transition from Whistle Sports to Whistle. Tell us how that came to be.

 

Michael Cohen:

We went from The Whistle to Whistle Sports. We started off as The Whistle. When we launched, we were Whistle Sports. It was important to make the point that, we were Whistle Sports. We weren’t well known at the time, so making sure that the name stood for what we were was important. As we evolved, and as we studied the data, we learned that sport was being defined very differently for this generation. We were focused more on a YouTuber generation, I would say, mid to late teens, the mid to late twenties. We learned a lot from them and really no greater learning than they are really defined by the intersection of multiple passion points. Sports fans today are very much, yes, I may be a ravenous sports fan, but I also care about the pop culture aspect. I care about the music aspect. I care about the culinary aspect of it.

 

Michael Cohen:

Very often today we’re taking it for granted, because on Instagram you can see an athlete out partying on yacht, and what they’re doing behind the scenes. You see them walking their dogs. You have such a more intimate exposure. I think at the time, again, it was really only YouTube was the platform that had the most data that you could get followed by. Facebook’s started to get in it. But we learned from the data that there was a white space that we could create content in that was more what I would call sport attainment. As we were talking to a number of our advertising partners, they said, “Look, your name’s Whistle Sports, but you’re not sports. Sports is, what I would say, classically defined as what an ESPN is doing, what a Bleacher was doing, a Turner was doing at the time, you guys are more entertainment. The content you’re creating is more entertainment. And if you focus on sports and entertainment, that’s a much bigger pot that you can focus on. So have you thought about dropping the name sports when you’re going from your go to market standpoint?”

 

Michael Cohen:

We started to test it, and all of a sudden we are getting lots more RFPs, lots more inbound interests, lots more PR opportunities, because we were really defining a new category. And early on, I would say in that category definition, people that would say to us, “You’re trying to be everything to everyone. You’re really sitting in this middle bucket.” What we try to convey and what is true today is that no, no, no, that’s a category of our own. So trying to define us in yesterday’s boxes is not the right way to approach it because we’re creating a new box for ourselves. And so that began really where we were consciously investing in our own content, building a diversified network of platforms. We wanted to be diversified across not just YouTube, not just Facebook, as many platforms as possible, not wanting to have the risk of being tied to any one platform in particular.

 

Chris Erwin:

How was your role changing at the company as you were rising up and as your business was evolving?

 

Michael Cohen:

As we start to invest in our own product, I got the opportunity to expand my role and oversee that. Now, I wasn’t running production, but I was overseeing the production side of things. My role was really focused on, at this point, not only how we operate internally, but the product that we’re creating. I think one of the approaches that I took to it was, very often in media companies, there’s a separation again of this creative and commercial, and there’s a tension, there’s a massive tension. And there’s often like a wall in true editorials, environments or newsrooms, there is a wall. In our world, my focus really was about trying to align commercial and creative again. And that was something that has really been important throughout my career is trying to get people to see and understand certain things from different perspectives.

 

Michael Cohen:

I would say one of my strong abilities is to help connect dots that people aren’t readily seeing. And so why commercializing a piece of content is important to our ability to do new and interesting creative endeavors. It was really about trying to align the product and revenue needs together so that we’re able to create really cool, compelling content, but we’re not creating content for content’s sake on a gut or a hunch. We’re doing it because it is somewhat grounded in, “Hey, this is a commercially viable type of thing that we can be taking to market.” I spent a lot of time on the product side, and our product being content for the most part.

 

Chris Erwin:

After this point, I think you enter what you describe as phase three, which I think began in 2018. This is a bit of the inorganic plan, or this is where you’re starting to exercise some of the skills and abilities that you learn from finance, banking, private equity, and you conduct an M&A roll up strategy, enhancing your capabilities by buying other companies. I think there’s three specific acquisitions that you led. And I think as you described, you’re starting to marry live sports and entertainment in a more meaningful way. Tell us about that point of the company.

 

Michael Cohen:

This is really, again, focused on IP, audience, and capabilities. I think at this point, as we’re building the company, our focus is okay, we have a creator network, which is awesome, and we can help those creators continue to be successful, both in terms of helping to monetize, but also in terms of bringing them into the IP that we’re creating. So that creator network, the creators that are a part of our company still to this day are still core to everything that we do. Now we’re creating our own IP and we’re monetizing it mostly via both indirect programmatic revenue and then direct sales. As we keep expanding into IP and keep expanding into this entertainment area, we saw that there were opportunities in 2018. Really, if you remember, I think this was sort of the nuclear winter of digital media.

 

Michael Cohen:

We had little things, which they were on top of the world and then a Facebook algorithm shifted. And they went out almost overnight. We had Mashable, which was as a darling at the time, which was frankly fire sold. And this then began I think Cambridge Analytica around the time, lots of scandals around social media, video, compression in CPMs. And so we saw an opportunity that there were a lot of companies that had raised a lot of capital. They had a choice to make. They didn’t necessarily get to the scale that they wanted to be. And so the choices were, we shut down the company, we raise more capital from other investors, or we partner with someone else that can potentially get us to the promise land. And so we saw that opportunity that most people would probably want to choose the last piece.

 

Michael Cohen:

Many investors were tired by 2018. The tolerance to put more capital into these companies was few and far between. The desire, and frankly, the PR nightmare of shutting down was not something that people wanted to do. And so we started to be very smart in terms of, okay, if we were going to build this vertical, or build this capability ourselves, what would it take us to do? How much capital would it take? Or, who’s out there that we can go and take a look at? The first company that we had gotten introduced to was a company called New Form. New Form was based in the LA ecosystem. Whistle was still primarily focused in New York and we knew if we were going to be taken seriously in the Hollywood ecosystem, we really needed to have a studio.

 

Michael Cohen:

And so this is again, the time where lots of streaming platforms are coming out, new types of mediums are being created. And so we bought New Form. They brought in a strong slate of IP that they had already created. They already had a number of distribution partners. Some that we had, some that they had. They had scripted, we had unscripted. It really made us a very strong studio. The who’s who around the table gave us a pretty strong signal to the market in a market that frankly was very challenged. We brought in the skillset to integrate these companies, and then be able to do more of them. We then got an opportunity to look at a company called Vertical Networks. Vertical Networks Brother, which was the largest Snap discover channel at the time, but the problem was they couldn’t get off of Snap.

 

Michael Cohen:

They didn’t have … Both from a capital standpoint, and just from a capability standpoint, they just weren’t able to scale off platform to other platforms as fast. Well, we already had the other platforms within our distribution, but we also didn’t have as much on Snap. So was a nice little partnership where we were able to come in and take a look at Brother, work with a lot of the existing people on that team, rethink what Brother was, reformat some of the shows. That really gave us more of the IP and audience. So now we’ve got both. We’ve got IP from both New Form, we’ve got IP from Vertical Networks. We’ve got a much bigger audience coming from Vertical Networks and the Brother. And then, what we realized was, okay, now we’ve got more IP, more audience. We need more capabilities to take this out into the marketplace.

 

Michael Cohen:

So we acquired an agency called Tiny Horse that was based in Charlotte. The premise of that was really adding more capabilities that we could bring out to our brand partners, that we could help different distributors and other partners with subscriber acquisition, because so many different streaming platforms coming out. How can Whistle not only use their audience, whether those are paid marketing, or inventory buying, other types of strategy work, and identity work that we could do to help these different companies navigate what I would call the digital transformation. We brought that skillset in. We built a very strong company that had this nice puzzle coming together of IP audience and capabilities, serving a younger demographic with a great suite of partners.

 

Chris Erwin:

A couple quick beats before we get into the rapid fire to close this out. So now you have this incredible platform. You started to put the puzzle pieces together for a really exciting new build, a new growth strategy for the company. And then at this point, I think you guys sold to ELEVEN Sports in 2021. What’s the quick story there for how that came to be? Was the M&A all with the intention of, “Let’s put the pieces together because we’re going to run a sales process for the company,” or was the acquisition unplanned?

 

Michael Cohen:

John West, our CEO has a great saying. He said, “Companies are never sold or bought.” So we never thought about putting ourselves up for sale. We had raised a lot of money over the years, and really we had now, to your point, put together a lot of these puzzle pieces and it was really about fueling growth. We went out into the market in 2020 to raise some additional capital to, I would say one, continue to weather the COVID storm that had impacted a lot of media companies. But two, be ready with a war chest to capitalize on opportunities, capitalize on what we already were building. And then other opportunities coming out of that. Ultimately got a number of different term sheets from mostly debt providers because we did not want to focus on diluting the company, and then ELEVEN Sports had put in an offer to buy the company.

 

Michael Cohen:

ELEVEN was someone that we had known well. Their main investor was Acer Media backed by a guy named Andrea Radrizzani. He sees the world in a different way than most, and frankly, very aligned to the way we see the world. ELEVEN was focused more outside of the United States. They’re more of a sports, live rights, more of their focus and they operate in a number of markets outside in Europe and Asia. They saw what we had already been seeing. Sports was being defined very differently. And so what we saw was together, we could unlock the power of live sport and on demand entertainment, and win a lot more hours of the consumer.

 

Michael Cohen:

If we could better serve the consumer, ultimately we would be able to monetize in more ways. When you start to put these pieces together, you really are creating a global sports media and entertainment company that plays across live and non-live, and both with an entrepreneurial spirit that can continue to be more scrappy than others out there. Our board, John, myself, we all recommended that this was the right opportunity that together we could get to a much more meaningful outcome for all stakeholders. We could better serve our partners, better serve our audience. And ultimately of course our shareholders.

 

Chris Erwin:

It’s an incredible story, Michael. I have to ask, looking back on all this, you’ve helped the company raise over a hundred million dollars in capital. You’ve helped take the company from zero to a hundred million dollars in revenue. Going back to the beginning of this interview, the through line of building the three-legged stool. I need finance, I need op, strategy and leadership. Do you think that this is the ultimate culmination of all of your hard work? Do you look back at this and be like, “I did it. I’m content”? And then second, I want to hear about what are the two or three key learnings about how you are now a better executive from this experience and what you will take with you going forward? But let’s start with the first one.

 

Michael Cohen:

First of all, it’s definitely not I. The most important thing that I learned is it’s always we, never I. I tried to take blame for the failures and would want the team to take, and have asked the team to always take credit for the wins. I don’t think you can be a leader in today’s environment by being an I person. In terms of looking back at the last nine years, the thing that stands out for me is adaptability is the reason that we are still alive and kicking today. John, our founder, he has a saying, and I think it’s been attributed to Darwin, but we’ll do that. “It’s not the strongest or the biggest of species that survive. It’s the ones that are most adaptable to change that survive.” That’s really been our operating mantra. Between that and a nice quote that I love from the Martian, the movie and the book, it says, at some point everything’s going to go south on you and you’re going to say, this is it.

 

Michael Cohen:

This is how I end. You can either accept that or you can get to work and that’s it. You just begin. You start to solve problems. You solve one problem after the next. And then if you solve enough problems, ultimately you get to come home. He was on Mars. And that’s just been a mantra of ours. Again, goes back to that very first experience in investment banking, was solve the problem. There’s nothing that can’t be solved by an incredibly talented team that we’ve built at team Whistle. I’m lucky to have the privilege to work with all these great folks. And it’s been fairly humbling experience.

 

Chris Erwin:

Do you feel on this almost 20 year journey, partially satiated? This is what I set out to do? Of course, with a whole team around you to make it happen. Because this kind of impacts how you’re thinking about what’s next.

 

Michael Cohen:

Yeah. I do feel somewhat satiated. I think I felt it probably for a little bit after the acquisition. For me throughout the journey, I started as EVP of finance and operations, I then took on the COO title. I then took on the president title, and then ultimately took on the CEO role. I think each one of those was a milestone that I had. Okay. Have I arrived? Okay, have I? And that’s … Being able to appreciate that in the moment is something that I probably wish I spent more time appreciating in the moment of having arrived at that and celebrating that.

 

Michael Cohen:

I just thrive on searching for things that haven’t been done, doing them, working with a great team, getting to be challenged every day, and working again in a media and telecom space. This intersection of media tech and commerce, it’s so dynamic. And so there’s always a challenge every day. For me, the satiation come from the challenge, the constant challenge. Maybe that’s right, maybe that’s wrong, but I’m enjoying what I’m doing now, and continuing to build. And that’s what’s fun for me, is the opportunity to continue to be challenged and built

 

Chris Erwin:

Final question before rapid fire. In terms of what’s next, with the acquisition, you have been leading the integration and transformation of the company. Your chief transformation officer of ELEVEN Sports. Are you coming to the end of that process? Is there a lot more work to do there? And what are you thinking next for you?

 

Michael Cohen:

It’s been an incredible opportunity. Mark Watson, the CEO of the ELEVEN group, and Andrea’s also involved. The whole team have been great. Getting the opportunity after selling your company to help lead an overall transformation effort, not only integrating your company, but working with their company as well has been a really incredible experience. Getting to reimagine, rethink the strategy and how we evolve it. I think we’re only getting started. I don’t think transformation necessarily starts and stops. There’s certainly some infrastructure building, some tactical things that we had to get done. Now we’re able to actually just keep executing on that plan of winning more hours of the consumer, whether that’s through different types of content, different types of products we’re putting out, different types of distribution. That’s the fun of it. I would say the journey continues, and as long as I’m being challenged and having fun, and get the opportunity to work with great people, that’s something that keeps me going.

 

Chris Erwin:

Well said. In closing, I just want to give you some kudos. I’ve known you longer than most people in my professional career over 15 years. And I think you are a big part of what sold me, “I’m coming into investment banking,” and also getting my foot in the door. Just like you, all the skills that you learned there was what I learned. And that is what allowed me to get into business school, and then to join the whole digital media revolution and Big Frame and Awesomeness, and actually hire our old bank to represent Big Frame in the sale.

 

Chris Erwin:

You are a big part of that, Michael. I give you a ton of kudos for that. I think our relationship’s been a fun give and take where you got inspired by some of the things that I did, and that was a catalyst to your entry into Whistle, but then you just took it to a whole other level and it’s been really awesome to see. I’ve learned a lot from your rise up. I think you even brought in our advisory firm to help you when you were looking through some different VOD strategies a few years back. So very thankful for that. And it’s just been a delight to know you professionally and personally. I think there’s much more fun to come for both of us going forward. Like we said in the beginning, we’re going to have to do some outdoor activities or some sports or something like that next time we hang out.

 

Michael Cohen:

I’m all ready for it. And I appreciate the kind words, Chris. All I would say is right back at you. It’s been a great friendship, a great partnership, and we’re still in the early innings, to use the sports analogy.

 

Chris Erwin:

Let’s get into the closing rapid fire questions. Six questions, the rules are as follows. You can answer in one sentence or in just a handful of words, keep it short and sweet. Michael, do you understand the rules?

 

Michael Cohen:

I believe.

 

Chris Erwin:

All right, let’s kick it off. Proudest life moment?

 

Michael Cohen:

Becoming a father.

 

Chris Erwin:

What do you want to do less of in 2022?

 

Michael Cohen:

Zoom.

 

Chris Erwin:

What do you want to do more of?

 

Michael Cohen:

In person discussions. That fuels my energy.

 

Chris Erwin:

What one to two things drive your success? Short answer.

 

Michael Cohen:

I would say just a relentless desire to learn and to be challenged, and to work with great people.

 

Chris Erwin:

Advice for media execs going into 2022?

 

Michael Cohen:

Know your audience, know your partners, serve them well. Don’t future chase.

 

Chris Erwin:

Any future startup ambitions? Might we see Who Is M. Cohen Ventures coming back into the mix?

 

Michael Cohen:

I would say I’ve always had the entrepreneurial itch, and there’s a lot of good ideas out there and great people to partner with. For right now, I’m focused on leading team Whistle, continuing to lead the transformation office at ELEVEN, bringing a great outcome to all stakeholders. But let’s revisit this in a couple years, because I think there’s something there.

 

Chris Erwin:

Maybe you can come lead the sports media division at Rockwater. It’s an opportunity.

 

Michael Cohen:

Maybe.

 

Chris Erwin:

All right, Michael, this is the last one. Pretty easy. How can people get in contact with you?

 

Michael Cohen:

Always up to chat. You can email me. You can hit me on Twitter. Text message me. LinkedIn as well. I’m always up to collaborate, meet smart, great people, help make introductions, connect people.

 

Chris Erwin:

All right. Awesome. Michael, this was a ton of fun. Thanks for being on the show.

 

Michael Cohen:

Thank you, Chris. Appreciate you having me.

 

Chris Erwin:

All right. That was a really fun interview. As I said at the beginning, I think I’ve been trying to interview Michael for the past couple years, so thrilled that we could finally make it happen. All right, but a few quick points before we wrap up. We just had an awesome executive event at Gjelina in LA a few weeks ago. We brought together various livestream commerce executives for a panel. Included Popshop Live, Stage TEN, and MARKET. That was a lot of fun and the Gjelina rooftop never disappoints. It was great to see a lot of you there. We do have another executive event coming up in New York in early November. More on that to come, but there’ll probably be an event in advance of that as well, maybe around VidCon, so stay tuned. As always, if you want to attend our events or learn more or interested in being a sponsor, ping us at hello@wearerockwater.com. And then we always love to hear from our listeners. If you have any feedback or any ideas for guests, shoot us a note at tcupod@wearerockwater.com. All right, that’s it, everybody. Thanks for listening.

 

Chris Erwin:

The Come Up is written and hosted by me, Chris Erwin, and is a production of RockWater Industries. Please rate and review this show on Apple Podcasts and remember to subscribe wherever you listen to our show. And if you really dig us, feel free to forward The Come Up to a friend. You can sign up for our company newsletter at wearerockwater.com/newsletter, and you could follow us on Twitter @TCUpod. The Come Up is engineered by Daniel Tureck, music is by Devon Bryant, logo and branding is by Kevin Zazzali, and special thanks to Alex Zirin and Eric Kenigsberg from the RockWater team.

 

Ping us anytime at hello@wearerockwater.com. We love to hear from our readers.

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