Some people knit for fun. Others play sports, dabble in photography, or bake. Ron Schott? He’s what he likes to call a “serial entrepreneur.”
His latest venture is Ace Media Productions, a company that helps other businesses create on-hold messages, overhead music, and aromas. As Ron puts it, his company “uses the senses — sight, sound, scent — to enhance a business’ brand. It makes it more memorable for their clients.”
Ron wasn’t always hearing the “cha-chings” of cash flowing in, though.
Before founding Ace Media, Ron worked in several different fields — from marketing to training and development. In 2000, he left the corporate world and began focusing on audio and video production. Everything changed when Ron’s friend asked him to produce some on-hold messages — the messages you hear when you call a company and get put on hold.
He soon got requests for more, and just like that, Ace Media Productions was born.
By 2009, the company had grown to six employees, but the world was in the middle of the Great Recession, and understandably, business was struggling.
“I didn’t want to let go of employees when I probably should have — they become friends and family, so you want to keep them employed,” he explains.
“You want to try to keep people employed … so I wound up letting my credit card debt get the better of me.”
Ron ended up relying on credit cards to pay for everything, and the debt started accumulating. Refusing to take out a merchant cash advance, he spent years searching for a way to consolidate his debt, even switching from a big national bank to a local bank that claimed to be very pro-small business in 2012. The problem? They’d only offer him a line of credit. “I wanted a fixed term — I want to wrap this thing up, put my debt to bed, and be done with it.”
“They just didn’t seem that interested,” he says of all the banks he reached out to. “I don’t know if I wasn’t big enough to interest them or what.”
In 2016, Ron finally found a way to refinance his debt. “I found Funding Circle through a direct mail piece. Their advertisement stood out because it was an appealing rate and it had a fixed term, which was exactly what I was looking for.”
“Funding Circle really just fit with the needs of my business and what I was looking to accomplish.”
He applied for a loan with Funding Circle, and just seven days later, he had $110,000 in his account. “Every step of the process was quicker, more efficient, and more helpful than I anticipated,” he reminisces.
Securing a loan with a rate of 8.99%, Ron was able to cut his interest expense in half, which was invaluable: “That’s real dollars that’s not going out.” Even better, the smaller payments have helped his cash flow.
Now that credit card debt isn’t looming over him, Ron’s looking forward to the future. “Scent services offer kind of a unique growth area for us,” he explains, noting that a variety of businesses can benefit from aroma marketing — from veterinarians to dentists.
“A lot of companies are starting to use scent in their environments to really enhance the customer’s experience. Sometimes in medical practices, for instance, people in the waiting room may not be that relaxed, but there is a ton of science that scent can be a calming influence for somebody that is a little bit stressed or unnerved.”
As for his advice for other entrepreneurs? “Things take longer. They cost more. It’s good to be optimistic, but you have to be rooted in reality. There’s a time and a use for debt, but it can kill you if you’re not careful — it’s nice to have a legitimate option like Funding Circle that is small business friendly.”