The Story of the $250,000 Florida Panthers Tickets

“Then it hit me, people will pay for exposure and more importantly if you can create an interesting story you can get people to listen.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jordan Scheltgen, cofounder and CEO of Cave Social, a marketing agency with offices in LA, Toronto and Vancouver. Jordan splits his time between running his agency, writing for Inc Magazine and taking on speaking engagements around North America.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

It was 2012, I was coasting through my last year of university, doing what most seniors do: stress about the future. I didn’t have a plan going into 2013. See at the time I was running a blog called Cave Magazine which myself and a few friends had started in between classes. We were generating a decent amount of traffic, but had no idea how to monetize the platform.

Then in January 2013 everything changed.

One of my authors reached out to me about a deal he had seen online. The Florida Panthers were selling season tickets for $180. To put this into context, I’m a Canadian, everyone on my team at the time was Canadian, so to see a professional hockey team selling season tickets for this price seemed too good to be true. So, as a university senior, with all of $300 to my name, we decided to buy the tickets and try to create a story around the experience. We donated the tickets, demanded trades and eventually got the attention of management. They out of nowhere invited us down to a game in Florida, where they treated us like royalty.

We came back to Toronto, and Vancouver respectively and wrote the story of us becoming season ticket holders, even though we lived thousands of miles away. What happened next we couldn’t have predicted in our wildest dreams. I woke up and my phone was buzzing like crazy, and for good reason. Our story had made it into ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Local and National News and a bunch of other sports sites around the web.

At this time, I had a relative in PR and she reached out to me to let me know that this type of exposure for the Panthers would have been worth somewhere around $250k. This literally knocked me off my feet.

But then it hit me, people will pay for exposure and more importantly if you can create an interesting story you can get people to listen.

Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on?

The two projects I’m most excited about right now are (i) creating/hosting the weekly podcast, Mind Your Marketing and the weekly YouTube show, In The Cave.

I’m excited about these because both are educational shows, aimed at helping business professionals who are just starting to learn about marketing or seasoned marketers looking to freshen up their skills.

Which person or which company do you most admire and why?

For me, it’d have to be Richard Branson and the Virgin company. I find Branson’s willingness to be bold very inspiring and his deep dedication to enjoying life at the same time equally as impressive. For me, I want to build a company that I’m proud of, but more importantly as life that I enjoyed and am proud to have lived. Branson is a great example of this in my eyes.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Work and going to work has a negative connotation attached to it. It’s my life mission to create a workplace where as many people as possible wake up every day excited to come into work because it’s a safe place where their voices and passions are heard. If we’re supposed to work for ⅓ of our lives, I want to make sure it’s something that adds value to as many people’s lives as possible. So whether we’re 7 employees or 700 employees the mission will always be the same.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why.

1-Don’t Go it Alone

When I first started I tried to do everything. From client work to our promotions to contracts to accounting. There was just one problem, I’m not very good with accounting. Something that could take a professional accountant a few minutes would take me a whole day to complete. See I thought I was saving money, but in actuality I was burning my time which could have been used to grow the business in other ways.

2-It’s okay to fire a client

This is a big one. When you start doing business with someone, you start to expect their monthly revenue. In a startup phase, $500 a month can seem like it’s the difference between make or break for your business, it’s not. We terminated our first client 18 months into doing business with them. Not that they were a bad business, but because they were bad for our business. If a company is generating a ton of headaches for you and your coworkers don’t be afraid to drop them from your roster.

3-The more you learn the more you realize how little you know

I thought I had it all figured out when I was 24. I had created a company that had paying clients and thought we were set to take off to the next level. Oh boy, was I wrong. See, the truth is, I had a lot of confidence but not a ton of experience. As I got more experience under my belt and committed myself to learning as much as possible I began to realize that there is infinite information to consume and that I don’t really know that much.

4-Play the 20-year game, not the 2-month game

When I started out I would continually take bad paying projects, that were off base from our core services. I’d build a website here and there because it would put a couple dollars into my account. However, this was me playing the 2-month game, living small deal to small deal. Once I realized I wasn’t building any real business this way, I changed my approach. Everything I do, I ask myself know, “is this getting me closer to where I want to be in 20 years?” If the answer is yes, then I go all in, if not I steer away.

5-Ignore the Naysayers

People were passive-aggressive and doubted what I was telling them I was going to start a marketing agency at 24. Realizing people are going to judge what they aren’t close to or can’t understand is just a way of life. People can naysay all they want, we’re going to keep our heads down until we turn heads.

We have been blessed with the opportunity to interview and be in touch with some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, or I might be able to introduce you.

It’d have to be Richard Branson. I’d love to get a deeper sense of what he was thinking when he first started Virgin and see how it’s impacted him still today.