To keep Lasso in perpetual motion, Jared Verteramo lassoed a few credit cards and helped elevate the business. Here’s his advice for startup business owners.
A business promoting free motion was naturally appealing to Jared Verteramo, a corporate lawyer and former general counsel for The Street. When he had the opportunity to work with Lasso, which specializes in apparel for the active lifestyle designed to help people improve the way they move, he eagerly assumed the role as president.
“I’ve always been involved in building companies,” says Verteramo. “Partha Unnava came up with the idea for Lasso after he broke his ankle playing basketball. Nothing outside of bracing helped him, which was inhibiting, so he created a way to use compression to stabilize joints in everyday apparel. He developed this amazing product that can make you feel good and look good, too. I saw the promise in it, so I came on to build a great brand.”
Verteramo has been able to harness his experience building a company foundation that is well-positioned for growth. Along the course of his career, he gained significant experience, learning by doing and when he began at Lasso in 2020, he was ready to take the young company to the next level.
“Our socks were voted best compression socks by Men’s Health magazine,” says Verteramo. “People try them on and it’s game over. They’re so excited. And I’m excited to build a company around it. We want to improve the way people move in their daily lives.”
To keep the company in perpetual motion, Verteramo lassoed a few credit cards.
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What was your beginning with Lasso like? Any hardships to overcome?
The whole thing was and still is a challenge! I had to understand manufacturing and marketing. We have the best product in the world – that I know – but we had to figure out how to make sure everyone else knew about it.
In many ways, we’re building a community and that’s difficult, but we are learning every day and we have built a great foundation for the business.
As far as a specific hardship, that came last year. There was a yarn shortage because of COVID and we couldn’t have the socks made – that was unbelievable. As a startup, every dollar counts and everything had to be back-ordered.
Then, we had a big issue with Facebook Ads. Something happened and our credit card didn’t go through which meant the ads didn’t pop up. We couldn’t talk to anyone at Facebook because there’s no number to call. That was so frustrating.
Oh, and three weeks ago, our website was hacked. The entire site was totally deleted! All the orders, blogs, everything. We had to get the new site up fast. We pulled together and now have a better site, but it was crazy.
How have you been using credit cards for the business?
A little bit of everything goes on the cards, but a huge cost is Facebook Ads. Paid social is so expensive, and so is Google. It’s all based on algorithms and when traffic is busier, the price goes up. It costs a lot to acquire customers despite our ever-present mission to keep costs efficient.
We use a marketing agency and have a budget for advertising. Those bills are on the cards and we pay them automatically.
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Are you currently leveraged?
Lasso did get a Paycheck Protection Program loan last year, but that’s the only loan we have. We have credit card debt. At any given time, we can owe a lot. But we hired an outside guy to do the books and he’s on top of all of it. I get the reports whenever I want and can see when money is tight. I look at the big picture.
We try to be very organized about when the card payments are due, keep costs down and charge in smart ways. Should we use cash or put it on the credit card? That’s something we think about and decide on.
The good thing about our business is that we don’t buy inventory; we use third-party logistics (3PL) to bag and ship based on orders, which keeps the card balances down.
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Is building and keeping good credit important to you?
Definitely. We’re going to grow so we’ll need more credit products. Good credit is paramount because it will help us in the long run and it shows you’re reliable. Not paying at least the minimums is not a good look.
I consider banking a partnership. It’s about response time engagement. They need to be there for us when we need them. There’s a million things going on when you’re a startup. Capital is the lifeblood and you need money for the entire system to function. So when we shop around, our questions will be: Will they be responsive and fulfill our needs?
Rewards are also important to us. One of the benefits of COVID was that there wasn’t much traveling and we didn’t have to take people out for entertaining, but all that’s coming back.
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What are the plans for the business?
We just entered the second phase, which is about building awareness for the brand. We will be doing more collaboration and events with like-minded brands to drive growth. We will be launching color-ways, which are colored socks, and other new products. There’s so much opportunity!
Is there anything you’d like to do over?
No. All of the frustrating, disappointing things I went through are the reason I’m here now. I needed to go through it. There’s no substitute for experience.
Did you glean anything about credit cards along the way that you think other entrepreneurs should know?
Try not to think about using credit cards in the same way you use them in your personal life, but appreciate that it’s real money you’re spending.
A business credit card is about being strategic. You have to be smart, and if you are, they will have a real positive impact for your business. Consider them as a tool that you have to use right.
And any other advice for startups?
To be successful, you have to surround yourself with the right people. It’s critical because they will help you build a foundation. You need a team of employees, advisors, family and friends because they’ll force you to look at many aspects of the business.
Oh, and always respect legal and accounting as well! Tax management and cost-saving measures are so important!