Chatting with Sean Bingham
Sean Bingham is epic. Truly epic. He oozes charisma and confidence but is truly humble and kind to everyone. We became friends back in our college days and have kept up with each other in life. He’s the ultimate serial entrepreneur. If the business opportunity is fun for him, he will pour his heart and soul into it. When it stops being a passion, he can let it go and exit.
This flexibility has allowed Sean to keep creating and diving into a handful of industries. Over the last decade, he founded and exited two awesome ventures: Gigg & KZgear. He’s also currently running Tripio (an awesome app that shows people the rad things they can do when visit countries, based on people’s preferences) and Adventure Hunt, which is the coolest scavenger/treasure hunt business imaginable. So cool that they closed on “Shark Tank.” When he’s not actively creating new businesses, Sean loves to travel and have adventures.
He’s currently traveled to over 43 countries so far. We had a great time reminiscing over college days, discussing current ventures and our mutual love for snowboarding. Hope you enjoy this podcast!
Who is Sean Bingham?
Sean Bingham is the perfect example of a modern man. He does what he wants when he wants, and this is what has helped this serial entrepreneur excel in every venture he has had the guts to pursue, and he follows these passions with every ounce of his being to make sure it becomes a success, which is precisely what sets him apart from your everyday man on the street. You’d not know this by looking at him, though. To many, Sean is a normal dude like you and me, but perhaps that’s what makes him so special.
Born August 15th, 1981, in Fairfax, Virginia, Sean Bingham first explored the magic of the internet through YouTube. In 2011, before he was known as the serial entrepreneur we know and love, he posted a video titled “Sneaking Into Wimbledon.” This 22-second video is short, sweet, and — frankly — uneventful, as Sean whispers about finding a route past the guards to reach the famous Center Court. However, although nothing of note happens, it immediately tells you everything you need to know about Sean. He wanted to do something, so he did it.
This attitude has served him well throughout his life. If “Sneaking” gave him the thrill bug, this was only the beginning of his exploits.
If there’s one thing Sean has on his side, it’s charisma, and this is part of that has made him such a successful guy and one who is exciting to be around. As you’d expect, people gravitate towards him, but he doesn’t allow the attention to go to his head. Instead, he focuses on humility and kindness, which balance with his outgoing personality perfectly.
Over the past 10 years, Sean has had a hand in numerous ventures, including Gigg, a social media platform for businesses to boost engagement and attract new followers. He was also part of KZgear, which made sunglasses that you’d be proud to wear outside (even if there was no sun).
Never one to stay still for long, though, Sean was able to let go, exit, and look for something else to inspire him. This isn’t to say he did not enjoy his previous entrepreneurial pursuits but rather he prefers to stay flexible and keep moving forward, kind of like a shark.
The Adventure Begins
Speaking of sharks, you may recognize Sean from “Shark Tank,” where he appeared as the founder of Adventure Hunt.
Adventure Hunt runs parallel with his other venture, Tripio. This is an awesome app that understands the need for adventure that is hidden away in everyone (even if they don’t know it yet). It goes a step beyond the likes of TripAdvisor and similar travel platforms by showing people the cool things they can do in different countries depending on their preferences. This is perfect if you’re tired of the tourist trail and want to do something a little different, but it also helps you tick off all the must-see boxes when you land in a new country.
But it’s Adventure Hunt that stands out. After closing on “Shark Tank,” this venture rocked the boat, making all previous (and future) pitches seem dull by comparison, although that’s hardly their fault. Adventure Hunt is the coolest and most innovative idea ever seen on “Shark Tank,” bringing elements of scavenger and treasure hunts into the real world rather than video games to tap into people’s sense of swashbuckling adventure.
It is the perfect way to improve team rapport for companies and includes an array of options with both pre-made and Create Your Own options. If you know Sean, this should come as no surprise, and everything about Adventure Hunt fits him to a tee. When he is not creating the next best business or crafting exciting journeys, he’s taking adventures himself. Having visited over 43 countries, he is more than qualified to send people on their own voyage.
It’s not all go-go-go for Sean, though. Aside from running companies or creating YouTube content, he loves to unwind in his own way. He loves to snowboard, and he also loves to get his family involved in his exploits, showing them that good times are easy to find as long as you know where to look.
The Adventure Continues
So after launching successful businesses and finding the time to travel the world, what’s next for Sean Bingham? It’s possible even he doesn’t know, or if he does, he’s keeping his card close to the chest. One thing is certain, though. Whatever Sean has planned, it’s something that we need to keep our eye on because it will be worth the wait.
Sean Bingham Podcast Transcription
Charan: All right, Sean, should we do this thing?
Sean: Let’s do it.
Charan: Welcome guys to the Lemonade Stand podcast, I am your host, Charan Prabhakar and if you can see what I’m beholding right now, you would see one of the most beautiful men on the face of this planet, Sean Bingham.
Charan: Sean, inside and out, guys, inside and out. Come on, I’m not that shallow. Sean Bingham has been a good friend of mine for quite some time now, we met, we were trying to figure out when we met, but I think it was [crosstalk 00:01:57] … We think it was college, so back in ’03. Back in ’03, we were both suffering the same history class in Salt Lake together. The reason why we even took that class was ’cause we were too lazy to take the harder Econ class, so we were like “All right, let’s figure out a way to get out of the system as quick as possible.”
Sean: Getting good grades is more about learning the system than about doing the work.
Charan: The Lemonade Stand Stories podcast is all about people’s Lemonade Stand Stories, and guys, honestly, Sean is the most serial entrepreneur I have ever met in my entire life. In fact, he could have started a business marketing cereal, for all I know, I don’t know if he ever did or not. I don’t know if he ever did.
Sean: I did get that Magic Spoons …
Charan: You did?
Sean: It’s a protein cereal, they did reach out about having me, so they sent me some free stuff. I actually did not like the product, so I didn’t lie and say that I did, so I didn’t end up doing anything with them.
Charan: See, also man of integrity, right?
Sean Bingham’s Lemonade Stand Story
Charan: It’s awesome, dude. The thing was, when we first met, you were in college, and I always knew you’d be a very charismatic guy, but a really good guy, very nice to everyone and very kind to people. I don’t know, I remember that first time, even seeing you in the class, I’m like “Oh man, that guy just seems so cool,” and then we ended up working together, we found out. So we’re like all right, so this was super cool. But how did the world of entrepreneurship come to you, to begin with, because, did you have a Lemonade Stand when you were a kid, or how did that all go down?
Sean: Yeah so, funny story, just as you said that, I had not thought about this coming into this interview or whatever, but you just finished doing a movie with my good friend Casey Clyde.
Charan: I did.
Sean: My very first memory of entrepreneur is Casey and I started a car detailing business, and it was called Kids with a Dream Car Wash, or Kids with a Dream Detailing, or something like that.
Charan: I love it.
Sean: Kids with a Dream was the name. We basically looked up, at the time there was a place called Buffs and Puffs, it’s not around anymore. Buffs and Puffs and Supersonic, so think of the Quick Quacks and Supersonics, now everybody’s got a monthly pass, you just go and have a subscription and they run you through the garage. At the time, you’d pay like $120 to have your car detailed. I just called all these places, got all their prices, and then made flyers showing, “Hey, here’s what Supersonic charges, here’s what Buffs and Puffs charges, and here’s what Kids with a Dream charges.” We of course charged less than everybody else.
Charan: Yeah, sure.
Sean: Our whole thing was, we would pick your car up, we’d come to your office, so you wouldn’t have to …
Charan: Do anything?
Sean: Yeah, you wouldn’t have to do anything. We’d pick your car up, or we’d come to your house, and we’d detail it there.
Sean: We were old enough that we had our driver’s license, I think I was 16; he probably would’ve been 17. We ended up, and we would clean people’s cars with their own stuff, at least they’d have to provide the water.
Charan: Sure, yeah.
Sean: But that was my first time doing, and we made decent money, our parents at least were clients, stuff like that. But I remember we got to drive some pretty sick cars. This guy had a Mercedes with the hydraulics and you’d turn and the seat would curl around your back, cause it would know that you’re …
Charan: You’re turning?
Sean: You’re turning, and so it would know, the body’s going to naturally go that way so [crosstalk 00:05:21] …
Charan: Geez, it mitigates G forces?
Sean: Yeah. Anyway so, not to digress too much on that, but that was my very first entrepreneur memory, is starting that little car detailing business.
Charan: That’s amazing. Is that still a side hustle in case Casey’s acting career goes down south and you’re [crosstalk 00:05:37] …
Sean: Well I’m sure we could bring it back. So, Casey, if you’re watching, I’m sure we could do that again if we need to, but now it’s been a good 20 years probably since we did that.
Charan: Since that time.
Charan: No man, that’s awesome. Here’s the thing. I knew, just the way you were and the way you treated people and stuff, I knew you were bound for greatness. I don’t know what was going to happen in your life, but I knew that you would do some really cool stuff.
Charan: And then the next thing I heard, this might have been right out of college, somehow you convinced yourself and a buddy that for like eight grand or something you could travel the world, or something like that? And I remember, I was like, “Wait, what? Where did you take off to?” So tell me about that, what made you say, “Hey, I want to go do that thing”?
Sean: That had been a life dream of mine forever, to travel the world, right? When you’re in college, you’re thinking, you start to experience freedom in a different level when you’re in college, you’re living alone, things like that. That was definitely a goal and dream of mine for a long time, was to travel the world. I went and did a summer of knocking doors, I ended up doing it for five years, maybe we’ll get into that more, I don’t know. Knocked doors selling alarm systems for a summer, ended up doing really well, I told myself I wanted to make $50,000, but if I made at least $30,000 that summer, I was going to let myself go travel the world, spend some of it to travel.
Sean: I ended up making a little over $60,000, which is [crosstalk 00:07:03] great. You’re 24 years old, 23, whatever I was. I was 23, I think. It was this really cool experience, so I booked a- I don’t think you could even find this nowadays, there was this agency, an actually travel agency, that I don’t think they exist anymore really.
Charan: Those don’t exist, yeah.
Sean: But they booked our flights. I basically said “Hey, we want to start here, and we want three weeks in Europe and then we’ll take off from here,” and I just gave them a vague itinerary and then they booked our flights.
Charan: No way.
Sean: We zig-zagged around the world over the course of three months, and the whole trip, flights, food, lodging, the whole thing cost me like $7,500.
Charan: That’s unbelievable, how long were you gone for?
Sean: Three months.
Charan: Three months, you said three months, yeah. And you said Thailand was your favorite or something? I remember …
Sean: Thailand at the time definitely was, so I went to Thailand before it was the hip, cool, trendy spot that everyone’s going to.
Charan: Sure, you made it cool.
Sean: We made it cool, yeah.
Charan: For sure.
Sean: No, we probably ruined it by posting about it.
Sean: No but, Thailand was amazing. At the time it was my favorite; it’s not anymore. I still love it, but yeah.
Charan: That’s so awesome, man. The thing was, I always feel like traveling’s one of the best ways to have life experience.
Sean: And it opens your mind; you meet cool people. There’s nothing better.
Charan: Absolutely. I’ve done a fair bit of traveling, nothing to the extent of what you’ve done, but I live in Lehi, I went to Provo the other day, it was great. I went to New Zealand a year or two ago and that was unbelievable. Have you ever been to New Zealand before?
Sean: I have been to New Zealand, yeah, and it’s incredible.
Charan: It was incredible. I remembered having such high expectations of New Zealand, and then I got there and it was even better than I expected it to be, and I’m like, dang it, this is awesome.
Sean: Where did you go?
Charan: I went both north and south island.
Sean: Did you go to Queenstown?
Charan: I did. Yeah, and it was unbelievable …
Sean: One of the coolest places in the world.
Charan: When we were flying into Queenstown [crosstalk 00:08:58], I was like, my mind could not …
Sean: I know. I still remember that song I was listening to on the plane as I was flying into Queenstown, cause it was that epic. I was like, this is [crosstalk 00:09:04] …
Charan: It was so epic.
Sean: … incredible.
Charan: I remember getting off the plane and looking around, I’m like, did I just get teleported into a postcard, a three dimensional postcard? It was unbelievable, and then …
Sean: This podcast is brought to you by Queenstown tourism.
Charan: It really is; it really should be. And then I went to Milford Sound. That was unbelievable.
Charan: Yeah, great places to travel. You did that, and I love that you travel with such a passion, because we are going to get into one of your main things, which is Adventure Hunt. But before we get to that, you did some other entrepreneurial businesses. Top Blip was one of them, and I remember, you called me up one day. I was in LA and you called, “Hey, come to this concert.” And I’m like, I don’t even know what I’m doing, but let’s do this thing. Tell me about Top Blip, how did that become a thing?
Sean: Yeah. I did the door-to-door sales thing for five years, and we were making really great money, especially for being younger, in our twenties or whatever. I say we — I mean my brother and I. We knew that it was a good gig that we were really happy with and we were grateful to have, but we also knew that it wasn’t something that were super passionately wanting to stay in forever. So we were always brainstorming different ideas of a business to start. This one was just, we were just super naïve and young and my brother one day was like, “What if we did ‘American Idol’ online?” For whatever reason, this was 2009 probably, it hit me, I was like, “Yeah, why don’t we? That seems like it’d be amazing.”
Sean: To put it simply, that’s what Top Blip was. We eventually changed the name to Gigg, which was a good move from some other business partners we brought on. It was basically just an online ‘American Idol, ‘and bands would compete against each other, uploading videos. I’m a big sports guy, so we had to have a sports twist on it, so it was basically a bracket. You earned points through view counts and up votes through Facebook and Twitter and things like that. And then the top videos would go into a big bracket like March Madness basketball, and they’d go head to head, and every other round you had to upload a new video. The winning band got to be the opening act for a more legit, established band that was touring. So we partnered with Andy Grammar and Dave Barnes, we worked with Green Day, we worked with Maroon 5 — we worked with some really cool bands.
Charan: That’s huge.
Sean: It was really fun, but the one in LA, that was one we wanted to just do on our own, so we had a bunch of LA people that were on the site, so we made them the concert. But I wasn’t sure what kind of crowd they would bring if any, so we hit people like you up and …
Charan: Dude [crosstalk 00:11:41].
Sean: We had maybe 400 people that showed up that night?
Charan: Yeah, you had a bunch of people.
Sean: A few hundred, it wasn’t huge.
Sean: But funny story about that. You remember that night. So we had a certain minimum we had to hit in food and alcohol sales or they were going to charge us. So I remember, nobody’s buying stuff there, nobody was buying anything. So I went up and talked to the guy, I was like, “Let me understand this correctly, regardless of what happens with food and alcohol, you have to get $10,000 tonight, right?”
Charan: You got to get $10,000.
Sean: He’s like, “Yes, we’re going to get $10,000.” I said, “So if people don’t buy stuff, we have to just pay you $10,000?” And he’s like, “Yeah.” So I went and grabbed the mic in between the next set and I said, “Hey guys, food and alcohol’s on us, go get whatever you want.”
Charan: Are you serious?
Sean: And he was not happy. But I was like, well, if they’re not going to buy, I’m not going to just give you $10,00 for nothing, we’re going to get food and alcohol if nothing else. Everyone wanted to be my best friend after that.
Charan: Of course, of course. It’s a great way to add to your Twitter followers right there.
Sean: Yeah. It’s kind of funny.
Charan: Oh dude, that’s amazing.
Charan: So you did that, and … you started that and then you exited that, is that right?
Charan: Why’d you want to exit, what was the reason behind that?
Sean: We had brought on some business partners that were super passionate about it and pretty vocal about it. They had invested money, and it kind of got to a point where we had slightly different visions of which way it should go, and I wasn’t super passionate about it and they were, so I thought, you know what, let’s just give the reins to them and we’ll bow out. So we sold all but a few percentage points to them, and let them run with it, and they’re still doing stuff with, it’s evolved quite a bit since then but yeah, it just came down to passion for me. It was just, I saw an opportunity to have an exit and do something different that I would enjoy more, so I took it.
Charan: After that, did you do something with sunglasses?
Sean: Yeah. For four years after that, for four years I had a sunglasses brand. And you can still find it, it’s KZ Gear, kzgear.com, but — let me put this on Do Not Disturb, but he must have called twice ’cause it came through.
Charan: No worries.
Sean: It was really, really cool. We basically made unique sunglasses so they floated in water.
Charan: Yeah, I remember that.
Sean: And we did really well with that. That was a fun, successful business. I ran that for four years and sold that to a private equity group in Cleveland, which was … We didn’t get rich. I’m not making millions and millions of dollars off either of these businesses, but we made good money off both of them.
Sean: But it was just a really cool experience to start a company and then sell it. The first one we sold, essentially to business partners, so it was kind of like an in-house sale. The second one we sold to a company that had never met us. They flew people out. They were really smart and did their due diligence. And then they chose to buy it, and I was just like, man, it was very rewarding to [crosstalk 00:14:36] see that all the way through to that point.
Charan: Of course. Yeah, especially because there must have been so many hoops you had to go through and some struggles you had to go through. Anything come to mind?
Sean: As far as the sale of the company goes, it was pretty smooth, ’cause we were pretty solid [crosstalk 00:14:51]. But what had happened was, we had launched Adventure Hunt, which I know you want to get into more. We had launched Adventure Hunt as marketing event for KZ, so that’s how Adventure Hunt started. KZ was this super outdoorsy, adventurous — that’s what we wanted the brand to represent. So we started thinking, what can we do to make this cooler, more fun, what kind of marketing even can we come up with?
Sean: Imagine Dragons, at the time, they had a lot of the Utah roots in them and so I know them. They had just done this thing where if you bought an actual CD, which nobody does anymore, inside the CD case there were random numbers, and somebody got curious and started researching and realized he was pretty sure it was GPS coordinates. So he goes to these GPS coordinates, because the GPS coordinates happened to also be near Las Vegas, which is where the band is really from. So he went out there to those exact coordinates and found a buried …
Charan: No way.
Sean: … thing. I think they got, I don’t know what was in there, memorabilia, probably signed stuff, backstage passes to a concert, I don’t know.
Charan: It’s like geocaching but with a cooler way or whatever.
Sean: Anyway, so we heard about this story, and we thought it was super cool. So I was like, “What if we did that? What if we did a treasure hunt, but in order to earn clues as to where the treasure is buried, you have to live the KZ lifestyle of being outdoorsy, adventurous. We’ll give you tasks that you have to do, and you have to be wearing our sunglasses in all of your challenges, and you have to post them to social media, and then whoever, as you finish more and more of these challenges wearing our shades, we’ll give you a clue to where the treasure’s buried.
Sean: It was really fun ’cause sales went way up for KZ, because the event was really fun, people wanted to participate, and they had to own a pair of shades in order to participate. And then we had challenges we’d put in there, like “Hey, your challenge here in Orange County is to go into Jack’s Surf shop and film you talking to the manager telling him he needs to carry KZ shades in the store.” We had people, we had managers and store owners at surf shops all throughout Southern California emailing us like, “You guys are hilarious, send us your catalog please.”
Sean: Kind of fun, and then, it went so well we were just like, man, maybe we should make this its own business. So we did it as a side business the next year; this was now 2016. Kept KZ going, the sunglasses brand, but made Adventure Hunt like its own entity, and KZ was the lead sponsor. So you had to now pay a fee, like a Tough Mudder or a Color Run type of event. You’re now paying a fee for registration to this treasure hunt. And that went really well, and that’s when we decided, let’s sell it and focus more fully on Adventure Hunt. That’s why we eventually sold KZ.
Sean: Getting back to your question of struggles, the struggles we ran into are what led us to want to maybe sell it. There were things like inventory control, and I’m not the most fashionable guy as you can see.
Charan: You look wonderful.
Sean: Thank you.
Sean: But, it was one of those things where I was like, man, this is a business that, for it to really hit, we have to stay on top of so many things, with styles and quality control, and it just got to a point where I was, same concept, I was like, I’m just not super passionate about this. I see an opportunity to sell it, we knew our numbers were strong, so we sold it.
Charan: You went for it? You know what’s interesting, and I love that you do this, is that you recognize when it stops being a passion for you, and then you can, you’re like okay when it’s not a passion for me, I’m out, I’m gone. I feel like too many people feel like, they’re so married to their creation, even if they’re not excited about it, that they stick with it.
Sean: Well and you can get stuck for years. It’s like being in a bad relationship that doesn’t work, but you’re too scared to get out of it.
Charan: Yeah, absolutely.
Charan: And because of that exact philosophy, I’ve been single for so long.
Sean: Or you can just not commit to anything.
Charan: Or you can’t commit to anything. It’s the best, that’s where I’m at, it’s perfect.
Charan: It’s really interesting, because I love how your entrepreneurial ventures are based off of fun, and based off of experiences, which I think is really awesome, because the truth is, a lot of material things, you’re not going to be able to take with you after you die. But memories, [crosstalk 00:19:16] experiences, relationships. Those are the important things. I’ve always [crosstalk 00:19:20] …
Sean: Even in this life, five years from now, you’re not going to care what freaking pair of jeans you had that were $300 five years ago. You will have thrown them away by then. But those memories, those last forever.
Charan: Last forever, right.
Sean Bingham Talks about “Shark Tank”
Charan: And I think that’s so awesome because, you guys got on “Shark Tank” and did really well there. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Sean: Yeah, we had originally auditioned or applied to be on “Shark Tank” for KZ, and we got really close. We had a really funny video. I’m wakesurfing with the glasses on. Anyway, we got really close, but we didn’t quite make it. We got to the last round of interviews before they fly you out to LA. Ended up getting cut. So we’re like all right, whatever. When I sold KZ, to focus on Adventure Hunt full-time, I simply posted to Instagram; this is the power of social media. I just posted to Instagram, I said, “Hey, we sold my business, proud day, I’m going to now focus fully on Adventure Hunt which you’ve all been seeing me post about a little bit.” And head of casting from “Shark Tank” just sent me a DM.
Charan: No way.
Sean: And she’s like, “Hey, I’ve been following you ever since you auditioned a few months,” or last year or whatever it was, “love your new business, we’d love to have you on the show.” So we didn’t even have to audition the second time.
Charan: No way. That’s the best. That’s like me booking a part just because they’re like, “Oh we just liked your old audition,” or whatever. That’s amazing, man. So you got on there and people were stoked about it?
Sean: Yeah, do you want me to tell you about the “Shark Tank” experience?
Charan: Please, yeah.
Sean: Really fun, really nerve-wracking. Part of our Adventure Hunt prize, the treasure hunt that we do, if you win in your city, which again is just basically like a mini Amazing Race, I don’t even know if we’ve gotten into that. You’re basically completing challenges and solving clues that guide you to a buried treasure chest, and you’re racing other teams to do that.
Sean: If you win, one of the main prizes, or the main prize, is this trip to Panama. We partnered with a really cool resort down there, Red Frog Beach. You’d win this cool trip. We were actually on our trip in Panama with a bunch of our winners, and we flew directly from, or we actually had to leave the trip like two days early to fly to LA to film for “Shark Tank.” We get there, and they’re now telling us, “Hey, you’re still not guaranteed to actually air, you’re not even guaranteed to actually pitch.”
Charan: Oh man.
Sean: We’re like, oh my gosh [crosstalk 00:21:54] …
Charan: Why are we even here?
Sean: But that’s just what they tell everybody, I guess. I don’t even know if people got cut there or not, we didn’t, thank goodness. But you pitch in front of the producers now, and then you’re told to sit and wait for days until your call time. You’re kind of like an actor, which I know you understand that world. We had a trailer and things like that.
Sean: We just hung out in our hotel room, and all I did for days was go over numbers and potential questions, and I wanted to go out and just enjoy LA and have fun, but I couldn’t. All I could do is just sit and study, basically, for days.
Charan: Which is tough for people like us, to study.
Charan: So, keep going. Yeah.
Sean: But we ended up crushing it, honestly. Our episode went as well as we could have possibly hoped for. It was super engaging, super funny, we got multiple offers early, to the point where Robert Herjavec, who we ended up doing the deal with, and Bethenny Frankel who was the guest Shark for our episode, were kind of, the tables just turned where they were now selling us on why we should choose them. It was really, really a good feeling.
Charan: Of course, to be wanted like that, it’s amazing.
Sean: Yeah. So we ended up doing a deal with Robert Herjavec, which has been awesome. It’s opened a lot of doors for us, just to have that [crosstalk 00:23:17] name and that relationship attached to our brand.
Sean: We’re actually working on something pretty big right now that is, I can’t go into too much, but it would be kind of like a really big expansion of Adventure Hunt, that would get us in front of a lot more eyeballs and I probably shouldn’t go too much into it.
Charan: Yeah, no worries.
Sean: There’s just things that he helps us do that are like, man, I hope we can [crosstalk 00:23:42] … It’s pretty cool. So it’s been fun.
Sean Bingham Talks About Pivoting During the Pandemic
Charan: Like every other event that happens, any other business focused on events, everyone took a blow when the world shut down. I know you guys suffered the same fate, right? How were you guys able to pivot or navigate the pandemic?
Sean: When it first hit, almost a year ago now, we launched the quarantine challenge, which was basically these fun at-home challenges for people to do. Our whole play there was, what can we do to help a situation the whole world’s dealing with? And we’re like well, our whole business is predicated on helping people have fun, so let’s continue to do that. How can we do it at home? We did that, which we had 6,000 or 7,000 people enter or participate in, which was cool.
Sean: And we gave away a trip to Panama, to the winners of that as well. And it wasn’t even a competition, it was just a drawing. We just said “Hey, anybody that competes in this and finishes, you have to actually complete your thing, we’re just going to do a random drawing.” So we sent four people to Panama. So we did that, and that helped a lot, and that actually got us a recap little, I wouldn’t say episode, but a little segment in an episode with “Shark Tank” about how companies are coping during the pandemic. That was the first thing we did, and that was really cool ’cause it did get us more airtime, it did get us more emails, it did help us give back to people in need and whatnot.
Sean: That was the first thing we did. The second thing was, we started focusing heavily on private events, which we had already shifted our focus that way anyway, doing corporate team-building, so now companies hire us to pull all of their employees out for the day and do a really fun team-building event through our treasure hunt. And that had become our focus anyway, pre-COVID. So we really have put all of our focus on that, and it’s been really good. We’ve had — not too many companies but a handful of companies have had the guts to hire us.
Charan: Exactly, I mean, it’s a scary time, man. You got to do any of that stuff.
Sean: So we stayed busy with that, and then we also packaged the Panama trip that we’ve been doing so much with our winners. We packaged it as a corporate retreat. So now all these companies that are taking their top performing reps or their fellow execs or their president’s club, whatever, these trips they go on to Hawaii, Mexico, whatever. We just said, “Hey, you know what, anybody can go to Hawaii and Mexico. Come to this super unique Caribbean island off the coast of Panama with us. Let us show you the week of your life.” And we’ve actually taken several groups down during the pandemic. We had taken several down before the pandemic, but we shifted to focus on it more during the pandemic, and we’ve taken several down during the pandemic. Everyone said it was the best week of their life and it’s been really fun.
Charan: Really? Oh man, that’s amazing, dude. That’s awesome that you’ve been doing that. That brings you up to current day, right? That makes sense.
Sean: I just got back from one just a few days ago.
Charan: A few days ago?
Sean: On Sunday I got back.
Charan: Jet lagged at all?
Sean: Today’s Tuesday. Is today Tuesday or Wednesday?
Charan: I think it’s Wednesday.
Sean: It’s Wednesday. Is it Wednesday?
Charan: It is Wednesday, yeah. Don’t worry. No judgment. Time is a weird thing, time is a weird thing, we know that.
Charan: That’s awesome, man, and it’s cool you’re still thriving during this tough time.
Sean: Yeah. I mean we definitely, I’m not going to sit here and act like we didn’t take a hit, ’cause we did. But we found ways to cope and to navigate it. We’re confident that warmer weather is coming, vaccines are getting distributed, the economy can’t shut down forever, people are going to want to travel, people want to have fun.
Charan: Yeah, absolutely.
Sean: So we’re confident it’s going to come back soon.
Charan: You know what, what is cool as well is, being an entrepreneur, one of the big things I know about you is your ability to pivot. To say “Hey, okay cool we did this, this was fun, now I want to try something else, or try this.” How were you able to learn that ability for yourself?
Sean: Oh, man … first off, thank you. I think it’s more seeing opportunity, than pivoting. I’m not necessarily looking to pivot, but I’m always looking for opportunity. When opportunity presents itself, that’s when you naturally do pivot, cause you’re like, well, the Panama thing’s a good example. We got this sweet relationship with this amazing place, went down there and did a few trips back in 2015, ’16, and I was like, this is the coolest place, and nobody knows about this place.
Charan: So cool. Yeah.
Sean: And we have dialed in this incredible itinerary. When you see that and then you start to … I remember I had a friend on “The Bachelor,” and my brain was just like, “She’s going to get famous and I’m friends with her, what can I do?” Called her the day after the premiere and was just like, “Hey, I’ve got this sweet spot in Panama that I know. Let’s do a trip, you, and get another girl from the show, I’ll pay for everything, but I just need you guys to help me market it so we can get people to pay us to join.” We ended up having, like, 35 people that paid $1,500-2,000 to come on that trip.
Charan: No way.
Sean: Again, it was just seeing an opportunity in a relationship I already had. Something that already existed with Adventure Hunt, and then opportunity presents itself and I’m looking for those, and so I just, boom, let’s go do this now, this is now part of our business. And then I did that trip and that’s when I was like, this should be a corporate retreat, and so boom, we start doing it as a corporate retreat.
Charan: Yeah. That’s awesome. And that’s a cool quality to have, to be able to see. To see those partnerships before they even happen and be like, “Hey, this would be awesome together; let’s make it happen.” In a small way, I’ve kind of done that when producing movies. Saying “Okay, this is a need, this is a need, let’s fill it, boom, there you go,” right? I love that, man, I love that you were able to do that and make that happen.
Sean Bingham Talks About Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Charan: Now, every entrepreneur, every person that’s ever been alive, they’ve had days when they’ve been dealt lemons, some pretty severe lemons at times. Have you had one that’s like, “Oh, this is a terrible lemon,” and how did you change that into lemonade?
Sean: I would say, you get dealt lemons as an entrepreneur weekly.
Charan: I’m sure, yeah.
Sean: Every day there’s some new hurdle you have to overcome. Even just these recent trips we did, it’s like, now you got to get tested for COVID to go anywhere. So I’m like, okay, we’ve got 65 people that want to go have this super fun vacation, and very last-minute we’re learning, now you have to get tested, not only to go into Panama, but now you’ve got to get tested in Panama in order to come back. Those were lemons, but you just deal with it, you work around it, you figure it out, and we did and it was fine.
Sean: But as far as taking a situation and turning it into lemonade, I feel like ones that come to mind immediately are the ones, maybe just because we just talked about them, but COVID hits and it ripped our business from us, to be honest with you.
Charan: Absolutely, yeah.
Sean: We were sitting and waiting for a little bit and trying to do the quarantine challenge. We did that for a while and we’re like, “Okay, we’re still not seeing business open back up, and we’ve done this and it’s kind of run its course.” That was some definite lemons. So what I did was, backtracking before COVID, I’m in Albuquerque, New Mexico, excuse me, and I’m setting up one of our treasure hunts for Adventure Hunt. Albuquerque’s not the coolest place in the world, no offense to anybody that loves it.
Charan: I’ve never been, but yeah. Sure.
Sean: But our job is to put together a fun route of clues that are going to take people to these cool places around the city. It took a little bit of work on my part. I remember I finished, and I had finished testing it, I had been down there for like four days at this point, and I actually said out loud to myself as I’m looking at the app we have, cause we have an app built out for Adventure Hunt, and I was like, “You know, it works, and Albuquerque isn’t very cool, but I sure did put together a fun itinerary if anybody comes and visits.” And the light bulb just went off like, bing, that’s what I should be doing, is I should be helping people know what to do when they travel somewhere. Cause you’ve got Kayak or Google Flights for booking your flights, you’ve got Hotels.com and Airbnb for your accommodations, but there really isn’t a great source for what to do when you get there.
Charan: Sure, yeah. Absolutely, yeah.
Sean: Anyway, I’ve had that idea in the back of my head of building out this other app that basically becomes that perfect source, like your Hotels.com type of resource for hotels, but for what to do when you get there, that’s not TripAdvisor shoving tours down your throat, that’s not all this research. Cause when you go to travel somewhere, you’re probably posting on social media, “Hey what should I do when I get to Hawaii?” You’re reading blogs, you’re watching videos. It’s a lot of work, right?
Sean: Anyway, so I’m dealt a big-time lemon like the rest of the world was, of COVID, and many people had their businesses taken from them, essentially. We were one of those. In my free time over the last several months, I’ve built out an app called Tripio, I’ve got a website up and people can check it out there. The app is not launched yet because I’m waiting a little bit longer to perfect it, but it is going to be sick, it’s my next big project that I’m super stoked about. I had that down time, I had the resources and the knowledge that I knew I could use, and I had free time to now do it, so I spent six months of the pandemic just …
Charan: Building it out.
Sean: Daily, building out this app that’s going to help people know what to do, what to go see, eat, experience, and whatnot when they go travel places.
Charan: That’s amazing, man. I remember when I went to New Zealand, before I went, my really good buddy who is a business partner of mine, he lived in New Zealand for a couple of years. So he had an Excel spreadsheet, I mean of course, this guy is like, “Depending how long you’re in a certain area, he’s like, you got to go do this, go do this.” I’m like dude, open up that spreadsheet and share that whole doc with me. Before I left, I had the whole trip planned. I was dating someone at the time and she came with me.
Sean: Hey, congrats man.
Charan: Thanks. Thanks. I know, it’s been a long time since that was a thing and I’m guessing the same thing for you, you know? It was huge.
Sean: You had to make fun of me [crosstalk 00:34:16], when you’re in the same boat you’re allowed to make fun.
Charan: Yeah. It’s a big treat. When was your last girlfriend?
Sean: It’s been about five years.
Charan: Five years?
Charan: I did beat you, mine was a year or two ago.
Charan: But …
Sean: I’ve had girls I dated, but serious girlfriend, yeah, it was about five years ago.
Charan: I always consider her my girlfriend, I’ll say she’s my girlfriend, so that is worthy of a congratulations.
Charan: Anyway, we went and it was the best, it was just so awesome.
Charan: But dude, I love that you did that. I love that you did Tripio and I’m excited for when that comes out and all that stuff.
Sean: True, so for anyone listening I am going to plug it, it’s just Tripioapp.com.
Charan: Yeah, please.
Sean: And it’s going to be sick, you basically go in, I’m just going to explain in 30 seconds, give you an elevator pitch. So if you and I were going on a trip, we would have a different itinerary in mind than say, pretend that you had a wife and three little kids.
Charan: That’s hard, but I’ll try.
Sean: I know, sorry. You’d have a very different itinerary in mind going on a trip with them than you would going with the boys, right?
Sean: You basically go in and you just set your trip preferences. It’s not your preferences but more like the preferences for this trip. So you say, okay, I’m a four out of five into adventure, I’m a three out of five into culture and history, I’m a zero out of five or a two out of five out of nightlife — you go through and set your preferences, takes 30 seconds, you just hit go, and now it spits out the curated Charan Prabhakar top 10 things to do.
Charan: Nice. Love that, yeah.
Sean: Instead of reading everybody else’s list of top tens, or having to ask a million people on Facebook or Instagram what to do, or read all these blogs and vlogs or sift through the TripAdvisor garbage, you just set your preferences and bing, here’s what you should go do because this suits you.
Charan: You can totally take this idea and run with it, but I think you need to. I think, for those that have set their own trip up, you should figure out a way to match them with other people that have the same interests, and that way …
Sean: Yeah, make it a dating app.
Charan: Dating app, or just make new friends app.
Sean: Travel friend app, yeah.
Charan: A friend app, right? Because then it’s like, oh same interests. ‘Cause I have gone on trips with people that have done things that I just do not want to do at all, and I’m like “Oh, for the love, we got to go to this again.” But some people would be stoked about that, right?
Charan: Just think about that.
Sean: We do have the ability, like if you go and you see someone that was just in New Zealand, and they posted 100 cool pictures, and you’re going in like a few months and so you’re hitting them up like, “Hey, I’m going to New Zealand in whatever, in June, what should I do?” Now, you can actually just, like a Spotify playlist, you just can, “Hey this playlist is fire, share it with me,” you just boop, and all of a sudden, all 100 of the songs went to them with one click of a button. We have the same thing now on Tripio, where you just click share and it sends them, hHey, here’s my entire itinerary. This is what I did.
Charan: Oh, that’s awesome, man.
Sean: Here’s everywhere I ate, here’s all the stuff I went and saw and here’s the order I did it in.
Charan: People can create their own profile, right, [inaudible 00:37:16]? That’s amazing.
Sean: Yeah, you have a profile, [crosstalk 00:37:17] you’ll have trips, you can even have public or private trips, so people that are travel junkies are going to want to …
Charan: Follow all the people that have done something similar, right?
Sean: It’s going to be sick, it’s going to be really sick.
Charan: That’s amazing.
Sean: I’m actually super stoked about it. I’m just taking my time to launch it once it feels like the right time, and right now doesn’t feel, it feels like I need to wait a little longer.
Charan: It’s good, man. Here’s the deal. When COVID hit, it was a big reset for a lot of people, and for me as well, acting stopped, so I didn’t know what I was going to be doing, so I just thought it’d be fun to do Zoom interviews, just to see what they’re up to. Fast-forward a couple months later, one of the guys I interviewed was Greg Trimble, who I introduced you to, and he’s like, “Dude, come be the host of our podcast,” and now here I am. All because I was like, eh, I’ll just … I didn’t know how to use Zoom, and that was basically the extent of where I went with it. You put a lot more thought into Tripio, so I’m very excited for what’s going to actually happen.
Sean: Thank you, yeah.
Sean Bingham Talks About What Brings Him Joy
Charan: Okay so, last couple questions, what brings you joy right now?
Sean: Oh, that’s a great question. Family actually came to mind pretty quick, friends, just relationships in general, for me, people. I’m a very social guy. Friends and family and relationships and stuff. We were just talking about this before the podcast, snowboarding. Powder snowboarding is probably my favorite thing in the entire world.
Charan: It’s funny because …
Sean: It’s super addicting.
Charan: The thing was, and we can talk about this a little bit, ’cause I didn’t even know that this was your experience, I just remember we went snowboarding, and this was, gosh, I don’t even know when it was, but you were barely getting going on it [crosstalk 00:38:55] …
Sean: I’ve been going a few times a year for, like, three years.
Charan: A few times a year for three years. At the time, I think I was teaching or something like that.
Sean: Yeah, you were an instructor, yeah.
Charan: I was an instructor at Sundance. But I just remember you ate it so hard and I’m like, and I remember looking back and seeing, you with a head-over-heel flip or something. Everything on your body was not on your body anymore, like your hoodie and whatever was on your hat. And I was like, dude, I don’t know if he survived that fall. I really don’t know.
Charan: But you did, and the thing was, you were a quick learner and you learned very, very fast. But now I look at your videos and I’m like dude, there’s no way I could ever keep up with Sean. ‘Cause I don’t even snowboard in powder. I hardly ever go now. But you go all the time, right?
Sean: I would go all the time, it’s one of my biggest passions. So I do this trip once a year, actually I started doing it twice a year now, but we’ll go up to Canada, Nelson, British Columbia, and there’s this place up there called Bald Faced Lodge. It’s like the Mecca of back country snowboarding. And they helicopter you up to this lodge, and then you go out on these big cats every day. I’m talking 12–15 runs a day of maybe 2,000 vertical feet of untracked powder.
Charan: Oh my gosh.
Sean: For four straight days.
Charan: That’s unbelievable.
Sean: It’s like a dream, dude.
Charan: Dude, I got to come.
Sean: My buddy asked me the other day, “How much is it?” And I was like, I love it so much, I don’t even know how much it costs. I just pay it and I don’t even, it’s one of those things where I’m like, I don’t care what it costs; I have to do it.
Charan: You have to do it.
Sean: And it’s not crazy expensive, it’s a few hundred bucks a day, I think, ’cause I did end up looking for him after that. They charge me in Canadian so it’s somewhere in there.
Charan: A few hundred bucks a day is not bad.
Sean: But dude, it’s incredible. Yes, and I do remember that fall. In fact, I was thinking about it just the other day, ’cause I took a very similar fall.
Charan: Oh, you did?
Sean: And that fall with you is etched in my brain. I’ve actually only been carted off the mountain twice; you’ll be happy to hear that.
Charan: Oh, really?
Sean: Twice I’ve been carted off.
Charan: Was that one of them? I don’t think, no, no you were fine. You were able to [crosstalk 00:41:02] …
Sean: No, I was fine, I somehow was fine that one.
Charan: You were able to get up, but I just remember being like, dude, I can’t believe you weren’t wearing a helmet. I don’t even wear a helmet.
Sean: Back then it was not — I wear a helmet always now — but back then it wasn’t the most common thing.
Charan: It’s interesting because, last couple of times I’ve been boarding, it’s weird because it doesn’t ever leave you, it’s like riding a bicycle, you know how to ride. But man, my legs give out so quick now. It’s not like I’m falling, it’s more like I have to stop halfway just to let my legs stop burning, and I don’t know what the issue is, but they’ve been cramping up, so I only do a couple runs, I’m like dude, I’m done, I’m good, I’m done. So I would feel very embarrassed going with you now and you’re like …
Sean: No, dude. For everybody listening, Charan can rip, I still think about your turns to this day. When I’m ripping down a groomer just trying to go fast and look good, I really do think about the things you taught me that day.
Charan: I can’t even remember what I taught you dude, but … well thank you, thank you Sean for the big plug, for anyone that wants to hire me as a snowboarder, please.
Charan: No, well that’s awesome dude, I’m so glad that family, relationships, and snowboarding brings you joy. It’s so awesome.
Sean: Sports, I’m a huge sports guy. I can’t go to sleep without reading the box scores and seeing what’s going on in the NBA.
Charan: Dude, of course.
Charan: And then the last, last question …
Sean: And travel, geez, I didn’t say travel.
Charan: Oh, of course, travel, that’s the hugest one.
Sean: Travel and adventure, that’s what I’m doing.
Charan: That’s your thing.
Sean: Okay, sorry, enough of what brings me joy, next question.
Sean Bingham’s Advice to His Younger Self
Charan: No, no, this is good. The last question though, is, with all of the stuff you’ve learned, and with all the different businesses that you’ve started and everything, what would you tell that young Sean Bingham, the one that’s starting to detail cars with Casey Clyde? What would you tell that Sean?
Sean: Don’t partner with Casey Clyde. Just kidding.
Charan: Never do.
Sean: [inaudible 00:42:50]. I don’t know, I thought you were going to say, when you started that question I thought you were going to say, “What would you tell other aspiring entrepreneurs?” and so I’ll answer that question even though you didn’t ask it. The one I would say is just do it. Nike stole that from me.
Charan: They did. They really did. Yeah.
Sean: People want to launch a business only when it’s perfect. They want to launch a podcast only when it’s perfect, they want to, and things are never perfect. If I think about the “Social Network” movie, the Facebook thing, and he’s like, “Well when’s it going to be finished?” And he’s like “It’s never going to be finished; it’s never finished.” That’s really the truth with entrepreneurship. Anyone that’s wanting to get into it, there’s no better way to learn than to do, so just start doing. Just start Googling things and acting and moving and doing, and you’ll be so grateful that you did.
Sean: That’s what I would tell aspiring entrepreneurs. As far as what I would tell young car detailing Sean, one thing I thought, and this is one thing I do admire about Casey, follow your dreams. Whatever you’re most passionate about, go with that. The money will follow. If you stick to things that you truly love and you truly enjoy, and I’m not saying everyone’s going to be able to be in the NBA, ’cause that would’ve been my dream, but I wasn’t good enough. But there’s going to be something that people are really passionate about and that they really truly enjoy, and that’s what they should go do with their life. I’m not saying everyone’s going to get rich, but you’ll make plenty of money to survive, and you’ll be way happier than if you were in some job that paid you millions of dollars, but you had zero time to do anything with it because you were a slave to your job and you hated your job and you didn’t like the people you worked with. Follow your dreams, follow your passions, and money will take care of itself.
Charan: Dude, I love that advice. That’s amazing. Because the thing is, too many people don’t live life alive. They’re struggling too much, trying to make ends meet, or also making tons of money, but they don’t have the freedom to spend it, like you were saying. I love that advice.
Charan: I remember, I was filming this movie back in 2011 and a buddy of mine came and visited me on set, and this same buddy was, he was the big goof-off kid in high school; we always joked around. Anyway, he now has a family, kids, and he started this mortgage company and he’s doing really well. Financially, he’s just killing it. And he came to set and he was just kind of watching me and he was like, “Charan, wow, it’s just so great to see you doing your thing.” Like, “Thanks, man, but, dude, tell me about your life, you’re killing it and business is great.” And his eyes just glazed over, he’s like, “Yeah, I guess I have that.” And I’m like, and it was this weird, awkward “Wait, what’s going on?”
Charan: And then he’s like, “Yeah, but you’re living your dream.” And he just said that with this pronounced feeling, I’m like, oh snap. ‘Cause I wasn’t making much, that movie, I’m sure I spent way more than I did make, getting from it, ’cause I just put so much into it. But, I mean, I had a good time. And I feel bad for him. I mean, I’m sure his life is great and he travels and stuff, but it was an interesting thought to think, wow, he really wasn’t truly living his dream. That was a tragedy. It’s a big tragedy.
Sean: It is. You learn that as you get older. I mean, I’m almost 40; you are 40.
Charan: Thank you.
Sean: Are you 40 or 41?
Charan: I just turned 40; don’t age me, man. I’m an ’81 baby. I’m an ’81 baby.
Sean: Oh, you are? Okay, [inaudible 00:46:35], so we’re basically the same age.
Sean: But you do learn that as you get older, the value of freedom, the value of time. And man, if you’re stuck in something that you don’t love, get out of it and do something that you do love.
Charan: That’s the thing, and you’re a prime example of that.
Sean: Trying, yeah.
Charan: I think you are, I mean here’s the deal, the moment something stops being passionate for you, you’re like, okay, I’m going to do something else. And that’s great, I love that.
Charan: Well, thanks, Sean, I really appreciate you coming out and being a part of the podcast. I know you’re probably jet-lagged. You don’t even know what day it is. But hopefully [crosstalk 00:47:10] that water helped. But thanks again for joining the podcast.
Sean: Thank you for having me.
Charan: And we’ll talk to you later.
Charan: Thanks so much for listening to the Lemonade Stand podcast, and we hope you enjoyed this episode. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on whatever platform you use to be alerted when we release new episodes. We’d also love to hear your feedback in the reviews, and if you or someone you know has an awesome lemonade stand story, please reach out to us on social media and let us know. Thanks so much and have a great day.