💎 The best personal monopoly I've ever seen
Dear friends, founders, and people who miss the simpler days… back when the floor was lava and the roof was being raised.
Today’s story is about Kevin Van Trump. You’ve probably never heard of him, but here’s 3 things you need to know:
He writes a newsletter for farmers that makes $20M+/year
He created FarmCon, a huge conference for thousands of farmers
He’s built a personal monopoly in his niche
OK - the story starts with me landing in Kansas (and it’s freezing). I’m here to speak at a Farming conference (called FarmCon).
Why am I, a non-farmer, talking at FarmCon? Unclear, but I’m rolling with it.
I was expecting to see:
Tons of plaid
Chicken Fried Chicken
A few glances like “why are you here, tech bro?”
Instead, what I got was a business education worth its weight in gold.
Let me explain.
Surprise #1 - Farmers are rich.
I don’t know why, but I always thought of farmers as blue collar, laborer types.
That’s only sorta true. They do work hard, and do manual labor, but don’t get it twisted, they are smart business minds and they are loaded.
They wear Rolexes, drive $100,000 souped-up trucks, and talk like Wall Street hedge fund guys when it comes to trading crop futures & options.
Surprise #2 - The farmers have a leader
And his name is Kevin Van Trump.
He’s been writing a farming newsletter called the Van Trump Report for nearly 20 years.
He writes it by himself. By hand. Every night. And hasn’t missed a day in 20 years.
It’s like ~2 pages of info and 10 pages of memes. I love it, and I’m not even a farmer.
There are no ads.
He charges a $1,000 per year subscription, and I’m pretty sure he’s making $25-$30M a year off the newsletter.
Forget Morning Brew, this guy might be the most impressive “newsletter-preneur” and nobody in our game has heard of him.
Surprise #3 - The industry needed Swag
Kevin Van Trump’s son (Jordan) saw a gap in the market to provide high quality swag to agriculture companies.
So he created “Ag Swag”. They make hats, shirts, vests, etc.. for huge companies like John Deere.
I don’t know the exact numbers, but I’m pretty sure this thing generates tens of millions in revenue, and is profitable.
Surprise #4 - Getting out of the bubble helps
I spend most of my time in Silicon Valley, surrounded by tech nerds like me.
But going to a farming conference in Kansas was a “shake up the snow globe” moment, where I added all kinds of new inputs into my brain.
The result was a new business with a farm inspired name (Milk Road). It was a newsletter (like the Van Trump Report), but for the crypto industry.
Fast forward 1 year - Milk Road was the #1 crypto newsletter in the world, with over 250,000 readers, and we sold the business to a private buyer for millions of dollars.
But that’s a story for another day…
I’ll leave you with a few nuggets of Wisdom from Kevin Van Trump:
“I hate hiring Ivy League’rs because they’re too afraid of failure. They’ve done so well their whole life, they aren’t used to being wrong or looking silly. You can’t reach your full potential if you’re not kissing cousins with failure”
On teaching your kids to takeover the family business:
“I say hey I’m gonna take a nap, you take the wheel and drive us home. No seatbelts, that’s how we role. Take some risks! get your knee skinned up! break some bones!
I give them a portion of the farm to try things, and have skin in the game. I gotta have kids that don’t melt down when the rug gets pulled, when things go wrong. I need them to learn sometimes you gotta say we’re changing plans, TONIGHT.”
On rejection: (Overheard at a dinner with Kevin, not something he said)
“I’ve stood in front of a woman naked before. So I’ve heard ‘no no no’ before. I’m used to rejection”
“The best job in the world is being a professional investor. But it’s a job you have to create for yourself. Nobody hands it to you”
On FOMO investing:
“The best trades you do, you make the decision once and put it in the drawer for years. I bought bitcoin because it was interesting. Then I didn’t touch it for years even though the news everyday was up or down.
And remember, even the best assets, if there’s real demand, there’s always a second chance to get on the train. Look at Amazon, stock got crushed down to less than a dollar during the bust. Look at facebook, after IPO was trading back down around $19. There’s always a second chance to get in on the best companies”
My takeaway: Sometimes you gotta take a random trip to Kansas. Get out of your comfort zone, add some new compounds into your brain chemistry and watch what happens.
P.S. The Money Move of The Week goes out to Karl Malone (former pro basketball player).
Back in 1992, Malone asked every player on the Dream Team for a pair of game-worn sneakers. 20 years later The Mailman took those shoes & sold them for a cool $5.38 million.
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