Laura Rich: Julie Clark, welcome to The Exit Club podcast.
Julie Clark: Thank you.
Laura Rich: If it's okay with you, I'd love to start by hearing about how exactly Baby Einstein got started.
Julie Clark: Okay, great. Thank you. Yeah, it's crazy. To be honest, it was as much a surprise to me as it was to probably anyone later, but I was a teacher, and left teaching because I decided to be a stay at home mom and have a baby. And in the course of that first year with her, I realized that there was an absolute absence of any really high quality content for children, in terms of anything video or really music related. I mean, if you wanted to do the Itsy Bitsy Spider all day, it was fine. And I certainly did that.
Every once in a while, I was like, "Okay, there's gotta be something I can listen to with my daughter that's not gonna drive me crazy. So I came up with this idea for Baby Einstein, which was essentially a way to expose her to great things like classical music and poetry and art, in ways that were baby-friendly, but, again, not going to be annoying to me.”
Laura Rich: How do you go from this idea of something to something that becomes a big brand? How do you develop that?
Julie Clark: Probably like a lot of entrepreneurs, I wasn't exactly sure what I was doing. I was kind of figuring it out as I went, but to create that first video, I just made videos of a lot of stuff that I knew my baby liked to look at. I hired a producer and a musician to create the music that would accompany the video, and the first video came about. It was called Baby Einstein, a name that I came up with in my kitchen, a logo that I drew at my kitchen table with my daughter's crayons.
Laura Rich: And it really seemed to hit?
Julie Clark: It was really amazing because, I think there was such a need in the market. There were so many people like me, other parents, who were going, “Okay, really? Like, this is all I have: Barney?"
Laura Rich: Was it kind of a surprise, the way that people responded to it?
Julie Clark: So, it was really remarkable. There was this huge insurgence of people going, "Oh my gosh, somebody has done something that I can stand and that my baby actually loves.
Laura Rich: How did you get it out to people in stores and such?
Julie Clark: I was able to, through sort of sheer force of will, to get in to the first store that carried it, which was the Right Start. To be honest it was this amazing thing, it flew off shelves. I think people loved the name, parents loved the name Baby Einstein. And then what happened, of course, is that babies loved the content. So what parent isn't proud when their child is loving Mozart? I mean they're like, "Oh my gosh, the next composer has been born in my own house." It was a really, really wonderful event. So the company just grew from there.
Laura Rich: So this was really sort of a solo business, you produced everything yourself.
Julie Clark: Absolutely. Yeah, after the first video up through probably the fourth, I literally edited on my home computer. I used Adobe Premiere. I had no idea what I was doing. I figured it out as I went. The first video, Baby Einstein, took me a year to put together, only because along with figuring it out, it was something I was sort of doing on the side, it wasn't a full time thing yet.
Now, I do have to give credit to my amazing husband, who was the business brains behind what happened in terms of — literally, I didn't even know how to fill a PO, I didn't know what that meant. PO to me was a post office box, not a purchase order.
And part of starting your own business, I think that's a lot of the fun of it, right, it's that you're learning all the time, and when you're learning, you're never bored, you're always kind of figuring things out. It’s stimulating your own brain. And this is good, this is a good thing because I was a stay at home mom, and I did miss teaching. I did kind of miss having a classroom of kids. And so this, for me, was a way to keep my brain going when I was dealing with those first two years of a new baby.
Laura Rich: So it started off with the video for Baby Einstein, but it eventually grew to be much more than that. Right?
Julie Clark: Yeah. So eventually it was. We launched with a video, and the first video was Baby Einstein. A year in, I had produced that first video and gotten it into stores, and a year in, the Right Start came back to me and they said, “Look, we have so many people clamoring for more, they want more videos. This is selling really well. Can you make a second?" And right around the time that they came back to me and said we want a second video, I had been in the process of creating this video, “Baby Mozart,” and literally a week after Baby Mozart hit store shelves, there was this crazy movement called the Mozart Effect, and everyone was talking about how listening to Mozart is good for your brain and that stimulated your brain, and it helped children to think and people did better on tests when they listened to Mozart's music. And here I was with a video called Baby Mozart. Which was, again, the timing couldn't have been better for me. That really helped the brand explode, and so shortly after Baby Mozart, I came out with Baby Bach and then Baby Shakespeare, which was my personal favorite as an English teacher. And then Baby Van Gogh.
Right around that time, which was two and a half years in, I was approached by Disney. And Disney said to me, “Look, we see that your videos are doing really well, and we would love to do Baby Einstein books. Are you interested in taking the brand into a publishing area?" And of course I said yes, and started writing these Baby Einstein books. And then at the same time, I have to say, we did have CDs, and we were producing a lot of music to go along with the videos, and ultimately then, to go along with the books.
Laura Rich: It sounds like quite a lot of expansion over a short period of time, to kind of an empire. And it was growing. How did you get to the point where you decided to sell?
Julie Clark: Well, you're right. I mean the empire was growing and we were teeny tiny in terms of the number of people that were on board working on everything. We'd moved into Japan, New Zealand, Israel, and sort of a handful of countries, Spain, kind of a weird little conglomerate of countries, it was strange. These were countries that literally came to us, and were like, "Hey, are you guys interested?" And we said yes.
The company was just growing like gangbusters. It was insane. So by year five, and this is with five actual employees, mind you, including myself and my husband, who left his other job to come and work with me because Baby Einstein was growing so quickly. We come close to doing $25 million in sales. I was still working in my basement. I mean, it was crazy. I had another baby, I was working at home. My husband was working with me. Jacques, who did our international sales, literally lived five doors away; he would walk down to work. My customer service person would drive her three blocks to work.
What we realized, though, was that if we wanted this to continue to grow and be as successful as it had been, and continue to remain sort of the brand leader in this new category that we've created, we were going to need to grow this company, we are going to need to add at least 50 more people. We were going to start putting out a video a month, and do the kinds of things that we were not honestly prepared to do. Nor did we really have any desire to do, because we're small entrepreneurs, right? We like to build businesses. I don't love managing people. That's probably my least favorite thing to do in the whole world.
My husband and I looked at each other and we said, “Look, here's where we are. We either can continue to grow this thing we've done so well. I mean, this is incredible and insane and we had no idea we were going to do this well, ever.” We could either continue to grow this, and really step up and try to figure it out, or we could try to sell this thing, and we could step back and kind of enjoy our lives, and raise our children and homeschool, and travel the world—and boy did that sound good. We kind of recognized, I think, that this work-life balance was a joke. There's no such thing as work-life balance when you're an entrepreneur.
I had left work, I had left teaching to be a stay at home mom, and I was finding that more and more of my time was being really robbed from being a stay at home mom, which I love doing, and granted I loved my company as well, but we just made the decision that this is life. Life is too short. Let's take advantage of this incredible thing. Let's not worry about competition, let's sell and let's get out and really live life. So, yeah, that's how we made our decision.
Laura Rich: Yeah, good for you guys for recognizing what you wanted out of your life at that time. So I'm curious, as you thought about selling the company, did you have a particular vision for that in terms of maybe who the buyers might be, or how you wanted to see Baby Einstein grow? I'm also wondering, did you guys explore the idea or the viability of just staying small and making a little more of a balanced work/life?
Julie Clark: I think a huge part of it was, with our success, as with any brand, what we were realizing was that a lot of people were recognizing where we were. So there was a Disney out there saying huh, there seems to be a market for these kinds of products for very young children and we don't make those things. And there was a Viacom or Nickelodeon, and there were these people out there—Sony was looking at us and going, “Huh, I think we can do that, too.” And so, in terms of what we were creating, whether other people could make it—probably there were, and we did not want to compete with those people. The amount of stress involved in that was something that I was not super interested in.
In terms of vision, I would have loved to have seen there be more of a lesson plan parenting component to what Baby Einstein was at the time. So there was a part of me, for example, that was wishing that, okay, along with making a Baby Shakespeare video, I could also create a user guide for parents. Like a teacher with you in terms of a lesson plan. I could create a user guide for parents that would say here's how you use this video with your child. Don't just put your child in front of the TV and leave the room, but sit with your child, and here's how you teach. And here is how you can really create an engaging environment for your baby, and that's something that Baby Einstein hoped to be. We never really got there. We didn't get that far before we sold the company.
Laura Rich: Can you talk about how Disney became the buyer?
Julie Clark: When Will and I decided that we wanted to sell, we already had this great relationship with Disney because they have been publishing our books, and so made the call. We called Disney and we said, "Look, we're interested in selling this thing, and you’re first on our list.” I mean, who better to take a children's product into the world than the Walt Disney Company? And they said yes. So that was incredible. We didn't use a venture capital firm, we didn't use investment bankers. We just did that all ourselves. That was wonderful. And I believe that at the time, what I was thinking, was that of course they're going to want to hear more about my vision for what this can be, and so that's what I anticipated happening. It is not what happened.
One great thing that did happen is that I was able to give them ... I had been kind of considering how we could age the product to be a pre-school product rather than just a baby product. And so I gave them basically a bible or an idea for a preschool product, which later became Little Einstein, which was on the Disney Channel and it was a fantastic show. And so I felt great about that happening. But my whole sense that Disney is going to take this and they're really going to want my ideas and they're really going to want me to continue to be the visionary behind the company—that didn't happen.
Laura Rich: That seems to happen over and over and over again. Can we back up a little—how much did Disney pay for the company?
Julie Clark: They paid $25 million for the company. And we had down close to $25 million in sales in our first year. And so, a lot of people today look at that number and they go, "Are you kidding me? That's like a one for one. How did you not get a better valuation?"
Laura Rich: Did you have others involved in the deal?
Julie Clark: We did the deal ourselves. We didn't have a venture capital firm involved. And I have to say, Laura, it's funny, because when I talk to people and they say things like, "Oh my gosh, you guys could have gotten so much more." I just think, “Really?” Yeah, of course we probably could have. But how thrilled was I, as an English teacher who had made $30,000 a year, to sell a company that I love, that I built myself that I was really proud of, for $25 million. I mean, this was like an absolute dream for me. So I was so pleased, and so happy with that.
Laura Rich: People do get really hung up on the transaction and the multiples and how much is equity versus cash. And I do think some of that is important—but at the same time, you went from being a teacher to a multimillionaire.
Julie Clark: Exactly! Crazy! Crazy! Right? I didn't see myself as that person, because I was the person, if you talk to anybody I went to high school with, they’re like, “Oh yeah, Julie. She was sitting in the back room writing poetry. She wasn’t one of your entrepreneurs, with a job at like age seven.” It was crazy, and especially because I was so proud of what I had built. I really feel like I made something that made a difference, and introduced tiny babies, and still does introduce little kids, to this incredible content. Of course I'm so proud of that. And to have done something like that and then get a bunch of money for it? That's like a dream, right?
Laura Rich: So, part of the deal was that you would stay on with Disney. What was your role there?
Julie Clark: Well, my role was consultant, and my I was sort of being paid a salary. I didn't own any more Baby Einstein. I was just essentially an employee of Baby Einstein now. I believed my role to be different than what my role actually was. I think its the story of a lot of founders, which basically means they keep you on because they like you as the face of the brand still, as they're kind of making their way into their own reality of what this brand is going to be like. I anticipated it being much different. So I thought I would be on creating videos, giving them ideas.
I remember sitting down with Bob Iger, kind of a funny story. I said, “Look, you could do something so great for parents”—I still think this would be such a great idea and I'm so sorry that they didn't do this. I said, “How many parents go to Disneyland or Disney World every year and they have their six year old or their five year old or their four year old, and they have their baby. And their baby is miserable all day, because their baby's hot, and mom is tired, and you're breastfeeding and they're exhausted and there are lines everywhere and there's no decent food and there's all these crazy realities of being in a theme park. And of course, your seven year old is having a blast with Dad, and Mom is pushing a stroller and wanting to just blow her brains out because it's hot and horrible.”
I literally said to Bob Iger, "You should have a Baby Einstein area of your theme parks, where you could go in with your child, you'd have to have a baby to go in, and you could have these videos playing and it would be soothing, it would be air-conditioned and it would be quiet, and there'd be rocking chairs in a nursing area. And a great cup of coffee.” That was my vision for what Baby Einstein could be within theme parks. He basically patted me on the hand and said, "That's a nice idea. Bye-bye." Just one example of something that I think could have been really great. I still think. Hey Bob, if you're listening, I still think that would be a great idea.
Laura Rich: It sounds like it was kind of a surprise once you got there.
Julie Clark: I really anticipated my ideas being more welcome, better received than they were. And, look, my husband tells me frequently, “Honey, you sold your baby. You sold the right for other people to make decisions, and you can't stress about it. You can't be upset about it."
But as a business owner who sells your business, you are upset about it when your ideas aren’t coming to fruition, because you've had all these years of making your ideas happen and having them be really well-received, and knowing that your ideas are really good and that you understand the customer better than anyone. So when people don't listen to you all of a sudden, there is this crazy feeling of helplessness, of sadness, that you're just not being heard anymore.
It's sort of like when your child grows up and goes to college. You've had 18 years of influencing your baby. Giving your child all the care and nurturing and knowing what's happening in their life, and trying to give them the best advice and being their greatest cheerleader, and feeding them the best things you can feed them, and doing all these wonderful things for them. And all of a sudden they leave. With Baby Einstein, it was like my child not only grew up and went to college, it was like my child grew up, got on a spaceship, and went to another planet.
Laura Rich: It's definitely kind of a loss, and it's also a loss of customer relationships. And at this point, you had deep connections with your customer base.
Julie Clark: I loved the people that wrote to me, and people wrote to me. I mean, this is crazy, but I still continue to this day to get emails from parents and kids telling me how much they love Baby Einstein and saying how wonderful it was to be introduced to all this music. I had this great email from somebody who said she walked into the Museum of Modern Art in New York with her children when they were two years old. And one of her kids looked at the painting Starry Night on the wall and said, “Mommy, it's Van Gogh.” That was really cool. So I did. I did have this great relationship with my customers. And when you sell to a giant company, you're not going to have that anymore. I miss it, I miss a lot.
Laura Rich: It sounds like for you there was a lot of loss and a lot of sadness.
Julie Clark: And I would say that along with the sadness, there is a huge feeling of anxiety because you've been doing something with such passion and such personal conviction for so many years, and then it's just gone. It's very, very tricky, it's very hard. There's a lot of anxiety, a lot of stress around that. I don't know that anything can prepare you for it. Even though people can say here's what you can expect, you really don't know until you go through it.
Laura Rich: Can you talk a little bit about what you mean by the anxiety? was it sort of the loss, was it kind of what to do next? you've been working on this for all this time and now what do you do? What are your thoughts there?
Julie Clark: Yes, well, I think that my anxiety was less about what do I do now because I did take full advantage of the sale in terms of traveling with my family for a few years. We were in 42 countries, we went to every continent, including Antarctica. I homeschooled the kids for a few years, really committed my life to doing what I loved, which was being a mom.
But there was anxiety about loss of control. I could see that the company, Disney, was saying, “Okay, we're going to put out this particular video,” and I would say, “Oh, no, that's not what the brand is about.” Let me give you an example. There was Baby Einstein toothpaste. Suddenly, there was Baby Einstein toothpaste! Baby Einstein is not about toothpaste. Baby Einstein is about exposing your child—focus, let's really keep this so pristine and beautiful. But, because I had sold it to accompany that—God knows I'm like the last person on earth to contradict what they know, what those people know about marketing—but they were all about building this brand into the biggest thing it could be. And God knows they did it. I mean, in the time that they owned it, because they've since sold it, they took it from $25 million in sales to something like $250 million dollars in sales in two years. It was ridiculous. And so, who am I to contradict that kind of financial success?
But what I had built was so pristine, and, I felt, perfect. I keep coming back to this analogy, but it was the way that you would raise your child. I cared about it. I loved it. It was very personal to me. And so when I realized that I could no longer be involved in that way, there was a lot of stress and a lot of anxiety.
Once I realized I had to give it up, I decided to create something else. I just said, “Okay, fine. You can have it that way. I'm going to make something else. And I’m going to have complete control over this other thing. And I did.
Laura Rich: So what did you do?
Julie Clark: I decided that I was going to commit myself to this cause, which was keeping kids safe. It was something I cared about for my own kids, something I felt I could be very passionate about, and something that I felt I could do really well because I knew how to make fun things for kids. I love kids. I can make things that are funny and fun and silly and I thought, nobody's ever conquered this. Nobody's ever taken this idea of child safety and made it fun and funny and engaging. So I'm going to take on this challenge and try to do that.
So I was able to kind of turn my attention and turn my focus to the Safe Side, which is the company that I created at that time. And this was a not for profit though, so I was doing the Safe Side as kind of a passion project, something I really wanted to create for kids, for teachers, for parents. Make it really good and really wonderful and kind of give it to the world so that anybody could use it. It was going to be free. It was going to be engaging and fun, and I was going to be able to put my passion into that.
Laura Rich: So you're speaking about this in the conditional, and I'm guessing it didn't really work out. Can you talk a little about that?
Julie Clark: What was really rough was that Disney came back and said, “That's a competitive product.” I mean, this was shocking to me. I was in a non-compete because of my work at Baby Einstein. I was still "consulting" with Disney, although I really wasn't because they weren't using me. They were just kind of paying me and saying, "Okay, we'll take it from here," and I said, “Okay, fine, and I'm going to start my own thing. And I started my own thing. And of course it wasn't competitive. It was a child safety product for elementary school kids. But Disney came back and they said you know what we see this as competitive. You're in the child space. You're creating entertainment for kids. And we see this as competitive.
Talk about stress, right? I will tell you that at that time, now we're in 2004 when I was releasing the first Safe Side video, and I got breast cancer. Now, am I saying that Disney caused breast cancer? Of course not. Of course I'm not saying that, but I will tell you that stress, the stress, the anxiety, the upset that was caused when I was told that this new passion project was somehow competitive and that Disney was going to come back and not allow me to do this, was so shocking and so appalling that of course it was upsetting. And so I think getting sick was exacerbated certainly by the amount of stress that I was under at that time.
Laura Rich: I'm so sorry that you went through that, and we talked about it a little before, how you kind of approached your illness like an entrepreneur and also how you beat it back like an assassin, which I think is awesome. Can you talk about all that a little?
Julie Clark: Absolutely. I'm very proud to say that. Because I think that when you are diagnosed with a disease, for me it was cancer, you can kind of go two ways—you can either hole up and say okay this is it, I'm just going to listen to the doctors. I'm going to do what they say, and I’m going to be a good little girl and follow the rules. Or you can kind of get in there, dig in. Work your hardest. Figure out what is right for you. Do your research, sort of understand your market. Here’s my market: I had cancer. I have all these options - I can go this route or this route or this route. And where am I going to invest like time and my money, and my research and my heart and my head. I did all that. I did a lot of research and I did approach it, I think, like an entrepreneur does. And I'm a two-time “survivor”--a word that I hate. I always use the word assassin. I consider myself a cancer assassin, because I didn't just survive, I fought.
So as a two-time assassin, I had to fight that fight twice. So the second time I did the same thing. The second time I was diagnosed, which was in 2008, was a stage IV cancer diagnosis, so that was nine and a half years ago and at that time I really thought that I had about six months to live. So again, I attacked this as an entrepreneur would. I found a clinical trial. I got deeply involved in research. And here I am, nine and a half years later, conquered it. I've been cancer free for nine years.
Laura Rich: Amazing. So, how do you think of your life, sort of the order of your life, after all that? Did you have to work again?
Julie Clark: I didn't have to work again, and I did focus most of my time and creativity on being a teacher of my own kids. Did a lot of volunteer work. Everything I done involves kids, and in the last few years I began reading more and more research about what happens in the first three years of life to a child's brain, how kids develop, what they learn, how they learn, the significance of the first three years. Of the first year in particular. But the first three years when a child's brain is growing to 80% of its adult size. I just started thinking that I want to continue to be involved in the world. I want to continue to make a difference. I don't necessarily think cancer has anything to do with it, but I do feel that I have this desire to make an impact and make a change, whatever it is. I think that we all can make an impact and make a change. It can be the smallest thing, it could be something big. And so I try to do the small things all the time, right. Whether it’s volunteer, or serve on a board of a nonprofit and things like that.
But I started thinking, here I am. I'm 52. I've got the ability to create things that kids love. I understand how to run a business. And I have time on my hands. What can I do to make a difference? What effect can I have? And then, in thinking about those things, all those things and the research that I was reading, I decided to create another company. So I started a company called WeeSchool. The idea is WeeSchool is what comes before preschool. And I've created a company that has put together an entire "curriculum" for parents to use in their child's first three years.
It's an app that includes content like Baby Einstein content: Unique, beautiful videos, over a hundred pieces of gorgeous music. Ebooks that are embedded right in the app, that you can read with your child and then, most importantly, the curriculum that gives you an activity a day for the entire first three years of your child's life, that will help your child be preschool-ready. So whether you're a parent and you may work full-time and when you get home from work, you really want that time that your child to be super quality because you don't have the whole day with your child. This is also something you give your nanny and go, “Hey, here's the activity I want you do today.”
It's a culmination of all of the things that I would have wanted for my own baby, had apps been available when my kids were babies. This is a company that I've been working on for three years.
Laura Rich: And how does it compare to the start of Baby Einstein?
Julie Clark: Way more challenging than Baby Einstein was. The market is an entirely different market. I mean, babies are babies and parents are parents. But the way that we access information, the way that we change our minds, the way that we choose to watch videos rather than read; the way that Millennials appreciate what their friends have to say rather than what researchers have to say, all of these things were surprising to me. I'm not a Millennial. I'm not a young mom today, and so I've had to learn that this is a different mom than the mom 20 years ago that I was.
It's been challenging. It's been way more expensive to create. The dream of Baby Einstein was that I put $15,000 into that company when I launched it and I never borrowed a penny. I completely operated out of cash flow. We just did so well from the very beginning that it was a dream, and because it was my first company, I had no idea — I thought that’s how it always was, I didn't realize that most people don't have it that way, and it certainly hasn't been that way this time around. So this time around I've had to have investors involved. I've had to have less control over the product because I don't myself make apps. I have ideas for the app, here's what should be in the app, but then I have to turn it over to someone else to do. It's no longer that I sit in front of my computer and I edit using Adobe Premiere. Now I turn it over so a team of developers. And it takes a very long time. There's all kinds of errors. Not their fault, but just errors of technology. And marketing is a completely different animal. I mean, now we use Facebook to market, and Instagram and Twitter, and all these things that if we listen to this interview in five years, are going to be completely different. I would say that it's hard to keep up.
So there are days where I think what the hell have I done? Why did I start this company? And there are other days where I get a note from a parent who says, "Oh my god, thank you so much. I had no idea that my child was going to be learning at this pace, or what I could do to help my child learn.” It’s a mixed bag this time around. Whereas Baby Einstein was sort of this dream, and it was just growing and I had complete control over the vision, and it was just wonderful. This is much more of a challenge.
Laura Rich: Is the plan to sell it at some point?
Julie Clark: It is, yeah. I think within two years we're going to build this out to be something really, really amazing. And at that time, I would love to sell it, and perhaps sail away into the sun at that point.
Laura Rich: So you're just done.
Julie Clark: I think I'm done starting new businesses. I really do. I would love to continue to support businesses, whether it's in a board position, or consult. But here's the thing. I mean, I hope in the next five, six, seven, eight years—no pressure, kids—that I'm going to be a grandparent, and then I'm going to have a whole new job that I can commit myself to. So, yeah, I think it's the time when it's time to retire and kind of enjoy and stop worrying so much. But again, who knows? I mean, again, for me a lot of it has been involved in making a difference, and I spend a ton of time volunteering in schools and I think that I can see myself still doing that. But as far as business, yeah. I'm probably done.
Laura Rich: So is there any advice, if you think about your experience in selling the business, both in the sale itself and what followed? I mean it sounds like you've reflected on how you didn't have as much of a role in the business as you would have liked, and if you have any thoughts for people who are going through exit and into the next phase?
Julie Clark: I always would say, if you're considering exit, it's great to prioritize. And remember why you're exiting, and not be overly tied to getting that last million dollars. So first and foremost, like I said earlier, I would be remiss if I didn't say be grateful for the success that you've had and the opportunity to sell if that's what you want to do, because it gives you this incredible opportunity to do so much with your life, whether it's ... whatever you love, whether it's traveling or living in a big house or donating your money to charity, whatever it is. I mean, it's an amazing opportunity.
Laura Rich: What are your thoughts on how people should prepare for what follows an exit?
Julie Clark: I don't know how you prepare yourself, but be prepared that you are letting go. You are, no matter what, and I know this is my case for sure, but I have talked to other people who have sold their companies and I will say I'm certainly not the only one. I'm definitely the majority who thought that my involvement would be greater than it is. And so you have to be prepared to let go. You have to be prepared to step away and let somebody else do it, and let your baby grow up. And it may mean that your baby is not going the direction you wanted her to go, but you have to realize that you're selling your baby. You're selling your company, and it's someone else's not only job, but right, to do what they want to do with it. You just have to know that's going to happen.
The only other thing I could say is if you plan to start something else, take the lessons that you learned from the first one but don't expect it to be the same. It's always going to be different. I guess that's all I can think of, I wish I had more or better advice.
Laura Rich: That's excellent. That's really great advice. I think that really those are kind of two of the key challenges that I think a lot of people go through when selling a business. So thank you so much for sharing your experiences today. I really appreciate it. It's been just a thrill talking with you. And best of luck with WeeSchool.
Julie Clark: Thank you. I appreciate it. And we're weeschool.com, if you get a chance, that would be fantastic. And then there's info on me, personally, at mommymade. com, it's M-O-M-M-Y-M-A-D-E.
Laura Rich: Will do!
Julie Clark: Thank you.
THE EXIT CLUB podcast is all about what happens once the papers are signed, the deal is done, and life after exit begins. Each week, host Laura Rich talks with successful entrepreneurs across a range of industries about how they navigated the aftermath of an exit. THE EXIT CLUB pulls back the covers on this final stage of the entrepreneurial journey, sharing stories of grief and triumph.
Veteran journalist and serial entrepreneur Laura Rich exited her business in February 2017. She is also the author of the Paul Allen biography The Accidental Zillionaire and a former columnist for the New York Times.
At Fratzke Media, our paths cross with some amazing people. Learn more about their habits, insights and stories behind their success.
Julie Clark is the schoolteacher and mom turned entrepreneur who launched Baby Einstein, which many parents know for the way their videos seem to magically soothe their infants.
From its start in 1996, Baby Einstein was a huge hit, and after just five years, Julie sold the business to Disney for $25 million -- and in the course of that, discovered what many founders do -- that the buyers take over and start making the decisions, sometimes in a far different direction, and sometimes to the great despair of the original founders. For Julie, there was a lot of sadness and anxiety in the period that followed the sale.
Julie is also amazingly a two-time cancer survivor -- or assassin, as she likes to say -- so on top of the transition she was going through with her business, she was also attacking breast cancer.
She’s now on her second startup -- a preschool prep program called Wee School -- and she says it’s nothing like the easy early days of Baby Einstein, something a lot of entrepreneurs face on round two.