We had the good fortune of connecting with Paul Mott and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Paul, how do you think about risk?
I don’t have any tattoos, but if I was ever to get one it would just be these four words: no guts, no glory. Those simple words have given me the courage to start several businesses in my life. I’m not sure if that kind of courage is something your born with or something you acquire. For me it seems to come naturally with ambition and my desire to experience certain things in life. I realized at an early age that if you want to dance with that pretty girl you’re going to have to screw up your courage, walk across the gymnasium, and ask her to dance. And you can’t wait for somebody else to go first. If she says no, then so be it at least you tried. If you just sit there on your hands you are going to regret it. I remember reading somewhere that when elderly people were asked what was their biggest regret in life — for many the answer was not taking enough risk.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
It’s been a pretty incredible journey that’s led me to making dog vests for a living. It all started when I was a child and I really enjoyed making and building things. As an adult I’ve had jobs working as an auto mechanic, an electrical engineer, and a software developer. Each time I had a good job I ended up walking away because I wanted to have my own business and build the things I was dreaming about. In fact CoyoteVest is actually the fourth business I helped create. The first business in the late 80’s was all about water conservation and it was a failure right out of the gate (bad timing). The second business in the late 90’s was a CAD related software company and it was a home run and we sold that company and got paid. The third business was started back in 2002 and we were building and selling all kinds of custom motorcycle parts on-line. It was so much fun and was going pretty well — but ended up being destroyed when the great recession of 2009 hit. Nevertheless we learned a lot about running an eCommerce business and we got some pretty hard lessons about leverage. At that point I thought I was done being an entrepreneur so I went back to work in the software industry were I would just cruise into retirement. Then one afternoon after work a Coyote came out of nowhere and killed my precious dog Buffy. Tragic beyond words. I cried for days and I still feel guilty. That was a life changing event. It took a while for all the emotions to play out, but eventually I accepted the challenge to protect my remaining dogs no matter what. It would be my ingenuity versus the Coyote and I was not going to lose this contest. Before too long the CoyoteVest emerged from my imagination and we started getting positive feedback immediately. It was not too long before I realized this was going to be the basis for a new company with an incredible mission. So we screwed up our courage, quit a very good job (again) and decided to go for it. The first six months we lived off my 401K but it was starting to work so we kept pushing. This time around I had so much experience from my previous business attempts it seemed like I magically knew exactly what to do – and what not to do. So my story is really like one of those old folktales where something terrible happens and you think you have the worst luck but in the long run it somehow turns out good. It was the tragic death of Buffy that sparked my ambition once again. And before that when my last motorcycle parts business failed I was crushed emotionally and financially. But now I realize all of that experience was crucial to the training I needed for the really important job that lay in my future: Building CoyoteVest into a great brand and saving as many lives as possible. I can now say without hesitation, that of all the things I’ve ever worked on, creating this company is the most satisfying thing I’ve ever done by far. Nothing compares to the wonderful feelings we get when a customer is thanking us with all their heart for saving their dog’s life. Its wonderful, and all the challenges along the way were all worth it.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
It would be pretty hard to not have a great time in San Diego. No matter what your age there are so many wonderful things to do and the weather almost never holds you back. I’ve been here for three decades and I’ve been lucky enough to try most of it, but at this point in our lives we’re keeping it pretty simple and really enjoying the company of our dogs. So we love to go hiking in the open-spaces of Scripps Ranch or maybe head down to dog beach or Fiesta island. A couple of years ago we gave our dogs a real treat when we rented a house at dog beach in Oceanside and hung out there for a couple of days. At night we would take them with us to eat somewhere on Newport ave — we all had a really great time. I suppose most people do think about the ocean and the beach when they think about San Diego — if you’re a visitor that’s probably the first thing you want to see. Whenever we need a big serving of beach vibe we like heading up to OceanSide. You can take a sailing lesson, eat some clam chowder in a sourdough bowl, and go surf-board shopping on the 101. Oceanside delivers the the whole ocean enchilada in a compact family friendly package. And when you get your fill of the water, look to the east county for some real fun. For many years we were really into riding motorcycles. A great day would be cruising up to Palomar mountain and then over to Josie’s Hideout for lunch. There are so many wonderful roads to ride in the San Diego back county. If your into dirt bikes head out to McCain’s valley — its the best hot wheels track you will find on the west coast. Lately I’m really into my electric mountain bike which is just as much fun as a dirt bike with a lot less work. If your a good MTB rider you will love Rancho Penasquitos canyon preserve and if you’re an excellent rider you’ve got to ride “The Ted” in Poway. There are a lot of amazing MTB trails all over San Diego and I’m exploring them now.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to give a huge shout-out to Second Chance Dog Rescue in San Diego. They started back in 2008 and we were one of the first people to adopt a dog from them. They rescued our precious dog Sparky from Mexico and he’s still with us today. In 2011 we adopted our second dog Buffy from them. Now we also have Scooter and Cody. The work they do has changed our lives forever and I know they have touched many many families in San Diego.
CoyoteVest LLC, American Broadcasting Company Inc.