Interviews

Published on September 3rd, 2019 | by Percy Crawford

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How “Today’s Athlete”/ “Today’s Business” CEO, Chaz Cervino, Turned $400 Into A Multi-Million-Dollar Corporation

Chaz Cervino’s journey to the top isn’t the standard blueprint, but his hard work and perseverance allowed him to take $400 and turn it into a multi-million-dollar corporation.

Chaz Cervino is the American Dream. The 31-year old New Jersey native literally made his dreams come true. An All-American high school athlete who committed to Syracuse University to play football and basketball. After a coaching change, he transferred to Hofstra, but following an injury which sidelined him for the rest of the season, Chaz returned to no football team. Hofstra terminated its football program. That’s only where Cervino’s story starts. After graduating, Chaz was determined to start his own business. For most, it would take a lot more than a $400 idea that started in his parent’s basement, but for, Cervino, he turned that $400 into a multi-million-dollar corporation. “Today’s Business” and “Today’s Athlete” are Cervino’s babies. A baby that has produced clients such as, future NBA, Hall of Famer, Kevin Garnett, NFL Hall of Famer, Ray Lewis, NBA world-champion, Kendrick Perkins, Super Bowl champions, Chris Hogan and Tony Siragusa and many more! The best may come to those that wait, but those that wait only get the leftovers from those that grind. Chaz Cervino is a grinder and his diligence has paid major dividends.

I recently spoke with, Chaz to discuss his business ventures, his clients as well as his rollercoaster journey that sits him atop of the business world.

How is everything going, CC?

Chaz Cervino: Everything is going great. I can’t complain. Life throws a lot of different things at you and it’s how you react to it. that’s how my father has always taught me, and family taught me. If you go through life and everything is smooth sailing, then maybe you’re not trying hard enough or risking enough. You have to put yourself out there. Life is going to throw a lot on your plate and it’s how you react to it. Always be positive. How about you?

I’m great, man. If I complained, I would be being greedy, my man.

Chaz Cervino: That’s great, man. I love what you’re doing.

I appreciate it. I also love what you’re doing as well because I feel like more former athletes should fulfill management roles and mentoring roles. You were a high school All-American, you committed to the University of Syracuse to play football. Did you have the NFL dream or were you always leaning more towards the business side of things?

Chaz Cervino: The NFL-NBA dream was the first dream. I played both sports. When I accepted the scholarship to go to Syracuse, I had a few catches there, I knew I could play at that level. And then Doug Marrone came in. Greg Robinson had got fired and when Marrone took over, he really started pushing guys out. He freed up about 40-scholarships for that upcoming year. After that, I transferred to Hofstra University. And from 1A to 1AA you don’t have to sit out at all. So, I got a chance to play right away. Unfortunately, I got hurt. I broke my rib, punctured my lung after catching a pass and running down the sideline. I was out the rest of that season and then they ended up canceling the entire football program the following year. I was like, “Wow! What’s the next step here?” You always look towards the future. It’s like, do I transfer again… I lost 17 credits, so a little over a semester worth of credits and then transferring again and being at three schools in one semester? Going into the second semester I was like, “Man, it doesn’t seem like this is in the cards for me.” It didn’t seem practical or something that I wanted to do. Football seemed a little far fetched at that point and I just decided to focus on school and life after sports. I started taking some internships in New York City. From there, 3-months after I graduated, I was like, “I’m starting a company.” A few months after I graduated, the summer of 2011, I started, “Today’s Business.”

You played in All-American games with, Rob Gronkowski and The Pouncey Twins, you were a big deal. Was it an ego blow for you or more of a, move on to the next chapter for you?

Chaz Cervino: I think at that point and going through so many coaching changes… when I was at Syracuse, they had 3-offensive coordinator’s there in 3-semesters. And then another coaching change going to Hofstra and then they cancelled the entire football program, so I started to feel like it just wasn’t in the cards for me. I definitely still had the urge to play, but I was a little bit burnt out just going through the politics of college football. It was unfortunate that I got to that point mentally with football because when I’m running past, DeMarcus Van Dyke who played in the NFL for a number of years and played at the University of Miami during the All-American game. Playing with The Pouncey Twins during that game, Jonathan Dwyer and so many NFL guys who I played alongside or played with and was right there with them if not blowing by them. So, it sucked and honestly, Perc, I couldn’t even watch college football for about 4 or 5-years. It was really mentally draining. That’s what I grew up doing and that’s what I wanted to do. I saw myself on the big stage; playing against Penn State and Notre Dame. It was a tough transition.

Anytime you start a business with the bare-minimum and turn it into a successful corporation, I feel like it is that much more special. You didn’t purchase a struggling business with the thought of bringing it back to prominence, you started this ground up.

Chaz Cervino: I think it does make it that much more special. When it’s something that you built, you created and it’s in your likeness and you’ve modeled it not based off of anybody else or any other company because I had no prior working experience in the digital marketing field, to put it in that perspective and then create it from scratch with your lifelong friends is amazing. October will be 9-years and to be able to do that is super fulfilling. I’m super grateful for everything that has happened in my life and turning this idea and this dream into reality has been something that I cherish on a daily basis just based upon how the company has grown, things we are doing, the clients that we are associated with and the partners that we have created. The athletes that are partners and friends and truthfully, got a chance to utilize the network from a sports background and from life and utilizing that to now, being able to see the fruits of our labor when we are, building a website or doing search engine optimization for our clients. And they see their search results go from 10,000 unique hits to 25,000 unique hits. When you see this on a monthly basis it’s like, “Wow!”

We’re making a major impact on their company and their business. I’m a person that wants to be around people that respects you, that loves you and I want to see others succeed. I’m not one of those guys that likes to surround themselves around people that you like them because they put fear in you. You like them because they build you up and lift you higher. I think that’s something that I’ve continuously done with the culture and the staff here and translated that over into our clients. Putting a plan together and showing them how we are going to execute on the plan. And then in 6-months or a year or two from now they are sitting there and it’s like, “Wow! This is awesome. I’m so glad that I selected, “Today’s Business,” and started working with you guys to help us on our digital marketing.” You get a lot of fulfillment out of that and I feel really grateful to be in the position that I’m in. And that I can also help people as well.

Is “Today’s Athlete,” managerial driven and “Today’s Business,” digital marketing driven? What is the difference in the two companies?

Chaz Cervino: The only real difference is, “Today’s Athlete” is a separate company, so we do have a lawyer that is a partner in, “Today’s Athlete.” On, “Today’s Business” we have a retainer law firm on that side for anything that we need for clients, internal contracts and our employees. The main difference between, “Today’s Athlete,” and “Today’s Business” is that, “Today’s Business” is a digital engine for, “Today’s Athlete” and “Today’s Athlete” helps to get athletes endorsements, promotion and “Today’s Athlete utilizes a lot of, “Today’s Business” clients to do collaborations, partnerships and sponsorships. It gives all different kinds of access to the athlete. “Today’s Athlete” is where athletes specifically come to us to help with their personal brand and help with their business management. Introduce them to different marketing deals and investment opportunities; real estate investments. We invest in different sports leagues like the, PLL [Premier Lacrosse League]. So, there are so many different opportunities that come up on our plate that we want to give access to the athlete. So, that’s the only difference between, “Today’s Business” and “Today’s Athlete.”

“Today’s Athlete” has the ability to use all of, “Today’s Business” services including our creative services for info graphics; animated graphics, logos, branding. As well as website designs and make sure that we are building brands and building companies through, “Today’s Business” engine. That’s when athletes are like, “Hey, I created this business. Can you guys help me with that?” And that’s when, “Today’s Business” comes in.” A lot of these athletes are making $5-$10-million bucks a year, well guess what, they probably own a few businesses, some real estate or a start-up clothing brand. That’s where, “Today’s Business” comes into play because they can help market those companies for the athlete.

I spoke to your brother, Luke, and from the sounds of it, this was an idea that started in a basement with $400 to fund it. How accurate is that and how crazy is it that it has turned into this?

Chaz Cervino: (Laughing)! You know what, it’s accurate to a tee. The $400 that we started with, was to pay for our now business partner for our first website (laughing). It is pretty humbling and funny that we thought we could start a business with $400 and to actually do it and getting to this point where we have been in this business for 9-years and to think about where we started and where we have come over the last 9-years, it is truly remarkable. And in a lot of businesses that’s not even possible, right? If I’m starting an ecommerce brand to sell clothes or a specific product like computers… you need capita to start that. You can’t start it with $400 unless you’re growing hemp trees and using the hemp to turn clothes out. Being a service based business and to utilize what we have learned on our own and to utilize the expertise that we have within digital marketing, I think that’s the only way you can start a business with $400 and turn it into a multi-million business and not raise any capita, Percy… I think that’s another big thing too. We never raised any capita for business, so we continue to utilize our profits to improve our culture and our environment at our headquarters. We then use our profits to create an employee-based team here at, “Today’s Business.” We are not up to about 45 employees. It is truly humbling and something that I don’t take for granted in starting with $400 and now it being a multi-million-dollar company. Something that I am proud of and our partners are proud of is that we have actually been on the, Inc. 5000 list for the second year in a row, so that’s pretty cool and something that we are truly grateful for.

You are in a profession where several athletes have been burned before. When I spoke to, Kendrick Perkins, he said, whether it was publicized or not, every athlete to a degree has been burned financially. That being said, how important is it to gain their trust and create a family type atmosphere to get these athletes to buy into one you’re selling because they have been in vulnerable positions before?

Chaz Cervino: That’s a great point and also a great question because, when you’re building relationships in life and business or whatever you’re doing, if there is a lack of trust and a lack of respect, it just won’t work out. But fortunately, if you can build that trust and loyalty within two parties or three parties, to be able to say, “This guy is going to run through a brick wall for me. No matter what I ask, he’s on top of this shit, he’s consistent on his approach, he’s consistent on his communication and if I need something, I know I can go to this guy.” That trust takes time. It takes years of work and dedication and picking up the phone at all times. These guys have been burned before as you said, so to consistently be there for the people that respect you. It goes both ways from the athlete’s perspective. Everybody wants things for free, when they say, jump, people say, how high. People are kissing their ass 24/7. So, when you get people that actually know what they are doing and have the skills for what you are trying to contract them with, and they are loyal and their approach is genuine, that’s when magic happens. If there is a secret sauce to it, build trust and build loyalty with your partners and your clients and everything else will fall into place.

It obviously isn’t the end all be all, but how much does being a former athlete help you kind of understand the mentality and athletes approach to certain situations?

Chaz Cervino: I think being a former athlete has helped so much from a few different perspectives. The grind that you go through to get to the level of being an All-American or at the collegiate level, to play at that level, there is a certain type of dedication that you have to dedicate to your craft. And no one knows what goes into it unless you’ve done it. Unless you have gotten to that point where you put in the hours to become an expert, I think that’s where the synergy comes into play and you can actually relate to these guys and what they are going through. How people treat you when you’re on top of the world and then you get hurt and no one cares. It’s like, “What happened?” You go through that at all levels. I think understanding the mindset of an athlete and what makes athletes tick and what truly motivates them. What are their fears?

Being an athlete, if you don’t have fears of letting down your teammates by not showing up for a practice or being late or not knowing your assignments on a play. There is a lack of trust and a lack of respect. One of my fears is not wanting to let anyone down and I think that’s the fear of a lot of athletes. They don’t want to let their teammates down. They care so much about the people next to them, the people that they go to battle with so to speak that they are never going to let that happen. That’s something that I worry about on a daily basis. I don’t want to let my teammates down; I don’t want to let my employees down and I don’t want to let my family down. That’s where the athlete’s perspective comes into play.

To go through this journey and have your little brother, Luke Cervino with you, what has that been like for you?

Chaz Cervino: Percy, it’s absolutely priceless. You go through life and you surround yourself with a lot of good people and a lot of bad people. You learn so many things throughout life. One thing that I have learned is, God and family comes first. When I get a chance to spend time with my brother and then work with him, and there are times where it’s definitely stressful. It’s tough because it’s your brother and you have to tell him what’s right and wrong and have him continue to want to grow. To teach him to be a better businessperson, to be a better friend and entrepreneur; even though he’s working at, ‘Today’s Business” as an employee, you want to continue to build that entrepreneurial mindset under our tutelage at, “Today’s Business” and “Today’s Athlete.” I think that’s where I consider it priceless because I get a chance to build my brother into someone that I respect and trust to be able to do business with. If I can help him throughout life and try to teach him some things, teach him what our parents taught us, to be good people and genuine people, care for people and work your ass off for what you want, if I can continue that, I feel like I’m doing my part in helping him in his life. It’s awesome to be around family. Sometimes it’s tough and not easy, but ultimately when you’re around people that love you and care about you, you will find a way to make it work.

He is doing an amazing job with; Kendrick Perkins and he’s definitely going to flourish in this business. Luke is, my guy. Before I conclude this interview, you have a great roster of legends from, Kevin Garnett, Ray Lewis and Kendrick Perkins. That’s definitely a blessing.

Chaz Cervino: Absolutely! Some of the clients that I have been able to work with and interact with and do business with on a daily and weekly basis is extraordinary. When I started this company if I had the ability to sit down and say, “Ray Lewis and Kevin Garnett are my clients,” I would’ve said that you’re lying. So, to be in this position now in 2019 headed into 2020 and have the type of clients and partnerships that we have been able to create and garner over the past 9-years is truly special and I definitely don’t take that for granted. I cherish my time here at, “Today’s Business” working with these clients and incredible individuals who you could learn so much from. They are at the top of their game; Hall of Fame level guys. What, Ray Lewis had to do and things he overcame to become one of the greatest linebackers of all-time is incredible. The spirituality that these guys bring and the mindset and meditation techniques… you name it. You can learn so much from so many people and I’m truly blessed to be surrounded with these individuals and to have my name associated with them is frankly just unbelievable.

I won’t let you be humble on this one, we are name dropping. You work with a lot more than, Lewis, Garnett and Perkins. Let us hear about it, my man.

Chaz Cervino: (Laughing). Who do we got, we work with, “The Jet,” Jason Terry, Chris Hogan has been a staple of ours for a number of years from the athlete side. Roger Mason Jr. has been awesome. He is the President of the Player’s Association. He has a new venture coming out called, “Vaunt.” Roger is a class act. Hassan Whiteside, he just got traded to the Portland Trailblazers. We love working with him and bringing value to his brand. Damon Harrison “Snacks.” Unbelievable guy. You love just being around that guy. He is so funny. Such a great person. He just got another one-year deal with the Detroit Lions. He got a big contract. Shout out to my boy, “Snacks.” Neville Hewitt, we’ve worked with him in the past. He’s with the Jets in a starting role now. Neville is awesome. One of my favorite people is, Justin Pugh. You don’t get better than that individual. He is one who I consider one of my best friends. He is one of the closest people to me just based off of his personality. He is so outgoing and so personable. He’s just got the biggest heart. Me and him having the Syracuse connection. I didn’t get a chance to play with him. He came in the year after, but we had all of our friends at Syracuse together and then we reconnected years and years ago and then he became a client. Shout out to, Justin Pugh and the Arizona Cardinals and hoping they have a big year. I don’t want to forget anybody. We try to sign some good people, so hopefully we can continue with this streak. Tony Siragusa. My boy, “Goose.” He is funny, Perc. I gotta get him on with you. He has a great heart. I love spending time with him and his family.

That’s the other awesome thing about working with these athletes and everyone else, you get a chance to get to know who they are based upon their wives and their kids. It truly is a family approach and creating these relationships that I will have for the rest of my life is unbelievable and I can’t say that enough because I’m blessed. I have great parents, great grandparents and they raised me to be the person that I am today, and I want to continue to make them proud.

 

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