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by ARLnow.com Sponsor April 12, 2018 at 11:45 am 0


Title insurance is boring, but Allied Title & Escrow is here to decode the jargon and make it (somewhat) more interesting. This biweekly column will explore the mundane (but very necessary!) world of title insurance while sharing interesting stories of two friends’ entrepreneurial careers. 

This week we discuss how Dressing up for Halloween as Ace and Gary led to a partnership with Saturday Night Live, Disney and ABC… oh and the title tip of the week!

Yes we will give you some title tips this week, and I know last week’s horror story version of the title and obstacle-racing industry wasn’t the most motivating, but today we are going to provide you with a slightly ridiculous story of how you never know how choices you make might lead to something much bigger than you ever dreamed.

Approximately 10 years ago, my friend and business partner (Steve Stoloff) and I (Latane) were looking to win a costume contest on Halloween and we always wondered why no one sold Ace and Gary costumes from Saturday Night Live.

If you don’t remember Ace and Gary, click here to see a video from many years ago. Outrageous, ridiculous… everything you want out of a Halloween costume!

We decided to go to Walmart and buy long johns, underwear and food coloring. 3 hours later we had what we thought was a costume, that somewhat resembled the characters on the show.

We went out that night, got offered $250 on the spot by SNL fans and won two Halloween costume contests for $3,000 total. A nice little evening! We decided that maybe we were on to something and we would try to sell them online the following year.

11 months later we remembered our previous year’s success and decided to pop up an Ebay store with pics of us wearing our homemade costumes from the year before. I think we both hoped we could generate some grocery and beer money for the month of October… maybe November.

We launched a small pay per click campaign with keywords similar to “ridiculous costumes” and “Ace and Gary SNL” and what happened next was a bit shocking. Within an hour of the pay per click campaign, we received an order.

We were charging $150 for the set so we thought it would be too expensive for people. Apparently it wasn’t because within a week we had sold over 300 costumes.

Now we were faced with our biggest issue, how the heck are we going to make this many. After buying out all the long johns and underwear in town at Walmart and Target, we made costumes around the clock for a week and we actually fulfilled all the orders.

We had no idea we would sell this many and we knew we couldn’t keep making these costumes unless we actually had a partnership with SNL. I sent in a cold email to SNL about the possibility of working together on Ace and Gary costumes. Shockingly Broadway Video (Lorne Michaels’ company who handles licensing for SNL) responded. I then had a friend of a friend in the licensing business join the call since I had no idea what licensing even meant to help me negotiate a deal.

The experienced licensing rep helped us secure a deal and the next year we manufactured high quality Ace and Gary costumes, which were one of the best sellers nationwide.

It went so well that we sold the company we created, Ridiculous Costumes, to a much larger Halloween company. Still today the costumes are sold online and here is a picture of our friends who we made wear the costumes for our first photo shoot. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor March 29, 2018 at 11:45 am 0


Title insurance is boring, but Allied Title & Escrow is here to decode the jargon and make it (somewhat) more interesting. This biweekly column will explore the mundane (but very necessary!) world of title insurance while sharing interesting stories of two friends’ entrepreneurial careers. 

People ask me (Latane) all the time how and why I ended up in the title industry after being in the obstacle racing industry. The answer: It really makes no sense!

With that said, one thing I did consider as I got older and had a couple of kids to support was whether it was smart for me to be in an industry (eg., Obstacle Races) which was so boom or bust. Title insurance seemed a bit less risky than obstacle racing but today we will explore the horror stories of owning a business in each industry.

In our title tip of the week, we will also explore a horror story of a consumer who didn’t buy title insurance.

When you take an obstacle race to a new city, you are committed to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for that weekend whether people sign up or not. Sometimes though you are lucky enough to get thousands to sign up for your race but that doesn’t mean you are in the clear. One such incident occurred in October of 2013 when we took the Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge (ROC Race) to New York City. We were very excited as we had over 25,000 participants signed up which was our most successful race to date.

What we didn’t expect was that this one weekend would be the only time in over 50 races that we were setting up the course on federal land. That week we learned that federal government would shut down for the first time in 17 years. As a result of the shutdown, federal employees would not be working and thus the property would be chained up and no one would be allowed on the land.

Although we had a no refund policy, we tried to do the right thing by offering refunds but first we informed everyone we would be rescheduling the event for two weeks later at a different location. We hired a communications/PR expert when making the decision to offer refunds who estimated only 8% of participants would take us up on the refunds. Unfortunately 55% took us up on that offer and an entire year of profits went away in a blink of an eye.

We had tried to plan for all types of situations, but that was one we never considered. We actually came up with a new internal saying after the event: NEVER EASY!

Owning a title company has its own set of risks. Although we at Allied Title & Escrow are fortunate to have top of the line security systems and protocols in place and have never had a security issue, other title companies have been hacked.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor March 15, 2018 at 11:45 am 0


Title insurance is boring, but Allied Title & Escrow is here to decode the jargon and make it (somewhat) more interesting. This biweekly column will explore the mundane (but very necessary!) world of title insurance while sharing interesting stories of two friends’ entrepreneurial careers. 

Introducing BORING TITLE! To us it seems like the right name of our ongoing column because frankly is there anything more boring than title insurance? Does anyone even know what it is?

Our column is written by Latane Meade and Matt Paulson. Owners of Allied Title & Escrow, they started off as childhood friends, both went to JMU and then went different directions after attending college. One went to California, the other stayed in Arlington. One launched a business throwing parties, obstacle races and making Saturday Night Live costumes and the other went to law school and then started his own law firm. Fifteen years later, they’ve now teamed up to run a title company. Makes sense… well not really.

In our ongoing bi-weekly column we are going to try to take on one of life’s biggest challenges: making title insurance interesting.

We hope you check in every other week. The following are some topics we are going to cover in the coming months.

  • Why would someone go from running companies in the sports and entertainment industry (eg., adult sports leagues, obstacle racing, 3,000 person parties) to title insurance?
  • How is owning a 5K race series different and the same as owning a law firm and a title company?
  • Horror stories: What’s the most ridiculous thing that has happened with each business?
  • How dressing up as a Saturday Night Live character (Ace and Gary) led to a partnership with Disney and ABC.
  • What did two childhood friends see in the industry to make them think there was a big opportunity and a better way to serve agents, builders, lenders and home buyers?
  • Why do I need title insurance? We will provide some nightmare scenarios of homeowners who didn’t get title insurance and the hundreds of thousands of dollars they had to come out of pocket as a result.
  • The biggest struggles we’ve encountered growing businesses.
  • Aren’t all title insurance companies the same? Why does it matter who you choose?
  • What are the FAQs that homebuyers should know related to title insurance?
  • What is the difference between the standard and enhanced title insurance policy? What are the scenarios where I should get one or the other?
  • What are Matt and Lat wearing to Halloween this year?

Have any questions or comments? Email us directly at [email protected].

Oh, and one quick note: don’t risk not getting title insurance for your own home! In the coming weeks we’ll explain why going without it can cost unsuspecting homebuyers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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