Creating Better Days produces CBD products, even canine ones!

Creating Better Days Owner Does The Come Up

Don’t let sleeping dogs lie; let them get high!

creating better days

Creating Better Days, a Fort Myers-based company that specializes in CBD gummies, recently dropped 75 pounds of pet edibles for the dogs at a Southwest Florida human society in a philanthropic mission to soothe animals’ separation anxiety and other issues.

Creating Better Days CBD

Apparently, the pet CBD market is big business. You’ll learn why in our interview with Creating Better Days Owner Kai Pfretzschner in Content with Teeth’s The Come Up video podcast of notable Southwest Florida entrepreneurs.

 

Creating Better Days in Southwest Florida

CBD Kingpin

Creating Better Days industrial hemp CBD

You’ll meet the Creating Better Days leader and learn how the German-born Kai went from studying to be a Mercedes mechanic to running the fifth largest producer of gummy edibles in the United States and manufacturer of 350k gummies a day right here in Fort Myers.

Creating Better Podcasts Highlights

Cretting Better Day CBD pet market

Here are the highlights of The Come Up Episode 6:

No Scrappy, You Won’t Get High from Drinking 33 Bottles of CBD: Kai explains how Creating Better Days CBD rich hemp oil is non-psychoactive and won’t make you an extra in a Hollywood reboot of Cheech and Chong.

Creating Better Days CBD

What Is Cannabidiol: Kai explains what creates a healthy endocannabinoid system, how CBD made from mature industrial hemp can safely replace some prescription medications and fight a serious medical condition while serving as naturally occurring antioxidants . Kai is not a doctor offering medical advice, but he drops serious CBD knowledge!

CBD products

Nano amplified CBD: Kai explains what this type of CBD product is and why it might be helpful for people who don’t absorb CBD products well.

Scrappy’s Parole Officer Would Like a Word: The Come Up host Scrappy Jackson jokes if ingesting CBD products will trigger a call from his P.O. Watch the episode to learn Kai’s response. It will totally surprise you!

Creating Better Days won't trigger your parole officer

Learn to delegate: Creating Better Days Chief Development Officer Kai gives advice to budding entrepreneurs who think they have to do it all. Watch the episode to learn how to make your organization more productive by empowering the people around you.

Creating Better Days management philosophy

About Kai Pfretzschner & Content with Teeth

For UnBoring Content like The Come Up, contact Content with Teeth HERE. Find out more about Kai Pfretzschner’s Creating Better Days CBD products HERE.

The Come Up Episode 6 Video Transcript

Scrappy Jackson:

What up? What up? What up? What up? What up? Welcome to The Come Up, a podcast featuring Southwest Florida’s ambitious, innovating, forward thinking entrepreneurs. I’m Scrappy, and we’re brought to you by Content with Teeth. They’re an amazing content marketing agency for real, right here in Southwest Florida. 20 years experience. They do it big, real big, just like this fat head behind me. Content with Teeth. Check them out. Today’s guest is fascinating to me. Kai Pfretzschner, owner of Creating Better Days, a CBD manufacturer in Fort Myers. What’s going on Kai?

Kai Pfretzschner:

Not too much. How are you doing?

Scrappy Jackson:

Good. Real good. When we think of CBD, I’m like, well, it’s kind of cool, but I’m not really sure what it is. Does it give me a buzz? Does it help me with pain? Does it relieve anxiety? There’s still a little confusion about it. Can you break it down for us?

Kai Pfretzschner:

Right. So CBD is one of 140 cannabinoids that occur in a cannabis plant and it’s non-psychoactive. So it does not get you high, but it helps with certain ailments. So it calms you down and relieves anxiety. It’s an anti-inflammatory, so it helps with recovery after certain sports injuries and all kind of stuff.

Scrappy Jackson:

Very nice. Very nice. I understand that THC is there a little bit, like 3%. So can I drink 33 bottles and get high like weed?

Kai Pfretzschner:

Well, full spectrum CBD by law is allowed to have 0.3% THC. So some products, if you take a little bit more, you can definitely feel it. We have a line of gummies that’s called Spectrum Plus. They do have about 10 milligrams of THC, legally, in a gummy. So you definitely feel it.

Scrappy Jackson:

I’ve never taken CBD before. What’s the sensation like?

Kai Pfretzschner:

It’s more like a calming feeling. It kind of takes the edge off a little bit. So if you worry too much, it calms you down a little bit. But like I said, you don’t really get a head high or anything.

Scrappy Jackson:

And the government, they seem to be supportive of it. But not to the point where they’re like… They’re still saying May, probably. Well, sometimes, potential… How come the government hasn’t put the rubber stamp on this?

Kai Pfretzschner:

Yeah, it just seems like the FDA, as every government agency, is moving fairly slow. So we’ve been doing this for eight years now. So ever since we started in this business… And the beginning was a total gray area. Then legislation came down a little bit through the FDA. The FDA didn’t want to deal with it. And especially in Florida, so they gave the Department of Agriculture the authority to regulate us. So businesses like mine are now regulated by the Department of Agriculture for labeling, product standards, manufacturing practices, and all that good stuff.

Scrappy Jackson:

I’ve been on your website. I know you tried to educate your customers there, but on a daily basis, how do you sensitize your customers to what you have, this great product that you have?

Kai Pfretzschner:

Well, I mean, the customer educates themselves usually through online searches. So people gotten very knowledgeable with CBD. We do have a quiz on our website and kind of ask a couple of questions and then suggest you a product. But grand scheme of things, people gotten pretty knowledgeable about CBD. And now there’s many other cannabinoids out there, Delta-8, D9, all kind of different ones. CBN for more calming, relaxing, and nighttime relief. So there’s a bunch of things to choose from.

Scrappy Jackson:

My brother takes it, but he says his gastrointestinal tract doesn’t absorb it fast enough. Is that why nano is available?

Kai Pfretzschner:

That’s why nano is available. It just downsizes the molecule size a little bit. Usually you kind of need a medium chain triglyceride oil, a fatty acid, with any cannabinoid. So your stomach can absorb it faster. If you nanofy, you break down the size, the absorption rate goes up, and you feel the effects a little bit faster.

Scrappy Jackson:

Kai, you have anti-depressants and also anti-psychotics in your CBD. That’s pretty cool. I mean, that’s really awesome. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?

Kai Pfretzschner:

I’m not sure about anti-depressant and anti-psychotic. There is a couple of things that we offer. So there’s an entourage effect between CBD, CBN, and melatonin. So we sometimes use an over the counter, like melatonin, a sleep aid, and couple it together with CBD and CBN, to give you a better effect. So there’s some people that can’t sleep sort of take melatonin. They get used to melatonin. Well, it turns out if you throw together a CBD and melatonin in one edible… in a gummy, for example, it really helps.

Scrappy Jackson:

Sleep, anxiety, pain. You’re doing really good stuff here, but the public really is still not sensitized to completely. So what will you say to the public, to all Southwest Florida, when it comes to buy my CBDs, damn it?

Kai Pfretzschner:

All I can tell them, give it a try. There’s really no side effects to CBD. Like I said, not psychoactive. So don’t be afraid that you are not going to be able to drive a car. The label state, if you use something new in your diet, like you add something like CBD, ask you physician first, “Hey, is this good for me? Hey, I’m taking X, Y, Z prescriptions. Is that going to affect it?” So you should always ask you physician. That’s something. But other than that, give it a try. Start with a low dosage. A lot of people just go way too high in the beginning and then… Start low.

Scrappy Jackson:

My parole officer’s always asking me, “Scrappy, you got to take a test.” Will I pass a test if I take CBD?

Kai Pfretzschner:

If you do an isolated CBD, CBD isolate meaning it’s just CBD, there’s Delta-9 THC in it, then you are not going to have any issues with the drug test. If you use a full spectrum product, there’s trace amounts of THC in it, then that might show up. So you got to be careful which product you choose. We got several different ones, so.

Scrappy Jackson:

I’m just kidding about the parole thing.

Kai Pfretzschner:

Hey man, I don’t know. Judgment-free zone.

Scrappy Jackson:

You mentioned gummies. What other products do you have?

Kai Pfretzschner:

Right now, our main product is gummies. So we produce about 350,000 gummies a day.

Scrappy Jackson:

Wow.

Kai Pfretzschner:

And yeah, that’s our main business right now, but we offer anything from oils to topicals. We got pet-related products, pet treats. There’s a lot of products to choose from. But we dialed it down a little bit since gummies is now our main road.

Scrappy Jackson:

Okay. Well, I’m curious about the gummies, but pets? You’re giving this stuff to pets?

Kai Pfretzschner:

Yeah. The pet CBD market has been highly successful maybe for the last five years. So obviously, pets, dogs, cats deal with things like separation anxiety. They get nervous during storm and CBD helps calm them down. So we have several dog treats and tinctures for cats and docs available too.

Scrappy Jackson:

I noticed on your website, you have Better Days, Better Nights, Better Defense, Better Delights, and you have Better Pets. But you need Better Babies, man. Babies on an airplane. They’re getting a little unruly, just give them a gummy and they’ll sleep for hours.

Kai Pfretzschner:

Yeah. This 18 years and older is a thing in Florida, so.

Scrappy Jackson:

So 350,000 gummies a day. That’s amazing, man. You’re right here in Fort Myers. Where does that put you industry wise, nationwide, globally?

Kai Pfretzschner:

In the US, right now, we’re one of the fifth largest producers of gummy edibles in the US. So yeah, we’re up there. We’re pretty busy.

Scrappy Jackson:

One of the things that’s really, really cool about you guys is the fact that you do nonprofit work. You have your quarterly donations, is it? Quarterly… What is it called?

Kai Pfretzschner:

Yeah, we choose a charity every quarter and we help them either out with donations or we help them funding-wise or we advertise for them. We do cross collaborations with all kind of charities that in our area specifically, and that target a couple things that we feel that we can help and contribute a little bit to give back.

Scrappy Jackson:

Yeah. I noticed you’re helping out the veterans, breast cancer, humane society, man. I commend you on that. That’s really awesome.

Kai Pfretzschner:

Thank you. Thank you. I mean, giving back is one of the things that I think are important I mean a business is designed to make money, but giving back is important, especially to things that you feel are close to your… you know?

Scrappy Jackson:

Absolutely. Absolutely. And you dropped off, what, 75 pounds of gummies to the dogs at the Ford Myers Humane Society. They must have been sleeping for days.

Kai Pfretzschner:

No. No, no. We helped them out with treats. We donated bulk treats. We had our team. We currently have about 85 people working for us. So they made dog toys. So we helped them out with adoption drives, treats, we built toys for them. So everybody chips in their time a little bit.

Scrappy Jackson:

You mentioned you’ve been in business for eight years, but you’ve really skyrocketed under your leadership. How have you evolved so quickly?

Kai Pfretzschner:

Oh, good question. I mean, it’s a combination. So you are in a business. You’re trying to figure out what drives your business a little bit quicker. You hone in, there’s a thing called the power law. 20% of anything you do usually gives you about 80% of your return. So in our case, we honed into the gummies. So two and a half years ago, we decided to manufacture our own gummies. Not a lot of people did. It took about six months to get the machinery up and going, to get the R&D work together, get all the licenses together. And producing our own gummy edibles really made a difference. So that’s propelled our business.

Scrappy Jackson:

You have a fascinating background. You’re from Germany and you were studying Mercedes-Benz. You were going to be a mechanic for Mercedes-Benz. So in coming over here, you’re somewhat of a scientist, aren’t you? You’re kind of like an engineer that tinkers a lot, right?

Kai Pfretzschner:

Well yeah, that’s how I started. I was an engineer for Mercedes and, yeah. Then I moved here about 20 years ago, went through a couple different businesses, anything from construction, real estate, and then ended up in the cannabis industry. And in the beginning it was all self taught. Right? So a lot of reading. How do I come up with a formula for a gummy? What’s picked and what’s glucose and what’s everything that’s in there, right? So in the beginning it was all that. Now, we have chemists employed that check all their formulas. I’m the chief development officer so I’ll come up with new ideas, new gummies. And then I go to them and say, “Here, this is my idea. Can we do it or not?” And then we work together on the formulation and SOPs and all that good stuff.

Scrappy Jackson:

As entrepreneur, we highlight entrepreneurs here locally in Southwest Florida, courtesy of Content with Teeth. I think it’s fascinating that you have two incredible skills. You’re not just a scientist/engineer, but you’re also a driver. You really drive a business. You’re very ambitious. How do you go about complimenting your team so that all the parts around you work properly?

Kai Pfretzschner:

Well, that was actually one of the things that I see a lot when entrepreneurs start their business. They underestimate how important it is to have a good team, right? So when you start a business, you think this was my idea, I can do it better, and I also do it by myself because nobody else can do this, but myself. Not true. Without a team, you can’t grow a business. So our team is amazing. They do a lot of work with us. We do a lot of stuff for them. Every month, we do a employee appreciation dinner. We take them out to dinner and we cater stuff. We do fun activities at least once a month. And it’s important that everybody’s comfortable. It doesn’t have to be all work, right? So it’s good to socialize and make everybody feel they belong to that company.

Scrappy Jackson:

You create a culture.

Kai Pfretzschner:

You have to.

Scrappy Jackson:

That’s awesome. That’s awesome. From a business perspective, you mentioned that you’re fifth in the United States with the gummy business. What about competition otherwise? What are you doing to stave them off and differentiate yourself moving forward?

Kai Pfretzschner:

Well, a company our size is obviously all for regulation. In our industry, it’s always been like that, that a lot of people started it out of their garage and their homes and stuff. We adhere to every regulation there is. We got [inaudible 00:13:00], which is the agricultural in the state, in Florida right now, working close together with us. So we adhere to label guidelines. We do third party testing. So we spend large amounts of money every month to make sure that all of our product that’s produced and goes out is tested and approved before it hits the market. Right? So there’s a lot that goes into it. You have to do it right, otherwise you can’t sustain a business.

Scrappy Jackson:

Sure, sure. I find your company to be very creative as well, from the packaging to the website. What goes into that?

Kai Pfretzschner:

Yeah. We have a team of designers. So they’re the creative people. It’s definitely not me. Yeah. We design logos. We have a whole marketing team. So they do photo shoots. They plan out all the promotions, all the holidays they’re coming up three to six months ahead. They take pictures, they do videos for online, social media, ads, all kinds of stuff, so.

Scrappy Jackson:

So when you were kicking in Germany as a teenager, did you ever think in your wildest dreams you’d be selling gummies in Southwest Florida for a living?

Kai Pfretzschner:

Definitely not, really. I always was interested in the cannabis industry, like every 16-year-old is, I guess. But to make a business out of it was definitely something amazing. And yeah, it’s going great. I like it.

Scrappy Jackson:

Okay. Well, I want you to give a shout out to three groups. First of all, I want you to talk to the people that are potential consumers. What’s your pitch to them?

Kai Pfretzschner:

My pitch would be that the cannabis plant can be a perfect substitute for any kind of pharmaceuticals. You don’t have to take Vicodin and painkillers. There is a natural alternative with less to non side effects. So for one, you got a lot of customers that tell us… Oh, feedback is crazy. Older ladies and gentlemen come to us like, “Wow. I started taking CBD and Delta-8, Delta-9 THC instead of my painkillers. I feel much better.” So in my opinion, that’s one of the biggest drivers. Veterans, we sponsor them because of PTSD, right? So CBD, Delta-8 THC, Delta-9 THC helps a lot to calm them down and take the edge of a little bit. So there’s a lot of pros.

Scrappy Jackson:

Oxycodine, fentanyl. Are people actually getting off of it because of CBD?

Kai Pfretzschner:

I can’t say for sure, but I sure hope they would substitute a little bit and get off all the hard stuff.

Scrappy Jackson:

Okay. Well, another group I want you to talk to are budding entrepreneurs right here in Southwest Florida. I mean, you’re doing it. You’re doing it really big. What do you suggest for them? As far as, let’s say they’re getting out of FGCU next week, what do you tell them?

Kai Pfretzschner:

Well, if they have the entrepreneurial spirit, they most likely have an idea, right? So they think X, Y, Z, I’m interested in this. Maybe I want to start a business. You got to do your research first. What’s your competition look like? In my opinion, it helps to find a niche. Little bit something that’s right in the middle that not everybody’s doing. If you get out of FGCU and say, “Hey, I want come out with an energy drink,” well, good luck. Your competition is going to be high. They’re probably going to squish you like a bug, as they say, right?

Scrappy Jackson:

Right.

Kai Pfretzschner:

Then do your homework, right? Make sure you’re solid. Get legal representation. You need to have a legal backup. And then it’s going to be much more work than you ever thought it would be. If you don’t put in your time… Extraordinary access comes through extreme sacrifices. So you got to sacrifice your time.

Scrappy Jackson:

Yeah, definitely.

Kai Pfretzschner:

Don’t be in it for the money. Okay? The money will come later on, but hard work and just don’t give up.

Scrappy Jackson:

And Kai, what kind of advice would you give yourself when you were 12 years old?

Kai Pfretzschner:

Nothing. Everything is great. Just do exactly what you’re doing. It’s all going to be great.

Scrappy Jackson:

Really?

Kai Pfretzschner:

I wouldn’t do anything. So I could have moved a little bit earlier. Okay? So I waited until I was 20, 21 years old before I moved over here. Other than that, the only thing that I could have learned a little bit faster is delegating. We talked about it earlier, the mindset that only you can do it the right way. You need a good team of people that you can trust. You got to learn how to delegate stuff to them. That way you can get 10 times the workload done with three people in a day that would’ve taken yourself two weeks and then the customer’s already gone. So yeah.

Scrappy Jackson:

So what’s next for you, man?

Kai Pfretzschner:

Well, we’re trying to expand in a couple of different states. We’re trying to get into the regulated THC market in Michigan and a couple other projects that we have going on. So traveling a lot back and forward, just trying to make things happen.

Scrappy Jackson:

I’m kind of curious, if there’s recreational states where they allow marijuana, no problem, no medical card, can you actually up your CBD percentage, just for those states?

Kai Pfretzschner:

They’re doing it. If you blend CBD and THC together, it takes the potency of the THC away a little bit. So there’s certain products that are doing it. But usually in those states, it’s state regulated manufacturers. So you have to have a state license to operate in that state.

Scrappy Jackson:

Okay. Finally, Kai, in your success, you’ve afforded yourself the opportunity to travel. You’ve traveled extensively. And what lessons have you learned?

Kai Pfretzschner:

So traveling, I love to travel because I love to experience different cultures, different food. In my opinion, if you stay in one spot for too long, you’re in a little bubble, in a little box, right? And your mind is not as broad as it should be. So traveling, I experience other people how they do things. And then I realize that the way I’m doing it is probably not the only right way. That there’s more than one right way of doing it.

Scrappy Jackson:

True.

Kai Pfretzschner:

Yeah. I’ve been to Asia a lot, China, to our manufacturers for machinery over there. We’ve been several, four or five times to Shanghai. Those are all great people. Not so lucky right now, but those are awesome people. They hustle hard. Their work mentality is something I admire. They never give up. And, yeah.

Scrappy Jackson:

There’s… I’m sorry. There’s cannaboid oil. Okay? CBD. And Creating Better Days, I finally figured it out, man, CBD.

Kai Pfretzschner:

Ah, CBD. Create Better Days. There you go.

Scrappy Jackson:

My man, Kai Pfretzschner. Creating Better Days, a CBD manufacturer right here in Southwest Florida, doing it really big, courtesy of Content with Teeth. We’re doing this podcast. Content with Teeth, a marketing agency, doing incredible content. I’m Scrappy. Kai, peace out.

Kai Pfretzschner:

Thank you so much.

Brad Cozza, Owner of a Florida investment group, is guest on the Episode 4 of The Come Up sponsored by Content with Teeth

Florida Investment Group Does The Come Up

In the latest episode of The Come Up, meet the guy every entrepreneur dreams of becoming.

He is owner of a thriving Florida investment group which means recently he has been printing cash …

He is one of Gulfshore Business’ 40 under 40

He is a former model …

Meet Brad Cozza.

Things weren’t always so rosy. In his earlier days, he took stock of his life after couch surfing in the Big Apple.

Now he is the founder of Cozza Investment Group which The Wall Street Journal named #10 in the country for volume produced.

The Come Up Episode 4 Highlights

The Come Up is a short video podcast produced by Content with Teeth that documents the up-and-coming entrepreneurial scene in Southwest Florida.

In Episode 4, Everyone Loves Brad Cozza.

Jumping between different companies and industries, from real estate to restaurants, you definitely want to follow this guy’s career arc.

Back in his school days: Brad was a hungry hunter for investment opportunities at FGCU when it was a lonely outpost with more snakes than students.

Cozza’s advice to entrepreneurs: Take risks, but calculated ones only. Learn how to adapt and NOT die.

Real estate success: learn how to work the genie to up your odds of being in the right place at the right time.

Watch the episode and learn the connection between Cozza and Pitbull and the ultimate advice on unlocking a real estate gamechanger.

About Brad Cozza and Content with Teeth

For UnBoring Content like The Come Up, contact Content with Teeth HERE. Find Cozza Investment Firm located in Fort Myers HERE.

The Come Up Episode 4 Transcript

Scrappy Jackson: What’s up? What’s up? What’s up? I’m Scrap Jackson, and this is The Come Up, a video podcast celebrating Southwest Florida’s most interesting entrepreneurs. We’re brought to you by Content with Teeth, a creative content marketing agency right here in Southwest Florida. They do all kinds of good stuff: copywriting, video production, HubSpot services, and based on this big ass Fathead logo behind me, you can tell they do it big, real big.

Scrappy Jackson: Our guest today is Brad Cozza, an FGCU grad who’s turned his business degree into a Southwest Florida real estate and entertainment empire. He’s done it with moxie, risk-taking vision, passion. It’s awesome to have you here, Brad. We really appreciate it.

Brad Cozza: What’s up, Scrap? Thanks for having me. How you been?

Scrappy Jackson: Good. Really good. Really good. Southwest Florida is alive with real estate entertainment. You’re on the cusp. But I’m thinking back in the day, when you were in West Warwick, Rhode Island, you’re playing shortstop for your little league team, in your wildest dreams did you think you’d be here today?

Brad Cozza: Well, everybody in their wildest dreams in West Warwick, Rhode Island in little league thought that they were all going to play for the Boston Red Sox, so that was, I guess, my dream back then. But no, I’m very blessed to have made that move to Southwest Florida, because it was just a golden opportunity and moved at the right place at the right time, and I was very happy to go south.

Scrappy Jackson: And then you went to FGCU. Tell us about your experience there with Business Administration.

Brad Cozza: I did. So I was one of the second, I think it was the second graduating class at FGCU. So back then, you would take a ride to your dorm room down Ben Hill Griffin. And I felt like Jack Hanna, basically looking for boar, for reptiles, for snakes. It was just before there was any growth pattern, that now you take a look to see Gulf Coast Town Center, you take a look at Miramar, it’s a completely different environment where it was 15 years ago.

Scrappy Jackson: If you only had one acre of Miramar land back, then you’d be pretty much set. Right?

Brad Cozza: I would have bought something, I just didn’t have any money.

Scrappy Jackson: So, you get involved in modeling. You go to Miami. Perry Ellis, Levi’s, Tommy Hilfiger, you’re doing really big for the Miami modeling scene, but I read somewhere where you were stuck on a couch and you wanted more out of life?

Brad Cozza: So, the modeling industry was for the time being. It was one of those situations where you would go to the coolest parties, and I had a vast appreciation for fashion, but it’s one of those industries where you don’t make any money.

Scrappy Jackson: Yeah.

Brad Cozza: And I went to college and wanted to, obviously, use my college education. And I found myself one morning in Queens, basically living on a couch. I was like, “Okay. This was fun, now it’s time to actually do some work.”

Scrappy Jackson: But in many respects, it was the groundwork for your perspective today, because your real estate vision involves somewhat of a metropolitan, cosmopolitan feel. Right?

Brad Cozza: Sure, absolutely. So, definitely, the real estate investment arena in Southwest Florida has been what I actually focused on when I first got my license. When I was a licensed agent, typically you get into real estate and you do cookie-cutter showings and working with buyers. I knew right off the bat that I had a passion for ROI investment, development, and was in the right place at the right time during the market boom of 2005. And we started marketing to major metropolitan centers. We would run ads in the San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, New York Post. And it went from five deals to 10 deals, and in 2006, our company was ranked number 10 in the nation by the Wall Street Journal for volume produced nationwide. So it was a great accolade and definitely found my sweet spot with working with investor.

Scrappy Jackson: Foreclosures, pre-construction, flips, sales, what do you like the best? What’s the most exciting to you?

Brad Cozza: Depends on what the market is.

Scrappy Jackson: Really, because you’re a businessman. Right?

Brad Cozza: So, right now you read the market and there’s a housing scarcity. So what makes this market different from ’05, ’06 is back then it was just anybody could get a construction loan, state-to-state programs, everybody was irresponsible. It was investors buying from investors. It was all hyper appreciation, false appreciation.

Brad Cozza: In this market, the game changer was COVID. 2020, our governor, you never actually bring up politics in business, but you have to state the obvious. When our governor DeSantis basically said, “Hey, listen. Florida’s open for business,” it just really spiked our local economy, spiked the economy of Florida. And from 2020 to 2021, it was the largest economic boom that Florida has ever seen.

Brad Cozza: Now you’re seeing the drip, drip, residential effect, where there’s a huge demand for housing, because people are being relocated here from their northernly blue states. And you’re starting to see for the first time, you’re seeing New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, you’re seeing New England, you’re seeing Washington, you’re seeing California. So it’s good to see that we’re now increasing the people that basically are actually coming to this area, in addition to the Midwesterners that historically come to South of Florida.

Scrappy Jackson: From a complexion standpoint, where do you see the demographic texture going here in Southwest Florida?

Brad Cozza: Major metropolitan, which is very diverse, and you’re going to see, which we love, we love a melting pot. We love different concepts. And especially to see that this market is very educated and metropolitan-oriented, it’s completely different where it was five years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago. This market is looking and feeling more and more of something you would see in the East Coast.

Scrappy Jackson: And you’re on the cusp, that’s for sure. Gulf Shore Magazine’s 40 under 40. And I was doing my homework on you, Brad, and I came up with this idea. Now tell me if I’m wrong. Modeling was an indoctrination, real estate, a foundation, food and entertainment, an avocation.

Brad Cozza: I think I might use that. That’s IG-worthy.

Scrappy Jackson: Yeah, man, because your avocation-

Brad Cozza: Yeah. Listen, hospitality has always been a passion mine, and I consider it a fun environment to be around. And I really think that Southwest Florida is ready for some major metropolitan ideas and some concepts that more and more we’re seeing that. We’re getting away from what historically would actually work in Southwest Florida five, 10 years ago, because it is so diverse and we are seeing such migration to this location, to Southwest Florida. So it’s getting that metropolitan vibe and we love it.

Scrappy Jackson: Yeah. You’re not satisfied with just real estate. Colleoni’s is a wonderful Italian restaurant. Tell us about that.

Brad Cozza: Yeah. So I was always one of their biggest patrons. I used to go there all the time. And COVID happened, and they have some family back in Milan, so they said, “Hey, Brad, would you be interested in promoting and selling our business?” So I said, “Well, how much do you want?” And we actually came to terms, and I said, “I’d like to take over the tradition itself.” So we hired a really good team, hired a really good chef that basically provided a little, had that whole Colleoni family recipe, but added a little modern touch to it. And it’s been great. We’re looking for expansion, and it’s been a tremendous opportunity.

Scrappy Jackson: That’s great. As an entrepreneur, you’ve definitely carved your own path. You’ve taken risks. You faced adversity. What kind of advice can you give a young entrepreneur today?

Brad Cozza: Take risks, but definitely diversify. Take calculated risks, do your homework. What works in one market might not work in another market itself. So just really dial into what market you would like to take that risk in, and take that jump in the pool.

Scrappy Jackson: Another piece of advice; I want Brad to give advice to his 20-year-old self.

Brad Cozza: Get in real estate before you’re 25. But again, the experiences I had with modeling and hospitality and so on and so forth, I like to be well-rounded, and I like to do numerous things at the same time. So I would not second guess anything, and I’m very happy and very fortunate to be in such a growing, explosive marketplace.

Scrappy Jackson: As ambitious as you are, how do you keep all these things, how do you keep them balanced, work/life?

Brad Cozza: That’s always the challenge. The challenge is I always like to work. I work when I’m basically not working if that makes any sense.

Scrappy Jackson: Yes.

Brad Cozza: I always, whenever I go on vacation, I’m basically looking at other concepts, I’m looking at other ideas. And so, it’s always churning in order to basically stay ahead of the game and ahead of curve, especially in a market that you can definitely actually take advantage of in a positive way, and basically actually impact some positive changes.

Scrappy Jackson: Cozza Investment Firm. Tell us about it right now, and how can we participate with you in future opportunities?

Brad Cozza: So, we’re working with some large institutional hedge funds, as well as individual investors. Again, we never want to basically overplay one specific marketplace, so we’re very flexible. There’s a huge demand for affordable housing, so we’re taking our investment group and our investors, our builders, and we’re moving north. We’re actually going to Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, North Port, Claremont, center of the state, anywhere where it makes sense where you can create affordable housing. That’s where the true demand is, and that’s where you’re going to have your exit strategies in a very safe, relative marketplace compared to what it was in that 2005, 2006 market. So we like to be flexible and we like to… Because the more investors make, the more they’re going to invest back with us.

Scrappy Jackson: Given your flexibility, do you still have a niche?

Brad Cozza: We do. We do. Pre-construction is definitely a huge niche because we’re in such a hot seller’s marketplace right now that the cost of reproduction is the only way that we can show an equity position for our investors. Because we give our builders such high volume, they can afford to scale it, and basically, actually reduce the price per square foot. So pre-construction is the niche now, but again, you never know. The market changes. Who would have known in 2008 that our sole business plan would be attending the foreclosure auction every day?

Scrappy Jackson: Yeah. Yeah. I’ve seen you on IG, family, fun, friends, entrepreneurship. You’re a good dude, and I really appreciate you, man. And one of the things that I kind of correlate with is Pitbull. He says, “Live life. Don’t let life live you.” And you’re certainly doing that.

Brad Cozza: That’s correct. It’s got to be a well-rounded lifestyle.

Scrappy Jackson: Brad Cozza, I appreciate you, bud, really do. This is The Come Up, a video podcast celebrating Southwest Florida’s entrepreneurs. It is brought to you by Content with Teeth, a creative content marketing agency right here in Southwest Florida. From copywriting to video production to HubSpot service, they do it really big, just like this Fathead right here, Content with Teeth. Brad, thanks again, man. I really appreciate it.

Brad Cozza: Scrap, you’re the man. Thanks, brother.

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