Meet The Guidr Founders – Dave Zumpano’s Story
by Dave Zumpano
Hi! I’m Dave Zumpano, co-founder of Guidr. If you missed last week’s blog, where my business partner Guy Remond introduced the Guidr platform and shared his amazing story, here is a quick recap.
The Guidr platform is the next big innovation in legal services, which is transforming the way the practice of law works by bringing the fast-moving world of technology and the old traditional world of law together under one roof.
Guy and I created these blogs to keep law firms and those looking for legal advice up to date with our projects, and share some expert tips and insights into how these two worlds intertwine.
Seeing as Guy did such a great job telling his story last week, I figured I’d give it a shot too.
So here goes.
One big Italian family
If there is one thing that I have always valued the most in both my personal life and business, it’s the importance of family.
It’s probably got something to do with being the youngest of 10 kids!
We all grew up in a very Italian household, with all four of my grandparents coming over to the US from the motherland. I guess you could say I’m a purebred through and through.
This concept of family has fueled the community that we have for Guidr too – it’s really an extended family of legal professionals. But we will get to that a little later. For now, let’s start at the very beginning.
A family of entrepreneurs
I was born and raised in a family that owned a food wholesale business that started with my grandfather in 1927.
His little grocery wagon turned into a wholesale distribution of Italian food products, and by the 1950s, he was one of the largest in our region.
My first experience with business came when I was five years old when I learned what it meant to have a mom that was a CEO. Back in the 60s and early 70s, a woman in business seemed strange, but to me, that’s all I ever knew. My mother was the CEO of our family business, and my father was the sales guy.
They took the wholesale business over from my grandfather, and in the 25 years they ran it, they increased it 37 fold!
My early days in business
So it’s safe to say that entrepreneurship ran in my blood from an early age. At the age of 10, I remember packing spices into little glass dispensers with my brothers for 25¢ a case, and even though I was the youngest, I outpaced all of them.
That was the first time I realized I liked systemizing things and finding easy solutions to problems. This was to become one of the key concepts of the Guidr platform.
After packing spices, my next big business adventure was my paper route. I delivered papers just one day a week, on Sundays, and ended up making more money than the kids who were doing it six days a week!
It must have just been a byproduct of growing up in an entrepreneurial environment, but I had systems for collecting payments that meant I was collecting hundreds of dollars during my summers!
I was this jovial kid, and they used to love me! I got that side from my salesman dad I think, and the business know-how from my CEO mum.
Then, when I was 16, I opened up a t-shirt shop with my oldest and dearest friend, which made great money. We were doing 80 dozen t-shirts a week, making $15 to $20 a dozen!
Alphabet soup = $$$
Then, it was time to go to school. And I went off and got my CPA and became an accountant.
The thing is, even though my parents wanted me in the family business, I had seen them fight over nickels for years, and that just wasn’t me.
My mother always said, “alphabet soup equals dollar signs”, meaning the more letters you have at the end of your name, the more money you will make. So if I could combine my academic qualifications with my experience in the entrepreneurial world, it would be a double whammy for me.
Entering into the world of law
And so I entered into the world of law, specifically estate planning (I’ve always had a thing for taxes).
I went to work for a regional insurance defence firm. The senior partner who did estate planning there was retiring, so they needed someone to come in and fill that spot. It was here that I became one of the first attorneys to start doing revocable living trusts.
Soon, people started asking, “Who is this young whippersnapper and what’s he doing?”
After two years, the funniest thing happened. They came to me and said:
“Dave, we love you, but you have to leave. We don’t know what you’re doing so you have to leave and please take all of your clients with you. But will you stay of counsel to our firm so we can continue to refer all the estate planning work to you?”
Going out on my own
So I went out on my own and started my business doing something no one had ever done. I started doing irrevocable living trusts and started finding different ways of using trusts that people never really thought of before.
My first experiences of going to bankers, financial professionals and insurance people with these trusts wasn’t great. Almost all of them kicked me out of their offices at first!
They viewed people like me as deal-killers, trying to show our value to their clients by getting the cheapest products available, which was the silliest thing.
However, over time I won them over. I was serving a need in the community and people loved what I was doing, and my business doubled in size over the first five years of its life.
A new opportunity
There’s this old saying that luck is when opportunity meets preparation, so I guess you could say what happened next was pretty lucky.
I joined the National Legal Organization of Estate Planning Attorneys, looking to learn from someone else other than myself.
Now, at the time, I was one of the first people doing Medicaid planning, and people started talking about what I was doing. The National Legal Organization of Estate Planning Attorneys even invited me to be a keynote speaker at their next quarterly event.
So, in October 2001, I delivered my presentation and thought that was it.
However, it didn’t work that way. After I left the stage, they followed me into the bathrooms and into the hallways, dying to know more!
Shortly after that, I started teaching Medicaid planning at these quarterly events and was credited as the founder of the whole Medicaid practice industry!
Building a community
Soon after all this, I started the National Legal Organisation of Lawyers in order to teach this Medicaid planning, which has led to the Guidr platform.
You see, even at 10 years old, packing spices in my parents’ warehouse, I was a systems guy. I love to take complex things and figure out how to simplify them down to logical steps.
So I started creating systems and processes for a law firm and brought the first cloud-based law practice management system to the estate planning industry.
The Guidr platform
This is what Guy and I are doing with Guidr.
We want to transform the legal industry and help everyday folk to get access to great lawyers, without money ever being an obstacle.
Guidr will allow individuals online to access their local lawyers, utilizing their own lawyer’s tools, but doing it in a way that lets the consumer choose how they want to work with a lawyer.
I think it brings together a great marriage of something that society’s ready for, an easy way for ordinary folks to work with lawyers, and that’s what I’m really excited to be sharing with you in these blogs. I can’t wait to share our experiences with you as we continue to grow our community and, more importantly, to help people.
That’s what it’s all about.
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