The Power of the Personal Touch
The backstory on Stein’s latest innovative startup is as compelling as the idea itself. When he was a boy, his grandfather – a consummate seller of wholesale clothing – explained to him the -power of writing personal notes to his customers.
“He took out of his pocket a beautiful fountain pen, a Dupont, and told me, ‘Jesse, this pen is magic. With a handwritten note you can reach anybody,’” recalls Stein. “He said it was the secret to growing any business.”
Stein, who now has several Gables-based successes under his belt, never forgot that advice. Last year, he finally acted on it, creating his new company. It’s goal: To create a robot arm that could write letters and notes precisely like a human being. Except much faster.
Basing his company at the WeWork coworking space on Giralda Avenue, Stein had to rent warehouse space in Doral to set up his small army of robot writers. Warehouse space in the Gables is now either nonexistent or prohibitively expensive – unlike decades ago, when Stein set up his first company here, a sports memorabilia firm in the Merrick Park area. He later sold the company, and it is now the largest of its kind in the country.
Stein subsequently leased conventional office space on Valencia Avenue for Dietspotlight, a company that thrives on the sale of diet supplements online. In 2018 it was named by Inc. magazine as one of the 5,000 fastest growing companies in the U.S.
With his latest venture, Stein has gone in a more high-tech direction – though Dietspotlight succeeded thanks to his “reverse engineering” of the latest Google algorithms so that it would pop to the top for those searching for diet supplements.
But that doesn’t compare with the futuristic vision of a room full of robotic arms writing letters to the clients of companies now engaging his services, each machine applying the perfect pressure that a human would apply – and even making a slight mistake every so often, so as to look authentic.
“This is great for wealth managers, or real estate professionals, or anyone else who wants to reach prospects with a personal note,” says Stein. “And even though it’s done by machines, it’s their words. For less than the cost of a greeting card you can send a handwritten note to customers, stamped and sealed in the same way. Normal email does not get people’s attention like it used to. This gets 10 times the response.”
Stein’s grandfather, whose name was Yudy, would be proud. Stein calls the robots the Yudis, after his mentor. And like his grandfather, Stein still appreciates the old-fashioned pleasure of working in a charming city that is far from futuristic. “Coral Gables is a great place to start a business because of its character and pedestrian nature. When you go to recruit employees, this is an attractive place to work. There are not a lot of areas like it in South Florida.”