June 19, 2024

The Discovery+ series “Undercover Billionaire” is in its eighth week and Louis Curtis — aka Grant Cardone — experiences loss, failure and what he referred to as a sloppy win.
In previous weeks, viewers watch Curtis partner with Pueblo West’s Matt Smith in hopes of opening a promotion and marketing company while simultaneously investing in real estate.
Curtis convinces Smith that to make money, the two need to find investors who are willing to front the money to purchase the infamous Kona Kai Apartments.
In this week’s episode, that deal falls through.
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In a rush to get the ball rolling, Curtis asks that the owners of Kona Kai sign off on the deal by a certain day, but his aggressive tactics push the owner toward another buyer.
With the real estate deal slipping through his fingers, Curtis jumps back into what he knows — marketing and promotion.
Curtis’ goal is to work with Smith to build a promotion company and to recruit 10 to 20 different Pueblo businesses as clients to make the promotion company a million-dollar business.
What viewers don’t see is that while production of the series was shut down because of COVID-19, Smith opened his own marketing company.
When Smith founded this idea, he hired two Colorado State University Pueblo students who graduated at the top of their class. The marketing students are Meridth Moose and Mia Gilbertson.
“All these episodes are going so quick, but the reality is that I started this marketing company during COVID, internally,” Smith said. “It was designed for Snooze and SNAP and all of my businesses and the stuff we were working on.
“So I convinced (Moose and Gilbertson) we are not for hire. We are only going to do in-house. Then everything I had done, we were like, ‘Yeah we’re going to change that.’”
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In the episode, Smith organizes a meeting between himself, Curtis, Moose and Gilbertson. Right away, Curtis was full steam ahead, pushing for the use of traditional marketing tactics.
Smith said right away the two women were questioning what Curtis’ intentions were and looking to understand why they were quickly pulling a 180.
“They come from major marketing backgrounds, so they know social media very well,” Smith said. “Traditional stuff wasn’t their thing. (Gilbertson) was very reluctant to him, she thought he was kind of aggressive.”
Gilbertson questioned going to a for-hire promotion company every step of the way.
“I come in and there is this guy,” Gilbertson said. “First meeting him, Grant Cardone (Louis Curtis) has a massive presence — whether it’s good or bad, I don’t really know.
“We start talking, and I was trying to understand who he really was, so I was like, ‘Who are you? What do you do? Where did you come from? What is your background?’ Every time (Moose) and I would ask him a question, he would work around it.”
Gilbertson said questioning Curtis’ background stemmed from trying to understand how the job went from elevating the presence of Snooze and SNAP to attempting to hire outside clients that would utilize marketing tactics that were, to this point, out of their element.
“We had this idea of what it was going to look like, and we knew we could do a higher production of that,” Gilbertson said. “Then here was this guy that was like, ‘Be cheesy, be almost bad.’ The kind of personality that (Moose) and I have, that’s not necessarily what we strive for. So (at this point) I’m a little unsure of this guy.”
Gilbertson said that while her appearance in this week’s episode is brief, as the series goes on, viewers will likely see how she challenges the strategies that Curtis is working to enforce.
“I don’t think there was ever a moment where I was like, ‘I’m just going to roll with it.’” Gilbertson said. “I wasn’t offended by his presence, I was just like, ‘If we’re going to work together, I’m not going to necessarily back down.’ He definitely gave us some new things to think about, though.”
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While hesitant of Curtis, Gilbertson and Moose both noted in the episode their trust didn’t necessarily have to lay with Curtis. Their trust ultimately is in Smith, and if he was going to trust Curtis, they would follow suit.
Since that first meeting with Curtis, though, Gilbertson said she has learned a lesson she may not have necessarily understood at the time but has since come to genuinely appreciate.
“I was a perfectionist,” Gilbertson said. “I wanted everything to look and seem perfect. (So the lesson is that) it’s not necessarily about whether (content) is authentic, cheesy, fake or exaggerated.
“It’s more so about putting stuff out there even if it doesn’t look polished. That has definitely helped me in terms of moving forward faster than I think I ever could have before.”
With the marketing team on board, Curtis’ next move in the episode is looking for clients.
Thanks to Smith’s plethora of contacts in the city, he lands a meeting with Advantage Home Mortgage LLC owner Vern Larson.
Again, Smith’s connections and trustworthy character pull through for the aspiring marketing company.
“(In the episode) everyone saw maybe two minutes,” Smith said. “But that meeting was probably closer to an hour. We talked about all of the stuff we were doing in Pueblo, and we went back and forth. He said kind of the same thing (as the girls). He was like, ‘I’ve known you my whole life, Matt.
“So, I’m trusting you, I don’t know about this crazy guy you’re bringing with you.’”
After telling Smith and Curtis ‘no’ several times, Larson finally agrees to write a $60,000 check and becomes the duo’s first client.
Smith said a funny thing took place during this meeting that viewers didn’t get a chance to see: Larson actually recognized Curtis as Grant Cardone.
“(Larson) is like, ‘You look like Grant Cardone, has anyone ever told you that?’” Smith recalled. “Curtis just brushed it off, and (Larson) was like, ‘I was completely convinced he wasn’t Grant Cardone after that!’”
The moral of the story, Smith said, is that connections mean everything when trying to build a business in a small town.
“(Curtis’) play was find the connection and use that,” Smith said. “It was fun for me because I was able to highlight the Pueblo people. As these episodes keep transpiring, you’ll see a lot of my favorite people in this community I was able to bring the cameras to and really highlight throughout this community. A lot of successful business owners.”
Undercover Billionaire is available on the streaming service Discovery+ and airs Wednesday evenings.
Chieftain and Pueblo West View reporter Alexis Smith can be reached by email at as****@ch*******.com or on Twitter @smith_alexis27.


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