The Odd Couple
Leon Shaw likes to sell. It’s one of the reasons he got into the consumer electronics retail business 29 years ago when he opened Audio Advice in Raleigh, N.C.
As every successful business owner discovers, however, being “the guy in charge” can separate you from the very things that drew you into the game in the first place.
So recently, when Shaw was offered a chance to bring a new partner into his company, he took the risk of changing things up so he could refocus on his first occupational love: selling.
At first glance, Shaw and his new business partner, Scott Newnam, seem like strange bedfellows. Shaw is a 30-year retail and custom installation veteran, while Newnam joins Audio Advice as a wildly successful businessman-turned-investor—a Hollywood hotshot, in fact—who has zero experience in running retail.
They know it’s an unconventional pairing, but both men are fully willing to admit it and embrace it.
“I have no concerns,” says Shaw, who explains that Newnam brings to the table knowledge and experience on how to run business operations efficiently. Shaw himself has focused much of his energy in recent years on increasing efficiency, but that focus has prevented him from keeping the retail side of his business evolving. “I’ve had all these ideas for the retail floor that I couldn’t get to,” says Shaw. “Now I can.”
The Journey Home
How Newnam came to join Audio Advice is simply a matter of happenstance. His background is in technology. In 2000, he founded GoldPocket Interactive, a multimillion-dollar company that developed interactive TV technology for broadcasters. His best known project? A little something called DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket.
In 2005, Newnam sold GoldPocket Interactive to Tandberg Television and began charting a journey from Hollywood back to where he was raised— the Research Triangle, a section of North Carolina that stretches from Raleigh-Durham to Chapel Hill and is home to numerous tech-minded universities and research parks.