Feb 17, 2024

Shiva Bhaskar

Shiva Bhaskar is a co-founder and head attorney at Tier One Credit, specializing in consumer credit repair and restoration. With expertise in law, business, and real estate, he leads a network of attorneys nationwide and manages over 130 active lawsuits. Shiva’s entrepreneurial spirit and passion for helping others stem from personal experiences with credit challenges, driving his commitment to advocating for fair credit practices. He is also a writer, and world traveler.

Episode Highlights

  • 00:00 Show Introduction: Nitin Bajaj welcomes Shiva Baskar to The Industry Show.
  • 01:01 Shiva’s Introduction: Shiva introduces himself as an attorney and co-founder of Tier One Credit, a consumer credit repair and restoration law firm. He discusses his personal and professional background.
  • 03:47 Starting Tier One Credit: Shiva shares his motivation for starting Tier One Credit, stemming from personal experiences with credit issues. He explains the firm’s mission and current operations, including over 130 active lawsuits.
  • 06:16 Challenges in the Industry: Shiva discusses the challenges of standing out in a crowded marketplace and overcoming skepticism associated with the credit repair industry.
  • 07:27 Exciting Opportunity: Shiva highlights identity theft as a significant opportunity for Tier One Credit, emphasizing the potential for compensation and the need to raise awareness about this issue.
  • 09:29 Making a Difference: Shiva expresses his desire to make a positive impact on the credit industry, aiming to leave a legacy of meaningful change.
  • 09:56 Lessons Learned: Shiva shares two experiences—one failure in online advertising due to lack of expertise and incremental approach, and one success with organic content marketing that generated substantial response without paid promotion.
  • 13:48 Hobbies and Relaxation: Shiva discusses his hobbies, including spending time with friends and family, outdoor activities like hiking and paddleboarding, cooking healthy recipes, and writing.
  • 16:30 One Line Life Lessons: Shiva shares five life lessons, including the importance of a long-term mindset, self-care, taking action over perfectionism, knowing one’s worth, and giving before expecting to receive.
  • 20:20 Conclusion: Nitin thanks Shiva for sharing his journey and insights on the show.

    Show Transcript

    Transcript - Full Episode

    Nitin Bajaj: Everyone, welcome to The Industry Show. I’m your host, Nitin Bajaj, and joining me today is my good friend, Shiva Baskar. Shiva, welcome on the show.

    Shiva Bhaskar: Thank you, Nitin. Thank you for having 

    Nitin Bajaj: to have you here. Let’s start with who is Shiva?

    Shiva Bhaskar: Uh, I suppose there’s many answers to that. I’m, uncle, son, friend, brother, all of those things. But from a professional standpoint, I am an attorney by training. I’m the co-founder and head attorney at Tier One Credit. We’re a consumer credit, repair and restoration law firm. So we work with consumers around the country who have issues with their credit issues, with the credit agencies, debt collectors help them address those issues, whether through lawsuits or otherwise. So that’s who I am. Professionally, I’m a real estate investor as well. And as far as personally. Big interests of mine are traveling, which I know you get from every guest, but really love to travel and see the world and also be hike, outdoors and fitness. So yeah, that’s

    Nitin Bajaj: Yeah, and I’m getting to know many different parts of you, the many different hats you wear and knowing you, you’re pretty good at pretty much all of them so yeah, let’s share some of those with our audience here. So you talked about tier one. Yeah. What it is and how you help. Give us a sense for why did you start this? What is the mission, what is the vision? You’re a lawyer, you could have been doing anything. And minting why do this? And also if you can share a sense for what is the size and scale of the operations today.

    Shiva Bhaskar: Sure. So the way I got into the credit industry in tier one credit, when I came out of law school, as you might remember, in 2010-11, the economy was very bad. And as a result of that, had lates on my student loans, which damaged my credit, which of course I moved to New York City. Qualifying for an apartment gets tougher. Getting credit cards gets tougher. It was a whole series of complications and I did not start out in this business. I started out in, the legal and the law firm world as you would expect. But this is always in the back of my mind and my business partner, Anthony Udry, is a childhood friend of mine. Who had been involved in the credit industry due to his work as a mortgage broker. And he’d worked with another attorney and they had helped a lot of folks with their credit and he’d moved on from that. But I asked him for some help on my credit issues. This is a number of years after those derogatory occurred. And from that process, I realized there could be a powerful business here. So started testing it out, and one of the little known things about credit is yes, people can pay you to help with their credit, but if you find things that are illegal, meaning they don’t. If you find items on the credit report that don’t follow the laws, or if you find a debt collection agency violating the law, those are what we call attorney fee cases, meaning we could sue those entities and they have to pay the reasonable attorney’s fees and also pay our clients. And so we got in, I moved back to Los Angeles, got into the credit repair business, and then. A lot of our work now is helping consumers who’ve been wronged in some ways by the credit agencies and helping them recover compensation and get the issue corrected. And we act as a national network for these cases. So I work with attorneys around the country sharing these cases with them. And we’ve worked, we’ve worked with and advised, through online. Thousands of clients. We have over, I think, over about 130 active lawsuits around the country that have been placed with various law firms. So we’ve grown, since we started in 2017, and we believe that the real hockey stick moment or upward trajectory is still in front of us.

    Nitin Bajaj: And this is fascinating. This is one of those cases where you start solving your own problem and you realize there are many others, millions maybe, that have the same problem. And imagine if you as a qualified attorney yourself, face these issues and had a hard time going through these challenges. I can only imagine the large majority of the population that doesn’t even understand how this takes place in the background with the multi-layers of challenges and collection companies and what have you. That’s, you’re doing a great service to the community, so thank you for doing what you and Anthony are doing.

    Shiva Bhaskar: Well, I appreciate that. And yeah, no one teaches us in school, so we try to educate and serve where we can. 

    Nitin Bajaj: pretty amazing. Now, tell us, as you’re dealing with a lot of these challenges and helping others through this, what’s the one big challenge you face? I.

    Shiva Bhaskar: Sure. So the biggest challenge I would say that we face at this inflection point, if you will, is. Any industry has its landscape in terms of competitors and ways that people are approaching things. Credit restoration as an industry which doesn’t require you to be an attorney, by the way, credit as an industry does not have a good reputation in terms of credit repair. Companies have a rep have unfortunately earned, if we’re being honest, have earned a. To badge for not, not doing what they’ll say and saying what they’ll do as we would as we would look at it. And as a result, there’s a fair amount of skepticism around the industry. We’ve overcame a lot of that with our, positive customer reviews that you find on the internet. But the biggest challenge is. How do you stand out in a crowded marketplace? We have a very unique approach because we first look for lawsuits and ways that the cus the consumer can recover money and get their issue corrected rather than having them pay us. So we have a very unique proposition, but it’s a crowded landscape. So how to continue creating content and ways to connect with people is a big challenge. And we’re tackling it by, getting more into various channels like YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and elsewhere to really share that message. So I’d say standing apart in a marketplace, even when you have a good reputation it’s a large and crowded marketplace. Standing out is always a challenge, and that’s what we’re really

    Nitin Bajaj: Yeah, on one end a lot of people are having this issue, so it starts with awareness that I can even have a solution for this, I think would be the first and biggest hurdle, and people may not know that this is something that can be fixed. I. And once they find out how do you get over the hump that this is genuine. This is not somebody who’s gonna take me for a ride and, take more from what I already don’t have. And then actually come out on the other side where we see progress, we see a foundation that we can build off of. 

    Shiva Bhaskar: I think that’s exactly right Nitin, and you hit upon one of the major issues, which is even within the credit space, when you tell folks, you’re not going to pay me because. We can be compensated through litigation and so can you and you can get this issue corrected. Sometimes you get a reflexive, oh my God, this is too good to be true. It’s not real. Which again, the reputational part of having people write reviews and do videos where they share what we did for them has helped. But exa, I think awareness is by far the number one issue. And I think once that awareness reaches a certain level, which we’re starting to see, then actually getting people to come on board is definitely more feasible. Yeah.

    Nitin Bajaj: Now let’s talk about that and build upon on that a little bit. Tell me what’s the most exciting opportunity you’re looking at.

    Shiva Bhaskar: Sure. So identity theft, as you might know, is a. I don’t wanna say a pandemic, but it’s close to it. In the United States, 15 to $20 billion of economic losses every year. We believe conservatively, there are hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, who have items on their credit report, which are not theirs either because someone opened an account in their name, or they have a name that’s similar to someone else. If there were another myth Baja out there, and he opens a credit card and doesn’t pay, it could show up on yours. So it’s a massive problem. And one where people are entitled to compensation, and both from a standpoint of how the consumer is compensated, as well as how we, as the attorneys are compensated, including if we refer it to another lawyer, the compensation is quite attractive from both ends plus the solution. So we’re very excited to be bringing in more of those cases and creating more content around that problem. So that we can bring, help more folks deal with this and overcome identity theft so that they can buy a home or fund their business, and it’s a very exciting opportunity for us. I think, again, continuing to share and build awareness is the number one challenge there, but as we keep spreading the message, we’re very hopeful that it’ll continue to grow and we can help more people and obviously grow our bottom line as

    Nitin Bajaj: I think I see you wear another hat now that was not obvious to me just yet, is that of an activist. In doing all of this work, you may move the needle on getting the who it may be to fix the system. I. Because this is only happening because the system is broken. So keep doing what you’re doing and I can see you making a dent. 

    Shiva Bhaskar: That’s the hope. Yeah. We’ve, if we can wrap up our time in the company, however that ends or wrap up our career saying that we made a difference here, I think. I think I would say mission accomplished in that

    Nitin Bajaj: and I can see you getting there.

    Shiva Bhaskar: Well, I hope so. Thank you. 

    Nitin Bajaj: Let’s take a look in the mirror and go back in, in time. Tell us about two moments. One where things did not work out as you had expected, became a failure, was a lesson that was learned, and another one where things became a success beyond even your imagination.

    Shiva Bhaskar: Sure. So I’ll, I have two, two examples that both relate to marketing or spreading our message in the company. And the first one, which is a failure. Many viewers and of course yourself are familiar with online advertising, which we have had quite a bit of success with. But in the early days. We thought when we’re trying to get our message out, what better way than to go run a Google AdWords campaign? But this was being done without the help of a professional or an agency. And quite frankly, without even having dived into the space ourselves in terms of taking an online course or learning how it works. And so decided to throw some money behind the campaign and just go and hit launch and had very little traction with it. We were seeing clicks. They were not relevant clicks. People were searching for things completely unrelated to what we were hoping they would be because of the targeting settings that we had used and how we set up the keywords and we didn’t lose an, we didn’t bet an amount of money that was going to kill the company. Early on, we were self-funded. We’ve not, we used loans, but never taken any outside capital, but. Certainly it was when you’re a new entrepreneur as and you’re trying to get things going and you need that cashflow, having that loss was a tough one. And the lesson I think we learned from it was twofold. And the one part was try to seek out experts, even if you’re at a smaller scale. And if you can’t afford an expert, then try to learn the basics yourself and do it carefully. I think we could have done more of that. The second aspect of it is do things in a very incremental way. When you’re brand new to something, there’s no need to throw more money behind it. When Google will let you throw 50 or a hundred dollars, and if we did that for a little bit and we saw at least a bit of traction, then that could be a sign. Pointing us towards spending more, but we jumped in and I think that was where the hazard was. And taking action’s important, but overly aggressively all at once is not always great. Now, a success that we had. Was on the organic content side where wrote a article relating to certain ways that you could restore your credit, sharing certain things about the law. And this is obviously a competitive landscape and as you’re aware when it comes to Google and the internet doubly and there are some, I. Large law firms and credit repair law firms and others who spend a lot of money on search engine optimization on SEO. But I wrote a article which I said, let me just thoroughly research this and I love to write and included some good links and really got into this at a level of depth that I felt I. Had not really been covered based on what I was seeing in the first page of Google. And that article to this day, continues to generate a substantial response. And it certainly did during the time, the six months, we put it out, brought it, brought in great clients for us, and we didn’t pay a penny for it. We, we paid with our time and our effort and our knowledge, but not with that. And the lesson I learned there was that, again, from a marketing perspective, I do think Nitin, that. Paid advertising and organic content go hand in hand, but paid advertising can build brand awareness and draw people to your message.

    But in the long run, you need a good suite of organic content, whether that’s written, whether that’s video like we’re doing, whether that’s verbal, as in podcasts, you need a good suite of that content to really jump out and stand out. And when I look at. In any vertical, those who’ve done well, they’ve really shared a message with the world. And yes, they’ve viewed ad, they’ve used advertising to amplify it, but they’ve also put it out there. And so I’m glad we had that success and it was unexpected and relatively early on because what did I learn was that, hey, you know what, this is totally possible. This is achievable. And putting your message out there is something you should do. And that convinced us to spend more effort and more time on it, which I think has ultimately continues to compound and pay off for

    Nitin Bajaj: She were first of congrats because 

    Shiva Bhaskar: thank you.

    Nitin Bajaj: Putting your heart out there and seeing that resonate with others because you personally went through it. So obviously people related to What you put out. So I’m not surprised about that. But also thank you for being open and transparent about what you saw. Jumping in head first. As you said, action is important, but it’s always helpful to measure it, see and iterate through it before you go all in. Thanks. I appreciate that. Now, switching gears a little bit, what do you do for fun? I know we, we talked about hiking and stuff, but what’s your way to just step back and get your time back and re-energize yourself?

    Shiva Bhaskar: Sure. So I would, and since you, since we’re friends, I think, I would describe myself as a people person. So one of the things that I enjoy is getting together with friends and family. It could be for something as simple as, going for a walk or having a nice lunch or dinner. I. Or taking an international trip. So any of those things I enjoy tremendously. I can spend time with those that, I love and that elevate. As far as things I definitely, I do enjoy the outdoors. Big fan of being by the water, swimming, all of that as well of hiking, as I mentioned starting to get a little bit into golf and skiing. Very amateur in either of those, but definitely enjoying it. And also, I made some changes in my diet in, in the past year and certainly in the recent months. So getting more into trying healthy recipes and cooking, doing that. And then, yeah, my, my guilty pleasure would definitely be Hulu and Netflix and all of that, but try to enjoy staying active and being around folks. And then another thing, which traditionally has been a hobby for me and I’ve enjoyed a lot, I’ve not had. I don’t wanna say I haven’t had a chance to do it because we have a chance to do things. It was more like other priorities came up. I, for a long time, I’ve enjoyed blogging and writing. I started doing it when I lived in New York about, I. 12 years ago, I had a chance to do some writing for a now defunct literary magazine that got me into it and then did some blogging on my own on Medium. And now this year. Really, Nitin, this question inspired me. I’m gonna get back into the writing and blogging independent of what I do for the company because I really enjoyed and it helps focus my thoughts.So yeah, those are

    Nitin Bajaj: That’s amazing and we are gonna add one more to it. Standard paddle boarding. Between that 

    Shiva Bhaskar: Yes. Can’t wait to do. Definitely. That’ll be

    Nitin Bajaj: Shiva. I would love to move into my favorite part of the show, which we call the One Line Life Lessons. I’d love for you to share a few of your life lessons with us.

    Shiva Bhaskar: sure. So I’m, most of mine are gonna be quotes that other people have said, and please, pardon me if I misattribute any of them. As on the internet, every quote’s attributed to 20 different people. So one of them, which. Logically, I think it’s attributed to Warren Buffet and logically I think he’s the guy who would’ve said, this is someone is sitting in the shade today. Because of the tree that someone else planted yesterday. And I look at this particularly in terms of business, but it can be applied to anything. Things that we do consistently and that we do with a long-term mindset can really compound and build something amazing. Whether that’s investments, whether that’s relationships, whether that’s creating content in your business, whether that’s your reputation, which grows your business. So I think that long term mindset is a big one. One, another one that has always. Resonated with me is be there for others, but make sure that you’re able to be there for yourself. And that is that I don’t think whether someone’s a parent or an entrepreneur or an activist or any role, they may have you. There’s a reason why when the mask drops down in the airline, they say Secure yours before putting it on someone else. You have to make sure you’re taken care of, which means your personal mental wellbeing. Your physical wellbeing, spiritual wellbeing, and financial wellbeing. So that’s one that always comes to mind. Another one that I struggle with and I try to force myself is done is better than perfect, which it might seem to contradict the Google story I shared, but I like to think things through and take deliberate steps. And sometimes it can lead to perfectionism, which really is a form of procrastination. Where we’re better off getting something finished, putting it out there, getting feedback from the marketplace, whatever that may be, whether it’s in our personal lives or in business rather than dilly ding. So that is, let’s see, we’ve hit three of them. The fourth one is very simple. It’s know your work. So that doesn’t mean be full of ourselves, be conceited, but it does mean to know what the value you bring is, whether that’s your, whether that’s what you bring in anything you do. It could be in your hobbies as a chef, as a friend, as a business owner, as a employee. Knowing your worth is one that I’ve had to work on because, I’ve always been raised to believe, hey, try to bring value and be humble and do that. But also know what you’re worth and what the value of your time is and the value of your expertise is. And the last one is, the last one, which I don’t think is contradictory, but I wanna balance it with, is give before you expect to receive. And we’ve had a million examples of that in business. We’ve never hesitated, especially in the early days. I would’ve people reach out on about their credit, who it would become clear to me during the phone conversation would not, we’re not going to become a client or may not work with us. But still would try to give them value, answer their questions. Some of those people turned into great referral sources for us. Some of them didn’t, but the more that we kept putting out there into the world, the more we kept receiving. Or as I also do real estate investing in that context, I. Being there and being willing to help another investor or another professional when something comes up and sharing it has helped us receive in a lot of ways. So sometimes it’s hard to see when we’re going to receive that blessing, but I really believe it does come. So those are the five that have been my big

    Nitin Bajaj: Shiva, thank you. And I can tell you that I can attest knowing you and having known you for a few years, I can attest to that’s how you really live your life, especially the gift first. And not really expecting something in return. But I’ve seen you do that firsthand. I’ve been a beneficiary of that. So again, thank you for doing what you do. Thank you for being here. And sharing your journey, your story, and your life lessons with us. We really appreciate it.

    Shiva Bhaskar: We really appreciate the opportunity. Nitin, thank you again for having me.


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