This transcript was completed by an automated system, please forgive any grammatical errors.
people, brand, buy, founder, drink, retention, caffeine, ltv, books, starbucks, product, good, feel, marketing, corn, steve o'dell, coffee, tea, brian lastovich, mariah parsons, tik tok
Mariah Parsons, Steve O'Dell, Brian Lastovich
Mariah Parsons 00:04
Hey there, I'm Mariah. And I'm Bryan and this is retention Chronicles. Ecommerce brands are shifting their strategy to retention in customer experience. And so we decided to reach out to top DTC brands and dive deeper into tactics and challenges.
Brian Lastovich 00:20
But here's the thing. We love going on tangents. I teach Brian all about the latest trends, and I teach Mariah that it's a waste of time, and we discuss
Mariah Parsons 00:29
all things in the Shopify ecosystem. So go ahead and start your workout or go on that walk and tune in as we chat.
Brian Lastovich 00:37
Retention Chronicles is sponsored by Malomo Shipman, an order tracking platform, improving the post purchase experience, be sure to subscribe and check out all of our episodes at Go malomo.com
Mariah Parsons 00:55
Okay, well, we're ready to get started. Uh, Steve, if you could give us a little sentence a little snippet about 10s of t and yourself. That'd be great.
Steve O'Dell 01:02
Yeah, I'm one of the founders of tento we're a mantra brand based in Los Angeles are kind of remote right now a little over five years old. And yeah, about me. I love Masha, love EECOM DTC and building consumer brands.
Mariah Parsons 01:18
Very fun. Okay, well, we're gonna dive into your founder story a little bit. So if you could tell us like why you just said you love Mata, like, where did that originate from? Tell us kind of how you and your co founder, Robbie started tenza. Tea.
Steve O'Dell 01:34
Yeah, so going back to when I was a little kid, I wanted to be really tall. I was told this lie that doesn't every kid. Yeah, but like happy with some of your growth. So I didn't drink caffeine until I was like 19. And I went on this like study date with a girl in college and we went to Starbucks, like I got a coffee. So never experiencing caffeine. I was like, lit. I don't know if you remember when he first had like a double shot espresso or anything. But yeah, you kind of like go like a little bit crazy, actually. So I had that experience. And I was like, oh, man, I was pretty good. Like, I like that. And then I got in this kind of cycle of drinking a lot of caffeine. And one day I drank. I know, like four or five cold brews, my stomach was just like, absolutely cracked. And I just was I was feeling really bad. And so I went home and Googled, like, what's the healthiest form of energy and found Modra. And it just made a lot of sense from a business wise, from a business standpoint. And then I also just genuinely liked the product. And mod has a little bit of caffeine, so not as much as coffee or cold brew, you don't necessarily build up that like kind of dependency on it. And it also has this amino acid called L theanine, which literally changes your brainwaves. And so it's a more focused kind of energetic state, rather than like this a chaotic, you know, energy that coffee or like Redbull gives you.
Mariah Parsons 03:03
Yeah, I, to my understanding, correct me if I'm wrong, but matcha is more like sustained energy for a longer period of time, right? Yeah, exactly. Okay. So yeah, you kind of get rid of not as much
Brian Lastovich 03:13
energy. Right. But yeah, it's like,
Steve O'Dell 03:18
Mariah Parsons 03:19
You have to use arms.
Steve O'Dell 03:22
Yeah, to study slope versus like this roller coaster? Crash.
Mariah Parsons 03:27
Yeah. Okay. That makes Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So it was the fact that I feel like also caffeine. So I'm, we should dive into this because Brian drinks coffee? I don't. So I feel what's going on, man. Right now.
Brian Lastovich 03:45
That's what I want. At the end of the conversation. It's like, Alright, I'm gonna let's go to the tea route.
Steve O'Dell 03:51
Well, I would also say like, we're actually trying to remove like tea from our name, and like, we're changing the domain soon. Like, we just changed all of our socials and like, nachos like this weird, like, it's not really a tea, like you think of tea. It's like, very, like soft and light. And you think like, oh, it's like, let's make a tea. And like, no offense to hardcore tea drinkers, obviously. But it's, it's like a halfway point between tea that you are used to and coffee. So it's like a middle ground? Not really one or the other.
Brian Lastovich 04:21
Are you like, is that a different category? Like you're trying to get a different category? You want a
Steve O'Dell 04:27
great question. That's more me making sense of it. So you guys, and but like, technically module literally means pattern T and translation. So like, it really is a T. It's a variety of green tea. So there's that you know, but you know, or
Brian Lastovich 04:44
you're in a crowded space, right? Like it makes sense. Like, I mean, I I'll be like the way that I've seen 10s Though now it's like, it's the quiet like filming it wrong here. But it seems to me it's like it's the quality, like affordable but also quality. because we talked about the vibration of the green and what that means, do I haven't read?
Steve O'Dell 05:05
Yeah, it's super high quality. And I mean, honestly, this is like one of the best. And the worst things about like being in Las Vegas like one, it is a very new category in the US. And a lot of people aren't like acclimated to that. And then too, there's a lot of really low quality stuff on the market. So and that's because like, because it's so new. People don't know a lot about it, meaning they can't distinguish between like, what is crappy and what's good. If you think about, like, the trends of coffee over the last, like 40 years, basically, the world is built on Folgers. And like, that was disgusting coffee. And that allowed my mother that? Well, you might want to tell her maybe she's living a lie. I've told
Brian Lastovich 05:47
her so many times. And I still get that Folgers every time I go.
Steve O'Dell 05:52
Gosh, yeah, that's I'm sorry. And bring your own next time or something. But yeah, so like, that provides an opportunity for this higher quality brands come in until like, that was a Starbucks, right? And then the whole world got or the country world whatever got educated on like, what Starbucks is like, Oh, this is a lot better than Folgers. You know. And then it was like, oh, like, there's an even higher quality than Starbucks, which is like this third wave coffee and Blue Bottle blue still made, like all the independent, like trendy cafes around the country. And there's like, there's 30,000 of those in the US. Yep. You know. And so it's that kind of cycle of knowledge and consumer preferences. And we're kind of slotting in, like, right after the Folgers era of mantra. And trying to build you know, the Starbucks of,
Brian Lastovich 06:36
but if you're just to go into like acquisition a little bit, like, from the if you're looking at it from the coffee side, like got it. If you're new to coffee, you kind of start at voltage, right? Like, there's an entry point, or No,
Steve O'Dell 06:51
I think the entry point is the iced Frappuccino from Starbucks, like that's their most popular drinks. It's just sugar and sweet. And you get a little bit of caffeine, but it's really like,
Brian Lastovich 07:04
do you think those people will then like, are they on their way to the Blue Bottle coffee?
Steve O'Dell 07:08
I think yeah, for sure. So I mean, like that, I don't think I don't think, you know, people 50 And above are on that journey. Maybe 60 and above or whatever. But like, when it's it's like younger consumers go through this change, whether your habits change your preferences change, as you learn and find new things. But older people are really stuck in their ways. Like, your mom is drinking an inferior product. But she's like, I drink water for 40 years. Like I love it. You know, it's like, I don't have I will crazy.
Brian Lastovich 07:38
Yeah, yeah, I
Mariah Parsons 07:39
would say like, if I were to start drinking coffee, and I don't feel like I need a ton of caffeine. Just never have like, and when I've had it just jittery so much. Maybe that's the way for me. Similar to you, Steve. But like, I feel like my entry point would be Starbucks. Because that's like, what my friends would drink out of coffee or like what they would recommend. So your points even like, the entry point being there, I feel like you don't have to go all the way back. It's like, oh, what do you know? And what are the people that you're around? What did they drink?
Brian Lastovich 08:10
Did you have to research your ICP like it? Meaning like, Hey, we're gonna go after people that have some sort of knowledge of the green tea space? And like they have been to Starbucks before? Like, do you talk about that at all? Or is at this point, it's just like, drying and whatever?
Steve O'Dell 08:26
It depends on like, where we're selling, I guess, in econ, we do a lot of targeting against, we call it S bucks. So you don't want to actually say Starbucks, but yeah, that's a good, I mean, those people are great. And especially because Starbucks and Dunkin and all the big chains have a monstrous SKU that they're selling constantly. But people who are drinking, those are really good targets because they already liked a lot of flavor. But they're just drinking it with like a ton of sugar. And so getting them to switch is a very clean, you know, opportunity for us as brand.
Brian Lastovich 09:02
Now, going back to your like, the product itself, so you were saying that it was it's it's at this point where it's affordable, but it's higher quality, right? Like, can you even go like you I know the stories of you've been to Japan where you're like source? Are there like, even higher quality matcha teas as well, like, Oh, yes. way about, like, How expensive are we talking about?
Steve O'Dell 09:28
I think like around $1,000 USD for like, a couple servings. Like it's like it's like one like it scales dramatically.
Brian Lastovich 09:37
Did you learn that when you went out there? Did you know that beforehand?
Steve O'Dell 09:41
Well, we learned at some time early in the journey. Like we didn't really know a lot when we first started. We're super dumb, actually. And I had never even had a job like we just went on Google one day and searched and bulk mancia and emailed the first 60 results and what One of them responded. And that's the one we ended up going with this guy in Arizona shout out danger blonde. We bought like five different six different skews of modular, like a bunch of different grades and blueberry raspberry flavor. Like, it was chaotic. And we ended up finding out who he was buying the best one from and went to them. And then, you know, went through like a whole sourcing process after we learned like, what that was to find the best one and really just optimizing quality and price.
Brian Lastovich 10:33
How do you like? I know, it's a tough question to answer. But how did you go to like, alright, this is the most affordable and this is like the quality? Like do you have that mindset going into it? Where you want it to be? Or was it just like, just have that?
Steve O'Dell 10:48
All right? No, it's, it's a, it's an iterative process, for sure. It's like, we went through like three suppliers in the first eight months of the company. And then we had this crazy story. And we ended up finding this really good guy when we were in Japan. And he helped us do that. And then it really comes down to just looking at the market and like having a good understanding. Like, almost every year we'll buy, like every market on the market and taste them all and put it in the costs. You know, I can pick a spreadsheet and figure out like, hey, where do we want to come into the market? And like, Are we right there? That? Does that make sense? That's Yes, yes, that's great. But just about consistently trying, you know, different suppliers and different grades and loutra, and making sure that you really know what's going on and why.
Brian Lastovich 11:31
And that's a monthly thing that you do that.
Steve O'Dell 11:33
No, no, that's annually. It's too much in your monthly but let's say, well, pretty frequently, like if we get reached out to a ton by people like trying to sell us like their bulk mantra. And if it's like a farm, you know, that's not manufacturing at the end, we'll actually we'll try it and get samples. And if we like it, we'll move forward.
Mariah Parsons 11:52
Yeah, I wanted to Yeah, Steve, I wanted to ask, like, I feel like I will. Okay, so that the video we've been talking about like that you you two made of you like going to Japan. So you know the one
Steve O'Dell 12:05
I know the video
Mariah Parsons 12:09
Have you seen it? You know? Like, even though the product you said it was iterative? In the beginning, I feel like the messaging wasn't right. Like even you telling the story of like you going on the study date, and then not liking the way that caffeine had made you feel like I feel like that messaging comes across in that video, in terms of like, Oh, you are like when you're drinking matcha like you're not just drinking it together caffeine but because of how it makes you feel and how it's different from traditional caffeine. And so with that was that like, part of the brand messaging that you guys still stay true to today? Like even though the product where you're getting the, like bulk maca from has been iterative to like, always find the best, I feel like that background of your brand has still been pretty true. Right?
Steve O'Dell 13:02
Totally. I mean, I think that's a really important thing. In a world where it's very easy to copy and paste and you see like this term, Blanding is the best way to stand out is to just be genuine, and be yourself. And myself and my co founder, Rob, are very much kind of chaotic, and just like genuinely positive, optimistic, Kyle's, you know, and I think that that comes across in the brand, you know, and really being true to yourself is super key when you're creating the content and building the brand to I think that the founders that do that, you know, consistently have a really positive impact. And when you kind of deviate or steer away, then you can get caught in this trap of like, oh, like, I've been working really hard on this thing. And I'm not really that thing. And then there's like this weird, like, cognitive dissonance going on between, like, what you're doing and how you are and the customers or the people watching consuming the content can feel that and understand that. But at the same time, like that video could be done a lot better if we were to redo it.
Mariah Parsons 14:11
I think it's great. You should leave. It's very genuine.
Steve O'Dell 14:15
Yeah, it's good that you're saying that. Maybe in a couple years I'll feel differently but right now I'm like in the cringe.
Brian Lastovich 14:23
It's not that bad at all. Because I think it's like it's right. It's like that. It's a great in between of like, not too professional where it's like alright, this. This is up there, but it's not too amateur. It's like right in the middle.
Steve O'Dell 14:38
Yeah, a couple $1,000 and a couple of days on it. So
Mariah Parsons 14:43
well hype you guys up. We we liked watching it.
Brian Lastovich 14:48
Yeah. That's the first time I've heard of it.
Mariah Parsons 14:54
I haven't heard of it. You might not think that. No, no. Even on Tik Tok. I haven't heard of it. But I I
Steve O'Dell 15:00
don't think it's like a super trendy term. But like, if you look at a lot of the consumer brands in the last couple of years, like, a lot of the average ones all look the exact same. With that sans serif font, lowercase letters, it's just classic their
Brian Lastovich 15:17
founder. Yeah, I mean, like you've, I just think it is like founder LED. And you stay like that. The problem that I see is like, well, how many? How many? You don't mind me asking like, How many employees do you have now?
Steve O'Dell 15:29
That's only five by full time?
Brian Lastovich 15:33
And is anyone in charge of marketing? Or is it still founder LED? Like, basically, you're at this point?
Steve O'Dell 15:39
Yeah, it's a lot of it is my co founder. But we know we have a great woman on the team, Laurie, who runs most of it. But yeah, it's just Rob and I are both pretty much involved in a lot of decisions still, but he does a really good job. All right. Shout out, Laurie.
Mariah Parsons 15:56
Laurie, shout out, Laurie. Like, Lori's
Brian Lastovich 15:57
job is tough, right? Because I've seen this before, where it's like, the marketers job is to promote the founder, like, if it's founder LED is to do as much as you can to amplify the founders message. And the founder is the CMO at the end of the day, when it's like that.
Steve O'Dell 16:13
And I mean, it's tough job. It's super tough, especially because founders are chaotic. And like, you read a book, you're like, Oh, why aren't we doing this? Like, what's going on? You know, and so it's just constantly pushing. And it's something that we rob more so than I spend a lot of time trying to get really clear on a lot of those questions around it. What is the voice and who are we partnering with and why and you know, a lot of those things.
Brian Lastovich 16:41
I see I did read that your you do like to read
Steve O'Dell 16:46
Brian Lastovich 16:47
What was the last few books that you all a sudden talk to?
Steve O'Dell 16:53
sound like such a dork. Okay, well, last couple of books I get on really long fantasy series. So not a lot of book, like business stuff there.
Brian Lastovich 17:04
But are you doing that to generate additional ideas? Or was this just to get away from?
Steve O'Dell 17:10
No, this is just this is yeah, just pure enjoyment. Like, I like reading. I love reading. So I went on this kick where like, I read like, every business book like you could read and like all like, you know, all the classes that people are like shilling on Twitter, like 33 books about,
Brian Lastovich 17:28
they take a picture and they say, here's all the books. Yeah,
Steve O'Dell 17:31
yeah. And they're like, here's my Amazon, like, I'll make 15% of money. I don't know, I think calling of brands was a really good book, specifically about branding. Seth Godin has some really good ones on marketing. There's a lot of them.
Brian Lastovich 17:47
Do you have any new ones? Are they all like I've read all of his older stuff. I haven't seen anything.
Steve O'Dell 17:53
I don't think he has any new as my bookshelf has read over here. The last one I read was this is marketing, which is pretty solid.
Brian Lastovich 18:00
It's called this by by Seth or someone else. Better. Yeah, this is marketing. Oh, I think that's relatively newer one. Like in the last Yeah, it
Steve O'Dell 18:09
is relatively new. But I also think like genuine, or just like, marketing is a lot about, like, looking around and what's going on in society and like playing off themes, right. So like, what I wanted to do last week, was like, let's hype up corn. Like let's go big on corn.
Mariah Parsons 18:30
You're not gonna get that.
Brian Lastovich 18:31
I don't get it. Dammit. I knew this was gonna happen.
Mariah Parsons 18:35
After this podcast. Steve is like me filling in. Like Brian on what's trending right now. So
Steve O'Dell 18:44
yeah, basically, there's this guy on Tik Tok that interviews like, passionate, like little kids. Like, I don't know if you've seen any of his older videos, if you just wanted to like Komodo dragons, but like, anyway, this kid is this guy's interviewing this kid about corn. And the little kid is like, obsessed. Like this kid. He loves corn, like as much as you like, think about the thing that you love most in your life as a child. And like, just imagine that that was corn and like your eight year old kid, answering an email, like serious like adult interview questions.
Mariah Parsons 19:21
So wholeheartedly answering
Steve O'Dell 19:24
the Midwest, that's for sure. It's just, it's pure passion, like, you know, and it's inspiring to watch. Like, I want to be that passionate about things in my life. Yeah. And so, anyway, that that interview got remixed into like a short song. And the song is amazing.
Mariah Parsons 19:43
I can't sing it like it's in my head constantly. Yeah, I'm being honest.
Steve O'Dell 19:47
But yeah, I could I could sing every word to like we could do a duet right now. It's corn. Anyway, so it goes on and like the internet is like freaking out. It's like one of the most viewed videos on town. Talk and then, you know, there's been corn memes and like everything.
Brian Lastovich 20:04
The song is the most viewed video on Yeah, the song
Steve O'Dell 20:07
is so good.
Mariah Parsons 20:09
Because like so the original video blew up and then someone remixed it, and then that's blowing up. Now this happens often is what I'm understanding. That's how Yes, yeah, people take like, the whole thing of tick tock is they take the sounds, and then they just blow up because people make them in all these different ways. Yeah.
Brian Lastovich 20:26
Podcasts and be like, Oh my gosh, I wanna make I see
Steve O'Dell 20:31
so we're gonna make a very popular video. podcast. Yeah. But yeah, like it went so crazy. Like I got a DoorDash notification like, it's corn. And then like, here's places you can get corn near you. Oh, like
Mariah Parsons 20:45
I see in grocery stores. I saw like so many. Yeah.
Steve O'Dell 20:51
Yeah. Ryan, you're gonna you're gonna go out of your house today. You're gonna be like, coin is gonna be mine. Coin their coin there.
Brian Lastovich 21:01
Mariah Parsons 21:02
that's a given. Yeah,
Brian Lastovich 21:04
yeah. Going back to like, why this was brought up in the first place you like you're saying here's the Thea Marlin we add to this theme right?
Steve O'Dell 21:15
Play off like I need I need a meme of Kanye. You know, Kanye West Instagram story today. I need everyone on planet Earth to drink maca. Or I'm done. Like, I'm out like somebody like that just chaotic Kanye. But yeah, that's part of marketing. And then the other half is like, that's like the kind of like, artsy side. And then a lot of it's just data and numbers too. And like, yeah, really following those things? And it's like, for example, it's like, you wouldn't post organic brand content on Facebook anymore. Because like, no one is no one's there. And like, you can see that and views and shares and likes. And then conversely, you know, tick tock YouTube shorts and Instagram reels. It's like those are popping off. So it's like, you know, marketing is an interesting discipline in general, because it's a very balanced one, meaning it's art and science. And, you know, the people that understand both sides of that coin will really excel.
Brian Lastovich 22:09
Yeah, I can find you're not gonna find a lot of that. And books these days, you'll find the foundations like I love like, don't get me wrong, like, right next to me is the Ryan makes fun of me. Like all these books by ask you, there's also one that you should read, I feel like you, it's called play bigger about building categories and branding. I'd recommend that which I thought you were gonna say. So you probably know half the book already, if you're thinking about categories already. But that's the thing. Like, I'm not like, I'm, I want to learn as much about the foundation, but there's no way that I'm gonna learn how to take those themes, like you said, and understand how you build off of that and piggyback off of it.
Steve O'Dell 22:53
I just just bought the book, by the way. No, I can't call you bought it. Yeah, literally just now one click Amazon Kindle.
Brian Lastovich 23:02
Steve O'Dell 23:05
okay. Well, let's not get into this debate here. I, I agree, Brian, because that's your comment, like, books will give you a lot of the basics? And do you want to be a true master, it's really comes down to applying. That's one of the reasons I like just stopped reading all the business books and like, occasionally, I'll pick one back up if it's, like, highly recommended from a trusted source. But like, Brian,
Mariah Parsons 23:30
I, oh, my gosh, thank
Steve O'Dell 23:31
you. Yeah, look at that subtle compliment. But yeah, it's like, I like reading, because I enjoy reading and, you know, take some time in the evening, rather than, like watching Netflix, or like doing something else. And like, I think it helps me be my family members, immortal, but like, to be really good at marketing, or ECAM, or business and finance and operations, it's like, you really need to be like, in the weeds, like grinding and like looking at numbers. And, you know, also, you know, avoiding just looking at a spreadsheet all day, and really understanding like, why things are the way they are. And that's everything from like, you know, from a brand side, it's like, we buy a bunch of different ingredients, and we buy boxes and packaging material, and someone's got to put those all together and fill it and then kind of get shipped here. And it's like, there's a lot of different cost segments there. Understanding those, and it's like, you're just looking at a spreadsheet all day and not really going to understand why. And you're not going to figure these things out. But like, yeah, so if you want to get really good at things and master stuff, it's all about action. And, you know, literally just showing up and doing the work day in and day out. Right?
Mariah Parsons 24:41
Yeah. I'm curious to what you'd say to this, Steve, because we were having this chat with Brandon at electric marketing Brian during our off site. And he was saying like, he believes that, you know, you kind of have to have a face to a brand these days. Like that's what really connects with people. It goes back to what we were saying about being genuine. And I think this ties in with like tick tock everything like everyone has a face to something like I get the corn video, right? Like, I can see that kid in my mind. Like, I can see the guy who interviews them. So do you think that's also part of like moving with the time like for a brand to succeed you need that, like that connection, that person that you're looking at and like know that is attached to a certain brand.
Steve O'Dell 25:21
Somewhat. Yeah, there's a balance there. I think it makes it a lot easier. But like, I also don't think it's absolutely necessary, either. You know, and like, if you think about, let's say, like, Do you guys know liquid IV or like a really big hydration company?
Mariah Parsons 25:39
Steve O'Dell 25:41
What's up with the smirk, Brian?
Brian Lastovich 25:42
Because yeah, you're the founder. I can't like this is the problem with video. Yeah, the founder loves liquid IV. And he, like says he drinks one daily. Right? Is that what he said Daily?
Mariah Parsons 25:57
Yeah, he loves it. We also had it at our like, off site. So he was like, you know, the next morning, you're up and ready to go after a late night with a team. So
Steve O'Dell 26:06
I love that. I also, I probably drink close to one a day, too.
Mariah Parsons 26:10
There you go. So I just ordered it on Amazon.
Steve O'Dell 26:15
Now, like one of my best friends works there. I'm also friends with the founder. That's I wanted to bring this up, like going back to the store like Diddy phase, right? Like, if you're like Kim Kardashian, or like Mr. Beast, like, have frickin corpse like having a face is going to really accelerate that. Yeah, you know, but there's a lot of ways to build a brand. And when if you think about liquid IV, like they had, you know, really great outcome. And it was a very positive for founders, investors and all the early employees. And Brandon isn't like, huge, but like he would post about the company and what they're doing on like LinkedIn or Instagram or Twitter and like, he's got like a following. But it's not like, he's Kim Kardashian. You know, and it's like, I know a lot of people that enjoy liquid IV that have no clue or thinking about all the brands that you enjoy. It's like, I don't know who the founder of Hawaiian kings role is. But when Thanksgiving comes I love those mini little rolls are so good. Like, I couldn't tell you a single one with corals corn. Yeah, like, well, who's a corn Bran? I have no idea. But you can go to grocery store buy this corny, like, Oh, this is great.
Brian Lastovich 27:19
But that's an opportunity. My gosh, we're in with the founders face on it.
Mariah Parsons 27:23
Yeah, we should be on brand now. That's, that's what's gonna come out of this episode.
Steve O'Dell 27:29
I think selling corners were probably really, really hard and super competitive. Like the number one agricultural product in the country. Right. Like, sounds like
Brian Lastovich 27:38
a good challenge. Yeah. Exclusive cord that you can only get through a TTC brand.
Steve O'Dell 27:47
Hey, we should maybe we get we have our spokesperson. It's a little kid, we hire the kid.
Brian Lastovich 27:52
We have this video, we've traveled the world looking for the best corner we found that actually in Iowa, like How amazing would that be?
Mariah Parsons 28:00
It's writing itself. Yeah. Yeah.
Brian Lastovich 28:03
So let me get so on the subject, though, like, I'm going to transfer to, here's my hypothesis, and you could tell me like you don't agree, or you agree, but like, I think the founders, branding, like really helps with like, getting that exposure, getting someone to your website, getting someone like interested in what this is. But it's to get someone to stay, I don't think it like really helps. I think that's when the product is like actually the main variable that gets someone to like buy again, again, again, it's like, actually, it's a great product to keep and to keep on buying. Is that the way that you think about it to Steve, or is that different?
Steve O'Dell 28:44
I think there's a lot of truth in what you said. And I don't necessarily think it's the whole story. But I do think that product is the most important thing in a consumer brands for sure. And if you don't have a great product, no matter how many people you get the website, it's just not gonna work. And frankly, if, like companies like these, like, these dropshippers those people like I really don't like and they're just shilling bad products. And it's like, the best brands in the world have the highest LTVs and they're getting repeat purchase over decades. And if you think about them, like, I don't know, like, do you are either of you like Apple product users? Like do you have an iPhone and a Mac? Yes. So like, you know, think about the total dollar value of you like with Apple, like I bought, I've had an iPhone app, like, like 15 years maybe like that's a lot of iPhones, that's like at least eight iPhones, you know, and then maybe more in college and I broke a few I have like had like four MacBooks like I got air my air pods and I got Apple mass. I got this Apple keyboard. I watch. What do you got? Yeah, the watch like 45 chargers?
Mariah Parsons 29:56
Yeah, it's crazy, right?
Steve O'Dell 29:57
Like it's, it's it's 1000s and 1000s and 1000s tons of dollars over a very long period of time. And, you know, I would imagine that a lot of people feel that same way. And that's why they're one of the biggest companies in the world and air pods makes $8 billion a year. Like, is
Brian Lastovich 30:10
that what it is? 8 billion? Yeah, air pods
Steve O'Dell 30:13
is a bigger company than like Spotify and Netflix like,
Mariah Parsons 30:18
crazy. That's insane. But I believe.
Brian Lastovich 30:21
Yeah, I will say, though, that like, for me, I can't prove my own hypothesis. But like Steve Jobs led me to like, always, like, I was always a big fan of Steve Jobs. Like, I got his biography over here. And that led me to the brand. And then as soon as I just saw, like, the quality and like, just the why behind the brand, like Academy for the last 15 years.
Steve O'Dell 30:43
Yeah, and I totally agree. Like, your comment. There's a lot of truth and hypothesis, I think that stands. But there's a lot of things you need to do outside of the product, also to make people stick around. And that's like any customer service, and you need good marketing and education, and you'll need to stay relevant, like, a lot of those things. Yeah,
Brian Lastovich 31:02
so this is good, like, right, like I was gonna move this on, because I think this is like it leans into this, all right, after the purchase, can you tell us a little bit about like, I know that you're also a very big data person. So I've heard before that, like a you, you will optimize LTV by certain channels and try to find certain patterns in the customer journey and then say, hey, let's invest here because it has a higher LTV. So in that regard, when it comes to, let's just start with like post purchase, so like after someone buys, do you did you put a lot of time into that, like, from the very
Steve O'Dell 31:40
initial buys? I don't think we do anything after they buy? Nothing? No, obviously, just joking. We do a ton of work with it, it's like is so important. And And personally, I feel like I've done like so much studying about like, how retention works and how to optimize it and how to analyze it, and what are the most important steps in it, but that we do constant iterations on every part of that flow.
Brian Lastovich 32:11
So talk a little bit can you actually explain to us? Once someone does by there's obviously a shipping process, then they get their package? Or are you also like, you put a lot of effort into the boxing and like the actually. Yeah, so that package and that experience as well?
Steve O'Dell 32:31
Yeah, let's start unboxing. So unboxing, when people first purchase, they buy a trial kit, right? So that's like comes with mantra, like a storage container, a scooper. And electric mixer, the whole gamut of stuff that you need to be successful. And so like one is like all those, this is a cool thing we deal with, like all of us have like skews, right. And then we have like a special box. And we have like an insert card and everything has a SKU. And then like three years ago, we started doing SKU iterations, right. So like, we would do like say the skews like 123 it became like 123 dash one. And then 123 dash two. And every time we improved one of those things, we looked at retention in the corresponding cohorts. And then made sure that like one is product development mapping to LTV. And so then you take like you shoot different shots based on things you're learning or customer feedback and surveys. But that's like product development. Iterating that and that's really important. And if I mean even in that video, like he referenced earlier, like one of the cringy parts is like all those products, like, we had like janky ass labels, like we had, we would buy these white tins from this guy in Riverside, California, he'd ship it to our office, we get stickers from this person, like we put stickers on tins, and like, you know, it turns out like, oh, just actually just buying a lot of frickin TINs that are fully printed is really nice. And then we're like, oh, like, we can do, like kind of texturize the tin so like, all the lettering, like stands out like a millimeter. And then like that was like, Oh, like that actually improved retention. You know, if you had a better feeling your hands and you know, you're picking up that tan every day, like it's much nicer right? Then after, so that's part one. And like Part Two is like this really extensive email flow. Obviously, we use you guys and the power the tracking, and there's a really nice portal. And really, really clear messaging around how to use the product and be successful with it and what you should see and how it impacts your life. And really, a lot of it's focused on like, you really need to drink it daily. Like this is a habit that you're committing to and like it's the same thing with going to the gym. Like if you're having five cobras a day and you're making a switch to Montra like you're probably if you just drink one cup a day like you're you're still gonna be in caffeine withdrawal and like you're not going to feel like that good. So it's like being aware of that and you know, if you're aware of that you'll be able to better deal with it or you can And frankly, increase the consumption of mantra a lot more to get closer to that coffee volume. So you don't feel as bad. You're still getting a bunch of caffeine. Yeah, and then we AB test and iterate, you know these things. And then you look at the numbers and CLEVEO created a custom dashboard. And we looked at those metrics, they're like, We map the clay vo flow IDs to the LTVs of customers and cohorts and track when those went live and what emails you got, and then iterate around that.
Brian Lastovich 35:31
Is there a certain flow that's someone's buying one time, where like, Alright, here's the experience that they're going to receive, to then try to get them to become a
Steve O'Dell 35:42
subscriber. Yeah, totally. And I mean, I think we upsell like within 12 months of your first purchase, if it's a one time we upsell, like over 40% of those people in the subscription. It's a pretty substantial now. I mean, the only reason that tenza has been able to grow on the income side, it's like, we have really high LTV, like we have high LTV and the people at common thread. Taylor Holliday, he's got a he's pretty smart, smart dude. That this concept of like, how quickly are you doubling first order ao V. Right? Is that? Are you doubling it in 30 days? Are you doubling it in 6090 100, like we're doing like 300% in 12 months, and like 100%, in like 30 days, or maybe 60 days, but it's like, those numbers are very outside of like the normal scope of, you know, just e commerce and products like that. So high contribution margin, which means you can spend more money on ads, which means you can grow faster.
Brian Lastovich 36:44
So what you're doing is spend more on the acquisition side, because you know, the LTV is sign up,
Steve O'Dell 36:51
you get really good at LTVs, and payback periods. And, you know, that creates this kind of unfair advantage in the category. So you can bid more on it. And so you can outbid them in search, you know, bid them on YouTube, I mean, on Facebook, Instagram, everywhere, you're buying ads,
Brian Lastovich 37:08
so you know exactly, then how much to pay for that. Click, right.
Steve O'Dell 37:12
Oh, yeah, everything is perfectly mapped out. Yeah, but I mean, the only challenging part now is like iOS 14 really made it a lot more difficult. On the acquisition side, like retention data is obviously very clear. You have it all in shop five. But acquisition is basically like, we've reverted like, 20 years. And now no one really knows anymore. And you're just like spending a bunch of money. And yeah, hopefully it works.
Mariah Parsons 37:42
Yeah, are you in that time period of like, trying to figure out like everyone else is right, like the privacy changes, and reverting back 20 years, like how you can, like use older, like marketing methods or older acquisition methods to get in front of customers without that data?
Steve O'Dell 38:00
Yeah, a little bit. I mean, I think like, right now, we first of all, we still have a lot of data. Like, it's not, it's not like it's gone, per se. It's just, like, if you think about like, a clear day, and like, if there's not a cloud in the sky, like he can see you're standing on a mountain, you can see really far right. But if there's like a storm coming in, and it gets a little cloudy, maybe this little fall, he can't quite see as far as that's what I'd say. Like he can still see a lot, but it's just a little bit more cloudy. But yeah, like, I think the main switch we did is just really focusing on organic content. And like, we're really pushing and investing a lot to make better organic content. And, you know, utilize the right platforms and create content that looks native to each platform, and create the right content, all that kind of stuff.
Mariah Parsons 38:48
So I should expect to see Tik Tok and Instagram rules.
Steve O'Dell 38:52
Yes, yes. YouTube short.
Mariah Parsons 38:55
YouTube shorts. Okay.
Brian Lastovich 38:57
You're doing that in house? Or you're that's an agency that's helping you?
Steve O'Dell 39:02
No, no agency. I mean, that's Laurie on our team. She works with Rob, and they, you know, contact a large number of creators or a small number that are really good. Just kind of depends on the month, and then they send us a ton of content. Yeah.
Brian Lastovich 39:17
Yeah. Well, we just saw that. We were talking about this last week, but the what was the goal? Shopify? collabs? Have you seen that? Is that like something that you would do?
Steve O'Dell 39:28
Yeah. So is it just saying, Oh, it's just me? Yeah. I, you know, I'm not as involved in that process. I kind of let them leave that. I mean, just leave it up to them. Like, yeah, we have a lot of autonomy. I can't be like, looking at that. But hey, I get the numbers every week and I look at all the organic content. You know, I set the goals for what they need to hit, but that's about as far as I step into that pool.
Mariah Parsons 39:55
Yeah. Okay. I like the idea behind I feel like organic content works, at least for me as a consumer very well. And like the idea that it's you're still having that connection of like, what your brand stands for, and the like, name like the face of someone, right? But you already have the like creator if you're a really big follower of some, some typical creator, and you see that like, oh, they drink Matcha. And they really like it and the brand, they always shop with his tenza tea. Like, I think it lends itself very well, obviously to, you know, having that influence over someone. And this is a this is a topic that I recently saw, but I feel like we're now shifting as a society to putting more of an influence on those creators instead of like celebrity endorsements. What's both of your like, opinions on that? Ryan?
Brian Lastovich 40:50
I was gonna, I was gonna ask you because I mean, okay, here's this is coming from someone that's not on Instagram, someone that's not on Tik Tok. I, I'm trying to think like, I still have influencers, they're just in different ways. Like, sounds so old, but like when I read certain books, and I really liked the author, like someone recommended it on a certain podcast, so get the book, I'm like, I really like the author, then I'll follow the author, they usually have a newsletter and whatever they recommend, I'll, I'll pick up like my next book or whatever. So I just don't see that the same way, like their creators just in a different channel, or source more or less. But I think, yeah, like, it's the same thing. It's just like, how we had celebrity endorsements, and that just like, widen the gap, and it's really easy now to get an endorsement within just another select channel.
Steve O'Dell 41:53
Yeah, I mean, newsletters is a really good point to like, newsletters are huge. They're a really good spot to market and you can buy placements on them, or you can get an organic placement. Like, like Brian was referencing organic, but I think yeah, we never know these days. That's the sad truth of the matter. Yeah, I just think on the Creator side, like, they're just good. Like, not like, you know, your average. I don't know, like college kid or like, young professional. It's just like, oh, like posting on Tik Tok and, like, get like two views. But like, people, like there are people that are like, actually very skilled at those things. And, you know, it's much easier for them to do it. You know, and it's like, I think it's really just about finding like expertise on what you need. Like, we have this one, girl, Kaylee, shout out, Kaylee. She is so good at recipes. And like, I could spend the next 50 years of my life like, you know, 24 hours a day, like, like corn obsessed with recipes. I wouldn't, I would never, I would never be as good as you know, like, she's a great photographer videographer, her recipes. I don't know how she thinks of them. Or, I don't even know like, how she figures out what ingredients to use and what proportion like it all just like, I'm like, Oh my God. You know, she's, she's a fucking pro. And if you look at our content, on recipes, it is really good. So, just think it's about just working with the experts.
Mariah Parsons 43:27
Yeah, that's a good point. Okay. Yeah. I feel like too, with like, name image likeness with athletes. I know, Steve, you're an athlete as well in college. But like, I feel like that's why it's trending more in that direction of people who are like experts, or like, they're really knowledgeable about this area, like you said, elite recipes. Like I'm, that, that makes a lot of sense. I'm not sure exactly where I lie. And I feel like there's still like celebrity endorsements are very powerful nowadays, like they still are. But I've definitely, I think creators also whatever their level of expertise or whatever their area is in, it definitely still makes a difference for sure.
Steve O'Dell 44:08
Yeah, no, I
Brian Lastovich 44:08
love it as a marketer, honestly, because like, I think about it seems like there's now there's like so many possibilities, look at it, right? Like before, it was like, Okay, we could do the mass media, like, find one celebrity that encompasses hopefully, the ICP of what we're going after. But now it actually takes thinking to be like, Hey, we can try to build a relationship with 10 people. That note, like, let's try to find those 10 people and those 10 influencers and creators. And for sure,
Steve O'Dell 44:38
I mean, it's a great time to be a marketer, so many ways that you can grow a company it's crazy. Yeah, I think that's, that goes back to the Creator point that I was making earlier. It's like, there's so many ways and to do any one of them really well. You need to be like super good at it. And like it's it's one thing to say like, oh, like I wrote a blog post, like I'm working on SEO like I'm an SEO expert, but it's like that's like, so not true. Or even like Facebook ads or Tik Tok media buying it's all like, way more complex than you think. Same with posting organic content you think oh, I can open up Tik Tok and just shoot this little video of myself making a little Marcia no problem. Yeah,
Brian Lastovich 45:27
drinking matcha right now.
Steve O'Dell 45:28
Yeah, I am my little to do shaker bottle.
Brian Lastovich 45:32
I like how many do you drink today? Right now? At seven?
Mariah Parsons 45:39
On hard days. 88. Right?
Steve O'Dell 45:42
Yeah, how hard is it here? Maybe nine? No, like, two a day, usually morning afternoon. Sometimes I'll fire up like 4pm. Or I'm like, gonna be working like late or like gonna go to bed late or something. But
Mariah Parsons 45:59
how long? Do you have that like sustained energy for like, personally? Would you say? Like,
Steve O'Dell 46:03
a couple hours? It kind of depends. I mean, the real, you know, answer here is like, energy, your, your personal energy level, it depends on a lot of things. And if you really want to nail it, like, You need to sleep eight hours, and you need to eat the right amount of food and not too much of it. And like what you put in your body is absolutely critical. You know, are you super stressed or anxious? Like all these things, play this role? It's frankly, it's very difficult. You know, even for me, like if I don't sleep, like the amount, the appropriate amount of hours like I feel worse, I have less energy. Maybe I'll be drinking, you know, 89 cups that day? Yeah.
Brian Lastovich 46:46
Well, in a perfect world, the way that you measure retention is probably the way that you should also measure like, what's the best way to concentrate? Right? Like you wake up. Alright, I'm only gonna drink two cups of tea today. And then also get eight hours of sleep and then see how it is then the next day like, what if three, three cups of matcha tea and then eight hours of sleep? That's the way to do it?
Steve O'Dell 47:07
Mariah Parsons 47:08
Speaking like everything like that sounded exactly like athletics. So I'm curious, that did that play, like a big part in your founder story as well, kind of bringing it full circle here. Like the learning style, all that?
Steve O'Dell 47:23
Yeah, I mean, I think that in my freshman year at UCLA, like one of the big lessons that year was like, you want to perform at a really high level, the, the degree to which you're different than the people that are just below you, or just above you is very, very small. And it's like, the good way to think about it for everyone is like, if you think about studying for a test, like, it takes maybe like, 1% of the time to get like a D or C. And it takes, let's say, 90% time to get to an A. And then it takes like, you know, a ton more time to just get from A to A plus. And like that very small window is like the little things and really nailing those you know, and so it's the same thing in sports, it's like, the degree is very small. And if you want to get that at a plus level, you really need to do everything well. And that comes down to like, having good routines in the morning and night and not like drinking a ton or like raging too much in college and like, you know, showing up and going to class and getting your homework done on time. So if you don't, then you're going to be putting like a tutor or like, whatever thing else that can like distract you from like, what you really need to do just like as an athlete was just like just be really, really good at sports. Yeah, and so like, life's very holistic, same, same thing, the concept about health and we were just talking about like, gotta be good on all fronts and the best people, well, they'll have deficiencies in some areas or things that they just don't care about. You're usually really, really good at the key things that truly matter. Everything else is just
Mariah Parsons 49:12
yeah, what what would you say if you had to pinpoint one thing for 10 00? That was like, that extra little bump from a to a plus? But no, not here, Steve?
Steve O'Dell 49:23
No, great question. I mean, we I don't even think we're not even close to a plus yet. Like this. Yeah. Like, I like when I was thinking about what we were doing like in college athletics, like, especially like UCLA, it was like the best men's Bible program in the country. It's like the highest level of indoor volleyball you could play in, in America. And like, we were doing really sophisticated stuff. And everyone on the team had been training really hard for like decades, or like, you know, we were 18 So everyone probably started playing on there like 10. So you have at least 10 years of like, just really diligent focus and like But tenza We're on like, year five and a half. Like, we're basically like a high school. I don't know, junior varsity level player. Like, we're probably pretty good for that level. You know, and maybe we're getting recruited by some, you know, Division One schools, but we're not at the same level yet. And we had a lot of those kind of blips, which like, got us from like, oh, like, we're an elementary school, you know, to like, Oh, this is middle school. That was probably figuring out cash flow. Like that's like so, so insanely important as a brand, and you have a very large financial obligations, managing cash cycles, and inventory is really hard. Then I would say the next one is just like learning how to sell I'm like, getting really good at sales. Like that comes from like, our wholesale business and building a really good sales team and understanding the processes. And then on the E commerce side, just like understanding the funnels, retention and unit economics, contribution margin, getting really good at that, too. But a lot of steps. Yeah. Okay.
Mariah Parsons 51:03
I like that answer. Yeah,
Brian Lastovich 51:04
I like that, too. I just want to say one thing, which is, I want to pinpoint because I haven't heard this much. But like, usually, the way that you look at acquisition is exactly what you were saying, which is cohort analysis. Let's look at LTV where we should spend the money, but I have rarely heard looking at retention the same exact way. And like what you said, like let's say B tests, like adding one thing to the package, and then seeing what happens after the fact. I think that's clear. To me, that is something special that your company and yourself work on. That probably has put you into a good spot right now.
Steve O'Dell 51:40
Yeah, I think that definitely helped us separate from the pack. I think just going off on that, like one of my biggest regrets is just not doing EECOM more seriously earlier on, basically didn't even do it for the first three years of the company until the pandemic hit. And it was like, oh, like we should sell on EECOM. And we got really good at it and grew a ton.
Mariah Parsons 52:00
Yeah, that's well, there's a lot of power to that. Right. Like, always learning miss,
Steve O'Dell 52:05
we miss the golden era. I don't think that's true. Oh, no, we did we did. People with no effort and skills could just jump on and print money.
Mariah Parsons 52:19
Help that cash flow. Yeah. But
Brian Lastovich 52:20
it's about LTV now.
Steve O'Dell 52:23
Yeah. So brand LTV, good products. Yeah.
Mariah Parsons 52:27
Cool. I think this has been phenomenal. Steve, we like to ask at the end of each episode, resources that you'd like to share, but you you all were talking about books anyways. So just real quick, are there any more that have helped you along the way outside of books, or if you want to recommend more that came to mind? We're gonna give the space to you to do so as we wrap up.
Steve O'Dell 52:49
Yeah, I would fall back on my earlier advice, maybe pick a couple good books. For each specific thing that you're trying to learn, read those books. Get those books, probably recommended by experts in the field. And then after you read those books, start actually doing the work and learn through doing Yeah, yeah, all of us for the day. Love that.
Mariah Parsons 53:11
Well, thank you so much for joining us. This has been so fun.
Steve O'Dell 53:13
Thanks for having me. Thanks to you guys. were great. This was also a just a good podcast is very conversational, and not just like, oh, like here's me answering the question, you know, so props to you guys for
Brian Lastovich 53:29
Mariah. I was like, that's the last thing I want.
Steve O'Dell 53:32
Yeah, thanks for the time.
Mariah Parsons 53:33
If you ever want to come back on, let us know.
Steve O'Dell 53:36
Yeah. Season three maybe? Yeah,
Mariah Parsons 53:38
Brian Lastovich 53:39
Let's just get your season. Hey, sorry.
Mariah Parsons 53:43
We got a great one. A lot of fun. Stay in touch those Steve will do.