S5 E2: How ecommerce brands should evaluate their technology providers with RC Williams (Co-Founder, Rejuvia and 1-800-D2C)


RC tells Mariah about how he and his mother started Rejuvia four years ago and how they dove into the business headfirst. After running the business for a while, they tracked what was working for them and they’ve fine-tuned their business strategy.

He details how brands that are just starting out shouldn’t load heavy on technology, they should keep it light early and then add on different technology as they grow. He warns brands against enabling a tech stack just because a competitor has a certain software.

With the brands he interviews in his ‘Under the Hood’ series, RC shares the learnings he’s receiving from founders and recognizes that behind every successful brand there lies hurdles they’ve overcome.

RC also discusses how he rules out personal bias with 1-800-D2C, his technology recommendation platform. He says that with the privacy changes, a lot of brands are looking to third party tools to provide analytics as well as smart AI tools to increase efficiency of smaller teams.

Episode Timestamps:

  • Taking over a platform for DTC brands to find valuable tools and apps. 1:39

  • Founding a brand and choosing a tech stack with unbiased recommendations. 3:10

  • Staying up-to-date with new tools and updates in the DTC space. 8:21

  • DTC brand operation, paid media, and retention. 13:28

  • Growing a brand through tech stack and product development. 20:16

  • Tech stack configuration, data analytics, and privacy updates. 23:55

  • AI tools and under-the-hood interviews with founders. 31:25

  • E-commerce growth and operational efficiency. 37:19

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To see what your custom mockup of branded order tracking and transactional email/SMS would look like, fill out this form & we’ll send your custom design right to your inbox!

Be sure to subscribe to our pod to stay up-to-date and checkout Malomo, the leading order tracking platform for Shopify brands.

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This transcript was completed by an automated system, please forgive any grammatical errors.


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RC Williams, Mariah Parsons

Mariah Parsons 00:04

Greetings and welcome to retention Chronicles podcast with learnings from expert e commerce, brands and partners. I'm Ryan Parsons,

RC Williams 00:12

and I'm no Rahim today, if you're here, you're either on a quest for E commerce enlightenment, or you accidentally click the wrong link. Either way, we're thrilled you stumbled into our corner of the internet.

Mariah Parsons 00:22

And hey, even if you're not on the E commerce hype train, stick around. We promise it'll be worth your while. We've got pearls of wisdom for everyone, whether you're running a business or just trying to keep your house plans a lot. Exactly.

RC Williams 00:33

So before we unleash the brilliance of today's episode, let's give a shout out to our fantastic sponsor Malomo.

Mariah Parsons 00:40

They're the wizards behind the curtain, making the post purchase experience smoother than a jazz solo,

RC Williams 00:45

hit that subscribe button like it will increase LTV overnight, and check out our other episodes go malomo.com That's GOMALO mo.com yet

Mariah Parsons 00:55

ready for insights chuckles and possibly a profound realization or two. Here's our newest episode of retention Chronicles. All righty, hello, everyone. And welcome to retention Chronicles. Very, very, very excited for our guests here today. RC Great to have you. Like I said to you before we started recording. We had Tim from 100 DC here in season one. So very excited to get your take on what it's been like now running 100 DVC, and explore more about your journey to get there. So if you could give us a short intro, that'd be great. I know our listeners are going to enjoy this one. Totally.

RC Williams 01:38

Thanks for having me. So I I got into DDC about four and a half years ago when I was in school. My mom and I started our own little family DTC brands called drew Juvia. And we've scaled that up over the last handful of years. And when we were doing so we came across 100 DTC as this really cool platform of where you could go and see the other the other tools and apps that similar brands to you are using and we use the platform to find new new tools and stuff and found it super valuable. So I reached out to Tim and I was like, Hey, this is really cool. Congrats on doing this. Would you ever consider consider letting me take the reins and run this thing full time. So yeah, that's, that's where we got to I got to take over close to three months ago. And I guess the the vision is like, there's this need and DTC where there's a zillion apps zillion tools, but there's not this one central platform, impartial platform where you can go and kind of read reviews, see actually what other brands use, why they use it, their stage, all of that. And I see the opportunity for 100 DTC to become a important platform for for operators to build better tech stacks. So that's, that's kind of the background little high level. And it's great to be here, chat. Chat about all things DVC love

Mariah Parsons 03:10

it. Okay, I, so I knew you had your own brand. I didn't know you had it. You'd founded it with your mother. So I think that's awesome. And that's how you stumbled across 100 Do you see is actually using the platform itself? So there's so many questions that are gonna be sparked from that, mainly being i i forget how I think it maybe was Tim reaching out from like a mutual Slack channel that we were in where I first came across your platform. And I like instantly, it struck me as such a smart idea. Because like you said, there's a lot of different apps and tools and everything, and it can get sometimes get noisy. So if you're founding a brand, then I imagine not knowing where to look first can be quite overwhelming. And so I kind of see it as, like a platform where it's like the benefit of once you're in the space, you get to know like certain people and trust them. And like word of mouth, especially in the Shopify ecosystem, but all the commerce is very influential. And so I kind of see when I entered DTC as, like all the benefits that an influencer or community has without any of the prejudice, I guess, is that something you agree with?

RC Williams 04:28

Yeah, 100% that's where we see. See the value like when you're looking at a new tool and you like try to Google it or something. It's like, all you get is sponsored articles, affiliate links, trying to sell you on the tool, even though it might not be right for your business might not be right for your stage, stuff like that. And overall, like it's great for the people making that content. It's not great for the operators. And as an operator myself, like we we fell into that trap like we brought on a bunch of tools that weren't right for us that weren't I'm providing the value that we were sold. And we just see this, this need, like, for an impartial platform that can take you take everything into consideration about your brand, and give you recommendations in a authentic, valuable way that can just help you build a better tech stack without trying to sell you new tools that maybe you don't need, or maybe don't fit you. So yeah, basically building it from from what we wish we had when we were building our V, one of our tech stack, and sharing that with other operators at a similar stage. So

Mariah Parsons 05:36

because like, obviously, the platform you want to Yeah, offer like the best opinion, the best unbiased opinion that you can do find you ever have to try and remove like personal opinion, because I know that we have like certain partners, right, like I know, partners that are in the same category, which, if I was founding a brand I would go with, and that's partially because partner teams like I'm working with some more than others, partially just because I've seen their software. So do you find you struggle with that at all? Or is it really is it quite easy to like, because you know, you have to have as a platform and unbiased opinion, you don't have to struggle with the personal.

RC Williams 06:21

The hardest thing is like, since we have our own brand, we have our own tech stack. So it's like, I always think I'm using the best tools. And like those are obviously the ones I want to recommend. But like that's not always true. And we're like we're at a unique stage. And like, our recommendation isn't going to be relevant to everyone. But it's always hard not to recommend our own tech stack. But we do a pretty good job of like, trying to take everyone's needs into consideration seeing their category, their stage, their revenue, their different channels, all of that. And just making recommendations based on based on the brand not based on what we use what we want to sell all that. So yeah, it can get pretty hard. It's like especially when you use use a tool every single day, and get into the platform every day and kind of fall in love with the tool. It's hard not to recommend that every chance you get but like not every tool is for every brand. And I think it took us a few a few months to learn that. But once you once you get that down, it's the impartiality is not too hard to play into. You want to structure the business around it, too.

Mariah Parsons 07:27

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. I also wanted to ask you before diving into more of the learnings you've had, both on the brand side and through, I guess, would you say like consultancy side, like with 100 DTC? Yeah, there's

RC Williams 07:44

one. Kind of like one arm to the business is like the platform. So you can go on you can see, you can look at the brands profiles, see their tech stack, see what they use, why they use it, kind of get information about where they are in the journey. And then the other side is, we have a agency consulting type of thing where smaller merchants who are either just starting or need a tech stack reconfiguration, like they can essentially hire us as like a outsource CTO and will act as a consultant, implementation manager, all of that to help them build what we think are the best tech stocks in the world. Yes,

Mariah Parsons 08:20

okay. Gotcha. Okay, for the podcast sake, I'll say like consultancy and the brand side. You kind of rope those two arms of putting 100 DTC together. But do you find it's difficult to try and stay on top like with new apps emerging with like, everyone's product updates and everything? Do you find it's difficult to try and stay on top of all these updates for these, all these platforms that you are hosting on 100 DTC?

RC Williams 08:49

I think finding new tools is we're in the lucky position one with when there's a new tool, they usually come to us, or somehow we get to inbound and kind of get in the loop pretty early on. So we're lucky with that. And it's fun, like it's really cool to discover new tools, new founders building things that bring value to brands. Like that's really a cool part of the job. The other thing you mentioned discovering new features and new products within products. That's very hard. But I agree. It feels like every tool is becoming a platform and a platform. There's four to five different products and keeping up with that and making sure our hundreds of listings are updated with the latest info that's super hard. It's very manual right now. But it's what it's what we signed up to do and it's fun, just just hard to keep up with it.

Mariah Parsons 09:42

Yeah, so this is a tangent but I so I just from Netflix drive to survive like f1 I don't know if you're a fan of f1 at all. But my sister mother and I have recently become very big fans and So, on one of their podcasts, the the principle of Red Bull was talking about how like the field, every couple of years, the race cars will like all look really similar because they'll just follow the top leader, right. And then they'll diversify, because like something changes in the ecosystem or like regulations, whatever. And what you were just saying about, like different platforms, having different parts and kind of taking, like, the seeing what the market needs, and then solving for all of them. The tools, I think, also go through similar ways where they, some some becomes super similar. And it's like, fine tuning, right to see like, how those platforms are different. And then something else can shake up the entire ecosystem. And then you have all these different tools that are, you know, wildly different. Now, when you look like between one to three years, right? So it makes sense to me that it would be very difficult to stay on top of all the different platforms, all the different updates. And keep the keep your platform and the people you're serving as well, up to date.

RC Williams 11:08

Yeah, totally, I think what we've seen is like, just naturally in the E contacts, like, a few years ago, everyone had their really incredible point solution, like you had your you had a reviews tool, you had an analytics tool, you had a post purchase, communication tool, all of that. And then as as DTC kind of evolved, these tools, like they had the really high volume of brands using them, but they realized the brands wanted more, so they launch new products, and ultimately it kind of evolves into at least where I see it going is like, instead of having 50 apps on your Shopify store and a few years, you're gonna have five, and those five is gonna be like one for analytics, one for communication with the customers, one for fulfillment, one for inventory, and they're all just gonna really be big platforms that serve pretty much every need you have in there. I think that's pretty exciting and cool. And as a merchant, that's, it brings us a lot of value when we don't have to log into 50 apps to do 50 different things. But for on 100 DTC sake, it's a little bit it's quite taxing to, to keep on top of it. Yes, yeah,

Mariah Parsons 12:16

I can imagine. Yeah, we're seeing that on the Malomo side as well. Just trying to always optimize for having people not not having people or not having brand offers or operators, I should say, have to log into multiple, different platforms. So I know like our gorgeous integration or loop integration. A big thing that we focus on is like you can have all of that information streamlined, so that you don't have to, you know, have all these different logins and all that stuff. Okay, so from now, both the perspectives of operating a brand and operating, wanting hundreds, etc, I would love to know, one of the things we're also focusing on it Malomo is trying to see, or just trying to observe where everyone in this space goes to learn new things like who are you following? who motivates you or inspires you? Are there certain resources or newsletters or podcasts or whatever it is that you're checking up on daily to stay on top of you know, the new tools and updates best you can? Or is it really just is there no like method to the madness, I guess?

RC Williams 13:28

Um, I think the main one is going to be Twitter. I like I like following people that are actually doing the work and like actually, in the operator role, like pulling the strings every day. I think that's where most of the insights and super valuable both tidbits and tactics come out of so whether they share that through organic social, Twitter, LinkedIn, or through a newsletter, or their podcasts, like whoever's whoever's in the it's gonna sound cheesy, but in the arena, those are that's where most of the value comes from. I think podcasts wise I listened to limited supply that's, that's the main one with Nick Moyes. And then newsletter wise, just pretty much every kind of like every different creators newsletter I'll glance at. Some of my favorites are next again, and then Cody, CMO at Jones wrote, I think he is really good operator and good marketer and being a young guy. He's taught me a lot that I've known today. So very appreciative of that. And then just staying up to date with with the brand and the text tool stuff. There's another platform CPG D CPG. Directory, they do a really good job of just their newsletter is good at just highlighting all of the new mostly CPG DTC brands. And kind of like the agencies and partners behind it and how they helped build the brands. So I looked at them to kind of stay in the loop to see who's building cool things on the brand side and then the time tool side. Hopefully I am the one filling the gap. If we're if we're not talking about new tools and kind of new platforms, it's mostly organic Twitter and pretty much anything else that comes via like newsletter, LinkedIn stuff like that.

Mariah Parsons 15:15

Okay, okay, awesome. I haven't heard of the CPG. D. Directory newsletter, so I'll have to check it out. Chris from cross net Chris meat as well. I don't know if you subscribe to his newsletter, but I always recommend it if I don't hear it. Yeah, yeah, that's great one. Okay, so thank you for sharing the resources. How do you? How could you like explain, I guess the learnings of learning how to operate a DTC brands like when you and your mother first started? Did you have any background with like entrepreneurship or anything of the sort? And then where did you like, what lessons have you learned, I guess, along the way that you think might be missed if someone isn't actually running their brand, full time.

RC Williams 16:08

The biggest one we've learned is like, just get into the mix, and try and build an iterate as you go. I think if we look back on when we started, like four years ago, we'd be really embarrassed about what we were trying to do. We didn't even know what Facebook ads were we didn't know what like email marketing, all of that. And we just kind of built this Shopify site, threw up the products that my mom had worked with the manufacturer to develop, and kind of just hope that somehow people would discover them and buy them. And I guess, like for the first year, so we were doing really weird tactics. Like we were, like, Instagram messaging people to buy our products, all of that. And just every day, we kind of just tried new things and kind of sniffed out where the traction was coming. And then we kind of follow that lead and iterate, try something else new. And then eventually, we discovered how the typical DTC machine works. And then once we got into that mix, it took about a year to hammer out the messaging and kind of our funnels and growth. But it really all just came from, like, actually doing the work getting in the mix, building, and iterating. And basically just being super persistent, knowing that like, nothing's impossible, unless you quit, and we just had the mindset like, this is gonna work, we're never gonna quit. And we have a good product that people use get value from, and we just need to figure out how to distribute it. And that just came from effort and iteration.

Mariah Parsons 17:37

I like that I like I admire that determination, as well of as long as you stick with it, you know, you can learn and grow from there. I'm glad you brought up paid media as well as email marketing, because obviously, with Malomo, email marketing is pretty prevalent, because transactional emails, but let's talk about paid media first. Because there's obviously a big conversation around acquisition versus retention, and we're always tuning in to retention. So curious to hear your opinion on the value of it, like how it's changed in the four years that you've been in the space? Yeah, what's your what's your thoughts on like, the values is a change by industry does it change by type of product, that you have all that stuff? Um,

RC Williams 18:22

it definitely changes by category and everything like that, I think I can mainly speak to our categories. So when we first started out, we were looking to acquire just purchases from Facebook, like we just wanted people to buy our product profitably on the first purchase. And that would make us really happy and we could grow the business against that. I think as you gotten a little bit smarter and more in depth, we want to acquire customers. And the way you do that is by being really thoughtful about your messaging your media, kind of how you're acquiring these actual customers and kind of the journey. The journey you have from Day Zero to day 60, like how do you convert them from their first purchase when they're, they're really childless to actually their second and third purchase when they're really a customer. So I think it goes goes hand in hand acquisition and retention, like we're, we're always looking to acquire customers who are going to be with us for the rest of their life, because we have a product that solves something they need. And I think retention wise, like 95% of it, it's going to be your product, like if your product sucks, or it doesn't solve a problem for them, or they don't need it, or it's just an impulse purchase that they never actually tried to build into their daily lifestyle there. They're probably not going to come back and buy again, because you you sent a pretty email. But if you acquire the right customer with the right message for the right problem, and you have a really good customer journey through your emails, SMS, all of that. I think that's how you can build and that's how we built retention into our acquisition. But that's going to be that's going to be different for every brand and every category. That's what we've learned like the biggest message Just like there's a difference between the customers that buy the first time and buy the second time, and we just want to get more customers that buy twice. Even though that sounds super obvious and simple. It's, it changes a lot with how you're thinking about acquisition. Yeah,

Mariah Parsons 20:16

I love that we hear it's one of those things that you hear, but it's easy to forget about or easy to maybe sweep under the rug of. I imagine the first purchase is super exciting, especially in the earlier stages where you're just like you said, you're acquiring for the purchase rather than the customer. And I think that's a great way of putting it of trying to get that lifetime buy in or long term buy in. And I realized that I of course, know about Juvia. But at the top of the episode, I should have made you tell us a little bit more so the audience knows. Can you give us a brief summary about the products that you also?

RC Williams 20:52

Oh, yeah, totally. So we the easiest way to think about it is where health and wellness mostly sleep focus. So we took like your classic sleep supplement, like a melatonin gummy, or capsule, and we turned it into a better for you more convenient oral spray. So instead of chewing down a calorie dense sugary gummy before bed, you spray all natural sleep inducing solution under your tongue. More convenient, better for you. absorbed by your body a bit quicker. And yeah, that's that's your trivia. So we have two two hero products, our sleep spray and our stress spray. We saw them direct to consumer through through our Shopify site. And yeah, okay, love it.

Mariah Parsons 21:37

Thank you. Um, yeah, I got too excited at the top of the episode to just dive right in. So usually, I would have something of that nature at the top. But I think it's it's very interesting that you all like trying to, I guess, solve the issue that you know, so many of So, so many people face of having issues with sleep, but like looking at it in a different lens. Instead of like taking a gummy or taking a vitamin? D Yeah, just like revolutionising the space. So I love working in DC, because it's so interesting to see how people look at the same problem and then solve it a couple of different ways or many different ways. But okay, so I now want to talk about how, say a brand comes to you. They're either pre launch or just starting out? Can you kind of walk us through? Like how you're helping a brand grow? Like what is table stakes for a tech stack? What are you saying like, you need to figure out what whatever platform it is? What like, what problems are you trying to solve for first?

RC Williams 22:47

I think the, I think early on what you need is enough tech that somebody can buy from your site, and you can communicate with them. So really, that's a store, you need, probably reviews and you need email marketing. And that's pretty much it. And we don't we don't really think these early stage brands should be loading up on 2025 apps just to get out of the gate with a bunch of tech bloat. So we just tried to get a good idea of like their category, what, what platforms are best suited for that what platforms other brands their category used, kind of like we can go back and see that brand X is two years ahead of them in the same category, we can go back and see what they used at the start and make similar recommendations and kind of get their feedback as well and kind of what they recommend. But yeah, just starting with they're like really mean slim foundation. But that's really built strong so that when they're ready to grow and add more tech, it integrates easily. It's hopefully not a zillion apps that just get complicated, get a lot of bloat, but puts them in a really strong foundation to build a nice brand.

Mariah Parsons 23:55

Okay, love it. How does that if out? If at all differ from say, like a scaling brand? Would you just be recommending like what's like the next stage I guess of tech that you'd be adding on top of like those table stakes? Yeah,

RC Williams 24:10

so our brands are usually they come to us for like the total tech stack configuration. It's like when they're just starting and they just have their first Shopify store but they have no they have no tech on top of it. So we work more closely with those brands. And then closer to the higher higher end of the market. It's more like when they're deciding between two solutions and they want our input on like, what they've seen other brands of a similar size use why they use it stuff like that versus like a total tech stack reconfiguration. Because once your four to five years, and it's pretty hard to overhaul everything and you're probably in a pretty good groove. And there's probably no need to make big changes but it's always good to kind of get third party impartial opinions when you're adding new, new tools because you As you and I both know, once the tool gets into your sack, it's a little bit they dig their claws in pretty deep and it's hard to move in and out with tools.

Mariah Parsons 25:09

Yeah, yeah, definitely no. I can imagine. Yeah, once you have something unless it's really not working, then just the overhaul to, like, move all your stuff over. We of course, work with a lot, like very closely in the CLEVEO platform, or at least our customer success managers. And so I know, like overhauling to between platforms is just, it's, it's a beast to try and do, especially if you don't have, like, depending on your resources, if you don't have a big team to help you or an agency or any of that. That can be, I think, a big deterrent for a lot of people. So I think getting, I can imagine that there's a big barrier of entry in that, or maybe not even very adventure is the right words, but there's a hesitancy to like choose the wrong platform. I don't know if you see that at all of like, someone like a brand operator wants to get it right, so that they don't have to overhaul and get used to a whole new platform, you know, say a couple years down the road. So do you see that ever have like a hesitancy to choose? Because a brand doesn't want to make the wrong decision? Or is it pretty much once they have all the information that you all are supplying with when they're looking at like, say, a couple of different or two different tech solutions, that it's pretty clear to them which one will be best suited?

RC Williams 26:36

Yeah, it's probably the latter, we do see a little bit more like once, when they're onboarding a new platform or trying to consolidate their tech stacks, that's when the process is a little bit, rightly so drawn out more thoughtful, and making sure they get it right. But more importantly, making sure they don't get it wrong. Because once you have, once you're using a platform for four different things, that gets pretty ingrained in your business and in your customer communications. And it's really hard to flip that. So we do work with a lot of brands that their emphasis is like, we want to get it right. And we want to make sure we have the right solution. But we don't want to get it wrong so that in six months down the road, we're overhauling a lot of things that we interact with our customers on with the daily basis.

Mariah Parsons 27:22

Yeah, makes sense. So question is, well, when you're, say, consulting for a bigger brand that is looking at, let's just call it two, two different solutions, do you find that they're looking at other competitors, like their competitors in the space of like, their tech stack that they're using? A lot? Like, is it more often than not? That they're saying like, Okay, this is my, like, top competitor? Top competitive brand? Like, let's see what they're using? And I want to use that as well? Or is it pretty internal, like when a brand is making those decisions?

RC Williams 28:05

If they're coming through us, they definitely kind of how the platform is built, they'll definitely see the brands that are using, or their competitors, what tools they use. But we what we see is that the brands actually want to use other tools and what their competitors use. It's more of like the mindset of like, Oh, my competitors using this, why would we use the same thing? Why don't we go a different route and try to create some edge against them? But yeah, they definitely at least what we've seen and the brands we work with, which are usually on the smaller end, it's definitely a consideration. Boy, seeing the competitors tech stacks and the history of it.

Mariah Parsons 28:40

Okay, that's interesting. Yeah, I wouldn't think that it would be per se, like, let's do something different and use this technology, because our our competitor is using the other one. So that's I'm glad. I'm glad to hear I'm always I always love when we stumble across things that I don't expect. Okay, so I also want to talk about, like, when you're, I guess, so, like data and analytics, I feel like with privacy changes and all that. Nothing new but it's still shaking up a lot of people's approaches to different things. How have you seen like, has that in your conversations? Is that become a bigger priority has always been a priority? Has there been anything changed with those privacy updates? Because I think you've set out a very like a different a different perspective from the guests that we have on this podcast typically. So I definitely want to get your opinion on it.

RC Williams 29:43

I think right off the bat, there was definitely a great when those changes hit and iOS 14 release, like that's when the biggest mess occurred and that's where some of these, like third party tools and attribution systems, that's when they really caught traction with a lot of brands. But I think if You gave meta and Tiktok, a few years to evolve and kind of get around those changes. They've done a really good job about it. And I think for us specifically, like, we don't we don't use any of those like we rely solely on meta like it's it's been pretty good data. It's not 100%. It's good directional data. And like using a third party attribution tool isn't 100%, what we need, but it's definitely needed. Like when you add in multiple channels, and you have media running everywhere, like having a third party tool to give you like another perspective on it, and different ways to consider your data and analyze it. It's useful, I think, from 100, DTCs. perspective, those are the tools that have the highest, like the highest usage like that's the number one category is like, people are always looking for different ways to analyze the data, different ways to look at LTV and CAC and stuff like that, in different incrementality software's and how channels interact with one another. I think what we're seeing is the platform's get really, really smart with it, and really involved with how they look at the data. So you don't need four different things to look at your LTV, your media, your email, it's kind of all consolidating into one. And then in that platform, you can manipulate and look at data however you want. And that's been, I think, I can't speak to how Tim saw it. But I'd imagine when he when he first started, it wasn't a super hot category, like everyone would rely on Shopify and Facebook. And if they had a BI tool that would do the job. But now you probably have a third party analytics tool that kind of is your home for home for your data. And that's a super popular category. Yeah,

Mariah Parsons 31:43

I also know too with of course, with looking at data and like attribution Windows within software platforms, it software platforms is a I've heard through either this podcast or other conversations I've had is always a maybe a point of contention, or something that a lot of SaaS providers have to be aware of, because depending on how big different attribution windows are in different in different platforms, it can tell different stories, right? So if you're looking across, I don't know, five different apps and your tech stack. versus maybe some a third, a third party. platform, it might it might be confusing, because you're seeing different stories. I also, it makes sense that it has popped up more as the privacy changes developed, but I feel like AI is kind of like every everyone I think would agree like AI is this new wave of maybe worry, maybe curiosity? Have you seen a lot of AI apps pop up now like trying to, I guess go with that way of the same way that like there was worry about privacy changes and looking and like losing access to customer information and analytics?

RC Williams 33:07

Yeah, totally. There's pretty much every high usage tool is starting to in some way or the other launch AI features but too, like tools built on the wave that I think are pretty cool. Or Siena AI. It's like the the customer service AI platform tool. And then there's another one rep AI, which is pretty cool. It's a It's basically like a personal shopping concierge tool. Kind of think of it as like your gorgeous little chat widget but like you kind of interact with it. And it's as if you had a personal shopper like it asks you Hey, what do you like, what are you looking for all of that and it kind of guides you to the right product if you're on a store with with multiple skews, stuff like that. So I think those are really cool. I like this Ciana one a lot because I think there are a lot of at least for small growing brand like us to people where I'm still mostly doing a lot of the CX I think having like a tool that can take a lot of it off your plate but still deliver and incredible and like well above the line customer experience is really cool and make it super efficient. I really like that trend. I haven't actually used the tool so I can't speak to its efficacy but the idea of it is cool. What else do I see I see an AI those are kind of those are two newer tools that are getting a lot of traction and I think that pretty pretty serious use cases. Right?

Mariah Parsons 34:34

I have to check out the rep.ai tool. I haven't come across that one yet but I have seen the Sienna tool and not from having used it either. It does look like a pretty big pain point as I believe for for smaller teams. Okay, I do know to AI just because we're joining a webinar with customer which by the time this episode airs I'm will have been done. But it's all about like C, CX and AI and how they combine. And I know I don't know who it is from Siena is joining, but someone is joining. So I've also come across, just hearing about what they're going to talk about. And it's in two weeks time from now. So I'm excited for that. Okay, I want to change gears a little bit and talk about the under the hood episodes or interviews that you all do at one 800 DDC. So first, can you give us like a summary so our audience is aware about what the under the hood interviews are all about? Why, you know, why y'all started them, etc. Yeah,

RC Williams 35:42

so under the hood is, we basically interview the 100 you see some of the cool unique and prevalent founders in our community just to kind of get their get their story, their their growth, kind of new tactics are unique things they've done to get to this point. And just share the learnings with our community like a lot of people love to learn from other founders like it's, it's personally, where I get most of my learnings is just like people that are three to four years ahead of me like they had the most to teach to me, because they've done it before and they know how things go. So we can kind of dig those learnings out. In a nicely done awesome article, interview format and share them with our community. I think it's super, super value add and we can help a lot of operators who are a few years before them. So yeah, that's what we do. We tried to do try to do two to three per month. Try to mix it up with a lot of different brands and different categories. So we just had on Courtney, the founder of Nori, it's the how to think about Nori, as like your, your iron for your clothes, but in a hair straightener format. It's a really cool product. And she had a really good story. They are a really sizable business and have basically two people behind it and are growing super quickly. We had on staff from Cadence recently, which I'm sure you're aware of they're really awesome product brand similar to Nori and the fact that they're super lean, good story. Innovative disruptive product.

Mariah Parsons 37:19

And we have we had we had her on I had her on the podcast, which was awesome. Unfortunately,

RC Williams 37:23

it didn't get to do that interview one of our bomber Striders did, but I got to edit it. And I was that's like

Mariah Parsons 37:32

you're already there, right? Oh, that's awesome. Okay, yeah. I will say Edit. Wait, another tangent do? Do you like editing? Like post production? Because I it's my least favorite part, but the podcast. So I'm always just, yeah.

RC Williams 37:52

I think I have like three in the pipeline that had been in the pipeline for months, just because I don't edit them. But when you get once you get into it, and it's a good story, it makes it go pretty quickly. But just the thought of having to go through a big Google Doc. It's not for me.

Mariah Parsons 38:07

Yeah, yeah, I agree. Okay, cool. Um, okay, awesome. I do know, I think maybe it was an ad or something. But the nori brand like a while ago, I actually have it on my Christmas list. So that's fun. But that's awesome that you get to chat with founders. Same. You know, I would probably say the same thing here. With our founder side of the branch, or our brand side of the branch of getting brand side of the podcast, my God, I'm getting to chat with different people and learning. So what's like, I guess what's, has there been anything consistently across the different under the hood episodes that you've been able to either be a part of, or to edit? That always seems to stick out? Like one example for me as founders, just kind of having to, like stumbled through it in the early days of just try some things out? I forget the exact words that you use, but just like getting skin in the game. Are there any? Is there anything that you've personally taken from the founders? That is a consistent pattern between, you know, these different industries, these different leaders in space?

RC Williams 39:15

Yeah, there's probably two and I think I've touched on them a bit already. But the one is, pretty much every really good story starts out with their obsession over their product. And it's usually something that they struggled with or dealt with or came up with on their own. And they are such a big issue for them that they wanted to bring something to the world that solved it, and that they could personally be a customer of and that's kind of where all the story started is like I had this I had this issue and I really loved the idea of solving it so I kind of dedicated X amount of years to my life to bring your product to life and putting my all into it. And then hand in hand with that is like every story of a successful founder. There's no way they could get there without persistence. Like every story I hear Here's like the first three years or two years were really, really hard. But like we just had it in the back of our mind that the brand is going to work, we invested so much into the product that has a real need. And that we're going to make it work no matter what it takes. And I think if you read it every under the hood, you would get that too. It's like, all these founders are super persistent, really hardworking people that never, never would quit, even when things get hard. And they always had to add the mindset to kind of ingrain that in their team. And that's why these brands are so successful today. And that those are the two main ones. It varies by category and brand and product a bunch. But if you were to synthesize all couple 100 on our site, those are probably the two trades yet. We

Mariah Parsons 40:47

can use some AI to do that. We don't have to do that anymore. synthesize it all. Okay, love it. Um, one last question. Before I wrap this up? Do you see any emerging patterns with what brands are trying to solve for like this quarter or next year? Are you seeing Yeah, any consistencies across industries across different you know, different size of businesses that is like, okay, still trying to solve this problem.

RC Williams 41:18

Um, for the brands that we work pretty closely with, it's always like, we want to lean up our operations so that if something, if the economy turns sour, their consumer went on a downward trend for a bit like we can survive, our default is alive. And that's things like your tech stack, of course, but just getting acquisition more efficient, like tightening the strings on retention, all of that and making sure that's in place and making sure your business is super, super tight, and mean and efficient. All that. And then the other one is the obvious, like, people want to solve for growth. Like, if you're in DC, the point of being in DC, at least in my opinion, is to grow doesn't have to be month over month, but it sucks putting up a quarter bad growth or a year bad growth. So anything you can do to solve for growth, whether it's just more media or more, just more ad spend stuff like that, that's always of interest to the brands we work with, and just trying to solve the growth equation. Yep.

Mariah Parsons 42:23

Something I would expect. Yeah, growth always, always seems to be top of mind, of course, as it should be. Especially in the earlier days, but I am going to wrap us up. Thank you so much for joining. This has been an absolute pleasure. I love picking anyone's brain, but especially those in the E commerce space, because I just think it's it's a very fast paced, moving industry. But there's also a ton of people who are very willing like yourself to take the time, share your learnings. Kind of put it first in that, you know, hopefully from the people you've taken learnings from or would like they're doing the same thing as you all are sitting here doing and sharing with us on this podcast. So thank you.

RC Williams 43:10

Thank you for having me. It's great to chat.