S5 E11: How to start an ecommerce brand and the strategy to focus on with Jay Davis (Founder of Pillow Cube, Cold Case Ice Cream, & Creatably)


Jay has had a vast background in marketing and he focuses on one thing - what’s not going to change in 10 years, and how he can focus on that.

Jay and Mariah talk about how easy it is to get caught up in marketing trends even if they might not be the best thing for your business. Making the (wrongful) assumption that traditional marketing of the past isn't as effective as our current age of digital marketing can lead to massive missed growth opportunities.

After founding many brands, Jay’s biggest advice to other founders of products is to know your finances and if people will want your product.

Jay shares his favorite test to run with friends and family to see if they enjoy a new product. We don’t want to spoil the details, but it’s one of those moments where you’ll reframe how you’re going about your customer testing. He also gives insight into some of his favorite customer retention plays.

Jay also discusses 2024 macroeconomics of the ecommerce industry and what founders should be cautious about.

Episode Timestamps:

  • 1:46 Entrepreneurship, marketing, and business growth.

  • 3:58 Viral marketing strategies and industry changes.

  • 6:33 Marketing trends and social media platforms.

  • 10:57 Marketing trends and the importance of connecting with people.

  • 15:30 Entrepreneurship, marketing, and finance.

  • 19:48 Product development and market research.

  • 25:38 Entrepreneurship, business growth, and scaling.

  • 31:36 Entrepreneurship, business growth, and work-life balance.

  • 38:02 Customer retention strategies and brand development.

  • 43:12 Entrepreneurship, marketing, and customer retention.

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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.


people, brand, business, customer retention, love, pillow, entrepreneurs, years, started, remember, product, masses, money, viral marketing, sense, ecom, company, work, early adopter, approaching


Mariah Parsons, Jay Davis

Mariah Parsons 00:05

Greetings and welcome to retention Chronicles, the podcast with learnings from expert e commerce brands and partners. I'm your host, Ryan Parsons. If you're here, you're either on a quest for ecommerce enlightenment, or you accidentally clicked the wrong link. Either way, I am thrilled you stumbled into our corner of the internet. And I hope you'll stick around. We've got pearls of wisdom for everyone, whether you're running a multimillion dollar business, or simply just starting out on your entrepreneurial journey. Before we unleash the brilliance of today's guest, let's give a shout out to our podcast sponsor Malomo. Malomo is so much more than just another Shopify app, their post purchase experience wizards making beautiful and branded order tracking smoother than a jazz solo. So our amazing founders, like our guests can keep their customers happy and up to date while they track their orders. So hit that subscribe button, like it'll increase your LTV overnight, and go listen to her other episodes. Echo malomo.com That's gomalomo.com. Get ready for insights chuckles and perhaps a profound realization or two with this newest episode of retention. Hello, everyone, and welcome back to retention Chronicles. Super excited for our guest today. Jay, thank you so much for having you here. I know, Liz cropped, she connected us and I am so excited to chat with you today. It's the highlight of my week in my day when I get to post wonderful people like yourself on this podcast. So I'm going to kick it over to you to introduce yourself and give us a little bit of your background.

Jay Davis 01:46

Sounds great. Thanks for having me. So yeah, I love econ. Been doing econ for a while, I got into econ through viral marketing, and had done a bunch of different viral marketing campaigns. And then, in 2017, I started an agency called creatively that specializes in doing kind of top of funnel kind of brand and performance content, to help people scale and kind of tell their story while at the same time driving sales and so launched in 2017 have had a ton of fun being involved in that still going and I'm not involved day to day anymore, but have a great team there. And a CEO that does a great job with it. As kind of through 2018 2019, I kind of started to realize that I really wanted to start and run our own brands. And so in 20 End of 2018, I started thinking about a pillow concept that was just based on a couple different experiences that I had had and put together kind of a prototype and started showing it to people and people really liked it. And so it became something that I kept testing with people and kept showing around and then eventually decided to launch. And so in 2019 Summer 2019 We launched the Kickstarter for pillow cube, and it did okay, nothing crazy. But it did okay. And then it just kind of kept growing from there. And in 2020, it really took off. So yeah, been super fun experience to grow that and then we've since we acquired another company called stare slide, which is a kid's toy. And we've grown and scaled that and then in let's see, 2023 we launched in ice cream company called Cold Case ice cream. So it's been super fun to see all of them grow and develop. And so yeah, just kind of focused on focused on growing more businesses and trying to survive the craziness of ECAM.

Mariah Parsons 03:58

Yep, makes it a lot of fun, right? Yeah.

Jay Davis 04:01

Love it. So

Mariah Parsons 04:03

lots of dive into there. I'm going to try and do so as you brought up different topics. So let's start with viral marketing. Can you explain that a little bit more, because we haven't had someone who's gotten their, I guess, introduction through viral marketing. And I think it's something that a lot of people would, you know, guess that you can assume you perhaps know the industry, but I would love to know, I guess high level of like ins and outs what you all are, how you're kind of approaching viral marketing in your history, so,

Jay Davis 04:36

no, totally. I think probably the biggest thing that I've realized is that things constantly are shifting in in, you know, social media and social marketing and marketing in general. And so, it's really interesting. I first started by creating some campaigns I was one of the first people at a company called the Color Run, which was like the first five K that combined a 5k with colored powder. I actually

Mariah Parsons 05:02

I did one when I was younger. Yeah, no, I can't even remember. Yeah, it's way back on my Instagram. I my best friends and I loved it. Yep.

Jay Davis 05:10

Which one did you do? Oh,

Mariah Parsons 05:13

it was it was in New Jersey. I can't remember. I don't remember like the names or anything but um, yeah, I remember like just the white shirts with like the square logo with like, the cubes in the band, the banner of like, squares. Yeah. And like being covered in powder. We loved it. Right? It was so much fun. Yeah, but I couldn't I wouldn't be able to remember. I mean, this was probably back in. Maybe like 2015. Yeah, so

Jay Davis 05:40

awesome. That it's super fun. So that's kind of how I got into the that world. I did some videos that did really well and kind of took off. And so yeah, at that time, it was so different. I would say that now we're doing less. There's definitely a viral nature to it of getting creating content that's shareable and that people like and comment and engage with. But there's kind of constant changes and pivots in the platforms. And so back then it was much more focused on virality. Because when we launched Color Run, you couldn't even run ad spend on Facebook. That wasn't a thing. Oh, that's great. Yeah. And so that was in beginning of 2012. I mean, you could do like, you could boost posts and stuff. But it wasn't like today where you had like ad buyers who are like, yeah,

Mariah Parsons 06:32

let me industry. Yeah, yeah.

Jay Davis 06:38

Which is crazy to think about. That's, you know, that recent of an of an innovation and creation. So yeah, they kinda was much more on like, we were trying to hack kind of the platform and say, like, how do we get something that tons of people share, and then it gets tons of views, just based on the viral nature of it. And so that was more the focus as time has gone on now, with creatively like our newest campaigns is, we're trying to create a campaign that does a really good job explaining like, who the brand is, why people should care what their product is, and how it how it improves the customer's life. And so that's really now the focus instead of, you know, instead of like this, like, kind of viral hacking, growth hacking kind of stuff. And so I think in many ways, it's, in many ways better, because the viral thing is such a roll of the dice, like, will it work, will it not? And now, it's not as much that it's like, can we create a piece of content that people really love and engage with entertains them? And then can that transition into a sale? So, right?

Mariah Parsons 07:47

Yeah, there's also just like, every X amount of years maybe like say just 10 years or something where it's a new platform surfaces and then you kind of have the I guess the like community in the the, the influencers on that specific platform, right, like saw it with YouTube and Vine and you know, Instagram snapchat, Tik Tok, like it just kind of every X amount of years, you'll have these new, I guess, criteria, or like, these new playgrounds to play and right, yeah, trends. Yeah. So I feel like a lot of it right now, which I know, there's just a lot of discussion of like, the algorithm favoring, like, conflict. And so I like the approach of trying to target like, why someone would care and why someone should eventually hopefully, shop with a brand. Because yeah, going, in the most traditional sense, like going viral is, it could be one and done. It could be like multiple videos, it could be, you know, just a lot of different factors playing into you know, what, what is resonating with the masses. I know I had this one, and it was so it's such a silly video, but on tick tock, like one video of mine got five, I think five and a half million views for no reason other than it was just people in the comments. And it was like a silly little video that I had, like, I was repainting this, like vase, right? Like just an arts and crafts and so it's kind of crazy to see like the viewpoint of it wasn't for work. It's just on my personal Tiktok. And it is, yeah, it was just wild to see people's like opinions. You know, like, the original is better this the non original is better, like, right, just kind of crazy things that it's it's interesting to see it from both hearing through this podcast and with Malomo how brands are approaching social media, but then also seeing it on the personal side of like, this is not attached to anything meaningful, right? It's just, it's just creative work that I enjoy doing. And yeah, seeing kind of the backgrounds, the background of all of it is interesting.

Jay Davis 10:06

Ya know, it's it's really interesting how, you know, things are shifting and just kind of that unique. You it's always kind of evolving, but that is almost that is the rule that

Mariah Parsons 10:24

like, that's the consequence. Yeah, yeah.

Jay Davis 10:29

But it's but it's also like not that different, you know, tick tock is not that different. It's kind of interesting to see, I feel like in the past, other platforms have kind of come in and there's this big push my personal theory right now is that we're going to be returning to some older kind of marketing trends, things that used to work really well, because I think, I think people are a kind of growing tired of the influencer thing. You know, they're there. They're a little bit worn out on the whole influencer idea. And so yeah, I think we're gonna go back Tik Tok is interesting, because it's really just creating good content at its core, like you create something that grabs people's attention. And so yeah, it's a very interesting time. I definitely think that a lot of people are rethinking, and I think, approaching ECAM in new ways to say like, Hey, what is this like? And I think that that is almost the other constant, constant in innovation is that we come up with innovations, and it's hard to see where they're going to head when you first come up with them. And then over time, it evolves and develops. So yeah, that's very interesting.

Mariah Parsons 11:47

Yeah. Why would you say in terms of like, going back to older marketing ways, maybe like less digitized? options, like I've seen, just anecdotally, anecdotally, and like, through speaking with brands of more like mailers and billboards, but what would you say? Is it something along those lines? Are there other initiatives? You're seeing more?

Jay Davis 12:16

Yeah, I think I think those I think those are actually very true, I think, I think we're gonna see with like, COVID, we all start paying attention to the news a lot more. And so PR, I think is becoming really important. Again, I think we're just kind of, I think the general feeling in econ is like, hey, we all got kind of addicted to that row as drug of like, putting money into ad spend. And I think people are starting to kind of come back and be like, hey, maybe there's a better way. Maybe we don't need to approach it that way. And so yeah, I think we're definitely seeing that shift. I think we're seeing that shift to, like, really focus on how do you connect with people? So I think like, mailers is a great example. It's like, magazines is their, you know, some piece of content you can give. I think we do. I think there's just a general rule of our society right now is we kind of dismiss things from the past. As like, man, they're so stupid, then we're so smart now.

Mariah Parsons 13:25

It looks on us. Yeah. Yeah. And

Jay Davis 13:27

in reality, it's like no, people like 200 years ago, were really smart. You know, I was talking to a friend recently, who's like, 200 years ago, instead of watching tick tock. They were reading, you know, classic novels and classic books on economy, and economics and, and art and all these things. And then they get together and talk about them. And so they're pretty dang smart. And so I think that's some of it. As a marketer, you have to kind of adopt that mentality of like, it's easy to get kind of stuck in things, but it gets stuck in trends, but like, kind of remembering, like, why do humans do what they do? How do I motivate that? How do I influence that? I just read a great book called The same as ever. And one of the quotes in it is, someone asked Jeff Bezos, you know, what are people always I can't remember how he phrased it. But it was essentially like, what do what do people focus on too much and not focus on enough? And he was like, everyone's focusing on what's going to change in the next 10 years, is like something I'm always thinking about is what's not going to change in the next 10 years. Because people will always want as this way, he said, he's like, people always want quick delivery of products. People always want a good price. And so that's not going to change. Like that's not going to change even if we have robots even if we have all of these other things. People still are gonna want those things and so I think that's important as a as a marketer is kind of Remember, like, don't get too caught up in things. I think I keep going back to like, you know, growth curves and like things still follow the growth curve. It takes time for the early adopters and the fast followers and you know, the masses, you still have to follow that adoption curve that's been around for 10s of 1000s. of years since, yeah, since I've been reading those books. Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Mariah Parsons 15:29

That's great. I love that perspective. I just wrote down, same as ever, the book title, so yeah, I'll have to, I'll have to look into it more. So love that perspective, with marketing and trying to stay grounded and like reframing, I think a lot of marketers would agree a lot of the game is just reframing how you're looking at things. And like, my, it's just a different lens, that you're looking through all of it. So with that, you have the background of being of starting your own agency, and then pivoting into starting your own brands. So I would love to chat more about obviously, having an agency and background in marketing is very informative for starting your brands. But what's one thing, if you have something that you weren't expecting when you started? Yeah, when you started getting into like, more of the brand operation role, rather than the agency? Role?

Jay Davis 16:30

Yeah, I think, I think that probably the biggest thing. There's probably several things. So one, I think, like, if you're going to do a product company, you really have to understand your finances. You really have to understand like, okay, what are we making it for? What are we selling it for? What's that margin? Also things like, how do we How frequently do people come back and buy more? You know, understanding that math is like the core of E commerce. You look at it and and I think that's something that you, you start, once you've done one or two companies, you start kind of shifting to like, Okay, I want to do something that like, has these characteristics, like I want something that people come back and buy again, and again, and again, I want something that has a reasonable acquisition cost, compared to LTV. So understanding that it's like really crucial, it's a lot easier running an agency. Where, in that sense, there are other parts of being an agency that are really hard. But in that sense, an agency is is a little more straightforward of like, okay, um, you know, you could run an agency that does ad buying, and it's like, it's my time. And so, but it's a great place to start, I think, I think I would recommend for anyone who's like, Man, I really want to become an entrepreneur, it's like, do something that just makes money first. Everyone starts with trying to create ideas. And that's like the hardest part of entrepreneurship. The hardest part of entrepreneurship is inventing something new. It's, it's a brutal game of like, so many different aspects of can you patented? Do people actually want it? Does it actually work? Can you sell it for a price that makes sense with how much it cost to make like, there's so much that is like the NBA, or even like the all star version, it is just a lot harder. And so I think a service business is a great place to start. But that's probably something I just didn't understand fully is that financial side, and then how to structure and build a company is something that I'm still learning, I'm still trying to develop those skills and still making lots of mistakes and doing stupid stuff. So yeah, like I think that that's, that's something that's really difficult. But yeah, could go on forever about that. Right?

Mariah Parsons 19:02

Yeah, I feel like most, most of these conversations, I feel like could could could continue for hours, which is the fun of it. But it's also the awareness of knowing a lot of entrepreneurs relate to the challenges are probably what's keeping you up more at night, and there's probably never gonna cease to be something that you can continue working on and talking about. So how did you then I love the what you said around, like, making sure your finances make sense because I think anyone, right, like businesses, you know, in theory that you should focus on finances, but knowing like what to focus on and how to what good margin margins should be. How did you go about I guess, like, where are you looking to figure out what's best in practice? What resources are you using? What Do you find really helpful kind of in those early days? Figuring out how to best set yourself and your brands up for success?

Jay Davis 20:09

Yeah, so I think I think first, I would say, understanding like, what is the strategy and plan for this brand? And like, what are we going to do? So like the order I typically go in is Shopify, then then add Amazon, if it makes sense. Then once you've added Amazon, you start going into retail, but really like fleshing out that strategy, and then really thinking through like, Okay, how do we execute on that? From there, it's really like, you know, you need to sit down and say, What is it cost to make this and then usually need to sell it for five times that? I would say is like a good general rule, like four to five times your cogs. And so, yeah, like, I think that's just something we've realized is, is like, you have to figure that out. And then you have to ask yourself, like, are people going to come back and buy this again? Is it a one time purchase? I think those are a lot of the things that people just don't really think about. They instead just kind of her like, you know, just just going out there like I did, and I didn't really know that going into PowerCube. So I didn't really like understand like, oh, what should we make it for? How much should we sell it for? I I've seen some of that, because we've been working with brands, and I've had a lot of conversations, but it's definitely been like a huge learning experience.

Mariah Parsons 21:42

Yeah, that makes sense. So when, let's, let's use pillow Q, as the example. So you get the I get like the prototype, right? You had mentioned that in the when you first started rolling out this episode. So if you if, say, a brand realizes that they can't sell something, or like it's not in their best interest to sell something at that four or five times? What would you say? Like, where do you go from there? I'm picking your brain because I think you have a really great expertise of like how you could I guess, instead of looking at that as like a roadblock, like okay, that's a motivator, don't like fall down this road? What would you say? If like, what other things can you tweak to try? And I guess get to that point, where financially a brand or an item makes sense? Or when do you know like, Okay, this is just not, this is not what we should be pursuing right now.

Jay Davis 22:42

Yeah, I think it's a great question. So the thing I always start with is I always start with, like, do people want this? So I Pilkey was a great example where when I first kind of had the idea. I started to kind of think about like, Oh, no one really makes like a pillow that's like, thick and flat so that it's like solid, like my frustrations with pillows were specialty pillows that were kind of molded foam were always kind of felt like I was rocking all night. Or they were so soft, that like it sunk like my head sunk in so far that it kind of didn't make sense. And so there was this balance of like, how do you find something that it's still soft, but like supportive enough that like, my neck is actually straight? So the first thing for me was like, Okay, I made one prototype out of like two foam samples, and then how to a seamstress make a cover for it. And I was just like, showing friends like, Hey, do you think this is like a good idea? And a lot of people were like, I think that's a dumb idea. But then once they tried it, they really liked it. So I was like, okay, but like it, even though it seems strange. Then from there, I made, like 20 samples, and I handed them out to a bunch of friends and called them up and like, Hey, can I have that back? And most of them are like, no, like, I love it. I can't live without it. Yeah. And so that was like, Okay, there's, like, that was kind of this test that I came up with, because I was trying to figure out like, I think usually when we test things we ask people, like, did you like it? It was good. And they feel bad. If they didn't say like, yeah, it was pretty good. And so it's hard to understand, but asking them like, Hey, can I have a back? It was a great way like, and we've tried this with other products, and people are like, yeah, you can have it back. Like, that's fine. Thanks for letting me try it. And that's a pretty good sign that like, hey, they don't really want to keep it. Yeah. And so, you know, that was kind of my core thing. And then from there, it was like, Okay, here's the product that like, people seem to really like it's kind of surprises them how much they like it and want to keep using it. And then from there, I think it's then goes into the code Questions around like, Okay, what is this custom make? Start asking people like, Hey, will you pay for it? You know, that's where Kickstarter is a great test. Because you just get an idea of like, do people want to pay for this? Do people want to spend money on this? So I think that's another kind of core, that's kind of the third test in my model is like, first, just like, what do people generally think? Do they like it? Do they not like it? Second is like, when you give it to them? Will they want to keep it? And third is like, will they actually pay for it? And then from there, you got to go like, okay, so what are they willing to pay for it? What can I make it for? And, you know, then you get into a bunch of other questions like, can I defend this legally, you know, what is kind of my, my strategy is this something that could be sold in stores not sold in stores, and you kind of have to adapt, and everything is different, I really enjoy that process. But it is like, it is different depending on the product category you go into. And so for example, you know, with ice cream, it's like super high consumption. And so by being a consumable, you have repeat a very high repeat, or you hope to have a high repeat, close is not really that way. And so kind of that whole math equation shifts, because with a pillow, each person is going to buy like one pillow, usually, maybe they'll buy some other pillow accessories, like we have a great new pillow that I really love. We have a travel pillow that that people are really loving, and so so you have some of those other things. But you have to like kind of change the math. And so I think that that's like, what a lot of people I think, for many entrepreneurs, just having a business that makes money is so exciting. And then once you kind of figure that out, like how do you build a business that makes money, you kind of go to need to go to that next level of like, okay, now I'm now I'm doing a little more business design, like, is this a business I even want to get into? Because just making money off of it is not like my top goal, if that makes sense. And so I think that like even for your first business, thinking through some of those things, it's really smart to, to not just like, oh my gosh, I'm making money at this. I should do this. But maybe maybe you shouldn't. Yeah, yeah.

Mariah Parsons 27:25

I love that. I don't think we've had someone on here who is kind of laid out. Like once you start making money, deciphering of like, okay, should this be, should I be all in on this? And I think it's something that, especially like just looking at, like the American dream of like, being able to like start your own thing, and then continue it. And I think as a society, like our commitments we take pretty strongly and so what would you say like when you're when someone gets to the point where they're making money, but they're kind of on the fence of should this be? Should I pursue this business? What would you say? You would advise that person to like, ask themselves?

Jay Davis 28:14

Yeah, so I think there's some really important things that I would ask and I'm even doing this myself, I'm not saying I'm great at it. It's a lot of learning for myself. So I think really looking at the business and being very honest, like, what is this? What is this? What is this? What am I hoping this is going to be go talk to people who have been in similar businesses, get some of that feedback. So I think that you, once you do that, you can kind of realize, like, I think in general with EECOM. My general feedback, including for myself is like, don't assume these businesses are going to be billion dollar companies assume this business is going to be a business that does 1020 30 million a year. And that sounds like so much money, a lot of times when you're first starting. But if you assume like that, you'll build it differently. And you'll approach the problem differently. If you take a $5 million a year business, like my personal belief is that business should probably have like, at max like five people. five employees like consumer is just like, once you take out cogs and shipping notifications and marketing and all these other things. It's just not it's not software. And so I think that that's something that's really important for entrepreneurs to think of is like, Okay, do I want to do this is part of it. But then another part is like, what is this? What is this business going to be? What does this look like? And I think kind of what we've now realized that in the last couple of years is everyone just valuations are insane, in money being invested into things was insane. And now we're all kind of coming back to reality that like, hey, maybe brands like maybe the consumer brands just take a take more time to build them a thought that growth curve like or that adoption curve that I was talking about, like that's a real thing you got to really think about that, that if you're doing something new, it's going to take time to get to the masses, the masses are not going to adopt it. You know, I remember seeing the first liquid death video like right after it came out, I was like, Oh, that's so cool. It's so interesting. I love it. But I'm an early adopter, like a very strong early adopter. And so I need to remember that as a founder that like, Hey, this is gonna take time to get to the masses. And even with how liquid death has been, like this cultural kind of force, it's still something that a lot of people don't know about. It's still something that's going to take time to adopt. And so I think that that's something that just like consumer brands, in general can kind of benefit from is like, hey, really dial into, like, is this a product people love? What, what are the things we need to improve, and then expect to be kind of a leaner team, like, I just, I think we've kind of now come to a point where a lot of E commerce brands that I'm talking to are resizing because they're like, Hey, we're not, we're not going to be at half a billion dollars a year. And in two or three years. There were some of those, but it's just not, I don't think that's the commonality.

Mariah Parsons 31:36

I think too, like liquid death is a great example. Because I think if you're already in the EECOM, industry, and like, I have noticed that my perspective of like brands and the consumer experience, and just anyone who is selling online, is I'm so much more aware, and definitely bias to, you know, meeting all these brands, getting to know all these brands, but I have to remind myself, like the masses do not know, these, these names that I know because simply because I work in this industry, right? So if an entrepreneur is sitting there, and they've been an econ for X amount of years, and you're saying like the liquid death is my, you know, it's my holy grail. And it's what I want to get to trying to take yourself out of working in this industry and realize, like the masses, they're just now probably getting to, you know, other people outside of EECOM, or like, the early adopters. They're, they're getting past that stage. So I think it's easy to fall into the fallacy that we're like, some of the brands that maybe we would aspire to be, like, on the bigger scale, aren't as big of a piece of the puzzle as like we equate them to in our life. So I think it's a really good reminder that being patient and being honest with yourself of like, is this a business, you're willing to work at a small team for, you know, give those extra hours, have that lifestyle for this product, if you're all in on that, versus maybe learning, taking the lessons that you learned from that business and applying it to something else that you might be more passionate about, can see that business being something that you want to pursue longer term? And I want to get your opinion of say, someone makes that judgment. And they are they conclude that this is not the business for me to handle, but it's still a great business, what are their options there? Because my mind goes to like trying to see if there's someone else who would take on that business. And then, you know, set entrepreneur would dedicate time and resources to starting maybe something else. Like selling I guess the best option? Or is it sometimes you just let you know, let a company die out and then you take whatever learnings from that company into your next venture?

Jay Davis 34:19

Yeah, no, I think it's a great question. I think generally, what I would say is, I think we need to have a shift back to like, companies are really hard, and they're really hard work. And so I think that's kind of suddenly my thinking is like, I think I came into this world through like, kind of viral exploding viral explosion of a brand and so you know, colorin was just so fast, like such explosive growth. And for me, like Color Run was like really, really, really fast rise, but the Fast, fast rise ultimate like a really fast decline. Like it went from like, you know, hundreds of 1000s, then millions of people were doing it each year to now like, no one's doing one. And so I think that's something to be careful of is like usually like that fast, fast, fast, fast growth can also sometimes mean a really fast decline. And so I think overall, what I would say is kind of plan that it's going to take longer, I think that's another thing we're now seeing is a lot of people are like realizing like, oh, a great brand takes like, 10 years to really, really get going. And so we kinda need to plan for that. Like, we really need to, like, think through that. And assume that it's going to take a minute. And so I think that's important. I do think like, hey, there's nothing wrong with like getting going. And like, in those early days, that's again, where I would stay super lean, stay really lean. See, if you can, you can build something that can turn into something. And yeah, like, I think we've we've all kind of fallen into this trap, myself included, of like, we're all looking for this like moonshot exit. But like, really, if you can build a business that does a couple million a year, and it pays you a couple of 100 grand a year. And it's not insane. Like work, like you can actually have a good work life balance, it's like your life is actually pretty great. Like, that's a pretty amazing opportunity. And so I think that's another part of it is like, just embracing especially if you want to get into econ, like, it doesn't have to be this like massive, massive growth. Every entrepreneur I've talked to built really big businesses, they're like, the stress just keeps going. Like, you know, you personally might not be worried about money, because you've taken some money off the table along the way. But they've all said like, you know, and all sudden you have 10,000 employees, you're really worried about payroll every two weeks, just as much as you are when you have 10 employees, if not way more, because it's a crazy number. I remember Michael Dell, I think it was it was in an interview or, or in his book or something. And he said that that like, you know, his biggest stress when he was running Dell, this like multi multi billion worth 10s. And 10s of billions of dollars was like payroll. Every two weeks, he's like, Oh, do we have enough money for payroll on it? Like, that's crazy, but that's still a concern. And so I think that's just like, a reality that you have to face. And so I think that's a good thing for us to think about is like, Hey, it's okay to stay small. And then also have those moments where you're like, hey, is this what I want? Is this what I'm excited about? And if it is, by all means, like, I'm not I'm not saying we should all avoid growth. But I do think that we've almost kind of worshiped growth. And we need to come back to, hey, let's, let's just get back to kind of the basics and the fundamentals. So

Mariah Parsons 38:02

yeah, I love that. It reminds me of like, trying to strive for perfection over progress, like the whole notion that we always, we always try and target like, okay, when I get to this goal, then I'll be happy, Instead of praising the effort that has gone into getting to XYZ, because the praising the effort is way more sustainable than praising like, the goal, right? Because once you get that goal, and XYZ problems aren't solved, you're going to learn real quick that your hope of determination, and drive and motivation, getting into that goal. Now it's even trickier because you have you realize, like, Oh, my Northstar was this goal. And once I hit it, you know, the world isn't all sunshine and rainbows after that. So I think like trying to say, trying to reshape the way that we're approaching, I guess, success of like, okay, we don't have to hit this. It doesn't have to be the biggest brand in the world, but it can be an in between of okay, we're doing, we're doing great work, we have a great way work life balance, we have, you know, our our financials are making sense. And we can have XYZ amount of people on the payroll and be able to pay them well and not have to, you know, worry about, I guess, XYZ goal. And worry about like what the here now, I guess there's a lot more sustainable I think, in my opinion, and I think a lot of the entrepreneurs that I've spoken with would agree and it's a hard thing to do, but the trying to establish Okay, recognizing where you are and trying to stay patient. I think that's way harder than some of the other issues that faces entrepreneurs. So I want to do a little bit of a pivot. I want to talk about customer retention and kind of how you view it. So I always think it's interesting to hear how Oh, someone, in their own words is defining customer retention? And then how are you looking at? How are you trying to solve it? How are you trying to maximize customer retention, because it's one of those things where it's a whole is a rabbit hole, when you look into all the different things and levers that you can pull to make sure that you're kind of getting those repeat purchases, and like you already discussed, it's going to look different upon, or different within different industries, and what products you're selling, but I would love to get your insight on it.

Jay Davis 40:31

Yeah, so I think my focus is always kind of like, how do you make a product that that people love? And so I think that's like, an important thing to focus on is getting that real feedback loop of like, oh, this is something that like people legitimately not everyone, there's, it's amazing how you can take even coke cube, like, there are people who are, like fanatical, like, I, this is my favorite pillow ever. I've tried every pillow. And then you go to another brand. And you have people say the same thing. Like I've tried every pillow is the only tool that works. So you don't have to, again, I think it's that progress versus perfection that you brought up. Like, I think that's a great point that it's like, do we have people who love the product? I think that's kind of that first phase of customer retention, because then it's something that they're gonna keep enjoying and using, and that's a huge part of retaining them is, is are they using it? You know, like one of the things we surveys, six months after purchase (examples of post-purchase emails here), Hey, are you still using the product? If you're not? That's kind of the Can I have it back test? Like, oh, you're not sleeping on it? So obviously, and they might even be like, Oh, I actually really like it, but I don't sleep on it anymore. That's like, well, obviously, you didn't like it enough. So there was something wrong, something we need change. I think besides that, like a big part of retention, for me is like staying top of mind staying connected? How do you, you know, we were talking about this for the call, like, even just ways to stay? Where are they they're thinking about the brand, they're engaging with the brand. They're learning from the brand, I think those are like really important things, I think that's another thing we're gonna see a lot. And I've been talking to people who like organic social, I think is going to be wanting to connect more to the actual brand people and making it more real, and really making it a more like engaging experience where they're learning about what you're doing. They're involved, they're giving feedback, you're telling your audience like what you're working on and trying to improve. So I think a lot of those things are going to change.

Mariah Parsons 42:46

Love it. As you're speaking about just like having more of a interaction between the brand and people wanting to connect with like the brand operators of what you're doing. And like, I think people are fascinated by brand development, what is focus? What a brand, you know, what is what a brand is focused on, like, I know, I follow a bunch of entrepreneurs, but two that come to mind are passion footwear. I don't know if you've heard of them, but it's like convertible heels to sandals. Oh, nice. Yeah, so really, really cool stuff that they're doing their founder, Haley is great of like, just keeping people engaged, like on her pages. And then so that's more like the social side of thing. And then manmade, their team creates kind of like a it's like a blog, but it's also kind of like a it has some elements of like product roadmap, or like how they're doing how they're like, like the behind the scenes, I guess, is the best way to put it on their blog. So their community who is super interested with like, the personality side of their brand, they like can follow along with basically like, oh, we made this ad. And this is what like the behind the scenes. This is how we roadmap, you know, what the ad is going to be about and then how to go about actually filming it and then like, all that stuff. So I think it's a really interesting notion that like trying to I guess what's the what's a good thing like, not released the curtain but like, Let the curtain down. Oh, yeah. But yeah, yeah, pull the curtain back. Thank you have like what's going on behind the scenes, what's really interesting to consumers, even if they're not in the space, right? I'm just like getting to know like a parasocial relationship of Oh, like I don't actually know this person one to one haven't met in person but you it's like a podcast host Right. Like you get to know about someone because you're learning like tangentially of what they're all about what they're learning about. So I love that focus on customer retention of just trying to stay top of mind and trying to, I guess, like foster those connections. Even if it isn't in our quote unquote, traditional way of fostering connections, like one to one.

Jay Davis 45:07

Yeah. No, I think that's exactly yeah. Like, I think that's what we're seeing is some of this shift to, you know, just focusing on connecting with people. And yeah, exactly like you said, like, I think, I think this is something that the public generally has become more interested in, they're more interested in entrepreneurship and, you know, shows like Shark Tank and things like that have really helped people like, I want to know what it's like, what you're doing what's different. And so I think that that's something that that founders and companies can really lead, leverage and take advantage of is, hey, people want to know, they want to be more involved. They want the current pullback, like you said. So I think that's something that, you know, I struggle with, because I'm not like a super, like, I don't love posting on social. I'm not like super engaged in that way. But it's something I definitely have realized that I need to work on. And that's important. So yeah,

Mariah Parsons 46:08

love it. Well, I'm, I'm going to wrap us up here, because it's been a joy getting to talk to you. And I wish we could continue to go on. But we have some things to get to outside of this fun podcast. So thank you, Jay, for joining. It has been a pleasure having you here. I always like to wrap up and ask if there's anything you'd like to share with our listeners that you're excited about, you know, in these up and coming months. I think they always appreciate hearing about it. But if you don't, then that is totally okay.

Jay Davis 46:38

No, first of all, thanks for having me. super appreciate. It's been super fun. Probably just check out our brands, we also just launched a new sleep product called Soluna. You can find out more at saloon asleep.com. It's like a AI sleep hub that manages the environment in your room so that you can really start to kind of optimize your sleep. And make sure that you're going to sleep at the right time waking up at the right time and have just a much better sleep experience. So yeah, that and then pillow cube and cold case. Stare side. Check those out. Yeah, we're running some fun deals. All month in March and April. So yeah, love

Mariah Parsons 47:22

it. Love it. Love it. Love it. We'll have to check those out. And I'm excited for our listeners to do so. But thank you again, Jay. It's been a joy.

Jay Davis 47:30

Awesome. Thanks so much.