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people, work, agency, built, hawk, marketing, year, business, month, brands, techcrunch, data, company, started, raised, invest, grow, media, watched, partner
Mariah Parsons, Noah Rahimzadeh, Erik Huberman
Noah Rahimzadeh 00:04
Hey retention pros. I'm Noah Raheem today and I lead partnerships here at Malomo. I'm super pumped to continue to chat with ecosystem experts alongside Mariah, who you all already know and love, say hi, Mariah.
Mariah Parsons 00:16
Hey, everyone, as you probably know, retention Chronicles likes to bring in some of the best retention focused brands in the Shopify ecosystem.
Noah Rahimzadeh 00:24
Well, we don't just feature brands, we also feature some great thought leaders in the Shopify ecosystem that serve brands.
Mariah Parsons 00:31
And because we always want these conversations to be fun, you'll hear us talk with our guests about what they're excited about and what's helped them get to where they are today.
Noah Rahimzadeh 00:39
We hope you'll stick around to learn and laugh with us retention Chronicles
Mariah Parsons 00:43
is sponsored by Malomo a shipment in order tracking platform improving the post purchase experience, be sure to subscribe and check out all of our episodes at go malomo.com.
Noah Rahimzadeh 00:59
Awesome, very, very excited for this episode. We've got Eric Huberman here, founder and CEO of Hawk media, one of the premier agencies in the in the DTC Shopify space. They've been a partner of ours even before I started here, leading partnerships at Malomo. Eric, I think so. It's been a long time coming probably and really excited to have to have you on now. Yeah, thanks for having me. For carving out some time. Absolutely. So before we dive into the shop, talk side of things we like to start on a personal note, John, didn't ask you this before we started recording. A little background, where are you dialing in from and also one or two things that you're excited about in your personal life?
Erik Huberman 01:48
Yeah, I'm dialing in from Santa Monica. Probably the most thing I'm excited about is I'm a new dad. So having a blast. Oh my gosh, I'd say probably Absolutely. It's awesome. Yeah, it's it's an easy, quick answer.
Noah Rahimzadeh 02:05
For sure. Congrats, man.
Mariah Parsons 02:08
How old now?
Erik Huberman 02:09
Six months? Six. Wow.
Awesome. Is that your first? Yes. Okay, so how's it going? New?
Erik Huberman 02:17
It's awesome. It's really fun. Yeah, honestly, being a dad is all the responsibility and like the sort of, like, pragmatic part of it is exactly what I thought it was, like, if we've watched enough movies with babies and like, their people do a pretty good job of like, yeah, you're gonna be up, you're gonna, you know, they're gonna wake you up in the middle of the night, they're gonna, you're gonna change a lot of diapers. So like, people tell me like, Oh, you have no idea what you're getting into. It's like, if you pay attention, you kind of know what you're getting into. But the emotional side of it is amazing. Like the whole, you've never thought you could love something like that like that. That part is really cool, because that you can't expect. And I'd say the one surprise that's really fun is I didn't realize that, like people were born with their personalities. Like, I would have a one year old niece. She turns one tomorrow, actually. And between my niece and my daughter now I'm like, Y'all are so different from the start. And it has nothing to do with what I've done, because I haven't done anything yet. Like, it's crazy how much your personality is there from the beginning. And I never knew that. And then you talk to parents? And I'm like, oh, yeah, from the beginning. It's there. But it's like, I feel like that's not talked about a lot.
Noah Rahimzadeh 03:19
That's interesting. I don't I feel like I haven't heard that. Right. Yeah.
Mariah Parsons 03:23
So I feel like just from my parents, because my siblings and I are also different. Like, I feel like, for each like, I feel like since I can remember, my parents would always be like, my sister is exactly like my dad's personality. I'm exactly like my mom's personality. And then my younger brother is like, pretty much equal between the two. It is it is funny, though. Yeah. Like, temperament and personality when you're growing up, and then how it like, because I think certain aspects like it, like exemplified, or like amplified or like, toned down or Yeah, I'm sure. For sure. Like, you still have like, your core core personality. Yeah, it's really interesting.
Noah Rahimzadeh 04:05
Agreed. So that's been fun, though. It's really fun to see like, again, like, we all think we have so much control over what happens and then you realize, like, Oh, my, my daughter is already there. Like, it's like, this has nothing to do with like, you know, the way I raised her the way I talked to her, like, there's none of that yet and she's got a personality. It's fun.
Mariah Parsons 04:23
That's hopefully that's a little like, gives you a little bit of peace, where it's like, oh, they're you know, they're gonna be who they're gonna be.
Erik Huberman 04:31
Oh, yeah. Thankfully super happy but at the same time, that lack of control it's like well, even though I've like read parenting books, and I've thought that I have this good idea how to do it. Am I really gonna be able to affect much of how this turns out?
Mariah Parsons 04:45
Yeah, little bit of like release of the control to that's completely understandable.
Noah Rahimzadeh 04:52
Well, congrats again, man. That is awesome. What? From like, work, you know, balance perspective. How has that been? You're obviously like, really, really involved in the business. And always out there doing a bunch of different things at the same time. So, you know, did you get to take some time off? And how are you balancing time?
Erik Huberman 05:14
No, I mean that it was funny I actually went to and I blocked off my calendar and a mentor of mine, a friend of mine was, I was telling him, I was taking paternity leave, and he started laughing because like, you think you're gonna get paternity leave is a bit silly. There's a guy that's built a bunch of big businesses and has two now grown kids is like, Yeah, okay. Like, it's something that like, societally, we've talked a lot about, like paternity leave wasn't even a thing, you know, until recently, and we give it but it's like, as a business owner, it's probably not a thing. Like, you can't really just check out so and honestly, you're generally doing yourself more harm than good. And to be blunt, like, first couple of months as a dad, like you can be there to support your, if you take time off, you're kind of just sitting around a lot and like, the baby sleeps a lot. So, you know, I think that there's Yeah, so I ended up like, I thought I was going to I took like a few days off to recover from like, the actual delivery in first few days is crazy. But then it was like, alright, well, I'm here. Now what? So? And I've been super productive. But the cool thing is we both my wife and I work from home. So like, you know, I played with her for five minutes before jumping on this podcast because I had a fight. I ended up call five minutes early, so I get way more time with her than most normal working people, even though I'm grinding. And then the only other thing that changed I travel a ton for work. I'm speaking at a ton of conferences and meetings and all that. And I just don't dilly dally, like I literally went to Barcelona for the day. Yeah, last week, when Matt's meeting, spoke at a conference flew back. And it was perfect. Because the fight there I slept like it was my night, woke up. I had some dinner, done it did the thing went to sleep woke up. Didn't all my work stayed up all night, which we know, at a 6am flight back, which is 9pm Pacific. So jumped on the plane, went to sleep woke up back in LA and I basically, you know, I missed a morning. So it wasn't that crazy. And so it's like, I can go do that. And honestly, it was fine. So like, you can go do those things. I'm going to speak at South by on Sunday, and I'm flying in Saturday Night speaking Sunday morning, hanging out Sunday afternoon, find back Sunday night. So I'm just being a little more intentional with how I am out but still keeping up with the same pace. So it's kind of like just you find new efficiency.
Noah Rahimzadeh 07:21
Oh, yeah, that's funny, you probably you probably lose the ability to extend the word trips.
Erik Huberman 07:29
It's not even the ability. It's the desire, honestly, we sure would be fine if I wanted to stay or had a reason to stay. Yeah. But you know, it's the same thing. Like I was a hobby junkie before becoming a dad, I got my pilot's license last year I mountain bike and snowboard and surf and do all these things. I've done snowboarding my top so I still have done a decent amount of that in the winter. But like, other than that I've done like none of it. Because it's either go fly an airplane or hang out with my daughter, my daughter. Sure. But it's choice. I think that's the important part. A lot of people say like, Oh, your wife's over when you have kids. It's like, Well, if that's how you look at it.
Noah Rahimzadeh 08:07
Like that's a good lesson like for almost anything? Yes. Like it's perception, right? Yep. Exactly. Cool. All right, let's get into let's get into Hawk be remiss not to talk about the founding story like what what you were doing before and what led you to the founding of Hawk I think most of our listeners will be familiar if you're listening and you're not definitely check out Hawk media out there, huge player in the space. And, you know, the clients that we share together, Eric have been tremendously successful. Kinda, well, one plus one equals three situation. But we'll get to that. Let's let's start with. Let's start with the beginning.
Erik Huberman 08:49
Yeah, I'm trying to think of how far to go back. I'll go back. Just college. I got out of college in 2008 went into real estate one week before Lehman Brothers went bankrupt. Exactly. And so made 350 bucks that year, about six months living in LA. So for those that don't know, la prices, like $350 does not pay the rent for the year, or the month or the week. So yeah, I started I went into little debt was scrambling to figure out what I was going to do, because that was my plan for a while. And I ended up launching an online music company with a friend's dad that reached out to me and said, Hey, I think there's a way to help musicians, you know, make money here. And independent artists understand how to build a business around it. So why don't we try building a platform, I designed it built it. He raised a million dollars for us in 2009, which was crazy. I was 22 and ended up building that out running it for two years. But getting 15,000 musicians on the platform learning some different hacks, like sort of growth hacking before there was growth hacking figured out how to kind of hack Craigslist to get a ton of free advertisement. And we did that and I ended two years in I realized it was never going to be that big of a business the less Then there was a target customer that has no money might not be the best target customer. independent artists aren't notoriously rolling in dough. And if I didn't make them famous, it was 50 bucks a month for like basically it was like masterclass for music business 50 bucks a month and like these musicians would come in for like a month and be like, I'm not famous yet and quit. And it turned out, I did become a little jaded, because it turned out that like 90% of struggling artists out there is struggling because they don't want to work. They use music as an excuse, like, oh, well, I'm just a struggling artist. It's like, No, you're just a lazy artist, sorry. 10% are awesome, and work hard and make it happen. And if you're that 10%, you can make a living as a musician, you just got to work like in any other industry. And a lot of the people that are attracted to that industry don't want to put in the work. They just want to play music. And so that when that hired a CEO to take it over to run it because it was a profitable business. And then over the next two and a half years, I built and sold two different e commerce companies. One was a T shirts subscription company called swag of the month, sold that in 2012. And then built le and activewear brand that still exists and sold that in 2013. So it was a year project. So that's Bally Total Fitness and then didn't know what I wanted to do next. So I started advising and consulting for a bunch of brands, was working with the bilateral fitness the buyers there, but then they wanted to hire me. And I said, No, so I consulted. And then I started getting hit up by other people that had seen what I had done with those two businesses. So I was consulting for about eight different companies, all of a sudden, I was 26. And I was making great money as a consultant that 26 years old and going like and nothing like I was used to pay myself minimum wage in my startups. I was like, This is crazy, like, people spend a lot of money on this stuff. But I got but I also understood why like, the amount of money they were investing like the to pay me what they were paying me. Like the amount of leverage, I could give them on their money to like, make way more it was like it was a no brainer, it didn't matter. It wasn't about like, what my time was worth. For, to me, it was about what that outcome was worth to them. And so I started to understand that a little more. And then, but over the course of like six months, I was advising for all these companies. And when I tried to help them, like execute, I ran into the same challenge over and over again, like they either wanted to hire in house, which was never cost effective. That's if they could find and attract talent. And like that, I realized like my first big client was a $450 million a year active were manufacturer, huge business wanted to go digital, I called a bunch of friends to go work for them. And they're like, give me an ecommerce like East LA like, I'm not going there. Like that's not gonna happen. So I'm like, this is a great business hyper profitable Bootstrap, like not a venture fund backed company that might be gone in a year, they're willing to pay a huge amount of money for these people pay a premium, and no one will work there. And I'm like, Okay, so there's a problem with talent here. So then you go to agencies, well, 99% of agencies out there have no idea what they're doing. It's so easy to start an agency, how many coaches out there tell everyone to start their agency, you can get to 10 grand a month and make 120 grand a year easily. You just need three clients, and then all the math that they do. And it's like what they wrote, what you realize is, again, 99% of people that start agencies have no idea what the hell they're doing and building a business or doing marketing, they just sell services. And so you run into a lot of those. And then you start running into a few that are good, but they tend to quickly get expensive, want long contracts, high minimums, something that makes them hard to work with. And so I just got sick of it. I was like, why can't we have an agency that's the best at what they do, but easy to work with? Like, why doesn't that exist? And that's what we started to create. So I hired seven people, each with their own expertise, like a Facebook marketer, an email marketer, web designer, a fractional CMO, et cetera, went back to these companies and said, hey, everything's our current month to month cheaper than hiring in house. But we basically will spin up what you need when you need it, and ebb and flow as your needs change. And we'll do all the work on the upfront, like we'll do a free audit, look at what the needs are, and go from there. And so that's how we started. Fast forward. It's been nine years 250 people later, we've grown about 4500 brands at this point successfully. And yeah, continue to grow, continue to build it out. And through that, we built a venture fund we started angel investing in some of the tools we use. Then we raised our first fund invested in 18 different marketing tech and ecommerce tech companies. And then a year ago raised our second fund we raised 25 of 50 million was the first fund was 5,000,002nd. One will be 50. It's been obviously an interesting time to raise capital but we're thankfully we we could stop at 25 We just really want to execute on this thesis we have. And so yeah, we continue to build that out and we're in it for those in E commerce we're in tap cart and clay VO and PostScript and fairing and cord and you Guara and I mean the list from Super Affiliate. The list goes on in terms of like the Shopify ecosystem is a big part and then a lot of other cool companies icon soars in this dramatic Weibo etc.
Noah Rahimzadeh 14:45
Interesting. Wow, what
Mariah Parsons 14:47
sort of background
Noah Rahimzadeh 14:50
I want to take a step back and ask what so you from the music platform like what made you decide to go into building an E commerce brand So that
Erik Huberman 15:01
was funny. It was I knew I had to get out of that music business. It wasn't ever gonna go anywhere illiquid away at 24 years old, I was like, this isn't gonna pay for my kids to go to college. I just had my first I'm 36. Like, this is a little bit of foresight, but I was like, this isn't going to like set me up for life. This is just going to like pay my bills as a 24 year old. And that's not good, because there's no future in that. And so I needed to get out. And I was, yeah, I was sitting on a couch with a friend of mine. And it was like, we were talking about T shirts. And I was like, what if we just what? Like, I hate shopping? Like, Why can't someone just send me a t shirt once a month, just so I keep my wardrobe updated. It's just they pick out for me based on like, my personal aesthetic or style. And that's what I always like, Well, I had a t shirt business, so I can help us get T shirts. And I was like, Well, I have a friend that could build a website. And I just got a college buddy to build like a one page lander that went to pay pal. Like, that's how it started. But then I put this in my book. And it's actually all the one star reviews on my book are all about this line, because people like hate the ethics of it, but it happens. So here we are. I was told that, you know, the best way to get news is to write the article based on what the publication generally writes about this, a friend of mine was giving this coaching he's like, like, TechCrunch if you tell him the rate that you raised money, they'll write about anything. Interesting. So I just sent TechCrunch and emails to claiming that I raised 100 grand for which at that time, like any fundraising was cool. 100 grand now, I don't think they like they would definitely ignore me. Because like we raised 100 grand for swag of the month. And they literally within 15 minutes, I got a call from Josh Constine, who was the editor at large there until he recently left for VC. But he was there for a long time, told me directly on my cell phone was like, Hey, this is Josh from TechCrunch. Want to get some credit and questions. Within an hour we were alive on the homepage of TechCrunch. Which Guess what? Tech country it was by T shirts. So we got I think it was like 1200 Customers immediately, like in, you know, two hours. Oh, boy. All right. Well, I guess we have a business. That's yeah. And we had already been in earlier that week, we got into Thrillist, which at the time was a men's publication, we got into urban daddy. And then we ended up in Maxim and Huffington Post and Wall Street Journal. And it just like the pret, that was when print like now press doesn't really do much for customer acquisition, back then it really did. Impress was, you know, it was like, media in general was a little more concentrated. So like, if you got into a big publication, everybody was reading it. Now. It's so disparate, those big PR hits don't do very much. Yeah. Like you mentioned my Forbes article. I'm, I really wonder how many people actually read that you put you found it because you were looking up or you sent me post about it. But like, I went putting that stuff out. But it's more of a middle of the funnel thing. Like we don't get a ton of awareness out of that? Well, I
Noah Rahimzadeh 17:35
think too, this is not to go off on a tangent, but it's almost impossible to ever measure the attribution from something like that to unless you're doing nothing else. It was easy. Did you ever get any? Did you ever get any blowback for the TechCrunch? piece? No, because
Erik Huberman 17:53
I didn't admit it until it was like, Hey, by the way. Yeah, I literally I put my dad's company as the investor, even though my dad did not invest. Because then they'd go double. They call them to clarify, it's like, yeah, sure what, I'd get a phone call from my dad and like I gave you what? Yeah. What's this, but again, now it's just the sign of the times. And it was, you know, there's, there's a little bit of fake it till you make it. And there is like, it's, you know, the part of it is like, I've dealt with this actually, with TechCrunch in the past, where it's like, if you don't hit their little hooks, they won't write about you. But it's like, the substance of that was still the same people like it wasn't that we raised 100 grand who gives a shit. It's like, this is a cool new, innovative business. Like, that's why we're in the Wall Street Journal is it was one of the first subscription ecommerce companies. So it was like this was a new input. If I pitched them as new innovative business model. It goes over the head all the time. So it's like, oh, we raised 100 grand. Okay, let's read about you. Yeah.
Mariah Parsons 18:51
It's like now that other people are like, tuned into what you all are doing. It's like, oh, I want to be like in the know, and like published about you. Yeah.
Noah Rahimzadeh 19:02
Very cool. Okay, getting into Hawk a little bit. I want to talk about, you know, what sort of makes Hawk unique in the Shopify space, as you know, probably even better than we do. There's a new agency entrant every hour, it seems, you've kind of talked about, you know, the vast majority don't really know what they're doing. You also talked about how you started as sort of an ala carte month to month service, which is probably unique then now in today's environment, what separates Hawk from the rest of agencies in the space? Yeah, it's
Erik Huberman 19:37
still the same to be honest. It's like as you said, like an agency I can anyone can start an agency my daughter can start an agency six months old, she could go we could get our website built you have an agency and you know get I don't know what her generate. I think she's generation Alpha might be what it is now. I think they cycled back now. And so, you know, Gen a perspective on business. We could probably watch that tomorrow and get some clients. It's that obnoxious in this space. I'm so what separates us? I mean, the real answer. And the non sexy answer is we actually do what we say we're going to do we know what we're doing. We know how to build businesses like for us, I kind of, like we so we don't compete with WPP and Omnicom like the reason people come, I just had a meeting with actually one of their teams yesterday that said this, but like, the reason people hire WPP, and Omnicom is you're a fortune 500 or 1000. And you don't want to get fired for the decision you make on the vendor, and no one's gonna get fired for hiring one of the big five marketing firms like that's why it's not that they're necessarily better, it's not necessarily that they're doing incredible work, you're just you're a CMO that doesn't want to take a risk, because the average tenure of a CMO at a fortune 500 is 18 months. So you're like, fuck that I'm keeping my job. I'm just going to hire someone that's tried and true. And that's why they get fired. We don't really compete with that, because frankly, we don't get into that room. We're not pitching AOR of Coca Cola against WPP. I actually don't know WPP. But I it's not my game. Because frankly, most of the people that end up competing in that world are people that we're seeing here, like the creative director of the one of the WPP agencies goes and starts around, has some relationships gets that going. That's how that happens. We started bottom up, we started with startups and then started to grow. And then we've worked now with Unilever, Nike, Estee Lauder, we brought in on projects and things there, but not as the overall AOR. So like, we're usually coming in, and they're like, We just bought these two brands, we're trying to run them, our AOR can't move on them fast enough, we need someone to complement that. That's where we get into those big ones. So that's where it's like, that's not even part of the conversation. The funny thing is who we compete with is like the five person Facebook shop and someone's spare bedroom. And I frankly, like and this is part of this is just being transparent about our challenge. My challenge is like trying to explain to people like you want to go work with someone to grow your business has no idea to grow their own. Like once in a while there are agencies like that, that are just getting started that are on a ramp, and they're good, and you can get a good one, they exist, I don't want to be like, but 99% of the time. It's someone that just can't keep any of their clients is why they can't grow. Nobody wants to run a five person Facebook agency, they can tell you that as a sales pitch, but nobody's happy doing all the work and not being able to scale their business. And if they are, you're trusting someone that doesn't like scale to scale. Like, it's, it's just the that's always been crazy to me. And so, you know, for us, we figured out how to at scale, keep the same level of service keep the same, like we know all the jabs, larger agencies, where it's like, oh, we're gonna fall through the cracks? Well, no, that that would mean our agency would suck like we there's, we're month to month, if we don't take care of you, you fire us next month, if all of my clients fire me after a month, I don't have a business. So it's about keeping, you know, showing that we know how to grow. We know the roadmap, and whenever someone says how do I get the agencies I should work with and like find someone that's already taken some of where you are to where you want to be. That's number one like that, don't be the test subject. If they've done it, do it like because then they can just run a playbook and most of marketing is sort of that baseline rinse and repeat scalable piece. Because if it's not, it's not predictable, and you can't run a business off it, you need predictability and marketing. About 10% of it is that like flash in the pan, you know, go viral, do some big campaigns, that kind of stuff. But 90% of it is rinse and repeat, like do the thing, the best practices. And if you've got a good product, and you run the best practices, you should be great. Yeah, that works out. So that's how we differentiate is that like, really, we don't compete with the big guys, because I don't actually think they're that compelling. And we don't compete, we don't really compete with the five we do compete in terms of pitching to a five person Facebook shop. But I'm generally baffled when somebody goes and makes that decision. Because of again, some pitch of like, we're not going to pay attention to him. It's like we're here, like you understand that's. So that's, that's usually what the what people try to say. And I remember being the opposite. By the way. I remember using that pitch, I remember saying like, Oh the you're gonna fall in the cracks with them. Like I get the jab. But we've built a business making sure that doesn't happen. Like my email is everywhere. People can I every one of our clients can contact me. We're very open and communicative. And our mission is accessibility to great marketing. That is our mission statement. Accessibility is in our mission statement. We're all accessible, we're easy to work with. We're cost effective, nimble, flexible, but available. And that's really important.
Noah Rahimzadeh 24:10
Yeah, awesome that I do think it's a unique perspective and especially at Hawk being, you know, the size that you've scaled it to Eric, from a from a size perspective, like it would make sense that you would compete with the WPP of the world but also just the E commerce ecosystem as it is today. I totally understand how you get the pressure moreso from the people when they're there shop out of their garage
Erik Huberman 24:35
when there's yeah, there's you know, there's there's more of like a it's a mid market agency, above all, like performance agencies if there's, let's say the 10 in the country that I know of that. I'm not going to give them all plugs right now but that we all kind of compete but that's what those guys if there's enough business to go around like there's a few good agencies in the country there's no I don't claim I'm not conceited enough to think I'm the only one that's figured this out. Like there's a few but honestly most of the ones that are scale have sold, and now they're just Dentsu or WPP, Omnicom or Accenture or, and so then the leadership doesn't care anymore, they got their money out like that, that changes things very quickly. Or they go up or and or they go up market, they don't want to work with small medium businesses anymore. Because they're less profitable, they're harder to work with they, once they have the credibility to get into the big guys, they don't want to deal with the small ones. So and, you know, we have it in our mission to keep that going. And we've figured out like, my end goal with this, or I shouldn't say end goal, because I think it's an always ongoing goal is to be that, like, go to for any business trying to grow like that. They know that we're tried and true. And like, they know that we're going to be consistent, we're going to deliver well, they don't have to, like the risk of hiring an agency can be out the window, because like we can, we they know we're going to service them. And in the end, we're again, our costs are effect where cost effective or reasonable like all those things, that it's just like, this isn't a test anymore, it's like we know Hawk is going to write the right run the right process. So let's just go with that we have that like, we have probably 120 venture and private equity funds that use us on their entire portfolio, just because it's like, these are the guys like they we know we we don't have to this doesn't have to be sort of an unknown. Let's hope that works out. We know that Hawk is going to run the right things and do the right things. And so we can kind of check that box, as opposed to, again, always kind of tasks. I think most people in marketing fall into the shiny object problem. They're chasing the next agency chasing X hype thing that is really dangerous. So don't waste a lot of money that way.
Noah Rahimzadeh 26:29
Yeah, I mean, I feel like that's the that's the old saying, like, it's not time timing the market, it's time in market, it's the same thing for you know, your relationship with your agency, if you're bouncing around every six months, they don't have any domain knowledge to carry forward into the future that kind of compounds on itself.
Erik Huberman 26:45
Would you agree? Yep. No, I've watched it's what you asked to talk, we'll talk about a client great example of this. Soon enough, when you ask about that, but like, it's crazy, like the decisions people make that are like, have no rational thought it's emotional decisions that they like, try to figure out and it's just like, you know, everybody asks us about whatever the newest thing is. Now it's AI. And funny enough, little tangent, but you asked also our differentiator, one thing we did was one of our differentiators that we've grown 4500 brands, we have a lot of visibility into what works, what doesn't. But that's all anecdotal, like we have access, but like, that's all people just looking. So what we did over the past eight years, I started putting all this data that we're collecting into a repository and anonymizing it. So we now at this point, have over 8000 companies marketing data running through our pipes in real time, we built a layer on top of it called Hawk AI. And we basically are able to plug in an individual company, benchmark them against their industry across all media KPIs. And now we're adding email marketing and SMS, we have Google Analytics, and they're all Shopify data. So you can see their revenue data marketing data, and actually know exactly what your click through rate is 20% below market. So something is wrong with your creative, your copy or your targeting. Like that is not good. We need to fix your click through rate, like we know exactly what KPI is missing. And what are we nobody else has said Google is the only one that may have some of that data. And they're never going to let them use it for this type of purpose. So we're the only one that you we have that level of data and can actually access it.
Noah Rahimzadeh 28:09
Yeah, I do have a couple of questions about that. That proprietary software that you built hoc, but maybe we take a step back, and it sounds like we're you're still super in the weeds. Like I got an email from your partner team. This week, we were we were talking about standing up like a disco feed in the post purchase experience, which I think is such an awesome use case. Like you mentioned, like a cookware brand, for example, selling pots and pans, being able to layer on like complementary products with home meal kits or, you know, kitchen utensils, for example, of their complementary brands like this absolutely love that use case. And your team seems really eager to help us figure out how he would stand that up. Yeah. All right, email, like I was shocked to see you on that email thread. Oh, no,
Erik Huberman 29:00
I, I put it up. Again, I'm a pretty transparent guy that I've worked hard at that past year than I've ever worked. And I work like, you know, I get the feedback I get in the market I've at actually went through a course where I had to go ask like 10 of our biggest partners, what they think of when they think of me. And thankfully, number one is actually that I'm somewhere between fair and honest and accountable. Like that was cool. That was the feedback I got. So I'm gonna plug that but the other one I get is that I'm a continent hustler. Like I'm always going always moving always. And that being said, the past year has been harder than any other year workwise because the economic shift like we're a month to month marketing agency, and everybody's looking the entire media of the country is telling everyone Oh, everyone needs to cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut. Well, when you're trying to decide what's easy to cut, and we've pitched ourselves as easy to cut. I'm not saying that we actually didn't lose that many clients. We just had a lot of people pull their budgets back significantly. So I people thankfully what I've seen is like marketing is gone. From a nice to have, that's the first thing that goes in a recession to like, it's not the lifeblood, especially in E commerce can't just cut it. But a lot of people got scared and pulled back. And so we've been grinding to just make sure we maintain the business and we, you know, figure out how to navigate a tough time because what I've been preaching to my team is like, if we've not yet we're now a year into all this crap. If we're, if, when, as we figure this out, and you know, modify the way we operate and stay on top of it and get through it. When this ends and people we're back to proactivity, we're going to be and I've watched this with other businesses, like it's going to be really fun. Because if we stick to our disciplines that we had to create a tough time, when it's when the sun shines, and we're making hay again, it just goes nuts. And so that's really what I've been emphasizing, like we're not in any danger as a business, but it slowed down. And so I was like, Okay, well, what do we need to do when things slow? Because we never had to deal with that, like we were flat year over year, last year, our average growth has been 80%. Like, it was a big shift. So I was like, Okay, let's figure this out. So, ya know, I'm fully in the weeds working with our team. And again, I work from home. So I'm like, sitting here on my laptop grinding with the team, and then playing with my daughter. And for now that existence is kind of nice.
Noah Rahimzadeh 31:08
Yeah, yeah, that's great. It's a good balance, for sure. I admire like two doors down and and phone booths today in our office. But that's only because we had an all hands this morning and come into the office, that's a mile away from my house, like once a month.
Erik Huberman 31:24
Yeah, we have 42. We have people in 42 states in five countries. So yeah, at a 250. So it's not like, like, that's a lot of different locations for, you know, a decent amount of people, but like the average of guests would be like five, six people per location. Like, we're not concentrated at all. Yeah, so having offices, like we have a six person we work in Santa Monica for 250 people. And we have a two person we work in New York, and I and then my my family's has a wasted real estate business, I use that as our address. And I find it a conference room. I go use that because I don't use it that often. Because that's down the street in Santa Monica. So
Noah Rahimzadeh 32:02
you got to you know, keep that creativity flowing through all aspects of the best. Exactly. But yeah, so since you're still so in the weeds, I did want to ask you about a recent project that you were involved in at Hawk that you're really excited about on the client side? Yeah, no,
Erik Huberman 32:19
I mean, I won't name them because this is ridiculous. But we had grown a company over the past few years from like, they went from, they started with us at 30 grand a month in revenue, okay. And some things that they got some press sort of benefits and stuff. We ended up in with us like this actually, good example. First time I met him, I wanted to work with them. I liked what they were building, it was again, tiny business. And I'm like, we need to rebuild our website and like, well, we can build your Shopify site, we can do it like this. This is like, oh, and they were based in a different state far enough away that they're like, Well, we found this local team, they say we should be on Magento we're gonna go with them. Three months later, they're in my office back in LA, they're visiting on a press tour. And they're in tears, both its husband, wife, partners, and because the company had taken them for 250 grand built no website, it didn't work. And they had a bunch of press about to hit and the site was just gonna crash. So we grinded, got their site, done, built it and watched it before all the press hit on Shopify, which is fully scalable at this is eight years or seven years, or seven or eight years ago, think seven maybe, and grind and got it done. And great, like crazy success, they skyrocketed with the press. We then took over marketing, we grew them. And over the next few years, we grew them, too. They ended up becoming a $60 million business by the end of 21. Oh, my so yeah, great, great story. He calls me and goes, Hey, so I'm hiring this new CEO and cmo so I can step back a little bit. And they want to bring in their own agency. So we're gonna have to part ways. And I'm like, and it happens, but I'm like, Alright, are we doing anything wrong? are we charging too much? No, like, so it's not broken, but you're fixing it. Like, just to be clear, like, this seems like How long have we? And I'm like you did this one. So you went to another agency, you had a disaster, you came to us, it's been great for years. And it's still growing like crazy. Like there's nothing wrong, and you're gonna Okay. Anyway, there was no argument guy was kind of hard headed, so fired us. But forgot to take us out of his Google Analytics. So we just kept an eye on it. And that company went from a 60 million run rate to a 20 million run rate in about six months,
Noah Rahimzadeh 34:31
just what any incentive, the
Erik Huberman 34:36
new CEO and cmo decided go full discount brand. So they cut everything was constant discounts to try to juice it, their agency. We found this out so they came back eight months later. So what we found out was their agency had was just horrible, had run no good campaigns, the only campaigns they had that were generating positive ROI were the campaigns they left on from us. From eight months before that hadn't been I optimized or anything for eight months, those were still their best performers. And so we brought them back. And within four months, we're about to get back to a 60 million run rate. So it's like, we just, I have a great team, I didn't do anything. By the way, I just yelled at the guy and told him to come back. Like I didn't actually do the work we have, we just like, at this point, we have guys that have been with us, like our head of Facebook or head of search, or head of like, our, you know, our team is just so good that it's like, yeah, we are going to run the best practices. And all we have to do is run the best practices. And if you have a good product, which they do, it works. And if you don't have a good product marketing becomes pretty impossible. So we were able to turn it around very quickly. And that's been the most recent cool one, because I basically told them like, soon enough, that'll be a published case study, because I'm like, like, I'm like, this was the dumbest, just like you couldn't have made a dumber decision. And I mean, it hurt the business in ways. Other ways. Because when you dip like that, like, businesses aren't built to decline 60% In a year, like, you end up with a lot of problems. And so they're still working on some of those, but we were able to get it back. Because, yeah, again, it's like, people think what we do is a commodity, because there's so many people selling it, it is far from that. And I have to explain this a lot to people, it's like, you know, they'll be like, well, you're charging, you know, whatever, I would say, depending on the client, where you're at, you're charging 10% of media spend these guys say they'll do it for nine, I'm like, Okay, so let's do the math here. Let's say you're spending 100 grand a month, you're talking Okay, so we're gonna charge you 10 grand, they're gonna charge you nine grand, so 1000 bucks, well, that 100 grand a month, if that doesn't turn into at least like 400 500 grand in revenue, it doesn't pencil for your business. So now you're gonna go with a company and save $1,000 That's supposed to be making you $500,000. And that's the decision part, like, make sure we can perform, this number shouldn't matter at all. And we deal with that a lot where people think it's a commodity, but it's like, you know, the difference like it marketing is an infinite opportunity cost. Like there is always you can do more and better always week, like there's we always talked, we talked about the six out of 10 roadhawk. Like, we're always a six out of 10. And compared to other people, we're an A plus. But in terms of where we could be, there's always huge amounts of room to improve on everything we're doing. We've talked about that since the beginning of the business. And we know that that's the case. And so making a decision to go with someone and to save a couple grand on what needs to be a, you know, mid six figure outcome is crazy to me. But people don't think that way. And they constantly make those kinds of decisions. And so, yeah, that's been something we tried to coach against.
Noah Rahimzadeh 37:31
I love that story.
Erik Huberman 37:34
Ya know, it's great. It was It was exciting, because I had no idea we can save it. I was like, I think that we're looking at their ads, right? I was like, looks like can we just turn off all this crap and then reinvest in this and optimize it, we should be good. And that's exactly what happened. Sure enough. That's awesome.