I’m so excited to have Jake Kassan, a co-founder of the fastest growing watch brand MVMT, on today’s episode of Unstoppable.
As a young serial entrepreneur, Jake raised $30,000 on Indiegogo in one day! He has been an incredible entrepreneur since a young age, and when he was 16 years old he was bringing in $10,000 a month on his first entrepreneurial project. Since then, he has grown three E-commerce brands from start-up to profitability generating millions in revenue.
On today’s show, Jake talks about his secrets to entrepreneurship, how he uses growth-hacking, his deep roots as an entrepreneur, and his direct-selling e-commerce experience.
And I have some very exciting news to share with you! For the next 3 months as a special thank you to all my listeners, I’ll be choosing 5 lucky listeners to win ONE YEARS supply of Hint Water!
To enter and win, all you have to do is head over to iTunes HERE and leave a meaningful review for the show. That’s it! And if I see you tweeting it out and tagging me @karagoldin, you’ll increase your chances of being picked. Please be sure to spread the word to your family and friends, and thanks for listening to Unstoppable!
You can Subscribe and Listen to the Podcast on Apple Podcasts. And be sure to leave us a Rating and Review!
“I think that the evolution of a brand takes time, and you learn things by testing and failing. That’s how I became and entrepreneur to begin with.” – Jake Kassan
- What is Indiegogo
- When to say no
- Why you should do e-commerce
- How to get men to shop online
- What’s the best way to reach out to people
- Why MVMT expanded beyond watches
- Why business partnership is important
“I think physical goods, whether it is food or whether it is a physical kind of fashion product, CPG, whatever, I think any of those are great to start on a Kickstarter or Indiegogo.” – Jake Kassan
“For me, every day that we sell a watch we basically get that money and reinvest it into more inventory.” – Jake Kassan
|Kara Goldin:||Super excited to have you Jake.|
|Jake Kassan:||Thank you.|
|Kara Goldin:||Guys, this is Jake Kassan. Super, super excited to have him and for those of you who don’t know about Jake and all of the great stuff that he’s done, he is the founder of an incredible company called MVMT which is super, super awesome. Watches, but lots of other stuff in the horizon as well, and we’re really excited to have him here today in west Hollywood. We’re actually doing this whole podcast from the former home of Charlie Chaplin. Did you know that?|
|Jake Kassan:||I heard on the way in. Yeah.|
|Kara Goldin:||Yeah, it’s pretty awesome, right?|
|Jake Kassan:||It’s hidden. It’s hidden.|
|Kara Goldin:||It’s hidden in here but it’s pretty, pretty cool, so excited to show some little videos of it as well. Jake, so first of all, thank you so much for coming here and I’d love to just get your backstory. How did you decide to start this great company and tell me a little bit about you.|
|Jake Kassan:||Totally. I started this basically back in college, or when I was living in the college town. I dropped out of college at 19 pretty early to start different businesses. In high school that was the first time I explored with different online businesses and found success, so early years in the college I dropped out because I had the opportunity to open up a store in a mall for a previous business, so I still lived and paid rent in Santa Barbara where I was going to college but I would go home during the week to go and work the store and hire employees and do that whole bit. That all ended and towards the tail end of my college career so to speak I was trying to think about what I wanted to do next, and this was right around the time when Kickstarter and Indiegogo, the whole crowdfunding phase was going on.|
I was just trying to reflect and figure out what I could do, and I saw a lot of people finding rapid success in these different projects on Kickstarter, and I’d already had experience with an online store, online brand, so I knew that it was something that I was capable of doing. I wanted to figure out a product that I could really believe in. My previous businesses were very niche products and if I went to a room of ten people and tried to sell my product, probably one if would buy it.
|Kara Goldin:||What was the-|
|Jake Kassan:||I describe it as I sold rave light accessories, so if Coachella, EDC, any of those things, I sold the accessories from tutus to pasties to lights, everything. So it just was very niche, and I just fell into that because the electronic dance music scene kind of blew up and I was young and so I went to a couple and I was, “Who’s selling the stuff to these kids?”|
Anyways, fast forward. I love fashion specifically and when I was thinking about what product I wanted to get behind and start, watches came to mind just because there wasn’t a brand out there that I really resonated with from really what the brand represented. I’m passionate about brands like Nike, Adidas, Supreme. Brands that stand for something more than just a visible product. Then for me also it was just at that time, all the watches on the market that were well known just weren’t really accessible for me in terms of a price point, so I think from a brand, the aesthetic of the design, and then price point.
Those were all things that made sense to me, and I figured that if I could launch on a crowdfunding platform I could raise capital to then fund the business, and then build a business online at least to start. So we launched on Indiegogo and raised $300,000 and last year we did $80 million. We’re five years old, and-
|Kara Goldin:||It’s amazing.|
|Jake Kassan:||Completely bootstrapped. Haven’t raised any capital.|
|Kara Goldin:||That’s amazing. So for those of you who were those people listening who don’t know much aboutIndiegogo, how do you go about trying to raise money on that? What would be your advice in terms of people should do it. Don’t waste your time doing it. If you have an idea like this. I mean, who do you think can be successful launching on that?|
|Jake Kassan:||I think physical products, physical goods whether it’s food or whether it’s a physical fashion product, CPG, whatever. I think any of those are great to start on a Kickstarter or Indiegogo. I can’t really think of many reasons why you wouldn’t want to go there initially, for a few reasons. I just looked it up yesterday. I think Kickstarter gets 60 million people a month on their website, so it’s just getting on the platform you get free exposure. It’s also a great way to test your story and to test your product and just first off get awareness and cashflow to fund the rest of your business, but essentially you pre-order products. So for me I pre-ordered six watches, took pictures of them, and those were just samples so that cost me a couple thousand dollars to get the samples, but I didn’t have to go place a full order which an MOQ could be hundreds or thousands of units.|
So for me it was the ability as a broke college kid with no money to go and max out my credit card and fund the samples, and I made a pretty video. I told my story. I explained what the whole concept of the brand was, and I gave the customers essentially 50 days to pre-order, and I told them that, “If you guys back this project, down the road we’re not only going to have watches. We’re going to have different products. We’re going to have a handful of different watches. We’re going to continue to build this movement and then build this brand,” and if they believed in the brand and they liked the product than we gave them a discount to be the first ever to have the product, and that’s essentially how we funded it. I mean really it took probably six months because we didn’t have money to place an order until the campaign was done, so until 50 days were over we had $300,000. That’s when we put down the deposit for the first run of watches.
|Kara Goldin:||That’s amazing. And so this is not equity-|
|Jake Kassan:||No. No equity.|
|Kara Goldin:||That you’re giving away. And is there an opportunity to go to do it as equity, or is it-|
|Jake Kassan:||I believe there is on Indiegogo. There’s also other platforms.|
|Kara Goldin:||Got it.|
|Jake Kassan:||I’m less familiar with that, and I think those are probably more, maybe it’s app-based where you have no physical good to return. For this, for me, if they give me $100, I’m going to give them a physical product in return. But if it’s an app or something that they can’t actually have-|
|Kara Goldin:||Yeah, it’s tougher.|
|Jake Kassan:||They have to have a piece of equity or some other type of compensation in order for them to back it, but I don’t know if that’s as popular. I think less people understand the whole concept of equity and how it works, so people usually want to back a product that they can actually have, touch, feel, show off.|
|Kara Goldin:||Did you know any of these people who were backing you on Indiegogo, or were they just people from all over the world that-|
|Jake Kassan:||I mean, my mom and grandma and a few others, but outside of that no, not really.|
|Kara Goldin:||That’s amazing.|
|Jake Kassan:||Another thing is, I had a $5,000 limit on my credit card. I just got an interest-free 18-month credit card from Chase and that was to fund the business, so we bought a camera from Costco and then returned it a week later to film the video. We were very, very lean and bootstrapped, so we didn’t have money to advertise either, so for us it was going onto websites like Reddit or finding different blogs. I hired some people in the Philippines to go and upvote us on certain websites to garner exposure, so it was very much growth hacky, how do you get free website traffic? And hopefully they convert.|
Then the great thing about Kickstarter and Indiegogo is that most people just launch and kind of set it and forget it. For us, because we knew how to get traffic there, the more outside orders that you get the algorithm of Kickstarter and Indiegogo actually say, “Okay, this campaign’s more successful than the others. Let’s give them more exposure because we think it’s going to work,” and then it just turns into this snowball effect where they post an email or they post you on their homepage, and that’s really how we started to really gain momentum. I think Indiegogo put us on either an email or on the homepage and we made $30,000 in a day.
|Kara Goldin:||That’s amazing.|
|Jake Kassan:||And we went from maybe a few hundred dollars a day to that, $30,000 a day, and then every day after that it was like a few thousand dollars until we got to the last day.|
|Kara Goldin:||And so growth hacking. Was that like your first view into … I mean, you’re self-taught.|
|Kara Goldin:||Right? I mean-|
|Jake Kassan:||Kind of. I’m definitely self-taught because I had nothing else, but I did for my first when I was 17, Kanye West came out with a song called Love Lockdown and did a live performance at the MTV Music Awards, and I sold a T-shirt that lit up to music. It was sound activated. Had this little panel on it, and it was like an equalizer, and I found it on eBay. I ordered 200 and I said, “I got to figure out how to sell this,” so I recorded Kanye West’s video, and it just so happened that his theme was, I think it was called Glow in the Dark Tour or something, so it was kind of more varied lights. And I had Kanye West for the first five seconds and then it cut to me and my T-shirt, and this was back when YouTube didn’t have these … Now they get on top of that, but back then they didn’t so I think I had a handful of videos that reached a million views, and I just started selling thousands of dollars.|
|Kara Goldin:||Did Kanye reach out to you?|
|Jake Kassan:||No he didn’t, and in fact, people were pretty pissed. The comments on the videos were not pleasant, but they were funny to read, but they were pretty mean. But people were buying shirts, and like thousands of dollars of shirts. I was 16 or 17 years old going to the bank every week bringing $10,000-|
|Kara Goldin:||That’s amazing.|
|Jake Kassan:||Or depositing $10,000, so yeah, it was a really cool experience. Anyways, I saw that and I went, “Okay, you don’t have to have this structured advertising, marketing. I’m doing things that marketing execs don’t even know,” so that just taught me that there is an advantage to me being young and using certain platforms such as Instagram or social media across the board to leverage ways to make money. So that’s always stuck with me. At this scale it’s harder to do for me. It doesn’t make sense for me to go and try and growth hack a certain area to make $100,000. We’re doing TV now. We’re doing radio. We’re doing podcasts. So for us I’m looking for scalable things, but I think that there’s still an opportunity for the young entrepreneur in new platforms out there like Snapchat or Twitch or whatever it is where I’m not familiar with it but there’s certainly ways to do it.|
|Kara Goldin:||Yeah. Well I think it’s true and I think I always say, it’s not just about the older you get, but the more experienced you get it’s like you don’t actually see the opportunities that are right in front of you. I think yours is a great example, and that’s why I always say it’s not just about the younger audience. It’s the people that are not necessarily saying they’re marketers. They’re, whatever, seasoned marketers or they’ve been working in the industry.|
To me, that is irrelevant in today’s day and age because when I hear stories like yours it’s really about, I mean it’s great that you were 16 or 17 years old but it’s really about the stuff was right in front of you and you knew how to be scrappy and you knew how to roll up your sleeves and actually figure this stuff out, so I think that’s such a cool story. Really, really cool.
Briefly want to touch on, so you’re in college. Trying to figure out what you’re going to do, and you call your parents and you’re like, “I’m not going to do this anymore.” Were they just freaking out?
|Jake Kassan:||My dad is an entrepreneur. He had a business for 23 years and then it went under with the economy, so I kind of saw a comfortable way of life and then kind of a struggling over the years and I think he pushed me for sure to be an entrepreneur. He always had me doing things that were a little bit more labor focused. I was painting American flags on curbs and doing all this other, I don’t know, selling. He owned a soccer center so I would make soccer mom bracelets and stuff, or key chains and sell them, but I hated making them and I hated painting the curbs. I liked the money part and the marketing part.|
I think anyways, point being is my dad knew that I didn’t want to go to school. This was a conversation over the years. So when I told him, and I told him the reason for it was that I was going to go open up a store in a mall and I had an opportunity to go open a store there, and meanwhile my website was making six figures, so a hundred and something thousand dollars a year.
|Kara Goldin:||That’s insane.|
|Jake Kassan:||So my dad was like, “Okay, this is real. This is going to happen.” And when I went to the store, I signed a three-month lease. It was kind of a popup before popups were even a term I guess, and I think in December we had a $50,000 month. So everything was looking good, and then I made the decision, let’s sign a year lease. And it was in a really, really bad place in the mall. A horrible place. It was known for not … No tenant has ever stayed there for over a year, but I was kind of defying that because I think I had this online brand and I was bringing customer … I already had a line out the door for Black Friday, and for whatever reason it was working for me. So I told him that. He was all for it, and then I ended up having a competitor put me out of business who was actually on Shark Tank as well, and we’re friends now. He always tells me that I owe him for kicking me out of the industry because-|
|Kara Goldin:||That’s funny.|
|Jake Kassan:||[inaudible 00:14:04] watches, but yeah, I think my parents, they were okay with it. I think the issue came or the frustration came when the business went under and I actually owed my parents some money, I owed my grandparents some money, and they started to feel real frustration as I didn’t really have this company anymore. I was a dropout of college and I started working valet up at Santa Barbara just to support myself so I could finish the year up there, but I felt like the tone changed in my parents’ voice.|
|They were not disappointed, but just, I don’t know, antsy. Like they were anxious and just hoping that I figure it out, but things weren’t looking good in my favor. I was a dropout of college at 19. The only career knowledge I had was my previous business in an industry that was a very niche industry, so I was definitely freaking out for a little bit trying to figure out what I wanted to do.|
|Kara Goldin:||Then you decided MVMT. So let’s talk about the next chapter of your life So obviously you looked at less niche businesses, and watches, and were you always a watch guy? Did you always have a lot of watches?|
|Jake Kassan:||I didn’t have a lot. There were certain brands that I loved, but I couldn’t afford them. I loved watches and it was like the one accessory I owned, but I didn’t have a big variety of them just because … I knew which brands I would have, but even those brands as I got older I felt less connected to. It was action sports brands. They were like, skate/surfboard was their focus, or some of them were just really bland and I couldn’t tell you what the brand was or represented.|
As I got older and Instagram and all these social media platforms came to be, I realized that none of these guys had taken advantage of connecting with the customer. There wasn’t a connection past, “I’m going to go to a third party retail store and buy the product, and I’ll talk to the sales rep about the brand.” But there’s no direct brand to customer communication.
So I just realized that early on, and also just the aesthetic of a lot of watches. Not that … I think we have our own aesthetic. I think it’ll evolve over the years. I think brands evolve. Right now we’re a very minimalist brand but I don’t consider us to always come out with only minimalist products. So I don’t know. It was just a combination of everything and realizing, and I had thought of other projects. I was actually going to do a boxed water back in the day, and then just didn’t-
|Kara Goldin:||Terrible idea.|
|Jake Kassan:||Follow through with it. Yeah, I didn’t know what I was doing, but our buddy, his uncle owns Reed’s Beverages. He was my roommate so we were like, “Alright-“|
|Kara Goldin:||That’s so funny.|
|Jake Kassan:||“We know someone in the beverage industry. How do we figure that out?” And I wanted to start an agency to help people get websites developed because I had done a handful, and probably ten other things I can’t remember right now but so I was always thinking about what I wanted to do, and watches just made sense because I wanted something that had the ability to scale to a large … Just had a huge industry. Again, something that I could walk around and talk to ten people and potentially sell to half of them at least.|
Watches just checked the boxes off, and MVMT, although we started with watches, I consider us an accessories brand. I know we have to point and roll the ball in the direction that we want to go, so we’re still a little premature in that sense but we have sunglasses that have done very well. We have jewelry as well, so the goal was always if we can build this lifestyle brand, and watches being that hero product, we can grow into being this larger than life lifestyle brand.
|Kara Goldin:||So watches online. You just made this decision not to do your popup store. Not the mall. Not selling them in the mall.|
|Jake Kassan:||Well I learned the hard way. Learned the hard way from … yeah.|
|Kara Goldin:||Yeah, you learned the hard way. Focusing online, but the other thing that’s really interesting. Your primary business is men buying these watches, right?|
|Jake Kassan:||It’s about 70/30.|
|Kara Goldin:||Which is super interesting in ecommerce, because men aren’t really supposed to be shopping online. I mean that’s what most people, and yet you’ve proven that wrong, and so that is extremely bold. I mean on so many levels. I applaud you for that, because I think most people who are ecommerce experts would also say you can’t actually build a business that is not only scalable but sustainable based on men actually buying, but you’ve proven that wrong and you’ve proven that people are buying multiple watches as well, so this is not just a one time thing. That’s super, super cool. What is the average price point right now that people are-|
|Jake Kassan:||Right now it’s around $130. Right now they range between $95 and I think the most expensive is $165. Again, our whole thing is price is something that is important to us. We want to make sure that we offer accessible price points and still high quality products. I think the main focus with price is if we come out with a watch that has different types of internal components that are more expensive, our watch will be competitively priced in comparison to traditional brands, and a large piece of that is the fact that we did start with a direct to consumer model. We’re not a direct to consumer brand only. We do sell in Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s and we’re rolling out other wholesale partners, but it’s just because we started online we didn’t have to deal with that middle man and we were able to really just sell direct and have a better margin that way.|
|Kara Goldin:||That’s awesome, and do you feel like, so did that just start with the Nordstroms or has that been going on for-|
|Jake Kassan:||We’ve been doing Nordstroms for two and a half years now.|
|Kara Goldin:||Oh, that’s awesome.|
|Jake Kassan:||Nordstroms, Amazon, Bloomingdale’s, and then we’re doing a pretty decent sized wholesale distribution strategy over the next 12 months.|
|Kara Goldin:||I was just having a conversation with a friend of mine who doesn’t do direct to consumer but runs a pretty big offline brand and we were talking about how … So our business, we have like 40% of our overall business at Hint is direct to consumer, which for a beverage company is significant, and we love that business. That’s not including Amazon, and so we do Amazon as well and then we sell in the grocery stores across the country and college campuses and lots of other programs as well, but I always tell people that we love our direct to consumer business because we actually have a relationship with the customer.|
So although we really like the business of selling in Publix and Target and all the rest of these businesses, we just feel like it’s almost branding for me versus actually having that relationship with the customer. I love the sales and I love … I mean I’m sure you do as well but I really think just the cachet of having your product in a Nordstrom is awesome, but you’re not going to get that email address so that you can go out tomorrow and say, “Hey, you bought this watch and you’ll probably like this watch as well.” So that’s the downside of it.
|Jake Kassan:||I used to have a different view. I used to have a view of wholesale’s bad and stay away, and then I’ve just realized that as a brand you need to be sold where your customer shops, and I think it’s important that you can offer that. So I think for us actually I’ve learned and I’ve realized that there’s an advantage to having … I think starting online first or owning a larger percentage or just understanding that business at least helps you because you’re able to get the email address.|
|Jake Kassan:||Tracking of any type of advertising or anything becomes much easier, so just the data component alone, and you make more typically, right? So that’s a big, important piece but I think that as you’re spending marketing dollars, if someone sees, as an example, we have TV now so if someone sees us on TV and they can only buy on our website, the chances of making our return on investment there is probably a little more difficult to do rather than, oh, we’re also in Nordstroms and we’re in Blooming and we’re in a hundred other stores. The chances that they will convert at some point, there’s a higher likelihood.|
Then on top of that it’s awareness as well. How many people didn’t know about you and see you in a store and then buy you? So I think there’s a lot to be said about that. I think it’s just timing and what’s your rollout plan? I think for us, direct to consumer, and for many people, direct to consumer is the only way that they can afford to grow a business. Most of the brands that are either bootstrapped or very little capital are only able to start direct to consumer because if they were selling to companies like Costco and they wanted huge orders, you have to be able to find or have access to capital to fund those. So for me, every day that we sell a watch we basically get that money and reinvest it into more inventory.
|Kara Goldin:||That’s awesome.|
|Jake Kassan:||Versus having terms or whatever it is. So now we’re at a point that as we go into distribution and wholesale, we have a line of credit and we’re just a bigger brand that we can afford to deal with this, but if you start in wholesale it’s very capital intensive. Also the risk of you going to a store, whether it’s a Whole Foods or a Nordstrom, and not performing because your brand’s not well known, that’s kind of your only shot. So for us, every store we’ve launched in we’ve had wild success because people know about us and we have this following online.|
It was funny. Even another growth hack with Urban Outfitters. We launched in Urban Outfitters and they did online only and we started emailing our … We purposely put the SKUs that we sold them out of stock on our website and anyone that signed up would get an email saying, “Oh, Urban Outfitters has this.” Sold out of everything in two weeks and then Urban Outfitters rolled us out to like 50 stores or something like that.
So just little growth hacks like that that we used. What we realized is we weren’t making as much money and Urban Outfitters isn’t the greatest watch retailer anyways, and then by the time we signed up with Nordstrom our brand was organically well known online and people were going in asking for it.
But anyways, that’s my mindset strategy-wise. Now there are some brands that make sense to be, like their model of being direct to consumer is what gives them that advantage fully and they’ll stay like that, but I think for a lot of brands it’s how you start and then evolve over time.
|Kara Goldin:||Well I think to your point too that if you start out, as we did, as a wholesaler to stores, and it’s a little bit different. A beverage that is less than two bucks versus what your product is, but most of these retailers, they don’t want to actually take a chance on you, right? Because you’re not really a brand yet, and they believe that their brand is more valuable than your brand, and so if you get a chance to actually get into these stores then best case you maybe get two SKUs, best case, and you beg for four SKUs but you get lost in the sea of lots of choices of watches, or lots of choices of beverages, or whatever and then you only have so much time before that retailer will bump you out of there. And so what we learned early on is that we typically just say no, and there’s always this. I get asked by entrepreneurs all the time. It’s like, “When do you say no?” Right?|
Because it’s like, I mean you know the game now too. If you go in into an Urban Outfitters with two SKUs, you’re going to fail. They’re going to stick it somewhere in the store and it’s not going to really have your brand and people won’t be able to see it, and then people won’t buy it. Or they’ll think, “Gosh, I can go to Nordstroms and buy this product and they have 25 of them there, versus a choice of two,” and so then Urban’s going to fail. And they could’ve been successful if they actually gave you more selection, but they’re not thinking about it in a strategic way that’s actually, how am I going to be successful as a brand in partnering with this product? So anyway, I think what you’ve said is really, really right on because if you have the ability to go online first, that that’s the way to show these offline retailers that they need to have a bigger selection. They need to actually have a credible partnership scenario set up for this consumer so that the consumer’s not going to go elsewhere for the product too.
|Jake Kassan:||Yeah, it’s funny. I have a handful of friends now that are in, I don’t even know, consumable type products, and sell to Whole Foods or Costco or whatever it is. Because I’ve just been fascinated with the fact that I have a watch that can last for years versus a product that is consumable and if they like it, they want more.|
So in that instance I’ve seen them. The struggle of going into Whole Foods and having to do samples, or they’re inching their way, and they’re doing well but it’s just a lot of work and a lot of … And just the wholesale. You’re talking to different buyers and meeting them, and it’s a lot of work and I look at the way we built our business, and not every consumable product can be sold online. Whether it’s weight or it’s just something that people want to go to a grocery store to buy, but I think that watching what we’ve done with growing it online, building a brand online. I think that if we launched into any retailer, and we’ve seen this with distributors around the world. We’re actually 40% international as well, so we have distributors around the world requesting for our business right now because the brand’s well known and hot in different parts of the world.
So I’ve seen this ability, and we’ve spent a lot of money and we’ve done a lot of work online. That online work has direct offline benefits, and I think it’s just it could be harder, and maybe it’s just because I don’t know that industry as well, but doing it offline I think you’re segmented to what stores you’re in. I’m spending my time and energy in Los Angeles for the stores I want to work in, it just seems like a lot of mindshare and effort for just one small region versus a TV ad that can go essentially global if I wanted it to, or Facebook, or Instagram, or whatever it is. So I don’t know. I think there’s a balance but I guess what I’m saying is that I definitely think a direct to consumer strategy, at least to start, with a Kickstarter or whatever it is. Doing that is going to give you … Even if you fail and you’re like, “Okay, we’re going to go to wholesale strategy,” it’s going to give you leverage in the long run for the wholesale, the Amazon, whatever else.
|Kara Goldin:||Well, I think what you’re talking about too is really data. It really boils down to the data, because if you talk to your friends who are launching in Costco or Whole Foods about who their customer is, they’ll at best talk about who Costco’s customer is. Right? They don’t actually know, and if somebody’s going to go in and buy their product, they’re not going to have that data. And so what you have done is you’ve taken that data and then you’ve continued to have a dialog with that customer, and I always tell people too. I do believe that direct to consumer, especially early on to figure out whether or not you have a business or not.|
If you don’t have a product that people are going to want more of, on a somewhat regular basis and I mean, very different product. A beverage versus a watch, but most people who enjoy watches, I think either you have one or two watches, or you have a lot of watches. I have friends, primarily male friends, that have lots of watches, and that’s like the only accessory that they have. They don’t have purses. They don’t have … Right?
|Kara Goldin:||They have one leather briefcase or whatever backpack, whatever it is, and then they have lots of watches. And so I think that the sniff test on your category is brilliant because it says, “Yeah, there’s a lot of people out there that are going to do it.” I think that the whole male thing versus female, it’s completely … I love it because it’s like you saw it as like, “Yeah, I think it can work, and now how do we go and get those people too?”|
|Kara Goldin:||I mean, and obviously if I would have been investing in this company I would have looked at it as like, look. Dollar Shave. It’s the same thing. It’s like people were like, “Who would go and invest in razors? No guys are online buying,” but they are.|
|Jake Kassan:||Yeah. 100%.|
|Kara Goldin:||They’re definitely on there, so anyway, I think that’s-|
|Jake Kassan:||No, I love it.|
|Kara Goldin:||That’s super, super cool. When you talk about the data, and we talk about it a lot internally, what do you think is the key thing if somebody’s going and launching their site online? What are the things that they should do first to make sure that their data is getting set up the right way?|
|Jake Kassan:||I think if you’re starting off completely day one, I think Shopify is a great tool that takes a lot of the other components that you would have to worry about completely out. There’s so many apps that integrate with Shopify, so simply having Shopify you have an optimized checkout. The templates on Shopify have pretty much been battle tested that you know that they’re usable and workable. There’s brands.|
We started with a template. We started with a template on Magento and then hated that and went to Shopify and were spending less. It was like a $150 template on Shopify, and were able to build a million dollar business off of that and then the following year, we’re still on Shopify today but the following year did $7 million with basically $1,000 or $2,000 of web development and tweaks. So it wasn’t like we did a ton.
Now, that’s not inclusive of browsing the apps and clicking install and going from there, but I mean you’re getting email addresses. We had a abandoned cart email that was like a $10 a month plugin and whenever people typed in their email address and something in their cart but left for whatever reason, maybe they weren’t ready or whatever, they got an email and those were converting customers. We paid $10 a month and converted 25 customers a month in the early days.
|Kara Goldin:||That’s great.|
|Jake Kassan:||And we were like, we’re okay with that. So I think there’s just little things like that. I think when you get to a larger stage like us, you have to get a data warehouse and start to worry about stuff like that but early stages it was the emails and names and addresses and phone numbers. That’s all stored in Shopify. You can have everything other than their basically credit card information, which is good because you don’t want to be liable for any of that anyways. So having all that, you can export the data where needed so we’ll take that data and aggregate it with Google Analytics and other areas and then push it into a data warehouse now, but early days it was pretty much Google Analytics and Shopify and all the data really necessary is there to make data driven decisions as to, hey, did this Facebook work or did this Instagram post work? Whatever it is you can understand more about your website and make data driven decisions.|
|Kara Goldin:||So you were mostly doing a lot of this stuff early on, and then how did you … People always ask me, “How do you find people too? Like who can actually help you to get better at this stuff,” and I mean it sounds like you know. I always tell people, I know enough to get me in trouble. Right?|
|Jake Kassan:||Yeah. The same.|
|Kara Goldin:||But there’s always, I hire people that are better that actually know how to do these things along the way, but I think I’m a big believer that a founder always needs to stay involved and know a little bit about all of these different things along the way, but how did you find these people along the way? How many people do you guys have now too?|
|Jake Kassan:||We have just under 40 internal. We have another 30 that do customer service that aren’t technically under the company, but initially it was, I started talking. I networked actually less with founders and more with marketing VPs or directors, because it was like I wanted to know how to build the business and every time I talked to a founder it was, “It was about hiring, or it was about fundraising,” and it was all things that I needed to know but what actually moved the needle was, how do I spend-|
|Kara Goldin:||How do I operate?|
|Jake Kassan:||Yeah. Like, how do I go from spending $1 million a year to spending $10 million a year, and profitably? So I talked to a lot of people. People from Dollar Shave Club and [Mandy’s 00:36:06].|
|Kara Goldin:||Would you just call?|
|Jake Kassan:||I used LinkedIn.|
|Kara Goldin:||That’s awesome.|
|Jake Kassan:||The LinkedIn tool. Yeah, I would reach out with a clever subject line and offer to buy them a drink and if they didn’t respond I’d hit them up somewhere else.|
|Kara Goldin:||So mostly in LA area?|
|Jake Kassan:||Mainly in LA. Actually yeah, almost exclusively really in LA. There’s a few people I’ve met over the years now from San Francisco and as the business has grown it’s been easier. If I reach out to someone I typically get a response now, but yeah, usually I was pretty persistent and I think the difference is founders get hit up by people all the time, but I think VPs and directors getting hit up for a kind of, “Hey, will you be my mentor? Will you help me with this? And can I buy you a beer?” I think that’s a cool feeling, and it’s good for them to network to different businesses anyways. So for me it was meeting them and then understanding what I needed to know or what I didn’t know, and I kind of developed an understanding as to how the business needed to grow and what we were doing right or wrong today and what’s my next hire? What’s my next marketing hire? Is it a CMO? Is it a director?|
I met with other CMOs even, and I had other CMOs go, “It sounds like you need a CMO.” And I just started backtracking and trying to figure out exactly what it was, and then I reached out. Through a network found a popular recruiter in Los Angeles and he really helped us understand exactly … I mean if you hire a good recruiter they’re going to help you understand exactly what the role is and what you may be missing, and so just kind of helped develop exactly what it was that we wanted and I knew that it was also to a point where I had to turn down opportunities.
Podcasts or speaking events or really just a handful of things. Other areas to grow the business, because I was so consumed by the day to day marketing, and I just realized I need to delegate and find someone who can do it better than I can, because I felt that there was things that I was overlooking that I didn’t know. I was making money. We were doing well. I scaled the business to about $30 million before we hired a CMO, but I knew that to get to the next step, there are just more people involved and hiring more employees.
There was more issues and what not, so found the recruiter and relocated him from San Diego, but yeah, our CMO came in and then he hired a handful of people underneath him. All people that I kind of helped source as well. For the marketing side at least I’m very involved in who we’re hiring and where they came from and just networking. So yeah, I think knowing though, knowing Facebook because I ran Facebook for a long time and I ran a handful of the social channels and organic, and so understanding, along with Shopify, understanding all those components. They’re really some of the most important pieces of the business that’s going to grow and scale the business.
It felt like I was able to hire people better because of that, and it’s tough to do. I think a founder has to do what they enjoy. Otherwise they get burnt out, but for me I enjoyed the marketing side so it was kind of weird giving it up but I also knew and had faith in the people that I was giving it up to, and it’s proven to be the best decision that I’ve ever made.
|Kara Goldin:||That’s awesome. That’s super, super cool. Other categories. You briefly touched on this. Sunglasses and other stuff that you’re working on. How did you decide to go into these other categories? Did you feel like people were … We launched a sunscreen and that was my own story of wanting a better sunscreen, and I don’t know if you’ve tried Hint sunscreen but it’s-|
|Jake Kassan:||I haven’t.|
|Kara Goldin:||It’s an amazing product, but it definitely was something that I was looking for but customers were saying to us, “What kind of chips do you eat? What kind of other products do you use?” And so I really like talking about the relationship with the customer. I’m sure you get this a lot too where customers are writing to you and not just giving you ideas but also saying, “Can you guys solve this problem? It seems like you really get who I am as an individual.” Is that sort of where that came from?|
|Jake Kassan:||Yeah, I think there’s a combination. There’s been some. There’s a handful of products. We get a lot of customers asking for different products. For us we wanted to expand into a different category and for us, I don’t know. Sunglasses we just identified with and there’s a monopoly of Luxottica and all these other large brands that own Sunglass Hut and Ray-Ban and, I don’t know, 25 other brands.|
So for us it made sense. Kind of essentially why Warby Parker came to be, but for us it was just the fashion side of it and when I think about what the main fashion sunglass brand is it’s Ray-Ban. At least for my demo, and I think for yeah, a large portion of at least the United States, so for me it was coming up again with an accessible price point and comparable quality, and then just designs and a brand that people could actually connect with.
I don’t think Ray-Ban does a good job of having that connection with the customer. They do a good job at distribution and selling, but for us we saw an opportunity there and so we did that, and we’ve learned a lot. I think as it’s taken, I think it’s been two years since we first launched sunglasses, and we don’t have a ton of capital because we’re bootstrapped, so it’s kind of launch what we think is right and kind of do a soft launch, learn from it, and then iterate from there.
So we’ve learned a lot. I think this year we really did it right and next year we’ll do it even better, so it’s a learning process. We’ve also launched jewelry last year in Q4. Same idea. Soft launch and we’ll roll into a more aggressive launch this year, and then next year I think we’ll do an even better job but those are the main categories that we’re focused on. I mean each of those categories are multi, multi billion dollar categories and I think they all fit together pretty well for the most part, so we just want to make sure we do them well before we go all over the place-
|Kara Goldin:||Go crazy. So you mentioned a few other eyeglass companies that are out there. They’ve gone full force into stores. Have you thought about going into … I mention this too because we’re launching our first store actually next week-|
|Jake Kassan:||Oh, wow. Congrats.|
|Kara Goldin:||In San Francisco on Union Street. Yeah, really, really exciting. Actually it’s a water bar.|
|Jake Kassan:||That’s awesome.|
|Kara Goldin:||Which is a lot of people are sort of like, “Oh, wait. What are they doing?” I mean they’re launching a water bar, but I started to really think about like, why is it that whenever you want to go and just grab a quick conversation with somebody then you go grab a coffee or tea? Like, why can’t you just go grab a bottle of water and just go hang out-|
|Jake Kassan:||Yeah. That’s awesome. I love that.|
|Kara Goldin:||And have a place where you can go charge your phone. Have a place where you can listen to good tunes. Just a really happy place where you can just sit there and just chill for a little while.|
|Jake Kassan:||Yeah. I love that.|
|Kara Goldin:||And it would be like a buck. There’s no big ticket. You don’t have to order food. You just want to get out and go do something.|
|Jake Kassan:||Yeah, that’s amazing.|
|Kara Goldin:||Anyway, we’re really, really excited about that, but we really believe that it’s also about brand and it’s also a place where people can learn about how we feel about different components of our brand and why we’re doing it. I mean we launched Hint as an answer to really giving up the diet sodas of the world, but there’s a lot of other things that we believe in, including that plastic is actually one of the best materials that you can use, which is really counter to what a lot of people talk about but it’s the most recyclable of all products and glass is no longer recyclable, and these box containers like you mentioned are actually going into landfills flat and they’re not recyclable. There’s one place in the world that actually recycles those containers, and so anyway there’s a lot of knowledge that we have as a brand that we don’t actually go and talk about but we thought in our store we can actually talk about it, for those who really want to know more about those kind of things.|
|Jake Kassan:||I think that’s incredible.|
|Kara Goldin:||And so anyway, I’m so curious because it sounds like you have a lot of knowledge about the watch industry. I see this in places like in Warby stores for example. They talk about that Luxottica brand and that they’re really not offering the best deals. There’s not as much choice as you could actually have and things like that, so have you thought about that as well?|
|Jake Kassan:||Yeah, certainly. I think for us it’s been kind of similarly to direct to consumer, wholesale, retail. Like, in what order? When? When’s the right time? It’s definitely coming up for us. It’s just a matter of how we want to execute it, what’s the vision behind it, but also what products do we have? I want to make sure that we have a large amount of SKUs to offer to our customers, but definitely we’ve been talking about it and I think it’s an important piece.|
Again, you have to be where your customers shop, and people still like an in-person experience, especially if it’s brand owned. If you can tell your story and have this cool experience versus just selling to a Starbucks or whoever where it’s not a bad place to be, but to have your own experience story to allow people to connect directly with the brand I think really goes a long way. I think it’s about how you execute it and just strategy around that, which it’s not, again, I come from the digital world so it’s all areas where I’m like, “Okay, I either have to learn it or I have to hire someone or test or whatever it is.” Like with everything, we kind of make sure that we’re doing it right before, because I think that’s how brands are built too.
We come from … Not that this is bad. There’s a lot of brands that have been venture-backed and grow at this rapid pace, but for us who are completely bootstrapped, I just think the evolution of a brand takes time and you learn things from testing and failing. That’s how I got to be an entrepreneur to begin with, so even with stores or new products or whatever I kind of want to test and fail a little bit because where some people who have large amounts of venture-backed money will just jump right in and go as fast as possible because it’s a race. Dollar Shave Club is racing Harry’s and then all the other razor brands, so it’s just grow, grow, grow, grow, grow. Which again I think depending on what industry you’re in you have to. I think for us, our brand is strong enough. We’ve built a strong enough brand that we can, not take our time but just make sure that we do it right and-
|Kara Goldin:||That’s smart.|
|Jake Kassan:||And not feel like we just need to move because we have to do stores next or whatever, but as an example we’d probably do a popup first or have a location in Los Angeles just to test.|
|Kara Goldin:||Yeah, and just one.|
|Jake Kassan:||And you guys are San Fran too, right?|
|Kara Goldin:||Yeah, and that’s the one. Yeah. That’s the one that we end up doing, but I think that’s really, really smart. I mean I think to your point, people always say, “I’ve got to go out and raise money in order to do this,” and they think that I’m being flip when I say, “Why?” But I’m a big believer that if you can’t figure out how to actually make a business a business without going out and raising money, then it’s probably not a business. Most great entrepreneurs want to raise money, whether it’s through Indiegogo or whether it’s through angels or whatever, in order to scale. But if you can’t actually pull that back and build a business without that and really quickly in your mind actually think about, how can this business be a business without actually raising money, then it’s probably not going to be a business.|
|Jake Kassan:||Yeah. Absolutely.|
|Kara Goldin:||So I think that that’s, and just to your point too. I remember 2008, 2009 which was some of the greatest points in our history in the last few years. I mean we launched. We were a small brand. We were in some major retailers and basically one retailer in particular came to us and said, “So the economy is in bad shape, and what we need to see happen is that we need to have you give us product in all of our stores, and that way we’ll be able to sell your product and we’ll still be able to do well because we’ll be, even if it’s a slower economy we’ll still-“|
|Jake Kassan:||Consignment basically?|
|Kara Goldin:||Well, not just consignment but also they wanted the product for free, so they weren’t going to … Yeah. So a major, major retailer, and so I said, “So, wait. I think I’m misunderstanding what you’re saying. So you’re not going to pay us for the product?” And they said, “That’s right, but you’re going to be able to be there and you’re going to be visible and you have to view it as marketing.” And I was like, “I just don’t get it.” And there were like, eight other brands that we knew that were going to do that deal, and we walked away and basically said, “We’ll grow slower, or we’ll just close the whole company down in order to do it, but I mean, we’re not going to lose money in a bad economy. That sounds really dumb.”|
Then those other eight brands went out of business, and we didn’t go out of business, and then that large retailer called us and said, “We really want you to be in our stores,” and I said, “Oh, do you want me to give you twice as much product as you asked last time?” I was laughing at the whole thing because I thought, “I don’t really need them, but now they’re willing to pay for the product, because those other products went out of business,” and so I think that if you have a business that you really believe doesn’t need capital but you are willing to go out and get the capital in order to actually scale the business at some point, then I think it makes sense but otherwise I always say to people, and also who you’re actually taking money from.
So I mean it’s one thing if you’re doing an Indiegogo like you did too, but the number of people who are making decisions because their investors are saying, “Well you have to scale quicker because your competitor, they just got $50 million and they’re going to go quick, and our investment’s going to go away if you don’t go just as fast.” I mean, I’ve never had investors that are doing that to us who are basically pushing on us to actually make decisions that we’re not really that comfortable with, but I’m sure you know a million other companies that are doing that too so I always say to people too. It’s not just about the money. It’s also about the partnership and can you actually go out and hang out with this person for a couple of hours and not feel like strangling them by the end of it or feeling like they’re just yucky and dirty? You’ve got to like those people that you’re dealing with and partnered with for sure.
|Jake Kassan:||Yeah, and these are examples of … I don’t come from that background of raising capital or anything like that, so this was a time when I went to other founders and met with founders who have raised hundreds of millions of dollars and same type of thing. “Hey, can I buy you coffee?” I learned from them, and they’ve really helped me get a holistic view, but just a view of an entrepreneur because it’s easy. You talk to venture capitalists or you talk to investors and there’s that view, which isn’t a wrong view. It’s just that view, and then you have the entrepreneur’s view, and I think it’s just good to mix and match, and it’s funny.|
It’s been one instance where I’ve had, I wouldn’t say radically different views but just different. Definitely different views of different ways to do things, and so I’ve kind of just formed my own opinion based off of it. There hasn’t been one clear way to do it. I think it kind of goes investor to investor and then it also goes business to business depending on what you are, and I think if you’re an Uber, yeah, you go raise money and grow as fast as you can. But if you have a physical good like we do, you can raise money to get going and I think it helps with inventory and to grow the business, but there’s just certain areas where you have to be careful. So it’s just stuff that I’ve learned again through mentors that I’ve … Again, being in Los Angeles has been one … LA, San Francisco and New York I think is some of the best-
|Kara Goldin:||Where it’s all happening.|
|Kara Goldin:||Who is the entrepreneur that you look at as the most inspiring?|
|Jake Kassan:||I mean, so we have one on our board. Jeff Kearl from Stance Socks. I think he was the chairman or something at Skullcandy before and had a tech startup before that he sold, and he’s a large angel investor. He hasn’t invested in us, but just a really well connected guy I think. I also look for people who have a good work life balance. I can’t necessarily take advice from someone who is 100% work and neglects the rest of their life, so I just like finding people who I feel like have a good balance because I feel like there’s a certain sacrifice that you need to be willing to make, and seeing people who have that good balance I just feel like okay, that’s something to strive for. They’ve figured it out to a degree. Outside of that, it’s a good question. I don’t know.|
|Kara Goldin:||How’d you meet him? Just reached out?|
|Jake Kassan:||We got connected through … Kind of, yeah, and basically connected, reached out, drove down to him and it was funny because it was just a casual conversation and it turned into … Which I’ve had with dozens of entrepreneurs. Just a one time conversation or a coffee, and this turned into … There was just like-|
|Jake Kassan:||Yeah. Chemistry. Good guy. Also I think he’s built an amazing brand which-|
|Jake Kassan:||Yeah. I think in our space, a kind of physical product or fashion, I think there’s not as many that have done it like a Stance or a MVMT, so outside of that though, yeah. I don’t know. A lot of the other entrepreneurs I know were still in the thick of it, so it’s not like … I think people are still growing.|
|Kara Goldin:||How big is your board?|
|Jake Kassan:||It’s just me, my co-founder, and-|
|Kara Goldin:||I was going to say, because you don’t have investors so you didn’t have to put a big board together, but you really wanted to in order to learn.|
|Jake Kassan:||Exactly, yeah.|
|Kara Goldin:||That’s awesome.|
|Jake Kassan:||Yeah. It was more of just him helping with larger … I mean he’s gone through a lot of what we’ve either planned to go through or have talked about. I mean he has retail stores and with Skullcandy. I mean it’s a more legacy brand that he’s seen old school different strategies, and also he’s done a ton of license agreements with Stance. They’re the official NBA sock, official MLB sock. They’ve done stuff with Rihanna, Big Sean, and just a handful of people so definitely a good, I think from a brand and personal perspective, inspiration for me and my co-founder.|
|Kara Goldin:||That’s awesome. The name of the podcast is Unstoppable, so what makes you unstoppable?|
|Jake Kassan:||What makes me unstoppable? Where did I hear this the other day? It was something about how I think that when I think about what I want to accomplish, it’s like … Which this might be a bad thing. I don’t know. It might be a bad thing. A flaw.|
|Kara Goldin:||Nothing’s bad.|
|Jake Kassan:||I’ve just always had this. It’s not the fear of failing for me. It’s the fear of I guess not trying. I know that I have to get … Whether I fail. I’ll start all over again. I have to get to my goals that I’ve set for myself. So for me it’s just I have that internal spirit that … Just, it’s I guess unstoppable, right? I think about it everyday. I wake up and I think about the goals. I’m a big believer in law of attraction. So these are just things that I’ve been thinking about for years now. Before I started this business, I’ve always had this goal of a life I wanted, and I’m not there yet but it’s just something that’s been internal in me and again, it’s not the fear that I’m going to try something and fail. I’m okay with that, because I’ve failed a handful of times. It’s just the fear of not getting to that point makes me …|
|Kara Goldin:||And you’ll get there.|
|Kara Goldin:||I know you’re going to get there.|
|Jake Kassan:||Thank you.|
|Kara Goldin:||You’ve got the vision and you’re definitely going to do it. Super, super awesome. We ask a couple of questions too. What’s your favorite Hint flavor?|
|Jake Kassan:||What’s my favorite Hint flavor? Right now, this one right here.|
|Kara Goldin:||The watermelon? Woo-hoo!|
|Jake Kassan:||I’ve had this and I think you guys have a berry, like a cherry or something, or a black-|
|Kara Goldin:||We have a cherry. We have a blackberry. Yeah, those are-|
|Jake Kassan:||Blackberry. Yeah, yeah. I haven’t had … You guys have sparkling ones too now, right?|
|Jake Kassan:||Yeah, I need to try that. I’m a big fan of sparkling water, but I love these.|
|Kara Goldin:||Yeah, we also have a caffeinated version of our product too, and we’re coming out with a caffeinated sparkling version of the product which is going to rock, but there’s no sweeteners in any of our products.|
|Jake Kassan:||I live walking distance to a Whole Foods so I definitely see you guys all the time.|
|Kara Goldin:||Yeah. Very cool. And we’re in Target and we’re huge in Target, so we’re getting more and more into lots of retailers.|
|Jake Kassan:||What’s this one called?|
|Kara Goldin:||Actually we’re on a bunch of campuses now. We’re on actually your former UCSB’s campus.|
|Jake Kassan:||There you go.|
|Kara Goldin:||And ASU and lots of … Auburn University. Where else did somebody just wrote to me the other day. Northwestern.|
|Jake Kassan:||Oh wow.|
|Kara Goldin:||Yeah, so we’re getting on more and more campuses because people are realizing that sugar and all these sweetened drinks is not really what’s going to help them not only stay healthy but ultimately do what they want to do. If they want to become entrepreneurs or they’ve got to actually take care of themself and to your point, have some kind of balance in their life where they’re doing something else that they like to do, whether it’s running or soul cycling or whatever it is.|
|Jake Kassan:||I love it.|
|Kara Goldin:||What’s your workout? What do you …|
|Jake Kassan:||Right now I try and go to the gym four times a week. I live … I’m in a bubble. My office, I could throw a rock out of my apartment and hit my office, and then the gym’s just down the street so I usually go and I’ll lift weights for an hour and then I’ll run for 20 minutes or so.|
|Kara Goldin:||Did you do that purposely to set up your business so that it’s kind of-|
|Jake Kassan:||No, not really. I mean when I got my apartment, I lived in Venice and then I moved to Playa Vista, and our office was in Culver City so it was pretty close, and then we knew we needed to find a new place and we were looking in various areas and then it just so happened that literally this place … It couldn’t have been more coincidental that it was right across the street, and it was the best option that we found, so I don’t know. It wasn’t purposeful but it happened.|
|Kara Goldin:||Are you traveling a lot?|
|Jake Kassan:||Somewhat. Probably once a month.|
|Kara Goldin:||Not bad.|
|Jake Kassan:||Not bad. I try and stay in the office. I don’t know. I’m going to have to travel more, but I’m not … Yeah, I like being in the office. I can keep a good sense. I sit out with everyone else. I know what’s going on. I have my office but I only use it for phone calls and what not, but-|
|Kara Goldin:||Yeah, you’re out in the open.|
|Kara Goldin:||My office is out in the open as well. Sometimes it’s a good thing. Sometimes it’s like, maybe I should have an [inaudible 01:00:42]|
|Jake Kassan:||I get distracted easily.|
|Kara Goldin:||Yeah, well I was going to say. Because I travel a lot and I think that that travel schedule really starts to sabotage my health regime and it just throws me off.|
|Jake Kassan:||That’s actually another reason is you come back from a flight, and I’m 10, 15 minutes from LAX so it’s perfect. I can Uber and it’s not a big deal, but you just get exhausted. San Francisco’s actually the best place to fly.|
|Kara Goldin:||So easy.|
|Jake Kassan:||It’s like a 45-minute, but I’ve gone to Seattle to visit Amazon and that’s a couple hours, and anytime we have to go to New York it’s a big one. I’ve gone to Hong Kong and China a few times which is … The flights are never fun, but it’s fun when you get there.|
|Kara Goldin:||Just one last question. What would you tell yourself as a budding entrepreneur that you wish someone would’ve told you ages ago?|
|Jake Kassan:||I think that, I wish I would’ve consumed more podcasts and for me, I actually like podcasts more than books. I feel like there are some great books out there but it’s hard for me to get through. I wish they just made books shorter. I wish that there was just all the good, juicy stuff and that was it. And I listen to audiobooks too more than I actually sit down and read.|
|Kara Goldin:||There’s actually a podcast about that.|
|Jake Kassan:||Is there?|
|Jake Kassan:||I read a study on it. I think they said that listening is better than reading because visually you’re using your eyes to read and your mind to process it versus just listening, but anyways. So I think just listening to podcasts like business-related podcasts.|
|Kara Goldin:||And learn.|
|Jake Kassan:||And just learning from, yeah.|
|Kara Goldin:||Just keep learning.|
|Jake Kassan:||I’ve read a lot of different forums and blogs. For ecommerce, Shopify’s blog is probably the best out there in my opinion. I think that whether it’s just shadowing or interning if you can at companies. I think taking again, founders, or it depends. If you want to start your business I would say go take a founder out to lunch or a drink or whatever and just pick their brain as to what they did. I think finding people who have accomplished what you want to accomplish. I have a lot of successful people in my life that have been mentors to me, but when I wanted to make the jump into a specific industry they didn’t understand anything about it and it was just hard because you get contradicting advice from other successful people about your business, and I’ve just realized more and more as I’ve met a lot of successful people that it’s only people really specifically in my industry that really understand certain-|
|Kara Goldin:||Intricacies of it. Yeah, yeah.|
|Jake Kassan:||Things, yeah, that I’m going about. So I don’t know. I really think it’s just getting out and networking whether it’s a meetup or whatever. I mean I used to do it way more when, and it proved to be worth every ounce of my time. I think now I’m fortunate that I have people reaching out to me that I get to network with, or we get people in the office. I spoke at Hustle Con which was like 2,500 people and I just walked around. I said as I was speaking that I can answer this question. I said, “If you see an entrepreneur or you have a chance, you know you have to go up and talk to them and whatever,” and I kind of shot myself in the foot because right when I left and walked around I had-|
|Kara Goldin:||Lots of people did that.|
|Jake Kassan:||Yeah, I had lost my voice by the end of it, but I loved it. I gave out my email and my number to a handful of people. I wanted to help any way I could, because there was a time when I didn’t know. There wasn’t an entrepreneur that I looked up to. There was the Mark Zuckerbergs but they were just geniuses, and then you had Elon Musk and it just didn’t connect with what I wanted to do and what I thought my skillset was. A dropout in college as well with ADD, so these were things that I want to tell my story and if I have a chance to talk to people I really try to as much as possible.|
|Kara Goldin:||That’s awesome. Well great. Well thank you so much.|
|Jake Kassan:||Absolutely. Yeah, thank you.|
|Kara Goldin:||It was super, super, super fun.|
|Jake Kassan:||Thank you.|