Tim Brown – Co-CEO and founder of AllBirds, the “world’s most comfortable shoe”

Episode 118

Meet Tim Brown. Co-CEO and founder of Allbirds, the Unicorn footwear company most famously known as the maker of the “world's most comfortable shoe”. Tim joins me on this episode of #TheKaraGoldinShow to share his journey from a pro soccer star to building a company from scratch against all odds. Reminding us that every step of the journey matters. Listen to this episode to hear how Tim faced his doubters along the way and some of his most inspiring moments that helped transform Allbirds the shoe empire it is today.

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Transcript

Kara Goldin  00:00

Hi everyone, it’s Kara Goldin from the Kara Goldin Show. And I’m so excited to have my next guest here, Tim Brown, co-founder of all birds and, and also former New Zealand pro soccer player, which we’re gonna chat about that in a couple of minutes. But welcome, Tim, very excited that you’re here.

Tim Brown  00:21

Thank you for having me. It’s great to chat with you. I appreciate it.

Kara Goldin  00:23

Yeah, absolutely. So Tim is the like I said, the co-founder of all birds, if you don’t know what all birds are, you’ve been living in a closet somewhere because it is such an amazing company. It’s a direct-to-consumer footwear company focused on sustainability and quality footwear. We actually last holiday season. I didn’t I don’t know if I told you this, Tim. But I furnished my entire team with all birds with the cute little hint on it, that I that it was just super great. And they all loved him very, very much. And it was interesting. probably half of my team hadn’t heard of you. Now they’re your biggest fans, they love them. They’ve bought them since. So anyway, it was just it was a great gift. So if you’re, if you’re still trying to think about a team, maybe not a gift for this holiday season, but for any other event. And so a little bit more about all birds. So as I said, it’s really focused on sustainability, they have an amazing story. And they just recently went outside of footwear as well. recycled materials, launched in 2016, within a couple of years. I mean, they’re just doing crazy, crazy, crazy business. And there, as I said, their mission is really to create the most comfortable shoes in the world while also being super sustainable. And I’m just really excited to have you here, Tim. So let’s just jump into it. What did you do before all birds, I gave a little hint of it with being a pro soccer player. But talk to me a little bit about your life there.

Tim Brown  02:09

I will Thank you for having me. It’s great to chat with you. I grew up in New Zealand and I lived in New Zealand when I was 18 I came to America went design school at the University of Cincinnati had an incredible experience there on a soccer scholarship and ended up kicking off for lack of a better way of putting it a soccer career that went on for this part of a decade playing primarily professionally in Australia and, and being very, very fortunate to be part of a New Zealand team to the winter the World Cup in 2010, which I can’t believe as a decade ago. Yeah.

Kara Goldin  02:41

Wow,

Tim Brown  02:42

that was a really, really special experience. And, and, you know, the idea that was to become all birds was sort of born while I was doing that back in probably Gosh. 2007 2009.

Kara Goldin  02:52

Amazing. And so, where you. So how did you think about shoes? I guess? So obviously, you’re wearing soccer cleats most of the time, right? And what sort of? I mean, what was it that kind of got you so interested? You said you were a design major?

03:09

Yeah, I’ve

Tim Brown  03:10

certainly, you know, I’ve fallen in love with design at design school. So the idea of the sort of creating and design thinking and, you know, it’s sort of something that was was me really and and and then I had the sporting career kind of childhood dream. And all of a sudden, quite a lot of time My head’s the afternoons were largely free. And so I started to experiment and imagine different sort of brands and things that you might be able to make and never really through the lens of business, but certainly through the lens of curiosity started to look at the footwear space, one of the best things about sport is you get lots of free gear. And I was sponsored by one of the big sportswear companies that shall not be named. And I used to get lots of free gear and the footwear space was an interesting one, it was sort of when I look back, it was exchanged all the time, was very, very kind of bright and loud and logo II. And it was very, very difficult, at least in New Zealand at the time to find simple that was kind of Chuck Taylors and not really much else. So sort of sit about, you know, the initial insight was a design one, and it was, you know if you’re only going to make one shoe, you know, what would it look like? And how would you do that? And that’s the problem I set off to solve with no experience and shoes, no particular affinity for shoes, just maybe a curiosity to try and see if I can solve that particular problem.

Kara Goldin  04:25

I love it. And I think you nailed it with that word curiosity. I think that that’s the key thing that I see in great entrepreneurs is that they’re just kind of almost wondering why no one else is doing what they’re thinking. Right. I mean, it right. It’s it? Well,

Tim Brown  04:44

I think that’s right because there was no business plan. There was no even conception of the fact that this was, you know, an idea that you know, that I might devote sort of the next chapter of my professional sort of life to it wasn’t that was sort of Hey, you You know, what if we did that, and I literally found out footwear factory on Google, and I went and visited one in my offseason on holiday, and walked into this whole world that I didn’t understand and, you know, yeah. So it started with that. And, and so I set off a sort of trying to make this product and, you know, along the way, bumped into a whole bunch of other questions,

Kara Goldin  05:20

and you’re a co-founder. So how did you find your co-founder?

Tim Brown  05:25

So, you know, Joey is based in San Francisco. He is his wife and my wife was a roommate at university. So we met each other through them. And I went on to make that shoe Fast Forward 2007 World Cup, I retired from the sport in 2012. So quick, five years. Along the way, I’ve probably I’ve spent, I’ve gone through hundreds of prototypes of the singular shoe and realized, probably from my first visit into that my very first footwear factory that it is this incredible, almost antiquated method of manufacturing with a huge emphasis on sort of touch and human labor. And what I would kind of call a prevailing low-cost mentality where everything sort of made out of the cheapest stuff for primarily some synthetic materials. So I started to imagine the possibility of combining this design ethos with a material one. And in New Zealand, there’s lots of sheep wool was this sort of huge industry that was in the decline? What if we actually use different sorts of materials from nature, to make this sort of to realize this design vision, so literally have five or six years I worked on that and retired from football, went to business school, worked on the idea even more and then and launched the Kickstarter? In 2014, which was really the catalyst for meeting Joey and taking this to the sort of the next level of becoming a business.

Kara Goldin  06:47

That’s awesome. And so you didn’t have any experience with Kickstarters? How did you know how to do that,

Tim Brown  06:53

I had a business school professor, that I went to see a guy called Carter cast, who is professor at Northwestern, I was at business school in London, but spent some time there, like a semester in the spring, and I took an entrepreneurship class with him, and he called me into his office at the end of it, and I’d been working on this wall shoe idea. And you know, this point, you know, there’s been a number of years have gone by, I’ve been through probably hundreds of prototypes, just chipping away at this thing determined to try and resolve it, there’d been a research grant back in New Zealand from a farmer funding body to create the textile because it turned out that nothing really existed. So we had been a lot of work, I just sort of ground grind away at this in my spare time and, and then finally, sort of found myself in a context where I was starting to get asked about what this would look like, as a business and margins, and how do you scale it? And who’s the customer? And what does the brand look like? And I did this, this is glorious, 10 weeks of looking at this thing in a completely different way. And it was, you know, he called me into his office at the end of the class. And he said to me, Tim, you know, everyone in this class is, you know, you seem to be the one most committed to actually sort of making something and doing this for real. But I think you’ve got the worst idea, this is a horrible idea, I think it’s gonna, I think it’s gonna fail. You know, shoes are too hard to make, you don’t know anything about shoes, put it on Kickstarter, or something. So this can fail. And then you can get on with your life because I worry, you’re going to be one of those guys that just work on this for way too long, and makes themselves make themselves miserable, miserable. So I went home for Christmas, and I called his bluff. And, you know, for $700 with my brother’s friend shot a video on a sheep farm just out of Wellington in a place called pardon me and, and sort of throw it out into the world.

Kara Goldin  08:31

That’s hysterical. And what did he say, when you raise the money?

Tim Brown  08:36

car, this is the way these things work. People go out of their way to be that honest and forthright and critical with you. They tend to sort of be doing it as a sort of a compliment. And, and of course, you know, Carter is an investor, a friend, I’ve kept in touch with him. He went out of his way to be really honest because he cared, he saw something there. And you know, and if he hadn’t made me this thing, it wouldn’t have happened. On the Kickstarter, I think I had six pairs of sample wool shoes, I think I had enough material for 1000 pairs of shoes, and I shot this video for $700. And you can still see it on the internet, me chasing sheep around a farm with my brother. And I put it up on Kickstarter in March of 2014 I think and you know, in four days, we sold these 1000 pairs, I had to shut it off. We did $120,000 worth of sales and this thing just kind of just exploded and so you know, there was this it was a real moment Carter was what he was telling me was like, have the courage to put this in front of you know, a customer see if they’ll actually take money out of the pocket and give it to you for this product that you’re trying to make. See if it’s if there’s something there and then so that’s what I did.

Kara Goldin  09:46

That’s awesome. And so was the Kickstarter also, did you say well get you a pair of shoes, or were you just raising money?

Tim Brown  09:52

No, no, I was selling the wool shoe. $95 same thing. It was you know, it was New Zealand wool. It was Unique material innovation, and I think it tapped into people’s desire for something different and different in this enormous category. You know, I think I was the design vision was very, very clear, we weren’t selling a range of shoes or 10 different styles of shoes as, you know, the usually the way of doing things and shoes, it was a singular snicker. And it was focused on this idea of new material. And I think maybe on some level, people understood it, it was filling some sort of gap. And, you know, you talk about product-market fit or sort of signs for me at least, that it was the beginning of really going after this. So I, you know, I just graduated, never had a job, I played soccer my entire life, all of a sudden, I found myself polishing my resume imagining in London getting a job and this Kickstarter thing took off. So I, you know, I spent a year, you know, spending all my savings trying to deliver on it getting it underway through 2014.

Kara Goldin  10:51

And did you come back to the US than at that point, where when

Tim Brown  10:55

just so Joe, Joey was, you know, my girlfriend now wife at the time, you know, was trying to support this sort of, I don’t want to say deadbeat partner who was working on a warship shoe idea. She was trying to be super supportive, of course, and she sent the email out to all of her friends and Joey was one of the first customers on the Kickstarter campaign. And so he connected on the idea and we’d been friends, we’d seen each other, but we were still living in London, very much living in London and really happy there. But got to the end of that year, and there was a, there was a kind of got an investment offer, I’d been finding it largely through my own money, and through the Kickstarter. So it was all very much on a shoestring. I had a couple of young guys helping me, but I was at this juncture where I was like, do I really want to do this, and my father was calling me a cobbler. I was, you know, I was like, what, what I didn’t, you know, as cool as this would be for the store. solely and there’s this one dinner, I distinctly remember, in London, I went around, and I was like, I was like, 32 at the time. And everyone’s in, you know, in that cool part of their career where they’re sort of starting to work it out. And they’re making some, you know, money and went around the table. And I remember, like, just being nervous, someone was gonna ask me what I was doing, I was like, and lens in my girlfriend, wife afterwards, she was like, what your body language is shrunk, and shrunk down into like a little ball and you squeaked out wore shoes, when people asked you what you were doing, I kind of lost confidence. I didn’t know like, it was so uncertain. And I couldn’t find a way to do this. And I just didn’t know what I was doing. And making shoes was the too hard and global supply chain. And, and I just it was, I was like, please, please, at this dinner table, no one asked me about what I’m doing. I just don’t want to talk about it. And so it was the low point, it really was

Kara Goldin  12:36

such a great story. So a couple of things that you said that I think and talk about, frankly, all the time, I always suggest wanting to be entrepreneurs to just get your product out there. And because you’re gonna learn so much when you get it out there, it’s like have it pretty good. And definitely the, in the food and beverage space, it’s got to be safe, right? You can’t get anyone sick or kill anybody. Right. But obviously, I mean, the stuff that we learned just by getting it on the shelf at Whole Foods was just unbelievable. We thought that having a clear label, my product hint was that was the initial packaging. And what we realized is that we had never thought about who would be next to us. And if they had colourful labels, for example, ours would just sort of fade away into the shelf. And just things like that, that that we definitely, you know, needed to upgrade on and change, but we just didn’t see it before launching it. We were so focused on obviously the inside and sort of the packaging, but just the learnings after that first product, what do you think were the big learnings for you?

Tim Brown  13:51

It was so true. I mean, you know, in that professor at business schools sort of said, like, have the courage to go see if like someone other than your mom is going to like pay for this. And you do it before you’re ready so that you can learn and products and businesses are really hard. And they’re counterintuitive. And I you know, if you were in a room even now, as well, as grown, and we’re in a room about to launch something, and everyone around the table is like this is a great idea. I almost certainly know it’s probably not going to be like it’s counterintuitive for things to break, to break through or to connect or to fill a gap in people’s lives, oftentimes, and I remember even as we got a little bit further down the road on preparing to launch all birds with Joey and after we’d raised some money, and we spoke to a bunch of industry experts from the wool industry from the footwear industry. And they’re like, honestly, you’re wasting your time we’ve tried it, it won’t work. You know, does the world need another shoe? like wool shoes whenever you know it’s impossible and so you have all these naysayers and so there’s this. I mean, I think where I’ve sort of landed in this process is, you know, if you if you’re not seeking feedback from your business idea, you know, you’re dumb, you’re really dumb, but and you got to do it as soon as possible. You got to get it out. In the world, but if you if you’re listening to you listening to all of it, you might be even dumber. The best ideas are kind of counterintuitive and a little unusual, a little weird, and don’t make sense to people at first, and you have to fight for it. So I definitely think there are some lessons when I look back on that, on that moment in time,

Kara Goldin  15:17

yeah, and also just getting it out there where consumers are gonna pay for it. I mean, that was, I don’t know, if, if I shared the story with you before, but I had my doubter, it would, I would say, it’s a little different than what your professor was sharing with you. But I have a story about a year into this business when I was really just thinking, it’s just too hard to launch a beverage company, I had no experience, and I got connected with an executive at Coca Cola, and I thought, Okay, I’m gonna, you know, talk to him, and he’s gonna wave this magic wand and solve all my problems around, creating, you know, making the product as well as distributing the product. And about 15 minutes into the conversation. He said, sweetie, Americans love sweet, this product isn’t going anywhere. And I was like, Whoa, you know, he’s like, My God, right at this point. And all of a sudden, I’m like, you know, hot, cold, hot, cold over the fact that I’m sitting here, hearing this. And then for the next 45 minutes, what I realized is that, he talked to me about what he thought that the consumer wanted. And I already had a year of consumers telling me, they were writing to me off of the mail on my bottle, telling me, thank you for developing water that doesn’t have sweeteners in it that just has fruit. And so while he’s talking to me, I’m thinking about my consumers. And that relationship that I’ve got with my consumer. And it’s very different than what this gentleman from Coca-Cola was saying. And in addition to that, he never said the word health, the entire one-hour conversation, and it just sat with me. And I thought, My purpose and my mission are to actually help people enjoy the water and get healthier. And he’s got a different mission. Maybe he doesn’t even have a mission, but he’s on a different River. And that’s when I said, I gotta throw the gas on and just get going. And, and so, but I think back on that conversation a lot. And I think also, that relationship with the consumer that stickiness as soon as you can get it, and I think is just absolutely critical for entrepreneurs. And I totally agree with you, when we have team meetings, and we’re all sitting around the table, and we say, you know, what do you think, and everybody’s like, Oh, it’s gonna be great. That’s when I get nervous. And I’m like, how can we go and figure out if people will buy it? And just get it out there? Because that’s when we’re really going to recognize whether or not it’s going to work. So you’ve now expanded beyond shoes. And can you talk a little bit more about that?

Tim Brown  18:04

Yeah, I mean, the Kickstarter campaign was the catalyst for deciding whether, Hey, is this a real business or not? And I mean, Joey, and, and, you know, I’ve sort of described two insights. The first one was a design one, the second one was a material one. But I was really struggling with it with the purpose, or why am I doing this? Or what does this mean, if you’re going to go after something so hard, you’re going to build a business, and it’s just taken so much while you’re doing it. And in Joey, I kind of found the third leg of the stool, if you will, he had come from the biotech space out of, you know, out of a curve, you know, it was focusing in his career on the environment. And what he saw is and in sort of an impending climate crisis, and what would be a need for businesses to make the products and services that they manufactured, and delivered with no environmental impact. And there was going to be a huge upheaval and a lot of different categories. And there was a big opportunity in the fashion space to do things differently. So we kind of combined forces and visions, in some ways, a design vision meets a vision of purpose. And I fled to San Francisco for 48 hours in March of 2015. And we’re very different people. But we decided like this is something we wanted to do together and came back and told my girlfriend now wife, like Hey, what do you think about San Francisco, we moved there in a big hurry, kind of getting married, there’s a ton of things going on and launched the business and started working out of his mother in law’s house in August of 2015. The two of us in San Rafael just outside of San Francisco, preparing to sort of relaunch this product under the brand all birds on the first of March 2016. So it was this whirlwind thing and you know, just that just wanted to layer in the purpose and climate change in the environment became You know, honestly, it didn’t get easier from that point. But that was the moment where I don’t think we look back because we had a reason that was larger than just making something and it was we coalesced around this idea of a business we’re going to tell our grandkids about and then we got busy. So that’s, that’s what we did.

Kara Goldin  20:15

I just love it. It’s great. Now you and I connected, I guess, a couple of months ago now, I don’t know, I lose track of time. Not that long ago. And we were talking about the sustainability and the measurement that you guys are doing, I’d love for you to share because it’s super inspiring. I mean, people, obviously everyone’s everyone I know is, is doing great stuff around sustainability. But I feel like you guys have actually put pen to paper and really measured it in a big way. And can you just talk a little bit more about that?

Tim Brown  20:53

Yeah, sure. I mean, I think the foundational insight at the beginning was Joe and I looked at the fashion industry give or take, you know, 10% of global emissions 20 billion pairs of shoes a year made on average. And we felt like it was a category that was sort of paying lip service to the idea of sustainability, quite honestly. And there was an opportunity to build a business and a brand and, and, you know, a company from the ground up with this purpose in mind not tacked on at the end. But fundamental, intrinsic, and nonnegotiable part of the way that we were going to make products not to make sustainable products because we were very, very clear that people didn’t buy sustainable didn’t want to buy sustainable products, we did want to build a sustainable brand, we wanted to build a great product. That was great because it was sustainable. And the opportunity to leverage natural materials in a footwear space that was all entirely focused on synthetics, leverage a vertical model with no wholesale so that we can invest in margin and supply chain and certifications and the best materials, not just because they were better for the environment, but they made more comfortable, more refined, better product experiences were the big sort of unlocking for us. And we did that with one shoe with wool. We’ve subsequently added it, you know, with Eucalyptus, and we’ve got a soul made from sugarcane, you know, a bunch of just material innovation is at the core of what we do as a business and a brand. And, you know, along the way, you know, sustainability is a complicated topic, right? It means 10 different things to 10 different people. That means microplastics that means air quality, land quality, animal welfare, labor, welfare, and so many different aspects to this, that sometimes you saw one problem over here, and you’ve actually made one thing worse. An idea? Yeah, really complicated, right? Yeah, really complicated. So where we, you know, four years in, we started to realize that carbon was really the North Star that we wanted to rally around that we wanted to focus our kind of sustainability work on. And, you know, every single person has a carbon footprint, Every business has a carbon footprint, every industry has a carbon footprint, every country has a carbon footprint, they all add up to a global carbon footprint that we really need to reduce. And so the universal nature of that metric and the ability for that to kind of connect the fashion industry to the transport industry, to the energy industry, to connect New Zealand to Australia to connect you as an individual to this global problem was a big unlock for us. And so we started to measure almost from the beginning our carbon footprint as a business, we were then able to break that down to the individual products. So we started to label our products with the kilograms of carbon, without paying to offset that. So there’s an inbuilt sort of tax on our business to reduce that number. We’ve started sort of bonus our executives against lowering it. So it’s become you know, a shift from sustainability is this emotional thing, usually with a list of stuff that you shouldn’t be doing to you know, sustainability is a very objective measurement and a business with a financial cost and incentive to improve and a really clear framework on how we wanted to make products and measure their impact. So it’s been a real breakthrough for us.

Kara Goldin  24:09

That’s so awesome. I love that. So obviously, 2020 has been a crazy year for everybody. What do you think are the biggest learnings that you learned from this year during managing the pandemic?

Tim Brown  24:23

Gosh, you know, it’s what helped, first of all, how fortunate we are, and as you know, as a business, there is a lot of people out there struggling at the moment. And I feel very, very fortunate that you know, as a vertical business, primarily e-commerce business, we were very fortunate in terms of where we were to be able to get through this and I’m really proud of our team and how we’ve responded. You know, when we had a bunch of our retail stores shut down for a long period of time, we kept that team intact. We’ve really sort of worked through that I’m really proud but I’m also conscious of how fortunate we are. So the business itself has been really resilient. You know, More broadly, I mean, I think it’s been a very, very difficult sort of time. And, you know, the challenges of just grinding through this, it feels like every single day, there’s something else going on. So it’s been, it’s been a challenging year. But like, like anything else, you know, you look at this car, and there’ll be opportunities in the middle of it probably in the lowest point, I read this column one day, and it was about it was in the Financial Times of all places, and someone sent it to me and said that if the US president Winston Churchill, and got together in 1939, and the depths of the Second World War and imagined the United Nations, and it was like a light bulb went off, for me a little bit, that in the permission to dream a little bit, and that is dark as this was, there’ll be possibilities coming out of it. And we got the whole, you know, a big chunk of that company together and did a visioning exercise and imagined, you know, two or three years in the future, and some of the opportunities that have come out of it. And it was a real sort of powerful Turning Point moment for us, where we decided to sort of, we were going to just, we’re going to sort of seeing this in a little bit of a different light. And that was sort of a powerful moment for the brand and the business. And, you know, there’s a whole bunch of things changing, and a lot of it’s bad and difficult and, and equally, there’ll be some good things that come out of it.

Kara Goldin  26:10

Totally agree, I think that the thing that we started a little earlier than you did, we’ve been doing this for 15 years now. So we good for ya. And it’s, it’s interesting because I think, I, I, one of the things that I talked about, in my book, undaunted, that I just released a couple of months ago is that it’s, you know, 2008 2009 was obviously a really challenging time in the world, and very different than the pandemic, but we, I think, being able to sort of manage through that really helped us to kind of know that it’s going to be okay, right, and it’s a totally different situation, we’re an essential product. So, you know, we got, we got lucky in terms of being a product that actually was prioritized in terms of distribution, we also learned what an essential product was, as it related to actually being on the shelf and, and some of them, some of the rules that we had to follow in terms of making sure that we actually had enough water, to be able to supply and, and, and, you know, continue to make as much as possible so that consumers would be able to have water if necessary. So, you know, in many ways, lucky in many ways, you know, our factories, were running 24 hours a day. I mean, it was a little nutty, still a little nutty, frankly, but really a super, super exciting time. So what do you think is the biggest piece of advice you’d say to that student who’s thinking about developing an idea? And I don’t know, maybe also hears from the professor, go try and do a Kickstarter and get it out of your system? What do you think is that is the key thing that that you would say?

Tim Brown  28:09

Well, I, you know, I think in terms of Carter, in that specific moment, you know, the people that go out of their way to sort of being that honest with you stay close to them, they’ve, they usually paying you a compliment. And it’s one of those moments, we can go left or right, I could have walked out of that office and said that guy doesn’t have a clue. And he’s wrong. And we’re actually what’s he really telling me, which is, hey, go give this a swing. And so those moments, those inflection points, they sometimes are nonobvious. And, you know, so So I think there’s that, I think, the importance of purpose. I mean, you know, that’s, that’s a well-trodden path at this point, in terms of, you know, but for me, this was, I haven’t looked back when I when we started to pick out hit up, Joey and I and, and, and, and imagine this business in 10 years, and going after a problem, you know, that was really worth solving around climate change in the environment as part of our business. And I’d make the distinction there between like, passion and purpose. I think passion as a word gets thrown around a lot like this. I’m passionate about the letters shown on HBO purposes, a different thing purposes, going after a problem really worth solving. And there’s no shortage of them in the world at the moment. So I just sort of feel like, if you can do that, in the context of your business, you will give yourself an unfair competitive advantage, you will fuel your work in a way that will make it a lot more fun and meaningful. So do that and just make sure that that’s not something you tack on that it’s deep and connected and relevant and real. You know, and then I would sort of say the last thing and you know, do it with someone I you know, did it by myself for a little while, and doing it with Joey has made this thing fun. You have someone to laugh in the face of the ridiculous challenges and problems that you’re trying to try to deal with and There’s a small subset of people that can do it by themselves, you may be one of them, I certainly wasn’t. But the idea of doing it with someone and then importantly, doing it with someone who was who’s different from you, who was, you know, who has a different worldview, a different cultural context, a different skill set has been really, really foundational for us. So, yeah,

Kara Goldin  30:22

and who isn’t afraid to keep you on track, too, I happen to be I don’t know if you know, this, but I’m, I started the company, and my husband, who’s an intellectual property attorney from Silicon Valley, saw me writing huge personal checks off of our bank account, and worried, especially and he but talk about purpose. And I mean, it was, from day one, when I, when I saw in my own life, giving up diet sweeteners, and started drinking water, I realized that if we could actually just get people to enjoy the water, that a lot of health issues throughout the world, I was focusing initially on the US but now, but very quickly, I, I assume throughout the world, that it’s not just about drinking water, but things like type two diabetes, and lots of health issues, kind of all roads, kind of lead back to really what you’re putting into your system. And, and so that’s when he got super interested in it. But again, I totally agree with very different skill sets. And I throw, as he says, He, Kara throws the watermelons on the cart, and I try to make sure that they don’t fall off. And so that’s that is, you know, the operations, he’s our Chief Operating Officer, so it’s, but he’s, he’s also super passionate about the, he really had a science mind before he went to law school, he hated being a lawyer. And, and so he’s been really, we’ve, you and I talked about this, but we’ve taken 40% of the plastic out of the bottle, we’ve done a ton of work around just the sustainability side. And that’s really been him. And the other thing is automating our factories. So we don’t actually have any people in the factory when we’re filling the bottles, which during a pandemic, it adds up to be a competitive advantage. And so that there is, you know, no issues around people getting sick, especially with a food product. And when you’re regulated by the FDA, all that kind of stuff is really, really important. And I give him 1,000% credit for really being the person doing that. So, but I totally agree with you that it’s really a, you got to have a yin and yang and that partnership and not be afraid to push back on somebody when you know, they’re there, you’ve got to have that relationship because I think so often I meet founders who may be met in Business School, and they’re so much alike, or, or they’re not willing to sort of push back on each other. And I think that that’s such a key piece of it.

Tim Brown  33:16

Yeah, I think that’s right. I mean, you want to be leaning into people that think differently from you that, you know, they have a different way of looking at the world. And, you know, good things come from that if you’ve got the courage to do that. I think and it’s certainly the case with sort of Joey and I and like to think that it’s something that’s sort of set the tone for the culture across the company. And we have so many different parts of our business, so many different skill sets and backgrounds. And that’s what makes us that’s what makes it makes it interesting.

Kara Goldin  33:43

Yeah, absolutely. The other thing that you touched on, and probably not intentionally, but I also talked about being a lifelong learner, and I think lifelong learning is is really the key to staying engaged and happy. And I clearly hear that out of you as well. Just every day you’re learning and, and just if you want to say anything else on that, how you feel about that?

Tim Brown  34:09

Yeah, no, I mean, I think I think that’s absolutely true. And wrapped up in that I think is his humility to not feel like you have all the answers. It’s a weird thing. I think when you’re building a business, you have to toggle between sort of extreme humility and then sort of foe or real or whatever it is, we have you draw it from the sort of confidence in the face of the sort of probably overwhelming odds. And you know, at the core of that, though, I think is asking a lot, a lot of questions, freeing yourself from the need to have all the answers but constantly questioning and even now, you know, we’re nearly a 500 person company, sort of five years into this and there are so many things we can be doing better and continuing to think like that. I think I take a lot of that from my, from my sporting days constantly looking for, you know, for little ways you can improve asking a lot of questions. The obvious questions that sometimes people are not always, you know, confident enough to ask. And yeah, I think it’s a really important part of our culture, certainly all birds, but I think probably is a pretty, pretty important thread, I think with entrepreneur ownership. And you know, it’s the simplest question. It was like your conversation with the guy, Coca-Cola, really, really simple things. And if people can’t give you a good answer, I couldn’t get a good answer as to why all shoes were made out of synthetics. And I couldn’t get a good answer about why a wall shoe hadn’t been made before. So I went and searched and sold it. And so some of those things can be really powerful sort of launching pads, the simplest questions, the most overlooked and obvious ideas are often really good places to start.

Kara Goldin  35:38

Well, and it’s the benefit of not working in the industry. Right. That’s what you were just asked, in case you were curious.

Tim Brown  35:46

I didn’t know. I didn’t know what I was doing. Yeah, that was my competitive advantage. Yeah,

Kara Goldin  35:51

no, we have so many similarities, which I think is, is the key, I think, to launching into these new categories when you don’t have experiences that if you’ve got the curiosity and the and the tenaciousness to just keep going after it. That’s really just so much more important than actually having that experience, I think, especially out of the founder. So well, Tim, this is super, super amazing. How do people find you and all birds? What’s the best way?

Tim Brown  36:27

Well, goods.com, as you know, depending on what country you’re in, we were in, and it was such a pleasure to chat with you. I really appreciate the time and opportunity to chat and it’s been fun.

Kara Goldin  36:37

That’s awesome. Great. Thank you so much, everybody. And if you liked this episode, which I’m sure you did, please give it five stars and subscribe and all that stuff. And we’ll see you here every Monday and Wednesday. Thanks again.