In this episode Sebastian and Daniel, founder and CEO of Startup CPG, explore the landscape of the consumer packaged goods industry. They dissect the rise of new brands, how to achieve significant sales, and the power of social media and retail presence. Daniel shares candid founder experiences, stressing the importance of product-market fit, branding, and the challenges of funding and ownership. They delve into the role of purpose in branding, debunk myths about consumer demographics, and draw parallels between music and entrepreneurship. The episode underscores the essence of conscious leadership and authenticity in building a successful CPG brand.

LISTEN to this pod right here by clicking play or choose your favorite listening platform below. You can also WATCH the video podcast below that! Check out the show notes at the bottom to get more details about the contents of this episode. Enjoy!

Show notes as a general guide below. Somewhat in order and not written in perfect grammar because we want you to actually listen to the show!

Topics Discussed:

  • Explosion of New CPG Brands 
  • Entrepreneurship Trend
  • Impact of Social Media
  • Challenges of Startup CPGs
  • Building Brand Impressions
  • Measures of Success in CPG
  • The crucial aspects of a successful project 
  • The significance of branding in CPG
  • Personal branding and first impressions
  • The role of branding in business success
  • The community-focused branding of Startup CPG 
  • Measures of success in building a community 
  • Common pitfalls for CPG brands 
  • The side hustle approach
  • Balancing work and side hustle 
  • The personal impact of purpose 
  • Teaching and giving back 
  • Impact of purpose on business 
  • Focusing on a singular mission
  • Brand opinions and consumer connection 
  • The CEO’s Political Stand
  • Consumer Demographics
  • Shopping Behavior at Erewhon 
  • Music and Entrepreneurship 
  • Traits of a Conscious Leader

 

Connect with Daniel on Instagram

Connect with Startup CPG on Instagram 

Connect with Sebastian on Instagram

SebastianNaum.com

Below is a transcript of the video podcast created by Seb’s Robot buddy, Zekton. He tends to make mistakes so please forgive him if you find errors or some funky sounding sentences. For the real deal, watch the video or click on your favorite audio Podcast platform above! Enjoy!

Sebastian (00:00:00) – Daniel. Welcome to the show, brother. Thanks for being on.
Daniel (00:00:04) – I’m pumped to be here. Thank you.

Sebastian (00:00:06) – Hell yeah man. You know, I like to start my shows by asking you when was your last oh, shit moment. And that could be anything. It could be like a good thing. It could be a bad thing. Anything you want. Whatever comes to mind.

Daniel (00:00:16) – First. Last. Oh, shit. I think any founder will relate to this. My Oh Shit moments are often they happen a lot of the time, and you can have one week where you’re on top of the world. Everything that I’m doing is turning to gold, and then you wake up the next week and you’re just thinking, is this even going to work? Am I a fool for even trying this?, is this going to crash and burn and everybody’s going to see that. And so I think the oh shit moments for me in the past with different businesses, I could point to something specific that went wrong.

Daniel (00:00:44) – And then, oh my God, my life has turned up upside down while I try to fix this. But now I think the path that I’m on now, fortunately, I just haven’t had so many of those specific oh shit moments., and but it’s more of just. Yeah, I don’t know. Some days you wake up feeling. Just doubting yourself. And I think the journey that your own. On which I think any founder would relate to know there’s no founder out there that’s like, yeah, we just started it and it always went well. I mean, that’s the one. If you read any of the books that are out about like the Elon biography or Steve Jobs or I mean anything or watch any of the like, we were documentaries. They all almost. Yeah, they all almost died at some point. Like, all of the businesses were on the brink of failure so many times. Nothing always just went well. So I think just just the usual, oh shit.

Sebastian (00:01:37) – That’s good for people to hear.

Sebastian (00:01:38) – Because, you know, I assume that most people that listen to this episode a lot would be involved with the in the CPG world., and that’s a lot of the people that I work with and brands that I work with too. So it’s great to hear that because you have an amazing company that’s doing really well. You have a massive community. So for you to still have those moments when you’re waking up and be like, it’s just gonna crash and burn, I get it, I totally get it. Because sometimes some, some, a few key things, if they all go wrong, it can all go to shit, you know what I mean? But,, you just got to trust and believe., Daniel, you know, I don’t know if it’s just me and I don’t have the data. And obviously, I’ll ask you about the data, but it feels like over the last five years, like, new CPG brands have exploded. Like, I can’t go to the store without walking down the aisle.

Sebastian (00:02:22) – Like, if I go, like, I love coffee, I’m a huge fan. I go check out the coffee aisle and there’s like three new brands. Every time I go and I buy coffee every week, it’s like, how is how is it? Is that a thing? Like, is it.

Daniel (00:02:33) – Are you talking about bagged coffee or canned? Okay.

Sebastian (00:02:37) – Back like like with coffee. I’ve just seen so many and just pretty much most. Like if you’re going to go get like, chips, like there’s a new chip brand every time you go to the store. Like, it just feels that the last five years have exploded with new brands. Why? Why is this the case?

Daniel (00:02:52) – So first let me ask for is there another industry that you’re more familiar with where that isn’t happening, like in tech or any or media or anything else? Are you are you seeing the same thing of just explosion of new companies?

Sebastian (00:03:04) – That’s a really good question., I feel that from my perception, I experience it a lot more in CPG.

Sebastian (00:03:12) – I just, I see it more and maybe it’s because I pay more attention to it. Maybe there’s a bias there., and I’m just I’m, I love like, I love design and aesthetics. And so I observe brands and I look at every aspect of it. So I enjoy that. I’m walking down the store and I’m looking at these new companies, and I’m looking at the branding and I’m looking at their purpose and what are they talking about and all that stuff. So maybe in other industries I’m just not noticing it as much, you know?

Daniel (00:03:36) – No, I think I think you’re right. I think I think it is. And I think it’s interesting to think about why. So if I rewind my career, I finished business school in 2009. At that point, most people were still going into banking or consulting,, and then a smaller number of fortunate to get jobs in hedge funds or private equity, that kind of stuff. And just a few people were going into tech and were entrepreneurship.

Daniel (00:04:03) – The person in 2009 coming out of, you know, a good business school, taking a risk on Google was like, oh, that is a risk seeker, you know? Yeah., and so that really started to change in the years after I left, you know, getting into 2012, 2013, 2014, I think more people started going into tech. And then also probably considering entrepreneurship in tech, especially because. I mean, it’s things like Google that make people have the appetite for entrepreneurship in general. You see those returns. I want to get some of those returns. Maybe I’ll try something on my own.

Sebastian (00:04:35) – At that time, there was like a new SaaS company every time you turn around.

Daniel (00:04:38) – Yeah, I mean, Google still felt like a startup then. And to some people I think it feels like a startup now, even though it’s one of the biggest companies in the world. Right. And then I think. So nobody was going into food entrepreneurship, right? My year there was one guy the year below who was just I really applaud him.

Daniel (00:04:56) – His name is Jamari Pinkard and he started a hella, hella bitters brand, but it’s just super interesting. He was just out there actually doing it, like such a cool example. Fast forward now. There are a lot of people coming out of business school starting food and beverage brands. They’re coming out of top tier program Stanford, Harvard or Wharton, and that’s what they want to do. Overall, the entrepreneurship trend is way up in general, I think, because. Number one. I think people just see the opportunities like we were talking about and the returns people are getting. And I think number two, just in increasing interest in. The rewards that come from having your own business, not just about money. But yeah, I don’t necessarily want to go do this kind of vanilla banking or consulting things. Like, I’m not sure I want to go somewhere where someone’s just going to shit on me for a bunch of years. Totally. You know? Yeah, while I pay my dues. Like, maybe I’ll just go and do my own thing right now.

Daniel (00:05:52) – And, you know, even if you’re not building $1 billion brand, if you can build something sustainable, the experience is fantastic. Yeah. And the learning is so accelerated.

Sebastian (00:06:02) – And social media has changed the game for that. Right. Because now younger people are consuming content from mentors that they wouldn’t have otherwise consumed. They’re they’re suggesting like going to entrepreneurship. Try this, try that, fail whatever. And it’s interesting in my opinion, I think that there’s that’s incredibly positive most of the time. I also think that there is probably a percentage of people that do it just because they feel like that’s the cool thing to do. And maybe it’s just they’re not built for it, but that’s fine. They can just try and maybe they realize they’re not built for it. There is an interesting amount of people that are doing it, even though maybe they’re not really that passionate about it, because that is like, you know, those are the people we look up to now, right? So like the founders and CEO is a big companies are kind of the cool kids in town now.

Daniel (00:06:45) – I think that’s right. And yeah, I mean, if you know somebody who has a beverage brand like that’s so cool, right? And I think that’s why I wanted to work in CPG consumer packaged goods initially, because I just thought those products were cool. I thought it was cool to go to 7-Eleven and see all the brands, and they were exciting. And a lot has changed for me about which brands I think are cool, not necessarily the like kind of big old crappy ones that I think don’t innovate much now. I love the early ones, but I think, yeah, everybody shares that feeling. That’s why Shark Tank is so popular because like, yeah. And it’s relatable. Like, yeah, I could launch something and I have ideas for things. And so I think it’s very relatable. And then the last point I think that you just brought up is the accessibility. Like with social media and being accessible to everybody. I think the barriers have come way down for being able to to start a food or beverage product.

Daniel (00:07:33) – I think people understood better what it was like to launch a tech product, because they had seen it happen out there in the world. We all we all kind of watched Google grow and like, I think I was 16 in high school when we all were starting to use Google a little bit and like, oh, what is this cool new small thing taking on Microsoft? Or I don’t even remember what we all use. What was.

Sebastian (00:07:54) – Your name?

Daniel (00:07:55) – I oh, almost too embarrassing to say here, but I’m going to say it anyways, and I don’t even know why. But it was like Mulan the movie, but it was Mulan. Hahahahahahahaha oh god, that’s hilarious., I was like., I said it. God, that’s hilarious. That was. I feel all right. Just give me a high five. Yeah, I know, for us. Just admit admitting that you’re publicly. All right., so. And then I also had, like, a handle because I was in those early days in a lot of the chat rooms where people were, like, trading software and stuff.

Daniel (00:08:34) – And so my handle there was cool with a Q hahahahahahaha!

Sebastian (00:08:41) – Just so funny. Like, kids don’t even know ASL, you know what I mean? Age, sex, location. That’s what you had to answer when you came to the chat room. That’s so funny.

Daniel (00:08:51) – So,. Yeah. So so the barriers have come down, I think one, because people see the businesses being built and things like Shark Tank have really made it very glamorous. Right., but yeah, I mean, you can, you may know somebody who’s a food or beverage entrepreneur and have learned from them. And also, I think communities like mine just take away a lot of the mystery where if you’re just like, yeah, how, how how would I do that? That’s actually the content level that we aim for. And so we start from the beginning and anytime I’m doing one of our podcast, startup CPG podcast or one of our webinars, I assume the lowest common denominator for level of knowledge. And I always have whatever I write, whatever I publish present, I want my mom to be able to understand it, and I do, and I do actually send it to her to make sure she can follow it because, you know, otherwise, like when you get too technical and people kind of throwing around terms just to kind of show that they know that, yeah, I’m allergic to that stuff.

Daniel (00:09:47) – I’m allergic to the consulting language and just, you know, the I just like, strip it down to its core. It’s a way easier place to have a discussion.

Sebastian (00:09:54) – Yeah, it’s a great approach. So kind of going back to the you know, there’s there’s so many brands. My, you know, natural thing to say is there’s, there’s no room. Is there really room for all of those brands to succeed. Like is there a percentage of failure in terms of startup CPGs? That’s scary.

Daniel (00:10:10) – There’s not room for all of them to succeed. In fact, very few will. So the data point that most people in my industry are familiar with is I think there was a study done by Coca-Cola that said 2% of brands will reach 10 million in sales.

Sebastian (00:10:24) – Okay.

Daniel (00:10:25) – That’s a that’s a very low number if you’re trying to if you’re betting whether or not and yearly sales.

Sebastian (00:10:30) – Yeah.

Daniel (00:10:30) – Yeah. yeah. Reaching 10 million and.

Sebastian (00:10:32) – Annual sales and annual sales.

Daniel (00:10:34) – So that’s a that’s a big number to get to that probably.

Daniel (00:10:39) – You know, you might have to be in, I don’t know, 10,000 stores and doing really well in those stores or maybe even, you know, maybe more. And, you know, depending on your price point.

Sebastian (00:10:48) – You’d have to be absolutely crushing direct to consumer or Amazon sales or something.

Daniel (00:10:53) – And it takes a lot of money to get there. I remember watching Mark Cuban, I think, on one of the shark tanks where he was talking to a beverage brand, said, you know, for me to make my money, you’re going to have to get to 50 million. And for you to get to film 50 million in sales, that’s going to take you 30 to $50 million that you’ll have to raise. Yeah. And so that’s why he didn’t love the beverage category, I think, you know, pushing back on that, I would say so I was the CEO of a beverage company called Machu Picchu Energy. Yeah, I did that for three years. I started it with him. Yeah, we did actually work out of there for a little bit while we were waiting for the headquarters to open.

Daniel (00:11:26) – That’s funny.

Sebastian (00:11:27) – Yeah. I wonder if we if I met you randomly like, there, because I was. We were there for a while too. Oh, cool. Yeah.

Daniel (00:11:33) – So we yeah, we so we originally started the company out of Miami, which is where the founder was based. And then once the product was in market, moved here to open the headquarters and then so headquarters, which is across the street from beach House. Right. So while we were waiting, that’s still there on the walls and everything on the wall.

Sebastian (00:11:50) – Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Daniel (00:11:51) – So while we were building it out that it started out of beach House Co-work with Simon and the.

Sebastian (00:11:56) – Santa Monica pier was out.

Daniel (00:11:58) – There and I. Yeah, I loved it there.

Sebastian (00:11:59) – That’s funny.

Daniel (00:12:00) – Yeah, yeah. Very cool place., so yeah, I mean, I just always assumed that we would get there and I don’t know,, I mean, you know, they weren’t there when I left, but I mean, definitely getting into seven figures.

Daniel (00:12:14) – And I saw very clearly the path to getting to that next level because, I mean, really breaking the seal is the very hard thing to do. Can I get into good accounts early on? Can I get good velocity at those accounts and start building a groundswell because. One door always leads to another. If you make it in the industry like taking an early success, letting the whole world know about it,, like on LinkedIn, that gets you additional distribution when you have more distribution in the stores. That gives you impressions with people like people need to see your product a bunch of times in stores. That’s as good as doing digital marketing to people as well, just having the physical presence there. And then over time, your velocity start to store impressions.

Sebastian (00:12:54) – Yeah. Interesting. I just to think about that. Right. Because I’m in the digital world 95% of the time. Right. So,, we’re talking about impressions and,, all right, just in general top of funnel. Right. So top of funnel from an, a physical standpoint.

Sebastian (00:13:10) – Right. Where do you shop that. Where do I shop I, I cross between Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and just like random things. Yeah. I go to everyone. Just like I knew you.

Daniel (00:13:23) – Were going to wait to say just for the hotbar. Just.

Sebastian (00:13:25) – I just go for the hop.

Daniel (00:13:26) – Admit you go to Erewhon.

Sebastian (00:13:27) – Dude, I’m not gonna pay $14 for the same exact pasture raised eggs that I’m buying in the store for seven. You know what I mean? But it is a good lunch date spot.

Daniel (00:13:36) – Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so. You know, pretty interesting because and also I think those impressions are worth different amounts if you’re a marketer paying for those, the impression that you get at for the Erewhon consumer is very valuable. And they know that. And it’s not cheap to work with them. But so let’s if I go and I can do it, I’ve done demos at Erewhon with my product there. I’ve done demos at big grocery stores in Texas. I can run a demo at Erewhon, I can spend probably two hours there and sell maybe 30 to 40 cans of product.

Daniel (00:14:11) – Okay, that means I’m probably sampling for, I don’t know, maybe 100 people during that time. Yeah, and I have all the energy in the world to do this, but it is exhausting to do it with Erewhon shoppers because it’s going to be somebody who you they look like, what you think they look like. They’ve, you know, they’ve got all their. So lay there like a carrot there, a caricature of an lay person. Right. And they come in and they’re like, they scrunch their nose up and look at the ingredients and they’re like, yeah. Did you think about using this other thing like ashwagandha that I’m using right now? And they like, give you they’ll like tell you a bunch of things you should do with your business., and then they may try the product and probably. A third of them are just going to say no to anything that isn’t basically like water or just straight kale or something, right? Like or like an aloe vera leaf that they just buy and walk out with.

Daniel (00:14:59) – , so like probably there are a certain percentage of them that just will say no outright. Sure. And then some of them you’ll talk to for a bit and then I don’t know, and then maybe a third of them like finally come around on your product. But those are super high value people because because it’s Erewhon and because of the brand that they’ve built. Yeah, those people are actually very influential. They’re people who have a certain kind of lifestyle. They have a certain kind of income., and right, it’s kind of an identity place. So if you are somebody who is, you know, in the scene or influential, you’re because everyone’s influential, you’re probably shopping there. And then often you’re maybe sharing what you discover there with your influential friends as well.

Sebastian (00:15:39) – And a lot of people are going to value that opinion.

Daniel (00:15:41) – Yeah. And there are celebrities in there. And, I mean, I had an experience where my demo person got a product to,, I think it to, to her office, Hailey Bieber or like, I don’t know, somebody in Selena Gomez a circle.

Daniel (00:15:56) – And then it ended up in Selena Gomez’s fridge, and they posted a picture of her fridge, and the product was front and center in her fridge. And that was all because we were in Erewhon and we were demoing an airport, and and then the demo person knew to give them a can, just say, please, like take this and try those things that. Yeah, so that and that stuff you can’t put a price on when it happens because yeah. Like, you know, the right coverage of something can make all the difference. So yeah, those impressions are important and they help you over time. And so, you know, I think I always assumed that I would get there to that successful stage because I will work my ass off and I know how to do that. I will never rest until I’ve contacted every single retail buyer around the country and made my pitch and used everything that I have at my disposal every data point, every last win. I will publish that on LinkedIn and have make sure everybody knows about the wins that I’m getting and try to build up the FOMO.

Daniel (00:16:51) – I will spend the time building really compelling data stories, which you must do. You must lobby for yourself using data because that’s the language buyers speak. And so, you know, I think we were on the path to get there. So. I would never doubt a founder who has, you know, at least a decent product and knows how to be, how to have extreme grit and good a good strategy and can be really passionate about their product. I think they can get there. So that 2% number for me is kind of deceiving. I also think that that’s not the only measure of success, because if you told me, hey, you can go and kind of have a life that you hate a lot, working at a big management consulting firm where everybody pressures you and you’re accountable to client. And even when you’re a successful partner, you probably have a pretty tough lifestyle in your own phone calls all Sunday night. Or you can start your own thing, some product that you love. And you can work on this for 5 or 10 years and have a livable salary and build something and have a chance at great success.

Daniel (00:17:53) – Right? But at least get all of the joy from doing your own thing and having the impact that you want to have in the world and build things and be a job creator, probably. And the challenges are very real also, because man, if some product starts going bad or leaking or something and it’s your product, your day is ruined, right? You’re you are the that is up to you and it’s very scary. You’re not just a cog in the wheel anymore when it’s when it’s on you. But ultimately the highs I found are just so high. It’s when it’s you and you’re so close to the product.

Sebastian (00:18:28) – Yeah. So you don’t need the 10 million in revenue to still have something successful and be fulfilled with your CPG brand. But, you know, let’s go after, you know, the big stuff. Obviously, like you said, you want to be able to have that shot and that’s what you’re going after., there’s there’s so many categories, right? You you touch on a lot of them.

Sebastian (00:18:47) – You touched on touched on marketing, touchdown branding. We’re talking about platforms and distributions, leadership funding. I mean, there’s so many things in theory for this recipe to be perfect. What what is like the most crucial if we had to really it’s really difficult because I know there’s not one thing. Right. But out of those, like what cannot fail out of those, you think for the whole project not to fail.

Daniel (00:19:15) – A good product, I guess. Yeah. Good product market fit. I’ve seen founders I don’t think are very good. Yeah. Be successful with a product that just hit and it was because it was either just an incredibly superior product or because it was just right for the time. Right. Or because there was just some unique combination of the branding and the product that just really resonated. And right, like kind of with picking stocks, like, you can know everything in the world and make your choices really diligently and some and you know, very few fund managers have managed to, you know, beat the S&P average year over year, but also just some little bit of luck.

Daniel (00:19:53) – Yeah, just some very random people out there taking big bets. And there are a bunch of people who got crypto rich. So there are for sure examples of of people out there who are just going to get it right. But I think that’s pretty hard to plan for. I think. Absolutely. The thing that you can plan for is. Really understanding the opportunity that’s out there, working very diligently to come up with a product that gives a great experience on taste. That’s the most important thing at that stage. Yeah, having branding that’s going to appeal to people, that’s going to be very simple. Like not, you know, making your product look like a NASCAR car with all the different things, claims all over it, like too busy and. Yeah. And then just working your absolute tail off after that. Yeah.

Sebastian (00:20:34) – Yeah, absolutely. Fun fact, crypto bitcoin and and ether hitting almost an all time high today since 2021., right. Yeah., I am a bit biased on this and but I’m glad you brought up branding.

Sebastian (00:20:49) – Right. So I’m a bit biased because I go global agency or agency. We work with purpose driven CPG and health and wellness brands, and we build brands from the ground up. And we also do all of their marketing. But the branding side of it is what I find the most fun., it’s actually the least profitable from, from an agency standpoint, but it is the most fun. And to me, it’s the most important because branding is like that first impression. You have a lot of the times, whether you’re going on a date or if you’re going and do a job interview and that first impression, it’s what I feel immediately when I pick something up, all of it, right? The way it’s put together, the fonts, the colors, the simplicity, the the maybe how is it communicating its values? And that causes an initial connection for me with the brand. So how important do you think that is? Because I think a lot of the times with these startups, they’re going, hey, like, hey, I’m going to focus on my product and I’m going to focus on sales, but I’m going to leave branding or brand way behind because it’s not really something that I know about.

Sebastian (00:21:47) – How how important do you think branding actually is? I mean, I.

Daniel (00:21:50) – Think before we get into that, because you brought up dating and branding Hahahahahahahaha tell me about your experience. What is the brand that you’re presenting when you when you go on a date and what? Yeah, what what first impression are you trying to give them?

Sebastian (00:22:03) – I love this switch that just happened. I love the switch of the interview.

Daniel (00:22:07) – Anybody listening wanted to know that. Also.

Sebastian (00:22:10) – You know what’s funny about this? So thank you for the question., when like most of the time. Well, what I’ve come to not most of the time, but later in life, what I decided that I would do on first dates is that I would typically only rotate within a few certain outfits that completely feel representative of me, you know what I’m saying? So it’s like, all right, like.

Daniel (00:22:34) – Actually probably.

Sebastian (00:22:35) – Wearing what I wear black T I’m going to wear this, these types of shoes or whatever, like because it represents I feel like what is what do they call it, like you’re Charlie Brown or something like that.

Sebastian (00:22:44) – Okay.

Daniel (00:22:44) – Have you heard of that? This is very interesting. And so we just switch roles for a second here. All right. So for anybody who’s only listening to this and not watching it, you know Sebastian’s a very good looking God. He’s like he’s in shape. He’s got his like trendy black tee and he’s got a couple different chains on as well. It’s a very good look. It’s a very good look overall. Thank you. So is this a kind of outfit that you would wear to a date?

Sebastian (00:23:07) – Absolutely. Yeah okay.

Daniel (00:23:08) – Yeah. And what does it say about you.

Sebastian (00:23:11) – Wow. You really turn it around. I mean,, it says that,. Simple, clean, a little edgy.

Daniel (00:23:19) – All right, I’ll take it. Yes. Yeah.

Sebastian (00:23:21) – Okay, cool.

Daniel (00:23:22) – It’s your very brain. Consistent, like the grooming, but a little bit of edge on the little edge jewelry and. Okay, cool. Yes, but clean and, like, together.

Sebastian (00:23:30) – Yeah. Yeah.

Sebastian (00:23:31) – Like you go to my house, it’s going to be insanely organized. Like, I grew up with two Virgo parents. Like, everything’s clean and neat and no clutter and but also a little edgy and a little bit of both, you know? All right.

Daniel (00:23:41) – That makes me want to clutter up the desk just to mess with you, but okay. You panicked. All right, so.

Sebastian (00:23:46) – Hold on, hold on.

Daniel (00:23:47) – What’s your what’s your what’s your first date outfit. No. So back to CPG., no, I mean, I’m not I’m not very good at it in general, I would say so I think,,, gosh, when was the last time I even went on a date? Yeah, probably. I also have a very standard go to on the kind of things that I’m going to wear, and I think it’s the same kind of stuff that I wear to work, which maybe is why I’m still single. Startup GBG hoodie I think. So, I think actually. Probably the same is true with work.

Daniel (00:24:19) – It’s like I actually am not very good at branding personally. Really? Probably. That’s why. Yeah, I’m not doing a very good job.

Sebastian (00:24:25) – By good branding. Yeah.

Daniel (00:24:27) – Thank you I think, so like with Machu Picchu, for example, you know, wasn’t my company. I was the CEO. I was hired in as CEO to start the company from scratch., but the branding came from the founder. The the vision came from him, the name of the company., and, you know, I think I did a good job of, like, making sure we were working with the right agency that I thought would do a good job and for, like to,, elaborate the vision in the right way. But, yeah, I mean, along the way, there were so many marketing decisions to make, and I’m so glad I was not the one making them, because number one, like, I don’t really care about that stuff as much. It’s just not as exciting to me.

Daniel (00:25:09) – Yeah., when it can be very, I don’t know, like,, maybe not up to, but just like, not, not not so tangible.. Yeah. And. Number two. Like the the, the brand did not come from me and so I did not know as I was I wasn’t as good at it. Like I would say, talk about it one way and it was just wrong. And like, you know, that for me is kind of frustrating because like, hey, I didn’t totally get it. But yeah, startup CPG was a lot easier to guide branding on and know what I wanted because it does come from me that like, I’m the one who had the idea to have this group, I’m still the one who propels the vision forward and decides who we’re going to be. And I think I wouldn’t say we have classical marketing. We don’t have a marketing plan that we execute through the year. Unfortunately, most of the stuff that happens with us is very organic, but.

Daniel (00:26:03) – Our marketing is who we are every day, and it’s all of the activities that we do, and it’s all of the value that we provide to people. It definitely helps that we do have pretty cool branding. That came from my friend Andrea Mika, based out of Portugal. Also design. He could definitely hit him up on Instagram. He does very epic stuff. He did the startup CPG logo. He did my band logo also, which is amazing. So definitely hit him up well.

Sebastian (00:26:28) – The difference there too though is that startup CPG is a community. It’s not an actual CPG product itself. So it’s right. There’s a little bit of a difference there, right? So if we’re talking about branding for a CPG product where you’re picking something up and grabbing it and looking at it, you probably have to be more you guys are more community focused, right? It’s more about what the value of the community is getting. Right. That’s really what it’s all about, which I.

Daniel (00:26:49) – Think is just much more in my wheelhouse.

Daniel (00:26:51) – Right. Also because, yeah, I just, I don’t know, I wouldn’t be very good at choosing branding for even for even a new product that I created. Like, you know, I need help on that stuff. I need other people to look at it and help me decide what I think.

Sebastian (00:27:05) – But incredibly important, though, for those that are launching a brand to give that attention.

Daniel (00:27:11) – Yeah, right. And I think, yeah, for startup CPG, it’s just much more natural because it happens over time. And I mean, our initial branding before we when we were even just SF, CPG, I look back on it now, it was from, you know, Fiverr or something in the original design. The first time I ever saw it, I was like, damn, that’s cool. Now I’m like, that was horrible. Please don’t let anyone see what that was. Then, you know, we worked with a good designer and got what I think is a very iconic design I don’t feel like.

Daniel (00:27:37) – Five years later, we need any kind of a refresh. You know, he. He’s a very systems oriented designer also. So created a logo that I think could scale very well and lend itself to other things that we’d expand into. And then but yeah, I mean, again, the marketing, it mainly is about doing for us and I mean. Yeah. Like we yeah. The marketing that we’re doing is basically just sharing all the cool stuff that we’re doing and making sure everybody hears about it. That’s the most important thing is, like, I spend most of my day thinking about how to provide immense value to brands in our community. That is my business model because it’s free for them. All I have to do is figure out how to help them in incredible ways, and that’s building a community for them so that any single question that they have out there in the world, they can get an answer right away. And that is that is our biggest measure as a community is if we look at our slack channel with 20,000 people in it, does every single question get answered? And they really do for the most part.

Daniel (00:28:35) – If it’s some very obscure thing, they might be able to stop stump 20,000 people. But for the most part it is. It’s brand founders and experts in there who like to give the answers. And that happens right away. And then, yeah, the rest of the marketing is we create incredible opportunities. We do giveaways, we, you know, have special opportunities to meet with retailers. And it’s just about sharing, I would say all of that on LinkedIn. And then when we do the thing, having great content that we also share because yeah, it’s really important for us as an organization that everybody has excitement about who we are and what we’re doing, and that helps us plan even better activities at every time we do something well, it levels us up every time we execute a great sponsor activation, every time we do an epic event puts us on the next level. More people start hearing about it. I think, you know, for the growth of our community in the early days, it was very manual.

Daniel (00:29:28) – It was like me at our first events, walking around with a clipboard, writing down people’s email addresses so that I could start building this in a scalable way, making sure we had, you know, the ability to contact people. But today, after five years of just providing enormous value, it’s not a manual at all. The thing grows on its own. And I think it’s like that for any business, like you will be fighting one by one in the early days. There is there is no recipe to go viral that you know you can count on, but what you can count on is do the work, build the business and try to get one person and then another person, and then eventually some of them will start telling their friends also. And then you get the users on your side and they’re the ones providing the engine for growth. And so now for our channel, for example, every week we have 200 people coming into the channel right now. And if I talk to them like, how did you hear about this? They’re just hearing about it from their friends.

Daniel (00:30:20) – I and I meet tons of people all across the country who say, I just tell everybody I meet to join your channel and listen to your podcast. And that’s how you get that, you know, next level exponential growth over time, just like you would for this leisure hydration drink that I’m drinking right now. Like it sounds like an ad, but it’s not. They just I just happened to bring this with me, but it has, like.

Sebastian (00:30:41) – The little Kool-Aid guy in the bottom. No.

Daniel (00:30:42) – Yeah. Is that a Kool-Aid brand? It looks a no. It’s a this is another startup I’m friends with locally. So this is,, this is a great product. It’s a hydration drink. They’re having incredible success, especially.

Sebastian (00:30:54) – In three grams of added sugar. Yeah, yeah.

Daniel (00:30:56) – Really nice. And just, you know, delicious electrolyte bites, you know, hydration. That’s a huge, like hydration. Not a plug. Not a yeah. Not a well it is a plug a plug.

Daniel (00:31:05) – It’s not a paid plug.

Sebastian (00:31:06) – Yeah.

Daniel (00:31:07) – , but they, you know, they, they’re getting into a lot of corporate accounts right now, which means like, you know, the, the kitchen at Google, those kind of places, those are great. And that’s huge because those guys were all using like plastic bottles, you know, cola products. And now those companies all have initiatives to get rid of all the plastics and other love that sustainable options.

Sebastian (00:31:25) – And we’ll get into that. We’ll get into purpose and sustainability. First I want to ask you, though, you have so much experience with so many different CPG brands, just tons of them. Do you see a common pitfall that when CPG brands are focusing too much on, or investing too much on something, that’s really a pitfall for them?

Daniel (00:31:47) – , I mean, I guess a couple come to mind. So,, one is just not preparing yourself to do the work because you need to be totally obsessed and prepared to be obsessed. And in your first year, especially if you’re doing this, like full time, you’re not spending almost every waking minute, like out there trying to hit retailers on LinkedIn and turn one yes into another.

Daniel (00:32:10) – Yes. Like the brand is going to stall out because you you need somebody who just goes crazy. Almost every business that’s been successfully grown that you know of was done that way by crazy people, people who just were like, so compelled to succeed that they did absolutely everything in their control to do it. I think, you know, one thing is, I think you can do.

Sebastian (00:32:30) – It if you’re not obsessed.

Daniel (00:32:32) – Either. I think it’s that would be the exception is just like, oh, some totally chill person who managed hard time.

Sebastian (00:32:39) – Or it’s a kind of side gig side hustle situation. Yeah.

Daniel (00:32:42) – Well, I mean, I do love the side hustle. I actually, I believe that, yeah, yeah, some founders will who have been successful that way will say no. The only way you can be successful is if you drop everything, quit your job, have no backup plan and go all in. I don’t believe that. That’s cool either. No, I think I, I can tell you, hundreds of people who started their business as a side hustle and worked on it in the late hours or whenever they could, the weekends, and then because they had a job with a nice salary, they had money to pay for the things that they’re going to need.

Daniel (00:33:13) – Because you do need things. You need good branding, right? They’re like, how are you going to pay for that if you aren’t even paying yourself? You don’t have any money. Okay, then maybe you have to raise money and now you don’t really own the company. And it’s that’s not going to be as fun. I really do.

Sebastian (00:33:26) – Have to raise.

Daniel (00:33:28) – People do this different ways. I personally have never actually raised money. Like I’ve gone on roadshows and stuff, but like for my own business startup CPG is 100% mine. I don’t plan on raising money for it. I don’t want to be accountable to anybody. I like having anybody tell me what to do would make me crazy. And I’ve learned that about myself. So I’d rather just grow it slower and have 100% control., but that’s only possible because for five years I did it on the side, you know, during the pandemic. Yeah. Like I don’t have a wife and kids. So I had those extra cycles where I could just.

Daniel (00:34:00) – Okay, nothing was going on. I just came home and worked all the time. Yeah.

Sebastian (00:34:03) – And so it depends maybe on the speed of growth that you’re desiring or needing. Yeah.

Daniel (00:34:08) – Yeah. And I don’t I mean, yeah, if I was building this thing to spin it up and then try to sell it as quickly as possible, maybe taking VC money would make sense. And I think, you know, there are a lot of people out there who have offered it. But yeah, I don’t want to give away a bunch of company and then try to grow it and sell it. I don’t I don’t need to. It’s a great company. I love doing it., it’s I think enough for me, you know, just to get to do this and grow it in a really nice way, have a total control over it and then, yeah, I don’t I don’t want.

Sebastian (00:34:38) – Anything that’s different for a CPG product, though specifically that may need that funding to try to get the word out or maybe hire that sales person to be calling, you know.

Sebastian (00:34:48) – Yeah, I don’t think so.

Daniel (00:34:49) – For yeah, it is expensive. It takes a lot of cash. That’s not like sort of CPG. We’re not going to need the the working capital the way a lot of those guys are. So I think there are very few companies that have managed to grow and be epic without ever having raised money. I think more, more likely more often now you’re seeing stories like liquid death, right? Liquid death that, you know, everybody would say is on a crazy trajectory. I mean, they’re raising hundreds of millions of dollars because they’re not profitable, right? Like, if you’re not profitable.

Sebastian (00:35:17) – With beverage, though, right? That’s the thing with beverage. It’s really tough.

Daniel (00:35:20) – It’s very tough. Yeah. The price points are low, especially for something like water. And so they have done an incredible job I love it I buy it drink it. But yeah it’s tough because they’re challenged on price point. they have a big can with a lot of water in it.

Daniel (00:35:33) – There’s only a certain amount people are willing to pay for that, especially on a regular basis. Like you can get the trial, but to get repeat purchase. Yeah. I mean, price points are challenging. So they’re raising a lot of money to try to fuel the growth of that business. And so who knows how much the founder owns of that business. Now, I can tell you, I mean, man, from my time at Just Egg, they’ve raised, I think, around $1 billion. And they had they had already raised. Maybe 120 to 200 when I joined it. And 2016. Now. I think that’s like maybe the founder didn’t care so much, honestly, about the payout. I think he cared more about the impact on the world. But yeah, like if you just kept raising money and diluting himself and kind of what he had in the company and then probably having just a lot of stress, like having I know they had to clear the board out at one point and just spent so much time around, like raising money and everything.

Daniel (00:36:24) – It adds, and that guy probably will be richer than I ever will be even through it. Like, I mean, they’re having tough times now, but,, you know, you can always sell your share like secondary shares, right? Founders would do that., but I just I think for me, I don’t want that life of just much stress. Just having gone through it the last couple of years, being CEO of a company and just it was it was very stressful for me. The highs are very high, but the stress is real. I felt it in my heart and in my throat and in my head all the time. And actually now that I’m doing this full time, I see my friends from the industry, right? And almost all of them look at me and they’re like, wow, you are very chilled out. You seem really different. How? Yeah. And just because, yeah, I’m not so crazy and trying to, you know, make other people happy with the momentum of the business.

Daniel (00:37:14) – Yeah. So yeah. Anyways, I really believe in the side hustle and having the chance to actually do that as a brand. And then maybe it’s not that you may never have to raise money, but at least by the time you do it, maybe now you’ve built out the point where you have good branding and you have product market fit, and you’ve proven some things, maybe in a retailer, maybe on Amazon. So now that valuations are pretty brutal, instead of raising at a $2 million valuation, maybe you can wait and raise and a $5 million valuation, which means that, you know, 500 K that you need to actually buy inventory or whatever. Instead of giving away 25% of your company, you know, you can give away 10% of it. Correct? Right.

Sebastian (00:37:53) – Yeah, that’s that’s good advice.

Daniel (00:37:54) – So I love that approach. There are plenty of people who right, you know, have been successful, more successful than I have who may disagree with me. But yeah.

Sebastian (00:38:02) – So yeah I mean it’s got to really take a special type of person to in personality to raise money and be able to still kind of not have that pressure like that.

Sebastian (00:38:12) – You were talking about that pressure on your shoulders, especially in your heart, that you’re sort of answering and you’re you’re indebted to somebody that’s giving you money., so that’s why I actually like that approach that you were saying of being like, hey, get something going first. You can still raise, but you’re giving away a little bit less so that you don’t feel that you’re so indebted by and also not giving away so much of your company.

Daniel (00:38:31) – Yeah. And I really am a fan of of the side hustle also. But I think a lot of us are very ambitious people and we’re going to be ambitious in our job. Right? Whatever your job is, you’re probably a lot of your identity is tied up in doing well there, and you feel a lot of maybe anxiety. If you’re like me, if you’re not doing a good job there and you want to give it all and like those hours in the night before you go to sleep and your mind is spinning on creative ideas are going to that company, probably, and you’re being entrepreneurial for them.

Daniel (00:38:57) – And that’s just where everything that you think of is. But when you start the side hustle, maybe you don’t give that time to them anymore. And I think also like I think if you’re like me, I mean, I just yeah, I don’t know, I was working at a company where I was, I was never going to be a partner there or I was ever, never going to be C-level there. And, you know, okay, I recognize that. And I also just it took me a while to just be okay with not giving everything for the job, like not just starting to focus more on what I wanted to do and spending the time on that. And those extra mind cycles were being creative for myself. Yeah. And that is it’s a really hard thing to do because. I am so programmed to want to be so good and be recognized for being so good at my job and all that stuff. But the interesting thing is, once I kind of turned off that switch a little bit at work and then just started really focusing on other stuff that I wanted to do outside, I actually just became way better balanced.

Daniel (00:39:54) – Number one, I think in a lot of cases it doesn’t actually matter. Like I think a lot of jobs don’t recognize. If you put in just a little bit more effort, like in consulting, that you would get an annual rating that was like one, two, three, four, five. And almost everybody, almost everybody was going to get a 2 or 3. And then I looked at it and I was like, okay, I mean, we work like 80 hour weeks. It’s crazy. And the difference between the 2 or 3 is like, I don’t know, a couple thousand bucks bonus. Well, like, I don’t want to be at two. I’m not planning on trying to be partner here. I’ll just have like a normal thing and, you know, not try and take some weeks off and not try to kill myself because what does that matter? And so, you know, I think just that was a really important step for me, was just learning to maybe not be so crazy about giving it all for a job like that, where.

Daniel (00:40:41) – Yeah, I don’t know, maybe just don’t try to come up with so many ideas and stuff that isn’t really necessarily part of your job description, that where if you come up with the idea, you’re probably going to have to run with it, you know? And so if you have a side hustle, which I really believe a lot of people can and should, you know, I think you’ll find that it just can start bringing you that same kind of validation that you actually get from putting it all into into your regular job.

Sebastian (00:41:06) – Yeah, yeah. So, Daniel, we touched on,, purpose and a few different times there. So let’s get into that., as you know, I’m, I so I’m on the board of conscious capitalism in Los Angeles and work with a lot of purpose driven CPG brands and just health and wellness brands. So how crucial is purpose in 2024? How important is it for a CPG brand, or even for you guys to have,, purpose instilled into the DNA of the company?

Daniel (00:41:36) – I think it’s incredibly important.

Daniel (00:41:38) – You could be successful with not having some kind of a stated purpose, something that makes the world a better place or shows that you’re trying, but I think you have a much better chance of it if you do.., so. My whole career, I think I’ve distinguished myself by having some kind of give back or way that, you know, I was just trying to help other people.., and it not only was it the right thing to do because I like doing it, I like helping, I like sharing what I’m working on. But in every single instance, it made a huge difference in my personal success and the success of my brands.

Sebastian (00:42:12) – And how you feel about it too, while you’re doing it. Right. That’s.

Daniel (00:42:16) – Yeah, I think I mean, even when I’m working at other companies like it, it no matter what crazy shit was happening at the company, I could always hang my hat on. These products are great. Yeah, I believe in them. I believe in the.

Daniel (00:42:30) – The impact that we’re trying to have in the world. And that kept me some places way longer than I would have there otherwise., and, you know, maybe if I, if I can just talk for a second about just how having purpose has helped me in my life and what it’s done for me. So. For me, it’s very natural. It’s just part of my DNA. What I do when I’m learning things, that I’m excited about them, I like to share with other people. I like to teach other people. It’s just really fun for me., and, you know, even, like, going all the way back. There’s. My mom just found this funny article in the local Bethesda Gazette., from when I was like, I don’t know, 14 or 16. And it was young computer whiz helps computer camp with receipts. And I had basically gone and helped collect receipts at my high school to then go and donate to a underprivileged computer camp, and was able to buy for the kids printers and some computers.

Daniel (00:43:28) – And then I went and worked there for the summer. Yeah, unfortunately, my school had a requirement for you to go and volunteer somewhere, and it was an amazing experience for me. And I loved just like even though I was the same age as the kids in that program, because I was and yeah, I was a computer nerd. I was on AOL like I had learned a lot. I could actually teach them so much. I was teaching them job skills training and all this stuff. But it was just so fun for me. And I don’t know why, but something in me just loves getting to teach people stuff that they don’t know that I’m proud to know. And then I got that incredible article out of it, and that article opened up a lot of opportunities to me. I was able to get other internships. And so, you know, later in life, like my first job out of college, I worked for Morningstar, which is an investment research firm in Chicago. When I was there because that is my second nature.

Daniel (00:44:16) – After three months, I had the idea to start a saving and investing seminar, teaching at a local magnet school, and went in and then just started getting so many people from the company to come in and teach their expertise. We created an interactive stock market simulation game for those high school students. I built that program. It is now still running over 20 over 20 years later. It’s their flagship community service program. And because of that, I was I knew the CEO and I knew all the senior fund managers because I would invite them and they all were like, yeah, I want to come in and can I teach the kids to everybody? Like bonds around the idea of giving back, right. Nobody was getting paid extra to do this. We weren’t making any money off from the school. It was just, I think, really good for retention for the company and just a great just something that everybody enjoyed being involved in. And it was good for me too. It really helped me. I had massive connections inside of the company, nobody else, especially in this management development program, just three months out of school, was doing something like this where they would start having all of these connections, and that was one of the major reasons that I was able to get into Wharton Business School, because I did not.

Daniel (00:45:25) – Yeah, I did not have the undergraduate requisites to qualify for something like that. But because people can see like, wow, look at this guy who just started this program having such immense impact. This is this is a leader. This is somebody who cares. And that can really differentiate you with people who can have a. Have a huge impact on your career. Right. And so I did that there. I like did it in a Spanish group. I got 300 people together in Chicago to just practice Spanish, which was really fun for me at the time. And so those those were great things to do for people. It’s like really a give back thing to do and just putting a ton of my time into building community and adding value to people and teaching. But oh my gosh, like I really then learned again, this also helps me a lot, which you know, I think is great. It really reinforces, like, I hope people who are out there doing good always get a lot out of it because it gives them what they need to just keep doing it.

Daniel (00:46:20) – Yeah. And so, you know, tracing that through later on in life, like I would do that when I was in consulting, go back and teach MBAs how to be a consultant. And that distinguished me at the firm and then starting startup CPG at the beginning. I just did it because that’s my nature. Like, I wanted to get to know people at other companies and be able to help them because I feel like, oh, I came from Mars Chocolate, a global CPG. I know things that they do that you guys don’t do that I can share. And so I started building this community, and that’s what got me the CEO role actually at Machu Picchu, because that distinguished me from a lot of other promising people in the industry who had not been CEOs before. I had not been a CEO before, but I know when the founder looked at my profile and he was like, considering starting a mission driven brand, he’s like, oh, this guy has that DNA. He has a do good DNA already.

Daniel (00:47:09) – I can see he’s doing this. He’s doing this successfully. And that’s what put me over the edge as a candidate again. Like even in the early days of startup, CPG was making things happen for me personally in my life, just this value that I was trying to provide back to the community for free. And then at Machu Picchu, similar things. So part of the mission for the company was doing good helping kids.. We work with we worked with a couple NGOs in Latin America to help kids in slums like in Rio called pathological in Lima, Peru, an organization called Alta Peru. And they do incredible work. And, you know, mainly it was about giving financial assistance, which they really need to then fund their programs. And the people who help kids in the slums with outdoor education. Really incredible. But in the US, it was really important for me to do something personal. And so I created a program teaching kids the fundamentals of how to launch a beverage company. And I would go into the classroom with liquids they could play with, come up with a drink like pair them in teams, not with their friends randomly, because that’s how it happens in the job.

Daniel (00:48:10) – You don’t you just work with like whoever, not your friends. And so having them experience the creativity and coming up with a product and coming up with a sales strategy and drawing out canned designs and just seeing the spark that went off in their eyes because, yeah, I’m not a great classroom learner like lecture listener. I like more interactive stuff. Yeah. And they all just completely switched on. Phones, went away. And I’ve never seen those kids so engaged is when they were doing the liquid development stuff like that. And so that was a joy to me. And I was able to expand that program nationally by working with an organization called NAF, which is a nonprofit that has,, they have teachers in thousands of schools across the country and underprivileged, underserved schools. So was able to expand that nationally. So this to do good program, it meant so much to me to be able to do it. And I loved giving back. And I could just look into the kid’s eyes and see the amazing impact that it was having.

Daniel (00:49:05) – Yeah., but you better believe it propelled the business as well. And, you know, long before consumers find out about that, because it does take a while to like, you know, even with like Patagonia. Yeah. Go to Pixie or Tom’s like, you know, you might hear about their mission, but it’s not like the main reason, especially in the early days, that you’re picking up the product. But you know, who does hear about that first hand is like a grocery buyer. The person who makes the decisions for what products are going to be on the set at Erewhon,, or at Trader Joe’s, and.

Sebastian (00:49:35) – Do they care? Do the buyers care about the mission of your product or the purpose?

Daniel (00:49:40) – Some of them do so much, and so even the first buyer who took our product on actually teared up on the phone.

Sebastian (00:49:48) – No way.

Daniel (00:49:49) – And because I’m telling her about this program and I couldn’t have predicted this, but she had been through a program like this, and she said, this is what I attribute all of my success to.

Daniel (00:49:59) – She was really successful at a much younger age than a lot of her peers, and she’s like, someone did this for me, and it meant the world. Yeah. And so and then another buyer that I talked to, like, unfortunately, her daughter had been a teacher and had an accident. And so it was very emotional for her too. Well, helping kids was our mission, it just so happens is something that so many people are passionate about. It’s not partisan. Everyone can kind of agree on it. Yeah. And has some like everyone was a kid or has a kid, right. And so buyers were saying, yes, the one of the biggest distributors in the country,, put me into this incredible accelerated program with a lot of free distribution and coverage and marketing programs because of it. And then again, like when you can do all of that and then go get impressions on shelves and talk about wins, you can spin that up into the next thing. So, you know, I believe in doing good just to do good, even if you’re not going to tell anybody that you did it.

Daniel (00:50:53) – But I also want people to know that if you do it, it probably will really help you personally in your career and your business.

Sebastian (00:51:00) – Yeah, absolutely. I love that huge proponent of all of that. When we’re talking about do good or purpose,, in CPG brands or other companies, there are so many different categories where this can fall, right? There’s sustainability, there’s a community, there’s sort of like,, conscious culture, there’s ethics, transparency. There’s so many things. Right. And so one of the things that I’ve found is that. You kind of can’t do all the things at once, right? You can’t. You can’t. In my opinion. You can’t sort of like,, like cure cancer and homelessness and,, curb,, global warming, like, all at one time. Right. So I think that it is important to is for founders or companies that already get going is maybe, in my opinion, is to go after one thing that you really are passionate about.

Sebastian (00:51:52) – And I think that if you try to do all the things, you can easily just not make any money at all, and then you can’t move any mission forward and then you got nothing, right.

Daniel (00:52:04) – Yeah. I mean, yeah, maybe there are some examples of people who are.

Sebastian (00:52:08) – Well, maybe the Patagonia is right. Once you’re big enough to I think you could do bigger things. Yeah.

Daniel (00:52:12) – So yeah, probably even I mean, man, some companies have initiatives you wouldn’t believe. Google, for example, they have a big food initiative that I completely did not know about that. Right. They have a food lab that they get change makers to come. I was fortunate to join them for stuff. And, you know, they’re leading the way on things like zero plastic initiatives or single use plastic. So there are big companies I think have more budget.. Right. It becomes important to them for different reasons. But I but I do agree with you on focusing and I think, I also and you know it’s so tempting for companies to for example maybe they have a mission that’s around sustainability.

Daniel (00:52:48) – But then also maybe they actually feel really strongly one way or another politically.., and I think there’s a fine line on those kind of issues where like okay, but do you want to make that part of your company platform which will alienate some consumers. And then potentially your impact. Maybe it maybe it endears you more to your core who like does care about sustainability, does agree with you or political views. Right., but also could alienate other people. I also think there’s a lot of validity to that just approach of like, look. What I’m out here doing is focusing on, you know, like water and people who don’t have water. And I don’t care if you are Republican or Democrat, if you’re pro-choice or pro-life, if you want to help me, help people get water, sure. I will work with you. Yeah. You know, so I think there there is kind of room for that of just like. You know, not letting everything get kind of bundled together. I think that’s what yeah, that’s what we see a lot of the time in politics now, which makes it very hard for people to bills forward when they’re like, well, we can’t just make this about the war in Ukraine.

Daniel (00:53:52) – We also have to then include like negotiations about the southern border. And then also we need to get some other stuff into.

Sebastian (00:54:00) – It that makes it tough, because all of a sudden you’re putting everything into two different just two buckets. Yeah.

Daniel (00:54:05) – So I mean there’s no gray, you know. Yeah. I’m not not here to talk about politics, but you’re just like, yeah, it gets complicated when you like the more stuff you try to weave together. And yeah, it’s also expensive to try to elaborate on all those platforms as a small brand. Like, how are you going to actually do all of those things? Well, with a small budget as an early brand? Yeah. Are you going to focus your content on all of those things? So absolutely. I like simplicity. Yeah. You know, singularity of mission if you can achieve it. Yeah.

Sebastian (00:54:33) – And what’s interesting, I mean, consumers are definitely resonating with brands that have opinions on things. But I think that there is a fine line of being like, you don’t have to have an opinion on every single issue, right?, maybe they’re being more vocal about sort of a journalistic opinion about like just against racism in general and be like, okay, that’s, you know, maybe a, a take that you can choose to go out and publicly speak about with your brand or whatever.

Sebastian (00:54:56) – Right? So, yeah.

Daniel (00:54:56) – And I mean, you know, I think it’s important to speak up about certain things too. And,, you know, I yeah, I hope brands will do the right thing right, in those scenarios. But yeah. Yeah. With, with a good understanding of like, what is your brand’s place in the world.

Sebastian (00:55:10) – Exactly.

Daniel (00:55:11) – Yeah. And do do consumers even want to hear about this from you. I think it’s a question also.

Sebastian (00:55:14) – Right. Yeah. Yeah I think, yeah, I think the, the world of,, brands and consumers and information has changed so much over the past 30 years. I mean, obviously a huge in the past 30 years. But, you know, obviously in the time of our parents growing up or grandparents, I mean, it was all about being very much just vanilla, no opinion on anything. Just stick to the product. Right. Like there’s no other mission besides just the product scaling and making money. And just so that’s just changed so much.

Sebastian (00:55:41) – So,, every brand has to figure out what that is and what that mission is. Like. I said, I don’t think you can solve all the problems, or nor should you have an opinion about all the things. But going after one mission really passionately, and maybe having an opinion about some things, or really can really help your brand and connect with your consumers.

Daniel (00:56:00) – And I’ll tell you something that actually was very interesting and surprising to me when I was at just eg. I don’t know why, but I kind of got in my head like, oh, I actually wonder because the CEO there did actually take a big stand against Donald Trump. Like he took out a full page ad in the New York Times basically saying like, you know, this is, you know, pre his first election saying, like, turning away from you is how we show who we are. So that’s a big stand for a company to make. Right. And yeah, you know,, and so, you know, I really respect him for being able to stand up for what he believes in.

Daniel (00:56:33) – But then I did do some research about. Yeah. Like I wonder if people who are eating more plant based, for example, or Democrats or, you know, what are the differences that I could see across? A lot of different things political beliefs, income, education, you know, family background. And for something like plant based or, you know, eating more plant based stuff, I actually was not seeing a lot of differences. It was really interesting to me that, like, I just I don’t know, I had this probably incorrect assumption in my head that maybe, like, Democrats actually had a higher level of education,, more likely to be plant based. I don’t know, that was just in my mind. I just kind of assumed that. But actually, when I was no, not really. There were so many interesting things getting into the data that I learned., and yeah, that wasn’t really true. And you don’t really even see vast income differences between Democrats and Republicans or education differences, at least in the data that I was looking through.

Daniel (00:57:28) – Yeah., you know, very different people in different cultures and, you know, grown up really different ways. But those kind of big things are. Yeah, are not so different.

Sebastian (00:57:36) – , speaking of the income thing, I don’t know if you saw this viral TikTok,, going back to the air, one thing, basically, they interview like 20 different people that are walking out of the air. One, and they ask them what job, what do they do and how much they make. And like, 80% of them made very low, you know, and low salaries for what LA and or what air one buying should be. It was just so funny. People were going in there and it was like, oh, like they made like, you know, 40 k year. But they were spending, you know, $70 on two items and.

Daniel (00:58:10) – Everyone, it’s just so interesting. And you just don’t know.

Sebastian (00:58:13) – Right. Like who’s going to connect with certain products? They don’t necessarily going to come from a certain political or education level or income level.

Sebastian (00:58:20) – Okay. It’s kind of going along. Yeah.

Daniel (00:58:21) – But I think a couple important points. One, they’re not doing a basket shop. They’re they’re not going and getting their weekly groups. No, no.

Sebastian (00:58:26) – They were getting like three things.

Daniel (00:58:28) – Which by the way is what most people do at Erewhon. So if I’m there demoing and I, you know, convinced that one person to buy the product, they’re like, okay. And they’ll like take one and then maybe have it with their sandwich or something. If I’m demoing at my favorite place in the world, the demo, which is Central Market in Texas, if I spend those same two hours and I take the product, I’m going to sell 200 cans because people are like, what’s that? It tastes good, I like you, I’ll take ten, you know? So like people kind of museum shop, museum, gift shop at Erewhon and buy like 1 or 2 things. And they.

Sebastian (00:59:00) – Usually just buy like four honey mamas and get out.

Daniel (00:59:02) – And.

Daniel (00:59:03) – But what. But what like mental accounting bucket is that going into for you. Is that your grocery budget or maybe I don’t know, it feels like it’s a treat.

Sebastian (00:59:11) – Yeah.

Daniel (00:59:11) – For me. Yeah. And like maybe a little bit of your entertainment budget even for people with lower income like, oh, that’s just that’s like an outing that I want to have. And, you know, it’s something about my identity that I want to be somebody who’s shopping there. And I really enjoy that experience. Right, right. So yeah, I don’t know, maybe and maybe it’s somewhere in between, like a grocery budget and like an entertainment dining out budget, something like that. Right. And I mean, like who shops at Erewhon and doesn’t post about it. Right? So maybe there’s a little bit of a marketing budget in there for your mental accounting also. So there’s I think there are a lot of reasons. But yeah, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve never seen anyone do a big basket shop there.

Daniel (00:59:50) – I actually hosted a CPG Shabbat recently, which we really graciously had some funding for nice. And so we catered it through Erewhon, and my friend went to pick it up, and he was walking out of Erewhon with about $800 worth of Erewhon. So like I was like, yeah, at these big trays. I was like, well, dude, I hope you, I don’t know, got some phone numbers or something out of that. Because if you walk out of there with that much air one, everybody’s gonna be like, who is that dude? Like, let me know him. That’s hilarious., so, Daniel,, you are.

Sebastian (01:00:22) – You know, you’re also a musician and you’re an entrepreneur. Do you feel like,, those two can come together at times using your creativity from being a musician into entrepreneurship or vice versa?

Daniel (01:00:34) – I think the skill sets really help., I think actually, I’m not a successful musician, and but the experience of being a musician is extremely helpful for me.

Daniel (01:00:44) – One, I’m very happy, comfortable being on camera, presenting on stage, improvising. And a lot of that is just from having performed a bunch of times. Yeah., and then I think just gives you comfort to engage with people. Like if I give a talk, I’m not talking about anything I’ve memorized, like, I’m in the moment and I’m talking and I’m asking questions of the audience,, and getting people in, which is, that’s the way I like to learn. So, you know, I think I learned that through concerts., and then I think there are a lot of parallels to if you want to have a band that’s successful, it is very similar to launching a CPG product. Interesting. Like what do you need to do? You need to first create the product. Right? And that’s probably a little bit longer of a development phase because you have to spend your whole life like becoming a good musician probably, or. Well, I don’t know. These days if you want to be a DJ, I think you can just take a course, but,, watch some YouTube.

Daniel (01:01:34) – But,, you know, yeah, you have like you’re creating the product, right? Then you’re creating the branding around it, you know, creating your identity, the marketing materials, you know, for. Your band logo for your album cover and then, yeah, you’re starting your your marketing and your sales. You know, you’re on the phone with venues trying to get some airtime or trying to, you know, get like you’re then you’re starting marketing to like your core audience. You’re trying to build up a core following in the early days, the same way that I’d be out demoing at Erewhon, you’re out gigging or busking or whatever you’re doing to try to get early followers and then, you know, you’re hoping to scale. And I think, okay, what’s one big difference? Nobody’s funding bands, right? Like, you don’t have angel investors out there or big VCs giving ridiculous valuations to bands I wish they were., but yeah, you know, they.

Sebastian (01:02:25) – Invest in them like stocks that would.

Daniel (01:02:27) – Yeah, I would, I would yeah. Let’s start that platform I like that I mean that’s dope. Unfortunately I think you’re better off just like buying lottery tickets. Yeah. Yeah. And and then buying their albums. But yeah, it would be fun., and so yeah, I think a lot of those learnings are very similar. And so although yeah, I mean my band was more of a just kind of fun project for me. And unfortunately, once startup CPG heated up, I couldn’t really spend as much time on it. But I did put out an album. You can check it out on Spotify. The band is called Super Fantastic. It’s two words. You’ll see a kind of colorful rainbow logo if you look it up on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, and I’m really proud of the album. I put in so much effort into it recording. I rerecorded the vocals like five times. I kept getting feedback like I would on a product, yeah, on it, and just kept getting better like v1, v2, v3.

Daniel (01:03:17) – And finally, I think the most important thing for me is I put out a product that I’ll always be proud of, like a lot of people. Yeah, you listen to it later and you’re so embarrassed. Like, I know I’m probably the person who listens to the most, you know, and I love that like an art project.

Sebastian (01:03:28) – And man, that’s really cool. Yeah. Thank you. I’m excited to check it out. Thanks. Yeah, yeah.

Daniel (01:03:33) – And I and I but I do believe in general that generalists can be really successful. And I think, yeah, most of the founders who I would look at right now as having risen up through the early CPG ranks and distinguishing themselves, are not lifetime CPG people. There are people who bring in really different skill sets and lean into those skill sets. Interesting, you know, like find a different way to propel their brand and distinguish themselves as people. And they’re cool for one reason or another. Sure. You know not. So there’s no like, cookie cutter approach, I think, to doing this.

Sebastian (01:04:02) – That’s great. Well, in summary,, starting a CPG brand is exactly like starting a band. Yes.

Daniel (01:04:09) – Rock on.

Sebastian (01:04:11) – , no.

Sebastian (01:04:11) – That’s great. And of course, people have all the links in the show notes and all that good stuff for startup CPG. And there’s tons of amazing resources for for all kinds of CPG brands, whether they are just starting up or whether they’re getting going. Because, you know, the startup can mean so many different things nowadays anyway.

Sebastian (01:04:26) – But,, before I.

Sebastian (01:04:28) – Let you go, Daniel,, what are two traits that a conscious leader must embody today?

Daniel (01:04:35) – Yeah, I mean, I think. The first one would just be having a vision, vision and knowing how you could execute it, right? Because, you know, I meet people all the time who unfortunately, they I mean, they do have a really strong passion, an ideal that they want to get done, but they just have no idea how to actually build that into a sustainable model. And whether that’s nonprofit and you really know where you’re going to go out and get the funding and then start,, gathering people around your cause to support it, or it’s a business and you really understand where the revenue is going to come from.

Daniel (01:05:07) – Right? And so I think, yeah, I mean, being a conscious leader, I think the first thing is comes from like having that self-consciousness and consciousness about the business to know, well, this can only have the impact that I want it to have in the world if I’m going to be successful and I at least even if I don’t know everything and I haven’t done this before, I do understand how it could be and where the money could come from, and that could tap in to my network and be resourceful, which I would say I think is a really good second trait, just resourcefulness., to go out there because, yeah, nobody has all the answers. There’s incredible power in the community and people who have done it before. And I don’t mean like lofty people who did it 20 years ago and will try to like, get some equity from you. I mean, people who are doing it right now and talk to them and they will help you and really spend time with them., and the learnings that you’ll get from them can make all the difference in the world.

Daniel (01:05:59) – So I think just knowing, having that muscle memory to pick up the phone and call people for help and to just put the ask out there, like having the confidence to just, gosh, wouldn’t it be great if they do this one thing for me, like ask them? I learned that early on. Like if that if you have some crazy thing like, gosh, it would be a dream come true if you could do this, actually ask the person. And I find that maybe 60% of the time they’re like, oh yeah, we could do that.

Sebastian (01:06:25) – That’s crazy.

Daniel (01:06:25) – Right? And I learned also to couch it just like, hey, I mean, maybe this is a lot to ask, but it’s a dream state. At least I learned. So I then if they said no, I wouldn’t sound like it like a lunatic or like I didn’t know what I was doing. But yeah, I don’t know. I mean, yeah, that’s a it’s a great question. I think those are probably just two of the many things that I take, and the third being the grit of just.

Daniel (01:06:46) – You need. You need to know that you will be working on this for a long time. It’s not going to be easy. It will take everything. It will take your whole heart and all of your passion, and it will use you up. And it’s only going to work is if you love sitting down at your computer on a Saturday and just turning, like the whole day to that’s right, give your business a better chance of success. There’s there is no easy way to do this that I know of.

Sebastian (01:07:09) – Love that man. Well, you truly are conscious, leader Daniel. So keep doing what you’re doing. Keep building an awesome community that’s giving tons of value. So,, really amazing that what you’re doing. So keep doing you, brother. Thank you for being on.

Daniel (01:07:21) – Thank you so much. And yeah, if anybody’s interested to check us out on the web or startup cpg.com, we have a great Instagram as well. Start up CPG. And if you want to connect with me on LinkedIn, I love connecting with new people and you can just find me there on Daniel Scharf.

Sebastian (01:07:35) – We’ll include all the links in the show notes as well. So awesome. Thanks again for being on brother. Thank you Sebastian.