Inspired by the Scandinavian concepts of Hygge and Lagom. James Byrne started Faerly.ie with his husband Eoin to do their part in helping reduce unnecessary chemicals and plastics in the world. With a proud Irish heritage and passion for supporting local makers, James joins the eCommerce on Fire podcast to share the story of how they've grown the brand to date 🇮🇪 ☘️
Adam Kitchen 0:01
Okay, welcome, today we are joined by Nik Hall who is the founder of Vitafive who produces vitamin-based gummy supplements. And we're going to talk about consumer packaged goods, growing a business on the DTC sides and also in retail as well. So Nick, thank you very much for joining us, why don't you give us a brief background into how you started the brands and where you're at to date.
Nik Hall 0:28
Yeah, thanks. Thanks for having me. Um, we've had quite a wild ride. Garrett and myself, we started this business when we were back in college, what was 2015 serving as an idea. It started as customised pill pouches. So there are companies out there today, like Cara, Persona, some of those are the bigger ones. There was a couple back then that was just very small. Started it like that. There's no customization on the back of the pack and like that later, we kind of changed the idea over to doing all gummy vitamins, all direct to consumer on a monthly subscription basis. Launched the business live and early 2016. The first day, we got 33 sales, and we're on top of the world where like this is just the beginning, we're gonna be millionaires by the time we're 22. And we're just like, you know, loving it. Day two, it was 7 sales. It's like That's okay, maybe it was just a bigger start. Day 3/4/5 max of three sales a day, we were looking at who the customers were showing up a week later, we were getting maybe one sale a day. And then we go in and look at who the people are buying. And it's all Garrett and my family. So we had I think one real customer, I don't know how they found us, it was probably a friend of a friend that felt forced into buying and about six months rinse wash repeat for six months straight, we were getting no joke like one to two sales a day, it was absolutely or sorry, in the beginning, it was like two sales a week. And then it became like maybe one to two sales a day towards the end of the six months, then we sort of figured things out. There were 1000 things that we started to do differently on our site, or marketing mind this is like late 2016, early 2017. And then we've started to figure things out like our funnel was fixed, we're now using stuff like Shopify, our ads were substantially better. And we started getting really good acquisition costs at that point. Then we grow from 100 family friends, as we'll call it to over 4000 members less than, like 12 months later. And what was interesting about everything back then was these daily pouches that had your name on the back. And we hit this point of diminishing returns, right like you'll see with a lot of companies you see Kara and Virtual, a lot of these D2C only brands where they have a couple of different ways of going and they have one way of raising a tonne of money. So I think virtual in or Kara have raised something like 80 million, and they've grown like crazy. They got acquired and now they're actually in retail. Or you see other companies like SmartyPants all within our space is Arby's, there is a little bit of money, but they are raising just a little bit to get like the inventory and they go the retail more organic route. And so we decided, let's go ahead and go the more organic route of retail. And so in early 2019, a bunch of first retailers. By the end of 2019, we had 500 retailers in 2020. Last year we had about 5000. Now we've got about 6500 retailers throughout the nation. So today we're in anything from your targets Walgreens, Kroger and kind of all around. We're focusing on Amazon, our website a little bit, as well as the retail channels as well. But we've been we feel like we've gotten an MBA through different times, but D2C as one, Amazon is another retail as another
Adam Kitchen 4:08
Very crazy ride to date. There are a few things I want to ask you. So you came straight out of college and you started this company, where you bootstrapped it like what did you do in terms of funding for the initial costs? And did you ever feel as though you missed out or maybe not going into some type of job straight away? Or was it just a case of you always knowing you wanted to be an entrepreneur and start your own thing?
Nik Hall 4:35
Yeah, a couple of things. The first is I felt like I was missing out in the beginning days because I was missing out on a whole lot of salary. In my first year, I made $7,000. In my second year, I made $17,000. Back then I was like, I would trade it with anyone nowadays. I wouldn't trade with most anyone I know. I know the security of my job. I'm able to make a reasonable salary. I love what I do every single day. But in the early days in terms of raising money, we did raise a bit of money, six figures, nothing, nothing too crazy. And that was mainly from family friends.
Adam Kitchen 5:17
And you said, like, there was a turning point where things started to pick up traction, you've got actual customers, as opposed to family and friends. When was that? What was the key to cracking that?
Nik Hall 5:29
Yeah, I mean, like if I wanted to narrow it down. So everyone will like to hear, "oh, it was one thing." The reality is, it wasn't one thing. It was no joke, hundreds of things were changing on a weekly basis. The biggest thing was just making sure that our funnel was super, super easy to get through. So, fortunately, if anyone is going and starting a site nowadays, they're likely going to hop on Shopify, there are a couple of other platforms they may use. But Shopify is the usual one that everyone uses. And fortunately for those, the funnels are fairly simple, right? There's some tweaking and optimising it can do, but ours before, I think it took eight steps to get to the checkout, whereas most it's Add to Cart, press the Checkout button, now you're on the checkout page. Before for us, it was like, 'What's your name? What's this? What's this?' but like, there was nothing that was like, intuitive. So that was like, the biggest thing. And the second thing, mind you, this is back in 2017. So take this with a grain of salt, we started doing videos, and in our early days, we spent $10,000 on a professional video, and it was horrible. Like, we put a lot of money towards that we like, when we're 2015 2016 we were in the mindset of, 'Oh, we're gonna be the next dollar shave club, right?' Has everyone thought everyone thinks it's like, no, sorry, the video didn't go viral? No one's probably seen the video, it was probably a total waste of money. But what worked really well was honestly just your crappy videos of like, taking your phone and like, literally we used to name the ads 'crappy video this' Because that's just what worked.
Adam Kitchen 7:05
Yeah, interest. And actually, I think we're going to come into this a little bit later. But you made a short comment where you said, 'now you do a little bit on the website.' So like, it sounds as though it started primarily with DTC, and now, it's become less of a focus for you.
Nik Hall 7:26
We'll just say like November 11 2021, it is completely different from what it was back in the day. A big thing for us is, we like seeing ROI. And we like seeing payback, but we also love getting new customers. And so it's this hard place for us, so we used to spend a substantial amount of money every month on advertising. And it would just ebb and flow, as usual, which is fine. But recently, with all the iOS changes, it has been substantially harder to do that. So, while we still have focused on it, we still do a lot of email, SMS, working on doing some stuff with like brand ambassadors, and stuff like that the Facebook Instagram channels, it's very, very difficult to make, a positive ROI, even when you're looking at on an MDR basis.
Adam Kitchen 8:24
Difficult times isn't it and we were just talking about this before we came on to the call in that regard. So yeah, it's gonna be interesting, I think, at the beginning of next year, when it really starts to have people's cash flow. I think there's going to be big winners and losers, but that's another topic for another day. So I'll let Leah take over from here.
Leah Magee 8:45
You mentioned in a different SMS and email, which of the marketing channels, from beginning to where you are now, do you think have been most effective?
Nik Hall 9:00
So in the early days, it was definitely like Facebook and Instagram, right? Honestly, for all the listeners out there understanding, for Garrett and myself, were two college kids that did okay, in school at best, and had no marketing background, we kind of went out there totally blind. So in the early days, we actually thought that email...because SMS wasn't really big back in 2016, or at least we didn't think it was. And we thought it was just nonsense because we always delete the emails. But what's funny is we would only delete the emails we didn't like. So the early days was Facebook today, no questions asked, it's email and SMS like that is our primary focus. How do we get in touch in some way with those customers? And then, of course, there are gonna be people out there that are going to say, like, "oh, email and SMS are not good, or I don't want to annoy my customers" or whatever might be fine. You can look at it however you want. But usually, it's probably a little bit more of an error like a user error. Like my error and doing emails or something. Yeah, and I think that's gonna be a tried and true way, throughout, there's always going to be like the next thing. But Jeff Bezos had this quote that I was listening to a couple of weeks ago. And he had a genius way of looking at it. He goes, "Everyone's looking for what is the next big thing? Right?" Oh, is it gonna be like Tesla? Is it Revient? Is it whatever, right? But the way he looks at it is quite the opposite. And he looks at it as what is not going away. And let's invest big there. And so if you look at the Amazon model, he has a couple of things that he keeps very consistent, people are always gonna want lower prices, people are always gonna want faster shipping. And so look at where they're investing their resources, more planes, for faster shipping, and consistently trying to find these good brands with lower prices. And when it is said, like that, it makes total sense. People are always gonna have their email on the phone, it's not to say that people are going to create filters or whatever. I don't think that those are going to go away for a long time. Will they be less effective? Of course, but I think that'll be the longest lasting.
Leah Magee 11:02
We've spoken about it, between me and Adam saying about the shipping, and things like that, are always going to be present on everyone's mind. We're getting to a point now where it's, people want things instantly. They want it there. I don't know what it's like in America at the moment. But over here, it's like, the high street is dying off because no one's going out. No one's going to buy things. They just want it there. They want it to be in the house. And it's there. And it's done. Have you kind of seen anything like that? I mean, you're doing a subscription. So is that? Like, that people kind of wanting things sooner? Or do they want it before something's running out? Or do they want it on the day?
Nik Hall 11:57
If you see overall customer demands, and like America, everyone's wanting things as fast as possible. Amazon has the same day, Walmart has some stuff the same day, they're gonna start coming up with like, these multi-channel fulfilment centres and stuff from whether it's Instacart DoorDash, whatever it may be, where even us, we can do some stuff, but we have to be in a hole, those DCS or whatever it may be, I think that will continue to be a thing. I know, for me, I never did any of the grocery delivery. It just was never a thought to me. It's just I've always gotten bigger, sort of go get my groceries. But I did it a couple of times for the business. And I'm like wait, why was that wasting of my time before going and it's like we used to have these assistants to go get the supplies and do all this stuff. And it's been long-lasting right but, I think once people start to get the hang of it they're like wait, I didn't go into the grocery store get tricked into buying not just milk but 42 Other things yeah 41 That I didn't need
Leah Magee 12:57
Yeah, I think there is a thing of being told you need something before you've even noticed it. So at the moment, we set up a flow that states 'Oh, you're running out of something, remember to go and buy that soon!' but that could slowly maybe turn into 'Are you getting to the end of it? We've already sent it on its way to you, then you've got it before you even knew you needed it. And Oh what a crazy life the computers know what we need before we do.
Nik Hall 13:29
Oh, I know it's insane.
Adam Kitchen 13:32
Yeah, it's interesting talking about the shipping because I know in the States it's such a big country compared to the UK people here and maybe you guys are a little bit more patient with things. It's not abnormal to wait three to five days but here it's pretty much the next day to everyone or people get pissed off. And paying for expedited shipping again is another thing that just turns people away. So it's interesting.
Nik Hall 14:04
Yeah, I mean for me, I'll buy one product and get it today rather than tomorrow, or the next day. And I know on our site people are, we used to have an option that would just take longer, but it would be way cheaper on the shipping. Sorry, but this isn't 2005 anymore. No, it's like people are like 'that's not okay.'
Adam Kitchen 14:36
Especially for consumable based products that you guys have, I suppose on the same lines the distribution strategy has clearly changed for you from stores from starting natively on D2C so when did you see a difference? You said 2019 Wasn't it that you went into retail? Yeah,
Nik Hall 14:55
Mid 2018. We had hit a point that for us was and you'll see typical within almost all subscription companies is, you hit this point of diminishing returns. You're growing and then you grow and grow and then starts tapering off. Then at some point, the reality is, it's a cashflow game, it's not a profitability game, we were profitable on the long term customer, we've always focused on that. That wasn't as much a thing as today, I think that's a fair comment. Because no one wants to buy a company that's not profitable. But if you look at previous acquisitions, in the last five years, there have been a lot of companies that are, "Oh, you're just massive" Dollar Shave Club is one of them. And incredibly impressive but, it comes different in different ways. So we in 2018, hit this point where we're like, "okay, we're growing still, we're growing at a reasonable rate, adding on a bit of revenue every month, but we're losing so much, so many, as customers" Not in terms of like percentage, like, our percentage is lower than the industry average, for sure. But it's just so hard to grow up. And we're like, we want to keep growing, we don't want to leave this out a couple of million-dollar business. And so that's whenever we decided to kind of switch and the first thing that we did was we put in one product, our melatonin on Amazon because people were, they were talking about how like, Oh, I love your melatonin, but I don't want them to daily pack, can I just get that separate. And so they're like, cool. They love the fact that it's less plastic waste, they love the fact that, like, it's a really good effective vitamin, but they just don't want to take it with their Omega wildtype D, whatever else. And so we're like, cool, we'll go ahead and do that much well. And then it was like, maybe we're onto something. And so then we gradually launched some of the other products and started doing fairly well, on Amazon as a whole. And, and, you know, the reason why we kind of gradually switched all that was, how do we get our product in the hands of as many people as possible. And, you know, we wanted to make sure that we went the right way. First, we don't want to hit the Walmart customers first, or the J Maxx or the Ross or like, you know, those we wanted to kind of go a little bit higher, like our big goal was to get toward it. And we're super, super fortunate to get that in mid-2020. But that was definitely the big goal there.
Adam Kitchen 17:27
Out of curiosity gained so many prominent retail locations has a positive net, knock-on effect onto the websites as well? Because I'm assuming correct me if I'm wrong, maybe you can offer a more cost-efficient saving on this subscription model of the business compared to retail, or is that not the case?
Nik Hall 17:51
Yeah, probably, short answer, but no, because they're gonna require certain MAP pricing, so it's like Minimum Advertised Price. And if I say Minimum Advertised Price is 12.99 I can do that on my site, and where there's so likely if you're going to target for the same price as our site. So there is definitely this hard part of," how do you get someone to want to buy your site versus Amazon or Target" if I'm in Target, sorry, but I'm not going to go to your site for your site. I'm here to pick it up. I'll get it now. Get $1 or two off if I'm there at the right time. When it comes to other things, though, I will say that there are creative ways that we have been able to obtain customer information, whether it's through QR codes, or whatever it may be. And that's been super, super interesting to see.
Adam Kitchen 18:51
Can you elaborate a bit more on that? If you want to share this QR code strategy? I've had a few people bring it up recently. What are you doing with that?
Nik Hall 19:00
So I think we were truly probably one of the first to do it. We are a DTC first brand that then went into Amazon that then went into retail. And we try to take strategies from each and every area and bring it into others. While being ethical and doing things under Like Terms of Service, whatever it may be. So what we would do is we would have stickers on the back of our packaging, and it would say, "peel here scan here for a free bag of vitamins." And the idea is we want people to come in and become brand ambassadors for us. So whether they're, you know, the 500 followers, and they know people local in their community or they have 100,000 followers, that was kind of like the idea but what it would do is a QR code would lead them directly to your texts. And so using posts groups are attentive, you scan the QR code, it opens up a text on your phone, you immediately send it now automatically contact information. Now there are a couple of things that you can say here, right? Like, the classic D2C way is cool, now I can remarket them and send them to our site. Another way that you can look at it is, "oh, when we have a target deal next week, and it's $2 off, I can send the text out and be like, go ahead and target for $2 off, no deals on our site, this week, but at Target, you'll find a deal." That's, you know, pretty great when you can get 1000s of customers, you know, Lays have never been able to get the customer data, like these big massive Coke, whatever. And so it's like, what's a way that we can engage them? And you know, we're always trying to engage people even more, whatever it may be. I've seen other people do it. So for example, this is another company called Hailo. And if you look at the back of their package, they've got a QR code to learn more, right? Yep, this does not work. Well. People will then go out there. And they're like, well if someone's doing the QR code, let me do it on mine. I guarantee you this right here. I bet you if they're selling even 100,000 bottles a month, I bet they're getting less than 50 customers on our site. There's something about having an additional sticker to it or a peel-off sticker. That gets people more engaged. There's just something about it.
Adam Kitchen 21:25
Super, super interesting. Yeah, sure. Someone's going to steal that.
Leah Magee 21:30
I think that is an interesting thing, I don't know what the deal with America is again. But QR codes have become like a huge thing in the UK, especially like after Corona, going out you have to scan a QR code to log in and say that you've been somewhere or if you want a menu, stuff like that, like restaurants and bars, have had QR code. So like, it's really interesting to see it used differently. But it's also like when something's present, and, happening. Oh, that's great. I'm just checking the water bottle to see if there's one on the other.
Adam Kitchen 22:14
Yeah. And I never used QR codes before Covid.
Nik Hall 22:19
Yeah. And it was a technology that I always thought was so cool that no one used. So we've never done anything. Like people were putting QR codes on their business cards years ago. And people are just looking funky because I'm not scanning that. Well. Now. If you have an enticing offer something cool on it, you get an even better response, which is cool.
Leah Magee 22:40
Yeah, I think even with certain things, sometimes you'll go to bars, and you'll do it and someone funky or come up on Instagram. And it's, oh, everyone's “Oh, where'd you get that from?” Was that when you stored it? You explain "ah, I scanned this." And it's become a real thing. And then I think people kind of caught onto it a little bit more. And they've got personalised ones. Adam, we need our own magnet monster QR codes. I think that's the next step.
Adam Kitchen 23:08
I'm not the tech person you'd like to speak to Andy.
Leah Magee 23:14
Anyway, moving on. So in regards to software, what are three pieces of software that you don't think your business could live without?
Nik Hall 23:25
So I'm gonna give you two answers. One is going to be the basics that everyone knows about probably or the very basis of every DTC type company. And for us, that's going to be Shopify for your website. That's very hardcore, do that. We spent $250,000 on a custom build site at the start, and it was the biggest waste of money and I think that you guys can both see. The second one is QuickBooks obviously, for your accounting we are very much, on day one, we were making zero sales. We didn't even have to invest. We didn't have investors at the time, QuickBooks was the first thing. That still hasn't left. And the third is ShipStation. There are just three very, very basic things. If I go into someones that are actually what I would consider useful for myself if I was listening. I think Dovetail is one of the best software for influencer marketing slash brand ambassadors. There's a number of different things that you can do there. To find these influencers, brand ambassadors, whatever you want to call it, I can look up another company. So if I want to look up all these specifically, and see everyone that's ever posted a post on Ali, I can then go get them, put them in a list and get the emails for all those people. There's a couple of things that we do a very creative limit that again, we make the DTC with Amazon with the retail to try to make our marketing strategy as strong as possible. The other one is just Amazon right is just Helium 10. That's a huge one. There are many things that you can learn throughout it, I think it's really good just for overall data. So when I'm going out on launching a new product in retail, if it doesn't have a certain amount of search volume, I won't even actually suggest it, if it's this high growth I'll launch there. So I do two different strategies, I use an Amazon strategy. So maybe it's just, for example, it may have 5000 searches a month for a certain type of product. Whereas melatonin gummies may have hundreds of 1000s of searches a month. And it's like, melatonin gummies are what I may put into retail. But I may do tart cherry or something different, like a small product on Amazon. So those are two other ones that I would suggest.
Adam Kitchen 25:42
That's very interesting. So are you using that to de-risk launching new products?
Nik Hall 25:48
Yep, exactly. So I use it for Amazon, to be honest. That's where I started, right. But what's really useful is with helium 10, you can go in there, and there's ways that you can search on Amazon, whenever Amazon and retail are different games. So you do have to understand, if I'm in the supplement space, to win on Amazon, you've got to be above $15. In order to win and retail, you have to be below $15. They don't mix well. And so that's the base of it. But I think there are some things where you can see consumer demand. And that's super, super powerful.
Adam Kitchen 26:29
Do you ever use leverage, email and SMS as a way to just find out what customers want you to release next? In terms of flavouring different types of SKUs and just say, you know, what would you like to see next? And then go ahead and create it based on their answers.
Nik Hall 26:44
And in terms of email and SMS, we would usually leave that one strictly to email. But what's funny with it is it has been some of our highest revenue, things as well, which is so interesting. And I think it's just getting into the psychology of these people. And they're, “Well, I love that you want my opinion.” And they go on and they buy something, or we leave a 20% off coupon since you gave us a survey or give you five bucks or whatever. But it's super useful. And you hear one of the things we asked what flavour people wanted. And one of the highest responses was watermelon. Watermelon, wouldn't that would have been the last one the last flavours I would have ever launched. And I'm like, “Well, if that's what people want.”
Adam Kitchen 27:30
Yes, that's super interesting. And then you can obviously minimise when I did this. There are loads of statistics in there on so many new product launches that fail because the founder thinks it's gonna be a great idea. But actually, it just flops.
Nik Hall 27:46
I'll say another software. This is an Amazon type software, but it's called PickFu And they do A B testing. So if I want to test a jar, white Jar VS black jar, I can see what consumers you see. And you know, if it's a 55/45, I wouldn't take that as fact. But I've done some stuff where I thought, I love this one. It looks amazing. And then I do a test on it. It is like 10% of people liked it. And I though, Whoa. So that's always super useful. And so you can target like; a woman from 25 to 40 years old that has a dog and I don't know, have a Prime account. Just crazy information.
Adam Kitchen 28:29
Definitely need to list this software because you're dropping some serious knowledge bombs, especially on Amazon.
Nik Hall 28:36
I use it for everything though. Yeah, that's
Adam Kitchen 28:39
That's super interesting. I've never even had that one before to be completely honest. So PickFu, right.
Leah Magee 28:47
I've made a note Adam don't worry.
Adam Kitchen 28:51
So the subscription base model. Let's talk specifically about the D2C sides. There's a lot of talk on this at the moment. So how soon of the funnel should you try and push customers onto this? And I know a lot of the conversation has changed recently, I think, at least what I'm seeing on LinkedIn and in the space, just naturally let the consumers go on to the subscription rather than incessantly trying to push them onto it in the beginning. What's worked for you guys like how and if you don't mind me asking, what split is there between one time single ad hoc purchases compared to the subscription model? When do you typically see people move on to that subscription model?
Nik Hall 29:32
Yeah, I looked at the numbers. It's been a little bit since I've looked at them, I may be a little bit off on this, but the idea is still there. So don't quote me on numbers, but when we did a one time purchase, we had one time and subscription available. If you go onto our website, you'll be able to see that there is one on all pages, not just the product pages themselves. On the catalogue page, you'll see one time for subscription. What we were doing one time, we're getting 15 to 20%. If I'm not mistaken, to subscribe, when we moved it to the Subscribe and Save first, they're getting 40 plus per cent. Again, those numbers may be a little bit off, I'll have to go back and double-check it. Now, exactly, as you said, right? You get companies like Alibaba, that are, “No, we're not going to force you into a subscription.” First off, we're not forcing you either. We look at the biggest company out there, Amazon puts ‘want to subscribe?’ and the average number of buyers per year is something like four, four and a half on Amazon, I have a feeling that Amazon's done with a little bit more data than we have. We never want to push a subscription, if they haven't, if you want to if you want to find out the quickest way to save yourself, whatever it is, 10 or 15% of our site goes Subscribe and Save and cancel, right away. That's always your 15% off 10% off coupon or whatever. Because at the end of the day,, there's 5% of customers that do that, right. Most people are honest, great people that aren't trying to scam the system or whatever. So I've got a bit of a different look. I see it from both sides, though. I think that both are important. Our thing is, there's a lot of companies out there that push subscriptions for things that aren't needed to be subscribed to. Yeah, which is fine, right? Again, a lot of these people are data, using the data, they're thinking, Hey, we're able to get this much more revenue. And, that's what most people are looking at. For us, we look at it as, we truly want to help people to be able to sleep better at night to feel better during the day too, be more active, we want all of those things together to make someone's life better. And so we see ours was like, “Hey, it's a necessity. It's not a soda. It's not a fun drink that you get to have or whatever, that you really don't need to be on a subscription.” But the reality is 70% of Americans take vitamins every day. So why not just make it easier to do this?
Yeah, yep. just solving a fundamental problem. No, I agree with what you're saying completely. I think ultimately, the consumers are going to decide what's best for them. So if they want to go on the subscription, they will. And if they don't, they won't. And like you said, they'll just cancel if they don't, because it's just the same rights, you get a coupon if you're a first time customer, which is 10%. And it doesn't apply to the subscription. So pretty much works out the same either way. Yeah.
Leah Magee 32:34
I think it's especially with health, and things like that, you have a subscription fee at the gym, you have, you know, if you ever have to take tablets, it's on a prescription. And you know exactly when it runs out, it's there you go pick it up, you go to the gym, it's the money aspect. You can't put a price on your health. I mean, you just have to eat just nothing. And when you take the steps of reordering and doing this and the other, it literally it's, well, that's just normal. That's just what you do. Anyway, you'd go to, wherever you go and do your shopping, you automatically go and buy that fruit and veg. So save yourself the time of going down the supplements and the vitamins aisle and just get it sent to you.
Nik Hall 33:25
Exactly. Like that.
Adam Kitchen 33:28
Yeah. Cool. Let's move on to the next one.
Leah Magee 33:32
And so what would your advice be to new founders in the consumer packaged goods space?
Nik Hall 33:43
Yeah, I'm gonna, I'm gonna put this as just an overall, this is something that we just recently are learning. And this is the most cliche thing, this is gonna be stupid. People are gonna think it's, well, that was of no value. But this is something serious, take whatever idea you have right now. And for us all, I'll give you an example. We launched OFAC right. It's a great product. It's got good value. It's eco-friendly. It's you know, whatever. Let's not look at the subscription, let's just look at retail specifically. It's good, right? But if you go in there and you go on your watch someone goes to pick up and they say this is a fortnight, and this is 10 and then they turn it over and they look at the ingredients on them. And then you go, Huh, this is five milligrammes. What's the difference there plus or minus. When you look at the store shelves, most things in there are virtually the same, right? We are now launching a new product for the next year that will be announced probably in a month or so, that has a truly differentiated value. I'll tell you what I did think I could hack the system, be a good marketer, whatever, which is fine back 10 years ago, if you could launch something just be really good at like I would even say just advertising, not even marketing. Yeah, I think that like the product just has to belong Behold, like just better, like a true value that people are actually asking for, again, with this Helium 10 software, go onto your competitors, go into your competitor's listings on Amazon, I find out what are all the bad reviews. For example, it tastes like crap. All this is more like, okay, cool, then fix the taste on it. Oh, it has way too many carbs. Okay, fix the carbs in it. You know, if you look at smart sweets, there, they launched a low sugar candy. I was huge. Everyone was complaining about sugar. Oh, I love Swedish Fish, but I hate the sugar. Cool, they launch products in that area. People like to go out there and just think their ideas are the best, including me. And I launched it and I'm like I was looking at launching this new product. And there was this one, you know, again, like, Yes, we love this. This is the container, the package, whatever you want to call it is a complete pain to fill. So like, we had to hand fill each and every one of these, like we have 10s of 1000s being filled. Manually still stay when I could run a line of vitamins 300 bottles a minute. Yeah, I'm getting, I'm getting like five bags done a minute compared to 300. And when it sits on the shelf, as much as it may look pretty on Amazon or our site. When it's on the shelf, sometimes it sits like this [Holds packaging up] Oh, we're so innovative. I don't think it's as much of a worry about the innovation, as it is just making it a little bit better one of my favourite business models ever in the US. And I don't know if it's outside of Texas, and maybe it's this company called Take five oil change. Okay, I don't know about you guys. But over here, oil changes take an hour and a half on your Saturday morning. I hate wasting my time on a Saturday. First of all, if I'm going to do chores on Saturday, I want to be done by like 8 am. And so I know my dad, it's like as a kid, it's like we'd go there and get a car wash, there's an oil change, and we sit there for an hour and a half, two hours. All they do is oil changes in five minutes. But it is such a good value. It's cool, yeah, I waste my time. I pay a little bit more. I don't care. Because you know, I wasted an hour and a half of my time.
Adam Kitchen 37:18
I love it. I love it. And then ultimately, I completely agree with you. And I think going back to what you said, just solving simple problems if you look at Huel as well, right? So I have a huge play out in the supplement space, I think, correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe they just basically made vegan tasting products that taste good. Apart from everything else and their positioning, they're just taking a very common problem that people want to take more vegan type protein supplements. Everyone knew they tasted like crap in the markets and chalky and ready, you know, tasting the F basically and making them taste nice. And in my opinion. That's why they've grown to the size they are.
Nik Hall 38:00
Yeah. I mean, they're huge. It's funny because I don't know a whole lot about him. But I just know that they crushed it in every way.
Adam Kitchen 38:07
Yeah, it's unbelievable how fast they have grown. So with that being said, come and go on to the final question. And I think you've sort of answered a lot of these like, as we went along. But if you could just summarise the neck. If you had to do everything from the beginning, what would you change? Why?
Nik Hall 38:27
Yeah, I mean, I keep the same product to keep a lot of the same things that we did, I don't know if I would have launched with the direct to consumer subscription pouch, not from a marketing perspective, but from an operational standpoint. And yeah, total headache, super capital intensive, then like we had a manufacturer, but we were co-packing ourselves, just massive headaches, I would have made everything like if I were to do it today, I would find a supplier and hope that they can make the product, fill the product for them. And then all I do is the marketing. And then what I would say is, honestly back in the time, in 2015 16 I ever said we're gonna invest a lot more in like the early channels. So like Facebook and Instagram early on and figured that out right away use like the experts in the field. A lot of people want to do everything themselves, like me, like I'm the first one to blame myself for that. I would outsource where I can. And the last things I left in 16 I would have launched on Amazon. But today I look at it as like, you know, I spend a little bit of test money on new markets and then continue with the things that we know works and just have a product that's just like, undeniably amazing.
Adam Kitchen 39:44
Yeah. Love it. Straightforward. Simple. It makes complete sense. Yeah. So first of all, thank you so much for sharing all your insights. Thank you for the very humble story and so many amazing strategies and their software as well, which would be great if you could list afterwards again, and we'll find out more about the company. What's the best way to contact you?
Nik Hall 40:12
Yeah, if they want to chat with me and LinkedIn is always easy, Nicole and IK so it's really easy to find me there. I'm not on social media, but very little. And then obviously anything with the company feel free to reach out to the site. There's some big, big thing that we're launching probably early next year, but we'll be announcing next month. So email, SMS, sign up for that stuff and you'll be the first one out there so
Adam Kitchen 40:39
amazing. So I'll make sure to post the sign up in the newsletter, sorry after this in the comments, date. Give you a talk, Nick. If anyone wants to drop any questions, feel free to follow up and leave them in the comments. But otherwise, thanks once again for your time really appreciate it and we're gonna end things Yeah.
Nik Hall 40:57
Awesome. Thanks, guys. Okay, cheers.
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