Harvey [00:00:04] This is Work in Progress. A podcast by blueprint covering e-commerce, growth, strategy and retention.
Harvey [00:00:14] Today's guest is Eva Goicochea
Harvey [00:00:17] The founder and CEO at Maude, Maude is a DTC sexual wellness brand on a mission to redefine intimacy. Since that launch in early 2018, more disruptive and out of day idea of sexual wellness through quality, simplicity and in facility. How you doing?
Eva [00:00:32] I'm good, thank you. It's good to be here.
Harvey [00:00:35] Thank you for coming on. It's lovely to have you all way from New York,.
Eva [00:00:39] All the way from New York but I was just saying it's as great as London. So we could be in the same place.
Harvey [00:00:43] You say it's great. It's actually quite nice here today.
Eva [00:00:46] Oh, you know what? We're switching place.
Harvey [00:00:49] Very rare, but yeah. So for our listeners that don't have a ton of context on Maude, how would you sum up in your own words?
Eva [00:00:57] Maude is a sort of like the new chapter in sexual wellness. The idea is really for us to redefine a category that has been the same for over 100 years. So it's an inclusive sexual wellness company.
Harvey [00:01:11] Ok, I guess going right back to the start right away. Prior to Maude, you had experience and had worked with companies like Everlane and Squarespace. Did that kind of inform you as you started Maude and have this initial idea to create kind of an industry challenging brand?
Eva [00:01:29] Absolutely. I mean, so I've had two chapters to my career. One was as a legislative aide, which was very short chapter, but as a legislative aide in health care and sort of got exposed to that world, which helped inform what we're doing now. But and then the second was spending 10 years in brand building. So I worked in an organic cosmetic company before Everlane and that probably provided the most insight into products. And then Everlane really in how to build a brand. And then I worked with Squarespace later as a Squarespace specialist, meaning I knew how to build Squarespace sites and would work with clients to build them and kind of knew everything about it. I almost took a job at Squarespace, but I decided not to. So here I am.
Harvey [00:02:08] Cool, I guess with Everlane as well because you were there right near the start of that, I guess, incredible journey.
Eva [00:02:16] Yeah, it was interesting because at the time there were I was in the L.A. office and there were only three of us. So I was number seven and then it was a different company then. It was actually supposed to be products under a hundred dollars like your everyday basics under a hundred dollars. So I was there as they pivoted into sort of this discussion around what is broader radical transparency mean. And it was a formative time for the company and for myself.
Harvey [00:02:41] Cool, ok and I guess with the same way Everlane is challenging kind of so many verticals within fashion, you're going after an industry that is has a stranglehold of incumbents within sexual wellness. And I've heard you previously talk about it as kind of the last frontier of healthcare that hasn't really had the innovation or attention that it really deserves.
Eva [00:03:03] Yeah, I mean, I think, interestingly enough, it's when I say it's 100 years old, it literally the first latex condoms introduced 101 years ago and Trojans owned the market ever since. And so I think at least here in the US, in the U.K., you have Durex and kind of more broadly speaking of lifestyles, etc. But it's such an interesting industry and to your point about verticals, I mean, we also when we launched, we launched with four products, lubricants and condoms, what you find on the shelf of a drugstore, for instance, but also the vibe. And if you look at the sex toy industry, it's not under the umbrella, really, of everyday sexual wellness in a drugstore. So to tackle those two things at once and normalize it by having those products in one place was really the idea to say sexual wellness is universal and you should be able to approach it that way.
Harvey [00:03:51] Sure, ok and I guess that defines your brand tone of voice, your aesthetic that's super curated. I guess that is in complete contrast to any of the other brands that are currently out in the market.
Eva [00:04:03] Yeah and I think that the luxury of being a new brand is that you get to find nuance when you're a large brand. You can't take risks when you own the market on the distribution side. You're not going to all of a sudden turnaround and change your tone. So it's great if we get to test things out. We get to see what works and I think luckily we've been able to find product market fit pretty early but then the joke that I say around product market fit is that every adult is underserved in this category. So it wasn't that hard to find people that needed better products.
Harvey [00:04:37] By I guess at the same stage, you could actually tell a story for once tha hasn't really ever been told. This idea of the incumbents are the legacy based brands are so entrenched in this idea of like this dark, seedy side of the web kind of model, and you're just telling just a completely different story that hasn't ever been told.
Eva [00:04:57] Yeah and I actually think it's so related. I mean, the reason why I really started this was to me, it had such a significance and a cultural impact beyond just the health impact. Of course, we need better sex education. We need for people to understand that this is a part of our lives throughout our lives. But more than that, it's like a cultural impact. And those companies have been leading the way in a negative way for so long. I have to point out this ad, given that I'm talking to somebody who has probably seen more Durex ads than I have but there is an ad by Durex, It's a few years old, but it was for their Durex XXL condoms, and it was the picture of a woman's mouth with bandaids on the sides.
Harvey [00:05:38] Oh, my God. And that's only a few years old.
Eva [00:05:41] Yeah I mean, it was in the past 10 years and it's so that's what we're talking about. Right. As you're talking about brands that are not just outdated in design, but their thinking is atrocious.
Harvey [00:05:54] And I guess you are hitting it right at the heart, which is is where the most important is coming from. And I think you touched on it, but that's rooted in education more than anything. Right. I guess that flows right through Maude as a company.
Eva [00:06:08] Right and I think we're as we become socially isolated through all of this. There is a need to talk about sex more broadly as it relates to intimacy and that's always been how we've talked about it but it's become more real to people. And so I think we're finding that there's more relevancy now than there ever was before in terms of examining your relationship with sexual wellness and your own relationships, whether you're alone or in a couple. So it's been really interesting.
Harvey [00:06:35] I'd love to go through a bit of how you would express and educate on that, because I know you have your online publication, The Modern, I know there is a real emphasis on press and PR coverage around that and that storytelling and content. And I guess do they all kind of fit together as mosaics around this education piece.
Eva [00:06:54] Absolutely because I think it allows for you to think about not only do I think that it really takes intimacy and reframes it in ways that we're all used to anyway and what I mean by that is like typically when people write about sex online, it's always on the nose. Right? It's like, oh, let me talk about 10 ways to do this or, you know, and it's it's usually very similar. The way that we look at sex is sex affects all parts of your life. We always say it's like the undertone to most things, whether it's the lighting in a bar or like how you're having conversations, it's it's all of these things. So that's how we build content is in examining how sex and intimacy play a role in every aspect of life. And that has really about close to 70 percent of our customers read the site.
Harvey [00:07:41] Wow, as in on The modern that content page?
Eva [00:07:45] Yeah and so we actually send out The Modern once a week to the wide audience of, you know, our general e-mail list. So it's absolutely tied together. It's a part of the ecosystem. If you buy something from Maude, like you get served this stuff anyway.
Harvey [00:08:00] Sure, ok. So it's not an extension. It's very much just as part of the experience. I've heard you say previously that a ton of your audience and traffic and acquisition is actually through that word of mouth. I know obviously there's a big focus on press and PR coverage, but that word of mouth and direct search, which is incredibly rare and an amazing for a young DTC company. So I guess this content play is part of it.
Eva [00:08:23] Yeah, the content play is a part of it and then I think also people want to talk about this category. When people ask me, like, what's the secret to why you've gotten so much PR? I mean, it's a number of things. We've built relationships. We started building PR relationships a year before we launch. So it's always in our roadmap to say that PR will be a part of this because we want to redefine a category. You definitely need to be talked about in a multitude of ways. But then I think also it was like that third party validation really lends itself to saying these are products that work or this is what the company stands for. So we focus less on paid ads and more on building community and getting people to talk to one another and that really works for us.
Harvey [00:09:01] Yeah, and I guess that, again, goes back to some of the points you touched on earlier about this deeper story being told and it's not just about kind of this instantaneous thing. It's about long time education and really trying to disrupt a huge market over a long time. And then I think you touched there about building up those relationships with PR and press. Way before launch and I know you've launched a landing page about a year prior to your launch. So free product, free kind of anything like what is the strategy around that and how did you cultivate that over time?
Eva [00:09:34] Well, I'm smiling because I actually launched a landing page in 2015. So when the idea started because I knew how to build Squarespace sites, the first thing I did was build a site which I do not recommend. Don't do that. You're not ready, slow down. And it was funny because within a couple weeks I got this email from Cosmo and they were like, we want to cover the brand. I'm like, it doesn't exist. It's not a thing. So that was first. When we finally actually worked through what the brand was going to be then we launched the real landing page. And part of what we did was we incentivized customers to take a survey letting them know that they'd be the first to try the product. They didn't know anything. We actually launched the landing page before we did the survey. We did the survey first and then we launched the landing page, which drove more interest. And then the first person I hired was somebody who is still at the company and he runs social media and press. So it had this life before there were ever products.
Harvey [00:10:27] Ok, so that was kind of the spark for the initial community and initial conversations. And that was was that prior to any product imagery?
Eva [00:10:37] Yeah. Actually, we had really early renderings which are still they could still be found on the Internet. It's very funny. We try to go back and find those writers and say, please replace it. Yeah. I mean, we wanted to put it out there and see what was working and what wasn't. When you are navigating a category that has some of the well beyond just stigmas, like the actual rules around advertising, some of this are a little tricky to navigate. You want to make sure that you're building awareness in other ways. So as part of it was part of defining what our marketing mix would be and what was going to work early before we invested too much money in, like paid growth.
Harvey [00:11:11] Sure and did you use that kind of obscenely small feedback loop as well to identify different product variants or different elements of how your products would be built or what they would be required to do and things like that?
Eva [00:11:25] No. So that we did in terms of talking to people before and also in terms of buying like the research in the category. But as far as the survey went, we wanted it to be as impartial as possible. So what we did was we had people write and they like 98 percent of people and there was almost 700 people who took the survey. 98% of them were saying the same things over and over again. They were like, the industry is outdated. It's misogynistic. There's a lot of ageism. I mean, it was all of the same and it was so fascinating because it validated what we were doing, although we were too far along to stop. But I think it also gave us real insight into what we were going to face. And so it was a thing I recommend everyone doing is trying to find some feedback.
Harvey [00:12:06] Yeah, it sounds amazing and I guess that first step towards those thousand real fans and that that cool community flywheel. And I think we touched on it earlier and a couple of times there are about one about building that attention and awareness away from paid ads to get away from that dependency. And one of the ways one of the key ways for you guys is around PR and press. And I know you said pre kind of any PR agency, you hacked it yourselves and you all of this attention, incredible features, New York Times, Vogue, etc. How did you go about that? What was the strategy there? Because it's an incredible kind of step, I guess.
Eva [00:12:42] So it kind of kicked off with I reached out to people that I knew who were writers really early on, so probably a year before launch and then started fostering those relationships on my own, you know, just founder to writer, which I think is really important. It doesn't have to be the founder, but I think somebody internally needs to be fostering those relationships because, look, they get pitched all day, every day like they would rather one, they'd rather hear it from you. And two, they would rather you do the work for them. So if you're there and you're like, hey, I know you wrote about this and it's great, they're excited. The other thing to consider, I would say, is now here we are two years later, affiliate is a big piece understanding what their incentives are to write about you, because obviously we're in a real crunch in terms of media. So now we've built out these relationships where we're like talking to them about writing and incentivizing them in other ways, which is essentially just a failure. And it works well. And if it didn't work well, then we wouldn't do it. And what I mean by that is like not all products are going to sell through. So you have to figure out if, like, what is the right PR mix for you and some of it's totally vanity. It doesn't do anything.
Harvey [00:13:50] Yeah, exactly. And I think, yeah, it's good to make the distinction between that because I think you can get into that vacuous cycle without the results, I guess. And then for your customers that were seeing this press that initial awareness drive, I guess that was just kind of the spark that may have been the first time that ever seen or heard or read about Maude like how did that journey then progressed? And how does it currently progress what are the kind of general touch points within that customer journey?
Eva [00:14:15] So the landing page had email, which is really important to starting to acquire those emails early so that when you launch, you're not launching to crickets. And then I think also making sure that you basically, like, mapped out what the customer journey is before you even launch. Like, what are we going to do? Are we going to send them an email around press? Are we going to tell the founder's story? An email like e-mail became such a part of the company early. And I wouldn't say that we did it in a complicated way. But I think thinking through like, how are you getting this message across? And then what are all of the ways to reiterate what you're doing so that when they're telling somebody it's a very clear, easy thing for them to say, you're basically evangelizing these customers to talk about you and you want to do that in a really simplified way. So that's what we thought about, was like all of the ways that they're going to interact with the brand.
Harvey [00:15:00] Yeah that makes complete sense, again, I guess, touching on that relationship aspect and real true storytelling.
Eva [00:15:07] Yeah, and the modern was a part of it from day one, too.
Harvey [00:15:09] Ok and I guess in some ways as well it puts you as an authority and a voice within that space. Versus just kind of elements of content here and there, it's curated. It's very kind of deeply built throughout the brand.
Eva [00:15:24] Right. And I think so. Obviously, there are people who take content on and they build it for brands in ways that are like hacking SEO and making sure that they're just getting people back to the site. That's important. But I also think it's really important to have, like, expectation for the customer on what they get back from you. So I always think about it is like there is a takeaway in what we're writing enough for you to care about the brand and for us to be top of mind to you if you found us, because we have great SEO, fine, but we need you to care. So we try to write things that that people are asking us for, meaning like we survey them and say, what do you want us to write about?
Harvey [00:15:58] Ok, that makes complete sense. I think it's a great point. I says it's not just content for the sake of content, it has an education behind it and I guess a utility for the consumer and so leading on from that content is that most of your community will have seen another element that you built into Maude last year was an IRL location. The Staycation. So I actually saw this on Instagram, I think, because there are some other great brands involved. What was the strategy behind that and how does that kind of evolved? I know it's now online as well, right?
Eva [00:16:32] It's now online. Yeah. So the idea was well, first, the real story is that we found this great office in Williamsburg. And it was still when they thought that the L train was going to shut down. So we got great rent and so we have our office across the hall from this retail studio. And we were like, what are we gonna do with this retail studio? So we built it out. We did the winter studio at first and that was just Maude as a brand. We did a bunch of events, etc. But what we found, the feedback was still, you're a sex company and walking into this space, no matter how nicely designed it is. It doesn't entirely remove the stigma. So in the summer, we thought, why don't we turn it into this modern apartment and bring all of these brands that have the same sensibility into it and kind of make it feel really sort of organic in terms of how you would interact with your home. And that puts Maude in the right context for people just to discover it in a friendly way. So that's what we did. Cut to this year we're not using the studio and we still have it. I mean, it's been fine. I was like, wait a second. All of these same brands are producing all of this content that really works well together. Let's get them together and see if they'll participate and they all have elements of give back, which is great. So did that. And all of a sudden we got a million inquiries about how to be a part of it. And so now we caped it but we're at about 30 brands.
Harvey [00:17:58] So, yeah, I know I saw it last night and I thought it was great. And like you said, I think that everything was super curated. I think that same audience, the hyper affluent millennial, I guess not always millennial because your demographic is kind of... In fact, what was your target demographic is. I was trying to do some research on it earlier.
Eva [00:18:19] So our demographic is it's not even our target, but our demographic is 25 to 45. They're two times more likely to be in a relationship, which is interesting. And I actually realized this morning that the success of the company through Covid indicates that people are buying it because they have somewhere to use it, meaning that it's probably with someone in there home. So it's like, oh yeah, we really are our brand for people, I don't know, could be single. I think through this process, we've realized that we have a customer who's also younger. They're also eighteen to twenty five and they and then they go up. So we're launching or relaunching The Modern soon and we're actually splitting out the audiences and building a content sort of these content pillars, not pillars. But there's three sides of the site that will be for those three audiences.
Harvey [00:19:05] Prior to that, how is that going to kind of look? How is that content and a change depending on the audience? What is the younger audience looking for from The Modern?
Eva [00:19:13] So I think it's it's definitely related more to like sex education, basics around dating, how to navigate really being single or dating. Right. And then you have this audience that's really over 30 that's looking for how to navigate relationships. And so we see that in the success of, you know, what content works where. But it's funny because some of these content pieces speak specifically to these demographics. And right now we don't have that assigned. And I think it's like it's a shot in the dark. Who's going to care about the particular email? So it allows for us to start to really define how we're interacting with what audience and what is working. And it allows for us to do great partnerships.
Harvey [00:19:52] That makes complete sense. And again, they might be at a slightly different stage of their understanding within sexual awareness, etc. Because I was going to mention earlier. I thought your audience might have been slightly older. That's why I was hesitant on the millennial.
Eva [00:20:06] Well, apparently I'm still a millennial and I'm going to be thirty eight, so I'm not sure, like, it could go anywhere. I think the needs, there's definitely crossover in terms of the content, especially like the cultural stuff that we do but just in terms of navigating relationships, there's definitely different stages.
Harvey [00:20:26] Okay and I know we jumped away from it slightly, but with the Staycation, both as an IRL location and now online. Do you see that mostly as an acquisition play because of this kind of shared audience insight from different brands or is it more kind of an engagement piece from your audience, kind of driving them from, say, the e-mails into that site just to get a kind of different story and a different view of Maude and various other brands?
Eva [00:20:53] I mean, you're going to think that this answer is kind of funny, but it's neither. The idea is really to, in good faith, bring us all together and kind of just do something to give back. Like, if if this means that there are a hundred readers in a month, we don't care. I think the point is, like we're all making these efforts to create interesting content anyway and to try to give back to organizations. And so it just becomes like a compendium of things to read and do. And it's not about taking you back to Maude or getting you to buy pots and pans like it's just about giving you something.
Harvey [00:21:28] I guess that's quite refreshing in the DTC sphere where it's it's very much growth at all costs.
Eva [00:21:33] Well, do you want to know that the joke here. It's like I built and designed the site because I know Squarespace. So it was like, well, there's really no cost. There's no additional cost to doing it. Let's just do it. So there's no cost for the brands to participate. We kind of take the reins on gathering their content and they just give the sign off.
Harvey [00:21:51] I guess that's great to hear then just before kind of I forget around that journey for the consumer. Say Maude has a fairly low AOV and tons of product. What are you at roughly?
Eva [00:22:06] Our AOV is around 40? But our acquisitions is at almost 10.
Harvey [00:22:11] Ok, I guess like we touched on earlier with the direct search and the incredible word of mouth that makes sense. Again, that's super refreshing for a young DTC that isn't necessarily dependent on paid acquisition.
Eva [00:22:23] Well, it's interesting. There was an article recently on Medium that was like the new companies aren't unicorns, they're camels. Did you read this?
Harvey [00:22:30] It is funny. We had it in our Slack. So I read it a couple weeks back but one of our team put it in the strategy Slack today.
Eva [00:22:37] Yeah. If you're going to define Maude, it's definitely we're a camel. We're Prepared for the long haul and we're capital efficient and we're looking to get to profitability and we're trying to build real brand affinity. And that in the long run is what's going to turn us into the next legacy brand and legacy for the right reasons. I'm not looking to like out distribute Trojan and be in every single store ever. I'm just looking to actually create the place for people to go for their sex lives, where it essentially creates a new chapter for people to feel comfortable. So that's our mission.
Harvey [00:23:11] That's super powerful. I mean, I think that's really important to note that this idea of growth at all costs, huge capital expenditures, is seemingly a glass ceiling that is starting to crack slightly. I think there's been examples of that over the past six months, a year, etc. And I think more that you alluded to this idea of longevity and legacy, and I guess that ties hand-in-hand was just general retention or relationship with those customers and just touching on that. Like, how do you see with a fairly low AOV. How do you see that customer journey kind of proliferating? How do you strategize, repeat purchases and things around that?
Eva [00:23:52] So we think about what we found in our survey when we ask, why have you not come back to Maude, let's say, in six months? Because they don't need that much lube. So we have, you know, 98% of people I know this 98 keeps coming up, which is kind of funny. 98% of people in our last survey, which was about a hundred people as well, said that they would recommend Maude to a friend. It's not that they're unhappy with the product, it's that the way that they're using it is they're not having sex every day. And I think it doesn't take you know, we all know that this is how people are. That's the reality of people's sex lives. It wins and wanes. So in that sense, I'm not looking to get you to have sex every day. I'm looking to replace the crappy stuff you have in your bathroom. I'm looking for you to feel more comfortable and to feel more human and more happy. That's what we want to do. So in terms of return customers, our customers do come back when we launch a new product, it's about half. And then on a regular basis, it's like 30 percent come back every you know, 30 percent of our customers are back on the site everyday. So it's 30 percent of the people coming to our site every day are repeat customers. But I think the the point is really to say like. Is Maude doing a good job of replacing what you have, and would you stick with them? That's what we're looking for. Those are the KPI's. It's the retention.
Harvey [00:25:09] Yeah and I mean, 30 percent, 50 percent post a new product launch is incredibly powerful. Regardless, I think those figures are super high. And then so you mentioned about the size of the velocity of product. Yeah, you're right. You don't want to force it that is just kind of the natural usage of product might not be super high. And is that kind of one of the reasons as well that you've started to slightly proliferate out into slightly different areas. I know they kind of tied hand-in-hand to that overriding experience that your your building as a whole.
Eva [00:25:40] Well, it's all about setting the mood. And I think that the customer feedback has been, what else can you do to set the mood? Because if I'm supposed to integrate this into my everyday life and this is what you're saying, like I need other products. So it's really been about creating products for before, during and after sex. And the overarching idea is to set the mood and we have two candles, ones, unscented ones, the number one. And number one, people have asked for us to stick that scent in all of these other things. So it's become if Maude can make your sex life more romantic and more interesting, like that's what we're doing. We will never be a brand with 50 toys and we're not going to go too far beyond what we have already. But I think it's like now you have to have something else just besides condoms. But you can't introduce condoms as an afterthought. And that's a whole other conversation in terms of the order of things.
Harvey [00:26:28] No. That makes complete sense and I think, again, powerful that it isn't just the product. It's far more it's an overriding experience. And do you see that accelerating and growing into the future? How do you see the next year, two years, four years playing out in terms of the overriding brand, mission and experience of Maude?
Eva [00:26:48] I mean, I think we'll continue to dive into media and trying to continue to create and curate content that kind of owns the conversation around modern intimacy. And then we're also, you know, talking to larger retail partners, because they're getting there's a demand for sexual wellness and people are looking up where to find more, especially in the U.K., actually. So this year we hope to go international and then next year we're thinking about larger retailers, but never at the expense of the brand, because I just don't ever think you can win that way when you're new. I was at Everlane in 2011, it was the beginning of 2012. And even now it's still early. They're nine years old. They started in 2011. They're nine years old. Sure, they could be the next Gap, although who wants to be Gap right now. But I think the idea is like there's still an evolution there and it's still untested. If these newer players can take on really large industries and what does that actually mean? Do they even want to do that? So we're still defining that. And I do not want to do it at the expense of what's really valuable and authentic to the customer.
Harvey [00:27:54] Yeah, 100 percent. I think it's important to note that over the last five, 10 years, that growth of brands has been kind of emphasized. This hypergrowth has been the only thing that is valuable. And like we touched on earlier, that seemingly is a bit of a dead end in many cases, dependency on capital and advertising, etc. So, again, nothing was mentioned about refreshing that it's a different take on the DTC model.
Eva [00:28:22] Well, look, I'd rather have on my tombstone that I changed like sexual wellness. Then I sold a company in two years, to be honest with you. And I think that there's a misalignment between what founders are told they should care about or what they actually care about and then what really happens. And so I'm not a spring chicken founder. I've said this a million times on other podcasts because I feel old, even though I'm not in being a DTC consumer founder. But my values and my wants out of life are so different than trying to be a maverick at 22 that I think I have just like a longer view in mind.
Harvey [00:28:57] I think that's really powerful. So just on some of the points you previously mentioned around DTC and turning into more of an omnichannel approach, was that kind of the strategy from day one that kind of built this kind of core community building credible relationships and bonds and word-of-mouth and understanding and then in reality, to really tell that story to a wider audience, that retail play and that retail landscape will have to play a part.
Eva [00:29:23] Yeah, and I think it comes down to what is a customer value. Right. So there are other brands popping up in condoms. And they my thought is that the way that they're positioning their products is that the number one value to a customer is convenience.
Eva [00:29:37] That's actually not the case at all. I think the point is, like customers buy condoms out of convenience because they can find them everywhere, but that doesn't mean they care about the brand. So if you're trying to build a brand on convenience, you're really missing the point. So for us, Omnichannel is about meeting the customer where they want us to go once they care. It's not about just like dropping on the shelf with no context. So we have to be ready and we have to have an audience that's asking for that before we make that decision. So we've seen it early, but I don't think there's enough to tell.
Harvey [00:30:15] Yeah. No, I think I think that's important. When you say about the convenience, it becomes a race to the bottom line, much like cost. I mean, you don't have that differentiating factor that is actually meaningful to your customer.
Eva [00:30:26] Yeah, and building a brand is. I said this earlier. It's so nuanced that you cannot. I don't actually believe that you can accelerate it if you think you can accelerate it. You're actually not thinking like a consumer. I've said this before. But name five brands that matter to you on a day to day basis that you think about. And not one person I've met can do that.
Harvey [00:30:44] I'm just trying to think and I'm like, I'm hoping. I'm hoping you don't ask me.
Eva [00:30:48] No, it's an impossible question because it's not to say that you might not use the same five brands every day. You might really like your toothpaste in your whatever, but it doesn't mean they matter to you. So how do you build value and how do you actually create something that is beloved? It takes time.
Harvey [00:31:04] Yeah. And like you said, it's such a nebulous nuance thing that you can't really accelerate in like a linear fashion. I mean, I guess regardless, the next two, three, four, five, hopefully 10, 20 years sound incredibly exciting. But if we take you kind of right back to the April time, 2018, when you've launched two and a bit years ago, what would you kind of looking back now in hindsight, what would you say kind of some of the key findings have been both in terms of just growing the brand and the customer relations and things like that, that if you'd have been armed with them, would have helped things?
Eva [00:31:42] I think one would be, too. I mean, it's been said before by many people, but, like, crawl before you walk. Obviously, there seems to be the DTC playbook everyone tries to use. And I think sometimes your business doesn't need certain things at certain stages. And so that was one finding was like we hired people early. I made decisions around like team members early that really shouldn't have happened. And I didn't need to really do that until we were actually in dire need of of those things. So that was one thing that we learned. And then the other thing we learned was that we can't suppose what a customer wants, like we actually just have to ask them. And it's a pretty simple thing to do. But I think we you can forget it when you're running a company. Like, how much are we listening?
Harvey [00:32:26] Yeah. No, I think that's extremely valuable. I mean, just touching on your first point, do you reckon that was the external pressure from the kind of DTC ecom's fear of like if you're not hiring or if you're not in hypergrowth, you're not moving.
Eva [00:32:41] Yeah, I think it's also that you kind of believe that everybody knows better. And what I mean by that is they're like, you need somebody that knows email growth from day two and you're like, oh, sure, OK, that's what I need. And you don't I think you need to start like. And it's been funny because in the past couple months, we've actually been peeling back some of the complexities of how we're doing things to sort of just start testing again. And it's been exciting because we we can throw out what's not working and keep moving with the other stuff. So along the way, test until you finally really need something and then make a move. But don't just hire everybody. And honestly, all these companies that hired too much, those are the ones that have had to let everybody go.
Harvey [00:33:19] Yeah, it's a sad reality, I guess. And staying in that mindset of test to learn and iterate, which I think you're at the forefront of, pretty much everything is so valuable and oftentimes doesn't get spoken about. It's like people launch in these pristine, incredibly designed things that are just perfect from day one. And that's just really not the case.
Eva [00:33:39] And I also I mean, obviously, there is a there's a discrepancy between taking in capital and how much capital you're taking in and what the expectation is of you. So there's something to be learned from that as well. But again, it all comes back to founder values and like what you're really trying to do. And I can't there's no one answer for everybody because everybody is driven by different things.
Harvey [00:34:00] So other than the incredible learnings from just the general journey and experience, is there any kind of resources, books that you've found important
Eva [00:34:11] So I do a ton of reading in this space. I mean, I haven't sat down to read a book from end to end and so long. I'm kind of at a loss because I love nonfiction. But that nonfiction quickly becomes out of date if it's not like historical nonfiction. So I end up reading a lot of articles and I'm in interesting Slack groups around consumer brands and just the V.C. world and so I'm constantly reading and I think I've been using those things to navigate the dos and don'ts for myself. And I feel like we've gotten to a good place because we're all ears up about it.
Harvey [00:34:44] Sure. So it's just really to kind of embed within that community and take in as much as you can. I guess it's like is shared learnings in many, many times.
Eva [00:34:54] It's shared learnings. I mean, you know, it's been great with Staycation. I also started this thing called Founders Weekend, looking to other founders at the same stage has been helpful and information sharing. I think it's one thing to read a book by somebody who bought and sold their company and they're now 75 and they've learned everything. I think it's another thing to go through it with your peers and sort of assess like against real time happening. And I think that's been helpful for us.
Harvey [00:35:21] Yeah, I understand. I think being in the trenches, being out to empathize with other founders, going through the same thing is invaluable. And like you said, reading Shoe Dog is an incredible book. At the same point, it's fairly rare to go straight into an IPO.
Eva [00:35:37] Yeah. I mean, look, if you if you want to, like, read the story about how it really started so that you do maybe take the longer view to my point. Great. Everybody should read it. But I think it's really like it's more helpful as you're going to be absorbing the information that's relevant to what you're facing.
Harvey [00:35:53] Yeah, 100 percent. I'm kind of on that and those shared learnings, if you could chat to gain experience from an interview, someone anyone around the kind of eCom and DTC space, who would that be and what would you kind of wanna learn from?
Eva [00:36:08] I mean, that's the big question, I would be really curious to talk to the CEO at Trojan if I was able to do it without providing where I came from. But no, I don't know. I'm not a person that has I don't turn people into heroes very easily. I think that there's a lot of learnings and information that I'm picking up from lots of founders, but there's not like one founder that I look at and think they did it right. If we could do what they did, it will be better.
Harvey [00:36:39] I think it's what you said before. It's so nuanced. It's your own journey that it's it's incredibly hard to replicate.
Eva [00:36:45] It's incredibly hard to replicate it. I also think it oversimplifies what it took to build that business. So I don't know whose brain I would pick because I think I wouldn't want access to multiple people on different topics.
Harvey [00:36:58] That's completely fair. And I think that's probably the best answer we've had.
Eva [00:37:02] What does everybody say, does everybody say a particular person?
Harvey [00:37:09] It's all over the place, I guess. A lot of the time it's fairly category centric. I'm here as within that. At the same point, I think I read an article recently around how kind of taking off those blinkers, I'm looking away for different inspirations and actually kind of incredible learnings.
Eva [00:37:26] Well, and I think looking at companies like the way Eileen Fisher has built her company, it's been interesting to look at companies that have DNA that's kind of stayed the course for since really the beginning. That's really interesting to me, because that steadfastness, that ability to overlook many, many years continue to stick to what you really said is that's fascinating to me. Otherwise, I don't know.
Harvey [00:37:58] I agree completely and just lastly, before we wrap up for all of our listeners, where is other than what we've referenced, where is best to catch you and Maude and keep up date with the brand?
Eva [00:38:09] Well, if you want to keep up with the brand it's @getmaude because we couldn't keep saying we couldn't get just bought. And then if you want to follow me, fine, but you're just going to see a bunch of my pets and like what I made for lunch. But it's @evagoicochea.
Harvey [00:38:29] Awesome. Okay. Well, thank you very much for taking the time to chat. It's been great running through your story, and I wish you all the best with you.
Eva [00:38:37] Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Cheers.