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How I Use Awesome Content to Grow My Business

For this episode of The Exit, Steve McGarry sat down with the founder of Beardbrand, Eric Bandholz, regarding how he expresses his unusual preference of growing his beard into something profitable. It may seem unbelievable, but Bandholz’s former job experience of being unable to grow a beard as a job requirement led him to start his business.

From his vision of starting a business to escape the norm of growing a beard, Eric Bandholz went through many misadventures as an amateur entrepreneur. Bandholz introduced his definition of ‘grooming’ amidst the clean-shaven-men dominated world. Listening to his diverse experiences of bearing his cherished beard served as a plus when he decided to start his business.

Shifting Away From the Norms

Before founding Beardbrand, Eric Bandholz was a financial advisor at one of the evil mega-banks, where it was a requirement to face the client with side-part hair, well-polished suit and tie attire, and clean-shaven face. Although it was not a bad look, Bandholz felt like being a stranger to himself as it was not a look that he wanted, along with the job that he had. Eventually, Bandholz quit the job and finally had the freedom to grow out his beard, as he perceived the beard as being a part of him.

After quitting, Bandholz started to divert to graphic designing, where he had to go to networking events with his conspicuous beard while getting compared with famous bearded personalities. However, Bandholz disliked getting stuck with his computer all day as he loved going out and talking to people, comfortably bearing his beard without getting eyed by others. Bandholz wants to shift the perception of having facial hair and make other people realize that you can be a biker, musician, salesperson, entrepreneur, or anyone you want, even with a beard.

While bearing his desire, Bandholz met other guys with the same perception as his, representing the group of people called “urban beardsman.” These are the people that Bandholz wanted to serve, thus, the instigation of Beardbrand.

Building a Community

After participating in the 2012 West Coast Beard & Mustache Championships, Bandholz fell in love with the experience of having a bearded lifestyle, urging him to create Beardsman to unite all beardsmen through a WordPress blog, a Youtube channel, and a Tumblr blog. While sharing tips on how to grow a beard and inspiring other beard enthusiasts, Bandholz also provided ways on how men can feel confident in their beard. The platform also aims to end unpleasant stereotypes about beardsmen being lazy and unkempt.

Beardbrand’s community moved along until Bandholz got invited by a New York Times reporter as an expert for a story about beard care products. While growing slowly and organically, Beardbrand finally fell into place and blew up at the end of the year because of that New York Times article feature, serving as the catalyst to launch a store.

Transcending Into Business

Despite not understanding running a business, Bandholz did not give up on pursuing his vision of providing a better community for beardsmen. Upon convincing his current business partners, Lindsey Reinders and Jeremy McGee, Bandholz made the brand more legit from being a beardsmen community. Banholz, Reinders, and McGee launched an e-commerce store in 2013 alongside the support of their 300 Youtube subscribers. It may be a small start, but the business grew month over month by buying the inventory, responding to the customers, and selling products that they are confident with, doing it the old-fashioned way.

Beard is Not a Fad

In 2014, Bandholz participated in Shark Tank, an entrepreneurial show with millions of viewers worldwide. He firmly represented the resurgence of the beard from musicians to actors down to an average guy. Although the team was confident about the products they pitched, the show did not foresee Bandholz’s vision about their business’ scale and capabilities. Today, Bandholz and his Beardsman company proved them wrong about their team being mere ‘beard carers’ with the business’ current status in the field.

Bandholz wanted to assert that people must not look down on the beardsmen community by thinking that a beard is a fad. Back then, beards only relied on kitschy and cheap products; but Bandholz pursued changing this way by providing high-quality products for beardsmen; beard oils, beard wash, beard softener, and other beard grooming kits. While Beardbrand continues to grow and succeed, there is also its ability to impart meaningful stories that can never get stolen. Thus, this proven track record helps Bandholz and his business partners with their audience engagement and brand growth, not only for the sake of revenues but also for the stimulation of their vision for the beardsmen community.

Consistency is the Key

From being a small community for beardsmen to being a well-known and leading provider of high-quality, natural beard and mustache care products, it is a wonder how Bandholz maintained creating content for the brand consistently for eight years. To Bandholz, Beardbrand aims to be ‘awesome’, not only in the sense of selling beard care products but also in educating and guiding them on how to use those products and improve themselves. As they are initially content creators, Bandholz did not perceive selling the products as his priority. Beardbrand focuses more on extending their services and enhancing exposure to provide more intensive knowledge about growing beards, where the e-commerce products are merely additional revenues for their mission. “Content, education, and inspiration first.” – this principle is what Beardbrand is all about before anything else.

Although Bandholz is very proud of the quality and potential, he affirmed that it was not why they resorted to this market. Paving the way for the beard care emergence, Bandholz had no idea about convincing more people upon his vision of caring and grooming beards. There was no investor to rely on, but Bandholz preferred it this way as he wanted to take control over his business and objectives. It was hard to build connections with his potential customers, where he had to educate them first and make them comprehend beard caring before encouraging them to purchase his products. However, Bandholz established an intact connection from their company’s wholesalers, suppliers, and customers by providing necessary and elaborated knowledge about how beardsmen should not feel dejected.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Steve McGarry:

Hello and welcome to The Exit, presented by Flippa. This is a 30 minute podcast featuring amazing entrepreneurs who have been there and they have done it. The Exit talks to amazing operators from all over the world who have bought and sold and operated incredible businesses. You’ll learn how they did it, why they did it and get the exposure of the world of exits, a world occupied by a small few, but accessible to many. Now, in today’s episode, I sit down with Eric Bandholz and he is an incredible entrepreneur who is actually on Shark Tank, and he had a really fantastic pitch on there. If you guys haven’t seen that, definitely look it up on YouTube. He has a huge following on social media, and we sit down and talk about his company Beardbrand. Now, we go through a lot of the really difficulties around scaling a bootstrapped business. Now, I’d like to say that Eric pretty much pioneered beard oil as a whole, and as somebody like myself who has a small little beard that I’m very proud of, I think that I bought his products years ago after I’d seen them on Shark Tank, which I love. And I thought that it was a really good chance for me to sit down and talk to a trusted influencer in the beard accessory space.

So, we go through all the different trials and tribulations of starting a company, hiring, everything. So, for all those people out there that are looking to start an incredibly successful e-commerce company, this is definitely going to be your episode. If you guys haven’t listened to the previous episode with Sandra Spielberg, definitely check that out. She talks everything about the startup mindset and it really ties in well, actually, with what we talked about here today on the episode with Eric. So, without further ado, let’s dive into my interview with Eric Bandholz, the CEO of beard brand.

All right, guys, I’m here with Eric Bandholz, the founder of Beardbrand. Thanks so much for coming on, Eric.

Eric Bandholz:

What is going on, Steve? How are you doing?

Steve McGarry:

I’m doing great.

Eric Bandholz:

You look like you’re in outer space, man.

Steve McGarry:

I know, I’m floating around. So, thanks so much for coming because this is a special treat for everyone. If you guys are not familiar with Beardbrand, just simply go to YouTube and type in beard, and it will show up as the top YouTube channel. So, if you could, Eric, just share your story about how you came to starting Beardbrand.

Eric Bandholz:

Yeah, the story starts a long time ago, really in 2011. I used to be a financial advisor at a mega bank, one of those evil banks that everyone hates. I worked for clients, so I wasn’t one of the evil dudes, but they wanted you to look a certain way, which was you side part hair, completely shaved, suit and tie. And that’s not a bad look, I don’t want to discount that look, but it just didn’t feel like it was my look. It didn’t feel like I was being who I wanted to be. In addition to not really loving the job, I ended up quitting there, grew out my beard because it always felt like a beard was supposed to be part of me and tried to start this side business essentially doing graphic design. I would go to networking events and at the networking events, people would call me Duck Dynasty or ZZ Top or Grizzly Adams. And again, those are super cool guys, but they’re not me. I’ve got the softest hands you can imagine, they were meant for keyboards. I love being around people and I loved having a big beard.

So, what I wanted to do was really start to shift this perception of facial hair. I wanted to let people know that you can be the biker, you can be the musician, you can be the outdoorsman, but you can also be an ordinary dude. You can be an entrepreneur, or a salesperson, a podcast host. So, you can be anything. A beard is just like your head hair. There is no difference, it’s just a style accessory. So, I ended up going to this event where I started to meet other guys like me and I realized there was more than just me. I wasn’t the only person who represented this group of people who we would end up calling urban beardsman. And so, urban beardsman number one is the audience that I wanted to serve and help out with. And Beardbrand was going to be the company that helps urban beardsmen.

So, actually we launched in February of 2012 with a YouTube page you talked about, but we also had a Tumblr page and I had a self hosted blog using WordPress. And I always had the vision, but I didn’t know how to do it. I literally didn’t know how to do business back then. And so, things just were put on the side. It was a side hustle for about a year and it wasn’t until I was able to convince my current business partners, Jeremy and Lindsay, to come on board to make the brand a little more legit that we actually started to get traction. So, we launched the e-commerce store in January of 2013, nearly a year later. And we didn’t have a massive following or anything like that at the time, I think I had 300 subscribers on YouTube and my blog was getting 10 visitors a day or something like that. It was pretty small audience, but really the community and the company, the e-commerce store grew side-by-side to where we’re at today, which is a upper seven figure business.

Steve McGarry:

Amazing. Yeah, and I followed you guys for quite some time and right before we jumped onto the show, I was talking about an appearance you had on Shark Tank. So, I know a lot of people listening in on this have maybe even seen that episode or they’ve seen Shark Tank just because it is an entrepreneurial show, but you don’t have to talk too much about it if you don’t want, but what was that experience like?

Eric Bandholz:

Yeah. I love Shark Tank, man. I’d be happy to talk about that. The only problem is it was back in 2014 so my memory might not be as good, but Shark Tank, those guys are great. They’re really good stewards for entrepreneurship and risk-taking and putting yourself out there. It is as intense as it seems on there. Not necessarily because the sharks are that intense, but because everything you’re saying is being recorded and broadcast to 7 million people. So, if you make a mistake, nothing you can do about it. You’re not editing that video up. [inaudible 00:06:46] So, we went on there though. I felt pretty confident because we had pretty good numbers compared to other contestants or other entrepreneurs who had been on the show. And I felt pretty confident, we pitched, the pitch went well and the sharks just weren’t seeing the vision. So, no one even made an offer. But it’s been a fun ride despite their lack of seeing my vision. And I think by now we’ve proven them wrong with just where beard care has gone in 2020. It’s just everywhere. It’s very promiscuous.

Steve McGarry:

Oh yeah. It’s one of those things where that was a huge, pretty much, commercial for you guys. In front of 7 million people that were all curious about beard care and things like that. And I remember seeing it, and that was my first experience with beard oil. That was the first time I’d ever seen beard oil because I’ve always had a tiny little beard and I’ve grown it out longer over time and played around with the different oils and things like that. But that was my first experience seeing that that was an actual product. I didn’t know that until your episode.

Eric Bandholz:

No, in the early days of the business, it was all about education. What is beard oil? How do you use it? Why it’s good? Why do you want to put oil on my face? Will it cause acne and make my face oily and stuff like that? So, those were the early days. And then, I still remember the first time I was at a trade show and someone came up to me and my whole career up to that point was teaching people what beard oil is, how to use it, how to apply it, why our stuff is great. And then, this person said, “Yeah, but how’s it different than this other company?” And at that point, it blew my mind. I was not prepared for that question because I had never run into someone who was familiar with it up to that point. And then, I realized that you needed to evolve your message as your company grows and as the market changes.

Steve McGarry:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). So, you came across your co-founders or your business partners and you started the e-commerce site. How did the fulfillment process work? Because that’s this phantomous thing that I always like to ask really great e-commerce brands like you guys, what that was like getting started up. Did you have people that were dedicated to that? Were your business partners managing that? Were you having to buy inventory to fulfill the orders beforehand? Pre-orders? How did that work for you?

Eric Bandholz:

Yeah, day number one we actually didn’t have any inventory on our shelves. We placed an order with a different manufacturer of the products and hadn’t come in. He wasn’t able to get it to us sometimes, so we were essentially functioned as a drop shipper. He would send out all of our orders for us, but once they came in I was the guy in those early days that did everything, customer service support. And then, my business partners would help strategically and operationally where possible, but Lindsay had a job and Jeremy had another business, so they weren’t full-time on it like I could be full-time on it.

So, I would do it out of my house. And then, anytime I needed to travel then the other business partners would fill in and they’d do it, but we never wanted to be in the 3PL space or I guess the fulfillment space. So, we quickly looked for a fulfillment partner within the first couple of months. The point where we were only doing $100 a month or $100 a day or something like that, really small numbers in those early days where most fulfillment companies won’t even touch you. They’re like, “You got to be doing at least a hundred orders a day.” And we’re like, “No, we’re doing $100 a day,” which is like two orders. But we found a great partner for us in those early days, Pacific Print and Fulfillment up in Spokane. So, we were able to build a strong relationship with them, they’re a small business and they were able to really cater to our needs and it was a lot of fun to be able to grow with them in those early days.

Steve McGarry:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). And one of the things that you guys have done that a lot of people, I think, have not quite jumped on the train of content yet, but you guys did an incredible job of, like you said, you originally had a blog set up, you had a YouTube channel set up. And those growing in tandem together, I think, is something that a lot of people don’t really think about that much. And you guys have stayed consistent with the Beardbrand YouTube channel for years. It’s just consistent content coming out about men grooming and lifestyle and things like that. So, can you talk about that, of how you guys maintained that content production? How did you see the business grow alongside of it?

Hey, guys. Steve here and taking a quick pause from the interview. I know that selling a business can feel unattainable and just out of reach for everybody, but it’s definitely something that is very reachable for people that are listening to this podcast with Flippa. And I’ve mentioned that this show is presented by Flippa, they have over 3 million users on their platform who are looking to acquire everything from content sites to e-commerce stores to SAS platforms or even mobile applications. So, if you’re curious and want to know more about what your business is worth, head to flippa.com/theexit for free valuations on your business. It takes a couple minutes to literally go through and you can just go through the whole process without committing to anything at all. So, once again, flippa.com/theexit, check it out, get a valuation on your business without any commitments and just see exactly what your valuation of your businesses is worth. So, let’s dive into the interview.

Eric Bandholz:

Yeah. To understand that, you have to understand what we’re trying to do at Beardbrand, which is to make men awesome and making men awesome doesn’t mean just selling them products. What it means is educating them and giving them the guidance and showing them how to do that and teaching them ways of improving themselves, showing them pathways. So, we’ve always been a content first company and the products are simply a way for us to generate revenue to help spread our word. To buy more ads or to fund exposure into new channels and to do cooler photo-shoots and to work with cooler models and get a louder voice. So, everything that we do is about the content. It’s a content first company, it’s an education first company, it’s an inspiration first company, and I’m very proud of the products we’ve developed and I think they’re class leading, but it’s not why we started this business. So, I didn’t start this to make beard oil. I started this to give urban beardsmen the tools they needed to feel confident about themselves and their style.

Steve McGarry:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). And those first, let’s say, two orders a day, was that through organic? Was that coming from the channel, the YouTube channel, was that coming from the blog, was that coming from paid advertising? What was that shift like where you jumped from the $100 a day to $500 a day? What was that like?

Eric Bandholz:

Yeah. Going back to those early days, you got to remember, nobody was doing beard care back then. No one was doing beard care in 2013, we were the first company to bring awareness to a whole spectrum of products. I had vision and expectations for the company. I think it can do $100 million dollars a year in revenue. I think the potential is there, if we can execute well, if we can tell our story well, if we can develop the right products at the right price point for the right audience, we can get there. But in those early days, you really didn’t know. You could tell people, “Get some beard oil on your beard,” and they’d be like, “No, that’s crazy. I’m not going to do it.” And that would have been it. So, we bootstrapped this business. We have no outside investors, we have no debt, we have no VCs, nothing like that. And we did that because we wanted to control the business, we wanted to control our lives, we wanted to control our journey, we wanted to do it our way, even if that meant we gave up on opportunity.

And so, that meant just when you have no money, I was not as successful person before this. I had your typical $60,000 a year job at a bank, but I wasn’t a rockstar with a bank account that was huge and could place all these giant orders. So, when you have more time than money, you do the things that you can do when you have more time than money, which is social media, which is talking on Reddit, which is blogging, which is tweeting, which is trying to be on podcasts, which is making YouTube videos. Anything. Just trying to get your voice out there any way you can, any way you know how. Hell, even if it meant knocking on doors, that’s what you do if you have more time than money. And then, once you start getting more money then you can pay for your ads, you can pay for PR you can pay for photo shoots or whatever it may be.

Steve McGarry:

Well said. I like that. More time than money when you’re starting out, so the hustle is what differentiates everybody at those early days.

Eric Bandholz:

And it’s a blessing that you have, not having money. Because the reality that I think a lot of young entrepreneurs don’t realize, they think the world’s against them. They think that everything’s preventing them from being successful, but there’s so many opportunities that you have as a young entrepreneur that large companies don’t have. First of all, every single company you run into has scarce resources. Amazon, Google, Apple, they all have scarce resources. There’s so much more they would rather be doing than the things that they’re currently doing. So, the thing is how are you properly using your scarce resources to allocate them in ways that are most beneficial to the growth of your business and the sustainability of your business? And then, your job as an entrepreneur is to get really good at allocating those scarce resources.

And then, just build a business that makes money. I hate that I have to say this in 2020, but if your business isn’t making money, you’re not going to be in business. You have to make money, you have to have profit, you have to know your numbers. You have to know what it costs to acquire a customer, how much your product costs and then how much room do you have left behind to put back into the business, to hire new people, to have R and D, to make risks and try new things, try new marketing channels, things like that. You’ll have failures, every one does.

Steve McGarry:

Totally. I love that, that even the largest companies have scarcity within their doors. Everybody does. And I think that’s-

Eric Bandholz:

Which reminds me, you think about the advantages big companies have like scale and distribution, they lack in the benefits that a small company has, like that personal relationship. Our business right now is a upper seven figure business. It’s really hard to build that unique connection with my customers that I did on day number one day and number two. I’m not doing customer service anymore. I used to be doing that. People used to have that direct contact and access to me. And when they were buying from Beardbrand, they were buying from me. Those are the advantages you have as a small brand. Don’t hide behind that, show them off, be like, “Yeah, man, I’m a team of one. Get to know me, help support me out. I’m not Amazon, I’m not being fulfilled by someone who hates their job and just throws stuff in a box. You’re supporting someone who cares about what they’re doing.” And let people know about that. That’s your advantage.

Steve McGarry:

Yeah, 100%. I love the early days being in customer service and then eventually passing that off to somebody on the team, and that’s a great segue into your team. So, how did the first initial hires happen and what was the most important changes that you made when you were hiring, let’s say, your first five employees?

Eric Bandholz:

Yeah, I could probably talk all day about hiring. That’s been one of the biggest challenges for me as a new entrepreneur is figuring that out. Again talking about blessing and curses, we got really lucky with our first hire. Amazing fit, willing to roll up their sleeves and do anything that was asked, would go into any role, just perfect fit. And we’re like, “Oh, this is easy. All you got to do is post an ad on Craigslist and we’ll have all star talent and they’ll be totally tolerable and they’ll grow. And as the company grows, you pay them more and stuff like that,” but that blessing ended up being a curse because it didn’t force us to build out better hiring processes and better management processes or guidance processes, and set the business back 18 months, two years just by getting this hamster wheel of great people, amazing people, but they just weren’t able to be successful in their role because they weren’t either a good culture fit or we didn’t give them the framework of knowing if they were being successful or not. So, they couldn’t really focus on the things they needed to focus on in their job.

So, I think we tended not to lean on friends and family. We would tend to try to hire… Yeah, so no friends or family, that’s a rule of Beardbrand. There’s just none of that. But we did have previous coworkers, or we had PR people who helped us out who we would bring on full-time, gradually bring on people that we knew about. And then, eventually, probably about two or three years ago, we found this process called Traction. And they have a hiring process called topgrading, which that was the golden nugget that changed everything for us. We implemented topgrading process, which is basically you’re letting candidates know at every stage of the interview process that you’re doing reference checks. You ask questions about how the reference will reply to things, and then you ask the reference the same questions. So, it’s a really good truth serum, because they know that we’re going to be asking those people those questions. And if there’s pretty big inconsistencies, then it’s a big red flag. And then, also people who can’t get a strong reference, they’re going to self-select. So, you’re only going to get the B and A players who make it into the doors.

Steve McGarry:

Got it. That’s very cool. What was the name of that-

Eric Bandholz:

Topgrading.

Steve McGarry:

Topgrading.

Eric Bandholz:

If there’s one thing to take away from this podcast and you’re at the stage to hire people, topgrading. just do it. It will change everything for you guys.

Steve McGarry:

Awesome. And in terms of the team size now, where are you guys at in terms of numbers? Is it primarily focusing on a certain space like customer service? I’ve talked to companies where 80% of their team was customer service and what does that distribution look like?

Eric Bandholz:

Yeah. So, for team size, I’m 6’5″, about 200 pounds. Including the owners, we’re about 15 people and about half of them are split up between marketing and the other half is operations. Anything that we have in house is what we deem as our competitive advantage, and we’ll try to send out everything else. So, we try to be good at a few things. So, product development’s in house, inventory, manufacturing, management is in-house. Relationships with our wholesalers, of course that’s done in house. And then, on the marketing side, we have an art director, a lot of content creation, video editor, we do that in house. Copywriter, we do that in house. Customer service, we do that in house. Social media [inaudible 00:24:21] management, we do that in house. And then, PPC, paid advertising, we do that in house. So, we’ve got a couple of people on that team, and then I’m sure I’m forgetting a person or two, but just generally.

Steve McGarry:

Yeah. And in terms of internal success metrics, I ask everybody this because I feel like everybody’s different, whether it’s customer satisfaction or it’s happiness within the company, there’s a lot of really interesting internal success metrics. So, what’s your north star in terms of how you guys measure success as a company?

Eric Bandholz:

Yeah, we use this software called Officevibe, and Officevibe will ask out weekly questions for our team on how things are going, like their stress levels. It’s called like ENPS or something, employee net promoter score, is what is probably the big metric, but really we’re still a small team so we’re able to just really get a feel for what’s going on, I think, if you’re involved in the business, talking to your team members. Lindsay, my business partner, she’s the one who leads up our team. She has monthly one-on-ones with them, so she’s able to really open up with them and figure out what’s going on, where they want to go, if they’re happy or not happy and stuff like that. So, we don’t try to have a high net promoter score, but it is something that we just monitor and see. And then, of course we monitor and see what the metrics of Officevibe are showing us.

Steve McGarry:

Nice. Another great tool, Officevibe.

Eric Bandholz:

Officevibe. Yeah, we’ve been using that for a long time and we’re not religious about it. We’re not like big enough where it’s… I feel like once you get to a certain stage, maybe it’s 50 employees, I don’t know. I’ve never built a business that big before, but you get the stage where there’s just disconnect between the different departments, between leadership and everyone in the company. 15 is still small enough where I know what everyone’s doing, I know who everyone is, I can tell inappropriate jokes in front of everyone because I know who they are. But essentially, you’re going to get to this place where you’re not going to be able to have that same connection with your team, and that’s probably when you really need to start leaning on those anonymous feedback and tools like that because you’re not getting it firsthand.

Steve McGarry:

Yeah. And now that we’ve gone through the story, the success metrics that you guys are very much tracking and hiring, that seems to be very much the key points that a lot of people are very interested in, what’s next for Beardbrand? What’s going to be in 2021? What can people be excited about? What are you you excited about for Beardbrand?

Eric Bandholz:

Dude, let me tell you, man, it’s 2020. I’m pretty stoked right now. I’ve always been pretty stoked right now, but what we’ve done at Beardbrand, I strongly believe we’ve done what no one’s ever done it, and also what no one’s dumb enough to do. I think we’re pretty idiotic with our product strategy. So, obviously this will be an exciting test for us. Beardbrand, our name, we got beard in the name. Beard care is our number one products, but over the past seven, eight years, we’ve been developing products beyond the beard. So, in my opinion, we’re not developing a product unless we believe it will be the best performing product in the marketplace. So, we’ve got an amazing shampoo and conditioner, Head Hair. We’ve got a beard wash, beard softener. We got a bar of soap, we call it a utility bar. Amazing. You can use it as a shave soap, you can use it to wash your hair, to wash your beard, wash your skin. Keep it away from your significant others, because they’ll be using it everywhere. We’ve got a utility bomb. We have hairstyling products. We have a sea salt spray. And what we’ve done is these products, they’re great in itself.

Most companies, they make products like these, they have a product offering and they’re done in one fragrance. Or maybe they’re not even done in one fragrance, they’re just done and they’re made to smell nice and they just whatever. But what we’ve done is we’ve created not just one line of matching fragrances, but we’ve done it with six different fragrances at two different price points. So, if you’re a middle of the road guy, you have three options for you. If you like the high-end exotic fragrances, you’ve got three options for you. And what we’re doing is we’re ending scent confusion. That thing where you’re using one shampoo and one body wash and one cologne, a smell like you’ve walked through a cheap department store. And people are like, “Oh, what’s going on here? What do you smell like?” So, with Beardbrand, from head to toe, whatever your grooming products are, you’re going to be able to get it in a single fragrance. So, that’s been eight years in the works. I don’t think anyone’s done it. If you know of a company that’s done it, let me know because I want to pat them on the back because it’s ridiculously hard. And then, from the value perspective, we’ve got our white line, which is not scent confusion improved because the retailers are in control of the products they have. So, with a little bit of the premium, you’re able to end scent confusion personally.

So, really, our goal for the past eight years is getting to this point, to literally today because we just launched our gold line shampoo and conditioner, which fills out all of our products. Outside of any product that’s sold out, we have every product available from head to toe that we intend to have. That’s out right now. And we’re just going to hammer it, man. It’s just going to let everyone know, when you think of Beardbrand you think of ending scent confusion because, personally, I don’t think anyone’s dumb enough to try to do what we’ve done. And if they are, let me tell you, you’re in for a treat. It’s really hard.

Steve McGarry:

That’s really cool that it’s one unified scent throughout from head to toe.

Eric Bandholz:

Yeah. And not only that, our fragrances, we’ve developed them to work in a family too. So, in our gold line, we have Old Money, Temple Smoke, Four Vices. You can use Temple Smoke and Four Vices. They play nice together, they work well together. So, you’re still ending that scent confusion by working with fragrances that play nice together. So, if you are a little more adventurous, you can do that, or if you’re the guy who just wants Four Vices head to toe, boom, we got you covered with that.

Steve McGarry:

That’s very cool. I like that approach. I’ve never heard of anybody doing that.

Eric Bandholz:

Dude, we’re innovative, man. I know we’ve had a lot of people who are inspired by the things we do. None of this innovation’s come to men’s grooming at all, every shampoo and conditioner on the marketplace, every brand has silicones in it. So, silicones will wrap your hair, which is nice, it has a nice finish to it. But the only way to get that silicone off is by having these really harsh detergents. And then, when you wash with those harsh detergents, just strips all the oil out and nukes your hair. You get dry, frizzy hair. And then, because you got this nasty, dry frizzy hair, you got to put the silicone-based conditioner back in. But what we’ve done is we’ve stripped silicones out of our products.

We found this shea butter based, it’s called a nanobead. It’s not plastic or anything, it’s just a little ball. And what it’ll do is it’ll find any damaged hair split ends and it’ll essentially glue the hair back together, so you’ll have that smooth, nice finish. But what’s cool about this compared to silicones, it functions very similar to it, so when you apply water to it, it just rinses it out. So, our shampoo is just super mellow. It’s not going to be nuking your head hair and you can have the most amazing head hair that you’ve ever imagined. And just letting guys know that. So, it’s not just our shampoo and conditioner is innovative, from any product we develop, we’re not going to launch it unless we feel like we can do something that’s not been done before.

Steve McGarry:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). I love the intricacies of the product. I love diving into products like that, because a lot of times people, they don’t think about all of the layers and all the different components that go into things like a shampoo or things like just these things that you don’t think to look that far deep into, but as the founder of the company, your whole passion is around breaking these things open and then replacing and optimizing all these different parts of it. I love that.

Eric Bandholz:

Yeah. Why are we living if it’s not to make products that we don’t love and enjoy? If I’m making something, I just want to make the fricking best. And I know I sometimes I shoot myself in the foot because we end up with product that’s way too expensive but screw it. Life’s too short, man. You can get cheap products anywhere.You can get products that fit a price point anywhere, but I want to make cool shit and I don’t care how much it costs.

Steve McGarry:

So, the finale question, what would you tell Eric back in 2013, knowing what you know now?

Eric Bandholz:

Oh, man, I would tell myself a lot of things. There’s been a lot of lessons. I’ve been very fortunate of the path that I’ve had, but the big lessons are topgrading. God, I wish I knew that, topgrading is amazing. Attraction is the other thing that’s amazing when it comes to building a team. And the other thing is dude, stick to what you’re good at. Don’t mess around. Back in the early days, we were selling suspenders, we were selling printed t-shirts, we were selling wallets. The original idea for Beardbrand was this lifestyle company. Bags and clothing, and it was Vans for dudes or Lululemon. How Vans is for skaters or how Lululemon is for yoga, Beardbrand was going to be for urban beardsmen. And it was just like, “Dude, just look at the data. People want grooming products. That’s okay. Be a grooming products company, it’s fine to do that. And don’t try to take over the world, just get really good at what you’re doing. And stay focused, stay head down.” I think that’s probably one of the few lessons I’d probably give it to myself. I probably wouldn’t listen and be like, “Ah, screw this guy,” and do it anyways.

Steve McGarry:

That’s great advice, stick to what you’re good at. Well, once again, Eric, thanks so much for coming on. I’m sure that a lot of people are going to resonate with this story and I’m glad that you could share more about Beardbrand.

Eric Bandholz:

Yeah. Thanks for having me on, man. It’s been great.

Steve McGarry:

For sure. If you guys are listening in on iTunes or Spotify, check the show notes. All the links will be in the descriptions. So, definitely be sure to check that out. Thanks again, Eric.

Steve McGarry

Steve McGarry

Steve McGarry is an entrepreneur, content creator, and investor based in sunny Tampa, Florida. In 2015, while living in San Francisco, Steve sold his first fintech startup LendLayer to Max Levchin’s (founder of PayPal) consumer finance company Affirm. In the last 5 years, Steve has both built an online community that reaches 1.4 million people every month on social media and a portfolio of over a dozen web properties. Currently, he’s the co-founder of a next-generation fintech startup called GrowYourBase while managing his portfolio of online businesses.