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Down and Dirty on Bootstrapping a Business with Brian Hahn CoFounder of Nomad

Down and Dirty on Bootstrapping a Business with Brian Hahn CoFounder of Nomad

Down and Dirty on Bootstrapping a Business with Brian Hahn CoFounder of Nomad

Down and Dirty on Bootstrapping a Business with Brian Hahn CoFounder of Nomad
Down and Dirty on Bootstrapping a Business with Brian Hahn CoFounder of Nomad

Summary

Brian Hahn Co-founded Nomad with his business partner Noah Dentzel nine years ago. They’ve bootstrapped the company since it’s inception with their first Kick Starter project, have not taken any investor money and have been going strong ever since 2012. And…

It all started with a single product idea – an ultra-portable, minimalist charging cable. Yes, they started by making a charging cable and built a sucessful company with over thirty employees.

Nomad makes beautifially designed, fuctional products for your Apple products. They use the highest quality, longest-lasting materials available. All Nomad’s concepts are created from the ground up, rather than white labeling existing products.

From the Horween Leather they use for their cases and Apple Watch straps, to the rugged Kevlar® construction of our cables, they choose materials that stand out and outlast.

Brian is a cool cat and you’ll love our concersaton and all the tips he drops from running Kickstarter campaigns, online marketing, getting along with your co-founders, building a cool product company and more…

Thanks for supporting our sponsors that make this podcast possible for free for you.

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More Information on Build a Business Success Secrets

Brandon: 

Hello Friends! 

Welcome to the show. Today we’re having a great conversation with brian Han, the co founder of Nomad. These guys make incredible accessories for your apple products. You’re gonna love this story on how these guys bootstrapped this company started with a Kickstarter campaign and then have bootstrapped this thing for nine years. There up to 30 employees based in santa Barbara brian drops a ton of H. P. T. S on everything from marketing on facebook to how to do a Kickstarter campaign to manufacturing in china to him and his co founder, signing up for couples counseling and suggesting why you should do it too. If you have a partner in your business and the down and dirty on how to really bootstrap a company and what it’s like to do it without ever raising money from outside investors. Him and his team are living the life in santa Barbara. You’re gonna love this episode. Here we go. Welcome to build the business success sequence. The only podcast that provides great talk for entrepreneurs, whether you’re an entrepreneur starting with an idea or growing your business. This show is for you. We’ll teach you how to build a strong mindset, powerful body and profitable business so you can achieve success. And here’s your host, Brendan. See White. Well, thanks for joining us today brian how santa barbara, I was amazing. I actually got to go check out the ocean this morning and I’m super grateful that I lived in such a beautiful place. 

Brandon: 

That’s great. Are there any waves down there? I actually try to get down there. Uh I try to visit there on my way up from a project. I’m working in L. A. But on this last trip I came home sunday, the prices on Airbnb s have about tripled. 

Brandon: 

Oh yeah, it’s pretty brutal yet. Um And no, there’s actually not really much waves here in the summer at all so it’s we’re in kind of a funky they here in a way. 

Brandon: 

And so we’re actually protected from a lot of the waves which makes it beautiful but also like it’s not great for serving. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, but they do to get ways right. 

Brandon: 

I know the channel islands are out there which is blocking everything. 

Brandon: 

Channel lines are blocking. 

Brandon: 

You go south to ventura. Thank you. Good. Occasionally we get some good stuff and it’s great but generally in the summer it’s not um it’s not a surfer’s paradise. We head north or south. 

Brandon: 

Well that’s okay. Um Yeah, the Vikings good this time of year. 

Brandon: 

It’s amazing. The biking is unreal. Yeah, that’s really became more of my hobby actually. 

Brandon: 

Um I think as a busy person, you know you you kind of want an activity that you can guaranteed have a good time and not have to factor in the weather too much and so for here, um I can go for a ride in an hour and a half and just have unbelievable views of the mountains and it’s right from my back door and it’s just, it’s so easy. 

Brandon: 

So that’s been one of my um quarantine things that I’ve picked up and I’m super grateful, lost a bunch of weight and really got into it. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, I was actually going to say when you popped on today, I saw your linked in picture and I was like, this doesn’t look like the same guy who lost a bunch of weight. 

Brandon: 

I should I say something, but you lost a ton of weight like £60. 

Brandon: 

Oh my God, are you, are you gravel biking? 

Brandon: 

Road biking? 

Brandon: 

What are you doing? 

Brandon: 

I’m doing it all. Like I’ve got the gravel bike mountain by what I really, really picked up um is the convention writing, so like going multiple days like from here to SAn Diego or up to san Francisco or just kind of like touring around um the area around here and I’ll stay at a cheap motel and camp and do that, that really gives me that sense of kind of travel and adventure. 

Brandon: 

Yet it also was like responsible and like he’s enough to do during quarantine. 

Brandon: 

It was great. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, so on the losing weight part, do you think it was riding your bike in combination with diet or what was it, definitely a combination of diet? 

Brandon: 

Absolutely. 

Brandon: 

Um started eating just generally better, but actually what I really helped accelerate things, I’ve used another tip as a busy person um I’ve used a meal plan system called fissile, um it’s an sf based um like plant based meals and they’re all pre made and just come delivered and so for me I just have a lot of time and like I can be like the laziest person in the world and I’m eating the best food out of all of my friends and it’s really no more expensive than they’re all paying for all their meals. 

Brandon: 

So I feel like it’s just a business owner, a busy persons like absolutely hack. 

Brandon: 

I would check out this cell, I’m going to check out, you know what my hack is in santa barbara, Huh Kyle’s kitchen. 

Brandon: 

That’s a great one, cheap fast. 

Brandon: 

Good. 

Brandon: 

Yeah. 

Brandon: 

You know it kicking cowboy salad. 

Brandon: 

Yeah. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, I know the exact one. 

Brandon: 

We’re two blocks from there downtown. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, we’re downtown. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, we’re right down right off Stage Street, half a block off the main State Street. 

Brandon: 

And it’s been a really fun place to work and hang because you just go to lunch and you have 100 locations in any one direction or whatever. 

Brandon: 

And then funny enough actually the bar in our parking lot, like literally um and it’s a funky british pub, like a real british pub and so, you know, happy hours spill over into the bar right there and it’s super easy and safe and yeah, it’s really a cool little culture we’ve got going on. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, it was, it seems like a really good vibe. 

Brandon: 

I’ve got a lot of friends in Galata. 

Brandon: 

I usually do you do the old SAn marcos one hour loop. 

Brandon: 

That’s an insane, nice, you know the loop? 

Brandon: 

Yeah, that’s an insane ride. 

Brandon: 

Um It’s one of the most fun Descents, two people know, it’s one of the steeper um climbs in town and the roads banks really well, so you can rip down that thing. 

Brandon: 

And it’s really common with motorcyclists but also without road cyclists. 

Brandon: 

Yeah. 

Brandon: 

Yeah I do. 

Brandon: 

Um I try to time it so that I can get out of L. 

Brandon: 

A. 

Brandon: 

And we do a sunset ride and watch the sunset there at the top. 

Brandon: 

There were some chairs but I think some people took them um right there at the top before you get to the road on the left there you know it overlooks the ocean. 

Brandon: 

Yeah I didn’t I actually no I have not seen the chairs there specifically but that is yeah that is a special. 

Brandon: 

Um Yeah I mean a lot of the road biking in santa barbara is great and why it’s so great is because the mountains are butted up right up against the ocean and it’s just fairly rare and like there’s a lot of route through there a lot of roads. 

Brandon: 

So for road biking, it is like a pretty sweet little dream spot. 

Brandon: 

It’s just expensive. 

Brandon: 

Right? 

Brandon: 

That’s what we for everyone in California and whatever really most of America now, if you’re in a major city, it’s pretty expensive. 

Brandon: 

It’s a call it this everybody, A lot of my friends, I’m originally from the east Coast and they’ll say you’re out there in California have been out there, what are you doing? 

Brandon: 

It’s so expensive. 

Brandon: 

I said, well it’s the sunshine tax, but we get to live outside most of our life. 

Brandon: 

So yeah, you know, I gotta pay to play, you don’t end up spending money on like a lot of other things like you just like that is your, everything else. 

Brandon: 

Like you’re not like I’m not, I used to like want to go on like big vacations and I definitely still like will, but I don’t need to, I just don’t need to as much. 

Brandon: 

Uh and I think that’s something that, you know, that’s the tax of being in cold weather. 

Brandon: 

You have to, you have to go get the heck out and do stuff for me. 

Brandon: 

Like I can just a little just went to the beach this morning and then it was in the mountains this weekend and, and so yeah, you do pay more, but you just live smaller and you don’t have as much stuff and you just outside all the time. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, I, I agree with you. 

Brandon: 

I, I think it’s uh where we’re talking with some, I was talking to some friends this weekend and they said, well, where are you now that things are opening up, where are you going to go? 

Brandon: 

Are you going to take a trip somewhere? 

Brandon: 

Right. 

Brandon: 

I was like, I live in Half Moon Bay, I’m on vacation every single day. 

Brandon: 

You know, that’s what I felt too. 

Brandon: 

And because I’ve been traveling for nomad for like nine years now all the time and so it’s been asia asia asia, europe Minneapolis for best buy this and that and it’s always kind of exotic and wild. 

Brandon: 

And then during the pandemic was the time the longest period of time by far that I didn’t travel anywhere and kind of re fell back in love with this like lifestyle and realized that yeah, I don’t need that kind of travel to be happy, you know, I don’t need that. 

Brandon: 

Like yeah, it was kind of a good, I think a lot of people experience that with best time he was either being by themselves or maybe being with their family or being with, well, whatever it was is you got thrown into something where you’re forced to spend a lot more time with something than you expected. 

Brandon: 

I think a lot of people ended up liking that. 

Brandon: 

It was tough, but it was, it was good and ultimately, yeah, I found it incredible. 

Brandon: 

Didn’t have to travel and got to ride my bike, got to actually work, do some work besides besides travel. 

Brandon: 

Well, let’s talk about nomad because you have a really cool company down there in santa Barbara and I’d like to walk back a little bit in how you got together with your partner and how it all happened. 

Brandon: 

Because my understanding is, is that you actually have a background in remote sensing and lidar and, and actually film. 

Brandon: 

I think you raise the money in high school to build a film or to make a film. 

Brandon: 

Um, so could you take us through how you, and maybe even before that sort of hell, you wind up doing this company nomad with a with a partner that lasted I think nine years now, right? 

Brandon: 

Yeah, nine years. 

Brandon: 

Um Well yeah, I mean in my background, like when I was young I got really into filmmaking and it was just just, I think I probably would have gotten into honestly like whatever it’s just, I grew up in L. 

Brandon: 

A. 

Brandon: 

And so that was like the thing and we got super into it. 

Brandon: 

We ended up raising money from the community and made a full feature, World War Two movie with like real like actual guns from the era and real costumes. 

Brandon: 

And we shot in the Universal Studios back lot and it was great. 

Brandon: 

Like it was just a really wild thing that we’re able to do and I think ultimately what that did is that kind of set me up to do business. 

Brandon: 

Um And it’s like, wait, how does that possibly correlate like at all? 

Brandon: 

Um But the film is just all about making it happen, making something happen out of nothing. 

Brandon: 

Like how can you make a set tomorrow? 

Brandon: 

You know like no one, there’s no plan, there’s no like magical, this is how you make a movie set, like it’s just not, it’s just, it’s all about creation and invention and creation. 

Brandon: 

And so when I met Noah business partner, I was actually getting a sister funny enough and um we’re rock climbing together and kind of, you know, hanging out around here and he was telling me about this project he was kind of working on and I didn’t know shit About three d. 

Brandon: 

printing or anything, but from the film days my attitude is just like, we’ll just go find a three d printer. 

Brandon: 

Like, let’s just go, let’s go get that. 

Brandon: 

Let’s go figure out how to get this made. 

Brandon: 

Let’s go like find a manufacturer. 

Brandon: 

Let’s go pop up blocker. 

Brandon: 

And that kind of energy mixed with my business partners, like different but also like aggressive energy is really what um, made it happen. 

Brandon: 

Um, We started on Kickstarter, had absolutely no idea what we’re doing. 

Brandon: 

It was totally bonkers. 

Brandon: 

Like This is back in 2012. 

Brandon: 

We thought it was going to be really easy to make this. 

Brandon: 

I mean, we basically, we basically made a bold assumption that how hard could it be to make a cable. 

Brandon: 

Um, and just just to interrupt you for every listener, you started out, I forget was called charge card. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, it was charged card. 

Brandon: 

So it’s a credit card sized cable and it goes in your wallet and you have it on you all the time. 

Brandon: 

Um, And so the idea is just sort of like nomads, like you have Um, everything you need. 

Brandon: 

Your digital 21st century products are powered up and ready to go. 

Brandon: 

And we’re helping to fuel that. 

Brandon: 

So we started with that and we thought, how hard could it be to make a cable can’t be that hard, right, turns out it’s pretty hard. 

Brandon: 

You know, we didn’t know anything and we learned a ton and we made a lot of early mistakes. 

Brandon: 

We had to retool. 

Brandon: 

We had to pay a lot. 

Brandon: 

We um had a lot of issues with things breaking. 

Brandon: 

So we’re like refunding a lot of customers or replacing them or like kind of um going along the journey with our customers. 

Brandon: 

I mean, they were fans, they were like happy to support us. 

Brandon: 

And we have a lot of amazing fans from back then, still with us now, which is unreal. 

Brandon: 

Um and yeah, we just didn’t know, we just didn’t know anything. 

Brandon: 

I think that that is something I see with other business owners is the fear that they have to know everything perfectly when they start, hinders people from actually starting. 

Brandon: 

But what we did is just naively maybe just bulldozed ahead. 

Brandon: 

And then we came up with another product. 

Brandon: 

The key. 

Brandon: 

Well, before you, how did you, how did you do that? 

Brandon: 

You said you didn’t know anything about Kickstarter? 

Brandon: 

I mean, we knew about marketing, we knew about marketing, we didn’t know a lot about manufacturing. 

Brandon: 

Yeah. 

Brandon: 

So how did you, how did you do that kick started though? 

Brandon: 

I mean, you don’t at this point you have no email list. 

Brandon: 

Like how do you even, would you email all your friends? 

Brandon: 

You just got up their questions stuff up. 

Brandon: 

Great question. 

Brandon: 

So this is where my business partners, like expertise and energy comes in. 

Brandon: 

Like, I didn’t know this would work at all, but he was all about press and so it was all about press and lining that up. 

Brandon: 

And so when we started, we had exclusive with David Carnoy of Senate at the time and a bunch of other press writers falling up behind him. 

Brandon: 

And then what we did is just used a CMS, um, like a, like a pipeline driven thing. 

Brandon: 

And we just put in a ton of contacts and spent all day getting press go with it. 

Brandon: 

You emailed the writers, yep, we look for anyone that was writing any article. 

Brandon: 

We then go find them be like, hey, I liked your articles you did on X, y and Z thing. 

Brandon: 

Like, would you mind like checking out what we have going on here and we just did that for hundreds of people and they kept pushing until we got articles and it’s free. 

Brandon: 

You know, we didn’t use an agency or anything like that. 

Brandon: 

And ultimately what that’s done for us is it’s something that we’ve gotten quite like decent at, and we have a huge list of press like that trust us and like, like us and mhm like our here for us and helped us through this whole journey up to today. 

Brandon: 

Um And so I’d say that don’t use an agency um do it yourself. 

Brandon: 

Maybe use an agency if you really want to get a big player that you don’t know like national news or something like that are in a very specific like, product we did, we did use an agency for a product that came out last year to help us kind of really pro level it up and it was amazing. 

Brandon: 

But doing it yourself is super valuable. 

Brandon: 

So what everything was about, what do you think the hit rate is on the okay because you know what happens brian is I think business owners hear your message, they hear the success and then they email five people and they don’t get back and they’re like, oh that doesn’t work, yep. 

Brandon: 

Exactly, and then they give up every time I see that and you need to break through that. 

Brandon: 

And so like persistence breaks resistance and You’re going to have to email like 40 people to get like one back and then you’re going to realize that maybe your messaging is actually a little bit weird or you’re not doing it quite right because you’re attaching a google drive folder and not like better presentation or maybe you’re coming off as desperate or maybe you didn’t actually email the right email. 

Brandon: 

Then you’re like goddamn it. 

Brandon: 

I’ve been sending contact at the verge dot com. 

Brandon: 

Not like Andrew whatever is like personal email that he actually checks, you know, so a lot of that is getting better at it and I do think some, some level of confidence like shows through two, like once you got one lead, you know, you can get another a lot easier. 

Brandon: 

The first ones like the hardest one by far. 

Brandon: 

So I mean all kinds of tricks we would get an article and then we share that article has like social proof to the next guy and be like, hey like check out what just came out on here. 

Brandon: 

So like snowballing that like leveraging that um is important. 

Brandon: 

I’d say the most thing is just persistence breaks resistance and don’t think that it’s gonna come easy. 

Brandon: 

And did the Kickstarter work out for you the way it, I didn’t, I can’t remember how much we raised 150 and we thought that was more money than, you know, God. 

Brandon: 

And it turns out that went away remarkably quickly. 

Brandon: 

Um just because we didn’t know how to manufacture and then one of the major things is people don’t realize how expensive shipping is. 

Brandon: 

So like I’ve talked to other founders that have a Kickstarter and all of a sudden they go brian, we didn’t factor in shipping, We have $1 million dollar bill. 

Brandon: 

We don’t know how the hell we’re going to get these things to everybody. 

Brandon: 

Like so remember like shipping, logistics and everything is expensive air freighting, all that kind of stuff. 

Brandon: 

Um but we basically did the Kickstarter and pretty immediately realized that we needed to continue pre selling. 

Brandon: 

Like there was no like oh that’s enough, we’ll just do this little campaign and lucky for us facebook just started this whole advertising thing and no one was really sure what that meant, right? 

Brandon: 

This is like before that was proven, this was pre facebook making any revenue, this was like so we got in early and um thanks my business partner insight into that and that was huge for us. 

Brandon: 

That was so so huge for us riding that wave of sheep advertising probably. 

Brandon: 

What what goddess? 

Brandon: 

Um Through the 1st 3 years Facebook ads, facebook ads. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, absolutely. 

Brandon: 

Yeah. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, it was big. 

Brandon: 

I mean still a big part now it’s like everyone does it like sure, but at the time it was like before ford and GM and Visa and everyone was in and it was really cool being being early and were you were you advertising? 

Brandon: 

You know now there’s 50 different ways they say. 

Brandon: 

But I think selling and advertising is been pretty constant for 100 years. 

Brandon: 

But were you putting an ad for the charger and then pushing them right to a bip age? 

Brandon: 

Do you remember what you were doing as how how that process, you know what was successful about those ads? 

Brandon: 

Um We would just just a bunch of content and um you just kind of spray it and pray it and hope that something worked and surprisingly like the weirdest ones you’d never expect worked. 

Brandon: 

Um Like it was a photo of like me holding it up in front of my face like this Killed it. 

Brandon: 

Like uh 20,000 sales one ad or something like ridiculous. 

Brandon: 

You know and I don’t know like I think that I think maybe it’s sort of similar to what was talking about with the press is like, you could be perfect about it and nail that one. 

Brandon: 

Ad or you can kind of have a system where you get lot of content constantly and then you’re you’re holding it in and getting better rather than going for the absolutely perfect because you’d be surprised the absolute perfect ones that you spent two weeks working on sometimes didn’t work wrong. 

Brandon: 

I don’t know with you. 

Brandon: 

I I think people over, I think it’s the raw content that people want and I think it’s the advertising agencies that want you look, you’re in film, they want you to think that you’ve got to produce this $20,000 apiece. 

Brandon: 

But if you hold it up in front of your face, take it with your iPhone and you look like you just got out of the shower. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, I know it’s bonkers. 

Brandon: 

And then, and then that being said, then the next second best is a polished piece of content, you know? 

Brandon: 

And then it’s just like, I don’t know, I don’t know. 

Brandon: 

Um but I guess get out there and start trying because if it works, um you can turn that thing on, like it’s like powerful, It’s so powerful, so much better to be doing that. 

Brandon: 

Been dealing with wholesale, like, talk about being in control, like doing wholesale business sounds really like cool. 

Brandon: 

Like, oh, you just sell it to, you know, X, Y or Z. 

Brandon: 

Like it’s hard, there’s not much money in it. 

Brandon: 

Can you talk about that? 

Brandon: 

Because you mentioned you were spending time I guess at best buy. 

Brandon: 

I mean, yeah, so best buy was, it was a really great stage where we really, we needed like some big pos to kind of get us out of like kind of a bit of a slump we’re in. 

Brandon: 

So it was amazing and I’ll, like, respect them, you know, you know, to the day, but like, um ultimately, like, there was a ton of time, ton of effort, a ton of specialty products and presentations specifically for them and trips out there and compromises we had to make to make it all work, but, and it was good and we needed it at the time, so I’m not going to say that it wasn’t good, but it wasn’t really building us forward on what we believed. 

Brandon: 

And that’s what’s so amazing about direct consumer, is you get to just build kind of what you believe and in wholesale, you kind of have to be building a bit more for, and it’s cool, that’s what you’re into. 

Brandon: 

Great. 

Brandon: 

And totally, it’s a business, it’s a real business. 

Brandon: 

It’s not like it’s a hard business. 

Brandon: 

I respect wholesalers like more than direct to consumer but it’s a better castle to be king of. 

Brandon: 

If you can be king of your direct consumer business, can you comment up until this point? 

Brandon: 

What we haven’t talked about, which I’m interested in is how are you funding this? 

Brandon: 

I mean there is some. 

Brandon: 

What’s that sales. 

Brandon: 

So sales, Did you both put in $10,000? 

Brandon: 

Did it need that money? 

Brandon: 

Like how did that? 

Brandon: 

I think we like I think we probably put like 5-10,000 in but that was really just like paid for like supplies and three D. 

Brandon: 

Prints and stuff like that just to get the video started and I was like all the savings we had, which was awesome. 

Brandon: 

Um But no, like we did it which for better or for worse and thank you to all of our fans for helping us through. 

Brandon: 

But we took preorders, we just kept taking pre orders for years, years. 

Brandon: 

I mean we ship right, but we’d be shipping and then taking pre orders and shipping and we had all these sophisticated ways to have batches and be like trump a trump, be trump. 

Brandon: 

See, you know the updating the website, we’d be making it as fast as we could, We’d be getting in like, you know, 10,000 keys would come in would rush out and ship them out in two days. 

Brandon: 

It was insane. 

Brandon: 

You know, over the course of the next month we pick up a whole another slew of back orders and just do it again and again and we got good at it, you know, we got good about about it and that was the way that we did it. 

Brandon: 

I think that it would be nice to have like capital and do that. 

Brandon: 

But there’s also something really wild and cool about bootstrapping your way forward. 

Brandon: 

You really learn, you learn a lot because you’re in it more and it’s less, it’s maybe less strategic because you are kind of hand to mouth thing it the whole way. 

Brandon: 

Um, but you do get good at a lot of things along the way. 

Brandon: 

So you were, I think made room, you just had a, like a big bag of money. 

Brandon: 

You probably not run into all the walls that we ran into, you know, so you wouldn’t necessarily learn as many hard lessons. 

Brandon: 

So you were on your website while you started a Kickstarter and then you transition those customers over really to your own email list and website at that point. 

Brandon: 

And then you would put up, hey, you draw it, make a prototype, put it up there, email your list, get some, press around it even and send pre orders and take their money and then tell them you’ll get it to them in three months, six months, whatever it is. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, yeah. 

Brandon: 

For years. 

Brandon: 

Yeah. 

Brandon: 

For years. 

Brandon: 

And that’s, we come out with a new thing for Apple Watch or this or that. 

Brandon: 

And that’s the way that we built it up. 

Brandon: 

It’s the way like peak design build themselves up. 

Brandon: 

They did it more strictly on Kickstarter, but everyone started to kind of realize that no Kickstarter is good and Peak design like familiar with them, but phenomenal. 

Brandon: 

They, they’re the best, like they figured out their model, but we liked having more control over it. 

Brandon: 

Um, because like honestly your launch might not go very well. 

Brandon: 

People might not love your product. 

Brandon: 

And so the fear is that you do your third Kickstarter and it doesn’t go well and all of a sudden that kind of magic that you’ve kind of been building with like press and contacts and Best Buy and all these things like they’re like, what’s wrong guys? 

Brandon: 

What’s wrong? 

Brandon: 

How’s everything going? 

Brandon: 

You know? 

Brandon: 

So it’s actually, if you guarantee that everyone was going to go, well, the Kickstarter out is totally rad because you and the opposite, you get to show how epic everything is going, but we knew that it’s not all gravy and so we wanted to have a little bit more control and no one really knows how big you are on your own website and then you get to tell them how big you are. 

Brandon: 

And so that really helped. 

Brandon: 

And we were like three people, you know, people always like, you guys are a big operation, were like, oh yeah, no, yeah. 

Brandon: 

What was it hard or you still do it? 

Brandon: 

Is it hard to, you are building a charger to start out and that’s really hard because I don’t think unless you, you know one of the high ranking people at Apple, but even then it probably wouldn’t work. 

Brandon: 

You have to react when that thing comes out to figure out how the heck you’re going to retrofit your product to fit that dimension and then get it into the market fast enough or race knockoffs or whatever they are out there to do that. 

Brandon: 

So how is how does that work? 

Brandon: 

That is something that um was something I really learned to appreciate but did not love in the beginning. 

Brandon: 

Um and I can explain a little bit more like obviously, yes, it’s brutal. 

Brandon: 

We have to be coming out with new stuff like all the time and a tiny little difference all of a sudden won’t work. 

Brandon: 

Like the new ipads just came out The 11″ and 12.9 and the speaker holes, They’re over by like five. 

Brandon: 

We have to retool like a $25,000 tool for each one. 

Brandon: 

Make new skews, new renderings, new listings on the website. 

Brandon: 

Everything else is dimensionally perfect. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, it’s really annoying. 

Brandon: 

It’s really annoying. 

Brandon: 

But um, in the same way, what it allows is like a new opportunity to restart multiple times a year. 

Brandon: 

So imagine those like this, you call them like copycats or really, it’s just efficient cheap product that’s made factory direct. 

Brandon: 

It’s not really copycats. 

Brandon: 

It’s just like I called more like me, like, I don’t know, like white, white labeled solutions or whatever. 

Brandon: 

Just stuff that’s coming out of the factory because the factories are making their own product line and selling a direct, They love the direct model, right? 

Brandon: 

They love that. 

Brandon: 

So, um, if we waited five years, things would get just completely commodified and we’d be out competed by low price start just no way we could really make a thing. 

Brandon: 

But every time Apple comes out with something new, we just get to jump in line, we move pretty fast and we get an opportunity to be a shining star And then give it about 18 months and then everything catches up and the market for that specific product is hosed, you know, and then the next thing comes out. 

Brandon: 

And so I, we kind of joke, it’s sort of like, like Apple kind of give it an Apple, take it away so long as you have that perspective where you’re excited for the new thing to come up because it gives you an opportunity, then it’s a healthy good relationship as an accessory maker versus getting frustrated when any change ruins all your products. 

Brandon: 

You can definitely think of it, like it ruins all the hard work you’ve done. 

Brandon: 

Just try not to think like that, and and your pre order model actually helps reduce the risk of inventory with that, which is yeah, absolutely, absolutely gives you data on how much to order, it’s so impossible to know if something is going to be successful or how successful, so doing the pre order really helps um with that we generally try not to do many preorders as much anymore, like we do have a couple going right now specifically around air tags because that just kind of was announced and it’s kind of a rush to do that. 

Brandon: 

Um but ideally you don’t do pre orders if you don’t have to, but it’s it’s a great technique to help you get off the ground. 

Brandon: 

Why do you say, why wouldn’t you do that? 

Brandon: 

Just moving forward? 

Brandon: 

Good. 

Brandon: 

Um, conversion rates are substantially lower. 

Brandon: 

So when you rule the release a product with a back order is you just don’t get nearly the same kind of, um, conversion of your email list off your ads or off the press than you would if it was in stock. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, definitely. 

Brandon: 

Because people are, unless it’s like the most amazing thing ever on earth, like there’s a lot of options to spend your money these days, like, you know, so it is really helpful when you have a really hot commodity or you need it, like maybe in the summer months when you really kind of having a low period. 

Brandon: 

It’s great financially, but it’s not as good on the metrics. 

Brandon: 

It’s not a good on overall revenue and it’s not as cool. 

Brandon: 

Like today we launched six new wallets. 

Brandon: 

Super cool. 

Brandon: 

They’re in stock. 

Brandon: 

No pre order. 

Brandon: 

See them out to a bunch of influencers and press and all of a sudden we’re getting all the social media action people posting the real thing. 

Brandon: 

If you do it with only digital assets, it’s gonna be harder. 

Brandon: 

Like you’re just not going to get that like spread and not like love out there. 

Brandon: 

And so I’d say if you are going to do a pre order, do whatever you gosh, darn can to get some samples if you can in hand and to as many press and influences you can to try to capture that. 

Brandon: 

That’s really helpful when we don’t have that in, just renders. 

Brandon: 

It just doesn’t work as good. 

Brandon: 

That’s good to know. 

Brandon: 

Are you seeing you? 

Brandon: 

The press is important, but now we have this, I mean there really are the press, but we have these influencers. 

Brandon: 

How has your experience been? 

Brandon: 

Do you see? 

Brandon: 

I’m curious, you know, sometimes I see these people who have five million followers, but they, you know, they can’t sell three products because they know one converts have influence has been a big part for you. 

Brandon: 

No, they haven’t. 

Brandon: 

Um but we haven’t really put like much budget behind it either simply because we’re fearful and we hear that it doesn’t like work super great. 

Brandon: 

I think it’s excellent if you’re like, I don’t know, Spotify and you have a new feature coming out or something or I don’t know you have a thing or you know, you need to spread the word probably. 

Brandon: 

Um but in terms of like direct conversions, like we just haven’t seen like a ton of success. 

Brandon: 

Um we’re happy for people to be sharing our stuff and we absolutely love that. 

Brandon: 

But the majority of it does come through facebook Organic and um press organic so you’re just keeping your Egypt to date. 

Brandon: 

Yeah just if you google like I’d like a leather iphone case or I’d like a rugged cable just ranking in that google search in the google search as well. 

Brandon: 

So you’re relying on a lot of organic S. 

Brandon: 

E. 

Brandon: 

O. 

Brandon: 

Work. 

Brandon: 

Um I would just call it just organic. 

Brandon: 

Yeah. 

Brandon: 

Yeah. 

Brandon: 

We don’t even really mean. 

Brandon: 

Yes yes we don’t do like a ton of s ceo like manipulating or anything like that because I think that was pretty smart these days. 

Brandon: 

But if you get press this is again comes back to press, you get pressed and you link all this good press to your page. 

Brandon: 

Google is like I think these people like this page and then that page goes up and then it draws organically. 

Brandon: 

So yeah presses is in our mind what’s RSO strategy depressed? 

Brandon: 

And I think that’s it because they like you said they linked to you, they read about you, you get all these high quality links and effectively you’ve created an S. 

Brandon: 

E. 

Brandon: 

O. 

Brandon: 

Strategy. 

Brandon: 

That’s rscos strategy. 

Brandon: 

Yeah. 

Brandon: 

Can you can you talk a little bit about your manufacturing? 

Brandon: 

I know that you started out in the United States and then you have to move to china and and figuring out figuring out china is not a simple process. 

Brandon: 

No. 

Brandon: 

Um No and so that was that was where I spent like a substantial part of my life in the last like nine years was over there and I I really like working with china like I have great relationship with everyone over there and like I think they’re like really skilled like good at what they do. 

Brandon: 

Um And I’m a bit saddened when I kind of see other people like saying that they’ve never been or they don’t want to go or the food or this or that or it’s scary and like I don’t know man like get the heck out and go like go and park out, set up an office in the factory and like live there like I got an apartment and live there. 

Brandon: 

Yeah like I commuted on e bike to work for years. 

Brandon: 

Yeah. 

Brandon: 

How do you, did you learn mandarin? 

Brandon: 

Heck no. 

Brandon: 

Well how does that work then brian there’s enough there’s enough english speakers around so like to help like all the factories have um english speaking sales people you know they’re like the project managers um And then you’ll just yeah you just walk around and ask get translation help and stuff like that and everyone’s like super nice and like they know you’re not going to speak chinese so you know you get a hand signals and you learn a few phrases and this and that but I really never had a big issue. 

Brandon: 

Use photos a lot you know like hey take me to like here like the fairy like take me there um And now that there’s like Uber and all these like amazing like app based services like it’s pretty it’s pretty easy but yeah it’s a it’s a wild thing and I think that if you’re going to do it, I know that like a substantial part of your life is going to be like roped up with spending a ton of time there and and getting into it and getting good at it. 

Brandon: 

Um And you’re not necessarily going to get an engineering degree, but you’ll definitely, it starts to know a lot and all the things you can do and all the things you can’t do and all the reasons why something has made a certain way or why everyone doesn’t do it the old way anymore. 

Brandon: 

Um and even if it’s like an apparel business or something, like I just went to Bangladesh like a year and a half ago to go learn apparel and I went there, I was just like a learning trip and it’s fascinating and I would recommend anyone that’s getting into apparel brand or anything, go and spend a year really. 

Brandon: 

Learn everything, learn about where the cotton is made, learn about the spinning techniques, learning about how unit the different weights admits in the different yeah, all that, learn how to program the knitting machines, like it’s super cool. 

Brandon: 

So you immersed yourself in that in the, in the factory where no bad makes its goods, you basically have an office or a desk or had a room. 

Brandon: 

Yeah. 

Brandon: 

And, and then I would just, we would just go, um because like the that spot really is like final assembly and they have some machining operations, but all the stuff comes from all these other suppliers. 

Brandon: 

So we just, we just do big trips all the time. 

Brandon: 

Like, hey Mark, let’s go to see the metal supplier, let’s go see the battery supplier. 

Brandon: 

Let’s go to the printing house, let’s go here. 

Brandon: 

And we could spend all day like going to the suppliers and sitting down, learning about the machine and sitting there watching the machine and helping to tweet stuff and then drinking tea and then messing around with more machines and and doing that for for a while. 

Brandon: 

And then you finally kind of understand why something has done a certain way. 

Brandon: 

Like why is it really hard to make up your square box out of plastic? 

Brandon: 

They’re actually never square there always a slightly rectangular so that they could come out of the mold. 

Brandon: 

And so you need to have draft angles on everything. 

Brandon: 

Um and just all these little details and start to put it together and understand and and then you go work with your designers and you can be like wait we can’t do that. 

Brandon: 

Wait. 

Brandon: 

That’s super hard to make wait that’s not the right way to do it. 

Brandon: 

Even if you’re like an engineer and went to a really good school. 

Brandon: 

It’s very different to have like an aerospace engineering degree than this to make consumer electronics. 

Brandon: 

It’s just it’s part engineering, it’s part experience. 

Brandon: 

You know it’s just it’s just not as engineered. 

Brandon: 

I mean it’s engineered, but it’s, there’s a lot of tips and tricks and hints and ways that it’s cheaper in ways that it’s better and um anyways, so whatever it is get into it. 

Brandon: 

Um we had a mentor that told us just to use a shoe guy in china and he just was like, go bulldog, you call it bulldog, just sit there and bark and learn and become an expert and it’s going to pay off in the act, what have you done in the last year? 

Brandon: 

Since, I mean, you’re still Nomads still making goods and china would have been shut off in many ways. 

Brandon: 

Thank God I learned it because now we can do it over zoom, you know, now, you know, now it’s like systematized like, you know, weekly phone calls and we use air table to communicate back and forth. 

Brandon: 

And it’s like, it’s all pretty like well figured out. 

Brandon: 

But yeah, we did have to hire two additional people in china to be our QC team to kind of be our eyes and ears, you know, which added cost. 

Brandon: 

Um and we do want to go there and there’s certain products that were like, we’re just not going to do until we get to go there. 

Brandon: 

Um There’s certain like processes that any amount of communicating over email is not going to answer the hard questions. 

Brandon: 

So like we want to get into some like more sophisticated die casting and like I’ve never been to a die casting factors. 

Brandon: 

And die casting is an art totally in art and its engineering, but it’s also an art and we’re holding out until we can go and like really learned the ins and outs before we really do more die casting, you’d recommend for anybody who was trying to make a product. 

Brandon: 

I think some people brian at least I come across like oh well we’re just gonna what this thing out and we’re going to send it to china and they’re going to make it. 

Brandon: 

I’m thinking you gotta sit there, you gotta look at it, you gotta be able to say no we gotta we need to do this a little. 

Brandon: 

Yeah you will find that what happens what happens is when that happens. 

Brandon: 

Um That type of person which is very common. 

Brandon: 

Um Then they get the part back and then there’s like issues or it’s like way more expensive. 

Brandon: 

And then they just start saying like oh gosh darn chinese like manufacturing, they don’t know what they’re doing and you’re like no no no you don’t know what you’re doing I’m sorry but they made it what you said them to do and yeah it didn’t work out for reasons. 

Brandon: 

Um And there’s a lot of good reasons and so the people that are good at this, no it in and out, like Apple is an absolute expert at manufacturing them. 

Brandon: 

They don’t just like they know every single thing at a PhD level out of control and you need to get as far into the supply chain as possible if you want to make good stuff I think. 

Brandon: 

Um And yeah so um not only okay so the other thing you need to do is beside the technical know how of how to make it. 

Brandon: 

You do need to have business relationships with your factories as well. 

Brandon: 

Um And so that’s gonna be extended payment terms. 

Brandon: 

Um That’s going to be if you don’t pay on time will they keep shipping? 

Brandon: 

Um Well they prioritize you on the line over somebody else, Will they drive out if something’s an error and go fix it without you having to pay for anything? 

Brandon: 

Will they work over the weekend to make a ship date? 

Brandon: 

Well, um they care when something inevitably does get messed up, which happens right? 

Brandon: 

Like stuff happens, will they be okay? 

Brandon: 

Or will they say fuck it, pay me, you know, and if you act cold and you just stay over on your side of the continent and you never come over, they’re just going to treat you like a little piece of shitty business. 

Brandon: 

That doesn’t care, right. 

Brandon: 

But if you go over there and really get to know everyone and go to their weddings, like meet their grandparents and have insane drinking dinners with them and, you know, all this kind of stuff. 

Brandon: 

All of a sudden you get a lot of added benefits, lot about it benefits. 

Brandon: 

So that’s super important and intangible. 

Brandon: 

And maybe it doesn’t matter on the first product, but it matters no on your Yeah, well, talking about that and appreciate you really sharing that because I think you’ve shared the real story, not the, some market are out there saying that they’re going to help you get something made in china and that you’re going to send home in your living room and enjoy it while it shows up one day. 

Brandon: 

But how do you speaking of your first product, how do you come up with Nomads? 

Brandon: 

Got a large line of products now? 

Brandon: 

How do you, how do you guys and women decide you see a problem? 

Brandon: 

And you’re like, yeah, I got to fix that or how do you, how does that actually happen in Nomad? 

Brandon: 

Yeah. 

Brandon: 

So yeah, it is, it is, there’s a lot of stuff and so we’re pretty systems heavy. 

Brandon: 

And so we use air table. 

Brandon: 

Anyone is new chair table, check it out. 

Brandon: 

It’s brad. 

Brandon: 

Um It’s like a database tool that works well with yeah, any and all levels of coding. 

Brandon: 

So it’s great. 

Brandon: 

Either you code a ton or you don’t know literally anything that works for all all groups of people. 

Brandon: 

So we just have everything in their rank and um all these product concepts and so they go through on slack. 

Brandon: 

Everyone brings in product concepts. 

Brandon: 

Anyone customer service to finance. 

Brandon: 

It doesn’t matter. 

Brandon: 

And then product team kind of like vets. 

Brandon: 

It is like a good idea or not. 

Brandon: 

And if it’s like decent, it goes into air table and then we rank it on a couple of metrics and then product team does it. 

Brandon: 

I vote and then my business partner votes and it comes out with an index and that more or less helps us cut through the chef and know what we should probably focus on. 

Brandon: 

So oh it’s tight fucking. 

Brandon: 

Um Like we do it based on potential revenue. 

Brandon: 

So do we think it’s gonna be like a lot of revenue? 

Brandon: 

Do we think it’s going to be, how easy or hard is it? 

Brandon: 

And then what is it going to do for brand? 

Brandon: 

And sometimes you do a product that is good for brand? 

Brandon: 

It may be actually doesn’t make that much money but like it rounds out the story, you know and then sometimes you do it um it’s gonna be really really really hard but it’s going to be a lot of revenue. 

Brandon: 

Um Other times it’s really easy and it’s not that good for Brandon, it’s not that good for revenue but it’s so easy. 

Brandon: 

Let’s let’s do it. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, so anyway we put all that in their ranking all up, make sure we’re all more or less in line kind of discuss if anything’s like off, why is? 

Brandon: 

No, I think that it’s like so good and everyone else thinks that it’s not probably will end up somewhere in the middle and it then just becomes fairly obvious what to work on and you tested at all with your audience, I mean you’re not doing pre orders anymore where you really get to get an idea, you know, we probably could and I think people want to do that more. 

Brandon: 

Um but it is it’s quite, I’ve never even like sharing stuff within our team, it’s very difficult to share concept and get any accurate feedback. 

Brandon: 

It’s like you really need to have like a fairly mature palate I guess, you know like to even understand like what a concept like looks like and so that if it needs to be like nearly perfect, that’s like months of work. 

Brandon: 

So at that point like you’re in it to win it at that point. 

Brandon: 

Um So I think that if there was an easier like minimum viable product way to do something and share it and get feedback from people, then we would do it and we do do it occasionally. 

Brandon: 

But it’s rare. 

Brandon: 

Um It’s rare. 

Brandon: 

It’s hard to make stuff. 

Brandon: 

We the good people make it look easy, but it’s hard to actually get something to actually be what you envision because there’s so many little details. 

Brandon: 

Well, I appreciate you sharing all this. 

Brandon: 

I’m curious. 

Brandon: 

Um just about you, did you think when you were in high school when you’re making films and believe that you are probably going to be the next big producer or a movie maker in LA, that you would be making hard goods and not a chance. 

Brandon: 

Not a chance. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, not a chance. 

Brandon: 

It’s crazy. 

Brandon: 

Yeah. 

Brandon: 

Not not a chance at all. 

Brandon: 

Like, I was pretty sad, I’m being a cinematographer. 

Brandon: 

Um But and and like, honestly, like I’m not even a like a huge apple Fanboy, like I just like, I didn’t even have a phone like in college for a year because I was like kind of just so over it. 

Brandon: 

Um But you know, for me, I do like making good stuff, whatever it is, if it’s, you know, film or whatever, like it doesn’t really matter to me that I my passion is the quality and not the actual final good itself, That makes sense. 

Brandon: 

Like some of the products I love, Trust me. 

Brandon: 

Um but I think ultimately it did carry over for me was the attempt to make great quality stuff. 

Brandon: 

So at the very end of the day like I’m satisfied. 

Brandon: 

You and your partner still seem to get along well from at least the outside. 

Brandon: 

I mean maybe you guys russell and do stuff in the office. 

Brandon: 

I don’t know. 

Brandon: 

But yeah, I mean like it’s it’s tough like straight up like we’re going to start going to counseling like, you know, like it’s not easy but like it’s just like a marriage like people are like, have you been married? 

Brandon: 

And it’s like kinda, oh you are you really going to counseling? 

Brandon: 

Um Well I mean it’s like proactive like. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, like it’s like a good idea, you know like we’ve had coaches and some people in and we’re like, dude, let’s go to fucking couples counseling, you know? 

Brandon: 

Like like fine like do it like you’re, you’re going to be so close to this person and it’s like really sensitive and tricky. 

Brandon: 

Like we should have we haven’t started yet but we should have started like years ago. 

Brandon: 

I’d recommend it totally cool. 

Brandon: 

I think that’s great advice. 

Brandon: 

I appreciate you being straight up and honest about it because it is it is true I it is you are married mary 100%. 

Brandon: 

It’s crazy. 

Brandon: 

Yeah And I didn’t date anyone during this whole period basically. 

Brandon: 

Like it was so committed that you don’t have like any free time you know until like the last 18 months is like you started to kind of have free time again. 

Brandon: 

Um And yeah you need to respect the other person’s decisions and like you’re going to like also like grow and be different in the course of nine years from when you started. 

Brandon: 

So just like a marriage like get ready to you know try to get good at it, try to get good at it. 

Brandon: 

I agree. 

Brandon: 

It’s good if I got to put on your big boy pants and big boy pants. 

Brandon: 

Yeah big boy pants so wrapping up here. 

Brandon: 

I appreciate you taking time this afternoon. 

Brandon: 

What three piece of advice do you have for fellow business owners out there on any any topic to withstand the marathon that it takes to build a real successful business? 

Brandon: 

I think the thing that scares me the most and I know everyone wants it is um passive income and lifestyle business um Sounds fucking great but you’ve got to get there so get there first and then kind of soak it up later. 

Brandon: 

I find a lot of people trying to soak it up before they have actually really gotten anything started. 

Brandon: 

Um And I have never seen that work. 

Brandon: 

Yeah. 

Brandon: 

You know even even doing making passive incomes hard or starting your own little thing is really, really hard, like I don’t care if it’s your pouring sand in a mason jar and selling it online like you know it’s going to be hard to be hard and you expect so. 

Brandon: 

Mhm. 

Brandon: 

You know maybe it’s not a great time to get a puppy or maybe you put off the family planning for a little bit, you know like it is going to be your everything if you want to get it to the point where it actually is like solving its business goal, it’s actually making your money and it’s it’s happy and healthy. 

Brandon: 

So expect to sacrifice um I’d say um do whatever you can to get on the best pieces of technology as early as possible. 

Brandon: 

It’s worth it to get on the good email platform vs The Free Funky one. 

Brandon: 

Um because these, you’re making a decision of like what is the architecture of your business for a very long time in switching is painful. 

Brandon: 

So like don’t, don’t go on some funky, cheaper e commerce option, just go with Shopify, just go with Shopify, you know, um use, use good tools because they’re going to be your backbone um and then probably get really good at recognizing what you’re not good at and try to find other people that are good at that. 

Brandon: 

I used to try to do too many things that I wasn’t good at and it is cringe easy to look at it now, like looking back like wow, I should not have been doing that, but I should been doing more of what I was getting. 

Brandon: 

So I think that I really appreciate those are three great tips for survival of the journey if you will of building a business, I really appreciate you coming on brian, I wish you the best. 

Brandon: 

I’m gonna go check out those three new products You dropped Yeah, new Orleans, we’re superstars there, legitimately proud of them. 

Brandon: 

And what’s the best way for someone listening to find and buy your products, go ahead and just google search. 

Brandon: 

Nomad or website is nomad goods dot com and we’ll happily ship you out as fast as we can and and love for you to be in the Nomad kind of family. 

Brandon: 

Like we’re trying to do good stuff here and I hope that people appreciate it. 

Brandon: 

Well, thanks a lot for sharing everything. 

Brandon: 

I will drop you a line and we’ll get on a bike together when I come through uh santa barbara right on man, great talking with you, Thanks for being generous with your time and joining us for this episode of build a business success secrets. 

Brandon: 

Before we go, let me ask you a quick question, Are you the type of person who wants to get 100% out of your time, talent and ideas? 

Brandon: 

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That’s B as in business success secrets dot com and until the next episode, remember you are just one business plan away, I’m rooting for your success. 

Brandon: 

Thanks man, that was great. 

Brandon: 

I appreciate you being straight up and sharing the real, yep, real story. 

Brandon: 

The memory laying thing is pretty fun, It’s pretty cool. 

Brandon: 

I don’t get to do that very often, but it’s pretty fun

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