Growing, Failing, and Healing: Stojo’s Journey in the Omni-channel Space

By Mission

That first online sale plus the first time a retailer agrees to carry your product are always exciting. But when you can’t meet the demand of your online customer base or your design process is slowed and shipments are delayed, that’s when the headaches come twofold. But when your mission, and your product, is something you truly believe in and think can leave a lasting impact, you take all the good with the bad and keep on pushing forward. For Stojo, a company that produces collapsible, leak-proof cups and containers, there have been wins and losses of every kind, and CEO Jurrien Swarts has been riding the waves as his company tries to get a piece of a $22 billion industry. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, Jurrien takes us through what it has been like to design, launch, and distribute Stojo’s game-changing product. Plus, he guides us through how difficult it is to scale and market a business, and what it takes to make hard choices like laying off and rebuilding a staff. Enjoy this episode!Main Takeaways:Digging the Design: When it comes to delivering a product out to the market, it has to work in a number of different ways. The internal team needs to be invested in the design and believe in that product, but you also have to be willing and able to take outside feedback from customers in order to iterate and expand. Find stakeholders who can contribute in meaningful ways and trust them to keep making the product better.Punch Above Your Weight: Sometimes you have to get scrappy and find ways to compete without the help of big budgets or a ton of staff. In these instances, there are avenues to explore that offer high returns for very little investment as long as you can find the right partners. Influencer marketing is one of those areas and, when small companies make the right connections, they can compete at or above the level of any big brand.Sharing is Caring: In the past, it was uncommon and even frowned upon to share information, best practices, financials, or anything else that could be seen as a competitive advantage. The younger generations, though, value transparency and many DTOC and DTC brands that are run by millennials and Gen Z are embracing the idea of information sharing in order to help themselves become more data-driven.For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.---Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we’re ready for what’s next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce---Transcript:Stephanie:Hey, everyone. Welcome back to Up Next in Commerce. I'm your host, Stephanie Postles, CEO at mission.org. Today, I'm chatting with Jurrien Swarts, the co-founder and CEO of Stojo. Jurrien, welcome.Jurrien:Hey. Thanks for having me.Stephanie:I'm excited to have you on. I was looking through Stojo a bit and your background. What was very interesting to me... You can tell me if this is wrong, but I saw a quote where it's like you and your co-founders were reading 4-Hour Workweek and that's how this came about, which to me was wild because everyone's read 4-Hour Workweek, but I've never actually heard of someone creating a company based off that model. I wanted to hear a bit about what was going on back then. Tell me the whole story.Jurrien:It's kind of wild. I was at Credit Suisse and had a colleague. He was actually my manager. We got into this habit of going for runs every day during our lunch hour and we had this two-guy reading book club going. One of the books that we eventually got to was Tim Ferriss' 4-Hour Workweek.Jurrien:If you read it, you could either create something because you're a creative, which today I'll call myself a creative but at the time, I was like, "I'm not a creative. I can't sing. I can't write. I can't..." They were like, "But you can also make something, preferably in China," I think was the guidance. I said, "Well, I speak Chinese. I've always had a thing for product and design. Just personal interest. Why don't we see if we can come up with one of those?"Jurrien:So we started to brainstorm and a few weeks after having read the book, or even maybe a month, Alex comes in and he goes, "I got the perfect idea. How about a collapsible coffee cup that goes in your pocket so it's easy to take with you on your commute and travel?" I was like, "That's not a great idea." I didn't really like it. I was just like, "Whatever."Jurrien:Another couple weeks pass by and I was actually in the shower, where I have a lot of aha moments. What's funny is the more I talked to other founders and other people, a lot of people have a place where they have their aha moments. For me, it's driving on the interstate long-haul between home to whatever or in the shower.Jurrien:I had a vision of my grandmother's daycare setup where she used to have the dishwashing rack. She'd always have the baby bottles lined up, taken apart. If you're familiar with those, they have a plastic reservoir, a plastic collar and a silicone nipple. It creates a leakproof type of seal with the screw on. I realized that if I took a collapsible dog bowl or [inaudible] type cup and put a lid on it like that, we actually could create this leakproof coffee lid that would actually help make this thing work.Jurrien:When I had that discovery, did some sketches and figured out that "Hey, we're on to something here." That's how it all started. That was 2011.Stephanie:So let's get back to your aha moment in the shower. You're like, "I know how to create a collapsible cup that won't leak." What did the process look like after that?Jurrien:Again, dating it 2011, '12. Rapid prototyping was just becoming a thing. They had things like the first 3D printers, et cetera. When you're making a durable good, you have the industrial design thing, you have the CAD files that have to get developed. When we went and priced that out, we were getting quotes of $30,000 to get to a prototype and maybe one or two iterations, way beyond the budget of what are significant others were going to allow us to spend. My co-founder, Alex Abrams, was the guy that I worked with at Credit Suisse. When we got that price tag, we knew there was no chance that our wives were going to sign off on that. We were just like, "Okay, this is done."Jurrien:A month later, Alex is at a Halloween party with his kids and he runs into Ben Melinger, who he was a fraternity brother at UPenn with. Ben had been a consultant and quit that job to work on a concept he had for a water bottle. He self-taught himself how to do CAD drawings.Jurrien:We said, "Ben, how's that water bottle going?" He's like, "I don't really know how to get it launched," et cetera. "Well, we have a project for you if you're interested." He said, "Sure," and so we made him an even partner. He did the CAD for the free, and then we started prototyping. That's how we took it to the next level.Jurrien:I guess for anybody who wants to do a product design thing, if you don't have the money for a designer and industrial engineer and you could expect to spend anywhere from 20 to $50,000 just to get that design work and prototyping done, find a co-founder who can industrial design and bring them in. It's the best way to do it because there's going to be countless iterations. You want somebody who's really vested in the product to make sure that what you come up with is really exceptional, and it's not just somebody who's doing it as a consulting gig and just wants to check it off their list and move on to the next project.Stephanie:I was going to ask, then, about how do you view... Especially maybe back in 2011, it's definitely probably newer but now, it seems like everyone is doing that, launching [inaudible], getting prototypes quickly. Do you feel like it's in a different place now, where you can maybe just go on an Upwork and hire someone to create 20 different designs for you? Do you think the world is different now where you might not actually need to find a co-founder?Jurrien:Yeah, I definitely think that. I mean, I think the power of Upwork and 99designs, things like that, is that it's open to folks who are living in areas of the world that are much cheaper to live in, and so you can actually get incredibly work out of Eastern Europe, out of parts of Southeast Asia, Asia. I've definitely gotten lots of help there.Jurrien:It comes down to your aesthetic and your attention to detail and your ability to curate and manage that process. But for anybody starting out, I'd say go for it. What do you got to lose other than some time and money? Usually, you get really good learnings from that stuff. I think that's totally a viable place to go. The other one is if you're college age or recent graduate and you had an engineering school in your school, you might have people that you can find that way as well who'd like to do it just for portfolio building, or just maybe you want to start a company together.Stephanie:Love that. What was your first sale like? Do you remember getting that first sale?Jurrien:Well, yeah. We had two first sales, if you will. We're an omni-channel business. We have our website and we do Amazon, and then we sell to brick and mortar retailers.Jurrien:The first sale was when we launched our Kickstarter in June of 2014, when we got that first backer and then the euphoria around that, having created a product, done a video, put together a campaign and then pressed Go was... It was really, really incredible.Jurrien:And then what was the fun thing about that was we went from zero dollars and passed our goal of 10,000 prior to midnight that same day. That was really great. Ultimately, we did... I think it was $128,000 on Kickstarter, so 12, 13 times what we'd set out to raise, which was... We needed the 10K to cover the tooling. That was really exciting.Jurrien:And then when we actually went commercial... So I left my job at Credit Suisse in the summer of 2015. The coolest thing was when the MoMA Design Store buyer came and found us somehow—probably through Kickstarter—and asked for samples. And then they actually bought our cup, and so we were being sold in the MoMA Design Store. It's like our first retail relationship. That was really special, as somebody who cares about art and design.Stephanie:That's awesome. So then after you were there, is that how other stores... You're in Anthropologie, I think Whole Foods. Is that how they found you, by just having that first retail customer, or did-Jurrien:No.Stephanie:... you get those partnerships in other ways?Jurrien:I mean, that was a slog. 2015 until May of 2018, I was a one-man band. My co-founders kept their day jobs and were involved in various ways, but for all intents and purposes, I was the one that I was all in. I had to learn and teach myself every aspect of the business.Jurrien:Frankly, I wasn't very good at the sales part of it. We got a little stop-start with Bed Bath, but our packaging wasn't quite right. We had supply chain issues just because of cash flow. We didn't have the right merchandising.Jurrien:It took bringing on a professional consultant, who's actually still with us today, is great, who really knew the retail category and specifically hydration and coffee tumblers. It's a pretty big category in the US. It's like a 22 billion-dollar segment.Stephanie:Wow.Jurrien:If you think about it, every major retailer, gas station, dollar store, every store is selling hydration. Getting somebody who really knew how that worked and then just slogging it out for a bunch of years, going to the trade shows, getting press where you can, evolving our product... We started with a 12-ounce cup, which was great for New York City-based commuter who goes to the corner deli and gets the 10 or 12-ounce cup of coffee that's the standard coffee in New York City. It also really works out really good for the UK, Australia, countries where they drink smaller beverages. But guess what? In the US, most people drink 16 or 20 or 24-ounce coffees. Our cup actually wasn't really optimized for scaling in the United States.Jurrien:It took until 2018 until we introduced what we call the biggie, the 16-ounce cup, and we added a straw because southern part of the country actually drinks a lot of sweet tea, iced tea, iced coffee for most of the year. Moving away from a hot-only, small, single-serve cup of coffee to something that's more common to the US market, that really helped propel us.Jurrien:And then we also moved away from... We started with some really primary colors. When I decided I was going to start a brand and really grow Stojo into something, I really liked how S'well approached the market. The way that I saw that play was they went hard after a very certain demographic, the [inaudible], female, millennial, Gen Z consumers. I saw that we could probably do something like that.Jurrien:Being in New York City, Brooklyn, I thought that's a pretty natural fit for me to target that demographic and try to have my sustainable product be almost like a fashion accessory. When we did that, that's when I think we started to appeal to the Anthros, the Madewells, the Food52s, the Whole Foods, et cetera.Stephanie:How did you go about that? Because I look at companies like S'well and a lot of the brands that are in Anthropologie and I'm like, "How they got there is so much through marketing." I mean, you can walk in maybe a TJ Maxx and see tons of S'well style [inaudible], stuff like that, where oh, looks pretty similar but the way they did it, like you said, attracted a certain kind of customer where it's like, "I'm a fan. I'm not going to [inaudible]."Stephanie:How did you go about it to become like that as well? What did you start implementing? What kind of marketing were you doing? What did that look like?Jurrien:A lot of it was, I think, just intuitive in the sense that since a very young age, I was always a consumer of brand. I liked brand. I would buy products based on their aesthetic, their utility, but also what the company's doing and saying.Jurrien:One of my favorite brands of all time was United Colors of Benetton. What appealed to me growing up in a really small northeastern mill town which was predominantly white, almost 99.9%, was seeing this just calico quilt of different representations of human beings and bright colors. Everybody in the photo shoots always looked like they were having a great time. I was just like, "Yeah, man. That's what I want in life. I want to be around beautiful, different people," et cetera. Jurrien:I think that always stuck with me. When it came time for me to helm my own brand, what I wanted to do... And I was also watching things like TOMS, Honest Company, looking at the Acumen Fund and their activities. I came from Credit Suisse where I was tangentially involved in a lot of socially-responsible investment activities for clients. I said, "You know what? I want to build a brand that does this, that's mission and purpose-driven."Jurrien:On the one hand, I have my sustainability message, and then I have control over the storytelling and the imagery that I want to put out there. What I want to do is appeal to people who want to support brands that they think are conducting themselves in society in the right way because it's the right thing to do and not because they have to do it or because it's the most expedient or the most profitable thing to do. I think that's the stand that I took, and then the rest was more... Because we're bootstrapped, I got a little bit more sophisticated in terms of the look and the feel of Stojo every year as I was able to hire people and bring on professionals. When we were shooting our own photography and I was doing my own graphic layout in PowerPoint, it's a very different look than when you start actually hiring designers and paying for photo shoots and then leveraging influencers, et cetera. There was an evolution.Stephanie:It seems like to build a brand like that, you have to rely pretty heavily on influencers. When I think about some of the brands that have really shot up recently, it does seem like that's one of the most strategic angles, to partner with someone who has your values and ideals and also the audience you want to reach. Is that a big part to your marketing playbook, or just a small part of it?Jurrien:It's huge. But interestingly, we've only really started intentionally and systematically, strategically, tactically flexing into that since, I'd say, August of last year. What happened was the height of the pandemic, we had to let go of half of our staff. We were about 20 people. We cut back to 10, to the most necessary. Really hard to do.Jurrien:But when we did that, one of the things that came from that was that we let go of our CMO, who was very high salary, recruited from a big place. The remit that he had was to help us scale this really quickly. We thought we were going to scale a lot faster than we ultimately did.Jurrien:When that all fell away, I just partnered up, actually, with my romantic partner, my life partner, Megan. She joined the team as a fractional CMO brand creative lead and she started implementing all these things.Jurrien:We were like, "What are we going to do with no budget? How can we do this? We got to get really scrappy. We don't have any money to spend. We have to be breakeven or profitable every month we can."Jurrien:The influencer strategy is one of those things that if your brand has the right market acceptance and fit and you can relate to the right individuals, it's a really, really interesting way to go. We've had a bunch of success there, but we're really still only getting started. But there's definitely a ton of brands that are those challenger brands that have done a lot of incredible work utilizing that. We're always watching what other people are doing and learning from it.Jurrien:Frankly, there's a lot of us who are starting to talk behind the scenes, management teams and making intros and talking to each other at roundtables and just sharing a lot of data and information. It's making us a lot more scrappy, successful. We're starting to punch above our weight, I think. A lot of DTOC brands are doing that.Stephanie:Yeah, because I was going to say it feels like the DTOC world is much more eager to share best practices and talk behind the scenes versus... I mean, we have podcasts covering basically all the C-suite and I hadn't really heard of a bunch of CMOs getting together and talking about best practices or the first 90 days, or CIOs. It seems like it's harder to do there, then all these new DTOC brands are like, "Let's all work together."Stephanie:How are you finding that community? Why do you think everyone's so eager to work together and share successes and failures?Jurrien:Well, I think it's structural and it's generational. If you got a big incumbent brand, they are recruiting from a very well-known set of folks in the C-suite. They've been doing what they're doing and it's working. They're sophisticated and they know their stuff.Jurrien:It works for them, given their size and scale. When you have billions of dollars in revenue and you're like, "My marketing budget is 10% of revenue," you know what you've got month to month, quarter to quarter. When you're a millennial or Gen Z-run brand, a lot of us just started doing it out of hey, happenstance from necessity.Jurrien:There's a lot of studies out there that if you're reading the blogs in Medium and LinkedIn and stuff like that that talk about... Even the New York Times, Wall Street Journal talk about how millennials are way more willing to share and talk about their personal finances, their negotiating tactics, how much they're making per salary, how much they paid for their house, their car.Jurrien:I think there's a lot of us understand that being transparent... And we kind of chatted about it a little bit about my personal approach to it before the show. When you share information with other people, if you're doing it to brag or whatever, that's one thing, and I think the older generation always thought that sharing is distasteful. You don't do it. It's not done.Jurrien:But I always ask, "Well, I don't know these things. You know these things. I'm asking because I'm trying to gather information and make data-driven decisions." DTOC brands and really good startups are all taking in data and tracking KPIs. They're making data-driven decisions. Not to say everything's data-driven, but there's a lot more of it.Jurrien:In our industry, everything's pretty opaque. I don't have the money to spend $10,000 for research on this one little thing, but I can certainly hop on a call, have a beer, share a coffee with somebody and just pick their brain.Jurrien:I think a lot of us are starting to do that. When you lead with vulnerability, transparency, authenticity—which these are all values we share and aspire to in our team, and it's part of what Stojo's about—and you say to somebody, "Hey. I don't know everything. I'm here to share anything you might need or want to ask but today, you have some information that I need. Would you be willing to share it? This is how I'm going to use it." 90% of the time, people are super thrilled to just be connecting on a real level and finding somebody that "Oh my God, this person respects me. They're a peer. I can help them and they can help me."Jurrien:It's a beautiful thing and it's really a metaphor for where we need to go as a society, is instead of thinking about everything as zero-sum games, just talking about how do we all get to happiness and balance and Shangri-La or whatever... I'm overstating a little bit, but this idea of just because I'm winning doesn't mean you have to lose. We can all win. We're going to be around for a long time. Who knows? Maybe one day, we'll collaborate together on something, et cetera.Jurrien:I try to foster that as much as I can. I really encourage people who are on the fence about hey, will this make me look weak or naïve or whatever, don't let that get in the way. Just think about what you have to gain, which is information that you didn't have before you asked the question and took that chance. What do you have to lose? Somebody that you don't really know is going to, I don't know, talk about you or-Stephanie:Not respond?Jurrien:Yeah, exactly. Or say no. I think training yourself to do that is part and parcel with becoming an entrepreneur and a leader.Jurrien:We shared our parenthood. The cool stuff about a lot of what happens in a startup environment and especially in me as a CEO, it's very similar to being a parent. You're kind of the CEO of the household. A lot of the stuff you're strong at or weak at extends to both areas of your life. You can actually get a lot of learnings and personal growth through comparing and contrasting methodologies and approaches at home and at work.Stephanie:I think there's not much of a separation between those two, especially now. The other day, I did this human design reading and test. Have you done this before?Jurrien:No, no.Stephanie:You might like it.Jurrien:Sounds awesome. Tell me more.Stephanie:Essentially, it tells you, "This is the design of who you are and how you might operate." I'll send it to you afterwards, actually.Jurrien:Oh, please do.Stephanie:You would really dig it. You need to have someone who understands how to read it, but it was very applicable to life and with kids and your partner, and then also thinking about business. It was saying certain things to me that I think I never had words, of like I felt a certain way, but then when she went through and was like, "Oh, Stephanie, you are an unconscious alpha. You need to lead in this kind of way, but you don't feel like you should be an alpha." I mean, it sounds a little woo-woo, but everything she has gone through I was-Jurrien:No, it doesn't sound woo-woo at all.Stephanie:I was digging it. It made me rethink how I even thought about myself when it came to work and life and just how it's all one and how to approach it in a completely different way than five years ago where it's like keep it separate. Don't try and mingle them together. That's when it gets messy. It was great.Stephanie:I think that's where the world's headed. Certain people are trying to just adjust to that new way of thinking now and is this even okay. It's okay.Jurrien:I love that. Please share. When say that, it's interesting. There's a lot of dogma that we are raised with as children that worked for the prior generation, or maybe it didn't, and we're stress testing everything nowadays.Jurrien:The one good thing about all the information sharing and the putting everything out there is that you get to try and think about and discard things a lot faster. You don't have to be pretty about it. I think this rapid prototyping and hacks approach that started with startups is now spilling over into dieting... Or not dieting, just the way you eat, the way you live, the way you sleep, the way you relate to your family and friends. I think it's going to bring about some really rapid shifts in human consciousness for the better.Stephanie:I mean, the whole world is changing that way. I think that's where any bubbling up around... Even the US right now is having issues because people are starting to... They're meeting people 3,000 miles away. They're finding their community in different ways. It's not all just based off like, "I live here" anymore and we're the same within this one city. I mean, now people are thinking very different and finding their communities and having more of a voice by coming together more than we've ever had before.Stephanie:The whole world's changing so rapidly and people are trying to figure out, "How do I keep up with this? Do I stick with our roots of how my parents' parents' parents have always done it this way, or can I expand and do something different and live like a nomad and go where I want and find my people and have an impact on the world in a different way?"Stephanie:So tell me a bit about was there an inflection point with the sales at your company where it's like you were a solo person for a while, your other co-founders were working full-time, you were trying to build these partnerships and you're like, "I need a consultant that can help me with retail." When was there an inflection point where you're like, "Whoa. Now, we're off to the races. I need to hire. I need help"? And how many [inaudible]? What was that level when you're like, "Now, we're about to go fast and I need to hire [inaudible]"?Jurrien:Let me give everybody just a really high-level overview on what happened from 2014 to today. We raised capital on Republic, the crowdfunding site, so a lot of that information is public to the extent it's appropriate and stuff.Jurrien:So we were bootstrapped. I started with 125K from my family and a friend, just a small little check to get started, plus the 128K that we did on Kickstarter. Before that, I think we each chipped in 10K. I think we had 20K and then we did the 128 capital raise. We did another failed, but 20K Indiegogo in 2016. Raised 125 in capital, then did a small bridge round before I raised my first round. I'll just lay that out because I think it's instructive and informative for people who don't come from the typical equity-raising background.Jurrien:In 2015, I had a half year of commerce. That was internet and online. We did about 200K in sales. The next year, we did 340,000. The next year, we did 405,000 or something like... I can't remember the exact numbers. This is all me by myself, so 2015, '16, '17.Jurrien:In 2018, we came back from some trade shows. The houseware show happens in the spring in Chicago and in Frankfurt. I actually got some international distributors. Suddenly, the orders started coming in from them because Asia and Europe were actually ahead of the curve over the US in terms of buying into sustainable, reusable products. We actually started getting distribution in foreign countries.Jurrien:The orders started coming in and there were too many. I'd just had my second child, who was not even a year. I wasn't getting sleep and I was just overworked, just dogging it. I had to hire a person.Jurrien:I hired Jake, our COO. He's still with us today. He came from MALIN + GOETZ. I brought him in. I interviewed him on a Friday and I had him at work on a Monday. I was like-Stephanie:Wow. When you know, you know.Jurrien:... "Dude, I need your help." Yeah. I just was like, "This is the guy. I want him in here." He started on Monday and he took over all these purchase orders that had come in.Jurrien:We thought we were going to do a million dollars in 2018. We ended up doing 2.7 million dollars in revenue.Stephanie:Wow, wow.Jurrien:That's when I was like, "Okay, I have a growth trajectory here that will look good enough to investors to try and raise a small C round." I did a pitch night at WeWork, where I was using their offices. We ended up getting I think second place in this pitch. They made a 75,000-dollar investment. With that, I was able to raise basically about 700K, which brought my lifetime capital raise to a million bucks.Jurrien:From there, we hired the team in 2019. I got somebody focused on sales and marketing. I got customer service. I got a designer. And then we ended up, at the tail end of the year, bringing on after we did not get picked to go on Shark Tank... Because we were holding for that to see if we got an investment. They passed on us, and so I decided, "Okay, I'm going to plow ahead and then beginning of 2020, I'm going to raise another round."Jurrien:We were able to get to 6.5 million in revenue, 6.5 or 6.7 in revenue in 2019, and had a team of 10. And then the plan was to raise our mini A or our next seed B or whatever you'd call it. We didn't really fit in a good category, but we're going to try and raise two to four million dollars at the next level evaluation.Jurrien:So I started hiring the team out. That's how from January to April 1st, we hired and we were at 20 people. We'd extended the last two offers right before the pandemic hit, and they were set to start on April 1. I think we gave them their offers the week before the pandemic hit. They were going to start two weeks later. We're up to 20 people and we're on a trajectory where we thought we were going to double revenue again. What in fact happened was we were unable to grow year over year in 2020.Jurrien:We'd hired a team that was supposed to preside over a 14 or 15 million-revenue company and we were going to be a six million-dollar revenue company again. We had to cut the staff. It was really, really difficult to manage through that. I'd never done that before.Jurrien:That's where we're at now. We're at the 10 people range. We're starting to hire again. We're pretty confident that we're going to have a doubling of revenue again this year. It's looking like a really strong year. We have some amazing launches coming up, et cetera. We're starting to build.Jurrien:What was kind of a blessing in disguise was that when we cut back the staff last year, we realized that what we really needed to be much more scrappy was a different kind of a team than I had envisioned. A year ago, I was one person. I'd never scaled before, never managed that many people, all these things.Jurrien:Today, where we are today is we know much more what we need, and we have agencies to fill the gaps where we don't have justification for a full-time head. Now, our forward-looking hiring plan is much more based on profitability, certain KPIs that we have and then just very real needs that we've already established because we have agencies and we're paying them X. We know when that expenditure gets to this, then we can justify a full-time head. There's a lot of great learnings from going through that, even though it wasn't easy.Stephanie:Sometimes I think those forced adjustments end up being the best learning... I mean, we had to go through the same thing at my company had to lay off half the team not due to COVID. It was back in 2019. At the time, it felt like the worse thing that could ever happen, crying on the phone. Most of these employees were my friends.Stephanie:But now, looking back and being like, "So many good lessons in that." [inaudible] how to hire, like you said. Do you actually need a full-time employee? How do you justify an FTE versus an agency versus having a one-off contractor? It ends up being a hard lesson but longterm, sometimes companies that go through this blitz are able to come out on the other side stronger than before.Jurrien:Very much agreed and actually, I'll call something out again, I think, for the benefit of any listeners who are those entrepreneurial-minded, startup type people shooting for the sky because I'm one of them. That's why I'm sitting where I sit. If you talk to investors, a lot of times investors are not those people. They're actually the pragmatists and the realists. They've literally seen thousands of businesses like yours do either one of two things. They're usually much more disciplined and pragmatic. I think a lot of times, COOs, CFOs, those type of people also tend to have those personalities.Jurrien:What ends up happening is as an entrepreneur who's like, "I just need to make sure that we don't stall. We got to get it done. I have to make a decision now so I can go on and do the other 50 things on my plate," a lot of times there's a lot of inefficiency in that decision-making process. It's just guessing. What has to happen over time is the company needs to be run less on the seat of the pants and less on intuition and much more on discipline and just time-tested tactics of sound business principles.Jurrien:That's what, at a very high level, happened to you in 2019 and what happened to me. As a founder going through that injects you with a sense of realism and it matures you.Jurrien:It gives you wisdom, I think, that prior to that, because everything was on the up, you didn't really have that. You didn't have time for naysayers. You were defying all odds. Now, it's like no, it's not just about my vision and me anymore. It's actually a company and I have a responsibility to all these people. Accounting principles are going to define whether or not I'm still a business a year from now. I have to listen to those.Jurrien:I think that's the shift that can happen. It's really powerful when you go through that lesson. Your company doesn't implode. You come out through the other side of it. Those are learnings you're never going to unlearn.Stephanie:Yep, yep. I also think the emotions lead the scene where it's like during the time, you're just like, "Horrible," crying, the worst. Thinking about it now, it's how I would even operate, it's like you just... It is a cut-and-dried thing. You've got good margins or you don't. You're profitable or you're don't. Here's your [inaudible]. If it's not there, it's not there. There's no amount of friendships and feel-good anything that's going to fix that-Jurrien:Exactly.Stephanie:... I think, was one of the one of the top lessons for me.Jurrien:That actually ties back to that point that I made: if you don't take care of yourself first, you can't take care of others. If the company isn't sound and it can't pay its bills and keep the lights on, you can't employ all these lovely people who of course depend on you and trust in you and rely on you. But you have to make decisions as the leader in ways that will keep the boat afloat or keep the greater good going. Sometimes, you unfortunately have to make decisions that aren't popular, you don't like, you feel terrible about. But it's not about that.Stephanie:Thousand percent agree with all of that. I know we are running out of time, but I want to do the lightning round with you because I think you're going to have some epic answers.Jurrien:Oh, geez. No pressure.Stephanie:Uh-oh. Lightning round's brought to you by our friends at Salesforce Commerce Cloud. This is where I ask a question and you have a minute or less to answer. Are you ready?Jurrien:I think so.Stephanie:All right, first one. I'm secretly curious about what?Jurrien:What the profitability metrics are of the top 20 DTOC brands.Jurrien:The real deal on the numbers.Stephanie:That's a good one, I thought, though. Something wise my elders taught me was...Jurrien:To always make eye contact and listen to what the person's saying and give it a moment before you respond.Stephanie:That's a good one. You're very good at that. You made eye contact the whole time. Good job. What's up next on your reading list or on your podcast list? What are you diving into these days?Jurrien:Jesse Pujji did a podcast, Invest with the Best, I think it is, where he was talking about his approach to performance marketing. I've listened to it twice and I want to hear it again because it's so thick. That's one.Jurrien:Then there's this other podcast that I can share. I'm terrible with names and remembering things like that, but it was two of the original folks, the early hires at Amazon. They talked about the Amazon memo and narrative and the PR/FAQ approach. We're actually employing that at Stojo right now. Again, very incredible paradigm shift in the way of managing and sharing and presenting information and coming to decisions. So two things I'd highly recommend to people.Stephanie:Cool. I'll have to look that one up and drop it in our show notes. What do you when you want to feel more joy?Jurrien:I like a little bit of cannabis as a night cap and I really like to run.Stephanie:Nice. All right, and the last one. This may be a little bit different than cannabis, but same same. What's one thing that will have the biggest impact on e-commerce in the next year?Jurrien:Oh, that's funny. I think the battle of Facebook-Apple. I'm really interested to see what happens there, how we figure out how to continue with attribution and respect people's rights to privacy.Jurrien:My gut, if you think about the right thing, is we should attribute a commercial value to everybody's data. I as a individual should have the right to monetize and share that data. People should pay for it. Because I'm okay with people having my data because I think it leads to better decision-making and better functionality of the whole machine, but I want to know who's got it and how they're using it. I think there should be value for it for anybody.Stephanie:I agree. All right, Jurrien. Well, it's been such a fun interview. Thank you for coming on the show. Where can people find out more about you and Stojo?Jurrien:God. Look me up on LinkedIn. Check Stojo's Instagram and our website, obviously, and then give this podcast a listen.Stephanie:Yes. Do it. All right, well thanks so much for coming on. It's a blast. Been a blast.Jurrien:Thanks so much for having me, Stephanie. And Hilary, thanks for your work on the back end there. Really appreciate it.

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