How to forge relationships with other proven founders

The company today’s guest started has gotten a lot of attention for its partnership with Kobe Bryant. I want to learn how he forged not only that relationship but also Brian Lee of The Honest Company.

Matthias Metternich is the co-founder of Art of Sport, which offers high performance skin care products.

I want to find out how he survived hemorrhaging cash while he found his customers and how he formed meaningful partnerships with other amazing entrepreneurs.

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Matthias Metternich

Matthias Metternich

Art of Sport

Matthias Metternich is the co-founder of Art of Sport, which offers high performance skin care products.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I am the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses for an audience of entrepreneurs who frankly admire entrepreneurs and in some ways get as excited about them as other people get excited about superheroes from Marvel Comics.

Well, as I’ve been looking around the internet, researching this product line called Art of Sport, it’s high-performance skincare products, I keep seeing Kobe Bryant’s name attached to it. It’s almost like he’s the guy who came up with the idea and came up with the brand and started getting sales and all that, but in reality, as you’ll see here today, he is a founding partner but the idea for the business came from two people, one of which you’re about to meet here today as he tells the story of how he came up with the idea, how he got Kobe Bryant on board, how he got others on board and how he is growing this, this line of deodorant. And what else do they have? Two-in-one hair and body wash and charcoal soap and so much else, how he’s growing it. His name is Matthias Metternich. Did I pronounce your last name right, Matthias?

Matthias: Metternich.

Andrew: Metternich.

Matthias: But it was close, so close.

Andrew: All right. Look at that. But let that be an opening for us. If I get anything wrong here in this interview, let’s not just pass it off. This is an audience of real entrepreneurs. It’s totally fine to say, “Andrew, that’s actually wrong. Let’s correct it and make sure that is clear.” And we’re going to do this interview about how Matthias came up with this idea and built it up, thanks to two phenomenal companies. The first, if you’re looking to sell anything online, if you’re looking to collect email addresses online and create funnels that takes strangers and turn them into customers, you got to get to know ClickFunnels. And the second, when you’re hiring, you already know, Toptal is the best place to go to hire developers. Matthias, good to have you here.

Matthias: Thanks for having me.

Andrew: What’s your revenue at this point? You guys are a fairly young company, created 2018. Where are you?

Matthias: We are . . . We’ve eclipsed our expectations and that’s about as much as I can divulge, but, you know, we’re in our first year. Actually, we’ve just passed our first year anniversary. And we are doing more in the way of revenue than some of the other standout, let’s call them, at some point they became unicorn skincare brands. And, you know, I think a lot of that has . . . you know, it’s all happened to direct to consumer and via Amazon, so we’re an online-only brand.

Andrew: Can we say whether it’s over 10 million yet in sales?

Matthias: We’re not there yet.

Andrew: Okay.

Matthias: But we’re getting close and we’re on track to probably 10X’ing in the next year.

Andrew: And the people that you’ve got on board with this, I think people are going to be more drawn into this interview because of Kobe Bryant and I imagine they are more drawn into your brand and become customers because of Kobe Bryant, but it’s Brian Lee that I’m freaking fascinated by. He is one of the best entrepreneurs out there. But you know what? Why don’t we talk about that? How did you and Bria . . . I was going to start off with the Kobe Bryant story. But how did you and Brian Lee, the guy who created so many companies like The Honest Company whose co-founder I interviewed, Legal Zoom and so many others, how did the two of you hook up?

Matthias: Well, you know, Brian had an amazing career and he’s incredibly well known and especially so in the LA ecosystem where he’s built most of his businesses. You know, my background is I’ve founded previous to Art of Sport about four different businesses, three of them were in the software space and the tech community, and so I had venture capital backers over the years and Brian and I share a number of mutual acquaintances at that arena. And when I finished my last company and Brian was thinking about stepping down from The Honest Company , we met, we got along incredibly well. We were both at a place where we were thinking about the future and things that we felt passionate about and we just clicked.

And so I think that as, you know, co-founders, the world over, when you feel like you have complementary skill sets, when you feel like you can go after a big idea together and you can inspire each other, but also really execute, I think that’s when great relationships are forged. And so Brian and I felt incredibly comfortable. Even though we hadn’t worked together in the past, we had enough mutual acquaintances and connective tissue to know that working together would be a lot of fun. And so we set off on this path together and it’s been a roller coaster so far.

Andrew: The Honest Company for people who may not remember is Jessica Alba’s company that offers natural baby and beauty products and actually so much more. As I understand it, you are just coming off of what was a mega-successful company and then the opposite of a mega-successful company. I can’t read your face because I don’t have video on with you, so I don’t know, like, if I say a failure, is that going to start turning you off? But . . .

Matthias: Oh, no.

Andrew: What was this business and how would . . . And tell me the story of what happened with it.

Matthias: My previous businesses?

Andrew: The one just before, the one that was in the New York Times as like . . . Yes. You know which one.

Matthias: Yeah. So I had spent most of my career designing and building digital products and services. Two companies ago, to give you a flavor of what I was up to, I was building enterprise software for the nonprofit space and payment technology and marketing automation. It was a software as a service platform.

Andrew: That was believe.in, right?

Matthias: Believe.in, yeah. But prior to that I did consumer and so I’ve danced between consumer and business products, but I left the software space feeling a little burnt out by it and thought, “You know what? I might actually prefer to have physical goods in a warehouse where I know what my margin profile looks like. I understand that if I ship something and someone likes it and they buy it, I’ve got cash at my account and, you know, ideally profitable in every single transaction, and not necessarily contingent on lots of venture capital.”

And so that’s why I went down that path. I ended up looking at a variety of, in particular, customer pain points in the apparel space. I had had a lot of exposure to the apparel industry. I’d built a lot of e-commerce platforms for well-known luxury brands. And I found swimsuits as crazy as it sounds to be very interesting. So, I mean, in retrospect, you know, there’s a lot of experience and went into deciding to go after the opportunity. If I told people at a cocktail party I was making bikinis, they’d think I was crazy, right? So there’s always a path to rationalizing these opportunities and what’s . . .

Andrew: Yeah. What did you see with it? The company was called, is it COCODUNE? Am I pronouncing it right?

Matthias: That’s right. Exactly.

Andrew: And so what was the thing that you discovered that led you to create COCODUNE?

Matthias: So it’s a number of things. The first was that I had actually . . . I had a girlfriend and we were going on holiday and she had to get a swimsuit and she went to a department store and I remember waiting outside the dressing room and watching her go through this agony of trying on all these different suits. And then the top wouldn’t fit and wouldn’t match with the bottom because they would be . . . Everyone’s anatomy is different, so it’s not like you can just pull a medium model rack and then sort of walk out of the store with this two-piece. You tend to have to mix and match and the department store wasn’t willing to do that. They didn’t want to have a big mess in their supply room.

And then not only that, she had no idea how many people had tried on this swimsuit before her, so there was something unhygienic about the whole experience. She had to take off all her clothes in the department store and sort of hide behind the curtain. And, you know, at some point the tears came out because she felt that she should . . . She was a small and here she was trying on these mediums and these larges and she felt terrible about herself and what was supposed to be a nice experience for us going on holiday was this, you know, very awful kind of pre-experience.

Andrew: And you said, “I can solve this.” And the way to solve it is by going online. And I think one of the things that you offered was women can try it on at home, right?

Matthias: Yeah. It was the first home try-on platform. You could order up to four different swimsuits for free. We would bill you retroactively for what you kept. No one really had done this before. One-pieces, we had two pieces. And that’s how we launched it. And I launched with a sort of Harry’s style referral program where we had about 40 or 50,000 people who signed up before we launched. And so I didn’t even know who was really my customer at this point. And when we pulled the sort of curtains up to start the show, I shipped out all these boxes. And there was a ton of press and women loved, but at the day, you know, that was one lesson for me was you can sort of supercharge a business, but if you’re going to do that, you’re going to need enough capital to sort of weather the storm if the sea gets a little choppy.

Andrew: So what happened? You got a bunch of . . . So the Harry’s situation, by the way, for signups is you say, “Look, we’re about to launch this thing. If you want to get in, add your email address,” people add their email address and you say, “Look, there’s a big waitlist. If you want to jump to the top of the waitlist, invite a few of your friends.” And so people started inviting their friends, they got to the top of the waitlist, but throughout they were also growing your list of future customers. Right?

Matthias: Exactly. So, if you refer 3 people, you unlock another thing, if you refer 5, you unlock more, if you unlock 10, you unlock even more.

Andrew: Yep.

Matthias: And so I was in a situation where I had sort of, you know, in the space of about 3 hours 50,000 people sign up and I had to actually turn it off because I didn’t have enough freebies to give away.

Andrew: Got it. Okay. And then when did you started selling to them? Did they buy or were they just interested in the free stuff and being on the list?

Matthias: It was more the latter because I guess the people making a lot of referrals were high school kids and kids in college.

Andrew: Right, right, right.

Matthias: And that makes sense now, but at the time, it was sort of like, “Wow, look at all these email addresses and all these names and all these people who are going to be buying this.” And it turned out that I was sort of hemorrhaging cash trying to find my customer. And I had also take the onus of vertically integrating, we had our own warehouse, we were doing our own fulfillment, we were buying all of our trim and our own fabric. So everything that was poised to be a scalable business ended up being one where I took a shotgun approach to the market when I should have probably taken a scalpel.

And so I learned a lot from that experience. There’s a whole other number of reasons why things didn’t work out. Something as obscure as Brexit, you know, even though to me because I held a bunch of capital in pounds, I had a bunch of English investors who invested British Sterling in my business and then I lost, you know, a third of my runway overnight. But year I came off back . . .

Andrew: Because you kept the money in the bank, they gave it to you in British pounds. You kept it in the bank as British pounds without converting it to U.S. dollars, as a result, the value of that went down and that’s another bite.

Matthias: Yes. That was another bite.

Andrew: Wow-wee.

Matthias: That was fun.

Andrew: Who would have even thought of that? All right. So let’s jump to . . . Is this painful as we’re talking about it? I’m sensing from your voice it is.

Matthias: No. I mean, this is what entrepreneurship is, right?

Andrew: So now, in retrospect, we can say that, but let’s be honest. When you’re going through it, how do you have the guts to say to Brian Lee, “I can sit face to face with you. We can talk about a new idea. And I am enough of an equal that we could talk about business together”? How do you sit that way instead of going, “I freaking failed. I need something. Like, I need to be picked up like a broken bird and put back into this guy before I can have confidence enough to talk about my next idea”?

Matthias: Right.

Andrew: Honestly, how do you get yourself great?

Matthias: Well, I mean, I had a couple of successes before then, so I sort of thought, like, I wasn’t . . . I knew that . . . There is some truth in that, you know, around every corner of opportunity it can be failure or success and it can be as binary as that. And so, you know, coming up with the right idea, right time, right place and a little bit of luck can take you very far in life, but you can also have a brilliant idea and it’s just the wrong time in the wrong place and that fails. And so I don’t think that those things are ever an expression of one’s potential. I just . . . It’s about whether or not you’ve had your hit single.

Andrew: But Matthias, were you actually that confident and that aware as you are going through it or is this in retrospect, “Things happen to people and in retrospect, you can just blow it off”?

Matthias: I was confident that I had the executional capabilities because I had been in a previous life helped launch like nike.com and skype.com and F1 Racing team for Richard Branson, I built a consumer bank before. So the reality is, is that I had always . . . I had executed things at the highest level without them blowing up in my face.

Andrew: Okay.

Matthias: And so I knew that I had the skill.

Andrew: Where was it? Where was your biggest hit before? Was it Popsicle Vision? Was it MEA Poke?

Matthias: I mean, it depends on how you carve it because the previous businesses that I exited were services companies, and those are different from scaling software companies and selling those. So, in the context of a services business that services very well-known brands and then you sell to a larger group, you know, those were probably my earliest successes. And then the software business could have been a much, much bigger success. In fact, I would chalk it up to being a failure, because we had raised a meaningful amount of capital and we weren’t able to return that capital in that . . . return that capital to the investor base.

Andrew: This is Believe.in, the software company.

Matthias: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay.

Matthias: So the reality is, is that, you know, the big success of, like, the sort of Honest Company style business has evaded me so far, but I’ve always just kept . . . My firm belief is if you fail, you fail up and you climb back on the horse and you go at it again and you take away more learnings from failure than you do success.

Andrew: What’s the big thing that you took away from COCODUNE?

Matthias: The big thing was knowing your customer. And I think it was a case of . . . There were a lot of lessons around the conversion funnel, and where the paid acquisition world is going online. And I had some very acute sensitivity for how things had evolved compared to, you know, e-commerce brands that might have started, you know, 10 years ago. And so it became very apparent to me that the cost of acquiring a customer via social channels was creeping up very fast. It became apparent that the conversion rates weren’t what they used to be based on comms.

And so it struck me that if you were going to build an e-commerce company, number one, you were going to need a lot more capital out of a gate. And number two, you probably would need to sort of back your way into a product category where the unit economics are inherently on your side as opposed to what the world has been like where if you come up with an idea that you’re passionate about and you sort of put it out into the world, there could be an opportunity, there could be potential for that to stick. And I don’t think the game is played the same way anymore. I think you have to stack the deck before you actually start.

Andrew: And so stacking the deck at Art of Sport means what? It’s a product with high margin . . . high unit economics, right?

Matthias: No, stacking the deck at Art of Sport was recognizing who our competitors were and how we were going to compete with them in the arena. And we did that by bringing around us number one, designing a brand platform that’s very big. So we’re going after a $45 billion category in men’s grooming. Then it was about putting enough capital to work to introduce our idea through a number of products, not just one product. So we launched with deodorant, and body washes, and soap, and shampoo, and lotion. We launched with the full range. We even had a sunscreen and a pain and recovery cream. So we were the f . . . We’re probably one of the few skincare brands in the world that has that 360 kind of holistic approach to skincare right out of the gate.

We also felt it was going to be important to thrive on Amazon when a lot of direct to consumer brands don’t even go near that because of maybe conventional wisdom. And so we partnered deeply with Amazon from day one and we became the best-selling brand in men’s skincare on Amazon from more or less the moment that we launched. And then we brought around us some incredible talent and incredible athletes who collectively bring to the party about 75 million followers on social channels.

And so that’s how we stack the deck. It’s understanding that you have to . . . If you’re going to go after this category that’s basically controlled by two or three conglomerates, that you have to have all of those things in place to be able to play a hand that can make a dent. And so that was our approach with Art of Sport was really recognizing it from day one as opposed to just being hopeful that if we create a cool Facebook ad and we throw that up there that someone will convert.

Andrew: All right. Let me take a moment to talk about my first sponsor. And I’d like to kind of talk about it in the context of what you said about COCODUNE. So the first sponsor is a company called ClickFunnels. What they do is create landing pages, very similar to the one that you created for your bathing suit brand. The interesting thing is they have these templates, you can use them, get started fast, and be up and running with a beautiful design that collects email addresses, sends it to your email software wherever you want.

They also have plugins with software like UpViral, for example, which allows you to create that viral growth that you created which is, “If you share, we will give you this benefit,” which gets more people who sign up to start sharing it. But here’s the thing that I’m curious about your take on this. Don’t say, “Yes, it’s great,” just because they’re my sponsor. But one of the things that I like about ClickFunnels is that imagine if after somebody said, “Yes, I’m interested,” gave you their email address, maybe even told some friends, you also then try to sell them something, something like, “Put down $5 and you’ll get a deep discount when we launch,” or, “Pay $10 and get this beautiful something or rather for your hair.” I don’t know what it is.

But imagine if you would have said, “Give me your email address. Yes, you could tell your friends, by the way, also buy something,” as a way of getting their credit cards into your system, seeing that they’re real customers and then tracing back, “Where are we getting the people who are willing to pay even $1?” And what ClickFunnels allows you to do is just say, “You know what? Andrew just threw out this idea. Let’s just drag and drop a credit card payment form. Let’s just drag and drop this other element and see how it works.” What do you think of that? Would that have worked?

Matthias: I think that the tools that will make a meaningful difference for e-commerce entrepreneurs in the future will be ones that tie together that level of simplicity with sort of the creative brilliance of doing lifecycle marketing and CRM marketing really well. And so that I think is the . . . That’s the key to success is, you know, second, and third, and fourth, and fifth step down the trail, not just the first part of converting someone. And so yeah, I think those things are . . . You know, the better the tool basket can be there, the more likely you are to succeed.

Andrew: You know what? I do have a sponsor who I keep talking about, like, how to get people on board. It’s ActiveCampaign, an email software company. They keep saying, “Andrew, tell people . . . Forget about getting us more customers. Just get this idea out that, yes, people can sign up for ActiveCampaign . . . ” I know I’m getting off a ClickFunnels for a moment. ” . . . but also let them know that after they sell that is when they should stay in touch with customers, see who’s not buying enough and find a way to connect with them, see who is buying and find a way to reward.”

Anyway, I get you. That’s a whole other sponsor. I’ll close out ClickFunnels by saying, yes, ClickFunnels will allow you to do that. I don’t talk about it enough. ClickFunnels never jab me and said, “Andrew talk about it,” but you just did and I will in future ads. I want to close it out by saying, if you’re interested, if you’re out there and you want to do this thing where you collect email addresses, try to make a first sale, send that contact information into your CRM where you could start following up with them whether it’s ActiveCampaign, Infusionsoft, or frankly even with ClickFunnels own follow-up CRM. All of that is available for you with ClickFunnels. You can use it for free for 14 days. Really, just go in there and experiment and I think, I know you’re going to love it.

And finally, even if you’re not interested, they’ve got a great interview that I did with the founder available all of this, the free stuff, my funnels with them, the interview, all of it is available at clickfunnels.com/mixergy.

As I understand it, you and Brian sat down for a meeting and then at some point you were thinking about sunscreen. Was it sunscreen for yourselves?

Matthias: Yeah. So, I mean, the genesis of the idea came from a few different areas. And, you know, an idea starts with an initial, you know, phrase and then you sort of have to jam until you get it to a place where it feels like, “Oh, this actually has a meaningful differentiation and could be a business.” So it came from, you know, Brian was . . . We were . . . Brian was going to the beach and he basically had packed Honest Company sunscreen and didn’t want to apply it to the skin because he was going to end up all pasty and white from it from the zinc and [inaudible 00:21:26].

Andrew: Yeah, I know it. Yes.

Matthias: And so he went to a CVS and I think his first impression when he got there looking for it was this kind of wall of sunscreens. It was Banana Boat and Coppertone and Hawaiian Tropic. And they all had . . . You know, they were lotions and sprays and sticks and whatnot. And they all had a sport version of their principal line, their old school line that’s been around for 20, 30 years. That’s that sport.

And so as he was telling me this, I sort of knew kind of intuitively where he was headed with this because I, throughout, my life had been an athlete, I played multiple different sports, and I applied sunscreen religiously, you know, have dealt with everything from joint pain, to burnt skin, to dandruff, to dry skin to you name it, I’ve sort of experienced it, but when I’m out in the field and playing.

And so as he was telling me this story and all he had to say was sort of sport, it struck me intuitively that I had always been, you know, buying the best apparel for sports, Nike. I’d always been concerned about my sort of what I put in my body and the nutritional makeup of the things I consumed. And then I sort of stopped and thought, “Well, I haven’t really put a lot of time and thought into what I apply to my skin.”

And so as we dug into that more and more and realized, “Hey, it’s not just your sunscreen, but it’s also the shower that you take and you’re taking multiple showers as an athlete. It’s maybe the pain ointment that you’re having on your joints for recovery. It’s the soap you’re putting on your skin. It’s the deodorant that you’re putting on your skin. You’re putting this stuff on multiple times a day, and for the most part, we have no idea what the chemical cocktail is that we’re putting on ourselves. And that in some ways has greater implications for our wellbeing and our health and our success than does whether we’re moisture-wicking t-shirt or not.

Andrew: So then, what’s the . . . I understand the difference. So, if I have a moisture-wicking, t-shirt on, it’s going to keep from sticking onto my shirt onto my body as I run and get sweaty.

Matthias: Yep.

Andrew: What’s the problem with . . . Let’s start with sunscreen. What’s the problem with sunscreen as it exists today? I can get any sport sunscreen. What do I get? Banana Boat in the pump. That’s what I wear when I go out for long runs.

Matthias: Yeah.

Andrew: What’s the problem with that? It doesn’t wash off.

Matthias: Yeah, there’s no . . . With sunscreen, it isn’t that there is a performance issue per se, it’s that there’s a formulation issue. And so a lot of sunscreens that are in the market have ingredients and chemicals in them that are sort of known carcinogens. And not only that, they’re also not reef safe. So, if you’re going in the water, you’re actually contributing to the leaching of coral rates. And so recently a legislation was passed that said, you know, some of these ingredients are totally unacceptable and should be made illegal. And guess what? Nine out of 10 sunscreens was knocked out of the market and they have to sort of rush to reformulate.

And so you’ve seen this emergence of some of these sort of more natural sunscreens that are all mineral-based. Problem with those is that they don’t necessarily perform very well, so you are still in a situation where you might be getting sunburned if you go on the water or it might not last over the course of four or five hours. So sunscreen, in particular, is one of those . . . Until you realize what it is you’re putting on your skin, you might not be aware that there needs to be a step-change because nothing has changed in the last 20 years.

Andrew: But did you do any research to see that athletes or men in general care about that or you just say, “They have to care about it. We saw with The Honest Company . The world is moving towards caring about this stuff.”

Matthias: I think it’s a combination. I think that men are in some ways probably not the audience that are first to educate themselves on the subject matter. It’s usually females. But, you know, I think if you look at all of those sort of bellwethers in the arena, and you see mothers who are choosing more consciously products to put on their kids’ skin and therefore a brand needed to emerge that service them, or you’re seeing social media serve as probably the most, the greatest education platform that’s ever existed for brands to introduce themselves to the world. And you see these beauty brands coming out of nowhere that have basically taken a new approach to the market. I think all of that contributes to a consumer that is probably more open-minded than they’ve ever been.

And so we knew that the men’s aisle in particular had been neglected compared to women’s beauty. And if you go into your average CVS or your average Target, the men’s grooming aisle really hasn’t changed in 20 or 30 years. But that’s not to say that men aren’t receptive to new brands and new products in that space.

In fact, one good example of that or two good examples is Axe that came onto the market in the ’90s and it really focused on 16-year-olds. And it’s that, “Hey, if you spray this on yourself, you’ll get a girl.” And it turned into one of the biggest, if not the biggest body spray brand in the world. And the other product, of course, is Old Spice and I reference Old Spice because they’ve been around since the ’30s. They flatlined for good part of the last two decades and only recently when they realized, “Hey, we could maybe rethink how we speak to consumers,” and that’s why they brought on board and Wieden+Kennedy and they sort of rebrand themselves in a social media era and now they’ve seen themselves rebound is another good example of a personal care brand and particular daily, basic personal care products for men speaking differently to the market and suddenly finding amazing traction.

And I think that it’s all sort of a testament to this category needing more innovation and needing, you know, greater creativity. And sport, you know, the way we saw it walking through the aisles and seeing sport on every single type of body care product in the men’s grooming aisle didn’t have an authentic player that could stand on its own . . .

Andrew: I think I understand it. You’re saying, clearly, there’s a need for sport, that’s why all these brands are sticking sport on it. But Banana Boat sunscreen, putting sport on it, doesn’t really make it for men. And the fact that they put sports regardless of the branding not being for men, still doesn’t mean that their formulation is right for men and that it’s modern and that it takes into account people’s care for the environment and for their health. That was what you saw. Am I right?

Matthias: I’ll give you an . . . exactly that. I’ll give you an anecdote. So I was sitting with . . . I won’t name names. But I was sitting with somebody who was in charge of one of the big deodorant brands in the country and had been at this conglomerate for 15 years.

Andrew: Okay.

Matthias: And he said, “Look, I was the marketing director for this brand. I couldn’t get the product moving any faster. We didn’t have any real budget to do any marketing, so I decided I was going to put sport on the label of the deodorant stick and I was going to put an athlete on it and it sold 10X the next year.” And that’s because there’s a perception for men buying these products when it says sport that there’s going to somehow either be a performance benefit or it’s going to be better for them. And two of those things have basically . . . Though both of those things have not been true for anyone using the word sport basically in men’s grooming.

Andrew: So you said, “Look, there’s clearly a need.” And you saw an example of a business that increased sales dramatically just by adding the word sport, but none of these brands are authentically caring about sport. That’s what we’re going to go in for it. Right?

Matthias: Correct.

Andrew: And then also Brian had done The Honest Company for women and babies. If I’m understanding it right, it’s like, “Let’s kind of do the same thing now for men with this new market as it exists today.”

Matthias: Exactly. Let’s think of . . .

Andrew: Got it.

Matthias: . . . what Phil Knight did in the ’70s for apparel and the world where we could do that with body care.

Andrew: Okay. Don’t take this the wrong way, but why does Brian Lee need you? I mean, he’s a guy who spun up these companies. We didn’t even talk about ShoeDazzle, right, and others. Why? What did you bring to the table?

Matthias: I mean, I can only speak to the experience that I’ve had.

Andrew: Don’t be modest.

Matthias: No. I mean, look I’ve been coding and designing since I was nine. I started my first business when I was 14. I’ve serviced Nike in the past. I’ve worked with global brands before. And so as an operator, I’m pretty good at what I do, but I think the combination of both of us where we can sort of dance between really big ideas and really thinking big and then also executing on a daily basis and operating and building the pyramid block by block, you know, that’s a lonely journey. It’s best to have fresh opinions and new ideas at all times. And we have very complementary skill sets. And so to that end, I think we made a really good pairing.

Andrew: Speaking of your childhood, you kind of touched on that, I heard you guys grew up or you grew up in nine different countries including the Soviet Union, Istanbul and Egypt, and then learn to code at an early age. How did you end up in all these exotic countries?

Matthias: My father was an ambassador, so every two to three years he was posted to different countries.

Andrew: A U.S. ambassador?

Matthias: He was a German ambassador.

Andrew: Got it. Wow. How did he get to be a German ambassador to so many countries? I thought in the U.S. you get to be an ambassador if you contribute to the President’s campaign.

Matthias: Yeah, it’s just completely different setup. So, in America, it’s kind of these token dignitary or position that are given to friends like you say. In Germany, you have the Foreign Service and the Foreign Service is basically a career, and so you start . . . My dad started when he was 18. And he was, over the course of the last 50 or 60 years, he was posted to upwards of 75 countries.

Andrew: Wow.

Matthias: And he basically worked his way up from, you know, a small island that at the time no one cared about called, you know, the Dominican Republic through to, you know, bigger and bigger and bigger sort of political positions in different parts of the world. And so that’s how you do it in the German Foreign Service and I think every country has slightly different nuances, but yeah, that was my childhood and I never really . . .

Andrew: Was your grandfather also an ambassador?

Matthias: His father was in politics, so my family has been in politics for maybe 3 or 400 years.

Andrew: I see that.

Matthias: Yeah.

Andrew: Look at this. The link that I’m looking them up this, this is impressive in German politics for that far.

Matthias: Yeah.

Andrew: Apparently, who was Paul Wolff Metternich? Am I pronouncing the last name right? Did I screw it up again?

Matthias: All old ancestors that are not tech entrepreneurs. Let’s just put it that way.

Andrew: That is amazing. Look, he was also a prominent German opponent of Turkish actions in the Armenian Genocide. Talk about being ahead of his time. I would love to be an ambassador. I feel like all I want to do is just talk to people. I’d have to hold back on some of the things that I say, but just talking to people from different countries, sounds fun.

Matthias: Well, I think that . . .

Andrew: Did you [inaudible 00:32:33] as a kid? How did it shape you?

Matthias: What I got out of it was seeing a lot of different cultures and a lot of different places, but I also I got to see China in the early ’90s when it was opening up. I was surrounded by business people who were, you know, needing to curry favor with the government in certain places, and so you’d hear these stories about all of this amazing investment happening, all of this amazing industry taking place in the world right after the Soviet Union collapsed. And so I think as a boy, I saw a lot of that happening and then plus I had a passion for [computers 00:33:05].

And when I remember hacking my way into, you know, effectively what amounted to my first experience online and talking to somebody on the other side of the planet, I just felt like there was something implicitly different about that moment where I was waiting to see somebody respond to my message and then seeing it appear on my screen. And so I think, you know, I immersed myself and steeped myself in that world of creating things with computers. And so nothing . . .

Andrew: What did you create as a kid with computers?

Matthias: I started with games. So I was passionate about gaming. And I’ve started building computer games and I always say that, like, terrible until I realized that it was not about the code, but the story. And the story is the code is a means to an end. And the better my design became, the more captivating and exciting my games became. And so that was an early lesson as a kid feeling like there’s what you see above the hood, and then there’s what you see beneath the hood. And then based on your, you know, different stages in your company, those things can evolve at separate paces.

Ideally, they’re both brilliant, but for someone who just wants to put an idea into the world and as long as it works and performs on the frontend, it doesn’t really matter how the backend behaves until, of course, you start to hit scale and at that point, you have to probably re-engineer the guts. But it was a fluid medium for me and I for basically nothing could come up with whatever I sort of wanted to come up with as long as I had time and passion and dedication to it, you know, an idea could start to form and I could put it out into the world online.

Andrew: Let me do this. Let me talk about my second sponsor short and then we’ll come back and see how you got Kobe Bryant and why you got others, how you launch, how you got your first customers, the subscription part of your business I’m fascinated by, and then why Amazon because I thought Amazon crushed brands like yours.

But first, I’ll tell everyone that when one of the co-founders of The Honest Company was on here, Christopher Gavigan, he heard me talk about Toptal as the place to go hire developers where you can hire developers who are the best the best, like Google-level developers, we’re not talking cheap developers, but really creative developers. I saw him take down notes on that and he was most drawn by that sponsor more than . . . At that point, actually, I realized, “Wait a minute. Toptal should just be going after my guests more even so than my audience.”

So I’m going to tell you and I’m going to tell anyone else in my audience who’s at the level where they could be doing Mixergy interviews, if you want to hire phenomenal developers ones who’ve been screened, tested, and backed by Toptal, all you have to do is go to toptal.com/mixergy. As soon as you hit that big button on that page, you can schedule a call with one of their matchers, they’ll understand what you’re looking for, then they go back to their network, find people who fit your requirements and then get you on a conversation with them. If you like, you can often get started with them within days. If you don’t, no loss, but it’s superfast only for the best of the best developers.

If you use this link that I’m about to give you, you’re going to get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours in addition to, again, let me emphasize this, a no-risk trial period of up to two weeks. That’s top as in top of your head, tal as in talent, toptal.com/mixergy to get that exclusive offer, toptal.com/mixergy. I’m grateful to them for sponsoring.

How did you decide to go after, I don’t want to call them influencers, but really well-known celebrity athletes?

Matthias: Well, I think that, you know, as a lifelong athlete and someone who’s about sport, you grow up with heroes and you grow up looking to the best. And so I’d always, you know, been inspired by folks like Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan and Michael Schumacher and all these kinds of incredible athletes out there. And building a sports brand is a slightly different game to maybe a consumer brand that doesn’t have that as part of its platform.

And so the credibility factor is, number one, incredibly important. It’s to put your product in the hands of the best and see how it fares. That’s number one. And if they get behind it and they believe in the mission they like the mission, that has reverberating and very positive effects for the sort of micro-community, you can then build around that. And I think anything with . . . Any good business starts with, in some ways, what’s the community I’m going to serve? And then how am I going to do a good job understanding them, understanding their needs and then servicing them in the best possible way? And so having that community be involved in the creation of your product is fundamental there.

Andrew: So you didn’t just want Kobe Bryant’s name, you wanted him to help make this into a product that someone like Kobe Bryant would want to wear?

Matthias: I think that’s exactly right. I think that the days of kind of slapping a face on a billboard and having them hold a product, I think those are . . . I mean, you’ll see them for a long time to come, so I won’t generalize. But I think that people are more and more attuned to the fact that those could be very hollow associations.

Andrew: How hard was it to get these athletes on board? Was it as easy as going to their agents and making a deal?

Matthias: You know, it wasn’t really. We were . . . The initial phase was, can we bring amazing scientists together to look at this vertical in a different way? Is there enough we can do to push the puck forward? And so we brought on board two amazing scientists, one, Dr. Mitra had been at Procter & Gamble for 25 plus years. He had risen through the ranks to become essentially the sort of Chief Innovation Officer and he was very involved in the initial conception of the concept and helping us think through these things.

The other scientist that we brought on board was Dr. Laurence Dryer. She used to be the Chief Science Officer at Honest Company. And she was very focused on omitting lots of bad chemicals, obviously, for Honest Company products. And so the combination of those two plus us really gave us a lot to stew on and work on. And then once we felt we could make a meaningful difference in this space, that’s when we then approached a very specific individual starting with Kobe Bryant because at that point, we had enough to put in enough to share on the way of samples to sort of really paint a picture of the vision and the idea.

Andrew: Is Dr. Mitra, Dr. Shekhar Mitra?

Matthias: That’s right.

Andrew: Wow. I see a long history with Procter & Gamble. And frankly, I’m seeing interviews with him online. Who interviews the guy at Procter & Gamble who mix stuff?

Matthias: Well, this guy he’s the inventor of crest white strips and Old Spice clinical strength. And he’s someone who has been innovating across all sorts of different product categories for decades. And so . . .

Andrew: So what did he add? What did he do that was new for you guys?

Matthias: Well, first and foremost, I think he helped us get a really good sense of the lay of the land because that’s the world he had spent, you know, 25, 30 years forging himself. And so, you know, really when you start to, you know, pick an opportunity apart, the question is, “What are the other players doing? What shape do they take? Who do they service? What’s so great about their product?” And you realize in doing that, at least in our case, that some of these larger players, of course, they create brilliant product otherwise they wouldn’t be around, but they’re also, you know, they’re so large that they’re servicing a lot of different types of customers, they’ve got a lot of legacy brands that they’re sort of having to keep the lights on.

And as far as innovating and innovating rapidly based on the times, that’s not necessarily something that, yes, they’re investing in but it might not really move the needle the same way is just growing increment existing brands they have in market. So just that level of context was brilliant because we realized that, yes, there was an opportunity to fine-tune formulas specifically for athletes. And they could be materially different enough for mass-market to have positive implications when a consumer wears it, but also to stand out on shelf. And so a lot of the sort of common chemicals, for example, that are used in men’s products, those we quickly narrowed in on is, “Hey, we can replace these with better ingredients.”

And then we also looked at the world’s botanicals that are now currently not being included in men’s skincare products for the most part. And we looked at things like shea butter and tea tree oil, aloe vera, charcoal, the list goes on. And we looked at those based on the use case. So what product would it go into and why would it be useful for the skin in that moment? And that’s how we started to really architect a framework for the formulas that we started to develop.

So he played a critical part in that alongside Dr. Dryer. And then we got into a world which was really fun, which was the fragrances and what fragrance can do for you on a sort of olfactory level and a mental level, which is another part of the equation that we’re addressing because it’s not just about how your skin feels but it’s also about confidence and how you smell. And that was a whole sort of dimension that was really fun for us to exercise and look at and that was something that Kobe Bryant really loved talking about also.

Andrew: Yeah, tell me about that. You told me before we got started that you had a conversation with him that included him evaluating your deodorants and fragrances. What was that like?

Matthias: I mean, you know, we pretty much put all of our samples in boxes and we drove down to Newport. And, you know, we had a meeting where, you know, at 2:00 p.m. on a Thursday we’d turn up and we’d have an opportunity to talk about our story. And so we set up and we took out all these different vials and all these different products. And Kobe’s team was in attendance and Kobe hadn’t turned up yet. And, you know, of course, going into these meetings initially you’re sort of ready to go, but as the clock ticked on and waiting for Kobe to turn up, you know, the nerves started to kick in a little bit and we were sort of, you know, waiting for this legend to turn up and partner idea. And he’s notoriously strong-minded and critical and smart and creative. And so this is someone who, you know, helped build the Nike brand and the Nike empire throughout his career, and was stood alongside Phil Knight, figuring what that should look like on a global level. So this isn’t somebody who’s just an athlete, this is somebody who’s a multifaceted business operator.

And so, you know, Kobe turned up and was incredibly warm and receptive. He’s at a place in his life where . . . And not to speak for him, but you can tell he’s involved deeply with a number of business projects. BodyArmor was a huge success that he was deeply involved with. And so he came with a very exercised and sharp opinion about what it means to build a sports brand whether there was enough differentiation with the products that we have, our go-to-market strategy and how are we going to build a brilliant brand that could inspire the next generation.

And so our conversation started with a lot of the sort of big-picture stuff, but then it got very tactical very quickly and he started to sort of unscrew all the vials and smell all the fragrances and really gravitate different families of fragrance. He started to apply the products in the meeting. And then sort of said, “Leave it with me. Let me think on this.” And then within 24 hours, you know, came back and said, “I just can’t believe no one’s doing this. It’s a total no-brainer for me and I would love to be involved.”

Andrew: You mentioned BodyArmor. I didn’t realize what his involvement was. Apparently, according to this Sports Illustrated article that I’m reading, he invested $6 million in the sports drink company. His stake after Coca Cola purchased a minority share in the business was worth $200 million from 6 million. Did he invest in the business too or was he just getting equity in exchange for supporting it?

Matthias: You know, I don’t know the details of his business relationship there, but I do know that, you know, Mike Repole and Lance Collins were behind BodyArmor and they’re also the same guys.

Andrew: Oh, no, I mean with you. Did he invest . . . Did he invest with you in Art of Sport?

Matthias: Yeah. He’s a founding partner in the business and he’s an owner in the business with Brian and myself.

Andrew: That means that he invested money in addition to putting his name in?

Matthias: I can’t disclose exactly what he did, but I can say that he’s the co-owner with Brian and myself.

Andrew: Okay. And so then what I understand from your conversation with our producer, you took picture . . . or you had photos taken with the athletes. You started on Instagram? Is that where you guys basically launch to say . . .

Matthias: Well, there were a lot of steps that happened in between that moment and those steps were basically we decided, let’s bring a roundtable of awesome athletes together, not just Kobe. Kobe is sort of our Yoda, if you will. He’s this legend with all this amazing experience. We also wanted some amazing athletes currently playing across different sports, across different stages of their careers, across different ethnicities and genders. And so we brought together a team of folks, and so that included Javier Báez from the Cubs who’s a World Series Champion. We brought JuJu Smith-Schuster who’s now I think considered one of the second or third most recognizable new athletes in the country. He’s only 22.

Andrew: And by the way, JuJu is a woman, right?

Matthias: No. JuJu is a guy. He’s a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers. And he also has I think now he’s got, you know, 3 million followers on Instagram and 1 million YouTube subscribers because he live streams himself playing video games Fortnite with people like, you know, Travis Scott and Drake.

Andrew: Sorry. You know what it is? I’m actually on a Hollywood Reporter article about you guys where the first sentence of that article is, “Attention humans: You can now smell like Kobe Bryant.” But how are you going to get . . . How are you going to get that kind of media without having celebrities with you? Number one. Number two thing that stands out for me is, you’re on there. Dude, you look good. I can’t see what you look like here, but you look fit. You look like an athlete. In fact, except for the complexion, you look like Kobe Bryant in this photo. You know what I’m talking about where you’re both standing like this?

Matthias: Yeah. I mean, I didn’t want to brag about my basketball skills, but now that we’re on the subject, but no, look, I . . .

Andrew: I couldn’t tell if you were just like some nerd with an idea and ability to sell online or if you are, like . . . You look like you fit in.

Matthias: That’s how like it. Perfect.

Andrew: And then finally, the photo of all the athletes. They are missing the name of the woman who is holding up the product at the far right to the right of JuJu Smith-Schuster which is why I said, “Wait, JuJu is a woman? That’s what you . . . ” And no, I think they just missed . . . They didn’t include her name here.

Matthias: Sage Erickson. Yeah. She’s a great . . . She’s a two-time U.S. surf champion.

Andrew: No, never mind. I see it. It’s just a little bit out of place. So she’s the woman who I keep seeing all the ads, Sage Erickson. Why a woman for men’s brand?

Matthias: Well, we’re sports brand first and foremost.

Andrew: So it’s not a men’s cosmetic or men’s skin brand.

Matthias: We started with men, but, you know, invariably when you create sunscreen and pain cream and even our existing products, women gravitate to it also. So we already have unisex products in market.

Andrew: Got it.

Matthias: We’re talking about a platform that’s about you achieving your full potential as an athlete and as a sort of active person. And we feel strongly that it’s an important part of our DNA, female and male athletes in our business.

Andrew: Okay. So what did you do to start getting customers? Now that you had everything in place, you got the scientists who helped you come up with the right formula, you had the athletes who helped you both create the brand for it, gave you credibility, but at the same time also helped shape what it was going to smell and feel like, how did you get customers?

Matthias: So there are a lot of tentacles to the octopus. I mean, for the most part you D2C see brands like to focus on Facebook and Instagram because they’re invariably the only scalable paid acquisition channels that exist. People have to be a little bit more inventive now, but that’s where you find scale if you do fine. And then . . .

Andrew: And when you say that, is it advertising there or . . .

Matthias: I t’s for the most part, it’s people advertising, yeah. And we do our fair amount of advertising, but when we launched, we did a couple of things. So all of our athletes posted and they cross-referenced each other. So that went out to about 75 million people. We also put them on billboards in Times Square which was pretty fun. Then we knew going into sport that people around the country are convening at sports events every single day in the millions, and so those are just natural communities that exist and that are active already, and so it’s almost stronger in some ways than, you know, mothers and babies with The Honest Company because sport is a constant year-round, lifelong passion. And so we knew grassroots events were going to be very important to us, so we’ve probably engaged in the last year upwards of half a million young athletes. We . . .

Andrew: What does that mean, you engage half a million young athletes?

Matthias: We believe in turning up on the field, so we turn out at these events and whether they’re 5,000 or 7,000 person volleyball camps, or lacrosse camps, or, you know, football combines, or high-performance gyms, you know, we turn up with product and we talked to customers and we talk to athletes.

Andrew: Okay. I see. That’s why you know what, when I’m trying to figure out where you’re getting your traffic by looking at different tools that I use, and if you see my eyes going down, that’s what I’m doing, I can’t see it. There’s a lot of direct traffic. And I go, “Who’s typing this in?” Now I understand why so many people are doing it. You go to live in-person events, you hand out samples, and then I guess people go online to see, what is this that I got? How do I get more of it? Is that the thing?

Matthias: I mean, you go to an event where there’s, you know, 5,000 kids with, you know, 7,000 parents in attendants there for a weekend and they come by your booth and, hey, you know, what you’re putting on your skin has all of these questionable chemicals in it. We formulated these products that are high-performance formulas for athletes. Your kid, you know, is an athlete, you know, have this sample. Tell us what you think. We’re a new brand. We’ve got great athletes in our business. And just like you did before we started the interview, you went on Amazon, you checked out our reviews.

Andrew: Yeah, yeah.

Matthias: All of these great reviews. And it compelled you to try it out. And that’s the other area of growth that’s been really fun and exciting is we had a really deep partnership with Amazon from day one.

Andrew: What does that mean that you had a partnership with Amazon?

Matthias: Well, think about it, right? Business in many ways, for the most part, is about arbitrage opportunities. And those exists in lots of different flavors. And so it’s about newness, it’s about innovation, it’s about being different, in places.

Andrew: Wait, wait, wait. What do you mean by arbitrage? Arbitrage is where you buy in one market where it sells lower than another market and sell in that higher price market. What do you mean business is all about arbitrage.

Matthias: It’s about taking advantage of opportunities that aren’t fully saturated out if you’ve got an asset that could work very well in an unsaturated space. So I’ll give you an example.

Andrew: Yeah.

Matthias: Celebrities and athletes in particular, it’s not very common that you’ll find them on product page listings on Amazon. It’s just very uncommon to see Kobe Bryant on a deodorant listing page on Amazon. That’s just an example. It’s a very [inaudible 00:53:20] example, but it’s nevertheless an example where there’s star power, there’s a media power there, there’s a real inherent value and validation that exists there. And then there’s this enormous marketplace that hasn’t really seen people do inventive things in their image carousel to create a standout moment that could convert. And so conversions on a product page like that are probably a little higher by definition because it’s different.

Andrew: Oh, dude, now I see what you’re talking about. You’re right. So, first of all, I typed in “men deodorant” to see what comes up.

Matthias: Yep.

Andrew: It is all the same brands except for Dial have been around since my dad’s time. Dial is the newest one, right? And then there’s like some random thing that uses magnesium and charcoal and something, right? Like, the thing that’s niche enough that people care about it. You’re right. All right. So then I see you in there.

Matthias: Yeah.

Andrew: And yes, the second photo is just Kobe Bryant looking like a regular dude holding up the deodorant, not even like one of these sizzler shots.

Matthias: Right.

Andrew: That’s what you’re talking about. So you’re saying, look, we’re standing out by being the new brand in here, and then if you go and investigate, yes, you can see Kobe Bryant and then also I go in and that’s where you start to lose me where you talk about what goes into it because I don’t know what any of this stuff is, but I guess for people who care about eucalyptus burst and the rest, then you’re showing your credibility. Maybe even with me it shows a little credibility even if I don’t know the details of it. Got it. And you said, “This is how we stand out. We could stand out in Amazon by being one of the few people who have the star power in Amazon where everything else is just product placement for products.”

Matthias: To an extent. I mean, Amazon is out there thinking about ways that it can legitimize itself in these categories and that’s one way that they think about doing it, but they also, they’re not going to partner with everybody. So, you know, there’s . . .

Andrew: What do you mean by partner? You’re just not . . . You’re not going in there and just listing the way everyone else is listing? What’s the partnership?

Matthias: No. I mean, you can, but, you know, we have whole teams at Amazon that we call every twice or three times a week and we talk about opportunities to launch things together. We’ve created products that are only available on Amazon that we launched with them on Prime Day exclusively. So, for instance, the Art of Sport Victory Deodorant, we launched on Amazon, not even on our website with Amazon on Prime Day. They included us and Kobe Bryant in their press release about Prime Day launch, and we got picked up in, you know, 5,000 to 10,000 different press outlets worldwide for free and it became the number one best-selling deodorant stick in the country overnight because it was exclusive to Prime members. And we worked on that for about six months exclusive to Amazon.

So that was another example of . . . That’s just one example of how deep the partnership is. And, you know, I think it was all . . . It’s a give and take, right? The reason they want to do that with us is because we have the ability to execute brilliant product, we’re doing it at a price point that most men can afford, which is finishing the lane Amazon wants to live in. We have brilliant factories that can scale enormously so we can handle the volume. We have great celebrities who can help endorse the brand from an authentic place as a sports brand. We’re introducing formulas that men haven’t had before with the omission of lots of questionable chemicals which they also haven’t had before.

And so if you’re on the Amazon side and you’re thinking, “Hey, you know, we really want to grow the personal care category by a billion dollars this year,” you’re not going to necessarily do that with just an expensive shaving brand that was invented in Brooklyn. Like, that’s not going to move the needle for you. But what will move the needle for you is an assortment of family of products like that that speak to men cross-generationally and that they can really get behind. And so that’s sort the definition of our partnership.

Andrew: What about the black hat stuff that’s being done on Amazon? How is that affecting you? What are you seeing there?

Matthias: We’ve seen a lot of stuff. We’ve seen, you know, folks who’ve actively tried to undermine our reviews and lots of one stars suddenly from people who’ve never left reviews ever. And then we saw, you know, some folks who would buy in bulk and then sort of return those products and say they were defective and so that also has some barrier.

Andrew: Wow, to that degree.

Matthias: Oh, sure.

Andrew: That’s a lot of work that goes into knocking a competitor.

Matthias: Amazon is . . . For what it is, it’s got a . . . There’s an underbelly there that is very brutal and cutthroat. We haven’t seen a knockoffs of our products yet, unfortunately, but we know it will probably come at some point. And of course, there’s the whole kind of let’s call it the gamification of or rather the black hatting of everything around reviews and how do get reviews . . .

Andrew: You know what? I got to tell you something. I had a fan who wanted to be on Mixergy here to do an interview. He came on, numbers were good, everything was good, we were about ready to recording, he goes, “Andrew, I actually shouldn’t do this.” I said, “I was wondering why you were doing this.” He goes, “Yeah. I just kind of wanted the attention, but I shouldn’t do it.” What his business is, is he gets fake reviews for companies. I go, “What is this madman doing trying to do an interview with me?” But it’s a real business, making real serious money.

Matthias: Oh, sure.

Andrew: Creating fake reviews. All right. What about the fact that you guys did subscriptions largely on your site? I thought that that didn’t work out so well for The Honest Company . They tried it for a while and then they shifted to just one-offs. How did that . . . You guys are doing subscriptions largely, right, on your site.

Matthias: I mean, if you look at some of the folks in the market like Dollar Shave Club or Harry’s, you know, they center primarily around shaving and they’ve now proliferated. And so shaving, of course, has a sort of inherent requirement. But, you know deodorant you also don’t really want to run out of and, yeah, most guys probably pop to CVS and get it when they run out. But there’s a convenience factor there too. I mean it’s not as inherent maybe as razor blades, but for people who love the brand, we provide a subscription service, they can get it at whatever frequency they want. We offer it, you know, with good discounts. And so we have a dual-sided approach the one being if you want one-offs, you get them on Amazon, another one, if you love the brand and you want to subscribe, you come to artofsport.com.

Andrew: And that’s it, subscriptions only on your site. You can start off with a $5 kit that includes samples of everything, I think, or large number of what you got?

Matthias: [inaudible 00:59:47] Yeah.

Andrew: Got it.

Matthias: And only subscription.

Andrew: Should I be using your sunscreen? I run a whole lot. My problem with . . . I keep going back to Banana Boat. I only get it because it’s in a pump and I use sunscreen a lot because I run all the time.

Matthias: Right.

Andrew: The one problem I have with it is it does wear out within like 30 to 40 minutes, and so I take this contact lens case that every time my wife wants to throw her contact lens case, I take it, I pumped some sunscreen into it, I put it in my pocket because I know about 40 minutes into my run I’m going to need to apply more, and if I’m going out for a three-hour run or a five-hour bike ride, I need a lot of it.

Matthias: Yeah. Well, we’ll send you some.

Andrew: But you guys stay on longer.

Matthias: We’ll send you some.

Andrew: All right. Will you stay on longer? Does that solve my problem?

Matthias: Yeah, it does. I mean, ours typically stays on between seven and nine hours.

Andrew: Yeah. That’s all I need. I’m not going to run more than seven hours.

Matthias: Yeah.

Andrew: All right. I also feel like what I should get is that charcoal soap. I’ve been using a pump soap from everybody for a while, but I think I’m ready for a real man bar soap.

Matthias: I think you should try the exfoliating bar soap on Amazon.

Andrew: Yes. That’s what I want. I want the stuff that feels like it’s going to hurt my skin. Exfoliating sounds like it’s got some rough spots. I didn’t see that.

Matthias: It’s on Amazon. That’s another exclusive we can do.

Andrew: What is it called? That’s what I want. I want my skin to suffer a little bit, to feel like I’m really cleaning it out.

Matthias: This is the perfect one. It’s Art of Sport Exfoliating Bar.

Andrew: Okay, hang on. I don’t even know how to spell exfoliating, but I’m going to misspell it and then they’re going to get it right. “Art of Sport Exfol . . . ” Oh, look at that. There we go. Just had to type E-X. Activate . . . I see “Rise scent with activated charcoal.” Is that what I should be . . .

Matthias: That’s right.

Andrew: Oh no, wait, there it is. There it is. “Art of Sport Exfoliating Soap Body Scrub.” Yeah. Two-pack right there. Rise scent. Yeah. That’s going to make me feel like a man. I don’t mean to make it into like that, but I really do want to feel like it’s doing something. The problem that I have with the pump soap that I use is it’s nice, it’s convenient, I use in my hair and my body, but it feels like I’m petting myself every morning. I don’t want that. I want to feel like I’m starting the day right?

Matthias: No, no. You want sandpaper.

Andrew: Yeah, that’s exactly it. I want to feel that. I even used to like the oatmeal stuff, but the problem with the oatmeal stuff is I got one that had a lot of oatmeal and I’m a hairy guy so I’d like, “What’s in my chest this piece of oatmeal?”

Matthias: I mean, this was one I was particularly passionate about and I’m very happy how it turned out.

Andrew: All right. I’m glad you’re into this. All right. So the website for anyone wants to go check it out is artofsport.com. You’re probably going to do it, it seems like. According to Similar Web, everyone is just typing in Art of Sport or variations of it into Google and ending up on their website. You guys get a lot, a lot, a lot of traffic from Google. For a brand like yours I’m surprised. And you don’t do a lot of content marketing on your site?

Matthias: No. No. I think that was also a strategy that Brian and I knew going into this we wanted to be smarter than I think a lot of D2C brands that hemorrhage money on all that.

Andrew: Hang on a second. Sorry. I’m researching as we talk. I know I’m running over here, but I was as I was researching you, did I lose you?

Matthias: No. No, I’m here.

Andrew: I found a site called freeartofsport.com. And I looked at it and it looks like what you do is you made this whole site just for people who buy on Amazon, they put in their Amazon order in here, they give you feedback on what they thought of the product, and in return, you give them a sample of another product. So, if I get my exfoliating body scrub bar from you, I might be interested in deodorant afterwards, I put in my code, I give you feedback, you have a lifelong connection with me now. Am I right?

Matthias: Yep.

Andrew: Dude, that’s clever, isn’t it?

Matthias: We do a lot of clever stuff, I hope.

Andrew: I bet. I’m glad that I uncovered that. All right. Guys, I’m going to thank you for doing this interview. Guys, go check out their website. I want to thank the two sponsors who made this interview happen, the first, really, if you are looking for a new developer, phenomenal developer, even a team of developers, go to toptal.com/mixergy. I’m telling you, you can see my interview with the founder of The Honest Company as Christopher Gavigan writes it down because that is a company that big companies turn to when they want the best of the best developers. And second, at the end of this interview, if you want to go listen to another interview one that I did with the founder of ClickFunnels, go check it out at clickfunnels.com/mixergy. Matthias, congrats. Thanks for being here.

Matthias: Thanks for having me.

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