Creating a product line

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Today’s guest found a set of customers who had a really specific problem. So he created a company to solve it for them. The idea was so good that it was funded by Andreessen Horowitz. I want to find out how he got here.

Ronak Trivedi is the founder of Pietra, where creators can build a product line.

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Ronak Trivedi

Ronak Trivedi

Pietra

Ronak Trivedi is the founder of Pietra, where creators can build a product line.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of mixer G uh, the original influencer. I had a podcast long before people were on Instagram and everything else. And I, uh, never thought that I would want to create a branded product. Then these influencers came out in a first, I didn’t take them seriously because what they were doing was doing videos from their bedroom, with their fricking bed behind them.

Like. Pick a better design, a better background. No, they didn’t want it. What they wanted was to show that they were working from home, that they were putting on makeup from home. And as they kept explaining how to put on makeup, they built up this following people who started looking to them for advice and then started to say to them, well, I’d like to wear your makeup.

I’d like to have your hair extensions. I’d like to have your haircare products. And then the process for creating that became incredibly tough because they know. Makeup. They don’t know about Chinese factories and sourcing and inventory management and all that. But a lot of them figured it out. Most of them didn’t.

And then into this fray, today’s guest jumped in and said, you know what, there’s gotta be a better way. And he created it. His name is RONIC Trivedi. He is the founder of Piatra what they do with. Basically everything. And we’ll talk about what that means. Um, and they go beyond cosmetics. They go to, well, we’ll get into all of that and we could, we can find out how he did this, how the business is growing and, uh, you know, the usual stuff, tell the story of how this startup grew.

Thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first, if you need a website, I want you to go to hostgator.com/mixergy, and I’ll use my influence to get you to go there. And the second, if you need to send out email. I’m going to tell you why from the beginning, you should start off with send in blue.com/mixergy, but first rogue heavier, man.

Ronak: Thank you for having.

Andrew: What’s your revenue.

Ronak: Ooh. Um, wish I could tell you that, but it’s, uh, we’re going to make a big announcement soon before the end of the year, end of the year. Um, and I can say it’s, it’s significant for our size and growing every, every two weeks. And we just

Andrew: give me a ballpark. Are we talking tens of millions? Single millions, thousands.

Ronak: Single digit millions.

Andrew: Okay.

Ronak: That was just released, uh, by the information last week.

So the exact amount we’ll, we’ll get at the end of the year.

Andrew: All right. I just wanted to get a sense of how big is this business and it was funded by Andreessen Horowitz and others. How much funding did you take on.

Ronak: Yeah. So in drusen, um, Andreessen funded our seed round, and then we brought in founder’s fund as well for, to lead our series a, um, and in total now we’ve raised 20 million bucks over two rounds.

Andrew: And the company was founded about a year, two years ago, roughly. Right.

Ronak: Yeah, exactly. Um, 2019 is when we started and we went through a radical shift. Uh, like I would think a lot of companies, uh, during the pandemic or right before the pandemic.

Andrew: The original idea came to you from where you don’t look like you’re a guy who is an influencer. You don’t look like somebody who is trying to do this. And.

Ronak: Yeah, I think what’s, uh, what’s interesting is, um, if you look at my background, I worked at Uber before, before starting this company. Um, and it, and it’s

Andrew: In product, just so people know, we’re not talking about a guy who started out driving Uber’s and then had this idea. You started out on product there before that your Microsoft, I think you were project manager. yeah,

Program manager at Microsoft. So you have good tech background there. So yeah, Walk me through, what was it about Uber that led you to this.

Ronak: Yeah. And, and, uh, and, and shout out to my Uber pool homeys. Um, I know they relaunched the share product today. Um, but it was, it was kind of interesting, uh, when, when you are in the bay area, uh, I’m originally from Toronto, uh, went, uh, ended up in, in San Francisco. Um, and one of the interesting things that.

I realized was if you are in technology or you have an idea for a tech company, um, and you live in the bay area, all of the infrastructure around you is caters to kind of helping you pursue this. Right. This idea of, if you want to compete with Uber, for example, um, you can get a data center set up through AWS.

You can get an office very quickly through rework. You can get capital from the best VCs in the world, and they have the safe term sheets that go really quickly and you can kind of start competing and building your company. Uh, but then you go, you know, I fly back east, you go talk to someone in a different part of the world in New York or Toronto or wherever.

And you’ll find creative people saying something like I’ve been trying to start my denim line for three years, or I’m trying to sell a watch brand for five years, or I’ve been trying to start by

Andrew: Did you do that? Did you really have friends who are trying to do that? Or were you

Ronak: Yeah. Yeah. What am I, what am I. Yeah, well, no, what am I good friends. Actually, I saw him kind of go through this process with his best friend starting to watch bread.

Um, which is, which is very interesting. Uh, and, and what you realize when you see these small businesses, creative people who, who want to launch these, these brains and these companies, these product lines. Um, and he was a relatively small, I think it was about 10,000 followers at the time. And, you know, he’s like, yeah, It feels like there is no support, uh, like you would have support in tech for everything from finding.

Production partner to figuring out what services you need to just run a website. And I think like the interesting thing is we get, we got deeper into the creator community is I always say like, you know, the meme that Tik TOK versus reality, right? It’s like in your head, you’re like, I would like to lodge a lounge.

And you’re picturing all of these awesome, beautifully designed products. And then on the other side, you’re picturing a beautiful website and a people place a sell, and a lot of people going and purchasing it and everything in between is actually the really, really hard part, um, that, that no one had solved.

And it’s a big, hairy, global problem. That’s why a lot of people haven’t solved it. And I think, uh, you know, we were just coming from. When we were starting out, we were, we’re thinking about this idea of like, what if we were the ones that powered kind of the next generation of these blind brands, these cloud-based digital first brands that should have the same capabilities of all the big brands you see in stores.

Um, but do so from their couch, you know, like, and, and, and the last thing I’ll say, which is interesting when, when we started along this path, The creator economy. Wasn’t huge. Um, you know, at the time the words passionate economy from we’re just getting created. Influencers is still a thing. Um, and, and what we, when we started really analyzing it, we realized that so many other industries are going this way, right?

In tech, you have something like AWS where Amazon 10 years ago was like, don’t make eight data centers. That’s like not how you’re going to differentiate. Here’s some, some tech that allows you to spin up a data center. Cool. 10 years later, you’re crazy. Creating your own data center to prove an idea.

Andrew: get it. And so, so your original idea was I’m going to make it easy for creators to create the products that they want to, to make, and then to sell them kind of like Alibaba, but, but, but what.

Ronak: Yeah. So it’s, uh, it’s, it’s kind of interesting. So the way thing of it is like, um, it’s a little bit different in that it’s, it’s all encompassing, right? So there are a lot of services that exist in the world to achieve your goal of starting a business. Um, but what we’ve seen over the past five years is actually stitching together these services.

Disparate services and companies from different parts of the world is actually the hard part. It’s not fundamentally that you couldn’t set up a website to start selling a product. I mean, there’s like 10, 20 places. You can very easily start selling a product if you want. Um, there’s a few places where you can go try and source products like an Alibaba, for example, um, But what we found and our hypothesis was actually that we can deliver a lower cost, a faster timeline if we help with all parts of the supply chain.

So we like to, we have built the platform where it seems like it’s, uh, it’s very comprehensive and it should be where a creator can quite literally from their couch launch. The next best-selling brand that can turn into all the brands that you read about on the news. And you can get sample, you can find.

Andrew: I get that. And part of it make a lot of it makes sense to me because I’ve interviewed entrepreneurs here. They did go to Alibaba and they struggled because the first factory socked and the next one screwed them over and didn’t deliver the right products. And then they had to decide, do we still ship it or do we recreate it?

All right. I get all that. I also now understand because your friend was in jewelry, why you told our producer that the first area that you decided to focus on was the jewelry vertical. And so you are going to create a company that would allow people to create. Things like what your friends watch brand without having any connections to China, any trips, anywhere in the world.

Am I right about

Ronak: So the second part is right. The first part is not. So our goal is to build a network of manufacturing partners that you can work with, um, that can be anywhere in the world. And our job is what we say is we digitize the global supply chain, meaning our goal at.

Andrew: I get that, but I’m saying, I want to understand the, the, the evolution of the business. It seems like your first version was going to be for jewelry creators,

Ronak: Correct. Correct. The goal is always to scale up. We were starting, we were starting in that vertical and the idea was, um, how can we help start a jewelry brand? Right. Um, w was our first vertical for creators who have audiences that are looking to monetize and the pandemic forced us to actually have this continuous.

We had this idea of like building something from home. Um, but the pandemic basically forced that reality. And then it became the only way to do business. So as we had this hypothesis early on the pandemic hit and we realized actually you have to be able to not only work with a factory collaboratively, um, over the internet, but you need to be able to do stuff like design samples, get them sent to your house, approve them, you know, do inventory runs automatically send it to a fulfillment center.

All of the pieces, um, That you need to start a brand. And Julia was an interesting one because it had a lot of good properties. One, it was a very fast growing category in, in fashion, um, a year before the pandemic, one of the fastest growing categories in fashion, which was really cool. Um, it was very popular, solid Instagram, and the infrastructure required to store fulfill, um, assemble.

Actions of being a high value for, for the amount of space that it takes up. So it ends up being a very good vertical for a startup to take on. And, you know, you can like have a hundred thousand dollars worth of inventory for a jewelry brand and actually not take up a lot of space in a fulfillment center.

Um, because they’re in these little boxes.

Andrew: All right. Let me, let me pause there for a second. So I see the vision. Now you have a friend who’s going to work with you to create his, his watch. You now have to find a place to go get it made, and you have to deal with all the headaches of that. You have no experience in that. What did you do to find the right factory for your friend and then to be used by others?

Ronak: Yeah. Good, good question. I think, um, part of that is we knew we didn’t have this expertise and we had to surround ourselves with experts. Um, and then the other part was employing a lot of the stuff I learned from the early Uber days, um, to treat the marketplace like one that, uh, Uber would treat it as, which is there’s a supply growth team.

That’d be awesome. People that are there helping. And we had boots on the ground in India and China going and visiting factories during the pandemic. We vet every single factory. We put together, uh, a very strict, you know, process for us to not only source these factories, maybe it’s through referrals, which we did originally through, um, trusted suppliers.

Um, and now we have a pretty robust process around. Sample production runs testing the quality, getting certifications and it’s kind of snowballed, but at the early days

it

Andrew: color to the first version.

Ronak: yeah. Yeah.

Andrew: me more about the early days. I love the stories about somebody putting together this list of resources and suffering through it and flying, sleeping on The,

floor. Anything like

Ronak: Yeah, you’re going to, you’re going to love this. I think like if you really want to go through the early days we were in New York, um, and we would walk around the diamond district on 47th street. Um, and we would try and go to these stalls and ask people to join our platform in our marketplace.

Um, and it was a super, super scary experience, which I think is, is now funny to look back on. But I remember going in. With me and a co-founder and we would start talking to people like, Hey, you like, you know, you help these people create these jewelry lines. You sell diamonds, like come onto our platform.

And we essentially, uh, while we were talking to one person at one stall, the other person, the next aisle would be like, oh, so you’re going to basically create something that pits me against my friend. Who’s right beside me. Um, or like, you know, and it got like really hostile, really quick where we basically spent a couple of days there and we were, you know, not physically, but, but effectively talk to 25 people and chased off that street.

Um, and it was, uh, it was kind of an interesting, uh, Learning experience for us where we’re coming from San Francisco. And we’re like, this is going to be easy. You just, all the people that we ever need to digitize or like in this place now it’s just a matter of going and pitching them on it. And very quickly you realize that, you know, the jewelry and diamond industry, uh, Is very insular.

It’s very, um, it’s very hard to break into. And so two young guys going and trying to say, we’re going to basically make this street obsolete where you’ve done business for 25 years, mostly by pen and paper with technology was, was something that we were met with heavy, heavy resistance. And, um, and again, I think we probably signed up maybe like we probably talked to like a hundred people that we signed up, like two, um, and very quickly they turned off the platform.

And that was our first dose of like, wow, getting into manufacturing and supply chain and talking to these people. They’re not tech savvy, adopters of clubhouse, you know, they’re, they’re these

Andrew: Yeah.

Ronak: that loan millions of dollars in jewelry out on a piece of paper. And when you say like, just set up a profile on the internet, they would say something like.

They would say something like, I don’t want to compete with the other people on my street and to which I would respond, sir, you’re already competing with people and you just don’t know it yet. Um, the internet exists, whether you want it or not. Um, and you know, that type of

Andrew: You know what it’s also that I feel like coming from the bay area mentality, it’s, uh, we have a strange relationship with competition. Like when I first wanted to create my own event in the tech space, I just call people who had their events. Um, And they started like Charles Hudson. Who’s now a well-known VC.

He had an event and he said, yeah, Andrew, let me tell you who I talked to here. The people who had meetups, who can send people over your way, like the whole thing, Noah Kagan. I met him because he told my neighbor everything, including here, the financials of how he set it up, which is so weird. But you don’t realize it’s weird until you get out of the bubble.

All right. So then who made, who made the first jewelry? Who’d you get to actually participate?

Ronak: We actually did it super bootstrapped. We, we, so, so that was like, you know, that was a rude awakening where we were like, okay, wow. We actually have to prove value, tremendous value on the supply side, just to even have a couple of people, we ended up basically begging our way to get like three. Like, uh, three really, really good jewelry suppliers who could do a lot of stuff.

And they worked with some of the biggest brands. I went, I flew to Vegas on overnight. I went to a conference, I met the president of the conference. I said, please, you just got to like, help me meet someone. I’m like, like just put me in, put me in touch with them. You have dinner with like three people that I can meet.

And I just want to launch 20 brands at the time of I’ll say. Preprocess that sounded him when it’s like a convention

Andrew: brands,

Ronak: off the ground. I’m like, let’s just do 20

Andrew: all right. So now, now I’ve got, sorry, I’ve got the supply side of the, of the framework. let’s. talk about the other side. How did you get the original creative?

Ronak: So it’s interesting as like we, yeah, we, we did it the old fashioned way where we started DM-ing people. We started emailing as many people as we can. We started talking, we were in new York’s. We were lucky. So we went to all the people that were putting on events and we were like, we called them, uh, w w like the, the pilot for the pilot, the first ever Pietro pilot.

Oh my God. There’s this has given me PTSD. Like this is the first one. Probably like let’s get 20 influencers

Andrew: me to it.

Ronak: of all sizes. 50 K to 500 K or 750 K like everything, we’ll get a couple. Um, we went out into let’s start 20 jewelry brands, and let’s say, we’re going to work with you. Step-by-step to launch a product line.

Right. And this is like elevated mercury, use all these things. And we found out that when you pitch the first three influencers to make a jewelry line, the second three go, I’m not going to copy these people. And so that’s how we actually got into the next one. We’re like, okay, what do you want? And then we got this big spreadsheet and they’re like, okay, now it’s jewelry or sorry, now it’s beauty.

Then it’s clothing, then it’s food and beverage. And we’re like, wow, what needs to happen? Like that was the first, the first 20 people were basically like, we’re all one of us is going to do jewelry. You guys got to figure out 20 more verticals that we can go into. And so we’re like, okay, this marketplace, we literally like.

Even if we pay for everyone’s jewelry, it’s just like, they’re not excited about it. And what we realized was like, oh, we knew right away that this, this marketplace needed to be, have depth and breadth. And so that like fundamentally changed strategy and it came from these first 20 people. Um, and we ended up actually taking that in the first 20 people were launched across four categories, beauty, jewelry, clothing, uh, and candles and fragrances.

Andrew: I, I thought I saw candles on the

Ronak: Yeah, those are the top four categories on Petra. And they all stem from like just straight up talking to these people that we got them. And we made a spreadsheet where like, okay, this can’t be, you know, a single vertical to start with. Um, this market is going to want to express themselves. If I was to articulate it a year later, it’s this market wants to express their creativity through unique options.

And this is not a t-shirt slap a logo on it. This is not everyone should launch mugs or cell phone cases. This is. I am in, I’m inspired by Fenty beauty, and I want to make a beauty line, but I want to do none of the products. Our already existing at Sephora, you know, it’s like, it’s one of these mentalities.

Um, and, and I think it’s such an interesting, um, learning. I think we were very early in the creator academy and I think a lot of founders in the early days, I see fall into these same traps, which is like thinking that this whole market can be treated by a pure software play. And everyone’s going to use the same template, you know, uh, like t-shirts and made to order.

And like just none of that. Works for the, none of that, that world that’s been built, works for this new generation of brand owners. Um, and now,

Andrew: first-generation were more like Zazzle

Ronak: yeah, exactly.

Andrew: right? They just wanted to print their own thing on the same product as everyone else. Now it’s not, I want to put my logo on a coffee brand so I could sell it, but I want to add this secret recipe to my coffee brand and then sell that it’s gotta be coffee and tea mixed

Ronak: Exactly.

Andrew: Yeah,

Ronak: the ideas continue to baffle me. Right? Like we have a bunch of partnerships. We’ll get people that’s like, I would love to make this specific hot sauce, mustard, ketchup blend. And it’s like, wow, this marketplace is going to have to grow in like a ton of different directions. I think like the team, the

Andrew: And so then it’s on you row to go and find the creative, find the supplier for that.

Ronak: Yeah. So, so checks, that’s what we realized very early on it and kudos to the supply growth team at Pietro, which is, you know, the best in the world at doing this, which is like we learned early on that there needed to be a framework of scaling up this marketplace. Right. So we got, probably got to like. Um, 25 suppliers, 30 suppliers at the start of this year.

Now we’re up to 300. We’ll probably end the year with 500 across 20 product categories. And we really had to just, you, we use that one insight where we just knew in our gut that like this marketplace was going to be one that needed to be a true competitor to Alibaba for the rest of the world and needs to be unique.

And so we built our entire company around what are the processes that need to be in place? What are the global teams that need to exist so that when someone says, I want to make a coffee, Instant coffee in a pouch for travelers, we would be like, we know how to get to the top 25 copies suppliers and there’s Latin American blends.

There’s Ecuadorian blends, there’s Brooklyn roasted. And we built, we were never the experts in the field, but we built the ability to quickly become the experts and find the best people. And then the sales pitch around bringing them onto the platform. And now, you know, now it seems like we got this thing dialed in.

There’s 20, 30 suppliers every other week that are being approved. was like a pretty scary thought in the early days to be like, we went from like wanting people to make necklaces influencers and make necklaces to now there’s million dollar brands that are powered by Petros, you know, supply chain. Um, and we’re like, wow, this is, it’s a different beast.

Uh, and kudos to the team again, that we built this team. We built the company to, to be able to, to react to that.

Andrew: Let me pause here and talk about my first sponsor, which is send in blue. It’s an email marketing company, and I’m actually going to talk about it in the context of this woman. Who’s on your platform. Her name is Liz moody and Liz does recipes wellness. She’s got her blog. She’s got content on Instagram, on Pinterest on.

The interesting thing for me though, is when you go to her site, she collects your email address to join her, her mailing list so that when she has a new idea for a product, and I know that you worked with you to create these cards, these conversation cards, she now has an email list of people who are interested in what she’s up to, are willing to hear about it and be sold and not just willing, eager to see what else she’s got for them.

That’s unique, that’s different. That’s got her feel on it and. And that goes back to the email list. If you’re out there and you’re trying to build an email list or tons of providers, I’m going to tell you one thing that separates send in blue. Yes. They have all the features you need, like the marketing automation.

So if somebody buys, you’re not just bombarding them with more offers to buy, they’ve already bought, you can just retard start messaging them. But what they also have is easy onboarding and inexpensive price that does not jump up as you grow. That’s one of the most painful things. You stick with a company, you get connected to them.

It’s hard to leave. And then they Jack up the price. I’d love that. Rose nodding on this. I also love that row as you’re doing this you’re nodding and you’re also pet. Is that.

your dog?

Ronak: Yeah, this is actually my friend’s dog. Her name is Alfie. Um, and just crawl around. She’s also interested. Maybe she should do a pet accessories line and she can be the face

Andrew: Ooh. Alfie go to send in ballou.com/mixergy. And even you Alfie will get a deep discount to get started and then a great service for the rest of your heart for the rest of your career. All right. Send in blue.com/mixergy. All right, I get where you’re going with this. Now, the process for getting more creators, did it.

continue to, to be a DM, reach out to influencers type of thing.

Talk to me about how the team that gets influencers on board changed.

Ronak: Yeah. So what’s interesting is like we, we had this. We had this first pilot, um, very early on. We, we actually, then we’re like, okay, we know that they love it. And we are convinced. Christmas time, like, let’s say October to December, we were like, um, let’s try and blow this up a little, let’s spend a little bit of RBC money doing some Instagram, like promotion.

We made a couple of cool graphics, you know, still like pretty, pretty low, low scale, but then overnight, you know, Are very grassroots, like posts on Instagram posts on Twitter, DM a hundred people a day, everyone at the company, um, we started getting like a surge in sign-ups and so, uh, what we realized was like, oh wow.

A couple of thousand people can sign up. Like, and then we looked at the numbers and there’s 500 million people with over 10,000 followers on Instagram. And we’re like, wow. Okay. This is a huge pool. How do we make

Andrew: will wait there. How many people with over 10,005.

Ronak: million with over 10,000 followers.

Andrew: Okay.

Ronak: Like think how big the creator pool.

And this is, yeah. Think about this. This is like Tik talks, growing clubhouse. And we realized like, okay, we need a system to get this message out to the world. That there’s another way that creators can monetize and people can build these businesses. And so we actually, uh, we did everything that we could think about to get in front of creators.

And what we learned in the process was like, Everything from Instagram makes it pretty hard to do things at scale to, to contact creators, to, we need to go to like hotspots in the city to find people and talk to them and bring them in physical places, um, to realizing that, uh, that there are so many creators out there of different shapes and sizes that you will, what we realize is like you can die under the pressure.

If you’re not good at classifying creators, tailoring your message to where they are in the, in the. On the spectrum. Like we come, aspiring creators are way different than VIP’s and we started being super hacky and, and we almost got crushed by targeting the wrong types of creators. And I think not a lot as well, not a lot of people talk about, um, the different segments.

Yeah. So this. I mean, I don’t know if it’s secrets or not. We learned through the experience, which is like, I think of it as there’s three very clear segments in the creator economy and there are, there’s quicksand up for each of them. Right. Um, the largest segment by far is this aspiring creator, small. Um, part of the spectrum.

So you think of it as like the far left of the spectrum, which is, these are people who love making content online. It’s a hobby. It may not be their full-time job, right? They don’t have millions of followers. They’re not getting crazy brand deals every day, but they are pursuing the dream of living online and creating content as a core way of.

Court income to their lives on the other end of the spectrum. There’s the VIP’s, they’re the celebrities that launch products using Piatra they’re the movie stars, the James Bond, actresses, the, you know, the daughters of actually, if you, if you follow the Twitter, I’m not going to shout out anyone’s name, but you could see that there’s some, some celebrities.

Those are people who have agents and teams. And when you’re selling the platform, it’s like, they’re not going to be using the platform. It’s like their business manager. Who’s going to be mastering the platform. And, you know, they’re just going to have an NBA star is just going to have the hoodie sent to his house to launch his line, not, you know, not using this.

So the sales pitch ends up being completely different to these people. And then there’s a group in the middle, which is, I think like a very, very interesting segment, which is they’re big and they’re growing and you need to figure out, are they someone who are willing and motivated to launch their own business or are they looking for someone to lodge it for them and for them to use it, like for them to just do the promotion

Andrew: Okay. That’s a lot of different types of people. How did you figure out who to go after and then what’d you do to

Ronak: Painfully as well site. Okay. So we started with, I think the class. Mistake of like the one big brand or the one big creator this is going to make and break everything. Right? So you do everything bespoke. You talked to, I won’t mention the superstar, but she’s definitely a superstar household name.

And you realize like, wow, just to get one small thing off the ground. You’re talking to her team and our legal team or agents and UTA and oh my God. And you could just. I think about all the people we’re talking to. It takes eight months to like, do anything with them. And all the, while we were talking to her, we kind of knew that we were always building the tools to be self-service.

And so, while we were trying to go down this path of like one big launch, one big launch, you know, three months pass, we’re building all these tools for her team to use, which they’re not using. Um, And we’re finding a thousands of other creators that are aspiring are using it. And I’m like, wait, the amount of work that we need to put in to get a thousand people to sign up and use the tools while I’m in this three hour brainstorming session with movie star, I’m like, there’s way more here that we realized.

a minute until after six months of like beating our heads against the wall, we’re like, let’s go to where the people actually want us. And it turns out when you have enough authentic small community, even if it’s like in the middle of America, like you’re a mommy blogger in Utah. They can outsell movie stars.

They can do $50,000 worth of sales in a day. And you’re like, what is going on here? And you realize that during the process of coveting or going after these larger customers, we realized that actually the creator economy is built on authentic, highly engaged audiences, which come at any size, including the really small sizes.

So now you have smaller brands that can actually be more successful than these larger credit.

Andrew: So you know what? I I’ve known that for a while, but when it comes to most products, like if you’re looking at a teachable, right, they can help. Even the smallest creator create an online course. As long as they’ve got a passionate audience, they could sell it. But there’s very little involved in, in setting one of those up.

It’s not expensive when somebody is creating a new makeup line and they want influence into it. That’s a lot of work and a

lot of

Ronak: it’s it’s it’s, it was a lot of work and it was a lot of money. And then Petra came along and it’s a little bit less work and a little bit less money. Um, and, and this is an important, it’s an important thing. I think for anyone listening, especially what we’re excited about the creative economy is when it comes to starting a business.

You need to be motivated to starting a business. It’s like quitting a job. You can’t force someone into it. You can’t fake it. And so what we found is the creators that self-selected into it were the ones that were motivated to put in the work as a true side project to start with. And they were excited by this idea of like talking to a supplier for 30 minutes and getting.

10 formula sent to their house for their blush cream that they can try, right. On a Saturday, they would make a cup of coffee and be like, let me try and figure out, like, let me talk to five sustainable packaging suppliers. And like, let me use Pietro to like hire a designer and have a phone call with them.

What we found was like the self-selection were those people right? That were, that were they understood that it’s. But they were willing to put in the time and effort. And what we did as Piatra is we took something that used to take tens of thousands of dollars to do. I mean, brought it down to like maybe a couple of thousand dollars, right?

And so we did our job, which is, we worked with the suppliers, say, what are your lowest MOQ? What are the lowest prices? What are the highest quality? What can we do to make your life easier? What are the tools we can build? So you don’t have to charge people so much. We took all those problems away from the creator.

And now every supplier that joins on the platform, I would say we have people that work with Ralph Lauren, Kim Kardashian, and you can work with them for as little as a couple hundred units. And so you get their quality, but we’ve worked on the partner side of the portal where they are not feeling like it’s too much work to work with these smaller brands.

And now that’s how we bring access to these smaller brands. And so now high quality things can be made for very, very low queues. Um, and that’s kinda the beauty of Pietro.

Andrew: Uh, And then the creator has to decide that they are willing to invest the money, to make a batch of it. And if they’re not willing to invest the money, then they’ve weeded themselves out. And if they are, even if they sell nothing, you still haven’t lost any money because you’re just

Ronak: And as our platform grows.

Andrew: Got it. All right. So let’s talk about, let me take a moment.

Ronak: I was, I was gonna say one last thing, which is like, as our platform grows, we, or we can then bring on partners to offer things like we have inventory financing. You could take out a loan through the platform, not through Piatra, but through our platform, through a partner that we come on with or we bring on.

Andrew: because it’s all about a marketplace and then the design for the packaging. It’s not

Ronak: And you could hire a designer if

Andrew: it to the marketplace. It’s more like. Right. A highly curated, uh, Ali Baba plus Upwork plus whatever. Right? All these that’s all. It is a highly curated marketplace. you just facilitate. All right.

I want to come back and I want to ask, like, if I decided that I wanted to create a, a set of cards that people could keep around their, their, their house that would allow them to ask challenging questions of each other, how would I work with you? But first, let me take a moment, say that, you know what? The other thing that I noticed about Liz moody is that she’s, she just, she’s using WordPress, WordPress, and WooCommerce to, sell you, you, by the way, do you also create the store for her or is she just using WooCommerce?

Ronak: you can sell on the creator marketplace and you can also connect your sales channels. So we’ve opened up the world. So anyone with any website can, can go in and, and, and connect their website. Like if you have a Shopify website, it takes like a day, it takes a couple of minutes. Um, and you could sell it your website.

It looks like your own company, but it’s powered through the.

Andrew: Yep. Okay. We’ll commerce It seems like is also

available. Am I right? Or am

Ronak: commerce is not available. I

think

Andrew: You’re smiling. Maybe.

Ronak: Um,

Andrew: Nope. she’s easy to move. Well,

you know what? maybe she’s.

using both.

Ronak: maybe

Andrew: tell you what I do see that she’s using, uh, she’s using WordPress to blog and to post her. I don’t know why I’m obsessed with her.

I, I know

what it is. It just seems like such a

Ronak: I think she should call it out. I think this is

Andrew: example.

Ronak: it’s, let me, let me, I’m not going to like steal her spotlight a little bit, but she’s such an amazing creator and such a good businesswoman, but also very clearly made an authentic product that I will tell you. Like, if someone goes to my Twitter right now and see the video I posted of her sales, when she launched, it’s just like a very quick video, no personal information shared.

You can see people going bonkers and why it’s like, she is so smart where it’s an authentic product. It’s backed up by her content or podcast who she is. She didn’t even have to do anything crazy. Um, and it’s, I would say one of the most successful brand launches on Petra this month, like maybe, um, she will go on to be one of the most successful all Todd, um, It’s it’s a perfect example of you don’t need to be a mega celebrity to do this.

You have a good, you have a small audience that’s engaged. You can build a real business, a profitable business off these things and scale it effortlessly through pediatric. Um, but yeah, coming back to you, you want to know how it goes through with the cards.

Andrew: let me bring it back to my sponsor. Here’s the thing about the sponsor? Um, One of the things that I like about her is she’s using all the platforms. She’s on Instagram. She’s on Pinterest. She’s on anything you’ve got she’s I think on Twitter, I saw you retweet her. That’s how I reconnected. Or you share something on Twitter that she posted, but she also has a website to kind of be a home base to all of this, to her bow, to our podcast or store.

And that’s what I was able to use when I wanted to understand who she was, what she was about, why so many people connected with her bottom line. If you’re out there and you need a site to house, everything that you’re doing to be your place on the internet. Get one that’s inexpensive that just works and will scale with you.

And if you go to hostgator.com/mixergy, you’ll get all of that and an even lower price than everyone else that’s using. HostGator gets. So here it is the URL. Again, go to host gator.com/. Hi, by the way, I’m seeing you. You’re super entrepreneurial. I see you’re digging this. You want to be an entrepreneur coming right out of school and we’ll get back to my card idea in a moment, but to my card theft idea, to kind of taking Liz, Liz idea and working with you, but how’d you end up going to Microsoft when you were so entrepreneurial, when it seemed like you were

Ronak: It’s uh, now looking back, it’s just one other, one of those stories that really gets me. Um, so actually after school, um, I went to Waterloo. I was an engineer, me and my best friend. Uh, we. Our final year project was actually a swing optical swing simulator. I think of a golf simulator, but for baseball. Um, and we, we won a bunch of competitions.

We actually got in front of the Toronto blue Jays to sell our product to them. And this was like the crowning achievement in my life and my family’s life by far, like this was an amazing achievement for us to get there. And we got there. I knew nothing. I was like, you know, three days out of school and they’re like, cool.

We like, how do you guys. Produce hardware. How do you guys manufacture hardware? What’s the software stack like, and we’re like, look, we like made a bunch of prototypes and we like, you know, connected our way to this like sales pitch. We don’t know how to run a hardware company. And so I was like very excited by that meeting.

But as soon as I left my co-founder was like, I don’t think we’re going to be able to do this. I was in Toronto. It was far away from Silicon valley. I had no idea about VC investing. So I took a job at Microsoft for the paycheck, basically. And like slowly tried to keep that company running while I was in Seattle.

And then it slowly died because everyone in my, uh, me and my friend like took separate jobs and he stayed on the east coast. And to this day I was like, I feel like that chip on my shoulder of like that close, you know, that young basically drove me to, to continue this.

Andrew: Uh, that if you were that close that young and you didn’t follow through now, you’re not going to stop just because you discover that the guys on 47th street are not going to sell you jewelry, just because you discover that selling one product is not enough. A collection of them.

All right. I get it. Um, all right,

Ronak: I just got the bug, dude. I just got the bug.

Andrew: I feel like you had it from the beginning. I think I love that used to burn CDs and sell them as a kid. Something completely, completely illegal, but it’s so. common for people who I interviewed, who have had that in their background. So imagine I said, imagine I say, I want to have the ultimate card collection for conversations.

People keep it on their coffee table and they could pull it out and ask each other questions. I have that idea I could write. I would have to write the questions on my own. Right. And then come to the marketplace and somebody would help design, well, you tell me how much do I have to do, and then how much will you do for it?

For me?

Ronak: Yeah, so. Th the way that the best way to think about it is we are digitizing what you would do in the real world. Right. And making it a little bit easier. So you can come to Pietro with, I know I want to do cards, but I don’t know if they should be adult cards or baby cards, or, you know, you could start with that vague of an idea and you would go to the marketplace and you could type in.

Um, in the supplier marketplace and you could find that there’s like, I just typed it in here. There’s games, suppliers that do custom baby learning cards. There’s like learning cards for kids, there’s other card games. And so what we did is what we, what we realize is it is impossible to, to templatize what you have in your mind, because there’s a creative process to it.

So how do we enable you to, you could be someone. What’s a start with baby cards and understand more about it. But then also might have three of the 10 cards designer, three of the 30 cards designed, or just try and get like a creative partner and be like, I just think that the baby markets women or the adults card market is booming.

How do I like take advantage of this? And so we built the platform to basically cater to all of those, um, journeys. And so you come to the marketplace, you type in cards, you find a game supplier, you can chat with them right away. You can look at their catalog and say, here’s what other projects you want to see?

My quality order. Some samples see like the stitching quality for its clothing. See the box quality. If it’s cards, see how big they are small, they are. And we digitize all that. So you can go in right now type in cards and order sample. I have a game that someone else has created. Another supplier is created from somewhere in the world.

If you love it. Great. There’s a big button that says chat with the supplier. You can click that button. You have a real-time talk to, you can talk to them in real time. You can video chat them. You could, you could imagine that you’re, you’re having this like collaborative experience with a supplier. We’re not inventing new steps.

We’re not even really removing steps. We’re just making it super easy where you don’t have to go. And. I don’t even know how you would go and find like vetted games, suppliers, but we have people in, for example, uh, Shenzhen that can go and be like, what are all the games? What are the top game suppliers that work with American brands that we want to put in this special category?

What are the top Chinese suppliers in this category? So we make it easy for you to find them, communicate with them, transact with them, um, and manage them. And so that’s how you would start and everything else is then becomes, um, Like a click away. You designed these cards, you love the samples. Like let’s go make a batch of like a hundred of them.

See if we can sell them. Right. As you’re checking out for inventory, there’s a single click that goes, Hey, do you want Pietro to receive these, um, organize it with your supplier to get through customs, assemble your product, photograph it, put it into warehouse. We’ll call you in that. One click that would normally take six months, right?

Which, which factory, which factory we’ll work with manufacturing house and then, or warehouse in which warehouse we’ll connect to Shopify. Like that takes six months. All of a sudden it’s one click, right? You get a call being like, Andrew, your cards are ready. This is how they look. We’re going to send you one.

You’re the photographs we’re going to send you one for you to see how your customers are going to get it. Like the next step for you is to go set up your website. Cool. Um, six months down to three weeks. And then the third part is you want to start selling, we go, you know, click, we’ll take that photo. You set your price, you set your description, we’ll sell it on the creator marketplace for you.

Um, you can promote it. Here’s your link. You can sell discounts. You can, you know, you can collect emails or you can go and do something crazy and create your website and connected. And here are the steps. So like we’ve taken something that takes on average two years. To something that takes between 60, 90 days and all of the parts that are like, this is not going to be a differentiator for my company.

We try and take away. So we want you to think about what the cards should look like, what they should be work with a designer. You just want the cards to be shipped in two days to your customer, right? You don’t need to, you don’t have to put in six months of work to like, know that you want that outcome.

And we just give that to you in a click. So that’s how I think you would get from. You can design your cards. Do you do that through designers on the marketplace or your head or with suppliers and then set up your infrastructure, set up your website, start selling all from like literally your house, if you want.

Andrew: I get it now, I see what you’re trying to do. It’s every single thing that goes into it, and that feels all encompassing, but you can kind of put the pieces together based on what’s already existing. So you don’t have your own warehouses. You partner with someone else who

does, it’s all of it together in one.

Am I right about that? I saw your eyes do

Ronak: Oh, well we don’t. Yeah, we own the it’s a creator. Doesn’t have to go in like talk to any warehouses, right? They can.

Andrew: But do you row D

does Pietro own the warehouses or

are you partnering with other people who have

Ronak: No. Now we, now we have grown to own, we own our own warehouses. It allows us to have the lowest cost fulfillment in America, fastest fulfillment time in America. Um, it’s like a hundred percent better than the gold industry standard.

Andrew: faster than.

Ronak: Amazon there it’s

hard because I don’t know the data on Amazon, but for the open, uh, for the open marketplace or for the open fulfillment centers that publish their data, I will say we’re better than them based on their blogs.

Um, but, but again, think about the outcome, which is like, what we are building is very similar to Amazon, which is Amazon is really good at what getting you your packages within three to five days, we want Liz moody to get her customers should get our packages between three to five days. Right. And that’s all you need to know as a brand owner.

Underneath we own the fulfillment center. We have the employees, we have all these processes and checks and balances. But you as a brand owner, don’t need to become an expert in supply chain to launch a coffee table card game. And you shouldn’t like, that’s not the way the world should work. Like you should think of new cards every

Andrew: I love also how you do the photos. Sorry to interrupt. But look at this. This is your it’s your team that

takes like the ones that the products that have models on them. Is it your team? That’s

Ronak: No. So, so we do, we do, uh, e-commerce photography as a service. Um, and so, but you are allowed to use your old lifestyle photos. Yeah, exactly. So it will be photos like this, right? So we call them white background photos.

Andrew: The white background photos.

but this one is a pair of pink. Uh, I guess

sweat pants, they look really good on a, on a model. You get the model

Ronak: Yeah. So if

we do, I mean, we have a studio in our

warehouse that things are, and then we have partners in New York for things that need props and models. And, and you’ll see, we’re actually rolling out like pretty sophisticated, but fun, uh, backdrops the photos. So like bright pink and like water backgrounds.

And like, again, for us, we’ve standardized the process. So that, and by the way, the creators, these are services that. Decided to pay for, um, if they’re super low cost services, because it’s all vertically integrated into our bundle. So you might spend 20 bucks for a photo. Um, but you say two weeks of organizing with, uh, imagine going, finding a photographer and finding a studio.

Like how does that, we just go look, we’ve received your stuff from customs. We’re going to unpack it. Let’s just throw it up into our studio. It’s in on the warehouse floor, click, click, click. If the photos and by the way, we’ll also upload it to your shop for you. And it’s all part of this like vertically integrated system.

Um, and it’s, it’s just phenomenal to see, I think like, um, it’s just phenomenal to see that what it’s going to end up doing is just allowing the creative people to focus on the creative part. And it’s going to standardize the parts of the business creation process that can be standardized for the world.

And by the way, it doesn’t matter if it’s legging. It could be a T brand or a macho brand. I was in the warehouse and someone’s launching a coffee line or sorry, a coffee brand, or sorry, a chocolate brand like chocolate bars. And I’m like, okay. Like, like, cool. Like, whoa, we’ll take the photos. And like, I hope you are in whole foods one day.

And we will happily work with whole foods to get your stuff there. If you put it in an order to ship your product to a whole foods distribution center, uh, kind of cool to see

Andrew: All right. I do.

wish that. So I usually end the interviews by, by the way.

Ronak: I do.

Andrew: You do. Alright, so I’d been, I, I got to Austin, I’ve been recording out of an office and I’m not enjoying the being in an office thing lately, even though I’m usually the person who loves being in an office, I just want to be outdoors.

I want to be by the water. I want to, so I’ve been trying to figure out a way to make it work. And I think I’ve got away, but I also know that I need to hit mute from time to time. I’m here at some people. When I pass gas, told me about Mozart. I’ve been here before. It’s a nice spot, right by the water. Um, I think I’ve got it.

We’ll see. Listen, if you’re listening to me in the audience, here’s my email address. Give me feedback directly to me. Tell me, can you hear anything? What do you think of this? Is this adding to the vibe? Did you even notice that I was outside of the office? It’s andrew@mixergy.com. Andrew. It makes her do.com.

All right. And for you row, the website is Pietro studio.com. I think you need a better domain. Don’t you think? Is that wrong for me

Ronak: Um, it isn’t wrong from your say? I would say?

if it wasn’t pietro.com, I’m all yours. And if you, if you own petra.com, which

Andrew: Let’s see. Pietro has taken.

Ronak: you have your own piatra.com,

this strip mall in Japan, um, please, please please contact me. And we will compensate you for this domain, but, but at the very least, please just respond to my emails.

And if you want to see who I am as a doctor, I’ve gotten so far where I’ve gotten someone in Japan to go find the PR, but it’s like, it’s a strip mall. That’s rundown. Like it’s hard to find the owner. Um, but I, I will, I will compensate the, the person who comes forward and says they own pietro.com happily.

Andrew: They don’t even seem to be using it at

all. Am I right

Ronak: Nope. Yeah. They’re not. It’s. That’s. What’s cool.

Andrew: Maybe Michael Seiger who’s been listening for a long time will help us out with this. He’s the guy who created domain Sherpa DNA academy. He’s, he’s helped so many other people get their domains. Maybe he’s listening or someone can pass a note on to him

about this. Um, what’s the name? Pietro come from.

Ronak: So it’s interesting. Pietro is actually stone in Italian

and it comes from

our jewelry roots. Um, and a few people know this, but the, the, the, we had a couple of different names. And as we were thinking about a brand that can both scale up and has solidity and, uh, like a luxurious feel, right. Which is important for jewelry trustworthiness.

Um, and then it was ultimately actually chosen by Anna Wintour, which few people don’t know. This is the first time I think I’m publicly saying this, which is, um, we were. We were going through a bunch of different ideas. And, uh, this one came across. One of our employees knows her is related to her. And so this came across and she was like, that’s the one that we’re like, you know what?

Let’s just go with this one. Um, so I’ve been told that story publicly, but it’s a pretty funny one, I think. Um, and, and when we stuck by now, we love it.

Andrew: Um, impressive, actually. All right. So it.

is actually@pietrostudio.com for anyone who wants to go check out the site. Right. And I want to thank my two sponsors who made this interview happen. The first, if you need a website hosted, go to hostgator.com/mixergy. And the second, when you’re ready to do email marketing, get started with the company that you’re going to love later on, too.

Not just the day you sign up and that is send in blue, go to send in

blue.com/mixergy RO. So good.

Ronak: Thank you so much, man. I’ll come back anytime.

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