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Hitting The Mark is back from its hiatus with guest host Kara Ebel interviewing Fabian Geyrhalter. We wanted to do something special for episode 101, and here we go!You know Fabian Geyrhalter as the host of this show, but today we spin things around and have Fabian in the hot seat talking about his innovative hardware startup for audiophiles and music lovers. Trendhunter calls Toneoptic 'progressive,' Forbes 'revolutionary,' and the Financial Times 'clever.' Fabian shares the hurdles and fails, how he crafted the brand strategy and created bootstrapped journeys and experiences for his tribe, and he dives into all things branding, marketing, and entrepreneurship. An episode as unique as his company's product. Enjoy! 
This is episode 100 of Hitting The Mark and we worked for months to ensure we have the founder of an iconic brand for you. One most probably all of you know and many of you own a piece of the brand. To say we succeeded would be an understatement. Travis Rosbach founded the world’s most used water bottle brand that took the nation, and the globe, by storm: Hydro Flask. From its iconic icon – pun intended – to its many colors and varied audience, let me take you on a ride from Travis’ background as a pilot, Scuba diver, and marine captain to being presented a 99 designs logo by a pricey marketing agency to his 1-liter bottle launch that in fact held 40 ounces. It is a wild ride, it is an educational ride, it is the ride of HTM 100.
Tate Huffard launched Best Day Brewing last year, an alcohol-free range of craft beers for the fun-loving, hard-charging, adventure-seeking thirsty souls for whom good is just not good enough. Packed with relentless optimism, a distinctive brand design, and a powerful ethos, Best Day sees its beer as a comma and not a period in your journey through the day. Tate and I talk about the significance of the 'best day yet' philosophy turned tagline, the process of making great alcohol-free beer, the power of simplicity in design, and how coming from the outside into an industry poses a huge opportunity to do things differently from the get-go.
Nichole Montoya, together with a designer, co-founded Cheddar Up ten years ago. The platform helps over 100,000 groups and organizations collect payments and information to support and grow their communities.Nichole and I talk about how important design was to the success of the brand, how, as a product company, being highly aware of feature creep is a must to ensure the brand does not steer too far away from its positioning and how getting outside brand help can re-invigorate the product experience.
Matteo Grassi went from breakdancing in Italy to traveling with a circus across Australia, then overseeing 7 e-commerce brands and lately launching Popup, a no-code online store-building platform that provides flexibility in customers' journeys. All of this said, Matteo also holds a Masters in Psychology and worked as a brand strategist. What you get when you combine these life experiences and education is someone who has a no-bs approach to brand thinking and community building and on today’s episode, this is exactly what we dive into head-first, while also learning about the strategy in which IKEA places mirrors in their stores and how cross-border online sales should really look like. And, skip the first 10 minutes if you are not interested in us talking about the future of music since Matteo, amongst all these other things, is also a producer.
Suze Dowling is the Co-Founder of Gin Lane, where she helped launch over 50 D2C challenger brands like Harry’s, Hims, and Sweetgreen. She closed shop and the same founding team started Pattern Brands which now acquires and nourishes brands in the home goods space. Pattern's current portfolio of 7 brands includes Poketo, Onsen, and Letterfolk.So today we talk not only omni-channel, but omni-brand. We obviously touch on brand architecture, how not to lose authenticity when acquiring and marketing a multitude of brands and we discuss the biggest challenges and best tips when it comes to brand building.This is an important episode for any founder (especially if you are running a Shopify-enabled D2C business) as well as for any brand builder and marketer to indulge in since you are able to get the perspective of a founder, a brand-builder, and an investor all in one and the same person and in a very succinct way.
Charlie Weisman created a company that started by selling plungers, yes, the toilet ones, that are actually desirable. The brand is called Staff and it is quickly growing into a beloved suite of household essentials with bold colors, unique materials, and characters that are eager to help.At Hitting The Mark I pride myself on bringing you as much the well-known, as the unusual upcoming, brands that find a way to make their brands stand out and the founders - not marketers - who have those stories to tell. Staff nicely personifies the latter. Charlie and I talk about the 99% perfect brand name, how brand-thinking is at the core of his company, and how he was able to capture the imagination of his audience – and that of Drew Barrymore – all in an organic manner and why brand storytelling will be even more important in the future of this young company.
Steph Hon is the Founder and CEO of Cadence, the product innovation brand that brought you the modular collection of magnetic, sustainable, TSA-compliant, and leakproof Capsules that lets you store your must-have items from your medicine cabinet, jewelry box, and cosmetics bag so you can move through the world with ease and confidence. I am certain you have seen the distinct and beautiful products pop up in your social feeds or in the media. How the brand was created, and the brand DNA that holds it all together (well that, and magnets) is what Steph shares with us in a wonderful conversation that is parts empowering and motivating for founders and parts educational for anyone in the business of building brands. If you run or assist a hardware brand, you owe it to yourself to listen in. If you want to build a brand that desires to lead with empathy and a user-first mentality, then this episode is also made for you.
Larry Birnbaum is the Co-Founder and CEO of ShopWorn, the e-commerce platform for customers who want to be the first to own authentic, unused luxury products while doing good for the environment. This a fascinating proposition, one that challenges luxury brands as well as consumers to do something they used to be reluctant to do: Put trust in a discount reseller. It is also a two-sided marketplace which is always fascinating from a brand perspective as there are suddenly two stakeholders that the brand voice and image need to attract and engage. Needless to say, an episode well worth your time!
Tomo Delaney, despite coming from a family of advertising, decided very early on that he wanted to work for Vogue, which he subsequently did and he spent his entire career in the fashion world in London and NYC. Up until the point where he decided to become a stay-at-home dad. Now he is selling organic food paint for kids. This is a story that is being written as we speak about a brand that will have its big breakthrough – very likely, fingers crossed - in the next few months and talking to Tomo about how he strategically connected the dots and piggy-backed (pun intended as Noshi has a Peppa Pig collaboration) on brands mums already trusted in order to introduce his own. A fascinating interview, one not to miss!
Vladimir Vukicevic founded Meural and Rockethub, both companies that have been successfully acquired. Now with his third startup, he joined 2,000+ toothpaste brands in the marketplace. To an outsider, it may seem like an overly competitive area to jump into and perhaps a bit random given his software and hardware background, but there is a deeply personal story behind Better & Better and to him, all his previous work has led up to this brand.
Ariel Kaye founded Parachute in 2014 to disrupt the bedding space by creating a brand people actually remembered and loved. And that is exactly what Parachute has very quickly turned into: a beloved home lifestyle brand with 20+ retail locations.In this episode, we talk about how Ariel’s brand and advertising background was fundamental to her ability to quickly connect with customers, the power of storytelling, and the lasting emotion that a brand experience can have on an audience.
Joe Spector wholeheartedly believes in the immense power of branding, if done right and from the get-go. And he would know as he co-founded Hims, the D2C prescription and over-the-counter drugs brand that started off by selling erectile dysfunction and hair loss treatments and has since exploded into a 1.6 Billion Dollar public company together with the Hers brand.Moving into pet telemedicine with his new brand Dutch actually does not seem too far-fetched. We talk about his new company, and all things branding, and Joe shares his story of being a refugee immigrant to ringing the New York Stock Exchange bell. An episode not to be missed!
Margaret and Ian Wishingrad come from the advertising industry and took a plunge into the food business. Three Wishes is their brand of better-for-you cereal that wants to be liked and purchased by literally everyone from young to old. How they set the brand up to be on its way of accomplishing that, what works and what hasn’t, and why the proof is in the cereal is what we talk about in this insightful conversation with a keen focus on brand building and product marketing. 
Alex Matisse, who made it a strategic point not to name his brand after his famous last name (yes, he is the great-grandson of one of the most influential artists to ever live, Henri Matisse), co-founded East Fork, a pottery brand I cherish and study from the outside for a lot of reasons, all of which you will learn more about during this very sincere and insightful conversation. Alex and I talk about the soul of a brand and how to keep it intact, his dislike of the word authenticity, the constant – which he sees as positive – struggle that drives his artisanal 'made in the US' business, and how he and his two Co-Founders created a brand that those who know came to love and even obsess over.Yet another conversation that reminds me of why I love bringing this show to you – and why I love spreading these insights on the often intrinsic art of crafting brands people truly love.
Sahand Dilmaghani founded Terra Kaffe, an innovative at-home espresso-brewing machine that seeks to upend the environmentally disastrous use of 'pods.' Inspired by European coffee culture and the Bauhaus design movement the TK-01 machine is a beautiful piece of design simplicity and Sahand and I dive deep into the topic of sustainability, the perhaps misunderstood 'Made in China' brand, rituals associated with coffee, pinning down a target audience while offering a table stakes item like a coffee machine, and how to set off to build a lifestyle brand.An absolutely delightful conversation; so pour yourself a cup, and enjoy Sahand’s insights into building a brand from scratch.
Josh Tetrick is the Co-Founder and CEO of the Eat Just company, a 1.2 billion dollar food startup founded 10 years ago, which is, according to Forbes, "providing justice for animals while addressing food scarcity and the climate crisis."If you enjoy a tough branding challenge, if you appreciate an improbable success story, if care about the environment and animals, if you eat eggs or enjoy the taste of real meat, then listen to this episode.As of today, JUST Egg has sold the equivalent of 300 million chicken eggs and raised more than $800 million in funding from investors like Bill Gates, Marc Benioff, and Paul Allen. It took his team 4 or 5 years to have a plant-based product that scrambled like an egg. At that point, they spent 3-4 million dollars and the taste wasn’t even there yet. It just behaved like an egg.Josh also runs GOOD Meat, which is not plant-based, instead, it is actual meat produced from a cell in a vessel. Needless to say, a lot to discuss about branding, story-telling, and naming, and Josh dives deep into all of it, while also discussing the intricacies of giving people something they did not know they needed in the first place. An all-around edutaining conversation.
Vianney Vaute is the Co-Founder and CCO of Paris-based BackMarket, a marketplace that fights against planned obsolescence.6 months ago the startup was evaluated at 5.7 billion and driven by their brand DNA of 'sabotage' the company keeps old tech devices around for longer hence positively impacting the environment. And yet they found a way to attract the large tech giants like Samsung to not fear but actually join their brand.From how to keep your brand DNA flag raised high during expansion to how to maintain your brand’s tonality as you grow into new markets to how important a founder’s instinct is to build a global brand, this conversation with Veenay is absolute brand gold and I am thrilled to be able to share it with you.
Jason Stoddard founded an improbable made-in-the-US product company in the HI-FI space that is putting out high-quality, inexpensive units while innovating on many fronts. Fueled by the name Schiit his company has become a beloved brand. Schiit is only 12 years old yet 7 years ago Jason already published a book detailing the eventful journey of the garage startup. Many of you know that I am now also running a Made-in-the-US product startup that plays in the audio world called Toneoptic, so after reading Jason’s book about his  brand’s incredible voyage I knew I had to have him on the show.This is a must-listen for any company that seeks to go against the grain, anyone who believes in producing products in their home country, or those who need to be reminded that one can create a seven-figure startup out of their garage with 10k of self-funding, and of course for anyone who loves Hi-Fi. If this is not you, still listen, because this is a great one!
Nathan Beckord founded Foundersuite, a brand that pretty much every founder heard of, used, or referenced. Nathan and I discuss if infusing brand into early-stage startup pitch decks is of importance, if a catchy or descriptive tagline suits a startup better, the power of community in brand building and we talk about Foundersuite’s Teddy Talks which involves a ginormous teddy bear. Yep, a rather varied and fun conversation that any startup founder, VC, or those working with startups should listen to. 
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