About this episode

Whenever we hear about extremely successful entrepreneurs, especially those who achieved success at a young age, we tend to assume it happened overnight. However, this definitely is not the case. There are challenges and obstacles every entrepreneur has to overcome to reach their levels of success. The journey starts during our childhood years and continues down a long, hard road. Dylan Jacob’s story exemplifies this perfectly.

Dylan Jacob is the founder of BrüMate. BrüMate is the hottest new brand that designs insulated containers specific to the adult beverage industry. They have built a cult-like following for their growing line of insulated drinkware. BrüMate was also recently named number 14 on Inc.’s 5000 List, which highlights the top 5,000 fastest-growing companies in America. The most amazing thing of all is that Dylan has built all this and he’s only 26. Tune in to hear about the many obstacles he has overcome to achieve the accolades he has today.

In this episode, you'll hear.

  • Dylan’s history with fighting and drug-dealing.
  • What caused him to flip the script and change his life.
  • What happened in a two and a half year period that got him to BrüMate.
  • His exit plan for his first startup.
  • How he came up with his first product as a solopreneur.
  • His perspective on keeping inventory when he started BrüMate.
  • What’s been his greatest challenge in growing his brand.

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Dylan on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dylan-jacob-50014475/

BrüMate website: https://www.brumate.com/
Promo code for 15% off your first order at BrüMate: STARTUP

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Episode transcript

Dylan Jacob, founder of BruMate

Dylan Jacob: Hi, this is Dylan Jacob, CEO and founder of BruMate, and this is MY startup story.

  • Every wildfire began with a spark. Every superhero has an origin story. And every single startup has a moment that they point to as their beginning. And every founder has a purpose that drove them in the midst of all obstacles. THAT is The Startup Story. *

[00:28]

James McKinney: Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of The Startup Story. Have you secured your Grindology box yet? Wait, have you ever heard the news about the $12,000 prize giveaway within a Grindology box? Wait, you haven't? Well let me give you the details really quickly before we get into our episode. Last month was the nationwide launch of our newest brand, Grindology. And to celebrate our launch our friends over at Design Pickle are collaborating with us for a nationwide search for a golden pickle valued at nearly $12,000. Now you might be thinking what am I going to do with a $12,000 golden pickle, James? Well the answer to that question is a lot, but let me explain.

One lucky Grindology member is going to find this golden pickle and while you won't be able to sell it and melt the gold down and bring it into your business to help fund it, it will definitely be able to help your business. The one who finds the golden pickle in the first shipment of Grindology will win a full year of Design Pickle's pro service that will provide the winner with unlimited graphic design service for an entire year. Imagine jumping into 2021 with the resources of unlimited creative services from Design Pickle. Their pro service costs nearly $12,000 but one lucky Grindology member will receive this prize for absolutely free. Now, thanks to our attorneys I need to pump the breaks on the hype machine for a moment and mention no purchase necessary to enter and you can visit Grindology.com/goldenpickle to learn more as well as enter without purchase.

Now back to the hype machine. Grindology is an entrepreneurial subscription box that is created to help fuel your grind. Every shipment will include two bags of uniquely crafted coffee specifically roasted for you, the founder, hustler, entrepreneur, maker, and creator. Each shipment will also include an exclusive mug that speaks to the unique nature that is you, the entrepreneur. And lastly every single Grindology shipment will include a copy of Grindology Magazine, the newest entrepreneurial magazine in the market. The reality is I should probably stop calling Grindology Magazine a magazine, because it's truly more like a tactical manual just for entrepreneurs. Every single issue of Grindology will be chock full of real tactics from real business builders, not journalists. Learn real marketing funnel strategies from those who are doing it. Learn specific user acquisition strategies from brands employing those strategies right now. Hear funding tips from startups that are just a bit farther along in the capital journey than you are. Like I said real tactics from real business builders. We ship our first box January 2021 and it's going to be an exclusive shipment so make sure to secure your box today at Grindology.com. Now let's jump into this week's episode.

My guest this week is Dylan Jacob, founder of BruMate, the hottest new brand that designs insulated containers specific to the adult beverage industry. BruMate has built a cult like following for its growing line of insulated drinkware. Things like wine tumblers and wine canteens, and can and bottle coolers, barware, and just recently some coolers. And they're pretty cool,

punintended. BruMate was also recently named #14 on Inc.'s 5000 list. That

list highlights the 5000 fastest growing companies in America and they're #14. Since launching BruMate they've grow into a community of over 2 million customers spanning the globe. Now here's the thing about BruMate and even more specifically Dylan Jacob: he's only 26. You heard me correctly, he has built BruMate to the levels of success that we see today all by the age of 26.

Dylan is not a one hit wonder though when it comes to entrepreneurship. He started his first company in high school and sold it to one of his customers. He then started his second company with a manufacturing glass tiles for residential and commercial remodels, which he sold to help fund the growth of BruMate. Actually, real quick before we continue on, I want to let you know that Dylan is actually extending a 15% discount on your entire order at BruMate.com so start shopping for your friends and family and just use the promo code STARTUP for a 15% discount on your entire order at BruMate.com. Look, I'm really excited for you to hear Dylan's startup story because his journey reveals some real challenges and obstacles that he had to overcome to reach the levels of success that he has today. When we hear about all the accolades we often forget that none of it was overnight. In fact, the journey really starts during our childhood years.

[04:47]

Dylan Jacob: It's really interesting. So my childhood is not your typical. I was homeschooled. I grew up in a very religious household. My dad pretty much like didn't let me talk to anyone outside of our homeschool group. I was very sheltered. My dad to this day is still very religious so it was his way of sheltering me from all the evil interesting he world. So I grew up, I just had a lot of time. We were homeschooled and my mom's way of educating us outside of just curriculum was a lot of like spending time in the outdoors and doing unique projects. We would build things and very hands on. So from a young age I always had this like I call it the tinkering itch. I always had to be playing with something. Nowadays they call it ADHD. But it was something as I was growing up, that was just the normal. I was always busy, I was always doing something, filling my time.

I didn't have any entrepreneurs in my family. My dad worked for the IRS. He was an auditor. My mom was a stay at home mom that was homeschooling three kids. My grandpa was actually the only entrepreneur in our family. So he immigrated to the US in 1955 from the Middle East. He met my grandma… he was a cab drive. He met my grandma, he was taking her home from a bad date. She was actually her story is incredible. She was rescued from a Polish working camp during World War II-

[06:10]

James McKinney: Wow.

[06:11]

Dylan Jacob: … completely separated from her entire family, never saw them again. Was brought back to the US and basically dropped off in Philly and created a life for herself. She owned a couple buildings there and had kind of just worked her way up. She told me one time that like she would eat a loaf of bread in an entire week. That would be what she would live off of for a week and saved every penny. So the two of them, they got together. My grandpa wasn't an entrepreneur. She had these buildings and it was just a couple like small apt or duplexes I think. They made the venture to Indiana. I'm not sure why. So that was like in the early sixties at that point.

[06:50]

James McKinney: That's incredible.

[06:51]

Dylan Jacob: My grandpa like he again he liked to tinker and he worked on radios a lot. He found that all the local car dealerships were having issues with their car radios, but didn't know how to fix them so they were just replacing out the units. So he started getting contracts with the dealerships and fixing all of their car radios. That kind of transitioned into My Jacob's TV Repair and so he ran that for 50 years.

[07:19]

James McKinney: wow.

[07:20]

Dylan Jacob: So he started this TV repair ship in Beech Grove, Indiana which is a population of like, I don't know, 15,000 people maybe, very small town in the middle of nowhere Indiana. It was on this little strip called Emerson. The shop was probably 600 sq. feet but he did TV repair, he did appliance repair, radio repair. And I grew up, I spent a lot of time with him. Again, I grew up in a household that was pretty sheltered so I spent time with my family, I spent some time with friends in the group, and for the most part I spent a lot of time with my grandpa. I got to explore that tinkering gene a lot with him. He taught me how to work on TV's, he taught me how to work on appliances. I would go to garage sales in first grade with my parents and look for broken electronics and things like that I could take to my grandpa's shop so we could fix it together, and then sell it, and he'd give me a portion of the profits you know.

[08:15]

James McKinney: I love it.

[08:16]

Dylan Jacob: And so he was the only entrepreneur in our whole family. He came to the US. He changed his last name to an American last name. Jacob was as American a last name as you could make. He didn't teach any of my uncles. He had four sons, didn't teach any of them Arabic, they all spoke English, and he was like very, very against entrepreneurship in his mind. He was able to escape and come to the US in order to get an education, and he wanted to be able to give that to his children. So education was important. They had to go to college, they had to get a degree, they had to get a good job, get a retirement, have a solid foundation for their families for generations to come. That was important to him. But that was I always looked up to him, like that to me was just so cool. I think that really started a lot of just kicking the wheels in motion for me.

[09:08]

James McKinney: It's interesting though because you talk about how your grandfather really pushed education for his kids, and that's not uncommon for the immigrant story. We've had so many founders where maybe they were the first generation American. The narrative in the story is education, education, education because it's safe, it's comfortable. There seems to, back in the day there was this known path right? If you do this, you'll get a good paying job. Now it's just completely different. I could have a whole other podcast episode just talking about whether college is a necessity at all. That is a completely different discussion. But when we get back to your story and we hear about the influence that your grandfather had in your life, and the stable job that your dad had, with your mom as a homeschool teacher, what did you think was going to happen as you were entering the high school years? Because you didn't homeschool your whole education.

[10:01]

Dylan Jacob: No, and there's a lot of stuff that happened in between there. So my mom had very different views on the world and in fourth grade they actually split and separated. I won't go into the nitty gritty details there-

[10:11]

James McKinney: Of course.

[10:12]

Dylan Jacob: … but like long story short we were in a women's shelter for a few months, and after that we were living with my older brother for another three or four months, and from there I entered public school for the first time. We were living with my aunt for about a year so I was sleeping on a couch. My brother and sister were also sleeping on a couch. We were entering public school for the first time. Super nerve-wracking, had no idea how to socialize with 30 kids in a classroom. I had socialized with like two on a weekly basis so it was a bit of a shock. It's not that I didn't know how to fit in. it was like I didn't know where I fit in. so I hung out with all these different groups and I just didn't really understand how to evolve I guess. So over the next few years throughout school I spent a lot of time just really trying to figure out myself, like who I was. I didn't even realize that looking back now, but I mean I jumped around from friend group to friend group. In that process I got into a lot of trouble too. I was expelled twice in eighth grade. Between fifth grade and eighth grade I was probably suspended 20 times if not more.

[11:20]

James McKinney: Oh wow.

[11:21]

Dylan Jacob: I ultimately ended up in juvenile detention so in eighth grade, the second time I was expelled, I was in juvie for two months, and then I was on house arrest for six months.

[11:29]

James McKinney: In eighth grade.

[11:30]

Dylan Jacob: In eighth grade.

[11:31]

James McKinney: Wow.

[11:32]

Dylan Jacob: That was like the shifting point for me. So just kind of to back up from that, that need to tinker and do something all the time in class was really difficult for me. I couldn't pay attention. I always wanted to be doing something different. I was always going off whatever the curriculum was, I was just doing my own thing, exploring off in the books, always getting lost in Dylan land. Got me in trouble a lot for that, and it was hard for me to adjust to not being able to learn at my own pace and things like that.

But outside of school I found entrepreneurship was something that allowed me to explore that. From the time my parents split up until eighth grade I had all kinds of odds and ends jobs. I had landscaping company in the neighborhood. I would pass out flyers and I worked with all the elderly to shovel their driveways and sidewalks during the winter, mow their grass during the summer, and rake their leaves in the fall. Clean out their shed or organize their garage, whatever they wanted me to do. And I spent a lot of time in my summers working with my grandpa in his shop. That kind of continued on. I got into, again coming back into the story here, I got into a lot of trouble. I was caught selling drugs in school so that was kind of my illegal venture into the dark side of entrepreneurship I guess.

[12:48]

James McKinney: You know let me ask something about that real quick though, because it's interesting. There's quite a bit of your life that parallels mine and one of the things that I reflect back on are the pivotal decisions that we don't know we're making until we look back. I'm 43 so I look back now 30 years ago, like wow I can see I'm so glad I made that decision versus this decision and how that played out. Being in the position you were in, the dealing of drugs, I mean solid money. Obviously you got busted for it. I assume that's probably why you went to juvie.

[13:22]

Dylan Jacob: It was kind of… so the first time I was expelled was for fighting. I got into a lot of fights. I had a chip on my shoulder. Again, like this was kind of the adjustment period for me. When I was first in public school I was bullied and so my response to that was to like make people afraid of bullying me. I would only react with that, so I never led with that. I wasn't an aggressive person or anything but it was like if someone picked on me whatsoever it was always a fight, there was no question about it. That was okay in middle school. I would get suspended here and there, whatever, or sorry in elementary, but once I got into middle school they weren't playing around with it and so I was kind of on this three strikes and you're out program, and basically I was out.

So I got expelled for the first semester. I was able to come back second semester and then I got caught selling drugs in the school bathroom and was expelled again, but I was already on probation from the first time I was expelled so it was just a whole culmination of things. I like failed a drug test, I got caught selling drugs in school, I was expelled, so all three of those were violations. That was a pivotal moment for me. I didn't really realize it at the time. I thought my life was falling apart. I remember sitting, you know in juvie you don't have a cell mate so you just sit in a room by yourself most of the time. I had a very long time to reflect.

I remember my family, it was during Christmas too so like it was a pretty brutal time to be in jail. I was pretty distraught. You know, I was a 12 year old kid sitting in juvenile detention and just thought my whole life was in shambles basically. I remember sitting in there and just thinking about how much I had let everyone down, especially my mom who was raising three kids and busting her butt to be able to put us through school and do everything she could to give us the best life possible. I came out of it I think a little confused at first. I had another six months of house arrest to really think but during that time I remember just kind of jotting down different ideas and ways I was going to turn my life around. I set goals. I was like okay when I'm allowed to go back to school I want to graduate top 10 in my class, I want to get straight A's all of high school not a single B in any class. I set all these little goals that I knew I could hit because I always had good grade, I didn't slack off in school. I was good at school. It gave me something to kind of look forward to.

So I got really good at setting goals early on and that was the first time I had really done that. It was something that carried on throughout high school. I hit that goal. I graduated eighth in my class out of 400 kids. Never got a single B all of high school. But it was something, I was able to latch onto it, especially freshman year making that transition back into school. Again, I was on a three strike and you're out for all four years of high school so it was like I could not get in any trouble. I kind of cleared out a lot of my friend group that I was hanging out with that was driving a lot of that negativity. By the end of freshman year I really think I was a completely different person. I had evolved so much in that 12 month period it's crazy. Looking back at who I was when I turned 12 versus who I was entering freshman year of high school is just crazy.

[16:26]

James McKinney: But I want to ask about that transition. And I keep hammering that moment because that is such a key decision point for you in your life. High school is 180° different than where you were projecting your trajectory was coming out of middle school. I don't believe it was just the fact that you were in juvie. There was some mental processes, something you thought of, something you visually forecasted for your own life. But what was it that caused you to say this is not Dylan Jacob, this is not what I want from my life? What was that thing for you that just flipped the script?

And the reason I keep peeling at that, the reason I keep poking at that is because I believe in the realm of entrepreneurship there are moment where we fail as entrepreneurs, we go bankrupt. I lost everything in 2008 and I could have easily just carried that little cat around of failure, just pet it, let that failure just kind of purr in my lap, just let it hold me back from doing something else and changing my future. At 15 when my mom kicked me out, I could have easily been homeless, gone couch surfing, not try to make something of myself. There's decision points in our life. There's something there that changed for you in a massive way that carried you the rest of your life to where you are today. Do you remember what it was that caused you to say I'm done with this?

[17:44]

Dylan Jacob: I've done a lot of reflecting really on that time period because I had to go through therapy and anger management, and I could never get to the root of why I was mad or why I did any of the things that I did. But what I have figured out is I always knew subconsciously that was not me. That person that I was trying to be was not me. The people that I was hanging out with were not my people. The other side of that was also I had never really been caught. You get a little more ballsy right? You do something, you don't get caught, you try a little bit more, you push the boundaries, you push the boundaries, you push the boundaries. And you almost start to feel invincible. I was doing all kinds of stuff that no one knew, and I was flying under the radar. And then all the dominoes fell at once, and they all fell down on me, and reality set in that I was not invincible.

During that couple month period I really took a lot of time to reflect on this isn't who I am, this wasn't how I was raised. I am trying to be something that I am not and I really don't know who I am. So that was kind of when I said, it was like I want to figure out who I am, what am I passionate about, where do I want to go. I didn't know the answer to that but I knew that I could set tangible goals. So my goal was like okay I'm going to focus on education, that's important, it gives me something to look forward to so that's what I'm going to focus on. And in the meantime, I tried to find again I always had to be tinkering so I had to fill my time with things. So I was always looking for things outside of school to fill my time and keep me busy.

So during that summer period I was pretty much on lockdown. My mom had kicked me out, was living at my dad's house. My dad at the time was living with my grandpa. My grandma had passed away and he was living there kind of helping him around the house and stuff. So I lived with my grandpa and I lived with my dad and I spent that entire summer working with my grandpa in his shop. All these people kept coming in to get their phones repaired. Phones and tablets and stuff, and he was like, "Dylan, I have no idea how to fix these. My suppliers can't even get the parts for them. Will you look into this?" And so I did. I started researching. I was like okay are there any places you can get cellphone repair done, and the answer was no. at the time, there was one company called Gazelle you could like mail your phone into and it took like two weeks to get it back.

[19:59]

James McKinney: What year was this by the way, just for a reference point?

[20:02]

Dylan Jacob: This was 2009.

[20:04]

James McKinney: Oh so like what a year or two after the first iPhone came out. '07 I think.

[20:09]

Dylan Jacob: Yeah, this was around like iPhone 4 era.

[20:13]

James McKinney: Okay, okay.

[20:15]

Dylan Jacob: I think the first iPhone came out in like 2004 or 2005.

[20:18]

James McKinney: Wow, time flies.

[20:20]

Dylan Jacob: I'd have to double check that, but somewhere between 2000 and 2010. But I remember the phones I were working on were like iPhone 4's for the most part, like first gen. what I found though was there was nowhere to get them repaired at. I had found videos on YouTube of people that had channels setup where they would show how to do the repairs. I was like this looks very straightforward. So I remember I just ordered a cellphone kit and I was tinkering around at his shop trying to figure out how to do this, and very quickly found out that we could repair a screen in under an hour. He just he didn't have an interest in it. He worked on old tube TVs and radios and all kinds of crazy stuff. He's like, "Don't touch this because it'll electrocute you and kill you." Pretty crazy stuff, and the iPhone it's like unbolt these two screw on the bottom and slide this off, and unscrew five bolts. It was pretty straight forward.

But I didn't really want to do repairs for people. He also did refurbishing so he'd buy broken things and fix them and resell them. I was like I want to do that. I can fix it on my own time, I don't have to worry about breaking someone else's phone. So I literally would just meet people on Craigslist. I had a moped. I would drive everywhere and I would meet people on Craigslist, buy broken phones up. I would order the parts online and fix them. So from freshman year to sophomore year I did this. I would probably get five, six devices a week. I would be repairing, reselling on Craigslist or eBay on my mom's account, and it was something that kept me very busy and I was making good money. I was saving for my first car and just trying to keep myself busy. I had a lot of school work and whatnot too.

I remember sophomore year, like at this point I had already identified that all the cell phone repair shops in the US that were selling parts, so just parts distribution companies, that were on eBay were actually mainly Chinese resellers and the parts that they were selling on eBay were like B grade parts, which just means that they have dead pixels on the screen, one or two, dust underneath the screen, just not A grade and not perfect. So I didn't really know that would come in handy to know until later, but I ended up starting I was ordering from overseas directly from a manufacturer that specialized in OEM refurbishing. So they would take the old broken screens, refurbish them into new ones, make sure they didn't have dead pixels or dust under the screen, anything like that. So you weren't getting aftermarket screens that would cause your phone to go haywire, anything like that. And so sophomore year all these repair shops starting popping up and I just noticed every time a new one would pop up, that pool of people that were selling these broken devices for really cheap was just kind of drying up.

I didn't know anything about these guys. Most of them didn't have websites or anything so I went in. There was the Greenwood Park Mall, there was this little place in there called iRepair Indie. I walked in and the owner's name was Ronnie, and I still talk to him to this day. But I walked in and was like, "Hey, where are you getting your parts from?" It was like my first question, I don't even know why. I was like 14 and I'm coming in, this guy probably just thought I was crazy. And I remember him telling me he was getting them off eBay. And I was like, "Hey, your parts suck. I can show you." And so I had like screen testing tools. So I came back the next day or something and brought this tool in and was showing him the difference in quality between the screens I was getting versus his, and ultimately this turned into him wanting to buy parts from me.

Little did I know Ronnie was friends with almost every other person in Indie that had repair shops, so I started supplying him with screens. He had a friend named Eric that had like five repair shops, I started supplying him with screens. He had another friend with Joe that he had a repair shop on the west side of Indie. And so it turned into my sophomore year I was supplying like eight or nine different repair shops in Indie and doing my own refurbishing on the side here and there when I could find a good deal. I found I was creating good value, and these guys they were growing so I was growing with them, but I wanted to branch outside of that.

So from sophomore year to senior year, I really taught myself a lot. I learned how to market on social media. I had created an Instagram account and would scour hashtags and DM people on Instagram and be like, "Hey, let me send you parts. Let me show you the quality that I can provide." Just a whole lot of hustling and grinding, and I would do this in class. My teachers would get so made, they're like, "Why are you on your phone?" I'm like, "I'm working." They all knew that I was like an entrepreneur and most of them didn't care. I would do it in between coursework or whatever. But by senior year I was working with over 100 repair shops around the US so I had a little Shopify store, I had an Amazon store, an eBay store. Had all these little stores where I was selling. We were doing a few hundred thousand dollars in sales.

[24:57]

James McKinney: A month or year?

[24:59]

Dylan Jacob: A year.

[25:00]

James McKinney: I was like wow.

[25:01]

Dylan Jacob: Yeah, so senior year my tax return I think I made almost $100,000 in profit.

[25:08]

James McKinney: That's awesome. I love it.

[25:09]

Dylan Jacob: And I always tell this story though because I did not consider myself an entrepreneur. Actually throughout high school I had figured out I like to tinker, I like to play with things, I want to be an engineer. And more than that I always created inventions when I was a kid. I would see a problem and try and create a solution for it. I always use the example in class my thumb would always get hurt from writing so I created a thumb support that wrapped around my index finger to like support my thumb. Just little things like that, that I thought were cool and served a purpose. So I was like well I want to do engineering but I want to be an inventor.

There's no like… my teachers didn't know anything so I would ask them, "If I want to be an inventor what do I need to be?" They're like, "An engineer." Okay, so like an industrial engineer? What kind of engineer? They're like, "Just go for mechanical." My physics teacher was like, "Just go for mechanical and then you can go work for a firm and kind of dial it in later." I'm like okay sure, sounds great. So all throughout high school I was running this little side hustle, I was making money that was going to help pay for college to help me get a job, that was going to help me support my family and get retirement, and give me a cushy life, right? That was the goal. And I had this thing in front of me, like right in front of me. I was making more money than a senior engineer, right, in high school and I didn't consider myself an entrepreneur. I think just looking back it's just insane, but you know what it's like the shift of mindset doesn't come immediately. It really didn't hit me until a few years after.

[26:39]

James McKinney: And real quick I mean just how old are you right now, Dylan? Let's give people… we're about to cover a very quick time span because you're not that old.

[26:48]

Dylan Jacob: Yeah, I'm 26.

[26:51]

James McKinney: 26.

[26:52]

Dylan Jacob: So I just turned 26 in August.

[26:54]

James McKinney: And you finished high school at 19 I think you said?

[26:55]

Dylan Jacob: At 19.

[26:56]

James McKinney: At 19.

[26:57]

Dylan Jacob: Yep.

[26:58]

James McKinney: So within a seven year period we are going from ending of an OEM distribution hub, if you will, to the origin of BruMate, which actually let me step back how old are you when you started BruMate?

[27:10]

Dylan Jacob: 21.

[27:12]

James McKinney: So within a two year period-

[27:14]

Dylan Jacob: Yeah, it was only a couple years, like two and a half.

[27:16]

James McKinney: So within two and a half years what took place in that two and a half years that gets us to BruMate? Because I want to spend some time unpacking BruMate. Because it is, again from the time we've sat here just unpacking the way your brain works, you life's journey, the unstated entrepreneurial journey that you had and that OEM hub, and the understanding how China works, there's so many things that set up for how you were able to execute BruMate and I just want to unpack that. So what happens in that two year period that gets us to BruMate?

[27:48]

Dylan Jacob: The most stressful couple years of my life. So just to give you a breakdown, so I graduated 2013. Second half of senior year, I was leaving school to go work at Rolls-Royce so I had an internship at Rolls-Royce. I worked in their engineering department and I got a full ride to Purdue through them, and then I was doing rotating semesters, or supposed to, where I was going to do one semester at Purdue and then one semester onsite internship with Rolls-Royce.

[28:12]

James McKinney: Wow.

[28:13]

Dylan Jacob: I was also doing that while I was running my business out of my dorm room, and taking like 18 credit hours. I lost like 20 pounds, I was depressed, I wasn't happy. For the first time ever hated school. During high school I loved it. I loved to learn but for whatever reason I lost that when I went to college. That first semester was just brutal on me. So leaving first semester I was heading to Christmas break. I was telling my friends, I was like, "I think I'm going to drop out." And they're like, "You're crazy." I had a full ride, I had all these things covered, and I was just going to throw it all away, internship, everything. Mind you my whole family… so my uncle went to Purdue, my two cousins went to Purdue, they're all engineers and my grandpa was alive at this point and he thought I was insane. He was actually really, really mad at me.

[29:04]

James McKinney: I'm sure he was.

[29:06]

Dylan Jacob: Like really, really mad. He wouldn't talk to me for a minute. I basically had to tell everyone, I was like, "Listen, I'm running this business out of my dorm. I'm making more money than I would as an engineer. I want to explore this because I'm only spending an hour or two a day on this in the free time that I have. What could it be if I just took the time where this was my fulltime job?" And so that second semester I was supposed to be at Rolls- Royce so I didn't have to drop out of Purdue. All I had to do was basically tell Rolls-Royce I wasn't interested in the rotating semester program, and so I just basically said no to the internship. So the second semester I was like I'm going to take this semester to figure out what I want to do with my life.

At this time I still didn't consider myself an entrepreneur, but I was like I want to see where this goes and I know I'm not happy, so that's all I really knew and I was trying to run with that. My brain and my body was telling me this is not the right path, but I didn't actually have the answer for what the right path was. And so not even three months later one of my clients saw I worked with a small retailer group that was kind of based in the Midwest. They had 11 stores but they were part of a larger franchise that had over 100 stores across the US. They came to me and they're like, "Hey we want to expand you to all of our stores," and so we started talking and overnight I was going to double the amount of stores that I was working with. That conversation morphed into, "We actually want to buy you and we want to integrate you into our supply chain, and basically take over your supplier." So really all they were paying for, because as soon as they bought my company they stopped selling to everyone, they shut down all the stores, they just basically paid for my supplier which I thought was crazy and I was actually kind of mad.

A lot of my customers were really mad too. As soon as I sold, they're like, "Hey, they won't sell to me anymore," and I was like, "Guys, what kind of business plan is this here? Why did you buy this and now you're not selling to anyone?" Whatever, but long story short I sold the company for $100,000 and so on top of the money I had already saved and was making I had another $100,000 in my pocket. I was like you know what, I'm happy. I still have no idea what I'm doing but I've got some money and I don't know what I want to do next.

[31:17]

James McKinney: You're about 20 at this point, right?

[31:20]

Dylan Jacob: No, I was actually 19. I was still 19. I didn't turn 20 until August 2014.

[31:25]

James McKinney: Okay, all right.

[31:26]

Dylan Jacob: So long story short, sold the company, had no idea what I wanted to do but I just didn't want this money sitting in my bank account and I was trying to figure something else out. Growing up with my dad, he would always buy rehab houses and I would like… and we would live in them. He wouldn't sell them but he would buy a dump house and we'd live in there for four years and I would help him fix things around the house. So I grew up like pretty skilled. I knew how to do a lot around the house. I was like I'm going to do the same thing. I'm going to buy a foreclosure and do some HGTV magic on one of these houses. Easy, right? Like buy this, few months, make $50K.

[32:01]

James McKinney: In 90 minutes it's a whole new house.

[32:05]

Dylan Jacob: Yeah, and boy that was a rough period for me. I had just come out of a really stressful period. I was really happy for the first time, on track, sold the company, then was lost again, didn't know what was coming next. Thought buying this house would be a good idea and then that house turned into a yearlong nightmare. It had a ton of termite damage. It had to be gutted and completely redone. I barely made any money on it. I would work like 14 hours a day on this house. I did literally almost everything. I took electrical tests, I did all the permitting myself. I learned how to literally do everything. The only thing I did not do in that house was run plumbing. I didn't want sewage backing up into the house so I paid to have someone do that, and then I paid an electrician to tie all the electric into the panel. So I ran all the electric throughout the house and then they tied it into the panel. Those were the only two things that I contracted out. There was actually a Reddit thread that I did on this.

[32:59]

James McKinney: Oh wow.

[33:00]

Dylan Jacob: I documented like every single step of the way and it made it to the front page of Reddit, and there's like 500 pictures in there. But it was a helpless feeling because I thought it was going to be this help thing while it would help me transition into figuring out what I wanted to do next, and then it turned into I had to do this every single day or I was going to lose a ton of money because I couldn't sell a house that was just gutted. I would have lost money so the only option I had was to fix it, but I didn't have the money to pay someone to fix it so I had to do it myself, so I was trapped. And I just remember I really let myself go. During that year I stopped going to the gym again, my hair was growing out, I looked super scruffy. I remember looking in the mirror sometimes and just being like, didn't even know who I was. It was a really bad year mentally.

I remember when that house finished, really as it was finishing, the only thing that helped get me through it was looking for the next thing. So I started to see this light at the end of the tunnel. The house was almost finished and we were finishing the kitchen, and I remember at this point I had been keeping a journal so I would jot down different ideas that I had, flush them out, what does this market look like, is someone already doing this, can I add value, is this even a solid sound idea. I knew the supply world so it was like oh I can just act as a middle man like anywhere. All I have to do is find a gap, so that was just naturally what I was looking for.

So I was finishing the kitchen and I went to this granite showroom. There were like 400 different slabs of granite, took me like three hours. I picked out the one that I liked and then I went next door to this interior design showroom to pick out tile. I had this very specific color in mind. It was picked out from the granite and was like this would tie in really well, it would look good. I go in there and they didn't have anything even remotely close. There was disconnect again. I was like oh, this could be something. So I go online, I'm searching for tile, can't find it. I start calling around to showrooms, searching online, looking to see who the competition is, and that morphed into Vicci Design which was the second company I started. It was a high end glass tile company. Our main selling point was we had the largest color selection for glass tile in the US.

[35:05]

James McKinney: So let's stop for one second on this real quick. Both startups that you've had so far came as a result of one was really a problem your grandfather had. People were bringing him electronic devices that needed repair and he didn't want anything to do with it. You solved around how to service this. The second one came from a problem you wanted a specific color glass tile, there wasn't any, so you go in and try to find a way to make this happen. But if we're timestamping this because again we know as soon as you hit 21 BruMate is in the picture. You're now 20 and this glass tile business is in the picture so we know that this is a one year gap. Quickly can you tell us what was the exit plan for this and obviously that, you probably exited that because of BruMate. What is that journey?

[35:53]

Dylan Jacob: Long story short, Vicci Design actually started taking off. That was my first time ever going to China. I looked for US manufacturers for glass tile, there was only one, Kentucky something tile, they're in Kentucky, but they only manufacture for themselves so it's their own manufacturing facility. Naturally, I was like I'm going to go overseas then and try to figure out where I can get this manufactured.

So I was young, went by myself. I went to Beijing for almost three weeks alone, stayed in hostels, met a bunch of cool people. Went and visited like five different manufacturers and that was a really, really cool experience. But there was something about all these companies that I had started, they were just like paying the bills. It allowed me to kind of fulfil this need to be doing something and fulfilling a need for other people. I had taken this view of the world where like if I saw a problem, has anyone created a solution for this yet? If they hadn't, then I'm like well would it be worth me creating a solution?

Going back to engineer, I told you I had wanted to be an inventor and so my actual lifelong goal was to be able to create a product that I could walk around and see people using. That was like my goal and that's why I kept this journal because I was always looking for that right idea, but they didn't have it and I didn't want to go get a job, and I definitely wasn't going back to school, so these other businesses in between were like stepping stones, but almost like I created jobs for myself. Vicci Design, it was a one man show. It was a job for myself. I was fulfilling a big enough need but I was my boss. I was putting bills on the table, working on my own terms, and able to work on other things too. I wouldn't have done anything differently. Those businesses taught me a lot about the fundamentals of what it's like to start and run a business, and sourcing, and all the important things that allowed me to start BruMate the way I did, and scale it the way that I did.

The story of BruMate is actually really short. So I was running Vicci Design. At that time we're, I don't know barely breaking $100K in sales, making okay money, really good margins. We were partnered with Wayfair and Overstock, drop shipping relationship with them so orders would come in, they would send labels and the packing slip over, I would literally pack it, slap a label on it, FedEx would pick up, that was it, done for the day. Just made $500 cool. That was like… but like what's next? It was always what's next, what's next. So that's how I was looking at the world with this lens of like where can I add real value and create something that's a legacy, that's what I wanted to create.

The idea for BruMate was it really started when I first turned 21. I got into craft beer. There was a local brewery called Sun King. All their cans came in 16 ounce cans. They didn't have a single beer that came in 12 ounce cans. I remember like that last… and I never drank 16 ounce cans before. I'd always drink the regular 12 ounce cans everyone drinks, so I'd never really had this problem before. And then all of the sudden, now I'm drinking 16 ounce cans and the last quarter of the beer is warm. I was like this is disgusting. So I started looking for beer cozies to keep the 16 ounce beers cold. No one had created any.

I remember jotting down in my journal, "Create a way to keep 16 ounce beers cold," and I started to flush that idea out. That was like the origin story of BruMate. I found very quickly, whenever I would find a new idea I would literally study. So I would study all the brands in the industry, how long they had been around, what products they were selling, how much, where they were selling, wholesale, online, direct to consumer. Trying to get an idea of what margin was so I'd try and find suppliers for similar products and see what the actual margin was. I would run through these exercises and what I found with BruMate was incredible.

So very quickly I identified no one was selling direct to consumer. They were all focused on wholesale so at the time really the only big players were like Yeti and Hydroflask. They only sold direct to retailers. They were all selling to an older demographic, so like the younger generation was not interested in these products. And they were all focused on hydration. So in the housewares category there is the drinkware category, and specifically insulated drinkware. It was the fasted growing category of housewares. But in the drinkware category all the articles you would read, all the products people were putting out were all around hydration so it was water bottles, tumblers, and coffee mugs. Where are the products for the important things like beer? That was the concept for BruMate. People always ask how do you create a company. We are the 14th fastest growing company on the Inc. 5000 and they're like, "What does it take to create a company like that?" And it takes the stars to align. Everything has to fall into place and it just did. I had the right idea at the right time. No one else was doing it. There is not very often you can find a product that literally has never been created. The odds of that happening are very small.

Secondary, I had identified a customer group who was not being advertised to, and then third had found that none of them, no one was being advertised to direct to consumer. So no Facebook ads, Instagram, Snapchat, Bing, Pinterest, Google, whatever you name it. No one was utilizing that to reach customers when it came to drinkware. I also discovered this area of opportunity which was that insulated drinkware specifically was looked at as a gimmick. So all these brands talked about how it kept your XYZ cold for 24 hours or hot for 12, and they played this numbers game of who keeps things cooler or hotter for longer, which reminds me of an infomercial. I imagine like Billy Mays talking about how this keeps your beer cold for 24 hours when you definitely don't need that.

So I identified okay we can come in and create a product that had never been created before, market to a customer that's never been marketed to before, in a way they've never been marketed to before. And talk about the products in a way that they've never heard before. For us, it was talking about the real true benefits of insulated drinkware, which was no matter what pace you're drinking at it's going to keep it at the perfect temperature from the first time you take the first sip until you finish it, and there's value in that. No one can dispute that the last sip of their beer is definitely not as cold as the first. And if you ask them if they wish it was, they'll tell you yes. So all I had to do was just tell them our products do that.

[42:04]

James McKinney: Now you've said "we" and I assume it's because you're speaking of BruMate now, but then it was just you still right? You were solving this, you were ideating around I assume what the product design looked like. Obviously you were doing the research yourself so I assume for some period of time this was you solving this. How did you as a solopreneur at the time, coming up with a product that now had to be manufactured because there was no solution out there like this… again, if you could describe what was product number one that you were trying to create?

[42:38]

Dylan Jacob: Imagine like a tin can that you can put a beer in. that's pretty much what the first version was. I want to talk about the "we" for a second. So I meet a lot of entrepreneurs and I always find solo entrepreneurs still will refer to themselves as "we" because they don't want to refer to themselves as "I" because it doesn't sound like a company if it's just you. So I adapted that really early on. I would always say "we" even though it was just me, because I just wanted people to think the company was bigger than it was, and it's always stuck with me. Now it definitely is "we."

[43:04]

James McKinney: Now it is a "we" right.

[43:06]

Dylan Jacob: I've always said "we" even when it was just me. So the concept for BruMate, it started beginning of 2016 so this was four years ago.

[43:16]

James McKinney: It's crazy how fast this grew.

[43:18]

Dylan Jacob: Like literally within a week I had already found a few different manufacturers and booked a ticked back overseas. So I had identified one. There were no insulated drinkware manufacturers in the US. No one created insulated drinkware, it was all manufactured overseas. And I had also identified that there were only a few major manufacturers that had been around for a very long time, and had in-house engineering teams. So that was something that's actually really important, especially for anyone that's listening that's interested in product design. I get a lot of messages all the time like, "Hey, I have this idea. How do I bring this to life?" And I always tell people my first idea was a sketch on a napkin, and I worked with an engineer to get a rough CAD model created, and then I remember when I went overseas and started working with the different engineering teams I was really looking to see like who I felt like had the strongest engineering team. I remember I sat down with the group that we're working with now, and they took my idea and within like an hour they were like, "This can't be made. Here's why. Here's how we can make it and here's what it will look like," and they had already sketched it out and created it. I was blown away. I was like, "That's what I need."

[44:22]

James McKinney: That's awesome.

[44:24]

Dylan Jacob: I always tell entrepreneurs if you have a product concept, start with the manufacturer first. So figure out who would make this product for you and reach out to them. You can literally show them a rough sketch and say, "Here's my rough idea. Do you think you can make this?" And often times you don't even need to hire someone to do CAD design for you. A lot of times they'll go in-house modeling for you for free because they want to acquire you as a customer. Sometimes they won't. If they won't you can hire someone on Upwork just to do a rough model and then take it to them, and they can tweak it for like manufacturability.

But at the end of the day, your designer that's creating this product and yourself, you're not manufacturing it so you don't know the limitations of the product. And the manufacturer does so if you can connect the two and find a manufacturer with an in house engineering team that's good, ultimately consumer facing so they're working with you to help bring things to life, and a lot of these manufacturers do. Overseas it's very common. It solves the problem. You're not going to create a design that's just going to get ripped apart and redone. You're creating the final product on step one so it saves a lot of headache and money.

But going back into design, I had figured out what manufacturer I was going to use at this point. I had given my sketches. And during my conversation with them I basically said, "I've got all my money wrapped up in this house and another business, I don't have a lot to spend. How could we make this as cheap as possible?" And so they sat down with me and they're like, "Here's what we can do. So we can have a weld line on the inside and do this, that and other. This is the cheapest way to make it," and it was like a few thousand dollars for the mold, and the most expensive part was the plastic gasket that we created for it. Again, I didn't want to just dump money into this. I knew that I hated warm beer, I had a feeling everyone else did too. Wasn't sure if they would buy it. I at first wanted to make a Kickstarter and I started looking into the platforms and just I wasn't really interested in them.

[46:10]

James McKinney: Why? Because they were a big deal back then. Especially 2016 you said, I guess they were a bigger deal a few years before but they were still a big deal in 2016.

[46:20]

Dylan Jacob: They were big and I followed a lot of them but you know what, I had spent money on those platforms before and never gotten what I asked for. What I found though was the campaigns that were really successful they didn't really need the money. So these people, they would spend $15-20K on production and things like that to make a killer campaign that would drive that product to the front page and get the eyes that it needed to be able to exceed the campaign goal by 2000% or whatever. It wasn't too often that you found on those platforms a really scrappy poorly put together, very clearly shoestring budget product that like made it to the front page and got funded like that.

I had identified with my other companies I already knew how to market direct to consumer a little bit. I knew Facebook ads barely, I knew how to do Google. I was like you know what, I'll create a little landing page with the product. I paid a designer to Photoshop the CAD model into people's hands. Created like a one pager that talked about the product and what it was and what it did. And I didn't take preorders. I just was capturing emails. I figured out pretty quickly that people were fairly interested. I would send out surveys with like Survey Monkey asking people what they liked and what they didn't like, what they would want to see, things like that. But I still needed to prove that people would actually buy it.

So I actually went to Sun King, the brewery I mentioned earlier. I walked into the show room and was like, "Hey, I drink your guy's beer, and out of that it sparked this product concept and I would like to sell it in your showroom. Would you guys be interested? Would you commit to a small order with your logo on it?" They committed. They were like, "Yeah, we really like it. It's cool. We'll get it, we'll see how it does." That was like the first step of proving the concept here. Now mind you, I created a really rough concept and I told them that. I said, "This isn't the final product. Here's the idea for the final product," which is the Hopsulator trio now. "I don't have the money to create it right now but my goal with this is to be able to get customer feedback and kind of get early adopters to be able to get all the feedback I need to make the final product and prove the concept."

That worked out. They ended up selling out I think within 30 days all the units they ordered, a couple hundred. People were tagging us on Instagram. At the time the company's name was Cryo Gear, not BruMate. Not a whole lot of people know that.

[48:32]

James McKinney: BruMate is much more consumer friendly. I like that.

[48:35]

Dylan Jacob: Yeah. So this started with the product, not a brand. So this whole thing started with the Hopsulator so the name for the Hopsulator came from a hops insulator, and everyone was like, "What's like the brand name?" And I was like, "Well, I don't know I need to make one." That was pretty much… I didn't really have one. Well it keeps things cold, so cryo means cold, cold gear, cool. Had no idea what this was going to turn into. I always just called it the Hopsulator, that's how I talked about it. The company that we formed was called Cryo Gear.

So a couple things here. I was able to prove the concept. I was able to take that money and go back to the drawing board. At this point I had gotten a home equity line of credit on my house. It was finished so I pulled a little bit of money to get this next mold created. Still wasn't like the final, final version. There was a lot of tweaks that we made in between but it was a step in the right direction. So from probably July 2016 until May 2017 the Hopsulator was not available for purchase. I had this downtime. I was running Vicci Design, had just finished up the house. Had a lot of still free time on my hands. At this time I was still maybe spending an hour or two a day on Vicci Design. So I was looking for another opportunity. I knew that people didn't like warm beer, I had identified that again these other drinkware brands that were out there weren't focusing on alcohol so I was really laser focused on alcohol, like what other solutions can I create. And then that summer, so around July 2016, I was on a beach in Florida and I got a drinking ticket for having a bottle of wine. Can't have glass on the beach. I don't remember how much the ticket was. I was like wow, people can't drink wine on the beach?

[50:19]

James McKinney: What a crying shame.

[50:21]

Dylan Jacob: Yeah, that's sad. And so I knew that people had created there were all kinds of thermoses. There were thermoses for coffee and thermoses for soup, all kinds of stuff but no thermoses for wine. Well why can't I create a product called the Winesulator that you can pour the wine into and it'll regulate the temperature? Shaped like a wine bottle so it looks just like it aesthetically. When you look at it, you know exactly what it's for but it maintains the temperature for over 24 hours which at this time we still talked a little bit about time, not with beer but with wine because we'd talk about how you can bring the Winesulator, your favorite bottle of wine with you for a camping trip or out on the boat all day, or to the beach, and you don't need ice you just throw it in your bag and you have perfectly chilled wine.

So we had to talk about time a little bit. That product I did the exact same thing. I had the concept created, rough sketch, went to CAD design, Photoshopped it in people's hands, created a landing page, ran paid media to the landing page, and collected about 7,000 emails. So that started in August and we were collecting emails all the way up until roughly October. Then I went to the manufacturer and said, "Hey, I have all these emails collected. I'm going to place an order for this Winesulator." We had been working on getting it developed and created, molded, and I ordered 7,000 units. I knew not all 7,000 of our customers were going to buy this, but we had a pretty actively engaged email group so again I used Survey Monkey to run surveys on the product, what colors do you want to see, things like that. We had over 50% open rate for the people that were on that list, so pretty actively engaged in terms of like the people that were interested in potentially buying this product. Then my goal with the rest was to just sell it on social media.

[52:02]

James McKinney: If I'm not mistaken from a timing perspective, you're now on your second product but the first one hasn't' gone to market yet.

[52:08]

Dylan Jacob: Well, the first one we kind of went to market. So that first batch was about 1,000 units. 200 of those went to Sun King, the rest I sold on social media so again I created cryogear.com, had the website, was running paid spend on Facebook at the time. I didn't know a whole lot about Facebook ads. I was running like boosted posts and reading tutorials on Reddit and wherever else just trying to figure things out. With the amount of ad spend that I was doing, it wasn't that hard to get decent results. It wasn't' until I started trying to scale that, that I realized pretty quickly that I didn't know what I was doing. It had kind of gone to market. So I had sold through that first batch. I had gotten customer feedback and used that to kind of create version two which was going to be the final version.

So mind you throughout this whole process I kept telling everyone this isn't the final product, this is the start, tell me what you like, tell me what you don't, and then basically I told them when the new version came out that they would get a 50% off coupon to be able to get that. It was like Kickstarter. It was like you're an early adopter, come in, help an entrepreneur out, and you get cold beer. It's not super pretty but the final product will be and you can be a part of that story. People really resonated with it. I don't think we had a single complaint. People would be like, "Hey, I don't like this at all but can't wait to see the final version." That was like the sentiment we had kind of built. I had kind of built, I'll keep saying "I."

[53:31]

James McKinney: It's all right, it's all right.

[53:32]

Dylan Jacob: And so as the Winesulator was launching it was really because we were still working on the Hopsulator but I wanted to create another product in the meantime. I wanted to start building a real brand.

[53:41]

James McKinney: Let me pause there real quick about this idea of inventory. When people think of starting a business or a brand, were you considering inventory? Were you considering do I want to get in the business of not being a we'll say drop ship, but did you want inventory? Did you want to have this line of products that was going to sit in your I'm assuming your garage at the time for fulfillment? Was this your vision for it or were you trying to keep things as lean as possible from a quantity perspective?

[54:10]

Dylan Jacob: No, I was fine with inventory. So that summer I had actually gotten a warehouse for the first time for Vicci Design. Vicci design was growing too. I got a 2,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Indiana, I was paying like $1,200 a month for and I had carved out a little section of this. So when the Cryo Gear stuff came in, the Hopsulator came in, I had pallets just kind of lined up on the left side and I just kind of did it all out of the same place.

This all started with I wanted to create a product that I could walk around and see people use. I wanted to create a real brand that people knew and talked about. So yeah I had no problem with warehousing inventory. I already did that with Vicci Design. We had hundreds of pallets of tile just stacked up. I was already used to warehousing inventory, even with my previous companies. We didn't drop ship so I stored cell phone parts, whatever it may be and had them all sorted, and shipped orders. So it was the same concept with every business. Warehouse inventory, pick pack fulfill orders, it was just something this time that I had actually conceptualized and created which was really exciting for me.

[55:10]

James McKinney: Yeah. Well it's been your dream at this point. You had talked about it numerous times where you wanted to create something. That's what you wanted your, I'm going to use your phrase your legacy to be. So your legacy is keeping beer cold the whole way through, and so now you're seeing your product that you've created from soup to nuts if you will, from the very beginning, to fruition so that's got to be incredibly rewarding.

[55:32]

Dylan Jacob: It was. And this was the first time where I would actually say I started to consider myself an entrepreneur. I took a concept form scratch and created it, and people like it, and now I'm building this thing. I didn't know what this thing was going to be at the time but I really started to feel it. The passion was flowing through me. I felt like I had purpose for the first time, like I wasn't just paying the bills. I had real purpose. And so the Winesulator was what really, really kicked things off. So mind you the sentiment around this for whatever reason was actually way more than the Hopsulator. Our first post got like 5,000 comments on it. It kind of went semi viral. The colors that the email group had picked out like I had taken a picture of them lined up and posted it on Facebook and ran a boosted ad behind it, and then it just took off and people went crazy. They're like, "Oh my gosh, this is so cute, I love it." And this is actually when I identified that like no one was catering to women.

With Vicci Design we prided ourselves in the fact that we had the largest color selection of glass tile. No one was doing colored drinkware. That was like my concept, it was like oh let's do colors. People just went crazy over it though. They were seeing these colors like Tiffany Blue and neon pink and coral, all these colors on this product. Like Yeti at the time only had stainless steel drinkware. They didn't have bright, vivid colors so people just were going crazy. Not only love the concept, over the colors. And 95% of the comments were women. I was like oh awesome, so now I've identified another customer group that's been ignored. I didn't want to create the brand just for women, that wasn't really the goal, but it had especially in the beginning it was more focused I think towards that because I found when I would run paid spend behind ads that were targeting males they did not convert nearly as well. The customer acquisition costs were a lot higher, and so naturally a lot of our ad spend in the beginning went towards women.

[57:30]

James McKinney: Do you find that still to be true with your ad spend right now?

[53:33]

Dylan Jacob: Not so much. Our split right now is like 60/40 women to men, our overall customer base. In terms of our spending it's almost split. We really focus, especially over the last couple years, of evening that up. So if you look at our social media or wherever we try and make it as neutral as possible.

[57:51]

James McKinney: Got it. Okay.

[57:52]

Dylan Jacob: I will say a lot of our top movers are feminine colors or at least leaning that way. The Winesulator though was like it was a real shot in the dark. I was like okay I've collected a lot of emails here. People are really interested. This post is going kind of viral. And I was just like you know what I think I can sell this. I ordered 7,000 units. So at that time it was probably a little… actually, I don't want to talk numbers but it was a decent investment, let's just say that. If it went south it could have bankrupted me. I was using a bank equity line of credit against my house to do this mind you. But I was confident. I think that's one thing here is I have this intuition where if I believe in something it comes true and I only believe in things that I believe can come true.

[58:40]

James McKinney: That's awesome.

[58:43]

Dylan Jacob: But I built this thing up that if I do not believe that it can come true then I won't pursue it, and if I do then it's only because I am literally going to make sure that it happens. I'm going to get these in and I'll sell them. I don't care how I have to do it, I'll sell through this. So up until this point mind you we had done maybe $20-25,000 in sales from the Hopsulator that first batch. Nothing crazy, didn't make a whole lot of money there. A lot of that went back towards production costs and whatever else. The Winesulator, so we started taking preorders the day after Black Friday 2016 and from that day until the day that the Winesulator is delivered, and so this is how I did it. I was going to be on the hook regardless. I had already placed the order but my goal was if I could collect enough preorders then I could pay for the batch with the preorders before they shipped and then I didn't actually have to pull money from the line of credit. And it worked out. From the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday 2016, until December 9th we did $270,000 in sales.

[59:48]

James McKinney: That's awesome.

[59:49]

Dylan Jacob: And the Winesulators sold out before they ever even hit land. I air shipped all those in.

[59:55]

James McKinney: You air shipped from China?

[59:57]

Dylan Jacob: Oh yeah. Oh, we air ship still. We air shipped 11 full planes in May and June this year. 11 full planes, like $2.1 million in air shipping.

[60:08]

James McKinney: That's crazy! And again I'm just so shocked because just within the last I'm going to say four days I was getting a price for a certain product coming out of China, and they came back with what air freight was in order for me to deadline I was like yeah, I can't do that so we're going to have to figure out a different route.

[60:24]

Dylan Jacob: Yeah. Well so air freight back then was probably $2 a kilogram. Air freight pre COVID was still only I could get airfreight rates for $3.25. Air freight rates now are like $9 a kilogram. They're crazy.

[60:37]

James McKinney: Oh my gosh.

[60:38]

Dylan Jacob: And a lot of it right now is also because of Apple so they're taking up a lot of cargo space for the new iPhone launch, and it's holiday. So long story short I air shipped all these in. I had enough money to pay the supplier. I didn't have to pull from the line of credit. I got all these in, delivered to my warehouse. We had a bunch of orders we had to fulfill. I had already printed them all off, had labels ready to go. Was sending out emails like, "Hey, we're going to get these out USPS Priority, they're going to get there before Christmas," and we were pushing like down to the wire.

This thing came into Forward Air in Indiana and it was like on a Friday or something, and they were like, "You're not going to be able to get it until Monday," and I was like, "No, I have to get it today or else people aren't going to get it for Christmas. These have to be on a truck on Monday." So literally we get everyone… I was able to somehow push them to let me come after hours, get all these pallets. I rented a U-Haul because they couldn't find a delivery driver so I was like, "I'll pick them up. I'll do whatever I have to do." So came, picked up all these pallets. Had to then hand unload them off the truck. I don't even know how many cartons, 7,000 divided by 24, whatever that is.

[61:45]

James McKinney: It's a lot, that's what it is. It's a lot.

[61:48]

Dylan Jacob: And I had like four friends plus me, five people, and in a two day period we shipped out 3,000 orders. I remember the feeling of like… USPS, I remember them telling me this, so the pickup driver, the local pickup driver we had daily pickup set up anyways. I remember him telling me, he was like, "You shipped more packages today than Urban Outfitters did."

[62:12]

James McKinney: Wow.

[62:13]

Dylan Jacob: Because their DC was over kind of where we were at. I just remember I felt so proud. I was like obviously we're not doing this every single day and these were a few weeks of orders, but like to be able to do that on our first launch, I just I felt so good. This was like the first time where I was like I felt like everything was actually coming together. I had this vision that I had seen through and created a product that people really wanted. And the last few years of my journey as an entrepreneur were all coming together. This was the beginning of my story and I could just, I felt it. I knew that BruMate was going to be something.

[62:47]

James McKinney: Over the last couple years though as BruMate has grown, and again now you just got recognized on Inc. as I think it was #14 fastest growing company in the US, and a remarkable story. But to go from 2017 to now, tremendous growth. You're in retail stores now right so you can be found not just direct to consumer, but you can also be found in stores. What has been the greatest challenge for you from that Christmas to now if you will, in growing this brand and this business?

[63:22]

Dylan Jacob: Our biggest issue in the beginning was fulfillment. So we had built out this preorder model where basically every time we'd do a launch I'd identified I can presell the product and use that money to pay for it, and I don't have to take any financial burden, and I only order what I need. I'd airship it in and customers were happy as long as we kept them up to date and made it very clear that this was a preorder. So that first year we did that. So it wasn't that difficult because we'd place the order, they would come in, we'd ship everything all at once so I'd just get a bunch of people in. it wasn't until I really identified… so that first year, about I think in August we had hit the first $1 million in sales for this is 2017 now, and at this point we had changed our name to BruMate. I can go into detail on that if you want, otherwise I can skip it.

[64:10]

James McKinney: Actually no I would love to know how you went from Cryo Gear to BruMate.

[64:13]

Dylan Jacob: I got sued.

[64:15]

James McKinney: Really?

[64:16]

Dylan Jacob: Yeah. So there's a special effects company in Florida that's called like Cryo Gen Effects, and they do like the nitrogen tubes that shoot out smoke at raves and stuff. They didn't like that we were using the name. They didn't even send us a cease and desist. They sent us a $100,000 lawsuit.

[64:36]

James McKinney: What?

[64:37]

Dylan Jacob: You know I had lawyers at the time because I had already filed for patents for the products and whatnot, and I came to them like, "Hey guys, I'm getting sued. I don't have $100,000. What am I supposed to do?" They're like, "Oh, this is just a scare tactic. Best option would be to change your name." And I was like, "Sure, I hate the name anyways. I've been thinking about changing it." So I really just sat down, I wrote down like what's the goal for us as a brand? We were creating all these products. In 2017 we had launched… so right after the Winesulator resounded success, people loved it, I was like you have a way to bring wine to the beach, you have nothing to drink it out of, you're drinking out of a solo cup so that was the concept for our uncorked wine tumbler, so launching the world's first insulated wine tumbler.

So this brand started to build and the concept was all the same, it was creating a better drinking experience. So I just started jotting down who we were as a brand, what we were trying to accomplish. I came up, it was like drinking buddy. We're your drinking buddy. I don't even remember, I started tweaking things around because I was like I obviously didn't want to use that name. So I started looking at synonyms, so I was like drink, what other names can I use for drink? Came up with brew and then said a buddy was mate, and that was kind of they mashed together and it was BruMate.

[65:47]

James McKinney: That's awesome. I love it.

[65:49]

Dylan Jacob: Yeah and I did that in two weeks, three weeks because we had to respond. We had a three or four week response timelines. So they were like, "Just sit down, come up with a different name." And so I came up with the name BruMate. Brumation is actually like hibernation for bearded dragons, and so no one had used this term before. The website was open so the domain was open. I paid like $1 for it. The hashtags on Instagram were all reptiles, so it was like again hey, this is great. The trademark was open, everything was open and so it just worked out. That was actually again probably one of the better things that happened to me during this process because it really forced me to sit down and say who are we, what is our goal long-term, and what is a fitting name for the brand. Not Cryo Gear.

[66:38]

James McKinney: I love it. And then you reached out to that special effects company and said, "Hey, you're at raves, can I get your client list?"

[66:46]

Dylan Jacob: No, it was funny. Actually they wanted our domain and we were like, "No, we won't give you that," and they're like, "We'll pay for it," and I was like, "Okay, I'll sell it to you for $100,000," because that's what they were trying to sue us for. And they were like, "No," and so we still own that domain to this day.

[67:01]

James McKinney: That's awesome. Back to your challenges though from that point until now. You were talking about you got into your first $1 million and you realized at this point this was going to become something.

[67:12]

Dylan Jacob: Yeah, so I was a one man show at that time. I was running Facebook ads, I was doing customer service. Shipping I would have friends come help and grab beer and pizza, and we'd ship things out. I was doing finances, literally doing everything. The business started to grow and the main area that I was having problems with was I wasn't good at Facebook ads. Really it was good from the conceptual standpoint of like here's how I believe we should talk about the product and the types of creatives we should be using. I'm really good at that stuff, but when it came to creating local audiences and really dialing it in and scaling efficiently, I didn't have that experience. I had found an outside freelancer that had experience with digital marketing, specifically Facebook, and he came onboard.

From the time he came on until the end of the year we did another $1 million in sales, and he came on like late October. So that Q4 was killer. So that first real full year we did $2 million in sales. At this point, I sold everything so my dad was looking to retire. He was over his job and I saw it as a good opportunity, so I actually gave him Vicci Design. I sold it to him at cost because it was just what I had invested in it. I sold my house, closed out my home equity line of credit. I had a little over $100,000 of equity in that house. Dumped that all into BruMate, all inventory. I started warehousing inventory, got a bigger warehouse, started hiring warehouse staff. Had day to day actual operations. Beginning of 2018 I remember I was out of town. I was at HSN headquarters in Florida. We were supposed to be doing this big roll out for HSN.

[68:50]

James McKinney: You're talking about Home Shopping Network?

[68:51]

Dylan Jacob: Yep.

[68:52]

James McKinney: Okay.

[68:53]

Dylan Jacob: And I remember we were launching our glitter series and I had no idea how this was going to do, but I was like glitter was becoming popular. I kept seeing it on my social feed. There's glitter wallpaper and paint, and this and that and the other, phone cases.

[69:06]

James McKinney: And slime was a big deal. There were all kinds of things that were happening in the glitter world. Oh man.

[69:13]

Dylan Jacob: So I was like hey, let's launch a glitter series. I was at HSN when this launched. I remember hitting send on the email and I did our email marketing. It was ugly. Mailchimp, basic template, super ugly. I want to go back and find some of those emails because they were horrible. But I remember sitting there watching, because we had built a pretty big email list at this time. It was like almost 100,000 people. I sent this out and I was sitting there, and we did like $150,000 in sales that day. My warehouse manager called me, he's like, "We're drowning. We need more people in here. This is a nightmare," because we're talking 3,000 orders in a day when normally we were processing like 200 or 300 on average, if that. I next day came home, was literally helping them all package orders. I had some extra help come in, friends come in, and help get this out the door. We moved into a bigger warehouse. Got in a bunch of new product, restocked the glitter series. This is a 20,000 square foot warehouse and I remember we grew out of that warehouse in like three months.

[70:16]

James McKinney: Oh my goodness.

[70:17]

Dylan Jacob: Yeah, it was crazy and this was our growth year so we went from $2 million to $20 million in a year.

[70:22]

James McKinney: How many additional products real quick? Because there's lots of ways to get from 2 to 20. How many additional products was it or was this all same product, just constantly just going into your ad spend and getting more and more consumers? Did you have retail come online at this time? What was the driver that year?

[70:40]

Dylan Jacob: Wholesale, we had a wholesale portal so if people reached out they could become a retailer for us. That probably drove maybe $500,000 in sales that year. The rest was all direct to consumer. That year, so a couple things. We launched the Hopsulator slim, which is our slim can cooler. We actually launched that at the end of 2017, no sorry beginning of 2018 it was like May. We started developing it at the end of 2017, but slim can cooler designed actually for Mich Ultra, not Truly's or White Claws. So at that time we had defined who we were as a brand, what we were trying to solve. So I would watch alcohol sales trends. At the time craft beer sales were kind of trending downwards, light beer sales were up and Mich Ultra was the fastest growing light beer brand. Well, I also know that Red Bull came in slim cans and there were all kinds of different things that came in slim cans. There's obviously a group of people, a large one, that's drinking out of slim cans so I'm going to make a product for that. That took off big time. I ordered 10,000 units for that, it was a couple hundred thousand dollar launch. That sold out in 24 hours.

[71:47]

James McKinney: Wow.

[71:48]

Dylan Jacob: Literally launched a couple Facebook ads and sent out an email, and it was gone.

[71:52]

James McKinney: That's crazy.

[71:53]

Dylan Jacob: So that was a super big area of growth for us. We launched the Noser which was for whiskey drinkers, so it's like a snifter glass, an unbreakable snifter if you drink scotch or bourbon.

[72:02]

James McKinney: Yeah, yeah.

[72:04]

Dylan Jacob: That did really well with that group of customers, a connoisseur. And we had created our gift sets for the first time so we bundled together the Winesulator and two wine tumblers to be able to bring wine on the go, and I remember that really resonating with customers. The Hopsulator trio we had expanded into new color ways and things like that. There was some expansion into new product categories, new colors and things like that, but at the end of the day we had never… we always had a supply chain issue. We never had enough. We would always sell out in a few days and then order and get it in, do the same thing all over again, and then it website just this constant cycle. That first year we probably could have done $6 to $7 million had we actually had stock for the other eight months that we were out of stock. I think that was the first year where, so marked two years of business at the very beginning of that year when I formed the company, so I was able to get bank funding. I got a $250,000 SBA government line of credit on top of the money I already had in the company, so that allowed us to like stock up on inventory and actually have a few weeks of inventory instead of like a few days. I think that was a big part of it.

That year though really the whole challenge for us was logistics and supply chain, inbound and outbound. So inbound the issue was finding enough money to be able to have enough inventory on hand. So I was taking Shopify capital loans and capital from weird like people charging 20% interest online that I had found. I don't even remember half the places I borrowed money from, but if I could find decent reviews and I knew they weren't a scammer, I'll pay the interest because I know I'm making a profit anyways. That whole year was just ebb and flow of out of stock, trying to find more money, trying to get more inventory, trying to figure out how to get things out the door because we were growing. So something had to give there.

In 2017 I was named Forbes 30 Under 30 for retail and ecommerce. During that summit I met a guy named Jan, and he owns a company called Chipmunk. So they do third party logistics for ecomm. We were in Tel Aviv and we all got an Airbnb together, and me and him became pretty close. I remember we were all sitting in a circle and we were talking about like our biggest challenges. Mine was logistics, and I knew Jan owned Chipmunk but I didn't really know what it was. Honestly, I wasn't super familiar. I was like my biggest challenge is logistics. He was like, "I can solve that for you. That's what I do." I was pretty skeptical. We had actually tried a 3PL in Indiana called IDS Fulfillment for like a month or two during Q4 2017. We gave them like part of our business, I don't know 50% of our volume to help process, and it was an absolute disaster. So I was skeptical. I was like, "Oh, I've worked with companies like you before," and he's like, "No, we're built for ecommerce. We know what we're doing. Let me show you what we can do." So we got back from that trip and we gave him again, I was like, "I'm giving you like 20% of my volume because I'm not going to go through what I went through last time, customers upset, not getting things on time," and whatever. I remember like they just killed it. We went from moving 20% to moving 100% within three months.

[75:17]

James McKinney: Wow.

[75:18]

Dylan Jacob: to this day, we still use them. So they have grown significantly with us. We occupy probably 30% of their warehouse in Florida. It really freed up my time to be able to focus on the things that mattered, and the things that I was good at which was product innovation and design. Ultimately, really focusing on the marketing component of the business. As soon as we outsourced that, I remember one a giant load being taken off my chest. I was no longer anxious or waking up with that anxiety. I would wake up happy and every day I was working on things that mattered. That was actually one of the biggest lessons I had ever, as an entrepreneur, probably one of the biggest moments for me where I really learned how to delegate. I had never been a boss before. I kind of was, like I had warehouse staff, I had freelancers, whatever. But I tried to do a lot of things myself and I took on a lot more than I could chew.

I remember the first time actually I kind of let go of control and trust someone else, which was Chipmunk, that was a big like thing for me to give them 100% of our shipping. It was the opposite of what I thought it was going to be. I thought I was going to be stressed out or like panicking about whether they're doing their job, but instead I actually had peace. Ever since then, every time I get that feeling in my stomach where I'm doing something that I don't enjoy or that's taking away the joy from the business, I hire someone. That's when I know I'm like hey, we need someone for this. Whatever it may be. But after that was solved, all we really focused on from them was building, building, building honestly. It was how are we going to innovate across the board? How are we innovating product? How are we innovating finishes? How are we innovating the way that we talk and interact with customers? And really leading the team around that.

So that year, towards the end of the year, I was a conference again for Forbes and I remember hearing the founder of Casper talk. He was talking about how they were opening brick and mortar stores. I was like wait a minute, I remember hearing you guys talk a couple years ago about how retail is dead and all you wanted to do was direct to consumer, and like that was your whole model. So afterwards I wanted to pick his brain. I waited afterwards and talked with him for like 20 minutes, just trying to get an understanding from him. He was like, "You know what? That was actually, it was a misconception. That's what I believed in my head. It didn't make it true."

Basically the concept was that there are different types of customers, and not all of them want to shop online, not all of them want to shop instore. We had noticed towards the end of 2018 during Q4 especially that like the cost for advertising was going up. We were completely reliant on direct to consumer, so we didn't have any other buffers to like help offset that so it was just eating away margin. I just always remember the saying my dad would always say don't ever have all your eggs in one basket. Our eggs were Facebook and Instagram.

So I had set out my goal for 2019 was to diversify the company and create a true omni channel brand. So I wanted to start forming a wholesale team within BruMate. I wanted to start forming an Amazon strategy. I wanted to start looking at everything across the board and how they worked together. In that, we kind of created these three different brackets of customers. So we created the brand loyalist which shops direct to consumer with the brand, they want to be on the email list, text list, they want to know about the new releases, whatever it may be. Then you have the touch and feel customer which they want to be able to go walk in person and touch and feel the product before buying which is where wholesale comes into play. And then you have the Amazon customer which it doesn't matter where they saw or heard about your product. They could be standing in a store looking at it and they go on Amazon and they buy it on their phone, they just buy things on Amazon.

So we didn't have a great understanding. I was kind of leading that project at the time. Didn't have a great understanding of the Amazon customer. That was actually the tricky one because the way I looked at Amazon was that it was cannibalizing direct to consumer. As we scale Amazon, we're just shifting dollars from our platform where we're more profitable and we can control the narrative with our brand and talk to our customers, and to another platform where we lose all of that. But what I found was as we continued to scale, we weren't losing any revenue. We were growing direct to consumer, we were growing Amazon, and same thing with wholesale. We sort of figured out little things along the way to help like keep customers from kind of leaving one channel for the other.

But I think that was the biggest challenge in 2019 was diversifying the company, making sure that we weren't completely reliant on one channel for sales. So if something catastrophic happened to Facebook or Instagram, they got like an antitrust lawsuit and had to change the way that they target customers, similar to like what they're doing in California with CCPA but for the whole US, anything like that it could destroy the business overnight. And so all of 2019 that's all we focused on. So in 2018 we were 97% direct to consumer and a couple percent wholesale, 0% Amazon. 2019 we were about 50% direct to consumer, we were about 30% Amazon, and then 20% wholesale and we had done about $33 million in sales. We had almost doubled.

[80:25]

James McKinney: Wow, incredible.

[80:26]

Dylan Jacob: But that year it wasn't supposed to be a year of growth. It was a year of infrastructure. We were building out the team. We were figuring out what the other growth verticals were, what levers we can pull, and we really figured that out last year. I think that's what kind of set the stage for this year because this year we had an incredible growth year, and yeah that's kind of the last four years of BruMate.

[80:49]

James McKinney: That's amazing. I want to honor your time. There's so many other questions I have but I definitely, I don't get to spend hours on top of hours with our amazing founder guests. With that said, let's honor your time and bring this conversation down to a close, and at the same time honor my listeners with the final three questions that I ask every founder. And the first one has to do with just the general idea of entrepreneurship. You went most of your life, again you're 26, and you went most of your life not calling yourself an entrepreneur. So do you think anybody can be an entrepreneur? And not that they want to be, because not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, but do you think anybody can be an entrepreneur?

[81:28]

Dylan Jacob: I'm actually a firm believer that anyone can literally do anything if they actually want it bad enough. I've met a lot of people throughout my 26 years of life that have accomplished different types of things. Whether it be musicians, whether it be artists, whether it be entrepreneurs, and it's all the same thing. It all starts with like it is not just a want, it's a need. Like they have to do this, there's no other option, they don't have a plan B and they jump all in. I think that's what it takes. You have to have I don't know if it's a gene or they're just a little bit crazy or whatever it is, but you have to want it bad enough to where it's not even a question of if, it's a question of how. How am I going to make this work?

And I think the secondary thing is you have to be able to look at the world where failures aren't failures, they're just triggers. So for me when something doesn't work I don't go, "Oh, I failed." I just go, "It didn't work. How do I make it work?" It's a trigger. It tells you this isn't work and you need to figure out why. You're the operator of the business. You need to figure out why it's not working and what you can do to make it work. I literally think if you can look at the world in that way, where you can sit down and you're looking at everything around you and going where can I add value, and how can I make things better, literally invest everything you have, be willing to drop everything and work on this every single day, and six months later if you don't have a penny of revenue it doesn't matter because every day you're waking up and doing something you like.

And then as you're starting to progress and things aren't working and you're able to keep going because you're so passionate about this, and you're so convinced it's going to work, it will. Eventually it will. And it may not even be that idea, but it's like building up the mindset that as long as you chase your passion and as long as you can… you don't chase things for too long. I think a lot of people something is not working and they refuse to believe that it's a crappy idea, or it just wasn't the right time or whatever and so they just keep trying, and trying, and trying. They didn't look at the triggers. That's when people catastrophically fail and then they're like, "Oh, I'm just not meant to do this." I don't believe that. I do not believe that I have something that other people have. It's not a super power.

[83:38]

James McKinney: Absolutely. Absolutely agree. One of the things that you said numerous times, especially towards the latter part of the conversation, are the people that you've gotten guidance and assistance from, and how they could solve certain problems for you. I believe that entrepreneurship is not a solo journey. There are stories about people that just kind of grind from the sofa, couch surfing, hacking away at some code, launch something on their own. There are the stories but they are the anomalies of those who do it on their own. When you look back across your journey who are all the people that you point with such immense gratitude for their contribution to where you are today?

[84:15]

Dylan Jacob: Okay. So Forbes honestly. Forbes 30 Under 30. I grew up in rural Indiana and there are no entrepreneurs, especially not in consumer goods in Indiana. There's no startup scene. The only startup scene is really in tech and most of it is still not really a startup scene. So I had no… when I would search for answers I would search on Google. I would go on forums. I would go on Reddit, like the entrepreneur subreddit and ask questions or search the subreddit and see if anyone else had similar issues. I would go on Facebook groups. I would try and find community but I didn't have like a mentor, and it wasn't until I made Forbes 30 Under 30 that I actually started to create this ecosystem of other people that were like my age, that were doing similar things. And we all act, still to this day, as like a sounding board for each other. We have similar issues, we all talk about what's happening in the world and how can we help each other out. That was like probably one of the most pivotal moments of my life was like creating that ecosystem of other people that had similar mindsets and goals. Without that I don't think I would be who I am today.

So Jan from Chipmunk, not only are they incredible as a partner but Jan as a person has been awesome. We help each other out a lot and I've learned a lot from him and vice versa. Taylor and Parker, so they own Feet Clothing, I also met them at that conference and we've stayed close friends since then. I've learned a lot from those guys. Steven Borrelli from Cuts Clothing, he's also in Los Angeles. I met him through Taylor and Parker. These are all like close friends of mine, really cool brands, all similar in age and the most important thing you can do as an entrepreneur is find community. It doesn't have to… we all live in different places. Jan lives in Florida, I live in Colorado, they all live in Los Angeles. But community is more than just being able to walk around and see them every single day. It's having, making sure that you have a sounding board or a group of people that you know have similar problems to you. Because it makes it not feel so alone.

Entrepreneurship if you're doing it all by yourself and you have no one to talk to about your problems, you're not going to go complain to your mom about how XYZ is not working. She's not going to understand. She's going to pat your back and tell you it's going to be okay, but she's not going to be able to give you the advice that you need. So having that group of people has allowed me to not just have someone to go to with my problems, but someone to go to for answers. And even sometimes to just complain. Like, "Hey guys, this is happening, it's stressing me out. Is this happening to you too?" They're like, "Oh yeah, it's happening across the board." And then we identify that the cause of that is XYZ and we come up with a solution. So that community, it's been incredible.

[86:59]

James McKinney: Oh my goodness, I love that. Those are such great words of wisdom for everything that The Startup Story is about, and it's about giving access to people like yourself that have achieved such tremendous success, for those who are starting out to understand that look this is not about a matter of just putting your head to the grindstone and doing this journey alone. You can grab wisdom, insight, and assistance from a community of people that run with you. In fact, there's so many people that I run with that I want to see succeed, and they in turn want to see me succeed. We journey this together. I love those words of wisdom.

Our final question as we come to a close, I usually have the last question being something where you're giving guidance and advice for a singular entrepreneur persona of my listeners, whoever that may be. I want to bring this question even more specific and that is to the listener who is a tinkerer or an inventor within my audience. You are such a tremendous success story within a product creation. So if you're having coffee with someone and they have a napkin with a design on it, and they're coming to you looking for guidance and advice on how to bring that design to fruition and putting it into a customer's hands, what are some action items and advice that you give to that listener?

[88:14]

Dylan Jacob: The first action item would be flushing the idea out. So first just trying to identify who your ideal customer is, how much you're going to be charging for this product, has anyone created anything similar, and ultimately like what is the need for this. When you're inventing something, you're solving for a why. So why am I creating this? And then who. I think as long as you can answer those questions then you can move on to step two. The second item, you've already proven the concept, you believe that you've figured out who the customer is and why they want this and what you're solving.

The second would be rather than trying to go to an industrial engineer or designer, or just going on Upwork and finding a CAD designer, you can take your rough concept to a manufacturer. Generally, as long as they have a solid engineering team in-house they can help you actually create that. Oftentimes, they'll do it free of charge. So rather than spending a few thousand dollars, you might be able to get this created or at least a rough concept for free. I would say start with the manufacturer. So when you're sourcing if you're not there in person and your interview questions really press on their engineering capabilities, what does their team look like in house, can they do modeling for you. If they can, are they charging for it? And ultimately if they're not charging for it, if they do have an in-house team, they're probably going to be a good fit as long as you know they make a high quality product and they solve for all the other sides of manufacturing. That's a really good starting point because for me that was so important to be able to have an in house engineering team that could tweak my ideas for manufacturability.

And then the third is don't get hung up on the concept that your first idea, or the first version, has to be perfect. Or that you know who the customer is from day one, because I can tell you neither of those were true for me. The concept I started with on day one was not the concept I have now, and the customer I thought was going to buy it is not the customer that's buying it now. So you have to be able to adapt and change, and you can have an idea of all these things, it doesn't make them true. I think as things progress, if it's not going your way just understand that it's not the way it's meant to go, it's not even a negative thing. Just pivot and go with it. I think the biggest thing for entrepreneurs is go with the flow. Don't try to fight against the current. If the world is pulling you in one direction and saying this isn't the right way, it's not the right way so go with it. I see so many people that try and fight that, and try and fight the current, and sometimes that pays off but the majority of the time you've got to follow your gut and if your gut is telling you that it's not the right way to go, then it's not.

[90:45]

James McKinney: I love it. We have to be learners as entrepreneurs. The idea that we have to have all the right answers from day one is just, it's a misconception of what entrepreneurship is and it has been tremendously valuable to sit with you and learn from you as you've joined us on The Startup Story Dylan, so thank you so much for joining us today.

[91:02]

Dylan Jacob: Thank you for having me on, James.

[91:04]

James McKinney: once you've had a few moments to process all the value that Dylan Jacob brought us in this week's episode please hit me up on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram and share with me your thoughts on this episode. And lastly if you've been around The Startup Story for any length of time then you know how much emphasis I put on the idea that entrepreneurs support other entrepreneurs. If you hate warm beer and you want to give BruMate a try, the visit BruMate.com and use the code STARTUP to receive 15% off your entire order. I say it in every episode because I believe it with my entire being, entrepreneurs support other entrepreneurs so let's show up for Dylan in a huge way as a way of saying thank you for all the value he delivered to us today, and visit BruMate.com and use the code to buy something for yourself or a gift for a friend or family. And now for my personal ask.

The Startup Story community has been so incredible about sharing our podcast with others, but we have more stories to tell and more people to reach. We too are a startup and word of mouth is everything, so please follow us on Facebook and Instagram @TheStartupStory or on Twitter @StartupStory_. If you're on LinkedIn, please search for The Startup Story and follow our company page. LinkedIn is a really powerful way to raise awareness of the show. But the most impactful way you can help us grow our audience is to leave a review on Apple Podcast. Or if you listen to the show via Spotify, then please simply share the podcast directly from your Spotify app or wherever you listen to the show.

These simple actions can make a huge impact in getting these amazing founder stories out to the masses. And please make sure to tag or mention The Startup Story when you do share so that we can connect with you and say thank you directly. I'm so incredibly appreciative of the fact that you listen to the show each and every week, and I look forward to sharing these amazing stories with you every Tuesday with hopes of encouraging and inspiring you to start your story.

If you like this podcast and are thinking of creating your own, consider talking to my producer Danny Ozment. He helps thought leaders, influencers, executives, and authors create, launch, and produce podcasts that grow their business and make a real impact in this world. You can contact him today at emeraldcitypro.com/startupstory.

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December 08 2020
Dylan Jacob, founder of BrüMate

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