About this episode

My guess is Lindsay McCormick, founder Bite. Bite is an all-natural, zero waste, tube free, toothpaste tablet. And not only did Lindsay take something as common as toothpaste and make it more environmentally friendly, by altering its shape and packaging. But she made it healthier for us as well because Bite toothpaste tablets are 100% vegan, gluten-free and cruelty free. In fact, Lindsay is on a mission to grow into the world's most sustainable personal care company.

Lindsay was named by Fast Company as one of the most creative people in business and started Bite in her living room; because she was tired of creating so much trash every time she traveled for TV shows. But what's interesting is that until my discussion with her I never realized the environmental impact of the TSA regulations that changed after the events of 9/11. I mean think about that, everyone who relies on not checking in luggage is forced to travel with travel size containers of toothpaste and hair products and even skin products. I did some basic research and the retail footprint for travel size products has doubled because of a change in travel requirements.

Now you are going to love Lindsay’s episode because she gets super tactical and discusses the early days of Bite, as well as her preparation for being on ABC hit show SharkTank.

In this episode, you'll hear:

  • Growing up Lindsay was always super passionate about the environment and even became vegetarian at 7 years old.
  • Lindsay always had a love for the media and with her job she was travelling all the time. When traveling she had reusable shampoo and face wash, but she was going through so many tubes of toothpaste. Lindsay wanted to stop this, and that became the orgin of Bite.
  • Lindsay started researching toothpaste, how it is made, how it is tested on animals and how it ends up in landfills. With this she started to make her own toothpaste, but only thought she would make it to solve her own problem and not build it into a business.
  • Lindsay shared how she started elevating the company by buying a $1000 tablet machine and started selling the toothpaste tablets on Shopify and Etsy.
  • Lindsay shares how she launched Bite in late 2017 early 2018 with a mission to help and educate people about toothpaste and support the low waste/vegan communities.
  • In 2018 she had $6000 dollars in sales after one of her videos went viral and immediately started selling hundres of thousands in product.
  • From that video, the production team from ABC’s Shark Tank reached out to invite them to an audition.
  • How her company grew through the pandemic as more people wanted a subscription service.

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Gardyn Giveaway: https://thestartupstory.co/gardyn

Bite: https://bitetoothpaste.com/

Jaime Schmidt’s episode: https://www.thestartupstory.co/episodes/jaime-schmidt-founder-of-schmidt-s-naturals

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Episode transcript

Lindsay McCormick: Hi, I'm Lindsay McCormick and I am the founder and CEO of Bite. 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.


James McKinney: Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of The Startup Story. Before we jump into our episode, I want to take care of some Startup Story housekeeping. First, we have a five star listener review from, I'm going to probably butcher this name, but [reviewer] from Panama, who wrote: "Great episode with Jennifer and Melissa from JBC. I just listened to the episode where you talked about what D to C brands need to consider when creating and launching a product. And I loved every minute of it. It was a great conversation with Jennifer and Melissa. Data driven decision making is the number one way to avoid pitfalls of launching a new product and improving a brand's visibility. I am so looking forward to listening to many more." And that my friends exactly why I started The Startup Story podcast so that I could deliver to you founder direct tactics and strategies. Thank you for that great review.

And I know I've also mentioned it many times before, but if you leave a URL in your reviews, it becomes like a mini ad within The Startup Story podcast, an ad that will live on for many years to come. So again, please keep leaving those reviews. But make sure to plug your URL or brand in there so you get a little love from the 86,000 listeners.

Now another item to discuss with all of you. Have you entered for your chance to win Time magazine's 2020 invention of the year? Is this news to you? Well, it shouldn't be. Last week I featured FX Rouxel, the founder of Gardyn and he provided a full Gardyn home kit to be given away for absolutely free. They sell for $800 but you can get one for free because you're a Startup Story listener. All you have to do is visit thestartupstory.co/gardyn and enter for this incredible opportunity. And of course, we will include a link in our show notes for easy access. Now let's jump into this week's episode.

My guest this week is Lindsey McCormick founder of Bite. You know, it's actually comically appropriate that her brand is named Bite because she swam with the sharks on ABCs hit show Shark Tank. But for those who may not know Bite, Bite is an all natural zero waste, tube free toothpaste tablet. And not only did Lindsey take something as common as toothpaste and make it more environmentally friendly by simply altering its shape and packaging, but she made it healthier for us as well because Bite toothpaste tablets are 100% vegan, they're gluten free and cruelty free. In fact, Lindsay is on a mission to grow Bite into the world's most sustainable personal care company.

Lindsay was named by Fast Company is one of the most creative people in business and started Bite in her living room because she was tired of creating so much trash every time she traveled for her TV shows, which we'll talk about that in the episode as well. But what's really interesting, because until my discussion with her I never realized the environmental impact of the TSA regulations that changed after the events of 911. I mean think about that. Everyone who relies on not checking in luggage is forced to travel with travel sized containers of toothpaste and hair products and even skin products. You know, I did some real basic research, I mean real basic research. Don't be trying to fact check me online. But I did some real basic research and retail footprint for traveled size products has doubled because of the change in travel requirements. Now you're going to love Lindsay's episode because she gets super tactical in discussing the early days of Bite as well as her preparation for being on ABC's hit show Shark Tank. But before she was ever swimming with the sharks, she was pounding the pavement of Washington DC. Well, I'll let her tell you that story.


Lindsay McCormick: I grew up outside Washington DC in Northern Virginia, and my dad worked for The Washington Post and my mom was stay at home until I was in middle school, high school. And then she got she was working as a high school marketing teacher. And so I had always been super passionate about the environment and the planet. I actually went vegetarian when I was like seven or eight years old because I was like, I don't want to eat my friends. And my parents were just like, we don't really understand that at all. But like, okay, just eat peanut butter sandwiches so you get the protein, and like we're going to be okay with this. They were very, like, supportive of kind of the way that I was and the way that I looked at things. Growing up outside of Washington, DC, it was a very, you know, political climate. My dad works The Washington Post, so we were very much involved in like activism and marches and things like that. Like I went to, after 911, the peace protests outside of Washington, DC and all of these different things growing up that area. It's all so relevant, right.

So I always really believed that that one person really could make a difference. But I've always been really passionate again, about like animals and the planet, especially as a little kid, and I ended up going to school, or actually my mom was in high school, she became an entrepreneurship teacher in high school. So like our area had this really great program where high school kids would learn about running their own businesses. And I really remember at the time, just having like, no interest in that, because it was just business. And I was way more interested in journalism, like exposing what the businesses were doing, you know, and things like that. And so it was really interesting, you know, kind of going forward when Bite ended up going viral. I was like, Mom, what's a business plan? You know, we can get to that. But it was definitely amazing, kind of to have someone who had literally been teaching that for years as a mom. So that was, that ended up being a huge asset. And then, like, I grew up outside Washington, DC, very, very interesting area to grow up, and then went to school in North Carolina for Media Studies and Communications.


James McKinney: So are you an only child by chance?


Lindsay McCormick: Two brothers, both younger.


James McKinney: Two brothers, so they're both younger, so you're the oldest.


Lindsay McCormick: Yeah, the bossy one.


James McKinney: Yeah. So the parents learned on you is really what it is.


Lindsay McCormick: Exactly. That's exactly it.


James McKinney: So but with that, also, too, I mean, I'm an oldest as well, we don't get nearly the freedoms that the younger kids do. Right? So did you feel as though I mean, growing up, again, your dad is in journalism with Washington Post, you're being raised with a lot of social awareness. You're mom, having had some teaching experience as well. So you kind of have a very, I want to say a bordered upbringing, like there's very much a structure to the way things operate as, especially as the oldest child. So did you think that you had the latitude to truly do whatever you wanted as a career? Or did you think I had to get a 9 to 5, I had to get a corporate job? What was your thought on what your future held?


Lindsay McCormick: That's a really great question. So my parents were, I think that I'm super, super lucky to have parents that always just wanted me to do what made me happy. So my dad, and sorry, he worked The Washington Post, he was he was on the ad side. So he but he loved it. And he loved what he did. And my mom loved her job as a marketing and entrepreneurship teacher. So it was not, they didn't really care what I did, as long as I really loved it, and I was involved in it, and that I could pay my bills, right? Like, they didn't want me asking them for money all the time. But it was all about kind of, you know, do what you love. And they instilled, you know, kind of looking back at it. They I had to buy my own car in high school, you know, they were like, can you pay for your own gas, you need to pay for all that kind of stuff. When some of my friends were getting cars with like boats on them, you know, just like, wait, what? But the thing is, too, is that whenever I got in trouble in high school, because you know, my parents would never take the car away, because I earned it. They would like be like, You're grounded. So you can't go out. But they were like, you bought the car with your own money. It's not ours to take away and they were very… they wanted to instill a great amount of responsibility to me at a young age. I always had a job. I had a job since I was legally able to work. But so they really wanted to instill that responsibility. But then they also gave me you know, the privilege to never have to worry about them taking the car away if I got in trouble for like staying out too late or something, you know.


James McKinney: So coming to the end of high school, which is a natural chapter, what did you think you wanted to do with your life?


Lindsay McCormick: So I went to school, it's funny, I was actually just home last weekend, my parents are moving out of my childhood home. And I found like a journal. I wanted to, at that point, go to college to work in media and make documentaries. So like the goal was to, Discovery Channel was right at that point was in Maryland. So my goal was to go down to North Carolina and then move back and work for Discovery or Travel Channel or something, one of these things so like, that's what I wanted to do. But then my backup job, which is like hilarious, a dolphin trainer. Like that was my legit backup job going to college. I was like, What? Okay, yeah.


James McKinney: That's hilarious. Now so I assume the documentary side goes kind of is rooted in your activist upbringing, if you will, right. Being a part of all the social awareness elements and then to your stint as a vegetarian, I'm assuming as well.


Lindsay McCormick: Yeah. And that was just, I just I still feel… so what I ended up doing is I went to college, and at ECU in North Carolina, and really loved it. I did a lot of different things. I worked at the college radio station as a DJ. I did like the roots rock reggae show, and I did the morning show, which was crazy. I did that for one semester. And I was like waking up at six in the morning is brutal when you're in college, so what I did, you know, I was like, maybe do I want to try this or do that. I was on the snowboarding team. I kind of just tried a bunch of different things. And then when I graduated I moved out to California. And so that was like a first, you know, or I traveled a little bit. And then I moved to California. And I was working as a PA. And so I was working as a PA, which is basically a production assistant. It's what you do at the lowest level on a TV show. But it was really hard to get a job. Like you get like one day here, one day there, and it's always freelance, and I have bills to pay. So I also got a job as a surf instructor and a snowboard instructor. And I also like worked at a pizza shop and a bartender, you know, but all these different things kind of just like making it all work to live that California lifestyle, trying to like build up my dream.


James McKinney: So what years is this? What year did you move out to California?


Lindsay McCormick: 2008


James McKinney: 2008, right at the middle of the worst recession in US history.


Lindsay McCormick: Yep.


James McKinney: And you're in one of the most expensive places in the US. So let's talk about, again, here you've talked a little bit how you piece together various ways to generate income. That is a trying time to be doing that. And as a college graduate, that had to be highly discouraging, at least I would assume, right? I mean, I don't want to construct the narrative. But I would assume there's a lot of discouragement on like what am I doing with myself? You know, what was what was going through your mental processes in that season, as you were trying to figure out what your future held?


Lindsay McCormick: Yeah, it was tough. I had student loans, I had rent, I luckily didn't have a car payment, because I was driving the same car I had since I was 16. That thing was paid off, it was dented, but paid off. And I mean, like, right now we live in Marina Del Rey, and I literally lived at that time, down the street from where I am now. I was in a one bedroom apartment with four other people. We had two people in bedrooms and another person on the couch, but rent was super cheap, and it was really fun. And so we were in our 20s and just kind of like making it work. And everybody worked odd jobs. It was the one of the girls that I moved in, she was you know, a personal trainer on the side slash actress slash model, slash, you know, everyone had like a slashes in their in their job titles. And it was just kind of like making your work. And the goal was to do things that I felt were interesting and fun that I liked, hoping moving my career in the direction that I wanted, which was TV, and not have to ask my parents for money and not go into debt. That was the goal. And that was it. You know, I was able to pay my student loans I was able to pay you know what, like my health insurance this that those things at the time, and that was it.


James McKinney: So when do you consider the beginning of Bite? What year is that?


Lindsay McCormick: 2017 is when I started playing around and we went to market, I say, like selling it on Etsy, 2018.


James McKinney: So 2017 2018. So we're talking 10 years from the time you land in California, to the time that Bite becomes really hits the market. And so we're not going to unpack for our listeners exactly what Bite is yet because we've got some ground to cover. So in those 10 years, what are the things that take place in your life that leads you to the point of wanting to create something of your own? Did you ever find that job in TV? Did you ever get that dream job? And was there ever a moment you're like, why am I even contemplating leaving this?


Lindsay McCormick: Yes, very, all… It's really interesting when you look back, and you see kind of the way these dots align, because what was happening is I was working as a surf instructor and a snowboard instructor for four years and kind of day playing as a PA. And I was doing like the fun PA, which is when you're on set, because that's way more exciting than being the assistant in the office. And I didn't want to do that. So I was working trying to do that. And I got to the point where you know, four years in, I was not making any headway as a PA. I had gotten a few different credits, like as a talent coordinator, other things that weren't getting me where I wanted to go. And I was like I don't want to open my own surf camp, and I don't want to be a surf instructor the rest of my life. Not that that's a problem. I mean, it was awesome. It was so fun. But it wasn't the where I wanted to be. So I was like, Okay, I think I need a reset.

And so what I decided to do, I ended up taking on more jobs. I worked as a bartender and I worked as actually I did experiential marketing. So I worked for some of the companies, you know, people who like hand out samples for things for like what, so I did it for an experiential marketing company here in LA, which was amazing. I learned all about setting up these tours that these brands would do. I always got to work with really cool brands like the House of Marley, which is actually the headphones I'm using right now I got from that tour. And then you know, a few different… Mrs. Meyers and a few different brands that I got to learn all about how do you speak about brands, what matters when I talk to people and like what resonates with them, and so I did that to just make money. And I saved up, I sold my car, I moved out of my apartment, I gave everything away, and I ended up traveling the world like living out of a backpack for a year being like I've got to just figure my stuff out. And this was kind of the beginning. Like I didn't have… it wasn't meant to be a whole year it was meant to be whenever the money ran out. I saved up $12,000 and I was like, let's see where this takes me.

But it was also kind of the beginning, not the beginning of YouTube but when brands were understanding the importance of YouTube. And so I bought a GoPro and I would go to hotels when I was traveling, like I usually stayed in hostels, or guest houses, like literally you know $3 a day in Thailand and all these different places. But every once in a while, I'd be like I want to go to a nice hotel. So I would go there. And I'd be like, "Hey, I'll make you marketing videos for your website if you let me stay for free for a weekend," and it worked. And it totally worked. I got to go on this amazing cruise in Alaska. And I stayed at this like incredible Hotel in Tunisia. And it was all kind of just like bartering these video skills that I was learning as I went, but no one was doing it at the time. This was 2012, 2013, so it was really, really new. So that was kind of the beginning of like, that was my trip. And I mean, obviously that was a really amazing time, I kind of went all over the place, and it was really good.

And then at the end, I was like, Okay, I was actually watching the Super Bowl at a bar in Thailand. And it was when Beyonce made the electricity go out, do you remember where it was really like she rocked it so hard it just went. And some of my friends were working that because I had done TV shows that were also live events. And so some of my friends were working that and I just was like Oh I wish I was there, I wish I was part of that, you know, it's like I can just imagine everyone running around going crazy. And you know the excitement and panic of the production crew for that. And I was like, okay, that's the plan, I want to go back to LA. You know, I'm going to work my butt off in TV actually. Not actually work on the Super Bowl, it wasn't about that, it was about being back in TV. I'm going to work my butt off, I'm going to take a job as an assistant, I don't care. Like I'll start from the very bottom. And I'm going to work my way up. And so that was like, within, you know I finished up my trip and I came back to first DC, stayed with my parents for a little while, then back to LA, and then started as an assistant. So got a job as an assistant.


James McKinney: So that year that you'd spent traveling and when you sold everything and lived out of a backpack, I have to ask what did your parents think about that?


Lindsay McCormick: They were so excited and supportive.


James McKinney: That's awesome.


Lindsay McCormick: Yeah, they were, you know, they've always wanted just us to optimize for happiness. And like just kind of following what we… they were always like, you'll find your path as long as you find as you're following things that are interesting, that keep you happy, and you're not asking us for money. That was like the three criteria. So they were they were very supportive. I mean, there was one time, like even before that I had spent a few months in Central America in between the surf and snowboard season. And I remember, I wanted to stay a little longer. And I thought about having to get on, call my parents when I was there and just let them know I was planning on staying a few more weeks. And I was just like, gosh, I feel like, you know, I wanted to extend my ticket. And I thought they were going to be so like "haven't you been gone enough, " but they were as soon as I said that they were like good, do it, who gets to stay in Central America for Carnivale, you know? So it was Yeah, they've been very supportive.


James McKinney: You're the last question before we before we jump off of this current chapter in your life. I'm thinking to myself, you're a DC native, but you kept talking about how you're a surf instructor. Like where did this come about? Because I'm from Southern California. So I mean, I understand the surf instructor, the surf lifestyle, surf culture, but you're a DC native. When did surfing become part of your branding?


Lindsay McCormick: Very fair question. So in between college and California, I traveled for a few months. I spent time in Morocco, Ghana, Togo, and Benin, which is West Africa. And in Morocco I ended up falling in love with surfing. There's like amazing surfing there. And there's no one on the waves. And so I had always wanted to try, private lessons were super cheap. So I met someone when I was there. And I just, I surfed like every single day. It became a surf trip. And I was in Morocco for like two and a half months and then I was… so that was kind of the beginning. And then so when I got out to LA I was like I know enough to teach the little kids. I can't teach the big kids, but I can teach the little groms, you know.


James McKinney: I love it. I absolutely love it. So you come back to LA, you're dedicated to this TV production pursuit. But again, we're not talking to you because of something you've done in TV. We're talking to you because you have a really a dental hygiene startup is really you have. And so there's so many gaps in to fill up so what took place in your life in the moment where Bite came to be part of your thought process? And where were you career wise and why? Why did you make the shift?


Lindsay McCormick: Yep, so I got a job as an assistant in TV. And, you know, I was 29, everyone I was working with was 22. But I worked my butt off. And I very quickly went up the ranks. So I went from assistant to production coordinator, associate producer, producer, show producer, and so now I'm traveling all the time, like kind of living the dream that I wanted to do, not in documentaries, but making content. I was working for HGTV on the show House Hunters and it was it was so fun. And I got to travel all around the country. But I had when you're traveling for shoots, you're only in a place for a few days, right? So every single time it's carry on only because if they lose your luggage, oh, you're not going to get it by the time you have to go back. And so I was going through those little toothpaste tubes, and I had everything else in my kit setup. So I could refill my shampoo, I could refill my conditioner, my face wash, even my sunscreen, I could refill, refill, refill, but my toothpaste I was going through and I was just like this is so wasteful and not congruent with what I believe in.

So I started looking for alternatives just for me. And then everything that I found was either in plastic, and then from that I started learning about all of the ingredients that are in most commercial toothpastes that I was just like, Whoa. Like, at this point, I was vegan, I still am vegan, but so everything that I bought was cruelty free, or was trying to buy things that were cruelty free. And most commercial toothpaste is tested on animals. And I was like, I didn't even know that. And so I kind of just had this whole awakening to toothpaste and the problem and the fact that you know, even if it's not just the little ones, the big ones end up in our landfills too, right? Because it's a mixed material. When you look at a toothpaste tube, it's plastic. It's different types of plastic, and it can't be recycled like in a commercial way. So it was like, Okay, I want to have a solution for myself when I travel and I know at least I'll have some friends who will want it that I work with and even if not for the eco friendliness, for the convenience.

So I started experimenting, and I ended up talking to dentists, dental hygienists, doing a ton of research, like taking online chemistry classes. There was this thread on Reddit, where you could take chemistry classes that were open source, like from universities for free from basically senior year of high school to PhD in organic chemistry, and it's okay, I'm going to start taking some, just the relevant ones, you know, and like I didn't… So, and I ended up being able to put together a formula which is similar to what we use today. Now we are, I'm skipping a little head but you know, now we've added some other ingredients like after working with other dentists and dental hygienists. But yeah, it all started with just being like, I don't want to throw this out anymore, and then being like, okay, now I'm obsessed with this.


James McKinney: Alright, Lindsay just teed up for us how she got to the point where Bite became something to pursue. And before she unpacks exactly what Bite is and how she grew it, I want to pause for a moment and talk directly to you, The Startup Story listener. Would you rather receive tactics and guidance from founders and business builders, or from self proclaimed thought leaders? And I ask that because that is what makes The Startup Story so unique, so I'm pretty sure I know the answer to that. But I'm also asking it because that's exactly what Grindology is all about too. Grindology is a brand extension of the starter story that delivers founder direct resources to help ease your grind and fuel your hustle.

Now, what exactly is included in the quarterly Grindology shipment? Well, first and foremost, every single Grindology shipment will include a copy of the Grindology tactical manual. And every single issue of Grindology will be chock full of real tactics from real business builders, not journalists. Within the pages of the Grindology tactical manual, we'll be delivering to you tactics and strategies that you can integrate into your business immediately. Our current issue that is available right now is focused on content. And in this issue, you'll receive proven tactics on how to leverage your existing content that you've already created to drive new business and deliver new revenue. And you'll hear operational tactics that were used by a founder that saw nearly 400% growth in one year, and he attributes that growth to the tactics he shares in this issue. And in our previous issue of Grindology , we had a SAS founder lay out exactly how he obtained his first 1,000 customers and how another founder talked about how he leveraged his video to increase sales and lead conversions.

I am telling you founder direct tactics make all the difference in the world, and that is exactly what you will find in this issue and in every issue of Grindology. Like I said, real tactics from real business builders. Our Q2 issue is now available and you can access it at grindology.com. Everything about Randolph is about helping to fuel your grind and your entrepreneurial journey. So visit grindology.com to learn more and of course we will include a link to grindology.com within our show notes for easy access. Now let's jump back into our episode with Lindsay McCormick.


James McKinney: So for my listeners who are hearing about Bite for the first time, can you tell us what Bite is? And then we're going to jump back into the story.


Lindsay McCormick: Yes, so Bite they're dry toothpaste tablets that come in a glass jar with an aluminum lid. And the idea is that you have your glass jar at home sent to you in the first shipment. And then all other shipments come in a compostable refill pouch. So there's no plastic, there's no waste, you don't even need to recycle the glass because you just keep it and you keep using it. And when you take out the water and the glycerin that's in most commercial toothpastes, you don't have to add all of the harsh chemicals and preservatives and then like the artificial flavors to cover up the tastes of those things. Because you end up with a way more shelf stable, natural product without having to worry about growing all the bacteria that water loves to grow. So it was you know, we were the first ones ever to put this into a subscription format. And the idea was like, how do we rethink this in a way that makes the most sense for our bodies and the planet? And so it's, that's how it all kind of started.


James McKinney: So, again from earlier 2017/2018 is when Bite comes to market? So around late 2016, you have this epiphany that wow, these tubes are really wasteful, partially because of how much travel you go through, and I can completely agree. Now looking at it, I can absolutely see how wasteful the tubes are. But in the way we try to problem solve and map out, when you think back to the very first problem to me, the very first problem is how do I forego these tubes? Or how do I package toothpaste in a recyclable container? Not how do I completely change the format and construct of toothpaste? Because I think that's a lot harder adoption for consumers than just new packaging. So can you walk us through what, when you think back to 2016 or maybe early 2017, what was the very first problem you were you sought to solve out the gate?


Lindsay McCormick: Yeah, well, luckily, I wasn't… You know, luckily or unluckily, I wasn't thinking about a consumer, I was thinking about myself. Because I was like I need to solve this for me. So I wasn't thinking like, Oh, it's going to be hard for consumers to adopt a tablet. But I was like, this thing needs to go carry on only, which means it needs to be a solid. I tried powder and it was a disaster. And so it was like, oh, okay, a tablet is the only way to do this. And I wanted to eliminate the plastic and I want to be able to kind of refill it. So for me, it wasn't about, like I already was over the hump of being like, yes, this is a weird product, but it's for people who are okay with weird products, who are solving this very niche thing at the time.

Like, back in 2016 and 2017, plant based wasn't a word, zero waste influencers were not a thing. And you know, sustainability was not the same way that it is now where it's just had this amazing explosion, right? But it was more like, I'm going to make this for me because it solves my problem. And I'm sure there's other people like me who I mean I already knew there was an office full of producers who were like me, so I was like, okay. A lot of people in TV, especially being in LA, we all care about the planet, we all care about these things. So I was like, okay, at least I have it for them and for me, and that's enough. It wasn't going to be… it wasn't this great business plan at the time, it was just like, this is something that I think it's the TV producer and me that once I scratched the surface and I saw all the underlying issues with toothpaste I was like, Well, now I'm obsessed and I have to get to the bottom of this.

And I think, you know, honestly, that's why we were able to hit this success that we have, because so many people I'm sure who had way more business acumen than me or way more, you know, whatever, would have looked at a toothpaste tablet and been like, there's no way people will buy this, like, there's no way you know, and I think that that left this incredible whitespace that I was just like, Oh, I guess I'm here, it worked, and there's a lot of people who want this.


James McKinney: And ask that question, because when I think back to one of our episodes with Jamie Schmidt, the founder of Schmidt's Naturals, I want to say if I'm dating it correctly, like 2012, maybe a little earlier, she just wanted to have an all natural deodorant for herself. Like that is why she created it because she realized what she was putting on her body, which was getting into her body. And she wasn't thinking about solving for anyone else. But then as she created it, she's like, well, I bet there's other people and she went the farmers markets route. And she again, her story is amazing. And we'll include a link in the show notes for easy access for people. But within seven years, she goes from making it in her kitchen to an acquisition to Unilever for over $100 million. Like it's an amazing story. But it started with this is personal to me, and I want to solve it for me. And then once she did, she then allowed other people that might be of like mind to enjoy her product, and it just grew tremendously.

And I think that's important for entrepreneurs to understand that, you know, if your first thought process like, I'm so glad that this was part of your stories when I asked you that question, because if your first thought process was like, Well, I don't want this tube anymore but I'm probably the only one, or maybe only a dozen of us so it's really not worth solving. Like that's a missed opportunity. And you're right, right. Someone in some big conglomerate probably did evaluate tablets that there's no way people want this because they're just so used to toothpaste in a certain way. And also too most people don't even think about what's in toothpaste, right? I mean, it's just, you know, you might think of fluoride and not fluoride, that's really kind of the extent of what's in toothpaste. But you decided that, you know what I want to solve this for me. And that's really kind of the catalyst of how you grew because you were solving it for you. And then you happened to be surrounded by people that were like you, and it just kind of grew from there. But nevertheless, the moment that you find a product that's working for you, who or what happened, where you said, I think I can now sell this to many more people? There's still a switch that has to be flipped on in order to say now there's a business behind this. What was that moment?


Lindsay McCormick: So the moment was buying $1,000 tableting machine, so I ended up you know, having… like this was a hobby, and I was buying all these ingredients from like Whole Foods and Amazon, and you know, all these different things. And I had invested a lot of time, a good amount of money, but not a lot of money. And so then I was like, okay to really take this to the next level, I need a tableting machine that I can make these more. Still, it was one at a time but at least it wasn't like pack up, like I this little tiny thing. It looks like almost a pen, and you'd have to put the powder in and then hit it with a hammer, and I was like this is not going to work. And so I was like, I need an actual tableting machine.

So I ended up, you know, investing in $1,000 on a machine. And when I did that, I was like, okay, all I want to do, that's kind of a lot of money to make for a hobby, you know, but it's kind of like taking, you know $1,000 it could be like taking rock climbing classes for a year, it's like a gym membership for a year. And so I was like, Okay, I'm just going to set up a Shopify site or an Etsy site, I had both of them, and I'm just going to put it up there until I make my money back. Then I'm in the green, everything's fine. And I can just keep making this and like, I very much treated it like art, you know, every little I would blend powders and I'd have music on, I'd like listen to audio books, and I put it on my machine and do all these things. And it felt really nice to just do. So that was kind of the beginning of putting it online and selling it.

And you know my boyfriend, who's also my co founder, his background is in design. So when I started coming up with this, like, oh we're going to, you know, be selling this and I'm going to put it online, he was like the label that I had, he was like, "No, this needs to look way better than what you made." And so for my birthday, he gave my little Shopify site a total facelift, and did the label that you still see today. The font was a little different, but it's basically the exact same one. And so that's kind of how it all came together, of just being like, okay, I made this $1,000 investment, I need to get it back. And then my boyfriend is an amazing designer made it look great, way cooler than I ever could.


James McKinney: So now we're talking 2017 and 2018 is when this is on Shopify, correct?


Lindsay McCormick: Yes.


James McKinney: Okay, so 2017 2018. You know, it's not the early days of the internet. And so it's not a "build it and they will come," and it's not a Field of Dreams model, right. Nowadays, people launch a website, they spend a crap ton of money on Facebook ads. And even that's becoming more challenging than it used to be. You go back even earlier, SEO, right. But that's a long tail too, there's a lot of buildup it takes to really get noticed via search. So when we think back to that time and place for you, because again, it doesn't sound like it was a business for you, it was still a hobby for you. You had bought an expensive piece of equipment to help facilitate what it is you were doing to meet your own personal need. And you're like, you know what, I need to recover some of this, I want to start selling it. But because it's not a business, because you're truly just trying to recover, you're kind of in this creator/maker space looking to recoup. So for my listeners right now that are in that same place, can you unpack how they can drive traffic to a site amidst all the noise of all the things that are out there? Can you share with us what you use for that?


Lindsay McCormick: Absolutely. So when I had started by I was solving a problem just for myself. But what I stumbled upon when I started posting about it on social media and made a website was that I created a product for a very niche, very underserved demographic. It had just really been starting to grow, which was the low waste, zero Waste community as well as the vegan community. I mean, at that point, like plant based was not even a word. So it was the very beginning of those two communities online, and they started, and they just got really, really excited about my product. So when they bought it, it was still you know, version, you know, three or four at that point. It did not taste as good. They were so much more forgiving than more mainstream customers would be because they were the ones who really wanted this. They wanted to have an option that was low waste, zero waste, vegan, that checked all of their boxes. So they were so… they became my advocates because I was the only option for them on the markets. They were telling all their friends, posting about it on their Instagram, on their Facebook. And they were also so forgiving with the product as I was iterating.

So they would email me and say, "Hey, this is not minty enough, could you add more mint to it?" Or "Hey, can you think about adding some more menthol because it's doesn't leave that aftertaste?" And so it was from understanding them, because I was them, being able to rapidly iterate on my product because I was making it in my living room, that it was the testing ground to become what much closer to what Bite is today. So I think, you know, for anyone who's starting in their living room, anyone who's part of making these things at home, it's being able to tailor your product, and be the only one doing your very specific thing. And then understand, treating that community like gold, and understanding that they are the ones that you want to just constantly be talking to and proving yourself to, and improving your product for, because they will give you just such valuable feedback.

So you know, in the beginning, it was me. I was the customer support rep, I was the tablet manufacturer, I was the everything. And so I was able to really just rapidly iterate. And I think that that was an advantage that we had. Looking back I can see down the line where , you know, we weren't the first to ever make a toothpaste habit, we were the first to make it plastic free. And we weren't the first to be vegan, but we were the first to talk about that and educate people and be very vocal about that. And I think that those types of things and understanding the communities that love and want to be advocates for your product is so invaluable.

And as the space gets more crowded, and as people continue to put out more businesses and more solutions to problems that that we need I think a lot of these businesses kind of like mine, and a lot of the other eco friendly businesses, it's so important that we're fixing these problems that have been around for so long. But always remember to start for that underserved, super passionate, super niche market, because they will be the ones who not only become your advocates, but also the ones who will help you make your product better because they're so invested. So yeah, that would be kind of, that was the beginning of Bite. And that's kind of how we were able to just rapidly get our product better and better and better to where we are now.


James McKinney: One of the things that I find interesting about that niche, treating the niche like gold, is that it has to be authentic to you. Again, I would assume that there have been imposters trying to enter the space because they see the market opportunity. And I would assume that doesn't go well with those who are part of it because they can see right through it. Have you seen imposters try to enter this space but it's not authentic to them?


Lindsay McCormick: Yeah, 100%. So especially, I mean, I've said this like a few times, I feel like it's like the great green rush. Everybody's like, "How do we get green?" because that's how you make an expensive product. And you're like, that's not the way we should be going about this at all. So it's a really interesting time where there's a lot of brands doing really amazing things that have to be done. And they're doing it legitimately. And as a founder now and as a CEO, now, I look into the decisions their business is making, and I'm like, I can see the shortcut they took because I'm up against that too. And every single time I'm up against this choice, it's like of course we choose planet, of course we choose people, of course we choose this, because that's who we are.

And so you know, kind of coming from it from the origins of the company was it wasn't about making a bunch of money or being successful, it was about literally solving this problem. So if I'm somehow on the back end contributing worse, what's the point? I don't want to be rooting against my own company if we were making these choices that I see some other some other brands make. But I do think customers are so smart. And they are so… everything's online now, right? And businesses are being more transparent, but then sometimes even read their transparency blog posts, and you're like, there's actually nothing transparent in that entire thing. Like It's like what are you doing here? But I think people are sussing it out.

And I think that it's really important and I think that one thing that I constantly, I always say is that sustainability is a moving goalpost. It's not you're just like sustainable now and then you're good forever. It's like there's new technologies coming out all the time. Our first toothbrush was made with polyester which was from petroleum, which was not ideal. We were very honest about it. We were open about it. We had seen other brands, calling it bamboo charcoal, like plastic free. I was like, okay, there is bamboo in it and it is charcoal, but there's also polyester. This thing, we had sent ours to a third party lab, we're all getting it from the same manufacturer and I was just like this is the amount of kind of green washing around that was just intense to me. And that's why we made a video about it. And we explained like, this is what this is. And this is why, and here are the test results to prove it. And then we were one of the first companies in the US to have a fully plant based bamboo toothbrush . Because we were constantly pushing our manufacturer being like, "What's another option? We've got to find another option," and I'm constantly looking. So we actually had the first iterations of this, we had to get the bristles sent from Europe to our manufacturer so they could make it because they didn't have the bristles. And I was like, whatever, we will broker the situation, but like this needs to happen, because these bristles exist, they're 100% petroleum free, and we should be using them for our toothbrush.

And so those are the kinds of things that you know, and we still send our products for testing all the time, because you just want to always make sure that you have what you say you have. So I think there's a lot, it's a lot of work. But I think from the success that we've had, it's because our customers are our biggest advocates. And that work is so worth it, because not only from a team standpoint does that give us the motivation to keep going because we're just like, we're kind of always we're like moving forward, but also like fighting the BS, you know, so that's a great motivation. But our customers, they really appreciate it too.


James McKinney: I love that, absolutely love it. It's interesting how you call it the green rush because there's been a few I'm going to call them angles for lack of better word that people have latched on to when a new disrupter comes on the scene. When Tom's came out, the "buy one give one" everybody started doing it and with Tom's it was fully authentic. You felt every bit, it was core to their messaging. It's almost like here, we want to give shoes away, but we need you to buy a shoe in order to do that. Like it wasn't even like buy a shoe and we'll give one away. It's like, Hey, we want to give shoes away, why don't you buy a shoe. And we've seen so many of those things come to be. And I think the upside to it is it raises an awareness and it challenges startups or existing brands to look at how can we give back in some way, shape, or form. So I think there's upside to it. But to your point , I think ultimately, if it's not authentic to who the brand is, or what the mission is, it's just a marketing play, and it just falls empty with the consumer. And I love what you shared about that the green rush side of that. But again, there's lots of things that have happened in your entrepreneurial journey from the time of launching your Shopify store and recovering your investment for your tableting machine, to where you are today. And part of that journey comes through the Shark Tank. And so how did that come to be?


Lindsay McCormick: Yes. So back in 2018, we had it was still a tiny, tiny site. I had done $6,000 in sales. And we ended up having a video go viral on Facebook that got millions of views within the first few days up, we had done hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales. And I was like, oh, wow, I am no longer able to make these in my living room. We need business insurance. We need a manufacturer. We're a real company. At that point, my boyfriend who had already been heavily involved jumped in full time. And it was the two of us just like figuring out this situation.

And at that point, because of the attention from the viral video, Shark Tank casting had reached out and was like, "Hey, we'd like you to audition for Shark Tank." And at that point, I mean, we went viral in August, I was out of stock for two months. And they approached, I think they emailed us like late August or early September. And I was just like my company is hemorrhaging, I cannot think about this right now. I was like, "This is not the time, but can we talk later?" And so they were like, "Yeah, that's totally fine." So then, in March of the following year, they were casting again. And so we went through the audition process. And at that point, it was it was going to be my boyfriend and I who are auditioning together. And they're very, very upfront with the fact that just because Shark Tank casting approaches you, that does not help you in any way, it doesn't help or hurt you in the casting process. It's totally different producing team that decides.

But so we went through the, it's a rigorous casting process, and just kept on going up. Like we didn't think we were going to get it and then we pass through the first round, and then we got to the second round. And then we got to the third round. And then we were like, Oh wait, this is you know, we're going to get a shoot date. Like, this is crazy, this is happening. And in the meantime, we would be in the living room working and I would have Shark Tank on all day, all day. And I had whiteboards up with the different sharks and writing what they like, what they don't like, things that they would just shut down, things they wouldn't because I was from my background as a TV producer. I was like, there's no way I'm walking onto this set unprepared. I will know everything. And so we took it very, very, very seriously. It was almost like another full time job at the time. And it was, it definitely was an amazing experience. And it put us on a map in a whole different way, with new customers, new demographics. A lot of really interesting quirks about that audience as well, which we learned. And it was amazing. It was amazing.


James McKinney: One of the things you said, you know, your background in television that taught you, you're not going to walk onto that set unprepared. And you laid out all the things that the investors liked and didn't like. And for anybody who has pitched to an investor - venture capital, Angel, where the case may be - you want to understand what they're interested in, right? And you do so by looking at their portfolio of investments. And so there's a lot of things that are translating well, for those that are in the startup space that come to your point that you're translating through your television space. Have you gone to any type of investment capital since then? Or have you been bootstrapped from the get go?


Lindsay McCormick: Yeah, so that was… and then one other thing too, about Shark Tank that was amazing for anybody that can use at home too, is the amount of having to think about your business and frame it in you're a way, that I'm going to be on stage in front of sharks, and all of America. And I need to say why my business matters, why customers care, and what my product is, it is such a good mental exercise as an entrepreneur, because you suddenly are like, Oh, my God, people don't care about 90% of stuff I'm talking about. Like I need to really cut this back and figure out what my elevator pitches. And it was so helpful. It's been helpful ever since. And that's something that you can do whether you're on Shark Tank or not, just envision that you're going to go on it.

So we had not taken any venture capital. It was something at the very beginning when we first went viral, it was like do we want to do this or do we not? We took a meeting. And I was just like, again, my boyfriend is a designer and was an entrepreneur as well. So like he had businesses that took venture capital, and it was something that we knew was a very big decision. And so it was something that we would have thought about, obviously, for Shark Tank, because that's a totally different thing than actually working with a venture firm. But yeah, we've taken no meeting since then.


James McKinney: So did you attend or, let me rephrase that, did you go on Shark Tank with the intent of taking investment capital? Or was it really the visibility?


Lindsay McCormick: So we did not at that point, need money. It wasn't about the money. It was about having a partner. And I know like there was Robert Herjavec had a lot of success with Sand Towel, which was an eco friendly towel company, and PupBox, which is a subscription company. And I was like, we're eco friendly and we're subscription, this could be great, you know. We had very, like Asher and I also knowing that the pressure of the lights being on you don't want to have to make a decision then. So we were like, here's our max. This is the absolute max that we're going to do. And if we can't get there, we have to walk away. And so when we got into the negotiation with the sharks, Robert was the first one out. And then Mark Cuban was in and Kevin was in. And so that was like, Oh my gosh, I had never ever expected that Mark would be interested, he's hardly interested in many things, you know. So I was like, wow, this is crazy.

And so we were going back and forth. And eventually just couldn't get to the number that we had, it was our It was a dead stop number. And we tried, you know, there's always a lot more behind the scenes that goes on. Because you don't want to say no to Mark Cuban. But in the end, I was just like, we've got to say no to Mark Cuban. And so that was the end of that. And it's not every day you like say no to an actual billionaire, but he was so nice about it, so gracious about it. I've talked to other companies that have taken investments with him. And you know, he's just great. But it wasn't the right deal for us. So we had already gone in with a pretty aggressive thing on our end. So it was kind of like we didn't I think maybe looking back, we should have like, the sharks love a good negotiation, but like it was more kind of like, well, I want a partner. So like, this is pretty fair, you know, so we didn't leave a lot of room for negotiation.


James McKinney: So what if you can remember back, what year was that, by the way?


Lindsay McCormick: We shot it in 2019. And it aired directly before COVID.


James McKinney: Oh, wow.


Lindsay McCormick: Yeah. So we shot it and it aired, I believe, March 9. And then the news of the COVID pandemic started March 12, I believe. And so it was kind of like that time, we wanted to have a screening party. And we didn't because it was still that like, Whoa, this is weird. And so it was … that was then.


James McKinney: For those that are unaware during the pandemic ecommerce businesses skyrocketed. I mean, the amount, and we're not talking just Amazon transactions, we all know Amazon fell apart during that time, there was no two-day shipping for anything from Amazon during that season. They could not keep up but just general standalone ecommerce businesses were blowing up in a huge way. Subscription businesses were blowing up in a huge way and combine the natural implications of what took place in the economy with the visibility of Shark Tank, do you remember what your 30 or 60 day revenue kick was because of Shark Tank?


Lindsay McCormick: So the Shark Tank bump is definitely real. That is a real thing. I think ours was, I mean, just like what you said it was more people were buying online than ever before, especially at that point looking for things. All of a sudden, everyone cares what they're putting in their body, everyone cares what's happening with the planet, remember, you know, it was like "the planet is healing" those memes were going around. So everybody now suddenly cares about exactly what our company does. I mean, we weren't like a home cleaning supply company, we weren't a toilet paper company. But we were toothpaste and we're eco friendly and vegan, and we would deliver to your house and you don't think about it.

So it was I mean, looking back when we said no, I was like, I'm so glad, because that was such a good deal. I'm glad we kept that. And because no, you don't know what the future was. We had, of course, incredible obstacles, incredible obstacles, like every business did during that time. It was so scary and touching go. But all of these things that we had done that were very counterintuitive at the time, not raising venture money, being made in the US literally right up the street from us in Los Angeles, and having a very, very small team. And we never had office space, we never did, we all worked from our living room. So it was all of these things that were supposed to be like so you know, not what you're supposed to do in business ended up keeping us relatively insulated from the supply chain issues, and all of these things that a lot of businesses ended up having to navigate.


James McKinney: So let's talk about some of the challenges of COVID. I mean, again, fortunately, your stuff is here made in the US, although I during the toothbrush segment, you were saying that your toothbrush is made overseas.


Lindsay McCormick: Yeah, and same with our floss. But that's such an ancillary product, and we order so much of it, we were not impacted at all. Like our tablets our life and they're like made here. And even like our bottling company is here. It's here and it's expensive. And that's why we're an expensive product, like it's a pretty, like we've done things specifically to just make the best product that we could and I think that we were just like, well, that's why we're not insanely more expensive than regular toothpaste, but we're definitely expensive for toothpaste, but those types of things really helped us in the end.


James McKinney: So what challenges did you encounter during COVID?


Lindsay McCormick: I mean, so we actually we had some supply chain issues of just because… oh, because our manufacturer other small, I have to remember, our manufacturers are small businesses like us, too. So they were dealing with new COVID protocols, they were dealing with all of these different things, they had to shut down because there was a COVID exposure. And of course, we were supportive, of course, it was like extreme caution is the way to go. But so we had supply chain issues. Shipping was so backed up across the board. We do ship through USPS because it's the most eco friendly way to do it. It's like they don't make a special trip to your house. It's basically kind of like hitching a ride. And that was so backed up. There were times where it was taking three weeks for customers to get their tablets from us, like in the US.

And we previously, from before COVID, we shipped to Australia, and we shipped to Canada. But there were just so many issues getting product across at that, that we had to turn it off. And we actually haven't turned it back on. So we do still do it for our subscribers who had gotten in kind of beforehand, because we thank you, but we any we haven't taken on anything new, just because it was so hard. And we're super small, like that was a lot of bandwidth. I mean, you know, we're bigger now. But at the time, it was small and it was scary. And we're bandwidth constrained. So yeah, those are just some changes we made.


James McKinney: Now part of the journey of an entrepreneur is good fortune, others may call it luck, as well as preparedness. There's things that we execute and happen to turn out really well for us. But then sometimes there's decisions we make that are really learning lessons because they don't turn out so well for us. So when you look back thus far on your entrepreneurial journey with Bite, what have been those learning moments for you? Maybe a decision you made that didn't go as well as you had planned, or maybe something that you had nothing to do with but it fell in your favor and you learn from it. What were those moments?


Lindsay McCormick: We've been so fortunate across like with people talking about our product, that there's been a lot of things that have fallen in our lap. That's been really lucky. But I also think a lot of it is also hard earned experience that we then were able to kind of put things in place to be able to take advantage, not take advantage but to fully get everything out of it. So something that we did really early for brands is like we were one of the first to really take TikTok seriously. It's still murky water and I tell everybody murky water is where you want to be, because that's where the opportunity is, this is where you want to be because everyone talks about how expensive Facebook and Instagram is. And that's important, that's important to our business.

But the great thing about being a nimble brand and when I say small, it's just because the big guys are like billion dollar companies, and so they're, they're really hard to move around. But it being you know, like a nimble team that loves risk and loves murky waters. It's when you look back, you talked about Jamie Schmidt earlier or Moyes from Native earlier, one of the things that they did is they were on Facebook before Facebook attribution was what it is. And that's why they were able to get things so cheap. If Facebook attribution was what it was, then all the big brands would be on it, right? The whole reason there's opportunity there is because people are like, we don't know what this is. And so if you're like, I'm going to go in that, and I'm going to figure this out, you're one of the first ones to kind of figure it out. And so there's me a lot of success.

So we've had a lot of failures, right, there's been some things we've done that are right. So for me, it's kind of about, you know, make quick decisions when they're reversible and not deadly to the business, just like go with what you think and go. Then other things that are way more serious. Obviously, we have an ingestible product, it's a toothpaste, those things need to be by the book. Someone way smarter than me is figuring all that out and that is what we need. We work with really great manufacturers who have really great regulatory teams. And that's super important. So it's like, you know, but then it's like, Okay, do we want to put some money on TikTok and then keep going up? That's something that our business can survive if it goes wrong, you know, so those are the kinds of things that I would say, we've done right and done wrong.


James McKinney: Is Bite only purchased D to C from the website, or you on some shelves in some places?


Lindsay McCormick: So we've been super… we actually beginning of 2020 were talking about taking retail in a much more serious way, and then that'll happened, COVID happened. And then we were like, wait, we're going to rethink this. So we now are just online. We're in one shop here in Los Angeles called Erewhon because they really aligned with our values. But other than that, we've stayed D to C. But it's not something that we'll do forever. It's just something that's been best for us right now. And best for us in the last year, especially considering.


James McKinney: Have you thought about brand partnerships at all? Is that on your radar for anything?


Lindsay McCormick: Not as much. I think a lot of brands do. I mean, you see, I feel like who's done it really well, like Great Jones and some other brands have done… Oh, like Native and Schmidt's, they do that too, like they're always on my radar. But no, we haven't really explored that yet.


James McKinney: Yeah, I think a lot of startups, especially when both sides are startups, you want to talk about being nimble. I think brand partnerships are one of those things that you tend to not think about until, either until one side is really significant and you're just trying to leverage the audience. But when you have two early stage startups that are looking to collaborate together, it's those small micro wins that are so powerful. And that doesn't happen a lot. Like Nena and Co, they were a brand that we that we had on the show. And I mean, they do custom made handbags in a drop format, where they only drop so many at a time, but the brands that they collaborate with are of equal size. And when you're cross pollinating audience, it's just it's so powerful. And, you know, I love hearing success stories around those partnerships. So, you know, when you do explore brand partnerships, please connect back with The Startup Story and let's unpack that brand partnership story for the audience because I think they're, I think they're powerful moments to gain from those audiences.

You know, one of the things that strikes me about you is just how incredibly organized you must be, in order to navigate one, I go back to your television production side, right? I mean, obviously, organization is part of that. But now you have to deal with manufacturing from multiple facilities. You just navigated the COVID situation when it came to manufacturing, all the things that it takes to really run a business. What are your, if you had to let's say share your top three productivity tools, whether they be apps or actual products, what would those be?


Lindsay McCormick: Oh, my Google calendar is insane. It will be blocked out to the time. Especially when things get really intense, then I know I need to get even more intense on the Google Calendar because the most amazing thing is I can just go on autopilot, and it's telling me alerts. You need to file this paperwork, you need to call this person, you need to do this thing. And I'll do 15 minute, I mean it looks like a Rubik's Cube. But it is so helpful. It is like it runs my day. And I think that it is one of the most overlooked. Everybody wants to find all these really like cool apps. But for me, so important.

We use One Password, which I feel like has been game changing for us. It's where all of your company passwords are basically put in one vault and you can give different people access to different things. So if someone needs access to social they can get into TikTok, Instagram, social, whatever. And you're not like constantly flipping around. This sounds like an ad for them. It's really not. It was game changing for our company. You know, it was a really, really great thing.


James McKinney: I love that. What do you use for collaboration messaging in your company?


Lindsay McCormick: Oh, Slack. So we use Slack. But then also, we kind of have different tiers where it's like we Slack each other, but then if it's actually really important, you've got to text. So I'm a texter. So if like, there's something that's happening, it's like, that's like the only thing. So yeah, we use Slack, which is great. And then and I guess I spend a lot of time too, I mean, I guess like I actually don't use the app Headspace, but just like the idea of like meditating, I feel like it also helps really kind of bring order to the chaos as well.


James McKinney: That's a great point. We had Ariela Safira, the founder of Real, which is a mental health startup. And she talked about some of her routines, and I got so much feedback from my listeners, about being more intentional on my side to have those conversations around mental health. And I'm not the best at having those conversations, because it's not on the forefront of my mind. But since you brought it up, I want to ask, last year was insane for so many people. I mean, it broke so many people. And you guys, your business was doing well in the midst of it, but lots of challenges. But nevertheless, we all know what the founder journey is like, how do you keep your mental health in check? And what do you do to just kind of re-center yourself, create space for yourself? What are your disciplines?


Lindsay McCormick: I found and this is trial and error, we're all figuring these things out. But sticking to a morning routine is so important. So if I can wake up early enough, and I can meditate, write in my journal, and be able to go on a run. And if it's a really good morning I can read, those are the three if I can do those things. I feel like I'm ready to take on the day. And then I leave a half hour before anybody before I even talk to anybody on the team, I leave a half hour for emails and for things that I just need to kind of prepare myself for the day. That makes a total difference in when things are coming at you and they feel like problems. It's just like, I can always tell when I get super busy. And I get you know, I'm staying up too late, which means I can't wake up early enough, which means all these different things. And all of a sudden, everything coming at me feels like a problem, problem, problem, problem. And I'm like, so overwhelmed. And I'm like, Oh, I'm not doing my morning routine. And if I can get that in, then it's like everything's still coming at me, but I almost feel like it's like volleyball or like racquetball where it's just kind of like, I got this I got this I got this, I got this. And so I think it's there's a big difference for me personally. And so I think like whatever you can find, and I also try to keep my Sunday nights just not touched. Like that's my time. That's my time. And like I'm not… it's like I call it self-care Sunday, but really I'm cleaning. Like I clean, I do all these different things, and I prepare for the week and I do these things. But I think that's my sanity, the morning and Sunday nights.


James McKinney: I love that. I wonder if I can if I can sell off cleaning the house as self care for my kids. I wonder if I can sell that to them? That's awesome. I love it. If we're having where are they now episode in three years from now, where is Bite?


Lindsay McCormick: That's a really good question. We will you know, we started as the most sustainable toothpaste company and then we expanded into oral care you know, we have an entire oral care suite now we have mouthwash, tablets, toothbrush, floss, whitening gel, and in the next few years we'll be the most sustainable personal care company in the world, where we will be moving in you know anything, I think that is behind the bathroom door, part of our morning routines, that's done in a way that is not beneficial to the planet or our bodies, I see as a problem to solve, an opportunity on the table. And so those are the things that I'm really, really excited about to get into.


James McKinney: I love it. Absolutely love it. You know, I want to honor your time. And there's a few questions that I ask every founder as we wrap up our show and that first one is just on the perspective around entrepreneurship. The media has done a great job painting the narrative that entrepreneurship is a if you build it, they will come type thing that if you just park up an ecommerce store, you're just going to have massive riches fall your way, as if somehow some way Shopify is an ATM machine. Like they just perched this narrative up there that anyone can be an entrepreneur. What are your thoughts? Can anyone be an entrepreneur? Or is there a makeup or some type of characteristic that has to be native to the person?


Lindsay McCormick: I think that anyone can be an entrepreneur, but you need to play to your strengths and work really hard. So I think for me, I know that there are things that if I tried to build up all my weaknesses, so I could be more well rounded, I would not be able to play into my superpower and I think that in order to be successful in a way to be able to lead a company, you want to just continue getting better at the things you're better at. I do think anyone can be an entrepreneur. But I think it takes an extraordinary amount of work that I think it's way easier not to be. You know, coming from TV was an intense job it is way easier not. But if you want to do it, or if you have a mission that you feel is really important, it's the best thing you could possibly be doing. I couldn't think of anything better, a better way to spend my time.

But it does take all of my time, you know, and so I and I do think there is, you know, it there's, I get a question a lot, especially as like a female founder of how do you achieve work life balance? And I feel like I'm like, you know, first like, why don't you ask all the male founders that? I always feel like female founders get that question. But then the second thing is like, I'm not going for balance, I'm going for fulfillment. And that's what's important to me. And maybe one day by fulfillment will be from for like having family and not working. But like right now, this is my fulfillment, and this is what I want to do. This is what I'm here to do. And so I'm not worried about balance. And I think that yeah, I think that as long as you're really dedicated, and you're pulling from something else, besides just wanting freedom or money, because that is going to just, it's not enough motivation, you know, for how trying these things can be. But if you really have a great idea, and you really want to make it happen, it's totally worth it.


James McKinney: Oh, I love that. I love that quote that I don't care about balance, I'm here for fulfillment like, that is so powerful. And to your point about the idea of, you know, female founders being asked that question that we had a whole episode with Christina Stemble just a few weeks ago, where we just we spent probably a solid 15 minutes just on that topic on why I don't ask those questions to founders and why she's so appreciative of it. So yeah, so I'll include a link to the show notes for that episode with Christina Stemble, because she talks quite a bit about that. And she is a no holds barred guest on the show.

So the other narrative that we like to break down is this idea that entrepreneurship is isolating, and entrepreneurship can be isolating it is it is very easy for us to get wrapped up in our very small world of our startup and our business. But it doesn't have to be. And I know media likes to propagate this idea that it's just you and your laptop on your buddy's couch, just pounding away at code until you launch and all of a sudden, you make $100 million in investment capital. I know that has happened. It's an anomaly. It's not the norm, but because that's all we hear about it becomes it becomes normalized. And so when you look back on your entire life's journey, who are the people you point to with such immense gratitude for their contribution to where you are today?


Lindsay McCormick: Definitely my parents, my family, just being super supportive, and like super kind with my very opinionated ways. I think that was very, very helpful growing up. And then I've had some amazing bosses like incredible, like, the an executive producer on House Hunters that I worked with, another one that I did for Discovery show, or Travel Channel show have just been really amazing in instilling in me it's not about not having any problems, it's about fixing it before you come to me, you know, and that kind of just really learning from them. And then I would, you know, definitely my boyfriend is also my co founder, he's an integral part of Bite and our brand and the stories that we're telling. And so, and he puts so much work into it. And it's, I've been so lucky to have, you know, from that for, I think from the two of us just being so passionate about this, and really, really, really obsessed, we've been able to build like an incredible team, and we're doing really, really, really big things with a small amount of people. And so I look at, you know, some of the biggest toothpaste company launched a toothpaste tablet, you know, a little while ago, and in the product description, it says "bite size toothpaste bits." And I'm like we have the attention of the biggest of the big fish. And we are people sitting next to each other on a couch in the living room, you know? Those are the kinds of things that I'm just really thankful for the people who have worked so hard to get us there, because you never do it alone. No way. And my dog Memo, he's an amazing, emotional support.


James McKinney: I love it, absolutely love that. You know, and our final question, I would love the opportunity to have my guests have direct connection with you to gain some guidance and maybe just bounce some ideas off of, but at this scale it's unreasonable of an ask. So what I like to do is reverse engineer that to where if you can envision yourself having a coffee talk with one of my listeners and maybe it's a early stage startup that's frustrated with the lack of traction they're getting. They think they have something amazing is going to change the world but they just aren't getting consumer attention or maybe it's the wantrepreneur who has a 9 to 5, or maybe it's been pursuing their place in television for eight years. And then that's sure if they want to just finally leave, but they have a book full of dreams and ideas to pursue, but there's something that's holding them back. Whoever that persona is, they are an entrepreneur or wantrepreneur, what would you say to that person, as we wrap up your Startup Story episode?


Lindsay McCormick: I would say if things feel like they're uncomfortable and uncharted, you're probably going the right way. Because the whole idea of creating something new means you're on a path that you have… there's no map, right? So that's I felt an unsteady ground, since the moment I started Bite and it doesn't get easier, it just gets more interesting and more fun. But it's I think so first, like, be super… know that feeling off balances is a good sign because you're on a path that nobody else is. And then the second one, and I think that this is so important for people who have 9 to 5 jobs, where they're making their dreams come true at night and on weekends, that is an incredible, you will learn time management, and you will have the work ethic that it takes to actually run a company when things go big.

So because for me working in TV, it was already a pretty demanding job, but you check out at night and you're done. I could go on vacation and not check my cell phone. Like are you kidding? That's not something you do when you have your own company. And so it's those things that it's, that training that you have, where you're like, Okay, I got to get my work done during the day, and then I'm going to go home, and I'm going to get all this stuff done for my startup at night, and I'm going to, you know, still have time for my family and friends and everything, that is exactly the muscle you need to build, when this thing starts taking off for you. Because that's you're not going to all of a sudden have like a whole new muscle to train, you'll have already gotten that. So be thankful for the journey and the work ethic to see you know, see that this balance of the 9 to 5 plus dream is I think working in your benefit eventually.


James McKinney: Once you've had a few moments to process all the value that Lindsay McCormick 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 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. And with that in mind, visit bitetoothpaste.com and take a look at all that they have to offer. Then, consider changing one habit within your routine to be one that is more sustainable. Maybe it is something as simple and non disruptive as moving to toothpaste tablets. I mean, is anyone really that passionate about the goo and the tubes that we use every day? So if you don't care for the goo and the tubes, you might give Bite toothpaste tablets a shot. Again, visit bitetoothpaste.com. And of course, we're going to include a link in the show notes for easy access.

But I don't want to overlook that idea about changing one part of your routine to be something that contributes to sustainability. There are numerous ways to do this. And it really isn't that hard to find one. You know, whenever I meet a founder who is building something sustainable, I'm reminded of the times when my wife was pregnant. No, I'm not saying pregnancy is sustainable. That's not what I'm saying. But from the moment that I found out she was pregnant, all the sudden, I noticed every single pregnant person around me. It's as if my prego belly radar was jacked up to hyper awareness mode because my wife was pregnant, I now became aware of all the people that were pregnant. Well, now you've been made aware of another sustainable startup, maybe you'll now become more aware of how you might contribute to sustainability within your routine. This is what I mean when I say entrepreneurs support other entrepreneurs. So let's show up and show out for Lindsay. 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.

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July 27 2021
Lindsay McCormick, founder of Bite

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