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John Roman: Battling for Subscription Success

John Roman: Battling for Subscription Success

by Jay Myers

2 months ago

Welcome to another exciting episode of Own Your Commerce! Joining our Host, Jay Myers, Co-Founder of Bold Commerce, is John Roman, the CEO of BattlBox, one of the most beloved subscription brands in the market. John's journey is nothing short of inspiring, and he's here to share his story with all of us.

Transcript from video:

perhaps the most memorable encounter
I've had with anyone
welcome to the owner Commerce podcast
where leading experts Brands and
innovators reveal strategies for
e-commerce growth I'm your host Jay
Myers and this show is brought to you by
bold Commerce
hey everyone I am so excited today to
have John Roman here with me he's the
CEO of battlebox which is honestly one
of the most loved subscription Brands
um ever they're uh they recently
um they recently were acquired which
we're going to talk a little bit about
um it's not just battle box though it's
carnivore club and they've got a few
other other brands in there they've
launched a series on Netflix which we'll
dive into a little bit he's really had
an amazing journey uh he's also honestly
one of the nicest people you'll ever
meet I just got to know him recently one
of those people that really just likes
to help others and share information and
while that's that's really why I was
excited to get to get him on our show
John thank you so much for coming on
today thanks for having me Jay I'm
excited to be here so speaking of your
Netflix series I actually
um I didn't know that it you had it
recently and I I was uh doing a little
bit of Googling today I watched I just
started watching it it's it's awesome
like I I I just watched uh episode two
to with the glass breaking tools and
it's funny because the the tool okay so
the the series is called Southern
survival definitely everyone listening
should check it out it is it's kind of
a blend between
um yeah it's like MythBusters with a
little bit of a Duck Dynasty Flair to it
it's got It's uh I think that that's
that's literally how I how I describe it
to people it's it's Mythbusters oh okay
okay I wasn't sure if you'd be offended
if I say awesome I love it and that
maybe that's why I like it so much I
don't know but uh that glass piece so
for breaking the car glass the little
Hammer I actually and the one that broke
when when they were trying it on the
window and fell apart and they're like
this is crap I have one of those in my
truck so I'm gonna throw throw that out
right away and uh well maybe I should
find whatever battle boxes uh that one's
in uh shoot me your address and uh I'll
I'll send you one of them
okay because uh because the one I have
is the is the garbage one I'll tell you
that right now
um man it was it was a little bit of a
process so we so Brandon Curran
um who is the is the face of our brand
he's the one in all the videos
so he um came on board about a month
after we started uh but I apologize
about a year after we started and then
let me backtrack and do some some math
okay so the show area
which meant we aired it which we shot it
in 2019. okay so in late 2017

the um High Noon entertainment uh
production house uh Cake Boss and

fixer-upper's in their caps of uh shows
they've they've done
they they reached out wanted to jump on
a call
talk through the the concept the idea
they they saw Brandon's videos and they
were just like us a big fan of Brandon
so they wanted to figure out if there
was anything there for a show so we jump
on with them they had um kind of
received a green light to uh to shoot
some Sizzle Sizzle reels which I guess
is the thing that comes before a pilot
um so you know Netflix is kind of change
change the game with you know full
seasons and and really change the way
all that behave you know back years ago
you used to see a pilot on TV and
sometimes that's all you saw because
they hadn't shot the last
so the the concept was we're gonna We
want to shoot the sizzle reel and gets
get money to shoot a pilot and uh the

conversations they were having were with
History Channel at the time so they came
um they shot shot a Sizzle reel I was I
was actually in the the scissor reel I
ended up not being in the show for for a
bunch of reasons but
did the scissors
just not yeah just not my thing
their concept of my character uh
was possibly going to cause internal
um issues which is okay
we're in a good idea worth it
they they shot that and then
put it in the hands of History Channel
and History Channel sat on it for like
six seven months and finally finally
just said no
and uh so we were a little like you know
we were so excited about it and
kind of let down at that moment but they
High Noon was like look we're gonna talk
to other people we really like this we
think this has has legs on it so they
they start talking a Discovery Channel
and we're excited again and Discovery
Channels reviewing it and they sit on it
for six seven months and uh they say
they say no so at this point we're at
the end of
2018 going into 2019
and uh we touch base with I noon so it's
been over a year at this point uh and
they're like hey we're going to set up
some meetings this month we're gonna
meet with Walmart uh for Walmart
streaming service which not sure if
they're even doing it anymore I know
they were trying
um I can't remember the name of it if it
does exist but they really remember that
too I don't think they are yeah they
might have just voted I'm not sure
honestly if if it's still around I feel
bad because clearly they're failing at
but so they're gonna meet with Walmart
and they're going to meet with Netflix
and you know they're gonna pitch both of
them and we're excited again the uh from
what I understand the meeting with with
Walmart went well then they meet with
Netflix and they basically leave the
Netflix meeting and it's
it's it's a green light Netflix and
Netflix doesn't play that here's some
money for a pilot uh they said okay
we'll we'll do a season uh we want you
know the rights to Seven Seasons and we
let's go
um and we're like wow okay and then
honestly within a few weeks we had a a
giant contract like 60 70 pages from
them that uh
was was the agreement we were like oh I
guess we have to find like an
entertainment lawyer at this point so we
uh we found we found an entertainment
lawyer that came recommended here in
and uh we took it to them they redlined
it we had more calls we redlined more
stuff and uh we send it over to Netflix
all proud that we got this
you know through this document and they
they replied and said oh well sorry for
you know any misunderstanding or or uh
improperly set expectations
there is no redlining process this is
the agreement
sit out okay
um what what were some of the things
that you didn't feel comfortable with
like or like this is a standard
agreement they sent to every
yeah it's really geared towards the the
parts that we weren't super comfortable
with were the fact that we were just
clearly viewed as talent and at the end
of the day we are a business and you
know we are a business first even we
might lead with content as a company but
at the end of the day we're a business
and uh it was just very very Talent

driven you know we're if we if if we
have an event for marketing that you
need to come to
um we'll give you 48-hour notice
um to figure it out and at the end of
the day we have Mission critical things
in the business that have to take
precedent over anything else so it was a
it was just a little bit of a not super
comfortable only being treated as talent
and uh to foreshadow some they they
wouldn't ever even talk to me because I
wasn't on the show
um so Daniel Daniel my uh
old business partner that you know found
came up with the idea of uh he he would
literally like Ford or they they'd send
an email saying hey you know let's meet
Tuesday at four and he'd reply back to
it and like copy me in and copy Patrick
or uh other partner and be like you know
looping in looping in the guys and
they'd reply back and remove us
um it was very it was just interesting
we were we just treated we were talent
and that's yep because they're so large
like the people that would understand
you know that we're a business as well
just weren't a part of a part of the
conversation so
signed it they they came we filmed uh
second half of 2019 was filming they
came back in January of 2020 to uh get
some additional shots uh just to you
know close up some continuity for the
um then
radio silence we know nothing at all
February March April hear nothing and
then at the end of April Netflix reached
out and said hey we're going to
um release this July 4th weekend
and it's called Southern survival
you can't talk about it
um we're gonna give you some information
two weeks out
uh that you can start promoting it a
bunch of sizzles a bunch of teaser
teaser videos and teacher creatives so
we're like Okay
um and then
we so you know we're mid pandemic so
we're super excited yeah this this is a
great this is great timing for you know
outdoor and survival gear this is
and then the reality of
um the the George
situation incidentally yeah and and all
of a sudden even though we were in a
pandemic there was
um you know protests and
you know all of a sudden the title
Southern survival while completely
innocent is yeah is is maybe not not the
um you know extremely uh very patriotic
uh show so then we went through this
phase of like well what do we do and you
know at this point we had been given the
green light of Southern survival so
we're manufacturing Southern survival
gear we're going all in uh with with our
cash and our profit and just rolling it
in to be ready for this
and not being able to you know forecast
too intelligently because nobody's ever
a yes there's being duck dynasties and
shows like that that were episodic uh an
episode a week a slow build
um not this whole full season you can
watch it all right away so a a company
with a show
at a full where you where it all drops
at once like it there's there's no use
case or case study on what type of
uplift to expect
um how much product we should we should
order what's going to be the conversion
rate on traffic we're just we're making
educated guesses
um and so we had manufactured all this
stuff at this point that has Southern
survival written on it so we're just in
a bad spot like what do we do like if if
we have to change the name you know
obviously we'll change the name it's not
even our choice but like what do we do
about all this product
um Netflix you're gonna you're gonna buy
it from us
and uh
yeah how does the mechanics of that work
sorry this might be my like a silly
question but I so Netflix acquires
content they're they it's a like it's a
they by the rights to the content
you're you produced it or did Netflix
produce it
um so high noon High Noon entertainment
produced it the high okay
so now they have the rights to to it for
you said seven years
yeah correct but but you're but do you
have creative control
for like the next seasons and and
products or is it like they control the
um theme you've control of the products
that are tested and
yeah so yeah they they for southern
survival they they have
they're they're just the decision maker
they're the authority
and we we don't we don't have rights so
if they wanted to make a bunch of
you know shirts with like photos from
the show or something like that like
that's that's them
um anything we have to do we would have
to get approval so like us running
running videos from
um you know parts of parts of the show
like we had to get go and you know send
that over to them to Netflix for
approval it's very much theirs and we're
just we're just Talent at the end of the
but do you say you control the products
that are tested on the show
yeah so they they leaned on us for you
know what these what what should what
should the products be right yeah um and
then they would build build around that
they had some ideas it is it is TV so
some of the items like the glass breaker
stuff 100 but like some of the items are
items that would never make their way in
a battle box for for typically for for
Price reasons right we're also not yeah
actually flipping flipping trucks
made for made for TV
I I the lines are getting like as I as I
was watching it and there's other shows
too but it's it's kind of still early
but this like the the blurring between
e-commerce and and media
um you know I I when I as I'm watching
it I'm thinking like how long is it
gonna be until Netflix you know allows
purchasing within their player to some
um and maybe that's a channel just like
just like Google shopping or Facebook
shopping maybe it's Netflix shopping
maybe and then that's part of the rights
that you know you have the rights to be
the only supplier or it becomes a
bidding process like any thoughts on
yeah it's it's it's the future
um and you're right the the blurring is
is just it's it's happening and it's
it's really
it's kind of cool to see it's so what
like one of my hot buttons and things
that you know you always ask like what
do you what are you losing sleepover
what can't you stop thinking about it's
it's this you know I I pride that we
really truly battlebox leads with these
two pillars right and it's content and
and the content is exactly what it
sounds like you know we're at this point
doing two tick tocks a day a reels a
YouTube shorts
um obviously all The Usual Suspects like
Facebook and Instagram with traditional
posts but you know we're content content
content uh a few long forms a month that
you know typically just go to YouTube uh
Facebook too oh you know content content
content and then with that though comes
the community piece and
you know for Community for us it's
really two parts there's the the
customer Community which you know we
have the members only Group which
you know I was in there on Friday like
interacting and talking and asking what
all of our customers were doing this
next week or the weekend so there's that
part but then there's just this this
other community we've built on Tick Tock
where it's you see a lot of the same
people just commenting and asking
questions and you know the whole
ecosystem of community is is so
important and it's
it's it's Paramount and it's it's the
reason we're successful but
we were a business first right and then
what you're seeing now with you know the
nelk boys and and Mr Beast
um they built the content and community
and now they're building the businesses
which is is kind of crazy I mean Mr
Beast launch launches a chocolate bar
and uh because of his content and the
community he's built he's all of a
sudden Nationwide in Walmart
immediately yeah right it's something
that a traditional Merchant
um would dream of and would have to go
through all these hoops and you know you
look at uh milk boys with their full
send podcast and now they've they've
built this community and and somehow
they've launched happy Dad which is uh
um the I guess uh not White Cloud but
whatever they're called the yeah yeah
alcoholics bites
spritzer yeah yeah okay
um but it's it's really really cool
um that they're that they're doing it
and they're doing it the reverse way
that we did but I think they're doing
the reverse way for the same reason that
that you just stated like e-commerce and
media and Commerce in general are all
just blending together and
yeah I'm shocked Netflix hasn't launched
some sort of shopping right you look at
announced um we're in there uh we had
this YouTube Shopify integration where
um we can go on YouTube live now and do
live shopping
you're not you're not giving Netflix
there's no royalties you owe them for
anyone that purchases one of those glass
from your store that's that's your own
that's your own business
with our product right and a lot of this
stuff we're not even we're not even the
you know we didn't make it right it's
not art products right it's it's a
vendor that we chose because we thought
it was quality
um so no so there's nothing like that
thank goodness but um well do you think
especially like
yeah well and especially like in a
platform that has no commercials and you
think you know Netflix is
um I don't know last couple quarters
like they're they're subscribers have
been slightly down and they're looking
for ways to tighten the belt a little
bit without
introducing commercials like that that
they're they're on platforms like
technology is now exists for actually I
think a lot about Amazon Prime like they
seem even perfectly fit for it because
they're built on top of the world's
largest e-commerce Marketplace so to
have you know like you know when you
pause a show on Amazon Prime and you can
see all the actors and everyone in that
scene to see the product in that scene
and then just go you know use one buy
one click buy like if you're logged in
you're logged into your Amazon account
your Amazon has your credit card and
Jay I hadn't thought about that but like
they're the ones that are they're it's
they already have it they just have to
connect it
the time totally
like they already have the perfect
it'll happen
well we'll look we'll look back at this
podcast in a few years and I'll say hey
John remember when you're talking about
yeah yeah we were ahead of our time
shopping now
yeah yeah which I've heard it has mixed
mixed results
um but it's early right so it's gonna
it's gonna get perfected it's gonna get
um but it would it's just the way
video video converts like there's so
many all the data points and whenever
you introduce video into that sales
funnel and that's or that customer
um it just the what the effects it has
on conversion is is drastic
yeah it's interesting live live shopping
in general that you know everybody is
and we're obviously still in its infancy
here in in North America but you you
know everybody that's very very Bull on
live shopping references how big it is
in China right it's yes yeah huge huge
huge subset of of Ecom there and
will I don't know if it'll It's not
catching on at the speed that that the
the experts thought it would
um and maybe it won't because you're
you're seeing like
you know your example of of Amazon the
response hasn't been great you look at
uh us as an example with YouTube we were
we had our call with our Shopify rep and
they said hey
you know the announcement of this
integration we've already you're on a
short list of accounts that have already
been pre-approved to go and and start
and this was this was 60 days ago and we
we had an internal column we said okay
um let's watch a couple of these other
brands go first and let's pick up some
learnings from them and that way when we
go you know a step ahead and we're 60
days in and we haven't seen any
one's doing interesting yeah there's
definitely some adoption issues in in
North America with with it and I don't
know if if maybe that's just part of it
and eventually it'll catch fire or if
it'll just maybe it's definitely gonna
be a part of our future live shopping
but it might just end up not being as
big as big as it is in China
yeah I think it it well it's like
anything when it when something gets
rolled out it different markets are
different too like if we're not we don't
use social media the same way and and
that that that they do in China and so
it we're you're building on top of a
infrastructure that is different
it's inherently different and
um I don't know the exact stat but it's
something like 90 percent of media is
consumed on phones in China it's not yet
that way in America but like it's
getting there so maybe we're just a
little bit behind I don't know I'd like
to go back actually to the community
um Community uh conversation a little
bit um because this I heard a quote
recently that someone said
um in the future all the successful
e-commerce Brands will be content
creators and and Community Builders
those will be the successful e-commerce
um it's not about like you know when the
barrier to entry becomes so low and you
know you're on Shopify you you can have
a store up and running in from breakfast
till dinner
um and be selling like it's it's that
easy you can you don't need it like
getting a payment Gateway set up I I
started selling online in 1998. I
remember having to sign to get a
merchant account just just to be able to
charge a credit card I had to guarantee
my personal uh all my net worth like it
was a 60-day process to be able to
charge a credit card anyways I could go
on about all these challenges but
Shopify has done a good job of removing
the barrier to entry so when that
barrier to entry becomes zero which is
which is a good thing
um there's still going to be winners and
they're still going to be losers just
because the barrier of Entry is so low
it doesn't mean everyone they're not all
going to be successful so the ones that
now are
um and this I think comes to the the
community aspect and the content
um what are some things you've learned
uh getting community and content right
like I'm sure you've blundered and made
some mistakes and found out some things
that work then maybe let's hone in on
the community piece um what what what
have you got right around community
the the interaction the engagement we've
always made it a priority whether it was
on ads or posts we we always engaged and
and and interacted
um and one of the things we did and it's
it's at it it's had iterations we we
launched in a short order
uh and we pushed into
our customers we pushed it in
um we weren't doing content like we do
now but any sort of content we did we we
reminded people of it it was in the
little card that was in the box and it
it wasn't a you didn't have to be a
battle Box customer to join it it was
just connecting you know like-minded
people that like to go Outdoors or
um you know wanted survival gear or
camping gear and we we built that and
pushed it and it was it was agnostic it
didn't matter if you were a battle Box
customer or not and uh
we we you know it was very Reddit style
if you will and it was just we we built
in conjunction with battlebox not as you
know a battle box piece and and that was
the focus and that organically
um grew and
I I think when you're building Community
you have to make sure that you're doing
it for the right reasons
and it's not serving just some agenda
and I think if you genuinely build it in
in that view
you're you're setting yourself up for
the best chance of success like don't
you don't you don't make a Facebook
group for your company so you can so you
can uh make a post every day about why
everybody should sign up for your
service like like give them give them
something that's actually valuable
that's has nothing to do with
with you know your product you can't you
can't make it about your product and
then that's why you know though the Mr
Beast and the note boys for example why
they've why they're having success right
they they didn't they they built the
community first
um before there was even a product yeah
um yeah other other learnings is you
know you have to be
um you need to be really a most bleeding
edge following what's what's working
with content right so you saw
um you saw Tick Tock and so we we joined

we were I thought we were late to the
game with Tick Tock so we started I
guess uh
February of
2021 like we had the account but we
weren't really doing anything with it
and we started
pushing hard in February 2021 and I mean
it was it was lots of learnings lots of
failures I uh so I have a a Blog that I
do a really poor job of writing often on
but I when I do right I wrote a couple
kind of updates through the Journey and
you know we were having some small
successes but
you know they weren't too noteworthy and
it was a lot of learnings and a lot of
failures so I I love that I at least
like wrote about it as we were going
through it but it took us a solid year
before Tick Tock really popped and we
were really quick to like you know
listen to the street listen to what
everyone was saying what was working for
other people and we quickly found out
uh meta and uh and Google were were you

know a little nervous about Tick Tock
and Tick Tock was kind of they were
afraid they were going to steal their
launch and all of a sudden meta and
Google made changes to their algorithm
where uh Instagram reels and YouTube
shorts uh their version of tick tock
were that type of content was treated as
if it was golden way better than
um you know a picture
uh on Instagram or a actual long-form
traditional horizontally shot video and
as soon as we
heard that and saw that well we had been
pushing content vertically uh on Tick
Tock for a year so we had a lot of
content and we just started you know
dumping it not with the Tick Tock logo
um it was video that we had uploaded
that we had made and then uploaded to
tick tock
um and just repurposing it for those
channels when we did that
um to YouTube I think we were at
we were on a slow build of about maybe
four to five thousand new subscribers on
YouTube a year and it was just a slow
build we're up to 50. we had an initial
probably up to like 55k at the time so
it was just very slow we're adding you
know four 400 new Subs a month and we
started dropping that the the vertical
content because we had heard that that
was a thing and uh and we had all this
content we started dropping it we went
up we got up to we started doing that at
the beginning of the year
and uh I think we're at like we just
passed 500 000 Subs
um this month
so all of a sudden while we were
grabbing four or five thousand a year
we've we've added 450 000 this year so
it's so what's what's your
what's the main what's the number one is
Tick Tock the number one
or is that YouTube past it so they they
they battle
if we're looking at our post purchase
survey for example on yeah you know how
to First hear about us that they they
battle back and forth right now Google's
YouTube is uh YouTubes are number one
source and Tick Tock is number two but
they'll you know we could put out a good
piece of content on one of them before
the other and it could flip-flop
Facebook Instagram are like I think
fifth and sixth for us now which is
crazy because for years they were like a
commanding one and two
yeah oh it's yeah the the it's I mean
and I I think you're smart like your
approach of just try things when they
come out you don't know if they're gonna
stick they may or may not but get get in
the game
um get some content out there and see if
it works and if it does
10x down on it if it doesn't move on to
the next but I think
it's uh so what would you say
um well actually got a couple questions
on the social media side of things I
guess one
um I I was I was curious about this
um I helped a lot of brands in different
spaces and I know in like in the space
you're in you've got outdoor supplies
there's there's knives there's different
things have you run into challenges with
with paid advertising on these platforms
and how have you navigated that
yeah yeah so
oh man the uh
it's been it's been a nightmare
um it's not anymore but it was a
nightmare for years so so we started off
you know in 2015 at with some Facebook
ads right that's all we were running we
didn't know any better yeah um we we
were seeing success and that's where we
were going you looked at um
any given time in like 99 of our traffic
was probably you know analytics UTM
Facebook oh wow and that's just it was
working we we didn't know any better um
it was it was naivety and we went to we
went into labor day of the first year
and uh we had this big sale was the
biggest sale we've ever done before we
were so excited it was Friday at five
o'clock we get an email that our uh
account's been not like an ad turned off
like our account had been canceled
and because of
because of um so some of our boxes
occasionally include a knife
and uh
so that was that was the reason and we
got super lucky we jumped on the battle
box forum and one of the one of the
members of of this community we built
worked in Facebook
yeah listen to this and he was his
Department uh area where he sat was like
one room over from the compliance
now this didn't happen we didn't talk to
him I think until like Tuesday the
following week and we were desperate so
we posted in our group he talked to them
and they had it on within within hours
after he spoke to him we were good to go
but at that point good luck getting a
hold of someone there otherwise like yes
it's insane and when we we still spent a
lot with them but like we were spending
a lot with them and you would think you
could have like a normal conversation
it's such a challenge no so yeah
obviously at that moment when we got
back we said okay clearly Facebook's
important but we need to diversify
um yeah ASAP and you know we we we know
what we're doing but there's people that
know what
how to do it a lot better so if that was
the first point we we brought on an
advertising agency and said okay where
else what should we do help us
in the long run it probably was a
blessing under in in disguise right I'm
assuming 100 100 we like we made some
business rules after that like yes
there's gonna be ads that can scale and
um that's that's great but like
in the short term it's acceptable but
like long-term looking at periods of
time like we really don't want any lead
source of ours to be greater than a six
because when it is that it starts to
become problematic and uh you're too
dependent on that source so
we got back up and running
at the beginning of the next year we got
kicked off again and we didn't get back
we never we we just didn't get back
um so you're still you're not doing paid
ads on Facebook right now so we are
um so battle box the the the Facebook
account the Facebook page that has the
blue check that has all of our our likes
and follows
yeah so yeah
I know my my brother has an archery
target company he sells archery targets
and it just like he his his account
um also was was banned from Facebook
because there was a bow I mean it's an
Olympic sport archery but you can't have
a bow in an ad you can have the Target
in an ad but not the bow and so exactly
the same thing his Facebook account like
not his personal one but the company's
account same thing but he can still run
ads through
another Facebook account running ads for
that site
it's uh
I'm told it's usually a competitor
reporting your ad but I don't know for
sure but I've been told that that's
yeah wouldn't surprise me oh Facebook
doesn't go out of their way to to ban
people it's they lose money when they do
it but if you get enough competitors
reporting an ad saying this ad is
offensive or something like that then
they just
maybe they don't have enough people to
check every single one if there's enough
complaints then they then they shut it
down so I I don't know how true that is
but that's what I was told
um it's just interesting I was curious
how you navigated that because it's I
I've heard this come up for for many
Brands who are in a completely
legitimate space
um but it's like like what you're going
yeah so we we ended up
um at that point
creating secondary and tertiary
Facebook accounts um we actually got a
hold our agency at the time who we were
using how to wrap and you know agencies
are able to actually communicate pretty
regularly with with Facebook they
typically have an account manager that
isn't isn't a new hire that you're only
going to have for three months the um we
so we spoke with them and what we did is
we built
um these these secondary and tertiary
Pages this was our second iteration this
is not where we're at today but
if the traffic we would we put UTM
parameters in all of our ads and if the
was originating from Facebook or
Instagram we had Logic on our site that
completely scrubbed and made the
experience as PG as possible we changed
words we changed images it was just a
diff it was a different experience if if
you originated from uh Facebook or
Instagram now if you went there
afterwards directly you saw you saw the
real site
so we we ran this by by Facebook the
Facebook account major they looked at it
they said everything was fine we were
good we spun up ads
we were Off to the Races and and that
lasted for
about nine months and then out of out of
the blue all of those accounts got
canceled we got
yeah we we got
terminated and we were back back to the
drawing board we were off so we were off
no no Facebook Instagram for
I think three months and we at this
point we built these headless uh
so we we they were we made we made it
where it was templatized we could spin
one up with a domain a Facebook page
um and an ad account everything
everything we needed
um within a matter of uh I don't know
probably 30 minutes dragging and
dropping the imagery that we needed so
it was like almost like a web Builder
and it would it built this headless
um yeah site that then connected you
know to Shopify for the for the back end
yeah yeah
and we did that and um
Off to the Races again good to go we we
switched agencies
unrelated reason and the new agency
um had a really good and that's our it's
our actual our current agency they have
a really good relationship with their
Facebook rep we jumped on a call because
at the end of the day we're still having
to run these trap this traffic to these
micro sites which it works but it's not
ideal right we're not getting them into
our domain
um yeah when we were when we were
putting him on our domain
uh trying to run as to our domain they
would Facebook wouldn't even allow us to
run ads on our domain so we finally
spoke to them and got them to remove
whatever this uh red flag or
um thing they had put on our account
they wouldn't even they had like when
was blacklisted the domain but we talked
to them and it was like in the last is
about a year ago and they
they they remove that so now we can run
ads to our domain again which is great
um but I mean for five years five years
I couldn't run ads to our domain which
it's tough it's tough for growth when uh
we have such a hindrance
well when I asked you that question I
didn't think this was going to be the
the answer I was expecting so yeah I
mean some challenges but that's that's
um there's no problem nope no problems
anywhere else Tick Tock or uh you know
they'll they'll kill because we'd also
follow the rules to a team they were
overly cautious with it
um we're in firm understanding of all
all platforms terms and what they are
and we we follow them so the other
platforms are all differently
occasionally an adult get like caught up
and we just shoot them a note in within
you know an hour to a day they've turned
it back on they've apologized and we
move on but
yeah for years
problem so given all these challenges
what have been some other ways that
you've that you've grown
that you've grown have you leveraged
marketplaces or like influencer
maybe let's talk about marketplaces have
you done anything there or what what
have been some other growth channels for
so one of the things in our initial
strategy and it's actually how how we
found Brandon
um indirectly is
uh we send I think at this point we
probably sent about 50 a month back then
we're probably sitting 25 just off the
jump boxes to uh YouTubers influencers

um anybody that's that's putting out
so in a given month now like you know
our uh last battle Box Mission 92
dropped uh people started receiving it
about two weeks ago
um and then
you know all of a sudden there's dozens
on dozens of reviews on YouTube and
dozens of reviews elsewhere
yeah so that was a big a big part of our
strategy and continues to be is is
getting it out there
um we
invest a lot of time and resources and
um so we have
multiple articles that are that are
being published on our site
um we're you know working with an SEO
Agency for for uh articles about us you
know Elsewhere on the interwebs it's
it's a constant
it's a constant piece but honestly for
the last few years content and and yeah
and putting out content that's just
that's organic and
uh isn't salesy for the most part yeah
but it does get into our site and then
they do opt-in for email and you know at
that point we're going to be able to
reprospect them and we're gonna then be
able to send them offers but a lot of
the uh
a big chunk of of our business is is
done through you know I guess you would
classify it as word of mouth but it's
it's via VIA content
you you do sell also on Amazon am I
correct or not
we do so so initially
we um we were when we first started with
them we only were doing the um
there's their Amazon subscription Amazon
yeah good job and then
and then we ended up
doing more and it's
so we do FBA
and it I think we probably have a
we have a decent decent amount of one
time one-time offerings there
um but it's not a very large channel for
us yeah so are you just out of curiosity
are you do you are you pushing it at all
or do you just feel that you need it
there in case someone searches for
battlebox on Amazon
yeah it's the latter it's it's a
defensive move
um yeah I mean don't it it's a it's a
decent sized part of the business I mean
I don't know maybe
450 500 000 but to the big Grand schema
things that's that's not that's not much
and so it's not
it's a very very very small part of the
business but yeah you're right it's just
it's more defensive right so expensive
yeah yeah like FBA which if you're not
FBA fbm can still kind of get the buy
box sometimes but it's it's if you do
FBA and you're
storage fees are like 32 33 coming off
the top
it's interesting
um just a few Brands so liquid death is
one of the brands that we we worked with
for years for subscriptions and then I
noticed um I noticed one day on their
site you could still subscribe they use
Shopify as well but I think a case I
don't feel like doing a liquid death
yeah they've kind of become super they
only launched in 2019 but they just
recently were got investment they were
valued at 700 million it's basically
um mineral water in a can that looks
like a beer can but they their marketing
is is genius but anyways they they were
selling a case of water on subscription
for 17.99 a case and then they had a
button underneath that said or subscribe
on Amazon for 14.99 a case which right
it might have been 15 but it was like
three bucks less
than buying Direct in their site which I
thought made no sense because they're
also paying the Amazon 15 Marketplace
fee and whatever yeah
um FBA fees and whatever else
um but but it was actually very
deliberate and their goal was to funnel
all their traffic to Amazon and then
become the number one mineral water so
if purchased on Amazon now so right now
actually if you go on Amazon and you
search mineral water it's like they have
position like one one two three and four
and now it's a now it's a Snowball
Effect because they hold those positions
they just get more and more
um but it was it was an investment like
sending them there and losing the three
dollars per case they saw as an
investment to to grab the land and now
they're now they're holding the lead
it's it it's just interesting I'm I'm
following I'm paying attention a lot
like you look at brands that start you
know there's there's a lot to be said
for direct to consumer
but you know you used to see
um it was the opposite Brands would kind
of try to go directing consumer now
we're seeing Brands start direct to
Consumer and then now it's how do they
get into stores like dude wipes liquid
um hint water you look at all these
other ones that are like fantastic d2c
um but then their play is to end up
getting into distribution channels so I
was curious if there was like a longer
term strategy there maybe with Amazon
no so uh a hundred percent
um a couple thoughts one so I'm not sure
if you're familiar with a brand called
crossnet uh oh yeah yeah I know Chris
Chris actually was on the podcast
oh okay cool so one of the founders yeah
yeah so so I was I was chatting with
Chris and he was telling me that they
were at the time I don't know if they're
still doing this but this was a few
months back they were running their
Facebook ads to not their site but to
uh probably for similar similar reasons
similar reasons but also um that
Amazon's such a trusted uh source to
Consumers these days he was saying the
cap was
so substantially better
running the ad to Amazon
that it still made sense financially
to pay the you know the the Amazon fees
that it was still a better deal at the
end of the bot at the end of the day to
the bottom line because the conversion
rate was so much better on Amazon versus
site which was kind of mind-blowing to
interesting um yeah yeah there's that
too I didn't even that but the the prime
factor right it's the trust which
Shopify now is is trying to kind of get
in there as well too with the shop
promise and I mean it's the same shop
yeah exactly yeah
it's interesting
sorry go ahead
no no I'm just gonna say it's it's an
interesting strategy like I've I've
always been there's no it's not like
I've never kind of bought into the
rhetoric like it's Amazon is evil and
d2c is bad I think they both have their
place they just need to be used the
right way and not get used because you
also don't want all your eggs in the
Amazon basket because they can
they can um that can be just as
dangerous too but if used properly and
once you've built your brand and you
have a defensible brand then you can
potentially leverage marketplaces uh 100
so today back to answer your question
um it's funny you were talking about you
know starting on Ecom and getting to
retail that's that was that's been one
of our our hot buttons of and and
focuses is is how do we crack how do we
how do we get in retail what retail is
the right fit so for us
um because there's a perceived value
around our brand
um and we've seen some other brands in
in our space the outdoor space that are
in Walmart and then when we feature them
in in our box
our consumers are like oh this is a
cheap Walmart brand so you know we're a
little cognizant of uh being strategic
with what retail makes sense is it a is
it an Academy Sports is it uh you know
is it a a dicks or Cabela's and and
thinking thinking through that and and
we're trying it's it's a little bit of a
process I've been trying to pick uh the
brains of people that have already been
there and had success you know going
from D to Ceda to to retail traditional
um yeah I think it's
you know you you say okay how how do we
become a hundred million dollar company
or a 200 million dollar company and for
us to to get to that next step
at this time I think I think retail
almost has to has to have a place in
that in that journey to accomplish that
and and get to the next the next
stepping store if you will
yeah I think so yeah it's tough and
there's different ways to it's not
necessarily the box but it might I mean
that was one of the questions I wanted
to talk ask about was like what um like
the brand battlebox
um you're I I feel like your your brand
is ultimately more important than the
contents in the box and eventually you
know especially with you know the show
on Netflix and the community and you're
doing a lot of things like really right
and now when battle box maybe
potentially launches
um certain products or like you you once
you have that brand then then you have
the power to maybe enter into retail and
I think I I feel like you're I feel like
you do but
um that's just my observation but
um it's an interesting challenge because
I do think
that as much as I love subscription
boxes too like you know we we've gone
through the craze and you know seven
years ago when they kind of like boomed
and now they're now they're they're
doing they're doing fine there's nothing
wrong with subscription boxes but there
is it's not like when you launched
subscription boxes I know I heard your
story you said like there was there was
just no other survival subscription box
there was yeah your co-founder saw
Birchbox but but now you can pretty much
find a subscription box for everything
um so what's that next phase right
that's the that's the challenge
yeah and I think it uh
I I think you know we're going full
circle in it to what we said earlier in
the conversation and it's it's this it's
this Blurred Lines of media and and Ecom
yeah and yep you know uh is is the
future a battle box the Box isn't going
anywhere don't get me wrong but is it is
it a more content driven is it
membership is it is it is is a
subscription piece is there is there
more to it than just the box right is
there you know people talk about
memberships all the time but you know we
there might be a fit for us there and it
might be revolved around uh content it's
yeah it's definitely a changing
landscape really quickly and I think if
um I think whoever the quote you said I
think I think that's accurate the
the consumer is changing they're they're
buying patterns and their decision
making when it comes to purchases so
it's yeah it's interesting for sure yeah
I wanna before we run out of time here I
wanna one last topic I want to dive into
because I I I would I'm super curious
um battlebox was acquired I guess almost
one year ago now right or probably yeah
a year ago one year ago 12 days ago
amazing well congratulations on your one
year anniversary I guess all that
um I'm I'm curious because I know we we
have a lot of subscription Brands
listening um going through that process
um what were some of the takeaways that
like okay so first of all maybe what
were some of the most important metrics
um that uh that the acquirers looked at
um to kind of determine maybe the health
of of battlebox and
um what were some of the things they
stood up or ultimately what I'm hoping
to get at is like what people listening
um what they can focus on like so what
are what are what were key metrics that
they looked at to determine battlebox
was a great company to acquire yeah Jay
it's exactly what you think that it
would be right it's it's aov it's churn
it's LTV
um all the metrics that that we all talk
about that are important they they they
asked about them they wanted to see him
and they asked about them seven
different ways yeah they wanted to see
the data they wanted to have a it was a
it was a 900 they they pulled a bunch of
customer data to run their own analysis
um and not just trust the platforms and
uh it was a 900 megabyte file they kept
crack the guy that was crashing his
um he was screen sharing and it hurt to
watch but um because it's just a big
giant data file but ultimately they were
they they pulled the data and they they
did their own analysis to see okay is
this the LTV is this church is this the
um and it all the metrics that everybody
says matter they they truly matter
um so you know any any tools to to or
things you can do to increase that
um you know there's obviously a plethora
of best practices yeah that can be did
you did you on your site right now you
have the four different
um I forget the names of them there's
like the basic the intermediate you have
four different price points right four
tiers did you have that before
the acquisition or was that introduced
after how long have you had those four
tiers no so we we the the cool thing
about the acquisition is we've made
um zero changes to how the business
operates okay so that's been around for
a while
yeah so we launched we launched with
that it's funny so when we launched we
had the same four tiers we have now the
funny thing about it is that when we
when they were created we with 100
certainty facing a bet the the basic box
it was 25 when we launched
um but we were very very very confident
that was going to be the most popular
and the the proof was it was 150 when we
we were like okay some people might
might go for that
um that's the the Pro Plus that's
41 of our bases and that that's the
that's what everybody wants which is
just it was kind of mind-blowing
um you know the little bit of learnings
we had at the time in 2015 when it came
to subscription you know using the Birch
boxes of the world is kind of like the
the pace car of learnings was you know
low price point is where it's at that
that 15 a month
um and we we our hypothesis was 100
Incorrect and it was the the high priced
one interesting well the reason so the
reason I ask is
um what one of the metrics that um is in
in SAS like in a company like bold like
we have recurring Revenue but it's for
software but similar similar concept
um net dollar retention is really
important as a metric and what that is
um when you get a user or a customer do
they become more valuable over time so
having a path where a customer is a 19
customer to start you you have it seems
like an upgrade path
um it could also just be individual
add-ons are there like monthly I know
you have a lot of one-time products
people can buy but
um how much of a did they look at that
or was that a factor no surprising
surprisingly they didn't
um interesting which is which is
interesting now we did we we do have a
path towards upgrading and and we do
have data that shows that
um customers that come in at the lower
tiers over time through just a couple
just stuff that we do like we include
the insert shows them also what they are
our tier stack so if you get the basic
you get these items but if you get the
Pro Plus you get all the items from the
basic Advanced and pro right
um yeah you know including the insert
that shows them what they missed and a
few other things
um we see that through time the data
shows that they customers do upgrade but
no it wasn't it wasn't a drawdown at all
and I I come from the the SAS world so
it was uh it was it's something I'm
cognizant of and it's
it wasn't even it wasn't discussed it
was it was the high level
metrics and and of course like outside
of that margin right
margin if you if you have
um a bad margin it's that just means
it's you know they can only pay so much
of a multiplier off off even that's a
that's like it's a big difference too
right the valuation model totally first
company versus a physical product is
significantly different
yeah well it's interesting just like if
you have a good enough upgrade path you
can get to a point where you actually
have negative churn
um because even though you're losing
customers your existing customers and
Shopify they're a good example of this I
don't know if like this last quarter if
they post a negative churn but many
earnings calls their their net churn is
actually negative because so even though
they lose Merchants their existing
Merchants are either upgrading Shopify
plans or Shopify is making more off of
them because of the transaction fees and
um other ways they make money for
merchants but their net it was negative
so they're actually it's and and I was
wondering if you might be in a situation
like that because of it seems like you
have a very healthy upgrade path
um which like I preach this all the time
and I I when I saw your your different
options and how I was I was curious the
strategy to move them up
um do you know if you're if your net
turn is negative or is that something
you you have
so so we we look we don't
we don't have a tool right now we have
to actually just jump into the data
um yeah so we did look
um prior to the acquisition we did look
at that and we we we are or we were I
would assume we still are that's but
it's we we thought that that would for
sure be like
something we could say and they would
dig in and they would look and yeah it
would be a conversation
um but it but it wasn't I mean they were
like oh that's great that's cool but it
wasn't a it wasn't a digging maybe maybe
because it you were in such a healthy
State they maybe didn't want to
highlight it
yeah I mean you know what I mean like
it's a negotiating point if you if your
net dollar attention is really healthy
I you know maybe they could have paid
more I don't I'm assuming whatever you
got was fair but like maybe that was
that was a a strategic thing not to dig
into it because it was good
um so why why point that out yeah I mean
they're at the end of the day their
financial their yeah exactly right so
um we're already coming to the uh to the
negotiation with with the hand behind
our uh back yeah yeah
is there anything advice
oh go ahead one one other thing that uh
talking about you know the process of of
of if you want to be acquired if you
want that to be your next step
a few things that you know we had to
fairly quickly so when we decided hey we
want to be acquired it wasn't our
um goal when we launched the company
um but when we decided a couple years in
that we wanted to uh it took us quite a
while to get our house in order and even
when we thought it was in order yeah it
truly wasn't
um so it's a grueling process yeah like
so you have to have you know at least 12
AI you're throwing 12 months need to
tell the right story
um you have to
you know obviously be
at least if you know not necessarily if
you're a SAS company but like for for a
traditional uh physical product like us
you know you want to have some
profitability since that ultimately is
going to be the Baseline for a
um ours was the multiplier half ebitda
of course that's important but you know
a big thing and we weren't prepared for
this because we didn't know any better
even after we we brought in our CFO and
he cleaned us up and got us in you know
the right
plugged all the holes up in the ship and
we had a you know a nice story and a
great troll in 12 months at the end of
the day
um we had never gone through a financial
audit before and we had to we had to
complete one
um we had to find find a firm and
complete one prior and there were a lot
of nuances just crazy things we had
never thought of that seemed crazy to us
now they're standard but like you know
Shopify we have a renewal and Shopify
tells us this much money and you know
within two two days we have that money
and we were counting that if it happened
in October we were counting it in
October we didn't know that we had to do
deferred revenue and we couldn't count
stuff until his Revenue until it
actually ships like stuff we definitely
weren't doing because we just we didn't
know any better
um so that was a that was a little bit
of a grueling process the the audit took
probably entirely way longer than
anybody thought it would uh so I I would
almost say if you're in a size where
um you're you're trying to be acquired
and you've gone through you've already
cleaned house and and you you believe
you're in working order you're gonna
have to get a nodded anyway
um so it might not be a bad move to go
ahead and get one and have audited
yeah couldn't agree more we we started
doing that years ago at both
self-auditing every year and it's just
um and it's a yeah for transactions like
this but it's also just a healthy a
healthy thing to do because yeah better
you do it than
it could be an investor it could be the
government it could be anything so yeah
it's uh oh man it was it was a Googling
process to have have that third party
come in and do it and we hadn't to your
point we hadn't been doing it ourselves
so it was
it was quite the process
uh John this has been honestly such a
fun conversation I feel like I could
talk to you for hours but uh when I want
to wrap this up at some point here I've
got a bunch of episodes of uh Southern
survival to go watch so I'm gonna have
to let you go all right
where um where where what social media
platforms are you active on where can
people follow you
LinkedIn honestly is probably
um the best place but I'm I'm everywhere
uh I'll make sure to put the links in
the show notes as well Instagram yeah
and Twitter are like I'll I'll drop
business stuff Facebook I keep purely
just uh just friends
um just just for the the grandmas and
grandpas that are on Facebook
man do you remember when when uh when
that wasn't the case
it's crazy I literally only post stuff
for my mom on Facebook that's what oh
she's probably gonna listen to this now
exactly yeah thank you so much awesome
thank you so much Sean you bet all right
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