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Dopple Founder Chao Wang gives us the breakdown of her guerilla marketing strategies that lead to a 10k waitlist on $0 spend

by Female Startup Club
November 2nd 2021
00:53:48
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Today we’re learning from Chao Wang, the founder of the kids subscription clothing company Dopple. We chat about her journey in scaling this business by doing things that aren’t scalable - like bui... More

This is chao wang for female startup club. Hello and welcome back to the show. I'm dune your host and hype girl today we're learning from chao wang, the founder of the kids subscription clothing company Duffel. We chat about her journey in scaling this business by doing things that aren't typically scalable, like building a 10-K person waiting list with $0 spend along with some other really cool gems of info behind the scenes of building this company. If you haven't heard of double, it was founded in 2017 by Chow and Jenelle Hurts as a membership service, reimagining how parents shop for their kids. It was created to make parents lives easier and a lot more fun by delivering quarterly dappled drops of custom curated Children's outfits to subscribers. The company which recently raised 9.8 million in seed funding uses a machine learning style algorithm to achieve some of the industry's highest. Keep rates for try on at home models before we get into it. If you didn't know, we have a killer newsletter that goes out every monday, it's packed with insights from the show, jobs at female founded companies, shout outs to small business owners and it is well worth your time.

You can sign up for free at female startup club dot com. Let's get into this episode. This is chow for female startup club two, Yeah, yeah, customers want more from brands, delivering more means owning the customer experience, taking control over data acquisition analysis, creative and delivery, Clay vo calls this owned marketing and believe it's the best path to growth for more, visit Clay vo dot com slash FCC. That's Clay vo dot com slash fsc female startup presence. Mhm. Jiao. Hello and welcome to the female startup club podcast. So nice to be here. Thanks for having me. I've listened to you for a long time, so that is so cool. You're blowing my mind telling me that I'm so excited to have someone who knows the show and has listened into a few episodes so far exciting for both of us.

Yeah, it's so great to be here excited to talk about Topple. Absolutely. Do you want to start by telling us a little bit about who you are and what double is for those of us who might not be super familiar? Yeah, so I'm the Ceo and co founder of Topple. We are um in new york right now we're us based Children's clothing subscription business. Um We offer the most delightful, wonderful experience for parents, shopping for clothes for their Children uh in a subscription format, The B two B side of our business, which you can't see at first glance from our site is that we work in a new retail model offering a different way for brands to reach their consumers. So Children for brands, that's so cool. I love that you say you're super delightful when you say that, what do you actually mean? What are you doing to delight people before we jump into it. I feel like all consumer startups businesses they want to surprise and delight their customers for sure.

I think compare shopping with topple. The experience is so wonderful. Comparative pretty much a lot of other things you need to buy for your kids or things you need to do as a parent, such as buying diapers from amazon for example. And so what we set out to do wasn't just to make something convenient or to offer great products or um great styling, but just every part of that experience from like a text that we send to a confirmation email for it to be a bit of a wink and quite clever and just very fun. So our customers, um the one thing that our customers have said over the last three years consistently is that it's like getting a surprise present. Um you don't know what's in it, you know, it's gonna be really, really good. You always open it with your child you have at home fashion show, it's just like a very delightful experience and we're super proud of that and I love talking about it. That is so cool. It's like receiving a present. How nice every month. Yeah, Let's go back to 2017 I think I read that's when you launched but to go back, I guess a bit before that, what got you thinking about launching this business in the first place and why are you passionate about, you know, the kids area for the kids space.

So we actually, my co founder journal and I actually started working on double october's it's been four years october 2017. We didn't launch until august 2018 and we didn't spend a single dollar on marketing until 2019. And so um so from you know four years ago until our launch three years ago, um we were beta testing and we actually grew um a waiting list of over 10,000 parents were now customers um at the time without advertising without doing kind of the traditional or not. So traditional marketing tactics. So technically I think we're three years old but we've been working on it for four and the need I think you know necessity is the mother of all invention and that applies to topple in two ways. One is the actual consumer side which is that Jenelle of our friends was quite young when she was, she had her first child, her daughter, Carmen and um was pretty classic like millennial customer where we're used to new retail models, new ways of shopping whether it's consignment or rental and we're obviously shopping online.

We're used to direct to consumer brand and we're just quite savvy, um discovering products on instagram and so at the time the Children who are space and still is very disparate. So you have a lot of vertically integrated companies like a gap gap kids um or J crew sells crew cuts, target cells, Cat and Jack um and then you also have um you know, some really beautiful niche brands like bond point which we carry but super luxury. They're expensive not kind of practical for most, most consumers who need clothes for their kids for every day. And so the combination of you know the rise of instagram and seeing what's out there, especially like beautiful european brands that weren't readily available in the US and the idea that you know, people dressed high and low like they do for their kids. Um we saw a bunch of director consumer baby food companies pop up all around the same time by founders who didn't know each other or some of them who didn't even have Children and it was part of the same kind where people were starting to have kids, they want to treat their kids much like they treat themselves whether it's how they dress Or how they uh you know eat organic, they want to feed their kids organic food.

And so we saw the need to mix high low, so mixing a $15 ever laying t shirt that you might have a couple of in different colors with maybe you'll spend a little bit more on a leather jacket or a bag um and then you need, you know, kind of in between everyday denim um and so that just didn't exist for kids and you know, as millennials are starting to have kids and now gen z or starting to have kids. Um there was a big gap in like how people want to shop for their, you know, now babies. Um and what was available, which was mostly these vertically integrated big brands and very little distribution for smaller brands, Wow, that's so super cool. You said something that really piqued my interest that I want to dive into soon and that is the 10,000 emails that you created without spending any dollars. That's crazy. But I still want to focus on that early kind of time in getting started. Okay, so you decided to start a business together? What are the actual early steps? I know you said that you didn't spend any money on marketing, but did you need to buy inventory?

Were you kind of like, how did you know what to do? And what were you doing in those first few months of getting this brand off the ground? So how do you know what to do? Um So I guess two parts. Um one is that we were really open to experimenting. So just like I said, there was a bunch of director consumer baby food products. Um there were actually a couple of venture backed companies in the Childrens wear space, so they weren't all subscription, they weren't, you know, we don't really see them as competitors, but it's actually validating that people were like, there's a wide open market here, People want something better and you know, millennials are having kids at an older age, they have more disposable income, they have fewer kids, you know, we weren't the first to see that trend and so we really looked at it and thought about kind of all the things that we could do, we could start a direct to consumer brand actually wasn't quite um you know, trendy to start a retail brand at the time right there. You know, there really weren't any great retail brands that we could think of that were on the level of revolve or net import a um that started in those years.

This was like the heyday of away and outdoor voices and there were just another, you know, Casper mattress, competitor, director consumer, any category at the time. So we took a look at the space and really um spoke to people and really test it out. Um we thought about doing what if we did um you know, used clothing because kids outgrow clothes. So we kind of looked at every model pretty agnostic lee to evaluate not just what we wanted to do, but also like what do consumers want, Where was there an opportunity to delight consumers knowing that there, you know, trends were changing, how they wanted to shop. The other piece in terms of being ready is I don't think I realized at the time how lucky I was in the last two roles I had before starting job. Well journal, I was working at two other early stage startups um that were operationally really complex. I helped fundraise, I was the Ceo's right hand I hired. So I felt like I learned a lot on, you know with some room to make mistakes on someone else's dime, so to speak.

So that was, I'm immensely grateful for that. And even though that felt very similar to being a founder, it definitely wasn't the same. Um so you, you know there's a lot that you're not going to feel or learn until you're actually doing it yourself but um had very good training wheels I think up up to that point in terms of starting the brand but so are you know like I said the other piece of um necessity is the mother of all invention is actually how we procured inventory. So I remember the first time we went to um there's a trade show called Playtime, they do it in paris and new york Tokyo and I can't remember, I think Vegas maybe um and we went to the one in paris because that had all of the boutique brands and the stuff that we really wanted and it was quite comical how we had to explain slowly um uh that not only did we not have a physical shop in europe, like a physical brick and mortar shop we're from the U. S. We didn't even have a shop, we didn't even have a website where we showcased that we could just show them on our phone the like kind of try and home concept.

Just imagine someone who spanish like older spanish man who makes the most beautiful shoes, but you cannot buy in the US readily that you, you know, at a price point that's comparable to what you might find on Zappos. Like slowly explaining this 150 times. No, I think there are like 500 vendors and so that was pretty humbling and it got us pitching better in terms of understanding the brand. So what we set out to do and what we still do today, our inventory strategy is almost mind blowing. People almost can't believe that we've been able to do it, which is that we don't own the goods that we sell. It's on consignment for brands and that is a major big brands that are sold at every department store through direct to consumer brands that don't even sell through other channels through boutique brands. And even, you know, instagram native brands, They send us the inventory. Um, but this is super capital, you know, capital light strategy. And the reason why we've been able to do it is because when we were pitching, you know, the 5, 600 brands are at that one trade show, we really had to figure out, Okay, how are you going to convince people who they just tell wholesale that's what they're there for.

They have beautiful product that we want and um, we know the american consumer wants and can't easily get yet. We don't want to simply like buying wholesale and selling retail is not interesting to us. What we want to do is offer something better. So, you know, necessity being the mother of all invention. We talk to these brands and try to understand, you know, what is a Nordstrom's or sacks not giving you, how can we even convince you to give us product for free that you would normally earmarked to sell to um, through other channels. And from that we really understood, you know, revenue is actually only one selling point for the brands that work with us. Obviously as we grow, that's uh, you know, for some brands were one of their biggest channels in addition to their own director consumer and we drive so much traffic to, you know, their site because when people discover a brand and product through topple, it has a cachet. Hopefully that it's cool that we've picked it just for them. They can feel the quality. But for brands we offer, um, you know, three other major buckets of why you would want to work with us.

One is that we offer super rich data that we haven't seen anyone else offer. And that's from off price retailers, traditional retailers, major aecom retailers, that's actually helpful to the brand. So a typical, you know, a pretty typical situation would be um, a brand wants to get into knits, you know, they want to get into a new category and they need to figure out pricing and you would think that there's, you know, trend forecasts and databases and know a lot of these companies, even though they're quite big, you know, it's a few people on a small team figuring out what is the right pricing to launch with. And you know, the lead times are so long. These are pretty major decisions that they're pretty much making, you know, without much support from retailers. So what we do is we aggregate data and we have such rich data because of the trial on a home model. We know why people keep things, why, you know, we have these customers for years and years and years hopefully. And so we really understand them and they provide us far more data that would ever provide if they were returning something to a retailer because they know they're going to come back fees into an algorithm and human stylists who actually use that information and continue personalizing for um that child for their sibling for future orders for Halloween outfits for if they like organic or don't or love these brands or don't.

And so we share that with the brand in an aggregated way. But because we kind of started from scratch, we didn't know what I'm picking on Nordstrom just because, you know, they have a lot of doors and major e. Com um, we didn't know what they offer and what they didn't offer. and so we're like let's offer something better that's truly useful. So that's one piece another piece is that we provide end to end fulfillment. So if you're a brand, let's say you have broken sized runs from last season, some pants didn't sell well because of Covid or it just didn't photograph that well online or the price point, you can get the pricing right or whatever. You also have current season that you have a limited window that you want to be selling. You might have some samples stock from when you try to get into shoes and you know whatever we make it super easy for you to send us all that inventory. Your goals might be to get have more data and understand pricing, your goals might just be purely sales. Um your goals might be that you want, you know, your product to be in the hands of influencers and you're you just that's not what you do well or you don't have an agency to do that.

So whatever your goals are or maybe it's just to move currencies and product and you want to drive more traffic to your own brand because you want to do less wholesale and you want to do more Director Consumer, any of those goals, we align and help you with that make it really easy. So you don't have to you know package things in a certain way you don't have to U. P. C. Code um Things in a certain way that kind of what traditional retailers would ask you to do send it to our fulfillment center in New Jersey and we start getting into the hands of customers within 7 to 10 days. Um And not just any customers but customers we know that like well love that pair of pants that didn't sell for well for you online. We've matched it with the perfect outfit. The sizes you know match like we know that runs small and that's why it didn't sell well for you. But we're sending to the customer factoring that um Sizing in and have a high degree of certainty of how it will sell. That is so interesting and I love that like you're able to offer this thing which of course those traditional retailers maybe they even kind of like try to conceal their data so that they can um kind of keep doing better versus like sharing it but in the beginning I'm wondering like When you were speaking to those five or 600 people in Paris was it a case of like fake it to make it we're gonna tell you we're gonna give this data because you wouldn't have had data to start with right you would have had to have essentially gone over a period of time and then giving them data back.

So were they just kind of signing on for the reason of data in the future or was there something else? So I think for some people who are a little bit more forward thinking they thought it was exciting and you know, we're willing to work with us. So we're like, you know, give us a few 100 units. We can start small. There's no risk to you. If it doesn't, you know, if it doesn't sell in X days, um we will pay for shipping back to you. You have nothing to lose, will send, you know, just as easy as possible. Yeah, just kind of definitely fake it till you make, once we had a couple of brands on board, it became at least intriguing to other brands at this trade show. Everyone has heard of these brands, which is why you know you go there and you really get a lay of the land. We, I'm trying to think um, what else we did. I think we just hustled like we just hustled to be honest. And if you're willing to start small, the idea was, okay, let's give us a little bit of inventory will show you what we can do. And at the time, even if we had tons of inventory and every brand said yes, we, you know hadn't raised money.

Part of the reason why we have that waiting list was that we couldn't, we have 10,000 people ordered this week, we couldn't fulfill those orders and so that's actually why we started the waitlist and accidentally built this cachet and then we were able to cherry pick were like what our moms in Wyoming like how do they shop, how much are they going to spend? How did they hear about is how did they get on the waiting list? So it became this um you know accidental experiment that we you know did a lot with and with that data in that waiting list. But so definitely difficult similar to a marketplace, we have to balance supply and demand. Um and for us like we're taking their inventory, we want to sell it and we want to have them give us more inventory, more of their merchandise. And so we're hustling on the inventory side and we're hustling on the customer growth side back and forth. Okay let's talk about the 10,000 emails and getting that kind of side of the puzzle sorted because at this point you have the inventory and you have the brands are involved but you have no money to market and you obviously build this amazing database of 10,000 people to start.

So how did you do that? So how do we do that? So definitely a big chunk of that waitlist initially were just through telling everyone in our network and that was primarily focused in san Francisco new york and L. A. That's just where we knew people. I think um We initially had a lot of people from. I think this is what like you know kind of similar to a SAS model. So there was some company. So let's say linkedin for women, right? There are lots of moms that linkedin. They have a lengthen group chat or, you know, bulletin board where they have employee perks or etcetera. And I also think starting in san Francisco, one of the great things about the Bay Area is that, um, there's definitely a pay it forward attitude. People will try a new startup even when it's to people like hustling and they'll try it again in a couple of weeks or a couple of months, even if their first experience wasn't amazing, even though, you know, we were trying to make every experience amazing. Whereas I think, you know, new Yorkers are, they'll try anything once, but if it's not amazing, I don't know if they're going to come back as quickly, so it's easier to iterate there.

So, um, a lot of these like networks through some of these tech companies definitely helped us build our list. It was kind of a way to build word of mouth. It got to a point, I don't know when it was exactly, but I remember it being like a watershed moment when we realized that just from word amount, we had customers in 49 out of 50 states and West Virginia was the only one who were waiting for a customer to find out about us and coming through West Virginia, no ads, no influencer marketing paid, I mean we had some influencers who are, you know, paying customers but nothing paid. And so you know much like, um, there's some categories. Um, if you're looking for a pediatrician, you're probably not going to go to yelp and find the five star pediatrician like nearest to you. Um, you're gonna ask another mom and then you maybe you could validate too. But that was quite similar. So when something is cool, I think it spreads like wildfire. And so that's essentially how we built our list. It was like being able to drive people to a page for that word about.

And so just to clarify though, do you mean you were going, you were going to a friend? Someone that you knew who potentially worked at linkedin and being like, hey, I have this thing. Can you tell everyone about it in your company via an email, via a bulletin board? Like really like hand to hand combat. Can you please do me a solid and shout about this business to your colleagues. Is that what you mean? Yes. Except those networks are stronger than, you know, let's say asking your friend who is a lawyer, right? Um, even the big law firms, they aren't cultivating employee like perks and products, you know what I mean? The way that, um, facebook or linkedin would be. And were you like offering anything to incentivize these people in your network to spread the word or you were just being like, can you please help me And I will owe you one another time. We told them that their friends will be bumped to the top of the waitlist which was true. We did do that, we follow through on that but you can't bump everyone off the wait list. Somebody has to be not at the top.

And so that was again more out of necessity than anything else. And we would let in we would just pick a state or a city or a zip code or geography that we weren't familiar with or even people. And we would not only were they on the wait list. They hadn't even taken the style quiz so much like a stitch fix or any other you know trunk club et cetera. The way that customers, new customers provide data as they take a quick style questionnaire and we take that data our interpretation of it. Um Where we win as a you know why we're delightful and why we nail styling is um. The way that we interpret that data and match that with clothing is unique to us. And that was something we set out to prove or like why do some people have you know good taste they're born with good taste and style and other people don't we think can we can we um like scale this so that all of our customers have great taste um with very little. Systemized and scale. Yeah but truly like a lot of people say that but we were, you know like we actually want this to be so like ah ha that people get it as soon as they open their drop like holy cow, this is amazing.

I can't believe the prices, I can't believe the styling and therefore I will share like a wow experience all around. Got it. Yeah, Wow, that's amazing. My other question, just around this email list of 10,000, obviously we're talking about 2017 maybe, you know, the landscape has changed since 2017 in terms of people are like bombarded with this not this kind of thing necessarily, but you know, joining weightless and companies doing innovative things. If you were to start this business tomorrow, would you follow that same method or do you think you'd approach it differently to building the wait list? Yeah. So when we set up um we set up our clay vo account and you know, it was a sponsor of yours. I remember their team was so small that if I think I asked if somebody could please call me. I knew everyone in their office. That's how small their team was. Like, they were like, oh we'll give like literally give the phone to someone. So that wasn't even that long ago. So I think attentive and Sms marketing is probably what Claudia was at the time.

Obviously male chimp was around etcetera. And you know, we weren't like Claudio's first customer but it was in its infancy. So I don't know, I think for sure, SMS is probably the next thing, but even that's pretty saturated. I just figure it out the other day that you can separate your, my message inbox from like known and unknown centers. And I looked at how many unknown centers, granted I sign up for these because I want to see what other companies are doing. But when I wasn't doing that, I couldn't get back to my friends and family because I had so many like marketing text. So I didn't know you could do that either. Um, someone who's gen, z told me, I was like, you don't know this. I'm like, no, I don't think anyone, I don't think anyone knows this. I definitely don't know that. Well, okay, right. So SMS marketing obviously, yeah, I, I agree with you and that. It seems like a lot of people are doing that now and I'm kind of taking that SMS LED approach. Is there anything else that you would think about doing if you were starting tomorrow?

I think people are always going to talk about things that either make them look cool or that they genuinely love some combination of that, how they go about it. Whether it's, you know, Tiktok or, you know, you know, there's so many more mediums now, but it doesn't change the fact that we're all humans and we love to connect and we love to share, Like if I wasn't doing this, I was like I would be a like a bio hacker and just talk about health and wellness and I didn't care if I have any one listening because I just love talking about that kind of stuff. So I don't know. It's not a I guess it's not a good answer because I think texas saturated so what's the next thing? But like being authentic to just you know before, before dr I worked at a company called parsley health and similar to healthcare. People don't like I would never go to a doctor out of like a search most likely you know, I would ask a friend and who lived in that city. If I move somewhere new I would, I would ask someone I trust or someone who knows that field or something. So yeah, people always want to show you just have to figure out like what is the and test the way I think being stuck on what has worked last year or three years ago or for a competitor or another product versus setting up some basic tests.

One thing we learned really early on is a friend of mine um No idea she was setting up a consulting business at the time and she kindly offered to, she's a UX researcher and she offered to do some work for us for free I think because we begged her and she was starting a consulting company and um from her I realized that she would, you know, I think she spoke with 10 of our customers. Everyone has 10 customers For an hour of peace. And she filmed these and she did it you know, in a way that would be much better than about, you know, I'm not a UX researcher and that was enough to find a lot of common thread. Do you think you would have to do you know, surveys of hundreds of people to find? No. Like she picked 10 people at random and at the time we had a couple 100 customers like you know, and really spoke with them at length and like even similar phrases to how they talk about women from across the country, not just the coastal cities etcetera. And so that led you know one thing we learned from that that we still employees that we call out that we have free shipping.

It's a trying to home model. Obviously it's free shipping. What like also what do you not get free shipping with nowadays? But she's like you should call that out. Like that is something that everyone pointed to as like, oh just easy that labels in there like you know this like sizing whatever. You know, I'm not expected to buy everything. Like I totally get what they're doing, they're sending me some things to see what I will say about them. And so we call that free shipping and that you know when we did start advertising and when we started putting banner things, you know, free shipping was always like everywhere. Yeah. So uh you don't let your customers talk to you or tell you tell you what they want and you don't need a huge data set to drive that and don't worry about what other people are doing. Like when I look on Tiktok, I see brands just doing amazing show that we don't have amazing stuff that we don't have time for quite frankly to produce that kind of content yet. But that might not, you know what I mean? That might not be exactly the most efficient regroup right for us. You need to keep laser focused on what's working for you and kind of just keep keep your guiding star ahead of you.

But what I really love about what you've just said is sometimes it does feel like, you know, you need to be speaking to thousands of people to get this data information and customer feedback when it's like, no, just give yourself a small pool of 10 people and give yourself that goal of like interviewing 10 of your top customers once a quarter, see what's coming up out of that and then lean into the stuff that's working and kind of either fix or move away from the stuff that's not working and keep iterating over and over and over again. I really do think that that's something that like it's kind of like small and you know, something that can easily be overlooked even though you know that you should be doing it. So for anyone listening take this is your key to book in some hour long sessions with your customers and record them. Yeah. Doing here as we get deeper into the holiday season, you might be thinking about ways to keep your business connected through the madness with things like employee holiday travel by our behavior changes and Q4 wrap ups, staying connected has never been more important from marketing to sales and operations.

A hubspot crm platform is ready to connect all of the touch points of your business, whether you're just getting started or scaling to what's next. Hubspot is consistently working to make its platform more connected than ever. Improved forecasting tools, give you a bird's eye view of your entire pipeline to see what's around the corner, see how your quarter is going, inspect new deals and use customizable data driven reports to improve team performance as you grow with custom behavioral events. You can get into the details of what makes your customers tick track site behavior and understand your customers buying habits or within the platform, learn more about how a hubspot crm platform can help connect the dots of your business at hubspot dot com. What is fueling the growth For you now in your like 20, marketing mix and like what's working really, really well for you. So a couple things, we just launched those little stressed earlier before we started because we just launched gifting today and it's the double dot com slash gifts. Um No brainer. I mean from day one people or have you, why don't you guys have gifting?

So we had a digital gift experience which was great. So if I were to give you a gift and I didn't know if um what style you were or what size your child is or maybe you want to dress them in unisex colors and you don't want pink for a girl. Um I wouldn't have to worry about it. So it's actually great. We have a lot of um like single men who are going, you know had a friend who had a child and I had no idea like how much they should spend or what to do and not to offend people and like whatever. So um what the digital experience we had which we still have today um relaunched redesigned but uh you know I would send you a gift, you would take the quiz and anything that you didn't keep in your drop, you would become a double subscribers, you get credit towards the next thing. Um and so it's all um you know I I look great in terms of giving the gift, I can also give it last minute because it's digital um but that you get you get a beautiful gift that you have saying what you know uh you can add in the notes for our styles and you tell us exactly what you want. That is really cool. I love that.

Yeah. And so the new product we offer today, which is a long time coming, is boxed gifts now that people are going to baby showers in person. Um Maybe you want to send it to yourself and bring it in person um or you want to send it directly to a friend if you're not traveling covid uh et cetera. Um And we did something really fun with it. We love, you know the starter pack memes like mrs dow jones and like um a lot of accounts have their, you know when they get it right, It's really funny. So um we have mom starter packs or parents starter pack. So you just, you're not sure um which one to pick. You can just look at the meme and you get a sense of, you know um the boho parent who love Saqqara and all things goop and all things natural and crystals. Um You can pick that one, pick a price point and gender or unisex and you're off in beautiful packaging that's more like um you know what a sophisticated adult would would be buying versus it looking kitty.

Um So yeah, exactly, so this year what's done really well for us. So launching new products for both. Our current customers are our current subscribers were obsessed with offering other ways for them to shop. Um so subscriptions are bread and butter. It's where we gather data about our customers and what they individually love. Um but once we know that they trust us, they know anything from the apple is curated, personalized specific, There's discovery of new brands and products. So once we have them in, you know, their first drop experience, we introduce other ways for them to shop and it's bananas. And so we're trying to think, not everyone wants to shop in a subscription or buy Exactly quarterly. Our our subscriptions quarterly, some people want to buy monthly, some people just want to buy an outfit because they need something or they want something that's, you know, not a plastic Halloween costume, they're going to, you know, toss the next day. Um and so we're offering other delightful ways to shop. Gifting is obviously available to everyone. Um We're really thinking about what holiday means from like the DARPA lens.

So there's toys and books and everything out there that you can get. Um but what is a doppelganger lens? Um for our customers that we're not just pushing close because clothes are not the number one thing I think kids want to to have for the holidays, they want toys and video games, but what is our perspective of that? We relaunched our site. Um you know, messaging communication being really clear, like what is our point of view? Um you know, as I think I read somewhere that like sacks launch, They offer 60 new childrenswear brands in 20, added to the roster. Um, but you know what is adorable? It's not just convenience or getting in the mail or free shipping or the curation piece, it's all of it together. But like what is it that we're going to offer and trying to communicate that clearly whether it's um, you know through our site when we're sending something to an influencer, like how do we really get that across? And I think um part of that is also, you know, I don't think we do a very good job of like explaining to people like why the styling is so good and it's actually very data science, machine learning and engineering heavy that you just don't see and quite frankly I don't, I think I've done a really good job explaining, but that's where we spend a lot of the money that we raise.

Um that's where we spend a lot of our time. The kind of beautiful sight thing is, is a fraction of the work behind it, but the personalization is why we, why we win. Um, so really focusing on that, whether it's holiday gifts or you know, black friday or there's that and then I think brand collaborations I have always, you know, back when we were at that trade show, nobody knows who topple is and we're still quite small, but people know the brands that we carry um and once they know a couple, once they start to know dot well they want to know the other brands that are offering that might be quite small. And so um making sure that we have that mix of like, you know, Indy interesting. No one's ever heard of this brand, but it's the most beautiful, you know, raw edge hair bow that you've ever seen at an amazing price point that you would have never found yourself. Or even if you did, you don't have the time to research and like, you know, get it from the brand. It's just a lot of work, totally, totally congrats on the, on the gift launch for today, by the way, my other thought is I'm just going to throw this out there. We should totally do a collab with the non elk wine company when it comes out because all of your mom's, I'm sure would love some non alkaline that is great tasting and premium quality and the best there is we, we we have a lot of like there's like a whole category of mom wine jokes and mom coffee jokes.

It's a whole thing. If you want some content, there's a lot of good stuff out there that could be, oh my God, really fun. Yeah. Are you guys gonna do private label and create your own brands? Is that part of the road map or we not go down that pathway. So it's interesting because no matter how many brands we um I think there's um we carry from newborn to size 14, so which is roughly age 14. Um but there's definitely a sweet spot where we just can't sometimes get enough inventory because it just doesn't exist. So for example, our team always jokes like somebody should start a company that only makes boys pants for toddlers, like toddler boys are not khakis um just like interesting, like not khakis and not sweat pants, there's like just like a big hole in the market place, not like we don't know about every brand out there and so I think um private label something we're tiptoeing in, we want to do it in a really thoughtful way, not just to do it to do it. Um There are other companies in the Children's art space, it's like that's just the next thing you do as a retailer because it's good for your margins, but we really want to offer like what's the double version of it?

Um Like do we need to do this? It also adds complexity to our business in the very beginning. Um We offered um we tested out selling like love, you know, baby Dior but um you consignment and um and that was such an interesting business. I think the sustainability piece of taking in used clothing from our customers and either reselling it or some kind of way of, you know partying with the threat of, et cetera, I think that's super um you know, super exciting. Um but it adds another adds another business to your business. So it's something we're being really thoughtful about it. So we started, so I think some, you know, I guess TBD 2022, um because we're looking at production 2022, um but we, we want to do it really, really carefully, make sure that we offer something really amazing for our customers that doesn't take away from the brands that we carry. That isn't just slightly better than what is already out there, but maybe we'll start a toddler boys.

I love the idea of the, you know, the reselling like side of things and we're seeing designers like Gucci come out with the vault with, they're kind of like vintage pieces that they're bringing back into cell and I just think like that's gonna start popping up more and more and it makes so much sense for kids, especially when it's like designer kids things. But anyway, last point on that, moving on, I'm conscious of the time and I want to, You know, not be greedy, were taking up too much of your time. So what is your kind of key piece of advice for entrepreneurs who are innovating on something new coming into 2022. The first thing I would say is, you know, trust your gut trust your intuition and I think there's a lot written and said about imposter syndrome et cetera and like that's just part of the thing and you just have to like push past that. Um I feel if there's anything that I like look back and regret not doing six months ago or three months ago or a year ago is actually just not going for because I was afraid or I had to consult someone else or I didn't have enough information or time or what you know whatever and so I would say you know just like email text marketing by the time you're onto that thing, there's always the next thing.

So um just really trust your gut and like push forward even if it's a small test so you can kind of do anything in a small um in a small bite size amount um without it being so daunting and then I would say the second thing is probably like Tenacity is like 99% of it. Like I don't think I've met a really hungry entrepreneur who I didn't think could succeed and they might not all succeed in whatever that definition successes but it's just putting one ft in front of the other. I tell myself that all the time whatever the big thing or the hurdle um it's just you know um uh I'm tenacious and I am impatient with myself so those are probably the two, they're like too good qualities um in patients maybe not always, but it's like what drives me So yeah, it's not like, I don't think anyone has it really easy. You saw me like an hour and a half ago, I was like, oh my gosh, like there's so many problems with this thing, nobody would know if you went and looked and bought a gift now, you would think that this was, you know, beautiful and amazing service.

But yeah, it's that perseverance perseverance to just keep going and I love that idea of like one ft in front of the other. I speak about this on the show all the time, it's like, don't even aim for doing 100% every day, just aim for 1% just be 1% better, do 1% every day and like eventually you'll look back and be like holy sh it look where I am now, I'm like at the top of the mountain, this is crazy, I'm all about it, okay, we are up to the six quick questions that I ask at the end of every episode and we have a few minutes left so I'm hoping we can squeeze them all in question. Number one is, what's your, why, why are you doing what you're doing? I am an entrepreneur at heart. I love building a great company and I'm super, super proud of it. I love the problem solving and I love the people that we work with and just literally building building a product and a company out of nothing. I love that Question. Number two is what's been the number one marketing moment that's made the business pop. So I wish I could say that we had Tiktok viral or there was, you know, one specific milestone and that was the, you know, we had a dollar shave, club video and that was like the, the answer to all our prayers.

Um, it actually isn't that similar to what I said earlier about. Um, you know what? I advise other entrepreneurs. Um, we have a lot of things going at once and we put one ft in front of the other. Um, we test things like we're actually not even launching Tiktok until later this month, but when we do, we don't have the content calendar lined up forever. We have some really good content, you know, ads that are going to start and we're just going to get started and we do that with a lot of different channels and we do that with things that are really guerilla tactics. Like, um, there are a lot of mom facebook groups are super, super engaged. It doesn't seem super scalable, but it's really effective and it's worth testing and you just look at the, our lady of the time spent how engaged these customers Are. It could be worth it. So, so we have, you know, let's say 12 channels going on at the same time. Not one of them is that magic bullet and that's okay. One of them could turn into a magic bullet. One campaign could turn into a magic bullet maybe gifting is our magic bullet. Um, but uh, you know, because that we're not reliant on one thing.

So when there was the IOS app, you know, update, we're not freaking out because we don't have one channel that is the source of all of our growth that we are totally reliant on. So I know that's like a good answer, but that's actually that's actually, you know, the reality. No, I love it. I, I'd love to know just quickly before I ask you the next question. What do you mean when you're in these facebook groups like guerilla style? Like what are you actually doing? Like just posting or? Yeah, so they're actually, so what started this was that, um, there are facebook groups called Buy sell Trade Bst. And there were, there were actually groups around one single brand. So like imagine like the adult version would be like Supreme, you know, you love Supreme and there's like resale value and there's these facebook groups or people are like, does anyone have the Supreme skateboard and blue, There's only two made in the world and I really want one and they're probably posting on craigslist, et cetera, but this is more of a safe community around a specific interest or brand. Um, and so there are communities around like you name it.

The pellet in mom's group of the Upper East side, there's been some that has some notoriety such as the Upper East Side moms group? I think there was like some press in like a tabloid here called page six um tabloid slash great newspaper. So there's a lot of these groups. Um the point is like each group, it might not be your, a major growth channel, but it could be really worth testing. I remember a while ago I posted um you know, I have building languages like a community, you know, bulletin board if you live in a condo building and the engagement was crazy, like, you know, and they were quite open to people posts that like, hey, I, my personal trainer, I want to share a nanny or, and, but if you think about it, how many buildings just in new york city have a building link bulletin board. Um if you just did that, that could get you started. So I think um you know that saying from y Combinator like do things that don't scale, That's one of those things that doesn't seem to scale. Yeah, if you think about it, those customers who are super engaged if they are a great word of mouth um, customers for you, if they're that engaged online.

So we consider all of those, It's like you can truly get your 1st 1000 customers by doing that hand to hand combat of just like door knocking essentially in little tiny sub Communities. I love that. That's so cool and really key. Thanks for sharing. Question # three is where do you hang out to get smarter? What are you reading or listening to or subscribing to? That's worth noting. So I've listened to your podcast. Um, the only other one I listened to actually, I like to listen from people who are actually recently have done something as opposed to, I don't know. Um, I think that Bethany frankel's podcast, whatever you think of her is like quite good because of how she like quite, I think she just doesn't care like what she asked and she gets pretty good interesting like an interesting variety of people. So some podcasts. Um, I try to read fiction and just be exposed to culture and other things and that's not a linear way to solve a problem or get an idea, but it just like opens your mind, I don't know.

Um, it's kind of having like a shower mode. You know, when you think of your best ideas, like when you're half asleep or you're taking a shower, you're doing something else. Um, Same goes for when you're going to a museum, it just like opens your like literally opens your eyes to something else. Um, and I feel like I, you know, answer a million emails. I work on a million projects. Talk to a million people, but when you're reading section, it's like you're immersed in something totally different than your day today. At least for me. But yeah, consume, you know, I'm in new york and there's just like, you can, you know the steve jobs, saying you connect the dots after, I feel like everything you're exposed to, it makes you a better problem solver, it makes you more aware of like other people and how to work with them. So um yeah, so I say consuming culture and then obviously being around other like smart entrepreneurs, the coworking space right there. I don't know that because of Covid, but people are very heads down, not talking to themselves with a few people I've talked to, they're fascinating, they're doing something really cool, they're super passionate about it, they're just, they're grinding all the time.

Um so maybe I'll talk to more people here. Yeah, I love that. Get out there and talk to people. Question # four is how do you win the day? What are your AM and PM rituals and habits that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated. So I am a morning person, I try to optimize for when I have the most energy. I also take into consideration my team, I know who's a morning person who's not a morning person, I kind of know what people like, how they like to work and I try to within reason try to like fit fit that in um for me personally, like help, like health, mind body health is really important, so I take care of that so that I can be energetic and productive. So I take a gazillion supplements. I try to get 10,000 steps. I have a little checklist that looks like like a child's app where I just love checking these basic things off and I'll, you know, I have a bunch of meditation apps I like. Well I just tried to take care of myself because it's a marathon not his friend.

Yeah. And that goes for like, you know, talking to a therapist. So I have someone to event too because um, a lot of stuff happens and it can be really stressful. So just try and take decent care of myself. Yeah. All the things If you were given $1,000, no strings attached grant money. Where would you spend that in the business? Yes, I remember this question. I think we would. So with $1000 we are still trying to figure out how the magic of that wait lists happen to be honest, which is scaling word of mouth authentically. Um, so is it that we put reviews on our pages that we, you know, talk to Youtube influencers to do more unboxing. Um, but how do we really do that? And $1000 can even, you know, we spend more than $1000 on a lot of channels, $1000 can do is do a lot for us because people want to share. Great. At least our customers want to share great ideas, not just for the monetary incentive. It's not just about refer customers get $20 it's the cachet of being like oh my gosh I discovered something that is so cool, so fine prices are amazing.

I wish I knew before and I'm the cool mom at school with the best dressed kids who people like I want, I naturally want to tell people and if we can use that $1000 to give some kind of cachet that maybe monetary, maybe monetary and something else first access to things. Um An insider look how glossy built their community. Um that like that's probably where we spend it. So I love that so much as well because it's like once you figure out those things that make your brand inherently like share a ble and gives clout to the buyout within their circle of friends and they become kind of like the trusted source. Then you're like onto something major. I love that. Really cool. Last question question number six is how do you deal with failure? What's your mindset when things don't go to plan? So everything's a learning experience. There's not really failure. You just have to get up the next day and put one ft in front of the other. Um Think failure is obviously humbling to lean into.

Um and I'm so much better for things not working out in the past. And even then I think when we started double, I thought, not that I thought I learned everything, there was to know for sure not, but I thought like I knew the early stage startup game, but um it's a whole different thing when the pressure is all on you and you're not working alongside someone, it's you in the in the hot seat. Um so I think you know, being vulnerable and being open, like I made a mistake, I shouldn't have said that, I shouldn't have done that in hindsight, I would have done this differently and acknowledging that we're all human. Um and just, I mean honestly acknowledging to yourself, I think entrepreneurs are just so hard on themselves and being able to sit down, write it down, acknowledge it. So that is just, it's just a thing. Um their highs and their lows um has been like has been fine, so it's just part of it, part of the journey chao, thank you so much for taking the time to be on female startup club and share your insights and your journey.

There is so much gold in this episode, I'm so excited to go back through and take notes, especially when it comes to the kind of Guerilla side of things and your approach and your lens on that, so thank you so much for sharing this was so awesome, Thanks for having me tactician. Hey, it's Doom here, Thanks for listening to this episode of the female startup Club podcast if you're a fan of the show, I'd recommend checking out female startup club dot com where you can subscribe to our newsletter and learn more about our D I. Y. Course. The ads. M B A. I also truly appreciate each and every review that comes our way. It might seem like such a small thing, but reviews help others find us. So please do jump on and subscribe, rate and review the show. And finally, if you know someone who would benefit from hearing these inspiring stories, please do share it with them and empower the women in your network. See you soon. Yeah.

Dopple Founder Chao Wang gives us the breakdown of her guerilla marketing strategies that lead to a 10k waitlist on $0 spend
Dopple Founder Chao Wang gives us the breakdown of her guerilla marketing strategies that lead to a 10k waitlist on $0 spend
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