Episode 176

Lessons in Branding, Pivoting and Handling Insane eCommerce Growth Rates

Is & Kelsey Moreira - DoughP
September 22, 2021
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Who doesn’t love eating cookie dough with a spoon?  Having a tasty product that customers crave is helpful. That’s part of the reason Doughp (pronounced like dope) has been so successful.  But for the real reason behind Doubhp’s amazing growth, look no further than the co-CEO team of Kelsey and Is.  Not only are they co-CEOs, they’re also married.  And they produce some addictively good cookie dough that’s shipped directly to your door 


There’s a lot we can learn from Doughp both from a branding and eCommerce growth perspective.  


Here’s a look at what we cover:

  • When you get your branding right, marketing becomes easy
  • How to detach and make unemotional decisions
  • How to be fun, relevant and also have a serious mission side to your business
  • How and when to pivot 
  • How to scale operations from $50k per year online to over $350k per month in one year.

Iz Moreira

Via LinkedIn


Kelsey Moreira

Via LinkedIn


DoughP

Via Instagram

Via Facebook

Via TikTok


Mentioned in this episode:

ShipScout

PayPal Store Cash

Sean Frank

The Ridge Wallet

Episode Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello, and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce. Today we get to hear a founder's story. We get to see behind the scenes of a really rapidly growing eCommerce brand, a brand that I'm really excited about that I'm a customer of. I can't wait to dive in and let you hear the origin story of this brand and also what they're doing now and how they're growing and excelling.

Brett:

I think there's going to be lots here for you to learn from. I think it'll be a lot of fun, as well. Today, I am delighted to welcome to the show the co-CEOs of a company called Doughp, and that's spelled like dough, like bread dough or cookie dough with a P on the end, so Doughp. Co-CEOs Iz and Kelsey, guys, how's it going? Thank you so much for taking the time.

Kelsey:

Yeah. We're good. Thanks for having us.

Iz:

Thanks for having us.

Brett:

Yeah. Just a quick and I want you to tell the full story. But Doughp is cookie dough that you order online and eat. I don't know if you're like me, cookie dough is just as good, probably better than the actual cookies. I was telling you guys I made a mistake. I word some Doughp, to be careful how you ... what audience can say that, too.

Brett:

But I ordered some Doughp from you guys from your website. Tried s'mores, chocolate chip cookie dough, it was your sampler pack was ..

Kelsey:

Yeah. Cookie Monsta, Fairy Dust.

Brett:

Yes. All of those, Fairy Dust, Cookie Monsta, the s'mores was good. I made the fatal error of letting my kids know, not in camera, if I told you Iz, but I've got eight kids.

Kelsey:

Wow.

Brett:

I made the mistake of letting my kids know about the Doughp and they totally dug in. It's fantastic. Kudos to you guys for that.

Iz:

Great to hear that.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Let's hear a bit of the origin story then we'll dig into lots of fun stuff related to the business. But how did Doughp come to be?

Kelsey:

That's awesome. I love origin story. I feel I'm an X-Men Origin story, Do you think we're going to whole ... I do have movie trailer that's like "And then," it should be awesome.

Brett:

When I tell my kids, I was talking to the founder and the co-CEOs of Doughp. They're going to be like, "What?" You feel like a superhero to them for sure.

Kelsey:

Oh, that's awesome. So cool. Yeah. Origin story for Doughp. I'm the founder of Doughp. We are co-CEOs running it today. But I was by my lonesome four years back. We just had our fourth birthday for Doughp. This crazy idea that people might like cookie dough as much as me. I had been working in tech for 10 years, had not any experience at all in the food industry aside from working at Nestle Toll House Cafe.

Kelsey:

Being a cookie cake decorator when I was 15, jumped into corporate America with my time at Intel and really just dove into that and had lost a lot of those outside passions, the stress and anxiety of corporate life. I leaned on alcohol and ended up developing a really unhealthy relationship with it over those years and lost sight of all those other things that I loved in life. I got sober in 2015, which was like the best decisions.

Brett:

Congrats.

Kelsey:

Thank you.

Brett:

Amazing.

Kelsey:

It is so cool. I really feel I got a second lease on life and got this opportunity to take the reins and see what do I really want to do. Is this what makes me the happiest? In the discovery outside of work, nights and weekends for my day job. What was I loving? It was really being in the kitchen. I was baking every day and bringing in stuff to the office and ..

Brett:

Baking was therapy for you, or just a hobby, passion type thing?

Kelsey:

Like meditative. Yes, still is. When I'm in the kitchen, time flies by. I feel like ...

Brett:

Beautiful.

Kelsey:

Yeah. If I have an afternoon ... we get some afternoon free or something, a weekend he'll play some guitar and I'll be in the kitchen baking something.

Brett:

That sounds like a really ... Now just as a teaser, if anybody's listening only and not watching. I don't know if it's because you guys are based in San Francisco and just all of a sudden get this vibe. But Iz, you have a short-haired John Stamos. Maybe it was the guitar. But you said guitar. I'm picturing you in a San Francisco kitchen. It's like Full House from my youth or something.

Kelsey:

I love it.

Iz:

I'll take it.

Kelsey:

Yes.

Iz:

I'll take it.

Kelsey:

We love it.

Iz:

However, we moved from SF. Now, we're based in Las Vegas.

Brett:

Oh, got it. Okay. It's still cool.

Kelsey:

I mean like a Vegas thing. He's like a Stamos impersonator on the script.

Brett:

It's the Stamos impersonator.

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Brett:

You can do it, man. You can totally do that on nights, on weekends.

Iz:

Cool. I appreciate it.

Kelsey:

Incredible. Yes. It was in SF when I started the company. These nights and weekends baking and loving it and bringing stuff into the office. I had been moved down to San Francisco for a new job inside Intel. I was like, "What am I going to do? I can't be a baker. There's world-renowned pastry chefs in San Francisco. Let's just do it for myself on the side still and for friends and things."

Kelsey:

But going to SF, I decided to try and be a vegan. But I was really terrible at it, because I love butter way too much. The recipes had butters in them.

Brett:

It was always butter. I wasn't so much meat. It was the butter that tripped you up?

Kelsey:

Oh, I just couldn't let it go. I was like, "I didn't mind having all the vegan needs, this and that." But man, when I was baking, butter is the good stuff. I was using butter but no eggs. Then these cookie recipes, I made for a really long time, were safe to eat raw. I was like, "Not only the one spoonful I would have always have over the years."

Kelsey:

Now I was like, "Oh, I'll just save half of it in a bowl for the week to eat some bites out of it and bake the other half of it." That just clicked. I was like, "This could be my thing. I could start a business. I could do this." All those people at work and things that have been saying, "You should sell this." Kind of thought, "Well, entrepreneurship, so that farfetched. I'm just going to climb this corporate ladder and that's what it is."

Kelsey:

But sobriety really gave me that energy and focus to say, "I could do this." I put myself towards it. For 2017, I took 100 pounds of cookie dough out to Dolores Park in San Francisco. We sold out in three hours and I was like, "All right."

Brett:

All right. This is a business. This is a real business.

Kelsey:

Yeah. How do we go from here? Yep.

Brett:

Now, tell this part in whatever order makes sense. But we'd love to hear how you guys met, because not only are you guys co-CEOs and you look great together. But you're married as well. Let's hear how you met. Then did you go eCommerce after you guys started working together? Kelsey, did you go eCommerce first?

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Iz:

Do you want to tell this yourself. It's way funnier when you tell it.

Kelsey:

Yes. We have like ... Now, we went from origin story, hardcore beginning, to romance novel of how we met. We're diverging a little bit.

Brett:

You guys have to read a book at some point ..

Kelsey:

eCommerce tips coming later, love now. Okay. We were in San Francisco. I had really focused on brick and mortar in the beginning. It was six months into the business that I got an opportunity to open a store on Pier 39, famous tourist pier in San Francisco. I've gone there as a kid. This idea that like, "Wow, I could have my own concept on this famous pier, I'm all in."

Kelsey:

I had done that, started to build up some staff. We had a co-working office. We were in a co-working office in downtown San Francisco. It was this guy. I was very busy running my company. I just had this running joke with my employees and staff and whatnot that there's this cute printer boy that sits near the printer.

Kelsey:

You're just going to jump, there's a printer boy here, because he sat near the printer in the office. He'd walked by and I pretend to faint or something if we're working in the common areas.

Iz:

Like, "You look just like John Stamos."

Kelsey:

I said that, right? Yes. I thought he was so cute. But just when you're ... This is what they always say to women in particular, because we're all excited about meeting the love of our life. It's like when you're not looking for them, you'll find them.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah.

Kelsey:

That's absolutely what happened. I was just so ...

Brett:

When you're baking cookie dough and no one is watching, you will find the ... Actually, everybody was watching at that point.

Brett:

Full story. You're baking. You're running a company. You're managing employees. You get your dream location on Pier 39. Yeah. We got to get to eCommerce. I want to know who made the first move here? Who really ... Do you guys remember? I assume you do.

Kelsey:

Yeah. I mean, I think.

Iz:

I mean, yeah.

Kelsey:

It was him. He said ... We were eating lunch by chance, the same day in the co-working office, co-shared lunch space. He said, "Can I take you out to lunch tomorrow?" after we had chatted while we were eating. I was like, "Is this a business thing? Does he want like Doughp to cater for their company or something?"

Iz:

I wanted to keep the mystery going.

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Iz:

I'm not going to be super clear to hear about my intentions.

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Iz:

Let's go and see how it goes.

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Iz:

Sure enough, it was great. But a quick ..

Brett:

You're trying to get the easy "Yes." Just ask a simple question, just lunch. That'd be good. Lunch. Then we ...

Iz:

Listen, you don't know until you ask. That's why a customer research, market research is so important. You don't want to be asked, don't ask.

Brett:

The job is ...

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Brett:

Kudos to you.

Iz:

Yeah. But it was really interesting, because I was born and raised in Brazil. I moved to United States in 2017. After having an incredible career in civil engineering, I went to school for civil engineering and became a project manager for a construction firm. But I was just tired of Brazil. I wanted to raise a family somewhere else. I decided, "Okay. I'm going to study at Berkeley."

Iz:

I came here to study at Berkeley for a year. Got a job offer in SF and that's where we met. It was a really interesting, serendipitous moment for both of us.

Kelsey:

Yeah. Both of our lives took us to SF right at that time.

Brett:

Very cool. Iz, you clearly have this organizational, operational skill set. Kelsey, you're very creative and very passionate and you make all this stuff. Seems like a really beautiful match there. Talk about what's the day-to-day of Doughp look like now and how do you guys work together?

Kelsey:

Yeah. I mean, I think that path you mentioned, going from brick and mortar to eCommerce was absolutely prompted by Iz joining of the company, join into the company. It was these skill sets that we saw on each other, naturally, as we were in a relationship and then married. The conversations were really awesome to say anything I had a question on that was ops or finance related, that was totally his wheelhouse to jump in and help me.

Kelsey:

Those are the spots I feel weaker on. It became really natural in late 2019 to say, "What do you think about just coming on over and just joining this Doughp thing and seeing what we could do together, and put our eggs in this basket." But we really thought we could create something great. That organization lines, he was able to say, "Okay. We're doing catering and wholesale and the storefronts and a little eCommerce." What do you say, 2020? It's going to be the ...

Iz:

"2020 is the year of focus," that's what I said in November of 2019.

Brett:

Oh, wow. You didn't realize how wide you would be?

Iz:

Yeah. One of the things I always do when I join organization is to really understand where the resources are allocated. As she was saying, she had a lot of resources allocated everywhere, which means you're spread too thin. You basically cannot serve everybody very well. What we just did was a brainstorming analysis, considering ROI, barriers to entry, and other factors in each of the channels.

Iz:

We decided, "Okay. 2020 is going to be the year of focus on having the brick and mortar locations operating. But we're focusing on eCommerce. eCommerce seems to have the greatest potential for growth, and the least barriers to entry for us right now." That's what we did. November of '19 was the decision, and March of 2020 was when the pandemic really hit and we had no longer brick and mortar locations.

Iz:

Thankfully, we were super ready to go. We grew from November 2019 to March of 2020 a hundred X in sales on eCommerce.

Brett:

100X, that's insane. 100X in sales online or 100X ...

Iz:

In eCommerce, online. That's it.

Kelsey:

Yeah. Online only. For reference in 2019, all together, we did $50,000 online of $1.2 million for the company. As you can see eCommerce is like ...

Brett:

Yeah ..of the company. Yep.

Kelsey:

Exactly. Really like an afterthought. Then in 2020, 2.5 million of 2.7 million was eCommerce. Two and a half million dollars from 50 grand. It was a wild roller coaster to even be able to sustain the fulfillment side of that. I'm sure eCommerce folks listening know the challenges that come from doing 30 boxes a month to 3,000 boxes a week in the span of four months.

Brett:

Yeah. Your product is not super simple to ship. It does have a long shelf-life. But it's still food. You have to protect it slightly differently. It's shipped with ice. Dry ice was in the container if I remember correctly.

Kelsey:

Ice packs. Yeah.

Brett:

Ice packs. Yeah. Yeah. Can you talk a little bit about that? What was that process of ramping up a hundred X your orders online? Was that just a lot of sleepless nights for Iz and a lot of baking?

Iz:

Literarily. A lot of sleepless nights because at the time, we were using graveyard shifts with our staff to mix the dough and pack the orders of the following morning.

Kelsey:

From our store staff, in the physical brick and mortar ...

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah.

Kelsey:

... overnight.

Brett:

Yeah.

Iz:

It was literally a lot of sleepless nights. I cannot say it was smooth. It was not smooth. It was a lot of learning. But I think one of the greatest trades that we have as a company is to be really nimble and be really good at pivoting and learning and figuring it out as we go. From November until March, we were ready to ship all those 3,000 orders a week. It wasn't easy. But we were ready to ...

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. What were some of the successful pivots you guys had to make? Obviously, the pivot from being mostly dependent on brick and mortar stores, to being fully dependent on eCommerce was a major pivot that you were planning on doing anyway. But the pandemic certainly forced that to happen at a much more rapid pace. But what other pivots did you guys make that ... Looking back, you said, "Wow. This is really cool that we did that."

Kelsey:

I mean, all the elements that came to fulfilling that, or following through on the decisions from it. While we didn't expect to shut down the brick and mortar side, we thought we'd get ... eCommerce would be a nice sizable channel. Because of the pandemic and the slow traffic after that, we made the decision to close down our final storefront in October of 2020.

Kelsey:

It's just those real cut and dry, look at the numbers. Put the emotions aside and say, "Does this make sense to keep doing?" Yes. I put my heart and soul in the storefront. I mean, it was so beautiful. We built it from the ground up. Loved it. But it's down 82% year-over-year. It was just not going to make sense for us to stay there in the long run.

Kelsey:

We needed to not let that hurt what was working. Yeah. I think other than that, it's been the partners that helped to come through, learning who the right partners would be in fulfillment, and who the right partners would be in marketing, advertising. It's such a hard game to get. We're still a marketing department of one. I'm trying to hire a director of marketing right now. We've really relied on agency support to make everything come true.

Brett:

That's awesome. Yeah. Finding the right partners is key. I want to dig into one thought there that you mentioned. You alluded this in the beginning. Hey, that Pier 39 location, that was your dream location. It was iconic. It's where you went as a kid or whatever. I think we have periods in time like that, as entrepreneurs, not always pandemic related, but where we have to make a really logical choice to move away from something that we maybe have a lot of nostalgia or a lot of emotion wrapped up in that.

Brett:

What was that decision like? Did you guys labor over that? Or was that just a clear cut easy decision?

Kelsey:

I think it was someone who's more removed from the emotion of it. It was quicker for him to say, "We should definitely close the store if we can." I'm like, "But maybe we could keep it. What about if we were able to convert them into eCommerce customers, and use it as a marketing engine." There is all this other dreamy lens we could have put on it. But it does take having that checks and balances.

Kelsey:

I think of if I was still a solo founder, no co-CEO by my side, it would have been really difficult to make that call on my own. I do, I think, and recommend to anybody else have counterpart that can really tell it to you straight and bring the numbers to the table where it's hard to say otherwise. Yeah.

Brett:

That's awesome. I think one of the ways we learn best is seeing what other people got right, and also learning from other people's mistakes. Let's start with what do you guys get right from the beginning? What do you feel like you, just right out of the gate, you nailed and that's helped propel you and keep the success going?

Iz:

I mean, the product. We can start with the product.

Kelsey:

Yeah. The products, yeah, haven't changed the recipe in four years. Yeah. That's ...

Brett:

.. the recipe in four years. That's awesome. Now, are you adding new flavors or did you launch with all those amazing flavors?

Kelsey:

Adding new flavors, we've had the core four, like the one you've got in sampler pack. Those four have been around pretty much since day one. The base of the recipe and how we make our dough from the start has not changed the whole time. We do always come out with new seasonal stuff, like red velvet cupcake for Valentine's Day.

Kelsey:

We're always releasing new unique flavors. But sometimes we can't pull that one because customers are so upset when we .. They're like, "Bring it back." We did a nostalgic flavor in January from the '90s. Did like a Dunkaroos inspired cookie dough and ...

Brett:

Okay. Okay.

Kelsey:

When it sells out, tear the walls down, people are so upset. When are they coming back?

Brett:

Don't take away my Dunkaroos. How dare you.

Kelsey:

Yeah. They're very upset. Yeah. That's been good. I think the other strong thing that ties in with the products has been the brand, really being so firm from very, very early days on why we exist, what we sound like, what we look like. We want to talk to you like a friend. It's all about authenticity, and our mission around mental health and addiction recovery. It's a commodity. Cookie dough something you could make at your house.

Kelsey:

But we're really trying to wrap a bigger purpose around it and each purchase goes to support these issues and there's just so much more to it. I think that's really resonated with customers from the start.

Iz:

Yeah.

Brett:

Your brand is amazing. I mean, first of all, I love the name Doughp. It's really cool and just selling your homepage, edible, bakeable, and ridiculously tasty. It's just got this fun vibe. Yeah. You just nailed the branding. As you read stuff on the site and as you even ... I remember the card that came in the sampler pack was really relatable and fun and talked about the fact, how long would last, and how you can enjoy.

Brett:

It was a really fun experience. Yeah. I would totally great. Product, brand nailed those. Any times you feel ... What's that?

Iz:

I mean, I was actually going to say another thing that was really good from the start. My background as a civil engineer, I've always focused on numbers. I've always done financial analysis and production and operations analysis. Unit economics was something in my DNA. When we first started, instead of trying to ship one container of cookie dough, we've always shipped kits of container.

Iz:

There's always this analysis of like, "What does make sense to ship considering the cost of the shipping label and whatnot?" That strategy was right from the start. I think most eCommerce brands do that strategy. They can't just ship by unit product. They have to make sense on the unit economics.

Brett:

Totally makes sense. You guys have always done packs. You've always done four packs ...

Kelsey:

Yeah. Four packs. It used to be like six packs back in the day. We had these tiny jars before we moved to the situation we're in now.

Iz:

Yeah.

Kelsey:

But yeah, always like a kit. It helps on most of the part of a new person coming in. It helps to decided for them. Here's the best ones to try and that's the bestseller pack. But then the build your own pack is super popular. That's the most common second step in repurchasing. They're coming back to be able to customize theirs. Say, "Okay. From that, I love these flavors. Here's the ones I want to get, and mixing and matching pints in a two, three or four-pack."

Brett:

The sampler pack did make it very easy, because I didn't have to think about, "Okay. All these flavors sound amazing. It'd be great to try them."

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Brett:

Have you had many people say, "Hey, I just want to order one?" Have you had pushback on the four packs? Or has it always been fairly smooth?

Kelsey:

Yeah. We get that pretty frequently. In support emails, tickets or social media, on comments on our ads saying, "Oh, I just want to buy one," or the comparison where they're like, "Oh, at the grocery store, I can get Nestle's for $3 or whatever." It's like, "Yep."

Brett:

You sure can.

Kelsey:

You sure can.

Brett:

But is there homemade cookie dough? No, it's not. Yeah.

Kelsey:

Yeah. It does taste really not that great. They tried to make an edible one, about two years after I had launched. It's so different than their core product. It seems they really couldn't get this stuff to just turn the taste of the regular Nestle into a safe to eat ones. It's very, very different. Yeah. It is at a very low price. Then there are massive, massive conglomerate out there.

Kelsey:

They're always going to be able to beat us on price. But like I said, that's why it's so important to have such a strong focus with the brand and what our business is enabling to happen in the community around these issues. That's a lot more than you could say for buying a pint of Nestle. I think we looked at and started offering the two pint packs.

Kelsey:

Shipping just two pints, which is more approachable than requiring that you get four if you're going to do it.

Brett:

Right. Right.

Kelsey:

Yeah. We've made some steps down. It seems environmentally, not smart to send one. Even we're going to have insulation price for one. Just explaining that to the consumer that's challenging for these times. Yeah.

Brett:

It is challenging, because there's always people that don't want to think about the big picture and only want just to lower their cost, which is understandable. But I think from your perspective, kudos to you guys for saying, "Hey, this is what makes the most sense. Economically speaking, this is how we need to do it. We're going to present it in a way that's easy and fun."

Brett:

Then get as many people as we can to take advantage of this, knowing that there'll be some people that don't understand, but that's okay. We'll work through that. Awesome. Then what about mistakes you've made, because I know it's not always fun to talk about mistakes, but that's often how we learn the best and learning from other people's hiccups can really be useful. Learning moments.

Kelsey:

Yeah. You're going to talk about the last spring, last summer?

Iz:

Yeah. As we were mentioning, we were growing super fast, a hundred X in three, four months. We were desperately looking for a way to reduce our shipping costs. Because when you first start shipping ... I'm sure most of the listeners are going to agree with me here. When you first start shipping, you don't have enough volume to come to a carrier and say, "Hey, I want a discount."

Iz:

There's not enough track record to come and say that. You have to pay higher prices. You have to make sense on the economics, like I said. The way that we envision that happening was, "Okay. Let's spread out our distribution. Let's have three major distribution centers across the country, because our customer base is so spread out across the country." So we did. But there's a lot of consequences to that.

Iz:

For starters, you have to spread out your inventory. There's a lot more cash tied up to inventory. Also you have to trust who you're moving with. We just learned the hard way that you have to have one person managing everything and that person has to be in touch with all the boxes to make sure that everything goes according to plan. It's just so easy. There's just so many steps that can be lost along the way.

Iz:

That just loses the entire customer experience along the way. We just don't deliver what we promised here. That learning was, "Okay. We need to centralize everything, make sure that we know this person. We're close to this fulfillment center. We know exactly what's being done." It was incredible. In September last year, we started with a fulfillment center here in Las Vegas, which is amazing.

Iz:

Because if anything happens, I can just literally drive there and see what's going on and fix problems on the ground.

Brett:

That's awesome. Yeah. You identify an issue or an opportunity to improve customer experience. We need to distribute our shipping. But that creates some challenges as well. But it sounds like you ...

Kelsey:

Yeah. Too big, too fast.

Iz:

Yeah.

Kelsey:

We spread out too wide, where it was a little bit out of reach without knowing those warehouses closely enough. Yeah.

Iz:

Yeah. In September, we already had the track record to come to shipping carriers and say, "Hey, here's what we have now. Here's how much we're shipping." Then we were able to centralize everything from here. I think it was a really interesting learning experience that I would like to share. Please don't spread out your inventory too thin too early.

Brett:

Yeah.

Kelsey:

Yeah. Before you need to.

Brett:

Actually, with your inventory, because it's perishable. I assume that could maybe led to some issues as well.

Kelsey:

When we were getting the inventory back from this widespread ordeal, we literally had a dry truck and a frozen truck. One was supposed to get the boxes and insulation, everything that was supposed to get the cookie dough loaded backwards at the warehouse. They loaded it backwards and shipped it out from the East Coast with our cookie dough in the middle of the summer in back of a dry truck.

Brett:

Nice cool boxes and not cold cookie dough ...

Kelsey:

They're like these boxes showing up cold, doesn't seem a good sign. Yeah. It was wild time. We went through some real remorse. One of our first expensive mistakes. I made a lot of small things here and there over the years where it was like, "Oh, shoot. I wish I had done a different cart for my catering thing or something." It's just so small. These really gotten to some serious times where you're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars that can be in jeopardy.

Brett:

Yeah. Which is super painful, and then can be sometimes mentally, emotionally crippling, but sounds like you guys pivoted nicely from that. Now you've got your warehouses in order, and you've got your discounted shipping. You moved ahead. Obviously, you want to avoid stuff like that if you can, but we can never avoid all of it. She's got to learn from it and then move forward. Any other takeaways from that?

Kelsey:

No. Yeah. I think that's the biggest takeaway from that experience.

Iz:

Yeah. I mean, it's not from this experience. But another thing that I would like to share that helped in this experience and other experiences is contracts. Contracts are just the life of the business. Most entrepreneurs that I know don't like reading contracts. They think it's long, there's a lot of legal stuff. Yes. That's true. But at the same time, that's what's going to regulate the relationship you have with your vendors and clients.

Iz:

If you don't pay attention to it, and don't negotiate the material points for you, you're going to be in trouble in case anything goes wrong. It may.

Kelsey:

Yeah. It's likely to. I think I had such glossy eyes at the world. I really thought like, "Oh, no. These people seem great," or "I got referred to work with them." I really, before I joined, I'm ashamed to say this, because no one else would do this. But I didn't read a single contract that I signed probably in those first three years of the business, before he jumped in. Even the Pier 39 lease, I really don't even think I had a lawyer look over that lease.

Kelsey:

I was just like, "If I need this space, this must be what I need to sign." I signed on to a personal guarantee, and all these things that now with his eyes looking at a contract would just never go. That ties in with a nugget of advice I would have, too, is like don't wait too long to bring someone to the table at the same stakes as you. It's really easy for founders to be hoarding, and just wanting the company for themselves and not bring on a co-founder.

Kelsey:

I created it, so I can keep doing it alone. But just through the years, we've couldn't find someone for what we were able to pay that had the experience and dedication that I really needed. That caused some issues on certain areas that he's really strong in now.

Brett:

Yeah. I know that bringing on the right strategic partner can make a huge difference. I'm really glad you brought up contracts, Iz. I'm really glad you're transparent there, Kelsey, because I tend to ... Now I understand, we have 50 people on our team, and then lots of things going on. We pay close attention to everything. But I tend to be more like you Kelsey, where it's like, "Nah, man. We're building stuff. We're growing. We're making deals, and it's all going to be fine in the end."

Brett:

You can do some really stupid things if you focus on that exclusively. You got to understand your contracts, because almost all contracts are negotiable. Even that Pier 39 contract, you could have negotiated that.

Kelsey:

100%.

Brett:

But it worked out okay.

Kelsey:

Yeah. Yeah.

Brett:

That's awesome. Cool. Any other mistakes? I know it's painful to talk mistakes. But in any other learning points that you want to highlight? That was a great one, by the way.

Kelsey:

I think some of the agency decisions, when I think about advice I pass along for that. It's like, "Go with your gut." We've had some times where we went with someone, and I was like, "Huh, I'm morally opposed to this person as a human, but they seem to have good performance. Let's do it." Then it's like, "That was an awful idea." I think, we've just been proven when you feel like, "Wow, this seems like a really good person, I would want to, I mean, virtually, hang out with every day."

Kelsey:

They become your best friend. You should really feel they're good people that you would want to spend time on the phone with. Just trusting that gut and being like, "Hmm. If I don't even like being on these sales calls, I really shouldn't sign up with these people, no matter how good they say the performances is." There's just something that will always be off in the relationship. That's another ...

Brett:

Yeah. I totally agree. As an agency, co-founder and CEO, we feel the same way on this. There are these times where we talk to a client and we think, and I love that brand, and I love the growth potential. But something about them, something about the person we're going to be working with just doesn't fit right. That usually then ends up being a not great relationship. Then the same can be said on the client side.

Brett:

You think, okay, the track record, performance is good. I want to grow my business. I want to do the logical thing. But yeah, if your gut is telling you, no, then you got to look at something else. Because if somebody else has got the track record and the personality, too. Yeah.

Kelsey:

Yeah, totally. Yeah. Aren't advice to follow in the moment. When you're in a pinch, you make bad decisions.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah.

Kelsey:

Needed to hire an agency or a person or whatever. We've always not made as good of a decision is to try and give yourself the lead time to say, "It's okay, if this one doesn't work out. Let's keep interviewing. Let's keep searching." I've been interviewing for as director of marketing position for how long?

Iz:

Two months? Yeah.

Kelsey:

Yeah. Just over two months, I think.

Brett:

Yeah. Good. You're being patient. We're actually looking to hire a marketing coordinator right now. If anybody is listening, hit me up. But yeah, or hit up Doughp as a marketing director, hit up Kelsey and Iz there. But this is totally accurate. Well, we look for hiring an account manager or Google specialist or Amazon specialist or whatever. We will try to make that list thing earlier than we need to.

Brett:

I mean, you can't have discipline and when you're under the gun, still really wait to say yes to someone. It's a lot easier if you just don't have that pressure when you have the time. One of the things I heard this quote. I think it was on the Tim Ferriss podcast, I can't remember who said it. But they said "If it's not a hell yes, it's a no."

Brett:

They were talking about anything in your life. We started implementing that on the hiring side. If it's not a super enthusiastic yes, then it needs to be a no.

Kelsey:

Yeah. It's awesome. It applies to the fundraising world as well. I think about it with trying to find the right partner. If you're waiting to raise until you, "Oh, my gosh. Need the capital." You're freaking out if you don't get this. You're going to seem desperate. You probably won't even be able to get an offer, or you might close with a partner that wouldn't be the best partner for you.

Kelsey:

The fundraiser side, whether it's an Angel or a VC, or who is it, they're going to be a partner in your business. It's more than an agency. They're going to have a piece of your whole ...

Brett:

They get married right there. I mean, it's the business equivalent of getting married, for sure. Yeah.

Kelsey:

Totally is. When you're in a pinch, you make bad decisions. That's across the board.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Really good advice. Well, let's get into a couple tactical things, just for fun. I do want to underscore how much I love your website. I know I said that already. But the branding is on point. It's easy to shop. It's easy to browse, just really, really like it. I would like to dig into maybe some traffic, things that are working right now for you. Then some conversion tips, potentially.

Brett:

Let's start with the website. What are some of the things you guys have done over the last year? I know you've been growing hair-on-fire type speeds. But what have you done to increase conversions, to improve checkout, anything along those lines?

Kelsey:

Yeah. I mean, overall experience stuff on the site. I would say maybe six months ago, we started to think of a couple other areas to really bring in the mission into it. When you click Add to Cart on the bestseller pack, it literally shoots confetti out from Add to Cart button and says like, "Your purchase before it's addiction recovery." These little reminders that ... That's we're all in eCommerce trying to make sure they get to checkout and that they complete the checkout.

Kelsey:

That Add to Cart moment, adding a little bit of excitement and a little reminder of what this purchase will help do. We have that at the bottom of the mini-cart as well, some support that they'll have. Having a mini-cart was a decision, too, to try and reduce friction from being on the site shopping to get into checkout.

Kelsey:

In the mini-cart, we've got some upsells. This was a custom built solution by our dev. Not for anything that I can recommend there. But just different products get served a different upsell opportunity. Right now we are with shipping threshold to get free shipping on orders over 65. We tried to line up all of the upsells to get them there. The hope is that for most of the scenarios, adding that next upsell there will get them to free shipping.

Kelsey:

They're more incentivized to add a two-pack upgrade, get an extra two cups with your order, or double up and save, and that sort of thing. Getting a discount on something if you get two of them. Little things like that in the cart.

Brett:

Yeah. I really like that. It looks really cool. I'm looking it right now. I added the bestseller four-pack to my cart. Just below it, it says "Double up and save," and you get the nice, we'll say 5% and the original price marked out, the new price there. It's handy. When you added that, what lift did you see for your AOVs? I'm putting you on the spot. If it's rough ...

Kelsey:

No. It's totally fine. I mean, I definitely from when we first launched this new site with this mini-cart in general. We had a two-pack upgrade with like two pints serving offered on any order, anything that had been put in the cart that was already cookie dough so that we weren't adding the complication of insulation and ice packs for someone who bought a sticker, or like ...

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Kelsey:

... some merge. For that and that was 25% of orders we're doing that two-pack upgrade. It's pretty significant.

Brett:

Nice. That is really significant. That's awesome.

Kelsey:

Yeah. That was a $12, I believe at the time?

Iz:

Yeah.

Kelsey:

Yeah. I think it was like 12 or 15 to get the two-pack. That was great extra bump. We had been really around like a $43 AOV, pre-new website. Then once the new site launched with that, we were up at 59.60. Really good movement there. We've juggled back and forth with the shipping. There's this option to bake some of it into the price and have free shipping or what we need to do on the entry skew to make that more affordable for an entry purchase.

Kelsey:

There's an app. This is a fun app tip that we're going to start using called ShipScout, a way to A/B test.

Brett:

ShipScout. Nice.

Kelsey:

Yeah. A/B testing prices.

Brett:

Ooh, I like that a lot. Yeah.

Kelsey:

Right. It's these little incremental things. Because if 7.95 versus 9.95 has 20% higher conversion rate. Great. It's totally worth it. We just have to figure out what that trade off is and how significant it would be. But that's a great app. Some complications you'll need a devs help for if you have other areas around your site that are mentioning free shipping over X amount or what the shipping price is. But all doable with some help of the amazing wizard developer.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah. It sounds like you guys have been playing with not just the number of cups in a shipment but also the size of the cups. I see 5 ounce cups, 16 ounce pints. Any learnings there? Did you launch which is one size originally, or any learnings you've gained from that?

Iz:

We've always had two sizes. Yeah. When we first started this, like I said in November of 2019, we still use plastic jars. She had already started to do these plastic jars at the store. What I did was, okay, we already have these. Our staff has already trained to do this size. Let's try and do these two sizes. She already had the 16 ounce and was it four point ...

Kelsey:

It was 4 and 12. Yeah.

Iz:

Oh, it was 12?

Kelsey:

The little squared glass looking jars. Yeah. Yeah.

Iz:

Well, there you go, 4 and 12.

Kelsey:

Plastic, but yeah.

Iz:

It worked quite well. Everybody already knew. Everybody that knew the brand knew the sizes that we use to serve in. It worked. We just moved to a 5 and 16 ounce because it is more widespread use off the 16 ounce cup and a 5 ounce cup versus the 4 and 12. It's easier to get the packaging and easier to source. Also in the minds of the consumer, it is easier to assimilate the 16 ounce pint versus a 12 ounce. What is this? Is it big? Is it small? How many servings?

Brett:

Yep. Yep.

Kelsey:

Sixteen, people are like, "Oh, like an ice cream pint?" They get it.

Brett:

Exactly. Yeah. The pint really clears it up, for sure. Yeah. Curious. I noticed you had Shop Pay on the site and I buy from a number of Shopify stores. Of course, I enjoy using Shop Pay as a consumer. When you guys added that when that came out. Did you guys see a bump at all and do very many people utilize that?

Kelsey:

Yes. A lot of people utilize it. I think we're 70% Shop Pay checkouts, and then the probably 20% is PayPal, maybe 25%. Maybe a little bit more on PayPal. Yeah. PayPal does the Store Cash Campaign. I don't know if you've ever heard of any vendors. But this, they have some comment on our site, like a snippet on there that identifies if someone visiting the site is a PayPal customer or not.

Kelsey:

They'll get an email saying like, "Here's $5 to use, $5 Store Cash to use it to have cookie dough if you want to go back and make your purchase."

Brett:

Nice.

Kelsey:

That's fun. Pretty amazing.

Brett:

What does that call?

Kelsey:

Store Cash Campaign. Yeah. PayPal's Store Cash. I remember just by chance, seeing it as an option like, "Oh, do you want to turn this on?" I'm like, "Sure, whatever, five bucks. Go for it, seems cool." Then when I log in, it's like, 1,128% row as. Like, "What?" It's pretty cool. Yeah.

Brett:

Yeah. When you get 20% of your shoppers are using PayPal anyway. That only works ... If someone visits the site, it's detected they use PayPal, they leave that buying. It's almost like a remarketing campaign, then they're getting the $5, or it's regardless what they do on the site?

Kelsey:

It also does it if they have purchased and it's incentivizing them to come back. It's like, "Here's $5 to come back to Doughp." Yeah.

Brett:

Beautiful. Which is great for you guys, because consumable, sending a coupon after the fact is great, too.

Kelsey:

Yeah. We have to think about all the different ways to incentivize that repurchase, different ways to use the product. We're working on a digital cookbook to send out. Being able to offer this probably as a post purchase upsell, but a digital cookbook, here's all these recipes to go through ..

Brett:

Increase consumption. Absolutely. Yeah. Gets you even more. You start ordering more. Yeah. I want to get into some traffic, too, where we just have a few minutes left. But what about other loyalty things you're doing? Are you looking at subscriptions? Are you doing anything else special to get that repeat purchase? What are you doing there?

Kelsey:

Yeah. We have a rewards program, our Spoonlicker's Club.

Brett:

Spoonlicker's Club. Yeah. I love that.

Kelsey:

Yeah. In February, it's only as good as it's marketed though. It is hidden on our site right now, somewhat of a soft launch, if you will, while we got all the rest of the email flows and everything in place for that. A birthday bonus point email and things that will come out in that regard. There's a little bit more tight knit integration that we need to do to really make it come to life on the site.

Kelsey:

At every point, you're excited about coming back and knowing how many points you're going to get for purchase. Subscriptions are interesting. It's been this debate of how much cookie dough is feasible to get delivered to your house every month. What we did release, it's literally down in the footer. It says Curious with the question mark. It's a secret cookie dough club.

Kelsey:

We've been doing this to our own audience to share out that they can join this cookie dough club. It's going to be a post-purchase email as well for those after their first purchase to know they can get this. It's 29 instead of 39 for 2 pints. It's free shipping. It's every month getting to mystery pints. It's a surprise box. So far, really great reviews.

Kelsey:

We have only one person gave a four star, the rest of them five stars, which is super awesome. They're like, "I love the mystery of it." Someone literally said, "I've been wanting to order Doughp for six months, but just could never decide which flavors to get. This mystery box was perfect for me." I'm like, "Yes."

Brett:

Yeah. That leads to consumption and maybe you find, "Hey, it's this s'mores that I love the best. I'll just keep order more of that, or four-pack of that." It's really great.

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Brett:

You'll start promoting that thing in your post purchase email series, or you considering the idea of putting that in the cart as an upsell or mentioning it elsewhere, or you still working through that?

Kelsey:

I think it'll be after your first purchase. We like this idea of, "Okay. They've gotten to try it. Now, here it is a little bit broader." Then it's also we're open about it on our social media. If you're starting to feel, you'll see it. Then if you're on our email list at all, you'll get occasional updates with that, still available.

Brett:

Awesome.

Kelsey:

We did a fun, very mysterious email blast for that. It was 20% of people who opened the email clicked through to the link. We put just full on Curious and all this mystery and stuff. Take a look. You had to like click into that and understand what it was. It was pretty fun. We doubled our ...

Brett:

... people up to I got to find out and ...

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Kelsey:

Doubled our subscriber base that single day. It was pretty cool.

Brett:

Wow. Let's transition and talk traffic just really quickly. What are some of the traffic wins you've had over the last year or so? What's working and what do you kind of excited about for the future?

Kelsey:

Physical traffic, we're stoked to be in Vegas because it's much lighter than traffic in San Francisco. We have leaned on ads to really drive traffic to our site, historically, since we started ... It's late 2019, it's historic now. But the real game changers have been organic stuff that's happened. Jason Derulo posted a TikTok with us.

Kelsey:

For seven days in a row, we had 25,000 in sales. It was just really got this crazy push. We were seeing it was all from search people leaving TikTok, Googling Doughp, finding us. It's really neat to see when you're feeding this funnel, how effective everything else works. It does take that push on organic stuff that takes place like that, which is awesome. I don't know how you found Doughp. But that's super cool.

Kelsey:

Chrissy Teigen just posted with Doughp yesterday, two days ago? Yeah. I think it was two. Those weeks have been a blur, on Tuesday. It's super cool to see what people are willing to do when they just see someone they love with it, they go out and search for it and do it. I mean, we had way better success with any of the organic stuff that's happened than honestly most of the paid influencer work we've done.

Kelsey:

We're pushing into a bit more with press this year. We just hired a PR agency. I think that's the best thing for us. The driving traffic to the site is getting really interesting things for people to talk about, where it's exciting and unique and gets more eyeballs on our site. Because then Google and Facebook, they can all work their magic, granted iOS 14 is trying to ruin our lives. But ...

Brett:

It is. It is.

Kelsey:

I said on LinkedIn the other day, I'm like, "Does anyone else feel like iOS 14 is our Y2K for eCommerce managers?"

Brett:

Kind of feeling like that. I mean, things are still going well here. Obviously, we're just a few ... At the time of recording, just a few days into the iOS 14.5 release. But things are going to probably get weird for a little while. We'll see what happens there. But yeah, a couple things there. I think your brand is perfect for influencer marketing. We don't do influencer marketing. It's not my area of expertise.

Brett:

But I've interviewed a few people on the podcast that are great at it. One is Sean Frank from Ridge Wallets. He's got an amazing influencer approach that he teaches. But who doesn't love cookie dough? Also it's so fun to talk about cookie dough. I think influencers could be lining up. Is that something you're planning on, is pursuing some influencers potentially?

Kelsey:

Yeah. We are working in that realm. I think one tip I have for anybody trying to do this, find people that are really excited about your brand. I was just talking to a new another eCommerce founder who's literally just goes through the Explorer on Instagram. Someone showing up in reels and stuff, they always have pretty good engagement. Search for your topic related to your store. See some of them.

Kelsey:

He just DMs each of them paid promo, paid promo, paid promo. Some of them, though it's a heavy lift to do this, many of them was pretty good engagement or like, "Oh, how's 10 bucks." He literally is like, "I can't close for $10 or free product alone." They're just willing to talk about it and that you get all ...

Brett:

Just spend me some cookie dough and 10 bucks ..

Kelsey:

Yeah. Way higher ROI than like, "Oh, $15,000 for this feed post." We just sit there praying that enough people go and click the link in their bio. I think there's a scrappier way to do this. I'm also not convinced that landing pages are the end-all, be-all for influencer in particular. I think consumers are getting pretty savvy that you've been sent to this trickery page that you can't click out of.

Kelsey:

It's like, "Here's the code, 50% off, go to doughp.com." This next round of influencers, we're going to try a little bit looser like that, instead of everybody going to a landing page, because we're just not seeing the results we want. But if you've got the time or marketing person on your team that could do the paid promo, quick DMs, and see who's down to talk about your brand. That's awesome.

Kelsey:

Because the people that I've sent free product to and they're willing to post by me, Addison Ray, we got her address to send her some free product by chance. She posts, I've got 4,000 followers in a day ...

Brett:

It's amazing. It's amazing.

Kelsey:

That was great. There is just some ... You got to stay scrappy. Even as you get big, stay scrappy.

Brett:

I love that. Yeah. Even when you're generating some nice profits and growth is there and you have paid channels that are working. Did you ever put anything on autopilot? But if you got your agency running, you don't have to think about it as much. But you should never stop with the scrappy, creative hustle type stuff because it adds a nice extra percentage to the business that compounds over time, that really can be a massive difference maker immediately, but also in years to come.

Brett:

Curious. On the operation side, what's ahead for you guys? Any tips or suggestions or ideas there?

Iz:

Well, great question. Now is actually the time for us to go into a bicoastal distribution model. We got the volume and the demand is there. It now makes sense. We're also in a better cash position to tie up more inventory, to have more cash on inventory. This is what's ahead now. We are actually on the hunt for a co-manufacturing facility on the East Coast now.

Brett:

Nice.

Iz:

Anyone's listening, interested.

Brett:

Co-manufacturing. Yeah. If you're listening, if you know people, Iz and Kelsey, or hit me up I'll connect to you and such we get stuff. Well, guys, this has been a ton of fun. I love hearing the story. I could keep talking to you guys all afternoon. This was a lot of fun. But I'm sure that we've made people's mouth water a little bit. Not just for good eCommerce growth, but for some cookie dough, for some Doughp.

Brett:

If people are listening or watching and they say, "Okay. I got to give this a shot." Where can they go to get themselves some Doughp.

Kelsey:

Yeah, doughp.com. Thank you for spelling it out in the beginning, because people do get confused listening to this. It's D-O-U-G-H-P. It's dough with a P on the dot com. We're @Doughp on Instagram and Facebook. We're on eatdoughp on TikTok, which has been super fun.

Brett:

Oh, man. I would love to hear that some other point, TikTok. Just really quick, 30 seconds. How was TikTok going for you?

Kelsey:

TikTok is incredible if you have something other than just pushing your product to talk about. For us, tons of the mental health stuff, there's sober talk, there's a whole sober community on TikTok. Really leaning into that, I mean, the comical funny stuff has done great, behind the scenes has done incredible. In our fulfillment center will love that.

Brett:

I'm not a huge TikToker, but my oldest son is for sure. There has to be. You guys have to do with TikTok, Iz with you playing the guitar. Kelsey, you baking in the kitchen. There's got to be some concept there that would really work

Kelsey:

Yes.

Iz:

I like that.

Kelsey:

Yeah. It's really a storytelling place. The algorithm rewards you for telling a story and having something interesting that people want to see. Yeah. The ones of ... My story, have done some green screen in front of the Shark Tank clip and stuff.

Brett:

Nice. Yeah.

Kelsey:

People like to know there's someone behind the business. Put your face out there. Get funny. Do weird shit. See how it goes.

Brett:

Exactly. I love it. I love it. Guys, this has been an absolute pleasure and a blast. Thanks for taking the time. Then thanks for being so open about Doughp.

Kelsey:

Yeah. Great to meet you. Thank you.

Iz:

Thanks for having us, guys.

Brett:

Absolutely. As always, thank you for tuning in. We'd love to hear from you. Would you like to hear more of on the show, and if you haven't already, we would love that review on iTunes that helps other people discover the show. With that, until next time, thank you for listening.

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