UP022: Concur // mission-driven skincare for a healthy microbiome (feat. Ross Baird of Village Capital)

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Lindsey Moeller: 00:00:00

As a whole, we feel like the industry is so super focused on a symptomatic approach where they’re always trying to treat a symptom, so especially in the personal care industry and in skincare it’s you have oily skin, you have dry skin, you have acne skin, you have eczema, you have psoriasis, you have all these different symptoms. Right, and at the end of the day, I’m not a believer in symptoms. I’m a believer that that’s just a warning sign for an imbalance and that there’s an underlying issue and I think that the industry needs to do a better job at addressing the true underlying issue.

Jay Clouse: 00:00:31

Startup investment landscape is changing and world class companies are being built outside of Silicon Valley. We find them talk with them and discuss the upside of investing in them. Welcome to upside.

Eric Hornung: 00:00:59

Hello Hello Hello. Welcome to the upside podcast, the first podcast finding upside outside of Silicon Valley. I’m Eric Hornung and I’m accompanied by my co-host, Mr. Innovation Blind Spot himself, Ross Baird. Wow. Jay, how about that? Just throw you right under the bus. Ross is my co-host today. Tell the people what we’re doing

Jay Clouse: 00:01:20

Today we have a really fun special episode. We’ll still have a founder on walking through learning about her and her company. However, I am not going to be a part of that conversation. Instead, Eric is going to be joined by Ross Baird, the president of Village Capital to walk through that discussion

Eric Hornung: 00:01:40

And what his Village Capital?

Jay Clouse: 00:01:41

Village Capital is a venture capital fund which finds trains and invests in entrepreneurs solving real world problems. They’re based in Washington, DC. They also work closely with the rise of the rest program. Ross founded that in close to 2009. He’s also the author of the book Innovation Blind Spot, which is what you referenced in our intro there.

Eric Hornung: 00:02:03

That’s true. Ross and his book and his writings have been essential in our development as people interviewing founders. I think that their blog has a lot of great stuff. Their website has a lot of great resources. The way that Ross thinks about things I think is very unique in that Ross thinks a lot about incentives and incentive structures and how to form a fund with those incentive structures in place, so it should be a really enlightening conversation. Getting to hear his perspective on reviewing a founder.

Jay Clouse: 00:02:34

Something he talks about in the book that you’ve talked about as well is this single pocket investing thesis. Can you give a quick high level on that?

Eric Hornung: 00:02:43

Yeah, so high level, and we’ll get into it a little bit more with Ross, is that society’s mindset is that you either invest for money and profit or you invest in philanthropy to make things better. His idea is that instead of having these two pockets invest from, okay, I’ll put 10 percent of my salary over here in 90 of my salary here. It’d be better if all of your investments were single pocket investments and that they serve both a larger purpose and they also made money.

Jay Clouse: 00:03:08

Great, and that leads to today’s guest, Lindsay Moeller. Lindsey is the founder of Concur. Concur creates holistic skincare products that agree with our natural biology and protect the microbiome. They focus on getting to the core of skin issues using natural science. She graduated from Ohio state with a degree in Biology and Molecular Genetics.

Eric Hornung: 00:03:30

Awesome. Well, I’m excited for this episode. Jay we’re going to miss you, but we will catch up with you at the debrief. Jay, you ready to talk to Ross?

Jay Clouse: 00:03:38

Let’s do it. Ross, welcome to the show.

Ross Baird: 00:03:44

Thanks. Thanks for having me. Great to be here.

Eric Hornung: 00:03:46

Ross, I’ve read your book and I know that you have another one coming out soon, but I was just wondering if you could start kind of at a high level about what your investment thesis as a venture capitalist and as village capitalist.

Ross Baird: 00:04:00

Yeah. You know, I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I started Village Capital in my own experience being an entrepreneur, building companies, seeing a lot of great ideas for, for various reasons, completely not related to how good the idea. We’re getting overload, getting misunderstood and not getting the resource to need it because they weren’t run by people who were in positions of power or positions of power so that the core mission of of village capital, the firm I founded almost 10 years ago and have built with a great team, has been to make entrepreneurship more open, more democratic. I mean the core idea is there are a lot of people, a lot of places, a lot of industries that aren’t well capitalized and are undervalued not not because they’re not building good businesses with because the market is looking in different directions. So I think by thinking differently about where you find ideas, who you engage with and what problems you’re solving, you can realize better returns than you can. You can deliver more transformative value to the world.

Eric Hornung: 00:04:58

And what made you decide that venture capital was the direction that you personally wanted to pursue to enact that change?

Ross Baird: 00:05:26

You know, I don’t. I still don’t think of myself as a venture capitalist. I think of myself as an entrepreneur. I think capital is neither a good or a bad thing. It’s just a tool to solve a problem and I was working for an investment firm and I tell this story in my book, The Innovation Blind Spot when I was in college. I started in education technology firm and I met a guy who became a mentor of mine and invested in my company. He put $10,000 into my idea, um, and I knew him. He was like kind of an acquaintance from the same social network that I was in, like our families kind of knew each other and he did a bunch of random angel investing. His name was Bob. He was an incredible mentor of mine and he wanted to start doing much more focused and direct investing in businesses. And I thought about my own experience as an entrepreneur and I happened to one degree away through family connections from a guy who had $10,000 to invest or as most people with great ideas don’t know if somebody who’s able to put $10,000 to work really quickly. And so our original mandate working for this guy, Bob, who hired me as an investment analyst with a mandate of going out to find companies, invest in the original idea was, well there are a lot of people that are not one degree away from people with capital and what can we build to support them? And I think 10 years later the work that I’ve been doing is largely been from that initial experience of mine being able to build a business, A, cause we had a good idea and worked hard, but B, we were lucky enough to be pretty close to people with capital and thinking about all the people that that aren’t necessarily. So I. Yeah, I mean I would say I run an investment firm because capital is a very powerful tool to solve a problem, but it’s a tool not an internet south.

Eric Hornung: 00:06:51

I like how you think about running an investment firm as being an entrepreneur. You mentioned earlier that you guys think differently at village capital. What are some of the things that make Village Capital unique as compared to traditional VC firm?

Ross Baird: 00:07:04

I think that Venture Capital is somewhat of a monocrop culture, like we do a lot in agriculture. If you look at, if you look at industrial agriculture, you see for miles and miles and you drive through Iowa, you see miles and miles of the same strain of corn over and over and over again. And you can crank out a lot of corn that way, but it destroys the soil like kills biodiversity. It doesn’t taste very good and even though it’s quote unquote scalable and I see a lot of venture capital firms in pursuit of scale lose diversity of people and ideas. So I was wondering why most venture capital firms seemed kind of the same thing and I did some research and found out that the average venture capital firm is structure off of the whaling industry in the 19th century. Really up until the whaling industry came along people people didn’t really invest in other people’s companies, but whaling whale oil was the most valuable commodity and the days of Moby Dick and these, these voyages were so expensive and so likely to fail that 1 out of 20 would succeed. 19 out of 20 would fail, but that one would be so profitable it would, it would carry the whole thing. What today is a limited partnership fund was designed for the whaling industry. And today if I’m a venture capitalist and I make money, it’s called Carrie or carried interest that originally the crew and the whaling expeditions got to keep what they could carry home personally from the shit. So we’ve seen a lot of innovation and venture capital around what kinds of things we invest in, whether it’s mobile or crypto or whatever. We haven’t seen actually a structural or process innovation and a couple hundred years. And so what we’ve been doing is trying to build a different system with structural and process innovations that can, can yield better results. So for example, um, probably our core thing that’s most different is entrepreneurs themselves in our pipeline make investment decisions. I, as an entrepreneur, always now it’s kinda like when you’re in class, like the kid always knows what to say when the teacher calls on them but didn’t do their homework and doesn’t necessarily know their stuff. Like you don’t know who’s much more flash than substance, as much more substance than flash and entrepreneurs tend to, in some cases be better than professional investment committees at spotting who has substance. And so we have entrepreneurs make investment decisions and it’s given us a much more diverse portfolio in a portfolio that’s outperforming the typical venture capital fund.

Jay Clouse: 00:09:21

I love that. I’ve never heard that whale analogy. Eric, you responded so almost knowingly when he said that. Did you, have you heard this before?

Eric Hornung: 00:09:27

I have. It might’ve been in the book. It might have been somewhere else, but I have heard it before

Jay Clouse: 00:09:31

And you were holding out on me. Wow. Ross, you’re talking about some of the ways that you create process and structure is different for village capital. Something else Eric shared with me several months ago was the viral framework that you guys have at village capital. I’d love to hear you talk a little bit about what that is and how you put it together.

Ross Baird: 00:09:48

Yeah, sure. So I think one of the biggest, and again thinking about my career where I’ve been both an entrepreneur and an investor, one of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs when you’re fundraising or trying to start your company is is founders just speak a fundamentally different language than investors. Founders are starting at the beginning and working forwards. Investors are usually starting at the end and working backwards. So for example, when I say I’m early stage founders and investors to find early stage is completely different things, traction, completely different things. I’m doing well in revenue growth, completely different things. And so we’ve worked with over a thousand founders and we’ve worked with hundreds of investors and one of the things that we saw was really important to try and create a framework to help translate were founders and investors are. So they are literally on the same page. So we developed this methodology and we borrowed it NASA as a technology readiness level. So the person at mission control and the astronauts and the person in Houston are all talking about the same thing when they’re talking about a technology. And we borrowed the technology readiness level framework to go to what we call investment readiness level. And viral is a, is a cute acronym for that, but it’s, it’s, it’s basically a level one company is a woman or a guy with an idea that hasn’t really started anything yet. Level nine is I’m making tens of millions of dollars. I’m doing very well. I don’t really need anybody’s help, I’m fine. And most businesses are somewhere in between. So instead of, you know, very often a founder will pitch a company in venture capitals to say this is great. Love what you’re doing. You’re a bit too early stage for us. Come back when you have more traction. And entrepreneurs is what the heck does that mean? Like what is too early stage attraction have now any investor can say, you know, we typically invest at level five or six. You seem to be a level three company here that whether it’s your team or whether it’s your product development or whether it’s revenue growth, like here are the two or three things that are the biggest gaps between where we are and where you are. You know, focus on these specific things and then maybe we’d be at the same level one day. So we’ve, we’ve found over and over again getting investors, entrepreneurs still literally use the same language when they’re talking about their business. Really, really important.

Eric Hornung: 00:11:54

I love that because here on upside, whenever we’re asking to find other founders were asking for recommendations, we usually say we’re pre-series A and I haven’t converted yet to using the viral framework in that, but this idea that what is pre-series A, who knows, right? I feel like everything is blending together A series A, B bridge doesn’t really matter. There’s so many different phases of funding now that it’s nice to have kind of a Rosetta Stone template in the viral framework and I really, I really liked that.

Jay Clouse: 00:12:23

Well, Ross, what do you want to get in here and talk with Lindsay, but before we do, our listeners are going to learn a lot in the way you think simply from the questions that you ask. Is there any high level guidance that you would give somebody when they’re talking to an entrepreneur who’s looking to understand where they are in that framework? Are there any like good goto questions that you know you use a lot?

Ross Baird: 00:12:45

Yeah, I mean I think there are a couple. I think the most basic one is what is the problem that you are solving? I think the most frequent failures I see our solutions looking for a problem. So we have this great thing and we’re going to go out and we’re going mark it in salad is very different than tell me a story of a person who has a problem and tell me the before and after of when you intercept them. How is their life fundamentally better. If you can’t tell that story it’s the rest is just difficult. So I would start there and then I think the rest of it is, you know, there’s a saying if you’ve met one investor, you’ve met one investor, everyone has their own specific things and you know, a lot of times I hear founders say and I’ve felt this way when I’m raising money. It’s like, why can’t they just understand how good my thing is? And it’s important to recognize that everyone has their own likes and dislikes and preferences, and when you’re talking to an investor, it’s, it’s feeling out if you’re a bit like, just because you’re not ready for investment from a particular investor doesn’t mean you’re bad, it’s just you’re not a fit for that particular investor. So I think starting with the problem you’re solving and understanding whether there is a mutual fit relatively early on, I think is, is pretty important.

Jay Clouse: 00:14:00

Awesome. Well let’s jump into this interview.

Eric Hornung: 00:14:02

Great. Lindsay, welcome to the podcast.

Lindsey Moeller: 00:14:09

Hi. Hi Eric. Hi Ross. Thanks for having me.

Ross Baird: 00:14:12

Hi, great to connect.

Eric Hornung: 00:14:13

Likewise. Well, we like to start on upside with kind of a history of the founder. So can you tell us about the history of Lindsay?

Lindsey Moeller: 00:14:20

Sure. Where do, where do I start there? For me personally, so my education background is all in science. Then I went to LSU here in Columbus, Ohio State University, Go Bucks. I went to school for biology and molecular genetics. I did cancer research at the James for a few years and then my professional life took me into marketing because whoever does their degree anymore. So I worked at end retail, big brand retail here in Columbus. You’re l brands, Justice Limited, that type of thing. I’m running digital marketing for several years before I decided to jump ship and do my own thing, and that really was because of the loss that my family and I had. We lost her mother to an environmental cancer and a lot of frustrations came about from her treatment plan and then what kind of happened and just the inability to do what we wanted to do that were refined health when we were. We were finding health and healing. Alternative therapies are working really, really well for her, but we didn’t have the infrastructure or the the, the ability to really pursue what we wanted to pursue and felt like our hands were tied and I want to fix that. So starting with products, I’m looking at the product industry, the CPG industry, and seeing how we can start to offer better, more holistic problem solving solutions to the marketplace.

Eric Hornung: 00:15:36

What is environmental cancer? Excuse my ignorance if I don’t know.

Lindsey Moeller: 00:15:40

Sure. It was her cancer was caused by environmental toxins, so Mesothelioma is an environmental cancer because it typically is attracted from as best as exposure. So things that are in our products that are causing toxicity and ultimately leading to disrupt them of our DNA and then in cancer.

Eric Hornung: 00:15:58

I’m sorry for your loss. I probably should’ve said that first. I was just really curious about what environmental cancer rose. I’m sure I’m interested in kind of how you came. I mean I see the, the crux there where there’s this event in your life that kind of changed the course of what you were doing. How did you come to start what is called bomb and what is now called concur?

Lindsey Moeller: 00:16:18

Well, I think at the, in the very beginning it was kind of like where do I start from here? Right? With my science background, you know, and at this point we were doing a lot of stuff with my mom, whether it was making different products and I’ve been studying herbalism for a period of time and so the formulation piece was I’m very, very familiar with. I’m familiar with the lab. I’d kind of know how to set up the lab so that was a natural progression for me is to get in and start figuring out how to make some of these products and solve the problem from a formulation perspective. And I addressed the product industry really because that was an area that I felt most comfortable with starting right? Using my natural or what I’ve known my education and what I could kind of help to solve right away. And so in tinkering in that it just allowed us to produce some products and that we were able to get some focus groups around some testing around working with different practitioners and developing some of their formulations and lead into getting into skincare and skincare really is just the beginning. Getting forced for us where we want to start somewhere. We really wanted to test the market to understand our customer. There was a demand for these types of products and so we just kept our SKU’s really small, doing a very particular system to test that first and foremost. So Bomb really was the starting point of that in that test, in that testing process and involves for my sister is Brooke, Allison, Lindsay and Maura, so it was and they were involved in in their own ways when a part of the brand in their own ways, but ultimately we’re the learnings from what we’ve learned for the past 18 months and really relaunching with what we feel is a stronger brand, a stronger presence, a stronger focus on the formulation in a stronger way to impact the industry.

Eric Hornung: 00:18:01

How do your siblings feel about the fact that you changed the name from their initials to a new name?

Lindsey Moeller: 00:18:06

Well, I’m in all transparency because I believe in transparency and it wasn’t a change that we would necessarily wanted to. The bump term is commonly used if you wouldn’t have already guessed and ran into some trademark issues, so we did have to adjust because of that, but we saw that as an opportunity to kind of fix what we need to fix and launch. I got their blessing so and they’re, they’re okay with the new brand

Eric Hornung: 00:18:30

And are you using this kind of name changes like a relaunch or how is that all working from a marketing perspective since you have a marketing background?
Lindsey Moeller: 00:18:38

Yes, we are seeing it as a relaunch and in relaunching with some stronger features and a different focus. Definitely more of a bold brand. I’m really big on branding and I think creating that relationship with the customer is is of utmost importance. I’m creating that trust with the customer in the beginning in a bomb. We didn’t spend any money on marketing, so we just organically was testing and enough mouth testing, understanding that and really communicating with our customer and now with Concur we are putting some marketing dollars behind what we feel is creating that optimal customer and launching in a stronger way to develop that trusting relationship with the customer.

Eric Hornung: 00:19:17

What were the first products that you started with and you mentioned a lot of testing, a lot of kind of getting feedback from people. How did you pinpoint, okay, I want to start with this product specifically. You mentioned you have a background in biology and you have a background in this space, but how did you pick like, okay, this is the product I want to start with?

Lindsey Moeller: 00:19:34

Well, it was when we were developing different products, so we were doing supplements at the time for different natural practitioners and we really did focus as a private label business in the very, very beginning. And um, I worked with an acupuncturist. I focused on dermatology and help develop some creams that she was looking at, some probiotic creams. That relationship really got us moving in that direction just because of the results that she was seeing, how much she really loved the product and that does kind of started us down this. Okay. You know, let’s just, let’s start with skincare for sure. In transition away from disobedience to business to focus on direct to consumer products.

Eric Hornung: 00:20:10

So you guys are your business right now is all B to C, is that correct?

Lindsey Moeller: 00:20:14

Correct.

Ross Baird: 00:20:16

A mentor of mine once said, having a superior product but not having a superior distribution strategy is like bringing a knife to a gunfight. And that’s to me the other risk I see is you have this amazing thing, but you know there, there are a lot of crappy skincare products that have incredible distribution deals and it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how much better you are if you can’t get to people. So, so what’s your, what’s your game plan for a killer distribution strategy? And if I’m an investor, I would want an in your company, I’d want to know how it putting that million dollars into your company, mitigate or address that risk.

Lindsey Moeller: 00:20:54

Yeah. So right now we’re working with, again, the director consumer model is are our bread and butter. That’s our first and foremost focus is how do we get her to our e-commerce channel, right? We really want to get her on a subscription plan. Our customers asked for that for one and we feel like we can really create the most optimal customer by getting her on subscription. And so working with companies that support more of a direct to consumer model, like Dually, QVC, HSN were already in relationships with them. We’re already looking to lock down those air times. So that would be another, a partnership deal that we would look at that would help support, you know, getting us out there in front of a larger audience. And then working with obviously in the digital space, you know, working with influencers. We were, thankfully we had the opportunity to go out to the Oscars within like two months of being in business on how they found us assets coming out on a whim were just like, sure, you know, we went out there and we were part of the gifting suites and the side bags and all of that. So we have a lot of celebrity relationships that we can tap into. Some of them cost money, some of them don’t. We already have some celebrity influencers right now that has helped to support our growth. I mean just from a social media perspective, we’re only about 18 months old and we already have 20,000 followers when we’ve never spent any money on marketing, so that a lot of that has come with some of the influencers that have been a part of the brand from the very beginning. And we can utilize them with some of our growth going forward. But yeah, I mean I think our first focus is on a direct to consumer. I think we can use a wholesale model. We can work with spa’s and focus on a back bar potentially. Um, we do locally. We have some of those partners already here in Columbus, Ohio and we can focus on how we use wholesale, especially if we focus on the packaging piece that will help us create some longevity in our products. We will be able to put our products out there, maybe not, maybe more just samples are really small quantities, maybe not like full size containers, but we still can work with that and some distribution there. But our focus is direct to consumer at first while we’re building the brand.

Ross Baird: 00:22:58

Some people are building products and some people are trying to build a company. And, and I think the distinction is if Concur is a suite of great products and in three to five years, I don’t know, large cosmetic company says concur has some great products that’s just acquire the products and that’s better than anything we’ve got. A company is a bit different and it’s something, you know, standing alone perhaps for a long period of time taking on some of these large cosmetic companies. And they both are okay. There are different types of investors, different paths, like are you excited about the product you’re developing or are you excited about the company? And the answer is probably both, but which is which is more important to you?

Lindsey Moeller: 00:23:41

More so the company. I think that’s a really great question. Yes. The products for me right now, we’re really for us to get into this space and prove the demand because we’re focused on from a product perspective because we’re focused on microbiome, we have the flexibility to get into building out our product portfolio because there are so many areas of the body that are affected by microbiome disruption. So I mean to think of your scalp Dandruff is really just microbiome disruption. Something you can get into hair care, you can get into oral care, you can get into, you know, deodorants, you can get into, you know, feminine hygiene. We can get into lots of different areas where the bacterial balance is so important for that area’s health, but ultimately for me it really is focusing is the company. It’s focusing on building a sustainable business model that can be replicated. You know, I would love if other people would try to copy what we’re doing because that means that there’s a shift in the industry and there’s a paradigm shift in the way the consumers are really trying and wanting to get their products. I would love that. So in my mind, selling out quote unquote right to one of the bigger guys who are still just kind of a behemoth and doing things in a way that I don’t necessarily think is the best way for the consumer doesn’t really get me excited. So I would really want more sustainable way to address these business issues and create that come, you know, create that um, that company that, that standalone company for ourselves. And for us too, it’s taken a look at not just products, you know. I think the way that consumers are approaching lifestyle is changing, but we’re learning this from our customers right now. As soon as we just actually a few weeks ago here with our customer base that we are changing and moving over to Concur. And in that conversation I thought there’d be a lot of questions about like, you know, why the name change, all these different things and it wasn’t, all our customers were asking us is when are you going to come out with shampoo? When are you going to get it, come out with deodorant, when are you going to come out with body wash? And so our customer now has loved our product so much and trusted us with just skincare. Now they want us for everything else in her lifestyle, you know, they’re asking us questions about where to go to get dental care, you know, because they want a more holistic approach there. They’re asking us about where to go, you know, what do you think about a natural path? What do you think about, uh, you know, an herbalist, what are you think about all these different alternative options. We were realizing that it really is a lifestyle. It’s not just product. And so I think as a strong company understanding that they’re, there is potentially a service side to this as well. And really developing how she, it really working with her and how she wants to communicate or be a part of the company that that creates this products for her, which is why we think that the tech piece is really important and getting that feedback loop to how law, allowing us to understand, you know, an individual’s microbiome and how it changes. And so now you can really start to build technology that focuses on individual consumer health instead of just a gamut of products that people just like.

Ross Baird: 00:26:38

It’s just really important at the outset to figure out what you want to be in. Figure out the right system to do it. So I appreciate it. Cool.

Eric Hornung: 00:26:45

So I’m curious in your own words, what problem is bomb slash Concur solving?

Lindsey Moeller: 00:26:52

So when I looked at the space, I looked at the industry and one of the issues that we’re really falling into with my mom specifically was that the product that we were using, one of the many things, right? So when you, when you’re in a compromised state, there’s lots of things that you have to take into consideration. So your diet, you know, what goes into your body, what’s going on your body, and that was a challenge is that we just really couldn’t find the products that we felt were best suited for the state that she was in. And as we were looking at the industry, yes, that’s frustrating as a compromise, you know, with somebody who’s ill, but ultimately taking that philosophy and looking at the entire industry as a whole, we feel like the industry is so super focused on a symptomatic approach where they’re always trying to treat a symptom. So especially in the personal care industry and in skincare it’s, you have oily skin, you have dry skin, you have acneic skin, you have Eczema, you have psoriasis, you have all these different symptoms, right? And at the end of the day, I’m not a believer in symptoms. I’m a believer that that’s just a warning sign for an imbalance and that there’s an underlying issue. And I think that the industry needs to do a better job at addressing the true underlying issue. And when you look at skincare, the microbiome is the first and foremost foundational relationship that we need to protect, to protect healthy skin. And so that’s really the focus of the problem that we’re trying to solve as get away from all these symptoms. It’s like missing the forest for the trees, kind of, you know, everyone’s so focused on these, these really tight knit or type cast. I guess putting customers in this box and we’re just saying first and foremost, let’s address the most, the most basically layer of what could be causing the problem. That way it’s much easier to treat. You know, when you’re eating healthy, it’s easier to fix a problem because you probably know what it could be if you’re, if you’re using healthier products, it’s much easier to fix a problem if it does arise. And so that’s what we feel like the industry needs to focus on is protecting the microbiome, looking at it from a more holistic perspective and allowing people to have products that they can trust.

Ross Baird: 00:28:54

Take me down to like a personal level, like whose problem are you solving? What is their life look like before you come along? What does their life look like because you’re here,

Lindsey Moeller: 00:29:06

Like how you phrased that? I think that topic is always a little bit challenging for me to answer specifically because we have impacted several different types of people when we, when we are surveying our customer base, we have patients who are in their teens and dealing with acne which is obviously a problem. And we’re also working with, you know, customers that have the eczema and psoriasis and just can’t find the right products for them. So people that have a little bit more challenging skin issues and we’re also just, you know, really connecting with that more naturally minded consumer who is looking for the right products. And who was looking for increasingly looking for more natural products that don’t have these long lists of synthetic ingredients. We do really captivate the consumer, again, that more natural minded consumer, but we also address more serious issues like acne, like eczema, like psoriasis that are a little more clinical as well. And we’ve seen all the spectrum of those costs of those within our customer base. What, you know from 18 years old to 14 years old to 75 years old and impacting the gamut, but I think our core audiences, what we’re really looking for is that consumer that is, is becoming more nationally minded. And so she’s typically within that, you know, 35 to 50 year range where, you know, maybe she’s just having a family and I feel like from a female perspective when people go through, you know, having children, usually that’s one of their first light bulb moments because they get these, you know, the here like, you can’t have this or you can’t use this or don’t use this product on your child or you can’t eat this product. And then then that’s where it’s like, well, wait a minute, if I can’t have these things when I’m pregnant or my child can’t have them, why am I ever having them? You know? And so those moments in life where people are becoming a little more conscious and aware of what products are using their lifestyle, that’s really our target customer because she understands and she values and appreciates the effort and the work that we’re trying to do to change the industry

Eric Hornung: 00:31:06

And is anyone else doing this really well?

Lindsey Moeller: 00:31:10

There are a couple of companies out there that focus on microbiome and we can get into that too because I know that’s a Science Science word that probably doesn’t mean that much to some people, but it really is just that bacteria relationship and it’s a very common conversation now with gut health and immunity where you know the whole supplement industry is now focused on probiotics and prebiotics and all these things that help protect that bacterial balance in our gut because it’s so important for digestion and immunity, but it’s no different on the skin. There’s actually significantly more bacteria species on the skin than there is in the gut and that’s our first line of defense. So there are a couple of companies out there focused on it. There’s a product company that has a bacterial spray spray that you can spray. There’s a couple other companies that focus on non water products because water used preservatives, but the challenge that that is from the industry perspective when you focus on microbiome is you can’t use preservatives. If you think of a preservative, it’s intention is to kill bacteria. It’s no different than an antibiotic and you wouldn’t take antibiotics every day, right? No doctor would prescribe that because of how disruptive that is to your entire body. But we use products with preservatives in them every single day, twice a day, three times a day, layering lottery in a monitor skin and completely destroying that, that bacterial balance. Um, and there’s some research out there that’s that’s proving the disruption and how it changes that ecosystem. So it’s a strong challenge for a big brand companies to now take preservatives out of their products. And so you don’t see a lot of people focus on this and our solve is not just an a product formulation, but our solve is how the customer receives it right? And so we’re doing a made to order a direct to consumer model. We’re bypassing the shelves so that way we don’t aren’t forced to compromise the integrity of our formulations. We want to get it direct to consumer and we do know there’s a shelf life so it’s very much like bringing the concept of food and fresh food into the skincare industry.

Eric Hornung: 00:33:08

So how long does one of these products last? Since they’re made with all organic materials and there’s no preservatives, like is it two weeks then you got to buy it every two weeks? Or is it a little bit longer? A little bit shorter?

Lindsey Moeller: 00:33:21

One of our most sensitive products, we do say two months. So it’s not, it’s not terrible. It’s not like you have to buy this every week and it could go bad, but a lot of the focus is on the packaging. So you can. I mean in food has figured out the food industry has figured this out, right? They, they’re able to take fresh food, package it completely vacuum seal it and get it to the consumer. I think the challenge with the cosmetic industry is that as consumers, we’re used to these beautiful ornate packages that we spent a lot of money on and that doesn’t necessarily protect the product. And so the industry is focused on, well, let me change the formulation and that will extend the shelf life where I think there’s a really, there could be a really strong focus on adjusting the packaging slightly to help protect the longevity of the product and so you know, using errorless containers, using things, if you don’t introduce bacteria to the product, it won’t grow bacteria if it’s. If it’s made in a sterile environment. And that’s really where our focus is, is how can we adjust and innovate on the packaging side to help increase longevity. But right now, we are moving towards more of a subscription model where it’s every month and all of our products will will last well over a month.

Eric Hornung: 00:34:31

I have a couple of questions that come out of that as it relates to your guys’ supply chain. So you have specialized manufacturing. I’m guessing that not everyone’s carrying all of these organic ingredients that makes the traditional cosmetics and then you have specialized packaging. Can you just talk us through what your supply chain looks like, how, how are you manufacturing these and how that all kind of fits in to getting to the consumer?

Lindsey Moeller: 00:34:54

Sure yeah, that’s a great question and I think that’s honestly one of the biggest challenges that is that we’re solving is that we’re trying to disrupt the way that industry thinks about getting products to consumers and how to do it in a very ethical way. So right now we do own our supply chain. We produce a manufacturer, all the products here on, on at our lab, since you know we have just tested this model over the last 18 months. We’re at a volume that we could handle and from a scalability perspective we are working with another manufacturer that we can move to that understands the limitations and is able to still produce on demand at us at a, at a larger scale. As far as sourcing goes, we do a lot of local sourcing here and from origin, so I’m really big on getting high quality, nutritious ingredients for my products and I have to be very particular of what the soil, they were grown in, you know, what origin, whereas the grow more naturally that way they’re not farmed and these quote unquote sketchy areas if you will and wasn’t really pc but um, but we have identified our partners that will help us scale. Right now we do want to keep it as local as possible and we have several local suppliers right now. But sourcing is a challenge. I mean ethical sourcing is a really big challenge and it takes a lot of work to find the right suppliers. And that’s another thing that I feel like Concur stands for conscious and curative products and not to take away a little bit, but one of the things we really want to do is develop conscious consumers. And I think sharing these challenges to the consumer has helps them understand why the industry is the way that it is. It is much easier to go with, you know, a brand that has super cheap sourcing, you know, comes from overseas, probably comes from China, much easier, much cheaper rate, but I think it behooves us as a company and being transparent to tell the customer this is the challenges that we’re facing. We want to fix this, but it’s going to require us to probably work with some smaller outfits. It’s going to be a little bit more pricey. But if we can let her know those things, then she could feel more comfortable at least making that decision to help increase the demand and the way that I feel that the trend is going in the industry

Ross Baird: 00:37:04

You know I investment for them. But I really think of myself more as an entrepreneur. I’ve always been building stuff my whole career and one of the things that I have personally experienced and noticed with a range of companies is, is as you scale the temptation as the founders to want to do more, but actually if you’re if you’re not able to do less and have people that are better than you at certain competencies taking, you know that it’s just, it’s not gonna work and I’m, you know, I’ve learned that and I’ve seen that lesson the hard way. I think that any question around fundraising and scaling ultimately comes to team. Tell me, tell me about your team. Who’s in key leadership roles? Who Do you want but you can’t afford, but if you raise money you could afford to bring them on. Like, like how are you thinking about building the right team to get you there?

Lindsey Moeller: 00:37:49

I think that’s a really great question and to meet the team piece is so important there. As I’m going through it, there’s so much that I don’t know, completely aware of that and really looking for the right people to get in place to run these, these petitions. And thankfully I’ve had a lot of connections, whether it be in retail, you know, working in big brand retail or even in, you know, working in cancer research. And so I’ve been able to kind of pull from my own personal network of people that really want to help move this project forward. And so on our leadership team, we have Anthony Mackintosh who is over our key strategy and operations, you know, we have someone who came from the limited, these are C level positions that are coming in and kind of helping in our leadership team who came from the limited and harbor freight running ecommerce site. So we have someone who’s really running our ecommerce division. We have another person that came from Victoria Secret who was running all of our branding and creative direction to really help that consumer focusing piece. I really focus a lot more on the innovation the formulations and that’s the mess. My key niche and I’m finding the right people to come in and, and working with OSU to bring in the right chemical engineers that I trust that they understand my philosophy, to really help with the innovation piece. We’ve made really strong relationships with packaging patent owners and from packaging companies that are looking to innovate in the cosmetic space to kind of help us get where we want to go and so we’ve made a lot of these connections really just by sharing our story, getting out there, sharing what we want to change, we’re really filling the roles that we’ve filled. We need to fill one of them really as an operations is one of the biggest roles that I want to fill, especially as we’re considering scalability and making sure that we don’t lose sight of processes as we scale and we’re being very strategic and smart about how we grow.

Eric Hornung: 00:39:37

So what is the price point of Concur’s products compared to the competitors that may be using more artificial or preservative type ingredients?

Lindsey Moeller: 00:39:48

Well, we won’t get down to your, your typical chain like Walmart, target. We’re probably not gonna get down to the price range right now we’re more at the department store level, so we’re very comparable to, you know, the Macy’s, the MAC cosmetics, those types of things. The Carolinas are comparable price points, so a set for us that lasts about two months, it’s about $100, so that’s very comparable to what you would get at a department store.

Eric Hornung: 00:40:15

And what’s included in a set?

Lindsey Moeller: 00:40:17

There’s three products, cleanser, a toner and moisturizer. And this is just the beginning of what we’re trying to launch. What we’ve changed in the formulation is, so we’re saying this is the system that really helps to protect the microbiome, so using all these two things. So for example, our cleanser, our cleanser doesn’t use soap, so soap isn’t an alkaline product and the bacteria in your skin like an acidic environment and so using anything with soap, even if it’s an organic soap, is still going to disrupt the microbiome slightly, so keep everything at a very lowest that at PH is really important. So all of our formulations are changed just slightly so, but it still is a cleansing, you know, mechanism. You’re still cleansing the dirt from your your skin, you’re still getting rid of this stuff from the day, but it follows up with the right products that really helped create that natural homeostasis. If you will, or environment for the bacteria that will help create a thriving, a thriving skin environment

Ross Baird: 00:41:12

Walk me through five years from now, what failure looks like? What say Concur doesn’t exist, what do you think is the most likely reason that that happened?

Lindsey Moeller: 00:41:23

I feel like the easiest answer to say is run out of money.

Ross Baird: 00:41:27

Yeah, you can. I mean that’s usually
another problem.

Lindsey Moeller: 00:41:32

I know. I think for us it is obviously expand our customer base. You know, right now in five year what would cause that. So man yeah, I mean just really not getting in front of them enough customers. We are, the industry is super saturated, which obviously we’re learning and we’re trying to come up up against. The consumer is super undereducated too. She doesn’t know the difference between what is a microbiome, why’s it is important to me, why does it even matter? And so we really have to cut through a lot of the noise and I think that is one of our biggest challenges is how are we going to market to her and get in front of, and captivate an audience when she’s being bombarded by everyone and their brother about all these different skincare products that had the new shiny thing right? And I’m up against companies that, yeah, they’ve raised their first round $8,000,000 and can do all these fancy marketing tools and tricks and have all this amazing content and captivate an audience and still offer just an okay and subpar product in my mind. And so yeah, we’re up against that in the digital space, in the digital world. How do we get in front of it? And the other challenges that we’re up against, this is time and the microbiome conversations are starting to happen. So there’s a microbiome conference that’s in its second year and some of the big companies are a part of that Congress. And really understanding how they can now tap into microbiome. And we really want to get to the space first so we can create the dialogue that we think is more accurate than potentially somebody else and bigger creating that dialogue that might not necessarily be true, but they could use it for their advantage for marketing purposes right? And confuse the consumer. And that’s my biggest concern is that she, she, he really needs to understand why this matters and if we don’t get it in front of her in time and somebody else is gonna come along and do it and maybe do it incorrectly.

Ross Baird: 00:43:22

That’s great. Are you raising money now?

Lindsey Moeller: 00:43:24

We are. We’re in the middle of a fundraising, a seed fund or seed fundraising round right now we’re looking to raise about a million.

Ross Baird: 00:43:34

I always think it’s important to go back to the start, like it’s much easier in some cases to grow your company. The more control you have. So why are you raising money to begin with?

Lindsey Moeller: 00:43:45

Well, right now I feel like that’s a great question. The start of concur really is just the first stepping stone. So we have a long way to get to where I really want to get to, so it’s not just a product focus for us, it’s addressing lots of different things within the industry. And again, several of the problems that I want to solve aren’t, aren’t just product related. Um, a lot of it has to do with, you know, again, what happened with, with my mom and the treatment plan so that, that runs into healthcare and other issues. But I really think product is the right place to start because that’s how you build a brand, that’s how you build a following, that’s how you build a customer base. And if we can get it a customer base that we can really start to educate then I can take her along the journey as our, as our business really develops into the next phase that we’re going to be. So for example one of the, the tech pieces that we really want to integrate into it, um, in some of these pieces are going to be costly, especially in their initial investment. But we want to, we’re working with someone with a microbial test kit. So the customer can test the before and after of using our products and see how her micro microbial balance changes and what that will lend itself to also is a feedback loop where we can really start to collect this data on this customer and create more customized products that focus specifically on her individual microbiome. So in order to start to really develop those pieces are we really feel like we need to build a larger consumer base and then we can work in some of those more data elements and tech pieces into, into the business model. So being after 18 months of really just doing it word of mouth, we think that we’ve proven those pieces and we can put some funding dollars behind it to make it scale more quickly so we can get to the next phase of our business.

Ross Baird: 00:45:29

I’m from village capital, we have what I call a one pocket investment philosophy, successful wonderful returns, but also have a core mission beyond just making money driving the business. And I think it’s really hard for people to hold two ideas in their head at the same time. So we have businesses that help the 50 percent of families that are in crushing debt, whether it’s student debt or medical debt work their way out of debt and their businesses. We have businesses that are working to reduce greenhouse gases and the transportation industry. So I was out fundraising like you are, and I was pitching a guy who was very successful entrepreneur. A very big philanthropist is like this guys. Both a big investor in a big philanthropist. He’ll totally get the mission of what we’re doing and he didn’t at all. He is young man, interesting idea. But I got two pockets with one pocket. I make as much money as I can and when I got enough with the other pocket, I give it all away and tell me which pocket you’re sitting in. And I was like, respectfully sir, I see it a bit differently, you know? I think mission and bottom line kind of work together. I think the world works is much more in one pocket and he didn’t invest through. He didn’t get it. And a lot of people compartmentalize that. They say, well, if you have a mission, therefore you’re not as good of a business, or you can’t possibly be. Tell me about how your mission interacts with your bottom line and how, how you think through this topic.

Lindsey Moeller: 00:46:46

I have always been a firm believer in that. I think that I think companies should do more. I’ll preface I guess with. I’m involved with conscious capitalism, if you’re familiar at all mackey of whole foods, right? And, and that whole theory of thoughts. I’m part of the Columbus chapter here and so I think, you know, creating sustainable and very conscious on businesses is essential to our economic health, our society, the type of products and the type of things that we put out in the marketplace. The accessibility to get things to the right consumer and to everyone. Right? But personally I feel like as an individual, I mean you could probably relate, you know, for me, I think that I can come back to times where I operate at my highest level, right? So we’re, I’m, I’m, I’m a really strong performer and whatever I’m doing and I’m a typically I’m eating really well. Typically, you know, I’m getting enough sleep, I have a great mental health, I have all these, I’m running all cylinders, right, and that’s when I’m a top performer. And I can also find times when I wasn’t right. I was a really low performer and I probably wasn’t eating well. I probably wasn’t exercising, you know, and I feel like there’s this cyclical pattern I think with, with individuals and when I approached the natural industry, right? And I try to do things, you know, I’m trying to educate myself and learn as a consumer and how do I do these things, how do I eat right. Whatever. Extremely overwhelming and it’s very difficult to navigate in. A lot of the onus is put on the consumer. It’s will, you should do this, will, you should do that. And not as much ownership ownership is put on the companies that are actually producing these things right? I feel like that’s what we’re missing. Honestly. The only a consumer can only do so much. She can only know so much. He or she can only know so much. They only have so much money. They only have so much time and so we can’t change. It’s both. It’s two-fold. You know, you have to get the demand from the consumers, but you have to get the access from the company and I think that as companies we should be focused on offering all the suite of products and services that allow our society to operate at this optimal level. Right. So for example, if fast food became, I mean if all fast food was a bunch of juicers, that’d be great. You know, the only options that we would have as consumers is to go and get a bunch of juice and that would be fast food is just go grab a juice or go grab a smoothie or something like that. But I do think that it. Yeah, I think it’s up to the businesses now. I think the consumers are proven that there’s a demand. I think business has to follow suit and do it in an ethical and conscious way, not just as a marketing tactic, but you know, with the holistic thought in mind that how do we elevate our society? How do we elevate and instill, create a strong economic system? You know, we have to think smarter and think bigger and think wider and not think so narrow minded and I think now is a time where it’s a strong call on corporate industry to do that. I think that the consumer is demanding it. We know it’s there, we know she’s ready for it. We just have to find, be smart and find the right way to offer her the best product so we all start vibrating and acting on a, on a more optimal level.

Eric Hornung: 00:49:48

Yeah. So if you’re listening to this podcast and you’re looking for products or you’re looking for recommend to a friend or a loved one your products, where can we go to buy them? How can we, how can we be a part of the be a part of the story?

Lindsey Moeller: 00:50:04

Sure. You will be able to go to shopconcur, s h o p c o n c u r.com. We are in the middle of the rebranding process at the end of October. I’m not sure when this podcast will be live, but um, end of October we will be up and live. Um, you can currently buy everything at BomDashskincare.com, but everything will be changed over to Concur come end of October. We’re working on all of our social media handles right now, so I wish I had one to show you, but it will be on shopconcur will be able to find everything from there.

Eric Hornung: 00:50:38

Willing to everything on the show notes eventually when everything gets launched. So Lindsey, thank you very much for coming on. Thanks for enlightening us with some awesome questions.

Ross Baird: 00:50:54

Thank’s for the time. That’s great.

Eric Hornung: 00:50:54

All right, Ross, we just talked with concur and I want us to take a step back and think about how village capital and use specifically thinks about a founder, an opportunity and a potential investment deal. Can you kind of lay out your framework for us?

Ross Baird: 00:51:10

Yeah. So I think we have looked at a few questions to even consider whether a deal is. I think the first, and it always starts with the people, is that a team that we believe in the team that we want to back and I think most importantly how well does the team understand the problem that they’re solving? What is the founders lived experience with the problem that they are trying to solve? So for example, I found the founder personal story really compelling. I think that she is incredibly motivated from her own experience to try and solve this problem and having that kind of skin in the game. Not to put upon on the name of bids, but having that kind of skin in the game or having that kind of deepening or heart attachment to spend the years it takes to build a business. Solving the problem is is really, really important.

Jay Clouse: 00:52:00

Great. Okay, so you’re looking at the founder and their background. When we talk to investors, especially at an early stage, you tend to have people who lean on the founder side and some people who will lean on the market side. Are you saying here that at village capital you guys look at the founder a little bit more heavy at the stage than the market opportunity?

Ross Baird: 00:52:20

Sure. Because the business is going to change 10,000 times, but the founding team almost certainly will not. And so you know, a great market with a team that isn’t right fit, it’s probably, it’s probably not likely to succeed. A great team that can weather a few different market changes probably much more. Now that said, I do think one of the questions that you’re raising investment capital. One of the questions I asked, is she building a product or is she building a company and I see a lot of features or products that themselves are great, but perhaps a limited market size and that could be a really good business, but in order to return investment capital you need to reach a certain level of growth. That would mean more a company that can address. They can have a big enough market capital. So I would say the market is a secondary question. We believe in the team, but I think the team always comes first.

Eric Hornung: 00:53:21

And what did you think about the market in terms of this opportunity, the market size?

Ross Baird: 00:53:25

Well, you know, I mean the market size is huge. Women using giddy products and I think that in many ways good. They’re a lot more different. We know that there are billions of dollars being spent on product like her. I think market entry and distribution isn’t the biggest risk. So I think in other types of businesses where you’re creating a new market or inventing something people haven’t seen. My questions would be more along the lines of how do you know people want to buy this? And I think with her that’s, that’s a pretty answered question. Women buy products like this all the time. I think for her, the more important question and one of my question is how are you yourself going to get the attention of very busy and distracted customer so that they buy specifically your solution? And I think she had she was on the right track with some good answers there, but it’s still a ways to go for any startup breaking into an established industry.

Eric Hornung: 00:54:23

You brought up this idea of product first company before. It’s something I haven’t really thought about and it’s a question that had me thinking. I’m curious what you think about Concur and whether it feels like a product or it feels like a company after this interview.

Ross Baird: 00:54:36

I think at this stage it feels like a product, I really enjoyed hearing about her vision for the company might be and I think it could well get there. It doesn’t feel there yet, but you know what that is actually okay. I think very often I’ve seen good products become companies through the sequence of nailing the products first. I’m not a deal breaker that she hasn’t gotten there yet on what the company looks like, but I do think with the kind of investment capital she’s raising, I do want to hear more about our vision of what the company looks like, and if she just wants to make a product that’s fine. You can build a very good product and a business and perhaps sell it through a larger firm and your capital needs in the way you think about your growth or are different. So I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be a product or or be a small business, it’s a really good thing, but if you’re raising equity investment capital, you need to show a path towards enough growth where you could repay that investment. It’s just very specific to the type of financing.

Eric Hornung: 00:55:40

So I love doing this podcast, but one of the things about this podcast that Jay and I always get to in the deal memo is, man, I wish we would’ve asked this question or that question. Are there any questions that you wish you would have had? But when would have been able to ask but just didn’t have the time.

Ross Baird: 00:55:57

I wish we could have spent more time on and this goes back to the product versus the company. Like if she’s going to build a great company, she needs to figure out who is going to sales, who’s going to do marketing, who’s going to distribution, whether they’ll join her, how she was going to recruit, how she’s going to retain them and that goes into the capital and fundraising plan. And she had some very good initial answer. Founders start thing and inspirational founders make things happen and take them to scale and if you’re investing your by nature, we’re interested in how this is going to scale, so I think more time on her growth plan for her team is if I had more follow-ups, that’s what I would ask more about.

Eric Hornung: 00:56:40

Jay, is there anything that you want to ask before I ask my final question?

Jay Clouse: 00:56:45

Yeah Ross, one of my favorite questions that you asked that I’ve heard in the past but had been lost to me and I’m so glad you brought it back. What does a failure look like five years from now? Curious to hear what you’re looking for in responses to that question.

Ross Baird: 00:57:00

I think self awareness, I think a good sense of what the risks are and an understanding of how you might mitigate that. So I think if a person says, no competition, we’re the only ones doing this, that’s almost always a red flag because there always this competition. Even if it’s the default option that you think is very bad and that’s the reason why you started this company. And so if I were to say I’m starting a beauty company in a very crowded space and our product is so much better than these other big people, but a failure is we just can’t break through and get shelf space at target or wherever the right distribution channel would be, and here’s what we’re doing to mitigate against that risk. That’s on the right direction of right question. I guess there are a million seen and unseen. I’m not looking for the perfect answer, but I am looking for thoughtfulness around a huge risk that we are very aware of and here’s what we’re doing to try and mitigate them. Even though you can’t completely remove risk, it’s starting businesses is risky.

Eric Hornung: 00:58:05

And Ross, if people want to find out more about you, where is the best place to do that? How can they learn about what you’re working on and what you’re thinking about?

Ross Baird: 00:58:14

Yeah. The firm I co-founded Village Capital. You can learn more about what we do, where we invest at billcap.com. I also wrote a book about what we’ve learned, what we’ve seen called the Innovation Blindspot. It is out in paperback next week so you can get it online or on your e-reader right now. You get it in paper back next week and hopefully give it give it a whirl.

Eric Hornung: 00:58:42

Great!

Jay Clouse: 00:58:47

Okay. Eric, so this was a very fun episode for me even though I was not involved in that interview. That’s how you guys did a great job interviewing and really, really liked Ross’s questions, which is where I’d actually like to start our discussion here. We mentioned a little bit in the previous segment with Ross, but those questions give us something new as co-host of this to work with and a little bit of a different framework to think about what stood out to you.

Eric Hornung: 00:59:14

The question that stood out to me was the question about why do you need to raise? I think that that’s a question that we have historically implied on upside that people are coming on because they understand that they’re raising in the current venture capital framework, which is three are going to do well, three, you’re going to break even, three are going to fail and one is going to hit a home run. And when you raise in that framework, there are certain expectations by the venture capital firms of what you’re going to become and that’s you’re going to get big or you’re going to try to get big or die trying to get big. I think it’s something that we need to be more cognizant of going forward in that not every company that comes on here might be perfect for that mold and that we should be thinking about this more holistically because outside of Silicon Valley there are companies being built a whole lot of ways.

Jay Clouse: 01:00:04

I completely agree with you and something that I talk with a lot of founders who go through unreal about is this exact point and they’re usually earlier much earlier than the companies we interviewed on the show. We talked to a lot of. I work with a lot of pre seed companies and some seed companies, so I think to me, I kind of just assumed these guys are already on the path to fundraising. I think just about all of our guests had raised something in the past or can you think of anybody that we’ve talked to hadn’t raised something already?

Eric Hornung: 01:00:33

I can’t. Everyone had raised money whether it was friends and family round or it was accelerator or something. There was some sort of beginning of the pipeline, beginning of the funnel and the VC funnel for each of these. Now it’s not saying that it’s too late to come out of it, but kind of once you take that series a check, that’s when I feel like it really becomes all or nothing.

Jay Clouse: 01:00:57

Actually, the one company that comes to mind is lawn guru. We asked them to come on the show. They weren’t and hadn’t at least been actively raising because they didn’t necessarily need it from a, from a revenue perspective. For them it was all growth funds, so maybe that’s one example, but yeah, I like that question too. I liked getting an understanding of and and not even to say should you be raising, but also that question doubles to say, what would you use this funding for? It pairs really well with the how can investment mitigate the risk that you’re looking at, so I like questions that have not double barreled questions, but there are multifaceted questions.

Eric Hornung: 01:01:34

Yeah, I like that. It kind of leads to a whole another conversation that we haven’t had really outside of the lawn guru and maybe the cuddle clones episodes. Those are the only two that stick out in my mind as. Okay. We kind of talked about this topic a bit. What question in that Ross asked caught your ear

Jay Clouse: 01:01:55

Company or product? I really liked that you brought it up. There are certainly a mentally running through our guests and I don’t know if it’s our guests, but I talked to a lot of companies personally that when I talked to them in the back of my head, I’m thinking this is a product. This is something that I don’t know either one, how you monetize or two, how you grow into something that stands on its own and wouldn’t just be something that should be implemented by another company, or it could be purchased by another company. But full disclosure, Lindsey went through the most recent batch of the unreal collective accelerator and in working with her, I’ve never thought of her company is just a product. I’ve always thought of concur as a company that has multiple lines and in a clear evolution, but that’s part of the reason why I didn’t want to go through the interview is I wanted to hear how you guys broke it down.

Eric Hornung: 01:02:55

It’s interesting cause I had a little bit of a different take than Ross’s as well. We asked him explicitly in that last segment, is this a company or product to you? And he said, right now it’s a product. It doesn’t mean it can’t evolve, but the vision to me, and I don’t think Lindsay said these words exactly, but the vision to me seemed to be almost educational almost. Hey, there’s a better way forward and to be kind of a maven for the microbiome movement. I thought that that could have been more of the core of the pitch effectively and the idea of the products maybe did sneak through a bit, but to me it felt like, okay, if this thing is doing it big and this one’s gonna be a company, it’s going to be a transformative company. It’s going to be. I think I’ve used this analogy before on the podcast in a different context, but how whole foods kind of turned the grocery market around and said, hey look, there’s a better way to do this. It costs more, but there’s a better way to grocery shop and there’s better things you can eat and so much of it for whole foods is educational. Especially early on in their career.

Jay Clouse: 01:03:49

And there’s a lot of examples of things that have happened recently because with the Internet you can create communities around with anything, whether it’s a gluten free line of beer or if it’s anything else that has like a specific positioning or coconut water, something that suddenly people are saying, oh, well that’s just the better water, you know.

Eric Hornung: 01:04:10

Interesting. You really. You really tapped out at.

Jay Clouse: 01:04:12

I was previously thinking about coconut water because I thought about how how good of a marketing when coconut water is because they said there’s water, but this is better water and it’s become such a big thing for the electrolytes in it and I don’t know. I see a lot of people drink coconut water. Don’t judge me on my my analogies. What I would have liked to have heard on that company versus product question, whether it’s Lindsay or any founder, if it’s the company route, which I think it needs to be for a VC model, a lot of conviction company. One hundred percent we are a company, this is what we do.

Eric Hornung: 01:04:47

Yeah. I liked that because conviction comes from a solid well thought out vision, right? When you have your vision and that’s like the thing that you’re chasing and that is so cohesive and ingrained in your brain, you’re going to have that conviction behind it. I feel like when there’s a lot of more near term, I’m so in the weeds on this and you don’t have that kind of long term vision that is maybe when you don’t have that conviction, you’re like, wait a second I’m always thinking about this. Sometimes I’m thinking about this. It goes back to that idea of vision with a focus that Jeff from Mobius sent over to us. I love that term. You got to have the vision first. Then you have to have a focus to get to that vision.

Jay Clouse: 01:05:29

And that word vision, that’s something that we talk about, we think about. We don’t ask explicitly or haven’t really asked explicitly on the podcast is pretty much ever the tell us about your vision. What’s the future version of the world where this is working? You know, that’s something I’m definitely going to bring in.

Eric Hornung: 01:05:43

Hits a funny because our interview is structured very loosely for the listeners in three phases. We talked about the founder, we talk about the company, we talked about the opportunity and the opportunity is just the vision. That entire third segment should be about the vision and yeah, you’re right. We’ve never explicitly asked what’s your vision for this?

Jay Clouse: 01:06:01

Conversely, on that point was interesting to hear Ross not really talk about market size at all. I almost got the feeling and it could have been just so we ran out of time. It was a pretty short amount of time we had to spend with Lindsey and Ross, but I got the feeling that if the company in his process makes it past the stage gate, we believe in this team and their vision, then it gets to be a deeper discussion about does the opportunity in the market makes sense.

Eric Hornung: 01:06:26

So this is something that I definitely. When we have another one of these vc mashups and I’m hoping we get someone who has a counter opinion to that because I heard a great analogy about this whole market verse team dynamic. It’s related to surfing. So if you think of the market as a wave and the founding team as a surfer, if you have a great surfer and a terrible wave or small market, it’s going to move a bit. But it’s really not going to do much if you have a great wave and a mediocre surfer, just someone who can stand up, it’s going to move a lot farther and if you have a great wave and a great surfer, I a big market and a great founding team, that’s where the magic happens. So that person obviously didn’t start with team. They start with market. And I’m curious

Jay Clouse: 01:07:18

Because Isla Gil, because I heard a similar thing without the actual direct analogy.

Eric Hornung: 01:07:23

It may have been Isla, but I’m curious to have someone else on and hear kind of the differing opinion because I think the team is incredibly important because you can pivot into a great market. You can put that on. You can pick which way do you want? Oh, Isla, if you are listening, you want to hop on the upside podcast. Jay Clouse calling you out.

Jay Clouse: 01:07:42

It’s an invitation. It’s not a call out. It’s an invitation, Isla we love to have you on the show. Well, the interesting outcome of this and not talking about the market size, which we would assume is large means our deal memo becomes a little bit more difficult because we have much less data to operate on and because we’re already running over on time, we’re not going to do a full deal memo here. I think there’s a lot to take away from this conversation for our own process and it was just fascinating to me to hear Ross’s framework and the framework of village capital.

Eric Hornung: 01:08:14

Yeah. This is going to be very helpful for us and I hope it was very helpful to the listeners to get a different perspective than just me and Jay asking questions. There is one question though, Jay, I’d like to finish up with and it’s related to concur and it’s related to Lindsay. What do you want to see from the company in the next 6 to 18 months?

Jay Clouse: 01:08:31

I feel a little biased. I feel close to this one. I will say I’m excited with the rebrand from Bom to Concur. I think it has a lot of legs. I think it has a lot of legs from a mission driven perspective in that it’s in a position in the marketplace that doesn’t have a leader at this point, so 6 to 18 months. I’m looking to see have they strengthened this position and own this position of the microbiome, protecting your microbiome on your skin. Most importantly, I’m looking at, and this is based upon Ross suggestion and also something that Lindsay and I have talked about. I’m looking at the team. What is the makeup of the team? Are they full time dedicated team members? I think this has a big opportunity and can be a market leader in this space. There’s a lot of work to be done and it needs a really strong team behind it.

Eric Hornung: 01:09:24

I agree with that. I think that my biggest thing though in the next six to 18 months is to see how this developed as a company and what I mean by that is to be a product company. I feel like you need a great brand, a great community of advocates, in this space the ability to educate people and if they can bring those three things together in some kind of cohesive vision, as we’ve been talking about, I think engagement with this brand is going to be really important because it’s a luxury brands and luxury brands need engagement. It’s just how they’re structured. If you’re gonna pay a price premium for something, there has to be a reason you were paying that price premium outside of the materials inside the product itself. So creating an emotional attachment to the brand. I’m excited to see how that develops in line with the vision in 6 to 18 months. Jay, if people want to find out more about the upside podcasts, if they want to interact, if they want to talk about Concur or Vilcap or anything we’ve talked about on this podcast or do they go.

Jay Clouse: 01:10:26

Yeah, let’s talk about here. Guys would love to hear your input. You can tweet at us at upsidefm or comment on this episode on breaker if breaker is your preferred listening platform. We also now have a Facebook page mostly so you can keep up with new episode releases, but as always you can email us hello@upside.fm if you have something you don’t want to share publicly or if you or someone you know would be a good guest on the show and we’ll talk to you next week. That’s all for this week. Thanks for listening. We’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s guest, so shoot us an email at hello@upside.fm, or find us on twitter at upsidefm. Will be back here next week at the same time talking to another founder and our quest to find upside outside of Silicon Valley. If you or someone you know would make a good guest for our show, please email us or us on Twitter and let us know and if you love our show, please leave us a review on itunes. That goes a long way in helping us spread the word and continue to help bring high quality guests to the show. Eric and I decided there were a couple things we wanted to share with you. At the end of the podcast, and so here we go. Eric Hornung and Jay Clouse or the founding parties of the episode podcast. At the time of this recording, we do not own equity or other financial interest in the companies which appear on this show. All opinions expressed by podcast participants are solely their own opinion and do not reflect the opinions of Duff and Phelps LLC and its affiliates Unreal Collective LLC and its affiliates or any entity which employ us. This podcast is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a basis for investment decisions. We have not considered your specific financial situation nor provided any investment advice on the show. Thanks for listening and we’ll talk to you next week.

Lindsey Moeller is the founder of Concur, formerly known as Balm Skincare. Lindsey is also the founded of Botavi Labs and holds a degree in biology and molecular genetics from the Ohio State University.

Concur creates holistic skincare products that agree with our natural biology and protect the microbiome. Concur focuses on getting to the core of skin issues using natural science.

Concur, formerly known as Balm Skincare, was founded in 2016 and based in Columbus, OH.

learn more about Concur: https://shopconcur.com
learn more about Balm Skincare: https://balm-skincare.com/
follow upside on Twitter: https://twitter.com/upsidefm

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Ross Baird is the President of Village Capital and the author of the Innovation Blind Spot.

Ross developed the Village Capital concept in 2009, and has led the development of programs worldwide. Before launching Village Capital, he worked with First Light Ventures, a seed fund focused on impact investments. Prior to First Light, Ross worked on the development of four education-related start-up ventures: the Indian School Finance Company in Hyderabad, India, the National College Advising Corps in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and two ventures using technology to promote civic participation. He has a MPhil from the University of Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and a BA from the University of Virginia, where he was a Truman Scholar and a Jefferson Scholar.

follow Ross on Twitter: https://twitter.com/rossbaird
lean more about Village Capital: https://vilcap.com