Evolve Podcast
A podcast about heroes solving the world's greatest challenges.
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How To Build A 7 Figure Startup With 3 Core Values

Featuring Guest -

Eric Bandholz

Headshot of podcast host.
hosted by: Brandon Stover
August 18, 2020

Eric is the founder of Beardbrand, author of the Book of Reminders, and is the forefather of the urban beardsman movement which turned a $30 investment in a side project into a 7 figure eCommerce business dominating a market. With a value for freedom, this bearded entrepreneur and his team have bootstrapped the entire way by focusing on community, experience, and educational content which has amassed a 1.59 million subscriber count on youtube that fuels over two thirds of their purchases.

However the journey started as many beards do, patchy, unpredictable, and going astray. With the entrepreneurial spirit in his blood, he attempted dozens of businesses from selling vinyl graphics to graphic design and most failing to make any money at all. So it was back to putting on a corporate veil and working in sales. In a culmination of feeling caged working as a financial advisor and tired of hearing duck dynasty or grizzly adams references about his beard, he set out once again and this time to change the way society views beardsmen.

Starting in 2012, the humble brand was nothing more than a community that gained the attention of a New York Times reporter seaking expertise on beard care products and started a roller coaster of events that grew them $0 to over $120k per month in sales. From getting beard rubs by the sharks on shark tank, being featured in a World Series commercial by Shipstation, to partnering with retail juggernaut Target, this small but mighty ecommerce business has received plenty of exposure. Yet the truth to their success has not been predicated on one hit wonders and hyper growing profits at all costs, but rather grown consistently month over month with a dedication to making men awesome.

Sharing his story and helping thousands of other entrepreneurs, he has been featured in Forbes, inc, the wall street journal, fast company, & dozens of entrepreneurial podcasts including Foundr and Entrepreneur on Fire.

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what you'll learn in this episode

  • What Eric learned about being an entrepreneur starting a pixie stick company as a kid.
  • The special type of learning environment that is teaching Eric's daughter responsibility for her own life.
  • How Eric sharpened his skills as a salesman
  • How many ideas Eric went through before starting Beardbrand.
  • The plan Eric created to escape his 9 to 5 corporate career.
  • How Eric vetted his Co Founders through a Startup Weekend event.
  • How Eric convinced his cofounders to go all in on a little blog he had started on the side.
  • What Eric did to capitalize from the initial PR in the New York Times
  • Why Eric has decided to keep bootstrapping and not take on funding.
  • Eric's experience on shark tank.
  • How to unite customers into a community identity.
  • Why Beardbrand focuses on content marketing and educating their customers about bettering themselves.
  • Why your product experience is so important to differentiate you from other brands.
  • Why Breardbrand's top three values are Freedom, Hunger, and Trust and how this helps them make decisions
  • Has Eric reached the level of freedom he wants as an entrepreneur?
  • Why it is important to invest in yourself first
  • The ancient philosophies that have helped Eric remain strong through struggles of infertilities.
  • What does modern day masculinity look like
  • Why life and business is just a series of problems to solve
  • How to nurture problem solvers
  • Why we are all connected and are the age of the universe.

How Eric Believes We Can Push The World To Evolve

I'm not the type of guy to push the world to evolve. I'm the type of guy to encourage people to live the life they want the world to be. So if you want the world to be friendlier and then you start being friendly. If you want the world to be more generous and you start being more generous. If you want the world to be more driven then you'd be more driven.And through your actions, you're going to be able to influence the things that you have control over, because the reality is you don't have control over politics. You don't have control over voting or you don't have control over other people. You only have control over yourself. So be the person you want the world to be.

Selected Links & Resources From This Episode

Connect With Eric Bandholz:

Beardbrand | Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

Want to hear another eCommerce CEO share their tips dominating an outdated industry? — Listen to my conversation with Chip Overstreet, President and CEO of the #1 fastest growing spice company in the world recognized by the Inc. 5000 List.


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Eric Bandholz Interview

Brandon Stover: [00:00:54] Hey, everyone. Welcome to evolve.

Today's guest is the forefather of the urban beardsman movement, which turned a $30 investment in a side project into a seven figure eCommerce business, dominating a market. With a value for freedom. This bearded entrepreneur and his team have bootstrapped the entire way by focusing on community experience and educational content, which is has amassed a 1.59 million subscribers on YouTube that fuels over two thirds of their purchases.

However, the journey started as many beards do patchy, unpredictable, and going astray With the entrepreneurial spirit in his blood, he had some dozens of businesses from selling vinyl graphics to graphic design, and most failing to make any money at all. So it's back to putting on a corporate veil and working in sales.

In a culmination of feeling caged working as a financial advisor and tired of hearing duck dynasty or grizzly Adam references about his beard, he set out once again, this time to change the way society views Beardsmen. Starting in 2012, the humble brand was nothing more than a community that gained the attention of the New York times reporter seeking expertise on beard care products and started a rollercoaster of bends that grew from $0 to 120 K per month in sales.

From getting beard rubs by the sharks on shark tank being featured in the world series commercial by ship station to partnering with retail juggernaut, target this small, but mighty ecommerce business has received plenty of exposure. Yet the truth to their success has not been predicated on one hit wonders and hyper-growth growth profits at all costs, but rather growing consistently month over month, with a dedication to making men awesome.

I'm honored to welcome the founder of beardbrand, author of the book of reminders. And as a designer who learned his skills, making fake ids in Photoshop, Eric Bandholz.

Eric Bandholz: [00:02:39] Dang dude, man, you've done your research. That was quite the introduction, man. I appreciate that.

Are You Born An Entrepreneur?

Brandon Stover: [00:02:46] Absolutely. Well, let's go ahead and talk a little bit about, your upbringing. You came from a family of entrepreneurs doing little side hustles in grade school like selling pixie sticks and whatnot. How did this kind of shape you?

Eric Bandholz: [00:02:57] Yeah. I think is like entrepreneur learned or is it like a nature versus nurture kind of thing? I think is a little bit of both. I think there there's opportunities for any type of personality to be successful but I'm naturally a guy who likes to start things.

I remember, like you said, I tried to start up this little pixie stick company at our school and we had like a little ledger. And I remember wanting to be the guy who wanted to start up bands, with my friends and my classmates, and try to get like some, some band going on. And it was always just like this dream of like creating something new, some talent show or something like that.

And entrepreneur is really like this amazing thing that you get to kind of utilize your own creativity and problem solving, which are attributes that I feel are pretty aligned with me naturally, something that I gravitate towards and I enjoy, and I recognize that not everyone's naturally inclined to want to, to solve problems or to find problems and solve them.

So, yeah. Yeah. I'm, I'm very fortunate to kind of be doing the things that I'm doing.

Brandon Stover: [00:04:00] Your daughter is in a special kind of education program that instills some of these values. Are you trying to pass those along that like problem solving skills and whatnot?

Eric Bandholz: [00:04:08] Yeah. So my daughter is a, there's a school system called Acton, act on, A C T O N acton Academy. And, their whole premise is really child focused education through, like projects. They don't so much as to say it's like an entrepreneurial focus, but the way that I describe it is entrepreneurial focus because it is like taking on these responsibilities.

If you fail, you fail. You're not supposed to get assistance from your parents. There's no homework. So it's really trying to teach a child how to learn and how to educate themselves and how to like, utilize their own interests to kind of find things. And then. they are, they are kind of like grounded in socratic method.

So there is like this element of students, like coming up with the rules and guides and things like that for the school year. And they'll have like an overarching theme for the year. Like what is the question that they want to answer? And then, so my daughter she's, she's only six, so she's  in the  theater school to that called a cent a year in Austin, Texas. And, right now the program she's in the best way to describe it would just be like a very similar to a Montessori school. So, she hasn't quite gotten to, the next stage yet, but, you know, starting this fall, she'll be getting into that.

So I'm excited to see how she does in that and how she takes responsibility for her actions and issues, a willing to be self motivated and do all the things that you need to do to be successful in this type of learning environment.

Sharpening His Skills As A Salesman

Brandon Stover: [00:05:37] Yeah, absolutely. Well speaking about education, you went to college hoping to learn some sort of sales, which obviously they don't have a degree for it, but then ended up working in sales. What was your experience in that and what were some of the important lessons you learned during that time?

Eric Bandholz: [00:05:52] Yeah. I've always been a very competitive person and position too. Like a creative problem solver. So sales is kind of like another profession for me. Where it is, you get to spend time with people. I'm an extrovert. I enjoy being around other people. There is that, for me, that, that, that problem solving of trying to flip it a client or a it's really not, not so much trying to convince someone who's not interested, but the find the reason why they're not interested in it, if your product or service it's along those reasons and help them understand and see that.

So, it's really kind of doing this investigative, you know, finding the root of the problem and, and understanding and having empathy towards the client. And then based on that empathy providing solutions, or if there is no solution then saying, Hey, I appreciate your time. It's not a good fit. And moving on.

So, I was, I was trained in Sandler sales, which is kind of like the win-win of a sales, practices. I really enjoy that. But in college, you know, of course like sales is like one of the number one industries in America, but there's, there's no formal education for.

And the school systems, which I think is kind of silly, that you could have all these other like marketing and business and management, but, but not sales.

And, but anyway, so I ended up taking, courses that were, that I thought would lead me on that pathway. And what they ended up being is a double majored in marketing and management. I focus in management was entrepreneurship. And then my minor was retail. So I somehow ended up like having the perfect degree for what I'm doing now, which is online retail, and, and, entrepreneur entrepreneurship, small business.

Brandon Stover: [00:07:36] So when you were, working in sales, after college, you were doing a ton of different, you know, side projects, most of them failing. How many ideas have you gone through?

Eric Bandholz: [00:07:48] Yeah, like ideas come to me like, you know, you know, snowflakes come to Eskimos or something like that. I don't know what the, the best analogy or say it is, but yeah, it's not hard for me to generate new ideas and really, sales. I really enjoy. but it's actually one of those things that I get really tired or bored of like really quickly.

I feel like once I figure out the product and service, and once I figured out how to, kind of close the deal. After that it's boring. Like the, the, the challenge is no longer there. And, once the challenge is gone, I don't have that, that grind to do the same thing for years on it. And so I'm, I'm not effectively a really good salesperson.

Like I I'm a good salesperson or a onetime or for a short period of time, but for like a kind of like a endurance type of sales, I can't do that. So, Entrepreneurship really is kind of like the thing that keeps me going and continues to feed me challenges throughout the years. But, what happens is in the sales roles, because I can generally figure it out within three months, six months I get bored.

And when you get bored, that's when the creativity really flows. So, my, my job at selling printing, I was a commercial printing. Salesmen. And, I would, I would travel around Charlotte all day long, do a hundred miles a day. And I would, I remember just like in the car, I would just come up with these ideas, like a new design or a bottle.

I remember I had these ideas for like a motorcycle cops to put like their, their lights on their helmets to give more visibility. Cause the lights on the bicycles and you know, 20 years later I ended up seeing that someone's actually putting brake lights on the back of the helmets, which I thought was cool.

that had a similar idea of, of what I had finally made it to market. And, yeah, I've, I've just got a whole slew of them. There's just a lot of them. It's like I have no, well, pretty much all my ideas. I have no expertise in. So that's where the fun is, is like figuring out how do I, you know, hack together a helmet with lights on it.

Brandon Stover: [00:09:50] when you were working in sales, and you know, doing these side projects, what was your kind of plan of escape to maybe be an entrepreneur full time?

Eric Bandholz: [00:09:58] In the early days, the goal was, and I really remember this from like day number one was trying to motivate my team members for my, my, and I know these are like always against like what you signed. When you work for a company, but it was like, do encourage them to go and start a business with me.

So it'd be like, Hey John DOE you know, let's go start a business doing this or doing that. Or here's an idea. Let's do it. And he's like, and they're like, Oh yeah, man, that's a great idea. That's a great idea. I'm like, alright, well, let's do it. I'm ready to quit. Boom. You know, I don't know care. Like if I got to eat Robyn for the rest of my life and like wear one pair of clothes, I am willing to do that because just the, the draw of freedom, starting something up.

But a lot of the people I've talked to, they, they didn't have that same appetite for risk. So it was very difficult to convince people who weren't, inherently drawn to entrepreneurship to become entrepreneurs. So I spent like 10 years trying to convince me, you know, my family, my brother, my coworkers, my friends, all these people to go and start a business with me. Never worked, never worked. So that was like, if you're, if you're in that phase, rather than trying to convince people to. Just start a business with you. Try to find other people who are inherently entrepreneurial.

Doing A Test Run With Cofounders At A Startup Weekend

Brandon Stover: [00:11:10] You ended up going to like a startup weekend and like you were meeting other entrepreneurs here, which is where you actually worked with your co founders for the first time. Can you talk about like, why it's important to meet other people there, but then also have like a project to work on before you go full into something?

Eric Bandholz: [00:11:26] Yeah. as you said, I used to live in Spokane, where you live and, was there for about four or five years and Spokane, is a really great town, for entrepreneurship, or at least for me, because it was so small. but you were really able to kind of like break into, the culture really quick or into the community really quick and develop those relationships really quickly and be able to connect with whoever you need to connect with to get your stuff done.

So, when I was, in Spokane, I was part time like trophy husband, part time. And then for a period of time, a full time financial advisor and then a, you know, a, a failed entrepreneur and, and also a dude who ran a beard club. And, so in the process, I, I went to Spokane society of young professionals.

I don't know if you're a member of that, but I went there and that's where I met my current business partner, Lindsey. And, we just kinda hit it off. We told like terrible dad jokes and, I had a lot of fun, mean there. And then, like, I think I invited her to come to, like, her brother has a really good beard.

I invited her and her brother to come to one of my, my beard club events. And then Jeremy I'm at, at this other community project that I had started up called, what was the society of libertarian entrepreneurs? So this was like a little group in that I had started up when I was doing my like graphic design business. And there's like five people and funny story for them. Jeremy was yeah. at, at the venue that I was at.

For a Twitter meetup and networking event for that. And I had not known about that Twitter meetup. We just had our libertarian meetup in the same place. So anyways, we get the things like our thing is like a half an hour early.

So all the guys are there, who are at this entrepreneurial event and Jeremy just comes and joins us. And I'm like, who are you dude? Like, cause I knew everyone in the group, there's only like five of us and he's like, Oh Jeremy. And then we just kind of talked about what we're about. And he's like, Yeah, actually, you're not the, you're not the Twitter meetup.

And I'm like, nah, no. I'm, he's like, Oh, well you guys seem pretty cool. I'm going to stick with you guys rather than, the Twitter, the Twitter meetup. So that's kinda where I met Jeremy. And then, I was, I had already done a startup weekend at that point and really enjoyed it startup weekend. For those who aren't familiar is a, basically a weekend where you have  the focus of building a minimal viable product for a business and trying to generate sales. And you'll break up into like groups of, I don't know, like six to 10 people and work on this. So you're building a website, you're making the product or you're pitching and you're trying to sell it. And then at the end of it, you give a presentation on how it went.

So, the first year I did it, I had a, this idea called Tarango. Terringo is a region in Australia. And, the concept was this wine app that was essentially like a, it was like Pandora for wines. You would just go and give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down based on you like it. And then the algorithm would learn, your preferences based on the profiles of the wine and start to make wine recommendations.

So we, we had a lot fun doing that. And then, I went again and I convinced Lindsey and Jeremy did join the second time around. And it was there where we all worked on the same project together. And we kind of realized that not only were we like friends and, you know, passionate entrepreneurs, but we were also pretty philosophically aligned, with how we worked and how we had focus and how we, solve problems and solve problems.

So, that was really great because I think a lot of businesses. get together and they get start up without entirely knowing how your business partner works. And that can cause a lot of strife with a business where you're working, you're fighting within the business rather than working together to grow the business.

Brandon Stover: [00:15:15] In the meantime, you're doing this beard club, you're growing a blog and you just convinced these guys that, Hey, we should do this beard thing?

Eric Bandholz: [00:15:21] The other thing I had was Spokane beard and mustache club, which, I had gotten really into like beard culture. And there's no like beard club and, and Spokane at the time. So, and I'm pretty sure Spokane, beard and mustache still exist and there's still a thriving organization. So I don't know if you're a member there or not, but you should,

Brandon Stover: [00:15:39] I know of them. I'm not there yet.

Eric Bandholz: [00:15:41] if you ever go there, I think there's still some like old school members, who are a part of it that would, would remember me, but, Yeah.

So I created that and again, it was just like dudes with beards and their friends and family, drinking beer. Like he was just like the best thing ever. Like there's no membership dues or anything like that. It's like, let's, let's just hang out and have some beers and, you know, talk about life and, you know, enjoy, you know, sharing tips about beard care.

And then there was also like beard competitions and things like that that were kind of fun to, to attend. So, I had that going and Lindsey and Jeremy were, were, regular attendees of those events and, they kinda like the, the community and the culture too. So, I had that gone. I had, like I said, society of libertarian entrepreneur going on.

I had startup Spokane going on. I had my design business called sovereignty going on. and then I had beard brand kind of going on as well. So I had like these, what was that five projects, four projects going on? yeah, I was like your typical ideas guy.

Right. And everyone hates an ideas guy, man, you just have these ideas and then you don't do anything. And I was executing like very, very poorly and I'm not an, executor's not something I do well, as I said, like, I can do it for three months and then I kind of get bored and So, You know, fortunately for, for me, a reporter for the New York times reached out to write this article called the taming of the beards and she wanted to write, quote me in it.

And, we utilize that the catalyst to launch the business side of beard brand up to that point, it was just the YouTube channel and tumbler page and a little blog. So, I was lucky enough that the timing of that and. Jeremy and Lindsay having availability to do a side project to kind of all fell in line in a, you know, looking back eight years later, it's very serendipitous that it, that it all happened the way it did.

Brandon Stover: [00:17:31] Yeah. How did you have the insight or, you know, the knowhow that like, Oh, we should definitely get a store up because this is gonna, you know, bring traffic in?

From New York Times To Shark Tank

Eric Bandholz: [00:17:40] Yeah. I mean, really the, the kind of the timeline of events, there's actually a fourth person. I want to call it like the PayPal mafia, the cars were, who were not nearly at the same level as those guys, but it was just kind of like a, you know, the Spokane, beard and mustache mafia. We can call it that I had a, a fourth friend or a third friend, Joshua McKee, a so great friend of mine. He was involved in it.

So our first project after the startup weekend was to. To build those, a company called ledge, Lindsey, Eric, Jeremy, and Josh. And we would have essentially like pre-screened candidates for a recruiting. And that was centered around is a primary business, which is Atlas staffing as a staffing company.

And it was kind of like a spinoff project of that. So, we were working on that for like a good month or so, but he kind of got cold feet cause he didn't want to compete. with his primary business, which was Atlas and he kind of feared of cannibalizing sales and things like that. So we're like, yeah, dude, that totally makes sense.

No worries. And then I'm like, well, I got this, I got this beard brand thing. That's been on the back burner for me. And why don't we give this a shot and, yeah. See if we can get a couple sales before this New York time. So we, we literally like through the website up in like a couple of days or maybe a day, I pushed it live the day before the article posted.

And then, yeah, we got like 200 bucks in sales at that first couple of days.

Brandon Stover: [00:19:04] From that point on you guys have been entirely bootstrapped, why remain bootstrapped and not take any funding on?

Eric Bandholz: [00:19:11] The beauty of building the businesses, there's a lot of different reasons and, ways to build a business there's no right or wrong and, and a business should really be a reflection of, of the owners. Going back to what I said earlier, Lindsay, Jeremy and I are very philosophical.

So, one of our, or our core values are freedom hunger and trust. And to me, like freedom, means no debt. And it means now like outside influence. so kind of like taking, outside investment was, I wouldn't say was entirely off the table, but, but it really had to be the right partner for us. If we were wanting to do it.

and then, debt is kind of the same thing. Like if you have debt, you, you you're really not working for your customers. You're working for the bank, they have to loan. And if you have VCs, you're really, again, you're really not working for the customers. You're working for the BCS, but when you have no VCs, you have no debt, then you get to work exclusively for your customers.

And, that's something that we really enjoyed. It's like every minute you spent, getting your pitch deck together and going out to raise money. is a minute that you were taken away from serving your customers. And we really want it to be a customer focused organization and build a company that our customers would find value in.

And, and if it only grew to, you know, $25,000 a year type of business, then it would just be a nice side project for us. And we're okay with that. So, we never had this like, Oh, yeah. You know, let's do beard brand. Like I always saw the potential of it, but I never assumed the potential of it. So, with that, we just kind of, built it as the feedback came to us. And we're very flexible with that.

Brandon Stover: [00:20:50] If you weren't taking on funding or anything, what was the decision process to go on shark tank?

Eric Bandholz: [00:20:55] We didn't need funding. but if there was a right partner, we would do it. We could totally do a deal on shark tank. And, I think there's a lot of, opportunities that partnering up with someone with the experience of the sharks could give you that you want to be able to get from like your typical, you know, Spokane investor.

So that was something that we definitely considered where to hoping to get a deal with, with Damon, because of what he built with FUBU and being able to leverage that we really want a beard brand to be more lifestyle oriented than product oriented. And I really appreciated what he did with that company and hope to be able to, to learn from him.

but unfortunately we, we didn't get, it didn't even get an offer, so we didn't even get the opportunity to turn them down and, I would say they're pretty foolish for that. You know, a lot of, people have been on shark tank or are no longer in business, but, you know, as they say it is what it is.

So, we are still very grateful to be on the show and the opportunity to tell our story in front of millions of people.

Why To Focus On Community, Content, & Customer Experience

Brandon Stover: [00:21:52] Yeah, absolutely. because you guys are bootstrapped, you've had to kind of take a different approach, like really focusing on, community content experience.

As I had mentioned in the intro, how have you guys focused on like uniting your customers around this identity?

Eric Bandholz: [00:22:09] I would say it was pretty easy because, into a lot of degrees, beard brand is an extension of who I am as an individual. So it's, it's kind of like understanding what my problems are and the kind of the thought process would that is like, if, if these are my problems and this is something that I'm interested in, then hopefully there's other people out there like me, who can resonate and connect.

And before beard brand, I was a big. a user I frequently attend, frequently was on, Jeff's beard board, which is an online forum. so I just really love the culture and the environment, the people like the online beard communities, Reddit, our beards, our own beard brand Alliance, the YouTube channel beard brand.

what I found is just. The guys are just amazing. Like they're just like chill, they're laid back. They're easy. Go on. Like, they've been around the block, they have patients. Do you need patients to grow a beard? They're fun to be around. Like they're, they're not prudes. so you can like, you can like be yourself, but also there's not judgment in it either.

Like you can be different from other people. so it was just like, I just really loved everything about that community. And, and we coined the term like urban beards men to kind of describe. You know, the guys that didn't fit the traditional stereotype of, of the ZZ tops or the duck dynasties or the grizzly Adams.

And so that there could be more than, you know, those types of bearded stereotypes. And I think a lot of guys really read that and they did with that. And, you know, me personally, I, I resonated with it all myself, urban beards been number one. So.

Brandon Stover: [00:23:45] Yeah. So really finding a way to serve the people that you enjoy being around. So you can continue to surround yourself with those type of people.

Eric Bandholz: [00:23:53] Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And it's been fun to watch the community grow and evolve. We certainly weren't the first company to make products or beard care. We were pretty early, but, I would say we were the first company to really, you know, bring awareness to this new community of, of urban beards men. And.

And serve them. And as the community's grown, it's been fun to watch other, beard related companies start up and serve other type of demographics. there's this one company called like fable beard company, off the top of my mind who, kind of goes after 'em they have like this medieval vibe and, like a Renaissance fair type of person.

and it's really cool. Like all the they're there, their bottles have like that artwork and. And they call each other sire and things like that. So it's, it's just fun to see how, the community continues to grow and evolve. Even if it isn't specifically like kind of beard brand related.

Brandon Stover: [00:24:47] Can you talk a little bit about your strategy with the content marketing and, you know, really focusing on educating your customers? Not just about the product, but you know about bettering themselves too.

Eric Bandholz: [00:24:59] I like to say, like a lot of companies, they do content marketing to drive sales over products. The way we think about it at your beardbrand is we, we sell products to be able to have resources to PR about our content more. so it's a, and to promote our mission and what we're trying to do. So we're a very mission oriented organization, and I think that helps, guide you on what you're doing.

So for us, it's. I kind of cringe. I like this whole like, Oh yeah, let's do content marketing as a marketing strategy. It's more of like, how do we, how do we just like support our community? How do we bring value to the community? How do we educate them? How do we help them become better versions of themselves?

How do we help them keep on improving? Because we do believe that when our audience invest in themselves, that that positive investment in themselves can spread off to their family and to their careers and to, You know, ultimately the community around them and that through like a grassroots bottom up way is going to make society better rather than a top down.

Kind of like forcing everyone to be like somebody else. So, I don't know. It drives me today to try to, you know, to inspire people and everyone's different, you know, some people. You know, maybe there are dark, dark points in their lives. They just came up with a actually the beard. It almost seems it'll be a catalyst for a lot of people.

Like they just broke up or they just had a divorce or they want to lose a lot of weight in their lives. Like I'm not going to shave my beard until I get under, you know, like 200 pounds or, you know, they just lost the job, I think is another common reason or, so the beard is a catalyst for, for self improvement.

And fortunately for us, when people are growing a beard for the first time they're seeking this out and they're at that point in their life where they're open and receptive to, self-improvement and bettering themselves and learning how to, to, to really love the person who looks back at it in the mirror.

we're fortunate to be able to. To be part of that journey for them.

Brandon Stover: [00:27:00] Starting from what your mission is, and building content, building things out for that, and then just having something like beard oil or whatnot to support that cause I think is a very good way to go about it.

Eric Bandholz: [00:27:15] Yeah. And I mean like long after the reality is like, You know, our products can be ripped off, you know, in a couple of days. And we, we knew that from day one and, you know, if we made it, if we made this business about the products, we would, we would just be in a race to bottom because everything gets commoditized, over time.

So, as a bootstrap company, you know, we're not going to win that volume play. We're not going to be able to compete with the Gillette. The old spices of the world who, who can do millions of units. so we have to build something that's sustainable and, has margin in there to be able to, to pay our team.

And, it was also at a price point that, is fair or reasonable to our customers. And we see that with our repeat rate and the amount of times our customers come back. Brandon Stover: [00:28:03]  I think a big differentiator for you guys is the entire experience of beard brand. You know, it's not just getting a product, but just like when you get the package, you have the special wrapping, you have whatever insert you guys may been putting in there, like your book and whatnot, which really differentiates you from what you could go find on Amazon and whatnot. And you guys aren't even on Amazon.

So could you talk a little bit about making that experience and how that differentiates you?

Eric Bandholz: [00:28:32] Yeah, Taylor holiday on Twitter, had a really good saying about, what's included in your boxes, but the only, the only marketing channel you have where you have a hundred percent, conversion or, like exposure rate is your unboxing experience. So, I never, I never thought of it that way until, you know, like a week ago, but it's, it's so true.

this is your experience. You really get to help your. Your customers understand what your brand is about and what you guys do. And, you know, we've created over a thousand videos on YouTube. We've created over a thousand blog articles. I know not all of our customers. I have read every single one of those blog articles.

And I know a lot of them, you know, maybe they just bought it because they heard the products and that's how they're coming in. So by, you know, doing things like dropping the book reminders in there, it really allows them to kind of understand our thought process and. And our core values of freedom, hunger, and trust and what it means for us and not everyone's going to connect with that, you know, like to a certain degree, you gotta be okay with that.

You know, I kind of, you know, the book of reminders is, is not, like a really safe piece. It it's, you know, the nine reminders I tell myself, To face adversity. And my views are not the same as everyone else's views. but it's just not possible, but I'm willing to, to kind of put my views on paper and my beliefs on paper, going back to what I talked about earlier in there, and hopefully connect with other people who are like minded, who see the world in a similar way, and hopefully really build a strong, bind, a strong bond with those people, rather than trying to be everything for everyone.

I want to be a, an amazing resource or the people who really resonate with what we're trying to do at your brand.

Building A Business Around Three Core Values

Brandon Stover: [00:30:18] Yeah. Can you talk about a little bit, of how you make decisions using your core values and freedom, hunger, and trust in your life and your business?

Eric Bandholz: [00:30:27] Yeah. I mean, the core values, very, Conveniently or very nicely are the same core values that Jeremy and Lindsey live by freedom, hunger, and trust. We, we formulated these core values to kind of work as a triangle. So if you have too much freedom, you typically will lose trust. If you have too much hunger, you may lose freedom.

You know, if you're working all the time or you're a slave to the desk, so there, there is a balance to it. And. You know, you can't do all three of them at a hundred, you know, 150%. Like they have to be in balance with each other. so we do have, the core values really permeate through everything.

And it's, when we think about like our core values, we don't think about it just as serving our customers, but also how do we build an organization for our team and our staff and. And how do we make sure that the company like doesn't burn out the team, doesn't burn out that, our team is free to leave.

You know, we encourage our team to live a debt free life so that they're choosing to walk through those doors every single day. And they're choosing to work for Beardbrand rather than feeling obligated to work to it, to pay bills. So I really want them to be financially. independent, to the best of their abilities to have money saved up, to be able to leave the company and that threat of them leaving the company means that we have to make the company that much better.

And the same goes with like our vendors. We want, we know that our vendors don't have to make profit for us, or they don't have to serve us or serve ads. So, we work hard to, to be the best customer to them. You know, we try to pay our bills. As quickly as possible rather than like, you know, paying late or doing this whole, like APA our stuff, you know, my goal, we're working towards, I don't, I don't know if we're entirely there yet, but when we get an invoice, I want to pay on receipt.

Even if the terms are net 10 or at 30. And I know that's dumb, you know, I know like every book in the world tells you that you want to have your cashflows, but if something ever happens to the business where we need help from our support, or, or we need support from our vendors. hopefully they would, they would look at our history of pain, quick and on time fully without any games and treating them fairly as a, you know, almost as an insurance to help us out. If, if times get tough.

Brandon Stover: [00:32:53] A lot of entrepreneurs become entrepreneurs because they're looking for a level of freedom. Do you feel that you've reached the level of freedom that you want in your life?

Eric Bandholz: [00:33:05] No man. I don't know if you just looked at my Twitter or not, but I just, I literally just posted, 30 minutes ago about this, as I just said, like, freedom's my number one driver right now. And. it gives you kind of autonomy and freedom from, outside influence and empower, for people who want to control you.

And, you know, if, if you follow my Twitter, you recognize that we're finally debt free and you know, our house has been, we have no credit card bills. We have no student loans, no car payments. the company's debt free. We have savings built up. So. I don't have as much savings built up that I want. I would, I would like to have enough savings built up to where I could get passive income that would give me the life that I want, which is multimillion. So I have a lot of work left to do in regards to that.

but I think that one of the major next steps for me, in terms of freedom is trying to get a second passport to give me a little more. I'm security to travel the world. And if, you know, like if America ever goes like Nazi Germany or something crazy like that, that I'll be able to have a second passport for me and my family to be able to leave the country and ultimately continue to live up, a happy life in, in places.

and hopefully be more prepared rather than know being persecuted here. Now, if the world goes like I'm a capitalist. If the world goes, you know, socialists in source killing all the capitalists or something like that, you know, it's happened before and it won't surprise me if it happens again. And I don't think it's a, I don't think it's going to happen in America, but, you know,

Brandon Stover: [00:34:45] Doesnt hurt to be prepared.

Eric Bandholz: [00:34:47] Well, yeah, if you'd like freedom, you're going to be good there.

And then of course you'll have a second passport, so you'll be able to live in multiple countries, which gives you, you know, the flexibility of, of having a more diverse life.

The Importance Of Investing In Yourself First

Brandon Stover: [00:34:59] One of the reminders in your book is to invest in yourself first. How do you feel that doing that has helped you be successful?

Eric Bandholz: [00:35:07] This is a good segue because it's like with, paying off your debts, paying off your student loans, is really an investment in yourself. And I think a lot of people, they invest then social status, a social status is not an investment in yourself. It's a, the vanity, investment.

And it's one that depreciates so rapidly and has like no assets in it at all. So. I've always been a very frugal guy, very conservative with my money. I always save as much as possible. And we were like ramen, and we saved money. And unfortunately, you know, w where years of 20, 20 that's 17 years into my career, we're starting to see the fruits of that, where we can live a little bit nicer life. We have a nice house over our head. And, but, but that was. A lot of sacrifice up to this point.

By investing in yourself, you have the cash available to sustain you during a startup business. So, the first 10 months of a beard brand, I didn't, pay myself at all. So we, were able to kind of live on our savings was very, very, you know, humble life, of course. but it was something that allowed us to kind of chase our dreams.

Brandon Stover: [00:36:22] so, you know, nothing comes without struggle or failure. I'm on the road to success. And we talked about some of your business failures, but, you and your wife have also struggled with infertility. How have you continued to remain strong in life, you know, with so many of those coming up?

Eric Bandholz: [00:36:39] We struggled with infertility when we first started trying to have kids in 2008. And it wasn't until my daughter was born in 2013 that, the, the infertility was temporarily, resolved. and then it continued to be an issue after that until we had our second kid, just, four months ago.

So, me personally, I take a lot of lessons from. Buddhism and stoicism, I want to call myself a stoic and I want to call myself a Buddhist. So, don't, don't quote me on any of these for like an accuracy standpoint for these, but like kind of the, the lessons of like contentness I had a buddy who's Buddhist and he kind of said he's, he's really said some profound things to me.

one of 'em is, you know, basically like this whole end, Which is pretty amazing if you think about it from like a negative same point is knowing that like this infertility part of our lives is going to end at some point, you know, and, and knowing that it is, I want to end, it allows me to kind of stay committed to my wife, to spite all of our personal struggles that we had, and the stresses and the emotions of dealing with those losses.

but also it's a good reminder because, when something's really amazing, knowing that it too is, is gonna pass and it kind of encourages you to be in the moment and accept the moment and, be, embrace the moment. And then like stoicism, kind of a lot of the lessons from that, or like visualizing, everything that's going to happen in your life.

And that's like the good, the bad, like, I mean, I visualize my wife dying and my kids dying time being in a car wreck, you know, plane crashes, like all these terrible things, my parents dying. and, and part of that isn't because you wish it was things, but because by visualizing it, you're prepared for it, when it does happen and you know, you're still going to be distraught and overwhelmed, but the goal is because you're, you're prepared for that. You're able to handle it and persevere through it and not let it take over your life. And throw you down harder than where you already are. and then, you know, again, going back to Buddhism, one of their tenants is there's just suffering in the world. So it's just kinda coming to terms and accepting that there's.

It's bad, you know, there's, there's suffering and it's not just me. It's everyone there's suffering for everyone. And I think a lot of people don't realize that either they see, you know, bill Gates with billions of dollars and they don't think that he doesn't suffer and he certainly does, I can guarantee it.

And he's certainly had moments in his life, were, of, of immense suffering. so I think it, it allows you to kind of have empathy for other people and it allows you to, to have perspective. As to, to things. but with that being said, you know, my, my way of handling this is different than my wife. and I, I wish she handled it the same way as me, cause it would make it easier, but she doesn't.

so I have to be patient and I'm not always patient. so I'm not always the best husband. but it is a, those lessons kind of helped me along, along the journey.

What Is Modern Day Masculinity

Brandon Stover: [00:39:53] Well, congrats on the new born son. what sort of things, you know, as a father, as a man, are you hoping to pass on to him?

Eric Bandholz: [00:40:00] I think the biggest thing that, that I want my child to leave with when they get out of the house is a continued love for learning and feel like if you have this love for learning this passion to seek more, is really going to be a. It's going to drive you to be  to, to take risks to the control, or control the things that you have control over and not worry about the things that you don't.

I would also like them to be, financially, competent and understand finances and the power of compounding interest and savings and spending money and responsibility. And then of course like our core values of, of hunger and trust, you know, Teach them that the people are amazing. They're great people. the world is great. Yes, there is the, you know, percentage, small percentage, like a fraction of a percent of people who are terrible individuals. but everyone's good with terrible moments and bad moments. So, you know, helping them have a trust for others. And then of course, to, help hopefully help them become free.

I don't really plan on like, Passing any money down to them or anything. so I want them to, to be able to earn their own wealth, and hopefully create an environment where they, they know how to do that. You know, I'd say this now as a 38 year old in 50 years, you know, maybe I will pass things down. So I don't know.

Maybe if I live long enough, hopefully I can skip their generation. You know, they've already made their money and retired. And then, I can pass it on to their grandkids or great grandkids or something like that.

Brandon Stover: [00:41:38] In a lot of beard bands, content, you know, it's this education piece. And most guys these days, didn't have a father figure or any masculine figure to look up for for advice. what do you think masculinity looks like today?

Eric Bandholz: [00:41:52] Yeah, this is a touchy subject in 2020 because, I feel like I'm, Men have been attacked. And with a lot of this negativity towards, you know, the patriarchy and, and men in general. I think a lot of younger guys, they, don't know how to behave. there's these traditional gender norms and rules that they don't know if they should be that anymore.

And then, so they're kind of in this purgatory, I really think that,  masculinity is, is, self-awareness it's it's and it's authenticity. It's trying to understand who you are as an individual, and then, developing the confidence to be that And that person can be anything, right?

It can be a traditional, you know, masculine hyper-masculine guy, big muscles, big beard, you know, it goes to the gym, shoots guns. And punches things, or it could be, you know, someone's been more cerebral, someone who likes the arts or creativity. so I kind of believe that, you know, the, the roles that men do can be anything.

but the, the commonality, it needs to be that, really that, that self awareness of who you are and, and striving to be every day is. Every day that the person that exists is the best version of you ever. We're always elevating. And when I die, when I'm and a hundred years old, like on that day, I want to be the most Epic version of Eric Bandholz ever.

And it's gonna be, it's hard, you know, because as you get older yeah, you have to fight other elements, but, you know, hopefully I'll figure out a way, a way to do that. Where, you know, losing me at a hundred years old is, is going to be. More painstaking than losing me at 38.

Brandon Stover: [00:43:41] I think, finding out what those values are for you and being able to stand in those every day, in being able to take in the information around you and see how that mends with your values being willing to change those, if you think that it should be, but if not standing in those, I think is a strong piece.

Eric Bandholz: [00:43:58] Yeah. And we have a couple of those slogans. like a, that I was trying to impart on my daughter, bandholz is never give up, you know, try to tie in our family name with the attributes of what it means to be a bandholz. Bandholz has never give up and bandholz is learned from their mistakes. So I wanted her to know that it's okay to make mistakes, but when we do, it's what we learn from them.

And we pick ourselves up and we grow. So the expectation isn't to be perfect. so hopefully, you know, like she kind of gets those ingrained in her and, she can apply those, both her and my son when he's old enough to, and understand things.

Solving Problems

Brandon Stover: [00:44:36] I think coming back to this, you know, learning from your mistakes, solving problems, you've said that business is just a series of problems to be solved. Do you think that this mentality could be applied to life and maybe solving some global issues that we face?

Eric Bandholz: [00:44:52] that's probably one of my favorite quotes either, or subjects is, you know, businesses just as you said, a series of problems that you, you. work to solve. And then like the, the value of a business is, is all the problems that it's solved up to that point. And then a business really stops growing at the point that people are no longer willing to solve those problems. So I'm no longer willing or, or don't have the competency to solve, you know?

So, yeah, I mean, I would say like, as an individual, that's, that's the same thing. Like you. You know, a lot of times, if you think about life when I was 20, you know, my number one problem was I wanted, a person to spend my life with.

So how do I solve that problem with finding, finding a girlfriend who's, you know, good enough to be with for the next 70 years of my life. And then, how do I, you know, pay off these loans and then how do I. stay fit. You know, I think that's a big problem when you're out at college, your routine changes completely and just start eating out all the time and you have no responsibilities, you get fat and your work, you know, how do you stay healthy in it? And, not just, have good diet. Yeah. But it also a good exercise.

And those problems will change. Right. you'll get cancer. As you get older, it's going to happen. How do we solve that problem? How do we fight through that? How do we. solve the problem of, you know, your child is dealing with some kind of issue.

So yeah, it'd be great if we didn't have problems, but then life would be pretty boring.

Brandon Stover: [00:46:20] Yeah. we talked about in the beginning of the interview, you know, this kind of nature versus nurture. And if you are born with this ability to solve problems, do you think there's a way to better nurture problem solvers?

Eric Bandholz: [00:46:33] you know, my, my unscientific gut feel. Is that, everyone's a problem solver. I inherently believe that's what human humans are. And I kind of think schools beat it out of kids. I really think it's schools, public schools. I'm a, I'm a product of public schools. I think they're designed to get a whole bunch of minions and people who just follow orders and don't think for themselves.

And as you know, there's a very. Off a authoritative  just this really like a power oriented teacher oriented authority oriented organization, and then just getting these kids to be in line and, you know, someone like me, I don't, I don't really thrive in that kind of environment.

And I don't want to put my kids in that kind of environment. I think education's a really important thing and kids need to learn and grow, but public schools have a lot of opportunity to improve. and I think schools like acton are the future for developing remarkable.

And it's not really developing remarkable students is really just allowing the students to be who they are, and not be held back by, by these external forces. I personally, I feel like public schools held me back 10 years.

Brandon Stover: [00:47:51] I think, an important piece is. Connecting, you know, what's important to each one of the students or to an individual, with the problems that are in the world. Because if something's important to you that you want something from it, like you're going to figure out how to solve it. So like it's a, you're going to use that innate nature.

Eric Bandholz: [00:48:07] I mean, it's just a lot more fun if, if you're working on problems that you want to solve and then learning. Math from it or science from it, or, you know, rather than being like, here's a whole bunch of algebraic formulations and remember them and, you know, have that rote knowledge. It's like, who's going to remember like foil or outer in lab.

I mean, like who's going to do, like, I know some people are going to do it and it's good to have that exposure for the people who are interested in it, but you know, the force. so many kids who will never use it, and then to develop those insecurities around their, their own confidence, because they're not good at it because they're not interested.

And, you know, ultimately drive them completely away from math to the point that they're never going to touch it down the road, whereas maybe they will find interest in it and different things like, you know, through selling or through our class or something and realize it there's some really cool art you can do for math.

You Are The Age Of The Universe

Brandon Stover: [00:49:06] The last thing I wanted to touch on was, in your book of reminders, the last reminder is you are the age of the universe. And I've kind of gone through, you know, my own discovery process of what spirituality means to me. but in some sort of way of like, we are connected or United in some way.

And you know, when I'm bettering myself, I'm bettering you and when I'm helping you, I'm also helping myself. how do you think about spirituality and you know, that tied to your mission?

Eric Bandholz: [00:49:37] I think spirits, spirituality is a really good word for it. personally, I'm a, I'm like a nonbeliever, I'm an atheist. And, when I was, in college and in high school, I really struggled that word spirituality. and I didn't think it was something that, you know, I had to have.

And then as I've gotten older, I realized that it is a really important part of, of life. And it's kind of one of your guiding. lights on how you make decisions and how you interpret the world and react to the world, and how you build relationships and connect with other people. So I do like to take, lessons from a lot of different religions.

Like I said, Buddhism, and you know, of course I was raised Catholic, so I have a lot of that imprint on my DNA, with how I see the world. And, You know, I, I feel like the age of the, the universe chapter is kind of like my, my woo experience. I still remember like wine over, the grand Canyon on an airplane.

When that chapter kind of hit me and just like the grandness of, of we are, and it really kind of is like a Buddhist thing as well. It's like, we're, we're just a series of elements that somehow have life to it. but eventually when we die, the elements that make us up just going to go back into the earth and, you know, on to, to worms and onto birds and ons, you know, cats and on the, you know, aunts and whatever it is like.

So like we, we never ceased to be from like a physical standpoint, the elements that they make us. we'll, we'll always kind of be imprinted on that. So I think that's kind of a cool little, thing. And then it's almost like. And then more scientific, look at to, rebirth from a Buddhist standpoint.

So if you took the dogma away of like, you know, this spiritual rebirth, but this would be like the physical rebirth of, of kind of what you have, and then you kind of understand how everything is connected.   There's just a lot of really cool things in the world that. If you don't have, your mind open towards spirituality, you're not going to understand like, just, I remember there was like a, B there's a BBC yeah.

BBC documentary about plants and how plants actually communicate. Like when you cut grass and you smell the fresh cut grass. Yes. That's actually a distressed symbol of grasses telling other grasses to like, you know, be aware of that. cabbage will do the same thing as well or something like that. If there's one of them's getting attacked by, you know, like some kind of insect or so they'll let out this fragrance that will, alert be, and the bees will come in and Ethan, I know this isn't the exact same thing, easy pollen.

So, but Wasps like indicates a wasp, wasp will come in and he throws insect. So they have this, this type of communication that we just can't comprehend as, as a human life form. What a plant life form. knows and understands and knows it's probably not the right word, but just, they are life like plant is life.

And it's just kind of interesting to think about. It's kind of like the whole avatar kind of stuff, like woo stuff. And I'm not a woo guy, but, if you you're open to it, it's just kind of interesting.

Brandon Stover: [00:52:52] I think there's a, like a sense of awe that it keeps for you that there's something, that you can have hope in or something beyond you that, kind of helps root you a little bit.

Eric Bandholz: [00:53:02] the whole purpose was like, you know, we're all going to die. Right. And as a nonbeliever, very there's no Gates and probably Gates in the sky for me. No. So how do I. Come to terms with death because it's going to happen to me. and I, to me, I kind of take comfort in just knowing that, the elements of me, the physical Eric Bandholz will last forever and they have lasted forever.

And the stories that is told, you know, up to the point when I eat my, No, my stake of the cow that seen the grass and the grass had the iron in it, you know, like in that iron, those iron elements now they've been everywhere and I will help my body thrive. And, and then, you know, I'll move on. I'll, I'll bleed a little bit, and then that iron leaves my body. And so it's just kind of, really kind of interesting too, to think about it.

Brandon Stover: [00:53:50] Well, before I get to my last question, where can everybody find you? Follow you, check things out?

Eric Bandholz: [00:53:55] Yeah, I'm the only Eric Bandholz in the world. So if you Google my name, there is another Eric with ERI C H and holds, but, he doesn't spell it the same myself and the only Eric Bandholz and, Twitter has actually been my favorite platform as a late. So follow me on Twitter. My handle is band holds.

B a N D H O L Z. And then of course, I strongly and highly recommend that you buy something for beard brand. we've got everything from shampoo to body soap, so it'd be your products, of course. So if you have a body, there's a product for you, even cologne, and it, you know, our products can't really tell what kind of genitalia you have.

So if you're a girl out there listening, And my wife uses a lot of our products as, as, as does a lot of the girls in the office. Or if you have a beard, a person in your life, you can get it for them too. So check out beardbrand.com.

How Eric Thinks We Can Push The World To Evolve

Brandon Stover: [00:54:44] Yeah, I highly recommend the products. I'm not paid to say that, but I'm an avid user of their, their beard product. So, my last question is how can we push the world to evolve?

Eric Bandholz: [00:54:54] I'm not the type of guy to push the world to evolve. I'm the type of guy to encourage people to live the life they want the world to be. So if you want the world to be friendlier and then you start being friendly. If you want the world to be more generous and you start being more generous. If you want the world to be more driven then you'd be more driven. And through your actions, you're going to be able to influence the things that you have control over, because the reality is you don't have control over politics. You don't have control over voting or you don't have control over other people. You only have control over yourself. So be the person you want the world to be.

Brandon Stover: [00:55:30] Well, that was an excellent way to end the interview. Eric, thank you so much for coming on the show today.

Eric Bandholz: [00:55:35] Yeah, man. My pleasure. Thanks for having me.