I'm Sari Kimbell and I've done just about everything in the food industry. I have helped hundreds of packaged food business entrepreneurs and now I want to help you make your delicious dream a reality. Whether you want to be successful at farmer's markets, online, or wholesale on the store shelves, Food Business Success is your secret ingredient. I will show you how to avoid an expensive hobby, and instead run a profitable food business. Now let's jump.
Welcome back, everyone to the podcast. Great to have you here. This, this is kind of a big deal for me. I'm excited to talk with Elliot Begoun. He is a 30 year industry veteran author and the founder of TIG and they are a one on one one to one customized alternative accelerator focused on helping emerging natural products grow. TIG works with its entrepreneurs to build nimble capital efficient, resilient brands that become tardigrades not unicorns. Catch him on so many great places food bites, the Hirschberg, Entrepreneur Institute, national, the Natural Products Business School, and tons of articles in Huffington Post, Smartbrief and New Hope. So he is definitely an industry veteran. And I'm making you sound really old, but you're not.
Elliot Begoun 1:32
I am. I am. I just got back from a weekend of being grandpa. So I'm officially old.
Oh, welcome, Elliot. Thanks so much for being on this podcast today. I really appreciate your time.
Elliot Begoun 1:43
No, it's my pleasure. Honored to be here. Thanks for inviting me happy to talk about this. I love it.
And we should have add that added a podcast host as well on here. You started a podcast in June. You've had some time on your hands.
Elliot Begoun 1:57
Yes, a lot of free time it was it's been a, we were just talking about it before we went on air, it's been a labor of love. I honestly wasn't really going to do it. And we started trying to create smaller kind of fireside chat for where founders could come in and ask the questions themselves. And I could just get out of the way. And then a few folks came to us and said, You know this, this would be a good podcast. And I said, hell no. Don't want to do it. Don't have the time to do don't know how to do it super scary, all of those kinds of things. And they came back and said, if we could find a producer who could do all that kind of stuff for you, would you do it? And I said, Yeah, you could do that. And that's what we've done. That's what we've done. And it's been actually really, really fun. We've had some great, great conversations with folks, I think it's such a great format, this is, A podcast. And it's so important that, you know, entrepreneurs and founders have access to information that meets them where and when they need it. So whether it's you know, you know, when when they are out on a walk, trying to you know, kind of get their head straight, or whether they're doing some kind of activity and they want to keep, you know, learning in the background, or in our case of my podcast, if they just need, you know, a baritone velvety voice to put them to sleep at night, and they can count on me.
So I like I said, before we went on, I have known you've known about you for a long time. I I connected with a partner in in TIG with wavin and found out about you guys and he definitely has referred a lot of folks my way that are too early stage for you guys. But can you tell us a little bit more about TIG or the Intertwine Group you guys did some rebranding I think not too long ago.
Elliot Begoun 3:52
The Intertwine Group just sounded like to like, you know, an old CPA firm, which has anything. But I always like telling the story basically as as to the why. And it was to me, you know, I've been in this space for a lot of years when I started started this eight years ago, and it was really about, you know, trying to try to understand two fundamental questions that I just that just didn't sit right with me. The first is, if you looked on paper, and these are more recent stats now, but at the time, the number wasn't all that much different, but from 2009 to 2019, that 10 year span, somewhere around $18 billion of market share source dependent move from the largest CPG companies to emerge, emerging brands. So it's obvious that consumers and everybody was seeing that the innovation, the people that were the change agents where they want to, you know, where consumers wanted to, you know, vote with their dollars were with these emerging brands. Yet at the same time, roughly 80 to 90% of the CPG brands started with gone within two years. And that to me was maddening, you know, how could so much so that that basically meant it was very, very bifurcated. There were there were a select few who won huge, and then everybody else, you know, the 80 to 90% loss. And I just felt like that, that that was something that needed to change, because there is no greater change agent in my mind than commerce and entrepreneurship when harnessed for good. And so we really wanted to come in and figure out, how can we do that? And it started with with studying and trying to understand why was it that certain brands, certain founders outperformed others when on paper, they didn't look all that much different. And what we found is that those that outperform really were following what we have now come to call the threefold path, which is just this kind of, you know, I call it a path. Visually, it probably looks more like a plate of spaghetti, because there's so many activities going on simultaneously. But it's this, this aggregation of activities that the that, that the entrepreneurs that were outperforming we're in, are engaged with, and that's, you know, being dispassionate about their business. So I always say be passionately dispassionate about their business. You know, building in really understanding, are they scalable? Are they investable, is there real product market fit, do their unit economics work and just being relentless in those questioning that question of themselves all the time. And then constructing a real cogent growth hypothesis that is testable and measurable. And raising the capital they need based on that growth hypothesis, and then getting out of the market and growth hacking, testing those assumptions, trying to find out what's right, what's wrong in ways that are controlled, and, and, and not existential threats to their business. And then preparing to scale, you know, activating their brand assembling the right team, thinking about culture, getting plugged into the ecosystem. And then the other two aspects are really working on cultivating community and three types of community in specific: community of consumers, which is what most of us focus on. But there are two other really important communities, and that's your community of collaborators. So their peers, the other people in this industry, who can really work with you in concert to make things happen. And then your community of champions, those are your mentors, advisors, service providers, you know, retailers, who fall in love with you. All of those kinds of people who can break down, down, you know, the barriers. And then the last thing is probably the least sexy of them all, is that as they instill rigor. Accountability into the business, right? They really are committed to, you know, doing the things that need to be done, like, you know, having financial reviews and objectives and key results and, and, you know, pre call planning, and, you know, a task management system, and all all the things that you nobody got into this business to do, but it's doing those things that make the business work. So.
Yeah, well, that community piece is huge, I find a lot of my folks who start who just had that idea, right, they're just launching, they don't, they really underestimate the value of the community of their peers and the community of their champions and having advisors and experts and mentors. So that's really great. You said that I'm sure you see a lot of
I know, I mean, we do, but we also try to foster it outside of that. And that's why doing things like you're doing with this podcast and doing them together. And, you know, it's, it is so important, because, you know, my favorite visualization of this, this kind of, you know, I can see all the founders in there. They're climbing the ladder to success in this business. And as they reach, you know, one hand up for the next rung in the ladder, they're reaching the other hand below to pull the next person up. And that's, that's when this industry is at its best. And I think, you know, it's really one of the unique industries in the fact that there's a lot more of that activity than in most because many other industries, you know, that same ladder is the person that stomping on the head of the person behind them trying to knock them off the ladder. And, you know, and that in so many other in so many other businesses.
Yeah, we're trying to change that. Well, this is why I wanted to have you on so when you talk about rigor and capital raising, I mean, that is what you do as a as an organization is one of the pieces that you do at TIG is to help brands get ready for raising money to raising that seed money and going on, you know, to really grow their business. So I just really they want people I want to talk about that, that piece of raising money. So, why, why do we even need to raise money as a brand? Like? I mean, I have so many people that just want to bootstrap for as long as possible. But at what point should they consider that they need to raise money?
Elliot Begoun 10:18
Yeah, I think one thing that just call authors, if you don't, not every brand does need to raise money. It really depends on what your what your long term goal is, and what you're defining success you know, yes, as. You know, there's what I see a lot of people do is they start running the race, but they don't understand the finish where the finish line is, right? You know, and there's all different forms of capital and all different ways to raise money. And that's the other thing that I see a lot of entrepreneurs not understand. You know, we think the only way to raise capital is with venture capitalists. And it's not true. It really depends on what you see. Not every brand has the huge scalability and the opportunity to be massive and have a strategic exit. But those that do, speeding up that trajectory, making sure that you have the arrows that you need in the quiver to do it and being able to make it happen while the window of opportunity is open. Maybe because you've got your first to market or you're doing something disruptive and so forth. That's, you know, that's the time to go raise the money to accelerate that growth and maximize the value. And what you're basically doing is you're doing two things; you're inviting people with their money to come help you do that and, and they're assuming some of the risk and taking some of the risk from you. And also, they're giving you the the resources that you need now to get where you want to go versus having to wait. There are other brands that have the capability of maybe not getting to that, you know, that crazy kind of hockey stick growth trajectory, but have the capability of building really meaningful good businesses with strong evidence and so forth. And that's a different type of investor profile. You know, those are people who might be interested in in owning a part of the business that has distributions or dividends, or isn't necessarily looking for the same return, but also isn't willing to take on the same risk. And then there's everything in between. So, you know, it starts with an entrepreneur asking themselves, why am I in this? Where do I want to go? And how do I define success? And the way we suggest doing is, is really, you know, not starting with do I raise capital? And if so, how much, but starting with that growth hypothesis, and building out, bottoms up, where you believe you can take the business and see where taking that business is likely going to, you know, what it's likely going to require in terms of capital, and then building your capital strategy in order to fund that growth hypothesis. Not the other way around.
Right? Oh, that's so good. I think, yeah, knowing that you have your own path that there is not I think a lot of times, you're like, I just I need to raise money. And it's like, well, why? Well, because that's what XYZ brand did. Well that's not, that's not a good reason.
You know that's such a great point. You know, we do ourselves an injustice in the fact that, you know, it's kind of like, you know, you know, social more you get more as you get into a, into a social situation in this industry. And, you know, you just if you were to sit back and listen to the average dialog, if we were, you know, at Expo West or something like that, again, you would hear questions like, How much have you raised? You know, I, you know, are you hoping to, when are you going to exit? You know, how many stores you in? What's your velocity? So it's kind of like name rank and serial number. And if you're, if you're not participating in that level, you start wondering, you know, am I doing the right thing? You start having FOMO. And it's not the case, not every brand needs to chase get on the hamster wheel of capital. But if you if you are the right brand, you shouldn't be afraid to do it either. And there's some I mean, most of the investors in the space are really good and want to work with with great entrepreneurs and good brands. So it's, it can be a win win relationship, for sure.
Yeah. So when a brand realizes and they and it's part of their success plan, that they need money, what are some of the things that you recommend that they need to do to be ready for that capital?
Elliot Begoun 14:33
The number one thing is they need to understand how they're going to make the investor make money. Right? So because if they can't compellingly tell a story around why you represent a good investment, then it's going to be very difficult to win that investment. So it starts it starts with, you know, really asking and being able to answer why do we represent a good investment opportunity? And if you can't answer that, then you have, you shouldn't be raising that money yet, because you're unlikely, first of all, to raise it, and if by, by happenstance you do, you're, you're likely not going to know how best to deploy it. And that's the second thing is to, you know, getting back to that growth hypothesis, really understanding. So, you know, if you have a five year revenue horizon, you know, where those revenue sources are coming in, you know, the buckets that you're going to need to, to be able to leverage to do that, you know, marketing, team acquisition, you know, operations, etc, all the way down to working capital, then you know, you're going to need to fund that, and you'll know exactly where to spend it. You know, you'll know right away and, and, and being able then to walk an investor through that, hey, they're raising this money, and here's why I'm going to be spending this, this and this, in order to get this in revenue.
I have a client that she's she said, Hey, I could get go get this grant, or it wasn't even grant a low a low interest loan because of COVID. And, and said, should I do it? And I was like, well, why? Why are we gonna do this? Like, if you can't answer why we're gonna do this, like, well, let's talk about it and see if that could be something part of our growth plan. But let's not just take on money for taking on money sake. It's not free money.
Elliot Begoun 16:25
Yeah, I mean, even if sometimes if it is, what happens is you lose discipline Are you feel the need to use it or deploy it, and you make big mistakes. And two things happen when you do that you're either left with a debt, or you've given away a portion of your company. And because you have nothing to show for it, it just makes it harder to raise the money to replace the money you've already used. And so I love founders who, you know, try to bootstrap as long as they can, first to learn to, you know, to get scraped up and bloodied. And, and, and tried to do that. And I think the exception of that is that if you have a, you know, a product or a brand that being first to market or speed to market is, is vital because whoever gets there first is going to win, then that may change that. But in most cases, most of the brands that we see are, you know, tweaks and, and iterative attempts and things that already exist. And so so it really comes down to brand, the ability to to build a compelling brand story that that gets consumers to separate from their wallets, you know, to buy the product. And starting small, and proving that and then building from there and doing that as scrappily, as he can, is going to give you more confident when you confidence when you go in front of investors, and is going to give investors more confidence when you do show up.
Yeah, absolutely. So it sounds like when we talked about downsides of raising money, I heard debt, taking on unnecessary debt giving away part of your company. Because time like are very time intensive to go and raise money.
Elliot Begoun 18:10
It also means that you're no longer this, in many ways, the sole decision maker. And that sometimes, you know, if you don't do a good job of profiling your investors, you have competing agendas or competing wants. And, you know, and you know, and then depending on the size of investor, but an investor relationships like a marriage. I mean, there's a lot of intimacy in it, you're, you know, very vulnerable, you're very exposed, you're talking about money, you know, it's very type something that you care deeply about, and the wrong investor relationship can make the whole journey just miserable, and makes, you know, both sides less effective if you can't get long. So that's a downside. And the other downside is, you know, not thinking about, you know, if you raise now you have to think about your next, what's next after that, what's next, to make sure that you're making the right decision to build for the next time and the next time? And if you just think about this time, then often you put yourself in a situation where you're less appealing the next time.
Oh, interesting. So not just thinking about this first round of raise but thinking ahead long term.
Elliot Begoun 19:21
I would recommend that everybody have every entrepreneur build, and it's always gonna change because, you know, I don't know, I don't know if we're allowed to say this on your podcast, but shit happens. And so you know, it's always going to change but but it's still the right discipline is to build a five year capital horizon. So understand the capital that you're going to need to bring into the business over the next five years based on where you believe you're going so that you can always be thinking about those those steps along the way and being planful around it. So that you're not just thinking about this race, but you're thinking about your subsequent races. So.
Interesting. And then of course, the upsides are that, if you do have a product that you're trying to get to market first, it helps to accelerate that. Are there any other major downsides?
Elliot Begoun 20:14
I think one of the big, other is that the right investors, you know, can be huge difference makers in your business, they can open up doors, they have them they have, you know, a lot of them are former operators, they have the benefit of seeing, you know, and being with other companies in their portfolio through their struggles and through their upsides. And the right investors understand, too, that that by, by being active participants, they're, in fact, de risking their investment and increasing the chances of success. So they can be force multipliers, they can make big, big differences well beyond the capital that they put in the business, in terms of, of speeding it along and so it's, that's really important to understand. And also be, be ready to define, you know, for an investor and as you look for investors, what support do you want from them beyond just the capital? Because if it's just the money, then really all you're looking for is anybody with a wallet and a pulse. But if you're really trying to, you know, win, from people who are sophisticated investors in this space, they can do so much more for you, if you if you welcome them in and bring them in as the partners they should be.
Right? Ah, that's so good. Yeah, that intangible social capital, really helpful for a lot of brands. Are there other ways that you suggest? Or tell me you know, help people raise money? Or is it mainly through venture capitol?
Elliot Begoun 21:48
No, there's, there's so many ways to raise money. So let's just examine a few of them. So So you've got VC, and I will tell you that's for early stage brands, the ones likely listening here today, that's the hardest route, because the mark, the funds have gotten bigger, because this is an exciting business, an exciting sector, and we've had good success. So the funds have grown, which means the average check size that those funds write have grown, which means that they don't intercept brands until they're further along. So it's created the funding gap where, you know, you know, it takes it takes, brands have to get further on less in order to get there. But VCs are just one form, you know, obviously, angels are another and there's angels come in all different sizes, and every brand has their own. There's angels who are, you know, active industry, angels who are, you know, truly just individual venture capitalists. There are others that are also in this industry, that are people who have been, you know, the beneficiary of this industry for years and want to give back and support other founders. But then there's, you know, everything from social impact funds and angels in this space, who are hard, just, you know, cause related and wanting to support founders and brands, and so really understanding that. And, and then, you know, what's really changed in the last 18 months and even more so recently, is equity crowdfunding. You know, platforms like wheat funder and Republican start engine and micro ventures where now you can raise up to $5 million from both accredited and unaccredited investors. And, and publicize it in market and build not only investors, but potentially evangelists and raise quite a bit of money in reasonable terms and so forth. So that's, that's a kind of interesting democratization that's starting to occur. And then, of course, you know, I always say, don't forget debt. And, you know, there'll be certain times along the way that, that you'll start being able to, to, you know, be able to, you know, to get debt based instruments. But asset based lending, where you're financing inventory, peos and, and receivables and things along those lines can be big, big difference makers because that is, in the long run, always going to be substantially less expensive than equity.
Through that, okay. And, of course, friends and family who want to donate to the cause.
Elliot Begoun 24:23
It's, it's a challenge, it comes with its own, you know, nuances and make really, you know, first of all, of course, make sure that you're actually taking money from accredited investors. And secondly, make sure that you're taking money from people who are your friends and family who can afford to lose it. Because I've had a lot of tearful conversations with founders who are pushing and staying in a business that is, is given every signal possible that it's not viable just because they don't want to have to tell their friend, their family, their mother, their aunt or uncle that that $25,000 check you wrote or $50,000 check, I'm sorry, but I've lost it. They need to know that you need to tell them that you need to make sure that everybody understands you as much as they may love you and believe in you and believe in the brand. And, and trust me, most of the brands that don't succeed have nothing that's lack of success has nothing to do with the capability desire, or artwork of the founders, these just I just hard. So but they need to know that.
Great, good advice been very careful with, I think people are quick to jump on, you know, aunt giving you $2,500 or $25,000.
Elliot Begoun 25:48
It's tough, because they want to support you, they want to believe you, but a lot of times they're doing that, you know, and they're pulling it out of retirement accounts. So you know, you can see just really, really and again, you know, also just to, you know, I'm not I'm not an attorney so I'm not giving legal advice here. But I would, you know, and by the way, anytime you're raising money, having having a good attorney by your side is critical. Especially one understands this space. But you want to make sure that your that that you're receiving money from an accredited investor. You know, I'm there are there are many things that our government does that are mind boggling. But the concept of requiring accredited investors is smart. Because basically what that does is it sets the bar that, you know, if you're going to write a check you you have enough personal wealth that you can withstand the losses of it.
So, that's so good to kind of know that there's not I think a lot of people just go like, let me just go raise equity, let me use venture capital money, and there are so many buckets. And a lot of times it's I always say it's the stair step, right? When you first start, you can usually do a little self funding, maybe a little family loan, you know, something like that credit cards, I mean, I have plenty of people who get started on credit cards. But then every time you scale up, you're gonna potentially need bigger and bigger capital raises. Right? If you're going from regional to national.
Elliot Begoun 27:22
Yeah, I would, I would turn on the credit card raise and so forth. This is something that I like to put out there is that, that, you know, most I get this question asked to me all the time. You know, our entrepreneurs, just really, you know, they just have incredible risk tolerance. And, and I don't think that's the case. I talk to founders everyday. You do as well. But every single day, and they're just as worried about their mortgage payment, they're just as worried about her 401k as any of us. They're just as, you know, concerned about how much they spend on things they shouldn't be spending things on and so forth. But the difference, I think, between the average person and the entrepreneur is that the average person sees the risk in taking action. And the entrepreneur sees the risk in inaction. And they are just compelled. My gosh, what if? What if I see this opportunity, and I don't take it? What if I don't do this? But I think everything else, all things equal, they're not, in general, any more risk tolerant than anybody else. And that was an interesting learning for me. Because, you know, over the years, I always thought the opposite that these are the same people that like to go BASE jumping and kind of stuff in they're not. But I will, I do want to just coach everyone listening here to really understand the decision that you're making. And if you're in a relationship, marriage, whatever, you know, you have to, in my opinion, have these difficult conversations. But when you start financing a business on your credit cards, even if you say I'm only gonna do it for a little bit, or you agree to a loan that requires a personal guarantee, and so forth, what you're doing is saying not only am I taking the risk, but I'm taking all of the risk and if this doesn't work, instead of being able to dust myself off, grieve, cry, do all of those kinds of things and come back to fight another day, I could be left with potentially a very, very burdensome set of debts that not only can limit my opportunity to do something again and try again, but also could really be a heavy burden on myself and my family. And I've seen lots of relationships really destroyed by this and so far, so I'm not saying don't do it. I'm just saying make sure that you do it eyes wide open and really ask yourself, okay, what if I am just wrong and this goes Goes not the way I hope and I'm left with this? Can I can I really service it? And is it going to do damage to my my own health, my financial long term health and you know, potentially to my family and etc? Because it's, you know, I don't know anything that's worth that.
Right. So how important is keeping up your books as you're thinking about growing your brand? And do you see brands come in with their books pretty well tidied up or need some help in that area?
Elliot Begoun 30:34
Yeah, I mean, I would say it's, it runs the gamut. I see things on both ends of the spectrum, I think most are somewhere in the middle. I think it's really important two things. One is that you do instill that rigor around accounting. I mean, you don't necessarily have to go right to gap accounting, you know, when you're a small brand, because that's, you know, arduous and expensive and so forth. But having, you know, a good general ledger that's broken out so that you can really understand your buckets. I encourage everybody, it's something that I know I do with Hirshberg Institute with Gary Hirshberg and Andy Whitman, a lot is, you know, really promote and push the use of cash flow forecasting, because that's probably the most important, especially in the first few years most important financial thing to understand clearly is, you know, what are what's coming in and what's going out and being able to forecast and predict that so that you can see any impending cliffs or you know, things along those lines. And then over time, just continue to get better and better and better. Because when you go to raise capital, the more sophisticated that capital, the size of the capital, the more demands are going to be on that. But also, you know, the right financial information makes you a more effective entrepreneur. And so to me, the right is, you know, really understanding contribution margin and really understanding cash flow. If you had to pick two numbers to really understand that the early, early stages of your business, those two numbers would be number one, and number two.
Yeah, so good. I mean, I have a really inexpensive cashflow course, you know, video and spreadsheet and it's like, an I work with my clients on it. And I, it's like pulling teeth at the beginning. Like, this is so important. And just I really tried to work with them to create like Monday for 30 minutes, because if you keep it up, it's pretty easy to maintain.
Elliot Begoun 32:38
It's just yeah, I mean, that's, you know, anyone listening, you should take that. You should, you should really, really dig into that. I promise you, it's scary. First of all, it's scary.
it is scary. I think a lot of people don't want to look at it,
Elliot Begoun 32:52
they don't want to look at it. And you think like I'm just so much happier being oblivious. But the truth of the matter is, I know a lot of founders who have night sweats and they're worried about it. Over time, what you'll learn is when you can be able to have some predictive sense of the way your business, it's empowering. It's, it's, it's really, and it's a huge release. And so at the beginning, it sucks, it's terrifying. And like I said, nobody gets into this business that I know of, because they want to sit, you know, Monday evenings and do do their cash flow. I mean, it doesn't, it doesn't drive people but it's it's part of that, you know, that three fold path of the of the people that outperform. They're the ones very close to it.
Alright. And that is building in that that rigor, like you said, and just the regular attending to the business of your business instead of just the fun, sexy parts of making your product or social media or whatever kind of gets you going. But I find most people get into the business, because they're so passionate about their product. And then, and then they learn all the business pieces that come with it. So it can be a challenge. But so important to get started. And I love that piece about it does give you freedom, it is really scary to start. I think we put our head under the sand and be like, no, it's great. I mean, even when I do cost of goods sold with people, and they're like, Oh, I thought I was making more. The pencil on the napkin.
Elliot Begoun 34:32
You know in this business, the more you can see in front of you, the more that you can make good decisions. And and sometimes knowing is scary, but I will tell you not knowing the scarier.
Yeah, so, so good. So you told us a little bit about why TIG exists and how you help. Maybe could you share with us a little bit more people are thinking oh, maybe I'm ready for that kind of help to get me ready for capital or tell us a little bit more about when a company would be ready to to come to TIG.
Elliot Begoun 35:07
We have two programs. We have our Tardigrade Accelerator program and our E Tardigrade Incubator. And let me just first help people understand what the hell am I talking about. So, this happened a couple years ago, you know, this industry and most startup industry celebrate the unicorn. You know, that mythical brand that has the, you know, huge, you know, rapid escalation and then sells for some crazy multiple for hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars. The problem is that, that that those are is about as frequent as a unicorn hence, hence why they're called that. And so I started trying to do research for an article I was going to write on what I was going to make the antithetical mascot to the unicorn and I stumbled across the tardigrade. Which is a microscopic small, tiny animal, which represents the small tiny brands compared to the big you know, e myth. cpgs, like Nestle and Unilever, etc. There are also able to they pioneer new ecosystems, and they're able to live in all kinds of crazy environments from high radiation to the moon to the bottom of the ocean. And when things get really, really tough, they're able to curl up into crypto biosis slow their metabolic rate down enough where they can survive for 30 years without food and water. So the tardigrade is everything that represents a good brand in this industry; a brand that pioneers new ecosystems, a brand that can find and survive in any landscape, and one that can be resilient enough to withstand the onslaught of all the things that are going to come that's going to come their way. And so we wanted to build a program that really focused on helping those kind of brands build, build into meaningful brands over time that could very well become, you know, venture sexy. And, you know, we we have two distinct program, the Tardigrade Accelerator program is meant for brands are a little bit further along probably just post seed or right around seed stage through Series A. It's an application based program. And if the program, if we really feel like there's first of all fit is hugely important, important, and then if we feel our team can come alongside, and really extend out and be their Sherpas along this three fold path and guide them, you know, to make sure we're really helping them identify, you know, all the all the elements of the business that work and craft and build the right growth hypothesis and build that and execute the capital strategy and growth hack and build for scale and, you know, established community and, and accountability, then we come alongside and help them do that. And they're usually with us for 18 to 36 months which varies wildly and and they can, you know, we just it becomes natural when that right time is for them to fly on their own. And then about two years ago, I started investigating wanting to come up with something that was hybridized, that could be a one to many that that gave slightly earlier stage brands, a lot of the tools, a lot of the information, a lot of the support that they were going to need to make those decisions and be eyes wide open early, but do it in a more accessible way. And I had purchased a learning management system and said one day I would use it and when when COVID happened right after Expo West was cancelled last year. I recognize that, you know, if you look back historically, like in 2008, and other times when there was big periods of disruption in the economy, that's when there was an inflow and influx of entrepreneurship because it's when people are shaking out of their nests and out of their comfort zone that they start rethinking what they really want to do with their lives and where their passion really, really.
Yeah, I've experienced the same thing a lot of people wanting to start. start thier business.
Elliot Begoun 39:17
And also, you know, this sector has done has outperformed many, many many others during this and then and then of course, the third being you know the the immense growth and speed of change within e commerce. So I wanted to have a solution for those and we created the E Tardigrade incubator program which is a three month long program where brands come in. And they have there's eight online courses, lots of material very dense material but but hopefully provided in a very different way. With with you know, video and audio and assessments and workbooks and all kinds of tools and tricks and hacks and resources. And then we have a weekly live interactive workshop, we have daily office hours where everyone, both our accelerator and our incubator brands have access to our team to come in and ask questions right away. Things that are top of mind, we have our own internal online Tardigrade community where we've kind of create this, like psychological safety zone where, you know, founders can really ask the things that maybe they're, you know, uncomfortable asking in a public setting. It could be, you know, questions that make them feel foolish, or just they need to get something expressed because they're feeling beat down or, and know that they'll have a community of collaborators that are going to support them. So it's something I'm very, very proud of. And it makes it much more accessible. And, and it's been, it's been fun. So those are the two programs that we offer.
So glad you you started that that online, or that incubator version, that's great.
It's been fun, my wife always tells me that I was a misplaced college professor. So that allows me so those oats a bit.
Well, you do have the voice for it. Well, awesome. So so if people are interested, then they can go either apply or go on?
Elliot Begoun 41:19
I just go to our go to our website, which we're actually in the midst of doing a redesign and refresh too. So excited when that comes out. But which is TIGbrands.com. And, and you know, we have a strong ethos, I call it karmic boomerangs. I'm a big believer that the very, very best way to succeed is by giving. And without expectation of reciprocity. Please know that I am always happy as as anyone on our team to take your call and spend 30 minutes and offer advice with no with no expectation. So if there's anything we can do reach out.
That is something you know, as I was getting my start in this in this industry and consulting, and I found that to be so true with wavin and with your organization, and you guys have been really generous and it's something that I try to continue on in my own my own way as well.
Elliot Begoun 42:20
Definitely hope I mean, and it sounds you know, it sounds like it's so altruistic or Oh, wow, you know, whoo, whoo. But it just works. I mean, in this post for any entrepreneur listening, I'm, I'm a believer in a network situation instead trying to walk around networking, or you know, or virtually networking and trying to think about what can you get out of this? If you walk into those situations and you think about how can I give, how can I help? I promise you that networking that you just did, will pay itself off far more than anything you would have done if you were looking at it inwardly. And just think, you know, we need to do more of that. Period.
Yeah. So, so good. Well, I'm excited to talk to you about this next part around money mindset and money habits. I know we share kind of the same, a little bit, you know, spiritual, but also just creating like shaping our minds and being intentional about how we're how we're looking at our business and managing our minds. Because it can get out of control pretty quickly. And I know you know, we've been talking all month about money, and I had a money mindset coach on here, but I'm so curious, I'd love to hear more about what you see is like great habits for founders around mindset, and especially around money.
Elliot Begoun 43:46
Let's start with money in specific. I mean, one of the things that that money comes with is what I call it, it's not my turn, but just what do I refer to it as the comparing mind. It's kind of a Buddhist thought, but and that is if you think about it, it's if that becomes the, the bellwether for success, then it's, it's insatiable. Because no matter where you are, unless you're Ilan Musk, or, you know, Jeff Bezos, depending on the day, there's always somebody else in front of you making more. You know, and and it's rarely in this industry, although it's, it's the it's the it's the easiest thing to keep score with because it's tangible and is measurable. It's the worst thing to keep score. And I can't speak to anyone else, but I'll share personally with me. I spent a lot of my career especially the early aspects of my career, undergraduate and then when I went back to graduate school, chasing, you know, the corporate, the corporate golden egg, so to speak and trying to you know, win as many titles as I can and make as much money as I can. And on paper had what would look like great success. And what I found is that the more and more I was that I was met with that success, the less and less fulfilled I was. The less excited I was about what I was doing, the less pride I had and the job I was doing. And it was because I was chasing the wrong thing, the thing that doesn't matter. You know, truly for everyone listening, Maslow was a genius and there is a hierarchy of needs. And once you get past that the incrementality the difference in that money is not most cases going to be life changing. And the things that you may sacrifice and give up along the way to get there is very unlikely to be worth it. I think the right mindset for any entrepreneur is to remember why the hell you did this. And for the vast majority, it wasn't around the quick payday or the big payday. It was to have an impact to make an impact, to give birth to something and and prove that you had the capability. Whatever that real, intrinsic, intrinsic deep why is so is so much what's going to serve you because you have to have perseverance and resilience in this business money is not going to give you perseverance and resilience, but passion, belief conviction that that compelling Why will. And that's what you need to to succeed. And if you focus on those things, the money will come, the money will come. I have learned over time that when I think about our budget, and things like that, you know, other than our our basic budget in terms of making sure expenses are met, the way I measure success one year to the next, or the way I look at the business is by the impact we make. We're servants. And so as servants, if we're having a positive or bigger impact thats success. And the more we have focused on that, quite frankly, the more the economics of the business, you know, improved. And and I think the same is true for all of you listening that the right mindset is to just come back to why I'm doing this? What am I doing? How am I changing? Etc. The other thing I will tell you is that I have this conversation a lot around mindset. Rejection is a daily occurrence in this business. And nobody's for want of their opinion as to what you should be doing or could be doing or why aren't you doing those type of things? What what, it's a super difficult balancing act, if you think about it as a teeter totter. On one side of the fulcrum is malleability, where a founder, anytime somebody says, Oh, I think you should add this to your product. Okay, then I'll put that in.To steadfastness, which is, you don't know what the hell you're talking about. There's no way right. And what you have to really get good at is knowing where along that teeter totter you need to be at that moment. There are times where malleability will serve you well, because you're getting the right advice. There are times where you're getting the wrong advice, and you need to show strong, you know, certain certainty and confidence in what you're doing. And there are times where you need to be in the middle. So what I would encourage you to do is you hear those rejections as you get that feedback. The mindset should be let me search, let me look for that nugget of wisdom. Because within every criticism, with every bit of feedback, with everybody's, you know, opinion, and within every rejection is a nugget of truth. There is. There some nugget, and sometimes it's tiny, sometimes it's massive. If you search for that, look at that, and explore it and let everything else go. You just have to learn to do that. You don't want to block everything. You don't want to miss it. You don't want to discount it. You want to really ask what is it that they're telling me? What am I missing? Why are they saying no? What is it that I'm not seeing and ask them to. Welcome that feedback, embrace that feedback. But But know that the reason you're doing that is to take that little bit of wisdom and use it. So I think, you know, keep keep close to your why, you know, search for the wisdom in every criticism. And then the last one that I want to talk about mindset that I think is so critical and so easy to lose is confusing the difference between the journey and the destination. All of you that are doing this that are entrepreneurs in this space, you are truly heroes as far as I'm concerned. I think you know, to have the confidence to have the courage, to have the Moxie to do this is success regardless, regardless. But what we fail sometimes as we define the destination as success. That's it. We have a success, anything short of a big exit this failure. Yeah. But I will tell you that I would put this training up against any of the top MBA programs in this country. I would put this training up against any of the corporate apprenticeships in this country. I will also tell you that you will become a better communicator, a better leader, a more confident person, you will broaden your network. You are this journey that you're on is remarkable. And there's a lot of tears along the way. There's a lot of laughter along the way. But if you're just solely focused on the destination, you're gonna miss all of that. And that's a bummer.
Oh, those are so good. I love it. I mean, when we're talking about money, I know, it's easy for me to just be like, yeah, you know, business needs to make money. No money, no impact, for sure. And we should have goals. But money is should not be the end goal. It's a like I said, it's a measuring stick. It's a way for us to measure and keep score. But at the end of the day, yeah, how is it that you've changed? How can you have more impact? How can you leave the world better than when you found it?
Elliot Begoun 51:32
The only caveat I just want to do is that that, you know, again, I'm not just there's a big difference between it. I'm talking about the money above the threshold of the hierarchy of needs, right? Yeah, there are a lot of people suffering out there who don't have the money that they need for the basic necessities of life, things that they really do that have you know, that worry every day about feeding their kids and paying their bills and keeping a roof over their head. And there's no way to take that stress of money away quite frankly. Other than you know, working as a society to rise everybody help everybody rise out of poverty. But once you're past that, once you're able to reach homeostasis, and really have you know, relative security, then you just there's a there's a great in Buddhist thought of this, this, this great creature, it's called the hungry ghost. And it's this creature with this huge distended belly and this tiny mouth and what it's basically the significance is that this is just, just just, you know, insatiable craving, you know, and that's, that's what happens. We start buying, we start doing and we start wanting, and we start saying, If I get this next thing, I'm going to be happy if I hit this next, you know, number I'm going to be successful. If I get this next raise, things are gonna go great. And we're missing everything else along the way.
That piece about feedback. I mean, the more we can just be curious about it. I did an episode called think like a scientist where it's like, come to your business as if you were a scientist and you're learning and you're growing and and recognize that we all have confirmation bias and desirability bias, but the this is like welcome in that feedback. And then take those pieces that that ring true for you, but also be willing to not take things as personally. I think it's very easy as an entrepreneur to take things very personally. For sure. Yeah. I love those. Those are so great. Well, I know we need to wrap things up. So what what do you want to leave us with? What is kind of your, your one piece of advice for people, especially my folks just starting out. They may hear some of these words, and they're like exit?
Elliot Begoun 53:48
I would say that that's actually a great thing, believe it. Don't be afraid to not know. Ask questions. Be vulnerable. I mean, this we use so many, you know, of our own, you know, colloquialisms and and nomenclature in this industry, I think just to make us sound really cool and like, you know, what we're doing? And, and, you know, here's, here's a little insight we don't. We're guessing like everyone, but but ask questions, surround yourself with good people. Reach out. But make sure when you do that, that you're also trying to figure out how you can help them. It always impresses me when I have a conversation with somebody who calls and wants a little little advice. When they say near the end. Is there anything I can do for you? Right? Is there anything I could do for you? So I think having that mindset, you know, go ahead and reach up that next rung on the ladder, but pull the next one. That's, you know, coming up behind you along too.
Beautiful, I love it. Well, thank you so much for your time today. Elliot. It's been a real pleasure and I know this is going to be so helpful for folks listening today.
Elliot Begoun 55:00
My pleasure. This was a great conversation. And thanks. Thanks so much for having me on. It's really an honor. I love what you're doing in this space. It's great. It's so needed. So thank you.
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