Jon Shanahan is the cofounder and Chief Marketing Officer for Stryx, a cosmetics and skincare company focused on serving men.
Jon has helped the company earn over 120 million organic views on TikTok, scale to millions in revenue, and launch in major retailers including Target, Nordstrom, and CVS.
Prior to founding the company, Jon built a brand and YouTube channel called The Kavalier focused on men’s fashion where he reviews menswear and helps his viewers look great.
In this episode, Jon and Aaron discuss the vision of Stryx, how he’s blended skills to market & sell, and how he pitched on Shark Tank.
Jon’s Challenge; Try something new that makes you uncomfortable.
Connect with Jon Shanahan
If you liked this interview, check out episode 386 with Jon where we discuss his first breakthrough on tastes, trends and style through his website The Kavalier.
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Watson: Jon Shanahan. Welcome back to Going Deep with Aaron Watson man.
Shanahan: Thanks. Happy to be a repeat guest now.
Watson: Yes, the privileged few. We should like publish a list, accompanied with this, of the folks that we wanted to bring back. Um, and sometimes it's like, let's go deeper on the same topic. And in rare instances, it's like a completely distinct new endeavor.
Last time we talked about your YouTube channel, The Cavalier. Basically right around that time, you co-founded a new company Stryx. So for the folks that are not familiar, haven't recently seen you on shark tank, let's give them an update on what the company is, what the mission is and what you guys are working on.
Shanahan: Sure. So still run The Cavalier.
That's kind of like the basis for everything that I do. And that was what allowed me, I think we talked about it at the time, to quit my job and go full-time into content creation. And had I known at the time that this is the path it would take me on, I would not have believed you, but here we are a couple of years later.
Uh, so Stryx is the, we're trying to build the first, essentially men's beauty brand. We build skincare and cosmetic products for men. We launched DTC. We went into CBS in 2020 Nordstrom in 2021. And then just in March, we launched nationwide in Target. So we're putting a concealer on the shelves next to razors and deodorant and other skincare essentials.
So breaking some barriers and stigmas there. And also we're very active on TikToK, which is entirely your doing, which, I gotta give you all the credit in the world for, one time we had lunch and Aaron said, you know, TikTok’s pretty interesting. It's a very powerful editing platform and distribution platform.
This was November of 2019 and I went home and I was like, all right, I'll fuck around with this TikTok thing. And now it is the number one driver of the growth of our company in a massive way. We've had about 120 million organic views since I started. And it's changed everything.
So we can dig into any of those points. And, like you mentioned, we were just on shark tank, May 13th which was also a crazy process. So, if we're going deep, you tell me where you want to start.
Watson: Yeah. We'll get to shark tank. That's partially bearing the lead so that people listen all the way through. And partially there's a lot of interviews where they're like, what's shark tank like. We don't want to just completely rehash. There's specific things to your store that we're going to make sure we covered. Have you come across Alex Hormozi yet?
Watson: So he has a really, he has a ton of fantastic frameworks, but one that he's said that I've really tried to internalize is people will buy it online course, or there they'll go build a specific skill set, and then it won't immediately translate into success.
And they'll be like, that course didn't work when in reality it's like, that was one of the things they were missing maybe, but they're actually missing other things before, you know, everything kind of clicks into place and wow. You know, maybe I get some micro modicum of credit for pointing you in the direction of TikTok first.
The reality is, is that the basis for that 120 million organic views, and that is a valid marketing channel, is this amazing venn diagram of you already had video production skills, content creation skills, marketing basics, a track record of speaking to men about their aesthetic, their look. And when that was married to TikTok’s super easy content creation engine and the loads of organic distribution that come with a social network on the rise that creators haven't yet hopped onto you get this really special opportunity that's driven, you know, I'm sure that's part of the entree into all these retailers that you've listed and the direct-to-consumer sales and success in fundraising and all those other things.
So, talk a little bit just about that experience of being like, yo, my skillset and the opportunity, the thing right in front of you is so almost like perfectly like the Venn diagram is like almost the two circles are perfectly over top of one another. What's that like, because that is kind of the thing that the folks that haven't yet found it, it's not product market fit and it's almost like career opportunity fit is the way I would say it.
Shanahan: Yeah. Yeah. Leave it to you to tie all those things together in a way that I hadn't totally done before. Because I think even when we talked last time, like the reason that I started a YouTube channel is that I took a video production class in high school, and that ended up leading to the YouTube channel.
And then at the same time, the other thing that happened with TikToK and YouTube in particular was there was an arms race and there still is for how polished you can make a video. And then that gets you into a deeply technical side of video production that I've never been as much of a fan of. And TikTok is like run and gun, shoot it on the front of your phone, post it as quick as you can. And so that also kind of played in my favor within there. I think on the last one too, let me get a two for here of quoting Steve jobs. “You can't connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards,” where he says, you can't connect the dots, looking forward, only looking backward.
And it's very true. Everything that I attempted, tried, failed at, did okay at, it all ended up leading into this thing, but it's also about seasoning opportunities. So when I went home from the lunch that we had, I posted the video. Tt's still up on the TikTok,iIf you scroll back far enough. It takes a while to scroll back now, but it was half done and it had like 300,000 views, the very first thing.
And I was like, there's something here. Let me keep figuring it out. And then it wasn't, from there, it was not just like I started posting and we’re like getting a ton of sales and everything, but there's enough of a signal that I was like, okay, I'm getting views, but I haven't really figured it out. I'm enjoying making the content more on this platform than I am on YouTube.
And then there was a lot of experimentation. And so, I think our first 10 or 15,000 followers happened really fast. And then it felt, I mean, I could probably find the stat somewhere. It probably took us eight or nine months to go from 20,000 to 50,000 followers. And then again, there was like this plateau each time and it reminded me, when I was a swimmer in high school, I would get faster and I beat my time and that I would just spend like weeks where I couldn't beat it again. And I wasn't at that level again, but it was just like, if you just keep pushing through and you just, you know, there's a mentality to it that you have to have a little bit, and that's what ended up getting us to this point.
Because if I had given up the first time we plateaud, wouldn't be here. If I given up the second time I plateaued and even like right now, you know, we were sitting around 175,000 for three or four months and I was just like, I'm just going to keep going. Cause you know, there's definitely still something here to the wider platform, which is interesting too.
Watson: What about the message specifically of cosmetics and skincare for men partially that drew you in as an opportunity worth pursuing, but then kind of marry that to how you actually talk about that because it isn't, you know, maybe there's other people like a Gary Vee we've talked about, that kind of see something like that coming, but the vast majority of people, that's still a shift.
There's still stigma. There's still ideas that kind of restrain folks from really wrapping their mind around it.
Shanahan: I'd say that is one of the things that gives us a leg up on TikTok is the controversial nature of what we're doing. Like I talked to other founders that run apparel brands or they run like other brands that they just don't get the same engagement as we do. Which, for better or worse.
I mean the negative comments that we get are, I'm sure you've seen some of them, they're pretty insane. But also, it comes back to a deeply personal thing where it was something that I experienced and I saw that there could be a change. And code, make the change that you want to be is really what ended up pushing me into this, and so from the clothing thing, it was like, I couldn't find YouTube videos that I wanted to watch about the clothing that I wanted to buy. And then with this, it was okay, there literally is not another product out there that can accomplish the same thing that is also making the barrier lower for men, so how do I seize on that opportunity. And I also got extremely lucky that a lot of the legwork and a lot of the design and R&D and everything was done by the Stryx founding team, and then they had kind of targeted me as like a really good person going forward to help spread the message and really communicate it in a way that I think I've done pretty well with.
Watson: And the controversy is kind of this wonderful double-edged sword, like you're saying, from an engagement standpoint, but also just from like a psychological standpoint, you have a community, a tribe can only be so coalesced without an enemy. It's like everyone can kind of turn into infighting or not really care, or be that interested, but when there's an enemy at the gate, we rally around one another and kind of all point our spheres in the same direction, for lack of a better metaphor. And so there's the raw engagement of you're getting more comments, cause I'm sure there’s all sorts of ridiculous hate coming on every video that goes up, but it's also the type of thing that the folks that do resonate with it see, and you know, a friend in need is a friend in need. And that's kind of the psychological trigger.
Shanahan: Yeah. There's that. And then there's also, again, talking to other founders that want to make more tickets.
I also had a thick enough skin from being a YouTuber at that point for four years that I didn't take any of the comments personally, even though you definitely can. It can definitely send you down a spiral. I know right now, what is it like? Uh, the number one career that kids want in middle school right now is to be like a YouTuber.
And it's like, you don't really know what's out there until you put yourself out there in a big way. And so part of pushing through a lot of it is understanding where it's coming from, the fact that you can't really take it personally, and then you also find what the right messages within there, that aligns with everything you're trying to do. And so you also have to kind of navigate that.
Watson: So, tell folks just like a little bit more company history, the initial idea, there was an initial product, and then you're now up to, I don't even know if it's a dozen or where you guys have landed with the amount of products that you guys are selling.
Shanahan: Yeah, we're a little over 12 now, but when the company launched and I was the first YouTube video for it. It was a concealer and a tinted moisturizer, because those were the two products that most guys were most open to using or have used before, but there was not an analogous version on the market for guys.
And I remember, what was the diner that we sat in, in the Strip District where I was like, this is a concealer and this is a tinted moisturizer. And you're like, I get it. I get the concealer. Tinted moisturizer? You know, there's a bigger barrier there to understand what it is. The legibility wasn't as high.
And so, then as we've continued to go forward, it's always been about blending cosmetics and skincare. And so the additional products that we built were both partially out of what do we see as a gap in the market, but also, what are our customers asking for? So like that my favorite example is the gel cleanser that we have, we developed because guys we're using the concealer, but they either weren't washing their face at night or the cleanser they were using couldn't remove the concealer, so they were getting pigment on their pillow and complaining to us. And so it was like, we created a problem that we had to then solve, but this is like the things you don't really, you know, think about.
And then like our eye tool is one of our best sellers. Guys have a lot of issues around their eyes, they want to fix that, daily SPF. And so the more that we can combine those two, and because we always talk about too, there's a lot of companies that do shampoo and soap and cologne. There's a lot of products for guys that are already out there, but nobody's really tackling the makeup stuff and like that's our opportunity to really seiz and not get distracted by other product categories. That would be easier to jump into.
Watson: Can you convey to people how big the cosmetics industry is generally. Cause I, that's something that, unless you're like a business nerd, you don't really appreciate how big it is and how profitable it is.
Shanahan: Yeah. So the CPG industry is larger than tech, and companies that are being acquired and in that space have the same or higher multiples than tech companies, but it's not as new of a space, I think why it is why it doesn't get the same attention. But if you look at the major conglomerates that own every CPG brand, they're snapping up companies the same way tech companies do. And I remember I had that realization one time when I was still at First Insight. I think it was when muscle milk was acquired by Pepsi, it was one of those type of transactions that was for like $250 million. And I was like, wow. I was like, you can build a food brand and sell it to a major conglomerate. And then, in the beauty industry it's even more active because there are so many new innovations in the beauty space that major companies can't really get right with a level of authenticity. And so they just want to pick up the company that did it correctly and then bring it into the fold. Schmidt's deodorant is a great example. I know you follow those guys on Twitter. So Jamie and Chris, they built Schmitz which was a natural deodorant or Moise, with native sold to P&G.
But, yeah. The beauty industry in particular, I want to say is $35 billion. Like it's big and that's all women's. And then in the men's space, men's personal care is somewhere around 5 billion, but men's is the fastest growing sector of CPG overall, which I always attribute to, or riding the wave of like the mad men era, like mad men showed guys that skinny ties and my suits are nice or like get a nice haircut. And then there was a beard era where everybody wanted to get their beard products and like beard grooming became more acceptable. Now we're in the manscaped era. And like, our bet is that the next logical progression of that is like, all right, you've got your beard and you've got your haircut on lock your beard on lock.
You're doing your skincare routine, but no matter how much good skincare you do, you're still gonna get a blemish or something and you need that instant fix. And so that's where we try to fit in.
Watson: And the other thing that, you know, so full disclosure here, listeners, I've only ever made, my wife and I have only ever made one angel investment and it's into Stryx.
And the first basis for that decision was, you know, I don't have the experience to speak to this, but every great angel investor always talks about it starts with who the actual entrepreneur is. And you are just one of the entrepreneurs that is on the short list of like, whatever you're into I'm into, because I just know that you have the kind of discipline, the creativity, the work ethic to create really cool results.
But the second thing, in addition to the TikTok thing really working, that's like a distribution channel for marketing that really like, I don't want to reduce the hard work of building this company to something, you know, very simple, but the concept of this product line that you guys are laying out is we already know that cosmetics is enormous. Like we have these enormous CPG companies, but also like, you know, beauty and luxury are like also tied together and, these enormous conglomerates, just, you know, they gobble up the Kardashians or the, or Rhianna's different beauty lines because those things are just cash cows if you have the customers coming in, because of the margin structure. And, the setup of products, maybe lipstick isn't on some sort of short time horizon for the type of cosmetics that men would potentially be using. But the universe of potential products is already legible.
The job is basically, find the ones that are most relevant, reformat them to this male audience that you're engaging with, and any sort of risks it's about like product is, I don't want to say completely off the table, but massively reduced relative to other types of startups that might be in a similar stage to you where you are. We're still not sure if we can get this product to work, or there is enough market appetite or what have you. Does that register with you where it's like, hey, we kind of look to this universe of cosmetics products that are already in place for the women's market and just figuring out, kind of plucking the ones that would be best for this audience that we're speaking to.
Shanahan: Yeah. Cause the, the biggest thing in the women's space is it's very saturated. I mean, women spend way more on their face than men ever have, and you know, the idea is that they'll get there. But in order to innovate in the women's space is very difficult, because every product is made.
In the men's space, it's kind of this green open pasture where the products really just need particular tweaks to make them more for guys, whether it be accounting for guys oilier skin, or the fact that guys don't have a beauty routine.We can't assume that a guy's going to have a beauty blender and a setting powder.
Like there's formulation tweaks to that, but we know that there's products guys are already stealing from their wives or girlfriends or their partners, and they want to have a brand that speaks to them and a product that is a little more tailored to them. And so, yes, there's just, there's so much low hanging fruit in this space. It's curious to me why it hasn't been tackled, but then it's like, that's the opportunity for us to build that defining brand in this space.
Watson: Do you think part of the why is just in general, how much more everyone sees themselves? Itt used to be just your mirror in the morning and then like, oh, I'm passing by a window. Oh, I don't have mud on my clothes or something. And then now it's, you know, we're on a remote call right now. People are used to looking at zoom, used to seeing themselves in an Instagram story or a FaceTime or what have you. There's just a greater kind of conscientiousness brought to one's appearance.
Is that what you see as a primary driver?
Shanahan: Yeah. It's more, self-awareness, not just it's zoom call. It's like when you go out to lunch with your friends, it's going to go on Instagram. It's like, everybody's on camera in really nice cameras now. It's not flip phone cameras and low quality stuff.
You're seeing yourself a lot more than you ever were, but there's also a better understanding now that you can do things about it. A lot of the comments that we get, they’re like what is a concealer? I had no idea you could even do this. Or it's like, you're telling me I can hide my dark under eye circles? Tell me more about that. There's just a lack of awareness and education for men in this space, that I experienced firsthand, and so that's part of why social has been such a big thing. Like you can just really explain this stuff and then leave it to them. We're not saying you have to use this stuff, but a lot of guys want it. They just don't know what's out there. And the flip side of that is, they've used these products before, because like the one we hear the most common is like, man, I had a black eye once for picture day, and my mom put concealer on. That stuff's amazing! And it's like, yeah, that's the thing a lot of guys have, whether it's, you know, from a partner or something else, and just making that more tailored to guys is really what has opened this up.
Watson: Right on. So, we're about to get to shark tank, but first you referenced CVS, Nordstrom, Target… and what was the fourth retailer that you guys are in?
Shanahan: We're in a few othersmaller retailers, but I mean, those are the main ones.
Watson: The big dogs. So can you talk, so this is really of a different era, but when the whole direct to consumer boom started, and we saw some of these early, Casper, companies like that get funded, there was this initial, oh, this is a completely new paradigm. Everyone's just going to go to your website, order from you, you're going to ship it to them. Never need a storefront, never need any sort of physical presence. And now these days, like you walk in to Target and there's an end cap for all those DTC companies in their respective section of target to, you know, be able to reach more prospective buyers.
I can't tell you how many runs I've made to Target in the last couple of months for things that we needed at some point in time. So can you talk specifically about the upstart CPG company playbook for earning a spot or paying for a spot or gaining relevance in some of these big retailers and just what that kind of step-by-step processes from getting in and getting your foot in the door to having the foot traffic and sales to garner greater presence in those retailers.
Shanahan: Yeah. So DTC was quickly associated as a new business model versus being what it is, which is a distribution model. But yeah, ou're right. There was a whole era of brands, and I think you could probably find the quotes from like Warby Parker or, you know, name a DTC brand that were like, we will never be in retail. They were like, that's just how it is. And their tune has changed. But, to use DTC as a way to kick things off, the barrier to entry is very low, you can get a Shopify set up really easily, build a brand and then prove the concept. But ultimately, e-commerce penetration is like 30 ish percent, right. Give or take what it is right now. I think it's contracting right now, you know, for macro reasons. So, you can only reach 30% of consumers that are going to buy online. 70% of retail still happens in physical brick and mortar stores. And so that's kind of the thesis for why we went early. The other side of it is specific to our product and our category.
We feel that we need to be in those stores on the shelves next to established brands and products to show that guys can use these. There's a stigma -reaking to it, which is why we're in the men's section, not in the beauty section. But to get into retail. I mean, it's very tough. Everybody wants to get into retail.
So there's buyers at these companies that all they do is evaluate new products, new brands, and figure out what's in the market. I would say 1% of brands get plucked right from, you know, if they're growing fast enough, a retailer will reach out and be like, hey we love what you're doing. Come on in. Everything else is relationships and sales. And that's part of, when you're talking about connecting the dots, my experience doing business development and sales at First Insight is when entirely informed the way that I sold into retailers and investors, for Stryx. And so with CVS in particular, they looked at Target and said, Target is bringing in cool brands is bringing ina cool consumer, like you know, younger consumers.
How do we do that on our side? And so that made it easy for us too, because we were also, I mean, none of this is easy, but our positioning, because you have to also position to the retailer what you're bringing to the table, is you can put another beard oil or another razor on your shelf, but you're not growing the category. We are bringing in, our product is sitting alongside these other products. We have enough customer data. You have these similar products in your store. And so, hey, this is a way to grow the category. You're growing the whole pie. And so you have to figure out what your story is to the retailer, for how you're going to bring that unique value.
One of the brands that I've become close with is Quip and what they said their story to Target, is that something like 80% of Quip customers, they're an electric toothbrush, were coming from standard non electric toothbrushes. And so, they were able to go to Target and say, you know, if we capture 30% of the toothbrush buyers that were coming in for a non electric toothbrush, we can convert them. We’re showing we can convert them, and your margins and your sales revenues can be this much higher because these are the customers that are coming in to buy from us online. And they’ve been extremely successful Target from that positioning. So it's really about figuring out what the retailers initiatives are and how you can then supplement and add to that, and bring those in.
So part of that is traction on your DTC, on your website, or if you have smaller, especially in food, it's really common to go to smaller local shops, and then you can start to work your way into the whole foods and in the larger stores like that. But ultimately, I keep telling people, it's smiling and dialing.
It's finding the right person, the right buyer to take a chance on you, and also not giving up because there's a lot of brands that will apply three, four or five times, and it's just not the right time. And you just gotta keep building and growing and then go back and it will be the right time.
Watson: So consistency and effort underpins all, kind of sales attempts.
But I really want to just try to rehash some of the things you said, and you can correct me if I'm wrong on any of these points, because I also talk to people where they want to sell, they want to be better salespeople, but, you know, do I have the right talking points? Do I actually know the levers that make things happen?
So one of them is, if you can just prove sales in some way, shape or form. Hey, we were in this small boutique retailer and we sold out, or we had really great numbers. Two, we have this thesis for how we drive value to you. We're deeply empathetic to you, the retailer and your goals and our ability to, not, hey, we would love to have our “yada yada” sold there, but it would help you accomplish goal X, Y, or B. And then once you're actually in the door, it's always going to be some form of, a kind of limited run test. Actually following through and saying, hey, this was the thesis we had. This was the result. And that's going to be distinct to each product, really, because sometimes it is about better capitalizing the average toothbrush buyer, and in other cases, it's, hey, you know, no one comes in and buys three different razors, but there will be people who buy a razor and a Stryx concealer.
Shanahan: Yes. Yes, exactly.
Watson: All of that tied together to make you guys a worthy subject for Shark Tank. Tell us a little bit about the story of how that came together, and then we can talk about the deal that you guys closed.
Shanahan: Yeah,what’s crazy is when we started the Shark Tank process, we weren't in Target yet. We actually had, the same week that we had our initial call with Target, we had our initial call with the Shark Tank producers. And so those two things were always kind of running in parallel.
And it was crazy that they ended up coming to life so close together. So yeah, we got in touch with the producer. Shark Tank, in the contrary to retailers, Shark Tank does reach out to a lot of companies. I mean their ultimate goal is to fill their pipeline with cool, interesting companies, products and founders, and then get them whittled down to like a really solid lineup.
And so I do know of a lot more companies that have been reached out to from Shark Tank, but I also know a lot of companies that just go through the website like us. It's like you apply on the website, you say your cool thing and you just hope you get a call back. And there's a lot of companies that will get that.
And then the process is, you know, you go through a real process, you put a reel together and then you get approved and then you do the producer thing, and you start to refine your pitch, and then ultimately you get to film.What's crazy is, something like 20, 25% of filmed pitches still never see the light of day.
I know four other companies that filmed this season, that their episode will never see the light of day. And so, there's all these break points where you could not end up, you know, seeing the filming at all or ever seeing your episode.
Watson: Tons of companies get it filmed. Never see your stuff on the episode.
Shanahan: Yeah. So there's all these break points where you could end up never seeing the light of day. And they're very clear about that too. Basically they say until you are walking through those doors on national television, your episode's not guaranteed to air. Because there's a lot of work.
There's like there's tons of paperwork and backend stuff that you have to do to get on there. And so I'm sure there's companies that go to that process and they get frustrated with them that it never ended up airing.
Watson: I believe it. So, part of that has to be like, let's make this pitch really entertaining in addition to having great product. It probably helps to either get a really good deal done or be like shut down by everyone in a really fascinating way.
So, you know, just give us what your strategy was going into that, how you thought about preparing for something. I've heard, you know, you actually record for an hour plus to get that distilled down into the highlights that they're actually going to show. So what was that like?
Shanahan: Yeah. I think the thing to remember is that the goal of the show is to make the sharks look really good and everything else is kind of like serving that purpose and ultimately showing, you know, the products and everything and the entrepreneurs, but the goal of the is to make the sharks look good. And what we are preparing, yeah we filmed for about an hour. The only thing that's scripted is that first 30 or 60 seconds, right? It's the pitch. And then it's a free for all. And luckily, we had raised money in the past, so we've like gone through those meetings, but the difference was Shark Tank is every question that we wanted to answer, we essentially had to answer to the audience first, the sharks second, and then like investors third. So like, when we were thinking about the way we would respond to some of the questions that we typically get, it’s like how do we answer it so that it answers the audience watching, because they're the ones that are ultimately the most important on the show.
And then also answers the sharks question. And then the other thing too is you've got five big personalities in the room. They're all trying to make great TV. So they're all trying to talk over each other, interrupt you see, if you're good on your feet. And so you kind of have to like, choose who you're going to answer.
And what got edited out, which was a lot of stuff that got edited out of the episode, but we didn't answer the revenue question for like 20 minutes. And Kevin, he was like red in the face. He was like, what is happening here? Which is why, in our episode, Robert goes, I knew it because we kept ignoring Kevin. He was like revenue.
And then Damon was like revenue, revenue. And then when we finally answered it, they're all like, oh, okay. That makes sense. And so, just having that in the back of your mind of like, how do you also just make this as entertaining as possible? You have to keep that in mind too, because that's what they want. You know, they want to make great TV.
Watson: Once again, it helps to have years and years of content creation experience going into that, but not every company has.
Shanahan: Yeah. I joke with people all the time. Like I spend my whole day talking to a camera, so it's like, it's great to do. It's great to do stuff like this and have somebody else to talk to.
Watson: Yeah. To bounce off of.
So you landed a deal, Robert Herjavec. I literally tried to say his name and I still have like some sort of blockage. What has kind of been the result so far? So, you know, one of those things with company's not getting on the show, they don't get the, accompanying sales bump that tends to come with everyone rushing to the site after watching the show. But also you've got a shark on your balance sheet. You have fresh capital to continue to deploy. What's that look like?
Shanahan: Yeah. So they ended up editing out some of the negotiations too, which I thought were entertaining. It's like they encourage that. Um, ultimately Robert has not come through on some of the promises. I don't know how much more to talk about there, but we've grown the company we've stopped burning cash and we landed, target all without additional help. We would love to have him on board because I know there's a lot of benefit to having those, but ultimately, yeah, it just hasn't been one of the factors that has led to the growth, which is reassuring and exciting, but also, maybe we would have gone faster if we had the additional cash and had the additional guidance on there. But I think that's all I can say.
Watson: Fair enough. What about just like when the show aired, did you see like a crazy spike in traffic to the website, to the TikTok account? What did that look like?
Shanahan: Yeah, what's crazy is we were on a list for Q1 of the fastest growing D to C brands that's tracked by similar web and that ended in March.
And so I'm really curious if we'll hit that again. But in, in Q2 because yeah, the traffic to the site was crazy. We 've never been close to that many concurrent sessions, and it’s as soon as we walked out into the tank, right, you just saw the spike because we had our logos on our shirts, people Google it.
And the what's also interesting, because I know other founders had been on previous seasons, is because streaming is so prevalent now it isn't just that 8:00 PM on a Friday night thing. It's once it hits Hulu 24 hours later, then Saturday, then Sunday. And like, I'm still getting texts today like, I just got around to watching your episodes where, since the appointment viewing is such a thing now, people are going to pick up on shark tank throughout the week.
And so I think, whereas before it used to be really intense on that one, you know, two hour segment, when the episode airs, it's kind of spread out across a few days, which I think is great. And you know, we've definitely seen that continue and we've ultimately just hit like a new daily baseline of revenue post Shark Tank, which I'm hoping doesn't slow down. It's been really good. But at the same time, we also, I had like three different videos do over a million views that same weekend. So it was just like, everything is just, it's just rising. And it's been crazy to try and continue that momentum. And, we hired a head of growth in January and part of the edict with him was like, look, we got, TikTok really cranking here, but we need other stuff to be working because all of our attention is going into this one channel. And we saw that for the first time in March, where we had a viral video in March and we had this really long tail that we never had on our TikToks before.
And it's the same thing with Shark Tank where it's like, all right, so. You know, Shark Tank is going to be a huge traffic driver, but how do we then leverage that into, you know, spinning up every other channel? We want to make sure if people are Googling for what they saw, if they're Googling for men's shark tank concealer, got to hit there and then how do we then leverage, you know, the shark tank appearance into, to the more social validation that it's worth.
And so that's been the other thing to kind of lean into.
Watson: Yeah, one of the other, I mean, it was prudent to have that growth person ready to go. And I'd be curious to learn more about just like how you evaluate for someone like that. But the other thing that just brings to mind where you could see that kind of lift moving into the future. It's almost like the Volkswagen, in fact, where they say like, you, you go buy a Volkswagen and all of a sudden you see all the other Volkswagens that are on the road with you. And to that same effect, if you do have the placement in Target, CVS, Nordstrom, someone who otherwise would walk by and it just, it would, it would be part of that morass of things that cross your visual spectrum, that you never actually consciously recognize, your ability to now jump out to them amongst that morass because of the fact that they listened to you guys pitch for whatever it was eight minutes on shark tank potentially creates a bit more of that lift now into the future, because then someone could watch that and then come back however many weeks later and see it. And that, you know, maybe that translates to sales and maybe that translates to them telling someone about it so on and so forth.
Shanahan: Yeah, I think that's one of the biggest lessons is there's been a lot of decision points in the company where we're like, all right, if we do this, we will be here or we will accomplish this.
And you want everything to be the silver bullet, right? It's like, we'll get on shark tank and then boom, we're off to the races forever. And it's like, there really aren't, those things don't really exist. Every single thing is a stepping stone. Like even we got into CVS, we're like, you know, we'll go into CVS and then boom, you know, we'll triple a company or whatever, what will happen there.
And there was like, no, like we went to CVS, we sold well. And like, you can just continue, but the real work begins there. And it was very much that way with shark tank where it was like, we did all this work to get up to shark tank and get to the air date, but then. They was like, that's when the real work begins and it just becomes another stair-step on this thing and like everything, I think we were just looking for that silver bullet, but it's really just, just continuing to put in the time and the effort, from there.
Well, it's the perfect kind of lesson or insight to, uh, wrap up with here. John, anything else you were hoping to share today that I didn't give you a chance to, before we ask the last few question?
Shanahan: No. I think I said on the last episode is like, oh, so I listened to these every week. I feel like I might be one of the most avid listeners to the podcast.
I think you do great work. And I think your ability to pluck interesting people that I haven't heard, cause I feel like I see a lot of the same people in some of the podcast circuits, but your ability to, to pluck them and then also ask really insightful questions is what keeps me coming back. So a very public kudos to you on continuing.
Watson: Very kind of you. Thank you. For folks that want to learn more about Stryx, follow all the things that you guys are doing, what digital coordinates can we provide for people to learn?
Shanahan: We are stryx_official everywhere. Yeah, we do the most stuff on TikTok. And then we're trying to get a little bit better about putting stuff on LinkedIn, just because there's some cool stuff happening.
And so, yeah, stryx_official pretty much everywhere.
Watson: Uh, one of the other things I wanted to ask you about before we go to the challenge here is earlier in the life of Stryx, one of the kind of company values was subtlety, I believe, or maybe that's discreet. And you know, it, that's kind of the premise of, you know, covering up some small blemishes on your face.
And so there was this like, weird tension between wanting to tell everyone about what you're doing and also kind of having some discretion about details of the company. Obviously there's one question here earlier where that was was touched upon, but is that still a value have maybe like something that has been shed to some degree?
How are you thinking about that in the context of building a brand?
Shanahan: Yeah, it probably creates the most discomfort for me because I'm also that way personally. Spending time to put up stuff on LinkedIn and like brag humbly or not so humbly is like very uncomfortable. And so it’s part of the reason that the brand values discrete is because it very much comes from the founders and my co-founder is the same way as well.
Like, we've never really announced a fundraising round because that doesn't to us it to drive the company or the mission forward. And so, with all of our products, you know, the discreet nature remains, but there is that kind of tension where you have to be like, you have to announce these things.
You have to be very public about it, but also at the same time, like how do we keep our heads down and just continue grinding on those. That's definitely one of the kind of balances that we're always looking for.
Watson: Well, we're going to link to all the scripthere in the show notes, you can find in the podcast app or going to be there and.com/podcast for every single episode of the show.
But before I let you go, John, I would like to give you the mic one final time to issue a challenge to the audience.
Shanahan: I think you had to try something new that makes you uncomfortable. And like in the context of Stryx, it's, you know, guys try and concealer, but you know, if there's something that you've been interested in doing, it's like take that little leap and try it because for me, and that wasTikTok.
I mean, there's a lot of things I've done in the past couple of years that have been that way. Um, but you have growth happens in discomfort. And if you're not making an effort to do that more often, I think you'll be surprised at the results.
Watson: Yeah, I can tell you that, we just hired, and I mentioned this a couple episodes ago, an ops person, and that was very uncomfortable for me because every previous hire for Piper had been exclusively video editors.
And I was like very, discreet in a different sense of the word where it's like, I knew what it took to be a good one. I kind of knew how to evaluate whether or not they were good, but like the ops thing, I was like, I don't really have a clear definition of the things that need done because I'm all over the place administratively.
And it's been a wonderfully beneficial challenge so far that definitely pushed me outside my comfort zone, but has already yielded some positive stuff. So I love that challenge. And I think that everyone should take it.
Shanahan: Yeah, it could be hiring or it could be, go run a little bit further tomorrow. Just be uncomfortable.
Watson: Amen to that. John this has been fantastic. Thanks for coming on the show, man.
Shanahan: Of course. And congratulations on the baby. Haven’t said that publicly either. It's great to see you a growing in the dad life.
Watson: Thank you. We just went deep with Jon Shanahan. Hope everyone out there has a fantastic day. Hey, thanks for watching to the end of my interview with John. If you found it insightful and want more insights from him specific to building his YouTube channel with over a hundred thousand subscribers, check out our past interview from a couple of years ago, right as he was at the precipice of founding Stryx, we talked about his YouTube channel, The Cavalier.