Riding Unicorns

S4E8 - Freddy Ward, Co-Founder & CEO @ Wild

June 22, 2022 Riding Unicorns Season 4 Episode 8
Riding Unicorns
S4E8 - Freddy Ward, Co-Founder & CEO @ Wild
Show Notes Transcript

Freddy Ward is the co-founder of D2C cosmetics company, Wild. Freddy started his career at Hello Fresh and is actually credited as being its fifth ever employee. After working his way up to Marketing Director Freddy decided to start his own company, Wild, with lifelong friend and former Director of Fly Hiring, Charlie Bowes-Lyon. Wild is best known for its refillable deodorants and range of exotic fragrances, which customers seem to have really warmed too. In fact the company has already sold over 300,000 deodorants in little over 18 months. The company is hoping that by focusing on natural ingredients and by cutting down on plastic waste it will be at the forefront of a new wave of environmentally friendly consumer products. 

In this episode Freddy explains what marketing means to him, how he went about starting Wild and how he later developed its brand. The episode also covers how one should go about experimenting with new marketing channels, the thought process behind launching new products and what value Freddy believes he brings to the business. 

Make sure to like and subscribe to the Riding Unicorns podcast to never miss an episode. Also don't forget to give Riding Unicorns a follow on Twitter and LinkedIn to keep on top of the latest developments.

[00:00:00] James: Hello. Welcome to the riding unicorns podcast. This is the podcast all about growth startups on James Pringle. I'm a technology entrepreneur and investor and founder of Pringle capital. My co-host is Hector Mason. Hector is a partner at B2B investor episode one ventures. This podcast is all about uncovering what it takes to build a unicorn business.

[00:00:36] We speak to some of the best founders and investors. Many from unicorn companies, and ask them about that journey, operational insight, tips, lessons, stories, and the thing that can help uncover what it takes to build a high growth business.

[00:00:52] This week's episode is me. Freddy Ward co-founder and CEO at Wild, the refillable natural deodorant business. Freddy was previously the director of marketing in the UK of HelloFresh, where he really cut his teeth testing over 30 acquisition channels. In this episode, we cover marketing naturally. How Freddy started wild building a team D2C strategy, and much more. This episode was great. Fun to record. So I hope you enjoy it. Let's get started.

[00:01:18]

[00:01:21] James: Hi, Freddy. Welcome to the riding unicorns podcast.

[00:01:24] Freddy: Hi guys. Thanks very much for having me as, big fan of the podcast so, yeah. Great to be chatting to you today.

[00:01:30] James: Well, It's very kind, we're really happy to have you here. pretty, maybe you could start by telling us a bit about wild and also your journey up to launching.

[00:01:39] Freddy: Yeah. Sure. So, While its mission is quite simple, it's to remove single use plastic, and create high performing natural formulated products, for your everyday personal care routines. and we started by launching, a refillable natural deodorant. So you get an Allen minium case. and then you.

[00:01:57] Bamboo pole biodegradable refills that you can just kind of dispose of, um, without any of that guilt of, plastic, once you've finished kind of using them, we're primarily a DTC business. So, um, Our website is we are wild, dot com. Um, And we do little. retail, as well. So, and we launched wilds in, kind of mid 2019 is when we started kind of working on it.

[00:02:21] So, Just operational for nearly three years now, then. And we go back in my, career. So, Really my career started at HelloFresh. So I joined there when we were a team of about five of us in the UK office about 30 people kind of globally and role. Sales intern. So not nothing particularly kind of glamorous.

[00:02:45] And I think at that stage recipe boxes didn't exist as a category. And there wasn't, you know, things like Facebook where we're just beginning to become big channels to grow these businesses, but they hadn't quite developed much there. So my job was to go. Festival to festival and try and persuade people to sign up to this thing called a, a recipe box.

[00:03:07] so traveled a lot across the UK. Lot of rainy weekends trying to persuade one or two unlucky people to to buy them. And we didn't even have iPad side. I let she used to take their credit card details down on a piece of paper and they've been a good weekend, I'd spend the whole of Monday uploading those orders until.

[00:03:26] Into our website and it'd been a quiet weekend. you know, It wasn't very well received when I came back to the office again, often a bit. Right. And they, they kind of get smudged or something so hard to read someone's credit card details properly. Anyway, that was the kind of unglamorous start to my entrepreneurial kind of career.

[00:03:44] I ended up running the marketing team for the UK. So team of back 20 and scaled the business to about a hundred million in the UK made tons of mistakes. Pretty much every mistake in the book was pretty young and naive, but also eager to learn and you know, keen to make the most of what was an incredible opportunity and had the most amazing.

[00:04:06] Absolutely loved it. An incredible six years learned from a lot of amazing people and look back on it with a huge kind of fondness and really wanted to take what I'd learned and kind of apply that to my own own business, which was where we started thinking about what.

[00:04:23] Hector: Great to hear people rising up through the ranks in those senior roles.

[00:04:26] Yeah. and ended up, how did the UK marketing, what does marketing mean to you? you've got a DTC brand now, so it's critical, but what does actually marketing mean to.

[00:04:36] Freddy: so, HelloFresh, it was very growth focused very numbers driven and put money in and get money out is how we look today and, and we built real rigor and data-driven obsessive culture. And I think. That's a super important foundation for any DTC business.

[00:04:57] So, performance marketing is where I've grown and that's my kind of bread and butter. I think in. We thought less about in that world was brand. And you know, I think that plays a more important role now. wild. So there's obviously still that deep data-driven performance based marketing, but we're also trying to create a kind of deeper relationship with customers and build a brand that we can be proud of.

[00:05:21] And you can be a bit more involved with. As a kind of finder. And I suppose also, if you look at every DTC brand if you create an interesting product and category, you're going to get competitors. So, I suppose the acquisition. Very performance led and then the retention side, there's a lot of kind of brand side that kind of comes into it.

[00:05:40] And that's how I tend to think about marketing. I must caveat that I have a co-founder Charlie. He's actually better at marketing than I am. he's the CMO. And then I kind of, look after most other things, but I like to give him my worthy opinion which he doesn't enjoy too much on a daily basis.

[00:05:57] I was actually hammering him about CACs this morning. So, We'll see. Um, didn't seem to go down that well, but yeah.

[00:06:04] Hector: we had Pappy I founder papier on, on the podcast recently and he talked about Brandon. w which I think is interesting because it's just harder to measure, right? The marketing people now think of marketing as being such quantitative thing where, you know, how much you put in and you know exactly what that spits out, but brand is less tangible.

[00:06:22] I mean, what have you done around brand that is beyond, you know, nice looking website, great design that you think is really important. And how do you sort of determine the payoff from

[00:06:32] that?

[00:06:33] Freddy: So we haven't spent loads of money on it. We're not one of those companies that has gone and done a huge strategic and I think brand, and your early years needs to be very natural. We chose the name. We came up with the concept, we came up with a kind of guidelines and I think one of the big mistakes I see is people feel like they can add source that at the start.

[00:06:54] And they go and get a brand agency to do the naming and the design and set the framework. And then I think the founders always trying to working within a framework that someone else has kind of set and my big belief in Brandon. And I think that kind of came ready while I listened to tables.

[00:07:09] Podcasts with you is it's about crafting your personality and bringing some of that aids in the brand that you that you deliver. And I think that if you can do that, that feels like a a more true reflection of what you're trying to do and, and you can connect deeper with your kind of customers and it all kind of comes so naturally.

[00:07:30] So with wild for us itself, We just try and have a bit of fun, you know, I think Charlie and I got naked and put some billboards on for Valentine's day in Trafalgar square, or, little things like that, where it's. If nothing else wild wants to you know, make people smile and you know, we take our mission really seriously, but not take ourselves too seriously.

[00:07:50] And the hope is that that over the long-term agendas brand preference or at least people being aware of who you are and, and kind of what you're doing. For me, it's just kind of doing little things to live up to how you see that brand. and I say customer service is also really important.

[00:08:06] Make your tone of voice, how you treat your customers, what your refunds policy are, will be things build up to that kind of intangible reputation. If you think about people like papier and blue and wild, quite like customer centric, brand centric, you know, I think if you can blend that with um, kind of heavy performance mindset as well.

[00:08:27] That for me seems to be like a great combination and that's what wild inspires to try and achieve.

[00:08:32] James: Yeah. It's really interesting that like Genesis of sort of authenticity at the heart of it, because I mean, I've seen portfolio companies like rebrand. And starts to become a bit sterile almost. It's sort of done by a third party agency, as I say. So. Yeah. It's interesting. I think that is really important to have that authenticity.

[00:08:50] So, with wild, what did you do to kind of validate the idea and what do you do when you start a product based business? Like while deodorant, where do you go? Who do you talk to? How do you kick things off?

[00:09:07] Freddy: I think the simple answer is you don't do what I did. Uh, so, The first six months were pretty much on mitigated disaster. And primarily the responsibility lands at my feet. Cause I came from food. I didn't really know a huge amount about personal care, but I was like, how hard can it be?

[00:09:23] You know, We're putting 50 different ingredients into a box. We're sending out a hundred thousand boxes a week and you know, that's pretty complex stuff. I'm just going to make a couple of Decadron stacks, figure out how to sell them. And we'll be, we'll be on my way. The theory of a cyclic, we're going to spend loads of time on this and invest the next five, 10 years, we need to prove that there's a market here and that will, that are some of our hunches were kind of correct.

[00:09:48] And then once we prove that I, if we need to, we can go and raise some kind of external capital. the idea was like, we'll put up a Shopify site, we'll do it all ourselves. We'll go and buy some natural deodorants find a kind of manufactured. you know, Label them up and just kinda start sending them out.

[00:10:03] And we'll, get an idea of CAC. We'll get an idea of market size. We'll get an idea on, customer feedback and we can kind of iterate from there. So very much a believer in, the kind of get something live and then figure out from there. Cause mass isn't quite like highly regulated and need to go through quite a lot of testing before you can bring them to market.

[00:10:23] So think the, like now the realistic timeline is sort of minimum second. I rang loads of manufacturers or just Google, you bring all these manufacturers like six to nine months. I was like, are you joking? What am I going to do for the next six to nine months? I don't have a job.

[00:10:38] I've told everyone I'm starting this great company. I need it next week. Not six to nine months kind of time. That was my first. I should have realized that actually what everyone was telling me was, correct and kind of work with them. So, In the end, we find this supplier who was willing to work with us and move quickly.

[00:10:58] And it turned out that they were willing to do that because they had no professional standards whatsoever. they send me samples, which looked really great and amazing, and then ordered our first like big batch and they arrived and it was like, what the heck? You know, What the holidays The packaging basically didn't work.

[00:11:14] The labels, like if you put your hand on them, the the color came off. And the deodorant was like, not ideal. So. we managed to sell these. So the good news is that we managed to validate that you could acquire customers and that there was demand for natural deodorant.

[00:11:30] uh, Net promoter score was minus 20. Facebook have this The score which we used to look at every week, if you drop below that score, they basically ban you or like they, they ramped your costs up. And we were literally hovering on that line so that they like survey customers who bought your product through Facebook.

[00:11:48] And every week we're terrified we're going to get banned because our product was being so poorly kind of rated. So, The experience from that was like, Our business idea is good, but we we've got to get much better at making a natural da grid. We got a deliver the wide emission, which is kind of removing plastic.

[00:12:06] And we should just stop doing this as soon as possible. Cause we're just it's now like doing more harm than kind of. so we obviously then went and tried to raise our, like ,, we didn't tell our investors a lot of that story. And we'd always be like, oh, sorry, we're out of stock of the deodorant site.

[00:12:24] We'll get them to see and, you know, just try and avoid them understanding. and, And on the back of those kinds of early metrics, we were able to. Some kind of capital, but again, it took us about six months to raise that money. I think we had over a hundred conversations and know, a lot of rejection over Tom, basically everyone was like natural deodorants.

[00:12:46] It's like a 2 million pound market. It's a tiny town. This is never gonna work. So yeah, it was, quite.

[00:12:52] Hector: It's great here in the unvarnished version, because I think, you know, as, as VCs, we, of course. Uh, being fed lies, lathered in varnish when we speak founders most of the time. And sometimes they come out after you invested and you're like, okay, right. This is actually what we're dealing with here.

[00:13:07] Um, hopefully not too often, but, this is not a space of judgment. And so this is not a judgment, but how did you feel, did you feel a little uncomfortable kind of pitching to VCs this, product that you knew was just subpar ball?

[00:13:19] Or did you kind of get comfortable with that? Because you knew it was possible to deliver a great product in the long run and you just have to get the money.

[00:13:27] Freddy: No, No, I wasn't worried about that. Cause we already, at that stage working on a on improving the product and I'd learn to not from that. And we basically very nearly closed around In what it must have been August, 2019. So we had a VCU wanted to do half of it and an angel. We were going to do another half.

[00:13:47] And that fell through that went on for like three weeks last stage due diligence, everything. And then. They kept delaying delaying. And then finally they called us up and we thought it was all a done deal. And they said, no we're pulling it. W we just don't think this is an interesting enough market.

[00:14:06] And then the angel investor called me up the next day and said well, if this uh, this VC is not involved, then I might as well. So we went from having half a million. What we thought secured to back to zero was quite a humbling experience, but also it would have been too early.

[00:14:23] And if they had invested at that point, they would have had a lot more visibility on everything that we'd done wrong. The fact is it took us another three, four months to raise. By that time we got our shit together. And we were much better place to go and kind of invest that money and kind of grow.

[00:14:41] So I look back on it now and I'm like well, it was kind of meant to be, but at the time it was kind of very painful. But certainly never any guilt. I think the fundamentals of the business and everything I showed to them and the hypothesis was like, look. Even with a average product, which I said to the men, all of this stuff, the underlying assumptions of a really good and we got X, Y, and Zed of how we're going to improve it.

[00:15:08] so that kind of worked as a narrative and, and ended up being quite good for those so far, he's invested in the, in that round, in the end.

[00:15:16] James: Yeah, I'm sure they're not complaining now. and so that must've led you to starting to build a team. And I always think it's interesting hearing from founders, like which hires they maybe would. Executed earlier in the journey and which ones they could have maybe delayed. Maybe they jumped the gun on a bet.

[00:15:36] So are there any highest that you think go, that person actually really moved the needle and it would've been great to have them earlier in the journey. Um, which one could have maybe been pushed back a little bit.

[00:15:45] Freddy: I don't have a huge number of regrets to be honest. I made a huge number of hiring mistakes at HelloFresh. at every stage of that journey and it was really painful. I had to fire a lot of people and that used to ruin months of my life. I used to get really depressed and really take it personally.

[00:16:04] I kind of toughened up towards the end and. Realize that, you know, to solve that. I just had to get slightly better at interviewing and kind of understanding what I need and needed. But I think Charlie, my co-founder is also in, in recruitment. So, For high-growth companies. And so we both had kind of clear view of what we wanted to do and essentially our philosophy was hire young, bright people who.

[00:16:28] Want to come and build something exciting with us. And he cover our weak spot. So both of us are like, were good operators, you know, we love the hustle and bustle of a startup. But we're probably not like really detail oriented and you know, really good at setting up processes and an operation.

[00:16:49] So, our first hire basically, or second house, like a head of ops. And she still had Jocelyn and doing a really great job. And then my next hire after that was uh, uh, head of finance. And I'd made such a mess of the finances that I had to call him a month before. And I said, I'll do anything for you to start earlier because we're growing super fast and those psych.

[00:17:11] Massive problems that we messed up on stock and how you're recognizing things. And it was just a world of pain. And he came in as like an angel, like the sort of guardian angel and targeted all up in the first week. And luckily for everyone on I no longer there, the sole charge of our kind of finances, so that.

[00:17:29] For us, we're really key. And and have been, great parts of the kind of leadership team and generally our view as being higher. When we really need it we try and hire people and keep lean and, and remain disciplined. And that served us pretty well. I think a lot of people would come into our now and be like, you need to hire C level executives and you need people with more experience for the next phase of growth.

[00:17:56] But my view, I was always given the opportunity at HelloFresh to like step up. And if I didn't step up, they weren't romantic about these things. They would've fired me. So you, you know, I managed to recover from my mistakes and step up enough to go on that whole journey.

[00:18:10] And I really want if possible for the team who we've hired to be able to do the same thing.

[00:18:16] Hector: moving on slightly. I'm really interested in. people who think about starting a business, they're probably most often thinking about a D to C business because they're quite accessible.

[00:18:28] Um, it often doesn't require any kind of domain expertise. and I think a lot of people just think, you know, okay. Think of an idea and launch it and go from there. do you feel. You've built a kind of playbook. Do you think you could do it over again with another, consumer product or does every business vary so much that it's

[00:18:50] Freddy: I think there was a more clear playbook. A couple of years ago when Facebook was in the glory days and it was quite simple. Find a good product, be good at Facebook marketing scale, your business, and then build from that. I would say. In my experiences so far though, the world is changing so fast at the moment channels challenges.

[00:19:17] And I don't even have the playbook at the moment for our next pace of growth. And I think for any consumer business starting in 2022, it's like. You have to be incredibly entrepreneurial. You're going to have to be way better than we were at execution. And I think there's some big things that are gonna be the next frontiers, but they're not obvious yet.

[00:19:42] So the opportunity is can you be one of the first to figure out that next channel, that next grade? But if you try and launch and spend loads of money on Facebook and that's the strategy, which is the kind of playbook of old, not sure there are going to be many businesses built like that anymore.

[00:19:59] And so there would be fascinating to see. So I would say for now, I don't have a clear playbook.

[00:20:05] Hector: Yeah. And you touched on it that, I mean, what, what are the channels that you're excited about? I mean, people talk about influence marketing, they talk about Tech-Talk. which channels are you excited about? Have you started to experimenting and, had any success in kind of alternative.

[00:20:20] Freddy: We experiment with everything. I think we tried like 30 different channels had a fresh, and, you know, again, we're spending you know, over 20 million a year on, on marketing towards the end there. So what that allows me to do is have a really good fit. You know, I tried all of these and, and while the numbers.

[00:20:37] Directly comparable, you get a feel for how a channel performs and what they do. And definitely at the moment, we're trying to figure out a lot of these kinds of newer channels. Tech-Talk as you say, kind of influencers Facebook in its new world and we're constantly trying to learn and, and tasks and some of them are working well.

[00:20:59] And we're scaling and others were kind of, spending money and trying to stay patient, but they're not, you know, not quite working yet. So, It's a really mixed bag and You know, We have some things that are like working really well for two, three weeks, and then for some reason they're going off a cliff and we're having to to kind of react.

[00:21:15] So it's a lot less stable and I think any really good D to C business. Has a really nice blended Mexico, you know, nothing is more than 30, 40% of your of your channel strategy because at some point. You know, Facebook's a great example where a lot of companies, 70% spend on Facebook, suddenly the CPA start going up because they can no longer do what they used to be able to do with the data.

[00:21:43] And it's like, what's your plan B. And so for us, you know, sometimes we accept to higher cost per acquisition for greater diversity to help us give room and figure stuff out for where we think the world's going to be in the future, not just at.

[00:21:58] Hector: So, so do you find that the CPA is the cost of acquiring a customer varies massively? Or is this like fine tuning we're talking about here and maybe, you know, maybe, maybe in your time at a fresh, you saw channels where you tried it and suddenly it was like, oh my God, this is amazing. This is like half the cost to acquire a car.

[00:22:18] Freddy: Yeah, you find those hands. And they're great when you figure them out. But they, they often they won't last and normally the basic rules of DTC, I would say if it's cheap, they're low quality, kind of it's expensive, they're high quality. So there are some channels with crazy low CPAs, but if you look at the retention curve, they're also really low.

[00:22:40] So normally. What you're trying to do is blend that. So you've got a mixture of lower cost, lower CPA channels with lower quality customers, and then higher quality customers that dragging out your cost per acquisition, but they're improving your LTV charts. And it kind of depends the investment environment.

[00:22:59] all you're trying to prove a low CAC or are you trying to prove good retention? And it, you know, normally you're trying to do a little bit of both. So you kind of trying to blend modes but definitely. For example, direct mail. We did a lot of direct mail at HelloFresh, super expensive channel, but very targeted because you are using data where you're bringing together lots of different purchase points of those customers.

[00:23:22] And you're able to really accurately. That income and their spend. So it always be the highest CAC channel, but also we knew that the the LTV on that channel would be double what it was on Facebook. For example.

[00:23:35] James: So interesting. I think great lesson in there for founders to think about opening up more channels and experimenting with more, I mean, having 30 plus channels, I think a lot of founders get a bit siloed and when something starts working, as you say, they kind of doubling down on it and then become over Alliance.

[00:23:52] So it was a great lesson. Yeah. I wanted to ask about new product ranges because you guys have expanded beyond deodorant now. So what's it take for you to move into a new sector, but what do you need for you to go? Right? We've made the decision. What validation do you need for you to do that? And, um, yeah. How do you go about launching soaps and other.

[00:24:14] Freddy: What we have at the moment is soaps and mentees. we don't really account them as new products they're purely a kind of average order value play, where we're just trying to build up the basket size of customers. And it's like, Hey, they're getting their deodorant. What else would be convenient?

[00:24:28] And what's easy for us to like, not distract the business. So for the first two years, We just been relentlessly focused on improving the deodorant and improving the whole product experience around that. And I'm a massive believer in focus, like do one thing. Well, Put all your resources and energy into that and try and be the best you can kind of assets.

[00:24:51] So. You know, I think I've got seven deodorants lined up in my bathroom at the moment that when we're split testing to like figure out the next generation, which I think is going to be the fifth generation of wild Diaz. And we just know that if we can, every time just improve the advocacy and the experience a little bit for our customers, and that will flow into our, kind of retention.

[00:25:13] So the first thing that while is this. We're pretty disciplined. You know, Again, a lot of our investors would be like, deodorant is too small. You should launch loads of products. This, I heard that so many times like, oh, that's a stupid idea. Why are you only just doing one product is too low AOB, et cetera, et cetera.

[00:25:31] But, when I looked back, we're known for something and we're known for doing it well, and we can do it better. And as soon as you start bringing new products in you know, it's the next sexy thing that the whole business starts focusing on and they lose sight of that.

[00:25:46] And you know, this world is brutal. You're going to have competitors. They're going to come in, they're going to tell your product to pieces and they're coming for you. And so if you're not top of your game they're going to take that kind of shared. first thing. And what I really try and do in this team is like, do one thing well and be known for it and make that hero product really great.

[00:26:07] And I think every company, you know, two years is, about the right time to do that. And then in terms of future product development again hopefully, we will be bringing out new products in the relatively near future. But again, while it's not going to look. 10 products in a year is probably one may be too.

[00:26:28] And you know, where we get excited as like how can we design a product for that customer group? And the wild customer group is what we call the light green consumers. they kind of aware of sustainability trends. They're aware of those sorts of social pressures, but they're fundamentally quite lazy and they're not really willing to make many kinds of sacrifices.

[00:26:51] And what we're trying to do is design products that feel aspirational, make them feel good and allow them to switch to like more sustainable alternatives without compromise. And that. Fit the narrative. And then we go out and adapt and test, and also trying to put some innovation on and move quicker than the larger guys to bring new things to market.

[00:27:14] So in the shore it's like focus, do one thing. Well, And then when we add new products, add them very slowly and take quite big bats on what's going to be next, hopefully we're launching something soon and the it's high stakes. You you've got no idea how that's going to go. And that's nerve wracking.

[00:27:33] James: Yeah, , I think Andy shovel that this the plant-based meat company, on the podcast, he said, we don't just want to launch. Slightly different package version of one meat products as another, like we have to properly innovate on that category. and so, yeah, it was just kind of interesting hearing founders talk about thinking about different product ranges and still thinking about the innovation you can bring to that sector.

[00:27:57] Not just relying on the brand, you've built already around something and trying to sort of just roll out more stuff. So really interesting,

[00:28:04] but

[00:28:04] Hector: yeah. So, so where does that strategy lead of, you know, gradual launches and, cause I think lots of D to C brands, they go and then they decide actually the time is right to sell relatively early on in their journey. And that can be a great outcome for the investors and the founders and early employees as well.

[00:28:22] but I wonder what, what your vision is here with, wild and, is it a five-year from now? Vision is a 10 year from now vision and, I suppose what's the end game for you? Do you think, what would you. Consider your life's work done.

[00:28:38] Freddy: I want to grow faster than we did at how they fracture has kind of. I think we got to a hundred million in six years there and profitable in our, in our last year. I think with wild, I say to the team we're not profitable yet, and I don't think we can count ourselves a proper business until we kind of are so like stage one.

[00:28:58] Become profitable, like fast growing DTC with money is, is relatively easy. Fast-growing DTC whilst making money is, is like quite a bit harder. So, I'll feel less imposter syndrome coming on these podcasts once with generating some profit for for the business and then thinking sort of longer term. I think you can overthink these things. It's like build a great business create great products and have fun while you're doing it and just see where the journey takes you. I'm not obsessed with building a billion dollar business. I'm not like the sacrifices the guys made it, how they fresh to build that business was Unbelievable. And I don't think I've gotten. I'm not sure if I've got that. And I don't think, you know, until you move into those spaces of growth to see, you know, what's the appetite here where, where are we going? What are we doing? And, I'm more worried about.

[00:29:51] how do we get through the next three months? And you've got rising inflation, you've got currency problems, you've got supply chain problems. And it's like, if I start thinking too far ahead about building this site a hundred million, 200 million business and what we're going to sell it for, you know, I'm losing focus of just like doing the fundamentals right.

[00:30:09] And doing that. Right. So I think for me, it's like, keep enough cash in the. Number one become profitable. And then, you know, as long as we're having fun and and we're growing fast, then there's going to be loads of opportunities either to go and get further venture or to look at accents or, or whatever.

[00:30:27] But I definitely won't get ahead of myself. And I've seen so many DTC sectors get off to flight. Mattresses raises they've been the hottest things and everyone's like so sexy and they're so amazing and they're growing so fast. And a lot of those businesses, you look at them now that was.

[00:30:48] You know that the founders were legends for a year and now, no one's heard of them again. And, you know, those lessons ringing very true in my ears and that, for me, it's like, we just have to be super focused, particularly in moments like now, and not get distracted about big exits, big egos, et cetera.

[00:31:08] Hector: Yeah, I think you make a great point about, different founders wanting different things. And it's a question of life decisions, right? That Nick from Revolut is just launched a VC fund, which I think is really exciting. I, I really like. what they're doing. And the photo on the sort of PR was him with a background with neon lights behind it saying never settle.

[00:31:28] And I think that that is probably what we're talking about here. It's those founders who, you know, want to go on to build DECA, corns, that probably never settled. And that was probably the decision made they make. And, I don't know whether that's the right decision for someone to be happy. Yeah.

[00:31:42] Freddy: you know, I became a dad at a similar time to launching wild and, I'm definitely someone who wants to be. Present and active in my family's life, as well as building a kind of business. And I think potentially at some point that becomes harder. If you're trying to build those Billion $10 billion businesses. And a lot of those guys are just they're relentlessly focused and they're working unbelievable hours and they've got incredible drive I'm a like competitor, I want wild to do the best it can, and I want to give it everything. But there's more to my life than just business and you know, I don't want it to dictate everything.

[00:32:25] And you know, I have a wife who wouldn't tolerate that anyway, so it's kind of trying to build, you know, build in the most ambitious way we can, but also make sure that I have time for some other stuff. Yeah. The whole team have fun as they're working so much of their lives.

[00:32:39] And it's really important to me that it's like, it's not like a smoothie beanbag culture, but they have a nice time. They make some friends and we build something we can all be proud of, but what's really hard is this like being a nice company and a nice place to work, but also having that cutting competitive edge, you still want people to come in.

[00:32:57] And when you know, sometimes that involves working hard, working late and finding that balance between the like, you have to work, you know, I think a rocket, you know, you were never allowed to be on holiday. If you're a founder you're expected to work every weekend, like Ali, same way.

[00:33:14] I used to ring people up at. 11 o'clock at night and, have three hour phone calls on your metrics and stuff. So, that is for some people. And I can see that works, but that is just, that's not the sort of investors I'm going to go after. That's not the sort of trajectory I've set wild on.

[00:33:28] And for me, it's just like, it's a slightly more balanced to you. And and I think my investors are quite aligned with that as well. They're not they want me to grow. I get me wrong and they want me to be committed, but they kind of understand the family side of things as well.

[00:33:42] James: Yeah, a hundred percent. It's so great to hear. there are so many different ways to build successful businesses and there, there is no right or wrong, and it does come down to the founder's vision and the culture they want to set and everything like that. And I think it's really positive message because there are employees that fit in certain companies and don't fit into others as well.

[00:34:02] And, it sounds like while it would be an amazing place to work and still very ambitious, as well as maybe striking a bit more of a balance. Also burnout is a real thing. Let's not get it wrong. Like there are companies that burnout founders, the burnout teams that burn out. it's great to have different perspective and different people do fit into different cultures.

[00:34:22] so Freddie it's been so interesting hearing about, well, I mean, uh, this has been a really interesting conversation. You've been so honest and told us amazing stories and you built an incredible. I think we always like to try and get to understand the founder as well. And you've touched on a few bits there about being a dad and, you know, the culture you're trying to set at wild.

[00:34:45] If you could explain where you think you bring the most value to your business, what would you say? Your kind of edges as a founder or.

[00:34:56] Freddy: think many people have been on the inside of her company. That's built a hundred million pound business in the UK. So I think for me, that gives me a lot of knowledge and a lot of understanding, and I can, I can see things coming, you know, I can see that the culture breaks at 30 people and everyone starts complaining about the good old days at 50 people.

[00:35:20] And and that you get high as wrong and, and that the world seems to be ending a lot It was a really intense experience in my twenties. But you know, I'm a lot more levelheaded now. I'm a lot more controlled and get a lot, a lot less distracted by some of these problems and it's just like a problem solving kind of mentality.

[00:35:39] So I think that experience was just totally invaluable and something that's probably. Often, underrated by people who've spoken to us while I don't think they really understood that journey. And, how involved, parts of that have, nurtured me and then. I'd like to think that yeah, I have a lot of energy.

[00:35:58] I have a lot of passion. As I said, I'm a competitive guy. And I want everyone to do better. And I think when I'm at my best, people feed off that and they want to work hard and they want to go and do it together. There are moments where I'm a grumpy sod and it doesn't go so well. So I kind of have to try and control that.

[00:36:16] But yeah, generally it's bringing my energy getting the best from people and more and more now it's like letting people who are far better at certain jobs, do their roles and not, I'm not a micromanager. I understand the high level and push them to try and achieve what we can.

[00:36:33] James: Yeah. Awesome. I do think that those experiences of going on scout journeys can be so interesting. And I think, you know, I don't wanna put words in your mouth, but I certainly like to see companies that were founders of maybe being on those journeys. Um, we've got more and more people in the market that have been on unicorn journeys, which is really exciting.

[00:36:55] And a lot of them are now coming down, start new companies, which is great. so that's really amazing, Freddy, thank you so much. as you'll know, we'd like to wrap up our podcasts with our dinner party guests game. So if there were three people, it could be absolutely anyone that you could have dinner with.

[00:37:12] Who would they be?

[00:37:14] Freddy: Okay. So, I've got three kind of real passions in life, I suppose the first is kind of entrepreneurial-ism and, kind of business. And so my first guests would be Phil Knight from Nike, just like massive fan of his and, and loved the story of shoe dog and, and would love to chew the fat on some of those.

[00:37:34] tales, like massive inspiration The second is sport. I love all sport love watching it. And I've gone for, tennis. So I'm going to ask Andy Murray to join me at the dinner table. Again, we'd love to talk through some of those battles he's had over the years and, get into his kind of mentality.

[00:37:50] And then finally cooking. I'm a big fan of my food and cooking as well. I kind of do my kind of downtime. So I'm gonna ask Jamie Oliver to come. Chats and food stuff as well.

[00:38:01] James: Awesome. Yeah. I think Andy Murray even does a bit of angel investing so you can meet, might be able to talk through some of that as well.

[00:38:08] Well, that's awesome. Thank you so much for any great guests. awesome story with wild and that we wish you all the success with it. think you're, building a really interesting company.

[00:38:19] Sustainability is so important at the moment and what you guys are doing is awesome. So thank you so much for coming on and telling us your writer, unicorn story.

[00:38:27] Freddy: Thank you. Thank you very much for having me.

[00:38:29] James: That's it for this week. Thanks very much for listening. To stay up to date with the latest episodes, please follow or subscribe on your favorite podcast platform. We also have a newsletter called reading unicorns, which is another great way to get every episode direct to your inbox. Please tell your friends about it and engage with us on social media And we'll see you on the next episode.