Stop talking about it and let the data answer the question.”
Built for those who hate warm beer but love warm hands, BottleKeeper® is the all-in-one cold beer lovin’ companion protecting the world from a lukewarm drinking experience. The company was launched in 2013 by cousins and founders Adam Callinan and Matt Campbell, who saw a solution for better beer after a few beachside swigs from a steaming red party cup. Since then, the koozie-killing company has reached eight-figure revenues to become one of the largest direct-to-consumer retailers of speciality beverage accessories on the market, selling 2.5 products every minute. Blending best in category innovation, a proprietary design and multiple utility patents, BottleKeeper products are designed from the ground up based on the feedback of tens of thousands of fellow warm beer haters, and keeps your beer cold from the first sip to the last whether you’re BBQ’ing at the tailgate, hangin’ at the beach, or sweating it out poolside. For more information, please visit www.BottleKeeper.com.
Where did the idea for BottleKeeper come from?
My cousin and co-founder, Matt Campbell, thought up the BottleKeeper concept while drinking a beer from a red party cup on a hot summer day, which quickly became warm and flat. He saw other people drinking from an everyday stainless steel water bottle and had a flash of inventive genius. Matt kept thinking about this, resulting in his hack-sawing a water bottle in half and stuffing it with neoprene, allowing a beer bottle to fit inside perfectly and from there the product was born.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Productivity for me is very driven by the first 3 hours of the day, prior to getting to the office. I get up around 6 AM, drink a green shake with all sorts of healthy goodies and handful of supplements (mostly for immune and brain support), then meditate for 30 minutes — which is one of the absolute most important things I do all day. Next comes journaling, followed by exercise of some sort, then breakfast before I head into the office around 9:00. This process, which I’ve developed over the last 2 years, has become really important as a support structure for my overall health and performance, which very much drives productivity.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Product ideas typically start out as feedback from our customers and become hand sketches on a blank sheet of paper, which then make their way to our engineer for a discussion on how realistic the concept is. From there, renderings are created and tweaked and tweaked and tweaked, then tweaked 27 more times. 3D printing is used to create ‘mostly’ functional prototypes so we can play with a physical product prior to getting into tooling with our manufacturers. Once tooling is complete we have real prototypes to mess with and try to break. More tweaking happens, tools get remade or changed, and we ultimately have a new product.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Artificial intelligence. BottleKeeper is largely built on automation, leveraging humans only where required to supercharge the technology that’s in place or in areas where tech can’t yet go. As AI continues to develop and become more accessible (i.e. Smart people who start businesses that use AI to improve eCommerce solutions) we will see amazing advances in opportunities to build very scalable businesses with comparatively limited operational overhead.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I treat all things in business like science experiments. I set a hypothesis for whatever we’re going to test, limit the variables so we’re only testing one thing at a time, then let the data answer the question. It’s important to remove any emotional response from decisions because I’ve found it’s often incorrect.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Start a meditation (or mindfulness) practice. I’m very analytical, which is great for problem solving and terrible for dramatically over thinking non-important issues and situations — which has taken me down a rabbit hole many a time. Meditation has been a hugely important tool that has helped me to better control my erratic brain and something I wish I would have started at a much younger age. I also wish I would have started journaling earlier as it would be amazing to look back and see where I was and how I was thinking 10+ years ago.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Your opinion doesn’t matter (neither does mine). We can sit around and argue all day about what we think something will or won’t be, which people naturally love to do, but until you set up a test and see what comes out the other end it’s all a waste of time and energy. Stop talking about it and let the data answer the question.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
My wife Katie and I travel a lot and focus on getting outside of our comfort zones and experiencing other cultures, which has dramatically affected the way that I think about and build a company. Get out of the country as often as possible — this doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant but it’s really important leave your comfort zone and see how others live. It’s one of the few ways to dramatically alter your perspective.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I always look to technology to solve problems and fill holes instead of adding more people to the company. Employment related expenses are often the biggest liability to a growing company, so I’ve always been extremely careful about not adding team members until we have tremendous need for a specific skill set that cannot be solved by tech.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Last spring I tried to outsource our Facebook and display ad spends to two companies that specialized in each of the fields and were highly recommended/regarded. The motive for this outsourcing was that we were spending well over $100k per month on ads and I was was only able to spend 20% of my time managing them — which doesn’t make sense. What I didn’t understand well enough was how manipulable attribution models can be (attribution is who claims to be responsible for an online conversion or sale). I also didn’t understand how backwards the digital ad agency business model is — they make 10-15% of your ad spend, regardless of whether or not your ads are profitable. So they have an inherent incentive to spend as much as possible. All in all, they dramatically overspent on unprofitable ads, leaving us in a situation where we were breaking even instead of profiting in the way we had been, so I took the ad spend back over. I learned that you should never outsource such an huge part of your revenue generation. Now we have an internal director of digital marketing that has the company aligned incentive to spend intelligently.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
As per the last question about a very expensive failure, we really need someone to develop a cross platform attribution technology — it’s not simple but if accurate would be a billion dollar business. The challenge is that an online conversion doesn’t always just come from one place (i.e. Facebook), actually quite the opposite. A person sees you on Pinterest, then a Google display ad that night, then again on Facebook the following day where they click through and make a purchase — but all of these 3 platforms claim responsibility for the sale in their reporting, making the water very murky and ad spend reporting inaccurate (i.e. Your Facebook cost per acquisition (CPA) is $12, Google $5 and Pinterest $9 — making your real CPA $26 but you have no real idea which platform was most responsible for the sale).
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A milk frother. We make cappuccinos and lattes at home with an espresso machine and this eliminates the messy and time consuming part of frothing the milk with the attached wand. Instead you just pour it in, turn it on and 60 or so seconds later you’re good to go!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
We use a number of different technologies that enable both myself and our team to be highly productive, including Slack, Asana, Shopify, Zendesk, RedPoints, Stitch, Talkable, Yotpo, Klaviyo and Google Optimize, to name a handful of the more impactful ones.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson. We, as a population, care far too much about things that have absolutely no impact on our daily lives until we make them into issues or problems — which is obviously a complete waste of valuable energy. This book isn’t about not giving a f*ck about anything, but instead about being more selective as to where you give your limited amount of f*cks.
What is your favorite quote?
“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” – Dwight Eisenhower. The true beauty of this quote on leadership is that it applies to so many other facets of life and business, particularly with respect to selling a product or service.
- Solve problems with technology, not bodies.
- Just because someone says it, doesn’t make it true. Question everything, then limit variables and test.
- Be more selective of what you care about. Most things that we react to throughout the day are of zero consequence and only waste valuable mental energy.
- Always retain control of your revenue generating channels and never allow someone to take any amount of control that doesn’t have aligned incentives.
- If you’re advertising online, make sure you completely understand the attribution models you’re working with — pay particular attention to view-through attribution and limit it as much as possible.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.