David Charles is a growth marketer, storyteller, and serial entrepreneur. Currently, he serves as the Co-Founder, CEO, and COO of MOOD, a surging e-commerce dispensary that produces legal, high-quality THC products tailored to set your mood.
David’s marketing career began as a media buyer at MuteSix (acquired by Dentsu Inc.) in Los Angeles, becoming employee #14 at the venerable social media marketing agency. What followed was a series of entrepreneurial e-commerce ventures in various categories, including a human pheromones business and nutraceuticals. Following this period he entered Telehealth, serving in an executive role at YC-backed Fella Health and as an advisor to AI Healthtech startup mEMR.
In April 2022, David was approached by friend/marketing colleague, Jake Antifaev, to start an online cannabis dispensary. The prospect of building and scaling this vertical appealed to him, and by that August, they launched MOOD. The business has grown exponentially in the last eight months and, to date, has served over 150,000 customers. As CEO and COO, David’s responsibilities include navigating complex supply chains, sourcing reliable growing experts, implementing meticulous quality assurance standards, and developing and researching new SKUs.
“While we are a cannabis company, we operate with the precision and efficiency of a tech company,” David states. MOOD excels by providing best-in-class THC products, offering its customers value, convenience, the opportunity to discover new products, and personalization – often exceeding the experience at most brick-and-mortar dispensaries.
Over the next few years, MOOD plans to expand its footprint into international markets while staying true to its brand pillars of making high-quality THC products accessible to the masses. MOOD’s most laudable qualities are the superior product satisfaction and brand loyalty they’ve garnered to date —the copious flow of positive customer reviews on their e-commerce site is proof of the young brand’s exciting potential and staying power.
Now 32, David is based in Austin, TX, and amidst the all-encompassing duties of guiding the success of MOOD, he enjoys playing chess, cooking, reading, and hanging out with his dog Stanley.
What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?
Extremely eclectic. Lots of meetings, several chunks of deep work, and areas ranging from product development, marketing, data analytics, tech, logistics, supply chain, and hiring. On some rare days, I’m done in 6 hours and take the afternoon off, but more commonly, I’ll work two shifts: 6-9 hours starting in the morning, then take an hour or two, and then I’m usually back to the computer for another 3-4. I like fasting earlier in the day, and when I eat – keeping carbs low so I don’t get a big glycemic spike + ensuing crash. When I’m home in Austin, I take 2-3 walks with my dog Stanley to think about something work-related and meta. Or right now, while I’m in Madrid workshopping with our CTO, I walk the streets and drink espresso. I also like listening to music: classical helps me tune in, and faster stuff with vocals gets me pumped up if I’m fatigued.
How do you bring ideas to life?
First, I like to think broadly: exhaustive, considerate, and cross-functional. What’re the myriad consequences (good/ bad) of the idea. Then narrow, breaking down areas of opportunity, and responsibility, getting granular on what needs to happen and how – using discretion at this stage to wave an “I don’t know how this will happen, but person X will get it done” wand. I like using Notion to assemble these thoughts in digestible form, and share them with relevant people on Slack, asking for feedback by Y date. Then formalize into DRIs/ Stakeholders for constituent pieces and log in a project management software (we use Clickup). It’s nice when something can happen purely async, but meetings are usually needed. We have a rule about meetings: if you’re not providing value, leave. It’s worse to stay in a meeting and waste your time than to excuse yourself.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The move towards personalization in health/ wellness verticals.
What is one habit that helps you be productive?
Silence all notifications (Slack/ iMessage) during focused work. Don’t have social media apps on my phone – that stuff is such a drug, and 10s easily turns into 10m of wasted time.
What advice would you give your younger self?
The only way to build genuine self-esteem is to work hard and consistently put your entire being into difficult things.
Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you.
Classical music is a cosmic reflection of our molecular reality.
What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?
Make everything an impeccable agreement. If a desired thing doesn’t have a DRI (directly responsible individual), a defined action, and a due date – it’s just complicated airflow; it doesn’t exist.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?
Organize into bite-sized pieces and buckle down. Coffee helps to an extent.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?
Tactical empathy: The more value you provide, the bigger you win. So it’s all about understanding whom you’re selling to: what they care about, what they fear, and what would help them that they still need to be made aware of. These axioms become the basis of first principles: a rock splashing and emanating culture and processes like ripples in a virtuous pond. Again, this is a no-brainer, but the meat of it means an org-wide dedication to customer obsession and continuous discovery processes.
What is one failure in your career, how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?
I was in a role where I was under-resourced and frequently overruled by people whom I didn’t believe to be qualified to disagree with me. It was frustrating not to be able to execute rational initiatives I had high confidence would result in wins. I couldn’t persuade management to resource me, and ultimately, I didn’t achieve my goals. I learned the importance of working with people who’d unblock me to do what I do best and that I’m not cut out to work for someone else. I made my company and my tribe: people who push back and challenge me mightily but ultimately trust my discretion as CEO.
What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?
1. Functional gummies. Gummies are the next blue ocean of nutraceuticals. Make a functional gummy that’s legitimately efficacious for 70%+ of people who try it — this will require heavy exploration, resourcefulness, and R/D. Make a brand around it. Start stacking subscriptions and build out a suite of similar SKUs around it.
2. Telehealth partnered with compounding pharma to crank out novel therapeutics. Rapidly iterate with the compounders, rapidly test on social, and scale the wins. I have no doubt this would result in multi-6-fig MRR within the first three months if executed well, and nobody in telehealth gets those numbers that fast.
What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Miro is the best mind map/ continuous discovery/ collab tool I’ve found. We use it for workshops, and it has all of the features and more that a remote team needs to explore opportunities and solutions.
What is the best $100 you recently spent?
New socks. I’m a cheapskate about weird things, and I recently stocked up on comfy socks – great self-gift
Do you have a favorite book or podcast from which you’ve received much value?
The Gulag Archipelago – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. On the importance of speaking up for what you know to be true
What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?
Succession. It just keeps getting better and better. It’s more raw and human than anything I’ve seen in years.
- How to cut through the noise and prioritize meaningful actions
- Thinking critically and systematically
- Standardizing processes that drive an org toward achievements
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.