Jonathan Teller – CEO of EOS Lip Balm

Ideas come to life when you have clarity in your thinking, great people and a clear plan.

After a brief stint working as a flight instructor, Jonathan started his career in Sales & Trading at Credit Suisse. Eight years later, Jonathan left to pursue more entrepreneurial interests.

In 2000, Jonathan joined a technology startup that provided business development services to portfolio companies of venture funds. He then became a partner at a small manufacturer of environmentally-friendly power generation systems in Southern California. In 2003, Jonathan moved to Shanghai where he established and managed a portfolio of Chinese real estate assets across four cities. In the US, he played an active role in consumer investments, including a frozen yogurt chain and a men’s body and hair care product company.

In early 2006, Jonathan established a consumer product incubator in New York called The Kind Group, which developed its own concepts. These included a line of men’s grooming products, innovative baby and child-care products, an oral care brand and the personal care concept that is now eos. At that point, Jonathan decided to focus only on eos and has been running the company along with his business partner, Sanjiv Mehra, ever since.

eos originated around a key insight: women want products that deliver moments of delight that transcend daily routines. With unconventional shapes that are fun, beautiful and purposeful, eos delivered on that insight to become a leading beauty and skincare brand. From its iconic lip balm to hand and body lotion to shave cream, eos products are hypoallergenic, dermatologist-tested, gluten-free, and packed with nourishing vitamins and natural skin-conditioning oils. eos products can be found in both high-end and mass retailers, and are also available on . eos has developed a highly engaged consumer following in North America, Mexico, Europe and Asia and occupies a prime spot in women’s beauty routines.

Where did the idea eos come from?

I’ve always had an interest in product design, and believe that better product design can improve everyday life. When I evaluated the marketplace, I saw that most personal care products for women were boring and uninspiring, and I believed there was an opportunity to create better designed daily-use products that bring delight to the people that use them. We built eos to be a modern brand that speaks to women differently and offers them a better experience.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My days always begin with an early morning workout and then I play with my four year-old daughter for a bit before I get to the office. Much of my day is spent in meetings discussing topics such as new product development, ways to improve our current products, and consumer communication and engagement. I also usually spend time on planning and recruiting. I spend a lot of time on making sure we hire great people and that they have ongoing career development opportunities. I try to respond to emails throughout the day, so I can leave work behind when I get home to have dinner with my daughter. My business partner, Sanjiv, and I have shared an office since we started working together and we try to have lunch together. For me, mutual trust, shared values, and good communication are the most important elements of a successful business partnership.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Ideas come to life when you have clarity in your thinking, great people, and a clear plan.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

For the past few years, social media has created terrific opportunities for new brands by enabling them to reach consumers directly and cost effectively. eos has benefited from that and I’m really excited to see how this develops further.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I find time to disconnect on a regular basis. I turn off my phone around 8 pm and don’t look at it again until the morning.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I have a very positive outlook – so every job has been a good one. I’ve had boring jobs, but I’ve learned important lessons from every experience. One of my goals is to ensure that people here believe that working at eos is the best job they’ve ever had – and I think most of them do.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I wouldn’t do anything differently. I’ve found that in retrospect, “bad” experiences often have great value.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Surround yourself with great people; don’t let your ego get in the way of hiring people smarter or better than you.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Take a long view and don’t be tempted by short-term opportunities that aren’t sustainable. When we started our business, we had distributor inquiries from countless countries. We said no to virtually all of them. Even though we would have liked the revenues these would have brought, we knew that without quality distribution and marketing that only we could ensure, the quick and easy distribution wouldn’t be sustainable.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

When we started the business, we tried but failed to raise money from outside investors. None of them believed we would succeed. I ended up taking a lot more personal financial risk than I had anticipated, which was scary at times. However, I strongly believed in what we were doing. We had a great team, and we were focused and disciplined. And as it turned out, our business results exceeded the five year financial projections we had shown the investors.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Vitamins and supplements that are consumer relevant. Currently, the marketplace is all about technical specifications and consumers are confused. It reminds me of the computer industry in the early 1980’s.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I bought the Apple AirPods (a little more than $100). They work so well across devices, people can hear me when I’m talking to them when I’m outside, the sound quality is great, and I love the magnetic click when putting them back in the case.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

I use Evernote because it’s great to have a central source for notes, photos, files, etc. and I love the way it scans documents. I have used Dropbox for years – it’s great for accessing files across multiple computers and my iPhone and iPad. And I use the Authy app for two-factor authentication on my iPhone. I think it’s the best authentication app and I use 2FA for everything I can.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

If you’re into consumer brands, I suggest The Culture Code by Dr. Clotaire Rapaille. Dr. Rapaille is a fascinating guy, and his book gives insight into how consumers think about brands.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

I lived in China for a couple of years and believe that many trends start in Asia. I read Asian Consumer Intelligence by FiveByFifty. I also like Trendwatching for trends in general.


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