Episode 143 – Steven Wilcox
Welcome to another episode of The HERO Show. I am your host Richard Matthews, (@AKATheAlchemist) and you are listening to Episode 143 with Steven Wilcox – The Voyager-Your Ultimate Recreational Outdoor Chair
Steven Wilcox graduated from Chapman University in Orange County, California. He worked with global action sports brands such as Oakley, Quiksilver DC shoes, and Roxy where he developed a fundamental understanding of brand building and the strategies required to authentically reach a brand’s audience.
Steven is now the founder and CEO of Parkit Movement — an outdoor brand that wants you to get outside and enjoy the exploration. Their first product was an outdoor chair called the Voyager which was launched on Kickstarter during the peak of the global pandemic. Despite the restrictions on activities, they were able to raise over USD 500,000 in preorder sales in less than 60 days. And now, they are preparing for their formal debut for 2021 as a direct consumer eCommerce brand.
Here’s just a taste of what we talked about today:
- Steven is joining us all the way from Oceanside, California, where Richard was born. It’s definitely a small world, and the conversation brings back great memories growing up.
- Three and a half years ago around a campfire, one of Steve’s buddies sat on his chair and ripped himself out from underneath. A laughing moment. But at the same time, a light bulb experience for Steve. A few years later, they called the product “The Voyager” — an innovative recreational chair to everything outdoors.
- Next, we talk about The Voyager and what makes this recreational chair so innovative.
- The experiences Steve had with other brands and businesses he worked with in the past led him to the idea for Parkit — an outdoor brand that wants you to get outside and enjoy the exploration. He was fortunate enough to work with brands that had maximum efficiency and process, also experienced working with a company that filed chapter 11 which is a radioactive spider that bit him.
- For Steve, a chair symbolizes storytelling. It is a tool that can be used to build a community. That is where Parkit is coming from, and having the mission to share that value.
- Creativity and simply being an active learner are two of Steve’s superpowers.
- Reading comprehension due to some element of dyslexia is Steve’s Kryptonite. It still challenges him today but consistently fights it through the help of his girlfriend.
- Cash flow is Steve’s arch-nemesis in his business. He has to make sure that everything they are putting together places them in a position to grow and scale profitably.
- Calling it the Parkit Movement is one of the smartest things they ever did. They have partnered with 1% for the planet which means they get to plant one mangrove tree in Biak, Indonesia for every chair they sell.
- To see people use their outdoor chairs around the campfires telling stories and getting to know each other is Steve’s driving force in his business.
Steven mentioned the following book/s on the show.
- Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
The HERO Challenge
Today on the show, Steven Wilcox challenged Ryan Torres to be a guest on The HERO Show. Steve thinks that Ryan is a fantastic person to interview because he has inspired me to shift my mindset into a can-do attitude and he definitely has an amazing entrepreneurial story to share. He is the founder of Vaer Watches — a watch brand based in Venice, CA.
How To Stay Connected with Steven Wilcox
Want to stay connected with Steven? Please check out their social profiles below.
- Website: ParkItMovement.com
With that… let’s go and listen to the full episode…
Steven Wilcox 0:00
That quote is pretty simple. It’s three things, it’s Do your best, never give up and have fun. When you really narrow those three things down, you’re talking about. You’re talking about excellence. You’re talking about doing your best. You’re talking about making sure that whatever it is that you do, you do to 100%. And it’s perfect. That’s, that’s the goal. The next part, do your best never give up. That’s persistence, narrowing it down to one word, and that’s looking at every challenge and figuring out how am I going to solve this problem today. And then, the last one is pretty straightforward. Have fun. If you’re having fun and you love what you’re doing. And you’re passionate about what you’re doing, then all the things that you’re you’re learning, even the things that are challenging and scary, you’re going to look back on and go with a smile and go wow, I learned all of that or we succeeded through that challenge. We figured that out. And so that would really be the code that I loved is just do your best never give up and have fun.
Richard Matthews 0:54
Heroes are an inspiring group of people every one of them from the larger than life comic book heroes you see on the big silver screen the everyday heroes that let us live the privileged lives we do. Every hero has a story to tell from the doctor saving lives in your local hospital, the war veteran down the street, who risked his life for our freedom to the police officers, and the firefighters who risked their safety to ensure ours every hero is special in every story worth telling. But there was one class of heroes that I think is often ignored the entrepreneur, the creator, the producer, the ones who look at the problems in this world and think to themselves, you know what I can fix that I can help people I can make a difference. And they go out and do exactly that by creating a new product or introducing a new service. Some go on to change the world. Others make a world of difference to their customers. Welcome to The Hero Show. Join us as we pull back the masks on the world’s finest Hero preneurs and learn the secrets to their powers their success and their influence. So you can use those secrets to attract more sales, make more money, and experience more freedom in your business. I’m your host, Richard Matthews and we are on in three…two…one…
Richard Matthews 1:50
Hello and welcome back to The Hero Show. My name is Richard Matthews. And today I have the pleasure of being live on the line with Mr. Steven Wilcox. Steven, are you there?
Steven Wilcox 1:56
Yep, I’m here. Excited to be here today. Thanks, Richard, for having us.
Richard Matthews 2:00
Glad to have you here. And we were chatting before we got on here. He said you’re actually from the town I was born in, Oceanside, California. Is that right?
Steven Wilcox 2:09
Yeah, we’re based out of Oceanside. I grew up just up the way in Temecula and learn how to surf down here. And the goal was just to get to the coast and we’re here or staying and it’s a great place to be enjoying life and start a business that’s for sure.
Richard Matthews 2:22
I graduated high school from Marietta Valley High so we competed with Temecula all the time for football. And I know we always teased you because you’re the colors over there and Temecula was brown and yellow.
Steven Wilcox 2:37
Yeah, they’re a little bit on the messy side. That’s funny that it’s a small world super small world.
Richard Matthews 2:45
It is a small world so what I’m gonna do real quick for those of my audience who don’t know who you are, Steven Wilcox is a graduate of Chapman University in Orange County, California. He began working with global action sports brands such as Oakley, Quicksilver DC shoes, and Roxy where he developed a fundamental understanding of brand building and the strategies required to authentically reach a brand’s audience. Today, you are the founder and CEO of Parkit, which is an outdoor brand that wants you to get outside and enjoy exploration markets, first product and outdoor chair you guys call the Voyager launched on Kickstarter during the peak of our global pandemic. And despite the restrictions on activities, you guys raised over 500,000 in preorder sales in less than 60 days, and are now preparing for your formal debut in 2021 as a direct consumer ecommerce brand. So sounds like you have quite an interesting story there. So why don’t we start off by telling me what it is that you’re known for? What your business is like and who you serve like what your product actually is.
Steven Wilcox 3:45
Yeah, so our product, as you mentioned, is called the Voyager. The Voyager is an outdoor chair that we really looked at and looked at what was on the market and decided that there was an opportunity to really fix what was on the market. I’ll never forget sitting around a campfire with a buddy of mine about three and a half years ago. And this is where the light bulb came on. But he goes to sit down in his chair and the bottom just ripped out from underneath him completely. It’s kind of like when you’re in elementary school and you have the one friend who leans too far back in his seat. Next thing you know, you hear the big crash and everyone laughs and, it’s a good laugh at the moment. And then in my mind, I went oh my god, this is a product that we can improve. And so we just went to town and we’ve really improved the dynamics of what an outdoor camping and beach chair could be. It’s got a cooler built into it. So it’s two products in one, the coolers detachable. So if you want to use the cooler away from the chair, you’re more than welcome to it has a capacity for 12 to 15 cans and will hold ice for eight or more hours. And so, you know really took what was on the market elevated it and we put it into a really beautifully designed package that’s gotten a lot of notoriety from the press over the last couple of months as well.
Richard Matthews 4:52
I see you got a bunch of colors and everything as well. Have they started shipping it all yet?
Steven Wilcox 5:00
Not yet. The beauty of Kickstarter is that it allows us to raise a good group of capital to get the business started, without having to go jump in and meet with an investor of any kind and be like, Hey, here’s 50% of our company, thanks for your cash, we get to generate that cash for ourselves and maintain ownership entirely of the business. And so we’ve put that capital to work, basically building our supply chain, setting up our logistics partners. And we launched production on certain aspects of the chair a little over a week and a half ago. And we have a meeting tonight with our factory to finalize the last pieces and really put everything into mass production. So that’s exciting stuff.
Richard Matthews 5:40
So when are you expecting to actually get your first units off the production line?
Steven Wilcox 5:45
We are targeting February, they should be landing in our warehouse in February based upon our timelines right now, but with the elements of the global pandemic, and COVID there are definitely some logistics challenges that we would need to have everything fall in place to make that happen. So we’re keeping our fingers crossed for February but ideally, everyone will be receiving their chairs from Kickstarter in March or April of next year. And that’s perfectly in time for us to get back outside and enjoy the summer season.
Richard Matthews 6:16
Yeah, I see is that one of the chairs there?
Steven Wilcox 6:22
Yeah, this is actually one of our prototypes, you can see that the cup holder on, it’s actually white, that’s a 3d printed cup holder that we refined, 1000s, I felt like 1000s of times, to make sure that the cup holder fits perfectly with the chair, it’s actually interchangeable from the left side to the right side, which is pretty cool. If you’re a left handed person, the majority of the things on the planet are built for right handed people. And so with our product, we cater to you depending upon what your preference is. So just pick it up and move it, it also has cutouts for canteens, like your insulated water bottles that you get from Yeti or like hydro flask. So those work with it. It also works with traditional cans. And it actually has a little cutout too, built specifically for coffee mugs. So if you wake up in the morning, and you’re at your campsite, and you want to have a nice cup of coffee or tea, you can enjoy that without having to grab or worry about spilling your coffee, you can have that coffee mug handle slide right into the cup holder, and you’re good to go.
Richard Matthews 7:20
So here’s the thing, my audience knows we live full time on the road. One of the things that bothers us about all of the camping chairs is, there are two things, one is they’re all built with shitty materials, Excuse My French, all of them. I have not yet had a camping trip last more than a year of full time use. Because they get hit with rain, they get hit with snow they get with everything, so they get all the things all the bolts rust out of them and they fall out and die. That’s the first thing. And then the second one is all the materials are slow drying. So if they get rained on your chair it’s at the commotion for the next two days while it dries. How do your chair handle weather and that kind of stuff?
Steven Wilcox 8:03
Our chair handles the weather pretty well. Our aluminum frame is actually aircraft grade aluminum. So it’s more durable, we’re not going to the low end of the road, we’re going the high end in terms of durability and strength. And so there’s a great element of weight capacity to it our chair. So far, we’ve been able to test it with 350 pounds of weight and stood up to all those tests. And so from an industrial standpoint, we’re kicking butt there. The armrest is wood, but they’re sealed. And so what you’ll come across with a lot of other chairs that have what armor says they won’t actually seal the armrest. And so what that does is it opens it up to mold and they fall right apart. So ours are sealed, which is going to be great for environmental protection. In terms of the fabric, it’s a woven polyester fabric that’s very tight and very thin. So if it does get wet, it’s more apt to dry relatively quickly, as long as you get it in some sunlight. And so we’re not looking at something if you store it and stuff it away in your garage in the dark. And then you’re in the south and it’s humid. We’re avoiding as many of those types of mold issues as you could possibly find.
Richard Matthews 9:08
Love to check out your chairs when they start shipping here because our current chairs they’re hitting end up there before they’re gonna start falling apart on us
Steven Wilcox 9:19
There are so many times I think one of the pieces to ours that a lot of people don’t recognize when they’re going out there and purchasing an outdoor chair is the convenience factor of how to get from your car or your RV or wherever it is that you are to the area that’s going to be your base camp for the day. And we’ve actually incorporated carry straps that can be configured in three different ways. backpack, traditional over the shoulder kind of like a purse or a satchel bag. And then we have across the chest. Similar also in the way to like a bike messenger bag would wear, a cyclist would wear their messenger bag and so through those three different carrying styles, it allows you to have your hands free to carry whatever else you need fishing poles, surfboards, umbrellas. Whatever it is, to get to your actual base camp.
Richard Matthews 10:01
Does the cooler stay on it when it’s being carried that way?
Steven Wilcox 10:04
Yeah, it’s all connected through carabiner clips. So the cooler itself has little hooks on it. And then you just pop those right through the carabiner clips after you fill it up in the kitchen with all of your goodies and then you’re off to the races and you don’t have to worry about carrying or dragging a cooler carrying a chair and your hands are good to go.
Richard Matthews 10:22
Can you get the chair with him without the cooler?
Steven Wilcox 10:24
Right now we are only offering the chair with the cooler. That’s just it’s an element of being so early stage in our business. But we anticipate releasing a cooler less chair, hopefully by the end of 2021. A lot of it has to do with just our supply chain and making sure that we’re mitigating our risk in the early stages of our business. And so the thing I always like to press upon because we get this question quite often is that at the end of the day, it’s extra storage. Yes, it is a cooler. So if you do have a cooler that you’d like to bring camping and everything, that storage piece is going to work great for anything else that you want to put in there. So one of the things that I do pretty often is I’ll actually skateboard down to a wave in Southern California called trestles. And I brought this prototype with me a couple of times and so I’ve got the surfboard under the arm the chair slung over the shoulder, and I’ve got my camera equipment stored inside the cooler within its own little case. And so it works as basically a little backpack for me as well as beer storage when we’re at the campsite.
Richard Matthews 11:25
Cool ideas. So what I want to talk about then is your origin story, right? We talk on the show all the time, every good comic book hero has an origin story. It’s the thing that made them into the hero they are today. We want to hear that story. Were you born hero? Were you bit by a radioactive spider that made you want to get into the outdoor equipment business? Or did you start in a job and eventually move your way into becoming an entrepreneur? Basically, how did you get to where you are now?
Steven Wilcox 11:48
Yeah, so I actually was snowboarding and I met a bear and the bear actually spoke to me No, just kidding. I was trying to think of some sort of spider man origin story with it with a bear and a mountain and but no.
Richard Matthews 12:01
Meeting a bear that spoke to you sounds like the Russian fairy tale Baba Yaga had a bear the What is it? The God of winter, I think is a bear anyways, and he talks to people?
Steven Wilcox 12:12
Oh, no, unfortunately, we didn’t run into that guy would have been great would have helped me, this is the plan follow the plan. Now the way that we really came about the idea for Parkit and our product was through the experiences that I had with other brands and other businesses out of college. I was fortunate to land a role in the marketing team at Oakley, at Oakley, I got to see, what an absolute machine that company was, maximum efficiency and all their processes, and eventually sold total Exotica for a couple of billion dollars. And I talked about a place to go and learn what it takes to really scale and run a massive organization like that. Then I went over to Quicksilver and Quicksilver within the first two weeks that I had been hired, had an all hands meeting and pulled us all in and said, Hey, everybody, we’re filing chapter 11. We’re going which for listeners who aren’t aware of chapter 11 is restructure bankruptcy. There’s chapter seven, which is like we’re God, we’re absolving sell all our assets. The other side is chapter 11, where you restructure and so I found this out kind of just joining the team there and got exposed to everything that they had really done wrong. That led to chapter 11. And also everything that we had to do as a marketing team, to really reposition the brand into the action sports place the way that we did. And after I looked at the two of those experiences, I really recognize you have an incredible skill set now where you’ve been a part of the teams and you’ve seen the strategies at play that take one brand and scale it and make it the behemoth that it is and the other one to U-turn it and get it back into that position of prominence. If you can take what you’ve learned from all of these and apply it to your own brand someday, there’s really nothing stopping you from getting your messaging out to the world and showing people what your products are and your mission, and connecting with people in the same sense that those types of brands have. And so that was really the lightbulb moment for me as this is where entrepreneurship can be the key to my own success and my lifestyle design. We’re sitting in a garage right now you’re traveling an RV, I’m sitting in a garage, I’m surrounded by snowboards and surf equipment, all that stuff like that’s the lifestyle that I live and was always trying to figure out how to blend the two of them together to make work and play the same. And it wasn’t until my buddy sat down in the chair that I recognized. We finally have a tool here where we can use this product, we can not only elevate the product in terms of its features and its durability, but we can use this product and make it a symbol of what our brand stands for which is community building storytelling and adventure and using our product in those environments to draw those connections to one another and build that community and do all t things that we love to do. So that’s kind of the long winded story of how we got to that position. But you know, that’s the radioactive spider that bit me it was a bankruptcy.
Richard Matthews 15:06
That’s really cool. And especially to have the experience of both sides of that with companies that are really rocking it and companies that are falling apart. And I remember, I had a company that I worked with that filed chapter 11 after I was done working with them, and they brought me back in as a consultant, they’re like, Hey, we need your help with some of these marketing things that we never let you implement when you work here. We need to talk about them. They brought me back in as a consultant staff, and paid me a bunch more, and then did all the things I told them to do. And we were able to get the company out of chapter 11. Because of that and save the company. It’s one of the things that like you once you learn those skills, you learn how valuable marketing and storytelling are and knowing how to get your message to your audience. It’s a powerful thing.
Steven Wilcox 15:58
Richard Matthews 15:59
Yeah. So I’m curious then with the chair brand, with a whole messaging for a chair. So like a chair is, it’s difficult to tell a story about a chair, how have you guys learned to tell the story and connect it with the lifestyle? and that kind of thing for your marketing?
Steven Wilcox 16:25
Yeah, great question. The way that we’ve done that is one, there are the features to it. And now we don’t need to jump through the features again. But for us what a chair is, it’s one of those things that we like to say all the time is that it’s more than just a chair. And when we say that, what we’re talking about is that a chair symbolizes things to many different people, some people it means absolutely nothing, it’s just something you sit in because you don’t want to stand any longer. For some people, they have their grandfather’s rocking chair, and it sits on their porch. And it’s something that’s like a historical family heirloom that moves from house to house to house. We register that these products have significance to people and much more than just oftentimes much more than just what kind of like the black and white version of the product is. And so for us, a chair symbolizes one a storytelling, a piece for storytelling. And so through that, when I say that, if you and I were sitting around, we could easily have this conversation around a campfire with a couple of beers. And we’re learning about one another, we’re learning about your background, how you were born at tri-city, your Thanksgivings, we’re down the street from where I currently live, we’re learning about one another, and we’re doing it in the tangible world, we’re not doing it digitally, we’re doing it. Like where I can stand up and shake your hand and say, it was great to meet you. And now we’re able to expand our community. And so for us, the chair symbolizes storytelling, it symbolizes a tool that can be used to build community. And through all that, we get to do this dynamic of where we get to grow that community and share the values of what it is that makes Parkit, Parkit and what makes you you and what makes me me and that messaging and that value, those values instilled into our products has really resonated with a lot of our customers. And that’s been really exciting to see.
Richard Matthews 18:12
That’s really cool. One of the things I tell my friends and my students and my kids all the time is that human beings are a story born people. And we judge the depth of our relationships on how much of the other person’s story we know. You might call an acquaintance is someone who you know their name, but you don’t know any of their stories. And a friend is someone who you know, their name, you know, a lot of their story, but a best friend is someone you know, so much of their story, that the only way to grow your relationship any deeper is to go out and create new experiences together. And that’s how we judge the depth of relationships is by how much of each other’s stories, you know, right. And I love the idea of the chair being a centerpiece to that lifestyle. And it’s, it’s so true, because, I said, we travel and live and do all sorts of fun things. And the one thing we have to make sure we bring with us is our chairs. And what I love about your story, and what you guys are building is that, from someone who uses camp chairs, all the time, literally, it’s the only chairs we own every chair we own folds in some form or fashion because of our life is, is most of the chairs, like you mentioned, the chairs that you bring from house to house that are heirloom stuff. They’re not heirloom quality, they’re throwaway quality, like everything. If you pick up a chair at Walmart, or even at REI, most of the camp chairs are throwaway. They’re designed to last a season or two and then they’re done. And there’s no like history or significance that’s going to go along with the actual chair. And anyway, I think that’s it’s a cool way to bring quality back to something that has been turned into a cheap commodity.
Steven Wilcox 19:58
Yeah, you know, like the whole outdoor industry in itself. The reason why we see these poor quality chairs is it was just a race to the bottom, who could produce the most for the cheapest and then offer it at Walmart at the absolute cheapest price. When we think back 15, 20 years ago, like that made sense, that was the only way for us to sell anything was to get into these big box stores like a Walmart or at Dick’s Sporting Goods. And those guys know how to make money on the margin. And it just all became like a finance game. And one of the beautiful things I think, from marketing over the last decade is the transition from the wholesale b2b model to the direct consumer model online, where it allows the brands to engage with people directly. If you want to talk to us at Parkit, go on our Instagram at pocket movement.com hit us up in the DM’s, you’re talking to me and my girlfriend. And like some of the interns that we work with like you’re talking to our team directly. And that didn’t exist. Nike, put billboards up that said, just do it in the 80s in the 70s, and 80s. We only saw that because we drove down a freeway and saw the billboard, we didn’t have any personal touchpoint with a brand. And today that exists. And what that allows us, it allows us to have a consumer, that does not only engage with us on a personal level, but they’re able to go and find products and businesses that align with their values if you’re a Coffee Company, and you make all of your bags out of recycled plastic, and so you’re going the greener route. And that’s something that you believe in, as a coffee connoisseur, I may want to go and purchase from them instead of the guy down the street because I believe in what their brand and their company stand for. And that never had existed in the past.
Richard Matthews 21:35
That is something to thrive all over the world.
Steven Wilcox 21:37
Exactly. And that that never existed. I think that’s one of the crazy things. There’s all the good things that have come from social media. And there are also the bad things that have come from social media if anyone’s seen the social dilemma Netflix over the last couple of months. That’s a wild documentary to watch. But if you look at the positive side of it is that it’s allowed us to have that community and have those values and create those dynamics from a business sense. That never existed before. And it’s given away to so many new startup businesses and startup brands who have missions that tie into some sort of value that really resonates with their consumer base. And in my opinion, makes the world a more positive place. We just got to find them a little bit more.
Richard Matthews 22:18
That reminds me of one of my primary problems we run into, traveling with the family and chairs, in particular, is you mentioned the big box stores, and operating on the margin. We have four children, we have to have like kid size chairs, and the entire market for kids size chairs, switches, they’re all the same couple of brands that are selling at Walmart, or Dick’s Sporting Goods, or Academy sports or whatever. They’re, like $5 chairs that are just the worst. They’re $15 chairs, I would happily pay you guys 80, 90 $100 for a chair for my kids, it’ll last through their whole childhood until they grow out of it.
Steven Wilcox 23:04
The other thing about those too, is they’re poorly built in terms of structural integrity too so when you’re sitting in them, you’re not in an ergonomically healthy position too typically when you’re sitting in these cheap chairs, you’re kind of slouched, I’m thinking of like the canvas ones that telescope in and out. Yeah. Like those, there’s that weird curve. And what you’re doing is you’re actually like displacing your hips in an unnatural position. And so like long term health effects of enjoying those types of chairs is definitely something that I think people are, are not necessarily thinking of when they turn 78 years old, they go to the doctor, they’re like, Oh, you have hip problems because you’ve been sitting poorly your whole life. And so we made sure that when we built our stew, we took into account the natural ergonomic science behind how our body wants to move and how it wants to sit. And we’ve put the seat height at a specific height for that we put the recline at a specific height for that as well. And so we’re not only focusing on having a long lasting durable product but an enjoyable and comfortable product that’s not going to cause you any type of hip dysplasia as you get older. So we put in a lot of effort there, our team did a great job with thinking of everything.
Richard Matthews 24:11
And to your point about the direct to consumer brands, is without that if you were to remove that from the equation, the only option for me as a consumer or other consumers like me is the big box stores, that are buying from manufacturers or manufacturing their own stuff. And like that’s all there is. But if you step out and you see like what you guys are building with Kickstarter and other things like that, where you can actually go direct to consumer and you can talk to the founders and talk to the things be like hey, this is what we want to see in the marketplace, this is what I would pay for. Right, and those things get created. And it expands the horizons for the marketplace, and I think, adds a lot of value. So it’s very cool. So my next question for you then is about your superpowers, so we say every icon hero has a superpower whether it’s a fancy flying suit made by a genius intellect or the ability to call down thunder from the sky. In the real world, here’s what I call a zone of genius, which is either a skill or a set of skills that you were born with, or developed over time. That really ties everything else together, it’s the common thread that ties all of your skills together, and helps you to help your clients or help your consumers get the result they’re looking for. So when it comes to your business, what do you think your superpower is?
Steven Wilcox 25:31
So there are two of them. I don’t know if that’s allowed, am I allowed to have two superpowers? Absolutely. All right. So the two superpowers I would call on are number one, is the ability to be creative and understand how to utilize creativity and form brand building. There’s an element to creativity where you could be an artist, and you can paint and you have 1000 different styles of painting. The tricky thing with branding is that you have to take that paintbrush, and you have to tell a cohesive story and create a cohesive experience for people. And so what I mean by that is, when you’re younger, let’s say you play baseball, as I did, and you go to spring training, Oakley is gonna pull up with this massive semi truck that when you enter the front end of the truck, you get to go through this crazy Oakley experience where you see the different goggles and the sunglasses and the athletes using them. It’s kind of like Terminator esque. You’re getting that experience. Well, that’s branding. That’s an artistic story that they’re using to connect what their company stands for, with what you stand for as a consumer and find that that common ground. If I pull into an Oakley truck another six months later, and it’s a completely different experience, I’m going to have an in congruence with the company. And I’m not going to feel like hey, you used to tell me this. But now you’re telling me this. And so there’s an element to branding, that the reason I say that as a superpower is because you want to make sure that the messaging is always aligned, you want to make sure that the values that we’re presenting on day one are the values we’re presenting on day 30. And also the values we’re presenting on the day, 3000 10 years down the line from now. And you want that to be streamlined. And when you start to break that messaging and you start to deter from those foundational values. You become convoluted and messy. And that’s one of the things that I learned from my time at Quicksilver was through that bankruptcy, they made some of those decisions that diluted their brand value. And so that’s the piece of the puzzle. I think that, when it comes to where the superpower in me lies in terms of go to market, and how to help businesses, it’s finding those core values for the brand and what connects with their consumers and helps them grow. The second superpower is just learning. My mom is an elementary school teacher. I think that’s part of the reason why I look at everything as a learning experience. If you tasked me with something that I don’t know how to do, it’s not a question of Well, I don’t know how to do that. It’s a question of cool, I get to learn something today. And having that mindset about challenges allows you to really tackle anything that’s in front of you. And in entrepreneurship, there’s countless roadblocks that get thrown in front of you, for example, I’m a brand guy, like I just mentioned, I know, I don’t know a whole lot about logistics. I am learning every day how we can reduce our costs and maximize the speed at which we can ship our products and get it to our customers faster. And make sure that we’re doing it in a cost-effective way. And I’m learning that every day. And so if I can continue utilizing the skill of learning and pair that with the branding and the messaging, then I could be the industrial superhero or indestructible superhero that a Parkit needs to be.
Richard Matthews 28:37
Absolutely. And I love the thought about the branding stuff and keeping everything consistent. I refer to that in our business because one of the things that we’ve done for a lot of years is helping online entrepreneurs build what I call a heroic brand. And one of the things we talked about is unconscious trust signals. The things that make consumers feel like they can trust you versus not. And those are things like the simple things, and there’s always like four that I always tell people about is there’s the consistent use of your typefaces. You pick a couple, you stick with them, you use them, It’s one of those things like you can tell like Apple, for instance, they have their own typeface developed in-house that they used for 25 years. And when they changed it, it was a big deal. And they made it as a marketing announcement. They’re like, Hey, we came up with a new San Francisco typeface. So the consistent use of typefaces, consistent use of colors, and consistent use of your messaging. And your photography is really what it was unconscious trust signals that even if you someone who’s not educated in branding, they’re gonna see those and they may not be able to tell you why one company is trustworthy and another one isn’t. But those unconscious trust signals are going to go in to really make A huge difference in whether or not they want to purchase from you in the future.
Steven Wilcox 30:03
Oh, yeah. And I’m glad you bring up Apple because I think that’s one of the things that made Steve Jobs so successful early on was that he was so hyper focused on making sure that the products that they designed were beautiful. He wanted things to be seamless and clean. And like there’s a reason why our phones look the way that they do in our computers like the way that they do. And when you think back to 10 years ago, when Apple came out with their first MacBook Pros, not first, but at least they were the first ones that I started to get involved with. I just remember looking at that computer, and then looking at my mom’s Dell PC and being, why on earth would I ever buy a Dell, that thing looks like it doesn’t look nearly as beautiful as this apple one does. And that’s a piece of Apple’s brand. And when you get into the story of Steve Jobs, he dropped out of the classes that he wanted to at the college he was at and took a calligraphy course. And he attributes that calligraphy course it’s in a speech that he gives to Stanford where he talks about how that calligraphy course gave him the mindset and understanding to recognize how important that uniformity and how that design features play into the role of what it is that we perceive as consumers. And it’s just, you know, I could go on all day long about how he changed a lot of the things not just from a technological standpoint, but from a marketing and go to market standpoint. But we’re not here talking about Steve Jobs, his superpowers, we’re talking about a Parkit.
Richard Matthews 31:28
To mention th calligraphy one of the things I’m currently learning is how to how to do some calligraphy for almost the same reason. Learning how to, to your point, the second superpower learning one of the things that I always try to do is have something that is not work related, that I’m just I’m working on learning, I’ve got last year it was a piano this year, it’s a learning do how to do black letter calligraphy. Traveling on the road, in an RV means that I’m constantly learning things that I hadn’t planned on learning, like when you accidentally stick a forklift in the back of your RV and have to learn how to fiberglass it to fix it. And other various things like that. The ability to look at everything that happens in your life, not as roadblocks or as things that are going to stop you or slow you down. But as opportunities to learn. My best friend and I always tease it’s like we’re leveling up in a video game, It’s like you just picked up a new skill.
Steven Wilcox 32:26
Yeah, oh my god, that’s a great way to put it. When I think of these things that I knew about running a business when I first conceived the idea of Parkit back in 2017. Versus the things that I’m doing now day to day are completely, not at all what Instagram makes running a direct consumer brand looks like, I feel like before I launched Parkit, I was watching a couple buddies read direct to consumer brands, and I would see what they were doing and was like, oh, they’re running sales online, and Facebook’s got their ads running, and they’ve got all these automation built in. And so they probably just, like, order the product that shows up. And then it ships. How ignorant of me at 17 years old to think that that’s all that goes into it. But now we’re in the stages where, I’m doing things that if you were ever in another organization, they have entire departments for that where the knowledge gets spread up and down, and it gets pretty siloed you know, because it’s like, we want to make sure that operations and logistics is dialed in, we need our sales team kicking butt, we need our marketing team kicking butt. Well, in the entrepreneurial world, like you’re doing all of it, you’re learning all of it, you’re learning it as fast as your brain can process it. And so even though some of the things you look at, you’re like, I have no idea how to do this. Well, you know, thank God for Google, at the end of the day, you’re going to figure out the solution somehow. And you’re going to open the right conversation with the right person and they start to mentor you and teach you everything as well. So it’s a lot of learning, you have to be willing to take, we’ve been watching the Mandalorian. I don’t know how many people are watching that. But when you watch that show, I just keep thinking of how everything that this guy is going through trying to get this baby Yoda wherever it’s supposed to go is just like a problem. I was like, boom, another problem here, boom, shipper issue here, boom, that problem here that he has to solve. And he just kind of puts his head down and goes, alright, well, this is the situation I got to solve this today. And there’s a lot of that in entrepreneurship, where you just have to put your head down and go solve the problem that gets presented in front of you.
Richard Matthews 34:26
Yeah, it’s so true. And it’s interesting cuz as you pick up skills, it almost feels like at some point you’re like me on video games for you get like the late game and you feel like you’re running on god mode like, Hey, I can just destroy all these problems. And then you realize, the next big challenge comes up and you’re like, oh, maybe not. I just I got really good at that level. And there’s a whole nother level of things that you have to learn. And so like eventually, with your business, you get to that point where you’re building those silos. You’re building those teams and like that’s a whole different skill set of learning how to hire people and build teams and get them to operate and do the things at the level that you want them to do. And, there’s all like, new challenges, you could look forward to figuring out, in the future.
Steven Wilcox 35:07
Tons of those coming.
Richard Matthews 35:09
So, you mentioned a second ago, I’m not sure if you misspoke that in 2017. You were 17. So you were only nineteen?
Steven Wilcox 35:17
No, I’m sorry. I meant that when we conceived the idea for the business in 2017.
Richard Matthews 35:23
Steven Wilcox 35:24
I’m 29. I’ll be 30 in a couple of months.
Richard Matthews 35:28
I was about to be overly impressed if you were 19 years old and running this company.
Steven Wilcox 35:35
Sometimes I watched shark tank and these kids go on their own, like, Why wasn’t I doing that at 17. But I was, at 17, I was trying to figure out how to get on the closest bus that was to my house with my surfboard to go surf, I wasn’t focused on trying to figure out how to grow a business or any of those things.
Richard Matthews 35:51
Same here till I was a little bit older, where I was like, I could actually do something about this, and create stuff. The flip side of your superpower is your fatal flaw. And just like every Superman has his kryptonite, or Wonder Woman can’t remove her bracelets of victory without going mad. You probably have a flaw that’s held you back in growing Parkit. For me, it was a couple of things that I’ve struggled with over the years is like perfectionism that kept me from actually shipping products or services we had growing up or a lack of self care, which meant for me, I was, letting clients walk all over me and not actually having good, solid, healthy boundaries between my personal life and my business. And I think but more important than what the flaw is, is how have you worked to rectify it as you’ve grown this company and work to overcome it. So people who were listening might learn a little bit from your experience.
Steven Wilcox 36:38
One of the biggest flaws, I would say, that is my kryptonite, is reading comprehension. And it was this way, too, when I took the SATs, I remember scoring incredibly well on math, I remember doing really well on writing. And when it came to the reading comprehension portion, I just kind of, like spiraled down. And it’s still a challenge for me today. And part of it just has to do with the fact that there’s an element for me of dyslexia that I sometimes look at and go right, cool, like trying to read it, and then my brain will just wander. And I’ll be reading through these, like really important legal documents, it’s like focus, like stay focused. So it’s like ADHD, all the things. And I’ve always been challenged with that. And one of the things that when you’re starting a business is you’re coming across a lot of contracts, and you got to read and know the ins and outs of every piece of those contracts. There could be one clause in there that if you just like, your mind escapes you for a second, and you’re kind of just like, your eyes are just falling the words on a page, but you’re not comprehending what it says. Like that can be a complete barrier for whether or not you’re going to be able to raise the amount of money you need, or whether or not you have the control over your business that you need, in order to make the right decision. So one of the things that I’ve been doing to combat that is really just like annotating the absolute life out of these contracts that we get through just to make sure that I comprehend every single piece of it, and really dive through all of it, because, it’s not something that you want to look at and go oh, man, I missed that line didn’t understand that. Now we are in these circumstances legally bound, and so that’s definitely been the piece of the puzzle that’s been the most challenging is making sure that I’m putting all the pieces in the right place. And thankfully, my girlfriend’s an incredible partner in the sense that we don’t really work together on the business, but she lends a lot of her time and her expertise, and she helps guide me through some of those things as well. And, I come to her with all the notes. And she goes, it seems like we’ve got everything, ask them these questions. And without her, I don’t know if a lot of the things that I’m supposed to ask get asked. And it’s been awesome. Having heard a kind of to help support the kryptonite, if that makes any sense.
Richard Matthews 38:43
My mom has dyslexia as well. And when she was going through college, she struggled with the same thing. And she was going through college after she had me and so my dad was around and one of the things that helped her a lot. That may help you in your girlfriend might do this for you already, is that just having whatever text she had to comprehend, have it read to her like she would read it through herself, but then have it someone else read it to her as well. Because her listening comprehension for the same stuff is like through the roof compared to reading it.
Steven Wilcox 39:13
It’s amazing how different each of us learns, I’m a very hands-on learner, for example, the other day, we’ve got a ton of containers coming over on freight ships at some point once the product once production completes. We’re going to have those land in a warehouse and I’m going to be unpacking those containers and storing everything. And we’ll have a group of people helping us with it, I hope. But at the end of the day, I’ve never unloaded a container. That’s not been a part of any of my job descriptions in the past. But fortunately had a buddy who just the other day called me and said, Hey, I know you’ve got all these containers coming. Do you want to help us unload one so you can see all the steps and everything that goes into it. You can talk to me about a container you can write me a report about what we should do, but I learned the absolute best when I get to Get in there and see the process with my eyes, I get to do the process with my hands. And so when I get to be in there physically doing something, I learn and absorb that so much faster. And one of the things that I think a lot of people in regardless of whether or not you’re an entrepreneur, or if you’re in management in a massive company, you have to be aware of the different ways in which people learn, because you may speak to one employee one way, and you may train another employee a completely different way. And being aware of those types of differences allows you to tackle challenges the right way, and with more efficiency, and with more, hopefully, improved results.
Richard Matthews 40:35
Yeah, absolutely. It’s an important thing too for all aspects of life. I mentioned everything from your employees to learning yourself, in our case, we homeschool four children. And I got one of them, who’s a visual kinesthetic learner like you, and another one who’s an auditory learner. And for the longest time, we struggled with my oldest son, because my wife is a kinesthetic learner herself. And so she likes to do things with her hands. And then like play music, or a video or a TV show in the background just to like distract her head so she can focus. And my son who’s an auditory learner can’t be can’t work at all. If there’s that music going in the background, all he’s doing is listening to that music or listening to the TV show or listening to whatever. And I was finally, you have to turn that off and let him just focus on it because or let him listen to the work that he’s doing. And it’s so important to understand how the people on your team learn so that you can get the results you’re looking for.
Steven Wilcox 41:35
I think one of the things too, that I can relate to with your son is, I’m sure other people can relate to it, too. You’ll be typing an essay or typing an email, or whatever it is, and you’ll be listening to music. And suddenly you look down and you’d like typed the last five words of the song. And you’re like, how did I do that? Like, how did I get to here? Well, one of the things that I’ve started doing and it maybe this will help your son is I listened to music when I work that has no words in it whatsoever. And so it helps kind of like put me in a rhythm state. Yeah, but at the same time, they’re not telling me what to potentially write and then find my fingertips going through the lyrics of a song.
Richard Matthews 42:11
Yeah, I’ve done the same thing, because I’m like my son, I’m an auditory learner. So I have to, I have to have stuff that is just beats or just music and stuff like that, with no lyrics to it. Otherwise, I’m gone. And whatever the lyrics are,
Steven Wilcox 42:25
Oh, yeah, right there with you completely the same.
Richard Matthews 42:28
So my next question for you then is about your common enemy. So every superhero has an arch-nemesis, it’s a thing that they constantly have to fight against in their world. In the world of business, it takes a lot of forms. But generally speaking, we put it in terms of your clients. But since you haven’t shipped your product yet, we may have to be a little creative with this. So generally, it’s a mindset or it’s a flaw that you’re constantly having to fight to overcome in your business. So that you can get the result you’re looking for. So maybe for where you guys are at, what’s the biggest thing that you’ve had to fight with in order to get your product to market?
Steven Wilcox 43:00
Oh, my god, there are so many things, but immediately when you said, What’s your arch nemesis, the first thing I thought of was cash flow. And the reason why I say that, if anyone’s read the book by Phil Knight, called shoe dog, I highly recommend reading it. It’s just an incredible story of entrepreneurship, and overcoming challenges and just having, like learning what it took to get Nike to where it is today. The entire book basically is about a cash flow problem. He starts off with, I was gonna get these shoes from these guys in Japan, and I was gonna license them and sell them, but I couldn’t get enough money to get the capital to buy the shoes from them to license them. But once I got them, I knew I could sell them for this much. And then I would have this much cash. And then I would basically, he was always maximizing the use of his cash, which always leaves very little cash to be utilized for something else. And I read this book two years ago, and I remember going, alright, this sounds like what you’re going to get yourself into. And now that we’re in it, like we’re in the midst of it, where we’re cutting checks to production teams, we’re getting quotes from freight companies, we’re figuring out logistics cost, and we’re dialing in that complete, where’s that profit margin that we get to reinvest into the business? That’s definitely like, easily the biggest challenge, I think, and in terms of Nemesis that we have is making sure that everything that we’re putting together is putting us in a position to grow and scale profitably while maximizing our opportunity at the same time it’s a very tricky dance to try and do but we’re doing it well so far.
Richard Matthews 44:31
So with your Kickstarter campaign, and all the pre-sold, chairs that you have and having to build everything, are you guys going to break even on your first shipment? Or are you guys going to actually have a profit on your first shipment? So you can order more like how’s that gonna go down?
Steven Wilcox 44:45
Yeah, so right now, we’re slated to break even, which I did a lot of research on this beforehand with Kickstarter. When you break even on a Kickstarter, you basically have hit a home run. There are a couple of brands out there that I’ve looked into I remember one of them, I was reading their about story and how they launched on Kickstarter. And they’re like we raised 150k, we were super excited, we thought we were going to be patting ourselves on the back with a little bonus check, like all this hard work leading up to the design and launch of our product has been worth it. By the time that they ran all the numbers and looked at it, they were upside down 10K. And, you know, they’re like, Oh, well, I guess we’re not giving ourselves any bonus, we got to figure out how to sell some more product make up this margin and grow our business. And so we made sure that going into it, like we knew that we wanted to get the capital, we needed to get the all the supply chain built to get all the tooling built out and make sure that, you know, if we want to produce 10,000 chairs next year, or 100,000 chairs in two years, we will have all the capabilities to do so. And that’s what our Kickstarter campaign was able to do for us. And the fact that we walked out of it with basically no losses is really exciting.
Richard Matthews 45:53
Yeah, that’s really cool. So when you set out to build the Kickstarter campaign, did you already have all those numbers in place? Like, here’s how much we’re gonna need to get the tooling done to build these chairs and all that stuff? Or is that something you sort of figured out? As you were growing? And you started seeing the orders come in?
Steven Wilcox 46:13
That’s a great question. And it’s definitely a combination of both. There’s an element to being as prepared as possible. And so you want to at least speak to a handful of the factories that you could potentially build your product, you want to get quotes from them on exactly what it’s going to cost to get your product built. And then you’re going to take that information, and you’re going to hand that over to a freight company and go, Hey, this is what the dimensions of our products are going to be. How many can we fit in a container? What’s the cost of the container going to cost? And you break all that stuff down to a per-unit cost? And then you’re going to go to the next stage? Here you go. Okay, cool. Once the containers landed at the port, and it’s in a warehouse, what’s it cost us to ship this product from our warehouse in California to a customer in California? What’s it going to cost us to ship from California to you guys in Florida? What’s it going to cost to ship to somebody in New York or the Midwest. And so you want to do as much of that due diligence as you can up front with the most relevant information that you have at the time. We did as much of it as we could and looked at our numbers are what perfect if all this goes to plan, we’re gonna make 50k on our Kickstarter campaign, well, COVID hits freight charges change and boom, that 50K is gone, we got to pay that into the increased freight costs, because supply and demand have changed. And so you want to have as much of that figured out as you possibly can, but you gotta at least expect some form of variants it’s gonna hit just because that’s the nature of the marketplace.
Richard Matthews 47:38
Here’s my next sort of question for you is your breakeven on your Kickstarter campaign, and you start, you get all the orders fulfilled, and you start selling to new customers, what’s your projections for when you’re going to start being where they fall in the black, so to speak, actually making a profit?
Steven Wilcox 47:54
You know, we have those projections, but I’m gonna keep those on the private side of the business. There’s a point where if a couple of things go our way, it happens really fast. There are a couple of things that if those things don’t go our way, it’s a little bit more of organic growth, and it takes a little bit longer. But we’ve got some things in the hopper that could really help us get into the black a lot sooner than later, which is exciting.
Richard Matthews 48:20
Hopefully, you guys hit the sooner one, because I know, the more profitable your company is, the more good you can do in the world. So hopefully, the cards fall your way.
Steven Wilcox 48:30
One of the things that have been really exciting for us is, you can find us online at Parkit movement.com. And we would love to be parkit.com, but that was already taken. And so when we were trying to figure out our domain, this was a couple of years back, we were like, okay, well, the movement is about going outside and spending time outdoors with the people that you love the most. And so let’s go let’s call it Parkit movement. And unbeknownst to us, that actually became one of the smartest things we were ever able to do is because through that, with the success of our Kickstarter campaign, we immediately partnered with 1% for the planet, which I don’t know how many people are aware of 1% for the planet, but it was actually founded by the Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard. And basically, it’s an organization that partners or that pairs up businesses with nonprofits that are focused on some form of environmental protection or sustainability measure. And that kind of became the piece of our domain where it’s like Parkit movement.com. Well, what’s the movement, and for us, for every chair that we sell, we actually plant one mangrove tree in Biak, Indonesia. And a fun fact about mangrove trees versus traditional trees that you see on some of these by one plant one campaigns is that mangrove trees actually sequester four times the carbon and turn that to oxygen than standard trees. And so the movement for us is, building a more sustainable future with every sale of our products. Get outside, enjoy them and kick back, relax and enjoy the exploration.
Richard Matthews 49:57
Yeah, absolutely. And more and more it’s a movement. I think I could be wrong in this but calling it conscious capitalism. Where consumers are interested in doing business with brands that have some form of giving back in their marketing plan.
Steven Wilcox 50:17
100% that’s a huge piece of it. I think TOMS Shoes really changed the game and what it means to be a socially responsible company. And hats off to them and what they did, and I’m sure there were people before them, but TOMS Shoes really made it a household idea. And it’s exciting to be at the helm of a brand that we know can make such an impact that just takes time and some growth and exposure. And we’ll be able to continue making an impact both in the way that people enjoy themselves around a campfire on a beach and on the planet as a whole.
Richard Matthews 50:50
So I have a curious question about how you track the impact that you guys will have, in terms of storytelling for marketing in the future? Do you guys have any plans for that? Or is that sort of something you’re just gonna have to guess that? Or is that something that the companies that you’re working with can actually give you stats on like, Hey, here’s what we’ve actually been able to do with what you guys have given to us?
Steven Wilcox 51:14
Yeah, no, great question. Thanks for diving a little bit deeper into it. So the company we work with is a company called Sea Trees. And Sea Trees is specifically focused on that. I think they’ve got three projects that have to do with kind of buy one plant one type of campaigns. One of them is the mangroves, which are in Biak, Indonesia. Another one is kelp forest, which is out here in Southern California. And then I forget what the third one is right now off the top of my head. But they track basically, for every sale that we make, we know that that’s one tree that we’re planting, and consumers are eventually we’re going to have a way on our site whereas you’re going through the checkout, you can add more trees to your purchase, which will be an exciting piece for us to implement. But through that, we’ll be able to know hey, Sea Trees, we’ve contributed this many trees, here’s the amount of dollars that come to cover that cost. What’s the impact of that? And so there’s an element in the future where we’ll certainly be creating some sort of content and some storyline around the major impact that this has been able to have on the environment. We’re already at 3400 plus trees, which 3400 times four, that’s a lot of carbon being back in oxygen versus a standard tree. So
Richard Matthews 52:27
I feel like some camping trips with your chairs and Indonesia. Next to some mangroves is in your future at some point.
Steven Wilcox 52:34
I’ve been fortunate to go over to Indonesia twice for surf trips. It’s a great place and great culture, incredible side of the world. Definitely a lot of differences compared to what we experienced daily here in the United States. If I ever had to pick up and just plant my flag in another country, you could find me on a cliff in Indonesia with a nice little plate of Nasi Goreng. That’s for sure.
Richard Matthews 53:00
I think that makes a good transition for my next question for you, which is about your driving force, the flip side of your common enemy. What you mentioned cash flow, what’s your driving force? And just like Spider Man fights to save New York or Batman saves Gotham or Google fights to index and categorize all the world’s information. What is it that you fight for with Parkit movement?
Steven Wilcox 53:17
What I fight for with Parkit Movement has a couple of elements. One, I want to see people using our products in the environments in which you know, those stories and those communities can be built. That’s one of the most exciting pieces for me is knowing that when these chairs get here, people are going to be using them. And people are going to be sitting around campfires telling stories getting to know each other. We’re both here based in America. And we can both say that there’s a very, very strong divide right now in our country, regardless of what side of the aisle you sit on, and we hope that our chairs and what they stand for and symbolizing the activities that people do with them, help bridge that divides and makes that community a little bit more whole. I don’t think we’re gonna solve world peace, but our products and the mission behind them help enable a little bit of that and foster that positive. That positive mission.
Richard Matthews 54:06
You mentioned earlier the documentary about social media. And I think part of our divide is coming from less in-person experiences. I was watching a video the other day. And they were talking to people in New York and New York is their very left leaning. And they were asking, asking them, have you ever met or spoken to a conservative? And he talked to like, 100 people and every single one of them said, No, I’ve never spoken to a conservative in my life. And so to your point, exactly part of the bridging that divides is if we just sat down around a fire more, with our neighbors it would change the world.
Steven Wilcox 54:44
It’s all way to just sit and to be a little biblical. It’s just about breaking bread with one another. It’s about sitting around that instead of sitting at the table and breaking bread. I’m sitting in a chair and you’re saying, hey, pass me another beer and I’ve reached into my cooler below my seat and I throw you a beer and we get to know each other and to this way that you expressed, as an acquaintance to someone you know their name, but you don’t know their story. And we get to make that transition from acquaintance to friend and friend to a best friend. And our product helps facilitate that. And that’s the piece of, what’s ahead of us that we’re really excited about. And then in terms and for me, one of the things that I’m very excited about too, is just the element of being able to look at what we’ve built, and know that this is what funds you know, these careers for these people, this is what funds the food on the table for these families, like building an organization that creates an opportunity for people and has a mission that people want to be a part of, we have the people who work jobs, and I’m sure, plenty of them as well as I do, they hate their job, they hate their boss, they hate their company, they’re really just in it for the paycheck to make sure that they can get through the next month or whatnot, then we’re gonna have the chance to build an organization that people love coming there every day, and it’s a family environment. And we’re really creating opportunities for everyone that’s involved. And so that’s kind of the double the two sides of that coin is one, we get to see how it affects the consumers changes the culture of certain things in the world, and two, create an area of growth and opportunity for people who become part of the inside fold of the business.
Richard Matthews 56:22
Yeah, absolutely. So my next question for you then is more practical. And I call it the here’s tool belt, just like every superhero has a tool belt with fancy gadgets, like batarangs and web slingers and laser eyes, talking about top one or two tools that you couldn’t live without in your business, could be your calendar, to your marketing tools. What is it, the things that couldn’t live without in your business?
Steven Wilcox 56:46
I love this, this is a great question. There are three things that I could not do without. And this isn’t just for me and for Parkit, this is for every client that I still work with from a brand consultant perspective. If we don’t have Adobe, and we don’t have Facebook, and we don’t have Shopify, we don’t have the three tools to facilitate sales and marketing. And what I mean by that is, you can build, if you’re well versed in Photoshop and Illustrator, or InDesign, and you can build graphics, and you can build eye catching creative pieces with those programs, you can then utilize Facebook to distribute them. And then when you use Facebook to distribute them, the user sees them, it catches their attention, they click through they land on your Shopify website. And at that point, you know, you’ve invited them into your house, this is who we are, this is what we sell, do our products serve a solution for you? And how does that come together? And if you can master those three tools, you can take really any product to market. Now, there’s a lot of logistics pieces that I’m skipping here. But in terms of the three tools that help us facilitate, like what we’re doing every day, it’s wake up, build an email and Adobe distribute that through some sort of social media platform engagement piece, like a MailChimp or Klaviyo or Facebook or an Instagram and drive them to our site and invite them into our house to learn about who we are and our products. And those three tools. I don’t know how else we would get anything done without them.
Richard Matthews 58:14
It’s amazing. And it’s true, too, right? It’s from the inception of the marketing message to get it into the customer’s hand. Those are the three things you need to to get them there.
Richard Matthews 58:24
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Richard Matthews 1:00:02
So I got a couple more questions here for you. This next one is about your own personal heroes. Every hero has their mentors. Like Frodo had Gandalf, Luke had Obi Wan, you know, callback our Star Wars. Robert Kiyosaki had his rich dad, spider man had his Uncle Ben. Who some of your heroes, were they real life mentors, speakers, authors, maybe peers who are a couple of years ahead of you, and how important were they to what you’ve accomplished so far with the Parkit movement?
Steven Wilcox 1:00:25
I have a lot of mentors. I’ve been very lucky in the sense that it’s kind of a unique story, I lost my dad when I was 18. Just heart attack out of the blue. And in that experience, like you lose a father. But what happened for me was I actually ended up meeting, like, probably 15 dads along the way, if that makes any sense. Like, people come out, and they’re like, hey, you’re 18 Let me guide you through this challenge. And another guy, you’re 22 Let me guide you through this challenge. There have been so many people in my life that have been kind of that stand-in role for me, that has been absolutely influential, none more than my dad’s brother. He also is an entrepreneur, he runs his own business, he’s been incredibly successful as a label printer, if you ever bought a jack in the box burger in the 90s, and 2000s, and it came with that little sticker on it that had the ketchup, mustard, mayo, all those things, he printed those for the whole country. And that was the big client that really catapulted him into the success of his business. And he’s been super instrumental in getting me in the right mindset about certain problems and looking at certain challenges with me and finding the way to solve them. So he’s been absolutely incredible. And as a father, for his children, as an uncle to me, and as a business owner, he’s been really one of the ultimate mentors for me that helps guide kind of my path and what we want to do for Parkit.
Richard Matthews 1:01:52
Yeah, that’s really cool. My dad lost his dad when he was young too. And it had a big impact on him. And I’ve been lucky enough that my dad’s still around and be able to guide me through a lot of those things. Everything from, getting married, having kids to moving on the road, and doing all these crazy things that we do. It’s definitely cool to have people who are able to stand in and fill in for that role. It’s always surprised me. When I ask that question, how often it’s a family member, or a teacher, or someone who may or may not even realize in their own life that someone else is looking up to them as a hero.
Steven Wilcox 1:02:31
There’s a peer too, I want to give a nod to, there’s a buddy of mine who he’s the one who fell through the chair at the campfire, his chairs is the one that fell apart, he started a direct to consumer watch brand, about five years ago. And he’s grown that whole thing organically. He hasn’t taken in any outside funding any cash. He’s done a couple of Kickstarters to help fund some inventory. But like, him being a peer too is someone that I’ve been able to look at and go Oh, right like you’re challenging what I think is capable. For me at the age that I’m at, like, a lot of people would think, oh, you can’t start that. Like, Steve, Steve Jobs started building computers. When he was in college. Bill Gates started Microsoft and dropped out, like, Zuckerberg started Facebook in college and dropped out, these people make these huge changes in the world at such early ages. And so many times people will look at you and say, Oh, you can’t do that yet. You’re not old enough. You don’t understand everything yet. And my buddy who did this watch company, and he’s still doing it today. And they’re doing great, really proud of them. He was kind of the one I looked at and was like, if you can do this, I can do this too. And I don’t need to wait until someone gives me the green light and says you’re old enough. And you know all of it. Now it was really the mind shift of if you want it, the only obstacle is your mindset telling you that you either can or you can’t. And whichever one it is that you believe you’re going to be right. And so he was a huge piece of the puzzle and registering in my own mind that I can start a business from basically scratch and get this thing, you know, raising 500k on Kickstarter, so a lot of nods to that peer group as well.
Richard Matthews 1:04:08
It’s an interesting thing, the people who call you crazy until you can’t do things, and then you realize that you can do whatever you want. We had a lot of the same stuff going for, we’re gonna move back my wife and three kids and a dog into a small RV and travel the world while growing our company. People like you can’t do that. And turns out not only can we do it, we’ve grown our company four times in that in that timeframe, and we had another kid on the road, and maybe we are crazy, but you could still do it.
Steven Wilcox 1:04:34
And the thing that I think is the funniest is, they’ll be like, You’re crazy. How are you guys gonna do that? And like their point of disruption is like, what if everyone needs to take a shower and you’re like, that’s not a big deal. Like we could figure out that, like some of the problems that people identify as to like, why they feel the need to tell you why you can’t do something when you really narrow it down to them. It’s like a convenience factor. Something that, if you live in a home with five bathrooms and five kids like, you take that for granted. But like when you’re in this scenario, like you guys are like you just, that’s the situation. That’s what we live in. That’s what we chose to do, and choose to figure it out. Exactly, you just figure it out along the way. And, I remember there was a middle school, when I graduated, I don’t even know if you call it graduated. But when you move from eighth grade to high school, they have the high school principal, come and speak to us. And he said, there are three types of people in the world, the people who make stuff happen, the people who watch it happen, and the people who say what happened. And I feel like a lot of the time that people who make stuff happen are a very small percentage of the population. And a lot of people are caught on the other end going, they did what and, you grew your business four times living out of a van, having another child, like those things are things that a lot of people go, I don’t know how you did it, but you just figure it out, as you said.
Richard Matthews 1:05:56
You just do it and make it happen. And it’s such a fascinating thing to learn what it takes to be the kind of person that makes things happen. And I used to as a younger entrepreneur think that anyone could be an entrepreneur. And I’ve realized over the years that it takes a special kind of person to want to put in the work and the effort and have the risk tolerance that goes in to do what we’re doing. But the reality is it’s not really that difficult. Like the actual work isn’t that difficult. The reality is, it’s just consistently doing an action that leads you to the goal you want to go sometimes you trip and fall and hurt things and blow them up and you have to get up but it’s like getting up and keep going and keep going for that destination that really sets entrepreneurs apart. That’s the people who are, you know, making things happen.
Steven Wilcox 1:06:45
I couldn’t have said it better myself. There’s such an element to it and I think you touched on it perfectly. I was thinking to myself, the other day was like, well, you know, that was hard. But was it really hard, and you realize that you like survived it. You come to that point of, you’re looking at something one day, and you’re like, Oh, no, what am I gonna do? I have no idea how to solve this problem, then you figure out how to solve a problem, and you get out of it. And it’s like watching children learn something. If a child doesn’t think he can fit through the hole in the fence, he won’t try to fit through the hole in the fence. But as soon as the child takes the risk, and learns that he can fit through the hole in the fence. Well, now the kids running down the street and like playing with the kids in the basketball court down at the park, right. And it’s like the issue of once you’ve learned that you can do something when you look back at what you thought was impossible, you realize, oh, it really wasn’t that impossible, to begin with? I did kind of just do it. And, you know, that’s where Nike really gets their nod on.
Richard Matthews 1:07:40
It reminds me of that thing I mentioned earlier with sticking the forklift in the back of our RV and having to do the fiberglass work. When I first did that, I was like, I don’t know how to do fiberglass work. That’s hard. It’s impossible. You know, it’s everyone who says that fiberglass work is the worst. And you sit down and actually like, learn how to do it and did it and like, it wasn’t that difficult. And then a couple of weeks ago, this is years later, our slide broke something and ripped off the top something or whatever the thing is on top of our slides, and ripped all the fiberglass off. And I was like, I guess I have to pick those fiberglass things up. I already knew what to do. I went down to the store bought the things came back an hour and a half later, it was fixed. It wasn’t even like a thing. It was just like, Oh, I guess I gotta do some fiberglass prepared. I’ve leveled up that skill is the thing that I can do.
Steven Wilcox 1:08:27
Yeah, absolutely. And the thing about entrepreneurship that sets us apart is that we recognize that everything that we do that we don’t know how to do is a level up and it’s basically like your Mario and you find the mushroom and you’re like, you get that level up every time that you do something different. Like now I think back of like, let’s say five years goes by and Parkit is either acquired or something and I’m no longer doing Parkit well, I can now look at someone and say, Hey, I know how to manage cash flow. I know how to run operations, I know how to get a product design, I know how to manage the logistics of getting it to the consumer, like let’s look at your business. And let’s narrow down where we can at least maximize our efficiencies and reduce some costs. I couldn’t have said that three and a half, four years ago, not a way not a chance in hell, I could say I could adequately speak to that. But because you put yourself into all these new scenarios that upfront, you know, it’s the scary closet, it’s the scary monster in your closet. And it’s really not that scary. It’s just their new skills that you’re taking a risk to learn and what’s the word I’m looking for? The result is just kind of exponential growth and exponential opportunity.
Richard Matthews 1:09:39
I’ve got one more question for you. And it is about your guiding principles. And one of the things that make heroes heroic is that they live by a code. For instance, Batman never kills his enemies he brings him to Arkham Asylum. So as we wrap up the interview and talk about the top one or maybe two principles that you use regularly in your life, to run Parkit, maybe something you wish you knew when you first started it out, three or four years ago?
Steven Wilcox 1:10:02
The principles that I’ve always lived my life by are, there’s a quote actually from my dad that he would beat into us as children that when you’re a kid, you’re like, oh, I’m gonna get a dad. And then you get older, you’re like, oh, wow, I kind of get what he was doing there. And that quote is pretty simple. It’s three things, it’s Do your best, never give up and have fun. And so when you really narrow those three things down, you know what you’re talking about, you’re talking about excellence, you’re talking about doing your best, you’re talking about making sure that whatever it is that you do you do to 100%. And like, it’s perfect. You know, that’s, that’s the goal. In the next part, do your best never give up. That’s persistence, like narrowing it down to one word, and that’s looking at every challenge and figuring out how am I going to solve this problem today. And then, the last one is pretty straightforward. Have fun, if you’re having fun, and you love what you’re doing. And you’re passionate about what you’re doing, then all the things that you’re you’re learning, even the things that are challenging and scary, you’re gonna look back on and go with a smile and go, Wow, I learned all of that, or we succeeded through that challenge. We figured that out. And so that would really be the code that I loved is just do your best never give up and have fun.
Richard Matthews 1:11:10
I had a similar one for my dad, he said, Never give up until the good is better, and the better is best. And it was just the same kind of thing, It’s it’s persistence and striving for excellence.
Steven Wilcox 1:11:26
When I got to college, I joined a fraternity called Phi Gamma Delta Chapman. You go through the pledge process, and they’ve got these manuals that every chapter goes through, and they teach you different things and teach you different values and different, you know, fraternities were first actually created back in the day, they were built as ways for young men to come together to teach themselves how to be men. Now we have a different kind of Hollywood version of what fraternities are. But those foundations still exist, and a lot of them across the country and they teach you to certain values. And, one of the things for my fraternity that’s really unique is that we’ve actually had a president of the United States, be one of the members of our fraternity, and it was Calvin Coolidge. And there’s this quote from Calvin Coolidge that as a pledge we were forced to learn, I don’t know if forced to learn is the right word. But we were taught to learn this quote, the quote is all about how nothing in the world can take the place of persistence, you can be the smartest, you can be the most educated, you can be, you know, the luckiest. But you can remove all those things from who you are if you work hard. And you will see the fruits of what your labor will bring you. And I would advise, anyone, listening, you want to go read the, quote, want to feel inspired, just Google Calvin Coolidge persistence, and it’ll come up right away on Google, and you’ll read it and it became kind of a thing that I live by in college after my dad passed away. And it wasn’t until a couple of years after college where I drew the connection of like, this is basically what he was telling me to do my whole life. And it tied into the do your best never give up and have fun. And that’s really the biggest piece of the puzzle, as you’re talking, your dad taught these same things to you, and I’m sure he learned them from his dad before your grandfather passed away. And it’s that type of value and those types of principles. They extend beyond circumstance, they’re true, and they’ve tried. And there’s a reason why people write books about them for 1000s of years ago,
Richard Matthews 1:13:26
I remember, my son passing that lesson on to my son, he was in gymnastics with one of his buddies, and his little friend, they’re both like six or seven years old, at the time. And his friend is gifted athletically, and the kid plays football and he plays soccer and he does ballet and he’s in gymnastics and he can do, back handspring back tuck at six years old with perfect form, and he doesn’t even have to try it’s just easy, because that’s what he was gifted with. But because everything is easy, he never puts any work into any of it. And my son had to work really hard, in gymnastics he is even, like half as good as his buddy is. And I was like But see, the difference is that like if all it’s gonna take for you to be a better athlete than him is to just outwork him because your persistence that working towards what you want to do is going to get you places it’ll never get him because he doesn’t have the same work ethic. And when you combine the gifts with work ethic, that’s when you get like Olympians but the normal people exceeded a long way.
Steven Wilcox 1:14:46
Could you imagine if Usain Bolt with like just the natural God given talent that he has to run as fast as he can didn’t have the mindset to train as hard as he trains or Michael Phelps the same like Michael Phelps was scientifically gifted with a body that’s built for swimming, he has the torso of someone who’s six, six, and the legs of someone who’s like five, eight. That gives you the ability to play over water. And if he doesn’t wake up and go through the regiments and the training and the mindset that he has about just working hard, and outworking everyone to be the best swimmer, you could have that swimmer’s body and never use anything for it. And you don’t have any of the gold medals that he’s got. And so the biggest piece of the puzzle is persistence and excellence, you can combine those two, and you can do anything.
Richard Matthews 1:15:32
Absolutely. So that’s basically a rap for our interview. But I do finish every interview with a simple challenge that I call the hero’s challenge. And it’s basically it’s a selfless thing I do to get access to stories I might not be able to find on my own. So the question is simple. Do you have someone in your life or in your network who you think has a cool entrepreneurial story? Who are they, first names are fine, and why do you think they should come on our show and share their story? First person that comes to mind for you.
Steven Wilcox 1:15:55
First person that comes to mind for me is Ryan Torres. He’s the founder of Vaer the watch company that I was mentioning, he’s the peer of mine that really helped inspire the kind of the mindset of the can do it, I can do it too. Like, let’s raise the level of what we expect out of ourselves. And I think he’d be a great person for you guys to bring it on the show and find out what his superpowers are.
Richard Matthews 1:16:19
Yeah, awesome. So we’ll reach out later and see if we can get an introduction to Ryan. So in comic books, there’s always the crowd of people at the end who are clapping and cheering for the hero, as they finish so as we close are analogous to that is I want to find out where people can find you. If they want to pick up one of your chairs in the future when they hit the market. Where can they light up the bat signal so to speak, and be like, Hey, you know, we need some better chairs to sit around and grow some stories with our families. And I think, more importantly, that who are the right types of people to actually reach out and maybe check out your chairs, check out your products and be a part of the Parkit movement.
Steven Wilcox 1:16:51
Yeah. So to find us, you can find us on the web at www.parkitmovement.com You can find us on Instagram @parkitmovement. Anyone that’s interested in checking out our chairs, it ranges from if you go into concerts, and you want a comfy chair to sit in that brings the beverages you want to enjoy at the park concert down the street from your house all the way to the fishermen who are going up into the Sierras and casting his line and kicking back at the river and enjoying a nice cold beer while taking in the scenery. So if you fit between one of those categories, feel free to check us out and check out what we’ve created. We’ve got a lot of people on the pre-order list, and people are really excited about what we’re building. So it’s a nice little change to the standard status quo. And we think people will like it. So again, that’s parkitmovement.com and @ parkitmovement on Instagram.
Richard Matthews 1:17:41
Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your story with me today. Steve, it was fascinating to talk to you and hear the backstory of how you Kickstarter, launch a business, especially one that’s got such a powerful story like what you guys have. So thank you for that. And I guess before we finish this off any final words of wisdom for our audience here,
Steven Wilcox 1:17:59
Anything that you put your mind to, you can do persistence and determination alone, it will really help drive a lot of the success in your own life. And if you’re willing to look at the challenges as learning opportunities and push through all of them, you can launch a chair on Kickstarter and raise 500k just like we have so love to see more success. And if you guys are any entrepreneurs out there who want to connect and share knowledge about what’s working for you guys. We’re happy to share what’s working for us and keep everybody growing together. Thank you so much for having us.
Richard Matthews 1:18:30
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The HERO Show is produced and managed by PushButtonPodcasts a done-for-you service that will help get your show out every single week without you lifting a finger after you’ve pushed that “stop record” button.
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