Culture & Growth Case Study: Fellow

Sara Blakely

Lesson time 13:34 min

Sara sits down with Jake Miller, the founder of Fellow Products, a high-end coffee gear company, to discuss the importance of developing a positive company culture and scaling mindfully, especially when it comes to hiring.

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Topics include: Culture & Growth Case Study: Fellow


[MUSIC PLAYING] - Hi, Sarah. I am Jake. I'm the founder of Fellow, and we make beautifully functional products to help people brew great coffee at home. I started this company six years ago out of the D School at Stanford. So I was a graduate student at the time. Went back to grad school because I knew that I wanted to start my own company. And the second year, fall semester, took a class called Launchpad, and went from idea to product in 12 weeks. I graduated, and then said, do I get a job or do I pursue the dream? Said no to the full-time job. Took our first product, put it up on Kickstarter, and we raised $200,000 in the first 30 days. - Wow. JAKE MILLER: Yeah. I was on top of the world. I thought I had this thing figured out. They don't tell you that it took 18 months to deliver the product and $300,000. - Are you talking about the manufacturer? JAKE MILLER: Yeah. I had never built products before. As you know through Spanx, just the manufacture and production-- it's a nightmare. - It's really a big piece of the puzzle, isn't it? JAKE MILLER: Yeah. SARAH: Yeah. - So it took 18 months to figure that out. Thankfully, we were able to raise a little seed money, given the success of the Kickstarter campaign. And then we just kept building. 12 months in, I hired my first employee. Fast-forward six years, we're now a team of 23. We've got 15 products. We're sold on our website. We're sold in specialty retailers like Crate and Barrel, thousands of cafes around the world. - Congrats. - And then we just opened a retail store in San Francisco about a year ago. So customers can actually come in real life to try our products and learn with us. - Nice. And so is this the product line? JAKE MILLER: It is. SARAH: This is sort of what started it all? JAKE MILLER: This is. So this is a pour-over coffee set. SARAH: OK. JAKE MILLER: So this is an electric, variable-temp, PID-controlled kettle. - So what does that mean? - So this kettle will heat water to 202 degrees and hold that temperature perfectly for an hour. And every function is intentional. So the handle actually has a steel slug in it so it's a weighted handle. It moves the center of mass closer to your hand, so it feels really good when you pour. Precision spout, so if you want to have total control over the flow rate. Plug it in, press a button. It looks beautiful on the countertop. So it's sold at New York MoMa and at the hipster coffee shop on your corner. I'm incredibly proud of what we've accomplished, and optimistic-- - You should be. - --about where-- thank you. - You should be. - Thank you. But realize that we're in the second inning of a nine-inning game, and there are some real challenges ahead of us. And given what you've built at Spanx, I would just love your thoughts on a couple of broad buckets. SARAH: Sure. JAKE MILLER: The first is around culture. When we were five people in a tiny ro...

About the Instructor

With little more than an idea and a drive to find her way, Sara Blakely went from selling fax machines door-to-door to becoming the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire in 2012. Now the inventor, entrepreneur, and founder of Spanx teaches you to open doors and close deals. Learn Sara’s customer-first approach and her tactics for prototyping, branding and building awareness, and bootstrapping your way to success.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Sara Blakely

Spanx founder Sara Blakely teaches you bootstrapping tactics and her approach to inventing, selling, and marketing products that consumers love.

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