Jason talks to Nick Saltarelli about what it was like to start the fastest growing chocolate brand in North America, what building a factory from the ground up in the 21st century looks like, and why Nick thinks manufacturing is the next great opportunity for ecom entrepreneurs who are really serious about their product.
-Consumer packaged goods vs packaged foods
-What founders need to focus on when they are naming their product
-Why integrity adds value to your brand identity
- GenZ manufacturing
- Factories in the 21st Century
-The numerical benefits to building tribalism into your communities
In this episode of Ecommerce Building Blocks with Jason Wong, Jason introduces us to the world of manufacturing with his guest, Nick Saltarelli, the coFounder of Mid Day Squares. When Nick and his now wife and brother-in-law were dreaming up a business they had no idea they would get so deep into consumer packaged goods that they would end up starting their own factory. They wanted to create a food product that lived up to the hype and couldn’t compromise on ingredients or composition, so they had to build it from scratch themselves, leveraging to get investors by keeping retail prices down and making their first million from the manufacturing hub they built in their apartment. Nick thinks the time is nigh for young entrepreneurs to take back manufacturing for North America, he gives some solid tips for truly hustling, and he gives some solid relationship advice too!
Nick’s twitter: https://twitter.com/nicksalto
Nick’s linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nick-saltarelli-063a5965/
Mid-Day Squares: https://www.middaysquares.com/?¤cy=USD
➡️ Building Blocks website: bbclass.co
🍍Jason’s twitter: https://twitter.com/EggrolI
Co-founder of Midday Squares and Angel Investor
Ep. 5 Nick Saltarelli on Why Building A Factory Was The Only Way
[00:00:00] Nick Saltarelli: In your younger years, I can speak for myself. You get attracted to dollars. Then what ends up happening? I didn't actually build something sustainable here. And if it crumbles on you learning how to actually talk and conversate and communicate is the equivalent to learning how to what's it called in tennis when you just hit back and forth, right?
[00:00:20] Nick Saltarelli: Yeah, learning how to rally effectively in practice, meaning you're working in flow. When you're rallying understanding how to hit the ball back and forth with each other. That's the work you're putting into.
[00:00:42] Jason Wong: Welcome back to another episode of the building blocks podcast. Today I'm joined by Nick Saltarelli who's a co-founder of Midday Squares and the fastest growing chocolate brand in North America. Am I getting that
[00:00:54] Jason Wong: right?
[00:00:58] Nick Saltarelli: Yeah, that's from spins data. We're the [00:01:00] fastest growing in the category. Um adding the most dollars per inch per store, per week. So, yeah, so I'm pretty pumped about that.
[00:01:09] Jason Wong: And usually I let people introduce their product, but you know, I'm going to take the spotlight from you today. I'm going to introduce Midday Squares from me as someone who has it stocked in my fridge.
[00:01:18] Jason Wong: I'm not sure if you're supposed to refrigerate it, but. My, my shelf is like different flavors. Um, and I'll be honest. I love that. Cause I get a lot of stuff sent to me. I'm going to be real with you. I get a lot of stuff sent to me and like, oftentimes I don't get to use the product because I don't really, you know, it's not really my thing, but I, I ate all your stuff up.
[00:01:41] Jason Wong: I truly did. We were like where're the crumbs at?
[00:01:47] Nick Saltarelli: It was designed. There was a lot of effort put into that. So it gives me a huge joy to hear that.
[00:01:52] Jason Wong: Yeah, no, I, I love, I love it when people come to me and tell me like what they love of my stuff. And I always like to make sure that I give the praise words do [00:02:00] Midday Squares is a chocolate company, but I don't think just saying you guys are as a chocolate company is fair to you guys because you guys truly are trying to solve so much more problems than that and for me, the problems I solve was the midday cravings.
[00:02:11] Jason Wong: Like I like to snack. But I'm also trying to diet. I need to make sure that I'm keeping my calories in check, but at the same time, getting the right macros in and, and at the same time tasting good. It's a fair balance that not many brands have been able to accomplish. So that's what Midday Squares is to me.
[00:02:29] Jason Wong: What is Midday Squares to
[00:02:30] Jason Wong: you?
[00:02:30] Nick Saltarelli: I mean, uh, so from a food standpoint, you nailed it, man. That's exactly what we're trying to do. And we spent a lot of energy trying to develop something that was really true. I think. And I'm not saying this even as like a plug to promote, but when you read our reviews on Google, the number one thing that's said is actually, it's one of the number one number one words used in, and it's because customers saying this actually keeps me full.
[00:02:57] Nick Saltarelli: This actually solves my cravings. This actually yada [00:03:00] yada. And it's not because I think that we're some special company it's because I think actually the bar has been set so low in consumer packaged food goods that people are actually expecting to be duped by advertisement. They actually, uh, are buying items.
[00:03:16] Nick Saltarelli: It's the weirdest thing expecting for it to not fulfill what the promise that was made to them. And so when we were, you know, creating the company. Um, we wanted to be really true. So if there's something that we take really seriously at Midday Squares - and I think this for any founder listening, you should take this shit seriously too-
[00:03:35] Nick Saltarelli: is too many people name their product, something and don't deliver on the name. So what do I mean by that? If you go to a store, how many times has something been sold to you calling itself, cookie dough, you buy it, it looks like cookie dough. It feels like cookie dough. You've been sold all of these things and then you eat it and it tastes nothing like cookie dough.
[00:03:54] Nick Saltarelli: And I think founders need to respect the names they put on their packages. So for us, it was. [00:04:00] Number one thing is if we're going to call it product Fudge Yeah the first experience you have in your mouth better be ultra fudginess. If we're going to call it Peanut Butta, it better be that mix of PB chocolate that you dream up.
[00:04:12] Nick Saltarelli: And so. Why I say this is not to promote the product. I think the only reason why we achieve this, Jason and I think it's important for a lot of people in food, um, is, is we had to build a manufacturing plant ourselves, uh, scale it from zero because when we were going to contract manufacturers, they kept trying to turn us into something that already existed on the market.
[00:04:36] Nick Saltarelli: They wanted us to be what already existed because it helped them on their supply chain and helped them manufacturer. Like for instance, they didn't want us to be a double square stack. They want us to have a chocolate and rubbing, right. It's easier to do that. Um, so by the end of that experience, you know, everything that made Midday Squares, what we want it to be was stripped away.
[00:04:56] Nick Saltarelli: And it was pretty obvious that if we were going to bring a product to [00:05:00] market that really was differentiated it had to be manufactured by us. Um, and that's just the way it went at this point in time. So I, I really, that's why it means so much when you say that the blood, sweat, and tears, literally, that's gone into getting the squares into existence and scaled and actually being able to get it to customers has been one hell of a rodeo.
[00:05:22] Jason Wong: It's not easy. Um, I don't think people understand how difficult it is to build a brand and, and more specifically a food and beverage brand. There's so much hardship and sweat that goes into it. Um, two things I want to bring up. Um, my buddy, Zach, who runs Cometeer, um, He also had to go and build his own manufacturing plan.
[00:05:45] Jason Wong: Cometeer is like a frozen pod of like a coffee, like a K-cup, but like frozen flash frozen. And it's tastes fresh if not better, super convenient, but like there's nothing else on the market like that. And everyone is trying to make them [00:06:00] fit into this mold because , well mass manufacturing is so much easier, it's better for their bottom line.
[00:06:04] Jason Wong: They don't want to do an extra line for you, right? And for you, I I'm getting the sense that you're a product person. I'm a product person. So, you know, I see you and it it's truly something so personal to us to make that product the way that we want to be and no compromises on that. And the next one I want to touch on is, you know, the, the marketing that people put onto the product has serious problems over past little while, if not for, for a long time, because they can get away with it. One of the things I've always talked about is that you need to be supporting what you're talking about online. You can't just put an ad copy. Yeah. It'll get you more click-through rate. Yeah. It'll get you a lot more conversion.
[00:06:47] Jason Wong: But you're gonna get a lot of disappointment if you're not able to deliver on that. But so many brands don't recognize that because for them it's what, whatever we can do to get the most clicks, whatever we can do to get the most money in the bank. And, yeah, it's great on [00:07:00] paper until you see the reviews, the reviews are what reviews like the, the actual truth for your business and these reviews, as much as people can say, yeah, I can go buy it. Yada, yada, yada, the amount of stuff that you're getting on the platforms that you cannot have control over. Like there's a lot of online sites of reviews that you cannot just buy . Those are real people, real stories, and they love your product. And that's, what's beautiful about it.
[00:07:24] Nick Saltarelli: It's the most important piece. And I think. You as an entrepreneur have to go through the valley of death to understand that. And I know Jason you too, I come from ad tech. I was a software engineer in ad tech. I've been, I've seen it all, man, in terms of like diet pills up to, uh, you know, affiliate programs that, that don't make sense.
[00:07:46] Nick Saltarelli: But, um, I think what ends up happening is in your younger years, I can speak for myself. You get attracted to dollars and you go into it for the fly by night type of, [00:08:00] uh, dollars, which happens quick if you hit it, then what ends up happening is you go through a few of these iterations and you realize, oh wow, I didn't actually build something sustainable here.
[00:08:12] Nick Saltarelli: And if it crumbles on you and you find yourself every six months having to reinvent yourself and you're like, holy smokes, this is taking a lot of energy. Could you imagine if I just applied what I know. To building a real product that has real brand evangelism, where people are out there screaming about your product, and then you realize you're putting in the same amount of work.
[00:08:34] Nick Saltarelli: But now you're actually getting longevity and leverage on a real brand that has trading value. We could speak about this a lot too. So I think it comes with maturity. Um, and it comes with having to pay you're not, you don't have to pay your dues. I hope you listen to this conversation between you and I and skip that whole stage of building, you know, fly by night, drop ship type businesses, um, and focus on building a real, real product. Uh, it will make [00:09:00] your life 10 X easier.
[00:09:01] Jason Wong: Yeah. And I want to touch on this point because I think it's so important is that money is so easy to fly by. But at the end of the day, you're not going to feel fulfilled by it.
[00:09:11] Jason Wong: I've, since I was 16 years old, I've done affiliate marketing. Um, I've done all the adwords, um, all the affiliate portals I've sold every single thing that you can think of. Right. And so like, I see how fast money comes in. Matter of fact, when I was 16, there were some months where I was making more than what I was making right now.
[00:09:29] Jason Wong: But at the end of the day, you look back at what you've built and it's, it's not much, I can't go back and point to I am very proud to build what I built as 16 years old, because I didn't build anything. I sent a lot of traffic and a lot of conversions to affiliate sites, selling people on products that I do not support and do not believe in for a really quick cash.
[00:09:48] Jason Wong: Now, do I regret that? Well, no, that gave me the power to like, you know, make a living and like build a business in something sustainable. But what the key to take away here is you know, it's okay to do that stuff [00:10:00] as long as you know, that's not the end of that. Do not die on the hill of these like quick flashy stuff that just comes by because they are not sustainable. It's it's purely, just there to get you to the next step. And as long as you recognize that, it's okay, I'm not here to bash your feelings. This there's so much money in it. And you know what? Matter of fact, affiliate marketing, sometimes power brands like us. We still use affiliate marketers, right?
[00:10:24] Jason Wong: Right. So, so I'm saying, and I think you agree with this too, is that there's always more, and when you're building a brand, there's an asset that's growing. There's a, there's a value.
[00:10:32] Nick Saltarelli: You want to hear something crazy? This is, I think it will blow your listeners away. Okay. Before we did this, we, um, did an exercise as a company because when I was out there pitching, you know, in our fundraising, We talked a lot about what it means to build real brand evangelism.
[00:10:50] Nick Saltarelli: It's very important to be aligned with our investors, the energy we're spending in building real brand. We took every single brand. [00:11:00] Every single consumer facing company that existed on the New York stock exchange and the Toronto stock exchange, they had to be above 5 billion market cap. Um, and then we put them into two slots.
[00:11:11] Nick Saltarelli: We defined, companies that we believed were not tribal tribalistic and companies that had tribalism built into it. Um, and by the way, there's tons of companies that sell a shit ton of product that are non tribalistic break that are publicly traded everything from cheese conglomerates to chocolate conglomerates, you name it, they exist.
[00:11:29] Nick Saltarelli: Okay. What we discovered was every single company that was in our non tribalism column was trading at one to two and a half times, trailing 12 months revenue, one to two and a half times every company that was in a tribalistic category, um, was trading at seven to 22 times trailing 12 months revenue. It is actually not worth your energy as an entrepreneur to [00:12:00] build dollars without tribalism, because think about it. If that's true for every $1 million I do in tribalism, I get 7 million of value versus somebody that's doing the same work for $1 million of revenue that might not have tribalism built into it. And they're only getting two million, maybe. And so that's the way I speak about it for our team over here.
[00:12:20] Nick Saltarelli: It's actually a waste of our time and energy to be focusing on anything, not related to the Midday Squares brand. We've rejected private label deals. We own a manufacturing plant right now. You know, so people come to us and they're like, Hey. You know, I won't name names, but there's grocers that want to do the Midday Squares for their private label item. And it's, I just say it's simply, that is not our business because even though it's going to put dollars in our hands faster, quicker, We do not get paid by the market for private label dollars. Nobody gives us value for that. Um, and so we reject it.
[00:12:55] Jason Wong: It's so important to know rejecting that big check takes a [00:13:00] lot.
[00:13:00] Jason Wong: Uh, I don't think people realize how cash heavy it is for to run a consumer brand. And how, how amazing this to see someone waving a check at you and saying no, say no to opportunities is truly one of the hardest thing that you have to do as an entrepreneur, as a decision maker. Because so many things come up to you.
[00:13:19] Jason Wong: There's this new app that's always coming out, um, that that will improve your conversion, your AOV. There's a lot of shiny objects when we're an entrepreneur, because we have the power to make the decision. So being able to say no, I truly think it's one of the more powerful things you can do as a founder.
[00:13:35] Jason Wong: So, um, I applaud you for that because I know it's a big, absolutely. For this show, I it's called building blocks. And the reason why I call it building blocks is I want to give you a little context because I don't think we've spoken before. Um, as a kid, I really loved Legos. Um, I will get a Lego for, for a particular set and I would just never build that set.
[00:13:57] Jason Wong: I would just built something of my own with the Lego [00:14:00] set they'd given me. And I kinda took that whole concept of building my brand as like step-by-step process stone by stone of building something that's my own with what I'm given: the resources around me, the people around me. And that's why I want to build this building blocks because I want to talk to founders like you to break down exactly how they build a foundation of their business or the foundation of something that they've done in like recently.
[00:14:22] Jason Wong: And one of the things that you talked about today was the manufacturing plant, which I think a lot of our viewers will be thrilled to hear about myself included. I don't have a manufacturing plant. It's a, it's a huge feat. Um, so to.
[00:14:36] Nick Saltarelli: I'll really get into, because I'm out here trying to advocate. I'm want to be the voice of bringing back manufacturing for 30 and 20 year olds, uh, in, in, in North America, it should be done.
[00:14:49] Nick Saltarelli: And, and, and yeah, so I keep, I'll give you the mic back in, and whenever you want me to start on the building blocks, I'll take you guys through exactly how we built a plant uh, from [00:15:00] scratch and how to do that.
[00:15:01] Jason Wong: Yeah. Walk me through, like, what, I mean, like at what point did you realize you need to do it? I'll give you like the answers in your outline.
[00:15:06] Jason Wong: At what point did you realize you have to move into your own manufacturing plant? Like what was the tipping point and what was the first step that you took when you're like, okay, I need to do a manufacturing plant.
[00:15:20] Nick Saltarelli: It's going to be a bit all over the place, but I I'm going to bring it all home for you guys.
[00:15:25] Nick Saltarelli: So, first off I worked in China after high school. I spent time, um, as a QA auditor in China. So I was living right out of Hong Kong, going into all the major manufacturing zones of China. Uh, one thing that I really took away from China that we need to start bringing it back to North America is the idea of championing different categories of manufacturing tiers.
[00:15:46] Nick Saltarelli: So what do I mean by that? In China, they champion AAA quality manufacturers all the way down to C-level manufacturers. It is promoted that you do not have to [00:16:00] start as a AAA manufacturer. You can start and build your way in to all the bells and whistles. They really champion not having to have these glorious manufacturing facilities out of the gates.
[00:16:12] Nick Saltarelli: That is something that's embedded in the culture there that I realized in speaking with friends that I had in Mumbai in different parts of New Delhi in India is also championing there. When you come to North America, people don't champion graded manufacturing. It's almost as if you don't build a AAA manufacturing plant out the gates that people shun you away from calling you a manufacturer, considering you a manufacturer, they don't promote that type of you start at one place and can grow into something really special when it comes to manufacturing.
[00:16:46] Nick Saltarelli: That's the culture and energy we need to change to really bring back manufacturing in a meaningful way is promoting that it's okay if you have a manufacturing shop, that's in your garage and you're supplying local customers. This exists in China, [00:17:00] this exists in India, real commercial manufacturers that are running at small scale.
[00:17:05] Nick Saltarelli: Okay. So that's number one. Number two is coming back. Was to answer your point was like, I always, as a software engineer coming from software, it was, it was weird. If you go into software and say, you want to build the next Google and you show up to an investor meeting and you're like, Hey, we have this great idea to build the next Google, but we're going to go and outsource all of our, uh, coding and software engineers to another company you get laughed out of the room. CPG there was a bit of a different vibe of like, people are actually not championed to own their manufacturing. If you show up in an investor meeting, they actually don't like when you tell them that you're a manufacturer, because that means you have a lot of expenses, you have overhead over bloat that doesn't need to exist.
[00:17:53] Nick Saltarelli: Here's the double-sided sword to that is I really believe that in certain categories, not all categories, you [00:18:00] simply have no choice, but to manufacture yourself, if you want to bring innovation to the market. Now in our category of CPG, it's not yet championed to have products coming from out. So like if I were to make Midday Squares in Mexico or China, the consumer would actually, uh reprimand me to a certain extent in their purchasing decision.
[00:18:22] Nick Saltarelli: It's really weird when it comes to packaged foods. The second you leave packaged foods, they care a lot less, but if they're eating it, they love seeing it come from, you know, Canada or USA type thing. When we really, really realized that we had no choice, but to do this, Jason was when we were out there going to co-manufacturers and nobody wants to make the product.
[00:18:40] Nick Saltarelli: The way we wanted it to. So what do you do? At that point, you're faced with a crossroad, which I believe a lot of entrepreneurs go left with when they should go right. Which is they either give in to the co-manufacturers requests for changes and they change their entire product vision so that they can have a [00:19:00] manufacturer to make their product.
[00:19:01] Nick Saltarelli: We were just stubborn enough to say absolutely fucking not. We want our product to be this way for this reason. Because we care about how the experience in the mouth is going to be what the flavor of the chocolate components going to be, what the fat ratios to carb ratios are like. We wanted to control the whole thing.
[00:19:19] Nick Saltarelli: And that's when the sad reality came that we were going to have to build a manufacturing plant. Now, this is the point where the listener, I think, needs to fucking get out of their seat and really get jacked up. When we decided we were going to be a manufacturer, not a soul, wanted to fund our manufacturing operation.
[00:19:35] Nick Saltarelli: Just to give you paint the picture. Like smallest manufacturing operation we were able to build was like $5 million. Okay. No investors wanted to, um, no investors wanted to fund that because there was way too much risk. So we literally going back to the principles of China and India, we moved all of the furniture out of my condo.
[00:19:58] Nick Saltarelli: I still have pictures. I'd be happy [00:20:00] to share with you moved all of the furniture out of my condo and we built a small scale manufacturing operation. We had a person, my wife was doing ingredient prep and uh, chocolate making. Then we had a person rolling out. We were using like, we were literally, we got to a million dollars of revenue manufacturing out of our condo.
[00:20:21] Nick Saltarelli: Think about that. So now here's what you're going to trade off though. This is the big, big trade off guys is you're going to have to price your item as though you're already a scaled manufacturer because the scale that you're going to have in your condo is not going to be significant enough to go out and build a real business around it.
[00:20:42] Nick Saltarelli: However, if you take just a little bit of time, it took us two months to prep it. You start your operation and you're going to have, there's really two things. And Elon Musk is like dead on, on this. Every product that goes to market should be as close to raw material [00:21:00] costs plus a nominal amount of manufacturing production costs.
[00:21:03] Nick Saltarelli: That is what you're doing as a manufacturer, taking raw materials and converting it into an end item for a user at the cheapest possible cost. So there's two things that we did. We priced out our raw materials per unit, and we priced out our manufacturing costs per unit while we were in the condo. And they were extremely high, but what we did is we called the supply chain and we priced out what we believed our manufacturing costs would look like at scale, when we were selling 20,000 bars a day and we got trucking prices.
[00:21:34] Nick Saltarelli: So like if we were buying chocolate by the truck versus by like, you know, the pallet and we priced out all that, and then we spent a good three weeks speaking with manufacturing manufacturers in similar spaces, coming up with a unit cost of what they believe production costs should be on a unit basis.
[00:21:52] Nick Saltarelli: So now we had confidence to start in our condo was shit gross margins because we weren't able to [00:22:00] have that scale, but we were able to build momentum, to convince people, to give us money, to build a plant by showing them where we were and where we could go and how we were going to get there in a realistic way.
[00:22:13] Nick Saltarelli: That was the secret sauce to the whole thing. And I think this could be applicable to so many different things, is that if nobody's going to fund you, then figure out how to convince them that you've de-risked it. And sometimes that means, and this is where venture capital is really important. I know people shit on it all the time, but sometimes you absolutely just need venture capital because who else is going to fund that time where you say, Hey, I'm manufacturing, but it's at a really bad cost, but I'm doing it to prove to you that we have a product that people want. And now we can figure this out. So that's that, that was the key to the whole thing. And, uh, we got to a million bucks in the condo.
[00:22:51] Jason Wong: That's beautiful. That's a story. I didn't know before.
[00:22:55] Jason Wong: I'm super glad that you shared with me, it's it is an [00:23:00] example of hustling to get to the end planting. Too many people see how easy e-commerce is now. And they just think that it is a free ride to just coast on this wave without looking at you still have to hustle, like if an investor turning it down, you can't just be like, no, one's gonna invest in me.
[00:23:16] Jason Wong: I'm going to go to, I have to go to the next one. And the next one, the next one. And the point that you made up by like proving out your model to people for people to believe in you is so true because on the surface, you're just another food and beverage brand who is asking for a lot of money, too manufacture something that they have never seen at that scale.
[00:23:36] Jason Wong: And you're like, Hey, I have essentially took on all the risks. I'm building it in my garage. And if I can get to this point, because I priced it out already, I can do it and I just need the money to do it. That's really all it takes for them. Like investors are smart people. They just need to make sure that the numbers make sense.
[00:23:52] Jason Wong: But they cannot make sure that the numbers make sense if you've never shown them how it would make sense. Um, when I was investing in [00:24:00] this hard seltzer company called Nector. Um,
[00:24:05] Nick Saltarelli: love them. Like I hung with them in person. I love them.
[00:24:08] Jason Wong: They're great. You, you should come hang out with, when I just saw them two days ago, you should come hang out next time, but they're based out of here.
[00:24:14] Jason Wong: Um, and when they pitched me, I, they said I DM a hundred people on Twitter. You're one of the two people that DMS back and gave us a chance and I wrote them there. I wrote them a check. Um, but the product at the time, wasn't perfect. They were, they, they didn't have a good packer. Their price was extremely high because you're, you're comparing it to the likes of White Claw or Truly's right.
[00:24:38] Jason Wong: So like with a small co-packer with not a lot of money, the prices for each unit at cost was much higher than like a retail cost of that stuff. But they priced it out. They're like, Hey, if we get to this many cans per day or per week, and we can sell through this. I can bring the price down to if we order this amount of cans together, we can label it with [00:25:00] proper label.
[00:25:00] Jason Wong: We can get this type of box and they showed me this plan. And they said, if we get to this point, I can bring the cost down to this. And this was like a 9, 10, a 12 month plan. They beat that. Like we were now well below our costs because they're like, we will do whatever it takes to market. We know we can market because we have this audience that they built, they built an SMS list.
[00:25:21] Nick Saltarelli: Um they're amazing at it.
[00:25:25] Jason Wong: I really invested for the team. They, they were so energetic. They came in, they drop off a box of nectar and they drop off a box of the competitor. And they said, I want you to taste a difference. I want you to hear our story. And that's it. I wasn't even in office that day, but I loved the hustle so much. I wrote them a check the next day I'd even do like any extra due diligence.
[00:25:44] Jason Wong: I love the guy so much. And I knew that if I invest in them, it doesn't matter what the product is right now. How much it costs today. If I invest in them today, I know I'm a bet on them. I know they'll get to that point.
[00:25:54] Nick Saltarelli: Well, how about this brother? One day, we got to just create a fund cause I'm with you on this of this.
[00:25:59] Nick Saltarelli: I don't know [00:26:00] why nobody's created this yet. I, if it has an scaled, it. Uh, a fund in seed and series A, I don't even give a shit what you're doing. I honestly just it's all about the horse. It really is all about the horse because grit and the ability to move with new information is the only actual metric of success,
[00:26:23] Nick Saltarelli: in my opinion, for if you put an entrepreneur that is willing to die on any hill, um, They'll get somewhere and that's true to Midday Squares. My wife, how Midday Squares came about was I wrote a check into my, my wife wasn't my wife. She was a hustler that was in the fashion industry in New York. I never seen, she was living on factory floors, New York and China, and she just did it at the full scale.
[00:26:48] Nick Saltarelli: And so when she needed money, I didn't even care what it was. I was betting on her. And if you go look at the company, it didn't work out. Guess what? That company actually became Midday Squares. [00:27:00] And so there's literally a name change on the company corporation to Midday Squares. The point I'm trying to make is it doesn't even really matter where, what the entrepreneur is doing.
[00:27:10] Nick Saltarelli: You're betting on the horse. And if the horse will allow you to ride with them to whatever the end outcome is, you'll most probably succeed with them.
[00:27:19] Jason Wong: Yeah, absolutely. I'm glad that worked out between you guys. Congratulations on getting married. It's definitely, it's, it's a humbling experience to build.
[00:27:28] Jason Wong: Um, and I know we're almost at time, but I really want to ask this question because so many people probably have it on their mind, but what is, what is it like building a company with your significant other? I'm sure there's a lot of ups and downs. What are some of the things that you think can help a lot people who are looking to try and start business with their significant other?
[00:27:45] Nick Saltarelli: Really passionate about this question.
[00:27:49] Nick Saltarelli: Okay. So it's like using leverage for investors. So it, it magnifies the returns upwards and it magnifies the losses downwards. So it is [00:28:00] literally the equivalent analogy is to, uh, using leverage and investing. Now how you defer that is one, you try your best to actually partner with whether it's your sibling, best friend or significant other, because they actually have a skillset that you need that you don't have.
[00:28:19] Nick Saltarelli: I, I. I would say probably if you're both trying to do the same thing, it's going to end poorly, um, in some way, shape or form, but I don't know that for certain, so I don't want to express that on to others. I think that's that. But, um, one thing I learned whether it was my wife or not, or my brother-in-law cause don't forget, the third partner is my brother-in-law as well too.
[00:28:40] Nick Saltarelli: Uh, we see a therapist every week. Um, and it was introduced to me through, uh, the, the, the, the lead, uh, executive coach at Shopify. So we see this person called Dr. James Gavin. He's a professor at Concordia specializes in founder relationships and behavioral therapy. And [00:29:00] what we committed to, which I think this is important, uh, for the listeners is, is we see Pam every week through the good and the bad. So we show up when times are good and we show up when times are bad, not just when times are bad and sometimes it will go weeks where times are good and we're still showing up. It's that level of care in the family relationship that's required to be successful.
[00:29:26] Nick Saltarelli: And it's three years later that we're finally seeing the dividends of our effort. Because it's become so fucking enjoyable to work together and really experienced the highs. And we have way less lows together in terms of fights. We have lows together as partners, but never against each other anymore. Um, and, and that took a lot of work.
[00:29:49] Nick Saltarelli: That's the piece that I think people are not willing to do yet. I don't know why, because there's a lot of founders out there preaching this shit. Um, but it really takes that level of commitment. You have to work on the partnership as much [00:30:00] as you work on the business.
[00:30:01] Jason Wong: I, I love that. I know a lot of, um, husband and wife founder brands that are doing great.
[00:30:08] Jason Wong: And I know that they just have great synergy like Haus. And I really like Bite toothpaste, husband and wife. Um, I'm not sure if Away is one of them, I know Jennifer's big in the business, but, um, it, it definitely can work out like don't discount it, right. It, it will work out, but it takes a lot of work to make sure it works out.
[00:30:28] Jason Wong: It's, it's being able to remove yourself from the equation and be like, let's think through this as professional partners and not tie our personal feelings and don't take everything personal. Right? Yeah.
[00:30:40] Nick Saltarelli: Figuring out how to communicate. So one thing that we learned in our therapy that I love to leave with everyone is we think as humans, we naturally are good at communicating.
[00:30:53] Nick Saltarelli: Um, that is not true. We're actually good at talking. Talking is verbalizing. That doesn't actually mean that you're [00:31:00] communicating. If words are just coming out of your mouth, like we're talking right now, are we effectively communicating? Maybe, maybe not. That's what I'm trying to talk about in contrast.
[00:31:08] Nick Saltarelli: And learning how to actually talk and conversate and communicate is the equivalent to learning how to what's it called in tennis when you just hit back and forth? Yeah. Learning how to rally effectively in practice, meaning you're not playing a game. It's very different. You're working in flow when you're rallying.
[00:31:34] Nick Saltarelli: You're really understanding how to hit the ball back and forth with each other. That's the work you're putting into. And once you figure out your cadence with your partners of communication and unraveling some of the things that cause insecurities or anxieties or triggers, because ultimately when you're in a founding relationship, you're in a pressure cooker, you're literally in a pressure cooker.
[00:31:59] Nick Saltarelli: And if you're [00:32:00] getting angry at each other what's really happening is that's a secondary, secondary emotion. You're probably anxious, frustrated, or overwhelmed, and haven't been able to figure out how to communicate it properly. Um, so yeah, I advocate all the time. We hire husband and wife duo s at Midday Squares all the time.
[00:32:17] Nick Saltarelli: Like we have no problem with relationships entering the workforce. It's about what work are you doing to make sure that you being in a relationship really doesn't fucking matter.
[00:32:27] Jason Wong: I love that. And it's truly an inspiration to the people that you hire into other husband and wife duos, um, that truly you can build a very successful business, um, together.
[00:32:39] Jason Wong: And it's not always the worst thing. I think everyone looks at it like, nah, never start your business with your family or like your other, I know there there's a lot bad stuff that come out of it.. But I, I think when you are able to do it properly, when you're able to communicate properly, super key thing, um, lots of great things can come out of it.
[00:32:56] Jason Wong: So, um, Nick, dude you honestly shared so, so [00:33:00] much, um, on a show that I, I didn't expect, I, I honestly started this, um, podcast with no preset questions. I just wanted to have a conversation and you, you truly was able to lead the conversation very well on those points. So, um, I really enjoy.
[00:33:15] Nick Saltarelli: Because you did it this way I really try when I go on podcasts. Like if you listen to the podcasts that I've put out with other people, it's very rare that one is the same as the other. And I try my best. Like nobody wants to hear Nick telling the Midday Squares story over and over and over and over. Right. Like, but so today I brought stuff that's fresh, man. I, I, we did that because you were generally just interested in the convo.
[00:33:38] Jason Wong: I love what you guys are building. Big fan of you guys. Hope you guys keep crushing. I didn't hear that.
[00:33:42] Nick Saltarelli: You know that, I mean, I, you probably don't even remember when I reached out on Twitter early on. I mean, I'm a huge fan.
[00:33:47] Nick Saltarelli: You're a big inspiration for a lot of the decisions I've made on ecom.
[00:33:51] Jason Wong: Appreciate,
[00:33:51] Jason Wong: appreciate. I think we're all trying to learn here. Like I, I make it very clear to people that I'm not a guru. I'm not a mentor. I I'm truly just trying to make it. Just like everyone else. And [00:34:00] sometimes I get visuals on, on things that I like to share, but we're all learning here.
[00:34:05] Jason Wong: I, I, too make a lot of mistakes every single day, maybe even an hour ago, I don't know. But, um, we're all here to learn and I appreciate you being in the circle and thank you again for coming on to the show.
[00:34:15] Nick Saltarelli: Thanks brother.
[00:34:17] Jason Wong: You just heard an episode of the Building Blocks podcast.. If you like, what you heard subscribe below to keep hearing conversations that I have with brilliant marketers, founders, and innovators on how they built their best ideas.
[00:34:28] Jason Wong: Nowif you want to learn how you can turn your best ideas and build something massive out of it visit my website, bbclass.co or follow my Twitter at @eggroli
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