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Hitting The Mark

Business & Economics Podcasts

Conversations with founders about the intersection of brand clarity and startup success with your host, brand strategist, and author Fabian Geyrhalter.


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Conversations with founders about the intersection of brand clarity and startup success with your host, brand strategist, and author Fabian Geyrhalter.



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Ozlo: Rockwell Shah, CEO & N.B. Patil, Co-Founder + CTO

Episode 109 brings us Rockwell Shah, the CEO, and N.B. Patil, the Co-Founder & CTO of Ozlo, an innovation startup in the sleep technology space. All three of Ozlo’s Co-Founders are former Bose veterans and they acquired and licensed assets from Bose to resurrect the discontinued but beloved Sleepbuds. This episode is a fascinating conversation about building a new brand on existing IP, the fragile tension between what customers say they want and what they actually need, building a brand not on a singular product but a grander vision, how most consumer startups fail because they are not telling the right story, and how branding, in the end, is all about alignment – a simple but deep thought that we are exploring further together today.


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Bumo: Joan Nguyen, Co-founder & CEO

Joan Nguyen is the Co-Founder and CEO of bumo, a brand that provides outstanding on-demand childcare for families and employers. Bumo considers itself in the business of 'parent care' and today you can learn all about the TLC she and her Co-Founder put into crafting the bumo brand very hands-on, strategic, and filled with raw authenticity. Trust is bumo’s brand DNA, but with an audience of new parents, you show trustworthiness very differently than you would with a financial organization for example. Listen in as we talk all things branding, but we also dive into the psychology that drives purchasing decisions, data that could point you the wrong way, and how bumo ended up with 'obsessive users' despite the many pivots in the brand’s journey. It was a fascinating conversation and I am excited to share it with all you brand-builders, may you be a founder or a marketer or a designer: This one is not be missed, despite the subpar audio on my end given a slew of technical difficulties. Yes, this can even happen to those who have recorded 100+ episodes. Joan labeled it 'resilience' and that is exactly how I see it.


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Dirty Dough: Bennett Maxwell, Founder & Chairman

Bennett Maxwell is the Founder and Chairman of Dirty Dough, one of the fastest-growing restaurant concepts in the US with 70 locations and another couple hundred in development. In this episode, we get to hear how Bennett’s authentic reaction to a lawsuit that could have taken the business out instead created brand buzz, helped build his tribe, and added to the company's growth. We dive into the idea of instilling your personal mission into your company, how listening to a team member's interactions with a customer changed the meaning of this brand's name, and how color choices can directly affect business success. That and so much more in this delightful conversation with Dirty Dough’s Founder, stuffed with gooey insights.


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Squared Away: Michelle Penczak, CEO & Founder

Michelle Penczak was my assistant for 3 years. Today she runs a 400-people strong brand employing military spouses that made #297 on the Inc 5000 last year. Squared Away is rooted in a mutual bond between people and philosophies and is doing what I keep advising most everyone to be doing: The brand is highly niche-focused, was born out of a personal necessity, and came with a tribe in-tow.


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Ostroy: Alex Ostroy, Co-Founder & Creative Director

Alex Ostroy successfully combined his passion for cycling and art into a beloved brand that creates eclectic clothing for cyclists who crave self-expression in an industry known for the opposite. Coming from a graphic design and Creative Direction background, Alex’s story and advice will resonate with a lot of you who struggle with blending art and business, who doubt yourself when going with your gut instincts rather than catering to the audience and market at all times and are afraid of combining passions to create a brand for themselves.


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Omsom: Kim Pham, Co-Founder

Kim Pham is a first-generation Vietnamese-American, the daughter of refugees, and, together with her sister Vanessa, the Co-Founder of Omsom, the loud and proud Asian food brand of noodles and sauces. This episode already ranks very high on my top favorite HTM interviews ever. When founders start with a why and figure out the how and the what in the process, that’s when you know great brand stories are in the making. Don't miss this episode.


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Thumbtack: Marco Zappacosta, Co-Founder & CEO

Marco Zappacosta built Thumbtack, the marketplace for home services, over the last 15 years. In 2021 Thumbtack had a $3.2 billion valuation and the highest number of professional listings, followed by Yelp. In this episode, we dive into how Marco’s background from having entrepreneurial parents - his father co-founded Logitech nonetheless - and running his startup basically from straight out of college to today has shaped the Thumbtack brand. As you can imagine, many insights are awaiting you in this inspiring conversation.


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Norwegian Wool: Michael Berkowitz, Founder & CEO

Michael Berkowitz was a commodities trader who switched to the fashion world after taking on coat-making as a hobby. Yes, you heard that correctly. So he shifted to what in plain sight could be seen as yet another commodity: making coats. But there is more to this story than meets the eye as he solved tangible problems while being credited with making 'quiet luxury' a new movement in the world of brands. Launching a quiet luxury brand seems to come with tons of added risk. What gave him the confidence to launch into the flashy fashion world without that type of branding? The answer to that, plus plentiful branding and marketing insights is what awaits you on this episode as we kick off the New Year. Oh, and in case you think you have not heard of Norwegian Wool, I am certain you have seen their products on HBO's hugely successful show Succession which has outfitted their cast and even mentioned the brand by name.


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Toneoptic: Fabian Geyrhalter, Founder & CEO

Hitting The Mark is back from its hiatus with guest host Kara Ebel interviewing Fabian Geyrhalter. We wanted to do something special for episode 101, and here we go! You know Fabian Geyrhalter as the host of this show, but today we spin things around and have Fabian in the hot seat talking about his innovative hardware startup for audiophiles and music lovers. Trendhunter calls Toneoptic 'progressive,' Forbes 'revolutionary,' and the Financial Times 'clever.' Fabian shares the hurdles and fails, how he crafted the brand strategy and created bootstrapped journeys and experiences for his tribe, and he dives into all things branding, marketing, and entrepreneurship. An episode as unique as his company's product. Enjoy!


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Hydro Flask: Travis Rosbach, Founder

This is episode 100 of Hitting The Mark and we worked for months to ensure we have the founder of an iconic brand for you. One most probably all of you know and many of you own a piece of the brand. To say we succeeded would be an understatement. Travis Rosbach founded the world’s most used water bottle brand that took the nation, and the globe, by storm: Hydro Flask. From its iconic icon – pun intended – to its many colors and varied audience, let me take you on a ride from Travis’ background as a pilot, Scuba diver, and marine captain to being presented a 99 designs logo by a pricey marketing agency to his 1-liter bottle launch that in fact held 40 ounces. It is a wild ride, it is an educational ride, it is the ride of HTM 100.


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Best Day Brewing: Tate Huffard, Founder

Tate Huffard launched Best Day Brewing last year, an alcohol-free range of craft beers for the fun-loving, hard-charging, adventure-seeking thirsty souls for whom good is just not good enough. Packed with relentless optimism, a distinctive brand design, and a powerful ethos, Best Day sees its beer as a comma and not a period in your journey through the day. Tate and I talk about the significance of the 'best day yet' philosophy turned tagline, the process of making great alcohol-free beer, the power of simplicity in design, and how coming from the outside into an industry poses a huge opportunity to do things differently from the get-go.


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Cheddar Up: Nichole Montoya, Co-Founder & CEO

Nichole Montoya, together with a designer, co-founded Cheddar Up ten years ago. The platform helps over 100,000 groups and organizations collect payments and information to support and grow their communities. Nichole and I talk about how important design was to the success of the brand, how, as a product company, being highly aware of feature creep is a must to ensure the brand does not steer too far away from its positioning and how getting outside brand help can re-invigorate the product experience.


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Popup: Matteo Grassi, Co-Founder

Matteo Grassi went from breakdancing in Italy to traveling with a circus across Australia, then overseeing 7 e-commerce brands and lately launching Popup, a no-code online store-building platform that provides flexibility in customers' journeys. All of this said, Matteo also holds a Masters in Psychology and worked as a brand strategist. What you get when you combine these life experiences and education is someone who has a no-bs approach to brand thinking and community building and on today’s episode, this is exactly what we dive into head-first, while also learning about the strategy in which IKEA places mirrors in their stores and how cross-border online sales should really look like. And, skip the first 10 minutes if you are not interested in us talking about the future of music since Matteo, amongst all these other things, is also a producer.


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Pattern Brands: Suze Dowling, Co-Founder & Chief Business Officer

Suze Dowling is the Co-Founder of Gin Lane, where she helped launch over 50 D2C challenger brands like Harry’s, Hims, and Sweetgreen. She closed shop and the same founding team started Pattern Brands which now acquires and nourishes brands in the home goods space. Pattern's current portfolio of 7 brands includes Poketo, Onsen, and Letterfolk. So today we talk not only omni-channel, but omni-brand. We obviously touch on brand architecture, how not to lose authenticity when acquiring and marketing a multitude of brands and we discuss the biggest challenges and best tips when it comes to brand building. This is an important episode for any founder (especially if you are running a Shopify-enabled D2C business) as well as for any brand builder and marketer to indulge in since you are able to get the perspective of a founder, a brand-builder, and an investor all in one and the same person and in a very succinct way.


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Staff: Charlie Weisman, Founder

Charlie Weisman created a company that started by selling plungers, yes, the toilet ones, that are actually desirable. The brand is called Staff and it is quickly growing into a beloved suite of household essentials with bold colors, unique materials, and characters that are eager to help. At Hitting The Mark I pride myself on bringing you as much the well-known, as the unusual upcoming, brands that find a way to make their brands stand out and the founders - not marketers - who have those stories to tell. Staff nicely personifies the latter. Charlie and I talk about the 99% perfect brand name, how brand-thinking is at the core of his company, and how he was able to capture the imagination of his audience – and that of Drew Barrymore – all in an organic manner and why brand storytelling will be even more important in the future of this young company.


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Cadence: Steph Hon, Founder & CEO

Steph Hon is the Founder and CEO of Cadence, the product innovation brand that brought you the modular collection of magnetic, sustainable, TSA-compliant, and leakproof Capsules that lets you store your must-have items from your medicine cabinet, jewelry box, and cosmetics bag so you can move through the world with ease and confidence. I am certain you have seen the distinct and beautiful products pop up in your social feeds or in the media. How the brand was created, and the brand DNA that holds it all together (well that, and magnets) is what Steph shares with us in a wonderful conversation that is parts empowering and motivating for founders and parts educational for anyone in the business of building brands. If you run or assist a hardware brand, you owe it to yourself to listen in. If you want to build a brand that desires to lead with empathy and a user-first mentality, then this episode is also made for you.


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ShopWorn: Larry Birnbaum, Co-Founder & CEO

Larry Birnbaum is the Co-Founder and CEO of ShopWorn, the e-commerce platform for customers who want to be the first to own authentic, unused luxury products while doing good for the environment. This a fascinating proposition, one that challenges luxury brands as well as consumers to do something they used to be reluctant to do: Put trust in a discount reseller. It is also a two-sided marketplace which is always fascinating from a brand perspective as there are suddenly two stakeholders that the brand voice and image need to attract and engage. Needless to say, an episode well worth your time!


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Noshi (For Kids): Tomo Delaney-Lethbridge, Founder & CEO

Tomo Delaney, despite coming from a family of advertising, decided very early on that he wanted to work for Vogue, which he subsequently did and he spent his entire career in the fashion world in London and NYC. Up until the point where he decided to become a stay-at-home dad. Now he is selling organic food paint for kids. This is a story that is being written as we speak about a brand that will have its big breakthrough – very likely, fingers crossed - in the next few months and talking to Tomo about how he strategically connected the dots and piggy-backed (pun intended as Noshi has a Peppa Pig collaboration) on brands mums already trusted in order to introduce his own. A fascinating interview, one not to miss!


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Better & Better: Vladimir Vukicevic, Co-Founder & CEO

Vladimir Vukicevic founded Meural and Rockethub, both companies that have been successfully acquired. Now with his third startup, he joined 2,000+ toothpaste brands in the marketplace. To an outsider, it may seem like an overly competitive area to jump into and perhaps a bit random given his software and hardware background, but there is a deeply personal story behind Better & Better and to him, all his previous work has led up to this brand.


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Parachute: Ariel Kaye, Founder & CEO

Ariel Kaye founded Parachute in 2014 to disrupt the bedding space by creating a brand people actually remembered and loved. And that is exactly what Parachute has very quickly turned into: a beloved home lifestyle brand with 20+ retail locations. In this episode, we talk about how Ariel’s brand and advertising background was fundamental to her ability to quickly connect with customers, the power of storytelling, and the lasting emotion that a brand experience can have on an audience.