Today we are speaking with Jane Lee, co-founder of LaunchPop, about her approach to launching startups and her pitch event to help 10 entrepreneurs with marketing and funding to launch their product.
About Jane Lee
- Jane is from Canada and has been in the marketing & tech space for over a decade.
- She’s worked with some big brands such as Pepsi & General Mills.
- She’s currently co-founder of Launch Pop
We like to call ourselves a venture launch studio. We help high potential founders launch their direct consumer businesses. Typically, before we decide to work with someone, or launch their company, we look at the founder and figure out if they have the grit. If they have the passion and are in it for the right reasons. And then we look at the product they want to launch.Jane Lee
Hosts: All right, today we have Jane Lee. And Jane is from Canada, has been in the marketing tech space for over a decade. And she’s worked with some big brands, such as, Pepsi and General Mills. And she started her first company in 2015 called Silly B Intimate, which was later acquired, and maybe we can hear about that later on in the show. And she’s actually a ??? entrepreneur which I actually remember seeing some of her videos a number of years ago and we were chatting about that before the show as well. So, some people still recognize Jane as Shopify Jane.
Hosts: Shopify tracked Jane’s progress of setting up a store called Shopify Stockroom, and she just kind of went through from start to finish in starting an online store. And more importantly, now she is co-founder of Launch Pop and that’s what we are going to talk about today. Launch Pop helps high potential founders launch products that will change your life.
Hosts: Welcome to the show Jane.
Jane: Hi, thank you so much for having me.
Hosts: Yeah! Well let’s jump right into it. Why don’t you tell us about Launch Pop? And it looks like, is Launch Pop still associated with Shopify?
Jane: Yeah, I mean like, it is because I am still ??? industry.
Hosts: Oh okay, got it.
Jane: I still have such a great relationship with them. When I was at Shopify, I was in their entrepreneur and residence. And people are like, “What is that?”, and it’s kind of a lot of different things. I got to work on a lot of cool projects. And so, some of the things were like, come in this stock room. I was into speed zombie Shopify. Really brainstorming streams. Grabbing you, and also did some cool stuff like help Kylie Jenner with her lip kits, or enter Pop Glop. So, those are really cool experiences. But at the end of the day, you don’t. I really did miss working with entrepreneurs and also watching products. Because that’s what I’ve been doing my whole life, and what I love doing. I still have a great relationship with them and I talk to them often. All the founders that we work with always use Shopify. And we’re actually even planning a cool event in 2 months. It’s called Launch Pop Pitch. And essentially, it’s a shark tank pitching event in collaboration with Shopify. Founders will be able to pitch to 4 judges, and the winner will get $140k in investments. A spot-on Launch Pot studio. And also, years’ worth of Shopify for free. Clearly a very good relationship with them still.
Hosts: Yes, wow. That’s great. Shopify is one of my new favorite platforms. I’ve just launched 3 stores recently on Shopify and I love it. And it’s a lot of fun. What is the typical customer journey for a Launch Pop customer?
Jane: Basically, what we do. People are kind of confused and ask are you an agency? Are you an accelerator? Are you an investor? And to be honest, we’re not. We’re kind of in the middle of those 3 different things. We like to call ourselves a venture launch studio. We help high potential founders launch their direct consumer businesses. Usually they come to us and we vet each founder that we work with. The reason why is that over the past 2 years since we started Launch Pop, we noticed that the companies that did the best, had great founders. Especially when it’s early stage. The founder makes the biggest difference and the people who invest in these early stage companies, they are just investing in the founders.
Jane: Typically, before we decide to work with someone, or launch their company, we look at the founder and figure out if they have the grit. If they have the passion and are in it for the right reasons. And then we look at the product they want to launch. A lot of them come to us at different stages. Some come to us super early stage and they just have the raw product. Some of them don’t even have a product and are still in product development. And some of them have a product that’s already had product market fit, so they don’t actually have a direct consumer business yet. We look at the product and one, it has to have a very clear white space, in terms of how it’s being positioned. And two, the market size has to be big enough for us to see the high potential, and in potential and exit. And three, it has to be a product of integrity. When I talk about integrity, I mean it actually has to be innovative and be a product that can stand on its own, without great branding.
Jane: You guys know your style, there’s so many different companies out there right now. And there are so many different brands. There’s a lot of shit (laughs). And so, we at Launch Pop only want to stand behind products that are actually innovative, and actually disrupting categories, and helping humans live better, if that makes sense. So, yeah.
Hosts: I don’t think my fantasy product would qualify.
Jane: What is your product?
Hosts: Yeah. And so, I bought the domain and everything, thinking this was just going to be automatic. But I don’t know if there’s even a market for it.
Jane: What’s interesting is the first phase of when you end up working with a founder is actually finding that product market fit. I like to call our team growth minded brand people. We do a lot of testing before we decide on a brand direction. We actually do this testing through Facebook and Instagram. We mock up different Facebook ads, and we test out to see if there are actually people interested in this product. You don’t even have to have an end product ready. You can mock it up, via you can graphically designed different packages, graphically design your product. You don’t even need a real photo, and we put it on a Facebook ad. And we target hundreds of different target consumers to figure out which target consumer loves this. Where do we get the most engagement on a Facebook ad? And via the Facebook ads, we are able to see the market size and who we should target, and how we should position the brand.
Hosts: I was just going to ask what the call to action is on a product that doesn’t exist?
Jane: Usually it’s an ad that’s mocked up, and we say if you are interested in this product, give us your email and when we launch, we’ll give you 15% off.
Jane: Just like CTA will give us your emails, that’s how we count which ad is winning. That’s how we figure out where there is product market fit.
Hosts: Yeah, that makes sense. Can you give us a few highlights of some of the companies that you’ve launched, and that you are proud of?
Jane: We’ve launched some really awesome companies. One is Morning Recovery. It’s a hangover drink, I think a lot of people have probably seen it. We pushed that around 2 years ago and he came to us with an interesting story. He went to Korea and he had a bunch of meetings, and he needed to be productive the next day, so, he started drinking these hangover solutions. These drinks have been in Korea for a very long time, but there were no products like this in the US. He came back to the US and said let’s launch this in the US. And so, we did.
Jane: We did this one on Indigogo, and in the first 3 months, there was a million dollars in revenue. And then he went on to get a series-a of 8 million dollars. So, that was one of the companies that we launched. Another company that we launched which was really cool, and this was super, super early stage. We helped this girl named Sarah, and she came to us saying that she really wanted to use the ingredient algae, because it’s the most carbon negative product out there, but did not know what format to put it in. So, like I mentioned before, we created a bunch of different Facebook ads. We created algae cookies, algae chips, algae bars, algae vitamins, and we tested it on various different personas. And what we found after we did the testing, was we got the most emails with the ad that was around algae vitamins. And so, we decided to create the most organic and the most real vitamin out there, which is in a whole food format. So, the vitamin without the capsule.
Hosts: They look like energy bar cubes.
Hosts: I’m on the site now, it looks great. It looks real.
Jane: During the program that people watch with us, we essentially become their co-founder. It’s interesting because we do take equity in the companies that we launch, and the companies also give us a monthly retainer. Just so we can keep the lights on from an operational perspective. We end up taking equity, we have skin in the game. The way that we act is not like an agency. We don’t stop when it hits 5pm. We’re up, and we’re in flack with them until 3am or 4am. Because we have skin in the game. It becomes a very different type of relationship when we have equity. We act like co-founders. We go in day in and day out, we’re there for them emotionally. A lot of them are first time founders, so we are coaching them on how to build a team, how to build a business and scale the business, and even how to manage investors.
Jane: What’s happened over the past two years is we’ve launched some great companies. And all of these investors in LA were like, who is Launch Pop? We seem to be investing in the companies that have been launched through Launch Pop. We’ve created a network of investors, with an array of up north*. And we give them a deal flow, essentially. So, we send them companies that we are working with. And for them, they see the companies a little more favorably. Just because we are launching them, and we de-risk their investment a little bit. And so, there is that kind of relationship as well. We help our start ups get introduced to these VCs. And we help them with their VC deck. And we help them figure out their financials as well. So, we are kind of like a full stack co-founder.
Hosts: What would be the latest stage that you would take somebody on?
Jane: We focus on launching the direct consumer side of their business. We have this one company that we’re starting to work with, and they already have their distribution in Pottery Barn, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, etc. But their direct consumer website is not fully there. And they haven’t really optimized on that yet. And so, they have been in business for 5 years, and they are pretty well established, but they really want to own that relationship with the customer. And obviously, get more margin. And so, we’re helping them launch. Their D2C business.
Hosts: So, with every one of the companies you work with, you take on the creative?
Jane: Our team is a full stack team of digital marketers. You have designers who focus on website packaging and graphics. And you have growth marketers who do paid acquisition, copywriters, brand people, info marketers, PR folks, everything is internal with our team. I like to think of our team as like The Avengers of draft consumer marketing.
Hosts: Okay, so, you’re a godsend for somebody with a product who just doesn’t know what to do.
Jane: And we also have another side of our business where we just do branding for later stage companies. Do you guys know who Gary V is?
Hosts: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I’m wearing his shoes right now actually. The clouds and dirt shoes.
Jane: We’re rebranding his empathy wine, his wine company. His wine company is direct to consumer, and he trusts in our capabilities to understand consumer digitally needed brands. So, we’re rebranding his, and we’re rebranding a lot of other cool brands. So, there’s that side of our business, which is purely just a brand agency side as well.
Hosts: Is that under Launch Pop, or is that under a different company?
Jane: Yup, that’s under Launch Pop.
Hosts: Great, great. Well, I know we have a hard cut off time. Why don’t you spend the last couple of minutes and tell people where they can reach you, and find out more. And I believe that next event you have coming up, is it next month?
Jane: I really want to take this time to actually encourage people to apply to this pitch event. I know how hard it is to start a business. You definitely do need capital, because you are going against all these people that have venture backed money. And there is a lot of noise, and essentially, when it comes to direct to consumer, whoever has a lot of money is able to get the inventory that they need, and the community that they need, and create the content that they need, and obviously paid acquisition is still a very important part of the business.
Jane: I really wanted to give people a shot at getting some dollars to start their business, if they had a really great product that they wanted to push forward in the world. Applications are due online by June 10th or 15th, I want to be flexible for everyone. It’s a really simple form that you can fill out that’s on our website www.launchpop.com. It’s very simple, you just fill out your name, the product that you have, what stage you are in; in terms of product development, why you are creating that product?
Jane: And then I am going to be choosing 10 different people to pitch in real life, in LA. And so, we are going to be having the hosting of this event on June 28th, and 10 people will be pitching to 4 different judges. And then we will be choosing a winner to win $140k in investments. They will be able to launch with us, and also get a years’ worth of Shopify for free. And Shopify can get expensive, so it’s actually a great thing to win. And also, this event, we are inviting 150 guests. And all the 150 guests will be VPs, entrepreneurs, investors, and different agencies that you can network with and find help, if you are in the space of launching a business.
Hosts: That’s fantastic. Well thank you Jane. Would you be able to get Jeff and I on the list?
Jane: Yeah! Honestly that turmeric rice idea is actually pretty awesome. Not going to lie. You could totally apply.
Hosts: All right, cool. Tumerice is on the menu. I’m ready to do it. I’ll mock up the package today. All right, where do people find you?
Jane: You can just go onto our website www.launchpop.com. In there, if you want to contact us, you can fill out the form, or just reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org, and shoot us and email saying hi. Or if you guys have any questions at all about launching or D2C and what that space looks like. On Instagram too, it’s Launch Pop.
Hosts: All right, well thank you so much Jane for being on the show. It was a brief show, but we definitely got a lot of value and I’m sure listeners will like to follow you online. So, thank you again for being on the show.
Jane: Yeah, no worries. Thanks so much for having me.
Hosts: And do you still go by Shopify Jane?
Jane: People come up to me and say, “Shopify Jane!” It’s funny. I’m like, yeah, yeah, yeah. So, I still love that company and I’m still good friends with everyone there. So, yeah, I don’t mind.
Hosts: Okay. All right, well thank you very much for being on the show, we really appreciate it.
Jane: Yeah, no worries. Have a great day.
Hosts: Yeah, you too. Thanks, Jane.
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