Ep 133: BeanBox – Lessons in Building and Marketing a Consumer Brand

“Running a startup is like being in a knife fight,” BeanBox Co-Founder and CEO Matthew Berk says, as he describes the arduous but rewarding journey from the world of SaaS to making a real-world consumer product. 

Ep 133: BeanBox – Lessons in Building and Marketing a Consumer Brand

Part 1 starts 02:39 - From Local Search to the Speciality Coffee Business

Matthew Berk’s personal and professional path took him from a humanities degree to co-found a local-search startup (OpenList) and eventually to a more traditional real-world manufacturing and logistics business (Bean Box), where he’s the CEO today. 

OpenList was ahead of its time as a local search engine and some of the things they did experimentally are now being deployed years later (e.g., AI review summaries). OpenList was acquired by Marchex in 2006, to provide content for the latter’s extensive portfolio of local domains at the time.

Following Marchex, Berk discusses the genesis of BeanBox, which was a hard pivot from a failed social recommendations site. He describes the steep learning curve in getting BeanBox off the ground, the many challenges of the early days and how they’ve stayed true to their customers as the company has scaled. 

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Part 2 starts 23:51 - Search, Social and Ads: BeanBox’s Marketing Surprises

We discuss the similarities and differences between running a software startup and a more traditional business with a physical product. Berk also explains the trials and satisfactions of building a consumer brand that touches people’s lives on a daily basis. 

Berk unpacks BeanBox’s marketing strategies and lessons learned. What worked in the past and what’s working today. Berk covers Amazon, affiliates, Google Shopping Ads, SEO, content and social/influencer marketing. He explains why BeanBox focused obsessively on SEO in the early days, but now not so much. 

As the company crowdsources its latest funding round, Berk explains the challenges of investing in growth while building a sustainable business and maintaining product quality (aka “don’t screw it up”). The interview concludes with Berk's advice to a hypothetical younger version of himself, just embarking on his BeanBox journey. 

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