Part 1: $150k spent and your Entrepreneur quits...
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Who Am I?
The first question to ask is what the heck is a tech guy who's been wearing the same clothes all week doing trying to build a consumer skincare brand in health and beauty?!?!

My July 2015 Mission Statement

I am concentrating on getting deeply, intensely curious about what the world wants and needs. I am asking myself what I have the potential to offer that is so unique and compelling and helpful that no computer could replace me, no one could outsource me, no one could steal the concept and make it better and then club me into oblivion (not literally). To develop that potential, I am building upon over 15 years of experience within the Telecom, Internet, VoIP, Ecomm, Payments, SaaS, ERP, FinTech, Infrastructure, Advertising, Transaction Processing, Construction, Wireless, Fundraising and AgTech industries. I am exploring those industries with my experience in entrepreneurship, sales, marketing, channel development, product development, software development, devOps and finance. I identify disparate trends between two (or more) random and unrelated worlds and bring them together in a way that.
1. Introduces hot ideas to each other, so that they can make idea babies that no one has seen before.

2. Creates competitive advantage where I can move between worlds, speak multiple languages, connect the tribes, mashing elements to spark the fresh creative insight until I wake up with the epiphany that changes my life.

I am formulating something that transforms an aspect of culture, reworks a familiar story or introduces a new one, alters the way people think about the category and makes use of it in daily life. There is no roadmap, no blueprint for this; I seek advice from a lot of people smarter than me and although most of it is good and sound, I have to figure out how it doesn’t apply because ultimately I'm going to be coming from an unexpected angle. 
How Did I Get Here?
After taking 4 years off from work in my early 30s to deal with a messy divorce, do triathlon and parent young children, I decided that I wanted to get back into business and start another company.  For the first 10 years of my career, I was a business-to-business (B2B) technology person who had a knack for strategic marketing, product development, revenue generation and growth.  The nature of a B2B technology niche lifestyle was (1) heavy travel to meet with customers, partners and vendors within my industry niche and (2) scaling via human resources and people strategy.  This time around, I wanted to do something that didn't require travel and could play away from my weakness of scaling through people strategy & managing employees.  After doing some research, I came to the conclusion that B2C through digital, social and e-commerce fit this criteria.

Since I didn't know anything about this niche, given that I felt it was quickest to learn at scale and knowing all-to-well the human resource challenge of finding self-motivated ambitious people faced by every business,  I formulated a plan to find businesses with problems to solve that coincided with questions I wanted to answer.
The first question was traffic.  The basis of every e-commerce business is traffic, so I decided to look for people who knew how to generate traffic.  Luckily for me, there was a local Internet entrepreneur in Chicago by the name of Emerson Spartz who had raised ~$12 million to solve this problem
I spent 9 months working with Emerson and a system to scale/grow paid traffic/revenue for a viral media publisher to over 50+ million monthly unique visitors and the successful close of series B $25 million fund raise.
Traditionally, Dose had monetized through programmatic advertising.  After closing the Series B, the goal for Dose was to build a direct sales force and focus on Native Advertising.  I believed that the future was in e-commerce (a term I coined called native commerce), so at that point, our interests were no longer in alignment and I went on my way.

The next question I wanted to answer was e-commerce, and I specifically wanted to find a more brand & content driven e-commerce company.  Luckily for me, there was another local e-commerce entrepreneur in Chicago by the name of Daniel Alarik who had built an 8 figure e-commerce brand who was in the process of launching a content-driven commerce initiative for his brand.
In the 6 months that I was involved with Gruntstyle, a variety of technology improvements, data-driven trafficking & retargeting ideas and techniques were implemented which resulted in a 2x increase in e-commerce revenue.
At this point, I had enough *consulting* helping and/or advising others in building their brands.  While I had been treated fairly and reasonably by both Emerson and Dan, since my goal was not to get a job to make someone else rich but gain the skills necessary to do it myself, I decided to go out on my own and launch a brand in July 2016.  Being an introverted technologist, I was aware that I had minimal mass-market consumer and branding awareness, so I formulated an idea to launch and monetize brands off of existing Influencers. One of our first partners was a rapper named "Lil Durk." 
Over a span of 6 months, we ended up launching a number of microbrands with a multitude of influencers.  Although we did manage to sell a lot of clothing, I decided to end this model due to a variety of factors, including the fact that we didn't have an in-house creative design component (product development), that within 48-72 hours of any design gaining traction that competition from SE Asia (Amazon rip-off effect) would mirror our designs and that our brand was too closely tied to each particular influencer (dis-alignment) who was pre-occupied with their primary occupation of making music, being funny, reviewing gadgets, etc.  

What I learned from this experience was the following:

1. Influencers have short attention spans (2-3 months)
2. The Brand must be separate from the Influencer
2. Product Development is critical
From my experience, the reality of starting a business is that it's less about the idea / product and more about the team.  Over the last 6 months, I had developed a relationships with an ambitious young entrepreneur in Chicago who had built a name around herself as a Product Development guru...
I knew that consumer product development and branding expertise were deficiencies on my end so finding a partner / co-founder that complemented my skill set made sense.  Kaeya had pitched me a variety of concepts to work with or invest in her on, and after she approached me with an influencer that had a fairly compelling skin story, I agreed to join her into investigating the health & beauty space (skincare) .
Since my initial role was to be a financial backer while the team built the product and brand, I brought in another partner with e-commerce experience and together, he and Kaeya took LaLa's story and developed an all-natural skincare offering off of reading reviews, finding perceived customer pain points and repackaging a #1 Amazon best seller in beauty into a 4 Step System.
This product was launched under the brand with Kaeya and LaLa being the "face" of the brand ("Attractive Character").
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