Jay Dillon is the Co-Founder of Yardbird. Yardbird brings new solutions to a stagnant, $5B+ industry with the first outdoor furniture brand that places quality, sustainability, and affordability at its core.
Jay’s Email – Connect with Jay via email!
3 Value Bombs
1) Go and do it. Come up with a the best business idea you can. A lot of people have justifiable fear of going into business. Failure is fine. We all experience it.
2) Understand the complexities of working with family members in a business.
3) One of the nice things about having many balls in the air or having a lot of things going on is you don’t have a ton of time to sit and think about ideas. You need to make decisions.
**Click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.
Today’s Audio MASTERCLASS: Innovating Within a Stagnant Industry
[1:33] – Jay shares something he believes about becoming successful that most people disagree with.
- Business ideas are less about the idea than they are about the action and execution.
[2:49] – Jay talks about the initial steps he took to build Yardbird.
- They believe that they are in one of the most stagnant industries.
- He learned that a majority of sales occur in high-end outdoor furniture come from purchasing from middle-men who sell products at double the price.
- He convinced his now-wife to move to Asia where 95% of outdoor furniture is sourced. For 3 and a half years, he became a student of manufacturing high-end outdoor furniture.
- When he moved to Asia, he only had contact info for one well-known, high-end chain that sends catalogs out every week. It was all a leap of faith.
[7:00] – The first hint of traction.
- They rented out a space in a mall to test the concept. Then they pivoted and listed it on Craigslist – and sold over $100,000 over 2 weeks!
- It’s about getting in front of the right people.
[8:18] – Jay decided to build Yardbird with sustainability as the core function. Why did he decide to do it – and how?
- He was in Asia and saw incredible raw materials.
- He’d seen brands like Adidas talk about how they intercepted ocean plastic. The more he dug into it, the more interest he had.
[13:18] – Yardbird is co-founded by Jay and his dad.
- Most people, when looking for a co-founder, are typically looking for a peer of theirs, or somebody who’ve been in business school with them.
- His dad ran his businesses primarily as a businessman. It was a great partnership. They could have conversations that co-founders aren’t normally able to have.
- There’s a huge opportunity for second generations to revolutionize their family business.
[15:01] – Jay’s message to those who are thinking of having their family member, parents, or significant others in their business.
- Understand the complexities of working with family members in a business.
- Relationships are more important than the business.
[17:34] – How is Jay able to “do it all”, and what’s his advise for those growing a businesses similar to his?
- Have a great co-founder and great employees.
- One of the nice things about having many balls in the air or having a lot of things going on is you don’t have a ton of time to sit and think about ideas. You need to make decisions.
[18:31] – What boundaries has Jay set for his work and personal life that really help?
- He has a very understanding wife and an understanding team.
[19:11] – Jay’s key takeaway and call to action to Fire Nation.
- Go and do it. Come up with a the best business idea as you can. A lot of people have justifiable fear of going into business. Failure is fine. We all experience it.
- Reach out to Jay via his email [email protected]!
Who's ready to rock today. Fire Nation, JLD here in welcome to Entrepreneurs On Fire brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network with great shows like the shakeup today, we'll be focusing on innovating within a stagnant industry to drop these value bombs. I brought Jay Dillon into EOFire studios. Jay is a co-founder of Yardbird. Yardbird brings new solutions to a stagnant $5 billion industry with the first outdoor furniture brand that places quality, sustainability and affordability at its core. And today foundation, we'll talk about the building of Yardbird. We'll talk about why Jay decided to build this brand was sustainability at its core and what that even means, what it looks like to co-found a with your dad or somebody in your family and how he manages all the aspects of his business, which would be really helpful for so many people in the audience, Fire Nation, whether you're there right now or going in that direction.
And so much more. When we get back from thinking hours bouncers, the HubSpot Podcast Network is the audio destination for business professionals who seek the best education and inspiration on how to grow a business. Whether you're looking for marketing sales, service, or operational guidance, the HubSpot Podcast Network hosts have your back, listen, learn and grow with the HubSpot Podcast Network at hubspot.com/podcastnetwork. Jay say what's up to Fire Nation and share something that you believe about becoming successful that most people disagree with.
1 (1m 38s):
Hey, Fire Nation. I'm so excited to be here. I've listened to the podcast many times, and, and I'm flattered that you asked me to come on. One of the things that I think is often overlooked and people may disagree with is that while you need a strong business idea, I think it's less and less about the idea than it is about the action or the execution of it. You know, everybody knows there's a lot of ideas circulating around. Most of them are pretty good, but most the overwhelming majority of those ideas will never will never come to fruition by other people that think of them.
0 (2m 16s):
I've heard literally a million amazing ideas and I've seen hundreds and hundreds of amazing executions of those ideas. So that's the reality. It's not that hard to have a great idea, but it's very few people who execute upon those ideas in a manner that's going to bring them to the level of success that they truly desire. So focus on the execution Fire Nation. And as I mentioned, the intro, what are we talking about to innovating within a stagnant industry? And let's be honest, Yardbird did kind of enter into a stagnant industry of furniture and textile and all that jazz. So talk to us, Jay, about the initial steps that you took to build.
1 (3m 0s):
It's very cliche, but the reason I got into it is that I was, I saw the need myself. I was looking for outdoor furniture and the more I dug into the high-end of the outdoor furniture industry, the more excited I got about the opportunity. And, you know, everybody says, you know, a bunch of industries are stagnant or antiquated and we're, we believe that we're, we're in kind of one of the mother of all stagnant old industries.
0 (3m 28s):
What did those like initial steps look like? Like, like, okay, this is stagnant. I'm not seeing what I want the competition out here looks like they're pretty lame and pathetic. What was the first few steps? Like what did that actually look like?
1 (3m 41s):
Yeah. So as I started diving more and more into the industry, I learned that the majority of sales that occur on the high end outdoor furniture is these 3000 specialty retailers across the United States. So if you're leaving Denver, you know, there's a ski show, a large ski ski chain that sells outdoor furniture. If you live in, you know, Portland, Maine, or Portland, Oregon, you know that there is a large billiards company that sells outdoor furniture. All of those guys are going to the Chicago merchandise Mart once or twice a year, and buying from actual middlemen that are doubling the price, and then they're further doubling the price.
1 (4m 23s):
And so that's why outdoor furniture costs $5,000. You know, people love to talk about the Warby Parker model and cutting out the middleman. I actually think the, the glasses industry is pretty efficient Luxotica manufacturers their own, and they have their own retail stores. They just make monster margins and Warby Parker came in with the same model and just, just took less margins. Outdoor outdoor furniture industry specifically was a huge opportunity and continues to be a huge opportunity for us. And so the steps we took is after learning more and more about this, I convinced my, I was living in New York city, convince my then girlfriend now, wife, to move over to Asia with me where 95% of outdoor furniture is sourced and moved there for three and a half years really became a student of the manufacturing of high end outdoor furniture.
1 (5m 12s):
And I would spend seven months a year there. And then back in the United States testing the model in the spring and summer is it's a highly seasonal business. And before we knew it, we had, we had Yardbird.
0 (5m 23s):
Did you have an initial contact when you went to Asia or are you literally just I'm flying in and I'm going to start wandering around and start looking, maybe walking into these big manufacturing companies. Like what did that look like?
1 (5m 35s):
I worked in medical device sales when we came up with the idea and I took a week off to go to a trade show in Asia and I went to go visit. I went to visit some factories and one of the factories I visited was making for a, a well-known high-end chain that sends you a catalog every week. And they quoted me on a chair, $120. And I, I pulled up their website and the chair was, was over $1,100. And so really when I moved over there, that was the only contact I had these two or three factories. I had studied abroad in Beijing before. And so I was familiar with Asia, but no moving over there, it was a, it was research, but put a little bit of a leap of faith furnish.
1 (6m 19s):
0 (6m 19s):
Is what it means to go all in. Like when you have conviction, when you have a big idea, you know, you need to execute and guess what's 99.9% of people are not going to pick up their life and move to Asia to figure this out boots on the ground. They're going to rely on middlemen of middlemen. And you're never going to quite know, like, who am I talking to? What factory is like, you're not going to be looking. People in the eye are going to be shaking their hand. You're going to actually see the inside of the factories to see like what they're doing in there. And, you know, eventually something's going to go wrong and you're not really going to even know what the next step is, but when you're boots on the ground, you actually make these connections. You have a chance. And when I would love to know next, Jay is what was your first hint of traction? Like, you know, obviously, you know, Yardbird is rocking it right now, but what was that first hint of traction that you were like, wow, this actually may turn into a success.
1 (7m 9s):
I remember it distinctly. So our original idea, which I haven't shared much with anybody else, was it a, you know, the Santa Claus in the, in the malls areas, you know, they're kind of in a central location. We rented out a space in a mall to test this concept because it's a seasonal business. And we thought we don't need the retail space and October, November, December in Minnesota. And so we rented this out and everything they say about moles is true. It's, it's typically elderly people going to get exercise and younger, younger people going to get food. And so the boomers wanted to sit on our furniture because they were tired of walking and the, the young millennials wanted to eat, eat food on our furniture. And so that wasn't working. And so we had to pivot and we brought it into, we put it on Craigslist on our warehouse and we sold over a hundred thousand dollars in, under two weeks out of our warehouse.
1 (8m 1s):
So it was just getting in front of the right people. And, and so really that pivot from the mall to, to the warehouse was when we knew that we had some traction. Now you
0 (8m 14s):
Decided to build Yardbird with sustainability at the core function of everything that you did. Why did you decide to do it? And how did you?
1 (8m 26s):
My primary interest in sustainability became from the boots on the ground that we were talking about earlier, I was in Asia and I saw just the incredible raw materials going into these products to service both the United States and Europe and Australia. It was overwhelming. So at the same time, you know, I'd seen brands like Adidas, talk about how they've been using intercepted ocean plastic. And the more I dug into it, the more interest I became in it, or I had in it. And, and so we continue expand on that, to offset all of our carbon emissions from furniture coming from the factory to your home. So
0 (9m 1s):
We've got a little seaweed issue down here in Puerto Rico as do many Caribbean islands and a lot of the Brazil coastline as well called Sargassum. So I would love if you developed a furniture line based on sarcasm, what do you think?
1 (9m 20s):
Well, it's funny you say that actually I, last month I spoke with an Australian guy who is using seaweed as a plastic alternative. The only problem for us is that it disintegrates in, in about a year or two outdoors. And so I, I don't know if our customers would love, love it if we use that material,
0 (9m 38s):
But you know, maybe for pivoting into your first indoor line at some point, and you decide to go the sarcasm route, you've got a lot of people in my community and on my islands and just in the Caribbean in general, who would love to support that? It's I can tell you for sure. So Fire Nation, sometimes you need to think about, you know, there's more than just dollars and cents. Maybe I can generate real revenue by providing great products, great services, and also make the world a better place. And like that's fantastic. And anybody that's watched the movie, the documentary on Netflix Seaspiracy and other ones, you know, that we need more entrepreneurs that are having sustainability at their core, focusing on that, making this world a better place.
0 (10m 25s):
So for an issue, we're going to talk about what it's like to work with your dad, or just kind of any family member in general. We're gonna talk about, you know, dealing with growing your company, capital raising and all that comes along with that. And so much more when we get back from thanking our sponsors, are you ready to take control of your business's branding, but don't have a design backgrounds, great news Fire Nation BrandCrowd can help BrandCrowd is a logo maker tool that helps you create an amazing logo design online. How do they do it using high quality handcrafted designs, BrandCrowd takes your business name and industry and generates thousands of custom logos just for you in seconds. And once BrandCrowd generates a logo, you like, you can edit the font, change the colors and tweak the layout until it's exactly what you want.
0 (11m 9s):
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0 (11m 49s):
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0 (12m 30s):
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0 (13m 12s):
Talk through that whole experience?
1 (13m 13s):
Sure. I think when most people are looking for a co-founder, they are, you're typically looking for a peer of theirs or, you know, maybe somebody who went to business school with them. My dad had run some businesses primarily as a middleman actually, and, and in touch on the outdoor furniture a little bit, but he had already had some warehouse space, you know, backend support in his business and it it's been a great, great partnership. I wouldn't want any other co-founder. I think we can have conversations that normally, you know, normal co-founders might not be able to have and, and w for Yardbird it's been a great benefit. I also think that there's a huge opportunity for second generations to revolutionize their family business.
1 (13m 60s):
I think it's often overlooked, you know, people want to move to New York to work in advertising, or if you want to be a nanny in LA or something a little bit more sexy. But I think, you know, there's a lot of opportunity in existing businesses to look at the business model a little bit and iterate it to the current generation. And, and that's the way that, that both my father and I look at what we've done together in the outdoor furniture industry,
0 (14m 22s):
You were able to do this, you know, and a lot of people look at partnerships with family, with spouses, with significant others as a minefield, just waiting to happen. So like, what are maybe some parameters? What are some lessons you've learned? What are some things that you kind of maybe set up before you went down that road that really made sure you were going to set yourselves up for success instead of disaster, because you know, sometimes when you're an entrepreneur and your business goes under, like, obviously that's, but it's like, okay, we'll learn some lessons and we'll make it happen. But when family's involved and now you have that kind of dynamic working as well, it can be like a double whammy.
0 (15m 3s):
So, you know, the nice to be treated with caution and there needs to be communication at the forefront. But what would you say to some people who are listening right now, who are thinking about going down that road with somebody in their family, significant others, parents, siblings, whatever it might be, and what exactly would you caution them against?
1 (15m 21s):
I would say for most people, I don't know if I would recommend it. I just happened to have probably the coolest father in the world and, and coolest name. He's actually his name's Bob Dylan.
0 (15m 34s):
I love it. You can be like, yeah, listen, I've, I've got Bob Dylan on the board. I've got Bob Dylan as an investor. I mean, I've actually got Bob Dylan as a partner. I mean, he's going to perform at our upcoming event. It's gonna be amazing.
1 (15m 45s):
Yeah. We tried to get Keith Richards, but he wasn't as interested. So I hope none of my other family members are listening. We understand the complexities of, of having family members in the business. And we've worked really hard at, at not, you know, bringing everybody in the family end because we just don't think we're smart enough to navigate that type of environment. And so we we've been lucky in that we drive well, and we have a good working experience, things that we set up. We just said, initially our relationship is more important than the business. And so we need to be careful of that. I think the, the fact that I was coming into a family business and had that, that incredible opportunity also kind of set the pecking order in that it was his business.
1 (16m 30s):
And while I was there to, to improve it and to grow it. And he, you know, gratefully gave me the runway to do that. I always understood that I was, was ultimately reporting to him and I was the student and he was the teacher. And so I think that that having clear lines like that helps, and we've grown to have a mutual respect for each other. And I, I would say now we're starting to look at each other more as peers, so
0 (16m 57s):
Are dealing with explosive growth with Yardbird, you're raising capital. I mean, you're also doing the day-to-day of running this company. So how do you wear all of those hats? How do you do all of those things? And what advice could you give to Fire Nation who's growing businesses that are similar to yours or who may be one day? I would
1 (17m 17s):
Say having a great co-founder and as you bring on employees, having great employees, I, I don't view anything that I do is as particularly well, but I think I'm good enough at all of it that I'm able to keep the balls in the air. One of the nice things about having a lot of balls in the air or, or managing a lot of things is you don't have a ton of time to sit and ruminate about ideas or about, you know, different things in, so you need to make decisions. And I think, you know, consequently, that's a good thing is being forced to make a lot of decisions. So
0 (17m 52s):
What else would you say has been a big reason why you've been able to kind of balance like, are there things that you're doing day to day? I mean, obviously you've got a family, you've got to do some things to keep your health and wellness and checking in order. Like, what boundaries are you setting, if any, right now that are really helped. Yeah.
1 (18m 8s):
I have a wife that while she has her own career is very understanding at most times of what we're doing. And even, even this interview with you, John, you know, I had to run 10 minutes late because I have a two year old and the school called me and said he has a fever and he needs to be picked up. And so I have an understanding team and, and understanding family. And for that, I'm incredibly grateful. And you're understanding podcast host exactly is actually send me your address. And I'll send you a flowers after this for your patience with me. Well,
0 (18m 37s):
If they make it here, I will give them to Kate and just tell her that they are from me. And so we'll all be winners in that scenario. And Jay, give us one final takeaway. Give us the one thing that you really want to make sure Fire Nation gets from everything that we talked about here today. Some kind of value bomb, some big knowledge takeaway, then share how we can connect with you and your company. And then we'll say goodbye, just
1 (19m 1s):
Go out and do it, you know, come up with as good of a business ideas you can. I think a lot of people have justifiably, so fear of getting into business and, and doing it all. And I think that oftentimes that hampers people from actually doing anything, look, failure is fine. We all experience it. And my biggest piece of advice is get out there and do it. You know, it's easy to come up with excuses. Hey, the Yardbird guy had a family business to jump off of. That's totally true, but we tried it and we did it. And, and so that would be my biggest piece of advice to get in contact. My personal email is [email protected] We're also on Instagram, Facebook, and I'd give out my personal cell phone number, but I think that would further enrage me.
0 (19m 49s):
Well, Fire Nation would be jumping on that. So I do think that maybe one thing you want to keep to yourself here and Fire Nation, you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And you've been hanging out with JD and JLD today. So hello, keep up that heat and head over to EOFire.com type J A Y in the search bar. His show notes page will pop up with everything we talked about here today. Best show notes in the biz, timestamps links galore. And Hey, if you're looking for some sustainable outdoor furniture, check out Yardbird and again, it has a sustainability at its core. So, you know, you're doing right by the world at the same time. And just want to say thank you brother, for sharing your truth, your knowledge, your value with Fire Nation today, for that we salute you and we'll catch you on the flip side.
0 (20m 37s):
Thank you so much for having me today's value bomb. Content was brought to you by JD and Fire Nation. Are you ready to rock your very own podcasts while if you are then check out our free podcasting course, where I will teach you how to create and launch your podcast for you, guessed it for read Reed out FreePodcastCourse.com. FreePodcastCourse.com. I will catch you there, or I'll catch you on the flip side.
2 (21m 5s):
The HubSpot Podcast Network is the audio destination for business professionals who seek the best education and inspiration on how to grow a business. Whether you're looking for marketing sales, service, or operational guidance, the HubSpot Podcast Network hosts have your back, listen, learn and grow with the HubSpot Podcast Network at hubspot.com/podcastnetwork.
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