It’s no secret that the CBD space has become overly-saturated, making it difficult for brands to continue to grow, but at Sunday Scaries we are tearing through the noise with innovative products and strong brand messaging. We place a big emphasis on philanthropy, product-relevance and customer service and that is where we are unique. Since Sunday Scaries’ inception, our core mission has been to be a thought leader in the conversation surrounding mental health & anxiety through humor, cheeky messaging, and millennial/Gen Z-centric content.
As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Sill + Beau Schmitt.
Mike Sill and Beau Schmitt are the Co-Founders of Sunday Scaries, the brand creating completely safe, non-psychoactive Cannabidiol (CBD) products. Sill places a major emphasis on product and customer service, understanding that people have many choices as to how and where they spend their hard-earned money and works hard to ensure Sunday Scaries’ product is consistently the highest quality possible. Meanwhile, Beau Schmitt is responsible for maintaining continuous mission-driven initiatives and brings creativity and a relaxed approach to the business. He works daily to mold Sunday Scaries goals and values-based directly on the feedback received from consumers. Together, they are invincible.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
Mike: Beau and I used to own a full service restaurant & bar in San Diego, and we were looking to expand and open up another location in La Jolla. We were creating the business plan, running the numbers, vetting contractors, and attempting to raise capital while simultaneously operating the existing Project Bar & Grill, and frankly, it was overwhelmingly stressful.
While we believe in the motto “work hard, play hard,” we held ourselves to such high expectations that if we weren’t working, we felt like we were failing. Luckily, our good friend Garrett introduced us to CBD to ease our worries and take away this manifestation of guilt. We immediately fell in love with how calm and cool we felt — without the side effects! We felt focused, happy, stress-free, and able to concentrate on what really mattered.
We started to do our research on the CBD industry while simultaneously exploring alternatives to brick and mortar business — mainly the e-commerce space. When we were trying to purchase CBD products online there was an astounding lack of information on pricing, proper dosage, product information, and supplement facts. Then, aha!, we saw an opportunity to sell something we loved and that we actually knew worked, in a brand new and rapidly expanding arena.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
Mike: It’s no secret that the CBD space has become overly-saturated, making it difficult for brands to continue to grow, but at Sunday Scaries we are tearing through the noise with innovative products and strong brand messaging. We place a big emphasis on philanthropy, product-relevance and customer service and that is where we are unique. Since Sunday Scaries’ inception, our core mission has been to be a thought leader in the conversation surrounding mental health & anxiety through humor, cheeky messaging, and millennial/Gen Z-centric content.
Going a step beyond typical product development, we have successfully brought our offerings to life by giving each SKU their own product personality that portrays use occasions in a humorous & relatable way. Sunday Scaries product personas set us apart from other brands on the market and have contributed to our booming growth despite the oversaturated space.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Beau: Right before we launched FOMO Bones (the doggo side of Sunday Scaries), we massively over-ordered. We ordered 100,000 bones, packed in 5,000 pouches that were delivered by flatbed on 7 pallets. We had made such a large order to take advantage of the price break at 100,000 bones which was actually only pennies above the 50k and 25k rates.
At the same time, in early 2018, we didn’t have an office yet. We were still receiving finished goods from our manufacturers to our apartments, then fulfilling shipping packages in our living rooms and driving bulk orders to the post office. OMG, the post office hated us.
I was out of town when the 7 pallets of FOMO Bones order were delivered….and our team had nowhere to put them. To my regret, I had left a spare key with my business partner, Mike. Let’s just say I was a little shocked to walk in and see 7 pallets of boxes stacked inside my studio.
The lesson: it’s okay to pay a little more for a smaller order size. Inventory management is a nightmare, and it took me 2 hours to move boxes in order to get to my bathroom. Our team thought it was pretty funny though.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
Beau: Bob Schmitt, my dad. When we were opening up the restaurant, my dad and mom, Sini, were there for us every step of the way. They helped us with demo, construction, clean up and supported us in any way they could during the start-up process. The day before we opened, Mike and I were exhausted from working crazy hours week after week. It was to the point where we were walking zombies and we were becoming very curt and snippy.
My dad pulled us both aside and told us that we looked like sh*t and needed to go home and get some rest before the opening. While Mike and I were hesitant because we were so dedicated, he insisted and taught us a valuable lesson in life that we can’t overwork ourselves to the point of exhaustion. At some point, you just run out of gas and you’re not efficient or thinking clearly. It’s better to work 5 days at 100% than 7 days at 60%. My dad helped us accept that it was ok to take time off and have a personal life. Now with Sunday Scaries, we value our personal time and encourage our team to do the same. We are so much more refreshed and productive when we take time for ourselves.
Unfortunately, my dad suddenly passed away in June 2016, about a year before we launched Sunday Scaries. The stress and anxiety I felt from his passing was actually one of the biggest catalysts that inspired me to start taking CBD…. which inevitably led to launching Sunday Scaries. Miss you, dad.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
Mike: We certainly believe that “disruption” is generally positive & innovative. Take Uber and Lyft for example, they empowered millions of people to generate income on their own time and at their own will. They disrupted the taxi industry, and provided a solution that was beneficial, in numerous ways, to both the general public and for the job opportunities they created.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
Mike: If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not on your frontier.
When we’re not making mistakes, we’re not growing or improving. When we’re not making mistakes, we’re doing what’s comfortable, what’s known and being complacent. Making mistakes and learning from them is what gives us experience, tenacity and alligator “thick” skin. Making mistakes is what constantly drives more value for our customers, our staff and our business.
Beau: One of my favorite quotes is from Ben Horowitz in his book The Hard Thing About Hard Things: “By far the most difficult skill I learned as CEO was the ability to manage my own psychology.” (page 201)
I understand that shit will happen, and continue to happen. I mean, 2020 is the poster child. And 90% of what is going on is out of my control. We have a massive vision for Sunday Scaries and one of the hardest parts of business (for me) is not chasing shiny objects & getting distracted with things that don’t matter. To combat this, I LOVE the ‘snooze’ button in gmail. I snooze every unimportant or ‘small fire’ email until the next week so it doesn’t affect my mentality when I’m working on the projects that truly fuel our growth. My phone is also almost always on do-not-disturb and out of arm’s reach. No buzzing = no worries.
Beau & Mike: We embody the concept of “The One Thing” from a book by Gary Keller. The introspective question is simple “What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary.”
Beau: For me, my ONE Thing is continuously discovering new ways to provide value for our customers. That’s it. I timeblock 8am-noon everyday and don’t take meetings. For the first 4 hours of each day, I’m solely focused on finding new ways to serve our customers. Whether it’s product innovation, rewards systems or a community platform, I know that by doing that and continuing to provide value, so many “tasks” will become easier or unnecessary. Competition decreases, customer service increases, customer referrals increase, sales increase, PR increases…all the hard stuff becomes much easier.
Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?
Beau: In September 2019, we launched Sunday Scaries custom subscription program. It took over six months and a lot of capital to custom develop, and its sole purpose was for customer nurturing, retention, and lead generation. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from our customers and monthly subscription members. We’re able to offer gamification and point-earning activities and reward our community with everything from free Sunday Scaries product to golf lessons, massages, and Amazon gift cards.
This has been a great way for us to reward our loyal customers, and also brings in so many new customers who hear about our products from their friends, coworkers, and more. Since the launch, we have increased our subscriber rate by 135% each month (over 200% LTV increase since launching the program at the end of 2019). At the start of COVID-19, we experienced a 65% increase in new customers and a 53% jump in monthly subscriptions as consumers sought out to find some chill while staying at home.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
Mike: We want to continue helping people by further establishing Sunday Scaries as the go-to alternative for those who struggle with stress. We’ve become so reliant on our smartphones — constantly receiving and checking notifications from social media, emails, and text messages — and have created a culture plagued with excessive amounts of stress. 2020 has been a tough year and we’re lucky to be able to provide our customers with a product that will help them chill as we continue to navigate our new normal. We have a few fun new product launches later this year that we’re excited to share — we always want to be evolving and creating products that support our customers in their daily lives.
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
Mike: We run a book club with our Sunday Scaries employees. It was originally just Beau and I, but we took after Tony Hsieh and Zappos and started creating a library for the employees to seek knowledge from as well. At this point, Good to Great by Jim Collins is probably one of the most impactful books we’ve read. It’s extremely heavy and it’s one of those books where you need to re-read chapters and take notes, but when we applied the practices we witnessed amazing results. One of Jim’s theories is the flywheel versus the doom loop. The flywheel is how businesses are supposed to execute and embrace change. It represents gradual growth by implementing decisions based on a company’s core competencies and applying them to accumulate tangible success over time. The doom loop represents reactive decisions made on impulse rather than based on what the company stands for. This does not allow for momentum and will shoot the company vision in all sorts of directions. We apply this to our operations and management style.
Beau: I agree with Mike. On the podcast side, I can’t get enough of How I Built This with Guy Raz on NPR. Nothing cheers me up faster than hearing, firsthand, the unique struggles that our nation’s top entrepreneurs have endured and overcome. Some of their struggles make my biggest problems seem like speed bumps and help me keep things in perspective.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Mike: Kobe was a childhood hero for me. I’ve been a lifetime Lakers fan and watching him play was something special. What fascinated me most about Kobe was his relentless work ethic, his unparalleled discipline, and his inability to accept failure. When faced with adversity, he used that energy to fuel his fire and to get better. My favorite quote from him is as follows: “ I’m destroying everybody that steps on the court… There was nothing that was going to get in the way. There was nothing that was going to stop me.”
Beau: “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over” — Richard Branson. He is a bold businessman who can always switch gears and be successful in multiple different industries. His number one priority is having fun while trying to be as big as imaginable. An awesome story is when he pulled an epic PR stunt and made fun of long time rival, British Airways, by putting up a blimp over London with a huge sign on it that read “BA Can’t Get It Up”.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Beau: I’m going to circle back to the topic of disruption and the industry that I think needs it most…. EDUCATION. I think the root of most of our societal problems is a reflection of the lack of funding and prioritization to our education system. I’ll leave it at that because it’s a rabbit hole.
How can our readers follow you online?
LinkedIn: Mike Sill
LinkedIn: Beau Schmitt
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!