We had the good fortune of connecting with Zach Frantz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Zach, what habits do you feel play an important role in your life?
One habit that I developed early in my life is what I call “going outbound”. What that means is that instead of waiting for things to happen or people to come to me, I go out into the world and make things happen. This could be cold calling a potential retailer, reaching out to influencers on IG or following up with my supplier until they get so annoyed with me they do what I ask (half sarcasm on the last one).
Put a different way, when I have a strategy or initiative I want to implement, I immediately take massive action to get the momentum building.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Wildland Coffee’s mission is to inspire our customers to live different through getting outdoors and our vision is to become the #1 coffee brand for the outdoor enthusiast. We are executing this vision with our “coffee in a tea bag” product. All you do is steep the bag and you have french press quality coffee but with instant coffee convenience.
There are two primary things that set us apart: 1) the tea bag format and 2) our exclusive focus on the outdoor community. We have tea bag style competitors but they are not exclusively focused on the outdoor market like Wildland is and this gives us a huge advantage.
I started the business in March of 2021 and what I am most proud about is that I quit my fulltime job last week to focus on Wildland fulltime. It has been my dream since I was 9 years old to be a “fulltime” entrepreneur and I am finally living that dream.
I got to where I am today by coming up with a clear and concise vision and executing on that vision. I believe that most businesses fail before they ever start because they don’t have a clear vision of what they want to be and who they want to be for. Was it easy? No but it also wasn’t the hardest thing in the world. It’s not that any single step of building a business is difficult, it’s the fact that there are SO MANY steps that make it difficult. It’s much of a mental challenge, dealing with stress and anxiety that makes it difficult more so than the actual work. It’s not like I’m trying to figure out something that has never been done before.
That said, there have been plenty of challenges along the way and I take each challenge as an individual one. For example, my COGS were starting to add up which degraded my gross margin so I reduced the amount of packaging that I used reducing my COGS by 10%.. That’s the thing about growing a business that I love… there is no better feeling than encountering a problem and figuring out how to solve it.
One of the lessons I’ve learned over the past year is that nothing is as bad as it seems and, at the same time, nothing is as good as it seems. Relax, take a deep breath and calm down so you can solve the task at hand.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
1) Sandy Ehrlich- this was my boss when I was a freshman in college at the Lavin Entrepreneur Center at San Diego State University. Long story short, he had me doing a project and I needed to finish my part before he started his and I was late which delayed him. He was PISSED and I didn’t have a good excuse for not doing what I needed to do. I was just having fun in college. I still remember what he said, “I was expecting you to lead this project”. It taught me a good lesson in responsibility and upholding my word with what I’m supposed to do.
2) Cameron Jensen- this was my boss, VP of Sales, at NUVI which was my first job out of college. He was the 10th employee at this software startup and I was his first hire. We had no marketing department, no sales support, nothing. The only reason we were successful at that company is because we took it upon ourselves to find customers. Cold calling and cold emailing day after day. He taught me to “go outbound” which means I don’t want for people to come to me. I go and create opportunity for myself.
3) Mont Lewis- Boss at my last employer, NICE. He’s an RVP of Sales there. Mont always told me “invest in those who are investing in you”. It’s really easy find myself chasing people or situations because I want to make them work but the other person is not invested in making it work. What a waste of time and emotional energy! Mont taught me to value my time and skills and only put in effort with people who are reciprocating that effort.