What does a savvy entrepreneur do when she sells her startup for $125 million? She starts another business, of course.
Radha Agrawal, cofounder of Thinx, has launched another passion project: Daybreaker.
Daybreaker is a wellness community that offers sober dance parties in 100 countries around the world. With events at the top of the World Trade Center, Sydney Opera House, and even the White House, Daybreaker is quite literally on top. And now Daybreaker is offering virtual and hybrid options to increase accessibility to their events while the world navigates through the pandemic.
So how has Radha launched another wildly successful brand? Find out in the latest episode of the Foundr podcast.
Listen to Our Podcast Interview with Radha Agrawal to Learn:
- How Radha scaled and sold Thinx with her sister
- How she bounced back from a hostile takeover
- How Radha keeps the Daybreaker community excited and engaged
- The leadership questions she asks herself again and again
- Why she encourages entrepreneurs to build their own communities
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Don’t Miss a Single Detail. Read the Full Podcast Interview Transcript Here.
So, uh, the first question that we ask everyone that comes on is, uh, how did you get your job? I K how did you find yourself doing the work you’re doing today?
Yeah, so, um, I I’m actually unemployable, so, um, I never had a job. Um, so, so I’ve been, you know, building, um, brands from, you know, uh, for the last 20 years or so. Um, and how I got into each of my businesses. So, you know, I’ve, I’ve built many businesses for the, over the last 20 years. Um, but, um, I got into them, but because, um, I saw that whatever I was dealing with, I want to create sucked in my world. You know? So it’s, it’s a sort of like the question that you always ask as an entrepreneur. I was like, what sucks in my world. Right. And does it suck for a lot of people? Not just me. Um, and can I be passionate about this issue cause or community for a very long time? So there was a thing that I look at and I think about when I start anything.
So, um, how I got my first job or how I built my first job really, um, just came through, um, yeah, really sort of I’ll share one of them. Um, I started underwear company with my sister and a friend called Thinx underwear. I don’t know if you know about it, but it’s a underwear that you can bleed into. And, um, have you, have you heard of it from doing research? Yes. Okay. Got it. Yeah. So, so that came from just being, you know, heavy bleeder and, and sort of recognising that so many women in my community who are, you know, young professional women were dealing with the same pain point. So, um, instead of complaining about it, which I think is what most people do is, is backseat drive and complain. Um, we began just doing research on different fabrics and different, um, technology that exists to create underwear that, that, you know, you didn’t have to wear a tampons and pads that were invented by men, you know, that you could create that we could create a pair of underwear that, um, that served women, um, that were for women by women.
And, um, we crowdsource at launch on Kickstarter, um, and built it from there. And, and, um, so that just came really from, you know, just feeling, um, I guess desperation, you know, I was like going on subways, heading to different meetings and I would get it from the subway seat on these embarrassing, giant bloodstains on the subway seat, you know, and they’d just be like really embarrassing things that would happen that most people don’t talk about or men don’t realise. And my sister’s a surgeon for example, and she’s doing 15 hour surgeries and, you know, she can’t just get up and go change your tampon or pad. So she’s just dealing with, and so many female, you know, surgeons are dealing with these types of issues. And so we learned that our product ended up serving and supporting so many people. Um, so yeah, it started with my own pain point and then ended up, um, serving millions of people around the world.
And I think for me, another thing that I’m interested in is, is, um, just, you know, social causes. And so, um, being Indian, you know, half Indian, um, I noticed that, um, you know, there was such a discrepancy between women finishing school and men finishing school in India and Africa actually, for that matter, it turns out that, um, a hundred million girls, um, drop out of school in India and Africa all over the world because of something as natural as their periods. And so, um, so that’s an example of, of a, of a business that I started, um, that, uh, not only served us here in the developed world, but also served young girls in developing countries. And so we, for every pair of underwear, you, you bought here, we, um, we funded the production of seven washable reusable cloth pads in developing countries. And so instead of kind of the drop ship model, which I think is, is really nice, but it creates sort of a, um, a, um, welfare economy where you’re just waiting for shoes to be dropped or you’re waiting for things to, um, to come to you versus creating an economy inside the space.
So, um, so, so created that ecosystem, um, with things. And then, um, and then with Daybreaker, which is my current, uh, endeavour, which I started seven years ago, um, this is, uh, a sober early morning dance community. And, um, you know, when I was in ha in the hamster wheel of entrepreneurship and just really kind of just feeling, um, you know, feeling like overworked, exhausted, you know, how it is when you’re building anything, it just sort of going pedal to the metal, trying to keep up with the boys and not allowing the feminine to, to invite be invited into your, into your work environment. Um, so I just would, you know, I just saw that the nightlife experience was just overrun by drugs, alcohol ever on their cell phones. No one actually talking. It was a very, um, you know, kind of a predatory environment for women if I had kind of danced my face off and, and I really wanted to, to let my hair down.
And it would felt like an invitation to some, some gross dude, you know, to, to approach me, um, or my friends at a club. And so, um, my friends and I, my friend and I, we created this project called Daybreaker, which is, um, again, a social experiment where we wanted to, um, just basically turn nightlife on its head, right where the wellness industry was beginning to boom nightlife was also very cool, but what if we brought the two together? So, um, I’m very interested in wellness and, um, and so we were like, what if we remove all the vices of nightlife and, um, instead of, you know, a mean bouncer looking up and down at the door, we replaced it with a hugging committee. You know, what if we replaced the alcohol with, you know, green juice, coffee, and tea, and just kind of replaced the entire dark, um, nightlife experience with a morning early morning, sober well experience. And that community blew up, um, all around the world. We’re actually also in Australia, um, and all around the world. So, um, it’s called. Yeah. And again, you know, in the pandemic hap anyway. Yeah, we can, we can, we can keep talking about that, um, until the cows come home, but, um, but, um, but, but all of my projects started from a pain point in my own life. Yeah,
No fascinating. So, um, I’d love to talk about your first business. What was your first business? Was it things okay?
Um, no, actually my first business, um, was, uh, a gluten-free farm to table pizzeria in New York city. Um, and, and I did that with my sister Mickey, um, and you know, again, that it was like, wow, you know, America eats, you know, the, the length of like throw a thousand football fields every day and pizza yet. There’s nothing that helps us who are gluten intolerant, who are lactose intolerant, who, you know, want to enjoy something as what, something as delicious as pizza can be. But, um, um, but it’s just covered in, in just crap ingredients. So we sort of set out to create, um, kind of a first of its kind gluten-free farm to table organic at the time, 15 years ago when we launched it, nobody talking about organic, they thought it meant grow like dirt from the dirt as a thought, it was like gross. And so we had to educate our customer on what organic meant and what local meant and what gluten-free meant. Um, and, um, so it was really fun to, to sort of see that whole world, um, bloom and boom, uh, after we launched, um, our restaurants. Yeah. Interesting.
And that’s when you started moving to e-commerce and brands.
Yeah. So from there, I think, you know, everything in life, it’s sort of like, you have to follow kind of the, the joy ride, right. As you go. And, and I think for, for me, um, you know, at the restaurant, um, children would come in and they were ordered just plain cheese pizza, no green stuff, you know, on their pizzas. And, um, and I began sort of seeing this happening over and over again. And obviously as a Canadian from Montreal, I, you know, moving to America, I was the first time I really witnessed real childhood obesity everywhere I went. So I created this children’s menu at the restaurant, uh, with these little superhero characters called the super sprouts. And the whole idea was, you know, to teach children through the super powers of vegetables, um, why each vegetable was exciting or important, and kids would come in they’d order these, they would, they would colour the menu and they’d run to the counter and be like, mommy, mommy, I want to be super strong like Brian broccoli, or I’d have a super, you know, cite like Colby carrot, you know, it’s good for your eyes.
And so he started creating, you know, these, these kind of characters and the parents would come up to me and they would say, oh my gosh, my kids never eaten vegetables before what’s happening. Um, and my first job was actually an analyst on wall street. Um, uh, the investment banker, my very, very, very first thing, but we don’t talk about that, um, right before nine 11, but I, I began analysing the universe of wellness and, um, and, and sorry, and children’s, children’s eating, um, and realised that there was nothing that taught children in a media-driven fun kind of playful way, how to, um, how to, um, just educate them on the importance of healthy eating. So, so that’s where I went and raised, you know, initially half a million dollars. And it ended up being, you know, 500, $5 million over the course of a few years.
Um, just banging down every door. I could find, I can share so many crazy stories of high raise the money. Um, but, um, but I did. And, um, and it was a wild, it was a wild journey. I ended up, it ended up being actually a really, uh, a really, really nightmarish experience because I took money from the wrong people and ended up having a hostile takeover and, and basically lost everything, um, after working on it for five years. Um, and so that was, you know, that was devastating, um, to know, to, to sort of realise that that could, that could happen to us as entrepreneurs. And there’s so many more kind of adventures that go into it, but, but that’s part of the joy ride of entrepreneurship, you know?
Yeah. No, it sounds like you’ve got some incredible stories to tell. So I’d like to, I’d like to delve deep on some of those, right. Like if this is stuff, you know, people don’t understand, so what was this company like? It was, it was, it was around children’s books.
Yeah. So we know we developed content media curriculum. Um, we had a whole sort of live event series. I went around a kid’s schools that taught kids with puppet shows and, um, we, we launched a YouTube channel, um, it’s called super sprouts. And, uh, we were, you know, we, there was, we were just about to sign, uh, we had just signed a TV show to do a kids’ TV show. Um, and so, yeah, it was meant to be the next Sesame street, you know, the next Peppa pig, um, that SpongeBob, that was the dream. And, and, but right before we signed our contract to do TV, um, we were reaching about a million kids around the world, um, through our curriculum, through our, our content, our books, um, and just all of our live show events and experiences and, um, and it kinda grew from there. Um, yeah.
And then what happened? How was it, how was it taken? Yeah,
I, I, you know, I think it’s like when you’re a, you know, a naive, you know, kind of entrepreneur and you just want to, um, you’re just so focused on the mission and so focused on children and so focused on like growing the, the sort of, um, just, uh, your kind of purpose and, and really sharing. Um, yeah, just, just really, just so diehard focused on your mission that you don’t really read between the lines, you know, and I guess, unless we have great mentorship, like this type of podcast, or like this type of conversation, you know, most founders don’t know just how Sharky it can be out there. And so, um, I signed a contract when I raised, um, a $3 million round, um, with these Sharky investors and they basically convinced me to sign away my, um, my board seats and my control of the business.
Um, because we were never going to fight things are going to be great. We’re always going to be, you know, like we’re a family, don’t worry, you know, and I totally believe that I didn’t even think about it didn’t even occur to me to not trust that at the time. Cause I was so excited to have a $3 million check come in, so excited to have, um, seasoned sort of investors, um, you know, believe in the brand and the product, um, and what we were creating. So, um, I think I just naively jumped in thinking that, um, that it was like winning the lottery, but really what I realised when I share with entrepreneurs now is just that, um, you know, walking away from $3 million when it’s the wrong deal is a better move than, um, signing a deal that will end up in a hostile takeover. I mean, literally years of just like deep trauma. And I’m still dealing with, with that today of just, um, betrayal and, you know, doing a lot of leadership training around, you know, um, just, you know, not, not, um, not kind of, um, going into relationships, expecting betrayal, you know, because one can start something so beautifully, so open, so loving and not, and, and, and, you know, you don’t, you don’t realise what, what could happen on the other side either.
Well, that’s crazy. Um, so how long did it take for you to recover from that?
You know, what’s wild is that, um, I, you know, I, I feel like I’m, I’m just now, you know, 65 years later, just really now realising what a gift that was, because I think through this leadership training that I’m doing now through just a lot of, um, you know, kind of, um, just a lot of different, uh, coaching and support that I’m thinking about, um, or that, that invite into my life that I’ve, that I’ve really kind of reconciled it and, and seen these investors as my angels. And, and, and what happened was when that hostile takeover happened. I had just launched Daybreaker. So I was able to dive head first into this other business without really ever kind of unpacking the trauma of that experience. I just sort of dove into the next project and just completely, um, yeah, just sort of, uh, just kind of forgot buried the trauma of that experience and just was like, I’m doing something else that it’s next.
And, um, and Daybreaker kind of had immediate was kind of the opposite of, of, of super sprouts, where it was a slog to get it off the ground. And there’s so many stakeholders to win the education system, the parents, the, you know, the, the, um, just the, the media ecosystem, there’s so many different universes to, to conquer, whereas Daybreaker, we were throwing morning dance parties and it was just cool and it was relevant and it was, it was fun. It was exciting. It was juicy. And so just, it just blew up immediately overnight. And I just got to ride that wave on the other side of this crazy trauma. So I’ve been riding this wave for the last seven years, and really only during the pandemic, um, that I stop to, you know, sort of face myself face my traumas, face, the betrayal face, all of that, um, to move through it and, and to, to continue, um, just continue kind of my entrepreneurial journey, uh, from a place of, of, um, I guess a place of ease and a, and a place of, um, of, of trust, um, that, that, that, you know, I need that, that is earned, you know, now going forward.
Um, and, you know, along the way, right? Like I, I sold my company thinks, um, last year or last year, and it was, uh, you know, it was a really exciting life changing exit. Um, and, um, and so that sort of has allowed me to, um, to no longer, I mean, to really no longer think of the next projects that I do through the lens of, you know, needs to scale needs to, you know, needs to have this epic hockey stick growth. It’s like, what can we do to scale our purpose, our mission, um, and have evergreen growth over the next, you know, 10, 20 ago. I w you know, for Daybreaker, we didn’t raise any money. It’s, it’s a, it’s a small business. We own a hundred percent of it, me and my two partners. And, um, and we’ve, you know, we’ve been asked a million times, um, for people to, to invest in our, um, to, for funds to invest in our, in our company. Um, and it’s been easy. It’s been so wonderful to be able to say no, or so cashflow positive, it’s a profitable business. Um, our margins are incredible, um, and we don’t need you. So it’s been a really exciting place, um, to really recover from, um, from the experience of raising money and going through that traumatic experience. So,
Oh, thank you for being so open and honest. Um, so now it sounds like with Daybreaker, you’re, you’re pretty keen to control being control of your own destiny,
Right? Absolutely. And I think this is also what I share with, you know, with every founder that I meet, it’s like, don’t get, scintillated, don’t get excited about fundraising. It’s just basically golden handcuffs. And when you raise any money, um, you know, yes, of course, you know, if you need the infusion of capital to build your business, then let’s go, you know, get it done. But, um, but there’s so many more alternatives out there. So many more interesting, um, sort of non VC VC that exist out there that you can begin exploring. Um, but if you can actually end up controlling 100% of your company, you get to go on vacation and close up shop. I close up my company every year for two weeks to go to burning man and our entire, our entire, you know, company shuts down, I pay for everyone’s ticket to go to burning man, you know, we just sort of, um, and we get to him, you know, we, we get to do whatever we want and I get to fly our team to Germany for a Daybreaker launch party, or fly our team to Tokyo, to do whatever we want to do.
I don’t have to pass it through investors to ask them if I can spare the expense of flying my entire Daybreaker team somewhere. I got to just do it, um, just cause I want to, and that’s been a very, very freeing and liberating experience. And I think there’s a lot of added pressure when you take on investor dollars that as individuals, humans, like, we just want to make sure everyone’s happy. And so we just end up working ourselves into the ground and I’ve, I’ve had so many friends, who’ve so many friends, um, who have unicorn valuations who are going through major burnout, major, um, just major PTSD, just lots and lots of different, um, emotional issues from the overwork that they’re, that they’re experiencing not to mention lawsuits and people coming after you. And just non-stop deluge of, um, of the things that happen to an entrepreneur when we get to a certain level of success.
Yeah. A lot to unpack there. Okay. Um, before we talk about Daybreaker and just, I think there’s an interesting theme around being in control of your own destiny, but, um, like we think, so, are you able to share kind of like the outcome?
Absolutely. Yeah. So, um, you know, we raised, so just to kind of backstop, we raised few thousand dollars on Kickstarter, $65,000 in a Kickstarter campaign. Um, and, um, so large with Kickstarter. So it was a community backed and community supported endeavour. Um, I’m sure everybody had found her knows Kickstarter, but it’s a really awesome community platform to raise money. Um, and from there we grew it, um, and sold it for $150 million. Um, and, um, and then now it’s, you know, now it’s got some, you know, a Harvard MBA CEO and, and they’re, they’re just, they’re just growing it, but I’m, I’m very much a cowgirl. I like to, to run into the darkness of the night and, um, kind of create a kind of, um, new innovation where that when there’s nothing around. And so that’s sort of where I live and I feel the happiest, um, is sort of, you know, kind of the machete and just like kind of creating that, um, that new space, new ground, new, um, opportunity for invention. And that, that’s where I, I love to be in that’s at a certain level of growth. It’s just no longer fun for me. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. I see. So I’m curious,
Like with Daybreaker, um, you’ve been building it controllably, uh, slowly. I’m not looking to take VC funds. I’m curious though, um, if you have this incredible vision and you could accelerate the amount of people you could impact, does that still, does that still not excite you? Absolutely.
And that’s a tension that we think about all the time. Right. And I think it’s, it’s two fold, right? It’s um, it’s valuing not only the service of the public, but, but your service to your family’s service to your own mental health. Right. So, um, I think we often forget ourselves in our pursuit to have a legacy of impacting hundreds of millions of people. Uh, why, why can’t we be happy impacting 500,000 people and have balance in our life, right? What is it inside of us that is so insecure that we need to be impacting hundreds of millions of people to feel like we’re value added, right. Like, why can’t we, why can’t we value? Why can’t we impact 5,000 people, but change their lives so deeply that they go and impact their, their people’s lives and their people going back to their people’s lives.
And so it becomes a, a much more exciting sort of domino effect, um, from where we sit in. And I can tell you that, yes, we have 500,000 community members, but I know that our fibre or the committee members have also then gone on to build massive communities. Um, having been, been, been inspired by Daybreaker. And so we’re impacting tens of millions of people, not necessarily in a revenue, you know, in our bottom line, per se, but in our service and our purpose. So why would we go out and scale and take on all this headache of all the other things when we’re our net impact right across the world is just as great. And we’re happy with the money that we’re bringing in and, and, and living right now, you know, and then of course, like for the first time with Daybreaker, we just launched dos, which is our first membership platform, which is super exciting, um, which I think the reason we started and the only reason I want to scale that is because, you know, we’re dealing with a joy crisis right now, and there’s a major and, you know, sort of post COVID, um, just insane, uh, new pandemic that we’re going to wear that we’re dealing with, which is, you know, which is just deep depression, anxiety, loneliness, you know, just all the things that, that we’ve, we’ve been experiencing around the world.
So, so that, that my team and I started together so that we could scale our impact to as many people as we can to, um, help them practise joy. And it’s, it’s sort of, um, the first ever platform to do that. And so for me, that’s where I want to, you know, put my time, effort and energy. And fortunately, because Daybreaker’s profitable, we’re able to fund the startup inside of the start inside, inside of Daybreaker right through the revenue that we’re generating from Daybreaker itself. So we get to in many ways, spawn other right. Sister brands, sister companies from the revenue and profit that we’re generating for Daybreaker without ever needing to take investor dollars. So that’s a very luxury place to live. I know that. Um, but, but I just think that entrepreneur needs to know that, you know, to really think about your net happiness, right?
Is it, you know, as it relates to scaling your purpose and also having time for, um, for yourself, for your family, for your community, for your mental health, for, for love, for romance, for dating, for making children, just all the things, you know, that, that we don’t think about. We’re so just, we’re just so angry. So in this country, right, like it’s like, you know, must have unicorn, but we’re going to make everyone at unicorn brand look like absolute superheroes. And, and everybody feels comparison because of Instagram and social media. And so we forget that the most chill, happy ones are the ones who are quietly making just a few million dollars, maybe $10 million a year. Um, but they’re able to travel anywhere. They want around the world. They get to play with their friends, they get to build a family, they get to do whatever the they want, and nobody’s telling them, uh, nobody’s trying to, you know, Sue them for anything.
No one was trying to take them down and press and media. No, one’s trying to, you know, um, shake them down. It’s just, that’s how I feel. That’s my, it’s actually my life right now. And it’s been, um, something I’m excited to come on podcast to share, because I think it’s important to know the other side of success and the opportunity to really live in this liminal space between, you know, exciting purpose-driven scale, um, that scale, scale scale, right. That, that kind of Domino’s scale versus, um, your needing to show that, you know, which is a very masculine belief system,
You know, I love it. Um, it sounds like you’re, you’ve been doing this for a long time. You’ve been on both sides of the table and, um, yeah, you’re really kind of very clear on how you want to build your companies going forward and the things that you want to do and, and maximising what you would say joy, or like, you know, maximising just, you know, just living a good life.
That’s right. You know, I think, I think right now, um, that’s the biggest deficit that we’re dealing with in this world. And our global in the global economy is, is, is it major deficit enjoy? And if we can prioritise joy as humans, if we can prioritise practising joy, which is an investment, you can’t just be wake up and be happy. It’s a daily practise. If you ask the biggest psychotherapist, the biggest, um, uh, sort of healers in the world, they talk about, you know, practising joy as a daily experience. It just isn’t a once a week. Or I work out my body, I brush my teeth, but practising joy as a once in a while, when I’m in the deepest depths of despair or something that you want to keep up every day, like brushing your teeth. Um, and so we’ve identified the most potent joy practises on the planet and brought them for the first time on one platform, they’ve over a hundred joy practises that anyone would practise.
That’s like we call them micro doses and heroic dose is called dose by Daybreaker, which is like stands for your happy hormones, dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. And I can’t believe it spells dose, right? It’s crazy that we can dose ourselves by tickling our own happy neurochemicals open. And, um, would you want to teach people how to do that and stop pill popping and stop calling themselves names? I’m anxious, I’m depressed. I’m I’m this I’m that let’s just begin to recognise our own super powers and begin practising joy, not practising anxiety, practising depression, practising , complaining, practising what was mean, right. Let’s practise how to be joyful. Let’s let’s get underneath the surface. Let’s talk about, um, our traumas, our betrayals in ways that are, that are freeing, you know, and that’s what we do on the platform. And it’s a community too. So we’re thousands of members on the community. We launched just a few months ago and our entire, um, purpose and restaurant Detra is to, is to really just give people, you know, in the same way that you practise yoga. We want to make practising joy, the next big wellness movement, the next big wellness practise. And, um, so we’re launching the joint Institute this summer. We’re launching a whole modality called functional happiness. Um, so lots to unpack there, but that’s all staying stay tuned for, for the summer.
Yeah. Wow. Sounds like you guys are doing some really cool stuff. So you talk about community. I just want to unpack as well. We’ve died, break up. So is that in person, these events, these experiences, or is it, and then now you’ve supplemented with online and, and, and a membership product, or like, yeah. Can you talk us through that around the model? And then also I’d love to talk about community developing raving fans, because I think that that’s something you’re very good at what you could teach our, what events
Totally. So community is the backbone of every single business of life, of love, of happiness. So to really, you know, sort of put community as a must have not a nice to have, or if I have time, I’ll do so that’s sort of step one and community is, um, can now in today’s world be, I guess, segmented across multiple in multiple ways. So Daybreaker, yes, we started out as in-person IRL experiences. Um, so, you know, we had, you know, 500,000 people come out to Daybreaker events at sunrise at the top of the world trade centre at Sydney opera house at the white house, at the museum of natural history at the, you know, at the wildest places, all around the world. Uh, we partnered with these amazing venues, amazing communities, and we partner with the biggest brands in the world from, you know, Nike to Adidas, to, um, to IBM to, uh, just, you know, you name it.
We we’ve partnered with them to create these sort of wild morning dance experience. Then what I didn’t realise, you know, because we’re sober, we’re no longer a liability for cool brands to work with as well. So I’m so Nike who would want to maybe join a festival, um, they can’t because of the number of alcohol and drug deaths that happened there. Right. So what we didn’t realise was the huge opportunity for sponsorship dollars that throwing epic kind of festival raves, but sober, uh, was it still had the cool factor still was fun and festival like, but didn’t have any of the liabilities. So that was really, um, a big aha for us in terms of, of building out the revenue model for Daybreaker. Um, so we launched IRL, um, that was now we’re in 28 cities. I built a playbook that I, I trained, uh, personally with my team.
Uh, we flew them to New York. They stayed at my house for sleepovers. Um, so we trained my team for how to build community from New York city, from my living room in our pyjamas, so that it was really, um, a very authentic community led experience internally that we can then build it externally. Right. So IRL was the big first piece for five, six years, and then COVID happened. So we had to quickly pivot. And honestly, we were the first events company to launch online, um, event bright was a public company. We, you know, we would talk frequently with the CEO, their, their CTO throughout pandemic, because they were like, what are you guys doing? We sold 200,000 tickets, um, in the pandemic. And, um, we had, you know, 20 of the biggest still, you know, superstars who weren’t going on tour like Gloria Estefan to, you know, Gloria Gaynor saying, I will survive to, um, the gypsy Kings to the village, people doing Y YMCA with all these epic people, um, you know, performing live at Daybreaker online because they were all set at home.
So we were able to book all this epic talent, um, and, and leverage, um, you know, all of their, all of their talent to sort of have 30,000 person events, like 15,000 person events, um, and dance our faces off during COVID. So we continue we’ve, we’ve done 24 episodes since the beginning of COVID. Um, and we’re going to continue doing a hybrid model. We come back IRL. So we call it IRL URL model, um, which I think is really a fun way to think about it. Um, so IRL URL, so we’re going to begin live streaming, um, our, um, our events, you know, IRL so that people who are at home, who can’t necessarily who live now, we’re in 170 countries. We, we grew our community from 28 cities to 170 countries during COVID. Um, and so now those who can’t attend an event at the top of the world trade centre, because we’re relaunching May 12th of this year, um, IRL, um, in New York city, which is very exciting.
Um, there’s a can attend, we can now live stream, they can buy tickets, um, to attend online, and then we’ll have another ticket tier for those who can attend, um, in person. Um, so, and then the membership model now becomes, uh, a deeper way to touch and connect with our community every day. Right? So our Daybreaker live, um, IRL happens once or twice a month. Daybreaker live stream happens. URL happens once also or twice a month. And then dose by Daybreaker is a daily joy practise and a touch point to support our community members on a daily basis.
Gotcha. All right. It will make sense. So I’m really curious how, when you talk about scaling community to, you know, sell all these different countries, what does that look like? Are you building, are you like, are you hiring people? Uh, and, and are they a community ambassador in certain CDs and then they follow your playbook? Or what does that look like? And then they host an event and then you, you broadcast it out and then you, you facilitate the IRL from the broadcast. Is that
Right? So, so it’s a few fold, I think you’ve got it mostly. Right. Um, but, um, but essentially, yeah, so I, I, my, my team and I, we wrote this playbook, um, and I actually, um, you know, quarterback it personally because it’s so important to me to really, um, train, uh, the trainers from the horse’s mouth. I think so often when we begin diluting the training by people, you know, middlemen, um, you began losing the magic of the community. Um, so, so I, I take it upon myself and, and our small team, um, of trainers who will, um, we’ll train our, um, city pretty. We call them community catalysts, um, and community architects, um, a term that we coined at Daybreaker committee architecture being a 2.0 to community building, which feels very one point and Neanderthal like, um, so we basically do a whole, I mean, we have thousands of applicants around the world who want to bring Daybreaker to their cities.
Um, so we have an application pool, somehow people find us on our website, um, and they reach out and we have so many applications, people who want to bring us to their city, so we’ll vet them out and we’ll kind of go through a vetting process to see if a they’re community builders already committee architects already, if they have any events or experience design, um, sort of, um, know-how and, um, and then if they’re a culture fit for us, if you, if we want to hang out with them, we feel like they have the same sort of, um, kind of energetic, um, excitement, whacked, tail wagging, zest for life, um, that we want, we would want them on the team. Right. So, um, so it’s a multi-step process. I think we have a four interview process, and then we end the final round with a attribute video, which is that tribute.co um, is an amazing company that does, um, basically tribute.
Um, they, they help aggregate, uh, you know, people sharing tributes about a person, um, the, in a very easy way. So we have them create a tribute, um, where they get all their friends and family to share why they’re epic and why they should leave the community. So now all their community is rooting for them to, um, to have to take the job, to be part of the community. When I watched the video of their tribute, I’m like even more inspired by them because I see how much of their community loves them. So it’s a, win-win win for all the stakeholders involved. Right. And, and, um, and it just creates such a beautiful gift when we end up watching this tribute video with them live. Cause they’ve not watched it before they start crying. Inevitably, you know, there’s so much excitement, um, to see how much their community cares about them, how they spoke so beautifully, uh, about why they make great community leaders, um, for Daybreaker. And it’s just a, it’s a wonderful, um, it’s a wonderful experience.
Yeah. Well, that’s amazing. So, um, I’m curious, what advice would you give to our audience that are in the early stages of building their brands and looking to develop like this? Yeah. Like cult-like community following where people adore, uh, the work that you’re doing, they want to be a part of.
Yeah. So step one is build a community that’s real. Like don’t try to buy Instagram followers or build a social following, create a real community. And really, you know, for even before I launched the very first Daybreaker in 2013, um, my co-founder and I, um, we wrote down our, our core values. We wrote down, we had a whole sort of set of, you know, if you, if you’re a Daybreaker community member, these are the five values that you gonna live through, you know, wellness comradery, self-expression mindfulness and mischief, right. And so if you can live under these five core values, and you’re going to want to feel like you belong to this community. So we’ve we from the very beginning. So when, you know, if you’re thinking about creating a brand, what are the core values of your community, not just of your product or your project, but what are the core values of your community?
Why do they care about you and, uh, why would they want to stick around? Right. And so, um, so really kind of starting, you know, what we did at Daybreaker was I made my co-founder, we, we basically debated for three days, um, writing names of people down on Excel, spreadsheets of friends of ours that we thought would have good vibes, and wouldn’t be poopoo. The idea of waking up at 6:00 AM on a weekday morning, sober to go dancing, you know, cause there’s lots of people that I knew who were like, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of in my entire life. Right. So we wrote down a list of 300 names of friends that we knew would be like, heck yeah, I wake up early in the morning and put on a costume, glitter up my face and dance on a Wednesday before going to work.
Like why the F not, you know, and I called him in my book, belong FYF, ya, friends. Right. And you want to surround yourself and your brand with FYS, and that’s the best way to start your brand because they’ll be your greatest ambassadors for you. And they also align with your core values. So just build your, your brand, your community with FYS. And that’s just a, a great way to start a community, right? And your community becomes early adopter. They buy your Kickstarter campaign, video, you know, your, your underwear for your kids already buy your first ticket. The Daybreaker they buy, you know, they’re the ones who are there to support you and want you to win. Right. And, um, and then how you sustain a community over time is very different strategically than how you build a community, right? How you sustain a community over time is through the intersection of mystery and safety.
Um, and it’s a term that, um, that, um, you know, kind of, I share it’s, it’s a mystery safety, um, is, is now something I talk about all the time and community building, because you can’t build a community over time. If you’re doing the same stuff over and over again, there’s a reason why church is declining. You know, because like nobody wants to go to the same place, sing the same hymns, read the same book. It’s just like, we don’t get the dopamine rush, right? The dose, the DN dose, we humans need a dopamine rush and we need newness. We need things that feel novel and exciting. So, so we crave that. So things become the same, which is why Daybreaker always roves. We never, ever, which is a lot of work for us, but we never ever go to the same venue more than three times, four times in a year.
Uh, because we want to keep changing, giving you a new dopamine, hit, keep changing the excitement, the theme, the experience. So, so it’s like the mystery of your community of, of, of giving them something new, something exciting, something fresh all the time. Right. And then the safety of knowing that when they do come to your brand or your experience or your service that is going to be for Daybreaker, for example, it’s, well-produced at food and beverage as well, curated that the DJs are so epic that the art, you know, that the, that the wow moments is what we call them are, you know, performances are going to be well curated that the community that shows up is going to be a really kind of intellectual, but playful, mischievous crowd. Right? So it’s a, it’s a very, um, safe feeling to know that, oh, Daybreaker is going to invite that type of crowd. That type of experience into my, into my, you know, into my experience. And therefore I feel good to purchase a ticket for $39 or $159 or whatever it is that we’re creating for, for them. Um, so, so like that. So I think it’s like really understanding who the first early adopters are, who your FYS are and your community to kick start your community. And then how are you inviting mystery and safety as you grow and sustain your community over time? Yeah.
Well, that’s awesome. I love it. Um, can you talk more about the safety piece?
Yeah. The safety piece is just, um, again, connecting to the values of your community, right? It’s connecting to the feeling of, it’s not just sort of safe as in like, you know, lion’s not going to eat me like it’s safe. As in the feeling of, you know, when I come here, there’s a curation, like when someone goes to founder, right. They know that the interviewees are going to be maybe interesting or they know that they’re, they’re, you know, the, the, the magazine is going to give a value out of that. That there’s a safety of knowing that if they subscribe to the magazine, that there’s something, um, magic and special and new and unique about your lens that they can’t get from anywhere else. Right. So that’s the safety of that knowing, and the mystery is you’re changing the cover every time you’re changing the, you know, the articles, it’s always the issues.
You’re, you’re, you’re already in the same space. Like we’re really effectively doing the same business, except yours is, you know, two dimensional on paper and minus three-dimensional in the real world. Right. So safety is just feeling like when your customer, your community member is coming to your brand, they know that they’re going to expect a certain level of professionalism, a certain level of, of brand equity, a certain level of, um, sort of, uh, customer service, you know, all experience design, um, community, you know, sort of values, alignment, all of that, right? So those are the things that, um, that safety means for me. And also when I think of safety, I think of, you know, for Daybreaker, it’s, you know, in our community building playbook that we teach our community architects, you know, I talk about, you know, safety through the lens of every aspect of your sensory experience as well.
So, you know, I call, you know, for example, a space that we gather in, I, you know, we always want to invite a bowl effect. We call it a bowl effect. We want a two dimensional level experience, which, you know, we coined actually at, at Daybreaker, because we were like, wait a minute, sort of, um, single level flat spaces don’t create the same level of intimacy than if there was multiple levels inside of a space and people can see each other on different levels. Right? So that’s another experience of safety of being able to see each other in a crowd, right, to be able to make eye contact with anyone, anywhere you look at a Daybreaker event, you can turn around and you’re going to be fine. Whereas if I’m at a festival, for example, I’m just, I, me, I’m five feet too tall, you know, I just see a sea of butts and backs.
Like I can’t really see anything, you know? And so, um, to, to design your experience for your community members, for your customers with that level of precision is so important to building a scalable, uh, community. Um, and the last thing I’m going to share here that I think is so critical that nobody thinks about that I think is also critical ingredients for, for Daybreaker. And our, our rise in, in our movement is thinking about reverse engineering, your experience, reverse engineering, um, your, your, um, your product or service. So for example, for Daybreaker, it’s like, how do we create a loyal community who wants to keep coming back again and again, well, let’s understand the human brain first. How does the human brain work right? The human brain, and let’s understand what joy means. Okay. So dos has been part of our DNA from the very beginning, right?
Dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. What if we reverse engineer and experience right where every single person released their entire dose at an event. So we knew that music creates a dope mean release. We know that, you know, if you get someone moving fast or something, there’s an endorphins release, we know that if there’s a gratitude moment or there’s a moment of, you know, breath or whatever, there’s, or a, um, you know, a moment of, um, uh, an outdoor sunlit moment, you’ve got the serotonin rush. You know, that if you have a moment you’re getting hugged or a high five, or you’re in connection that you’re getting the oxytocin rush. So when you leave that experience, you’ve gotten your quartet of happy neurochemicals tickled. And of course, going to want to come back again and again, because it feels right, but most event users or experienced designers or founders or creators, don’t think about, you know, their, their web experience through the lens of dose, you know, their, their, their product experience or the lens of dose, their, their, their, their community experience with the lens of dose. They’re just kind of, kind of like desperate for how many RS VPs I can get, how many likes and follows I can get, how many people can, you know, can, um, yeah, just, just, uh, louder my share my article, um, when, if you just focused on the individual dose experience, the vitality of that one person is, is exponential.
And that’s so cool what you’re talking about, because really, like when you think around business, um, it’s around kind of, how do you create at scale? So if you really have a thoughtful approach around building community, really looking after your people, then you can really facilitate relations at scale at a much deeper level as well. And you’ll get much stronger word of mouth and it’ll just build organically. So that’s, it sounds like that’s how you’ve been able to build over time. We’ve
Spent $0 on marketing for seven years. We literally spent zero. We’re literally hiring a marketing director for dos for the first time in seven years. We’ve never needed one because we call it whisper sharing. We scaled just by our community. We whisper sharing to one another by creating an experience so potent, so joy inducing that they wanted to invite their 10 friends. And not only they wanted to buy their 10 friends, they wanted to line up after our event to wait to talk to me, to let me know that they invited their three friends, that they were so proud that they invited these three friends. They wanted to let me know that. Right. And so that’s what we want to create such a loyal community that they feel so invested in the community growing too. And that just takes care. That takes intention, care, values, alignment, all of this intention and understanding or brain body truly, you know.
Yeah, no, that’s incredible. Well, look, we have to work towards wrapping up. I could talk to you about this stuff all day. Um, couple more questions. Uh, one, anything that you want to share with our audience of early stage startup founders, um, that a question or something that I haven’t asked you, that you would love me to ask you, and then lastly, where’s the best place people can find out more about yourself and your work.
Yeah, I, you know, I think the first thing that I want to share with, I mean, I guess the, the main thing is, uh, um, is to remember, to face yourself as the founder to remember, to continue courageously facing yourself. And I think when we’re on the path of, of just running and sprinting, um, as a founder, we forget to look under the hood to unpack our own childhood, you know, sort of traumas to unpack our, you know, all of the things that, uh, will haunt us in the future, in our leadership, in our decision-making in, um, just all aspects of our life. And so, uh, whether it’s leadership, coaching, whether it’s group coaching, whether it’s, um, just starting a community group, I have a women’s circle that I, um, I, you know, uh, I, I’m a part of, um, every Monday, uh, whether it’s entrepreneurship circle that maybe founder creates, um, you know, that’s how, that’s how, um, you remember, and then also, you know, and also in remembering to continue doing that to have a monthly check-in or to have a weekly check-in to have a daily check-in with yourself, Hey, am I leading from a place of authenticity?
I’m leading from a place of insecurity, I’m a leave a place of, of grasping I’m a leading from a place of, um, of sort of manifesting, right? Because I’m so authentic in my messaging. And so I think that’s, it’s just so important to do that. And I think that the faster young entrepreneurs know to face themselves to continue doing that work while building their community, they are going to be not only so much more successful in the long run, but they’ll have friends to celebrate it with, um, not enemies to hoard it from. Right. But truly, you know, when I sold my company thinks last year, um, because I knew the importance of community, um, my sister and I, you know, we, we brought 40 friends to, uh, Columbia on a, on a, just on a birthday trip. I was just like a thank you for being with us on our, on our, on our path and the number of, you know, and, and the number of entrepreneurs that I know who don’t even have a friend after giving their entire, like entire life and gods to their business, that no one is celebrate their exit with no one to celebrate their small and big wins with.
And at the end of life, that those are the things that, that you remember and we’ll think about and we’ll realise, what the heck was it all for, right. Why was I chasing after my insecurity or my, you know, or my, um, my need to prove that I am worthy, right? Like, can we do both things so we could discover our own worthiness while inviting a deep purpose and, um, into, into the world. And so, um, that’s the biggest piece of advice I can share.
Incredible. Thank you so much. Um, and where’s the best place people can find out more about yourself when you work. Yeah.
So I teach a bunch of joy practises. Um, maybe I do, you know, one to two classes. Do I practise a week? I just feel so passionate about it. Um, so I’m teaching two of these, so you can find [email protected] Um, otherwise you can find me on Instagram at love dot RADA. You can happy to DM me. I’m happy to, um, answer any questions you might have on, on your entrepreneur journey. Um, otherwise I hope to see you on the dance floor in the flesh, um, at one of our cities, um, Eli, what did you oh, yes. And oh, and there’s also, oh yeah, we wanted to offer you guys, um, a little, um, offer as well, 50% off on your first month for your, for your listeners, so that you put in the show notes. But, um, but we didn’t want to offer that to everybody. You took the time to get to the end of this podcast to know that, um, that we, we, um, are investing in your joy and we really want you to, um, to, to practise it. So first two weeks on us and then the, the first month, um, we’re offering 50% off and it’s yeah, it’s [inaudible] dot com slash founder. Um, so there you go.
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for your time. Really appreciate it. And thank you just for being so open and honest and humble about this crazy journey you’ve been on.
Of course. Thanks for having me.