FrictionLabs’ co-founder and CEO Kevin Brown has the unique ability to get people energized about chalk, including national sports outfitters like REI and EMS, world-champion athletes and a fanatical base of online customers. By studying the evolution of the rock-climber demographic (of which he is a passionate member), Friction Labs has found the secret to making a seemingly mundane product at a premium quality level. At the same time, Kevin has made chalk fun to manufacture and market. Working in a niche market, Kevin has bridged the wholesale and direct sale arenas by, he says, "meeting buyers where they are in different mediums.” Whether it's on Amazon, the company website, or a retail store's shelf, the product is getting huge attention and rave reviews from the rock-climbing community.
Kevin's unique methods extend to funding his company, staffing, and building a culture. He keeps his company "obsessively lean," but when considering new prospects, he says, "If something doesn't sound like a fun opportunity, we really question whether we want to do it." This entrepreneur is achieving big things in his own way, infusing enthusiasm and energy into the process at every stage and staying super-efficient while doing it.
Knowing the importance of authenticity, Kevin tempers his bold style with genuine empathy saying, "You fight like hell to get the conversation [with a potential partner] and when you get it, you don't blow it...you start listening." He understands buyers' motivations and speaks directly to them. When it comes to his team members, he keeps expectations realistic, celebrates the wins, and looks at the rough patches as opportunities.
Listen as Kevin Brown talks about how he has found “freedom” by leaving the corporate world and building a fast-growing company out of the dust, or chalk, such as it is.
Sue Heilbronner is the CEO of MergeLane and a Conscious Leadership executive coach and consultant.