Regulated Industry Growth

Alexa Meyer, Amanda Goetz

Growth Summit 2022

How to grow a company while navigating the red tape of regulation.



[00:00:00] Aadil Razvi: We have the Co-founder and CEO of Coa, an online therapist-led emotional fitness classes to help be proactive about their mental health. Their customers include NBC, Skillshare, Valley Bank, and many more. Please give a warm welcome to Alexa Meyer.

[00:00:17] Alexa Meyer: Hi everyone. I'm so excited to be here. Hope everyone is having a good sort of end to their Thursday and day three of Demand Curve Summit.

[00:00:27] Aadil Razvi: Alexa told me that she does not come out cold Room everyone. So zero to 10. I need a zero to 10 in the chat. How stoked are you for this session? I want to see it in the chat. And of course we have the Founder and CEO of House of Wise, the luxury wellness brand giving permission to make space for yourself daily through effective products for better sleep, hotter sex, less stress, and more strength.

Please welcome Amanda Goetz.


[00:00:56] Amanda Goetz: guys. Thanks so much for having, I'm so excited. I'm already seeing like familiar names in the chat, so I'm so pumped for this.

[00:01:04] Aadil Razvi: Awesome. Let's go ahead and kick things off. This session is called Regulated Industry Growth. So let's just take a step back. We're gonna start with some high level questions about regulated industry growth.

And then we're gonna get progressively more tactical as the session progresses. And then we're gonna have audience questions towards the end. So first question I'll start with you, Amanda. What are these industries that we're referring to when we say regulated industries and what are the kinds of restrictions that we're talking about that make them hard to grow in?

[00:01:35] Amanda Goetz: Yeah, So for those that don't know, I operate in the cannabis industry and I would categorize all regulated industries as where you have barriers to entry, whether it's through payment processing paid advertising even UGC what you can and cannot show. It really does impact so things like psychedelics, sex, sexual health, and wellness.

For those that don't know, like I cannot actually run paid advertising on anything that's an investible. We cannot work with influencers and show them eating our gummy, or they can get banned on Facebook, on TikTok, etc. So there are so many, I call them land lines that you can spend, that you learn along the way.

But these regulated industries all kind of are together in operating in this building a brand outside of the traditional last 10 years, which has been pay for the top of the funnel, all performance marketing, lower that CAC so we're operating in a very different area.

[00:02:40] Aadil Razvi: Yeah, I really heard some entry, like payment processing, paid ads.

You can't run paid ads like all the other companies out there. When you're leveraging UGC or influencers, there's a lot of limitations about what they can and can't show. Alexa, do you have anything to add to that definition?

[00:02:58] Alexa Meyer: Yeah, and I think at a higher level, I see this as like anyone trying to innovate in an industry that was originally built with technology in mind, right?

Or brand new category. So we've seen that those changed obviously really rapidly with technology that has made it possible to bring new products to market and engage with customers in new and interesting ways, but it's regulated in such a way that like the relation has not caught up to accommodate for the technology and innovation that can happen on really traditional industries, healthcare, real estate, transportation.

Psychedelics like Amanda mentioned, and so specifically in mental health, which is the category that Coa operates in one of the like clear examples of this are if you're a therapist, you're only licensed to practice in one state, even though teletherapy massively grew in demand, especially during the pandemic.

California based therapists cannot see anyone else in any other states at that. So that's an example of regulation and that just creates a lot of barriers for the consumer.

[00:03:57] Aadil Razvi: Yeah. Alexa, could you tell me about a problem or a time where you were dealing with a company and it's just you hit that wall, you hit that, like regulated industry wall and what you did to go around it over it or just entirely ignore it?

[00:04:14] Alexa Meyer: As a consumer, I've experienced it. So I experienced that exact same one. I was living in California during the pandemic and then I go to New York, and I had to break up with my therapist. Therapist had to break up with me. Like legally, we both could not continue the relationship. And so that has extreme impact on individual's mental health, right?

I cannot have the continuity of care and so the way that I worked around it is I found a new therapist. I asked her for referrals. We did things like the clean way which was great. But at Coa what we've done is we've created an entirely new category of product where it doesn't, therapists are regulated across because they're not offering therapy on our platform classes and content.

And so we thought about like, how do we leverage the expertise of therapist in a way that is legal? And allows to really start to educate the masses proactively on what it means to work on your mental health and really allow these therapists to have an additional option for making money and building a livelihood with their expertise.

[00:05:16] Aadil Razvi: That's super frustrating having to completely switch over like that. Amanda, have you gone through a similar thing?

[00:05:23] Amanda Goetz: Yeah. We are CBD and so it's a little different because, and I wish we would've started with THC because it's, the rules are clearly defined. Where it's even harder is this blurry kind of middle ground where FDA won't touch something.

Like I actually think psychedelics and ketamine are going to leap ahead of CBD and things that are still in this gray zone because they're going to operate where there's very clear guidelines. CBD it just sits in this, Reelers won't touch it because the FDA has not claimed it as a supplement. So there's a lot of things that I touch on that definitely fall in this blurry area that I think are harder.

But I've touched the moving states throughout covid had to get new therapists or find therapists that had multi-state licenses as well, which is people don't even realize because everybody thinks that everything is telehealth now. But I use K Health for like my everyday telehealth needs, and you have to make sure that you're talking to a doctor in your state and so that it's a supply and demand thing a lot harder for companies to innovate in those industries because you are creating a two-sided marketplace that has geographic restrictions

[00:06:43] Aadil Razvi: Those rules that you're talking about, just saying okay, there's sometimes they're really clear. Other times it's a gray area. How does we even know what those rules aren't and how to navigate through them for their particular industry?

[00:06:56] Amanda Goetz: Cannabis, it's usually if you're going into the cannabis industry, you have a cannabis lawyer and they're going to help make sure, but most every state operates differently, which makes it even harder to expand because if you're going into THC, for example many states

require you to be vertically integrated, and that is really hard, especially in today's environment. It's already hard to raise capital, but even harder if you're in a vice category. So understanding like working with someone, and I think anybody entering regulated industry should have that roadmap of what does expansion look like for you and are you set up for success from a capital perspective?

That's why we actually went with CBD because I wanted to first destigmatize cannabis to this specific cohort of people, this audience, millennial women. And and I wanted to do that by creating a brand name that everyone could access at a countrywide level, not statewide. And then if we wanted to, we could iterate into state by state THC, more vertically integrated stuff.

But yeah. Alexa, I don't know if you wanna add to that.

[00:08:11] Alexa Meyer: Yeah, we, similar plans and similar trajectory where we see that so much of the world is not working on their mental health proactively, and that's for a number of reasons. One, therapy can be super expensive. Two, there are not enough therapists in the US to actually give everybody that would want a therapist access to a therapist.

And so the question becomes if we can start changing consumer behavior and helping people learn the skills more proactively than we are capturing this demand for mental health and therapy earlier. That gives us the time to start figuring out how do we work around some of these regulatory issues, Or getting big enough to actually start lobbying to governments and saying Hey, you should totally eradicate

the state by state because there's demand for it beyond what is possible to provide state by state. And we'll have the resources to do that at a later time when we've already built up a great business on the proactive side of things. And the other piece, what Amanda was mentioning is just making sure you have the knowledge of infrastructure and technology and what things you'll have to have in place cause it's expensive.

Like for us, if we start to bill insurers, which is not something we do today, you're, we're then regulated by HIPAA. And to be compliant with HIPPA, you have to get a HIPAA lawyer to make sure you're compliant. You have to have audits to make sure you're compliant. You have to have certain technical expertise to make sure your platform is built in a way that is compliant.

And so as an early stage startup, we just want prepared or ready to do that. And so it's on our roadmap for when we have those resources and can make those justifications later on as we start to get into like things like insurance paid care.

[00:09:44] Aadil Razvi: That leads me directly to my next question, Alexa, because I think most of the people in this audience are dealing with

some limitation or another around resources, be it time, personnel, capital. And so if they're in a regulated industry, like how can they keep up with compliance as a startup with such limited resources?

[00:10:05] Alexa Meyer: Yeah. My advice is think from first principles, like how can you work around the system, right?

So if you can't advertise your product, can you think about something that you can advertise that your audience might be interested in, so you can advertise an event, you can advertise education, you can advertise a mailing list or a piece of content. And so think about if your audience is millennial women, but you can't actually advertise CBDM, Amanda's a brilliant marketer.

She knows this, advertise something else that allows you to build your mailing list so that then you can make them aware of your product through other means by adding value in a different way.

[00:10:43] Aadil Razvi: Go more content marketing, go more top of funnel, educate the audience as much as possible without directly pitching the actual kind of service or product on the back end.

Yeah. How we grew initially is we started offering free events online, right? And so they were just free events on things like managing burnout or dealing with living alone during a pandemic. It's not a healthcare offering, and people signed up for that. That allows us to build our email list and it allows them to hear Oh what's Coa?

Coa is the company running this and then they can associate Oh Coa offers therapy. They offer classes. And then it allows us to, allows them to find out about us.

Amanda, what about in cannabis or any other regulated industries that you've had experience?

[00:11:31] Amanda Goetz: Yeah, so I'll say two things. One, the keeping up with compliance thing, like first and foremost, like risk is a spectrum, right?

And your appetite for risk needs to be assessed. And I did consulting calls with top cannabis lawyers. Like I didn't put anybody on retainer. I would do like a consulting call and I'd pay them for their time up front and I would just ask them all the questions. And I would do that with a couple just to make sure that I'm hearing the same parameters over and over again.

And then, you make the best decisions and you try to stick to your risk appetite. For example FDA has the thing where you can't claim that something treats a disease or a body issue. And so I had two of the four lawyers tell me not to call it a stress gummy, but I had the other two say, It's probably fine.

And so you just have to know, like you have to collect all the information and do your diligence, talk to the right people. But if you can't keep somebody on retainer, make sure that you're getting some checks and balances along the way. So that's the first thing I would say. And the second thing, just very similarly to what Alexa said,

like for us, once you know your parameters, you work around them. So launch non-band products if you have to. For us, we launch topicals because you can run paid ads for topicals. You can run paid ads for candles. We had smells like sex as a candle that was a paid ad that once somebody went to it said pairs well with our sex gummy and sex serum.

So then it would get them into our PDPs.

[00:13:00] Aadil Razvi: No, I like that.

[00:13:01] Amanda Goetz: And then like building expertise and trust is so important and you can do that with content. So especially in regulated industries that are innovative and new and you have first mover advantage, but first mover advantage comes with, you have to educate everyone.

I'm consulting for a ketamine company right now, and the amount of misinformation around what it is because of what it was as an illegal drug versus a legal drug is there's so much content that needs to be out just to demystify it and you have to make sure that you're not just trying to do the like slot machine, paid marketing campaign that we've been trained to do for the last couple of years.

It is truly now you are educating somebody, you're building trust that you are giving them the best education and then you convert them. So I think it's just a slightly longer funnel. Which again is not, doesn't play well with the VC landscape. Like they don't love having slightly longer funnels that you need to like warm an audience to.

So you just going back to Alexa's point, like you have to make sure that you have the capital and the runway and you have planned out. What does this look like for you?

[00:14:20] Aadil Razvi: Mostly regulated. Are these industries, in actuality, is there a lot of kind of the scary language and things I guess PR around this that is overblown?

Like for an example, the supplement industry, technically regulated, but it doesn't seem like it's regulated all that closely. And I think that there are tons of non-compliance supplement brands that never actually get in trouble. So just I'm curious how you think about that.

[00:14:53] Amanda Goetz: So for supplements, a hundred percent, there's so much like out there that is not regulated for me, cannabis, it's less about the big, scary FDA like notice that you're gonna get it is truly in the, oh, I can't use Shopify pay because they are associated with Stripe, right? And they don't allow cannabis.

I can't use Klaviyo. Klaviyo. Choose your tomato, tomato. I can't use SMS because the SMS provider doesn't allow cannabis. So it's truly in it's not necessarily in this big like boogieman in the closet, FDA. It is these like VCs, like if they have vice closets because of where they take money in the world, like you don't realize that there are these like little plumbings of like regulation that really does create so much headwind when you're trying to build.

[00:15:59] Alexa Meyer: In the healthcare space, it's also it's not like a big provider, big regulator is like literally going and looking at every single startup. Usually they only start paying attention until a company gets quite big. And then if you haven't built to be compliant with those regulation, that's when you're gonna get your slap on the hand.

Once you're a lot bigger. If you think about other industries, that's what happened with Uber and Airbnb. They were breaking a lot of rules around traditional regulation in the transportation space and in the real estate space. Once they got bigger, people started to care. In mental health though, it is regulated at a federal level, but also at the individual level.

So therapist have licenses that they have to uphold and they're bound to a certain set of rules. And so if you're building a platform that therapists are a part of, either because they're a provider offering therapy through your platform and you're helping them with payments or helping them connect with patients, or in our case, we actually have therapists that are teaching classes on the platform.

We have to make sure we're doing everything that allows them to stay compliant with their licensure, because if we're not doing that, then that's gonna break trust with the individual therapist, which is not good for Coa and it is not good for our customers.

[00:17:06] Amanda Goetz: We're experiencing that with the ketamine company like

there's, because it's a two-sided marketplace, you have to have a medical provider prescribing and talking. And so it is really, there's that risk associated with growing that part of the marketplace.

[00:17:25] Aadil Razvi: What you said Alexa reminded me of that Paul Graham quote where he says startups often have to do slightly devious things and Uber shirt regulations, Airbnb, It was really it's part of their story now that they've done that.

Do you and I think Amanda, you said risk is a spectrum here, but do you actually recommend founders try and push boundaries or play it safe.

[00:17:59] Amanda Goetz: I would reframe those two binary things. In that you make a risk assessment and you collect all the information you have at your disposal. Then you ask yourself the other questions because usually it's like how to grow is like the question people are figuring out. But if you start asking yourself questions that are not in that frame of mind, it's like, how do I talk to more people?

How do I gain more trust? I think the answers come within the right questions that you're asking, and you can do things that are, you'll find that you'll be more creative in your channel strategy. When you ask different questions, it's not necessarily, is this risky? It's just like, how do I grow a company and I do think part of it is conviction in what you are bringing to people as like this is going to help people.

I know it helps people. We have other countries that have medical studies that show we finally have an epileptic drug that is FDA approved, that uses cannabinoids. Like I know that this is good, but I think having the conviction for the thing that you're doing, like Alexa is doing so much good with what she's doing.

I think part of it has to be you are convicted, what you're building, you know it's doing a greater good, thus you can push the boundaries of what is going to work. And then the second thing I was gonna say is, many people who are successful in innovating in these industries actually end up being the category creator.

For retail, for government, for..look at blockchain, look at, there's lots of different things that you can point to say Mod and Dame, they got sex toys into Sephora mainstream beauty retailer because they helped destigmatize, but also educate the retailer on a category creation, and I think that's where, rather than calling it pushing boundaries or making it safe, it's like how do I put my stake in the ground that this is a thing that needs to happen and I'm going to take us all there.

[00:20:25] Aadil Razvi: Yeah. Like it's, if you have, if you're standing for something, it actually that matters enough to take on that risk. Then the equation becomes very different. It's not about pushing boundaries or playing it safe, it's about how I bring this new way of being the world. And in the context of the current state of restrictions.

Alexa, do you have anything to add about?

[00:20:53] Alexa Meyer: I think all that was on point and really well summarize, It's like deviation with integrity. So it's like always have like integrity as your core lens, your core hat that you're wearing and you're thinking about navigating around regulation.

Second thing that we did, this is just more tactical is we did talk to a lawyer. At the onset of Coa and you talk to our lawyer constantly when we're bringing in new text and we're like, help us interpret these laws like because sometimes as a lay person reading some of the regulation, they may seem scarier than they actually are.

And a lawyer can help you navigate Oh, yeah, this specific thing is not allowed, but if you did this, technically this is fine. And so that helps bring a lot of clarity to us on what we can and cannot do and then help us make smart, calculated decisions.

[00:21:40] Aadil Razvi: Deviate with integrity. I I like that. That's a great structure. Let's switch gears a little bit. Let's get tactical here. So what really are the main levers for growth in industries where maybe can't necessarily run paid ads quickly to to like a landing page of sell product? Amanda? Yeah, let's go.

[00:22:02] Amanda Goetz: Okay. I'll the way I think about our three levers are, I like alliteration.

I'm a marketer, but community, content and commerce that we sit at the intersection of all three of those and you can't build one with the other. And community,. I launched House of Wise in 2020. Community, the role of community has definitely iterated throughout the pandemic. I think that people had a huge sense of or heightened need for community in a very high touch way during the pandemic, and now people have gotten burnt out from, And so how do you continue to like, evolve what community means?

But so community is one, and we can talk about that more. And Content, there was a reason why we had the founders of Pop Sugar. Lead around and we brought on our editor-in-chief from Pop Sugar and it was really important that we almost were building a media company at the same time as an eCommerce company.

And I wanted I have these grand plans one day having like a magazine thing that people, I think print to come back cause people are getting so burned from digital. And so building a media company. I'm marketing at The Knot for five years and that the 22 year old SEO giant in the room that no one could take down because they had established the credibility in that field of like their studies, their trends were always the ones that everybody looked for and looked to.

And so how do you create that trust over time with your community and your content 10 poles truly.

[00:23:49] Aadil Razvi: Building a media company, not just an e-commerce brand. And the kind of the alliteration, the three Cs I caught were community, content and commerce. Which yeah, we can certainly explore further.

Alexa, what are the main levers for growth that you typically look for?

[00:24:07] Alexa Meyer: I don't have the great alliteration like Amanda does, but I have some similar factors. So the first, so I have three. One is what I said earlier is work around the system with your product. So again, if you can advertise something that is adjacent but not your product directly, like content or education, you can still run paid ads.

Just run it on something different. The second thing is community and the way that we think about that is think of it integrate into your product. So can you have a community driven element within the product or an event that people want, naturally invite others to. And if that's a really great way to incentivize word of mouth.

So for us it's do a Coa class with your romantic partner. We class on romantic partnership have to invite your significant other, and that, doubles the number of people that are given class cause someone's inviting someone else. The third thing that's worked really well for us is leveraging other people's audiences.

So we think about who are we targeting and what is a company that is a bit further along than us that is in an adjacent industry or adjacent category that has that audience where we can add value. They might wanna offer something related to mental health. So example, this is class. We partnered with Class Pass and so they're fitness company, but a lot of their consumers and their customers are saying, Hey, fitness is great.

What about mental health? Coa can come in and say, Hey, we'll offer your community a free class on emotional fitness. Allows them to engage your community, something mental health, and allows us to get exposed to hundreds of thousands of people that we otherwise wouldn't have been exposed to.

[00:25:37] Aadil Razvi: That's like such a cool matchup by the way.

It's not competive and yet just sick, you know, what works really well together. You mentioned paid ads on something different. Can you drill into that a little bit more and tell us what does that really look like?

[00:25:55] Alexa Meyer: Yeah, so you can start a newsletter related to something your audience cares about and run paid ads on that.

And people are subscribing to the newsletter. You're building up your mailing list, you're getting their email addresses. You can run ads on a piece of content or a course. I recently saw a healthcare company that I know sells an actual prescription, but they're selling a course on something related to wellness and healthcare.

And I was like, that's a really smart way to just get their brand in front of people. You can advertise an event, right? Run a free event, run a conference, and you can pay to advertise that. People sign up for that and then they get exposed to what your company's actually selling and doing.

[00:26:32] Aadil Razvi: I got that. Yeah. Amanda, it sounded like you wanted to add something to how you leverage paid ads.

[00:26:38] Amanda Goetz: I was like, those are all great.

[00:26:43] Aadil Razvi: Do you leverage these sort of paid ad funnel? Amanda?

[00:26:48] Amanda Goetz: So we a little bit of paid to content that we know that works. We've just done a lot of testing. For us it's been our newsletters, 30% of our sales every month, which is really big for an eCommerce brand.

But our newer is always focused on content. So I we buy emails, we don't buy the traditional eCommerce funnel.

[00:27:18] Aadil Razvi: Got that. I really wanted to hear more from you Amanda, around, you talked about the community and content and commerce how does community fit into this puzzle I'm seeing, okay, like one strategy we can, of course contents lead the backbone of a lot of this is showing off that authority.

It's Hey, we know what we're talking about. And then you can on the back end of that monetize, off of the newsletter, things like that. How does community actually fit in and practice.

[00:27:53] Amanda Goetz: Yeah. So let's separate community into two things. Okay? There is personal brand, community where founders and the team, they're build, they're putting themselves, I think Morning Brew does this really well where there's faces of the company, then there's community around the brand.

So community around people, community around the brand, and I think building in public was a big thing that worked for me. Where I got a lot of the investor intros. Alexa, I think that's probably how we met through Twitter and then Clubhouse in the early days of Clubhouse when Coa was getting started and Emily was in there.

So I think that there's that side of it. But then let's talk about the brand community. Cause not everyone wants to be a creator because it does start to become a full-time job now. You're tweeting all the time and posting all the time. So let's talk about brand community. So for us, we, for those that don't know, we put out a call saying, are you dealing with stress?

Are you having trouble sleeping? Are you looking to, drink less alcohol? We are building something and we would love your feedback on it. And we created an email list and it was about 400 women to start and this was six months before we launched, and for the six months leading up to launch, we

tapped that community for feedback. We sent them like the designs of the packaging. We told them what was coming. We got thoughts on do we launch with these three verticals? Should we add the fourth one yet or should we hold on that, like truly getting their buy in so that on launch day they felt like their fingerprint and their DNA was in the brand,

[00:29:41] Aadil Razvi: like co-created almost.

[00:29:43] Amanda Goetz: They did, and they also knew like we had the worst thing happen on the first month of launch. There was a snowstorm that hit and it stopped like one gummy shipment. And so we launched on December 1st with the intent that everything would ship out like December 5th, 6th, but then a snowstorm hit and we couldn't get the shipments in, and it was delayed for another two weeks or something.

It was crazy but the funny thing was everybody that was the earliest adopter of the products, they had so much brand affinity that they were like, it's okay. Like we, and advocating for it. On launch day, December 1st, when we actually revealed House of Wise to the public, we had over 400 people posting about it because leading up to launch, we had given them all the assets, we'd given them swag, and so all of a sudden out of nowhere, but it's like where did House of Wise come from?

And we're like, meet the next. We've been like for six months talking to these people and then we turned all of them into micro affiliates. And so for those that who don't know, House of Wise is named after Brownie Wise, who is the woman behind the Tupperware party. She created the movement of women selling to women.

And I think that direct sales as an MLM, bad, very predatory, very like very predatory on low socioeconomic women. Direct sales as micro affiliates on steroids. Good. And so I think people are really don't know how to find the Venn diagram of those two things. And I really wanted to operate in that because there's lots of things that MLMs do really well in terms of building community that you can learn from without creating a pyramid scheme where you know, people have to recruit people to join a team.

It's truly micro affiliate strategy, which has been around for decades. And so figuring out the right way to incentivize your brand ambassadors is super important.

[00:31:47] Aadil Razvi: Yeah. Alexa, you had talked about community integrating into your product and event itself. I'm hearing a lot of overlap between maybe what Amanda is talking about and maybe what how do you envision that?

Love to hear some more context.

[00:32:02] Alexa Meyer: Yeah, before Coa launched we did something very similar to what Amanda did is we built our community before we were even public. And so we did free classes. We did free events, and the people that were showing up to those were the people that were giving us so much feedback along the way.

So we called it like our super emotionally fit beta group. And when we launched, there was like a thousand of them that had already experienced Coa, had given us feedback, allowed us to iterate. And so similar to what Amanda did, they were just very excited. To screen from the rooftops once we were finally available to the public.

The second thing is our product, most of our product is a live class. And inside of those classes you're part of what you're doing is you're in breakout groups with other people who might be dealing with a similar challenge. So our most popular class is around new leadership. It's called the emotionally fit leadership classes.

And so you're actually building community while you're using the product, you're getting to meet other people, you're getting connect on similar things, and we notice people started connecting outside of Coa after class and like meeting up in person, scheduling their own happy hours with each other, Coa people that were in Chicago or in New York.

And so it's like how do we continue to encourage that and incentivize that where people can meet up with one another? But the other piece of this is when you're working on yourself and you're improving your mental wellbeing and you're improving your confidence and your sense of self, people naturally wanna tell others in their life to do the same.

And so some of the things that we did is like in our friendship, one of the prompts is send your friend a text sharing one thing that they do well and ask them to share one thing that you do well. And in that copy is that, Hey, I'm working on my emotional fitness at Coa. And so it's an extension of the product experience for the user, but it also is helping spread the movement and the ethos of emotional fitness with other people.

[00:33:50] Amanda Goetz: That's amazing.

[00:33:50] Aadil Razvi: It's just...I love it.

[00:33:54] Amanda Goetz: So good. My loop built in. So smart.

[00:33:58] Aadil Razvi: Super clever. Yeah, I'm curious if there are any startups or any companies that come to mind that are in regulated industries that it's just like okay, wow, they're doing it right, let's pay attention to that, that's maybe not the playbook, but a playbook on how to approach regulated industry growth for either of you.

If if an example comes to mind.

[00:34:25] Amanda Goetz: I think I've said a few. I look to Prima and Dame. I think that they've done a really great job raising capital in a very like before wasn't even a VC category until three years ago. And then I would say on in the CBD world, I look at Prima a lot.

They've been around longer than us, but they're actually working with top retailers to create, like what makes a CBD product? Cause there's so many CBD products on the market and which ones are good, which ones are just, really placebo effect. And they're writing the rules with the major retailers and they're going to

break this category open for us. So those are the ones that I think about.

[00:35:16] Aadil Razvi: Yeah, Alexa.

[00:35:20] Alexa Meyer: Yeah, I think a lot of the companies that are doing the best work in this space are like, they're taking it slowly, right? And they're trying to, they're playing the long game. And so when I hear Amanda talk about Dame, like they've been in market for a long time longer than people realize, and they couldn't a they're like, they're based in New York.

They couldn't advertise on the subway until just recently. And their founder just played the long games, like, How else can I get this? Out there. And then finally, once you get that demand and you focus like intensely on your customer, satisfying your customer, having a very high MPS, growing that demand, then finally the transit commission in New York was like, Yeah, okay, we're gonna approve and we're gonna allow you to advertise because obviously the consumer population wants this.

And so it's like, how can you be you know play the long game and have the ability to do that, but also be strategic about what do the regulators really need to see so that I can convince them that this should no longer be a regulated thing? And so the founders that are thinking about that and thinking of what narrative they need to tell of one year from now, two years from now, three years from now, are the founders that are doing it right and will be successful and eventually dismantling those regulations.

[00:36:28] Aadil Razvi: Got that. Yeah. Are there any sort of underserved or under appreciated opportunities in regulated industry growth that you feel like, Oh, folks, they're not even looking at this right now. I'm curious if any come to mind.

[00:36:48] Amanda Goetz: Wait, say it again.

[00:36:51] Aadil Razvi: Yeah. What are the under I'd say underpriced opportunities for a regulated industry growth. Do you feel like, for example maybe nobody is touching paid ads to their content because they feel like, Oh, paid ads, we can't do that in cannabis, or we can't do that in healthcare.

But really they could be leveraging it to drive traffic to their content. Do you feel like there's anything that, that's underpriced?

[00:37:22] Amanda Goetz: I think, somebody called it out Leafly. There's a couple in the cannabis space that have just built massive email distribution by and they didn't even launch a product.

And we're seeing it with creators, right? Like Mr. Beast is now owning chocolate bars and with Walmart, etc. Like building up an audience is really crucial in regulated industries that I think people are think product first marketing. But I think you got to think content. And what are you, what value are you bringing to the consumer first before you put on eCommerce lens?

That's what comes to mind first.

[00:38:11] Alexa Meyer: Some for me is less tactical, but more like can you actually use the regulations to your advantage terms storytelling and brand marketing. So a lot of people might not even realize the details of the regulations that are holding company back or holding them back from accessing your product.

And so start to educate, use that in your condom market. Can you believe that the thing is regulated? That like I can't even like use Stripe to help CBD for to people that want it, like doing stuff like that to galvanize a movement across the people that might care about what it is that you're doing.

So one example of this a company called Jane. They are an abortion clinic. When was, before it was even announced that it was gonna be officially reversed, but there's talk of it. They took out a one page app, New York Times, and they had several other women founders sign off on that how ridiculous that was and like all details of what would happen if that were to go through and so that they're a startup there, like senior series state startup.

But that was a really good way to just get their mission and movement and get people to care.

[00:39:20] Amanda Goetz: And I totally agree. That's a really good call out your PR strategy when you're in a regulated industry, one of your pillar and your PR strategy is the headwinds because it does get more people in your corner to say, that's ridiculous.

And I tell people I can't use Shopify pay and yet I have sleep gummies. Like people are like, what are you talking about? And it gets them fired up for you. And again, it just goes back to tapping into emotion when you're auditing in any brand base, but specifically in regulated ones.

[00:39:59] Aadil Razvi: It almost sounds like an advantage.

There's almost like a unique benefit in operating in a business, in a regulated industry because it sounds like it's almost like a forcing function for you to figure out, like why are you really doing this? What really matters to you about this? And you have to have that to stand on.

Otherwise it'll become quite difficult to grow. Amanda, does that ring true?

[00:40:25] Amanda Goetz: I'd really shop pay and not just talk. I'd love to make check out easier. And Apple Pay, you can't use Apple pay when you are in cannabis. So many things. But we had 2 billion media impressions in our first year

because we harness that and said look at all the headwinds for something women need with like we talk, we use the headlines that are already in the media. That's like women drinking alcohol was up exponentially throughout covid. Depression and look at anti-anxiety medicine and antidepressants, like how much is being spent on that, but not, we can't help people.

And so you definitely, there is a lot that you can do from a storytelling perspective, but it story doesn't always equate to fixing your funnel, which there's friction in your funnel because you're in a regulated industry so it's a double edged sword.

[00:41:34] Aadil Razvi: Fair enough. Alexa, any unique benefits or advantages that you see in operating in a business in a regulated industry?

[00:41:43] Alexa Meyer: The most exciting benefit is like you're changing a category and you can change a category permanently. So one thing that I'm really excited about when Coa is bigger is to actually have a lobbying arm at the company that is lobbying for regulatory change in mental healthcare, both on the things we talked about, which is the state licensing, but also like

we have been for physical fitness mandated in every primary care school across the country. Why do we not have a mental health and emotional fitness class mandated at every school across the country? So those are like the bigger things that I'm excited to use company, and it's like capitalistic success and funnel it into like that, that really change things at the government regulatory level.

And then second, I think with, any company, regardless of if you're regulated need to be insanely scrappy and insanely resourceful and work around corners. And so I think there's building in a regulated space, it just accelerates that need. And that skill set can be leveraged not just in working around the regulations, but also in how you're operating your business and hiring people and figuring out product market fit and marketing in general.

I think that those two things are advantages in addition to the storytelling narrative that we talked about earlier.

[00:42:55] Aadil Razvi: That really resonates. I love that. We got time for one audience question real quick. Here asks, what's one thing you wish someone had told you before moving into a regulated industry?

[00:43:12] Amanda Goetz: Do you know yours? Alexa . I,

[00:43:16] Alexa Meyer: Oh, I have, I think that this is gonna be just like really scrappy, but we paid for a lot of specialists like lawyer fees at the beginning cause we're being like overly cautious. One thing that you can do is just, call lawyers and get like consulting like onboarding as a client potentially, but the rate can be a lot cheaper.

So we spent a lot more than we needed to at the beginning on lawyers that really, like a generalist lawyer, was able to like some of the insight or just talk to a specialist lawyer for half the time that you need to it's really specific.

[00:44:00] Aadil Razvi: I be charged by that second. Yeah, being able to..

[00:44:05] Alexa Meyer: Like really specific in your questions when going in.

Like you can do a lot of research before you talk to a lawyer, and you can probably cut down your time from an hour and half an hour.

[00:44:17] Amanda Goetz: That's a good one. I would say two things. One, whatever you think your runway is, cut it in half because you run into things that you don't expect that take longer.

So always, be very conservative. And also in regulated industry you don't know where your next check is coming from or when it's coming. That's number one. And then two. Really check in with yourself on, is this a measure twice cut once or a fuck it fit because I think we spend a lot of time on the measure twice, cut once when it truly falls in the second, because it does, it's not actually

like everything feels intense cause you're in a regulated industry and you don't want to misstep, but the actual tactic that you're doing usually follow under the second one. And you need to just keep moving fast cause at the end of the day, you're a startup. You need to fail forward, you need to keep learning, you need to keep figuring out what's working for you.

So I think people sometimes go into analysis paralysis a little.

[00:45:37] Aadil Razvi: That is a very good advice. I feel like there was a wealth of information. This was, I think one of the topics that I knew the least about of all the different things I've over the last few days. So I feel like I've learned the most from this session.

So really appreciate you all taking the top. If there's one thing you wanna leave the folks home with at the end of today's session, one sort of key takeaway that would make the I guess the value of spending this time together worth it. What's something that you'd have folks take away from this session?

[00:46:10] Amanda Goetz: Beyond just like taking a Coa class and pop stress gummy

[00:46:15] Aadil Razvi: doesn't have to be

[00:46:21] Amanda Goetz: Alexa, you wanna go?

[00:46:29] Alexa Meyer: Can you hear me? Okay, good. My computer froze for a second. I'll just expand on the deviate with integrity thing. Like I think a lot of people that are considering founding a company in a regulated industry get really scared and really bogged down about everything that's already in place that is basically preventing any sort of innovation from happening in a given category.

But what I would suggest is don't let that fear like stop you from just like being creative and trying things and finding workers where you can, cause I think to me, legal language seems a lot scarier than it actually is oftentimes, especially if you're reading it as a layman person. So just like start

somewhere like Coa literally started as an event. That's it. It was like a one event. It was in person, it was at a WeWork. It had therapist, it had a class there, and like that was it. It was just one thing. So I broke it down into small parts. So that's what I would encourage folks to do. If you're feeling like overwhelmed.

[00:47:28] Amanda Goetz: Love that. I would say you cap table wisely and then push them. I think the writing a check is one thing. The people on your cap table should be going to work for you. And I think I've been very fortunate with the people that are on my cap table that they make introduction. They are on the phone talking about us to partners.

They're making retail connections like truly like there's this desperation as a founder where you're like I just need money so I can go do my strategy, and you're just wanting somebody to give you a check. It's like no find one who's going to go to work for you, because that could be an extension of your team and extension of your brand ambassadors.

So I think like truly, don't just somebody as a check writer figure out what more they're bringing to the table, especially in regulated industries.

[00:48:32] Aadil Razvi: Thank you. There you have it folks. That is the regulated industry growth session. Be a pioneer, be an explorer in your industry, this is your way of

yeah, being at the cutting edge. Very exciting. Thank you so much for spending your time with us today. Let the people know what you've got going on in your life and how they can get in touch. Amanda, how about you?

[00:48:55] Amanda Goetz: I'm most active on Twitter, so my dms are open. If you ever wanna say hi there.

And you can check out House of Wise, at Holidays are coming. So stack up on all sleep and stress gummies feed .

[00:49:12] Alexa Meyer: I have some stress gummies and can confirm that they're super helpful, so thank you. Yeah, at Coa, so I'm on Twitter as well. I don't have as manys as Amanda, but I do share interesting things about mental health.

Also, my co-founder who shares really brilliant mental health tips on Twitter. Her name's Dr. Emily Anhalt and at Coa we are is an online gym mental health, the most important thing is like I was a VP of Growth that started up before starting Coa and the number one and that has improved my life is when I started working on my mental health and emotional fitness more proactively.

It impacted me as a leader at work, but also like totally changed how I operate and interact in my personal life. So if any of you are interested in improving yourself, learning more about self-awareness, resilience, confidence, mindfulness, I'll drop a link to the leadership classes that I mentioned, which is one of our most popular.

For the Demand Curve community, we've decided to give anyone that signs up 50% off for three months of access to Coa where you get access to all the classes. Both live and on demand. And they're a lot of fun and they're great way for teams too. So if you are at a mean, wanna do something with your team, it's a really great way to build cohesion.

You can just email me

[00:50:23] Aadil Razvi: Awesome. Thank you very much. Very generous. There you have it. Go follow Amanda. Go follow Alexa, go sign up for that joint Coa deal for Demand Curve subscribers exclusively. Thank you very much both of you. You can go on leave stage button and I'll catch you backstage in just a moment.

[00:50:41] Alexa Meyer: Thanks everyone.

[00:50:42] Amanda Goetz: Thank you.

More recordings from Growth Summit