Under The Hood: Dan from Heights
Raw, honest & unfiltered insights from braincare supplement founder: Dan of Heights
Our official launch date was January 6th 2020. We’ve been in the market for almost 3 years. We’re now at £5.3m ARR.
Candidly - I was hoping we’d be hoping in the double digits by now - but starting from literally zero 3 years ago with one single SKU in one market; we’ve done ok! Lots more growth to come in the USA market and with new products.
Ha! A lot more than “ok” if you ask me! So prior to launching - you had a newsletter right? What was the thinking there?
The point of the newsletter was twofold: To build a captive audience and upskill ourselves.
As co-founders, we decided that we were interested in building something in the brain space. We weren’t sure exactly what, but we knew we had to educate ourselves on it. So we forced ourselves to research everything about the brain, reading scientific papers and sharing insights back to our community in plain english via a newsletter.
And that’s where the genesis of “building in public” came from. We wanted to be as transparent as possible with what we we’re thinking about. We’d sign off every email with questions to the community to gather insights.
Nice - how have you driven acquisition in the past 3 years?
Most of the growth comes from an extremely captive audience & community. For instance, we just launched a new product. And a few weeks ago we offered early access to it only via our email audience; that product sold out instantly.
So it’s truly our 150,000 newsletter subscribers, our 50,000 instagram followers and over 10,000 Tik Tok followers who are driving the business forward. It’s why our North Star metric from an acquisition standpoint has always been around growing a brain-care community. “Customers” are a secondary metric.
We’re aware that not everybody needs our supplements, some individuals already eat a very rich diet which doesn’t require additional supplements - but regardless, those people might still be interested in joining our conversation. We want to keep these individuals in our orbit for when we do eventually launch a product that solves their needs.
Heights is offered on a subscription-only basis which is controversial. How do you think about that?
As we evolve, we will likely offer some products also via One-Time-Purchase (which also suits retail very well). But Heights is about taking care of your brain, which requires real consistency. It’s a lifelong habit, not a quick solution - so we spend a lot of time & energy communicating that across every touch point.
But this position doesn’t come without its challenges. We get a lot of pushback and as you would expect, we get a lower conversion rate, but a stickier customer base, with a higher LTV.
Let’s jump into CRO: What has been your most successful test?
The most obvious one was getting a quote from Steven Fry. That made a massive impact on our conversion rate - and interestingly traffic to our science pages went down. Basically - people want trusted validation quickly & would rather not read up too much before purchasing.
Let’s chat about fundraising: How have you approached that?
We've gone the crowdfunding way the whole time.
We’re a community-led business, so it made sense to bring on our community on-board as shareholders; we’ve raised £5.5m so far from 1,500 investors.
In terms of the do’s & don’ts of crowdfunding, I wrote an extremely detailed article on our exact approach and playbook we leveraged. All of my spreadsheets, all of the documentation etc is there for the taking. I basically tell the truth that no one else is willing to tell.
The bottle design: How did you come up with it?
From the very first customer interviews, we learned that people struggled to build habits.
People would forget to take their supplements, and it's largely because all bottles look the same. So we knew we needed to design a product that consumers would be willing to keep out on their kitchen counters or other. So that’s why we came up with our unique bottle design.
Would I do it all again? Yes, probably. But wow has it been a massive challenge operationally. Everything has had to be custom which has caused lots of problems for us. But the benefit is that we stand out, so in many ways - the struggle is worthwhile.
And to add insult to injury, we’re a full remote company. So every time we need to update packaging, we need to ship out samples to lots of different people’s houses which slows things down.
Ha! Let’s talk about that: What’s one unlock you’ve had on the remote work culture side of things?
We do something called ‘Flow’. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we have a 2 hour session - and each of us needs to attend at least one per week.
In these sessions - someone shares a music playlist, and then we all work together in silence on our individual to-dos. Depending on the session - we make room for a team game, quiz or stretch to build camaraderie among the team.
But the idea here is that - in a remote culture, it’s easy to let meetings overrun your calendar which can limit your ability to do deep work. So this “Flow” initiative guarantees at least a handful of uninterrupted deep work hours in the week.
Very cool. What are some of the tools powering Heights?
Internally, we design on Figma. We use Notion for knowledge sharing. Slack for comms and Miro for all of our whiteboarding sessions.
And on the D2C front:
To start, we’re on Shopify Plus. For reviews, we were using Trustpilot - but we’ve now switched to Okendo. That’s a shame for us because we we’re the #1 ranked supplement business on Trustpilot in the world. But they’ve been incredibly difficult to work with - from crazy costs to zero accountability in taking down horrific fake reviews from competitors sabotaging us. Next, we’ve recently switched from Recharge to Skio. We’ve also had extremely bad customer experiences with Recharge, so we’re very glad to have moved on past that, and the Skio team is very helpful. And finally, for customer support - we use Gorgias.