I had my 30th birthday this past weekend. I think you know where I’m going with this. With all the camaraderie around and seeing my closest friends, I may have celebrated a little too hard. But at 30, a man knows his limits, or at least, he should. Which is why I downed a bottle of Morning Recovery before I went to bed.
I woke up feeling fine and that’s a win in my book. Usually, that’s not how things go down when I have even two drinks at this ripe old age. The next day, I had my faculties about me and was still able to do the things I planned on doing.
We were lucky enough to have a Q&A with the co-founder and CEO of More Labs, Sisun Lee. We talked about his journey, his favorite drink, and how he elevated Morning Recovery to a nationally recognized brand.
How difficult was it leaving a steady paycheck at Tesla Motors for an unproven venture?
It was difficult, but manageable for two reasons:
The culture at Silicon Valley encourages failures, and you maintain a healthy relationship with your former employer and colleagues. I always felt that the worst case scenario would mean I would return back to Tesla to resume my job as a staff product manager.
You don’t have to go all-in on an unproven venture. You can start something as a small project, iterate on it, gather feedback, and test an MVP (minimum viable product) before you have to leave your day job to pursue a full-time venture. In my case, I left Tesla once our Indiegogo campaign (launch) amassed $252K in pre-order sales. That was when I thought that it showed enough initial potential for me to take the risk.
The FDA has classified a ‘hangover’ as an illness, what challenges has this brought forth and how have you navigated around them?
We care a lot about navigating the regulatory framework and take it very seriously. It can be a challenge when other companies break the rules, especially since consumers are usually unaware of what can and can’t be claimed, and there are companies that choose to take advantage of it. Unfortunately, there are products out there that are in flagrant violation of the FDA’s guidance on this issue.
We are firm in our stance. We are committed to compliance. Early stage companies focus on growth, which means it can be tempting to overlook or ignore regulatory constraints. That said, we made it a point to ensure we’re delivering on our promise of quality science-based products, in compliance with FDA regulations, as well as regulatory bodies like the FTC. Ultimately, it’s important to us that we play by the rules even if others are not. We’ll let our product’s performance and customer satisfaction speak for itself.
Can we expect other products coming out from More Labs?
Yes, that is part of our vision. We are asking our community for feedback and are exploring new areas like focus, concentration, stress, and sleep. We believe we can deliver our level of innovation with Morning Recovery to other categories. It’s great to have a close relationship with our community, and let them tell us the stressors they are facing. We hired a former FDA fellow with a PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences, Dr. Fu Chen, to lead our innovation and R&D so that we can create something that works and meets our standards for breakthrough tech and consumer-driven innovation.
What is your favorite alcoholic beverage?
Nami – First Mexican-produced Sake, surprisingly better than all other sakes out there.
What’s the story behind your branding/Instagram aesthetic?
It was important for us to keep the connection to Morning Recovery, where we started. We kept the blue bottle, the signature aluminum cap, and created a custom plastic bottle that no one else has on the market. The name “More Labs” actually came from the fact that we realized the first two letters of Morning and Recovery spelled “More.” It was a natural fit, because our vision is to help people feel great so that they can do more of what they love.
In terms of aesthetic, we’ve always optimized for mobile since that’s how most customers browse and purchase, which means creating packaging and website that will stand out on your social feed, but also catch your eye at retail.
As for our consumer, we know that they value their health, stay socially active, and work really hard to achieve their goals. That mindset doesn’t skew towards a particular gender or location. You’ll see us featuring stories from our community a lot more. By creating a brand to support people feeling their best so they can to do more of what they love, we wanted to stay true to our roots but also provide room to expand our vision beyond Morning Recovery.
What unconventional marketing tactics have proven to be the most beneficial?
Word of mouth is important for us. A lot of our methodology is inspired by what I learned as a PM in tech. For example, we wanted to make it easier for people to share Morning Recovery with their friends, especially if they don’t live near a place where they can find us at retail. We recently implemented a text-based sharing program in each of our packages so that our customers can send a six-pack to someone [for free when you order yourself a six-pack]. We’ve had thousands of people use it so far since launching it a few months ago.
Do any noteworthy customer success stories with Morning Recovery come to mind?
One of the best parts of my job is hearing from our customers and we definitely get some funny stories. We have a couple of celebrities who are fans of the product – those came as a surprise.
While I don’t have one noteworthy story in mind, we do get a lot of people buying for their weddings and bachelor parties. Once, we did a limited time wedding discount, which then got publicly posted to a Facebook group for brides without us knowing. We couldn’t figure out where all these wedding orders were coming from! It’s great that people will tag us on social or send pictures of their wedding to our team. It’s amazing that they would make us part of their special day.
If you’re inspired by Sisun’s story and want to learn more about him or Morning Recovery, you can do so by checking out their site.