My Life Prior To Being A Marketing Director for Food Start Ups
My life prior to my current role was pretty dull – phone sales and unchallenging roles that were not fulfilling. I wasn’t satisfied and I knew I didn’t want to sit at a desk all day long and I definitely did not just want to talk on the phone all day. That becomes pretty mundane and cumbersome after a while.
I started researching options and stumbled upon the start up food industry by accident.
My girlfriend at the time had a job for a “soda” company that wasn’t really soda, but tasted like soda– really complicated stuff that I couldn’t wrap my head around. She needed help with some events and because I was the perfect boyfriend, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to help her out on weekends while making some extra money. This led to me doing more work, meeting other similar companies, and ultimately leaving my sales job to work for Kombucha full time. When the time came, I jumped at the opportunity to work for a protein bar company (Kombucha’s sister company) that was making a product that had clean/natural ingredients that actually served a purpose and that we could pronounce. This position changed the scope of my life and introduced me to the world of “travel for work.”
Start Up Life
Now I work as a Marketing Director for a small startup in Austin, Texas– my third start up in a row, four if you count being acquired by one. I absolutely love my job and it has afforded me the opportunity to travel all over the U.S. to some cool places. More on that later.
In a start up, you wear many hats. My title is Marketing, but I’m essentially the jack of all trades as I currently have a hand in sales, data, operations, management…everything. I love my career. My love for this started when I learned there was a budding industry that was not only trying to create food that was “better for you,” but also food and beverages that actually rival the taste of the big brands that we all know today– meaning that they taste good. Not all healthy food tastes bad apparently.
The requirements for this role were simple; Marketing degree, strong work ethic, and understanding the basics of excel, writing, reading, and pretty much communicating with other humans. Easy. I also had to be willing to travel 40% of the time and be willing to work on the weekends.
Here are some examples of brands I’ve developed
One thing I learned in my previous role are the pros and cons of expense reports. There are two types of expense reports– one in which you are waiting to get YOUR money back and one that you’re waiting for the company to pay off your company credit card so that you can spend more of the company’s money – the latter obviously being the better option.
If you’re working for a really “scrappy” start up as I have, you’ll more than likely be spending quite a bit of your own money and have to get reimbursed for it. For example, when traveling, there were times where I’ve had to buy plane tickets, rent hotels and rental cars, and pay for food, and then wait two weeks for my reimbursement. This posed a problem sometimes because I had to pay bills on that same income and travel 4 days every other week. At times it would tie up a couple grand out of my $4k/month or $52k/year salary. Things would get tight, but I always got my money back. My recommendation is to ask for a company credit card as I did in my current role. That eliminates any issues and the only expense report you’ll have to do.
Perks of Traveling in Marketing
My travel is primarily in the United States where I’m required to travel to all major cities such as NYC, LA, Seattle, Portland, Chicago, among other places. My favorite place to visit is always NYC because of food, my parents live there, and it’s my second home.
My second favorite city is Seattle. People shade Seattle because of the rain, but I think it’s beautiful. The hiking is phenomenal and so is the food. Canada is so close that you can just drive across the border to Vancouver, which is equally as beautiful.
If you like to eat and hike like me, my job allows me to do both of those things in all major metropolitan areas of the U.S. I go on a hike in almost every city; Seattle being the most notable and Denver being full of beautiful mountains. I typically use my work trips as an opportunity to explore and have a mini vacation. I’m essentially being paid to go work in some of the coolest places in the U.S. while eating on the company’s dime. I also LOVE my job as I get to represent an amazing product and help build another company from the ground up.
Shitty Things About My Job
While my job is amazing, there are a few things that we can improve on. The goal for most startups is to look attractive for acquisition, which is how most people become millionaires/billionaires in our industry. When you’re 1/5 people in a company, that’s the end goal, but there is a lot of work that has to be done in order for that to happen. There is a lot of failing forward, long hours, and times of hopelessness primarily when the sales aren’t there. For someone who is huge on structure, not having it figured out is one of the main cons about my role and my industry.
There are also times where egos come into play that get in the way of that vision. Some people work harder than others while making less, and others don’t have the same ideals and values. Those can be roadblocks in any company, but more so in small companies.
Another thing that can be shitty is missing friends and family because I’m constantly on the road. Travel has its perks, but there are times I’d just like to chill for a few weeks and get into a routine and work on my 8-pack for the summer. Travel wrecks any routine that I may have in the way of fitness and eating healthy.
Traveling also isn’t very conducive for dating if you’re a single, attractive, alpha male like myself. Women aren’t very forgiving on Bumble when they find out that you’re swiping right and looking for one or two nighters. This just means there are many lonely nights in hotels, dinners alone, or drinking by yourself at a bar. I tend to lay off the dating apps because it’s hard talking your way out of that scenario. Also, having a girl back home waiting on you all the time will probably suck for the both of you after a while. I’m single and probably will be for the foreseeable future because I prefer to be on the road more often than not.
All in all, I love the life that my jobs over the past few years. I’ve been able to travel essentially for free and see some of the coolest places. Traveling for work has its pros and cons, but it’s well worth it. I’m hoping to take it international someday and really explore different parts of the world.