Elliott Smith, CFO of First Day, tells us how to make every day as important as the first using wellness essentials.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you joined First Day.
Elliott Smith: Like most undergraduates, I had no clue what I wanted to do but was fortunate to land a consulting gig at graduation. I figured it would give me the broadest experience and time to figure out what I enjoy before heading to grad school. Well, I either impressed someone or am a glutton for punishment as I spent six years in consulting before moving into corporate M&A. I was able to support or lead some of the largest transactions in various industries. While I love M&A work, I knew I wanted to move into a CFO role and was lucky enough to connect with Alice. It is very rare to find a founder with her level of sophistication and vision while, frankly, being a good person. I knew immediately that as soon as she let me, I would join First Day to help achieve her vision. Today I run finance, HR, and legal and pretend to help with marketing. By the way, I still haven’t made it to grad school!
Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?
Elliott Smith: Going for walks. I easily average over ten thousand steps a day (thanks, iPhone!), and most of those are while I am on phone calls. I am terrible at regularly exercising, which keeps me active and helps with my emotional health. Physical and mental well-being is so important to be able to execute consistently.
How does First Day market its product/services online?
Elliott Smith: As a DTC company, we focus on paid media, but I am continually shocked and impressed by our organic results. Our customers love our products so much that we see a network effect between moms promoting our products. It has proven to me that investing in R&D and creating products people love will drive sales.
What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Elliott Smith: There is a fairly robust app ecosystem that Shopify has created, which we are thankful for and leverage for our business. As many know, attribution in online advertising is very challenging. What works for us is really digging into the numbers and having the best talent who understands the customer vs. over-reliance on software. I’d say our best effort to be successful in our marketing efforts is hiring very talented people and getting out of their way to execute.
What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain your employees?
Elliott Smith: We are geographic and background agnostic. At First Day, we have found that individuals with traditional pedigree backgrounds are not always the best fit or drive results. Our team reflects that and what motivates them is us enabling and supporting them to do what they love and are passionate about. I am very proud to say the majority of our team is not the traditional startup individual, and this was unintentional. We hired who we believed would be the best people for the job, which naturally resulted in a more diverse workforce.
How are you funding your growth?
Elliott Smith: While it makes me nervous in an environment where most startups raise huge rounds, we almost exclusively fund our growth by running the company profitably. The company has effectively been profitable from year 1. Our customers love our products so much, which translates into high subscription rates, significant add-on buying, and a surprising amount of repeat purchasing by one-time customers who haven’t become subscribers yet.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Elliott Smith: We have seen a lot of new players that are VC-backed enter the space. I am excited by the interest in this market, especially since it helps educate consumers about the importance of nutrition. We see our main competitors as the old school brands who formulated their products based on science from the 1960s at best. Our understanding of nutrition and the American diet has changed drastically since then. We believe that connecting directly with the customer and providing a superior product based on science that they see results will more than keep us relevant. Our customers tell us that too based on their buying habits through repeat purchasing, cross-sell, and demanding us to make other products!
Tell us a customer success story of yours.
Elliott Smith: This is hard for me. We have received an overwhelming response from grandparents buying for their grandchildren. We specifically had one grandmother who wrote that she uses the last part of her social security check to buy for her grandson because she cares so much about his health and makes sure he gets the proper nutrition. We obviously provided extra support in this instance but proved to me that all Americans want premium health and wellness products like First Day regardless of socioeconomic status.
Your final thoughts?
Elliott Smith: We want to be that company that creates a brand that the whole family can trust for their health and wellness. First Day wants only to create products that people love and really support their overall health.