What Poker Taught Brian Tate to Grow Oats Overnight to $5M

Brian Tate, founder and CEO of Oats Overnight, talks about the challenges of running a breakfast business and how his 12 years experience as a professional poker player helped him to grow Oats Overnight to $5M in revenue.

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Topics Discussed in this Episode:

  • [02:00] How Brian went from poker into the breakfast business and seeing the market opportunity for overnight oats
  • [03:45] The learning it took to manufacture their product and the struggles they had in the process
  • [05:00] What going to market was like
  • [07:28] Their strategies to get more customers
  • [08:12] Deciding to work with Facebook in marketing their product
  • [12:32] Adding Amazon as another channel
  • [13:50] Figuring out the right audience to go after
  • [18:04] Launching in Amazon and driving sales
  • [21:38] The reasons behind their success and what inspires their flavors
  • [23:40] Hiring poker players and the first roles that Brian brought into the team
  • [26:08] The issue with space as the company grows
  • [28:04] What contributed to their growth in 2019
  • [29:19] The time when Brian thought the business would fail
  • [29:46] The one thing Brian did that had the biggest impact on the company’s growth
  • [30:14] Where Brian personally had to evolve to grow the business
  • [30:57] Learning leadership and management skills

Key Takeaways:

  • The biggest difference between Oats Overnight and the homemade overnight oats recipes that you can find online and make for yourself is the protein content and the different ingredients. The problem that Brian was solving for was mostly the convenience side without sacrificing nutrition or taste.
  • The category of overnight oats has a small number of offerings relative to how much traffic there is, so it’s an interesting place to be.
  • According to Brian, the mindset of poker players really fits with an entrepreneurial-type vision. They are very rational. They know that money isn’t made 9 to 5 but that it’s really an around-the-clock thing and that competition is always there so you’ve got to do better.
  • There are a lot of variables that contribute to success in business, and it’s important to be able to approach those individually and understand what contributes to those wins or losses.

Action Steps:

  • Have everyone in the company start in customer service. You can learn a lot about the company by answering emails.
  • Be mindful of what you’re signing when it comes to commercial leases. Make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew and that you’re not paying extra money for off-site storage and extra shipping costs when you can’t take deliveries in certain timelines because you’re out of space.
  • Listen to your customers.
  • Learn leadership and management skills from mentors and other people who have done it. When starting a business or running a company, it’s definitely important to get advice and talk things through.
  • When you hire somebody, make sure you do it because you trust them, you trust their thought process, and you trust their ability to make decisions, and give them the freedom to feel comfortable and operate in the way they see fit.
  • Be confident in yourself and know that if you’re making the right decision, it’s going to work out.

Brian said:

“There’s a lot of variables that contribute to success in business. Some things happen that are in your control like product development, customer service… and some things happen that are out of your control like recession or change in customer preferences…”

“For good and bad, people pin wins to things that were sheer luck and they dwell on losses that were totally out of their control. It’s just really important to understand that as you operate.”

More from Brian Tate and Oats Overnight:

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