This week we’re going to the vault to dig up one of our favorite past episodes. We’re speaking with Courtney Nichols Gould, the co-founder and CEO of SmartyPants Vitamins. She had a really successful career in tech before launching a consumer packaged goods company. Before this venture, she was the Chief Operating Officer of Clear, the first fast pass for airport security.

I was curious what her path has been like, from tech entrepreneur to a maker of things, and what we can learn from the process. What surprised me most was the importance of getting the product launch process right, and how hard it is to succeed in today’s complex retail environment. But they’re kicking butt, and she has tons of war stories and tips for the rest of us. Everything from protecting IP to picking your manufacturing partners, cultivating your first customers to thriving on Amazon, negotiating with brick and mortar to being pioneers in the early wellness industry. She’s mission-driven but doesn’t flaunt it. At one point, she goes deep about her awkward early years, before she finally discovered her identity as a successful CEO, and we broach the touchy subject of starting a business and then falling in love with your co-founder. We hear about that and a whole lot more on this week’s episode of the Art of Manufacturing.

A year ago, when I spoke with Courtney, I was really curious how they could be so successful launching their products in a time when Amazon seemed to be eating the world. And the episode is as relevant as ever. Since the episode first dropped, Amazon acquired Whole Foods, nine massive retailers disappeared in the “great retail meltdown of 2017,” and they now have a foothold in every corner of your home, too, with Echo Dot and Ring. There’s no doubt Amazon is a bigger force than ever to be reckoned with.

Earlier this year, I wrote a Forbes column that the biggest tech trend of the year wasn’t going to be a technology per se, but it was Amazon as a company. They’ll have a vast impact on so many other aspects of how we live, and how we work and collaborate, and even how our cities might be designed in the future. This goes beyond their more obvious impacts on the retail industry. Just the new expectation of on-demand has transformed business models across the board. With their 100,000+ industrial robots, they are pioneering new leadership approaches in an environment where humans must collaborate with robots. The purpose of shopping malls is getting totally reimagined, and in an age of on-demand delivery, warehouses are playing a more integral role in our cities. Yet I wondered when on-demand delivery would turn to custom, on-demand, local manufacturing.

But I digress. Whether your entrepreneurial dreams start with launching on Amazon or end on brick and mortar retail shelves, listen to this episode first.


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Forbes article on Amazon:

About Courtney Nichols Gould

Courtney Nichols Gould is the Co-Founder/Co-CEO of SmartyPants Vitamins, the leading maker of premium gummy vitamins with a commitment to bring more health to more people every day. Since launching in 2010, SmartyPants has led the industry in making ingredient choices focused on quality and transparency and wrapping them in a delicious gummy. The company’s products are top ranked on Amazon and sold everywhere from Whole Foods and Target to Costco and beyond. Previously the founding COO of FlyClear, and a senior executive at tech/media companies, Courtney became obsessed with making a real thing in the real world to help real people, and she is honored to have the chance to do just that.

The views expressed on The Art of Manufacturing podcast are those of the guests, and not our sponsors or partners.