Chattin’ with Jay Davis
Jay Davis is a rad human being. We met when I was working on a commercial for a shoe company. His agency, Creatably, was producing the spot. We looked at each other and instantly knew we were meant to be BFFs. Jay is one of the most easy-going and talented people I know. His philosophy of just going for it and keeping low expectations has led to him to some amazing people. After a series of video projects went incredibly successfully, Jay found passion in creating and exploding businesses.
He founded Creatably as way to help new start-ups get a solid footing in their space. After his ad campaigns went viral for his clients, he decided to create his own product, Pillow Cube, and introduce it to billions of side sleepers around the world. Turns out people like to sleep, and rolling the dice on his cube worked.
Currently, he’s continuing to build new companies, invest in start-ups, and hang out with his family—and me, if he can make the time for it. Hope you enjoy this podcast!
Who Is Jay Davis?
Producing viral ads is not an easy thing to do. Not only is there plenty of competition, but what is viral today might not be quite so imagination-catching tomorrow. There is a considerable amount to think about it, and it takes a true visionary to do it. That’s why Jay Davis of Creatably is so good at what he does — he has the vision to understand what works and what doesn’t. It’s no wonder he has made quite the name for himself in the marketing world.
But Jay Davis didn’t like selling. He felt uncomfortable about it. And it certainly never occurred to him when he was at high school that selling would, in the end, be how he made his name. Business, on the other hand, was definitely something that fascinated him. You might even say that Jay Davis has business in his blood since his father has owned many different companies during his life, and Jay was always aware of these and of how his father worked hard to get them to where they needed to be.
It wasn’t until Jay went to Brazil on a volunteer mission for his church, however, that he really started coming up with some exciting ideas to start his own business on the back of. It was here he met people who had taken that big step of creating their own business and, surrounded by all these incredible people, some of whom had literally nothing at the beginning and who were now making a living at their craft, was inspirational.
The first experience Jay Davis had of starting a business was with some roommates. They worked together to create something that now, looking back, Jay can’t quite remember. Yet no matter that the product or service itself has been lost to the sands of time; the process and the excitement were enough to push him forward. Yes, it may have been a case of “fake it ‘til you make it,” but this learning curve can sometimes be the best way to do things; at least he made a start, whereas if he had stopped to think about what was happening, he might have stopped altogether.
How this “not knowing how to run a business” turned into Jay Davis becoming the CEO of one of the most successful marketing companies around is an interesting one. At college, he earned a degree in entrepreneurship because of the fascination he had — and still has — with the subject and the process. The only problem was, Jay was already starting companies — so many, in fact, that his tutors would become irritated by him. But since his businesses were making money, he kept going.
Eventually, this led Jay to realize that video content was king. He became excited by this idea, knowing that, if he wanted to continue growing his business empire into the future, he would have to look for the “next big thing.” For Jay, that was video. And he was right.
And so Creatably was born.
Creatably is all about driving growth through marketing. It’s not about making the most beautiful video (although the look certainly does factor); that video needs to have unique content too. It’s the content that everything else has to revolve around, which is why Creatably stands out from the crowd. Ever since Jay Davis began creating companies, he has been able to keep his finger on the pulse, and Creatably is really no different — if you’re looking for modern, innovative, state-of-the-art video production, this is it.
Creatably isn’t just about making one video, building an audience, and then leaving the business owner to it. They are about creating a system of sales-focused marketing videos that reach as many viewers as possible, all with a distinct, single message and all professionally shot and memorably made.
Jay Davis has created enough companies in his life (and still continues to do so) to know what it takes for this to happen, and he has inputted his knowledge into his business to offer his clients the best advice and help available.
Jay Davis Podcast Transcription
Charan: Hey, what’s going on guys, this is Charan Prabhakar with the Lemonade Stand podcast. And I’m here with my good buddy, Jay Davis, who he really is such a handsome man even headphones on or off. He is so great. And for those of you that are listening, you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about. But Jay Davis is wearing that big, beautiful headphones on his head right now. Jay Davis is the creator of Creatably, which is an agency similar to Harmon Brothers and Chamber Media. They produce these ads, these viral ads for businesses and help them explode their business. And I was actually privileged to meet Jay while we were doing one of those ads for a shoe company and call Kizik.
Charan: Just funny because just yesterday or two days ago, I did another ad for them or a photo shoot for them. But yeah, so Jay is … now that’s how we met. But funny enough, I guess we had a lot of mutual friends and a lot of mutual connections and stuff that. We went to college together and all that jazz. And so it’s been fun to get to know him a bit more and just shoot the breeze and we’ve become really good buddies and talk about ruling the world one day, and we almost did, and we’re going to do it one of these days. So Jay, thanks, man. Thank you so much for coming on board this podcast. And yeah, we’re really excited to have you.
Jay: Sorry, I’m sneezing.
Charan: You’re sneezing, but a lot of emotion I’m sure. Positive emotion, of course.
Jay: Yeah, not COVID related.
Charan: Not COVID related. Yeah, thank you, man.
Jay: Just dust-related. Yeah, you bet. Thanks for having me. I’m super excited. I always love talking.
Charan: Of course, of course. I know we can talk for hours. So the Lemonade Stand podcast is all about hearing people’s lemonade stand stories. Their journey into becoming an entrepreneur. The pitfalls they’ve had, the struggles, but their rise to glory, I guess you could say. And sometimes their first business was when they were a kid. And they’re like, “Oh, I want to sell lemonade on the corner of my street.” But did you have any particular moment that was like, “Yeah, this is my lemonade stand experience for the very first time.”
Jay: Yeah, it’s a really great question because I always hear other people, other entrepreneurs, talk about, “Oh, I was selling stuff door to door.” Daniel Harmon talks about selling potatoes door to door and I’m, “I really didn’t do that.” I was not that guy. I actually had a very interesting … one of my really good friends in high school would sell candy from his backpack. He was just this really funny kid and he just would sell candy in class. He was just that guy, always wheeling and dealing and selling and I always was, “I didn’t like to sell, I didn’t like that self-promotion.” I don’t know. So for me, I always was fascinated, though, by business. My dad owns his own company and has owned different companies over the years.
Jay: And so I was always fascinated with entrepreneurship and just even though I wasn’t that sales guy as a kid, I was always super interested in it. I think when I really started, though was probably in college, that college age, I started really talking about ideas. I served an LDS [Latter-day Saint] mission and, other missionaries would talk about ideas. So that’s what I always say is my lemonade stand experience. I served a mission in Brazil, I met all these amazing masons or Jewish men, who owned 50 companies. I was always just blown away that they could manage these little mini-empires in … you go into one town and there’d be this one guy, and he owns the bread store, and the paper store, and the supermarket, and the car shop. And I’m, “Dude, that’s crazy.” And I became friends with some of those guys and just loved talking about business and how do you manage different operations like that. So that was interesting for me, I would always say my entrepreneurial spirit animal is more like Richard Branson than it is like Steve Jobs.
Charan: Yeah, for sure.
Jay Davis Talks About Starting His First Company
Jay: Once we were Steve Jobs, I’m more Richard Branson, or like these guys. So anyways, that’s where I think I really became fascinated by it. And then after my mission, I think probably my lemonade experience where I actually started doing stuff was a couple of my roommates, we started a company. I don’t even remember, that’s so sad now I don’t even remember what we sold. But it was just, “Let’s start a company.” I think we were doing services, web services and stuff for people, building websites. That was that first experience and it was just so funny, because we’d go into our apartment and be like, “Okay, let’s work.” And we go, “What are we doing, what do we do for work?” So I think I almost approached it from “I know I want to do this, but I’m not really sure how to do it. But I’ll just pretend.” And then over time you are like … I think that’s what I love about entrepreneurship is you get experienced by just doing. And so with time I started to actually learn things and know how to do stuff.
Charan: Dude, I think that’s so great. Because so many times we have no idea what the heck we’re doing. We are trying to figure things out one step at a time. And we’re creating as we go. I remember when I first got into being an actor, I’m like, “I got no clue what is happening.” And I went to L.A., absolutely no clue what was going on there. But somehow I got an agent and I booked TV shows and stuff. But even after I left L.A., when people have asked me, “Hey, how did you do it?” I’m like, “I have no idea.” I still have that response like, “I’m not entirely sure.” I guess I worked hard and I met people and I networked and stuff. But things just happened and I can’t attribute myself to saying, “Oh, I did all this stuff.” Because there were a lot of things that came into my life that allowed me to do the things that I did. But I know that feeling of getting into your apartment with your roommates, and be like, “Let’s work. But we don’t know what we’re doing. Let’s just create something.”
Jay: No, it’s so true. It’s a very interesting … I think there’s a lot of parallels actually, between acting and entrepreneurship. I actually have a little spiel I talk about with … I think more entrepreneurs should produce content, should make movies and videos and ads. Because there’s just so many parallels between producing something and being an entrepreneur. But yeah, it’s so true. I look back at my career, and I’m like, “How did I get here? How did this … ?” And you just see a lot of really amazing things that you’re like, “Oh, man, I met this guy.” And there’s some fun stories I can share even with Creatably where we just met people and that person turned out to be pivotal to our success. And the whole thing just happened on a weird circumstance. So anyways, yeah, that’s what I’d say.
Charan: Yeah. And we will talk about that I want to talk about those stories. But before we get there, now I remember or hearing about you doing different videos with YouTubers and stuff, people that were-
Jay Davis Talks About Being an Entrepreneur
Charan: … getting into that space. Because I want to know how you got from “I got no idea what I’m doing; I’m in my apartment” to now creating Creatably. So can you walk us down the steps of what else happened after that led you to that path?
Jay: Yeah, that’s something … I think that something I noticed with people who love entrepreneurship is a lot of us have really weird career histories. “I did this and learned these things,” and then that lateral thinking, Shane Snow talks a lot about this in a lot of his books. “You’re here, and then you jump over to this place and you apply something from this totally different industry over to this industry that no one has ever connected.” So anyways, yeah, so I was in college and then I kept doing … I studied entrepreneurship. That’s how …
Jay: I don’t know that I would have … I don’t know, it’s a weird thing to study in college. I’m studying how to start a business. And I would always get in trouble with my teachers, because I was always starting companies. And then I’d be working on them during class.
Jay: And then they would get mad at me. Because they’re like, “Hey, dude, why aren’t you paying attention? ” I’m like, “I’m literally texting with my programmers.”
Jay: Doing the thing you’re trying to teach me how to do.
Jay: Which, ironically, most of the entrepreneurial professors had never done. They’d never started a successful company. So it’s a little bit of an irony of, “Hey, my company is making money right now.” So I started doing these iPhone companies. We started making games, some of them made money. It was just a really interesting time, 2007 and 2008, when you could make games and they sucked and they’d still make money. Yeah, so I did that. Then I started working for Vivint, ended up doing product development for Vivint. Had great experiences there, it was a great company, it was fun watching. When I started, they were APX Alarm. They were probably doing, I would guess $100 million a year. By the time I left they were doing $500 million a year. So this was just in four years, so much growth. Then four years there, and then I left and helped start a company. I was one of the first employees at a company called The Color Run. And was able to be involved in the creation of their viral strategy, video strategy, video marketing, product development-
Charan: Was that with T. R. Gourley, did T. R. Gourley do that? Did you do The Color Run?
Jay: No. That might have been a offshoot. So Color Run was the first group to do that.
Charan: Okay, cool.
Jay: Or he might have been there after me. I don’t know.
Jay: It was a weird, crazy, we were hiring 10 people a week. It was just insane.
Charan: It was insane.
Jay: I mean, it was so crazy. So that company just exploded. It really showed me the power of video and what video can do. So I was there. And then while I was there I started doing all these videos, I started hiring a lot of great videographers: Boston McConaughey, Scott Winn, Brandon Christensen. A lot of these guys, Steve Olpin, who I still to this day love working with. But I got into this world because no one at the company really wanted to do the videos. So it was, “Oh, we should probably make some videos for marketing.” Because they had created a video that had done well on YouTube and had driven some growth for them. And so they said, “Hey, we should probably do more of these.” And so I said, “Yeah, I’ll do it.” And they’re like, “Well, have you ever produced a video before?” I was like, “No, but I’ll figure it out.”
Jay: And I think that’s one of the key lessons for me, was always being willing to be, “I’ll figure it out. Oh, I don’t know, we’ll see what happens.” So then after that I started hiring all these videographers and we were on a trip to L.A., shooting a video for Color Run. And me and Scott Winn were the only ones — we were on a separate flight and we just hit it off and we were talking about all these ideas in YouTube and where we thought it was going we started talking about cool ideas and he had just finished “Fubalous,” “Dr. Fubalous.” Were you in “Dr. Fubalous”?
Charan: I was not, but I mean my friends helped make that movie, that show. Yeah, I wish I was [crosstalk 00:14:30].
Jay: I just feel like everyone at that time at BYU was in “Fubalous” [crosstalk 00:14:32].
Charan: I know, that was [crosstalk 00:14:34] … Yeah.
Jay: Yeah. So yeah, Matt [crosstalk 00:14:45]. Matt Mattson was in it. So a lot of great … yeah, so funny. So we just started talking about YouTube and stuff, and we said, “Hey, why don’t we just start trying stuff?” And we talked to all the guys. They were 10 guys on this project. And we were like, “Hey, we’re going to start a YouTube channel.” And everyone was like, “Oh, dude, let’s do it. Let’s get in.” And then it’s … this is one of the key lessons from my life was, we all got back. And me and Scott were like, “Okay, let’s do it.” And everyone’s like, “Well, can you pay me? I don’t know, is this ever going to make money?” Because our initial idea was to throw cats into the air. And it was … people were, “Oh, no, this seems dumb.”
Jay: And so it ends up just being me and Scott. And Brendon, by the way, comes and he helps us. And he says, “Hey, let’s make some music for it.” Which was the birth of Scott and Brendo. And then there’s one other guy who basically came and let us use … Steve Wyler, I think, or … what is Wyler’s last name? But yeah, he owned a slow-mo cam that we used. And so yeah, it was just this whole … There’s just this really interesting lesson about when there’s opportunities, a lot of times it’s not going to look like an opportunity. And so we started doing this stuff. We did this first video, Scott had this … Scott edited the first video, shot it, edited it together. And it was missing something and Scott was, “Hey, I think me and Brendon are going to make this track.”
Jay: And so we started talking about what would be funny and then, oh, let’s make a song about cats that’s dubstep. It’s about throwing cats in the air. The whole thing was just silly. And then we launch it. We started pushing it. And JJ Abrams retweeted it and it just broke the internet, back in that day, just went crazy. And then we did the slip-and -lide video, which actually was another idea we shot that first day. We shot a Christian Bouseff, with a bunch of pretty girls, coming down a water slide. And it was just hilarious. And Keith Hottinger, he was there. It was like Christian, Keith and all these really pretty girls. And so that bled into the slip-and-slide idea. And then we did Fruit Ninja, which really blew things up for us. But yeah, it was just really great experience to learn that. Just being willing to do something that didn’t make sense. I think that’s the core of entrepreneurship. It’s every idea I’ve ever started at the beginning people are, “This is so stupid.” And then two years later those people are, “Dude, how do I get involved?” Too late, man.
Charan: Too late, man. Well you know it’s-
Jay: So many of those guys … Yeah, go ahead.
Charan: The naysayers. And the thing is, I loved what you said about a lot of the opportunities that you had did not look an opportunity when you first started it. When you first went for it.
Charan: It doesn’t look an opportunity. Looks like, wait what? What are we doing? We’re throwing cats in the air? What is this? And how interesting it is just that principle of just saying yes to life almost. Saying, “Yeah, let’s do it.” I don’t know. And not necessarily having a huge expectation of, oh, this is going to be huge and viral and all the stuff. But it’s let’s just do it, just something happens. And I think that that attitude of going for it is really … I know in my world of acting, so many of the things and projects I’ve gotten has just come because I just went for it. And was like, uh, whatever. I had something very, recently happened where I felt it’s prompting. Because I was growing facial hair out. Dallas Jenkins, who’s the creator of “The Chosen” is as a friend of mine. And I was just yeah, maybe I should just … I had this prompting this one day I was I should text a picture of my facial hair and show it to Dallas.
Charan: And then I had another thought that’s like, that’s a stupid idea. That’s a weird idea. Why would you ever take a picture of yourself with facial hair, and texted to a grown man. It doesn’t make any sense. But then no, then the other one, then the thought came back I’m like who cares? Why not? What’s the worst that’s going to happen? So I did it. And two seconds later he texts me he’s, “Dude, can you work on “The Chosen” tomorrow? It was the craziest thing. So I ended up being on “The Chosen” because I took a picture of my facial hair, and sent it to Dallas. It’s just how-
Jay: It’s true, it’s how, yeah. And I think that’s where it’s funny. I’ll meet people who are, who want to be involved with something. And they just are, “Well, I need all this stuff.” And it’s like, “Dude, my whole life is a story of just low expectations and, oh, you want me to work on this? Okay, yeah. And we’ll figure it out later.” And sometimes I get burned. But I think more often than not, it’s turned into really good things because I was just willing to work on something. And some people are just so worried about what do I get out of this? And it’s if you’re always looking for that, you’re always going to get exactly what you expected. And I feel by not going in that way, I often get way more than I expected by just doing things. I mean, even Pillow Cube is one of the things that we’ve started at Creatably.
Charan: Trust me, I’m about to dive deep into Pillow Cube. Trust me, that’s one of the things I want to talk about big time, because that was huge. So before we get into that, though, you said something I want to tap on just a little bit more, you were saying something you didn’t have many much expectations on certain things when you went into it. Sometimes it’s just the resources that you had. And you go, let’s just with what we got just go do something. How do you feel you’ve developed that mindset? Because there’s other people that were what am I going to get out of it? Or, what am I going to get paid? That type of thing. Versus what you said was, “Hey, let’s just give it a shot. Right?
Jay: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a great question. I’m not sure exactly where it comes from, because I think there’s a lot of influences over time. I think some of it is I’m not someone who saying, so I like telling people yes. So I hate disappointing people. But I think it’s a belief in just I mean, even just helping people. I think that I’ve seen that so many times where people who … and it’s really fun seeing now, you graduated with this group of people and people who are struggling with their career and they’re out of a job. And then now seven, eight years later, you’re further in your career. And a lot of those same friends are, oh, they’re started this super successful company. Or they’re now a VP somewhere. And so I think it’s a belief in that, what goes around comes around, karma, whatever you want to call it. But that you get what you out … get out what you put in.
Jay: And I think that’s the problem, is so many people are, “I only want to do things that I for sure know, well, 100% I’m going to get an awesome award.” And I just think that’s such a lack of faith, not from a religious perspective. But just that faith of farming, or the law of the harvest, “you reap what you sow.” And if you never plant seeds, you’re just not going to harvest that much. And so I think that’s what’s so interesting about that mindset. It’s I plant a ton of seeds, I try to, because I’m hoping that a lot of those are going to eventually grow into trees. Now some of them won’t. But it’s better to plant lots of seeds. And so, yeah, it’s really interesting.
Charan: I love the way it works like that. Philosophically, it’s a very interesting principle and something that we should all learn about. Earlier this year, in February, I remember, some filmmaker friends of mine approached me while I was working on a film. And they said, “Hey, we have another film we’re making in months down the road, probably in fall or something. But we want you to play a role, and we want you to play a doctor in it.” I’m like, “Great, it sounds awesome.” Now, a couple months later, a friend of mine comes over and she needed help with an audition. So I helped her with this audition, and she didn’t get that role that she auditioned for, but she got a role … that audition booked her role on this other movie. So she’s doing this movie, and then I get a phone call from those filmmaker friends of mine saying, “Hey we want you in this movie that we’re doing, and we want you to play the doctor.
Charan: Turns out it’s the same movie that she’s in. And turns out my scenes are with her. It’s just how do you plan that? You can’t define that. And we were just laughing, we’re, “Wait, how did this all come together?” It’s just that beautiful principle of you reap what you sow. You put goodness in and you’re going to get goodness back. And I think that’s just an important principle that we should all cultivate. And I said the word cultivate because we are talking about farming, so I wanted to throw that.
Jay: Yeah, I love it. I love that.
Jay Davis Talks About Creatably
Charan: Yeah. So okay, let’s talk about the start of Creatably. So you’re doing all these videos, you’re working with Scott Winn, you were creating all these viral stuff. What made you say, “Okay, now I want to create my own ad agency?”
Jay: Yeah, so I think I was always fascinated more. I mean, Scott was always really interested in that side of being an influencer, being the face of the channel. I was always much more fascinated in it from an entrepreneurial standpoint of how does this make money, even when we did Fruit Ninja was I always looking at, “Wow, Fruit Ninja made so much money off of that ad.” They went from being way at the bottom, bottom, bottom of the App Store to back to number one on the App Store. And at the time being number one App Store on the page was huge. And they stayed there for six months because of this campaign. So for me, I was always fascinated from this entrepreneurial perspective more than I never wanted to be famous. I don’t like being on stage, I’m not that guy.
Jay: So then there was this period where I was unsure, I was how do I use this? There was another event company that my friend had started that I had been there to come up with the idea, but I was so busy with other things, I hadn’t gone through with it. And they’ve gotten it going and it was doing really well. So I jumped over there helped him with some viral stuff, helped grow that, then I was doing other things that that grew so fast but we couldn’t raise investment fast enough. And so we ended up having to sell off all the assets. And so it was just an interesting transition. I was still was, “What do I use my skill set for?” And then I went to, I created another little agency and sold that to a bigger agency, went there for a little while. And while I was there, I was still trying to figure out how do I use this skill set. And then three-and-a-half years ago, I just was I think I’m ready to go off on my own again.
Jay: I’d met some really great people who were, “Hey, dude, your track record, you should be doing these big projects, you should be doing ads, you should own an agency.” So I started working on a couple different projects. And it just organically happened again, because I was just, “Oh, here’s some people who need work done. They need to understand how to use video to grow their brands.” So I built an agency. And I think then it was interesting that I almost learned it sounds a contradictory lesson. But my wife was, “Okay, if you’re going to do this, if you’re going to go back out on your own, you’re going to plant this seed and you’re going to only focus on this one plant for a while.” “I know your track record, you’re always trying to help everybody, you’re always trying to get involved with a lot of different projects.”
Jay: “You’re always doing different things with different friends. For one year, you’re only allowed to focus on this one plant. And you need to turn it into a tree.” So that I can feed our family.
Jay: And it was really great. I think that was honestly, that is I think the hardest balance for a lot of entrepreneurs because they have that entrepreneurial ADD, where they love jumping between 50 different things. But the problem is, you don’t really have the resources to fulfill on any of it. So anyway, so I started Creatably. I really focused on that first year, I slept, ate and breathed Creatably. Outside of family and other church obligations, it was really Creatably was the thing. That was all I really focused on. And really just focused on creating something that was bigger than me, and creating something that I think one of the other keys was, I brought on really talented people. I think that’s another struggle, especially for service businesses, is you have to bring in other talented people so that you can be bigger than just yourself. The sum of the parts is greater than any of the individual or some of the whole. I don’t know what that phrase is, apparently-
Charan: It sounded [crosstalk 00:29:48].
Jay: Whatever that phrase is.
Charan: Yeah, yeah, I got you.
Jay: So, yeah. And that was how Creatably got started and we just really focused on how do we do great work. And you said, Harmons, Chamber, they were already around, they had been doing stuff. But we never came in with the mindset of “let’s compete with those guys.” It was really just, “Hey, we love working with startups, I’m an entrepreneur, I’ve built businesses before, let’s just help startups to grow and to do better marketing.” I’ve never, especially with agencies, I don’t feel there’s that much competition. We pitch against a lot of agencies, don’t pitch against the same agency. Every client we pitch is not against the same agency. Most of the clients we pitch against, it’s every time a different agency almost. And so, I don’t know. I just viewed it, we came in and said, “Hey, we just think we can do something special here and do something unique.” And now we’ve grown a lot.
Jay: I think it builds something that I’m super proud of, because it is I’m constantly, I’m busy with a lot of other stuff, investing and growing Pillow Cube, and growing some of these other businesses we have equity in. And I’m constantly amazed that Creatably is almost better without me than with me sometimes. And it’s really like I’m still involved enough to not have it lose my DNA. But at the same time, it’s awesome to see people just jump in and put their whole hearts and souls into a business. They weren’t necessarily the founder of but they’ve become the founder of by just their effort.
Charan: Well, I’ll tell you what, I’m grateful for Creatably because they’ve kept me employed as an actor. So I’m grateful. [crosstalk 00:31:57] Oh, come on, come on, you make me blush. But the thing I also noticed because of your entrepreneurial mindset is you’re not just an ad agency. And you’re taking, you’re not only have you done awesome campaigns for people and you’ve structured your deals in a way where you also have little equity in somebody’s startups for helping them grow big, which I think is awesome. Because rather than charging my huge lump sum of money up front saying, “Hey, we know you don’t have that, we get that. So we’ll take, maybe a fraction of the budget that other agencies might charge.” But say, “But we do want ownership and little pieces of equity.” which is great.
Charan: But I remember, we were having a discussion, I forgot where we were having this discussion. And I was, “Hey, with all of these skills and all these things that you’ve done, why don’t you guys create your own IP, your own business?” And you were, “Yeah, it’s in the works.” And then fast-forward, the next thing I know, you have the Pillow Cube.” And I’m, “Oh, my gosh, this is amazing.” So I feel I should have equity in just me planting the idea, even though you’re already doing it.
Jay: I’ll give you some shares.
Jay Davis Talks About Pillow Cube
Charan: Thanks. I just need some feathers, just some feathers in those pillows, that’d be great. But tell me about Pillow Cube, how did that come about and all that stuff?
Jay: Yeah, so Pillow Cube was an idea that I had a long time ago, the idea actually came when I was 10. And maybe that’s my lemonade stand moment. But as a 10-year-old I had this best friend whose mom was Japanese. And I came downstairs, I’d spent the night at their house and she was “Oh, how’d you sleep?” I was like … She’s, “Oh, what’s wrong?” And I was like, “I just hate pillows, pillows are the worst, I hate. I’m a side sleeper.” Must have been the weird, 10-year-old. I had very adult conversations with my friends’ parents. Anyway, she was started telling me about how in Japan and other Asian countries they have these pillow foam boxes. I was, “Oh, man, it’d be great.” And then over the years, I noticed, oh, man, some of my favorite places to sleep are on couches that have that perfect armrest height.
Jay: Where your neck’s in alignment, and you just you’re out. So for a long time I had this idea, but I was always trying to figure out how do you do it? Do you make a plastic box? Do you make a wood box? Do you … a lot of Asian countries, they’ll do a wood box, wrap it in towels, or they’ll do a little wood stand in Egypt, back in the day. So anyways, so then I started talking to some different foam suppliers and found some really great memory foams that actually had the more weight you put on it, the more support it gave you. And so they use different additives to basically be a lot firmer than traditional memory foams. And more supportive but still really comfortable. Every side sleeper knows about ear pain. There’s a lot of weird things about being a side sleeper. But if you’re side sleeperm you know your ears will hurt if your pillow’s too firm, but you want a firm pillow because you want your neck to not bend. You don’t want to be doing this-
Charan: Yeah, because your neck gets kinked. I can’t even tell you how many times my neck has gotten kinked.
Jay: Yeah. Anyway, yeah. So anyway, so we Kickstarted this Pillow Cube, and it just did really well. And then we invested more into it and spent more time on it. And it’s just grown and grown and grown. And now we’ve brought on strategic investors and some guys on the East Coast who are … even meeting them is a whole ‘nother story. Actually, one of them I met through that company that we met in New York, who was one of our first clients. And I met them because this random girl emailed me and was, “Hey, do you guys do any events for your clients?” And I was, “Not really, but let me think about it and see if I can find anybody.” And then I was, “Do you know anyone who needs a great marketing campaign to grow their startup?” And she was, “I wish you could talk to these guys in this company called Clean Coal.”
Jay: And so that’s how we met those guys. It was, oh, you emailed me, I asked her that question. And then we did their first three or four campaigns. They’ve blown up, they’re now just going crazy and we love those guys. And then their investor reached out to them and said, “Hey, who did all your marketing, because those guys were amazing. Who are they?” And they always kept us quiet. Because they didn’t want to tell everyone. I guess. We were their secret weapon. So they introduced me to this investor and he’s just like this, the guy’s worked on … he was a senior partner at Boston Consulting Group, and just amazing. And so yeah, it’s just funny the ways that it takes time. Five, three years ago, three-and-a-half years ago, we were doing Clean Coal and do their Kickstarter. And then now their investor’s our chairman for Pillow Cube, we’re just going crazy. And then we’ve invested in a lot of businesses, &Collar, which is just crushing it. Those guys are the best and-
Charan: Yeah, yeah, I saw-
Jay: There’s lots of different things.
Charan: Funny enough just today I saw a commercial for &Collar and for Pillow Cube. And I’m like, I knew it.
Jay: Oh, really?
Charan: They’re all, it’s all because I wanted to talk to Jay today.
Jay: Facebook knew it. [crosstalk 00:37:41].
Charan: Yeah. That’s amazing. And it’s interesting because you talk about all these different avenues of connections. It’s that one person that you met at some random event somewhere, led you to this person which led you to this person and now that person is now your investor and is over Pillow Cube, and he’s helping you with … and who are you know? Now you’re investing in &Collar, and yeah, I just think it’s an amazing thing to see you work and to see how those things work themselves out. Because your personality-
Jay: I was going to say the-
Charan: Yeah, go ahead.
Jay: I was just going to say the moral of the story is, be friends with Will Beck. Because I think he introduced us, and you introduced me to A. Todd, who’s directed a bunch of our stuff. And he such a good … he’s just connects.
Charan: I introduced you to A. Todd. We had that-
Jay: Oh, that’s right. Yes, that’s right.
Charan: No, the word is “please be friends with me.” I’m just kidding. No, but Will Beck, I’m trying to think, because Will Beck, who did Will Beck introduce us to? Because we met because of that.
Jay: He introduced me to you.
Charan: No, it wasn’t, dude. I met you on the Kizik’s commercial.
Jay: Oh, that’s right.
Charan: Yeah. Just that’s how we met.
Charan: But the thing is, we’re both friends with Will Beck. And he’s just so connected with every everybody. So the moral of the story is just be friends with people.
Charan: I think-
Jay: No, it’s sort of, connect with people and network. And that’s where, I’ve learned this from you, from Will, it’s amazing what happens when, I’ll go, me and Will will go to Silicon Slopes Summit every year together. We go to zero classes. We don’t listen to a single speaker. And the whole time we just hanging out in the VIP lounge and just talk to people, “What do you do? What do you do?” And we’ll just, he’ll walk up to anyone, you’ll walk up to anyone. And just meet people. And it’s funny how often it just turns into these amazing connections because you meet all these random people that you never would have met otherwise. So, yeah, good times.
Charan: It’s funny you talk about random connections and stuff like that. So my buddy, Brad, introduced me to his friend Rick. And he’s always been telling me about this dude, Rick White, that Rick White, I don’t know if you know who Rick White is.
Jay: I think I do.
Charan: But anyway he’s … you got to meet him at some point. And so years ago, actually it was 2016, Halloween. 2016 Halloween night. Brad’s like, “Dude, come, come meet us. What are you doing?” So I go meet up with Brad, and Rick is with him. Two grown men trick-or-treating, and I’m like, oh, my gosh, this is embarrassing. But Rick White is a billionaire, and I’m like, what are you doing, because it was amazing. But he started Fusion-io. He’s partners with Steve Wozniak, And those silicon-
Jay: Oh, yeah.
Charan: He’s always giving the speeches and all this type of stuff. Well, that night, Rick, had us come over to his big mansion house or whatever. And I was impressed with a lot of things, but the thing I was most impressed with was he made these delicious sloppy joes. And I’m, “Dude, forget everything else, just tell me the recipe for this.” And he was just so stoked that I was so pumped about his sloppy joes that he called me up to hang. And he’s,”Dude, I even got sloppy joes for you.” And we just hang out. He just calls me up out of the blue to hang. We don’t talk about anything business-related. We just … to hang out. And he’s just this, it’s this random connection that just happened because so-and-so introduced me to so-and-so. So I think just being genuine. And that’s the one thing I’ve always loved about you, Jay, is you’re so genuine. And now you’re hilarious. But you’re so genuine, and you’re so kind and you’re very unassuming. And I think that’s what makes it so appealing for people to work with you.
Charan: I think sometimes entrepreneurs have this very type-A personality— you’ve got to get this done, you got to get that done — and that’s never been my style at all. So I never considered myself an entrepreneur because I’m like, I’m just not that type-A type of personality. And you’re just so relaxed and calm and jovial, and everyone loves working with you. And yet you crush it in business. So I think there’s something to be said about, having that type of really personal demeanor that makes it so people want to just work with you. So it’s [crosstalk 00:42:40].
Jay: Super nice to hear. Hey, thanks. That’s super nice. Well, I’m going to answer a question that you asked me.
Jay Davis’s Advice to His Younger Self
Jay: Because I just realized what I would say. And I think this is something I’ve learned through our friendship. But you’d asked me earlier before we started interviewing, what would I tell a younger me?
Jay: And I think my answer would be, don’t go into every relationship trying to figure out what you can get out of that person. I think even that story of Rick White, it’s just, you’re just friends with them. But most people, that’s I think where a lot of young entrepreneurs make this mistake, is because they’re trying to raise money because they’re trying to start a business they see everyone is like, “Can you give me money? Can you help me?” And rather than just developing relationships. And I was honestly bad at that earlier on, I had that approach of “Oh, this guy’s a potential investor” rather than just forming friendships. And it’s interesting how now with even Pillow Cube, a lot of these people just reached out and they’d be talking about Creatably. And, “Hey, can we have Creatably help with this stuff with this investment?” I was just, “Hey, can I just tell you about this other business, I just want to see what you think?” And it was funny that by not going and being all aggressive, he was, “Do you need an investor?” And I was, “Well, I’m open to it.”
Charan: Yeah, it’s so unassuming, unassumingly it’s the thing.
Jay: Yeah. And so I think that’s an important thing for young entrepreneurs is develop relationships, because like me and you, years now of being friends just from doing a single project. And that’s how most of my friendships are, is it’s like you’re going to be … you’re going to get to a point, and it’s been really fun because I feel this is happened in the last couple years. But a lot of the people of my age who we all graduate at the same time, we’re all hitting our stride. And it’s funny that it’s there’s that 10, 12, 15 years of everyone just grinding and then everyone starts hitting their stride, some people are a little bit earlier. Some are later and that’s fine, but it’s, you hit that stride. And then everyone is building off of each other and helping each other. And so I think that’d be my advice, just don’t view everyone in a “what’s in it for me” mentality.
Jay: But just genuinely try to help people, try and be a good person and it will 100% be paid back. Me and Will definitely have very, we owe each other so many favors and we just keep adding more to the pile. And we love that. We love that, you owe me 1000 favors, I owe you 1000 favors. And that’s why we have a great relationship, because neither of us is keeping track. It’s almost we’re just trying to help each other. So, anyways, that’d be my advice. [crosstalk 00:45:54] we’re talking?
Charan: It’s beautiful advice, man. Because it really takes the mentality of, “Hey, what’s in it for me, but what can I give?” You know what I mean? What can I contribute to this world? And what talents do I have to offer and to help? I mean-
Jay: What am I …
Charan: Go ahead?
Jay: Go ahead. I was just going to say one of my hacks.
Jay: Oh, no.
Charan: Oh, we’re going to do the same-
Jay: One of my hacks is to just whenever I meet a client, I always buy their products right at the gate.
Charan: That’s awesome.
Jay: And so immediately they’re, “Oh, you bought.” And I’m, “Yeah, if we’re going to potentially do work with you, I can spend 100 bucks to buy your product.” And it’s such a differentiator than right out the gate being, “Can you send us a bunch of free stuff?”
Jay Davis Talks About Overcoming Challenges
Charan: Yeah. That’s great. It’s a great way to show value. Showing value to your potential client, which I think is awesome. So it’s interesting. I want to shift topics just a little bit. And one of the things in regards to being an entrepreneur is we do face struggles. You face struggles when maybe in your personal life, health, emotional, finances, whatever it is or businesses just didn’t work out. Or things, you learn a lot of valuable lessons. But “man, that was a hard lesson to learn” type of thing. So is there any specific moment in your life where you’re this is a good lemons-to-lemonade stand story. One day Charan is going to come up to me and ask me, “‘Hey, what’s my most memorable lemons to lemonade stands story?’ and I have this answer for him.” Yeah, anything that?
Jay: Yeah, totally. Yeah, I’m going to turn my light on because it’s getting dark in my room. Can I actually see my face? Yeah, I mean, probably the failed businesses. I’ve started many things that didn’t work, things that spectacularly failed. And I think those are the hardest moments. Because I think what’s interesting about entrepreneurship is just a very … it’s really ruthless. And so it does feel at times like a winner-takes-all game, where it just feels like a lot of times like a thing where you either killing it or you’re really struggling. And so I think that makes sense. I don’t know that that’s necessarily true, but it feels that way, in the moment. Is like when you’re struggling and you have a business that isn’t working, you’d just turn, everywhere you turn there’s this company just raised $50 million, this company just sold for 1 billion. And it’s often people you know.
Jay: When you’re working in a career, the guy who used to work with you in product development doesn’t all of a sudden become a billionaire or sell his company for $100 million. So I think that’s what’s hard is it’s very easy. And I think it’s good to remember in both situations. When things are going well to remember that, hey, remember that at one point things were not going well for you and it was tough to hear how well things were going for others, and when things are going well to just … and when things are not going well to remember don’t give up. It’s just a game of persistence in many ways and trying to keep going. So I think that’s a key lesson, I would say. And those business failures because I’ve had things fail and go under, I think one of the takeaways I always had is that every trial you go through as an entrepreneur is also a blessing to you, it’s also a huge one.
Jay: And then every blessing you have is also a trial. And I think that’s a good mixture that when things are going really well that’s also a test to see if you’re going to be a horrible human being. And then when things are going really bad it’s going to also, it is a really big test. But it’s also a really big blessing because you have those moments where you get to realize what’s most important. And I think that that’s what’s the lemons-to-lemonade ideas for me is probably been more long-term. I don’t know that I even in the moment could fully realize it. But then as time goes on, even just today me and my wife are, life’s really great. And that’s not a comment on how much money we have, or the business is even. It’s just our kids are healthy, we’re happy in our marriage, we have what we need to live a comfortable life.
Jay: We have amazing employees who just put their whole hearts and souls into our companies. And so yeah, I think it’s just taking those moments to realize even in the worst times life’s pretty great. I remember when one of those businesses failed. I walked upstairs one day and looked outside and was, oh, this is horrible. And yet I looked outside and it was this beautiful fall day, and I was yeah, life will be okay, it’ll turn up. It’ll turn around. And it has. There’s been good things that have happened since, there’s still challenges I mean even I think that that’s the other lesson is even as businesses grow as they succeed, you just have new challenges. I remember talking to, I interviewed Andrew Smith once for my podcast, I was asking him about what’s the big lesson you’ve learned? He’s the CEO, and him and his wife run Four Foods Group. And they did a billion dollars in 2019. And this was before 2020.
Jay: But he was like, “Now I have this new level of stress, there’s thousands and thousands of employees who rely on me to make good decisions to feed their families.” When he told me that, because I looked at him, he said he sold two of his companies. He’s a super-successful entrepreneur, really smart, good human being who does good things for other people. But at the same time, he’s still stressed, he’s still overwhelmed, he has challenges. So I think that’s a key learning, is you can’t look at those people who are doing, who are getting some accolades and they’re raising money, and they’re getting investors. And be like, “Well, their life’s easy.” It’s all hard. It’s all challenging, but it’s also all good.
Charan: I know we share the same faith, and the president of our church spoke today about gratitude.
Charan: And that that’s a thing that I really love to think about and ponder about. Because a lot of things that you were mentioning today are just barely, was all about gratitude. And about recognizing, hey you know what, things are good. Now we got a good relationship with my wife, my kids. Those are really, really good things to remember. And it’s the success is one of those things where it’s yeah, you could be extremely successful with money and all that stuff. And other times, you could have nothing.
Charan: I remember I was in India, and I don’t know if you’ve ever been to India before.
Jay: I haven’t.
Charan: But when I went to India, one of the last times I went, which was a little while ago now. I was spending some time with my cousins, and India is very, very crowded, it’s very dirty. It’s just tons of people everywhere. And it’s just insane chaos almost all the time. And I remember asking my cousin, I said, “Hey, if you could live anywhere in the world, anywhere at all, where would it be?” And without even a blink of an eye, he’s like, “Pondicherry.” Which is the town that he was living in currently. And I said, “No, no, no, I’m sorry. Let me rephrase that question, anywhere in the world.” And he’s like, “No, I’d pick Pondicherry.” And I said, “Well, why would you pick Pondicherry?” He’s like, “Because I’m never lonely here.” Wow, what an insight, a really powerful insight.
Charan: And I just thought that was so cool because here I thought, oh, I live in America, I’ve got all these privileges, I’ve got my own car, I’ve got my own place I’m living and all this stuff. And I remember thinking but, man, I’m so lonely sometimes. And for him he just has this constant feeling of being around family, being around friends, creating all these memories, and being so grateful for that. And I remember he was always just creating life wherever he went. And to me that’s just such a positive, positive message. So I think, yeah, being grateful is awesome.
Jay: Yeah, it’s so interesting that you look at people here in the U.S. to be, oh, Malibu, have you been to Malibu? And he’s like yeah, I don’t care. And I think that’s very telling for a lot of us that as you just progress and you see each person who sees some success, even Andrew mentioned this, he’s like, “After I sold my first company, I went and bought a Lamborghini. And then the next day after buying a Lamborghini I was no different. I felt no different, I felt no happier. It wasn’t any better, nothing had changed.” And I think it’s very easy to get stuck in that mindset that, oh, if only I could get rid of all these pesky challenges in life, I would be happy. And it’s these the challenges that really bring the joy in life. So anyways …
Jay Davis Talks About What the Future Holds for Him
Charan: Dude, I love that, I love that. It’s a really new perspective to having joy, is you have to accept the challenges. So I want to wrap up and I know we talked about some of these things already. So let me ask you, what do you see yourself doing? I don’t know, even five, 10 years down the road? What do you think that the future holds for Jay Davis?
Jay: It’s a great question. I don’t know. I honestly, the thing I do know for a fact is … I was talking to my wife actually about this last night, that we were talking about this person that we were involving in one of the businesses and they were just, not in a greedy way, but they’re just like, “I don’t know, I kind of expected to be more successful by now.” And I was just talking to my wife. And she was, “Yeah, but that’s because you are an entrepreneur and not because it’s an opportunity to make a ton of money. You love starting businesses, that is your passion in life. Starting, coming up with products, starting a company, building the team, finding a way to make it happen, finding a way to make the product, that is what you love more than anything, from a career perspective.”
Jay: I obviously love my wife and children more, but from a career that is … I love it. There’s nothing else that I enjoy more. So that’s I think I’ll still be … It even blows my mind. Sometimes we’ll have clients who they’re really passionate about their business, but then I’ll ask them, “Hey, what are you going to do after this? This business is going really well, you’ll probably sell in the next five years or have an exit, what are you going to do next?” And it’s funny that a lot of times they are, “Not entrepreneurship, man. I think I only got one in me, after this one I think I’m done.” For me that’s just crazy. Because I’m like, dude, I don’t want to do anything else. This is the thing I love more than anything. I just love starting companies.
Jay: So I know I’ll be doing something with entrepreneurship, I have no idea. I think I’ve also really enjoyed starting to do investing and mentoring younger entrepreneurs and working with younger companies and trying to help them, working with the guys at &Collar who are just the greatest entrepreneurs and they’re so fun to work with. That’s what I love. So yeah, building companies, investing, being on boards, I think that’s the plan, going on a good vacation once a year.
Jay: And turning that phone off. I want to get to that point.
Charan: Yeah, you know what?
Charan: I think it’s awesome. And the future’s, all of them are brighter for it because your heart is always in the right spot. And you’re always creating good things and our conversations that we’ve had and lunches that we’ve had, honestly, one of the greatest blessings in my life is your introduction to Red Fuego. You were the one that told me what to order. Every time I go there I order the same thing, every time. So good. But no, seriously I appreciate you taking your time and being on this podcast because there’s a lot of key things that you said that I really, really liked. And a lot of it had to just do it being a good person and being kind to people, and not really seeking after your own interest when you’re being an entrepreneur but genuinely caring about people. Because people can feel that. Now they can feel when you genuinely are taking an interest in them.
Charan: I remember I one time I met … there’s a studio called Hollywood Center or Center Studios or L.A. Center Studios, I think, or Hollywood Locations is what it is. It’s a big locations studio in the heart of L.A. And tons and tons of movies shoot there, like “Batman” and all these big movies like [crosstalk 01:00:52] they shoot in these studios. And the owner of the studios, his name is Brian Brosnan and I met him once. Or I met him a couple times, actually. And the first time I met him, he was so eager and excited to meet me. It was very interesting. He had a [inaudible 01:01:12] let me put my coat on. Oh, gosh he was, “Hey, how you doing? How you doing? Thank you so much for coming and visiting us.” And I’m, “Dude, you own this place. I am nobody, I am nobody.”
Charan: But he treated me like I was royalty. He introduced me to everybody he saw, he sat me down, he’s like, “Charan what do you want to eat? On the house, whatever is on the house for Charan.” And I literally was just meeting him because my other friend knew him and worked with him and wanted to introduce him to me. But that’s how he treats everybody. Because when he got to Hollywood, he got to Hollywood with only like five bucks in his pocket. And he’s like, “I want to do something big here.” And now he’s the owner of the studio. He’s got an amazing story. And he’s so full of gratitude for everybody. And I love that spirit of gratitude that is what helps him to be an entrepreneur. And I feel like the same thing with you, I’ve never felt at one point, “Oh, man, I’m so threatened by Jay.” I’ve never felt you’re “too cool for school.” You’ve always had an open door. And we’ve been able to come and shoot the breeze and talk projects and stuff like that. So yeah, man-
Jay: Yeah, I love it.
Charan: I’m excited for your future and for what happens, and yeah, man, thank you. Thank you so much for taking the time. I really appreciate you being on my podcast.
Jay: Yeah, dude, thanks for having me. I appreciate it. You’re the best.
Charan: Awesome. Yeah, you’re the best. I will talk to you soon, okay?
Jay: Okay, sounds good.
Charan: Thanks so much for listening to the Lemonade Stand Podcast. And we hope you enjoyed this episode. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on whatever platform you use to be alerted when we release new episodes. We’d also love to hear your feedback in the reviews, and if you or someone you know has an awesome lemonade stand stories, please reach out to us on social media and let us know. Thanks so much and have a great day.