Podcast No. 25: NOBULL Co-Founders Michael Schaeffer and Marcus Wilson

May 29, 2019

My guests today are Michael Schaeffer and Marcus Wilson, Co-Founders of the very popular and rapidly growing training brand NOBULL. If you’re not familiar with NOBULL, they make some of the best training shoes on the market and I’m pumped to be hosting these guys on their first-ever podcast appearance together.

Michael, Marcus and I discuss how they built the brand and where the idea came from, as well as the future of the company and trends in footwear technology as a whole. We also talk about all the things they do in their day-to-day lives to optimize their performance as entrepreneurs and executives.

As many of our listeners probably know, WHOOP and NOBULL have a number of athletes in common and share several similar core values, and I think there’s a lot here you’ll enjoy.

 

NOBULL Co-Founders Michael Schaeffer and Marcus Wilson discuss training and building the perfect CrossFit shoe on the WHOOP Podcast.

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Show Notes:

3:08 - What is NOBULL? Marcus says it’s “a training brand for athletes who don’t believe in excuses. It’s something that’s very much core to who Michael and I are.”

4:20 - Partnership. “Our skill sets compliment each other really, really well. Michael handles more of the look and feel of the brand, I handle the business side,” Marcus explains. “Most importantly we trust each other completely.”

6:36 - Where Did Name Come From? “We were passionate about working out, we were passionate about training, and it naturally grew out of that,” Michael says. “One morning we realized what really describes it is not selling bullsh*t to customers.” Marcus adds “It’s something that’s really connected with the training community because it’s all about you putting in the work.”

10:58 - Branding. They found their identity first, before landing on a product. “Once we had the name, and we knew what the essence of the brand was about, we didn’t really need a lot of guidelines,” Michael says. “Don’t put anything on that doesn’t do anything, and be honest about what the product does.”

13:06 - First Prototype. “We got these prototypes and they were just absolutely horrific,” Michael recalls. “We were so deflated taking the shoes out of the box.” Marcus adds “We made a very difficult decision to push the launch out to the next year until we had something that we were proud of. It was probably the hardest, but best decision that we made.”

15:17 - Getting it Right. Michael says “We found a better material, the factory put better quality control in place, and that helped us create a product that wasn’t perfect, but we were proud enough to launch. And there’s a big difference, you would never launch anything if you waited for perfect.”

16:27 - The Shoes. Marcus explains what their goals were. “You need a shoe that is stable, durable, that you can do short runs in. We stripped it down to the bare essentials and created a shoe that we liked to train in.” Michael adds “We didn’t really set out to make the most comfortable shoe.”

18:36 - NOBULL Today. “To see how fast things have grown around the world is absolutely amazing,” Marcus exclaims.

19:56 - Bootstrapped. Marcus and Michael have gotten to where they are today without any investors.

20:11 - Athletes. “We don’t have many sponsored athletes,” Marcus says. “We want to make sure we develop really meaningful relationships with the ones we have.”

21:02 - Daily Life as Entrepreneurs. Michael says “Now we have a little bit more time to step back and really think about where do we want to take this.” Marcus adds “It really comes down to not necessarily what you can do, but what you should do.”

23:48 - Using WHOOP. “I discovered WHOOP close to two years ago and have been geeking out on all the data ever since,” Marcus says. “It’s really helped my awareness around sleep, recovery, and what impacts those things. … In the early days as an entrepreneur you’re working all the time, and not enough sleep. WHOOP really helped me understand how little sleep I was getting and to reprioritize.”

26:08 - Nutrition. “It’s great to have a young team here that’s also interested in talking about this stuff,” Michael says. “In the end I think it comes down to what feels good for you.”

26:43 - Fasting. “I’m trying to do one 24-hour fast every week now,” Michael states. “My WHOOP is very helpful in me understanding this,” Marcus adds. “How quickly I reach my lower resting heart rate is much faster when I’m fasting. I find I get the best sleep when I do a 36-hour fast.”

28:47 - Travel Tips. “I think just being fit and healthy in general helps,” Michael says. “And being active once you get there.”

29:25 - Meditation. “I try to create a morning routine, when I get up I meditate for 15-20 minutes with Headspace,” Marcus says. He tells a story of once meditating while crossing the London Bridge. Will talks about how common it is for high-powered executives and founders to meditate.

31:45 - Future of Footwear Tech. “We have a knitted running shoe. That’s a super progressive trend in the marketplace right now,” Michael says. “3D printing is a huge one… I think that’s where it’s going over time.” Marcus adds “Startups are developing really powerful connections with very focussed customer bases.”

35:22 - Using Social Media. “We interact with customers all the time,” Marcus says. “Everybody here is customer service,” Michael adds.

37:56 - Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. What have they learned from reading the Nike Co-Founder's book? “Doing that in 1963… How much fun he had in those early days,” is what stood out to Marcus. “Let’s enjoy this ride.”

39:39 - First Product Launch in 2015. “The night before we were literally building 40 box-jump boxes in Michael’s garage at one in the morning,” Marcus fondly remembers. “It was 15 degrees out.”

42:56 - Tips for Success. “Try to find a field or a company to work for that you truly believe in,” Michael says. “It should be your lifestyle.” Marcus adds “Things that I do for fun, a lot of it is aligned with what we do here.”

 

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Will Ahmed

Will Ahmed (44 Articles)

Will Ahmed is the Founder and CEO of WHOOP, which has developed next generation wearable technology for optimizing human performance. WHOOP today works with everyone from professional athletes to fitness enthusiasts to executives. Ahmed has raised more than $50 million from top investors and has an active advisory board that consists of some of the world’s most notable cardiologists, technologists, and designers. He wrote “The Feedback Tool: Measuring Fitness, Intensity, and Recovery,” which sparked the underlying physiology and engineering for his work today. Ahmed was named a 2011 Harvard College Scholar for finishing in the top 10% of his class and a CSA Scholar Athlete; he captained the Harvard Men’s Varsity Squash Team. He was also recently named to Forbes 30 Under 30 and Boston Business Journal 40 Under 40.

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