Disrupting with Tenacity & Ignorance: Nicholas Reichenbach's Lessons on Timing, PR, and Influencer Marketing

July 10, 2024

Nicholas Reichenbach, founder and CEO of Flow Alkaline Spring Water, has a knack for spotting industry-shifting opportunities. His career spans from pioneering ringtone publishing to launching BlackBerry's app store, culminating in his current venture disrupting the beverage industry.

In our chat, Nicholas offers a ton of practical advice for building brands. He emphasizes things that have been effective for his businesses like the value of expert publicists and the importance of learning from specialists in their fields, which you can read more about below. Beyond just strategy, Nicholas shares his entrepreneurial philosophy, giving us an inside look at the thinking behind his successes. He brings a unique perspective for aspiring business leaders, serving as a case study for the realities of creating and growing companies that push boundaries.

Check out our full conversation here:

But let’s start here with 5 highlights from the episode:

The Power of Tenacious Ignorance (18:38)

Impeccable Timing is Critical (21:00)

Lean on Experts, Not Ego (24:08)

Rock Stars of Hype (16:39)

Authentic Influence Beats Paid Hype (29:04)

The Power of Tenacious Ignorance

When I asked Nicholas about the traits that have made him a successful entrepreneur, he answered without hesitation:

"You only need to have two traits to be a successful entrepreneur: Tenacity and Ignorance. The two of them are lethal. It's like you don't know what you don't know, and you don't care."

In a world where everyone's trying to play by the rules, sometimes the key to disruption is a healthy dose of naivety. When you're not weighed down by the baggage of "best practices" and industry norms, you're free to dream up wild ideas and chase them with reckless abandon. It's this tenacious ignorance that has allowed Nicholas to reimagine what's possible in the beverage space and build a brand that stands out.

Impeccable Timing is Critical

Timing can make or break a startup, and Nicholas has learned this lesson firsthand:

"Can you get in too early? Yes. Can you get in too late? Yeah, I've had that happen too. But with Flow, we hit it right. If it was two years before, it wouldn't have worked. Two years after, I would have been in a competitive market."

The art of entrepreneurship is all about navigating the dance of market readiness and competitive landscape. Jump in too soon, and you risk being the tree that falls in an empty forest. Wait too long, and you might find yourself fighting for scraps in a crowded market. Nicholas's ability to read the tea leaves and seize the perfect moment is a testament to his strategic savvy and a key factor in Flow's rise.

Lean on Experts, Not Ego

One of the things that struck me most about Nicholas's approach is his willingness to seek out and listen to people who know more than he does:

"I always go for domain expertise over my own opinion. If you're a domain expert, I love leveraging your knowledge to build my success.”

In the ego-driven world of entrepreneurship, it's refreshing to hear a founder emphasize the importance of intellectual humility. Rather than trying to be the smartest person in the room, Nicholas surrounds himself with people who have deep knowledge and experience in their fields. By fostering a culture of collaboration and openness to outside expertise, he's been able to build a company that's greater than the sum of its parts.

Rock Stars of PR

When it comes to launching a consumer-facing brand, Nicholas doesn't mince words:

"Don't ever start a consumer-facing brand without a rock star publicist. That's number one. I never start a company now without a rock star publicist because that's how you get into the mind share of the masses."

In today's attention economy, the battle for mindshare is fiercer than ever. While some founders might view PR as an afterthought, Nicholas understands that it's an essential ingredient in the recipe for breakout success. By investing in top-tier publicity talent from the get-go, he's been able to cut through the noise and build a brand that resonates with consumers on a massive scale.

Authentic Influence Beats Paid Hype

Instead of throwing money at celebrity endorsements, Nicholas has a more organic approach to getting Flow into the right hands:

"I get the most interesting humans on this planet drinking Flow. That's how I do it. We have well over 20 celebrities that are shareholders of Flow. But if you believe in your product and you believe that it needs to be in the right hands, the universe brings it to you."

In an age where consumers are increasingly skeptical of sponsored content and paid influencer posts, authenticity has become the ultimate currency. Rather than chasing after big-name endorsements, Nicholas focuses on cultivating genuine relationships with influential people who truly believe in Flow's mission and product. This approach not only saves money but also creates a sense of organic buzz and grassroots enthusiasm that traditional advertising can't match.

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