Inner Strength and Outer Bounds
Episode 13
August 4, 2020

Inner Strength and Outer Bounds

With Jiake Liu, Co-Founder and CEO of Outer

Today I sat down with the Co-Founder and CEO of Outer, Jiake Liu. Named the #1 fastest-growing direct-to-consumer company in the US for Q2 this year by Business Insider, Outer is a venture-backed outdoor furniture brand based in Santa Monica on a mission to build a community around outdoor living, one backyard at a time. In this episode, you’ll hear about Jiake’s childhood in moving from China to Alabama, how he faced a tough fallout with his first startup’s cofounders and explains how a visit with his cousin sparked the idea for Outer. He shares with us his experience in building a DTC company and how, instead of opening stores, he created the novel Neighborhood Showroom concept. Tune in to hear about all of this and more!

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In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

  • How his love for building things started early on and his entrepreneurial drive was influenced by his mother
  • His first businesses on eBay and in IT and how he made good money selling security cameras to restaurants while still in high school 
  • How his love for the League of Legends video game led him to go to LA for an internship at Riot Games where he helped them launch into their biggest market to date, China
  • How he had a difficult choice to make between going back to work at Riot or continue to build out the software he had designed to help his mother’s restaurant business
  • How he learned to not just be a great engineer but also taught himself how to be great at sales by going door to door to over 300 restaurants
  • Why Jiake and his co-founders decided to pivot from Survly to ProspectWise
  • How the fallout between Jiake and his co-founders provided a hard, but important lesson on how vital the health and culture of a team is
  • How his tenacity and drive to keep going, with the trust and encouragement of investors and mentors and family, led to a new co-founder, new possibilities, growth, and profit
  • How being vulnerable and asking for help became the key to him rebuilding his company
  • How Outer grew 20x this year and has a cash flow positive status as a company
  • How Outer created over 100 neighborhood showrooms in 80 cities in the US
  • How Jiake’s experiences have helped him become a great leader and continue to build not only a thriving business with a great team but also a network of satisfied customers


To Find Out More:

https://liveouter.com/

Quotes:

“I'm still a very introverted person, and I'm an engineer, but I had to learn how to sell, get rejected a lot, and get turned away.”

“I think most startups fail due to founder fallout.”

“I think there's a lot of hesitation that entrepreneurs face with being vulnerable that prevents them from getting the help they need to potentially succeed.”

“We had to take the hard route of figuring out what is broken about outdoor furniture. When it comes down to the furniture, it's all about material.”

“We knew we had a product-market fit because people really love it and because they can't stop talking about it.”

“To truly let go, as a leader, is a lot easier said than done.”

“I don't get too over the top in my head and say, ‘Wow, we're going to dominate the world.’ I have to think about potential downturns that could come too.”

“Sometimes it takes a little bit of time to really get to know your own business while you're in the middle of building it. But once you find the true calling in that mission, it feels great.”

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