Rocketships and Bassinets: Brad Carr's Startup Journey and his Secrets to Startup Success

Picture of Brad Carr

Brad Carr, Associate Director of CX at Dr. Squatch, shares insights into the benefits of working at startups and essentials tips for landing a job and thriving in the startup environment.

Aug 14, 2023

Brad Carr likens the startup experience to "a rocket that's supposed to go and get revenue, but there's no life support systems."

"There's not even seatbelts on the rocket," he says. "And it's going 10,000 miles per hour."

Unpredictable and perilous. Arguably irresponsible.

But to Brad, Associate Director of Customer Experience at Dr. Squatch, it's also daring, stimulating and fulfilling. He thrives in the environment and carries a seasoned travel log of ventures spanning diverse team sizes and multiple sectors.

A notable player in men's personal care products, Dr. Squatch has manufactured organic, handmade soap for over 10 years, but Brad still views it as a "hyper-growth company with extremely lofty expectations and a really 'take-on-the-world' mindset."

"We've done so many exciting things like expanding into retail and expanding internationally," explains Brad. "Now we're available in countries all over the world, and just seeing this thing bloom day-by-day is really, really exciting."

"Working in startups gives you this ability to transition and make changes really easily, because you're used to doing it every five minutes."

Since his promotion from his prior role as Senior Manager of Customer Experience, he's seen his focus shift noticeably from concentrated doing to cross-functional planning.

"I'm in a much more strategic role where I'm thinking about vision. I'm thinking about where we're going - not like next week, but next year," he says. "It keeps the gears turning, and every day its really fun to think about what we could possibly do in the future, and what our capabilities are down the road."

Before joining Dr. Squatch, Brad was a logistics veteran, having worked both at large enterprises like Echo Global Logistics and at startups like Mothership and Cargomatic.

After 11 years of bills of lading and proofs of delivery, Brad felt that it was "time to transition to something else, and [the role at Dr. Squatch] was a perfect open door."

You might expect a transition from moving freight to moving soap to to be a jarring one, but it's been anything but. In fact, Brad even points to the day-to-day experience of working at startups as an aid in the change.

"Working in startups gives you this ability to transition and make changes really easily, because you're used to doing it every five minutes," Brad explains.

Another intrinsic benefit that comes with the small and volatile startup: a deeper understanding of the company and the team.

"It's not about being the loudest guy in the room. It's about knowing your stuff."

"You know intimately how everyone is working. You see them. You're next to them every day. You hear them on the phone," Brad illustrates. "So it gives you this really beautiful, 360-degree, 30,000-foot look at your company."

Insight into the inner workings is not just a superficial perk - it can also be a huge advantage to the job. A major key to success in sales and customer experience, Brad notes, is "being really knowledgeable about your products."

"It's not about being the loudest guy in the room. It's about knowing your stuff," he explains. "Then, you just naturally have confidence. And people can feel that. You feel like you can speak to everything."

With a smaller team comes more responsibility, indeed. But it also provides a larger surface area for one to make palpable impacts and ultimately be recognized and compensated for it.

"You are probably sitting 15 feet from the CEO. You can talk to all the executives. You can come up with good ideas and people will actually listen to you," says Brad. "And, you can increase your pay very quickly if the company goes well."

It can be a stark difference from enterprise, where "the dust has settled to some extent," oftentimes lending itself to be a space where "you can have the same experience every day, and a very well-defined role."

"You're willing for tomorrow to be different than today by 100%."

Such is an appealing proposition if you're indexing on stability, in both day-to-day and the bigger picture.

But if you've been feeling that itch lately, and your stomach has some room for risk, Brad has advice for making the leap into the startup world. When asked about his archetype of the perfect startup hire, he focuses less on hard skills and more on intangibles.

"You're willing to try something new. You're willing to wear a lot of hats. You're willing for tomorrow to be different than today by 100%," he illustrates. "You want to be a Swiss Army Knife as much as you can."

Along with adaptability, startups will usually look for passion, drive, and a will to see your team succeed and win. Brad says that hiring managers for a nascent company are often searching for the people "that are going to go to war for you."

"You can feel it in the room when you talk to those that have that energy and that drive," says Brad. "Obviously, they need to be doing their jobs. They need to be skilled. They can't just be maniacs."

"But sometimes you need a little crazy in you to make it happen. That's a good thing."

So with years of experience at startups under his belt, what's on the horizon for Brad?

In the present, his hands are full, literally, with his newborn son, Kai, as he balances his full-time job with first-time fatherhood.

In the future, he sees himself potentially starting his own business and finds himself noting potential opportunities to tackle throughout his day.

Once in a while, parenthood and entrepreneurship are on his mind at the same time.

"I think part of the experience of being a dad has painted a lot of that," he says. "There's a huge niche industry of like - 'Hey, what stroller did you guys get? Hey, what bassinet did you get?'"

"You can find that mommy or daddy niche that parents will just go crazy for, so that's where my mind has been - certainly recently with a lot of baby products arriving at our front door every day," he says.

"You don't have to be a jerk to be a good leader."

Brad credits his recent surge in strategic responsibility as an Associate Director at Dr. Squatch as inspiration for taking the next big leap with his own business one day.

"Dr. Squatch has been an amazing next level for me. I think going back to strategy [and] the focus of our future has been so fun," he explains.

Of course, Brad hopes his enhanced field of strategic vision will pave the path for a successful business. But another goal of his is to "show that you don't have to be a jerk to be a good leader."

After having seen "the good and bad and the ugly of the startup world", he hopes that he can collate the positives of his character and experience into an effective yet humanistic leader.

If Brad hasn't yet convinced you that it's worth getting into the rocket, then perhaps finding a steady pilot at the helm will. No matter where his journey takes him next, we're excited to see what new horizons are ahead.

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