Episode 55
May 25, 2021

Growing Smart, Keeping Heart

with Courtney Gould, Co-Founder and former CEO of SmartyPants Vitamins

About this episode

Courtney Gould is the Co-Founder and former CEO of SmartyPants Vitamins. Launched in September 2010 and acquired by Unilever in December 2020, SmartyPants Vitamins is the leading purpose-led brand in supplements and has grown to encompass over 50 products, all scientifically formulated for a full spectrum of life stages and dietary habits. In this episode, Courtney shares with us her entrepreneurial journey from riding horses and working at a barn, to working with technology startups in New York City, to helping build the first FastPass for airport security at Clear, to launching SmartyPants Vitamins on Amazon with only one SKU after bootstrapping the business for 18 months with her husband. She talks with us about how she learned to get past "No," how her leadership style has evolved, and how it feels to be stepping down as CEO of her own company to embark on her next chapter.

This episode is sponsored by

In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

  • How her time working in politics taught her a lot, it also showed her that she was not made for politics
  • What led her to a free ride to Harvard Business School, which she eventually quit in order to join a group of friends in New York City who were working on a start up
  • How her time in tech led her to work on what we now know as Clear and how it was a pivotal moment 
  • Why that love of human exchange as a creator and entrepreneur and also the desire to help people with their health journey led her to start SmartyPants with her husband 
  • How they built their team at SmartyPants and why they did things differently than some potential investors thought they should
  • How they grew organically and quickly using Amazon to sell their one SKU, when they knew they were truly on to something big, and how they handled their rapid growth
  • What lessons Courtney shares regarding going into retail and why they did it the way they did, which really worked out well
  • What advice she has for other Founders and anyone operating a company regarding healthy company culture, keeping family life healthy, and challenging the way things have been in the business world 

To Find Out More:



“I started getting these emails, and I was transformed by that moment of the human exchange because I'd been in tech for my career, at that point for ten years, and I'd never made a thing that a person uses.”

“If you could be a part of someone's health journey and also be a part of that human exchange that sounded really cool and really hard. And I like really hard.”

“We realized that we had kind of stumbled into a better solution that addressed all the things that got in the way of people taking their vitamins consistently and therefore getting the benefit. And that was really the aha moment.”

“The most important thing is do not try to get into a ton of doors, do a test in a small set of doors so that you can do online marketing for this. You can zip code target those people online, really let them know about your brand before they see you in the store. And you yourself can find out if it works.”

“You're sad because it's so a part of you and you worked so hard and you guys are collaborating, creating, co-creating this life together and doing all that. But also you love it so much that you want it to have the future it deserves. And I'm not the best custodian of that future.”

“The magic really is about the process. It's not about the endpoint.”

“Magic is you're out on the skinny branches. You don't know what's going to happen, but you have an instinct and a vision and a feeling and a drive and a commitment to doing what you're doing come what may. And that come what may is the part that makes it fun.”

“I'm going to fully be who I am, but I also don't have to solve every problem right now.”

“I now know what my contribution is, which makes me less intrusive when I don't have a contribution to make, but also willing to stand in my conviction when I have a contribution to make.”

“I do not want people working more than an eight hour day. Because I want them to have lives and be fulfilled people and have creative minds and go to museums and have time to see the world and be a fully contributing, breathing human being.”

“That moment was seminal for me because it taught me a lot of humility about stop acting like it is just you, because, by the way, it's not.”

Read the transcript

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