Episode 61
July 6, 2021

The Power of Process

with Aaron Luo, Co-Founder and CEO of Caraa

About this episode

Aaron Luo is the Co-founder and CEO of Caraa, an American design house of luxury sports accessories based in New York City that offers sports bags, small leather goods, and fitness related accessories for inside and outside of the fitness studio. In this episode, Aaron shares with us his journey from growing up in China and Spain, to working in his family's Chinese restaurants, to studying engineering at the University of Massachusetts, to landing his first job at his dream company, General Electric. He talks with us about how he and his Co-Founder Carmen came up with the name Caraa, why they chose not to be venture backed, and how they reacted to the pandemic by donating masks and creating Caraa Cares.

This episode is sponsored by

In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

  • How he spent his childhood growing up in China and Spain learning the supply chain and manufacturing industry through his family 
  • Why Aaron came to the US for college to study engineering and why he loved the problem solving aspect of what he was learning
  • What companies he interned with during his time in college and what he learned about hard work and determination throughout the process
  • How his time at GE taught him so much about the processes that would help him scale his own business later 
  • Why he started Caraa, what the thesis behind the brand was and still is, and how they began to carry out their mission as a high-end, functional handbag DTC company
  • Why he is thankful for a Co-Founder, and what building Caraa was like in the early days of the company
  • Why they decided to not be venture backed, what that has looked like, what they have learned, and what advice he offers to others regarding fundraising
  • What Caraa has done to help people during the pandemic and why that has been important to Aaron and his Co-Founder, Carmen
  • What is next for Caraa and how they will continue with their steady, sustainable growth and intentional customer affinity for years to come

To Find Out More:

Caraasport.com

Quotes:

“There's always extra things that might not directly tie into hard work and merit, but I would say 90% of the time when you work hard and you put your heart into things, it will pay off.”

“You have to understand the human aspect of people. So having that perspective and having that emotional intelligence was something that I had to learn the hard and quick way.”

“If I aspired to be a CEO or a business owner, having the know-how in terms of process management was very important to me.”

“What we said is, what if we turn things around a little bit, still make the products in a very high end way, but really kind of make it very functional and keep the prices below four hundred dollars in terms of our average order value, because we're going to direct.”

“Stay true to who you are in terms of authenticity.” 

“You'll be surprised if you do a little bit of soul searching, how much you can discover.”

“To a certain extent it helps to have a Co-Founder. You know, I think single founder entities are very tough, not because you're not capable, it's because sometimes you need a shoulder to cry on.”

“I'm a big believer in product market fit. If you can sit somewhere and think about, hey, the world needs these, but if you don't find the right audience to purchase it or to resonate with your product then you just have a little project or a little hobby. It's not a business yet.”

“I was looking to grow, but I was looking to grow sustainably in a profitable way, if you may. So we ended up just saying, you know what? No to venture funding.”

“When we were trying to raise, I felt that I was becoming more and more a professional fundraiser versus a professional business manager.”

“We had that emergency meeting, me, Carmen, and also the board really quickly made a decision to convert part of our factory into essentially making masks using our scrap material. This was in the early days of the pandemic. And then we donated.”

“If you don't have the right processes, everything will be very chaotic. So I think we do a pretty decent job in terms of creating controls and checks and balances and processes along the way.”

“In moments of crisis, in front of the customer: transparency, transparency, transparency. Don't hide anything.”

“Make sure that you have product market fit and then test quick, fail fast, and then reiterate.”


Read the transcript

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