Episode 190
December 26, 2023

Wrinkles and Wins

with Courtney Toll, Co-Founder and CEO of Nori

About this episode

Joining us today to share her entrepreneurial story is Courtney Toll, co-founder and CEO of Nori, an innovative company in the ironing and steaming market. Tuning in, you’ll hear about her remarkable journey, from coming up with the idea for Nori (which is iron spelled backward!) in her cramped New York apartment to raising money in the depths of COVID to bringing a successful product to market. Courtney also shares details about how learning to do cold outreach at her job bolstered her entrepreneurial journey, the challenges of innovating with hardware, how they put together their distribution and branding strategy, and much more. You won’t want to miss this fascinating deep dive into the many intricacies of hardware innovation and what goes into making your vision happen!

This episode is sponsored by

Exclusive Deals from Our Sponsors:

AWESOME CX by Transcom provides high-touch, personalized customer experience services to consumer brands of any size! Email Lee at lee@stairwaytoceo.com to learn more about their award-winning services and Awesome Coffee Chats.     

In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

[05:11] Courtney’s idyllic childhood in Connecticut, her lifelong perfectionism, the legacy of entrepreneurship in her family, her early jobs, and how her career goals evolved.

[11:48] Key skills she learned from cold outreach; how this supported her entrepreneurship.

[15:59] How she got the idea for Nori while living in a cramped New York apartment.

[18:37] Courtney’s research; what she learned from interviewing over 500 consumers.

[21:17] How she and her co-founder overcame the challenges of innovating with hardware.

[26:19] Insight into their unexpectedly long product development process and how they implemented their distribution and branding strategy.

[30:15] Raising money in the depths of COVID, the far-reaching usefulness of a demo video, and how having difficulty fundraising worked to their advantage.

[38:27] Reflections on organic marketing and how to partner with the right influencers.

[43:44] Their company’s approach to marketing and the primary lesson Courtney has learned about building a successful marketing stack.

[46:22] What’s next for Nori, including launching some exciting new products, and parting words of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs!

 

To Find Out More:

Courtney Toll on LinkedIn

Nori

Lee Greene on LinkedIn

Stairway to CEO

Stairway to CEO on Instagram

Awesome CX

 

Quotes:

“I'm so grateful that I have gone on this path. And when I reflect on the things that are decisions that my family members made, I think it makes a lot of sense why I also went down this road.” [0:11:07]

“There's always more to be done, there's always growth to be seen, and therefore, I push myself quite hard to succeed.” [0:11:33]

“My co-founder and I ended up interviewing over 500 plus consumers to talk about what they liked about their existing ironing and steaming solutions, [and] what they didn't like.” [0:19:17]

“It wasn't easy by any means. But we also weren't pitching this random idea and asking for a very subjective 300,000 [dollars]. At that point in time, we had outlines [of] exactly where all of this money was going to.” [0:23:20]

“By the time that it was fully deployed, we had a working prototype and a lot of consumer feedback to validate the fact that we had stumbled onto something that we should take to market.” [0:24:25]

“We decided on one product development firm, a satellite office in China.” [0:26:30]

“With something like hardware, you do need to take your time really trying to get something right and [make] sure that it's giving you the desired output that you're looking for.”  [0:27:24]

“The ironing steaming market is one that lives almost exclusively in big box retailers.” [0:29:06]

“We wanted to be a direct consumer business, we wanted this to be a one-to-one conversation with the customer. And we wanted to make this a really cool branded sexy purchase which feels totally in conflict with a product like an iron.” [0:29:16]

“Everything from our branding to the design of the product to the actual performance of the product was designed to sort of change the way you think about this type of chore.” [0:29:33]

“[With a demo video] you're not just hearing a testimonial about why you like [a] product, but you're actually watching it.” [0:33:22]

“I think the key takeaway here is building a marketing stack to support your direct consumer channel but making sure that all of the aspects of that marketing stack are feeding one another.”  [0:44:58]

Read the transcript

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