From Crypto to Cosmetics: A Q&A With MadeMan CEO Jeremy Gardner
Why a successful Crypto entrepreneur decided to launch a men’s cosmetics startup.
Presented by T1
If you’re savvy to the crypto-finance world, you probably know who Jeremy Gardner is. The 28-year-old earned renown as an entrepreneur in the world of blockchain technology as a founder of Augur, a decentralized betting platform, and the Blockchain Education Network, a global educational nonprofit. With the wealth he generated from building startups and cryptoassets, he directed his energy towards startup investing— investing across industries, from artificial intelligence to cannabis to biotech.
With that said, it may still come as a surprise that Gardner has decided to immerse himself in the world of men’s skincare. Yet Gardner has been tirelessly working through the pandemic on MadeMan, a men’s cosmetic startup that that seeks to disrupt a fairly old-fashioned industry. As he sets out to launch a business in an industry he’s never worked in before, Gardner seeks a new challenge, having done his homework for the journey ahead. I recently caught up with Gardner to discuss his journey in discovering, researching and launching MadeMan.
Given the success of your career in cryptocurrency, can you tell us what led you to launching a skincare company?
Frankly, I never gave much regard to my skin. My parents have good skin, so I assumed I would. But I have a very different lifestyle than them— one that clearly was taking a toll on my complexion. I realized that it was no longer a byproduct of adolescence, and was a consequence of my habits. I needed to be proactive, and that sent me down the skincare rabbit hole. What I discovered as I scoured the resources and websites related to men’s skincare was that taking a proactive approach was far from as simple as I expected it to be. I knew there was room for innovation, and importantly, by creating a men’s skincare company, sparking a conversation about modern masculinity.
Have you found any similarities between your journey in crypto and in skincare?
Absolutely. Even though cosmetics and cryptoassets startups are on diametric ends in the world of entrepreneurship, many of the struggles are the same. Given that I had near-zero experience with cosmetics, direct-to-consumer startups (even as an investor), and manufacturing, the same, steep learning curve that I experienced building my first crypto startups were repeated. Obviously, I was able to take the lessons I’ve learned about building companies and apply them to MadeMan, but there was lot of time and money burnt just figuring out how to do this right. That was my experience with my first startup, Augur, which incidentally is launching its version 2 next week!
What has been the most interesting thing for you to learn or discover about yourself and/or the brand during your time of skincare research?
It’s so much fun! Coming from tech entrepreneurship, and not being a coder, some of the magic of product development was missing. Creating a tangible product that I can hold in my hands is an incredible feeling. It’s no less difficult than any other startup I’ve helped build, but it’s hands down the most rewarding.
Without giving away too much, what can you tell us in anticipation to the launch of MadeMan?
I risk sounding vain, but genuinely believe we have reinvented men’s skincare. We have taken a component of personal care that many men fear is effeminate, and not only eviscerate such concerns, but make it totally approachable and easy. Instead of guys asking “why should I take care of my skin?” Now they will be asking “why aren’t I taking care of my skin?”
How/why do you think a product like MadeMan is relevant for this present time?
I think a lot of men, particularly boomers and below, are beginning to realize that many of society’s conceptions of masculinity are outright absurd. The notion that taking care of your face may be seen as girly is laughable. Who wants dry skin or breakouts?
Do you feel like the brand identity of MadeMan is at all similar or relevant to your crypto career?
I believe every startup is deeply intertwined with its founder’s identity. Consequently, MadeMan’s mission and values are reflective of my own. My rebellious nature led me to question the sensibility of the global financial system, and attempt to reshape. Similarly, my sense that skincare products weren’t be designed for men, or sold with a message that resonates with them, led me to build a company with an entirely new approach to men’s cosmetics.
During quarantine through the pandemic, how have you been spending your time?
That’s a loaded question! I am in the midst of finishing an entire book predicated around my pandemic experience. So you’ll have to wait for that. But I will say, it has been the most epic adventure of my life.
What are you most excited for consumers to experience with MadeMan?
I look forward to reaching the men that have never made the effort to take care of their skin. Because I genuinely believe that when they try MadeMan, not only will they fall in love with the product, they will fall in love with themselves so much more. And I think we need more self-love in the world.