Founder Field Trip: Tuft & Needle

Bryce Roberts
Strong Words
Published in
4 min readApr 4, 2018


Late last year we ran an experimental event we called Founder Field Trips. We had a few goals with the event.

First, give founders who had never worked at a profitable company an opportunity to go behind the scenes at a profitable, fast scaling business who would push them to reconsider the biases, assumptions and conventional wisdom many funded startups take as gospel.

Second, we wanted to give our host founders an opportunity to share their stories and the lessons they’re learning as they achieve venture scale without the fanfare the comes with venture funding.

Third, we wanted to help founders who value raising revenue over rounds of funding an opportunity to find and connect with others who share their same values and outlook on building Real Businesses.

We found a willing guinea pig in Wistia.

They couldn’t have been a more gracious and engaging host and the event couldn’t have exceeded our expectations more than it did.

The feedback from both the Wistia team, and those in attendance, was critical about the right things (this was an experiment after all!) and overwhelmingly positive in terms of our initial goals for the event.

With that feedback in mind, and at the urging of all the attendees (and those who missed out), we’re going to continue to iterate.

Our goal for 2018 is to host another 3 to 4 Founder Field Trips in different geographies with companies at different stages of revenue growth and in different markets. Our hope in diversifying these events is to make them more accessible and relatable to a wider range of founders committed to building Real Businesses. We also want to expose founders to like minded partners of ours. To that end, I’ve roped in my good friend Jodi Jahic from Aligned Partners to join us this time around.

Today we’re announcing the next installment of our Founder Field Trip series with Tuft & Needle.

For those not familiar with T&N they were founded in Silicon Valley back in 2012, shortly after, they relocated to Phoenix and have been scaling at a torrid pace ever since. We can’t tell their story better than they do, so take a few min and hear it straight from them.

Only six years since inception, and with no outside investment, the company has defined a category, grown distribution online and off (with 3 retail locations), created a unique and inspiring company culture and scaled to hundreds of millions in revenue.

And on May 9th, they’re opening their doors, and their team, to us.

How do you start and scale a company with materials, inventory, logistics, retail leases without VCs? How do you compete and thrive when your competitors have raised hundreds of millions from investors. How has the market for direct-to-consumer brands changing and where is it going next? How do you create a culture that can survive this kind of scale?And how do you do all of this outside of Silicon Valley or NYC?

We will hear ideas and answers to these questions and more directly from from JT and select members of the T&N management team.

Given the intimate nature of these field trips, space will be extremely limited and FrieNDAs will be expected. As such, we’ve set up a short application where you can tell us a bit about yourself and what you’d hope to get out of attending if selected.

If you’re selected you’ll be on the hook for expenses getting to and from the Phoenix area. We’ll host an optional kickoff dinner the night of May 8th where participants can get to know each other better before the day long session on the 9th. Breakfast and lunch will be provided for attendees on the 9th.

If you’re a team who’s grown to $1M to $10M in revenue and are looking to learn how to scale to the next level, a funded founder looking to build a Real Business, or simply curious we think you’ll enjoy hearing and learning from the Tuft & Needle team.

Applications will be open until Friday April 13th.

Apply now for a chance to attend our Founder Field Trip to Tuft and Needle.