Ty Haney championed the power of community well before Web3. Now, everyone is listening

Ty Haney is a Founding BFF. The Founding BFFs are comprised of more than 100 female and non-binary leaders across crypto, tech, design, business, and more. Just like our community, some are new to crypto, and others are full-on experts.

Who: Ty Haney, Founder of TYB, Joggy and Outdoor Voices

Web2 Ty: In 2014, Ty founded athleisure brand Outdoor Voices, with the mission is to get the world moving by “Doing Things” together, and to redefine recreation as part of everyday life. Ty left OV in 2020. 

Web3 Ty: Ty is now building on her experiences growing Outdoor Voices by launching new projects in Web3: TYB and Joggy. TYB is a blockchain-enabled platform with $9.8 million in funding that enables brands to collect input from customers in exchange for rewards. Joggy is a plant-based energetics company. 

Her TLDR: “I'm most energized by building. The biggest crisis becomes the greatest opportunity. So now is the time to get in, to start playing, to start experimenting and building for the future. I really get excited by this time versus nervous, anxious or scared.”

Edited excerpts: 

When did you first start thinking about crypto and Web3?

My head of finance at Outdoor Voices was the one who first introduced me to crypto. He had been playing with it from an investment standpoint for a while. We both ended up leaving Outdoor Voices at the same time and it really dawned on me, and him, that this technology applied to the consumer space was going to be the future. It was going to provide a much better business model for brands that today are structurally reliant on advertising platforms. This was something that we knew first hand having built a direct-to-consumer brand the previous eight years. 

I started investing in small ways, and then as I went deeper, I started to see these NFT communities that were taking off like wildfire and having been at Outdoor Voices, our number one strength was our community. Our community was our moat. From a brand perspective, I very much had tasted and felt what having this engaged, passionate, loyal fan base around a brand and a brand's motion could do for the business, and then the blockchain technology applied to that type of mission or vision felt like a really interesting place to play. 

Coming off the OV experience, I wasn't necessarily certain that I'd entered the Web3 space, but then it became such an interesting opportunity to build essentially a toolkit, taking what we had done so well at Outdoor Voices and community and building on it, leveraging the blockchain technology. 

Was the potential of the blockchain something that you immediately understood?

Initially it was something I didn't understand whatsoever and that's where I really value Zach [former CFO of Outdoor Voices] in that he could break it down for me. And then also just having the shared experience of brand building in the Web2 world, we both came to this understanding that we could leverage this tech in these different ways to essentially make a lot of the coordination that we're doing in the Web2 world more effective and efficient. 

What I started to get excited about was this idea of community ownership and I think that the idea of users of a product or loyalists of a brand having a stake or something to show for their continued loyalty to and contributions to the success of that brand just felt like a beautiful future. I hadn't necessarily connected the dots from a blockchain or tech perspective out of the gates, but this mindset of community ownership and this future that you saw kind of vocalized or messaged around the crypto space just felt like the future that I wanted to participate in.

You created TYB based, in part, on how Gen Z wants to interact with brands. What is different about Gen Z?

[They’re interested in brands] where a collective or group of people gets to make decisions and essentially shape the future of the brand or influence the brand and then all have something to show for it. I'd say the last ten years have been an era where, myself included, there's a figurehead at the front of these brands that becomes very popular. In a lot of ways, that really helped from a PR perspective, awareness perspective, etc. to have this person really resemble the mission or the vision of the brand. I know that's a risky place to play and I'm much more interested and I think the younger generation is much more interested in this idea of your squad going after something and building something together. 

What did you learn about customer acquisition when you were leading Outdoor Voices?

Direct to consumer was never direct in Web2. We did end up spending 30 to 40% of our total dollars raised on ad platforms like Instagram, Facebook, et cetera to acquire customers with Outdoor Voices. What we ultimately found was customers coming through these paid channels were much less sticky and overtime much less valuable than those coming through what we called our “360 Community” efforts. These were slightly higher touch, often IRL, events that we were hosting as well as our influencer programs. And what we found was people who were introduced to the brand via community efforts were 4X  more valuable over time than those coming through through paid channels. So the direct-to-consumer model ultimately wasn't direct. I think what we're hearing from brands everywhere today is acquiring customers through these channels is no longer a sustainable way to grow. 

And how does the customer acquisition model look different on Web3?

Crypto offers a much better business model for brands that are structurally reliant on ad platforms today. When talking with brands that are less aware of the major shift happening, really you can't underestimate what having access to the full view of data around these community members will unlock. For us, the wallet very much replaces cookies and becomes the single ID or passport essentially representing a person online and it puts the power kind of in the end users. It gives the power to the end user in that they can opt in to share and get rewarded for it. 

Ultimately, making a community measurable is something that is really important as well. I remember sitting in the boardroom at some point with these very different views on how we should grow Outdoor Voices. I was always very bullish on community-led growth and understood this higher touchpoint strategy was definitely going to be slower growth, but it would be more valuable. 

You launched TYB and Joggy right before the market took a turn for the worse. What was that like?

We announced our launch in March with The New York Times and then Joggy went live as our first brand in April. We raised a seed round of $10 million in May and I'd say brought that money in right before really the markets took a dive. However, again from a business model perspective, the brands that we're going after are facing headwinds from an acquisition and growth perspective. So TYB becomes a really great option that's necessary at the moment. Everyone's focused on retention, loyalty, how do we keep our customers with us. But tied to the market conditions and building, I'm a builder at heart. I'm most energized by building. The biggest crisis becomes the greatest opportunity. So now is the time to get in, to start playing, to start experimenting and building for the future. I really get excited by this time versus nervous, anxious or scared.

And this was also after a very difficult time parting ways with Outdoor Voices. What inspired you?

It was an inconvenient and troubling time when this trend became tacking down high profile founders, in particular women, of these companies. The number one thing that I learned was what being fully accountable as the CEO looks and feels like. And so the ability to take full accountability for things that were within your control or not was something that I learned and I'm so appreciative of. The other thing I recognized is every business has challenges… and I very much come off of that experience and am here to help kind of normalize that there are challenges at businesses, but the founder, in most cases, should not be taken down.

Accountability normalizes challenges. 

What felt really important to me was to show back up. I am someone that just loves setting a vision, bringing a team around it and building from scratch. Like that's just where I'd love to spend the rest of my life. But more importantly, I think young women need examples where shit goes wrong or like “my life could be over.” There might be a BuzzFeed article that feels like it is totally going to take me down, but that’s not the case. I like the term “comeback kid” just for the fun of it, but starting again feels so important from just an example setting perspective if we want more women in particular to continue building, being entrepreneurs, raising money etc. And so that's been a very key focus for me with these two new initiatives. I also very much believe in them as opportunities and companies.

Caroline Fairchild is BFF’s Editor in Chief. 

This article and all the information in it does not constitute financial advice. If you don’t want to invest money or time in Web3, you don’t have to. As always: Do your own research.

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