In this episode, we meet Michael Fox, former CEO of Shoes of Prey, and CEO and co-founder of Fable Food Co.
We talk about:
- The rise and fall of Shoes of Prey
- The harsh lessons in consumer research and behaviour that we all must know
- Lessons from pivoting in hard times
- How he restarted his career after a purposeful break
- Combining passion into your work
- How Fable Food is carving a high quality presence in the meat replacement market
Connecting with Fable Food Co and Michael Fox
“I didn’t put myself under pressure to find what I wanted to do next. I just wanted to take a break. I did all sorts of reading and because I’d been vegetarian, I just found myself reading more about industrial animal agriculture and got very passionate about the idea of helping to reduce humanity’s reliance on eating animals and industrial animal agriculture. And then I put a lot of thought into the best ways I could help contribute.”
On launching Shoes of Prey
It was having a concept that was really unique and interesting, and people were excited about.You couldn’t go and design your own shoes. It was just so different to anything else on the market. There are a lot of women out there who love the idea of designing their own shoes and the creativity that it can bring. We had really beautiful packaging, lots of things that you could photograph and share on Instagram. And we had a really high level of customer support. It was a story that people wanted to share.
On How Shoes of Prey finally fell over
We needed to be at about 30 million a year revenue to be covering our fixed costs of having the factory, software engineering team and all the other investment that we’d made. And we should have, if our market research had been right. We should have been doing a hundred million a year plus in revenue. So we went back to how we built the value proposition. What we realised was consciously she thinks she wants to customise. But deep down subconsciously, and she can’t really articulate it because it’s in her subconscious, she doesn’t really want to customise. She really just wants to see what’s popular on Instagram and in fashion magazines, and buy that exact shoe design. And so our market research was just wrong. What the customer had told us was what she consciously thought she wanted, but that was actually very different. In fact, almost the opposite to what she subconsciously wanted. And, our research, just didn’t draw that out. And it was only when we built the value proposition and could see how she behaved that we realised our market research was wrong. Ultimately we ended up having to close the business down.
On finding a new path after the setback
I didn’t put pressure on myself to go find what I wanted to do next. I just wanted a break. And through all the reading I did, because I’d been vegetarian, I just found myself reading more about industrial animal agriculture and that sort of space and got very passionate about the idea of helping to reduce humanity’s reliance on eating animals and industrial animal agriculture. And then I was thinking through the best ways I could help contribute.
The lessons he has brought into Fable Food Co
Probably the biggest one is making sure that we get our market research right. That cost me 10 years of my life. If you’re trying to change consumer behaviour make sure that you don’t just ask the consumer what they want, try to deeply understand their subconscious, what they’re thinking, what’s driving them to say what they think they want.
Final message of wisdom and hope for future leaders
“Find what you’re passionate about and do that. Whether that’s starting your own business in that space or finding a business already in the space of where your passions lie. But it just makes life so much more rewarding and exciting. So find what it is you’re passionate about and figure out a way to go work in that space.”