Courage + Stone

Courage + Stone is a line of ready-to-drink craft cocktails based out of Brooklyn, NY. Founded in 2019 by actress and comedian Aisha Tyler, the brand owes its rapid growth in part to savvy branding and sleek design. In just their second quarter, sales grew by 596%, mainly through direct-to-consumer sales from the website.

We sat down with Courage + Stone’s Chief Growth Officer, James Kim, to see how the company structures and operates its growth team.

Team Structure

As a recently founded startup, growth at Courage + Stone is handled by a skeletal team. Of its two members, one is focused on advertising, while the other leads brand strategy and analytics. Their content and creative efforts are supported by a partner agency.

Part of the growth team’s success is due to the versatile skillsets of its members. As James Kim explains, “When you're small, you're nimble and you have cross-functional teams. The ability to pivot allows for smaller companies to evolve quite quickly.”

James Kim, Chief Growth Officer, Courage + Stone

“I like working with small teams. That's my preference. In the role of growth, particularly with the number of tools that are available today, I don't think that it requires a massive amount of people.”

Growth Processes

Optimization is critical to how Courage + Stone grows. Here’s a high-level look at their process for making iterative improvements.

1. Develop a hypothesis

The growth process for Courage + Stone starts with a hypothesis. As an agile team, they continually monitor their data to discover which areas of the business can be optimized. This includes performance with key demographics, revenue growth, or customer LTV. After identifying an opportunity for growth, their team constructs an educated guess about the business impact that will result from a certain action.

2. Run an experiment

With the hypothesis locked, it’s time to run an experiment. For example, say the hypothesis was that retargeting individuals visiting a certain page on the website will result in higher conversion. The team then deploys said experiment as quickly as possible to prove or disprove their original hypothesis. At this point, their team can evaluate the results. Using the previous example, they would measure the change in conversion rate based on ad retargeting against their hypothesis.

3. Revise and implement changes

If the initial hypothesis is incorrect, the growth team will revise their strategy using data from the experiment. Applying these insights, they can optimize to achieve the desired outcome. As James Kim describes, the data generated from experimentation are “puzzle pieces”, but it’s ultimately up to his team to put it all together into a cohesive strategy. This data-driven approach empowers Courage + Stone to experiment at scale, driving real business growth in the process.

Tool Stack

James Kim, Chief Growth Officer, Courage + Stone

“Speed in this game is a universal good. If you can figure out something a little bit faster than your competitors, it really feels groundbreaking.”

Secrets to Success

1. Speed

One of Courage + Stone’s key advantages as a small business is its agility. Whether testing new beverage products, or expanding into different markets, the growth team’s secret is their ability to move swiftly. By moving and completing growth “cycles” faster than competitors, they also retain a competitive edge that drives success. James Kim relates that, “More cycles means more data. More data means more clues for you to figure out exactly what's working.“

2. Data

The ability to understand and act on data is the other basic ingredient for success at Courage + Stone. With good data, their team can more effectively innovate, develop new products, and execute strategies for growth. There are some obstacles to success, however. As James Kim notes, one of the more difficult aspects involved with data is stitching it together in a cohesive manner.

Learn from the best in the business

Our research reveals key insights about how to build and operate your team for optimal performance. From team structure to growth processes, you’ll learn from companies like Hubspot, Shopify, and Lyft on how to lead your team and company to rapid growth.

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