All posts by Mike Filbey

Developing a customer persona: How “Pam” has improved the ButcherBox experience

Have we told you about Pam?

She is top of mind here at ButcherBox. To be honest, sometimes, she is the focus of most conversations.

In fact, at a recent meeting to discuss the content we are creating — recipe books, videos, and the like — Pam was discussed by almost every person who spoke about the projects they are developing.

That’s a pretty impressive feat for Pam seeing that she is a figment of our collective imagination.

You see “Pam” is what industry people refer to as a “customer persona.”

Businesses develop customer personas for a number of reasons. Among the reasons that companies create a non-existent person to plan around are the need to grow, in which case the persona is an ideal target customer, or the need to cultivate, to continue to support and enchant your most important customers.

Most often, customer personas are built by consumer-facing businesses, but that isn’t always the case. (For a good breakdown of how to develop a buyer persona, check out this HubSpot blog post.)

For ButcherBox, we developed a handful of different customer personas, each typifying a different customer profile; however, our primary focus at this moment is “Pam.”

To me, it’s become obvious that we are working with a niche audience, selling a niche product. The vast amount of people out there have no idea what grass-fed beef is. This topic so surrounds us in our everyday work, that we sometimes forget that there is a significant swath of the population who don’t have the same understanding of our products — not only grass-fed beef but heritage-breed pork and free-range chicken— as we do.

So we picked a user profile, “Pam,” to focus on as a way to make sure we give an easy-to-access, yet robust ButcherBox experience to both new and devoted customers. Pam is someone who has recently been awakened to the importance of eating healthy meat. She is thinking more about things like antibiotics and hormones in the food she eats and cooks for her family, as well as whether what she is eating is raised on a feedlot or has been on a pasture. She is drawn to ButcherBox because we make healthy, high-quality meat more accessible.

Pam isn’t the only customer we are building more products, offerings, and support for, but she is the one who we think most closely aligns with our own mission. It makes sense for her to be top of mind because of our shared passions. I believe this is a pretty great way to build a business.

Developing this persona has guided a lot of the marketing decisions we’ve made recently. One example of how it benefits us is that we have a better idea of who we are targeting on Facebook and other social media platforms. It isn’t so much that we are trying to onboard as many customers as possible; instead, we are trying to make those who are already part of our tribe aware that we exist.

This also impacts the influencers we want to work with and the companies we want to partner with. If it isn’t a person or a company that Pam would approve of, they are not a good match. This ensures that business decisions are very closely aligned with the beliefs of our existing customer base and those who will join.

Everyone on the team is aware of Pam and why she is a primary focus.

I’ve never gone through a persona exercise, so the whole process has been new. But from the experience thus far, it is evident how beneficial it is to have a clear understanding, across the company, of “who” we should focus on as we continue to grow.

It is also quite clear that what is good for Pam will likely be good for all of our customers.

*While this is all a bit of “How the sausage is made,” we think it is important to be transparent as we build this company for many reasons. The most important, we believe, is to help other entrepreneurs as they build their companies by sharing the lessons we are learning along the way.


Introducing ‘The ButcherBox Kickstarter Playbook’

Recently, ButcherBox celebrated its second anniversary. Reflecting on the trajectory of the company over that period, we got a bit nostalgic about our early days.

So CEO Mike Salguero and I went back to a document we made when ButcherBox was in its infancy, our ButcherBox Kickstarter Playbook.

When we launched our Kickstarter campaign in 2015, we created a shareable document that we thought would be a good repository for the things we were learning in the run-up to, launch, and conclusion of our campaign.

It was a brain dump of the most valuable things we learned. But it also started as something else, since the beginning of ButcherBox we thought about potentially launching another product or service through Kickstarter at some point. So we wanted to make sure we remembered the nuggets of insight we picked up through the process.

It is fascinating, looking back, how much we learned and how much of a science a Kickstarter campaign can be. Campaigns are really fun and challenging. It is a sprint for 30 days.

It was an incredibly exciting time, for one. We had no idea what the demand might be for grass-fed meat. And the market ended up being very receptive. Kickstarter confirmed for us that ButcherBox was not only a good idea but that we had the right timing to launch.

Kickstarter is a great way to take the temperature of any potential market for almost any business idea.

There’s a lot of work to do; you can’t just sit there and wait. There is also a lot of anxiety about the outcome because your Kickstarter page is out there forever. If you launch and are a dud, your brand has the black mark out there on the Internet, and it doesn’t look very good.

Once we blew by our initial goal of $25,000 — in 24 hours — and ended up raising more than $210,000 in the campaign, we had a bunch of contacts start reaching out to us for advice and wanting to talk about what worked.

So we shared our ButcherBox Kickstarter Playbook with them, and we are sharing it with you too.

Check it out.

The ButcherBox Kickstarter Playbook

by Mike Salguero and Mike Filbey


      1. The presentation matters. That means all the copy, photos, the video, basically anything visual. We invested heavily in branding and design and were meticulous with the copy. We looked at length of other successful campaigns in terms of word count and pictures, and we tried to mimic their length and style.
      2. Set your fundraising goal low. Our goal on the campaign was $25,000. But internally, we had a goal reaching $100,000. We discovered that hitting your goal on Day 1 or Day 2 may result in you becoming a “Project We Love’ and you’ll get featured on Kickstarter both on the homepage and the “Project We Love” section.Also, perception is the reality, so being able to say that you’re 250% funded, for example, after only one week will get people’s attention — including the press. This reality, of course, depends solely on the number you set as your initial fundraising goal. While you are at it, you can put in one or two large dollar amount prizes as a way of asking really close family and friends to back you and help you cross the line early!Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 9.59.40 AM
      3. Lay some groundwork before launch. We’d estimate that 30% of the selling occurs before you even launch. You must pre-sell the shit out of your product and campaign. Before we launched, we had soft commitments from friends and family to get us to about $20,000 of the $25K we knew we needed. We got that and more in a day after launching.
      4. Running a campaign is pretty much a full-time job. You must be ready and make sure you’re hyper-responsive to people’s comments and questions.
      5. Take care of early-adopters, they area key to generating buzz. You should create at least one ‘Early Bird Reward’ that gives people a discount if they’re one of the first 100-200 backers. Also, leverage those early-adopters by doing giveaways at certain thresholds. We had a “stretch” goal that if we hit $150,000 everyone would receive free bacon in their first box. When we had raised $145K, those who had already backed us were foaming at the mouth trying to sell us to their friends.
      6. Do some media research. You might want to see what writers and news outlets often cover interesting Kickstarter campaigns. Although this happens less these days, we received plenty of coverage because of the early success (manufactured somewhat by setting a low target) of the campaign. If they’ve done Kickstarter coverage in the past, there’s a good chance they’d write about you too.
      7. Have social media accounts ready before the campaign. Create a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts if you don’t already have them. More than that, start populating and growing them ASAP. This will serve as a great way that you can market the Kickstarter and all the “news” related to it to a wider audience once your campaign goes live. We  did small tests with ad creative for a few weeks before we launched the actual project. Those ad creatives went to a landing page where we collected emails that we eventually used for promotions about our Kickstarter campaign.
      8. Don’t be afraid to seek out what has worked in the past.
        Go to and look at what were the most funded projects in your space (e.g. food). Enventys Partners is a marketing service provider that can help you run a successful campaign as well.
      9. Leverage social media ads. You can run paid advertisements via Facebook to drive targeted traffic to your Kickstarter page. However, we only did this for the first ten or so days and then stopped because they weren’t super effective. You may be better at targeting or more successful at this then we were.
      10. Use all of your assets.  If you already have a website then use it to direct people to your Kickstarter funding page (make this the key or “hero” image on your homepage). You can also use your website homepage before you launch to collect email addresses telling people they’ll get notified as soon as your campaign goes live. This could be very attractive for early adopters wanting to be part of the “early bird offers.”


Here are a few things to do in the lead-up and during the campaign.

Press: Try to line up press stories to hit once your Kickstarter campaign goes live. This could take a while so plan for 4 – 8 weeks of lead time.

Video: This is vital. Make sure to create a killer video of the product and the founding team. We worked with someone who did this for us, and it was excellent. You can watch it below:

Images: Also, use a professional for the photos of your product. Use a bunch of different images on your campaign page.

Copy: Take at least two weeks to write copy and design the layout for the campaign page.
Your eyes aren’t enough; make sure to send it around to friends and family for feedback.

Email: A few weeks before launch, send a personal email to a few dozen folks who you think will support you and get them to informally agree to make a purchase the day your campaign goes live. Use LinkedIn and other contacts lists to compile email addresses and then send an email announcing your campaign and asking for your support once it goes live. Both Mike and I sent four different emails to our LinkedIn contacts throughout the course of the campaign. These were filled with updates on the status of the project and a call to action for them to back us and share our link with their friends via social media or email.

Update and Cross-Promote: Do a ‘backer update’ email via Kickstarter at least once a week. We averaged two to three per week. You can see examples of these updates here. Within these updates you must do co-promotions, meaning you promote other projects on Kickstarter (up to three within an update). In turn, those other projects promote you in their backer updates.
You want to find campaigns that mirror your own. That means that they should have at least as many backers as you have and are in a somewhat similar category. Be selective with who you ask to do a co-promotion.  If you do an update without a co-promo, it is a missed opportunity. Reach out to about seven or eight other project owners at the start of each week to be sure you get at least three to five who agree to a co-promotion.

Stretch: You will need to have ‘stretch’ fundraising goals. This enables you to gain buy-in from your backers and give them an incentive to share your campaign. For example, we had a $150,000 stretch goal where we’d add free bacon to every box, and people went nuts for it. (As a bonus, this cost us very little to add this.)

Influencers: Identify influencers in your space and start building relationships with them. Kickstarter is a great excuse to reach out to them and ask for support or get them excited about your mission. Maybe send them free product, ask for social shares, and try to get featured in a blog post or email newsletter they are associated with. You can also see if they are willing to do giveaways with their fans. This is a great way to get exposure and get them to write about you. Getting in an email newsletter of a key influencer can be gold.

Maximize One Social Channel: It’s great to have a presence on multiple social media platforms but choose one that you think will have the best ROI and start building up your audience there. Once you launch on Kickstarter, this will be the tribe who will support you. We did Facebook ads to get likes, and it worked well.


Data Collection: Read this article carfeully! This is a guide for collecting info from backers at end of campaign. You only have one chance to collect info from backers so don’t mess it up!

Stay in Contact: Continue to send backer updates often, keeping your backers posted on your progress and shipping progress.

Photo by All Bong on Unsplash.

7 books that helped me figure out how to be a better leader as ButcherBox has grown

As ButcherBox has evolved over the past couple of years, one area that I’ve had to work on personally is my development as a leader.

My role, however, changed quite a bit from the early days of the company when Mike and I were quietly building ButcherBox out of Soldier Design’s Harvard Square offices. Now, we have more than 25 employees and deliver our boxes across the country.

As ButcherBox has grown, I’ve also needed to develop. While some aspects of leading larger and more complex teams come naturally — especially since this is my second go-around as a startup co-founder — I’ve learned that there are situations that could arise that my past experiences haven’t prepared me for.

And so, to make sure that I am the best leader I can be for ButcherBox, I did the one thing that everyone should do when there is an experience-gap that needs to be filled: I emailed a couple of people in my network whom I think are really great leaders, and whom I respect, and I asked for their advice. I told them where I am at, where the company is at in terms of growth, and my new responsibilities. The reality was that I needed to grow personally at the same rate as the company.

So they sent me some great feedback, which was helpful. But more importantly, they sent a bunch of book recommendations on how to be a better leader. So I immediately went out and bought seven books on leadership. Many you’ve probably heard of, including classics like Andy Grove’s High Output Management, The Effective Executive, Primal Leadership, and The Charisma Myth. And I kept going from there.

I like to read books. And when I do, I like to take notes in the margins. I always have a pen in my hand. If you look at the books I’ve read, all the corners are folded over, so I can look back, and there are notes on almost every page. I think to get the most out of these types of books, you have to be an active reader.

Here are some of the books that I’ve found have been most helpful as ButcherBox —and me  — continue to grow:

Mindset – This book is focused on the reality that there are two mindsets: A fixed mindset versus a growth mindset. The fixed mindset is exemplified by people who might suck at math in second grade and tell themselves that they will just never be able to get better at it. Individuals with a growth mindset approach the same experience and tell themselves, “I just need to work harder, or learn math in a different way, or get a tutor.”

So I am trying to apply that growth mindset here at ButcherBox, fostering a culture of personal growth versus fixed, which has been interesting thus far.

The One Thing: This is a good example of how I have been able to apply something I’ve read to the culture here at the company.  I read The One Thing,  which both my co-founder Mike and another entrepreneur had recommended. The premise is that if you want to get extraordinary results, you need to spend an extraordinary amount of time doing whatever that one thing is that is going to move the needle. The book delves into the importance of focusing, how multitasking is bullshit, that your inbox is your enemy, the power of habit, and the importance of time blocking.

So I tried to figure out what the “one thing” was for me that really moves the needle at ButcherBox, and then I had to make sure that every day, I blocked out two to four hours to just do that.

My one thing changed. When I read the book five months ago, my one thing was “To get customers.” So, I’d look at what we were doing with our automation email series, and try to figure out how to improve things there, can that move the needle? Then, I looked into what we were doing on the affiliate, the sales side, referral, etc. I’d dive into these and help other team members improve.

But now, my one thing is to develop as a leader, and that can involve me sitting down to read for two hours or reading articles about management or talking to mentors.

We even had the whole marketing team read The One Thing recently, and everyone loved it.

So now we are doing a “one thing” challenge, which is trying to see how many days of the workweek everyone can focus on doing their one thing. It’s been great, but it has been difficult for a lot of people, including myself.

A Guide To The Good Life: This book, which digs into the wisdom of Stoic philosophy has taught me the importance of only focusing on what you can control.

Most of the things that stress us out in life are out of our control, however, we can control our response to these challenges. This book has been helpful in a fast-paced startup environment where new challenges arise daily.

Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth: This is a great book for Internet businesses and shaped our marketing strategy here at ButcherBox.

Unbroken: This Laura Hillenbrand book about Louis Zamperini, a track star and the survivor of a World War II tragedy, is just straight-up inspiring.

Shoe Dog: Phil Knight paints a great picture of the startup roller coaster and how even companies like Nike can start from the humblest of beginnings.

Ego is the Enemy:  This is a great read that teaches you the importance and power of humility. This is key to us at ButcherBox where staying humble is one of our core values.

I hope you get as much out of these books as I have, and I hope you’ll share some of the books that have inspired or helped guide you in business or life in the comments section below.

Mike Filbey (left) and Mike Salguero (right).

6 things I’ve learned by being a co-founder twice by age 26

I usually like to keep my business life separate from my personal life, but for some reason, I recently felt compelled to share a quick update on life and work on Facebook. The response has been great, so I thought I’d share with the ButcherBox family as well.

In the last four years, I’ve experienced a great deal.

I have started a company, dropped out of college, closed down a company, started another company, and read a lot of books. My hope is that sharing the key things I’ve learned may be valuable. 

Knowledge is worthless unless shared.

You can divide my 26 years on this earth into two periods. The time before I dropped out of college and that after I dropped out. I dropped out after my junior year; I was 22 and it was summer. I had just turned down an internship with Ford because I wanted to focus on growing my startup.

Instead, I moved from Wisconsin to Boston and brought my two co-founders with me. We were at a stage where we had hacked through the jungle for two years without success. It was a humbling experience. We were pushing a boulder uphill and I was too naïve to admit it; the business we were hoping to build could not work.

Eventually, they moved on from the startup — as they should have — and I was back to where I was when this all started at age 19. Except, this time, I had nothing in a bank account and was now 24-years-old.

At this point, I had to decide whether to go back to school and get my degree or to continue in the startup world. Everyone I talked to agreed that I should get my degree, after all, I only had one year remaining. So I re-enrolled and chose some classes. About a month before school was going to begin, there was something that just didn’t feel right. I felt like I was going backward not forwards.

The thing was, I wasn’t ready to go back.

So I shopped myself around the job market and got a few offers. One was a way to help cancer patients, one was a startup hoping to disrupt the airline industry, and another was this radical idea to sell grass-fed beef through the mail.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I eventually decided to sell grass-fed beef in the mail at ButcherBox.

Why? Because of the company’s founder, Mike Salguero.

Mike was someone I knew and trusted. He was my go-to advisor with my first company. I was confident that I would learn a ton from working with Mike, and, even if the business went nowhere, it would be a valuable experience.

There’s a key lesson here: Don’t make decisions around money, make decisions around opportunities to learn. I never got into ButcherBox thinking I’d one day make a bunch of money, far from it.

Fast forward nearly two years to today and I am happier than ever. I haven’t made a bunch of money, but I have learned a lot, a lot a lot. This business could collapse tomorrow and I’d be fine, I’d be happy; because it’s been one hell of a ride so far.

And so, here are the six more valuable lessons that I have learned up til now, having grown a lot since dropping out and being a co-founder twice:

1.  Life is all about how we treat each other.

2.  When it comes to work, follow the advice Bill Belichick got from his dad Steve, “Keep your head down, work hard, keep your mouth shut.” Be humble. Nobody likes a show-off.

3. Self-care is extremely important. To be your best you need to feel your best. This means taking care of yourself. Make time to work out, eat healthily, and spend time with friends. You are doing your friends, family, and work a disservice if you don’t first take care of yourself first.

4. There is only one YOU. You are unique. Only you know what makes you happy. Not your parents, not your friends, not your boss, YOU. So make your own decisions and believe in yourself.

5. Read books. They open new worlds and can teach you how to live a better life. I attribute a lot of my recent success to two books, Traction by Justin Mares and Guide To the Good Life by William Irvine. The former is about marketing; the latter about philosophy.

6. Talk less, listen more. By listening, you show respect, learn, and become more likable.

So on that note, I’d love to hear from you. What do you feel compelled to share? Thanks for reading.