A Day In The Life : Drew Ocon

 

For this month’s edition of MKTG’s A Day in the Life, I had the pleasure of getting to know MKTG San Francisco’s Drew Ocon. You can call him Ocon, pronounced OH-conn. He works primarily on our B2B business for clients including Facebook, Shopify and Stripe. He’s a two-time MKTGer, having first worked for the company for about a year nearly six years ago. He then took a bit of a break and re-joined the family 18 months ago.

While he’s best known for his handlebar mustache, there is so much more to know about him. So much so, that it wasn’t until the end of our 40-minute conversation to learn that he started and sold a company that, at one time, was the 7th highest-funded Kickstarter campaign, AND was featured on Shark Tank! Hope you enjoy this interview as much as I had conducting it.

-Your friendly reporter, MK

What time do you wake up on a typically workday?

So, unfortunately, I can’t separate my weekend and weekday wake-up time. I’m not a big “sleeper inner.” So, no matter whether my alarm goes off or not, even on a weekend when I’m just doing my own thing, I always happen to wake up at 6:18. It’s kind of a random thing, but it’s when my alarm is set on the weekdays, and my body just continues to wake up at that time.

 

Oof! I can totally relate except my time is even a little earlier, which is rough. But I get that.

Yeah and I’m not somebody who hits the snooze-button, so if I ever wake up any earlier I just figure I’m ahead of schedule.

 

That’s a great way to look it! So, after 6:18, what do you do next? Do you have a morning ritual?

Not really. I just jump out of bed and I’m like “Okay, I have to start the day so I’m not going to hit the snooze button.” Then I just go directly to the shower to wake myself up. Majority of the time I am a cold shower taker so I can just jump into the day.

 

Now, that’s one way to jump-start the day! So what would you say you couldn’t get your day started without?

Well, see I have a very unique look. What I’m known for look-wise is my mustache. It’s something I’ve had for years and years. So it takes me a long time do my hair, like my face hair. Ya know, I have to get all groomed. I have it down to a science where it takes me like seven minutes to get ready. But it’s something I can’t do without whether I’m camping or on an airplane or just getting to the office.

 

I mean, that’s kind of a commitment! How long have you had this mustache?

The last day that I shaved was my wedding day, so it has been almost five years. And nearly every day I ask my wife “is it okay to have this?” because she has to look at me more than I do. And I think as long as she says it’s cool to have, I’m going to keep it. I feel like this is who I’m supposed to be as an adult.

 

Yes! I think that’s something cool to realize and, you know, ‘own’.

Exactly. It at least brings a smile to people’s faces. And I don’t know if they like it, but they like looking at it. So that’s good.

[Laughs] Now this interview will only be about me and my mustache.

 

Oh don’t even worry. I can totally relate. For me, my height usually is what hi-jacks the conversation. But at least people don’t forget who you are!

So let’s move along. What’s your commute to the office like?

I’m usually one of the first people here at the office. I get in at like 7:45, but my form of transportation depends on the weather; here in San Francisco you never know what the weather will be. So if it’s chilly out or I want to catch up on podcasts I take the bus. It’s super easy – about

First person view of Ocon’s ride to work

20 minutes to get downtown and then a 30-minute walk to the office. So I get a good amount of time listening to podcasts. But majority of the time I am a bike rider. I try to ride my bike to the office on a daily basis. But even if I take the bus in, I have an office bike here, so I am on my bike at least once a day.

 

Cool. We just learned the Westport office has office bikes and office razor scooters. We’re pretty jealous in Chicago.

Yeah, I feel like in San Francisco we should incorporate that into our daily life. It’s just so easy and the city is perfect for it. Plus, we don’t have so many food options by the office, so you’re kind of stuck with whatever is in walking distance and that just opens up the possibilities.

 

So I know you said you like to listen to podcasts. When you’re in the office, do you wear headphones at your desk?

I am not really a headphones user when I’m in the office. I sit smack-dab in the middle of the office in the front row. So I actually like to hear all the conversations and be a part of the conversations all day. Unless I have some major stuff to do, then I’ll zone out and go into headphone mode.

 

But yeah, that’s good, because then when you have your headphones on people know you’re ‘in the zone’ and don’t want to talk about “The Voice” finale or whatever the talk of the day is.

Yeah, and that’s really a big reason why I get in to the office so early. I’m in by 7:30, and most people get in about 9:30. And I feel like I get the majority of my work done in that two-hour span of time.

 

This is so funny, Drew, because I’m pretty sure if we worked in the same office we’d be buds. It’s very rare that I’m at the office after 7:30. We run on the same routine!

So which podcasts are your favorites?

I’m an award-winning listener to Pardon My Take. It’s a sports podcast by BarStool Sports and I listen to that pretty frequently. There’s a lot of design podcasts that are based here in San Francisco, like 99% Invisible, which is a great one about day-to-day life and the little design aspects that you walk by every day without realizing it’s functionality, and they talk about different parts of the country too even though it’s based here [in San Francisco]. I listen to NPR Politics, especially ever since the election season last year. It’s one of the main reasons I couldn’t ride my bike because I had to listen to the news every morning. And now it’s just a part of my every day life. I also haven’t been able to stop listening to NPR’s Houston Public Radio – “Classical Classroom,” especially episodes 4, 145, and 153.

 

So after your early start, and your day chatting with your colleagues, as the workday starts coming to a close, is there a specific after-work activity that completes your week? Or makes for a really good day?

Well, the nice thing is that we are a really social office. And we have that open office layout, but you still kind of sit with a group of people in your little open space. And it’s nice because we have a small beer fridge in my little “cell block” as we call it. So whether it’s celebratory or drowning our sorrows we try to do a cheers at the end of the day at least between a few of us. So that’s really nice. Especially because we’re busting our asses most of the time, and there’s not a lot of us that leaves right at 5:00, so that’s when it turns to a more social space. That’s something that happens at least once or twice a week.

And here in San Francisco, it’s very bike friendly, and there are a lot of more outdoorsy aspects to living here. So, one of my favorite things in the summer is to jump on my bike and make it up across the Golden Gate bridge in an hour or so to a campsite. I’ll be there for a couple hours see the sunset, pitch a tent, and then ride back in the morning. I do that at least every other week during the summer. It’s super easy.

 

Woah! That’s super cool. Do you do that solo, or is there a group from the office who goes?

I think this year I’m going to really try to push for a group of people to do it. Typically it’s just my wife and myself. There are some amazing views, and it’s like you’re totally disconnected from city life, but at the same time you’re just over the hill and you can get to work in the morning.

 

That is so cool. I didn’t even know that’s a thing!

Yeah, haha. It’s like a little getaway, especially because it doesn’t really get dark until 8 or 9 o’clock. So if you get somewhere by like 5 or 6 you still have plenty of time to drink wine and watch the sunset. It’s pretty awesome.

I’d sleep outside for that view, too.

 

Wow, that’s amazing. That’s why California is so awesome.

Yeah, that and then at the end of the day, I’ll go play softball a few nights a week. I’m not someone who goes to the gym to exercise, so I’m on a lot of athletic teams. Not that it’s a sport, but I am in a pinball league too.

 

Haha, yes, but it’s still good to have things on the schedule that hold you accountable to a life! This is a question that I keep asking because I’m always so curious. But do you have a current obsession right now? Or, like, something you can’t stop talking about?

Hmmm.

[He thinks, and I provide my own example. I’m currently obsessed with Selena Gomez]

I’m really trying to learn new skills. So right now I’m doing a lot of sewing. Like reupholstering things. So at my house I have a little workshop, and I’ve been doing that and I’ve been doing a lot of woodworking. Does that count?

 

Oh, making stuff? Totally! I also recently took up sewing. Was ‘taking on new skills’ your New Year’s Resolution?

Something I’m always trying to do, rather than a New Year’s Resolution, is to challenge myself to do something new. Sometimes it’s taking something out of my diet like “I’m never going to drink soda ever again…starting today.” I just up and decided to do that

And it happens sometimes that I there are projects to do in my personal life where I’m like “I know I could do this,” so I know I need to learn how to do it, and it just takes me a lot longer than if I just paid someone to go do it but now I have the skill to do it on my own.

I feel like a lot of people here at the San Francisco office are very entrepreneurial. So it’s kind of cool because we’re always talking about “what’s inspired us this week” or “what is the next project that we could make”. I could talk about this forever because the time I left MKTG, I was really well known for having projects funded on kick-starter and a company featured on Shark Tank. So –

 

WAIT WOAH!

But I know that’s not “day-to-day” life

 

Wait. I want to know all about this. Because I was going to ask next: Is there anything else about your life that’s interesting that you’d want to share? And if I asked that and you didn’t’ talk about Shark Tank that would be super lame. Let’s hear it!

Ok. So after I left MKTG about six years ago I was at this point in my life where I was like “okay, what do I want to do next? Do I want to go back to school and get my MBA or do I want to get some more real world experience?” I was working with some of my buddies from high school that were in school getting their MBAs and one of them was down at Stanford getting his Doctorate in electrical engineering. We had to make a business plan for my buddy who was getting his MBA. So we were working together and found a product that didn’t have any patents around it, and it was potentially something that we could start. So we began re-designing the bicycle light. We started a company, put it on Kickstarter back in 2010, and raised $300,000 there. Through out the years we probably did four other campaigns and raised over a million dollars worth of crowd funding. It was a crazy four years.

Yes, that’s a headline about their product on CNN.

So we did really well. We were really well known. At the time we were the 7th highest grossing project on Kickstarter. It was cool. It was so inspiring. I knew it was exactly what I wanted to do. We stuck with it, I quit all my jobs, focused on this and worked a couple years without pay and just lived off of savings. And one day we were like “we’re getting investment, we’re pitching to all these investors locally,” and Shark Tank came back to us and said, “Hi, we pitched to you back in the day and you said no. Would you be willing to come on the show now?” So we made the decision to go on the show, to have only one person on the stage and go in really low on the offer to start a bidding war. It was actually an exciting episode to watch and be a part of because we thought for sure we were going to start working with Mark Cuban. But he’s the one who started calling us out right away like he didn’t like us at all.

We ended up making a deal with Robert Herjavec. We ended up selling the company, I did some traveling, and came back to MKTG. And this industry is something I’ve known and loved for so long and it was such an easy place to land because I still knew a lot of people here and they were great friends. So I couldn’t really think of a reason not to come back to a place that I really enjoyed.

 

WOW WHAT A WHIRLWIND.

I know. It’s always interesting, because yeah, I’m a producer. But I really challenge myself to explore every aspect of marketing. So it’s really nice to be a part of the conversations that are about the bigger picture because I have that experience. It’s fun because you wouldn’t think by looking at me like, “Oh! This guy is really well versed in business!”

 

Yeah, I can imagine.

 

You can follow along with Drew Ocon on social media @sfocon

If you are wondering what the name of his company from the Shark Tank story is, it’s Revolights. Read all about ’em.

If you’re wondering if Drew Ocon has any other cool side hustle projects, he does. They’re Fellbury and High Boys (website in the works).

 

Share Button

Written by Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle
Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle

May 30th, 2017 at 3:32 pm

with one comment