Moiz Ali is the Founder of Native, an all-natural deodorant brand he built in 2015 and sold to Procter & Gamble for $100 million.
I’ve known Moiz since 2016. He was a member of my Blue Ribbon Mastermind until he exited Native in 2020, and the year after his sale I interviewed him for the group.
From 2015–2020, Moiz grew Native from just an idea into the fastest growing CPG company in the United States and Target’s third best-selling deodorant behind Secret and Dove.
Here are 5 lessons he learned along the way.
#1 Renegotiate Your Contracts
“The first 100 sticks of deodorant cost us $5.50 plus the plastic that goes around a deodorant […] by the time I left the company, the beginning of last year, it was costing us about $1.30.”
The reason, Moiz told me, is because every six months he reached out to his manufacturer and asked them to drop their price. He said to them:
“Our volume has gone up. Our scale has gone up. You should have economies of scale from production, from buying raw ingredients […] we need to share that cost savings.”
He gave them three months to figure out how to do that, plus another three months to make money, then he would renegotiate again.
He wasn’t a jerk about it — Moiz just needed the extra margin to spend on Facebook ads to acquire more customers. He felt the best way to get it was to talk with his vendors because they’re the ones who share in the upside when his business grows.
And Moiz did this with all his contracts. With Stripe he renegotiated from 2.9% + $0.30 to 1.95% + $0.25 after 3 years. With his fulfillment facility he went from $1.55 per item shipped down to $0.95.
That might not seem like much, but when you’re producing 25,000 units a day, it can add up to millions in savings.
#2 Embrace Work Cycles
“There are two ways to make more money: it’s to grow top-line or to reduce your costs, and we tried to do both…
It’s really hard to be in Facebook Ad Manager every single day for six months straight. So, after three months, I was like, ‘I’m going to take a 30-day break and just focus on reducing costs for the business, and then I’ll come back to Facebook Ad Manager.’”
Building a $100 million business is a marathon, not a sprint. Your energy, your interests, your productivity — they’re going to rise and fall. That’s okay.
Embrace the change. When Moiz hit a plateau in one area, he put his attention on another area to avoid burnout and maintain his energy levels.
In his case, giving himself permission to take breaks and switch work cycles led to building a more balanced business.
Molly and I talk about work-life balance a lot because, frankly, most entrepreneurs suck at it. If you’re in a work slump, watch this video for some quick advice.
#3 Money is Just a Tool for Happiness
“Peter Thiel tells a story where, once he sold PayPal, he’s like, ‘I entered into the greatest depression of my life…’ and [I] felt a little bit of that.”
When Moiz finally cashed his check for $100 million, the business was a huge part of his life. He was more successful than he probably thought possible…
But Native was also the only thing he related about with almost everyone in his life, and then it was gone. He says he went from getting 100 emails a day (and responding to the most critical 50) to only getting emails from J.Crew.
Selling Native made it so he never needs to worry about money again, but it hadn’t filled his life with purpose:
“I don’t know what the hell to do with [my money]… Look, money is a tool to that happiness. It’s certainly not going to give you the desires that you’ve always wanted.”
“What really gives me purpose is working and enjoying the time I have with coworkers and building things.”
People are conditioned to think that money is what they should be chasing in life.
I don’t want to hate on money — I’m playing the wealth creation game, too — but it won’t make you happy on its own. As Moiz can tell you now, a more fulfilling way to live your life is to optimize your life for fun, not money.
#4 Don’t Fear Traditional Retail
“We sold a stick of deodorant for $12 with free shipping. If you buy a stick of Native at target, we make far more money than if you buy a stick of deodorant through our own website because we’ve got to pay USPS, and Pick and Pack, and Stripe.
At Target, we don’t have to pay any of those things, so it’s far more profitable.”
In 2021, I sold part of my ecommerce business to a private equity firm for a very large sum of money — but money isn’t all I got in the deal.
I also got a strategic partner with experience scaling brands into new sales channels, like retail and television.
With Procter & Gamble, Moiz got a partner that understood how to pitch and sell a product to Target and Walmart.
P&G coached him, introduced him to the right people and told him what levers to pull to make sure those partnerships were successful — they even helped him negotiate with Target so Native got 1,800 endcap displays in stores for the first 6 weeks.
By the time Moiz left in 2020, he was selling $60 million a year in Target, and Native was the next most popular deodorant brand after Secret and Dove.
#5 Get What You Want from the People Who Have It
“In January of 2016, we’ve got about $50k in revenue — June, we’ve got $250k. [In September,] I ended up going to a Smart Marketer conference…
November, we did our first $1 million dollar month. Next November we did $5 million.”
I have a saying: “You get what you want from the people who have it.” In 2016, Moiz wanted a better way to run Facebook ads.
So, in spite of all the reasons he could think of not to leave work, he left everything behind and travelled to San Diego to find some answers. 60 days later, Native had grown by 400%.
Moiz joined my Blue Ribbon Mastermind sometime after that. My point isn’t that you should follow Smart Marketer because we have all the answers — you should follow Smart Marketer, but you should follow other educators, too.
Go to events, attend webinars, take courses, and join masterminds, because I guarantee that whatever you’re struggling with somebody somewhere has already solved it.
You can follow Moiz Ali on Twitter (@moizali), on Instagram (@moiz.r.ali) and on his website MoizAli.com. You can also visit Native’s store at NativeCos.com to view their product line and learn more about how the brand got started.