Eric Kau

An Interview

Eric Kau

COO – Boxy Charm




Can you share your professional background with us?

 I began my career working for big box brick-n-mortar retailers Target and Best Buy. I held roles in a variety of functions, including Merchandising Planning, Product Development, Buying and Business Development. While at Target, I also attended the University of Minnesota and received an MBA in Entrepreneurship & Strategy. In 2012 I moved to Seattle and joined Amazon to run the Vitamins & Supplements category. I held that role for 2 years, growing the business growing top line revenue by ~180%. I was then recruited by to run their Merchandising organization, which I did for the next ~3.5 years. Over that time, I built the team form 4->95 employees, and we grew the company from $250M ->$2.3B in revenue. In the spring of 2017 we sold Chewy to Petsmart for a reported $3.35B. In December 2017 I joined BoxyCharm as COO.

Can you share why you were brought in to Boxycharm?

I was hired by BoxyCharm to build the team, technology and process necessary to scale the business. The Founder/CEO does not have experience building and running large organizations, and he was looking for a partner to build operating plans and manage the day-to-day operations of the business.

Changes you witnessed, impacted during your tenure at Boxycharm?

have led efforts to grow the in-house team from 30->150 FTE’s, and and established a BPO partnerships in customer service and technology with >150 FTE’s.  Directly recruited 3 C-level executives (CMO, CFO, CSCO).  Evolved the business from a single revenue source (monthly subscription), to diversified revenue model, adding DTC ecommerce and upgrades. Established a data driven culture, founded on clearly communicated and measurable goals.

What have your learned as you continue to high growth consumer tech companies?

The “right” people are hard to find, but finding the “right” people will accelerate the business faster than any strategy. Hiring the “right” person 6 months early is exponentially better than 6 months late.  Figure out what makes your company different and special and significantly over invest into it. Focus is critical. What you decide not to do is as important as what you decide to do. Especially early on, keep strategies simple and execute flawlessly. Set aggressive goals and expectations but then get out of the way and give your team the space and autonomy to operate. Measure them on the result, not the method. If you have to give daily direction, you’ve hired the wrong team and you will quickly become the bottleneck to growth.

How significant a role has talent management/talent development, the continued hiring of the highest performing ppl at Boxycharm made a difference in real terms?

 Early on we identified some significant capability gaps, specifically data availability. We hired someone overqualified for the needs of the business (and had to over compensate to do so), but he knew exactly what needed to be done and in 2 months we had the data we needed at our fingertips. Message – hire for the where the business is going, not where it is today.
 One of the founders I worked with is very involved in specific aspects of marketing, but isn’t experienced in other aspects of the function. This made hiring a CMO difficult. In the end, we were successful because we were radically transparent in the interview process, and chose a candidate who complimented the founder.

Thank you Eric, for sharing your experience. 


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