What do you do when your sensory deprivation business shuts down completely during a global pandemic? You build an at-home, straight-to-consumer cold plunge product unlike anything ever offered in the health and wellness market before, of course.
That’s exactly what happened for Plunge founders Michael Garrett and Ryan Duey. In the height of the pandemic, Garrett’s float spas were completely shut down and he found himself out of work. With his newfound free time, he started looking into another wellness practice, cold plunging, and what kind of cold plunges were available for purchase by consumers. He found the options were not only slim, but also extremely expensive.
Determined to bring a more affordable option to an untapped market, Garrett and his father worked together to build the first in-home cold plunge tub. After countless iterations and improvements, the Plunge tub was born. Close friend and fellow float-center entrepreneur, Ryan Duey, came on board shortly after. Together, they built the first twenty Plunges out of Garrett’s garage, and took on an old-fashioned sales approach of selling the tubs door-to-door in LA to build up their initial customer base.
Now, Plunge has opened a factory in Sacramento and sends Plunges all over the world. BWBacon had the chance to sit down with Plunge’s VP of E-Commerce and Technology, Juan Beck, to learn more about the company’s incredible backstory and what the future brings for the up-and-coming health and wellness brand.
In many ways, Plunge’s story feels more like a reality show about the American dream rather than one that really happened. We asked Beck what factors took Plunge from being an idea to a fully fledged business, and he says, “as well as biohacking his body for health and wellness purposes for a long time, Mike has a background in plumbing, engineering, and entrepreneurship. With his experience building float centers and other at-home wellness solutions, he felt there was a market opportunity to come up with a consumer product that could be mass-produced and sold to the general public.”
Noting that the cheapest at-home plunge option back in 2020 was over $12,000 and laborious to install, Beck shares that Garrett and Duey’s business plan was rooted more in calculated foresight than luck, adding, “the product market fit was incredible then and still is now, as cold plunging is all the rage.”
Calculated foresight is also what pushed the founders to take their product on the infamous investor show, Shark Tank. When asked what the biggest factor was in gaining traction as a newly founded startup and earning the recognition they have now, Beck quickly replies the opportunity to be on Shark Tank skyrocketed the business into public view. Beck shares,
Mike and Ryan are just incredible on that show, it is an amazing episode, and Robert even got in the cold plunge! The shark pit gave [the company] steroids, but prior to that, cold plunging was also being popularized via health and wellness influencers on social media.”
He continues, “[The founders] are excellent networkers, especially Ryan, and his ability to get in front of people helped propel the business forward. When they were first launching this idea, they literally went door-to-door with a U-Haul full of Plunge tubs in order to connect with new customers and pitch their product.” Explaining that once the product was in front of a few key users, they were able to lean into the Plunge brand and gain even more traction. Public figures like Andrew Huberman, Tony Hawk, and Dr. Rhonda Patrick are all cold-plungers that support the Plunge brand, which helped accelerate the trustworthiness and hype around Plunge’s tub product.
These key partnerships gave Plunge brand recognition in its early days, and the founders’ unconventional start allowed them to get creative and experiment with how to popularize cold plunging during a time many people were at home. With such a great foundation and central offering, we asked Beck, what’s next for Plunge?
“We are preparing to rollout the next generation of products in six to twelve months. These products will be Internet of Things enabled, so we are becoming not just a consumer goods company, we are becoming a tech company,” Beck says. Plunge’s mobile application will fully realize the company’s vision of blending the hardware of their Plunge products with an app that can aggregate data and provide insights into the effectiveness of users’ plunge and sauna habits.
Beck adds, “the mobile app is huge for us strategically. It's the vehicle for how we're going to build our community, how people will control the product with ease, and how we will incorporate new features and products, for example, our new sauna product. The app gives customers the ability to control their sauna or plunge, scheduling them ahead of time to be ready for use.”
The company’s overall goal is to become the main authority on “the modalities of sauna and cold,” as they continue developing their app to analyze both cold plunge and sauna data that will help users better understand the benefits reaped from these practices. “When people think of cold plunging, we want them to think of us. Given how much scientifically-backed information is coming in about cold plunging and the benefits of sauna and cold plunging combined, we want to be at the forefront of sharing this information with our users, bringing analytics to people’s fingertips with the products to match,” Beck says.
It goes without saying that every company that started from scratch and quickly gained a following has experienced some growing pains, and that’s where BWBacon came in for Plunge. We asked Beck what his team’s biggest takeaways were in working with BWB to hire a Director of E-Commerce and an experienced Product Manager on their team, both key roles that would influence the future of the company.
Beck does not hesitate before saying, “your team produced some incredible candidates, and you did it pretty fast. Honestly, I was impressed, and [BWBacon’s] process for gathering the information needed to successfully recruit was also impressive. We felt BWB was just on top of things, and that’s been very uncommon in my prior experiences working with other agencies.”
We may sound like a broken record at this point, but in this case (as in most cases), making full-time hires for Plunge was about technical chops as well as interpersonal skills and culture fit. Beck says,
The really big wins [for us] were that both of the individuals we hired ended up being local candidates, which is a big deal for the company. The two so far are incredible human beings and professionals, and I could not be happier. There's just so much potential for what we'll be able to do with this level of talent BWBacon helped us find.”
We love sharing success stories of recruiting, and our relationship with Plunge has only begun. To wrap things up with Beck, BWB asks him what he wishes people generally understood better about cold plunging, and his initial answer reflects upon the rich history of the practice. “It's not a fad,” Beck states, “that's for sure. People have been doing this for thousands of years.”
From the Egyptians to the Greeks, cold plunging has been studied for its positive effects on the body for centuries, however, the physical challenge of dunking yourself into an unnaturally cold tub of water has not changed. Beck adds that he wants people to understand,
It's hard every time, but it is worth every minute of it once you do it. Also, anyone can do this. There's a big fear factor because it sounds crazy to do to get in really cold water for minutes on end, but you can do it! Once you do and learn about how it's an incredible tool to regulate your nervous system and mental wellbeing, not to mention all of the physiological benefits, you won’t go back.”
At its core, Plunge's products are rooted in the science of inducing physical responses through exposure to extreme conditions. Beck tacks on that “facing extreme heat or cold is challenging, and that is when your body kicks into fight or flight mode, procuring all the hormones and physiological processes that will start to yield the benefits for cardiovascular health or mental health.” He concludes by saying, “there is no such thing as free biological launch, you have to do the hard thing to get the benefits. Whether it's exercise, or getting in really cold water or into a really hot sauna, you’ve got to do the work to reap the benefits.”
Are you ready to try a cold plunge or already on the bandwagon?
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