EP 41 – From Toddlers to Tonies with Marcus Stahl
In episode 41 of the Most Awesome Founder Podcast, we introduce Marcus Stahl, WHU alum and Co–Founder of Tonies. Marcus had a long stint in the telecommunication and automotive industry before becoming a founder and co-founding Tonies.
In this episode, Marcus goes through his journey from taking 3 years to perfect the Tonies box to eventually taking the company public via SPAC. He emphasizes how being naive helped him and his co-founder in building the business and how it is extremely important to have the heart and conviction in your product in a product led business. He also shares the mistakes Tonies made during their global expansion and his key learnings from that experience.
Hope you enjoy listening to the episode as much as we did producing it.
(01:03) Intro of Marcus Stahl
(02:51) Marcus Stahl’s founder journey
(07:08) Meeting your co-founder at a kindergarden
(08:09) Was leaving a corporate job and becoming a founder an easy decision for Marcus?
(10:23) What was Marcus’ process of assessing his co-founder
(12:13) Building a toy without a screen in the digital era of entertainment
(15:28) 2 different customers for Tonies and how they are striking a balance between the two
(18:08) Using nostalgia to enhance the experience of playing with Tonies
(19:50) The complexity of building Tonies and their fundraising trajectory
(22:59) What was Tonies’ go-to-market strategy in the busy space of children’s toys?
(26:06) What was the distribution strategy of Tonies initially?
(29:33) The catalyst for global expansion
(33:36) Did quality German engineering help Tonies as a brand in other markets?
(35:58) Tonies’ stock market listing through SPAC and the trust in their shareholders
(42:55) Marcus’ transition from being a founder of a small startup to leading a public company
(47:05) Becoming the “netflix of toys” and what’s next for Marcus and Tonies?
(50:44) How does Tonies plan to leverage their customers’ high LTV?
(53:15) Marcus Stahl’s advice to young aspiring entrepreneurs
(56:07) Would Marcus have built the same business back in his 20s?
(57:59) Marcus’ book recommendations
(59:00) Marcus’ favorite music
(1:00:00) Marcus’ favorite Tonies figurine