episode 91: Jonathan Ellsworth, Blister

“It really is just about the consumer and making this commitment from day one that we are never going to lie to our readers. From there, it’s just about really, really trying to be as accurate and specific as we can about what a product does or doesn’t do.”

– Jonathan Ellsworth, founder + CEO of Blister

EPISODE PREVIEW:

My guest today, Jonathan Ellsworth, dropped some hardcore philosophy references from his background in academia. When he quoted Spinoza, I’m not gonna lie, I just rolled with it like I hadn’t ditched the majority of my Phil 101 class at UC Davis to ride.

But whether or not I can detect Socrates from Spinoza, the quote Jonathan pulled is something all of us can relate to. “All excellent things are as difficult as they are rare.”

Damn. We live that every day, right? Because that is specialty. It’s about setting a high bar, offering superlative customer service, and maintaining integrity so our customers are confident in the trust they place in us. It was what differentiates us.

Jonathan is founder and CEO of Blister, the online gear review site whose mission is to offer the most in-depth and honest review possible. Blister is fanatical about gear and the activities our gear allows us to do. This passion has been recognized (and rewarded) by a global audience of consumers that are equally enthusiastic about their gear, their sports, and the honesty they’ve come to rely on from Blister.

I hope you enjoy this wide-reaching conversation that exemplifies the mantra of putting the consumer first.

GUEST PROFILES:

Jonathan Ellsworth

Jonathan Ellsworth is the founder and CEO of Blister, a gear review site. Having studied philosophy, literature and kinesiology in his hometown of Chicago, a move to the mountains of New Mexico shifted his focus from team sports and academia to skiing, biking and running. Blister differentiates itself from other gear reviews by not accepting any gear advertising and telling it how it is through long-form, intensive reviews.

TOPICS COVERED:

Online gear reviews, ski reviews, employee management strategies, website launch, long-form writing, premium subscription services and models

SELECT QUOTES:

“I was really thinking about these gear reviews as a genre, right? …The idea was, ‘What would happen if we elevated this genre of writing? What would that look like?’” 

“It really is just about the consumer and making this commitment from day one that we are never going to lie to our readers. From there, it’s just about really, really trying to be as accurate and specific as we can about what a product does or doesn’t do.”

“I was all in on this, and I pushed all my chips into the table. There was no safety net, but I believed, ‘Yes this is hard…but this is the right way to do things.’”

“If we’re bringing on a new ski reviewer or a new running reviewer…they’ve got to get green lit by a number of people we already have in one of the respective areas. I’ve got a fantastic managing editor, several senior editors and the like and yeah, I don’t bring anybody on by myself.”

“On our death beds, if we are thinking about the top five or 10 moments of our lives, those moments are often, for many of us, going to involve equipment that we’re talking about on Blister, right?”

“We’re literally combing every single word that’s written in a statement and making sure we’re ready to ride and die with the claims that we’re making.”

CONNECT:

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