IAM1641 – CEO Created a Coffee Company Targeting Outdoor Community

Podcast Interview with Zach Frantz

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”: Zach talked about the entrepreneurial journey and how it doesn't happen overnight. Also related to the community, they focus on UGC – User Generated Content and how important it is to niche down and how that helps to serve the community that you are serving.

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Zach Frantz Teaser 00:00

You know, when I'm writing copy or when I'm posting on Instagram, it's very just like I'm talking to my friends, right? I'm big on UGC like I don't spend almost any money on content. I just take what people posted on their stories and I post it on my post.

Intro 00:18

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you'll come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:44

Hello. Hello, this is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and we're doing something a little bit different this year with some of our episodes we're repurposing some of our favorite episodes around specific topics related to entrepreneurship. This month we're focusing on entrepreneurship and community.

Us, we, our, together and we're gonna look at entrepreneurship and industries and different, types of entrepreneurship and ultimately what that really means. But we're also gonna delve deeper into the importance of community networking niche communities and how that supports being a CEO, entrepreneur, and business owner.

So sit back and enjoy these special episodes around entrepreneurship and community.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today I have Zach France of Wildland Coffee. Zach, super excited to have you on the show.

Zach Frantz 01:30

Thanks, Gresh. Really appreciate it.

Gresham Harkless 01:32

Yeah, definitely appreciate you as well.

And before we jumped into the interview, I wanted to read a little bit more about Zach so you can hear about some of these awesome things that he's doing. And Zach is an entrepreneur, sales expert and the founder of Wildland Coffee growing up in San Diego. He enjoyed two things, starting from a young age, camping and the idea of being an entrepreneur.

In fact, he started his first business cakes by Zach at the age of nine, and after graduating from San Diego State University, Zach, further hone his tech and e-commerce skills by working for two software startups in Salt Lake City. And while living there, Zach and his wife enjoyed many camping trips but would get fed up trying to make good-tasting coffee with a French press.

He knew there had to be a better way to make and enjoy coffee while on the go. And as it turns out, there was. In the hopes of inspiring more people to get outdoors. Zach launched Wildland Coffee in the spring of 2021, and with the brand's innovative Coffee in a teabag, you can easily make tasty coffee wherever you are.

And his motto in both business and in life, his rising tides should lift all boats, which is why he hopes above all to do right by his team, his community, and the environment, and outside of growing Wildland coffee, Zach. Loves to enjoy the outdoors through skiing, hiking, and camping. Absolutely love the progression and hear about all the awesome things you're doing now.

Zach, are you ready to speak to the I'm CEO community?

Zach Frantz 02:44

Yeah, let's do it.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 02:45

Let's make it happen then. So, I know I touched on a little bit when I read your bio, but I wanted to rewind the clock, and hear a little bit more on how you got started, what I call your CEO story.

Zach Frantz 02:53

Yeah. So like you just read, I actually started my first business when I was nine.

I was baking and cooking a lot with my mom from a really early age. And I love to make cakes. I think it's probably like the fat kid in me and I don't even know why I wanted to start a cake-making business, but, so this was like 1999. So I was born in 90 and there was a service from Yahoo called Yahoo Geo Cities.

Maybe some of your listeners remember this, I think it was the first drag-and-drop website builder ever. Like you could literally. Like using this, create a website. And I started, like an e-commerce cake business where you could actually go on my website and you could order a cake. It would like to send me an email and, you know, someone could buy, buy a cake online.

I only ever sold one cake to my neighbor. But that was the start of my journey. And since then I've doubled in other things. I've started a couple of other e-commerce businesses. And, but really, like I've known really from the time I was nine years old that I wanted to own my own business.

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Like this is, this is what I want to do. And so for me, it's not even such about like what the specific business is. Although I do have to be personally passionate about it. For me, it's about solving customer problems and it's about, I believe that there's like some very right ways to do business.

And, I want to be like a model for how business can be a force for good, in the world.

Gresham Harkless 04:17

Yeah. I absolutely love that. And I love, as I was reading about your motto and everything that you stand for and, how it kind of manifests itself in the business and the work that you do. But one, two words that really stuck out to me, or one word in a phrase is journey and solving problems.

And I think so many times we forget about the journey, whether we're building a business or just in our life in general, and how we're planting those seeds, building those blocks.

Zach Frantz 04:39

Yeah. And the journey's so funny cause I think like Shark Tank is probably like the best thing for entrepreneurship maybe ever.

Cause now a lot of people wanna do it. It might also be the worst thing because they make it seem so, so easy. It's like what the saying says, it's like a 10-year overnight success.

Gresham Harkless 04:57

Yeah. It takes 10 years to make an overnight success.

Zach Frantz 04:59 Yeah. Right. and, I mean, I'm in the part of my business right now.

I don't remember who came, I think it was like Harvard Business Review. This is like a long time ago. They have had like the journey of a business and like there's at first there's like a peak cause you're really excited, you get some initial success and then you go down into the trough of disillusion, which is where you think you're gonna fail and everything sucks.

Basically. And where I'm at in my business right now is I'm kind of in that trough of disillusion a little bit, where, like I had some early success and now it's like, okay, now things are getting like a little tougher cause you gotta scale. And, it is the journey. I think the more times you've done it, it makes you kind of know where you are on the journey.

And so it's like, okay, this isn't the end of the world. Like we're gonna make it through this, but you just have to get through like some tough times and there's always gonna be tough times.

Gresham Harkless 05:51

Yeah, absolutely. We start to realize that, in business, but also in life in general, there's always those ups and downs and, and I love first of all that you're talking about that.

Cause I think one of the things that I try to hammer home, especially on the show is that journey is everything- not all sunshine and rainbows. And entrepreneurship is a lot more like you know, that rollercoaster ride and there's probably more downs, longer downs than sometimes there are the highs.

So you have to really cherish and appreciate those. So I appreciate you so much talking about that. Cause it's not and I think that shows a lot.

So I wanted to hear a little bit more, you touched on your early success. Could you take us through a little bit more on what that looked like, what you're doing at Wildland Coffee, and how you're making that impact with the clients that you're working with?

Zach Frantz 06:29

Yeah, so Wildland Coffee is a coffee company and we, pack really tasty coffee. It's ethically sourced as well into teabags. And like my bio mentioned like I do a lot of camping and I was using my French press, and that was like way too much effort, but starting a business, that's fine.

So, I really felt like there was a big need in the outdoor community for like an easier way to make coffee. And you know I'm solving a problem for myself basically, which is why I'm so passionate about cause this is something that I'm experiencing. Our vision and our goal for the company is to be the coffee brand for the outdoor community.

And that's like really what gets me up every single day is- when someone is camping, hiking, RVing backpacking, anything outdoors. I want them to think about Wildland coffee, as their go-to coffee brand.

Gresham Harkless 07:23

Yeah, absolutely. No, I love that. And I think as you alluded to a lot of times through those, sometimes the great days, but sometimes the less than ideal days, you wanna make sure that you have your why, firmly implanted and in place and to be able to create that solution that solves our own problems but also a lot of people that we're around as well.

And so would you consider that to be what I like to call your secret sauce, the thing you feel kind of sets you apart and makes you unique? Is it that ability to, for one, lean on that why, but two actually take that entrepreneurial leap and create something that isn't just a really great problem solver, but also something that makes a huge impact in so many different ways that you've been able to do.

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Zach Frantz 08:02

Yeah, I think like what makes me different? So I'll talk about like what makes me different and then what makes the company different. So I think what makes me different is I've a very high-risk tolerance. And if you wanna be like an entrepreneur, like your risk tolerance has to be pretty, pretty off the charts.

I'm also just not afraid of failing. Like at this point in my life, if I fail at this, it's fine. Like I don't think I'm going to. Of course, or else I wouldn't be doing it. But you just have to be okay. Like putting in the money, the time, the hours sacrificing, you know, the night out with your buddies.

Like you have to be willing just to sacrifice all of that. And I'm willing to basically put everything else on the back burner and say, I'm gonna make this happen no matter what. And if it doesn't happen, then I learn a bunch. And this is actually my second time doing a coffee company.

Gresham Harkless 08:57


Zach Frantz 08:57

When I left my first coffee company, it wasn't a great situation. Me and my founder didn't get along, so I left and three months later I started this company. So you have to have a like, a short memory. And as I say that, I think that's one of my strengths is I have a short memory like, whatever happened, just forget about it.

You just gotta keep moving on. I would say like really, what makes the company unique? And I would say that there are a lot of things that make you unique, but one thing that I'm really trying to do is have a very genuine and conversational tone with the brand because in my opinion, a lot of companies, especially like consumer companies, when I like to watch their ads or I go on the website, it feels very stale and it doesn't feel like there's a ton of personality.

So, You know, when I'm writing copy or when I'm posting on Instagram, it's very just like I'm talking to my friends, right? I'm big on UGC, like I don't spend almost any money on content. I just take what people posted on their stories and I post it on my post.

And, I think that resonates with people cuz it makes the brand seem more approachable and just more genuine. Like, I don't have a very polished approach. It's more just like, hey, like here's the brand. You wanna be part of the story? Awesome.

Gresham Harkless 10:08

Nice. I love that. And for anybody who's listening to UGC is user-generated content, correct?

Zach Frantz 10:12 Yeah.

Gresham Harkless 10:13

As well too. Yeah. And I love that because I think that's where things have been moving, where I always say we forget about like, the human aspect of business and, definitely the human aspect of life, even sometimes too.

So I wanted to switch gears a little. And I want to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app, a book, or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Zach Frantz 10:33

Yeah, there's probably a lot that I already, that I do that other people have already mentioned on the podcast. You know, reading specific books or meditating. One thing, that I think is really underrated is diet. I'm not like, super religious about my diet. During the week, I'm much more religious about what I eat because I notice that there is a direct correlation between what I eat and how much energy I have and how much I can focus.

If I'm eating healthy, you know, vegetables, whole grains, fruits staying away from alcohol, drinking a lot of water, I just noticed that there's a huge impact on my mental performance. So that's something that I would definitely encourage other people to consider.

Gresham Harkless 11:18

Nice. I love that and I appreciate you sharing that.

Zach Frantz 11:21

Yeah. And a lot of things I eat are inexpensive, so then I have money to spend on my business.

Gresham Harkless 11:26

There you go. There you go. you put it right back in. I love that. So I wanted to ask you now for what I call CEO Nugget. Anybody has already touched on this, but this is a little bit more of a word of wisdom or piece of advice.

I like to say. It might be something if you were to hop into a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.

Zach Frantz 11:40

One of the things that I would tell myself, and I tell other people, is when you're thinking about starting a business, be as specific as possible about who your target market is. Now, this goes, a lot of people think, oh, like, well, if my market is small, then there are not as many people, or I'm not gonna be able to make as much money.

The problem is, when you have a big market, then you are competing against… . Let's say if I have a bigger market now I'm competing against Starbucks. If you have a clothing brand and you have a big market, or you wanna have a big market, now you're competing against Zara and H&M and you know,  etcetera, Nordstrom's.

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But if you niche down now, the people or the amount of competitors you have really start to get smaller and you can start to really dominate a niche as opposed to trying to compete against, the world's biggest companies, which inevitably you'll probably lose cause they just have more money.

So really niching down and being very specific is something that I would tell my younger self and I would tell other young entrepreneurs.

Gresham Harkless 12:46

Nice. I love that. And I think so many times I'm glad you talked about a lot of times when we think about niching down, we don't realize that there is a big market even within that a lot of times, and you can continue to drill down.

I wanted to ask you now my absolute favorite question, which is the definition, of what it means to be a CEO, and we're holding out a different quote and quote, CEOs on the show. So Zach, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Zach Frantz 13:06

So, for me, being a CEO is literally everything. Like I work with some contractors. But for me it's being the person who comes up with the vision, it's being the person that comes up with the strategy.

And I think in most cases, being a CEO is like you're bringing the right people on board. You're making sure the right people are in the right position. You're working with your team to come up with the strategy and what the vision is.

And then you're leading the team. But for me, and I actually, don't even call myself like a CEO. I think we need to have some employees and things to be like a CEO. So for me, like CEO slash founder I mean, it's literally everything. It's if I'm not focused, if I'm not putting in the work, my company is gonna fail.

So, so for me, it's being a CEO means I have to do everything to make my company succeed. And, I would say that's probably, True of all CEOs. It's just the type of work that you're doing is gonna transition as you have a bigger and bigger team.

Gresham Harkless 14:01

Yeah. I appreciate you, you know, breaking that down. So what I wanted to do now was pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know, and of course, how best they can get ahold of you and find out about all the awesome things that you're working on.

Zach Frantz 14:13

Yeah, the only last thing that I would say, I think in the history of the world, there's never been a better time to start a business. You know, it's never been easier to market yourself. You know, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok. It's never been easier to get good contractors, right? Fivver, Upwork. Right?

It's never been easier to like get your business started. And right now money is kind of cheap right so it's probably a little easier to get investment money right now than it would be in other times. So, I would just always encourage people if you've been thinking about it, like now's an amazing time to pull the trigger.

Good ways to get in touch with me. You can add me on LinkedIn Zach Frantz or you can email me at Get wild

Gresham Harkless 14:57

Awesome. Awesome, awesome. Well truly appreciate you again, Zach for all the awesome things that you're doing, and definitely, we'll have your information in the show notes, but I think, like you said, you know, sometimes we can be in a mindset of seeing what we don't have, seeing what we're lacking.

But as you said so well, this is a perfect time because there are so many opportunities that are out there and if we continue to have that abundance mindset and look into all the opportunities and things that we have in front of us, that's when we can start to lean into that and really hit the ground running as you've been able to do.

So, truly appreciate you, my friend, and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Zach Frantz 15:29

Thanks, Gresh.

Outro 15:30

Thank you for listening to the I am CEO podcast, powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at I am CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google podcast, and everywhere you listen to podcasts.

Subscribe and leave us a five-star rating. This has been the I am CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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