Episode #6: Ken Tomita, Founder and CEO Grovemade

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I am joined in this episode by Ken Tomita, the founder and CEO of Grovemade, the Portland based company that make beautiful desk accessories. Ken talks about his journey from artist to iPhone case maker to nationally recognized maker of furniture for your desktop. He describes how the journey shaped the company’s culture and how they determine which products to create. There is so much more involved than building a great product. Ken’s wisdom is relevant for anyone starting or building a business of any kind.

Episode Notes

2:00    What change is Ken leading at Grovemade?

3:30   The secret of why Grovemade’s homepage is so engaging

6:30  Living the company culture and how it has evolved

8:30  The importance of transparency, a tough lesson learned

10:30  The pillars of Grovemade’s culture

12:00  How they created a psychologically safe company culture

14:30  The journey from iPhone cases to furniture for your desktop and how a hit product almost cratered the business

18:30  Going against the market and everyone’s advice to expand their product line

20:00  Building a great product wasn’t enough

21:30  How they determine which products to create and sell

23:15  “a 2,000 mile road trip to visit customers turned into something I couldn’t have imagined.”

24:30  Connecting the rest of the team to their customers – thank you cards

28:15  Advice for anyone beginning a similar journey


Grovemade on the web

Learn more about Ken via LinkedIn


Music by Isaac Chambers – ‘Change’