Episode 131 |  How “Inside the Box” Innovation Helped Project 7 Disrupt the Gum Industry

with Project 7 CEO and Founder Tyler Merrick

David Hassell interview David Hassell interview

AWE Episode Tyler Merrick

Exciting news – we’re combining the Awesome Office and Brand Builder podcasts into one incredible show. Think of it as Awesome Office 2.0.

What’s different? In a way, not a lot. We’ll still do culture-focused features and interviews every other Thursday, led by host Sean Kelly. But now they’ll be available in a different feed, so make sure to subscribe to Brand Builder in Apple Podcasts (or however you listen).

In addition to that, every Monday we’ll have new content focused on building your brand and scaling your business. We’ve been doing both shows for a whole, but over time, we realized how interconnected these topics are, and consolidating these shows in one place just made sense.

To give you a feel for what you can expect, we’re bridging the gap between Awesome Office and Brand Builder with an episode with Tyler Merrick, the CEO and founder of Project 7.

Project 7 is a gourmet specialty candy brand dedicated to creating one of a kind customer experiences while giving back to 7 areas of need. Basically, Project 7 comes up with totally out there flavors – like birthday cake flavored gum or moscow mule flavored organic gummies – and then partner with non profits who are making an impact both in America and abroad.

We chose this episode because it gives you a good sense of the Brand Builder content that we think you’ll enjoy. It covers some familiar ground in terms of topics – and it’s just a great story.

We’ve combined a two part episode into one episode.


  • In social entrepreneurship, is your cause a lead actor or part of the supporting cast? Project 7 was founded on Tyler’s desire to bring more purpose to his life’s work. Finding the right way to position the causes he cared about involved a giant learning curve. Tyler shares how he found the balance that would allow the causes to shine and the business to flourish.
  • Stay lean. Think your business can’t reach the next level without hiring a bunch of CPG heavy hitters? Well, Tyler and Project 7 expanded to 12,000 stores with fewer than 10 full time employees. He shares a very specific tactic for figuring out whether or not you really need to make that next hire.
  • How to bounce back. One of the most interesting parts of Project 7’s success story… is that it could have easily ended. Tyler answers the question – how do you recover from the brink of failure?
  • If you really want to make a difference, lead with product and brand. It doesn’t matter how great your cause marketing is or how charitable your customer. At the end of the day, features and benefits drive consumer behavior. You need a thriving business before you can give back.
  • Hire smart. Not sure whether or not make that next hire? Only pull the trigger if you’re confident the revenue they bring in will be 2.5x their salary.
  • Let your sales numbers tell a story. Start with the buyers who are on board with your concept in order to provide proof of concept – show some momentum and you’ll have a nice little velocity story to bring to the more skeptical buyers.
  • Practice Radical Responsibility. Tyler had to make some hard choices, and he maintained his credibility as a leader by shouldering some of the blame.
  • Innovate inside the box. You can diversify your product line without adding too much risk by innovating within limitations.