Michael Cannavo is the co-founder of SUPER73, an electric motorbike company with a West-Coast American flair. The company has been publicly backed by A-list celebrities like Jamie Foxx, Will Smith, and Madonna.
Michael comes from humble beginnings - he was rejected from the Air force and then worked in Costco where he had an ‘aha’ moment which made him quit the job and start Super73.
Michael is also one of the experts in viral marketing and has worked alongside Post Malone, Garrett Watts (3.3M followers), and Casey Neisat (12.4M followers).
Where to Find Michael Cannavo
This episode is sponsored by Entire Productions- Creating events (both in-person and virtual) that don't suck! and Entire Productions Marketing- carefully curated premium gifting and branded promo items.
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People will show up with like a knockoff SUPER73 or another vehicle, and they'll be going around being like, "Hey, I'm so sorry I'm going to sell this." I promise I just couldn't get a SUPER73 right now. And everyone's like, we don't care. Like just come ride with us. But it sort of is that FOMO sort of like, you really want to be a part of this movement that's happening. And that's really cool to see.Natasha Miller:
Welcome to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS. How do people end up becoming an entrepreneur? How do they scale and grow their businesses? How do they plan for profit? Are they in it for life? Are they building to exit? These and a myriad of other topics will be discussed to pull back the veil on the wizardry of successful and FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS.
Hey, can you do me a favor while you're listening to this podcast? Can you open a web browser type in OfficialNatashaMiller.com. Yes, this is my brand new website that I built for you, entrepreneurs that want to scale and grow their businesses. It's packed full of information articles, blog posts, podcasts. And also you can download the Free Profit Finder Guide that helps you find more profit in your current business. You can get on the wait list for my digital course and be the first to know when my book Relentless is up for pre-sale. Today. I talked to Michael Cannavo co-founder and COO of the really cool eBike company, Super73.working on with Mr. Beast for: Micheal Cannavo:
SUPER73 basically exists because we wanted to create adventure. It's a platform to express your individuality platform, to create, to collaborate to adventure, explore, you know, it is an electric motor bike, and that's kind of the vehicle that we use to do that, but it's also so much more, it's a lifestyle brand and we're very proud of it, for that.Natasha Miller:
It's really cool. I mean, I've written on other people's motorcycles. I've never written one on my own. I think I've ridden on Mopeds back in the day, but I was looking at the bikes and I'm like, yeah, I'm totally into it.Micheal Cannavo:
Yeah. So we originally started designing them. And for those who don't know, it's these kind of stylized, vintage, almost retro looking e-bikes and we classify them as motorbikes because there are a lot more than e-bikes they're connected.
They have a IOT connectability, meaning that they can talk to the internet, get up there. You can change the speed settings, the really, really dynamic and more than dynamic. They're just really cool looking. I think they're really fun for people who don't ride motorcycles, but I've always kind of wanted that feeling.
It gives you that sort of freedom and that energy and that emotion of tearing down the road with the wind in your face. But you also don't have to go get your license. You don't have to take classes. Anybody can hop on and start riding. And it really just opens that whole world up for new right.Natasha Miller:
How fast do they go at the top speed?Micheal Cannavo:
So we limit them to 28 miles an hour, and we have a little plus on the end of that, because some of our writers can hit speeds of upwards of 31 32 on off-road mode. But what's cool about them is they are classified to meet whatever regulations are within your state or country. So we can limit them for Germany.
Germany is very strict on their e-bike was. So every bike sold, there is limited to whatever fits in the regulation there. There are off-road modes. You can get, if you want to use it for personal use, but as they come in the box, they are ready to go. Wherever you live -Natasha Miller:
So they are not smart bikes, they don't just know where you're at. If you buy them in the location where they're limited, that's how it's going to be put together.Micheal Cannavo:
Yes, we actually are working on geo-fencing for the future. Meaning that if you were to ride your bike into a city or a state that has different regulations, a example would be. Venice to Santa Monica, very different regulations.
As soon as you cross into that city limit, it's going to slow you down. Now, that's going to be in the future. Cause we were still working on how that'll communicate, how that can kind of interact with the city. And we are working with local regulators on that, but it is a gives us so much opportunity for the future to keep people safe, to stay within regulations and to really let people get the most out of.Natasha Miller:
Yeah, I am like, so in love with them, I think if my daughter saw them, she's 26, she'd be like all over it.Micheal Cannavo:
Yeah, it was just speaking to a group of NYU students today. And their professor joined because her daughter has one and was riding it all over New York. And she was like, I was terrified when she first showed up with it.
But now the mom and the daughter fight on who gets to take it on the weekend. And I think that's so cool.Natasha Miller:
That's really cool. So what failures have helped shape your success in this company?Micheal Cannavo:
Yeah. I think that we learn way more from our failures than we do our successes and SUPER73 new, quite a lot of failure early on.
We had businesses we'd been together for quite a few years and we had businesses that were just failing. Nobody wanted the product, right product, wrong time, wrong product. You know, there's just a lot of that. And it's this feeling of kind of just banging your head into the wall, wondering like when is something going to click?
And I think owning that and being so committed to being like, well, no matter what, we're going to keep chugging along. It builds this endurance and it's this like kind of tolerance to failure. So that now when we fail or something goes wrong. You've already got 15 to 20 new opportunities, new solutions that everybody's raising because we kind of come from a culture of failure, which is something I think we embrace.
We're not afraid to fail. And so people have the craziest ideas and some of those crazy ideas get pretty far along. And then sometimes they get realized in certain versions of models be released, but it really is a matter of like, "Hey, this is a safe. Feel free to fail as long as it wasn't malicious.
There's no consequences to it."Natasha Miller:
How big is your team of full-time employees there?Micheal Cannavo:
So full-time employees, we have over a hundred, which we're pretty excited about. We entered the pandemic with 20, so it's been really rapid and painful growth. It's obviously very good. And we're grateful for. But we had forest customer service reps when the pandemic started.
And that was enough at the time they were all very busy, but it was enough to maintain. And then week one, we had 10,000 new inquiries, week two, we had 20,000 new inquiries and we were like, "whoa." So it suddenly around the clock hire anybody who wants to come work, like literally just -Natasha Miller:
What's the supply chain situation for you now with everything? So jam that would backed up.Micheal Cannavo:
It's really not good. And we have some really great leadership that has been pivoting making kind of new inroads with different manufacturers. We're constantly meeting with people, speaking to heads of government about like, "Hey, here's how we can benefit your town, your city." And so we're really working around the clock, but we used to be able to place an order.
And within 60 to 90 days it would be in manufacturing process. So it would have already started manufacturing. We're today, if we place an order, we're probably like a year to two years out. So it's been -
That is unreal as a co-founder, I'm just going to put the word frustrated out there, but how does it feel? That's how I feel for your.
Yeah, it is. And you know, I am very front-facing as a co-founder and so I get a lot of the DMS and I have so much empathy. I think being a fellow consumer, I know what it's like to have. I know what it's like to be frustrated at a brand. I know what it's like to not understand. And so, as a result, we've done our best to pull back the curtain and say, okay guys, "Here's the issues we're having with shipping."
"Here's the issues we're having with manufacturing." This is where we're currently at today. Feel free to hit us up if you have any suggestions, because we're definitely down to collaborate. Obviously you don't normally get suggestions besides just. Make the bikes here. And then you have a whole list of reasons why you can't do that at the time.
But I think it's about communicating that with your consumers and that's what we're trying to do. And we'll never be perfect at it. But if a DM comes in and somebody is frustrated, I take the time to sit there and respond to them. I really want them to know like, "Hey, I don't take this lightly. You having to wait for your bike.
That's terrible. I'm frustrated too. I'm waiting on things also." So luckily our leadership has really worked to diversify. The supply chain, how we ship inventory over here, how we store inventory, you know, it used to be $900 to rent a container to get it over from Taiwan. It's now about $25,000, which is kind of insane.
The US isn't really exporting anything at the time either. So those containers are just going back overseas empty -Natasha Miller:
Yeah, I heard a statistic that only 1% of the US exports. So when those containers ships come over, they go back over empty,Micheal Cannavo:
Or they have to wait.Micheal Cannavo:
Yeah. It's sad. It's terrible for the environment it's not sustainable. And what Lou grant our CEO has been doing.
Really focusing on, "Hey, how can we bring this back to north America?" We started building in north America, we've built the first, probably thousand bikes here. It was exhausting and really difficult and extremely expensive. And you know, our quality didn't really match what they were doing in Taiwan, just to be completely honest.
And so we, in order to sustain our. Had to go to Taiwan. We love Taiwan. It's a really awesome place for bike manufacturing. It's the top of the world. The most expensive, luxurious high quality brands are made in Taiwan. So there is that benefit of being over there, but we are constantly working on bringing jobs and manufacturing back to the U S we're currently in some talks with some pretty big partners about, Hey, how do we diversify?
How we manufacturer, how can we do stuff here in the U S even beyond final assembly, actual, true manufacturing. And there are a lot of opportunities. And so we're really purging those out.Natasha Miller:
What does your management team look like? You're the chief marketing officer videos. So I'm sure that's very helpful.Micheal Cannavo:
It's funny sitting at the table now that we've really fleshed out our management team and I look around and I'm like.
I am the kid here. It's been exciting when we started, it was Aaron, the Gran myself kind of figuring out this whole us thing. One of our co-founders, uh, leaks. She went over to Europe to work with the GM over in Europe on building that structure out and we just kind of focused on bringing in good people.
It was really important to us that they were a culture fit. Anybody can learn the job. And a lot of people know the job, but it's really hard to find talented, skilled, and successful people who do not have an ego. And we went through quite a few candidates to find that we did. An example of a misstep. We misstepped with somebody from a big OEM.
We wanted to bring in some big time management and wow. Like within a month we were like, this is not a culture fit because they are stepping all over. Everyone, voices were being raised and it was just so unsafe for SUPER73. So we parted ways and really reset. And the team we have now, you know, our COO is one of the directors over from Beats.
He was an executive over there who helped them as they exploded, grew up, got picked up by apple. He was there every step of the way, our CFO, Alex she's from Tom's and she was there as they kind of hit that rapid hockey stick. We have our director of sales is from Stance. So there's so many really cool players that have come together, both in lifestyle brands and big manufacturers who have kind of added to this team and they're all a culture fit. We all spend plenty of time together. We communicate, they understand the value of being a millennial based company, because for the first couple of years, that's mostly the only demographic that would apply. And so we were really young.
And so we wanted to change that with the management style, bring in some veterans and they have just jelled so well with our team. They mentor, they are here late to spend their time with people who have questions. They're walking people through the steps, but with that, they're also bringing in their own network.
And I have seen this company grow exponentially in the last six months.Natasha Miller:
That's amazing, 20 to a hundred people. Supply chain keeping you from pumping out product. A great C-suite and I mean, lots of challenges I found out in COVID and I should have known this a long before, but my absolute best self during a challenge.
So, and I think a lot of people are, and you're facing a challenge right now with that. How do you get the ALA celebrities, like will Smith and Jamie Foxx to back your product? I mean, it can't be that hard. They're pretty cool. Yeah.Micheal Cannavo:
This is my favorite question, always for sure, because it's this weird thing that we have.ating content on vine back in: Natasha Miller:
Wait did you just say Vine?Micheal Cannavo:
Yeah, I was a Viner. It's where I built my network out and then that kind of dissolved. And I watched a lot of my friends struggle to figure out what their next steps were. I never blew up on vine. I had a nice fun sized following, and I kind of learned how to do content and a network, but I realized very early on, nobody really wants to buy Michael Cannavo and that's okay.
But if I stand behind a product, I can do a lot. And from that point on, I really took that skill set, which it took a long time to learn. And it was a humbling process to be like, I am not like these big YouTubers. I'm not like these big Viners. I don't necessarily have that thing, but I could sell something pretty well.
So I started doing that. I started connecting with a lot of big players, getting them connected to other people, other brands. And I started playing in that world, built out a pretty decent network because of that. And so when SUPER73 started, we were broke and I was like, I've got some friends with big followings.
We could call in a favor. And that's just, so what we started doing and-Natasha Miller:
I mean you aren't asking them to prep a blender or something, this is a really cool thing.Micheal Cannavo:
It makes it so easy that it's a cool product. I always tell people. And sometimes, you know, I think some of the new. Executives here in meetings, they'll be like, yeah, our marketing genius, Michael, I'm always quick to correct them to be like, it does not take a genius to market this bike.
This bike sells itself. All we're doing is helping it. All we're doing is pushing it in the limelight and connecting with people and telling them our story. And so will Smith is a great example. He asked for two bikes while he was filming the movie Aladdin. We didn't know for 100%, if it was really will Smith asking, cause it was all done through people on last minute phone calls, they're like, "Hey, can you get out here tomorrow?"
And I was like, "Oh gosh, Miami, Florida." So I had to go from, to Miami, from California. We had think maybe $10,000 in the bank account at the time we were like really struggling. And I used most of that to get to Miami because we knew this opportunity. If it was going to be real, was going to be huge and long story short, I get there.
It turns out to be Will Smith. He sits down with me and I get to sit here kind of like I am with you right now telling him the story of SUPER73. And it was just really authentic. And we were really struggling at the time and it wasn't a sob story. It was more a story of perseverance. And I think that really clicked with him and he messaged us a couple of days later and was like, Hey, I want to just say thank you for trusting me.
Thank you for the time. I hope this helps. And he posted a video. And the only thing in the description was at SUPER73. I don't think I've ever seen a day that explosive. I mean, our website traffic was a hundred times what it normally was. Our sales exploded. It was like from then on, we were an actual product and that was really, really cool.
And for every Will Smith, you know, there's the Joel McHale who heard the story and wanted to talk about us on Conan. So he gave us like two minutes on Conan. And so it's building these authentic relationships with these creators. Showing them where you're coming from adding value to their life. It's this formula that a lot of other companies haven't been able to do, we've been lucky enough to never have to pay anybody for a post.Natasha Miller:
That's amazing. What did Will want with the bikes? Was he asking for two bikes? Was he buying two bikes? Did he need it to get around set? Did he want it to be part of the Latin movie? Like what what's going on?Micheal Cannavo:
He needed them to get around town. Basically. He was going to be living in Carnahan yet for quite some time and he needed a vehicle to get around town.
These would be easy. They can throw him on the private jet. Take them off when they land and get straight to riding, it was wild. It was insane because recently he gifted two of them to the crown prince of Dubai, I believe as a gift, because they're supposed to present him with something that he doesn't have.
And I thought that was so cool that he used us. And so it really was a, a little bit of a flex piece for him to have these, but also it was really great because I helped them get around for quite some time.Natasha Miller:
Did you have to give him your own bike? Because,
Micheal Cannavo: So I actually had to do that with Madonna, which is a cool story. So-Natasha Miller:
Just drop that one in right there, what doesdo you have to do with Madonna?Micheal Cannavo:
Modanna loved SUPER73. Her videographer hit us up and was like, Hey, she's been talking about you guys. Can we do something special for her? I look around our warehouse. We're broke at the time. Not a lot of money, just really like trying to survive. And I see my personal bike. It was rose gold plated. It was an S one and it was beautiful.
And I loved that thing and I was. Pack it up, ship it off. Let's go because we could not miss that opportunity. And she's been great too. She's posted and tagged us multiple times and it's, you know, to this day I don't actually have a bike for that reason is every time I got one,Natasha Miller:
You keep giving them away.Micheal Cannavo:
That was the problem.Natasha Miller:
I'll give you my address. So I'm in Oakland. I would look so smashing the streets of Oakland.Micheal Cannavo:
I, I, yeah, I'll go find one in the warehouse right now, but that's kind of how it is, you know, it's like pulling it together, being scrappy, being nimble, being willing to take chances. There was no right or wrong decisions. It was only the decision that we made and sometimes they worked well.
Sometimes they didn't work well, but it was always about like regrouping and moving forward every single time.Natasha Miller:
Are you focusing mostly on influencer marketing to get the word out.Micheal Cannavo:
So we did for the first three years, we had $0 ad spent. I tell people there was one time a post was doing really well. And I asked, I said, Hey, do you guys mind if I like boost this post on Instagram?
And I think we put like 500 bucks behind it. That was the only marketing money we ever spent, which was crazy. So we had to rely on authentic and organic. And I think people thought we were a lot bigger than we were. Because of that and it to a certain degree kind of hurt us because people have these high expectations very early on.
But now that we're a little bit more mature, we do very heavily, still rely on influencer marketing, but it's just a piece of what we do. We do traditional marketing. We're building out our performance team right now. We do our emails. We do our SEO. It's just a lot more fun to talk about the influencers.Natasha Miller:
It is. And it's really hard to navigate and manage when an influencer will be landed and when they'll authentically organically post for you, and then it could be like you're having the Oprah effect. So like for instance, I'm writing a book it's coming out in March. If I were back in the day to go on Oprah and it blew up and I didn't have enough product.
Right. You guys are in that similar situation and then you hear yeah. Tufts stubs.Micheal Cannavo:
Absolutely. So for us it was, we weren't afraid to say no. There were a lot of influencers who hit us. Who we didn't work with for different reasons.Natasha Miller:
Not a cultural fit, didn't make sense.Micheal Cannavo:
Absolutely not a culture fit, uh, manager or agent approached us. We don't work with managers or agents unless it's under very rare circumstances.
Good example would be Brittany spirits just got her bikes and her fiancee Mike did all of the negotiating and navigating and was like, "Hey, I'll be here at this time. You can drop them off here." And we didn't deal with anybody except the actual creator. And that's just because of that authenticity, once you bring a manager in, you lose so much of that because it becomes a transaction.Natasha Miller:
Had the wherewithal to know that, that's emotional intelligence. That's not something you can learn. I mean, it shouldn't be taught in business school, but-Micheal Cannavo:
Right, right, I've seen so many of our. Throwing money down the drain. Good example would be the Kardashians got bikes and they posted, and another company had already made a deal with them or something. And they got into a lot of trouble because they wanted to ride our bikes instead, and they're going to do whatever they want andNatasha Miller:
Did they forget about their other deal or something where they like. " Oh, I forgot."Micheal Cannavo:
I tried to stay as out of that, if possible. Cause it sounded scary, but yeah, we just dropped off two bikes, but apparently another company had done that a week earlier. We didn't know. And it was a much bigger, more renowned company and they didn't want to ride those other bikes. They wanted to ride our bikes.
And I think that's a Testament to creating something that's really authentic and we're just such a buzz word. And I think sometimes people cannot roll their eyes. We authentically choose our influencers. If they're eager to work with us, if they're willing to make content for us, Jack Black is a great example.
He puts that bike in everything. We didn't pay him a cent. We didn't talk to any management. He just loves the bikes. And that's always been big for me. I think even early on, we passed up some big opportunities with some of the biggest creators, because it was scary. It was really scary. The content they were making, the liability, they were.
I knew that if we work with the wrong creator, it would permanently tarnish our reputation. And that's just from being lucky enough to have friends who were doing full-time influencer work. I have quite a network of people that I run my gut checks past. If a new opportunity approaches, I've got a mix of a dozen different people, and it doesn't different demographics that I can say, "Hey, does this seem like a good fit?"
And they're very honest and they're very helpful and I'm super grateful.Natasha Miller:
That's really exciting. You're kind of building like a FOMO thing and it's like reverse engineering, the influencer thing. So you're like, yeah, we're not going to take your money, but we're not going to talk to your manager and agent, if you want us we're here.
If you want us we're here, but we might not want you back. So I mean, like-Micheal Cannavo:
It is funny. We try to be very careful with the way that we word it. Cause sometimes an influencer hold us back and then we'll send them to the wrap us program, which is basically a way for them to get discounts on their bikes. We don't ever want to come off as being too good for anyone.
And we want to be accessible to everyone. I will tell you. And I'm sure, you know, a lot of the newer influencers will show up and say, give me this, give me that, I demand this. I demand that the ones who have been around for a long time are very collaborative. They're very eager to work. They're very humble.
And those are the ones that we normally work with. If you've seen somebody on one of our bikes, chances are that they're characteristically humble. And that's very important to us because everybody here. Does our best to remain humble as well. So it's kind of that cohesive sort of mix, but I will tell you, I, as growing up when Razor scooters came in, all my friends got Razors and I got a Micro cause it was a cheaper version of a razor.
And you know, my parents couldn't afford the razor. It was like 300 bucks at the time. Every time I showed up anywhere, I would be like, "I have a Micro, sorry, it's not a Razor." I felt guilty about it. And it's so funny seeing this happening, you know, I brought that story up early on and you can almost see it happening with SUPER73 in the group rides where people will show up with.
A knockoff SUPER73 or another vehicle, and they'll be going around being like, "Hey, I'm so sorry I'm going to sell this. I promise I just couldn't get a SUPER73 right now." And everyone's like, we don't care. Like just come ride with us. But it sort of is that FOMO sort of like, you really want to be a part of this movement that's happening.
And that's been a really cool to see.Natasha Miller:
I was just thinking about what influencer might really move the needle for you. And you have some huge names. And I don't know if you've been in touch with this influencer, but is Mr. Beast, someone in your realm?Micheal Cannavo:
I'd love to tease that we've been working with Mr. Beast and his team for about a year and-Natasha Miller:
see I'm smart, you should hire me.Micheal Cannavo:
You are, you are.Natasha Miller:
However, since you've been working with him, I should have known that before, but whatever.Micheal Cannavo:
Well, no nothing has come out yet. Yeah. So we've been working on a very special secret project for about a year now.Natasha Miller:
You hear it people on the FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS, Mr. Beast in SUPER73.Micheal Cannavo:
It's the first time. Yeah, it was the first one I'm gonna turn in to TMZ of podcasting.Natasha Miller:
I mean, there's definitely a few SUPER73 fans who would love to hear that news.Micheal Cannavo:
So I'm sure there'll be buzzing about it, but, um, yeah, that's coming out, I believe in February of 2022.Natasha Miller:
Exciting! What is SUPER73? I'm just assuming it has something to do with the year 73, but you're going to correct me or-Micheal Cannavo:
I can't correct you when there's no correct answer. It's so funny, depending on what article you read or what podcast you listen to. The answer is always different. And I think that's something that's kind of charming about SUPER73 is that it was just a bunch of friends sitting around a table trying to come up with a really cool name and being a big star wars fan. I love the year 77.
So you were right within the seventies being kind of that retroNatasha Miller:
This event, vintage retro thing.Micheal Cannavo:
Yes, it was when the oil crisis happened and people stopped driving as much. We're in California, it's always sunny. And 73, the 73 toll road runs along our warehouse and it cuts around traffic. There was 73 components on the original, SUPER73, but one of my favorites is that I really wanted 77 and SUPER77 was already taken by a glue company. So we just worked our way down till 73 came up without a copyright claim.Natasha Miller:
Okay. That's kind of cool. Actually. You need it to be.Micheal Cannavo:
Exactly. I'm going to take the year personally, I will also that's the strongest one, but I will also say we were born as lithium cycles, which is, I feel comfortable in saying this now maybe the worst name I've ever heard one, because it makes us have to always do cycles.
We can't ever get away from doing. Some sort of a bicycle or a motorcycle or whatever that cycle word is. You're just stuck in this lane. And lithium is a terrible name because a couple of years ago, I don't know if you remember when all those lithium ion batteries were exploding on planes, people are like, are those your batteries that are exploding?
And we're like, oh no. So yeah, that was a terrible names.Natasha Miller:
Get this thing out of our garage.Micheal Cannavo:
Exactly. For the record. I want to state, those were not our batteries exploding. So we did ditch the name and SUPER73 is what a rose above it.Natasha Miller:
So you can go it's SUPER73. I'm just going to say, it's a lifestyle brand and you can do whatever you want with it.
You can do apparel, you can do experiences. Just let me know when you need me to consult with you.Micheal Cannavo:
Michael was an incredible and fun guest to interview. And I'm in love with his bikes. He is instrumental in telling the story of SUPER73 and is both humble and authentic. He understands that the people with incredible business experience they've just brought on will to catapult them into more success.
For more information, go to the show. You're listening to this podcast. Want to know more about me? Go to my website, OfficialNatashaMiller.com. Thank you so much for listening. I hope you loved the show. If you did, please subscribe also, if you haven't done so yet, please leave a review. Where you're listening to this podcast. Now I'm Natasha Miller and you've been listening to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS.