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May 25, 2023

The Viral TikTok Strategy WaterBoy Used to Scale to $10M with Mike Xhaxho — EP 027

Mike Xhaxho

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Adam Robinson: All right. Another episode of Leaky Funnels. I got Mike Xhaxho with me. He's the founder and CEO of Waterboy. Mike, tell us what Waterboy is, first of all.

Mike Xhaxho: Yeah. So, I'll tell you maybe what got us to the idea. In short, Waterboy's a better way to recover after a night out, after a workout. And it started from a personal need. It was nights where I'd go out with friends and they'd get a little out of hand, and I'd wake up the next day either drinking Liquid I.V. or Pedialyte. And to me, it's why am I drinking these products? I'd look in the back and they're met across all these use cases. So, for me was if I make a product specific to when I need it, can I do a better job addressing not only dehydration but other symptoms I feel after a night out around nausea, anxiety, fatigue? That was our main hero product. We launched that in June of 2021, put out our message primarily on TikTok, audience really resonated with it. And then since then, we've introduced new flavors, new SKUs, and really just honed in on making hydration functional. So, the whole premise is let's keep hydration clean and add ingredients to help people specifically when they need it and make SKUs more specific rather than one general that we market across everything.

Adam Robinson: I love that. So, the first product was the hangover product?

Mike Xhaxho: Yeah. The first product is our Hydration + Weekend Recovery. And so, most of our format is Hydration + and then the plus is exactly when you need it and the ingredients we put in it is for that use case. Yeah, the first product was Weekend Recovery.

Adam Robinson: Yeah. Okay. So, TikTok, talk to us about it.

Mike Xhaxho: Yeah, it's funny. Honestly, I had never really made TikToks before. I was a consumer of the platform in 2020. You know, COVID like you have nothing to do, just scrolling through TikTok. And then we saw an opportunity in TikTok in 2021 before we were launching as a, “Hey, let's put our messaging out there. See if anyone likes it. Well, we can tweak what we can use later down the road.” And it feels like that was the platform where you can get a lot of views, even though you could be a small channel or just start off as performance space. Your viewing reach wasn’t relative to how big you were as a creator. So, the first video I made was actually in my car. I was driving home, I was about to get my mail out and I was like, “Let me just make a quick TikTok on like why I'm starting Waterboy and see if anyone cares.” I remember there was like originally or initially, I hadn't really made a lot of videos where I was just talking to the camera, so I'm a bit uncomfortable with that. I was like, but honestly, I was like, "My friends are probably not going to find this video. No one's really going to see it anyways. I'll just get some reps in.” Put it out there. Went to bed later that night and the next thing you know, the video starts picking up. As our first video ever, I think it probably got like close to 150,000 views. Account grew from 0 to 7,000 followers.

Adam Robinson: Whoa.

Mike Xhaxho: And I remember thinking like…

Adam Robinson: What did the video say? I mean, it sounds like you and this car, like, do you drive a Ferrari or something? Or like what’s the deal?

Mike Xhaxho: No, no. Yeah. Unfortunately, there's nothing special about the car that captured attention. I mean, the car is largely still a piece of sh*t, and I still drive the same car. I knew some of the format of I got to capture someone's attention. So, the video first started off, and in 2021, there's a popular format of almost like a TikTok, “Don't let this flop,” or TikTok, "Don't let XYZ happen that's bad because of this.” So, my format was like, “Don't let this flop for the sake of my entire net worth. Here's like what I did prior to this. I had a software company. I sold that. I'm going all in on this product called Waterboy. This is exactly why and this is what it does. If you want to follow along the journey to see me build this company from nothing to hopefully something, you can follow along and if not like have a good day.” It was as simple as that.

Adam Robinson: Yeah. I mean, that's simple but there was a lot of planning that went into it, right? So, I interviewed this really impressive dude named Olivier Momma, who's a founder of Ekster, and they crushed Kickstarter. Like, they have this wallet that's like the cards go vertical. I don't know, really cool wallet. And the Kickstarter, it looks okay but it's like I spent $500 a video, but I'm like, "Dude,” but they made $350,000 and I’m like, “What kind of ninja stuff did you do in the background?” And this is like the common theme. It's like that sounds simple but you didn't just pick up your phone and like, there was some thought that went into the structure of, you know. That narrative is good. It's not just like free-flowing thought coming. You know what I mean? It's like there's a popular template, like, you know.

Mike Xhaxho: Yeah. I think some of that was happening in the background. To be honest, that video was free-flowing thought. It was unedited. I just post it because I thought no one would see it. And if whoever saw it, I thought, "Oh, I’ll probably get a couple of hundred views, maybe a couple of comments.” And then from that, I'll learn what to tweak, re-edit, and redo. But I think on the background before getting to that point was, A, I was a heavy consumer of the platform so I knew what worked and what didn't just as a consumer. And I was making the video like this is my story but also, why should you care from that angle? And then leading up to that too, we had done quite a bit of research on like why we're making this product because we'll never compete with Liquid I.V. on a marketing budget. We can't make the same product. Unilever would just drown us out. So, there was a lot of that work that went beforehand. But as I was driving, I think it was a ten-minute drive from the gym to my house, I was thinking about the structure of the video and as soon as I parked, I was like, “I'm just going to record this, not overthink it, post it, see what happens.”

I mean, the first video did well, and I remember thinking, “Oh, TikTok's pretty easy. I don't know why everyone's complicating it.” Just tell a good story and get people to listen. And then I made a few videos after that that didn't do as well and I was like, "Okay. Maybe it's a little bit harder than I thought.” I was like, “Did I just get lucky on the first video?” And then the seventh video, it's funny, I remember the seventh video ever made was, "This is why I used to drink Pedialyte and this is why I'm making this instead.” And I would say that was the first big viral video the account had. It got a little over 2 million views organic. It drove about 17,000 phone number sign-ups on our website. And then the account grew from 6,000, 7,000 followers to 25,000.

Adam Robinson: Yeah. I mean, there are so many good nuggets here. We're not even starting. So, one thing is like a problem that I have, I'm making a lot of LinkedIn content, which you probably are unaware of but a lot of people are aware of it. And I'm not a consumer of any social media, so like I had no idea where to start but I just had this gut where like I really believe in the power of video, and just like the same person showing up just like every day, just coming with something new like some is good, some is bad, some is great, some sucks, whatever. But it's just like the constant presence of the same person saying reasonably intelligent sh*t like is unbelievably powerful. But I don't know how to work into my life to be a good consumer of the platform, which is just interesting. I don't know. I think one of the next steps for me is actually starting like people say like a great way to get audience is actually be engaging with other people on these things or whatever. I think that I probably serve that need. That's awesome though. So, another thing is a coaching that I've received on actually this podcast is like every second you've got to be thinking, why should someone care about what's being said right now?

Mike Xhaxho: Yes.

Adam Robinson: You know what I mean?

Mike Xhaxho: This is my Post-It note back here if you look at it. It literally says, "Why should anyone give a sh*t?”

Adam Robinson: Yeah, I love that.

Mike Xhaxho: So, yeah, the premise with most content is why does someone care to watch it? It's because I feel like a lot of people think of why I want you to care, but it's like, why should they care?

Adam Robinson: Yeah, totally. So, rule one, know the platform. Rule two, why should anyone give a sh*t? And then rule three, that like crisp explanation of like positioning of, "Well, here's the mass market product that you're probably doing the exact same thing as me. And like, here's what I'm doing to change that.” It's like I get it, man. It's really awesome. So, you don't fall into the camp of TikTok is about posting 100 videos a day and one of them will go viral.

Mike Xhaxho: No, we don't. I think for us and I don't want to say, “Oh, we're so well thought out and we put in so much effort into getting the perfect video.” It's not really that. It's also our goal is never with any video. It's not, “Oh my God, I need to spray and pray and hope one goes viral.” Like, virality is never the goal for us because there's videos that have gone viral that did less for us than other videos that had less views. So, for us, it's what are we getting across? Does this help build our audience? Does this entertain people? And then with understanding that some videos won't hit, some will hit, and then the rest will come, the focus is never how can we make a viral video?

Adam Robinson: That's really interesting. I mean, I keep talking about these other people but it's like so many conversations are coming to my head. So, at this dinner that I actually invited you to and Chloe came to, Chloe sitting across from this guy who this is on Thursday of last week. He has this aphrodisiac chocolate sex toy there he goes exclusively through TikTok to sell, 21-year-old kid who lives in Phoenix, super cool dude. He like split in half, he give whoever one half and like you take the other half or whatever. So, he's like he's in the total opposite camp as you. He's like, it's all about virality and the way he got it was he started this Discord community of kids, basically. He's like, “I'm going to show you how to make money online,” and he pays in an affiliate rep, and he's got a folder of all of his viral content and now he's up to 3,000 people. He has 3,000 accounts posting the same thing every day. And he's like, "One of them will go viral and you have no idea why.”

Mike Xhaxho: Yeah.

Adam Robinson: You know? It's just like he’s like, “I do the entertainer approach.” It's just like a totally different way of thinking about it, which I think is interesting. You know, I think obviously both are valid, right? Like, you're both doing what you're doing is working or whatever but I just think that it's interesting that the goal of your video is not virality on a TikTok. Just for somebody that like views TikTok, I don't know anything about it other than like it seems to me that people view the power of it is its virality. You know what I mean?

Mike Xhaxho: Yeah. And I can see why because you see all these videos and these stories where this one TikTok changed my life. And even for our company, that one first meme video that went viral really did help move the needle. So, I feel like everyone's chasing that but what happens when you chase that is you make content, not necessarily sometimes from the lens of the consumer. Sometimes you make content that you want to hit, so you end up making a lot of very heavy, lower funnel product videos with the hopes that if one of these hits, I'm going to sell out my inventory. And for us, the way we approach it is what's our branding impact? And we're in it for the long run. So, I don't need one video to really move the needle for us because we have videos that go viral. You see a spike in sales and then the high wears off, right? And then it's like, okay, what's my takeaway from that? This is the messaging. This is the positioning that works. Can we take now this asset and re-skin it on Meta? Can we approach from different hooks and different angles? And we can get eyeballs behind it that way.

And we haven't guaranteed, granted we're paying but for us on TikTok, our goal is more so to entertain, build an audience, and build trust. And then that audience that's already warm, we can convert them on Meta, on paid ads. But I know the exact company you're talking about and you have spoken to him, too. We thought about doing something similar, not in the sense of let's have 3,000 branded accounts but, hey, we have people that reach out to us all the time that want to be ambassadors. So, we're like, how can we do a college ambassador program that's a little bit different? That's not let's just hand out fliers and sticks on campus but can we do that while recording that content and/or empower them digitally? Because the reach of TikTok and social media is so much greater that… So, we've thought of similar ways but at a smaller scale in a way that we can still have some control over brand and messaging. Yeah.

Adam Robinson: Yeah. It's really interesting. It was so wild to hear them. I'm like, “What do you mean you have 3,000 kids like posting the same video every day? How do you even do that?” It's a cool deal. Cool. So, it sounds like your kind of funnel is like TikTok's top of funnel and your Meta is like sort of middle of the funnel, bottom of funnel for you. Is that ish?

Mike Xhaxho: Yeah, exactly.

Adam Robinson: Yeah. Cool.

Mike Xhaxho: For the most part, I mean, there are ads that we make on Meta honestly. Our product is also not a high price point and there's a clearly defined use case and we have attribution studies. Most people, it doesn't even take them a week on first purchase. So, a lot of our ads will guide someone top to bottom of funnel from like, "This is what it is to maybe why you should care and this is where you can get it.” But generally, our strategy with platforms is on TikTok, it's top-of-funnel awareness, entertain, build community. And then on Meta, it's more conversion based.

Adam Robinson: Yeah. Do you pay for ads on TikTok or is it all organic?

Mike Xhaxho: It's all organic.

Adam Robinson: So, do you do organic stuff on Meta too or is that all paid?

Mike Xhaxho: On Meta, we do organic on our Instagram but most of the traffic comes from paid.

Adam Robinson: Yeah, I got it. And then can you move the warm audience from TikTok over to Meta or is it just like…?

Mike Xhaxho: Honestly, we're pretty simple in the way we do things. Even on Meta, we just go broad targeting with understanding that a lot of customers that are exposed to us on TikTok, they also are users of Instagram, like they're not necessarily like mutually exclusive user bases.

Adam Robinson: Right. Sorry. Yeah, I gotcha.

Mike Xhaxho: But we don't target specifically like, "Hey, take our outside of maybe like website sessions,” but even then we just go broad. We find it easier to scale, and then we let the algorithm find the right audience based on the creative.

Adam Robinson: Yeah. Cool. This is all fantastic. So, do you use influencers on TikTok or is this all just kind of in-house stuff at this point?

Mike Xhaxho: All the content obviously we make in our channel is content we created. We've done a few things with influencers. We haven't done as much with it. Generally, we've found it better to focus on our brand. And if we focus on our own brand and our own content, other people will also make content that we then pay for. But we have definitely done influencer partnerships. Those are just a little bit trickier to work because the rates are all over the place and you can define what success is, right? You can define what an ideal creator is like does their audience match up? Do they have trust community built in XYZ? But then the thing is, those come at such high rates that sometimes we're better off running ads on Meta and focusing more on branding with the idea that other people will create content also on our behalf.

Adam Robinson: Yeah, I gotcha. So, rewinding a bit earlier in the conversation, the seventh TikTok video you ever made, like you were kind of part of the story, right? It's a founder brand video if you want to think about it like that. But you're saying like you're making this product and that's certainly part of the novelty of it. It's like, “Hey, man, I'm doing this. Do you want to get involved or whatever?” But like, is it still a founder brand effort or is it still this story of like, "Hey we're doing this here like look?” You know what I mean? Like, I'm doing this work in public thing. It's working incredibly well for us. Is that still part of the angle with you guys or has it evolved to something totally different?

Mike Xhaxho: Yeah. I think originally it was a lot of me and the why, but then after a while, people know the why, right? So, then why are they following you along this journey? So, then we just more or less show just all the behind-the-scenes, like the good and the bad. And then as our team has grown, there's obviously other team members involved in the content. I'm still in it too, but the focus then shifts a little bit more away from this is why we made this product to this is like what we're up to. So, we're still trying to find that balance of how do we dedicate each member's time towards different things. But we're all very much like involved in content like every single employee that works here is on the channel.

Adam Robinson: Yeah. So, it's like kind of the marketing is the story of whatever is happening around you at that moment.

Mike Xhaxho: Yeah. And it's I think too...

Adam Robinson: It's a lot of what I'm doing too. Work in public D2C. I love that.

Mike Xhaxho: Yeah. I wouldn't even say a lot of stuff is like not even planned out. It's just what are we up to or, hey, let's record this. I mean, to us, we take a treat to talk very informal. It's more of if you're FaceTiming a friend, what would you say and do?

Adam Robinson: Yeah. Can we go to your TikTok? I mean, not right now but could the listeners go to your TikTok account and see that seventh video that you ever made? Is it like on the account?

Mike Xhaxho: Yeah. They could unfortunately or fortunately probably even see my first video ever made. They have to just scroll enough to the bottom. It's all there.

Adam Robinson: Yeah. This is a really good play. I have a buddy starting this meat and nut breakfast bar to compete with like EPIC bar, meat bar, or whatever. It's like there's this belief out there that if you get 30 grams of protein in the first 30 minutes of your day, like it kickstarts your metabolism and then you start losing weight, you're stronger, whatever. He calls it The Man Bar, the meat and nut bar. Like, such a great opportunity for all sorts of great marketing, you know? But I love this. You know, it started so crazy, right? Like, there's so much crap going on all the time and like it's madness. Like, I really love what you guys are doing. I wish I had watched a bunch of this in advance but, unfortunately, I had not. But everybody can by going to Waterboy’s TikTok account. So, this next idea is near and dear to how I sort of look at the world. So, you told me, "I find it’s easier to take an existing product in a growing market and address 2 to 3-star reviews from Amazon differentiators.” Can you just like talk about that for a bit?

Mike Xhaxho: Yeah. I mean, I guess a good example would be if you think some of the most successful products, if you're first, you have a pretty long road to educate. And obviously, there are certain industries where it helps, right, like if you're a pharmaceutical. But for us, it takes the same amount of effort to make a product in a small space as it does in a big space. And then in the big space, there's a lot of traffic and growth there but you're obviously competing with bigger players. This may be fragmented, maybe it's not. Is there something you can address in positioning that no one else is? And can you do it in a way that maybe they can't? So, for us, here's this product people are taking after a night out and they're drinking Pedialyte, which is meant for kids or they're drinking Liquid I.V. which was just meant for all these other things. Can we do a better job on the product? And that's like focus number one because I don't really think you can out-market a better product. Maybe in certain spaces, you can like clothing but usually you can't.

So, for us, it's let's focus on the product, how do we position and differentiate? And we don't have to educate everyone on why our product. We maybe have to educate them on why us instead. And I find that a lot easier. Even when I think of some of the best examples like the iPhone, right? Phones were out. They just made it smaller and added apps or Tesla with electric cars like cars are always there. It's just electric. So, for me, it's can you take a product an existing market with growth and offer some differentiator that others aren't? I feel like that's a faster path to growth rather than inventing a whole new product.

Adam Robinson: Dude, I love that. Every business I've ever started is like another take on someone else's business. And I love this notion that like the reason I loved our business so much is because we have. So, our first product is a very aggressive marketing tactic. Anonymous visitors hit the website. They leave. We give the brand the deliverable email address, even if the person doesn't fill out a form. It's legal in the U.S. It's not legal in Canada. It's not legal in Europe. And we know how to do it in a way towards like totally safe. Like, we clean the emails super well. We limit it versus the rest of the email that's going out on the account. So, it's a small portion of it or whatever but it's a super aggressive tactic. No one else is willing to do it, right? Like, these other big companies that have identity solutions, they could definitely service this use case but they have a bunch of other sh*t going on and they're just not willing to. So, I love what you said like, can you do it in a way to where people can't or won't compete with you?

So, it's like you’re kind of getting this market segment that you're going to have virtually no competition in. It's like the niches are in the riches or whatever, right? Like, I think there's tremendous wisdom in that. And to me, that seems like a great way to start a business like go to category, look at where there's a bunch of very mediocre Amazon reviews, and just start thinking, right?

Mike Xhaxho: Yeah. I think the bread and butter is honestly in the three-star reviews. Like, the one, people are usually overly dramatic, and the five. So, I feel like the three-star reviews is where you get most of the wisdom.

Adam Robinson: Right. And that's probably for your own product also, right? Like, read the three-star reviews and what you need to improve. I love that. So, here's something that's also near and dear to my heart. Talk to me about authenticity and relatable content to Gen-Z versus being polished or whatever. Like, what are your thoughts there?

Mike Xhaxho: Yeah. So, I feel like there was a movement where on TikTok you noticed some of the brands that did well were almost chaotic out-of-pocket or it was like, "Oh, generally that brand is overly professional. I can't believe that personality." And we felt like our products are meant to be consumed during fun times in your life like after a night out. And a lot of brands in the space are overly serious. And some of them, because they're bought by bigger players like Liquid I.V. got bought by Unilever, most of them are owned by some bigger conglomerate, so they have to be very safe and more or less they all then preach the same things. They say, "We have the highest quality ingredients. Here's this high-quality photo of our product on this random colored background,” and it's splattered all over Instagram. And that's like what the brand wants to come off, and that's what they want to put forward. But then when you think of it from the perspective of the consumer, "If I go on your Instagram page, why do I care to see your high-quality product packaging super polished in all these different pink, green, bright colored backgrounds all the time? Like, that does nothing for me."

So, for us, it's can we help people understand why we made the product, who's behind the brand, what our personality is, and even stuff that has nothing to do with our company, like music maybe we like and things that we like doing? So, to us, the most successful companies on social media are creators, so why should we treat our company on social media like a company versus a creator?

Adam Robinson: Yeah, build a creator brand. Yeah, there's kind of a little like what I was saying my initial view about how to create awareness on these platforms was it's like people are there to connect with people. You kind of said something similar but different in the like no one's on Instagram to look at packaging with a background like a flat green background, right? They’re there. At the end of the day, they're there to see someone's life, right? They're there to observe stories happen across people's lives. I love that. I'm literally so like I told you this, like I’m making a docu-series that's really rough cut. It's like sort of me doing selfie videos. It's like confessional interviews over Zoom and then I got a video guy who follows me around when I travel and then a morning a week and over an eight-week period, they'll take like eight different ten-minute arcs of like the stuff that's happening as I'm trying to scale this thing. And it's super rough. And people are like, “Wow, this is great. It's like nothing like any other founder is doing on LinkedIn.”

So, we're kind of doing something similar but just through different ways, right? You're hitting TikTok and I'm trying to do it on LinkedIn and Twitter because I perceive my audiences. I mean, they're more on Twitter than LinkedIn but I also have an audience of investors and potential employees. That is definitely on LinkedIn. I love that. Love those thoughts. I think they're dead on. I think authenticity is worth even more now that this GPT-4 thing, you know, it can just like immediately create anything over text that exists on the Internet in one second. So, like someone's raw experience, if there can be insights gleaned from that, the value of that versus anything else is exponentially higher. You know what I mean? In your case, whatever it is, it's like working is marketing. It's like building trust in the brands, building this community, this tribe, or whatever. I try to sort of teach these lessons in my videos or whatever but I think it is the future and the authenticity is like everything. All right. Last topic here. Testing content for ads. Tell me how you think about that.

Mike Xhaxho: Yeah. We have a few different structures. The safest one and we did this more initially when our videos are a little bit more on why our product, why we're making this. Any video that did well organically on TikTok, which is a platform that's largely performance-based, we knew it performed well on Meta. The other way around, not sure, but anything that performs on TikTok, you can just re-skin that concept, change hooks, change people saying it, settings, add green screens, add different elements to it, and they'll perform well on Meta. And then the other way is to where we test content is a little bit more of the traditional way of let's have an ad set with all these creatives, see where it gets spent, figure out the winners based on engagement conversion metrics, and then keep iterating on it with an understanding that it's not going to be perfect on the first go around but then we'll optimize for whether it's the first 3 seconds, whether it's the clothes, whether it's the person delivering it. That stuff is a little bit probably what most everyone else is doing.

But for us, and even for some of the content, it's going to take things that are working well on social media. So, if it's a trend, for example, if we recognize, "Oh, a lot of people are watching street style interviews,” can we take that same medium and all of a sudden now do an interview with someone on the street about what they feel like when they're hungover and find a way to integrate our product. So, it's finding mediums that we know are working and whether it's through creators and different avenues, and then applying it to our own ads. Because for us, it's just because it's an ad, it maybe shouldn't necessarily feel like an ad. It should still be engaging and entertaining content. And the main element, I think through all of it is just storytelling. I feel like they'll never go out of style as long as we tell a story like why this product, why us, when can you get it, etcetera, then I think the rest of it will work out.

Adam Robinson: So, two questions. One, are all of you just on all of these platforms all day when you're not? Like, how do you know what a trend is?

Mike Xhaxho: I mean, yeah, unfortunately, if you look at my screen time, I probably have like an hour plus a day on TikTok. And I'd say that's probably the case for all of our employees. And I wouldn't say we do that like, “Oh, let's get on for an hour and research.” It’s just natural consumers of the platform. And most of us probably get all delivered the same things. So, you kind of just know what style and like what medium is hitting because for us too like our product is the same. Like, we're improving the formula or we're improving the flavor, but it's roughly the same messaging, the same value props. So, then the question becomes, can we have creative breakthroughs and what different ways can we deliver the same information from different angles that will help appeal to different audiences?

Adam Robinson: Yeah. Man, that's great. Second question. You said a bunch of things about how you would re-skin a TikTok video to get it to Meta. Do you just sort of know that because you watch content on both platforms and you have a feel for how it would need to change? Or is there like kind of a checklist that is a little bit foolproof? I don't spend time in either one, right? So, if I had a viral TikTok video, what would I have to do to it to get it Meta ready?

Mike Xhaxho: Honestly, as simple as just taking it and uploading it to Meta would work.

Adam Robinson: So, it's like…

Mike Xhaxho: You don't really need to change the look and feel a lot unless it’s maybe like a certain caption look that would maybe look a little bit more native on Meta versus TikTok. But really going from TikTok to Meta, you don't have to do a whole lot in terms of getting it to look Meta ready. You can just simply upload it.

Adam Robinson: Yeah. Sweet. That's great to know. Cool, man. I mean, we covered a lot. I think that was kind of all we needed to do here. Mike, tell us where people can find you, follow you, learn about Waterboy, buy Waterboy, all that good stuff.

Mike Xhaxho: Yeah. Our website is Our handles on social media are WaterboyCan because originally we were actually going to be a can drink before we switched over to powder. And then if you go to those accounts, you'll find me splattered all over them so you can find my personals through there.

Adam Robinson: Sweet. That's a pretty good domain.

Mike Xhaxho: Yeah. It took us, it's funny because originally we had and then was available but it was quite a bit of money at the time. It didn't feel like the right investment of capital for a domain.

Adam Robinson: Right. Was it like $20,000 or something? I mean, I don’t know if you want to disclose.

Mike Xhaxho: It was 15. Yeah.

Adam Robinson: Did we talk about this? I think we talked about this.

Mike Xhaxho: We might have. Yeah. And for us originally it was like, "Oh sh*t. Like, we have to do this careful dance that as maybe or this is my fear, as we grow popularity for WaterboyCan, if this person that owns, gets a hold of it, they're going to maybe raise the price on us. So, there's like a balancing act of when is the right investment of capital versus when is this other person willing to sell it to you for that price.

Adam Robinson: Right. Yeah. My buddy bought for $1 and then is like 20 or something. So, he's like just making sure that he can like, like he's getting incredible feedback on the bar but he's just like, “I just need to make sure that this is going to be something I'm doing for a couple of years before I go spend $20,000 and it's like if something happens, I can't get it shelf stable, it's like…” you know what I mean? Cool. Dude, well, thanks for coming on.


For Mike Xhaxho, building an audience of 25,000 followers for his DTC brand WaterBoy means doing one thing: making a few videos.

With just seven TikTok videos, Mike grew WaterBoy’s following from 0 to 25,000, earning millions of views on its way to hitting $10M in sales in the brand’s first two years.

Today, Mike sits down with me to talk about WaterBoy’s TikTok-led marketing strategy, including the story behind his first brand-building videos, the factors he considers when creating content, and why trying to create viral videos might actually stop creators from going viral.

You’ll also hear about marketing tips for getting through to Gen Z, how to repurpose the same content across TikTok and Facebook, and effective ways to iterate and test content for successful ad campaigns.

Key Takeaways with Mike Xhaxho

  • 00:00 Why did Mike launch WaterBoy to compete with companies like Liquid I.V. and Pedialyte?
  • 01:32 How Mike grew from 0 to 7,000 followers with his first TikTok — and 7,000 to 25,000 with his seventh.
  • 08:18 The importance of focusing on quality over virality with TikTok videos.
  • 13:08 The difference in funnel structure when advertising on Facebook vs. TikTok.
  • 14:58 What are the considerations that come with paying for influencer marketing content?
  • 19:05 Should entrepreneurs design a new product or iterate on an existing product?
  • 22:57 Why authenticity beats polished brands for Gen-Z consumers.
  • 26:59 The element of effective ads that "will never go out of style."

Mike Xhaxho on Authenticity Beats Polished Brands for Gen Z Consumers 

Mike Xhaxho Tweetables

  • “The most successful companies on social media are creators, so why should we treat our company on social media like a company versus a creator?” – Mike Xhaxho
  • “Just because it's an ad, it shouldn't necessarily feel like an ad. It should still be engaging and entertaining content.” – Mike Xhaxho
  • “Every second you've got to be thinking, why should someone care about what's being said right now?” – Adam Robinson
  • “On TikTok, our goal is more so to entertain, build an audience and build trust. And then that audience that's already warm, we can convert them on paid ads.” – Mike Xhaxho


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