BTU #85 - Nicholas Karnaze: Marines to Founder of Stubble & Stache


“It’s been amazing and often sometimes very depressing. I mean, it’s not a logical transition to go from Intelligence to Special Operations to Men’s Grooming"– Nicholas Karnaze

Nick Karnaze is the Founder & CEO of Stubble & Stache, a new breed of skincare for men, and a company that also donates a large of profits to high impact charities helping veterans travel the road to recovery. Nicholas started out at the Naval Academy, after which he served in the Marine Corps for over 7 years as an Intelligence Officer and the Special Operations community. After the Marine Corps he served as the Co-Founder and CEO of The Stabilization Group, and then as Program Lead at Praescient Analytics.

The top reason to listen to this episode is:

  1. Startups - Nick started hist first company directly out of the Marines, and talks about how important it is to pick the right co-founder, and have difficult conversation upfront.  And he talks about starting and growing his second company, Stubble & Stache, without any business school experience, but instead using books, free resources and programs like the Stanford Ignite program to help him scale his business
  2. For profit vs. non-profit - Stubble & Stache is a for profit venture that donates a portion of their revenue to help veterans. He talks about how he made the decision to be for profit rather than a non profit and the big difference that can make in the impact a startup has

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Selected Links

  • Nick talks about his company's philanthropic effort to combat PTSD. A few interviews relevant to this are

Show Notes

  • 1:57 - Nick’s background
  • 2:33 - Nick’s decision to leave the Army and how he approached this decision
  • 4:33 - Starting Nick’s first company directly out of the Army
  • 5:22 - Finding a Co-Founder, mistakes Nick made the first time he did this, and advice for veterans on finding the right co-founder
  • 10:58 - What lead Nick to Praescient Analytics
  • 12:48 - How the loss of one Nick’s good friends in combat lead to the genesis of Stubble & Stache
  • 14:58 - When Stubble & Stache turned from a project into a full-time venture
  • 17:22 - An overview of Stubble & Stache
  • 21:02 - How long until Nick was able to pay himself a salary when starting his own company
  • 23:18 - What the journey has been like for Nick, starting his own company
  • 27:53 - Starting a company directly out the Army, what skills Nick would recommend to someone on active duty thinking of starting their own company
  • 30:20 - Resources about finance and startups that Nick would recommend to other veterans
  • 34:12 - Stanford Ignite and why this is an incredible asset for all veterans
  • 36:33 - Having had experience with a startup before Stanford Ignite, Nick’s thoughts on how veterans can best approach and prepare for Stanford Ignite
  • 39:05 - Advice for veterans thinking of starting their own company
  • 44:33 - Habits that Nick had to break when he transitioned from the military to civilian life
  • 46:50 - Nick’s final words of wisdom