We had the good fortune of connecting with David Phan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi David, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
As a first-generation Asian-American, my parents took the risk of leaving everything behind to flee an ongoing war for a better, promising, and certain future. I was conditioned that the risk they took was worth it for the true American dream — stability. While we finally reached that level of stability, it was at the cost of my endearing parents’ hardships. When I found myself unsatisfied working a corporate job as an investment banker, I quit to pursue something more fulfilling despite a comfortable and stable lifestyle. To me, the risk of not taking the opportunity to build something greater for social good was far greater than the risk of me staying in an unsatisfying job for stability, something my parents were forced to do. There’s great risk in not pursuing something you truly believe in — a better world.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Huppy is a sustainable oral-care company that makes toothpaste tablets. When we found out there were 20 billion plastic toothpaste tubes ending up in landfills annually, we knew as adventurists and surfers that we needed to make a change. Huppy toothpaste tabs are made with premium ingredients such as essential oils and are vegan and cruelty-free. When we first started, we experimented with every single ingredient that was in traditional toothpaste to make our own tablets. Later we brought in a skilled formulation expert to help us arrive at a formula we loved. Starting a business is never easy and we’ve had to learn quickly about the different facets such as formulation, marketing, and other areas. Luckily we’ve had many others willing to help us in our mission to help the environment! As a Pending B Corp, we are in business not only to tackle plastic waste, but to promote sustainability initiatives and healthy equity. Huppy toothpaste tabs are extra frothy, minty and contain science-backed, effective ingredients.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We’d do a nice mix between the oceans and the city life splitting time between West LA and Downtown LA. We love the ocean cities such as Venice, Santa Monica, and Malibu, while Downtown LA has some of the best eateries. There’s also a lot of great hiking spots in the canyons to great some fresh air after we’re done exploring the city.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I started Huppy by myself, but our cofounder and my girlfriend Cathy has played an instrumental role in all that we have accomplished. Her ongoing support and dedication continues to inspire me to build a company that’s in it to do good. Initially starting off as a brave tester, she’s helped test over hundreds of formulations (she holds the world record for most teeth brushing in a day!). She has a keen eye for detail and is charged with optimizing the customer journey experience, from a user’s first visit to our website to when they receive their package. She enjoys leveraging her passion for distilling something technical such as sustainability into touchpoints that are easy to digest. A year later, she is now my cofounder and driving a number of initiatives. Together as scrappy, but determined Huppy people, we continue to build and scale the business.