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Small Business Snapshot: Man Crates

Jon Beekman, CEO and founder of Man Crates

Our Small Business Snapshot series features photos that represent, in just one image, what the small businesses we feature are all about. Jon Beekman, CEO and founder of Man Crates, explains how this image represents his business.

Man Crates is a fast-growing e-commerce startup that creates unforgettable, "brag worthy" gifts for men. We offer more than 100 hand-curated gifts for every type of guy — from outdoorsmen, to chefs to video gamers. Our most popular product line, the original "Man Crates," come packed and sealed in wooden crates and delivered with a crowbar, ensuring a truly unique, unforgettable gift experience.

I founded Man Crates in 2011 with just $1,000 in my small Palo Alto apartment, with a mission to help people stay connected with the guys around them by giving unforgettable gifts that were a welcome relief from those tired, traditional options like cologne and ties. Over the last few years, we've shipped tens of thousands of gifts to every state have helped made life more memorable and fun for our customers.

While we started with crates, today we have many different product lines including Smash & Grab gift cards, Jerkygrams, Ammo Cans and project kits, including an axe-making kit we launched in partnership with comedian and actor Nick Offerman. Regardless of the type, all of our products feature the trademark irreverence, fun and relatably-masculine voice for which the brand has become known.

This photo was inspired by our warehouse crew and captures the irreverent, hardworking and innovative company culture we've built at Man Crates. When we first launched our Smash & Grab gift card line, we were mixing concrete by hand in the back of one of our warehouses before baking the bricks in a makeshift oven. Our team was wearing coveralls and respirators. Although we were making completely legal products, the entire operation was just so laughably makeshift that I couldn't help being reminded of some of the early seasons of Breaking Bad.

At that time, we hadn't figured out how to scale our production — we just knew that we had a lot of customers who wanted the concrete-encased gift cards. We decided to take some stylistic inspiration from the show and capture one of the many roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-it-done-for-the-customer moments that have helped us make innovative, awesome products, even before we really knew what we were doing.

We feel very fortunate to have a very active, engaged customer base that's helped us grow through word of mouth, and we would never have been ranked #51 on Inc. Magazine's 500 Fastest-Growing Companies list without them. One of the challenges with growing at such a rapid pace is hiring truly exceptional people that can help us build the kind of next-generation men's gifting company that we know Man Crates can become. Since the beginning, we've been perpetually understaffed and are always on the lookout for candidates that are passionate about what we're doing, have a great track record of success and an even stronger desire to help make our team and culture better. We've long realized that the people at Man Crates are our greatest differentiator, and we're always looking for great candidates who want to be part of a truly world-class team.

Edited for brevity and clarity by Nicole Taylor.

Image Credit: Man Crates