“Think anyone would want to buy this wood-burning liquid we made, honey?”

Evan Van Auken, who lives in the Redwoods, spent years training to be a firefighter and paramedic. After making it through an 18-week bootcamp, he went to his woodshop and crafted a beautiful wood plaque for Tower 8, where he was assigned. A stunning piece of art.

Then he ruined it.

He’d tried to burn some words into the wood using a soldering iron. 


Those melted stencils and janky-looking lettering inspired Evan and his wife to scour the internet for a better way to burn letters into wood. They found a way, and the results were spectacular.

Soon after, Evan learned that the captain of his fire station had a side gig selling Apple Watch wristbands made of paracord, and he was making an extra $8K per month. A serial entrepreneur, Evan was inspired, and soon learned that the answer to his question was, “Yes. Yes, LOTS of people would buy their invention, the Scorch Marker.”

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The Scorch Marker Gets Hot

It was 2018. The Van Aukens threw a listing up on Amazon and went for it. Now they’re in Hobby Lobby and Michaels, have done deals with HSN, and have a growing e-commerce brand.

On Christmas 2020, Evan gave himself and his family the gift of retiring himself from the long, long hours and dangers of firefighting when Scorch Marker allowed him to replace his salary, benefits, and pension.

He learned how to get his brand to $1M via lessons learned at the school of hard knocks. He was doing everything himself but at least he was home. And it was more than a little validating when an offer came in from someone looking to buy Scorch Marker for $1.2M.

So, why did Evan join the Capitalism Incubator 11 weeks ago?

Because he’s got a big goal. Evan wants to grow this brand to 8 figures and sell it for $33M or more by 2025. Getting past the $1M mark requires more than figuring it out along the way.

He knows the key to growing past being an owner/operator to sitting in the owner’s seat will be removing himself from the day-to-day operations, getting super clear on the brand’s vision, putting the right people in place, and making sure the brand never runs out of money.

And it nearly did. The whole brand could have gone up in smoke.

Evan had to recall the last production run of 30,000 Scorch Markers because of a manufacturing error. They ran out of stock and had to suspend their listing temporarily. Then he realized that he’d pulled too much cash out of the business to buy a house last year.  

Lessons Learned

Here they are, because only you can prevent forest business fires:

Lesson #1:

Avoid getting blindsided financially. Evan adopted the Profit First accounting method this year. While it’s easier to do from the start of a business, transitioning was worth the hassle. Evan recommends working with a credit union to get all the accounts needed to make this system work - or Mercury Bank online, which doesn’t charge for extra accounts. This system makes it easy to set aside 6 months of operating expenses. That means you sleep better.

Lesson #2:

Don’t be a single-SKU company. Evan’s in the process of launching a dozen more products to round out their lineup. No more having all of your golden eggs in one basket.

Lesson #3:

Build an email list… then don’t neglect it. Scorch Marker’s got an email list of about 30K customers. Evan confesses that he’s been terrible at email marketing. So, he fixed that by putting someone in place just to manage that task. She’s incentivized - if she can get the email list to produce 30% of the brand’s revenue, her pay goes up from $1K per month to $5K per month.

Lesson #4:

Ask your list what product they want you to make for them next. They’ll tell you, and you’ll avoid playing a high-stakes guessing game.

Lesson #5:

Stay focused. We entrepreneurs are full of ideas. It can feel downright painful to ignore most of them. But focus is the way to win. When you build a brand and follow through with it until the end you want to see, you’ll give yourself more resources to use for whatever comes next. 

Evan’s going all-in on growing Scorch Marker. His commitment to staying focused, standing firm despite the flood of ideas and opportunities that come his way is helping him sow the seeds for what comes next.

It’s been said that the difference between a good life and a bad life is how well you walk through the fire. Like any hero, Evan’s not just walking through it himself - he’s also leading others to safety. He’s built a sizable audience for Vanader (about 760K followers combined from Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok), where he passes along business lessons as he learns them.


Evan’s had a sizzling 2022. He successfully relaunched his main product on Amazon after having gone out of stock (uh-oh) for longer than anyone would like. After that relaunch, he smashed his old sales records.

In product development world, he also reformulated the Scorch Marker for an even better customer experience (and the crowd went wild!). Plus, he successfully launched some new products that, much like whisky and shortbread, pair up quite nicely.

Oh, and when he pitched on Pitch Week, the Capitalism Fund caught that pitch and funded him.

Folks, we’re watching a 10-figure brand in the making.

Is It YOUR Turn Now?

If you've got an entrepreneurial spirit and want to build your own million-dollar brand, we'd love to help you. Just like Evan, you can create a business that's exciting to grow and that investors will fight for the chance to fund.

Here at Capitalism.com, we're on a mission to make one million millionaires by 2028. That's why we've created this free video series that'll help you find the perfect business for YOU.