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Why it’s important to build your business around customer data and exactly how to do it, with GEM Founder Sara Cullen

by Female Startup Club
December 24th 2020
00:49:50
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Joining me on today's episode Is Sara Cullen, Founder of GEM. 

GEM is a functional food company designing a next-generation health system. Created in response to the failing reductionist... More

This is Sarah Cullen for female startup club. Yeah. Hey everyone and welcome back to another episode of the female startup club podcast. I'm your host, Don rasheen. And joining me on today's episode is Sarah Cullen founder of Jim Gem is a functional food company designing a next generation health system created in response to the failing reductionist approach to nutrition Gem focuses on improving our health at the cellular level as cell health determines the performance of everything in bodies from brain health to digestion gem focuses on delivering important nutrients that work together synergistically to help cells function at their healthiest, using real food, not supplements as the vehicle to deliver these nutrients. The daily essentials regimen improves everyday health outcomes from energy and brain function to gut health and inflammation. In this episode we're covering how Sarah went about building this biz and the exact steps she took to get a product to market that was exactly what the consumer wanted through an ongoing private beta group And we also cover her tips for fundraising and lessons learned along the way.

And while I've got you here, remember to please subscribe and rate and review the podcast, This is Sarah for female startup club. Yeah. Uh huh. It's safe to say that most of us have been doing more online shopping lately, right, and if you're an e commerce brand that means you might be seeing more first time customers. But once they've made that first purchase, how do you keep them coming back? How do you keep them connected to you and your brand. That's what flavio is for Claudio is the ultimate marketing platform for e commerce brands, Clavijo gives you the tools to build your contact list, send memorable emails, automate key messages and so much more. That's why it's trusted by more than 40,000 brands, including female founded businesses like Pearl Mix hint and Campari Beauty. Get in on the action to delight customers, Grow brand affinity and make some serious money. Clavero customers made $10.2 billion dollars through the platform last year.

So whether you're launching a new online business or taking your brand to the next level, Clavijo can help you get growing faster and I can confirm the platform is super easy to use and has all the hard stuff done for you, like templates, automated sequences and general email related resources to learn how to win at email marketing. Plus it's free to get started. Just visit Clavijo dot com slash F S C to create your free account today. That's K L A V I Y O dot com slash F S C. Female star presence. Sarah, thank you so much for joining me on the female startup club podcast today. Thanks for having me. I'm super excited to get into your story but I'd love to start by getting you to first introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what your business actually is. Yes. So we are a food first nutritional ecosystem that is reinventing the supplement aisle with real food.

Our first product is a reimagined multivitamin. Um what it looks like, how it's designed and what it does for you. So instead of a pill or capsule or gummy bear, it's one real food bite made with whole food, algae and other super foods and herbs um to deliver all the nutrition that you need in one bite that's better absorbed and better for you and better for the environment as well. So incredible. I actually tried my first one today and thought it was, I loved it, I loved it. It was the peppermint flavor that I tried and I am a peppermint fan so I thought it was super yummy and really good. Like a nice experience to have something different than swallowing a capsule. Yeah exactly. Um a lot simpler. You don't swallow a handful of capsules anymore. Just one bite and we have three flavors, Cacau, peppermint and lemon. So good to hear that you love the peppermint. Yeah. And I also feel like just the experience made me feel um this doesn't make any sense but I felt like healthier having that than swallowing a pill.

You know the texture and the little seeds and stuff. It just made me feel like yeah I'm having a little bite of nutrients here which I am obviously so much more than you would in a traditional multivitamin, right? You're having other superfoods and adapt regions that you wouldn't normally get that is doing a lot more for your body. So I love that for me. Um right, okay, I want to rewind to your life before jim and talking about kind of what you were doing that got you interested in starting this business in the first place and to go down that path of entrepreneurship. Yeah, definitely. So I've always been passionate about the world of food and nutrition. I actually grew up on a farm in Oregon and I studied it in college, more through the lens of policy and sustainability, and then afterwards I started my career in an entrepreneurial fellowship called Venture for America and actually started my first company, it was a plant based beverage company. Um and around my mid twenties I had a series of kind of crazy health experiences that happened to me a lot of inflammation and acne metabolism and digestion issues and um really a lot of auto immune conditions and I discovered I'm not alone in this, by the way, you know, um If you look at uh just you know, 30 years ago, one and 400 people were diagnosed with autoimmune conditions and today it's one and 12, so it's quite wild and, and so I've always considered myself a healthy person and so the reason why I think there's this is happening is because there's such a decrease in the nutrients of our current food system today and it's just so broken and so like so many other people, I was like, what's happening with my body?

I'm gonna turn to the supplement aisle and try to get a pill for this in a pill for that. And I got all these different, you know, powders and started calm playing together these complicated routines and I wasn't feeling any better. Uh and so that's when I kind of went back to the basics and started, you know, experimenting the kitchen with different superfoods like spirulina and these other algae uh components. And I started feeling a lot better, but it was really complicated and expensive and not convenient to make these like super food concoctions every day. And so I, you know, started to figure out, ok, how can I create a way to get better nutrition. Um there's something more convenient under this philosophy that food is medicine and that's what, you know, starting down the path of a building gem, something that was really clean, that didn't have the dirty fillers and binders that I found in so many supplements, that was really transparent, that was just from real food ingredients and that's, you know, what sparked my inspiration to build this entirely new way that we nourish ourselves.

It's funny because what you're describing that you went through in your twenties, I feel like describes the story of my life. It's definitely all the things that I struggle with. I go through that same. Um you know, thought process of of, well I must be needing something in my diet and I think I'm relatively healthy. I eat like about a million vegetables a day. Um And I still have so many digestive issues and bloating and this and that. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It's quite overwhelming actually as well to even go into the into the the isle of supplements and be like okay well what do I actually need? And I've never really thought too much about what's in these products exactly. Where do you begin? And when you when I started questioning and actually looking into you know where these vitamins actually come from, a lot of it was pretty alarming. They were you know. Drived in a very synthetic way from these artificial sources and then there's almost more synthetic artificial flavorings and colorings in it than anything else. And so you're not actually putting the right nutrients in your body in the right way.

And most of all you know the reason why real food obviously works is because there is a whole science behind it right that you're actually getting these other bio active compounds, these antioxidants, these enzymes, these things that you wouldn't get in a traditional supplement that that does do a lot more and helping absorb in arco nutrients and co factors to the vitamins that you do need to work in your body. Um And so that's why it's important that you do use whole food sources but how how do you even begin to do that when um you know not all of us, especially in our modern lifestyles, it's not realistic to to eat the volume of vegetables, nutrients that we need now to make that happen. Yeah, totally goodness. So you're in your kitchen, you're tinkering around, you're making these little like balls or something like what's the, what's the product look at this time look like? Yeah, so I at the time I started looking at some sort of under tapped under explored plants that we haven't used before or that at least in America we don't use um in our average diets ones that deliver a lot more nutrient potential than what you might think.

So things like spirulina, as I mentioned before, it's a micro algae, green algae that you know, one g of spirulina is equivalent to the nutrient density of a kilogram of fruits and vegetables. So things like that that you might get like at a certain smoothie shop but it's not necessarily accessible. And um so I started kind of exploring these types of plants and I did all kinds of concoctions in my kitchen, so many of them that I'm happy didn't make them to market, I'm gonna make it to market, but but they were at first I was just trying to create this simple bite really that had a lot of the most nutrients, plant sources that we can find. Ones that were vegan ethically sourced and sustainable. A lot of our products today supplements are still drive from animal based sources. Um so that was like my first round doing that and I wasn't even sure you know what exactly to call it, I just knew that this was your bite to kind of fill the gaps in your diet with these nutrient dense plant sources.

And what I first did was once I kind of got my initial prototype, I worked with a variety of different scientists as well. So I went to you know functional medicine doctor, we have an herbalist, uh we have a molecular biologists do we have a dietitian? So I tried to go through to a lot of different scientists with different perspectives to on how we can kind of blend our perspective in the Eastern Western medicine and really take in a variety of different ways that we look at our health so that we can start to address all of us and not just parts of us. So from there working with scientists and then working with farmers around the world, which was part of my background, I had you know with my previous company and then just with my own research and studies, I had a lot of these connections direct to the farmer and so from there, you know started to create this funny looking bite and then I actually launched a beta group, so a lot of tech companies do this but it's sort of more rare I think for a food company do this and I formed a beta group of women across the country, a lot of them that didn't know kind of, you know, refer mouth, refer someone in and from there, I actually just sent the product for free to over 300 women and started to collect their feedback on, is this working for you?

Do you like this? What do you think of it? And that's when I really started to learn, oh wow, this really is a replacement for what is today, a multivitamin. Um but we're actually a real food products or FDA regulated. We have a nutritional fact panel, not a supplement panel and so I didn't call it like a vitamin at first because because it's really not what we are, we're a real piece of food, but what I noticed is that's what we were replacing for so many people. Um and so through that beta group, I collected a lot of information on what people people needed as well. So I think a lot of how things are designed today, not only in kind of this dirty way, but they're designed with mega doses of everything that you don't necessarily need. So we started looking at, okay, what are the kind of average deficiencies, right? And kind of our common diets if you eat sort of a well rounded diet um what are you still messing, what are things that are hard to get and then also what are things that are modern lifestyle demands, like what are those things that they demand?

Our modern lifestyles? So for instance, we're all very stressed out nowadays. We have a lot of stress is right of course like work and emotional stress but also just like pollution in these in these different things. And so that was when we started to say okay we need things like ash Uganda for instance, which is you know scientifically back to reduce your quarter salt levels. We need things like Lorella which is a heavy metal detoxify their because we have so many of these heavy metals and kind of dirty things in our diets now that we really need to flush out our system. And so that's what sort of help me figure out okay the plants that we need to not only kind of fill the gaps in our diet and our average deficiencies, but also really meet the things that we need for our modern lifestyles. And so from there and through this data I learned a lot about how to build a product that not only was designed in a better way for you, it's better absorbed, but also that really helps address the things that you need most. Um and so this first products designed of course with women in mind, it's great for men too, but it's really designed with women first sleeping a woman and helping the things that we need uh for yeah, for our day to day lives totally for our day to day.

How long did that process take from you kind of starting in your kitchen and then starting to work with the you know the scientist and doing the beta group. What was that product development time like until you got to the finished like launch product. Yeah, so because my background had been in this and I was working on this um through a plant based beverage earlier really I have been studying and building these relationships with different farmers and building these relationships with different scientists and food scientists for really two years. But I would say it was about a year of us really like developing it. So you know once we started developing it and testing it, the beta group itself lasted a couple of months and we sent a lot of iterations out so we would you know send it out to our customers, get their feedback, is it working for? It's working through okay. How can we make it taste better or how can we make ads and things that make your lifestyle that make you feel great. Um and so that process itself and sort of the rapid iteration at the end into that data group was Probably a couple of months and then um we ended up launching gem uh in in late 2018.

So it's been about two years now we've been in market but really um we wanted to launch pretty quickly and cleanly because it was all about really building gym with with our customer and with our community at the heart and soul of it and that was really important to us. So you know we're still evolving our product today, we're still iterating on it as we go to make sure that we're continuing to improve and build the best thing that we can. And so I would say it's like still going, you know, ongoing in so many ways. We're still adding more people to our science and board, looking to bring on a neurologist now an immunologist and and things of that sort so that we can continue to build scientifically backed products as well that really do work under this philosophy that food is medicine. Um so I don't know if it's ever really ended but I would say that the first made it probably was a was a good like six month period, wow, amazing. And are you able to share how you were funding the business in the beginning and what kind of funds you needed to start the business?

I imagine obviously having a lot of those people involved requires significant capital to get started and then also you know, even just shipping to 300 people that costs a lot. Yeah, so I started with just like a very very small friends and family round and I really use that money wisely. Uh and it was basically all of the savings that I had um that was maybe supposed to go towards, you know, graduate school or something like that. I took all of that money and I invested it into this. So my drained my entire savings down down to nothing to just get that initial prototype out to people and to ship it. Uh, and then, you know, once I, I had this, we actually did this beta group within a facebook group. So we used, you know, super low tech. Um, it was just uh, no cost there. And I ended up inviting, you know, investors and angel investors and partners, institutional partners as well to this group and you know, just showed them the proof that it was working that people are wanting to evolve the way that they look their nutrition, they don't want to kind of take this reductionist approach that we have been in kind of different supplements in capsules and pills and tablets and they, a lot of our investing partners today saw that then and I ended up being able to raise my first round of capital early on.

That was my precede financing round right before we launched. And that really got us from the beta to the launch and even more. So, you know, that was a big help in being able to raise that round of funding is that we spent it on really the product and the customer and building that right, I think there's so many start ups today that have approached it differently where they spend maybe three years incubating without even knowing their customers, you know, building this like pretty brand or check boxing, these things that they think they need to check box and we didn't invest in that super early on now that we didn't invest at all on the brand, of course we built this brand, but it was all about the community, like our customer was, our brand are having a really high efficacy, high quality product, um, having the right, you know, science partners and so we just invested that money really smartly and not, um, to be able to get to market and to use those funds wisely, but that's how we raised our initial round was just by proving um, how much people wanted this in the world and uh, and in getting that product right, if you had to share one kind of key learning from that process and going through um, raising money, what would that be for any entrepreneur listening?

I have a lot. So I, you know, I think that you really, you really need to find the partners that and this I guess may seem cliche and obvious, but it's one of those things that you don't really realize what it means until you're in it, but finding the partners that really can see your blue sky vision and understand where you are going with it and really align with you. I think there's a lot of different ways that you build businesses and particularly in different categories, right? There's different tech products or SAAS products or service based businesses that require different look at your economics and how you build things. And we got, we were really, really fortunate to get a lot of investors on who really understood the mission driven component of our business and that, you know, you can't really build a product that's better for you without building a product that's better for the environment as well and knowing those investments that need to be made.

I think people early on just kind of see investing maybe as a one way street, like they're just doing due diligence on you, but you really need to do diligence on your investing partners as well and you need to ask them the right questions. It's all about relationships in the end, um, with your customer, you know, just just like with your team, everything just with your investing partners. And I think investing in building that relationship and making sure your eyes is values align and how you look at growth and how you look at building the company is so important because it's a long road, there are a lot of ups and downs and the investors, the good ones, you know, are the ones that are going to be with you when you're on the high of the roller coaster and when you're on the low and who really want to have skin in the game to build this with you and not just invested, check and leave and never say anything again. And so I think that's my biggest advice is put in the work early on to build those relationships and to make and be and be okay with walking away. You know, we've, we've walked away from people before because they just, and not that anything is right or wrong, but they just, how they looked at building the business was different than how I did.

And so I think being comfortable with that and knowing that it is a very mutual process, you know, that you're selling a piece of your business too and they're coming on board and to look at it really as a partnership is so important in creating a good relationship with your investing partners and also a good, I think fundraising process to approach it that way. Yeah, absolutely. What was it that you were looking for in investing investor partnerships? So I was looking for individuals who really aligned with our mission and vision, individuals who an institutional partners, you know, teams who understood and who are excited about building it at this early stage Two, I think, you know, when you're first starting out those first couple, that first round of capital, you're still very much an idea, you're still proving product market fit. And there's a lot of investors who, uh, you know, early stage quote unquote is very different definition for different people. And so sometimes, um, their investors were like, yeah, we're early stage, once you get to, you know, five million in revenue were early and you're like, oh, we haven't even launched the product yet.

So I think, you know, like for me, um, it was just asking those kinds of questions to see their appetite for truly building this with us centrally being a partner. And, um, and so that's, that's what I was looking for in someone. Um, yeah, amazing. I want to talk about your go to market strategy and how you launched to find your first customers. I imagine obviously you had your beta group. So there's a group of women like primed ready to buy. Um, but can you talk about your go to market strategy and how you launched. Yeah. So we did use this beta group as our go to market strategy. So that was about six months before we launched. And, you know, our first core customers, they became our evangelists. And we would keep sending them product by the way until we got like that high nps score. So if we, if we didn't do well on a product or with a certain, so basically we send out the product and the product that a group of customers that may be scored lower on our mps. We would keep sending them iteration to the product until they were like, we're in love with it.

And this works for us. And once we had that kind of core group of customers that high mps that were like, yes, um, they became really are evangelists and we use them at launch. So when we, when we first launched, we actually did a referral campaign where, um, if you, you know, doing if you are are evangelist customer and you love gem and you refer, you know, 10 of your friends on, and I referred, I just mean like, you know, ask them for their email addresses and gave it to that to us. We would actually give you kind of free product or free incentive, um, in the early days to do that and we were able to really grow our email less that way. So we took our kind of core evangelists. We used them as sort of, I guess are, you know, core kind of referral folks. And um, we're able to kind of grow our initial base that we then launch to us. Then we then emailed everyone from this, you know, 1000 thousands of emails at that point that we were then able to launch with people who had already had firsthand accounts from their friends or whoever.

This was working for them. And that's how we actually built our first customer base was just through that alone, um, through kind of just a really smart, I guess referral incentive strategy. Um, and, and building a really strong relationship with a couple 100 people. And so we, we launched and then we also took the approach of building really a micro influencer community, So we didn't go after just, you know, the big influencers or the big pr people, we actually looked at people, um, I guess like myself, you know, who Have like, you know, less than 5000 followers on Instagram, we're not like big influencers, um, but we went and actually created a relationship and I hired, you know, a community manager who did just this, where she, through social media, created relationships. I'm just like we did with our beta with everyday folks who are also struggling with this and we provided the product for free and if they loved it, you know, we didn't do any kind of payment at all, then they would of course share it.

And so we took a kind of bottom up grassroots approach in that way, and just tried to get the word out across the US where people were really struggling to find accessible healthy solutions and uh, and that really, really worked for us in the early days and kind of getting momentum in the bottoms up way. Yeah, that sounds amazing. A few moments ago you mentioned the Nps something, what is that, your net promoter score, and so what does that mean? Yes, I know it's a great question. Um, it's kind of just an easy way to gauge how much someone really likes the product. And so you probably get this question asked a lot with whatever products that you buy, whether you realize it or not, usually right after purchase, they'll say on a scale of 1 to 10, would you recommend this product to your friend? And you know when you're saying 89, 10 on your nps? Um, you know between one and 10 like yes, I would you recommend this product to a friend then you know, it's a really strong product because you might like the product, but you might say six, I might like the product, but I'm not necessarily going to recommend it or not actively recommending it.

And so we really wanted to make sure that, you know, we built a product that you objectively really loved and it worked for you and that you would want to recommend to your friends. And so that was just kind of an early, easy measure to do in the early days of figuring out how much people really valued the product and how much they would want to recommend. And so that was just one metric of many that we used to to make sure that we were building, building the right product. Got it. And yes, now that you say that I do receive those emails all the time after I've bought something and I and I do take the time to respond um or answer the answer the quiz. I'm interested to know this kind of notion of who you had in mind that your customer was going to be and whether that actually changed after you launched to be someone else. Yeah, that's a great question. And it was actually one of my most surprising learnings so early on, I really thought it was going to be a lot of people who were more dabblers and and skeptics of vitamins like myself, people who maybe had never taken a vitamin before because of all the reasons that I never took a vitamin before, because it was overwhelming, confusing, it felt very dirty.

Um you didn't really know where to begin. And so I thought that this would be kind of like an easier sort of step up right? And I also thought that a lot of people who took gummy bear vitamins for instance, who were looking for, you know, they're already looking for two bills and not necessarily swallowing pills would be another big audience for us. Um and it turns out that that that is true, but we actually got a lot of people who were believers and vitamins, people who had been taking vitamins for years and they weren't necessarily just upset because they were swallowing handfuls of pills, they were like kind of okay with it, but it wasn't working for them and they were just doing it, you know, kind of as nutritional insurance and it was okay, but they, A lot of them really had believed in this food as medicine, they just never knew it was possible to pursue that in a way of, you know, filling your gaps in your diet. And so we actually had more people, about 65% of our customers were ones that switched from a taking a multivitamin that was a pillar got me to uh gem and so I would say we actually got more people who switched from public a pill or capsule than a gummy bear itself.

So it really had less to do with this to herbal aspect if you will and much more to do with just people wanting something that worked better for them, something that have these other ingredients like Uganda that I mentioned earlier, like spirulina, that they were never able to get in their traditional vitamin that they didn't know was possible to get. And so that was, I think the surprising thing was just, I didn't know we could kind of jump that quickly to that audience. I thought that was gonna be a harder audience cell and I was going to get more of the skeptics of the world and we still we still do get those, but we actually were able to to get a big audience with a propensity to switch. And so that was really cool to see. Uh and uh you know, and these are people who were taking, you know, multivitamins from Costco or from CVS, right, that again, I wasn't sure we could because we offer, you know, it's a dollar 30 a day for jim it's it's really affordable um and it's under $40 for the full month and it's really high quality ingredients. I mean if you were to buy individually each of the nutrients that we offer in gem, it would be at the organic vegan quality that we offer more than $200 a month.

And people were were switching to us even from these $15 you know multivitamins from Costco. And so that was cool to see it just the value in that and and knowing that people were looking and willing to spend on something that was higher quality that did a lot more for them. So um that was that was really interesting. That is such an interesting insight and awesome for you with that in mind that customer that you you were able to kind of get an have on board what you were doing, how did that evolve your marketing strategy and how do you now acquire customers and what's working for you at the moment. Yeah, so we have a very test, we have a test and learn mindset. So we're always iterating and you know we we now identify different audiences that resonate with this food is medicine philosophy that resonate with finding something that simplifies their life. I think the biggest concerns right now that our customers have is what to take, It's very confusing out there and understanding the science behind it And so those two things, you know we're able to really tackle, right?

So now you we kind of we built everything really holistically. So like I said instead of taking you know 30 different supplements to target one solution, you're now all getting it in one Instead of uh you know getting all of these supplement labels that have these kind of hidden nutritional ingredients and these proprietary blends that you don't understand what it is. Now, you know exactly what it is. We have 13 real food ingredients that give you exactly these vitamins and minerals. So we really simplified that science, we simplified the action of it and we really become translators of super complex topics into kind of laymen terms and something that you really understand. Uh and I think that's been you know a huge thing that we've tackled and why people like to come to us because we just make it really simple and accessible to understand. Um So for instance you know so many people think that they need a calcium supplement and they're always looking for calcium supplements.

And so we helped educate them. You know you actually get a lot of calcium in your everyday diet. Uh it's one of those things that's actually you get more often than you realize because it's it's fortified, it's in a lot of our foods. The problem is that you don't have the right nutrients to actually help absorb calcium in your body. So that's why you need K. Two and that's what we have in gem and K. Two is something that's really tough to get particularly if you're vegan um it's not a ton of foods um a lot of people are deficient in it and so knowing that you don't actually the calcium stuff to help you know you need you need k to um to help support your daily diet and that kind of education and just like translating these like complex science things that people don't understand is something that's really simple is something that really yet people people really needed. Yeah and I guess by doing that it really has that kind of word of mouth effect where people are able to easily tell their friend exactly why they're taking it at what it means and why it might be interesting for them as well right?

I think it's also who to trust that was the other thing and that's you know going back to that we are nutritional fact panel and not this supplement panel that you don't really under. You know you can't even really dissect the label because it's not very transparent inherently by it's designed and a food panel you see exactly what you get. There's no hidden ingredients and that we have this sort of multidisciplinary science for it. Right? So we offered it's not just one scientist or doctor behind it, it's a variety of scientists with a lot of different perspectives and approaches and that we combine all of those into something that you can actually trust, that you're not just getting this one narrow view from, you know, maybe just one dietitian of like you need this amount of vitamin B. It's like no, we actually looked at, you know, from an herbalist perspective, we looked at it from a lot of molecular biologist, we looked at it from a chemist perspective and figure it out like what is it that not only that you need, but how do they work together? What's that synergistic, that food synergy science of how things.

And so I think that's what really helped a lot of customers figure out who to trust as well and why they trust us because we offer that kind of well rounded or holistic perspective, if you will an approach to our products totally earlier, you mentioned obviously you keep iterating on the product and you're moving forward with development. What does the future look like and what's coming next for the brand? Yeah, we have a lot of new, exciting products launching early next year and we will be tackling uh we're looking at again, we're always looking at, you know, what our modern lifestyle demands, what's happening right now. Immunity is obviously a big one with this year, uh and this year's events uh and and sleep as well and kind of anti anxiety. And so we're looking at these big functional areas and developing products that really help address those, so we sort of have your foundational essential of course with our first product that you see now our daily essentials for women. And we're looking to build products that um tackle I think other big functional areas of your life in a real food way.

Uh and and help create natural alternatives to both the medicine and the supplement. I'll um and our new products will be for men and for women, so it'll be an exciting development for gem. Um We will be extending our brand to a whole new audience uh and and you know, our our big vision is that we want to keep investing in um like I mentioned earlier, sort of these untapped under explored plant resources that don't have a ton of science on them now. Um And from a consumer perspective, they have a lot of science on them actually from from back in perspective, but that a lot of consumers don't know about that science yet, it hasn't really been commercialized into a a product that they can readily readily consume. And so that's what we're looking to do is continue to invest in a completely new proprietary nutritional solutions rooted in this food, is medicine philosophy that we can actually bring to our customers that are higher quality, better absorbed, a lot cleaner.

Um And so we're really excited about building out new products, we're excited about building out new in total ingredient systems um and building new relationships with our farmers director for farmers and cutting out the middlemen that I think a lot of companies don't do um and that is, you know, are bigger kind of what we're working towards now, We have a lot of, a lot of work to do there. It's really exciting. I am so excited, so excited to see what comes next and to obviously support and try everything. What advice do you have for women who have a big idea and want to launch their own business. My biggest advice is to trust your gut or your intuition and have confidence when you go through launching your own company and particularly you go through fundraising, there is no shortage of advice that you will get and as we all know the stats around women and business in general, there aren't a lot of women who get funded, there aren't a lot of women. Businesswoman founded businesses out there.

Um and so, you know, right now we're at this really exciting time as a generation where we're really building the, as women building companies, you know, for women by women in a way that's not really never been done before. And so we have a lot of intuition all knowledge about what works for our bodies, our anatomy and I think trusting that intuition and it's always great to take feedback and to improve, but knowing um when to kind of go with your gut and having confidence in that and pushing forward, um and and the perseverance is something, again, kind of, one of those advice is that you hear all the time, but maybe doesn't actually hit home until you're actually in it and you're like, oh this is what it means. I think women, you know, I do think women have an increase in an incredible intuitive sense, I just think that's like a a data, I think it's actually data driven point of fact and uh and I think it's important for women to feel the confidence to trust that uh and I think that's so important because um you know, we approach things where we want to do to have all the checkboxes, have it all done right before you even get to launch, and I think to be comfortable with that uncertainty, to be comfortable with going with your gut and to really just to go for it and learn and adopt a test and learn mindset is really important to do, particularly as a female founder.

Um it's really important way to make sure that you get out there and start building. Yeah, I love that. So true, so true. We are up to the six quick questions part of the episode Ready? Amazing. Yes, Okay, question number one is what's your, y my why is quite simple, I want to help people feel the rest and I think when you feel your best with that comes freedom, the freedom to explore, to be curious to create, to build a brighter future and it's as simple as that. I want everyone to feel really good and I think a lot of that obviously comes down to nutrition, take care of yourself, taking care of the environment. To me, those two things go hand in hand, but that is what brings me joy and fulfillment is knowing that I'm helping people feel better um and hopefully to do to do more. Yeah, Gosh, I love that, I love that question.

Number two is what do you think has been the biggest marketing moment that's made your business pop? I think it's what I said earlier, we have a lot of exciting marketing moments that I hopeful um with our new with our new launches upcoming that I hope make it pop, but I think what I said earlier and just how we chose to launch this company again with a very test and learn mindset that we chose to launch it with the customer at the heart and soul of it, that we chose to really put her there and to understand her before we built, you know, before we finished the product, before we build the brand around it by doing that we built a product that really fit a lot of people across the United States in a big way and that was really, really important to I think adopt that mindset early on and we continue to have that even how we go through marketing today. Everything we do is, uh, was incredibly iterative. We're always testing, We're always kind of segmenting new audiences across different channels and figuring out, you know, the different messaging and the different educational, uh, needs that those different audiences have, and then, you know, providing those things.

And so I think us taking that kind of mindset is what really helps, um, make everything pop. So it wasn't, you know, necessarily one big campaign that changed everything. It was, it was really a mindset that we took early on in that data and and putting that customer right there at the center of it. Amazing question # three is where do you hang out to get smarter? What are you reading? What do you listen to? What newsletters are you subscribing to? I have a pretty diverse information diet, I would say. Um, but overall what makes, where I get smarter is by surrounding myself with people smarter than me and uh, and you know, whether that's my team, my investing partners, my friends, I have a lot of friends who are also fellow founders and that's who I go to for advice, the people who are in the throes, people who are, are doing this themselves and even different industries are different categories. That's where I go to get advice um, to kind of, you know, gut check things and, and that's where I go to learn.

So it's really, um, surrounding myself with people who are a lot smarter than me helps me get smart. Yeah, I totally get that clearly with female startup club, surrounding myself with incredible women like yourself and get learn directly from the source question number four is how do you win the day and that's around your AM and PM rituals that keep you feeling happy and successful and productive and motivated. Yeah, I think it's so it's so important to have a daily routine and for me it really comes back to the basics, I am religious about my sleep. I always make sure I get eight hours of sleep. Um I make sure I drink a lot of water. I make sure I wake up every morning and um I take a gem of course and I move my body and I make myself, I I take that time in the morning before my day gets crazy, it's always unpredictable and different every day. But before I even start that I make sure I have, I wake up pretty early usually.

So um I can wake up as early as five a.m. Sometimes or 6 30 or seven, it's been a little different during the pandemic but oh my goodness, I wake up really early and I take that time for myself for a sort of self reflective moment, you know, I'm I I surf a lot. So um whether it's getting outside and surfing or going for a hike or just going for a walk. Um I usually journal in the morning um Make my coffee, have my gem and I think having that space for yourself where you where you build a routine and just focus again on those fundamentals of like sleep and water nutrition and exercise and meditation. Um You get to me it's it's just making sure you do some of those things so that you're in the right headspace to tackle your day and that you kind of have that self caramel mint in the morning. So um you know I kind of switch it up here and there, but those are always sort of the staples that I go to. Yeah totally love that. I've been really trying to improve my morning routine.

I can tell you that it's very difficult waking up that early for me. Um But I'm getting used to it and trying to be more of an early morning person goodness question number five is if you only had $1000 left in your business bank account, where would you spend it? Yeah, it's a really good question. Uh I would certainly invest it into. So if I only have $1,000 left at this point there's probably something that we missed in understanding our customer to build the right product or understanding or has wanted to build the right brand and so I would take that $1,000 and invest it into how we could learn from our current community of what we could do better. And so whether that is, I don't want to say just something as simple as surveys, but something where we would really take that $1000 to learn and to reinvest that back into the customer. And that's what it might mean. It might mean taking $1000 and using it, you know, to invest into our Vangelis community to figure out what is it that we could do better with that.

Um, to me, it's, it would be, that would be the number one thing. If we had $1000 left, I would reinvest it back into them to our community and to try to figure out how we could keep building something better, Keep on moving. Love that. And question six, last question is how do you deal with failure? And it can be a personal experience that you've been through or just your general mindset and approach a lot of failure. Um, particularly the woman fundraising a lot of rejection. You really learn how to deal with rejection. But you know, so for me it's really been a mindset, you have, especially the founder, you have fires every day that you're putting out and looking at failure really is something as a lesson that you can learn from and without failure, you can't grow. And so that it is really a mindset, every time I have a failure, I don't look at it, it's just like, oh no, every, you know, I don't spiral out of control of this is everything's over or no one, you know like this or likes me or it's personal, I I take it and set is like, wow, this is a big opportunity for us to really like grow.

So looking at your failures and reframing them as an opportunity to learn and to push forward and it's an opportunity for improvement is the best thing you can do. I mean you have that mindset, you can then really those become your greatest assets, your failures to become your greatest assets. Amazing, thank you so much. Thank you so much for taking the time to be on the show today and share your story and all the amazing things that you're building for women and soon to be men all around the world. I really appreciate it, Thank you so much for having me, lovely speaking with you. Hey, it's just me here. Thanks for listening to this amazing episode of the female startup club podcast. If you want to hear more, Head to my instagram at Dune rasheen to see my filmed interviews with incredible female founders, like Erica from fluffy Beauty Greta, from drop bottle and Sammy leo from breeze bomb and if you like what we're doing here visit our website and sign up to female startup club dot com to get all of the good stuff delivered straight to your inbox and lastly subscribe to the female Startup Club podcast.

Mhm. Yeah.

Why it’s important to build your business around customer data and exactly how to do it, with GEM Founder Sara Cullen
Why it’s important to build your business around customer data and exactly how to do it, with GEM Founder Sara Cullen
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