Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hello Starter Story! It is such a pleasure to do this interview! I’m Brent Bottelsen, one of the Partners in Type2Diet.
Type2Diet is a first-of-its-kind Meal Replacement company specifically focused on helping people beat their diabetes and pre-diabetes. We never thought we would be in the diabetes business, but when we learned how many people are suffering from diabetes, we knew we needed to do something to help this global epidemic.
To give an idea of the staggering numbers, as of 2017, 34.2 million people in the United States have diabetes (10.5% of the US population), and 88 million people aged 28 and older have prediabetes. This is 34.5% of the adult US population. Today, we have helped thousands of people across the country lower their blood sugar, increase their energy, and put their diabetes in check.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
As an entrepreneur at heart, I have a long history of creating businesses, beginning in my twenties with a yoga studio that was far before its time, to helping to build a 400 million dollar hedge fund from scratch--I have a deep passion for growing ideas into money-making machines.
One day, over marshmallow ice cream with my daughter, we were talking about how good it would be to make marshmallow ice cream cones. We started to discuss entrepreneurship, and I thought it would be a fun venture to do with my daughter. Pretty quickly though, I realized that I did not want to make money off of making people sick, obese, or diabetic. Knowing that diabetes runs in my wife’s family, and after learning that she had family members that had to have limbs amputated, I wanted to do everything I could to make sure my kids did not have that future. I also wanted to make sure that other children did not have to have that future or witness their parents experience something so tragic that could be prevented with proper nutrition and education.
This led me to do some diabetes research and I was astounded and taken back by the numbers, especially in the USA.
When I learned that studies were coming out of the UK that was successful in putting diabetes into remission through ketogenic meal replacements, I was intrigued. I could not believe that there was not a product available specifically formulated for diabetics in America or even in the UK where the studies were being conducted. When I looked at treatment options for diabetes in America, it was so confusing and overwhelming I soon gathered why we have such an epidemic on our hands. I knew I needed to help.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Wanting to provide the best possible product to those desiring to beat their diabetes, we pulled together a team of medical professionals including doctors (both MD’s and ND’s), food scientists, nutritionists, and a manufacturing company to curate a proprietary blend specifically targeting healing diabetes. This was a long process and required a lot of due diligence because we really wanted to make sure that it was a solid product.
Finding the right blend of nutrition was our priority, but we also wanted to make sure it passed the taste test! We ordered some samples and had people of all ages taste them. We were shocked at how delicious it was and were so excited about the feedback we were getting. My young son who was only three at the time woke up every morning demanding it!
Because our product was to help people experience transformation, we felt that the butterfly was a perfect symbol for that as a way to anchor metamorphosis into the minds and hearts of those wanting to beat their diabetes. We had a lot of fun with the design and branding process. This is an exciting time in a new business--creating the vision. Although we all want to get to the money-making part, this initial building part is to be savored, especially because the next parts can be a bit of a grind. Speaking of...
Next came the not so fun stuff--the legal stuff, the website optimization, the testing, the deep dive into figuring out how we were going to get this out into the world in the most cost-efficient way possible, tons of market research, and all the nitty-gritty nuts and bolts stuff that makes most entrepreneurs walk away from new businesses because it’s not as exciting. Luckily, I have a great partner and we work together nicely and made this process fun. I’d recommend even for solopreneurs to engage with friends and colleagues or even a coach to bounce ideas off when building a business so you can get that feedback from others.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Our launch process was a massive learning curve. We had never done anything like this before and were just kind of shooting bullets in the dark and throwing money away. It was overwhelming and frustrating. It wasn't until I came across a great book called “The One Thing” by Gary Keller that I learned the importance of really prioritizing and figuring out the number one most important thing you need to focus on and only focusing on that one thing before doing anything else.
So, we stopped all Facebook ads, website testing, copy testing, stopped trying to enlist doctors that were not really interested in our product because they were incentivized by pharmaceutical companies to keep people on medications, and figure out what our “one thing” was that we needed to focus on.
After really slowing down, we realized that we needed to focus on website optimization for e-commerce. So, we enlisted the help of a team of experts in internet marketing and listened to everything that they told us to do. I would recommend that as well, always listen to people that know more than you, that has been where you have been, listen to their failures--and only work with people that are willing to tell you their failures. With their help, (and with A LOT) of dialing in the details, we optimized our website and proceeded forward with a real launch. This was an exciting time, but more than anything it was an opportunity to learn and gauge the interest in our product and audience, and as it turned out--we had a captivated audience that we could help.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
We have had really great success with Facebook Ads. Although Facebook Ads are definitely an art and take a lot of testing, we have found that our audience spends a lot of time on Facebook, and therefore, it has been a great medium for us. Not only do we utilize ads on Facebook, but we also spend a lot of time communicating with people directly on Facebook that is seeking help for diabetes.
This type of “guerrilla marketing” allows us to get real one-on-one time with our avatar where we can discover their needs and wants. We do this by joining Facebook Diabetes groups and searching hashtags/etc. We have learned so much from this practice and are grateful for the relationships.
You’d be surprised to discover how many entrepreneurs with thousands of followers feel lonely or isolated. So make it easier on yourself from the very beginning and create a team and have fun with them.
By serving our customers with this interaction, we can connect with them more and build a mutually beneficial rapport. I cannot suggest this practice enough as it moves your business from a business into a movement because your clients/customers know that you really care about them and want to support them, not just sell them a product.
We also have a subscription-based company, so after the initial Facebook Ad, many of our customers sign up for subscriptions, this makes it easier for them, and more cost-effective for us to run ads. I would recommend creating additional add-ons or a valuable subscription that customers can purchase, so you can make your money back on your ad investments.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
As of today, we are growing our model to include supplements to help our customers gain extra support in beating their diabetes. Once we realized we had a really amazing product and a loyal fan base (because they were seeing massive results!) we knew it was time to expand our brand and provide additional support.
In the future, we are hoping to incorporate a mind/body approach by offering meditations or even hypnosis to help our clients break old mindsets and unconscious patterning and programs so that healing their diabetes is a more holistic approach. We want to help our clients shift out of the traditional Western medicine approach to a more natural way of living that is closer to the Earth and nature.
Our meal replacements are 100% natural and are loaded with all the vitamins and minerals/fats and proteins that people need daily. By creating this product, we hope to do our part in being a beneficial presence in the world that leaves it better than we found it. From a business standpoint, we are currently a direct-to-consumer business and we hope to grow this business large enough to see it in mainstream stores across the country and world, so more people can be exposed to a natural way of beating their diabetes and taking greater control of their lives!
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
A couple of things we learned in creating Type2Diet was that when you can identify a problem in the world and create a NEW solution for that problem that truly helps to serve a community and not just take advantage of them, you can help to change the world and impact it more consciously. When a business is created solely to drive revenue (which we know is obviously important, otherwise you don’t have a business) it can’t be the only thing that you are in it for. When you can identify an unmet need in the world and help people meet that need, you have a business.
With COVID-19 driving attention to just how desperately the world needs to heal our diabetes epidemic, our product became an obvious solution to help people. Sometimes it takes a crisis for us to slow down and really look at the issues right in front of us so we can find new solutions for them. If you have a business model that is designed to really serve people and you believe it wholeheartedly and are in it for the right reasons, you can make a difference.
Now, all that said--you also have to do the due diligence and get the work done, and try to have fun with the process of building your business. It is hard work, I’m not going to lie to you about that, but we have found that if you are truly serving your customers with a mission that you believe in, it will help to push you forward. By really identifying an issue in the world that needs help, you can create a lifelong business or a sellable business. If you are just trying to make a quick buck, then that will come back at you and hurt you.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We use Shopify and find it to be the best platform for e-commerce. Shopify is by far the best way to integrate, publish, and create without a large expense. I imagine that seven to ten years ago, this type of platform would have cost millions of dollars to implement and it is now inexpensive and easy to use on your own.
We use Shipstation for all our shipping because of the simplicity factor.
We also use SEO services and find them to be really helpful to get your business seen and respected as an authority in your market.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
A few books that I highly recommend and that have helped me tremendously are Atomic Habits, The One Thing, The E Myth, and 12 Months to 1 Million. Our business would not be what it is today without the tools that we received in these books.
I am also a big fan of Tony Robbins and really recommend his books and seminars for the motivation and tools you will need to get through the grit of building your business and scaling it. I really like the “Capitalism.com” podcast, Tony Robbins podcast, and “How I Made This” podcast and would recommend any or all of these for entrepreneurs.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
The creation of a business is fun and exciting, but the real work comes after the design, the idea, picking the logo, and branding. The real work comes with identifying your customer’s psychology and what makes them buy. The real work comes in with the nitty-gritty often super tedious details. It will be hard. I am not going to sugarcoat it, but anything with a big reward is going to be hard. By learning to have fun in the process and finding the things you do like, you will be able to have a much more enjoyable launch process.
I would also suggest again that even as a solopreneur you work with a team, even if it’s an accountability partner, mentor, group of online friends that you can bounce ideas off of so that your entrepreneurial journey is not a lonely one. You’d be surprised to discover how many entrepreneurs with thousands of followers feel lonely or isolated. So make it easier on yourself from the very beginning and create a team and have fun with them. If you can afford it, you can also hire a coach or a team to help you.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Not at the moment, but we are always open to letters of interest.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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