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Ronell started Pilly Labs in 2019. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: 
Q: How did you get started on Pilly Labs?
I’ve heard it a million times… “you’re starting a business that sells WHAT?! There’s literally no way you’ll follow through with that.” Well, in order to understand why I got that reaction so often, I’ll have to give you all some context.
For the past three years, I worked as an investment banker at my company’s Consumer division. That means I had the privilege of advising on everything from IPO’s, mergers, acquisitions, and growth equity raises for some of the coolest consumer companies around in a lot of unique verticals - cosmetics, nutraceuticals, apparel, footwear, you name it.
You will hear “No” a million times. People will laugh. People will reject you. People will say your business idea is bad. But instead of proving them right, use that negativity as fuel to prove them wrong.
A HUGE drawback though are the hours, which can be anywhere from 70-100 hours a week on a bad week. As you can tell, it doesn’t leave too much room for anything else, let alone starting a business! In any case, for the last year or so I couldn't help but feel like something was missing. After all, I was helping all these founders realize their entrepreneurial dream, why couldn’t I focus on realizing mine?
About a year into my time at the investment bank, we signed a client that sold liquid herbal tinctures. For those of you who don’t know what that is, here’s a quick link. As any good banker would do, I decided to try their product to get a better sense of how they worked, and ended up picking a Kava based extract. It was supposed to help relieve stress, and hey, I had plenty of that so I figured I had nothing to lose. So I popped a few drops on my tongue, waited two minutes and...HOLY CRAP. My entire mouth and face went completely numb. Not only that, but I could FEEL a calmness comes over my entire body - I was hooked.
Still, there was something I couldn’t shake about the product itself. It obviously worked great, but there were so many issues with the experience of using it that I couldn’t bring myself to use it regularly. The labels and logo looked dated, the delivery system (via a dropper) wasn’t convenient at all, and the marketing was all off - I couldn’t find a single person in their ads that was my age. It felt like the product just wasn’t made for someone like me.
We ended up selling the company and everyone was happy, but I still couldn’t shake what I had felt before. How could a company with such an amazing product still makes me not want to use it? It was then that the little lightbulb in my head went off. Was it just this company that made me feel this way, or was there truly no company out there that had it all - modern appealing packaging, all-natural herbal ingredients, and marketing geared towards a more modern demographic? Turning to my good pal Google, I went to work. While a few companies popped up that satisfied some of my criteria, I still felt like none really hit the nail on the head.
After that, I was sold. I figured I had nothing to lose, and more importantly, I realized I had a real chance to make a difference and allow people to unleash their highest performing selves. Who in their right mind would say no to that? So with little more than enthusiasm and an idea, I got to work making a brand that would really stand out from the crowd. Before I did though, I wrote down the things I want my brand to have and do so that I wouldn’t lose sight of my goal:
- The company had to look and feel professional, with marketing, a website, and branding that were all top notch
- The product label had to be unique yet appeal to everyone, and eliminate that “medicinal” and “prescription pill” look of current supplements
- The ingredients had to be 100% natural, healthy, and effective without hiding behind “proprietary blends”, weak dosages, or fillers. In two words - ZERO COMPROMISE
- My products had to solve REAL issues people cared about
- I had to have fun, and love the entire process
Contributors to this article:
- Pat Walls, Founder @ Starter Story
- Wiki Updater