What It's About
Chewing gum capable of replacing that second cup of coffee.
Words of Wisdom
When it comes to marketing NeuroGum, the team have found PR outlets, like being featured in magazines and on television, has been far more effective than direct marketing. Kent and Ryan find when someone else tells their story, and they are given a chance to be honest and authentic with the message they put across, people are more willing to try their product. That's certainly something to chew on!
Did you know that the Mayans and Aztecs were the first to exploit the positive properties of gum? They used chicle, a natural tree gum, as a base for making a gum-like substance and to stick objects together in everyday use. Forms of chewing gums were also chewed in Ancient Greece made from the resin of the mastic tree. Mastic gum, like birch bark tar, has antiseptic properties and is believed to have been used to maintain oral health.
Notes from Chris
Episode 772Kent Yoshimura and Ryan Chen are obsessed with trying to optimize their mental and physical performance. When the two friends first met in Los Angeles, they were both working demanding careers and performing as high-level athletes. Kent was a muralist for the city of LA who trained with the Japanese Olympic Judo Team, and Ryan was a data analyst for Hulu who trained with the US Paralympic Wheelchair Racing Team. This constant need to be at peak performance left the pair mentally and physically drained for the other tasks in their life. For Ryan, this was made worse by his body’s adaptation to being paraplegic, which was the result of an injury a few years prior. They tinkered with different supplements, tricks and methods to get the most out of every day: crazy sleep patterns, meditation, crazy diets, and any emerging science that might help them get a little edge. But, mostly, they were reliant on energy drinks and coffee. Feeling this wasn’t the optimal way to get energy on-the-go, Kent began experiments with different supplements in his makeshift bedroom laboratory. He happened upon something called nootropics. These supplements, often referred to as “smart drugs,” are scientifically shown to improve cognitive function and memory without causing a crash later in the day. Kent would experiment with different blends of these nootropic supplements and turn them into pills, which he and Ryan would take before sporting events or big days at work. And, after a few tests, they started to see good results. They had the idea to turn these bedroom-concocted products into a viable business venture. Why not share them with the world? But, there was just one problem standing in their way. Making, taking and sharing pills didn’t exactly look great. If your boss or coach or partner walked in on you popping little white pills, it might look like you’re aiming for high performance instead of peak performance. They needed a way to make the supplement look and feel ... a little less illegal. If it was going to work, it would need to be accessible, shareable, FDA-approved, and free of social stigmas. After chewing over a couple of ideas, they came to the conclusion they should turn it into chewing gum. The supplement could still be taken orally, and it was far more acceptable to take and share pieces of gum at work or before sports. They called it NeuroGum. The official launch of NeuroGum came through an IndieGoGo campaign. They set this up to make the backend of the business simple and easy to manage, especially for two people who had never started a business before. They then shared the campaign in a nootropics subreddit where Kent had been particularly active. To their surprise, they started to instantly receive emails of people backing their product. Within just a few days, NeuroGum had hit over $20,000 in pledges, which allowed them to pay for their first run of orders and more than validated their idea. To date, this gum-powered duo has sold over a million pieces of gum since starting! And going forward, Kent and Ryan want to focus more on wholesale selling of their product and get on the shelves of big chain drug and supplement stores. In fact, as we were emailing about this podcast, Kent told me they had just landed shelf space in 3,000 CVS stores, so it looks like they’re well on their way! Perhaps it’s something to chew on as you think about your own idea.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- NeuroGum: If today's episode gave you a bit of a jolt, keep it going over on Kent and Ryan's website!
- Shopify: Kent and Ryan used Shopify to set up their site for NeuroGum, and they're offering a 21-day trial and exclusive discount for all Side Hustle School listeners!
- ThomasNet: A large international database of manufacturers, to find US-based companies to make their first production run
- Indiegogo | NeuroGum: Check out the Indiegogo campaign that started it all
- On-the-Go Mouthwash Gets Mini-Makeover: Two Florida State grads create a mini-mouthwash empire, selling 3,500 bottles in less than a year
- Sweet-Toothed Dentist Creates Sugar-Free Caramel Company: A pediatric dentist joins forces with her husband to sell sugar-free caramels. Starting from a goal of selling 100 bags at a local market, they go on to earn $100,000 in 2017
- Getting Investors Amped Just Takes a Little Jamming: A Toronto science teacher creates an attachable guitar amplifier that pairs with a smartphone, raising more than $250,000 and appearing on Dragon’s Den
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