Brian faced an unexpected departure from the military, which eventually led to his side hustle, Gluconfidence. In this interview, we go step-by-step through the crowdfunding process. We also talk about the importance of doing something you love with a startup, so that not everything is tied to a financial outcome. We also talk about what it’s like to start a company while working full time and supporting a family. This is a great interview for aspiring entrepreneurs, or anyone interested in taking their side project to the next level.
Brian Olivier is a Regional Business Development Manager at Medtronic, a global healthcare solutions company operating in approximately 160 countries. He started out at the Naval Academy as part of the class of 2002, and served in the Navy as a helicopter pilot for four years. After his military service, he worked in residential construction atToll Brothers as an Assistant Project Manager, and then at Procter & Gamble as a Logistics Manager. He has worked at Medtronic for over six years in Medical Device Sales and Marketing, and holds an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.
StoryBox- People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.
Brian’s Website: www.gluconfidence.com
https://fundrazr.com/pages/personal -- 0% fee
- Equity fundraising: https://wefunder.com/ -- I know these guys quite well! let me know if you want me to introduce you.
https://experiment.com/ - specific to products around scientific research
2:30 Min INDIEO GOGO Video https://vimeo.com/288368312
Klaviyo - an email marketing automation service Brian uses and recommends. He recommended using this to keep your audience alive and interested in your launch.
BTU #214 - Army Veteran to Founder of Busy Baby Mat (Beth Fynbo, Bunker Labs) - https://www.beyondtheuniform.io/blog/btu-214-army-veteran-to-founder-of-busy-baby-mat-beth-fynbo-bunker-labs?rq=bunker
Transcript & Time Stamps:
Joining me today from Louisville, KY is Brian Olivier. Brian Olivier is a Regional Business Development Manager at Medtronic, a global healthcare solutions company operating in approximately 160 countries. He started out at the Naval Academy as part of the class of 2002, and served in the Navy as a helicopter pilot for four years. After his military service, he worked in residential construction at Toll Brothers as an Assistant Project Manager, and then at Procter & Gamble as a Logistics Manager. He has worked at Medtronic for over six years in Medical Device Sales and Marketing, and holds an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.
Could you tell us about your side project Gluconfidence?
Gluconfidence is 30 grams of fast acting glucose. The mission is to provide a product with people with diabetes to be able to live a life without limits.
After I graduated from the Naval Academy and completed flight school, I was assigned to Jacksonville, FL. I was getting ready to deploy to the Gulf when I started losing a lot of weight. I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Unfortunately with Type 1, you are not permitted to be an aviator so I had to be medically discharged.
If you have Type 1 diabetes, you have to take shots of insulin multiple times a day and are closely monitoring the glucose levels in your blood. I had a very active lifestyle and I didn’t want to give that up. I liked to run long distances so I would run with a backpack filled with juice and gummy bears to be able to keep my blood sugar levels up. I thought to myself that it would be nice to have a product that offered that glucose in a smaller package.
What is crowdfunding?
What crowdfunding does is that you’re able to validate your idea while also getting customers onboard. This saves you from having a huge inventory of something people don’t want to buy. There’s various crowdfunding platforms out there available to people.
How would someone know that crowdfunding is right for them?
Typically crowdfunding trends toward the younger, male demographic. There’s a ton of tech on their. There’s a lot of different products out there.
One of the nice things about crowdfunding is that you set the goal for what you want and then if you don’t achieve that amount, the campaign closes and everyone gets their money back. There are also some new features in which the campaign has the option to move forward even if you aren’t able to raise the minimum. If you’re interested, I encourage you to look into the different rules and regulations with each platform because each platform is a little different.
My initial goal was to raise $30,000 which would go toward my first production as far as the formulation, bottling and labels.
What is your advice for running a successful crowdfunding campaign?
Preparation is key. It takes a lot of preparation to do things the right way. There’s a lot of backend work that you need to get done.
There are many vendors within the crowdfund space, how should people think about that?
My campaign lasted three months and it’s a lot of work. What you’re doing is a lot of the grassroots work on the front end. People think you’re just sitting back waiting for money to come in but that’s not really how it works.
You want 30% of your raise to be completed within 24 hours of your launch. You really want to get that momentum. Many of these platforms will provide you with various resources if you get that early initial momentum.
You need to keep people excited and engaged so you don’t want too much time between the time you’re telling people about the product and the time the crowdfund will launch. But at the same time, you definitely need to be well prepared. I did various email mailings through Klaviyo to get the word out. We also did a lot of Facebook messaging and targeted groups that were associated with diabetes. A lot of people found us that way.
Also through Facebook, you can do a simple survey for about $5000. That feedback will give you a pretty good idea of what things are and are not working for you. For us, we’re focused on people with diabetes. That’s a pretty concise group of people. There’s a lot of support groups for people out there so if you go online and start searching, you can find these groups. With that we were able to build a fairly robust email campaign.
How do you come up with the number of how much you want to raise?
It’s a bit of an art and a science. You have to be aware of how many financial commitments you have as well as how much money you need for your company.
It’s definitely a lot of work, you need to go in with eyes wide open. It’s a commitment to do a quality launch and campaign. It really helps to have a quality video that highlights your product and your team. We had a videographer who helped us put together our video. But you can also to a quick video completely on your own. It cost us about $2000 to hire the videographer to shoot our video and edit it for us.
What was next in the process for you?
Our drink is very sweet and concentrated specifically designed for people with diabetes. Kickstarter had identified us as a supplement and they won’t allow supplement campaigns. So we went to Indiegogo and were able to do the campaign there. Indiegogo also offered us additional flexibility which was helpful.
What was the first week of your campaign like?
If you’re working a full-time job, I recommend taking that day off because people will engage with you and ask many questions. There are prizes and awards you can offer for specific donors. Every week or two after that, I would do status updates on how the campaign was doing.
What resources helped you in this process?
I recommend reaching out to someone that knows marketing really well. The two sites that helped me out were Fiverr and Upwork. They are both outsourcing platforms in which you can hire people with a particular skill set to accomplish tasks for you. There are very talented people that are willing to do great work for you.
What is meant by a second level need?
I’m always trying to learn more about what my customer wants. Ultimately my campaign came up short of the $30,000. Initially, that was a huge disappointment. But throughout this process, we got so much great feedback from our customers about what they were looking for. People were concerned not only about the product itself but also about other needs and wants such as the discreteness. A lot of people that live with diabetes want to keep that private to themselves. Another thing that we learned was how important the packaging was to people.
My initial thought when we launched this was thinking about people with diabetes running Ironmans. But I was surprised by the feedback we got surrounding discreteness and packaging. If you’re starting your own business, I encourage you to really be open to that feedback.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with listeners?
It’s so important that you’re doing something that you truly care about. That passion can’t be faked. It will keep you going on the nights and weekends that you need to commit to it. I’m passionate about helping with people with diabetes live fulfilling lives.
I’m at a point in my life right now where I’m very busy. What I’ve learned over the past few months is that despite that, there’s still time to pursue a side passion. It’s OK to take your time in doing it, too. It’s been a confidence builder for me over the past year that this is possible.
It’s also extremely important to have a group of peers that support you. The only reason I did my crowdfund was because of the support I had from a local veterans group. So I encourage people to be willing to share you ideas because people will be extremely willing to connect you to their network and resources.