Soul & Science
Soul & Science

Season 1, Episode · 3 months ago

S1 Episode 12: EBOOST Founder & CEO Josh Taekman | Eat What You Kill: Building a Brand from Scratch


My guest on the pod this week, Josh Taekman is the Founder & CEO of the functional wellness brand, EBOOST. Inspired by hip-hop, Josh’s career started in the mailroom at Bad Boy Entertainment where he learned that you “eat what you kill” and hustled to start his own agency. Eventually, he saw a space for a functional wellness product that spoke to the pop culture audience. EBOOST, was born as a wellness supplement that supports immunity, boosts your energy and gives you essential vitamins. By focusing on building small, close communities, Josh has been able to triple distribution of EBOOST to 12,000 locations in the U.S.

In this episode you’ll learn:

• You have to hustle and can’t take no for an answer.

• Building community is key for growth.

• Don’t judge by effort, judge by results.

• Not everyone is an entrepreneur.

Thank you, Josh, for joining me. Give it a listen, and fast forward your marketing mind in about 20 minutes.

Brought to you by Mekanism.

I'm Jason Harris. You're listening to soul and science. Welcome to the PODCAST. I am joined by Josh Tagman, founder and CEO of you boost and good friend of mine and good friend of podcast. Josh Tegman serves as the founder and CEO v boost and early innovator and industry leader in the natural supplement and Wellness Space and entrepreneur at heart with multifaceted specialties. TAKEMAN began his career cofounding bad boy entertainment, who everyone knows that one. He served as VP of marketing, spear heading endorsements, Cross promotional opportunities and partnerships with outside artist like Jay Z laarn hill, Eminem, bust of rhymes, fifty cent and many, many more. Takeman also work closely with Shawn P diddy, puffy combs and orchestrated his non music Orient Adventures, including co creating and producing the infamous white party, Sean John Clothing, Lincoln, Sean John Navigator and C sweet relationships with Forbes five hundred companies. He is an executive producer of Netflix recent documentary biggie. I got a story to tell, which I watch with my kids and it was freaking great. Today he focuses on Eboost, the first of its kind natural energy and recovery, ready to drink beverage, named best new product of two thousand and nineteen by BEVNET. He boost is now sold in over fourzero locations all across the United States of America. You can follow Joss on social media at J M Takeman. That's JMT K M an. Thanks for joining us, Josh. We are excited to chat with you. We always have a theme. We always talk about soul in science, which is so being leading with the heart, science being leading with the head, and then we have a macro theme underneath, which is creating a brand from scratch, which is what you've done a few times. But really now you're focused on eboost. So great to have you here, Josh. Thanks for joining us. Let's dive right in. What is your story? What is the Josh takement origin story? Where you a born entrepreneur? Did you become an entrepreneur? Give me your sort of how you fell into where you are today. You know, I believe I fell into it, or I'd think I naturally, naturally gravitated towards it. I have kind of an interesting past. I was living in La I had never been to New York. I've always dreamed of being in New York and visiting it seemed like just like a whole nother world, in a planet. I had total, I think, three friends that lived in New York, and I mean friends like people. I could pick up the phone and stay at their house if I needed to. I was going to DC for a trade show. My Buddy moved to New York to model. I said, Hey, I'll come to New York first before and then take to train to DC. Got To New York, was absolutely mesmerized by it. was sitting in Soho Eating Gentle Ben's pizza and or famous Ben's pizza and drinking a bear on the street on West Broadway, and I'm like, how am I not living in the city? And my buddy goes, you know, if you move here within twenty one days, you can stay at my place as long as you want for free. You know, just testing me and challenging me, basically calling me out. So I literally went to the trade show and DC, came back resigned, collected my like thirty seven hundred dollars and commissions at the time at like twenty three. That seemed like a lot of money, or twenty four return my least car, drove all my stuff from Santa Monica to Northern California and bought a one way ticket to New York to sleep on his hardwood floor. And I got there, I think, in thirteen days. How long we are on the floor for? I was on the floor for probably two and a half, three months. Damn. By the way, it was a parquet floor. The Shit was the most on cut when you were twenty three. Had to blow up. Mattress been invented? Yet no, it did not. I literally slept on a parquet floor. Damn, Parque is the bottom of the wood hierarchy. Yes, and and then, like, how'd you get into the hip hop industry and music? I grew up in Danville,...

...northern California, which is like literally the most suburban, Lily White area that you could grow up in. But for some reason, I think it was rappers delight when I was like eleven. That song just stuck with me and I loved it and I found myself sneaking off to Oakland Coliseum when I was twelve, thirteen fourteen, going to things like fresh festivals and hip hop concerts. My parents had no idea I was going to them. I mean, you know, people are getting beat up, people are getting stabbed, people are getting shot and I live in this little lily white protected area and Danville and I'm exposing myself to the stuff and Oakland. Back then Oakland was, you know, a much tougher place, but I just was enamored with the music and the culture and the lifestyle and for some reason I just loved it. And so that kind of stuck with me from my childhood all the way through college. rappers delight, which was from the sugarhill gang, that's right, and I bought the I bought the vinyl and I had a little player and I would play in my room every day. And so fast forward to you're on your friend's hardwood floor. You Love Rappers Delight, your salesman, you're in this amazing new city and what is the twenty three year old Josh do? First go out every single night. I literally got myself acclimated with New York City and little I think I went out seven nights a week and quickly blew through my thirty seven hundred dollars and I'm like Shit, I got to get a job. So I ended up taking, you know, a few miscellaneous jobs and then I met a guy at a tennis tournament in Miami who was going to be the new president of bad boy and I basically, you know, had a good conversation, hung out with them and I came back and I called called them and I said, listen, you're well aware there's a guy named Steve Rifkin that own loud records, but he created a marketing company called SARC where he was literally selling his knowledge and access and hiphop to corporate America and helping them credibly integrate their products or message into the hip hop community. He was really that bridge and I said I want to do what Steve's doing, but do it on the bad boy platform. And so jeff was kind enough to take a meeting with me. I presented him the whole concept. He said I love it, I see what Steve's doing. There's a huge opportunity and I said in Puffy's a brand like this kid, this kid is about to be a monster, you know, from the production side and the artist side and the artist that he had on his label. I like, this guy is going to break through and be a phenomenon. I just knew it. He just had that it, that it thing, and so we sat with Puffy and I gave him my little business plan and he thought everything look great until the very end where I put two thous a month and he's like too. I thought he's going to laugh, like twozero a month, like who in the world could live on too thus, especially in New York City? I thought, I think my rent was two thousand dollars a month. And he's like you want me to pay you two thousand a month? And I'm like, I just want to show you I'm committed and willing to go all in, and he goes, get the fuck out of here, I ain't paying you shit. You eat what you kill. When you make me money, that's when you can eat. And I go, well, how do I live and pay my bills? He goes, that's not my problem, playboy that shares Jesus. Yeah, so I just like Whoa, I kind of slap me in the fifth I just looked in the mirror and I said, you know, in life, how many times you have an opportunity to do what you want to do and sometimes you just have to find a ray of light and opportunity to get inside the door and be in the mix. And if you're talented, then you have an opportunity to shine and people can take notice. So I basically said, listen, Jeff, who was the CEO or the president of the time. I said, if I need you to come on a meeting, come on a meeting and I just need a desk in a phone and I'll figure it out and make it work. And you did and I did. I started in the mail room. How did you survive in the early days? My roommate worked at Hugo boss and so I was able to do some stuff for her on the weekends to help, you know, at least generate some money. I'm pretty sure I hit my parents up for some cash. I would do some PA work, you know, and the weekends if there's music videos or something,...

...and I could work on them, because, you know, urban music was, you know, the number one music format and you know these hip hop artist with starting businesses and overnight their thirty forty million dollar businesses because they had such influence over their community. You know pretty much what I saw. Puffy be able to build brands overnight because he controlled the media and he was on MTV so often and that was the main source of content and influence for pop culture. So hip hop artist had such a competitive vantage. They would talk about the brands that they supported or launched in their music. They would show up, I'm mused, on MTV, you know, holding their bottle liquor or wearing their clothing brand. So it was like it was really product placement at its finest back in that day that they controlled. They could control the outcome because they controlled the content. At the time, you know, there was no music industry marketing type of angles in the in the supplement industry. It was just a straightforward muscle head, traditional massive category, but no one was using pop culture marketing or ellant to bring that product to life. So we just ideated. So why is there no healthy energy powder? You know, there's there's plenty of Red Bulls and monsters, and then there's this product airborne that a school teacher created that you know, had really taken off in the powdered format. And then there is emergency, which was a real natural channel prevented of you know, Supplement with mostly vitamin C. and in Europe there's this really cool product called Baracca. I Love Barca exactly. So we're like, why isn't there a hybrid of all those? If something was healthy, natural, they gave you energy, supported your immunity, gave you all your central vitamins and then focus. It's like I want something that makes me alert and there's a supplements that will help me. If you're alertness, I said, what if we put it all into one product and called it eboost? I love that, and so this is you started it in two thousand and seven with John McDonald. Yeah, I remember when it came out. Actually, because it came out it used to being like hotels, like I lived in San Francisco and I'd stay like, I don't know, Soho grand or something like that, and they'd be like the eboost packet in the hotel room and I just remember seeing that Arrow going up. I started seeing it everywhere. It was very original the market at the time. It was if you feel like you're about to get sick, take this. It wasn't performing at a higher level and I think that's what eboost did. It was that was fresh. Yeah, I mean that was our whole thing. It's like, you know, feel great too. More like why would you not take something that's almost like your you know, what's what? What was it? Spinach for Popeye? Like why would she takes something that could give you a competitive advantage, every day healthy lift of energy and focus all your central vitamins and minerals. It's it was like a way better version of coffee with more functional benefits. So you started eboost and I know maybe a year or two ago did a partnership with Arizona and you're trying to take on you know, the energy category is sixteen billion dollars and you're competing with red bull and monster that are global and have hundreds of millions of dollars to spend in marketing. How do you feel like your smaller Challenger brand can compete with the big boys? I mean you can't, to be honest with you, you can't compete at their level. They're just they're eight hundred powder guerrillas. Unless you have hundreds of millions of dollars, you truly can't compete with them at that level. But you know, with a sixteen billion dollar category there's plenty of space, you know, in the in the you know in the lower hanging fruit area. So you know as you know, everything is about community. You got to create a product that a community naturally gravitates towards, and that's just by creating experience as a created product. That's quality first and foremost. Yeah, you know, at the time I thought, you know, early on I'll say we were disruptive in our packaging. We stood out. We are totally different. Even when we launch this drink, you know, two and a half years ago, it was a little bit different. But today great design is fucking table stakes across every category and every product. So it's really, really hard to stand out in that market place because everyone is bringing...

...great to sign esthetic and storytelling to every product in every category, I don't care which one it is. So it's really hard to stand out that. I feel like I missed that window early on because I had it but I just didn't have the capital or the operational expertise to like figure out how to scale it up. So, trust me, I do a thousand things different, as we all would, you know, when you look at you know ten years later, but I think we've been scrappy right like we're scrappy brand, and so when you're scrappy, you know it's I I felt like a street marketer. I mean I've spent my whole last ten years is handing out free product to people and carrying it around in my pockets and passing it out. And to your point, like the perception was eboost was everywhere, right, because you flew Virgin America and we were on there. You stayed at the w hotel and we were in there. You went worked out an equinox and we were there, and you went to whole foods in New York or La and we were in there. But the truth was those were the only places we were in. Our distribution was so small and limited. But to people like me and you that travel quite a bit and you know New York, La San Francisco, it felt like we were everywhere. So the perception the brand was always bigger than it was. How do you think like building a brand from scratch? Do you have any like, I don't know, two or three like things that you keep in mind or someone that's building a brand from scratch today? That yeah, I think. I think quality of product and making sure that you've got proof of concept in terms of taste. Taste is everything. EFFICA sees everything. I think the other thing. You know, a mistake I made early on. I just sprayed and prayed. You know, you just throw product everywhere and try and be everywhere. I think the opposite, going inch, an inch wide and a mile deep. Go into a community and really dominate in that community. So, for like us in New York, fitness is kind of our thing. We've really entrenched ourself in the fitness community. Just be micro focused, because it's really hard to make an impact in multiple markets, no matter who you know, how big your company is. Yeah, build that core foundation because if you do, I'll like never go away. And then you build off of that and then you replicate that in another city. And too often people think just like getting distributions the answer, and I'm like that's actually a liability, right, like you can go into all these retail stores and if that product does not come off the shelf, guess who's eating it? You are, and guess if you're ever going to go back into that retail or not. A chance. You can't afford to fail. So you're better off being smaller, more concentrated and more focused and prove out velocities, prove out success and then go to the next one and then your laser focus and you're not distracting yourself and you really are able to, you know, zero in and learn a lot from that customer too, because you got a little a lot of people don't have self awareness. They think they want to keep hammering you with the message because they believe that's the right message. Your consumer is going to tell you what the message is. Yeah, that works, and if you don't listen to the consumer and take their feedback, then you're kind of, you know, operating on your own agenda and that's not how you build success. How much has social media or influencers, like, how much does that play into how a challenger brand can grow? Honestly, it's more important than ever. I mean you can look and you can point to a two hundred different examples of brands that were built through influencers and social media with no traditional media. And then you also have opportunities just for like a moment that goes viral that you didn't you can't plan for, like right, like was the guy in the skateboard with the cranberry juice, like if someone said, Jason, here's ten million dollars, get create that for me, you couldn't. It just happened. Yeah, right, it just happened and it literally changed the business dynamics for ocean spray through that virality. So that's the beauty of social medias. Those moments can happen lightning in a bottle, and you got to you got to keep swinging until you get one out of a hundred that might catch like that. You got to keep winging because you don't know. When do you feel like Ebus will be? You know it's never done because an entrepreneurs...

...journeys, you're never satisfied, you're always you're always grinding it. What do you see like two, three, five years? Where would you like to see boost go? I believe eboos is a product that could sell in all channels and have success in all channels. So I think when we literally can be in mass and the product is pulling itself off the shelf organically just from whatever we've done to lead up to that point, to me that's success. That means you've really built a brand and you've got a community and you have an audience that's pulling for your product. You know, red bull monster has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to have that kind of success. You have a really dedicated team. Eddy boost. How much, when you and the team are trying to continually to build the brand and innovate with new products and try to get to that next step, how much of it do you fly with your gut instinct and how much of it do you rely on, you know what we talked about, like some research and insights and audience conversations, like how do you balance that? Yeah, I mean I would say we're less science and more gut. You know, our science is talking to our community and getting feedback and I think, you know, we have a good communication loop with enough people. They get a sense and a read from kind of a dynamic mix of people that, you know, were thin slicers right, like I don't need to do you know, a ten ers, some tenzero person reacher study to tell me if that's the right flavor. We were thin slicers. We use a lot of our own instinct. All the sort of hiphop work that you've done in the past. Has that helped you build the company? Is that more sort of still side hustle stuff, or do you think that contributed to what you're building at you boost a hundred percent. I mean we hipop taught me how to Hustle and taught me that everything you know, the answer no just should never exist in any scenario. So it taught me to be just relentlessly diligent on getting what I want, whatever that is. So when people say no, you like, are you kidding me? Like or it's not possible. I hate not possible and like what you mean? It's not possible. Of course it is your force yourself to figure out to get the end goal that you had. You know that you set out to get. So I think you just more passionate, more persistent, you got more angles and you think differently. You're literally are forced to think differently, coming from the music industry, because it really is a different way of marketing and you're dealing with people and their emotions and their taste profile. So it's a little bit different of a traditional model. So I think it's I think it's been helpful, and then I think that is contagious within your community of people that work with you. One thing that I think about as I hear you talk is you also should have your main priority, like we're eighty percent of your your action is yours zboost. Yeah, but but getting that entrepreneurial spirit where you're also doing like other investments. You're always connecting people. You you know, just did that documentary. You always have other passion points that take up like that other twenty percent of your time. You think that's a for other entrepreneurs, something that helps you be better at your main Gig. I think. Listen, I'm not an operator, so part of my challenges I love shining objects. So I you know, I can also distract myself with that stuff, but I need that to keep me alive. Like I'm not a guy that could sit and turn off my phone and just focus on building, you know, a deck or worksheet or my that's just not me. That's not my strength. So I got to surround myself with people that can do that. But there are certain guy you know, I know some guys that just can go and build a company and sell it and then go build another company and sell it. Like I actually wish I could be that guy because they are a hundred percent focused and, you know, they got three exits under their belt and I'm still grinding on one. If there is one thing I would do differently, I would I would have found a write a right hand person that was like the killer operator, that understood me and they could do all the heavy lift in the execution, in the the operations and just let me be me. And I probably would have had... or two exits if I had that person, you know, day one, along my side. That's great for starting a brand from scratch, for people to hear know your blind spots, Supplement them with other people and don't don't try to think you can learn a bunch of new skills, because you can't do at all. I think that's a great takeaway. I always love the I also love that you're kind of always that always hustling mentality and there's always a new way to do something, there's always a new idea, and that don't take no attitude turns of four out of ten nose into yeses. When you don't take no, you know you end up getting there with not everything, but enough things to make a difference. All right, three more questions. Will be very quick. What do you think is an entrepreneur is the most rewarding part of starting a company, because it I've done it. It is a struggle. What is the flip side of that, that hard part? What do you think, if the rewarding part is, I think, you know, for me personally, you know, I wish I was, you know, only focused on money, because I probably would have ran the business differently, but I was more focused on reward like the you know how people felt, the feedback I would get when people took the pot product or it transform their life, or I would get emails from women that were men that were doing well therapy and had, you know, a stage of cancer and say the only thing I look forward to take in every day as my eboost. It's the only thing that makes me feel good and when I hear that that that just fuels me up like nothing gets me more excited when I hear people say something like that. Yeah, so I think when I when I hear that it has a positive impact on someone and it's beneficial to them and it helps them in their day or their life, then to me that's that's success. I means you've created something that's impacting. Do you have a favorite mantra or quote that keeps you hustling, the keeps you grinding or that you always go back to? I mean, it's I mean my thing is like, don't judge me by my efforts. Judge me by my results, because I'm tired of people like Oh, I work so hard. It's like, okay, what does that mean? What did you accomplish? Right, I go I was here till midnight. Great, what did you do? You should have only been there for an hour. You didn't need to be there for me until midnight if you're effective. So to me, at the end of the day everything's about results. And do you have a role model that you look up to that either influence you in business, because I believe in modeling behavior from people that you admire for sure earning those skills. Did you have someone in your life that did that for you? Well, I would say I would say definitely someone like puffy. I definitely am inspired for him because he literally whatever he wanted. He would be relentless and whatever it took to get what he wanted. So I I zeroed in on that and really appreciated that he just pushed and forced everyone around him, around them to elevate their game. So I learned a lot from him, for sure. And then I think you know, I went to a Tony Robinsone are a long time ago and it's still sticks with me. I mean, he's just like he just tells you it as it is. It's like, you know what, you have weeds in your backyard. They're just not magically going to disappear. Get on your gardening gloves and go out and pick the weeds and it's hard work, but that's the only way to make him go away and I just like his straightforward approach and I just think he's such an incredible communicator and orator that he just speaks the truth. To me. It really resonates and it motivates me. Where would you send people they are listening to? Try eboost, because I absolutely love it. I think you're on QVC and I ordered a case of it on QVC. Yea, I leave for first of all, I love you for that. Thank you. So the good news is is earlier on you said we're in four thousand doors. Now we're in over twelvezero doors. Oh Damn. Yeah, we just launched in seventy five hundred CBS has across the country. So so now literally, for the first time ever, e boost is an almost every city in the country because there's seventy five hundred CB esses around the country. So CBS is definitely...

...the easiest place for you to get it other than our website or Amazon? Anything else in closing that you know you feel like you haven't said or you want to pass on that might be useful to the listening audience? I'll say this because everyone talks about like, oh, I should be an entrepreneur. Not everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur. Not everyone has the the the resilience or the pain threshold. There's a lot of pain with being an entrepreneur. So just just make sure if you go down that path, you don't leave your job for it. Create some proof points to know that there's an audience for your product and then you could build it. And also try and never put your in a situation where you don't make money, where you do, where you sacrifice and don't go into your life savings. Do not go into your life savings, and that's a big mistake a lot of people make. They start a business, they left their job and they they're so far in and they're only chance of keeping it going is funding it themselves and that puts them in a really uncomfortable position. So I would say be very careful about going down that path because if it if you are the right operator and you have the right idea, you should be able enough proof point that you could raise some money around the idea or make it self sustainable, because now there's no bearer to entry to build a product and have it's sold. There's so many market places, but listen to your customer. At the end of the day, the customer of it's with her wallet and that's the person that you're depending upon to be attracted to your product. So the customers voice is the most important voice. Awesome. Thanks. Thank you, Josh. This was really fun starting a brand from scratch. Always Hustle, don't take no and it's all about the results. That's a couple things I learned from you today, so thanks for joining us onod. I'll say one last thing. It's never no, it's just not now. It's true. It's a no for now. Yeah, thanks, but we're gonna get that. So yeah, thanks so much for listening to soul in science and we'll see you next week. Soul in science is a mechanism podcast produced by the amazing Frank Riscol Ryan Tillinson, Tyler Nielsen, Emma Swanson and Lily Jablinsky. The show is edited by Daniel Ferreira, with the music by Kyle Mary. And I'm your host, Jason Harris.

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