Long-Term Consistency Beats Short-Term Intensity | Aaron Hinde on Primal Health Coach Institute
Today we interview Aaron Hinde, co-founder of LIFEAID Beverage Company. As an avid CrossFitter, Aaron became convinced that his health conscience peers (and non-peers for that matter) would start to demand alternatives to artificial, high-sugar, high-caffeine drinks that better aligned with their healthy lifestyles. After months of brainstorming and collaboration, the co-founders went all-in with their life savings to create the well-known brand that we know today, LIFEAID. In today’s episode, we discuss the idea of one degree of change, the power of changing your trajectory over time, pushing the chips all in, being aligned with your purpose, and so much more. Aaron brings lots of energy and passion to this conversation and we know you are going to walk away inspired.
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Full Podcast Episode Transciption:
[Erin Power]: Hi, I'm Erin Power.
[Laura Rupsis]: And I'm Laura Rupsis.
[Erin Power]: We're certified health coaches, and this is Health Coach Radio.
[Laura Rupsis]: This podcast is about the art, science, and business of health coaching.
[Erin Power]: We share our insider tips to help you become a better coach and entrepreneur.
[Laura Rupsis]: And we interview expert guests to discover how they've made it in this growing field.
[Erin Power]: It's time for health coaches to make an impact.
[Laura Rupsis]: It's time for Health Coach Radio.
[Erin Power]: Today's episode is brought to you by Primal Health Coach Institute, the totally online, totally self-paced ancestral health coaching certification program that's been on the front lines of the burgeoning health coaching trend since 2014. And since then, PHCI has been consistently hard at work, continuing to develop its curriculum around nutritional science, the art and science of health coaching, and business development, so you graduate with a confident knowledge of everything you need to know to launch your practice. It's the total package. The health coaching certification program that won't leave you wanting more. PHCI is also an accredited educational program with the AADP, and is approved by the UK Health Coaches Association and the Health Coaches Alliance of Canada. The course also earns CEU credits for a variety of certifying bodies, including CrossFit, NASM, AFAA, CanFitPro, ACSM, NESTA, the Association for Integrative Nutrition, and the National Board of Health and Wellness Coaches aka, the NBHWC. You can learn more about the program, view the curriculum outline, and speak to an admissions adviser by visiting www.primalhealthcoach.com.
[Erin Power]: Today we're welcoming Aaron Hinde. Aaron is the co-founder of LIFEAID beverages, and his energy will inspire you; no energy drink pun intended. An avid CrossFitter, Aaron became convinced that his health-conscious peers would start to demand alternatives to high-sugar, high-caffeine, and artificial mass-marketed drinks in search of products that better align with their healthy lifestyles. He was equally convinced that consumers were looking for more functionality beyond that of the caffeine found in energy drinks. After months of brainstorming and collaboration, LIFEAID was born, funded with the co-founder's life savings. Now, nearly a decade later, LIFEAID has six specially formulated blends. The company's products can be found in thousands of gyms, on hundreds of golf courses, and in fine retailers like Whole Foods, Sprouts, Kroger, and the Vitamin Shoppe. FITAID has been the official at recovery drink in the 2017 and 2018 Reebok CrossFit Games and the official sponsor of the US Spartan Race Series. It's a really impressive trajectory of success, built atop the foundation of a super good health idea. The show notes for this episode and all previous episodes of Health Coach Radio can always be found at www.primalhealthcoach.com/radio. Let's get down and dirty and talk about the business of health with Aaron Hinde.
[Laura Rupsis]: All right, Aaron, thanks so much for joining us. I'm excited for this conversation.
[Aaron Hinde]: Ladies, thanks for having me on.
[Laura Rupsis]: Awesome. So would you please give us a little bit of a three to five-minute backstory about kind of you, who you are, your company, and kind of how you got there. Where'd you start?
[Aaron Hinde]: Yeah. Aaron Hinde, LIFEAID Beverage Company. We're a functional beverage company. We make vitamins you'll actually enjoy drinking. A lot of people know us by our FITAID line, it's our post-workout recovery drink. We started in 2011. My business partner, Ryan, and I, really no beverage background, whatsoever. I was a sports car proctor for 10 years here, in Santa Cruz, California; he was a certified financial planner. And really had a ignorance and passion to get kids off the high-sugar, high-caffeine, and artificially laden sports and energy drinks, we started LIFEAID. And we were only a direct-to-consumer and direct-to-gym business for our first five years. We sold everything online with no sales reps, no grocery accounts or anything like that. And fast forward to today, we're now in all the Whole Foods, Sprouts Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, Safeway, Kroger, Walmart, CVS, etc. So it's been quite a ride.
[Laura Rupsis]: Yeah, I see it on supermarket shelves now, which is really cool. So you were a sports chiropractor and your partner was a financial planner. Totally different business. And for those health coaches listening, just so you know, Aaron, a lot of people come to health coaching from an entirely different-- I came from finance as well, right? Erin came from advertising. So what was that like? That transition from a totally different sort of industry career and to take a leap like that?
[Aaron Hinde]: You have to follow where your passion's at, and after 10 years in chiropractic, I was treating professional athletes and all the local politicos and had a incredible referral-based practice, 32 new patients every month, all by referral. It had become easy in certain aspects. And my passion started to change, at least for where my mindset was at the time, knowing what I know now, I could've taken that to a whole other level, but I had kind of hit a ceiling. And so I started having that drive to look for something different, something where I could affect people's health on an even greater level. But everything that I learned in that 10-year period of my life was absolutely essential and necessary for the traction and success that we're seeing now.
[Erin Power]: So when you were giving us your origin story, you mentioned that one of your driving forces in getting into this business and creating this product was removing or stepping into the space where the sugar-laden, artificially sweetened, terrible, junk sports beverages are. And you kind of mentioned that kids were drinking these, that you kind of wanted to get them out of the mouths of kids. Is that really what drove this for you?
[Aaron Hinde]: Yeah, absolutely. Especially these young athletes who'd be coming into the office and they'd have a Red Bull or a Monster or a Gatorade and I'm like, "Do you realize what those artificial dyes are doing to your body, or all that exogenous caffeine to your adrenal glands?" and, "You're ruining your body. You're a fine-tuned machine. You're like a race car. Why are you putting 89 octane when you should be putting 100 octane in your body?"
[Laura Rupsis]: Yeah, I love that. You and I, we were speaking before we started recording. I own a small CrossFit affiliate, and my husband used to play soccer at a very high level. Played for the US National team as a kid and then professionally. Now he's back, and he trains lots of young athletes, now. There's a couple soccer teams around here, he does some strength training for them. And the kids are coming in all the time with all sorts of pre-workout stuff just full of garbage. And parents are concerned, but still buying it for them.
[Aaron Hinde]: Yeah. Most parents are just ignorant. If they really knew what was-- you know, I actually-- it's funny you mentioned pre-workout. I just did an op-ed for The San Jose Mercury News-- full page op-ed on how there's no regulation whatsoever around pre-workouts and energy drinks and being marketed to kids. You look at any other legal drug that we have, whether it's tobacco or caffeine, there's very-- I mean, tobacco or alcohol, there's very strict regulation in this country on marketing to and consumption of minors, yet it doesn't exist with energy drinks. Even sodas, you can only put a caffeine hit of, I think, less than 70 milligrams of caffeine. These pre-workouts the kids are taking have up to 350 milligrams of caffeine.
[Aaron Hinde]: I have a current request in with the Center for Poison Control on how many adverse effects have been caused as a direct result of kids taking energy drinks and pre-workouts. And it has caused many deaths. There's Facebook pages of parents coming together whose kids have died. Typically, they've had a pre-existing condition that has been triggered by drinking 600-700 milligrams of caffeine. And you combine that with other stimulants that are in there-- this is something that needs to get addressed. I'm very libertarian in my political views. And I'm not talking about what adults do to their own body, they could do whatever the hell they want as far as I'm concerned as long as it's not negatively affecting their neighbor. But with kids, we need to have a little bit more guidance and regulation here. And I think these companies are irresponsibly marketing to these kids and the kids see it on Instagram or they see their friends drinking it and they think it's cool and they're like, "Oh yeah, it really jacks you up. It gets the job done." Yeah, it gets the job done a little bit too much sometimes, and we're having a lot of health consequences as a result of it.
[Erin Power]: So I know you kind of touched on this lightly before, but I actually think this is a really interesting topic. I really want to dive into some of the business stuff that you did, but I actually think this is an interesting topic to touch on as well because a lot of health, fitness, and nutrition coaches-- well, the story around artificially sweetened beverages is really confusing. I remember 10 years ago I stopped drinking Coke Zero because I went to holistic nutrition school and I was like, "Oh God, it's a neurotoxin." But then I read a research paper from a bro in the fitness world who says, "No, no, no. Aspartame, it breaks down into these perfectly safe metabolites. There's nothing to be worried about," now it's very confusing.
[Aaron Hinde]: Well you got to always look at who's funding those studies right? ... I mean, forever, healthy fats were demonized and sugar was totally okay. I mean, look at the food industry manipulating "science." So when it comes to artificial sweeteners, I think that-- especially if you look at sucralose, many studies now are-- I mean, nobody's doubting that it kills your gut microbiome. That has been researched. There's at least 10 PubMed studies now saying-- there's some that say, "Well, it may have this effect with cancer and some other major diseases, but we know that it's horrible for your gut microbiome." And the more we know about the microbiome and the more we know how that affects your overall health.
[Aaron Hinde]: You know, a lot of these things, it's like if someone smoked one cigarette when they were 16, big freaking deal. You're not going to die of cancer, but we're talking about chronic use over time. We don't put lead in our paint anymore because we know it has health effects. We don't put asbestos on our ceilings because we know it has health effects. Yet people are subjecting themselves to very questionable artificial sweeteners, or way too much sugar, or unhealthy this and that, that over time, I think is leading to chronic disease. And just looking at it from a macro, I mean, you two both know in the macro sense, we're losing this battle. Diabetes rates are not going down. They've been going up and up and up. Now what is it now, like one out of every four kids is going to develop type 2 diabetes, one out of every four? This was unheard of even 30 years ago.
[Laura Rupsis]: It's tough with kids too, because-- and I'm assuming his mom isn't listening to my little podcast, but I have this boy that comes in to a 6 AM CrossFit class before school. He's like 12 years old, right, and he's overweight. And he's coming in because he wants to lose weight and he just really likes being there. This is probably a kid who's not super athletic, and CrossFit makes him feel like an athlete. And he's working hard and all that and he wants to make better choices, but I mean this kid-- I mean, I can take one look at him and take a wild guess at kind of what his diet is. He hasn't brought anything into the gym, beverage-wise, other than water or even even food. But I mean he is just one example of a whole generation of children that are dealing with these issues at just a much younger age. And I deal with families and moms, in particular, is kind of a market of mine. And this comes up all the time about a stumbling block and a challenge for parents on the children and kind of bringing the children along and how many parents just think, "Well, they're kids, they've got time," right? Or, "They can tolerate this stuff." And I'm like, "No. They're smaller than you. They need an even lower dose than you do. They shouldn't have any of this shit." I mean, I don't know. I don't know if you've found any of that in kind of your dealings as far as attitudes.
[Aaron Hinde]: Look, we would like to think it's an education issue, but we know that that's not necessarily the case. There's still medical doctors that smoke cigarettes, right? So it's not necessarily just an education issue, it's a component. I think it needs to be a societal norm issue. What I mean by that is, if you saw a mother inside of a convenience store buying a pack of cigarettes and handing it to their 12-year-old, imagine the stares and looks that mother would get, like, "What are you doing?" right? So society needs to change that when that same mother is buying a 70 ounce Big Gulp that has the same amount of sugar in it that if you went in to get a glucose tolerance test to see if you have diabetes, it's the same hit of sugar they're going to give you for that test. And that mother's handing that or giving the kid to buy that, that that same glare happens. And so that societal pressure then changes beliefs because it's so extreme and so out of the norm. Right now, it's still socially acceptable to be handing your kid all that kind of garbage, but it's slowly changing.
[Erin Power]: You touched on the fact that we know sucralose obliterates the microbiome, but I want to get a bit more sense from you as to some of the other health outcomes of consuming these. Because Laura's mentioning her target client is moms and they're helping to nourish kids. My target client is weight-loss clients, and they're asking me, "How bad really is a Diet Coke? How bad really is a G2 Gatorade?" And it's like, "Ah, I'm confused because I'm hearing so many different things." So what's your sort of elevator pitch on the badness of those and where FITAID steps in to solve the problem?
[Aaron Hinde]: Yeah, good question. Look, there's always going to be fads and then I believe that there are pillars. I'm actually speaking at Nestle next week on this very thing, to Nestle's top brass because they're realizing this now. A fad may be-- and it may be a good fad. A fad may be the ketogenic diet. A fad may be Atkins or Paleo or what have you. A fad may be pro-sucralose or anti-sucralose. I would say a pillar is, we need good fats in our diet, right? Whether that's following keto or not, we need good fats in our diet. A pillar is, we need to reduce refined sugars in our diet. So instead of dissecting and looking like, "Okay, one thing, is this going to kill you or not going to kill you?" Let's look at the macro and take a more holistic approach, like this young boy who's coming into the gym. God bless him. I mean, he's putting in the time and effort and he's realizing he's overweight and wants to get in shape again, but that's half the equation. It's actually a lot less than half the equation, quite frankly. We got to look at, "What are you putting into your body?" because the biggest drug that we put into our body is food and drink. right? So it's not that I don't drink wine once in a while, but I'm not an alcoholic. There's these extremes.
[Aaron Hinde]: So if someone has a Gatorade once in a while, big deal. If I was extremely thirsty, there's nothing else to drink, you may find me cracking one too. Not very frequently, but once in a while. I maybe have one soda every two years at this point in time for whatever reason. So I'm not some extremist like, "Oh, this is the only way to eat or drink." What we're trying to do is, again, change people's health trajectory, because one degree of change over time is what produces the results. So can we minimize-- because take away the artificial sweetener argument, well, then we're looking at artificial coloring, which all those drinks have too, and that's a whole other realm of health consequences and studies we can start looking at.
[Aaron Hinde]: So when it comes back to our drinks, specifically-- and this may seem-- I'm not trying to be self-promoting here. What I'm telling you is my philosophy, our philosophy as an organization and where we're coming from when we saw this epidemic is like, "How do we create clean, transparent products built on various health pillars?" When I say health pillars, I mean not only from the product itself, using the best efficacious quality ingredients we can use in the natural form instead of synthetic form. Using a full B complex instead of isolated B vitamins. Putting efficacious doses of turmeric or ginger or cayenne in there to get the desired effect. But also from a packaging perspective. How many people are still using single-use plastic that we know ends up in the ocean in massive amounts versus a highly recycled, BPA-free can.
[Aaron Hinde]: All these decisions, when they're driving the company, the products will continue to get better, they'll continue to get more customized and personalized, they'll continue to be more environmentally friendly. And let's just fast forward 10 years, where are we going to be at as a country? We need to make some pivots from a health perspective, from an environmental perspective, from a corporate responsibility, and how we're treating our people. This is taking more of a holistic approach to it. So I don't want to dodge the question. I want to just-- I'm not a Nazi about, "Oh, don't ever try this," or "Don't ever take that." I'm just like, "What are you doing day in and day out?" because that is what ultimately affects your health trajectory. And I think the more we can educate people, the more than we can get them off of that junk on a permanent basis.
[Aaron Hinde]: We have a PGA Tour pro who used to drink-- get this, a professional athlete used to drink 12 Dr. Peppers a day. 12. I mean, imagine how much sugar that is. That's like 500 grams of sugar. 500 grams. It's insane. So changing people's trajectory over time is a powerful thing. I read a quote today that says, "Long-term consistency beats short-term intensity." It's a Bruce Lee quote. And I thought it was pretty powerful because people get all jazzed up like, "Okay, I'm going to go off of this," or, "I'm going to clean up," and then it's too extreme of a diet and then they fizzle out in a week or two weeks. "Oh, it was too much," "Oh, Keto, it was too extreme for me," whatever. Okay. Well, don't go to that extreme then, but let's just get off your soda habit. Go for a walk every day. Let's get moving a little bit. Let's take baby steps, see some success, and then add to the plate. It's really tough to go from 0 to 100 miles an hour on some of this stuff all at once. But it's much more manageable to make these baby steps and start taking conscious decisions to change that one degree.
[Laura Rupsis]: Yeah. So what I love about that is, soda's a big, big trigger for a lot of people. Any health coach listening and has coached, had more than, I don't know, a handful of clients under their belt, have at least one whose biggest issue is that Coke or Diet Coke habit, you know? And trying to kick that, whether it's the first thing you do, because it's the most egregious, or whether it's something you let them hang onto for a little while and then kind of wean them off of that. It's so common across the board. And I do get a lot of clients that ask, "What can I drink instead?" Right? And so in some people--and here's why I love kind of your story and what you're doing here, because a natural pivot for many people are these sports or health-related drinks that are marketed that way. But when you really look at the label, are anything but.
[Aaron Hinde]: Two and a half servings per container when you know everybody drinks the whole thing at once. I mean, irresponsible packaging, garbage ingredients, pixie dust ingredients. There's so many egregious things when you look at things and you're like, "Well, wait a second. This actually is not healthy at all." The sugar content. People are like, "Oh, well it only has six grams of sugar." Well, actually there's two and a half servings per container, so that's 15 grams, not six. And the good news about all this is, I think it's up to like 70% of people now are reading the nutrition label before they're purchasing something. That's great news. So I love it. I love it when nutritionists take a look at our products or moms or nurses or doctors, because I know what they're looking for. They're looking for the, "Aha. Oh, there's the aspartame. Oh, there's the two servings per container. Oh, there's the yellow number six and red number 22," or whatever it is. They're looking for those ahas. And to find the absence of ahas is step one. And then to actually go, "Oh, well there's actually good stuff in here," "Oh, they're using the natural form of this," "Oh--" That's how you get long-term converts.
[Aaron Hinde]: And so we're playing really well and getting great sales, not just on the coasts where you might expect it, in middle America where people are going in to their doctor and their doctor's saying, "Okay. You got two options. Get on a bunch of medications, or you can lose 40 pounds and clean up your diet." And so we're kind of the gateway drink for people that are trying to get off the energy drinks or sports drinks or Coke habit or Diet Coke habit and onto something cleaner, more efficacious, and going in the right direction.
[Erin Power]: The beverage story is such an interesting health story that sometimes gets overlooked, I think. I think a lot of health and nutrition coaches are focusing on food and overlooking beverages. But I just did a quick audit, because this whole beverage thing isn't-- it's just kind of opening a new door, which sounds weird, I guess. But in the average day, I drink a pot of green tea, then that I have a cold brew before my workout, then I have my whey protein shake after my workout, then I have a bunch of electrolytes, then I drink bone broth, then I drink mushroom coffee, then I drink wine. We're just drinking things all day. Like I'm just drinking things all day. There's so many beverages.
[Aaron Hinde]: Hydration is a have to. It's a have to. Not a want to, it's a have to. Yeah-- I mean, at least your beverages are all pretty clean from what I hear. You're doing better than 99% of the people out there.
[Erin Power]: But I bet you a lot of health and nutrition coaches forget to audit their client's beverages because, "Oh, beverages." But there's a lot of-- a lot of damage can be done with beverages. And so I think it's a really-- it just got my wheels turning because it feels like we've wrapped beverages up with food, but it kind of deserves its own little spotlight.
[Aaron Hinde]: I think it's the number one contributor to the diabetes epidemic. I'm pretty sure there's some good research to help support that, but more so than anything-- I mean, liquid sugar is what is contributing to this diabetes epidemic. And just chronic inflammation in the body which has-- look at any of these diseases we're dealing with on macro level, usually the underlying cause is chronic inflammation in the body. And chronic inflammation has happened due to sedentary lifestyles, processed foods, high-sugar diets. So the more we can get off the couch and get moving and clean up our diet. It's not this like miracle pill or some-- it's simple, but it takes effort. It's simple and it takes work. Everyone just wants a quick fix. Well, no, you got to actually put in a little bit effort.
[Laura Rupsis]: Yeah. It's simple, but it's not easy. That's what I often say to my clients. When they're complaining about why this is so hard, I'm like, "I hear you. I get it, but you have to do this on purpose or it's not going to happen."
[Aaron Hinde]: 100%.
[Laura Rupsis]: Yeah. There's got to be intention. So I would love to kind of take a little bit of a turn towards kind of the business here. And so I kind of want to hear the story about kind of how this happened. Was it you and your partner sitting around one day talking about all this stuff and, "Hey, I've got this solution," like how does that come about? What was the first product you launched? How did you get it launched? I know we've got people listening that have an idea who'd love to know how to go from an idea to a launch.
[Aaron Hinde]: Sure. Well, Orion and I met in a CrossFit gym. We quickly found out that our young daughters that were in kindergarten were not only in the same class, but had become best friends in kindergarten. So that was a nice alignment there. And he ended up being or is a great house music deejay. My wife and I love house music and love to dance. And so there was just a lot of alignment, so having that camaraderie was very helpful. And we actually had this concept around creating a supplement company at first for a very niche kind of specific needs states. Because right now it's like, "Okay, I go to Burning Man. I got to buy five different bottles of stuff and B vitamins, 5-ATP and vitamin D and electrolytes and all this stuff. Wouldn't it be nice if it was all just in one packet?" Or if I'm training for an athletic activity, wouldn't it be nice just to have everything in one packet instead of tubs and jars of everything? So that was kind of the initial concept.
[Aaron Hinde]: And then we thought-- I'm in my mid-40s. Back when I was a kid, there was a product, that was horrible for you, called NoDoz, and it's since been replaced basically with the modern day energy drinks. And we thought if supplements in pill form were the way to go, NoDoz would be a billion dollar company and Red Bull wouldn't exist. So then we thought, "Well, gosh, beverage is just a better format," specifically, because I know and we know that beverage absorption rate is way higher. You might get 10 to 30 percent absorption when you take supplements in pill form. You're getting 70 to 90 percent absorption when you take it in liquid form. So better delivery mechanism. So we said, "Okay. Let's put these in liquid form." And when we started thinking of the different use occasions, of course we created them around our own lifestyles. So we met at CrossFit gym, so that was the origins of FITAID. When we had free time, we used the golf once a week, we don't do that anymore. But then we had GolferAid. We're in the festival scene, so PartyAid. And we literally registered 80 domain names on his birthday over a few glasses of wine in one night. Heck, we even got BonerAid.com for $10, believe it or not. I don't know if that'll ever be a product for any of male listeners out there.
[Erin Power]: What?
[Laura Rupsis]: I think it would be a hot seller.
[Aaron Hinde]: But that does exist in our domains. And so from there, specifically for beverage, you need to find-- I helped create what those initial formulas looked like, okay. So I backed into what we were trying to achieve. So if you go to any CrossFitter, any one that trains regularly, it's like, "Okay, well, what are you taking as part of your nutrition regimen from a supplementation perspective?" "Oh, I'm taking branched-chain aminos, I'm taking omega-3 fatty acids, I take some B vitamins." And so backing into those formulas-- if you go to someone who just got back from Burning Man, they were probably taking 5-HTP and electrolytes and B vitamins out on the playa. So we started reverse-engineering, based on needs states, what these formulas should look like, and then took them down to a lab. So you can hire a lab on an hourly basis to help work these formulas and make them taste good. Now what would be relevant to anyone trying to start a business in any category, not necessarily beverage, is I think the big takeaway and where we really started to get traction, because we launched three products - FITAID, PartyAid, GolferAid - way too close together. There were like three different markets, three different websites, three different social media handles, three different outfits, three different pitches. It was like three different businesses. Way too much distraction.
[Aaron Hinde]: So the big takeaway would be, number one, choose a single target market. So anybody starting out, figure out what your target market is. And don't choose a single target market just because there seems to be opportunity there. choose a single target market where opportunity matches a market that you are intimately involved in. I was intimately involved with CrossFit in their earliest days, and I remember Greg Glassman getting kicked out of Gold's Gym and 24-Hour that I was training at, running people in and out and in and out, here in Santa Cruz. Choose a market you're intimately involved in, that you're part of the community that you can be authentic to because the community will kick you out immediately if they feel that you're not sincere or authentic. So choose a single target market that you are intimately involved in, would be my biggest piece of advice to getting started.
[Laura Rupsis]: Thank you for that. We talk about that all the time, don't we Erin?
[Erin Power]: We do. Yeah. Start with your story, start with your client. But the thing that-- we talked to another couple of people who have product-based businesses, and I don't know, it's like I'm missing a part of my brain; like I'm missing a lobe in my brain that just knows that you can go to a lab to test a beverage. I didn't even know that existed. How did you know that that existed? Did you google that? Like, really.
[Aaron Hinde]: Yeah, Google. Google. I started looking at how to make a beverage and flavor. There's beverage scientists and flavor scientists and supplement manufacturers and who has good third-party tested ingredients that have clean certificate of analysis that are domestically sourced, right? So kind of running through some of those pillars that we were talking about earlier like, "Okay, do they check the boxes?" And not compromising, being unreasonable in our expectations around what's going to go in this product and what's not going to go in this product.
[Aaron Hinde]: When we first went to the lab, I'll never forget, we were with a Indian food scientist, her name's Nieté. Brilliant food scientist. Handed her the formulation, which was very robust because we wanted to make sure it was efficacious. And we said, "We're not using any artificial sweeteners and I want to keep the sugar content extremely low. So no sucralose, no aspartame, low sugar." And she goes, "Well, this looks good, but we're going to have to cut all the supplements in half if you're going to want it to taste good." And I took my sheet back and I said, "Well, I appreciate your time, but we're not going to-- we're not going to waste it any further," and started to walk off. She said, "Oh, oh, well, wait. Let's work on it. We can still see if we can make this work." So we weren't going to compromise and, "Oh, yeah, just cut everything in half or add aspartame in there." We had complete clarity on the type of product we wanted to bring out to the world. From there, it was getting a hold of can manufacturers and coordinating schedules and getting line time at a co-packer. A co-packer is someone that actually mixes it all together and fills it for you. You can contract that out. You have contract manufacturers.
[Aaron Hinde]: So each business is a little unique but the components are all the same. Looking at raw ingredients, looking at people that can put those raw ingredients together and create a finished product and then-- most people think, "Oh, if they build it they will come." That's definitely not the case. You need to be very thoughtful about your marketing and sales and how you are going to approach this to make sure that inventory just doesn't sit, because as soon as you get that inventory, the clock is kicking. There's that cost of money that starts tallying up very quickly. And in our industry, that's very high, because that minimum run is very high. When we first started, it was like, I think, 220,000 cans. I mean, that's a lot of product for a very unknown product, and you never get it totally right on your first run, anyway, so it wasn't the best version of ourselves either. So it was challenging, but we-- fortunately, coming back from my chiropractic days when I first started out, I really sought out to learn marketing, both internal and external marketing and direct marketing, direct response marketing, and that's what got us through and got us our initial traction.
[Laura Rupsis]: What did that look like, that initial launch? I mean, how does-- so you have all these cases of beverage, right?
[Aaron Hinde]: Yeah.
[Laura Rupsis]: I mean, I'm assuming you built up some sort of marketing plan, right, as far as who you're going to reach out to, centers of influence, you know, what is--
[Aaron Hinde]: If I was that organized. I'd like to say it was a plan. It was more just from here to straight implementation. I mean, we built out some, what we call would be a marketing campaign. So we knew that when we decided to choose a single target market, even though golf was producing the most revenue for us at the time, we knew that CrossFit was growing more rapidly. We were getting better turns, higher volume numbers in CrossFit, so we pivoted to CrossFit. But we used the same approach, that same technique whether we're talking about golf or CrossFit or many other channels. So what we did, is we would mail out a four-pack-- so you have a CrossFit gym?
[Laura Rupsis]: Mm-hmm.
[Aaron Hinde]: We'd go on the CrossFit website, look at the gym names, we started it in California because we're here in California. We would just send a gym a four-pack. They wouldn't ask for it; we would just send it to them. And inside that four-pack, we [inaudible] said, "Drink this product ice cold. Here's what it's all about. And by the way, we have this great offer. If you buy 10 cases of this product, we're going to give you this free refrigerator and this is a $400 refrigerator." Now you got to remember, this was back in 2011. CrossFit gyms at the time, only had water. If they were offering anything at all, it was bottled water they got from Costco. There was no products, there was no pro shop, there was no merchandising. Most of them didn't even have refrigerators, okay. So we're offering a solution, giving them a free refrigerator that they don't have to go out and purchase, for a product that was kind of made by CrossFitters for CrossFitters.
[Aaron Hinde]: So it was a very appealing offer, and we'd make that a very time-sensitive offer, so they had to take action in a certain amount of time. And it was like a seven-day offer. And within that first seven days, 15% of those gyms that we just sent a product to that didn't know us from Adam, ended up coming on board with that offer. And then we kept dripping on them and changing the offer and tweaking the offer, and over 12 months, 50% of those gyms would come on board selling our product. And that's how we got our initial traction. And then, from selling in gym and exposure to gym members, we started a direct-to-consumer business, as a result of that. And things continued to grow and grow and grow from there. But that's kind of coming back to choosing that single target market from a product standpoint, from a marketing standpoint, from sales and positioning and really going all in with it.
[Laura Rupsis]: Yeah, I love that. From a marketing perspective, you basically sent them a-- it was a no-risk offer. I mean, it cost you money, but just there's zero risk to the person you're sending it to, to test that out, right?
[Aaron Hinde]: Zero risk. We always have and still have 100% money-back guarantee and zero risk whatsoever. And yeah, that was the key.
[Erin Power]: Well, the thing that always gets me with this is the amount of capital you have to have in advance to fund something like that, to fund a startup like that. Do you go broke while you're waiting for this to build up, or how does that work, financially?
[Aaron Hinde]: I went broke several times. I mean, I still live off the grid. I lived in a 400 square foot trailer with two kids eating macaroni and cheese and tuna every night for quite a long time, living on $0 a month, to start, and then $1,000 a month. And, yeah, it was lean. So you got to push the chips all in. You got to burn the ships at the shore if you want to be successful. But make sure you have clarity of vision, and that you're accurately thinking. Too many people are not accurate thinkers. And I work with young entrepreneurs who are like, "Oh, this, this, this," and I'm like, "This assumption is not only off base, it's just completely inaccurate, and this is what's going to sink your ship." So getting eyeballs on your grand master plan, make sure that you're accurately thinking about each aspect of it, I think is very, very important. But today more than ever, you can start something with almost no capital, because you could take a concept and put it on a targeted Facebook, Instagram, YouTube ad, whatever, and see if you get any traction or orders for it before you even make the product. And then out-of-stock it, you know, if you start to get traction.
[Aaron Hinde]: I just bought some new totally natural deodorant based on a podcast I just listened to. And I can't remember the name of the deodorant brand [Native deodorant], but that's what this guy had done too. He ran Facebook ads for a product that didn't exist yet, and kind of figured out the ad, then all of a sudden, it was like 60 orders a day coming in. He was like, "Shit, I better actually make some product now."
[Laura Rupsis]: Yeah... Was it Tim Ferris that had suggested something like that, too?
[Aaron Hinde]: Tim's big on using the crystal for deodorant which I've been using for years and I like, but this was-- I just listened to the podcast I enjoyed the stories, so I supported the guy and bought some deodorant, but we'll see. It's basically free of the aluminum and all the garbage that they put in there. But a lot of the stories are like that like the capital requirement today, there's never been a better time to be an entrepreneur. There's never been a better time to do a physical product because you can get away with-- and just less than a decade ago, you had to have a little bit of a small war chest put together. You know today that's not required anymore. You can 3D print things, you can get short runs, or you can have no product at all and test the concept.
[Laura Rupsis]: Yeah, we were having a --
[Erin Power]: --kickstarter or something going and, yeah, it's a really different time.
[Aaron Hinde]: Yeah.
[Laura Rupsis]: Absolutely.
[Aaron Hinde]: Kickstarter, crowdfunding--
[Laura Rupsis]: That's true, right? GoFundMe, all that. Our very first episode of Health Coach Radio was with Mark Sisson and we were asking him what qualities he really felt were important for an entrepreneur getting started. And he listed several of them and one of them was this higher risk tolerance. Right?
[Aaron Hinde]: Oh, yeah. Got to have that. Got to have that.
[Laura Rupsis]: That's a real big one. And the other one he gave us was resilience. The ability to get back up again. You know, if you were to kind of think about, gosh, what it took to get going from a standpoint of, I don't know, maybe characteristics or expectations for folks that have an idea and would love to be able to take a run at it. What do you think they need to be prepared for? What do they need to have in their back pocket?
[Aaron Hinde]: Oh, man. I'd say both of those are key. You know you have to have that resilience. You've got to have the thick skin. You know you have to be open minded. You have to be accurate thinking. But I think the biggest thing is starting with alignment. Now I'm big on that we all are familiar, at least right now we are, going to like an ATM machine and pulling out money as long as you've got a positive bank account. Well, I think that the universe is an ATM and as long as you follow these principles that it will continue to pay dividends. The A being alignment. Alignment starts with yourself, right? What are you doing when no one else is watching? Like is the product or service that I'm putting out to the world congruent with my lifestyle? Like when I was a sports chiropractor it would have been pretty incongruent if I was 50 pounds overweight, or I didn't exercise, or my diet was shit. And I'm trying to affect people's health in a positive way.
[Aaron Hinde]: So I think alignment with yourself, alignment with your significant other is very important. I mean, I couldn't imagine if my wife when we're eating mac and cheese and tuna living in an RV out of ice chests, it was like bitching in my ear every two seconds. Like, "You said we were going to build a house by now," and this and that, "And this business isn't doing shit." Like there's no way I could have done it. I needed to have that support. So you know alignment with your business partner, if you have one. Alignment with your team when they come on board on what you're trying to achieve, the difference you're trying to make in the world. So alignment's very big.
[Aaron Hinde]: Number two, especially for young entrepreneurs, trajectory. You know so many young entrepreneurs are focused on velocity, how quick things are going to happen. "I want it to happen now, now, now." Focus on trajectory over velocity. Okay? As long as you're doing the right things over time, you will get a break, you will get financing, you will get that purchase order, you will get the right buyer that eventually runs across your product or service, right? Don't focus on how fast it's happening, focus on doing the right things over time.
[Aaron Hinde]: And then last, but definitely not least, is the M, momentum. You know when you have momentum, don't fuck it up. So many people we get momentum in life, in personal life, business, doesn't matter. We get momentum and then we stop doing all the little things that created the momentum. I see this all the time, you know I still struggle with this in my relationships. You know, with my wife, it's like momentum's going good when I'm buying flowers, and I'm cooking dinner at least a couple of times a week, and I'm cleaning up, and I'm helping out, and I'm engaged with the kids. I stop doing all that stuff, momentum stops, and when momentum stops, it doesn't look pretty anymore, right? So keeping that momentum going, continuing to do all the little things that got you there, even when you start to get bigger don't forget what got you there and you got to continue doing all that stuff.
[Laura Rupsis]: Yeah, I love that. I spent, I don't know, 20-plus years in sales, right? And it was very, very easy during the good times to take your foot off the gas and coast. And then the tide turns, right? Capital markets will change on a dime and the next thing you know, you know who's been swimming out there with no swim trunks, right, when things turn. So we speak about-- we don't use the term alignment, but we'll talk a lot about authenticity. Being in it, right, and really coming from an authentic place. And you know Erin and I deal with this a lot with our own kind of coaching community about with folks that just-- if they're a year into this and they're frustrated that they're not making $100,000, that they're not able to leave their job right away. And we're like. "No, no, no, no. When you start a business from scratch from zero--"
[Aaron Hinde]: Takes time.
[Laura Rupsis]: It takes time, right? And if things do take off too fast, boy, you're not ready for it. So I love that trajectory not velocity. Let's start moving down the right path.
[Aaron Hinde]: Yes, absolutely.
[Laura Rupsis]: In the right direction and the rest will kind of--
[Aaron Hinde]: The velocity will come. It will come. If you're doing the right things, it will come. But don't focus on the velocity because like you said, if you're not prepared for it and you all of sudden get a break, or you--. Think about this, I have a couple of friends, one from high school that had a rich uncle that died and all of a sudden they got this massive inheritance, right? They were on a bad trajectory already before they had any money, you know just doing drugs or getting-- just on a bad trajectory. Guess what happened when they got all that money? They crashed and burned even faster. Whatever we're wishing for sometimes is the worst thing. If we're doing the right things and then we add velocity to it, we just continue to go up that positive trajectory even faster. If we're on a negative trajectory and we add that break, or that cash, or that financing IPO to it, we're just going to crash and burn even faster. So you've got to make sure you have the components right and that you're moving in the right direction before you sprinkle velocity into the situation.
[Laura Rupsis]: Oh, yeah. Then I think momentum is what's going to kind of carry that, right? As long as you lean into it.
[Aaron Hinde]: That's right. Momentum begets more momentum.
[Laura Rupsis]: Yeah, I love that. So I know we want to be respectful of your time because you only had so much. But I would just kind of love for you to speak because I know you said you're doing some work with some young entrepreneurs and I'm kind of getting people out there. And folks listening to this podcast, most of them are not natural entrepreneurs necessarily, right? They just have a passion and they want to do something with it, they want to help people. So I would just, I guess, love some advice from someone who-- now granted you probably, I would imagine as a sports chiropractor-- did you have your own practice?
[Aaron Hinde]: I did.
[Laura Rupsis]: Originally moving into this, yeah. Just kind of getting started, getting a business off the ground and starting. Both whether it's through sort of LIFEAID, FITAID, but also as a sports chiropractor and lessons learned from trying to get something off the ground from nothing, and. If you wouldn't mind sharing a little bit of your experience and what you want people to keep in mind, to help move their way down that path.
[Aaron Hinde]: Yeah, I mean, look, I don't know if there is such a thing as just a natural entrepreneur. I mean, you can learn the skill set. Number one, being in a sales position like you were, like I was. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter my freshman summer, my internship, I was handed the phone book - and here I'm an underdeveloped scrawny timid kid - handed the phone book, say start at A. Your name is now Chris - because Chris is unisex, so regardless what intern I have in here, we use Chris - and start dialing for dollars, get me appointments. Talk about getting over my fear of communicating with people. So get into uncomfortable situations. Number one, get into some type of sales role, Toastmasters, any history that you can get especially if you have kids you want to get them into a sales role. Because you have to be able to get over that, you have to be able to convert that passion that you have into communication, okay? So sales is number one.
[Aaron Hinde]: Number two, what are you doing in your downtime? You know we all have downtime. Are you on Instagram or Facebook? Or are you listening to the radio, or you're watching sports? Or are you absorbing the abundance of information that is out there that tells you how to be successful in this thing? There is there is so much information out there on how to be a successful marketer, or how to do sales, product development, podcasts, for free. Books for free, or books that cost you 10, 12 dollars. I mean you can get a PhD in entrepreneurship for basically free. It's all out there. So be mindful of your time. What are you doing with your time? And if you're using your time sitting on the couch looking at Netflix and you're wondering why your business isn't doing good, well, look in the mirror. I mean, it's simple. Shut off Netflix. Pick up a book. So I would say that would be number two.
[Aaron Hinde]: And then the third thing is mentors. Mentors are huge. Align yourself with someone who is at the level that you want to get to. Figure out how you can provide value to their life, and to them, and therefore they will reciprocate and spend some time with you and help you avoid the major pitfalls, help you avoid those major mistakes, or make your mistakes off Broadway, so when it's ready for prime time, you don't screw it up. But I think those are the three biggies.
[Erin Power]: That was great. Thanks. Actually, that's a real kick in the pants, [laughter] that's what that is. Actually, I was listening to a podcast with Seth Godin and he-- Seth Godin's like, "I'm not on Twitter. I'm not on Facebook. I don't attend meetings. That's how I have so much time to be a successful businessperson because I don't waste my time with that crap," and it's like, "Okay. There it is."
[Aaron Hinde]: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, and the guy's seen success in lots of different realms and written some amazing books, so. It's good to listen to.
[Laura Rupsis]: Yeah, you mentioned, pick up a book. Before we let you go, do you have any favorite books for people that are looking to sell a product, start a business as an entrepreneur? Give us your favorites.
[Aaron Hinde]: Yeah, you look at-- you know in undergrad I was econ business and then went back to get my science prereqs. I always discounted psychology, and now everything is psychology. You know, behavioral psychology, why do we do what we do as human beings, what makes us tick? And I think one of the best books for those fundamentals is Cialdini's book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. And if you haven't read that, pick it up, it's an amazing book and it's eye opening on why we do the things that we do. And having an understanding of that really can help in your salesmanship, and positioning, and understanding why people make decisions when it comes to purchasing products.
[Laura Rupsis]: Awesome. Yeah, because we get-- this comes up a lot because one of my roles here is as an admissions director and a lot of people are like, "What's the market like for this? Are people going to hire me to do-- like for real, people will--?" And I'm going, "Look, no one's out there looking for a health coach." Right? "What they're looking for is a solution to their problem. Something's bothering them, right? And you've got to change your language. You've got to stop speaking about you and how awesome you are and what health coaching's all about, and you've got to start talking about--."
[Aaron Hinde]: Results.
[Laura Rupsis]: Yeah. Yeah. Right.
[Aaron Hinde]: Yeah.
[Laura Rupsis]: Yeah, and that's what it's all about and there's a huge chunk of psychology built in there.
[Aaron Hinde]: Yeah, absolutely.
[Laura Rupsis]: Yeah. I love that. Awesome. Thanks for that. We'll put that in the show notes. Where can people find you if they want to follow you, they want to follow LIFEAID, FITAID, where can they find it? Let us know so that our folks can find you.
[Aaron Hinde]: Yeah, our products are sold in most major retailers. If you want to find out more about them at lifeaidbevco.com. Our biggest Instagram account is @FITAID. And then for me all social handles are just my name @AaronHinde, H-I-N-D-E.
[Laura Rupsis]: Awesome. Thank you so much for your time.
[Aaron Hinde]: Thank you. It's fun. Appreciate it.
[Erin Power]: This podcast was brought to you by Primal Health Coach Institute. To learn more about how to become a successful health coach, get in touch with us by visiting primalhealthcoach.com/call. Or if you're already a successful health coach, practitioner, influencer, or thought leader with a thriving business and an interesting story, we'd love to hear from you. Connect with us at hello at primalhealthcoach.com and let us know why we need to interview you for Health Coach Radio. Thanks for listening.
Connect with Aaron Hinde at:
Mentioned on the show:
Book: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D.
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