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It’s by pure happenstance that Adriaan and Ret even met… 

Let alone grew a wildly successful direct-to-consumer product company together.

The year was 2012––

Adriaan was on a 2-year traveling hiatus.

BroBible, his men’s lifestyle media company, had just been acquired and he was taking time to plot his next move.

Ret was running a successful furniture company in Saudi Arabia… and was the largest supplier of military tents in the middle east.

Despite remarkable financial success, a sense of dissatisfaction and disconnect existed for him.

He and his wife packed up and moved to Boulder, Colorado. 

Now… Adriaan and Ret are about to cross paths for the first time… and what transpires after is the making of an epic startup story you won’t want to miss… 

 

Ret Taylor, Adriaan Zimmerman, and Ned

 

Each week on the StartupCamp Podcast we bring you incredible stories of founders and angel investors. The goal is to give you insider tips and tricks on how to build your business or become a successful angel investor.

I spoke to Adriaan Zimmerman and Ret Taylor, founders of the direct-to-consumer natural remedies company, Ned.

We discussed how their unique journeys led them to found a natural remedies company

Both of them experienced major success, followed by massive burnout that forced them to rethink their ideas on success and happiness. 

Ultimately, they discovered that the best way to help themselves was to make a company devoted to helping others. 

In this podcast write-up, we go over the founders’ ups and downs, how they founded Ned, and their secrets to success.

 

Adriaan’s Background

 

Adriaan’s entrepreneurial prowess was forged in New York City. There he founded a popular Men’s Lifestyle media company called BroBible

He grew BroBible to 15 million readers a month before it was acquired in 2012.

This success helped Adriaan to check off all of the boxes he had made for himself — money, reputation, status. 

After his successful exit, the money was flowing in and Adriaan was living the life he thought he wanted. However, despite the bachelor pad, weekend getaways, and hockey tickets, Adriaan felt a deep dissatisfaction and loneliness. The things he thought would make him happy just weren’t fulfilling him.

After suppressing these feelings for a time, he found himself at a breaking point. During a presentation in front of his 75 employees, Adriaan had a serious panic attack. His hands were shaking and he was unable to speak. 

It was as if that thing he had been suppressing was finally too much to hold back. The next day he had broken out in shingles and was just falling apart. 

He knew he had two paths ahead of him. He could go see a shrink, take some Xanax, and keep going — or he could take a step back and finally unpack what had been building up for years.

Sometimes we measure success by the size of our bank accounts. 

That day Adriaan had a panic attack, he had plenty of money. He was thriving financially but still missing something deeper. It all came down to the identity he had created for himself, one based around financial gain above all else. 

Adriaan took a step back and went traveling to find his answers.

What was supposed to be a two-month break turned into a 2-year sojourn. 

Living out of a backpack, he wrote, learned to chop wood and gut fish, and invested in areas of his life he had long neglected. 

Two major findings came out of this period — Adriaan’s deep connection to nature, and his understanding of the value of simplicity.

 

Ret’s Background

 

Ret was raised in a hard-working Irish family. They kept their noses to the grindstone and rarely talked about their feelings. Ret got really good at living this way.

After years of hard work, he took his business to Saudi Arabia, a long-time dream of his. 

His successful furniture company led into several other successful ventures and before he knew it he was the largest supplier of military tents in the middle east and was working with the royal family. 

However, despite the fabulous financial success, a sense of dissatisfaction and disconnect was brewing. 

Ret’s wife would wake him up at least once a month because he was laughing in his sleep.

Then, after being away from his wife and daughter for two years, he would wake up crying in the middle of the night. When this happened to him for the third time in a month he knew something was seriously wrong. He says this was his “Xanax moment”.

Just like Adriaan, Ret needed to reassess his life and find simplicity.

Four months later Ret and his family had moved to Boulder, Colorado. He says this was the best thing he had ever done. 

Living in the mountains, connecting with nature, and bringing things back to basics was just what he needed.

He then took things a step further and went out on a personal experiment. 

Ret spent seven weeks living in nature. He lived out of the back of his truck, hopping on his workstation to work from mountain tops and river beds. After this, he was “firing on so many cylinders” and was finally living his best life.

This is when he realized his purpose — to help people reconnect with nature to improve their lives,  just as he had done.

This was the spark that led to the founding of Ned.

 

Meeting Up

 

Adriaan had been writing about his experiences while on his break. He spoke honestly about burn-out, panic attacks, and newfound connection to nature. 

One person who seemed to connect to these writings more than others was his future business partner, Ret.

Having both gone through similar experiences, they instantly connected. 

Adriaan started stopping by in Boulder, Colorado to meet with Ret, where they would chat, go on hikes, and eventually craft a business idea.

When Adriaan finally finished his travels he decided to move to Colorado. It was like the stars had finally aligned.

 

The Business Idea

 

Ret was first and foremost interested in starting a product line. He wanted to make natural products that help people feel better and live better.

When Ret’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer the doctors suggested chemotherapy. Instead, she opted to fight cancer through nutrition. 

Ret took it upon himself to learn everything he could about health and nutrition to take care of his mother. 

One thing that kept coming up in his research was CBD. 

He purchased some CBD products for his mother but found no connection to any of the brands on the market at that time.

These brands didn’t illustrate who they were, why they were making this product, how it helped people, or where the hemp was grown. They were missing a huge opportunity to connect with their customers.

Ret set out to build a brand that could answer these questions.

 

Aligning with Partners

 

Ret hit the open roads to research hemp farms and talk to growers. 

What he found was a culture focused on quantity over quality, which he knew wouldn’t work for his brand.

Eventually, he met a different kind of farmer. This farmer was focused on the quality of the product and the health of the consumer above all else.

After striking a deal, his new business partner turned him onto the best extraction facility in Colorado. The pieces were all coming together.

 

Ned’s Success and Growth

 

Adriaan and Ret focus on their CBD line first. 

As they were going the direct-to-consumer route, building a brand identity and connecting to customers was the first goal. 

Customers responded to the health-first, natural, and transparent culture they had created. 

After locking down their place in the CBD market, the natural conclusion was to create new lines of natural remedy products. 

Today, the company runs its “Nedquarters” out of Boulder, Colorado, complete with a laboratory, warehouse, and team of local growers. They have shipped tens of thousands of orders to customers around the world.

 

Reasons for Success

 

Throughout their journey, recurring nuggets of wisdom kept popping up and guiding them. These are the key takeaways that they say created their success with Ned.

 

1. Learn From Failure

 

Failure can be one of your greatest teachers.

Ned and Adriaan say that failure was the foundation for their business. Having the real-world experience to know what not to do is one of the biggest factors in maintaining success in a startup.

Each founder discovered what they were missing in life by getting knocked down, sniffing out the problem, and getting back up again to solve it.

 

2. Pick One Thing — Do It Exceptionally Well

 

Before over-complicating Ned, the founders decided to first entrench themselves in the CBD market. 

From the beginning, they saw the possibilities in a diverse product line but decided to take things one step at a time. 

Their famous CBD products created the backbone that Ned needed to build a direct-to-consumer customer base and grow long term. 

 

3. Stick With What Works

 

While building up the brand they held on to one philosophy…

That is, focusing only on what’s working

Rather than throwing resources and brain-power towards fixing what isn’t working, they decided to ride the currents of the market and discover what works by investing in only winning products and ideas.

 

4. Build a Great Team

 

The duo knew that they needed to surround themselves with amazing people. 

Rather than taking on everything on their own, they hired and partnered with great minds. 

From the farmers to marketers and health-experts, the all-star team is the reason for Ned’s success.

 

5. Start with “Why?” 

 

The first thing they discussed was why they were starting the business. They nailed down exactly what they wanted to put into the market and why. 

By starting with a vision and philosophy at the core of their business, the founders of Ned were able to keep their decision-making simple. 

Adriaan and Ret knew that if their only goal is to connect to people and improve their health, then their only option is to make simple, honest, natural products.

We go over these essential things that mark a startup for success in our free ebook, Startup Investor’s Playbook.

 

Author: Chris Graebe

Startups Doing Good

The history of the United States is defined by the entrepreneurial spirit.

The Founding Fathers themselves were entrepreneurs in their own right. They saw the problems with the system they lived under and set out to create a solution.

Working together as partners, they risked their fortunes, innovated, and ventured in a startup — the United States of America.

Today, our problems are still being solved by entrepreneurs.

Startups are disrupting antiquated and broken systems with fresh solutions. Economically and socially they are making the country a better place and lifting everyone up in the process.

And Angel Investors are taking notice.

This Independence Day, let’s celebrate the amazing startups that are working to improve the U.S.

Goodr

This Atlanta-Based startup is working to improve food access and eliminate unnecessary waste.

Each year in the U.S. we waste over 72 billion pounds of edible food. Meanwhile, 42 million Americans suffer from food insecurity.

At Goodr, they believe that hunger isn’t a scarcity issue — it’s a logistics issue.

To solve this growing problem, the Goodr platform helps businesses reduce their food waste and connects them with charities and foundations to donate to.

Goodr provides a secure ledger that tracks a company’s surplus food from pickup to donation. Through a simple application, the company receives real-time analytics on their social and environmental impact.

This is a triple-win solution. Companies can improve their bottom-line through charitable tax donations, reduce greenhouse emissions, and deliver surplus food to local communities in need.

Ride Health

The next startup helps America by improving public transportation.

In many places, public transportation leaves a lot to be desired. But, for the handicapped, sick, and elderly — public transportation may be inaccessible.

New York-based startup, Ride Health, has created its own transportation network to fix this problem.

Ride Health partners with healthcare organizations and transportation providers to provide affordable transportation to and from hospitals. Ride Health aims to help patients to reach urgent appointments on time.

So far, the service has been deployed in 25 states with a ride network available in all 50 states.

GroGuru

GroGuru provides precision soil and irrigation monitoring systems to farmers across the U.S.

There are over 2 million farms in the U.S. that contribute $100 billion to the U.S economy each year. The overwhelming majority of these are family-owned businesses.

With a growing water shortage in many parts of the country, this technology has never been more needed.

Coming out of San Diego, CA, GroGuru enables farmers to increase crop yields while using less water and energy.

With a patented, wireless, underground system, GroGuru sends live data about root health and water levels to farmer’s phones and computers. This provides them with actionable data and recommendations so they can tweak irrigation systems for maximum efficiency.

This means more food, less waste, and happier, more successful farmers.

CareMessage

Millions of low-income Americans struggle to get the medical treatments they deserve.

CareMessage knows that one of the biggest issues with these underserved populations is patient engagement. Sometimes healthcare all comes down to communication.

The solution — using mobile technology to keep patients informed, up to date, and connected to their doctors and healthcare workers.

Research shows that text messaging usage is 2 to 4 times higher with low-income, less-educated populations — the same groups that struggle to stay connected to the healthcare system.

The CareMessage platform allows healthcare centers to leverage text messaging to remind patients of upcoming appointments, fill gaps in care, provide education, and allow for one-to-one provider-to-patient communication.

Keep in mind that this is unconventional for most healthcare organizations that usually use telephone or email to connect to patients.

By text messaging with CareMessage, healthcare organizations can save money compared to traditional communication methods. This allows them to do more for patients and spend less while doing it.

With this platform, traditionally alienated groups can get personal medical attention and stay educated and in the loop in our healthcare system.

BabySparks

Raising children is a part of the American Dream. Everyone who has children wants to give them a happy, healthy childhood and guide them towards a bright future.

Unfortunately, raising young kids can be tricky, especially for first-time parents or those who work full-time.

Miami-based BabySparks offers an education subscription service and online platform to give parents insight into their child’s critical first years.

BabySparks uses research from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to tailor a routine of daily activities that are essential to children’s early development.

With BabySparks, giving your children the best chance of success is affordable and accessible to all.

Pathrise

We all know how difficult and stressful job applications can be. Young professionals coming out of university, looking for their first job, or changing jobs often struggle with this process.

Pathrise offers 1-on-1 mentorship, training, and advice to help you get hired.

Job-seekers are paired with executives from companies like Google and Facebook who help to guide them into success.

Members only pay once they have been hired.

The incentive-based program goes like this — you add your resume and basic information, you devote at least 10 hours per week to job searching, and you speak with your mentor once a week to get advice and recommendations.

Once you are hired, you pay 9% of your first year’s income to Pathrise. If you don’t land a job or can’t reach a certain level of income, you pay nothing.

Pathrise is helping young Americans to jump-start and accelerate their career in an affordable, ground-breaking way.

WeRecover

Deaths from drug overdose have more than tripled over the past 30 years. About 21 million Americans suffer from addiction, yet only 10% receive treatment.

WeRecover addresses this with its platform by matching addicts with addiction recovery centers.

People seeking help can enter information about their addiction, take an educational assessment to understand their clinical needs, see a list of recovery centers within their budget, and then instantly connect with them.

This is the world’s first search engine for finding treatment. WeRecover is taking strides towards solving the addiction crisis in America and helping people to get the care they need.

Final Thoughts

All of these startups are doing something special that improves the lives of Americans.

They are helping the sick and elderly, connecting underserved populations to doctors, educating parents to better raise their children, and helping farmers to grow more food on U.S. soil.

The future is bright when entrepreneurs and investors can be rewarded for doing such wholesome, helpful, and honest work.

We are lucky to have the most active and booming entrepreneurial sector in the world.

To learn more about U.S. startups that are making the country better — and even get the chance to invest in them — you can sign up for Angel Investing Insider.

We are constantly sniffing out investment opportunities with respectable, profitable, and revolutionary startups like these.

We then some of our favorite opportunities with our members.

Author: Chris Graebe

Each week on the StartupCamp Podcast we bring you incredible stories of founders and angel investors. The goal is to give you insider tips and tricks on how to build your business or become a successful angel investor.

This is the summary of our most recent podcast where we spoke with foundering and entrepreneur, Tim Morse. We spoke about his incredible journey and his one-in-a-million exit story.

Here’s the interesting thing about Tim’s company, RicherPoorer

He successfully sold the company in 2015. It was a textbook exit — acquired, partnered, ready to scale, done. 

But then, through a strange turn of events, Tim ended up buying back his own company a year later for pennies on the dollar. And today, the business has never been better. 

You are going to love this conversation. Let’s get started.

 

Tim Morse’s Background

 

Tim Morse was born and raised in Laguna Beach, California. He grew up surrounded by surfing culture, bumping elbows with people who would go on to create famous street-wear brands. 

During his high school years, he watched apparel brands like Stussy, Gotcha, and later, Volcom, take over the surf scene and contribute to the culture he loved. 

During this period the branding part of his brain really came online.

The spark went off for Tim when he noticed that these companies built their brands on something real — something that was changing in society. His favorite brands connected with the rebelliousness of youth and surf culture. These clothing companies weren’t just businesses, they were part of a movement. 

This thinking followed him into his college days. During the summer he worked at Gotcha, an apparel company where he met his mentor Dave Gilovich, Brand Director at Surfline

By then knew his passion was in apparel, but still didn’t know in what regard or to what extent.

 

Working in Silicon Valley

 

Fast forward to when Tim graduated from college. Life took a different turn, and he found himself working in Silicon Valley. 

He discovered an interesting connection between the blossoming Bay Area tech culture of the late 90s and the familiar surf culture of his youth. 

There was a rebelliousness and thriftiness that defined those engineers and founders. They dared to challenge the possibilities and conventions of tech and business.

Tim looked up to figures like Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who at the time were still tinkering with server setups. Back then, those two were still sleeping on data-center floors. They were chasing their dreams and struggling to get by — just like the fashion entrepreneurs of Tim’s college days.

(In case you don’t know, Sergey and Larry would go on to build a little company called Google.)

And so, this strange relationship revealed itself. Laguna Beach and Silicon Valley. Volcom and Google. Surfers and Engineers.

Over the next ten years, Tim saw the Bay Area culture shift from people wearing suits to green-haired engineers showing up in jeans and t-shirts.

Counterculture had invaded the tech capital of the world. Tim, being both a student of fashion and a Silicon Valley techy, found his finger right on the pulse.

 

Founding RicherPoorer

 

The first concrete opportunity presented itself to Tim through his own fashion choices.

He would always search for unique socks that added to his outfit. He realized that there wasn’t much on the market that fit his needs. 

J.Crew and The Gap could satisfy his taste occasionally, but there wasn’t a single company on the market that focused on unique, stylish socks.

He found a white-space in the market.

So, he combined his tech and marketing experience with his passion for clothing and founded the company, RicherPoorer.

 

Timing

 

Think about this for a second, RicherPoorer started off nipping at the heels of the financial crisis of 2007-2008. 

At this moment in time, people were moving away from bedazzled jeans and Hummer SUVs — away from excess. 

While Tim wanted to offer something unique, he also wanted to bring things “back to the basics”.

The big idea was, what if you could upgrade an outfit with a $12 dollar pair of socks instead of a $150 pair of jeans? 

The timing was just right. Tim was ahead of the curve on the huge sock trend that would surge over the coming years.

 

Growing RicherPoorer

 

Tim and his business partner, Iva Pawling, were making strides with RicherPoorer. He was the ideas guy and she was the business gal.

They honed in on the wholesale channel, establishing a visceral connection with consumers. 

They went to trade shows, made partnerships with retailers, and hustled their way towards success. 

 

Time to Expand

 

Soon, it came time to scale the company. 

RicherPoorer had started with only men’s socks but decided to venture into other items. They added women’s socks and men’s boxer briefs. 

Tim and Iva knew that male shoppers like to buy socks and boxers from the same company, and he took this as a chance to upsell from one item to the other. 

Short-term, the additions didn’t pay off as they had expected. 

Then, as time went by and they added t-shirts to the lineup, sales took off. Once the trifecta of socks, underwear, and t-shirts had aligned, customers gobbled them up in bundles. 

This was the birth of the new vision for RicherPoorer that would take them to new heights — “to own your top drawer.”

 

Exit and Buy Back

 

In 2015 Tim and Iva sold RicherPoorer to Shoes.com. 

At the time, they were in the market for a partner that could help them scale. RicherPoorer needed some help with digital marketing and could use a wider consumer base. 

Shoes.com’s marketing reached over eight million customers each day. Tim sold socks, they sold shoes. It seemed to be the perfect fit — no pun intended.

Shortly after a clean acquisition, Shoes.com began a rapid decline into bankruptcy. Just in time, Tim and Iva negotiated a sinking-ship deal in which they purchased RicherPoorer for pennies on the dollar and took some board members with them.

In a million-dollar game of musical chairs, Tim found himself planted in the seat he started in.

In the end, they learned that the grass isn’t always greener. Tim and Iva had thought there was someone else who could better run RicherPoorer. Someone with a silver bullet who could take things to the next level. 

They had been the best team for the job all along

 

Post Buy-Back and Future

 

Now an established wholesale and Direct to Consumer business with a decade of success in the industry, Tim still has his sights set high.

The current RicherPoorer roadmap is to continue to make great products and listen to and inspire customers.

Tim’s perspective is that brands shouldn’t push what they like onto consumers, but rather listen to the data, see what consumers want, and then create those products in your own light. 

This will keep customers coming back for more.

To hear more incredible stories like this and to start your angel investing journey, you can become a member of Angel Investing Insider

We give you the scoop on the latest startup trends, show you how to up your angel investing game, and offer you real startup opportunities you can invest in for as little as $100. 

Author: Chris Graebe

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