I have a secret to share – I’m the cookie monster in my home ! I’m usually in the kitchen snooping around for something to munch on and with my MASSIVE sweet tooth, I usually end up finding the box of cookies, that my wife Shweta has very carefully hidden from me Which is why I fell in love with the idea of healthy snacking and when I found this amazing food brand, I knew I wanted to learn more about the Freakin’ Healthy brand and have Roy tell about his journey!
Founded by Roy Koyess, Freakin’ Healthy offers a wide range of healthy snacking options to everyone. Armed with 14 years of corporate experience as the GM at Johnson & Johnson Vision Care and Diabetes Care, Roy wanted to break the elitist badge that healthy snacks are too expensive for the common person. He has since made healthy snacks a mainstream, affordable and delicious indulgence for everyone.
In this episode, Roy tells me, how his corporate job at Johnson & Johnson’s health division helped him realize the importance of clean eating, and how sticking to a strategy that focused on building a healthy community around the brand helped him stay in business even during the pandemic.
Connect with Roy:
Books and Podcast Mentioned in the Episode:
Connect with Dhiren:
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- Facebook – https://facebook.com/dhirenbh
- Twitter – https://twitter.com/dhirenbh
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07:48 – How Roy’s journey to entrepreneurship began
09:34 – How Roy’s last job helped him gain sales experience
13:21 – Why Freakin’ Healthy was started and the passion behind it
18:18 – Roy’s experience with running Freakin’ Healthy during the first year
20:16 – How Freakin’ Healthy’s initial team was formed
21:00 – The initial barriers that Freakin’ Healthy had to overcome as a new business
21:39 – Why the name “Freakin’ Healthy”
24:09 – Lessons learned from starting Freakin’ Healthy
24:55 – How Roy and his team came up with their recipes
29:41 – Roy’s first victory
37:40 – Freakin’ Healthy’s growth process and the stages it went through
43:34 – How the ongoing pandemic has affected Roy’s business and how they have managed to stay afloat
48:30 – How technology and social media has played a key role in Freakin’ Healthy
52:17 – What being an elevated entrepreneur means to Roy
54:02 – Roy’s advice to entrepreneurs
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Dhiren: [00:00] This episode of The Elevated Entrepreneur podcast is brought to you by the Cloudscape Care Package. This care package is designed specifically for retail and restaurant business owners. If you’ve got a retail or restaurant business or are considering opening one, then talk to us at cloudscape.ar, or drop us a line at email@example.com, and we’ll show you how the care package and all of its features including training, implementation, and support can help you set up for success.
Roy: [00:28] Like everybody, or most people, we got impacted, but I think the difference for us, we had to just reframe what this meant. We had a couple of calls and I think when it was locked down it was Zoom calls. The management team and our director, of course, we had a big call, and we decided that this is going to be an opportunity. It’s not going to be a disabler; it’s going to be an enabler. And during that time, we actually put out more products than we’ve done in the last two years. We saw it as an opportunity. There are no distractions now. We’re going to be so focused on delivering an output. This is our only priority – put out these products. And we’ve worked so well and efficiently that now we’re just planting the seeds and we’re going to bear the fruits of what we’ve done during the lockdown period.
Dhiren: [01:25] Hello, and very, very big welcome to The Elevated Entrepreneur podcast. My name is Dhiren and if this is your first time here, I’m so glad and I’m so grateful that you’ve chosen to spend some time with The Elevated Entrepreneur podcast. Now, if you haven’t already, I’d love for you to check out The Elevated Entrepreneur website which is elevatedentrepreneur.fm where you can get access to all of the amazing shows, as well as the goodies that go with each show, including show notes and transcriptions. I’m so happy that you’re here because this is the very first episode of a special series called Food Brands. There are some amazing food brands that are born right here in the UAE and I want to share their stories with you and inspire you to do what you’ve been wanting to do. Whether it’s launching a business or an idea that you’ve had for a while, there are some amazing stories that we want to bring to the platform and I hope that you will enjoy this episode.
[02:19] Now this particular episode is with a phenomenal gentleman. His name is Roy and he founded the brand Freakin’ Healthy. Freakin’ Healthy started off as a healthy snack brand and they have done phenomenally well over the last few years. And this story is all about how Roy started and what got him to start something that was his passion. I hope you’ll enjoy the episode. There is so much for you to listen in. So please take a moment, grab your headsets, grab a coffee, and let’s cue them music.
Intro: [02:50] You’re listening to The Elevated Entrepreneur podcast, a podcast designed to help retailers, restauranteurs and entrepreneurs simplify business operations and use modern technology to elevate their business. Here’s your host, Dhiren Bhatia.
Dhiren: [03:09] Hey, Roy, welcome to The Elevated Entrepreneur podcast. It’s so nice having you here.
Roy: [03:14] Hey, Dhiren. My pleasure.
Dhiren: [03:16] Thank you. I know you’re a busy man, and I appreciate you being on the show. There’s so much to talk about. But before we get into Freakin’ Healthy, you and I have a common story. You’re Canadian, I’m Canadian. You went to study in Montreal, correct?
Roy: [03:28] Mm-hmm.
Dhiren: [03:30] And how many years were you there in Canada for?
Roy: [03:32] The family moved to Montreal in ‘87. We spent around 16 years in Montreal.
Dhiren: [03:38] Wow.
Roy: [03:39] If you asked me like, where am I from, I would probably assimilate more with Montreal than the rest of the countries I lived in. But yeah, so that was like my upbringing. We’ll get into all the kinds of North American sports, especially hockey.
Dhiren: [03:52] Yeah, well, I’m a big Maple Leafs fan; I’m from Toronto. I stayed in Toronto for about 16 years myself. So yeah, we’ve got a lot to talk about other than hockey.
Roy: [04:01] Yeah, for sure.
Dhiren: [04:02] But I know you’ve lived in many, many countries around the world. You just talked about it a little bit. Tell me, how did you get started? Where were you born?
Roy: [04:10] So I’ll give you a bit of background. Both my parents are Lebanese, so I’m Lebanese by origin, right? But in the late ‘70s, we had a pretty bad civil war in Lebanon. So my dad used to work in Saudi Arabia, so I was born in Saudi in Al Khobar. And from there on, my dad traveled quite often. He was in the travel industry. He worked for one of the big multinationals in the travel industry, so we moved quite a lot. I think the next country moved to was the Philippines. And after the Philippines, we globe trotted quite a bit. We moved to Holland for a few years, and then we moved back to Saudi, and then we actually lived in Beirut for maybe a year or so. And then eventually back to Saudi Arabia and landed finally in Montreal in the late 80s. So quite a lot of traveling. We’ll talk about it later, but I think that added a lot to the way I perceive different cultures and what I take from them.
Dhiren: [05:06] So how old were you when you landed in Montreal finally?
Roy: [05:09] I was 11. High school and college and then university. So I have this college system in Montreal. So I moved there when I was 11, and my brother and I were actually pushed up a grade because we were under a different system, the British system. So everyone in my class at that time was like a year to two years older than me. It was quite interesting to learn the ropes coming from the Middle East into North America at the age of 11.
Dhiren: [05:34] So do you remember any of your time in Holland and Philippines? It sounds like you were really young then.
Roy: [05:40] I was very young. I remember a few things about the Philippines more so than Holland. Philippines was quite nice. But I think most of my memories stemmed back to looking at pictures. It wasn’t really from actual memory. But what remember about Philippines is, I mean, at that age, I don’t think you have any issues. We had a nice life, swimming pool, a lot of outdoors, and that’s about it. Holland, on the other hand, was very nice. My recollection is we actually went to Dutch school, so I learned Dutch when I was eight years old. Also, a smaller house, colder climate, a lot of pastures, and greenery, so I remember that. So the reason my dad moved to Holland, he wanted to look at the family getting the Dutch passport. But I think at the end he decided let’s go to North America, let’s do Canada. That’s why we ended up in Montreal in ‘87.
Dhiren: [06:29] Beautiful country, beautiful city, Montreal. And even took in Kodiak, correct?
Roy: [06:33] I did. So I went to the business side of Concordia, it’s called the John Molson School of Business – I studied there. And to be honest, growing up there, life was great, and you don’t know how good you have it until you kind of leave the area. It’s built for families, the outdoor activities, sports, you never rested. You’re always doing stuff, activities with your friends. Every community had a park. In the wintertime, they would flood the basketball courts into ice rinks and you’d play hockey with your friends. You know, you’re always active. So those are the things I would miss.
Dhiren: [07:06] I know exactly what you mean. I left Toronto in 2016, and I know exactly what you meant in terms of greenery, the nature, it’s beautiful to live there. So you moved back to Dubai, is it in 2003?
Roy: [07:19] Yeah, it’s 2003. My brother moved here before me. My family also was in and out of Dubai. So my dad lived in Dubai for all time. My uncles lived there, so my brother moved here and he worked with my uncle for a year and that’s when he calls me up and tells me that I need to come to Dubai. Dubai is the place to be.
Dhiren: [07:38] And how old were you when this call happened?
Roy: [07:40] Should have been like 21, 22.
Dhiren: [07:44] Okay, so he calls you and says, “You need to come to Dubai.”
Roy: [07:46] “You need to come here.” I’ve been here on a visit and visiting is different than living here. So when I came here on my first few visits it was quite nice. Probably 2000, 2002, I’ve been here a couple of times, not much happened. Everybody knew everybody, a couple of major hotels, roads. In 2003, I think things were starting to develop and I came here with no job prospects; just landed. Funny remembering these things. At the time I actually lived in my brother’s apartment on his sofa. I didn’t have any income, so I had stayed on his sofa for probably a year while getting my life sorted career-wise.
Dhiren: [08:27] So you’ve got this call and I presume you’ve finished university by now. You’ve gotten this call, you’re in Dubai, you’re sitting on your brother sofa, what happens next?
Roy: [08:35] So what happens next is I needed to find some source of income right away. I actually went door to door to big multinationals, handing in my resume at the time. It was like phone calls, “Who’s your HR?”, get the contact – I had this massive Excel spreadsheet. I would go there, drop it off and I’d have this routine with follow-ups or comments – yes, no. Most were very positive on the first interaction, but no one would get back to you. But one company did, and I went to their head office – it was at the Trade Center at the time. I think I went through like three or four rounds of interviews, and I landed the job there.
Dhiren: [09:12] This is where you pretty much picked up sales techniques because you’re calling people, you’ve followed up, you’ve made notes – it’s phenomenal. And what company was this that you started working for back in 2003?
Roy: [09:22] That was Johnson & Johnson.
Dhiren: [09:24] And you stayed with them for how many years?
Roy: [09:26] Until 2017.
Dhiren: [09:28] Wow.
Roy: [09:29] It was quite the ride.
Dhiren: [09:31] Almost what they call a lifer.
Roy: [09:34] I was a lifer. To be honest, time flew so fast. It was year after year, and because I joined a small franchise, it was like a vision correction franchise like vision care. It was a very small team running the Middle East region. So there was a lot to do so it got very entrepreneurial at times because you had your hand in many things. With a small team, your role kind of blends and molds into other functions. So you do a bit of this, you do a bit of that. So then you get promoted and one thing leads to the other and you lose track of time and you’re just like growing with a company. And then you have to kind of pause and say like, “Is this my future?”
Dhiren: [10:10] Yes. And I want to get into that. So you’re obviously very comfortable here. You’ve done phenomenally well for yourself. I know that you were General Manager, you were running quite a bit of things at Johnson & Johnson. And then in 2017, you started Freakin’ Healthy. What happened? Why did you hit pause?
Roy: [10:25] It wasn’t one specific day. I think it was maybe a year or two. I don’t know what you want to call it, whether it was like, my age at that time, but I was really looking at “Is this where I want to be? Is this where I want to kind of drive the next five to 10 years of my career or my life?”, and it wasn’t. I don’t want to knock multinationals. I think you learn a lot and they’re absolutely perfect for many people. They can build a wonderful life there. But it just wasn’t what I was looking for. It wasn’t where I saw myself in the next five, 10 years. And mainly, I would look at, let’s say, my seniors, or my managers, and I’d say, “I wouldn’t want to be in that position.” Although for some people, that is where they wanted to get to, but for me, it wasn’t that. And there was this entrepreneurial itch that I had to scratch. And whether it’s innate in me, or it just grew in the last few years, I had to do it. And I was just getting a bit despondent at work. It was just the same old, to the point where I actually shifted divisions just to reignite the enthusiasm, and that also didn’t really work out.
Dhiren: [11:29] And now you said your dad used to work. Was he an entrepreneur himself?
Roy: [11:33] He was, I think, in the last maybe 10 years of his life. So at the beginning, he was also with a big company. Funny, yeah. And then last few years, when he moved to Montreal actually, he opened up his own travel business there.
Dhiren: [11:45] Is that why you think you decided to follow in his footsteps? Is that where you draw inspiration from? Or was it something more? Like, “No, I got to get out of this”?
Roy: [11:54] Yeah, good question. So if I was to look back, my brother is also very entrepreneurial and funny enough, he’s also working for a big multinational. But when we were 11, and 12, when we first got to Montreal, I remember, we would– I think the first or second winter, we started shoveling snow. Obviously, you know how it is, right? You have to shovel your driveway, you have to shovel snow otherwise, you’re going to be stuck. So we used to shovel our driveway and then we had this idea to go and shovel the neighbors’ driveways and make some money. I think by the time we were like six weeks into it, and we didn’t know it at the time, but we started outsourcing. So we got other kids from the neighborhood and we would pay them a cut, and we’d ask them to also shovel their respective driveways. I think it was by coincidence or by chance but that was pretty much how we got started. And then in the summertime, we started cutting grass – same model. And we had been planning since 11, 12. I always did something that summers, delivering newspapers, you name it. And I think that’s where it started.
Dhiren: [12:59] So you’ve got the entrepreneurial bug since a very young age, then?
Roy: [13:04] I would say so. I think my brother is the one that really ignited that, but yeah, since then, it’s always been there but I think dormant because things were moving pretty quickly in the corporate world, right, so you kind of forget about it.
Dhiren: [13:15] And how old were you in 2017 when you started Freakin’ Healthy?
Roy: [13:19] Almost 41.
Dhiren: [13:21] So you’re 41, you’ve got this dormant bug that’s come alive again, and you say, “I want to start Freakin’ Healthy.” I’m obviously oversimplifying it but I know what you mean and I want you to talk about sort of the reason and the passion. And that’s what I’m heading with is to ask you what made you really start Freakin’ Healthy?
Roy: [13:39] I think it’s not one thing, it’s a number of things. So let’s put aside this entrepreneurial bug. In the last few years of my career in the multinational industry, I always considered myself to be pretty healthy. I always exercised, I thought I ate well, but I found in the last year more specifically, I started getting really bad insomnia. I would also get brain fog quite often and I would feel very lethargic and I couldn’t really pinpoint what the issue was. I started reading a lot. I started reading about nutrition, diet. And mind you, I was eating healthy. I wasn’t a junk food kind of guy, but I think there were some things in my diet that were leading to that. And I just lost the spark to kind of drive and be passionate about something. I mean, without that passion it’s just a mundane job and I just hated that. I went in, I did my job. It was like performance, but I wasn’t passionate. There was really missing. And what I was really passionate about was how to find my health again, from physical, mental, and nutrition perspective. I really had to find it. I jumped into a lot of reading, a lot of books, a lot of research online, and more so, I was really looking at something that would be my center and my passion, and healthy eating and snacks was one of the ways to enter it. I’ve always been a snacker. I loved snacks, whether it’s in the mid-afternoon or morning or close to evening, I would snack. But at that time, I would snack on some things that were perceived to be healthy, but they actually weren’t. And I think that also led to a lot of the crashes in energy and brain fog, etc. So that was one of the things.
Roy: [15:18] The other one was quite an interesting conversation I had with my wife. So I had thrown that idea around a few times with her about starting my own business. And again, Dhiren, I’m not advocating leave everything and start your own business. This was planned. So there [were] two years of planning financially, because again, with a family and responsibilities, you can’t just say, “Oh, tomorrow I’m leaving and I have no idea how we’re going to survive.” So there [were] a couple years of savings and planning. But I think the key was a nicely phrased question by my wife. It was, “If you don’t follow your dreams, what message would that send our kids?” It was a very straightforward question, but I thought about that question. And I said this is an important moment or milestone for me to define what it means to follow your passion. Whether you fail or succeed, it’s important to actually make that decision. It was also the reassurance from my wife that the family, I have their support.
Dhiren: [16:19] And that’s super important, right? You can’t get much far without that sort of commitment and that sort of support system. You need that support system, especially when you’re starting something on your own. So you were into healthy eating, you’ve started to notice some lethargic times in your day, and I’m a big snacker myself so I know exactly what you mean. I’ll jump for the cookie jar almost every three hours. But what I want to understand from you is how did you go from that to coming up with this idea of a food brand?
Roy: [16:45] I mean, in my past time, I’m pretty strange. Like if I want to recharge, and watch something, I usually watch cooking shows, I don’t know why. And I’m not a very good chef, I’m not a very good cook, but I just enjoy it. So initially, we started out by– I had in mind a much bigger food concept, so it was not really snacking. And again, I think nutrition drives a lot, right? That drives a lot of cognitive behaviors and also drives a lot of peripherals around that. So for me, it was like, “Okay, let’s start with this one.” Because physically, I was pretty much in shape – I would work out, I’d go for runs, that was great. I was missing, I guess, the right nutrition. I was also missing the mental health part, and I’ll get into that later. So for me, food was important. And also, it was very frustrating to see brands in the market that were perceived as to be healthy, but we’re not, either from an ingredient perspective, or they’re too expensive or they were positioned in a way where it wasn’t attractive for me to actually get into the category or they were perceived as to be elitist. So that was a bit frustrating. And that was an easy approach for me saying, “Let me approach it from this way, and let me look at snacks first. And then we’ll see how we expand into F&B there.
Dhiren: [17:57] And they say, right, the best business ideas come from when you spot a need, and I think you saw that need in the market. So you’ve come along the last few years of your career at J&J, you’re thinking about starting something. So it’s now 2017 and you’ve spoken to your wife, you’ve got the support you needed, and you launch Freakin’ Healthy. What was the first year like when you launched Freakin’ Healthy and you quit your full-time job?
Roy: [18:18] The first year was okay. So we actually launched officially in 2018. There was a lot of work to be done. So 2017, let’s say March, April, that was like, okay, I gave myself a month to just reset mentally and reset my plan, like what I wanted to do. And actually, my plan didn’t even work out. So I really wanted to open up a kitchen, open up a factory and manufacturing facility. And I ran the numbers and I was almost ready to sign, but then I was introduced to, who is today also my business partner here in BMB – Bilal. Introduced to him and obviously outsourcing made more sense at that time than opening. And I was like, “I’m not the expert in production. I’m not the expert in procurement. And I also don’t want to spend all that overhead and capital. So let me just start it out by outsourcing.” So that was the first, I think, six to seven months – understanding how I’m going to work and working on recipes. [The] working on recipe part took a long time. So I collaborated with a couple of chefs, we work through recipes that first few months, tastings with friends over to our house. We had probably like 60 to 70 different recipes, and we just narrowed it down to only four the first year, just four recipes. So that was quite laborious, and I had to think about it. I came from a very structured 16 years in multinational. I had to shed a bit of that. And I think that’s what’s has been happening over the last few years – shedding that structure. I think more like intuition needed to be put into entrepreneurship at that time. So it took a bit too long, but we were happy with our four recipes.
Dhiren: [19:57] Did you have a team in March, April, when you started Freakin’ Healthy when you were doing the testing and the recipes?
Roy: [20:02] No, no, no team.
Dhiren: [20:04] So just Bilal and yourself and some chefs?
Roy: [20:06] So Bilal came in, I think, late 2017. But before Bilal, it was just a couple of chefs, family and friends, and they would be like the market tastings, and we’d do it in our house. That was it. When I met Bilal, I would bring him samples, and we’d taste in the office, and we’d make adjustments together. Until one fine day, I think we saw the same vision, and we decided to partner up on Freakin’ Healthy.
Dhiren: [20:34] And what was that vision because when you’re starting something so big, and you’re still just in infancy, it’s very important to see that big picture. What was that big picture for you?
Roy: [20:43] So again, we really saw that the market here, there was still a lack of awareness, first about what healthy is, from like food and F&B perspective. I think we saw the consumers getting more and more educated and that was an opportunity for us to say, “We need to take the lead on this.” I think we had four barriers in mind. First barrier, we think that people have a very ill-informed or misconception about healthy food that healthy food is tasteless, and it’s boring. You know, if I tell you like, “Dhiren, I’m going to prepare this healthy meal for you”, you might think it’s going to be tasteless, and there’s really not excitement around it. So we wanted to break that, and we saw that as a big opportunity. Secondly, we also saw that a lot of health brands have this elitist tag to them. So it’s only the ones that can, or the ones who are in the know, that can afford or can get their hands on healthy food, and we found that extremely frustrating. And that’s why the name Freakin’ Healthy breaks that barrier. We wanted to be a bit edgy, fun, and also appeal to more people. We wanted to be a bit in your face, not like the common health brands around.
[21:49] And the third one is availability. I think now you see many health brands available, but back four years ago, when I was maybe writing the plan, not much. You couldn’t find healthy snacks in too many places. So we want to be a bit ubiquitous. And lastly, you like it, you can find it and it appeals to you, but you can’t afford it. What’s the point? So we wanted to really be on the right price-value proposition. So that’s the opportunity we saw, and then we were like, “We’re going to build something great.” I’m telling you, I don’t know who’s more passionate now. It’s like me, Bilal or Mohamad, who is also Bilal’s co-founding partner of BMB Group, or our team. It’s insane. I think our team has more passion than I do now. They kind of block bad ideas before they even reach our table, and they come up with even amazing ideas before we brief them. This is amazing.
Dhiren: [22:41] And that’s quite the legacy, right? When you have your team share your passion, share your vision, you know you’ve done something right, which is phenomenal.
Roy: [22:48] I think so. It also drives more passion, it drives more excitement. When I see that I get so happy. It’s just amazing. Every day I get surprised, like people from accounting coming up with, like, “Why don’t you do this? That’s a good idea.” Or someone from the design team like, “I think this is better for the brand.” It’s just nice. It’s beautiful to see.
Dhiren: [23:08] And it’s a big weight off your shoulders, no, when you don’t have to do all of that thinking, your team is doing that for you and for a united cause really, which is to spread healthy food, healthy snacks. So I want to take you back to 2017. You’ve come up with these four recipes and you’ve talked to Bilal and Bilal says, “Yes, we see this vision.” Was the name Freakin’ Healthy ready then? Is it something that you had before in mind or did it come up?
Roy: [23:29] Yeah, it was ready. I mean, I probably shortlisted 20 names, but I think the one that resonated most with me and the people I spoke to was Freakin’ Healthy. If you think about it, it was a bit of an oxymoron, like freakin’ and healthy. And that marriage really stood out and I really wanted to push the envelope a little bit. I wanted people to kind of stop and say like, “Really? That’s what you’re going to call the brand?”, and actually it worked.
Dhiren: [23:55] Because it’s a very informal, in your face kind of brand and I think that spawns a lot of conversations. So you’ve got these four recipes, you’ve got the name down pat, what happens next? And was it overnight success?
Roy: [24:07] No. No, it was not. It wasn’t an overnight success. So I moved industries, I was in healthcare, I moved to F&B. And secondly, working in a multinational, you have so many support functions, right? You have everybody around you. Your teams are ready to execute. When you start your own business, you have nobody. You have yourself. So I had to learn quite quickly. But was it an overnight success? No. The lesson that I learned very early on is when we create something in a kitchen, it’s very different putting it into production, from all aspects. From composition, from flavor, from texture, because then if you’re going to scale it, it’s not going to be the same. So you have to keep that in mind. I didn’t get that lesson at the beginning. We had to work through it. Also, Bilal had the same vision. We started that health category together, so we had to also look at sourcing healthier ingredients. It was also a learning curve with the team. So the team really had to also understand what is healthy and what is not from an ingredient perspective. What’s the taste profile? What’s the quality spec we’re looking for? So we had so many tastings, even after the final recipes that we created with the chef were approved, we had to do another long set of approvals, just make sure they’re ready to be produced on scale.
Dhiren: [25:22] So you mentioned this already that you move from healthcare to healthy food, and you have no previous knowledge, no previous training in this. So how did you know where [you were] headed? How did you know if you’re on the right path? And how did you learn all of this stuff?
Roy: [25:35] There’s a lot of things. So I would talk to whoever would listen. I would ask a million questions, especially the chefs I worked with. I learned a lot. I would ask them to send me articles, I’ve learned about ingredients, I’ve learned about all kinds of like glycemic indexes and what works with what, this mixture. And also, the guys here, Bilal’s team and Mohamad’s team members were very well versed in production and kitchen, so I would also lean on them for expertise. But then, I mean, that’s what I mean, if you’re hungry, and you have the passion, you will absorb, you are there to listen. And I think that’s the key. If there was no passion and hunger, I think it would have been like, “Forget it. It’s too hard. I don’t know this”, but you want it. I just wanted to absorb all this information.
Dhiren: [26:15] I think the keyword there is a passion for doing something that you wanted to do will sort of make you like a sponge. You’re just going to ingest all of this information coming at you and it doesn’t feel like work then.
Roy: [26:26] No, no. I mean, and people like say that, but I think they miss the point. If you’re not passionate about something, I think the first major obstacle will knock you out of the game. You’ll be like, “You know what? Forget it. I tried, it’s over.” But if there’s some deep passion, nothing’s going to stop you. You will figure out a way. You will find a channel or a road to get you to your path. And I think that’s the difference. When people are like, “I have to find something I’m passionate about. And I don’t know if I’m passionate about this, or that.” You will find out. If something hits you in the head or in the face, if you make it, if you get up and drive again, you’re really passionate, you’re going to get the answer. And that was clear at the beginning.
Dhiren: [27:05] Yeah, I think that’s a big lesson there too, right? If you have the passion, it will give you the motivation to move forward despite the setbacks. So you’ve come up with this amazing idea, you’ve figured out there’s a need for healthy eating, non-elitist, healthy eating, I like that. You’ve come up with this whole recipe, you’ve got your chefs, what was your first setback after you’ve launched this amazing idea?
Roy: [27:29] After we launched, so our first customer was in May, let’s say May 2018. That’s how it was, our first customer was actually a local gym here in Dubai. So our first setback was, okay, this business needs to be a volume-driven business but on the flip side, you also need to build that brand equity. I think some of the major advocates or ambassadors of the brand were not necessarily going to buy you from modern trade They’re probably going to find you in small gyms and coffee shops. So I think that waiting game for the brand to pick up that equity was quite a wake-up call, because I thought, “Okay, this is going to work out from the first couple of months. We’re going to be everywhere, people are going to love it.” But it takes time. It does take time. And that’s something that in hindsight makes a lot of sense. Yeah, it will take time. But coming from a multinational that already has a multi-billion dollar brand, you kind of forget that someone has to build that equity. So that took a bit more time to actually build. And to be honest, at the beginning, people were a bit resistant also to a healthy snack. We got a lot of nos, we got some yeses, but people were like, “Yeah, we’re not sure about this category yet. It’s not big enough.” So there [were] a lot of challenges at the beginning. I think I was so enthusiastic that maybe most customers would just put us on the shelf because of the excitement that I was delivering, rather than conviction that this is the product they need. But eventually, that worked out. Consumers actually asked for the product.
Dhiren: [28:59] Amazing. I’m sure that’s a great feeling when the consumers ask for that product by name. I’m sure you’re like a proud parent.
[29:08] This episode of The Elevated Entrepreneur podcast is brought to you by Cloudscape and Cloudscape’s many different products designed specifically for retail and restaurant business owners. If you’re considering opening a retail or restaurant business, or maybe have one already, and are looking to solve technology problems, then let’s speak because we can give you a helping hand and make sure that you’re set up for success. For more information, check out cloudscape.ae or get in touch by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[29:41] As an entrepreneur. I know there are times when you’re elated, when every little success is worth celebrating. And we’ve talked about a setback; I want to talk about your first victory. So what happened at a particular point in time you said, “You know what? We’re going to make it.” Did you see it coming?
Roy: [29:57] I mean, look, I really started this to make it happen. It wasn’t really an option not to make it, but definitely, there were moments where I’m like, “This is going to be tough. I might not make it” or “This might not make it.” Was there a specific moment where like, “Yes, it’s going to happen?” I don’t think so. I don’t think I still have that today. I don’t think we’ve arrived. I don’t think I have that 100% security that we’ve made it. And I think it’s important not to have it. I don’t want to be complacent. And I think you have to deliver every single day for your consumer and for your stakeholders and your partners. So I don’t think we’ve arrived. So it’s continuous; there are so many things we still have to achieve. But the moment we got into one of the big modern trade or supermarkets, I think that was like, “Okay, we’ve got some traction here.” That was reassuring because that also brought everything that we’ve been working on together. And we’re like, “Now we’re on the shelf in a major mover, so at least were there.” But then that’s only when the work starts. You’re on the shelf, good for you. How are you going to sell your product now? Move it.
Dhiren: [31:03] Amazing. Absolutely. So I want to take you back in time, one more time because for me, I think one of the key things is that team that you’ve built, and like you mentioned earlier, you put a phenomenal team. So apart from you, Bilal and Mohamad, who is the next team member?
Roy: [31:17] Just map it out. So BMB Group is a big operation, they are a big manufacturer. We still as Freakin’ Healthy, we use a lot of shared services, so we rely on a lot of shared services from accounting, finance, operations, etc. The first dedicated person to our brand, it was Karen actually. But before that, we had many, many other people from BMB pitching in. We had the R&D team, we have the design marketing team, but shared. Like I said, I felt the passion from every single one of them. And some of them that have no say in, let’s say R&D or production came out with our best products. The real value here is, as someone who’s also leading, you have to make sure you hear them; you hear and you listen to what they’re saying. Because I think those are the golden nuggets that a lot of people miss. And for me, it’s like, “They said something that might work. They’re closer maybe to the market, or they see a need that I don’t see.” And we’ve taken that, and we’ve developed it further.
Dhiren: [32:20] Yeah, it’s about shared perspectives. How big is the team now? So it’s you and Karen and a lot of…
Roy: [32:25] Same.
Dhiren: [32:26] …And other people.
Roy: [32:30] But again, I think now more and more, we’re getting a bit more weight, [inaudible 32:33] from the shared perspective and all, which is good.
Dhiren: [32:37] And I think that’s a very interesting model, especially now with COVID. And we’re going to get into that later on about COVID. But I think the model that you’ve worked on is what most companies aspire to now. This idea of shared services, pooled resources makes a lot of sense. So kudos to seeing that and making that stick that way and making it happen that way.
Roy: [32:54] Yeah, I don’t want to take credit for it. It was also the partners’ idea. And also, it was born out of necessity, like our P&L couldn’t handle it. So obviously, you have to [unintelligible 33:03] services, plus the services were available. You had that expertise there. Why would you say no to that? So it makes sense from also a financial perspective.
Dhiren: [33:13] Right. So you mentioned that you had times when you were thinking this is not going to happen? What kept you going? Who has that vision? Or was there anything else that kept playing in your mind?
Roy: [33:22] No. So for sure, it was the vision. And again, really passionate. There was a real big goal we wanted to achieve. And for me, there were no bridges to kind of fall back on. I wanted to burn all bridges before I started, that’s it. This is the one-way path because otherwise, then you’re like, “You know what? I don’t have a plan B.” By the way, I do have plan B, but we’re not going to even think about plan B. But for me, it was no matter what, this is where we’re going. And I remember an early discussion with Bilal, Mohammed and I. We said, “Things will get tough, things are not going to be easy but we commit to actually keep going and driving the brand and driving our mission.” Because I think a lot of people enter into partnerships, but then later fizzle out or there’s disagreement. But if you scope it this way, like I understand we’re not going to agree on a lot of things. We’re going to have some conflict, we’re not going to agree on specific strategies, but we all are driving the same mission. And I think setting that at the beginning as the placeholder, it gives confidence. No matter what, I know they have my back, and I’m always definitely supporting.
Dhiren: [34:29] I love that. I think there’s a huge lesson there in being united towards a common goal. When you’re that passionate, and you have that one nice, shared goal to follow, I think everybody lines up. And sure, like you said, everybody has different opinions but if you’re behind that one goal, it all works out in the end. So it’s 2018, you’ve got yourself now in a big supermarket, you’ve come home, and did you ever tell your wife about the question that she asked you? Did that ever play back in your head ever after that moment?
Roy: [34:55] Yeah, for sure. That’s something I always think about. When things do get tough, I do think about that question, and that gives me the conviction to really drive forward. My kids are young, and they see how hard we work because my wife is also an entrepreneur. And you might think they’re not paying attention, but they are. And they see how passionate. I talk about Freakin’ Healthy every day, and my kids talk about it. And it’s something that’s really important for me to kind of show them that this was just an idea, a concept, because everybody has ideas. And I’m sure like, dozens of people had the same idea but it’s just about putting that first step forward and executing. That’s the toughest part. And it’s a big lesson.
Dhiren: [35:36] It’s interesting that you’re talking about this, one of the thoughts I always have in my head is, “What discussions and what conversations do kids of entrepreneurs have at their dinner tables?”, right? Because there’s this book, I don’t read it, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and it talks about the lessons you learn in your life are a sum total of what you picked up from your parents over time. And your dinner table discussion and what you just talked about is so important. If they see this level of passion, and they see this hard work that you’re putting in, they’re going to learn a lot from it. And they’re going to take that, even without you knowing into so many parts of their life. This is very interesting, something that I’ve always been intrigued by.
Roy: [36:12] I’m sure it will we’re from pretty similar cultural backgrounds, and I think that when we grew up, our parents wanted us– They already kind of pigeonholed our careers, “You’re going to be X” or “You’re going to be Y.” For me and my wife, we didn’t want to do that. It wasn’t about giving them the career direction, it was more giving them the toolset to make their own decisions, but really be successful and happy with what they were doing. And I think that’s the message we want to relay to our kids. Whatever you want to do, be passionate about it and make sure you just follow it. Don’t worry about whether it’s deemed as an esteemed role or job or something that someone else wants. You should just do what you want to do. Look at me, I’ve done that. I was in a multinational and I was sitting pretty. And I actually pushed that away for starting a snack brand. Who would do that? But that’s the lesson I want them to learn. Follow your dreams and your passion, and things will happen.
Dhiren: [37:06] Yeah, absolutely true. Again, we come back to that idea that you have to have the passion and see this thing through because a lot of people I think, either get inundated with the fear, or they just don’t even start because the fear debilitates them. So that’s a great lesson to pass on. So coming back to Freakin’ Healthy, it’s 2018, you’ve got yourself in a major supermarket. What happens next?
Roy: [37:29] Okay, so what happens next is, then the reality hits that, okay, we’re on the shelf, we need to move the brand off the shelf. There’s a lot of marketing and activations that need to happen. So you’ve been in any supermarket aisle, there are hundreds of brands. Why is someone going to pick yours off the shelf? So we had to do a lot of markets. We kind of filled the calendar with those kinds of like Ripe Markets. So I would go there personally, and the intention wasn’t really not like selling, it was more getting oriented with consumers, introducing the brand, although that was a small minority, but then that was our scale. So people would come to the stand, we’d talk about Freakin’ Healthy. “Where can I find it?” “You can go here. You can buy it there.” And that started to build. And then we got into a bit more social media. [It] was pretty recent, I think it was last year – social media, Google Ads, SEO and that started to create. But back in 2018 was about how we’re going to get our products into people’s hands for them to try? Activations, sampling, markets – be everywhere. Like anyone that was willing to open their doors for us to sample, we were there. Weekends, weekdays, nights, mornings, you name it, we did a lot of activations, that was important.
Dhiren: [38:41] I just want to highlight something here. So a lot of my listeners, they may not know what a Ripe Market is. So this is your idea of your farmer’s market like we have in North America. It’s pretty huge as a brand and so when you’re saying that you got into Ripe, it was a pretty good moment, I’m sure to get to say, “Yeah, we went into Ripe.”
Roy: [38:58] Yeah, that was pretty good. Like farmers’ markets, you know how it is – morning to night, talking about your product, your brand. And again, the difference in doing it just to tick the box and doing it because you’re passionate is day and night. I’ll promise you, probably out of 100 people, maybe two people would approach the stand, but when you’re passionate, probably like 80 people would approach the stand because you’re out there, you’re greeting them, you’re pulling them in, you’re joking with them, you’re giving them samples, you’re engaging, and people are at the end of the day, they’re like, “You know what? They’re only human. This guy puts effort, he’s passionate, let me try the product.” And they would buy. And to be honest, that Ripe Market or farmers’ market made us change a couple of formulas for recipes because of feedback. We’d get consumer feedback, and we could actually come back and say, “You know what? We’ve heard this a few times, maybe we should change that”, and we did. And we’ve changed the recipes based on the feedback. So it’s win-win.
Dhiren: [39:50] Wow. And you were at all of these Ripe Markets yourself or did you have a team?
Roy: [39:55] At the beginning I was at all of them and then once we had a team, I would also go but at some point, I had to also focus on other things. But Dhiren, I love being in front of the consumers; you gain so much insight. Sitting behind a computer, what kind of insight? I can look at spreadsheets and analyze but talking to people and engaging and getting their feedback is priceless.
Dhiren: [40:17] And I think what you’re saying is absolutely correct. I have a small story to share with you. I don’t know if you know this. So Karen and I, our mutual friend, we go running together. And usually one of the things we do after we run is we go for breakfast. And so, we were at a breakfast joint a few weeks ago, and we saw Freakin’ Healthy, the kids’ snacks that you guys launched, and he was just beaming with joy. He was just fascinated. He goes, “I’m so proud!” And I wanted to share this story earlier when you were talking about the fact that your team is more passionate than you are. But I think I want to say this now because it’s not only just the passionate side but also the feedback because he’s asking me and he’s asking all of our friends, “What do you think about it? What did you like?” So what you’re saying is absolutely correct. Asking your customers and taking that feedback back to the table is priceless. You get so much from your customers.
Roy: [41:02] A hundred percent. I mean, look, again, not every feedback warrants change, but I think you’ll tend to understand it when you hear it, maybe rephrased, but in many different kinds of ways, then you’re like, “Okay, something is kind of relevant. Let’s make a decision on that. Let’s try it out.” But I mean, just yesterday, I was having also a coffee with a friend and I got feedback on some of the products. Just like, “Listen, let me tell you about this product. I think it would be better if you do it like–” Thanks for that. And people are just like, they love giving feedback.
Dhiren: [41:34] Yeah, everybody loves to give you opinions. But like you said, it takes a lot of focus to keep headstrong, keep that feedback coming, still take the right decisions but keep yourselves open to feedback and discussions. That’s really important. So what I want to hear from you now is, what are some of the lessons you’ve learned over the last few years apart from COVID?
Roy: [41:55] So I think one of the big ones that I touched earlier on in the conversation was, I think the need to move quick. I think that’s important. Coming again, from a multinational background, it was a lot of, I guess, bureaucracy – checkpoints, approvals – until you get things done because again, for multinationals, they were like, risk-averse, they don’t want too much risk. Let’s make sure everyone signs it, and we’re good, and then we’ll assess it maybe three more times before we move. But here, if you think about it twice, it’s too late. You got to be ready. I heard the same once, I can’t remember who said it. So it was like, “Entrepreneurship is like jumping off a cliff with all of your airplane parts and building your plane on the way down.” You have to be comfortable with being very uncomfortable, and just throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. And you kind of navigate while you’re already on course. You can’t plan everything and then set sail because even your plan will not happen. You won’t hit that plan. So just go and then make sure you navigate when you’re already on the way. So that’s one of the big lessons, yeah.
Dhiren: [42:02] Absolutely. That whole image of building a plane as you’re on your way down is so representative of entrepreneurship because you’re dealing with new things every single day.
Roy: [43:10] A hundred percent. “Oh, I’m missing a part. Okay, what do I do? I have to figure this out.” Or like, “Oh, the wing just blew up. Okay, let’s figure out how to [inaudible 43:16].
Dhiren: [43:18] A hundred percent. You got to think on your feet. Absolutely. Or think in the air in this case there. So I want to ask you a question. I know, very, very recent brand, and it’s 2020, now COVID hit. How has that impacted your business?
Roy: [43:34] So first, I want to say that COVID has been tough, and I’m not talking about business. I’m talking about health-wise, I think COVID has been tough for everybody. First and foremost, I just want to wish everyone the best from a health perspective because it goes beyond the economic factors, it’s also health factors. I’m sure everyone knows someone that got affected by COVID. And I think a lot of people also don’t realize the psychological impacts that COVID has on mental health from a stress perspective. Economic or health-wise, but mental health is a big impact. And I think more than ever, in the US and around the world, a lot of people are getting into depression, and seeing those kind of negative effects on their future. Either their businesses are going bankrupt, or they see family members getting hit by COVID or they’re unsure of the future, and that has a big impact. So I just want to acknowledge that. It’s not easy. It’s tough for everybody. And I’m convinced we’re going to make it through it. It’s going to make everyone stronger, but it’s not an easy time.
[44:36] Now, having said that, from a business perspective, like everybody, or most people, we got impacted. But I think the difference for us, we had to just reframe what this meant. We had a couple of calls and I think when it was locked down it was Zoom calls. The management team and our director, of course, we had a big call and we decided that this is going to be an opportunity. It’s not going to be a disabler; it’s going to be an enabler. And during that time, we actually put out more products than we’ve done in the last two years from R&D perspective. So again, it’s the way you frame it. I think everything is just the way you see it. We saw it as an opportunity. There are no distractions now. We’re going to be so focused on delivering an output. This is our only priority – put out these products. And we’ve worked so well and efficiently that now we’re just planting the seeds and we’re going to bear the fruits of what we’ve done during the lockdown period. So looking at it from that perspective, that was crucial for our survival. It could have been different. If it was a different leadership team or mentality it would have been like, “Okay, let’s completely, I don’t know, downsize. Let’s cut everything.” I’m not saying that it’s not important to cut the fat off, but it’s important to be lean and efficient. But also, it could have been a very depressing spiral. But we kind of reframed it like, “This is how we’re going to actually survive.
Dhiren: [45:56] And I think in some ways, you were already set up as a lean team anyways. So I think that was a key, maybe in some ways, a blessing.
Roy: [46:03] For sure, it was, it was. But I think everyone rallied around the same mission. Like we’re still out there to deliver what we want to deliver as a mission perspective, how we’re going to make it happen with all this going around us. And we managed to do it. It brought us closer and it brought a lot of efficiencies to the team. It actually bought a lot of innovation as well.
Dhiren: [46:22] It’s amazing. And you said you launched some amazing– Is it brands from within Freakin’ Healthy, or was it different products? What did you launch during COVID?
Roy: [46:30] So during COVID, I think we had over 23 SKUs and there are some more coming out as well. So we launched a snacking essential range, which is like a snack on the go range. So all that was done actually by a team member here in BMB, in [unintelligible 46:45]. Created like a range of 16 SKUs, and we still managed to do R&D, and we found a very safe way to do also product testing. And you can imagine, also approvals how that would happen when you’re doing okay, but we managed to do that. And we’re about to launch actually some very exciting products. So stay tuned for another two weeks, and you’ll see something super coming out of Freakin’ Healthy.
Dhiren: [47:11] So by the time this episode airs, everybody’s obviously going to see the stuff that you’re talking about, which is amazing. I can’t wait to see it myself. I want to ask you, what’s next?
Roy: [47:21] I think this is just the beginning for us. If I tell you F&B it’s quite a huge space. Right now, we’re doing healthy snacking, so the future will tell. But there are some very exciting things coming up for Freakin’ Healthy in the near future that it’s going to open up, I think a whole new category for us. So we’re really looking at delivering really exciting F&B concepts to the market here in the region.
Dhiren: [47:50] And as visions and plans, has any of that changed now after COVID, or do you still hold true to that idea of healthy snacking?
Roy: [47:59] Vision hasn’t changed. Probably some strategies might have to be altered and tactics, but I think the vision and mission are still there. That’s still what we want to do. And I think that’s our North Star, I guess. And it’s okay to change it but from the beginning, this is what we want to deliver. It’s just like how to strategize around how to work around COVID. We’ve focused a lot more online since COVID. And again, we didn’t put our efforts behind online before COVID but during COVID, we really funneled resources and now we’re also seeing the benefits of that.
Dhiren: [48:30] You talked about going online and then because you’re on a tech show, I want to ask you, has technology played a key role in your business?
Roy: [48:38] From all aspects. Again, everyone knows about social media. So social media was huge, but also analytics was important for us – how to analyze it. We launched our online e-shop, so freakinghealthy.com, you can purchase from there. All the analytics that come from there – who are consumers? How often do they purchase? – and try to automate where we can. We also had a couple of partners in the market, other online retailers in the market that helped as well. But for us, tech has been very important. And I think, for our next big project, tech plays a huge role. So that’s also coming, and that’s kind of one of the learnings. Like how do we make sure it’s efficient, and it’s as automated as possible? So the next project that we’re launching is very tech-heavy as well.
Dhiren: [49:24] It’s amazing. And talking about success. What’s that one secret sauce?
Roy: [49:30] I don’t know if it’s really like one element. I think I like the way you said it like secret sauce. So if I think about secret sauce, I would say the sauce has many ingredients, right? So I think there are many ingredients that go into that sauce. I would say first, who’s that sauce made for? I think we need to really keep in mind this consumer-centric thinking. That’s really important because a lot of times you get kind of lost with like spreadsheets and numbers and this and that. For us, it’s like, “No, let’s keep consumer centricity.” Every conversation we have, like, “What’s this giving to the consumer? What’s the benefit?”, etc. That’s very important. So that’s our audience, right?
[50:08] Secondly, I would say, a team. I mean, the team is crucial. A diversity team, and I love the diverse thinking, I love the diverse backgrounds and being open to opinions and different perspectives, even if it’s completely against what you’re thinking. I think that’s important. Like my partnership with Mohamad and Bilal is definitely part of the sauce. It’s crucial. And they’re very different thinkers than I am and which is important. It wouldn’t be the same recipe if we were all the same. And I think products. I mean, products are given, right? Product is important, but I think I would look at execution. Execution is probably the last piece. Like really, excellence in execution in everything you do, from every point of that process.
Dhiren: [50:53] And is there a way you drive excellence within Freakin’ Healthy?
Roy: [50:57] Yeah, for sure. I mean, for us, we go by the mantra of “Is this a global scale standard? Are we competing on a global level?” We’re not looking at just regionally or like locally. “Are we there?” And if we are there, we’re happy. And we say, “How can we over` achieve that?” But if we’re like, “No, we’re not global level”, then we look at everything, from branding, from recipe, from everything. It’s very important – the excellence in execution. And we always do this, and I’ve spoken about this before, especially I do it. I call it the “Red Face Test”, which means if something was printed in the newspaper, said on a podcast, the next day, would I be embarrassed about it? And if I would be embarrassed about it, I wouldn’t do it. We wouldn’t launch it, we wouldn’t execute it, we would think about a different way. But if we’re like, super confidence behind it, like, “Yes, it passed ‘The Red face Test’”, we go ahead, we do it.
Dhiren: [51:48] I love that. It’s such an interesting idea, “The Red Face Test”. You should get a patent on that.
Roy: [51:55] Let me see. If no one has it, I would.
Dhiren: [51:57] I’m going to borrow it. But I love it “The Red Face Test”. And so that’s so interesting to hear, right? I think we all have these ideas and we have to have some level of benchmark. And I think in your own way, you put this benchmark where you say, “Is it passed ‘The Red Face Test’?” That’s amazing. Well, thank you for sharing that. I love that.
Roy: [52:13] Anytime. We take royalties on that one, okay?
Dhiren: [52:17] Yeah, absolutely. A hundred percent. I want to start to wrap up, and I have a few more questions for you. You’re on The Elevated Entrepreneur show and I want to ask you, what does it mean to you to be an elevated entrepreneur?
Roy: [52:30] I think what it means to me is to always seek more knowledge and to always keep learning. If you think you’ve arrived, for sure you haven’t arrived. I think for me, it’s like being an elevator entrepreneur, and being on your podcast also kind of resonates with the way I think about this. I always believed that I don’t know everything. And I’m always looking to learn and improve because there’s no way I know everything about even our category. There are always new things coming out. And always willing to admit that you know what? You don’t know something, and willing to learn new skills or understand new concepts or even admitting that you made a mistake. So for me, that is important. And really, I would say, just leading, like leading teams is important. And also having people on your team that are as passionate and excited about something you’re doing, and they are completely bought in that they’re also entrepreneurs. They are the founders of the brand. That for me is when you know you have something really important and you’re elevated. So it’s not only my mission, it’s not my brand. It’s everybody’s brand.
Dhiren: [53:39] Yeah. I don’t know if you know it but when you’re talking to me, what came to mind is a beer brand called Dos Equis, and the tagline is “Stay thirsty”. And what you said for me that summed up. Staying thirsty is staying passionate – it all comes to this. If you’re thirsty, you’re going to get it.
Roy: [53:55] A hundred percent.
Dhiren: [53:56] You’ve already shared so much but if there was one thing that I’d ask you for, one piece of advice that you would give to entrepreneurs.
Roy: [54:04] Maybe there’s a couple. One of them is really step into your uncomfortable zone. I think it’s important as an entrepreneur to be uncomfortable often. If not often, like daily, you have to be uncomfortable. And you have to be kind of resilient to being uncomfortable or the unknown. I think that’s something you need to build. I don’t think it’s innate. I think you have to build it like a muscle. The more you do it, the more comfortable you become with the unknown, uncertainty. Because if you’re not willing to venture out, be very tunnel vision, then you’re not going to be able to explore or innovate. So I think that’s important. And I learned that many years ago from, I think, one of the podcasts I was listening to, and someone said something that kind of stuck. So every day they do something that makes them uncomfortable, whether it’s a simple thing like I don’t know, complimenting a stranger about something, just to put yourself in a position and say, “Okay, that wasn’t so bad.” Or like asking for a discount at a coffee shop, which no one gives, just to see. Like I’m willing to do that. And that kind of builds your resilience.
Dhiren: [55:04] I love that. Before we started recording, you talked about listening to a lot of podcasts. I want to ask you, is there a book or a podcast that you’d recommend for other entrepreneurs to listen to or read?
Roy: [55:14] There’s a couple that come to mind. So one, first of all, yours.
Dhiren: [55:18] Oh, gee, thank you. That’s really nice of you. Thank you. Shameless plug for The Elevated Entrepreneur podcast.
Roy: [55:26] Honestly, for sure. It’s amazing. It’s as if you’ve been doing it for years. So good job on that.
Dhiren: [55:31] Oh, thank you.
Roy: [55:32] There’s one by Reid Hoffman. I think he’s the one that actually talked about this metaphor about jumping off the cliff – LinkedIn founder. So Masters of Scale. I like another one called Business Wars. It’s on the Wondery. So it’s about wars between two big brands in the same category, and it’s usually a multi-episode podcast. It’s very interesting. I love Tim Ferriss. The Tim Ferriss show How I Built This, we talked about that. There’s one called The Pitch by Gimlet Media. So those are the ones around like really business and entrepreneur. But I also go into a lot of the Broken Brain podcast by Dhru. I think those are also like, for me, the mental piece is important.
Dhiren: [56:14] We’ll make good show notes, and we’ll link to all of them. I think part of what we were talking offline is learning is so key, and I always ask everybody to talk about where they’ve learned from. And it’s an amazing resource when you’re opening your mind to new experiences and new perspectives. It’s a great way to imbibe and learn new things. So thank you for sharing. Last question before we wrap up the show. Where can people find you?
Roy: [56:37] I’m pretty bad at social media, but I just started recently. So LinkedIn, Roy Koyess or Freakin’ Healthy. Instagram as well, Roy Koyess. And I need to get a bit more involved with my personal social media, but those are the major two. But if you connect to anything Freakin’ Healthy, I’ll find a way to connect. LinkedIn is probably the best way.
Dhiren: [56:58] Done. We will make sure we link to that in the show notes. And thank you so much, Roy, for being on the show.
Roy: [57:03] My pleasure. I really enjoyed it. And thank you.
Dhiren: [57:10] If you haven’t already, please consider subscribing to The Elevated Entrepreneur show at elevatedentrepreneur.fm or wherever you’ve been listening to this episode. And finally, if you would, please do leave The Elevated Entrepreneur podcast a review so that you could make it easier for other entrepreneurs to find this show. Thank you, much love, and I’ll see you in the next one.