Ep. #836 - Overcoming Industry Scandals
In this episode of Startup Hustle, Andrew Morgans and Daniel Schulof, CEO of KetoNatural Pet Foods, talk about how to overcome industry scandals in the pet food industry as KetoNatural provides healthier food options for pets.
Pet food companies are giving pets low-quality food, not to mention the amount of carbohydrates that are included in a single serving. There is a direct correlation between the food you feed and potential health risks. Your pets have a specific diet they should adhere to for optimal performance, longevity, and nutrition. KetoNatural aims to supply better pet food without the constant lies.
Covered in this Episode
Over the years, many pet food companies supply a high volume of pet food into the market, which are packed with carbohydrates. Daniel Schulof’s passion for healthier pet products helped create the KetoNatural Pet Foods brand. Backed up by research, David makes sure to help paw parents become more educated about pet nutrition.
Find out what Andrew Morgans and David Schulof have to say about the pet food industry and how to support overall nutrition for your pets.
- Daniels’ entrepreneurship journey (03:37)
- The culprit of the dog obesity problem (10:40)
- Reasons why carbohydrates are so common in kibble-style pet food (13:02)
- Where KetoNatural came from (15:11)
- Options for feeding your dog (16:12)
- The passion behind growing the brand (21:43)
- Thoughts on the pet food industry and big brands. (24:33)
- How David is introducing the brand, natural pet food. (26:37)
- Marketing food products (26:48)
- The pet food startup world (35:27)
- Strategic plan for fast-paced growth (36:05)
- Automated marketing systems (38:10)
- Low-carb diet health benefits (40:39)
- Top tips for those who are chasing passion projects (43:10)
- The key to not hitting rock bottom (44:58)
- How to process and push through challenges (50:28)
Carbohydrates are the devil for dogs.Daniel Schulof
The best brands and the best products are made from a need, from solving a problem.Andrew Morgans
Raw diets are unitized differently than a kibble. On a per calorie or a per meal basis, it’s like 5 to 8 times as much as the fanciest kibble that you can find.Daniel Schulof
Good marketing is authentically sharing what you have to share.Andrew Morgans
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Andrew Morgans 0:00
Hey, what’s up Hustlers. Welcome back. This is Andrew Morgans, founder of Marknology. Here’s today’s host of Startup Hustle, covering all things ecommerce, Amazon entrepreneurship direct to consumer. We’ve got a little bit of it all today. I’m excited to bring to you today’s guest. But before I do, today’s topic is going to be about overcoming industry scandals. And we’ve got a founder here have a pet brand that’s really exciting. And as a pet owner, myself, I think it’s gonna be really interesting to just know why he created this brand. What was the meaning behind it, the why behind it, and overall learn a lot more about the pet industry, and the foods and pets that our loved ones are consuming. So before we get in, I love to give a shout out to today’s sponsor for our episode, we’re talking about Canva. Canva is where you go to collaborate and create amazing graphic design for free whether it’s a presentation to share an idea a video to launch your business, or social posts to start a conversation. With Canva you can design anything discover the magic of visual communication, and how Canva helps you create a lasting impact today, visit canva.com to learn more. David Schulof, welcome to the show.
Daniel Schulof 1:09
Dan Schulof. But yes, I got you on the show. Drew, we’re off on. It’s my pleasure. Happy to be here. Nothing I like more than talking about myself.
Andrew Morgans 1:20
Yeah. So, dialing in today out of Utah, Salt Lake, correct?
Daniel Schulof 1:24
Yeah, Salt Lake City, Utah. And like we were talking about there is a thriving startup ecosystem here. You know, I don’t know if it’s a function of the COVID era, or if it’s a function of my personality, I don’t think of myself as being a part of the community, we are a startup that is based here, I spend remarkably little a small amount of time in or interacting with other founders are kind of like just keeping up with the social circles or like media, even in the startup space, I do a lot of stuff in the scientific community. And that’s kind of where I live.
Andrew Morgans 1:58
I hear you there. You know, honestly, for me, it’s been somewhat similar. I got plugged in a little bit into Kansas City, looking for mentorship at one point, and trying to get some advice. I knew a lot about Amazon, but I want to know more about business. And so it’s plugging in. And it can be kind of hard finding, like, when a lot of founders or entrepreneurs in that community are talking like the startup stage, and you’re like already, like on to the next and trying to learn kind of what the next level is to go back there and have those conversations can be kind of hard, I think, when you’re still in the weeds, you know, of learning, like what that is. And, you know, for me, there’s the entrepreneurial, like business building part of it. And then there’s the like, I’m trying to be an expert at what I do and know everything about it. And to do that. I can’t be spending a lot of time, you know, on those things, I very much understand where you’re coming from.
Daniel Schulof 2:45
Yeah, yeah, that’s well said. It’s like a big, you know, we’re a small organization and our I’m very much the lead subject matter expert within our limited group. And so it’s
Andrew Morgans 3:00
Got work to do, and you gotta stay learned up and yeah, well, I love that today’s topics covering overcoming industry scandal. Before we jump into kind of like, the why behind your brand and talking to some of those things, I’d love to just go back maybe even a little further from there. Talk about like, you shared a little bit with me before the show got started some interesting stuff about Yellowstone, I won’t give it all away. But I would love for you to just start as far back as you want. One either like sharing your your introduction to pets and animals and your love for that or how you how you came into entrepreneurship and why and why you started this company.
Daniel Schulof 3:36
Sure. It’s one of these things. And I know this is a cliche, or it’s a story that’s overused, but there is a there’s a Steve Jobs commencement address and he talks about the dot being able to connect the dots that led you to where you are, once you get there. See where the dots are going to lead going. If you can only connect them in hindsight and that I don’t, you know, like I said, I don’t take in a lot of startup and Business Media. But that resonates a lot with me because there is very much that when I look back in hindsight, basically, I was a lawyer until 10 years ago, okay, just intellectual property litigation at a big international firm. I got my first dog I grew up with dogs, my mother like raised dogs and so I always had dogs around as a kid. But I got my first like my dog when I was a you know, yuppie, basically like living in Atlanta, I practice law and went to college and law school in Atlanta, and dog I got was a Rottweiler. I saw your Doberman nobody’s gonna be able to see us but that’s to their disadvantage because you have a very good looking dog. Thank you. Oh, man, the you’ve got so you’re familiar with these kinds of this type of breed? Were like basically, he was just quintessentially Rottweiler, you know, very large, stereotypical, intense dog that needed some degree of like daily exercise in order to become a polite member of society and not be a disaster, don’t we all? Indeed. And so, you know, I was busy guy and I was working too much. And I was trying to understand how to do that more effectively. And basically, a couple of things happened. I found a product that worked super well for him, I realized that there wasn’t much IP protecting it, and that they weren’t marketing it very well. And I had, I feel like I’m coming off. And I said, never consume any startup media. But there’s one book that I read that actually did, you know, I’m not a great fan of this dude. But Tim Ferriss Four Hour Workweek, I read when I was, it may be 2010, something like that. And it was so eye opening for me that like I could do this with the amount of savings I have, I could set up a micro business type concept where there’s it’s essentially passive income. And I found this toy that worked great for him, basically, and they still make these kinds of things. We’ve since shuttered this company, but it’s basically a sphere. This is like a little bit bigger than a basketball. And it’s made out of hard plastic. Like, you don’t want to kick it with your toe, because you hurt your toe, like hard. And if you plop that down in a expanse, like a yard or something, some dogs have enough neuroticism and like hurting drive, where they just want to, like kill it, and interact with it, they can’t get their jaw around it, they can’t break it. And they just exhaust themselves, like without any interaction through you as like, oh, this will work great for my dog. And I just like looked into and I was like, these guys aren’t doing this. This was like in the, you know, the Wild West days of advertising on Facebook, where like, the ad market hadn’t settled yet. And it was just like, oh, man, I can sell this efficiently,
Andrew Morgans 6:52
Like 2014? Or like, where are you?
Daniel Schulof 6:55
2011, okay, 2011. And so basically like, yeah, so I read The Four Hour Workweek, I was intrigued by the concept, you know, I’m sure you know, some lawyers, the salt built around this concept, the billable hour, and so like, your value to the firm, does not scale, you know what I mean? It’s all a function of how much time you put in. So reading a book that’s about the antithesis of that was very compelling to me. And so I was like, Oh, I wonder if this is a potential avenue to do something like this. And when I decided to do it, and actually take the leap, I had grown so interested in exercising my dog, and this I had an exercise angle that I was like, we’re gonna put an athletics brand on this, that’s our spin on this. And we called it varsity pets. And some of them were colored, like tennis balls, some of their color, like basketballs and what they cost 50 bucks, dog toys $50 and got it off the ground, and no investment from anybody. Like Microsoft, like proper Four Hour Workweek style. And once that happened, I quit my job, and traveled some, and then was kind of just got like professional ants in my pants, and was like, I’m gonna write a little ebook that’s going to spin off it and amplify this brand, build my credibility with this brand. And since exercise is the thing, we’re going to focus on exercise exercise and your dog ebook, I can do this. I have literary ambitions that go beyond putting together an ebook. And as I got into the process of trying to write up like a simple kind of like guide for exercise, like what the evidence says about how to exercise your dog effectively. I came upon facts that kind of blew my mind and the facts pertain to the problem of obesity among pets in the Western world, this like, you know, Sister issue to exercise and the facts about obesity among like dogs and cats in the United States are obscene. It’s basically there’s two key ones. Number one is more than half of the dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese. So the app seeing your dog and your dog is not obese.
Andrew Morgans 9:01
He’s not runner, but like, you know, it’s a testament to the owners like this the country we’re in, you know, too.
Daniel Schulof 9:07
So, look. So that is the typical mainstream explanation is, look, it’s the owners are either not able to appreciate how bad this is for the dog. And the reality is that the like, the second interesting fact is it has been shown to be worse for a dog than a lifetime of smoking for a person. Their lifespan by more than a lifetime of smoking will shorten yours on a percentage basis. So anyway, pet owners really too dumb to appreciate that we’re too lazy. We don’t exercise ourselves, how can we be expected exercise or dogs? Or we’re too like weak willed, We don’t, can’t stop. Can’t stop ourselves from giving the dog a treat when it wants to treat and so as a result, more than half of them the average dog is overweight or obese. That didn’t seem like the whole seemed like there was more to the story to me. And so I kinda like was expanding the subject matter that I was covering. And basically I went through three different iterations of like, I need to burn this down and start again. Because there’s a bigger story. This is a bigger scale project. It deserves more effort desert, like multiple times. And ultimately, I spent four years wrote this book that’s 400 pages long. It’s got 100 pages, just references went all over the country, and like you said to Yellowstone, to live with the biologists from the Yellowstone Wolf Project, and all sorts of other places, and created this thing that tries to explain what’s otherwise very difficult to explain. In my eyes. And basically, the thesis, this is where it gets to my company, is that carbohydrate is the devil for dogs. That’s, that’s what the research says, Is it filler, and that’s why these manufacturers are pumping it into product. Well, so Okay, so the reason the carbohydrate is to blame for the obesity problem is there’s an abundant like body of scientific research that shows this. So like, they, you can do these studies really easily with much more easily with dogs than with people where you take two groups and you give them exactly the same number of calories for like six weeks. And all you do differently is toggle the amount of macronutrients. So like one group gets more protein and less carbs, vice versa. And they’ve done it a half dozen times, you don’t need it like a metabolic ward or anything like you need with humans, you know exactly how many calories you’re feeding the dogs. And every time they’ve done it, the same thing happens, the dogs that eat more carbohydrate, but exactly the same number of calories get fat, the other dogs don’t get fat.
Andrew Morgans 11:34
Daniel Schulof 11:34
But every textbook, you know, there are only 27 veterinary schools in the United States. And so I’ve reviewed the curriculum from every single one track down the textbook that they’re using to teach nutrition and every single one. And it’s not one of those where you see that body of research highlighted. In every single one of those you hear all calories are created equal, which is demonstrably false in the scientific record, and it’s being taught to every vet. And so to me, the natural question is the same one you just asked, Well, why? Why are they not just telling them like telling it like it is. And what you learn quickly, when you start to look at the science of companion animal nutrition, is that pet food companies play a colossal role in shaping that in every conceivable way. And those guys basically rely on carbohydrate for their products. As much as like a cigarette company relies on tobacco, it is the backbone of the product. The VAT
Andrew Morgans 12:31
That those, it doesn’t make it, like have an addictive person, like what’s the word properties? Meaning like, you know, like we crave carbs as humans, you know.
Daniel Schulof 12:41
I think it’s a fair thesis. It’s not like a well established one. In the record. It’s just hard. We’re talking about stuff between the ears, dogs is hard cognition is one thing, but like, tendency like that, and compulsion, I think is another it’s difficult. But what the reasons the carbohydrate is so common in kibble style, pet food are twofold. Number one, if you were to make kibble, it was long believed that you needed to use dietary carbohydrate, that it’s like just like when you bake a loaf of bread for a long time. Everyone was like you have to use flour, flour, you have to serve ingredient because when you it basically you heat it up, gelatinous is and it holds all everything else together. And kibble is basically made the same way. It’s like meaty version of that. And so since there has been kibble, which is like mid 19th century, it’s been beat being made with a lot of starch. And then the second one is, there’s a huge business incentive to do it that way, because it costs like 1/10, what a calorie of animal protein costs, it costs you, you know, if they were to just swap out all of the corn in any garden variety kibble product for lamb, or something like that, you’re talking about a product that is like eight to 10 times as expensive to produce. So it’s like a huge pressure. And all that stuff. Like you know, there are tons millions and millions of pets in the United States. Long before the body of research that I was describing for you existed long before people had written books that showed you know, that made the keto diet a fad in the human nutrition world. There was a pet food industry long before that. And these companies were huge. And it’s a lot like what happened with big tobacco and smoking. It’s like the science comes out. After you’ve got these colossal industries already established. And
Andrew Morgans 14:35
Their brand is too big.
Daniel Schulof 14:36
They don’t do the like they just instead of just being like, Oops, we’ll just turn the ship around. They just fight. And so that’s what’s gone on here and it manifested scientific level, the academic level, the regulatory level, the marketing level, and it’s just a mess. And they basically do everything they can to hide the fact that the product is all carbohydrate, and that carbohydrate is super bad for bones.
Andrew Morgans 14:57
So out of the out of this book out of this research, out of this like quest to really uncover like everything you were finding as he started that ebook that turned into something a lot bigger than that. Is that where keto natural came from? Is that like, or was that still free product one, which was like, you know, the toys?
Daniel Schulof 15:14
No, I really just used like I said that like the whole goal there was, I don’t want to work as much. I just wanted to say this is gonna be passive income. And then I realized I couldn’t cope with that, and I had to work more. And so I’ve spent all this time working on this book. And I use that to support myself, basically, that’s how I was able to work so hard, and for so long on the book, keto natural is different, keto, natural pet foods is the company that I founded shortly after publishing the book book has kind of two main theses. One is carbohydrates, super bad for dogs. And the other one is the like, kind of cultural thesis that I was explaining why the lay public and the veterinary community doesn’t believe that already. Like the story of habit. And so when I was putting the book out in the fall of 2016, you know, if you believe that, if you had read the book, and you felt persuaded by it, or if you were, you’d come to that belief on your own you, you know, you were drinking the Kool Aid about keto diets for yourself already or whatever. There aren’t great options for you, if you’re feeding your dog, a low carb diet kind of had two options, and neither was great. You can feed it the lowest carb kibble you can find. But like I said, before, for a long time, folks have just believe you need to use flour to make bread, you need to use carbohydrate to make pet food. And so the like lowest carb kibbles, you could find at this time were like 30% 30% carbohydrate, which is better than 50 or 60, still, you know, 10 times as much as any wolf has ever eaten, you know, and it adds up over the course the animal’s lifetime. Well, we all know, we all know the best, the best brands, and the best products are made from a need from solving a problem. You know, I was like this. I mean, yeah, this is how this was just like, I wanted to feed my dog, a low carb diet. And that’s what I had done before is I’ve fed, I found this product that was like the best lowest carb kibble I could find, and chose that. Because the other option, if you’re into this kind of thinking, is you could feed a non kibble style pet food, you could feed a raw or a fresh diet. And because those aren’t, it’s not like baking bread with those. It’s just like, just ingredients that are just freeze dried or frozen or whatever. It’s carbohydrate doesn’t have
Andrew Morgans 17:20
Like chicken fingers, like chicken claws, and like, you know, the leftover parts of animals. And like, is that what you’re referring to? Honestly, just curious. No, they’re frozen, like the frozen foods?
Daniel Schulof 17:30
Yes. Depends on. Like, it’s you could have one of these guys on your show that runs one of these like fresh food companies. And they’ll tell you to some degree, what kind of meat goes in there. But the defining quality is that it’s not getting better. It doesn’t have to be cooked and melded together. And so you don’t have to use carbohydrate those some brands do because they still have the same financial incentive that I highlighted, but for a long time, you could find and you still can find all meat zero carbohydrate raw diets for dogs that are good products. Okay, I’ll ever you I know you said your dog weighs 100 pounds, okay, I got I felt like I told you have to St. Bernards one, the adult is 140. And the the puppy is already at he’ll be bigger than 140. And broad diets aren’t just like a little bit more than kibble. They’re like they’re unitized really differently. Like I saw kibble and 24 pound bags. And like raw diets are like individual packs, they make it so the sticker shock isn’t, doesn’t like completely blow it smaller amounts. Yeah. But on a per calorie or per meal basis. It’s like five to eight times as much as the fanciest kibble you can find?
Andrew Morgans 18:45
Well, I mean, it’s hard for me not to relate that to like, go into the grocery store. And if you walk to like the organic aisle, it’s like, you know, it’s probably 5x What you’re getting on the process style.
Daniel Schulof 18:55
Sure. But here’s the difference is the dog that domestic dog is the most physically diverse species walking on the planet Earth land species, okay. And so if you’re somebody that has a 10 pound, you know, Bishan or a Yorkie or something like that, the difference between feeding it fancy kibble, and a nice raw diet might be the difference between 40 cents and $3 a day. Not so bad, right? You know what I mean? But if you have 300 pounds of dog like I do, that’s equivalent to, you know, 50 Yorkies. And so for me, that five to 800% increase is a complete non starter, it’s just not, I’m not going to go from spending $20 a day to spending $140 a day to feed my dogs. And so neither of those options is great for everybody. And so by the time I was doing the book, I was like, if we could make kibble, but with a truly low carbohydrate content, like a raw diet, there’d be people that would want that. And so ultimately, that’s what keto natural pet foods is, is we make.
Andrew Morgans 19:59
I love it. It’s very relatable to me. In the Amazon space, I own an Amazon agency, you know, we help brands in E commerce and Amazon would like to think and I haven’t been proven wrong, but we were, we were first we were early, at least in regards to doing this for other people. And, you know, there’s the Guru’s and you see, like, passive income, have an Amazon company will build it for you and hand it off. And like, you know, when he looked around, he just couldn’t find anything like what we had. And I was like, I was just really obsessed with Amazon, the algorithm and like marketing of it, I love the blend of E commerce. It’s like marketing and technology where it comes together. And so for me, I was just like obsessed about, there’s no one doing it, right? Yeah. And I was like, No, this information is out there is false. Like, this is not the case, there’s a lot of fear information, basically, like whether it’s coming from Facebook, or Shopify or whoever was putting out information, it just wasn’t accurate. There’s a lot of false information about selling on Amazon and more. So it’s about people that just don’t know what they don’t know. You know, and so it became, I’m gonna solve this problem by creating this myself. Because, you know, helping brands, helping brands like you can get national exposure, international exposure, if you know how to do this thing, right? It’s so like, a huge opportunity for brands. And that’s how I saw it. And as I learned more, and dug in more and dug in more and dug and more, it became like, wow, this is something that I have to do. And if someone’s not doing photography for E commerce, if someone’s not doing SEO for Amazon, someone’s not doing this for that, it was like, We’ve got to create it ourselves. So I think that the best ideas come of that. So you launch the book, now, you know, you’ve got the brand, like, what are you guys passionate about? As you grow the brand from here, like as it became like a bigger project than you had ever imagine you wanted a passive income thing? Now, it’s definitely I would assume it’s not passive at this point.
Daniel Schulof 21:52
No, no, no, no, no, this is a very different scale. This is like this is it’s my belief that every pet owner in America should understand what the science says, you know, they’ll like that’s, I’m sort of fueled by this is like, not easy to really admit, I guess. But like, I’m not like, I get a good ping, emotional ping, from helping people understand something new that can they could put to use with their dog, and you’re helping pets everywhere. Yeah, it does make me feel good. However, it is not as motivating for me personally, as the righteous indignation that I feel about people about the brands that are fucking people over that are pulling the wool over people’s eyes, giving their dogs diseases. Unbeknownst to them, these animals that live really short lives in the first instance, and are being people are being like, actively misled in a way that I catalogue in granular detail in the book. And it’s just like, I’m gonna fucking bring those guys down. And that lawyer like that I like, it’s just, I don’t know, it’s like, I used to be a lawyer, I liked being a lawyer. And it’s still part of how I think about it. And so yeah, this is the scope, the ambition here is not passive income, the ambition is we’re going to be the biggest, you know, we’re going to take over the spectrum,
Andrew Morgans 23:07
Because it’s the right thing to do
Daniel Schulof 23:08
It is it is the right thing to do.
Andrew Morgans 23:10
I feel very, I feel very similar to that. And like, I wouldn’t be ashamed admitting it. But for me, like, there’s a lot of agencies, there’s a lot of marketing companies that are shady, right like that, take people’s money and don’t deliver and all of those things. So it’s been to create a company that’s built on trust and reputation. And that like, does things the right way. And like I can be kind in business, and I can do business, right. And I can be like, you know, it’s like, and there’s tons of companies that are bigger than mine better than mine, at least perception wise, that just take people’s money, or you know, they’re telling them hey, your Amazon’s running great. And it’s like, it’s it’s barely getting along. So can very much relate to that. Like, I just want people to know the truth about this industry. I want people to know the truth about what it takes to build a brand, whether it’s on Amazon, or E commerce or brick and mortar, they’re all they’re all connected, right? So it’s hard work. So there’s so many people
Daniel Schulof 24:05
I mean, like in it for any company, you know, one thing that I really believe in, is if I’m an entrepreneur, and I’m going to create a company and tell people they should be doing it this way. Everyone should know it’s mine, not because I want the credit, but because I am I have skin in the game. I want people to see that if this if I don’t do what I’m telling you. You can take it up with me, Daniel Schulof the person. It’s not this brand and recycle out CEO or whatever. I made this and I stand behind it. And I do a lot of these kinds. I don’t do a lot of like, like I said startup interview I do a lot of animal and science interviews. And it’s just obscene. How few like try to get another pet food CO that’s willing to just ants, put yourself in front of whoever and answer your questions because I know, you know, I’ll admit what is the problem and I can be conversing about what’s good but like most of the brand. It’s like not the most, all of them really. It’s just like, it’s just all hidden, and there’s no line of communication. And there’s no like that. Like, it’s it’s such an indication that some nerves
Andrew Morgans 25:15
they’re running from something
Daniel Schulof 25:18
That’s so obviously an indication of that when the political candidate doesn’t want to do a debate. It’s because they’re worried about how, what skills they’re gonna get asked. And so it’s just so obvious to me. And yet, it’s just like, no go track. I mean, I don’t know, what do you feed your dog, but go see if you can get their CEO on your next show. And I wish you the best of luck.
Andrew Morgans 25:38
You know, it’s like, it makes me think like marketing as I love marketing, and I like, I get turned on when I say good marketing. I also like see it everywhere. And it makes me sad, because, you know, it’s like, Oh, my God, like, I just wanted to enjoy something for what it is not because I’ve been sold it, you know, and so anytime you’re obsessing about something, you start seeing that just like you saw IP, when you were looking for that toy product and saw that it lacked it, we do a lot of brand protection is a big part of what we do as well, not just getting them on Amazon, but making sure they’re protected and all those things and you know, there’s this, there’s this element to it that’s don’t know, if I’m gonna go there with that one, I’m gonna say I’m gonna say that I’m still alive at it. But you know, there’s an element to it that’s just like, can be confusing when you’re trying to make sense of it all and understand exactly which way to go with it. I want to jump I want to jump topics, like I want to jump topics and I want I want you to touch base on this and kind of like, where, like, how you’re introducing the brand, and how you’re like kind of standing standing out as a natural food.
Daniel Schulof 26:45
So dude, it’s it’s easy as well, in some ways, it’s like couldn’t be easier, because one of the reasons that it was abundantly clear to me like this is once I had the book I was like this is the next thing we’re gonna do is we’re gonna make low carb kibble pet food is because like, everybody was dancing around it, but nobody was actively embracing it, at what is very common. I’m sure you’re familiar with this, as you’re shopping for your own dog. There’s a big broad sub sector of the industry. That’s basically what are called grain free dogs. That’s it, that’s a term of art in the pet food world that a lot of people will say, to refer to the suppose it healthy products. These are products that are like marketed with a lot of the same wellness and health imagery and language as a lot of kind of supplement or exercise products are in the human space. And the idea is, you know, there’s it’s grain free, and there’s an icon of a ear of corn with a big red X over it. And then it says no, this no that no corn, no rice, no wheat. There’s a wolf on the bag, there’s a steak on the bag, meat. And everything about it says this is low in carbohydrate content, but it’s not playing. It’s like they just use potato
Andrew Morgans 28:04
Or something that was already not there. Okay, I knew what I was gonna go with this, and I lost it for a second. But it’s like, okay, now you go to the store as a marketing person. And I see them say, like, vegan, friendly, or like, you know, just like you’re saying a big red X through it, like, no animals were harmed in the making of this will like, you know, they’re pointing out all these things that were already naturally there. Yeah, right. Just to confuse you about like, the product will like No shit, there shouldn’t be any like animals, like, you know, harmed in the making of this product, I’m going to feed to my dog, right? Like, that’s an assumed thing. You shouldn’t have to clarify that this is vegan friendly, or like yada, yada, yada. Or, what’s the other ones it’ll be? It’ll say, like fat free, or for humans or like different things you like, that’s just how the product was anyway. And that’s a part of marketing that I hate.
Daniel Schulof 28:49
I know the phenomenon that you mean, where it’s just like, let’s figure out the best it happens a lot at the ingredient level in pet food, is you’ll see marketing framed around ingredients. And for everyone that’s in the food. There’s a health based explanation next to it, you know, we use blueberries because they’re high and antioxidant, whatever. You know, we and it’s why it’s just so like, it’s so attenuating it’s yeah, oh, lame. And it’s just like to put yourself out there. Like you just meticulously hand picked blueberries because that’s the right place to add antioxidants for a dog is just like,
Andrew Morgans 29:27
It’s just crazy silly. It’s like being on a dating app and saying, like, I’m not sure or something, you know, it’s just like, why don’t have to say that is what I would look at. It’s like douchebag like, you know,
Daniel Schulof 29:39
you’re tell somebody you’re funny. Like, you have to show that
Andrew Morgans 29:42
I’m hilarious. Like, yeah, it’s just like, it’s silly. And that’s like, when you see that in marketing, it’s because like good marketing is the opposite of that. Right? It’s like just authentically sharing what you have to share. Like, you know, your dog will live 10 times longer if you like. That’s something we’re sharing.
Daniel Schulof 30:02
But it’s so when we were trying to figure out what angle? Yeah, it’s like it word it’s like what we want is to communicate to people that were different. We have like a numbers based thing where it’s like everybody else in the industry is on an island, and we’re complete, or we’re on the island, everybody else is on a completely different place. And we can just say things like, we have 90% Less carbohydrate than boom, this big, recognizable, relatively low carb brand. That said, One, educating them why the carbohydrates are bad? That’s true. Yeah. That’s the bigger challenge, because that’s like, if you’re, if you’re the kind of consumer that reads a 400 page book to think about an issue, great. We’re all over you. If you’re somebody that’s not that’s not how your decision making process works. It’s harder because this is a science based argument. And you have to listen long enough for me to explain some element of why your vet hasn’t told you this. And so it’s there’s there’s very inherent challenges in that. But you know, it’s good to it’s like I have a very substantive differentiator. I don’t have to doll it up with anything.
Andrew Morgans 31:03
And you should, it’s good. It’s good.
Daniel Schulof 31:04
Yeah. And so what what’s here’s, here’s the super weird pet food thing you probably appreciate. One of the ways that brands legacy brands have been able to pull the wool over the consumers eyes about how much carbohydrate is in the product is they own the regulatory agency, basically, regulatory body is not even a governmental one. It’s a private industry body that puts out model rules, and they get adopted as a matter of course, and like AKC or something like that, like, called AFTCO, the Association of American Feed Control Officials, every year they write up new model rules here. This is what the book looks like. So the 22 AFTCO official publication, got all the rules, and then individual state legislatures enact those model rules once a year. Basically, that’s what happens as a matter of course, but for all practical intents and purposes, Africa sets the rules for what you can can’t have to put on a pet food label. Okay? You cannot include in the light you know, the nutrition facts, I got my diet coke here, the nutrition facts thing on the back the FDA nutrition facts, panel, calories, total fat, sodium, total carbohydrate protein, most obvious things that most people want to know about the doggy version of that is called a guaranteed analysis panel. You are not allowed to disclose not only do you not require to you’re not allowed to disclose the carbohydrate, total carbohydrate content. Wow. You are in addition, affirmatively prohibited from using the expressions, low carbohydrate, low starch, low sugar, any of those, like anything that’s like in that same domain, outright prohibition on they can pull your product off the shelf. Wow. So you’re making low carb, like, are we make low carb dog food? How do I communicate to the consumer that that’s the thing about our product, it’s like an actual communications challenge. And basically, they left the keto diet, keto language became a thing after low carb diets did, like the like keto didn’t just like the people were advocating for restricting carbohydrate, before keto diet was the expression that people understood. And so the regulations didn’t prohibit as well. And so we just jumped on that and use that prefix. And everybody nowadays understands keto means low carb. And yeah, we expect the regulations actually to change.
Andrew Morgans 33:34
So you needed the industry to kind of catch up or at least like, in a way to find a way to relate to them.
Daniel Schulof 33:39
It’s gonna be a better environment for us to sell our product in two years, I’ll tell you that much because they’re going to start there. Basically, the first really material improvement to these regulations in like more than a decade is coming. They just didn’t even you didn’t even have to tell them how much calories were in the product. Like not very long ago, that changed. Now the carbohydrate thing is changing. It still has like it won’t have teeth for a couple more years. But when it does, I guarantee people are going to be like, what? My Blue Buffalo fancy kibble six Science Diet, hydrate in Science Diet, my God, they’re gonna have their eyes are gonna pop out of their head. So yeah, you’ll be ready. I love it, we’ll be in a good position. by that. I mean, you know, like, that’s, we have, you know, when I tried, that’s one of the core storylines that I present when I’m pitching investors is like our E commerce performance, our first mover advantage and this forthcoming regulatory change and the science like, Look, man, I know more about science than anybody that’s out here doing this. And I’m telling you, it’s there. And it’s just a matter of time until everybody understands it. It’s better.
Andrew Morgans 34:43
I got it. I got a question for you. Like as we’re getting close on time, we got a couple more questions I want you to answer. Before we get in. As a reminder, today’s episode of Startup Hustle is sponsored by Canva. With Canva you can design your idea with ease, get inspired with over 500,000 free templates and a rich content library that helps you and your team achieve your goals. To sign up and start designing for free canva.com Alright, Daniel. So like as we wrap up, I’d like to say, one like, what is what are you guys working on as a team? Like not to market it, but as a team, like with product, like, what’s something you guys are working on that you’re super excited about?
Daniel Schulof 35:17
Yeah, so pet foods, the startup pet food world, I’ve just like, I’d have to revisit my disclaimer about not being involved in the startup company. Because I keep I feel like I know a lot more than you the same identity, I don’t want to admit that. But anyway, in the pet food startup world, there’s a pretty well established product development trajectory, the kinda have to follow. And it goes dogs before cats, adult dogs before puppies. And the reasons for it, if you thought about it long enough, you’d probably you’d figure it out. It’s that like, what I was saying before, I have 300 pounds of dog, a cat weighs five pounds, I am worth ad, or whatever, 7065 cat owners, you know what I mean, that might cost per acquisition, your average order value is a lot higher. You know what I mean? So like the subscribe, the consumer economics are apples and oranges. And so if you’re trying to demonstrate fast paced growth, you’ve got a new a very limited resources, you’ve got to grow on the dog side first. So everybody does. Same basic logic applies to adults versus puppies, same kind of thing, it’s a little bit different, because, you know, puppy is potentially a very long term customer. But essentially, we have figured out over the course of a lot of work, how to make kibble scrambled rabbit square that circle where you can make kibble without relying heavily on carbohydrate. And we can extend that same concept into additional products. It is not technologically difficult for me to make cat food for me to make puppy food for me to make other protein recipes. We sell salmon and chicken right now, we have lamb coming down the pike. And it’s just like, there’s just a lot it’s
Andrew Morgans 36:51
What about E client? Is E client in the pipeline ever?
Daniel Schulof 36:54
I mean, look, man, I’ve been on a horse in a long time, I couldn’t tell you the first thing about this whole thing is like, you go to the veterinarian, and, and you kind of expect the like, okay, this person knows everything there is to know all body systems about all animals, like UPS, it’s, I know, one species, and really like five issues like metabolism, protein and muscle development, obesity and body composition. That’s close to it. But I know them incredibly well. I know the people who wrote the studies, I know that like words that are like everything. And so it’s like, I couldn’t tell you the first thing about
Andrew Morgans 37:33
Mastery, it’s like, well, it’s 2000 hours on something. Right?
Daniel Schulof 37:36
Like, yeah, I know the book. But I don’t know, I don’t know, I’ve spent 10,000 hours. I just mean like, in general, it’s like, a year. So I’ll tell you that much was that I used to when I was a lawyer, you got you bonus if you build 2000 hours a year, so billable hours?
Andrew Morgans 37:52
Well, when you’re an entrepreneur, you’re working morning night evenings, like you’re consumed with when you’re researching.
Daniel Schulof 37:58
I think I work less than the average bear to be honest with you. I think that a couple of things. One is like I did my first experience of entrepreneurship was a four hour workweek model where the prot one of the most important qualities was having an automated. Yeah. And so that’s baked into the DNA of how we market our products, like we sell through those kind of channels, like I’m reasonably good at using that kind of concepts to automate this. And then the other thing is I just like fancy myself, creative, kind of like I write a lot. And I put out video and audio content like this. And you know, as well as anybody, you can’t mail it in, if you’re not, you might as well just not do it, you know, I can’t write like just being like, I got to do two more hours of writing. It doesn’t count, it has to be good, or it’s not worth anything. And so that’s part of my philosophy kind of too. And so those two things together, I just don’t think I work as hard as most entrepreneurs honest.
Andrew Morgans 38:52
I wouldn’t say it’s hard. Just you know, there’s a for the longest time in corporate I believed I could get done in like three hours. And most people did and eight, you know, so that’s, that’s why I had to start my own business because it just I wasn’t getting paid for that, you know, so it was like production matters. But know when you’re a creative when you’re a content when you’re putting out like someone could look at my Instagram right now and be like, Oh, he’s not putting out four pieces a day. Like he’s not doing it. Like he should be like yada, yada, yada. I’m like, Well, when I put something out, it’s like, I mean, I feel it. It’s like it’s coming from me. So maybe it’s a month, maybe it’s three months sometimes, but like when I put out something, you know, there’s a reason and I think that that’s when you’re writing about someone passion. can’t force it.
Daniel Schulof 39:31
Yeah, there’s just like, this is a long term play to like, this is not a lot of people grind hard and you’re one and you know, like, I’ve been doing this for 10 years, man and it’s like not sustainable in certain ways. And it is sustainable for me and other ways. And I kind of have learned what I can, what I can do, and where I can just lay it down.
Andrew Morgans 39:52
I kind of had a I had a fun idea for you take it or leave it. It’s like you know, throw it away if it’s trash, but like you know, a way to really show your product against others would be to like almost find influencers, but in the dog world, right, like these, yeah, and just so having these influencers that are basically on your products that are competing in some of these things, you know, we joked about my dog doing the local KC like 5k. And he’s like training or whatever, and just kind of making it this play almost like Gatorade, right for athletes.
Daniel Schulof 40:23
So it’s, I’m with you, and I have, I can tell you my version of that idea that I’ve had that we haven’t effectuated yet. So, you know, good minds think like, you mean, like you feed a dog, a low carbohydrate diet and it takes the body fat off. And if you have a dog that has a lot of small coat, like your dog is really noticeable. They go from being you can’t see the ribs do, you could see the ribs, you could see the musculature. And it is impressive looking. In those kinds of dogs. People are obviously very vain to some people about their own physical development and like to show off their bodies, they feel proud of them. I feel like on America’s fittest dog competition that is driven by social media would I think people are signing up for that and I’m 100% rock solid confident that a dog and Kia Natural Pet fits into one.
Andrew Morgans 41:12
That’s what I was thinking about. Like, you know, my dog is not a show dog. Like he won’t be a show dog. He’s a European doberman. They’re like known for athleticism. They do like jumping or running or like, you know, different stuff like that. Almost like the Warrior Games, you know, like those kinds of things. And you just have the ones that are winning. And if they’re like, you know, they’re on good diets, and they’re on the right foods, and like, you know, that’s going to happen, so sorry. Yeah, it’d be fun without having to maybe speak to those things that you can’t, you know, I guess results. Results is in the pudding or whatever that cliche is, like,
Daniel Schulof 41:45
Like, if you do it’s a competitive, athletic thing as opposed to body condition competition. Yeah, it’s limited. You know, it’s like your your dogs and these, like Belgian Malinois as Dutch shepherds, like physically can do things that like, your neighbor’s pug or whatever can’t do. But every dog looks legit. If it has, like, if you take the if the hair is not heavy, you could see it and it’s super impressive. And it’s just like, This is what a perfect this is what a good body looks like, this is what a like, you know, and
Andrew Morgans 42:20
in E commerce before and afters are like everything. Right now really showing people the progress and the results. Like, that’d be cool. So I’m gonna have to follow just to see what you come out with.
Daniel Schulof 42:31
Don’t hold me to I’ll tell you what, there’s if if if I had to put out social media content in order to sell dog food, if I had to personally do it, we would not be we would have been in the grave by now because I it’s like
Andrew Morgans 42:44
I’m trying to write research article.
Daniel Schulof 42:46
I can’t do it. Can’t do it. But you should follow us anyway. Because we have really good people that do it.
Andrew Morgans 42:50
Yeah, it’s teamwork. Teamwork makes the dream work. Okay, as we’re wrapping up, we talked about like, what you’re working on, it’s fun, we got new product coming down the pipeline, what’s something you would just share? Um, you know, as a founder, like, you know, as an entrepreneur that you would share with somebody else that’s, that’s chasing a passion project like this and deciding if it’s like worth it to go all in or not?
Daniel Schulof 43:13
Can I give you a couple of answers that I keep?
Andrew Morgans 43:14
Daniel Schulof 43:16
One is, get comfortable, mentally comfortable with what it would look like to go to zero. And when you can get comfortable with that, then you can make the leap. That’s how it was for me. It’s like, okay, if I, if I leave this job as a lawyer, and I do this, and it fails completely, what will my life look like? Will I be able to get back on my feet and do something? Well, I’d be disappointed, of course. But will I be able to get up from that? Once I was like, Yeah, I’ll have, you know, some credit card debt. I’ll take a couple steps back in my legal career. But that’s not the end of the world. I can do that at the grand scheme of things. That was a big, important moment for you can, it’s easy enough to just be like it’s uncertain and risky. And I don’t know if it doesn’t work and not really just think deeply about, like, what it would really look like. It’s not, you know, so that’s one, but then the other one and I swear to God, this is the truth. And it is not a rehearsed line. This is honest to God, the thing that in my life has improved my decision making most is anytime I get advice from any it’s every year, the less advice I accept on critically, the better decision I think my decision making has gotten and it sounds super super hubristic and whatever. But it’s just like, I my level of skepticism that I applied just across the board, no matter how legit it feels, no matter how well reasoned, implausible it sounds, unless I’m just really rigorous about not accepting it from anybody because everybody’s just pitching their own thing these days. And I just think I’ve gotten better and better at decision making, the further more rigorous I’ve been about just being like don’t listen to people’s advice.
Andrew Morgans 44:57
Well, I want to I want to jump in on both of those. So one, I think the key to number one, and not caring about hitting bottom as either one, it just happens you naturally and you like go to zero and you just realize that you’re able to pick yourself back up. So you learn this, it’s, you learn that and it doesn’t have to be in the leap. It could have happened before or whatever. But you learn that lesson. I think the second thing is simply like, the less you care about what other people think. Right? So like, I have no problem going back to zero. But what about my mom will be disappointed? Yes. And that right. And so those are the things I think that most people struggle with, when they really think about it, and they bring it all the way back down to zero is like, would you care about starting over? Well, just, I’ve made it this far, people think I have a level of success, I don’t want to go back to zero, you know, that. Right? That’s like and then number two, one of the things I’ve said like I’ve been I’ve been in the Amazon space, 11 years, so you’ve been in the space 10 years, like we’ve been going at it. And for me, like being in the Midwest has been an advantage to me from being in LA or New York or Miami or on the coasts, because I’m not seeing what everyone else is doing. I’m building my agency, I’m doing my thing. And in a way it’s kept me from like getting all these other outputs, you know, our inputs from from the outside, oh, my God, this thing this way this company is doing this. And it’s been an advantage. And one of the biggest mistakes if I could say a mistake would be my own insecurities around my business acumen, or like, you know, accounting or bookkeeping or all the other things that go with it. Sure, I’m a creative, whatever, but I’m trying to build a business. And one of those insecurities were like, Go seek out mentorship or go seek out someone that knows this that you can learn from or cetera. And I was listening to podcasts, I was listening, reading books, like finding those things. And I was taking this information and because I had no base for it really like my own base level business knowledge. I was like trying to put it into play just like it was coming in. So someone’s giving me advice. Okay, this is Tim Ferriss giving me advice. I’m gonna put this in a player, this is Gary Vee, or this is whoever the case might be. Instead of taking it in, then putting it through the filter of Andrew. And then being like, Okay, this is good for me or not, it just was come in, like as advice from them try to implement that advice right away. And I failed miserably every time. Yeah, so it was a matter of like, okay, take that advice, keep the good leave the rest. I say that it’s kind of cliche, but for me, it works. It’s like, take that input, take the good from it. Anything that doesn’t serve me or that it doesn’t fit, let it go. And for some people, they can’t do that. So they need to cut it off, like almost completely. But if you can have a few of those people, it’s like, I always really business to dating. But I’m not trying to take over. But I think these are great points. And something that I hit on all the time for anyone that’s a listener of the show was like for dating. It’s like, do you take dating advice from someone who’s never had a successful relationship before? Right? Like who you take in business advice from and in the Amazon space, there had been no one that done what I did before. And if they had then great, I would have like, listened. But because they weren’t like taking on this battle that I was taking on because they weren’t trying to listen to my this thing I had, right, it was better for me not to have any input at all. So that I wouldn’t be discouraged kind of by the input that’s coming in change to this, this is easier. This is easier as scaling a service based businesses, the hardest thing that there is in business, like get into tech or easy, easy, easy, easy, easy, I haven’t gotten the easy way now of doing the hard way. And I’m at the top of an industry, because I took on all the problems and learn how to solve them. And that’s like just just giving that feedback to our listeners, I just wanted to kind of double down on what you’re saying in that. Either one is like very be very, very, very careful about your inputs. Or to like when you are taking those inputs, make sure to filter it through who you are as a person, because that’s the only thing you have to bring to the table as a founder is like, This is who I am, this is what I’m passionate about. And you know, these things apply to me. You said you had several so those are two, I’m passing them back. You got one more for me.
Daniel Schulof 48:45
Um, I mean, I guess I would say like, Don’t give yourself too much credit, like there are so I’ve always at least like perceived any given situation in the real world as being like hugely influenced by stuff that’s outside of my control. And it’s really easy to get locked into a style of thinking, where outcome is determined by my inputs, how could quality of my decision making How hard have I worked on something? What are the resources I’ve gathered to put towards it. But in reality, I, at least the way that I always see the world is just like so many of the most impactful things are outside of your control. And the example that always stands out to me is like, I can’t control what my competitors do in any given moment. And in a blind business, in any line of business, you’re dealing with competitors, and they’re all smart, and they’re all well resourced. They all got their own agenda. And some of the time they’re going to make really good decisions some of the time they’re going to do poorly. And I can’t really shape that I can try to outdo them but in terms of like what they decide to do, I’m not going to be able to shoot that too effectively. And that stuff’s going to influence how hugely how successful I am. And so that shapes a lot of like real world decision making around like, you can develop too much of a I mean, like a god complex is like too much that’s overstating it, but just like you can make decisions that give credit to people for like getting everything exactly right, because the outcome was super good and you liked the process, but it’s easy to forget that, like, that’s really just one small part of it.
Andrew Morgans 50:24
So how do you like just just on that thought, like, how do you, I guess if you’re like, Okay, I gotta win, or like, or competitor crashed and burned, or the pandemic happened that like, made my business grow or not, or, you know, I’m simply winning, because everybody else closed their doors, you know, like, in some of those cases, it’s just like, it is what it is. In other cases, it’s, it feels like a team win or a win. I guess I’m looking for a little bit of feedback of like, okay, cool, you got yourself in the mindset to not take too much credit, not, you know, not be too like about yourself and what you what you did? What is like, let’s just take that one step further, as we wrap up, and like, What is something you do to counter that, I guess, or like, you know, how do you process those things like that?
Daniel Schulof 51:11
The best example is to not over reward yourself, or your team members or over penalize, like for good outcomes basically, like even there are going to be times when you feel incredibly good about process. And then in retrospect, process was was adhere to executed, and the outcome was what our best expectations and hopes were. Okay, that’s a full on success as much as you can like for have won. But most of the time, there’s some elements of like, okay, we’ve got a good outcome or a bad outcome. And there’s going to be a tendency that everybody is going to attribute your attributed to yourself. And so if you have team members who are like, you know, who are feeling very good about that, you could be tempted to double down on that and be like, Oh, well, they got a good outcome.
Andrew Morgans 52:09
Chase the outcome. Chase. Yeah.
Daniel Schulof 52:11
Or penalize it when it’s bad, you know what I mean? And it’s it’s taking you’re trying to remove yourself from or trying to remember that their input is only part of what leads to the outcome in any situation, can help you make better decisions, I think about where to deploy or take resources away from.
Andrew Morgans 52:31
Daniel, that’s so good. And I think it kind of puts it in that more of like, Let’s approach everything as it has some good and some bad instead of chasing outcome, you’re just chasing process, which is ultimately, you know, the path to success is as good as you could do.
Daniel Schulof 52:43
I mean, it’s like there are I believe, like, finding good people is hugely important. And it makes a colossal difference.
Andrew Morgans 52:52
It’s just, you know, what does it mean to be the good person? Like, what kind of evidence do you want to look for? What don’t you want to look for? How much do you value various types of things?
Daniel Schulof 53:00
And, yeah, it’s less a psychological, it’s like, I don’t really believe I can overcome like, there’s going to be on some level, you’re going to if you have a good outcome, and you’re in charge of that domain, like, you’re going to feel pretty good about you’re the best you can do is try to be rigorous about your bout when the decision making is based on more than just the emotional, internal, you know, like, I’m not really a believer that I’m going to just like, attain some sunlight calm that, like, if we’re a success, it’s not about I’m amazing. I did this, but let me go at all right, yeah.
Andrew Morgans 53:34
Well, this has been, this has been awesome. I’ve learned honestly, I have learned so much about this space, this industry that you’re in good that I wouldn’t have known without getting on here. So thank you for all the information. Thanks for being on the show. Thanks for your time. And once again, a big thank you today’s episode sponsor Canva. With Canva you can work together from wherever get on the same page as your team with seamless, real time collaboration, what we designed today, explore and start designing for free. canva.com Daniel, thanks again for your time. Thank you Startup Hustle our listeners. We’ll see you next time.
Daniel Schulof 54:07
See you, Drew Thank you. My pleasure.