Dan Freed: Founder & CEO of Thesis

Episode 412

Today we are joined by Dan Freed, Founder and CEO of Thesis. Thesis provides potent nutrient compounds formulated to enhance mental performance, based on your unique brain chemistry and the cognitive states you want to achieve. Whether taking the Energy Formula to overcome fatigue, the Clarity Formula to enter a flow state, or the Motivation Formula to decrease procrastination, Thesis offers these specific blends and more to target specific outcomes. We hear more about what prompted Dan to start this intriguing brand and hear all of his suggestions and lessons he has gained in building the company along the way. Dan’s mission and the brand’s unique approach are interesting and his fabulous company is one you need to know about. This episode is not to be missed! On this episode of #TheKaraGoldinShow.

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Kara Goldin 0:00
I am unwilling to give up that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be I want to be, you just want to make sure you will get knocked down. But just make sure you don’t get knocked down knocked out. So your only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Kara Goldin show. Join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time, can’t wait to get started. Let’s go. Let’s go. Hi, everyone, it’s Kara Goldin from the Kara Goldin show. And I’m so excited to have Dan freed here with us today, who is the founder and CEO of actually two brands we have. He’s actually the founder and CEO of a brand called Thesis and also Stasis and we’re going to get into the difference between the two of them and everything that they are doing to disrupt the world, I guess is the easiest way to talk about it. But Thesis, first of all, provides potent nutrient compounds formulated to enhance mental performance. And he’s the leader in nootropics. And we’ll talk a lot about that. They have incredible formulas, or formulations, I should say, whether taking the energy formula to overcome fatigue, the clarity formula to enter a flow state or the motivation formula to decrease procrastination Thesis is offering these specific plans and more to target really specific outcomes. Really, really incredible. So I can’t wait to hear more about what prompted Dan. He’s not sort of the the he didn’t come from the the vitamin industry. He’s definitely super curious. I can tell. And there’s just a ton of data behind this company and what he’s doing, which I love, love, love. So without further ado, welcome, Dan. Thank you. I’m excited to be here. Yeah, super excited. So you’re here in New York City today, sharing the screen with us. But I’d love to hear a little bit more about why. Or even before that, I’d love to hear what were you doing before you decided to start Thesis and also Stasis

Dan Freed 2:32
so I can give you kind of like the background. The company really started out of a personal challenge I’ve had my entire life. I’ve always struggled with classroom learning. I was actually expelled from preschool. I have no idea what a four year old can do to get expelled, but I managed to do it. And then when I was six, I was formally diagnosed with ADHD. And I have bits and pieces of memory of it. But they recommended I go on Ritalin. And my mom said no, she was concerned about giving a powerful medication to a child. This was late 80s. So it’s still she didn’t have full contacts. So I went untreated, and struggled in school. I was constantly in the principal’s office getting suspended behavioral difficulties. When I was 16, I ended up I was failing most of my classes. And just no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t conform to the classroom environment. And so I dropped out. I went to work in fast food. I was making sandwiches i were i watched my friends graduate high school, go off to college, and I was still working for minimum wage. It was a very difficult time in my life. And you know, I got a lucky break, an incredibly lucky break and ended up becoming a chef. And that was the first time you know, up until that point, I thought there was something wrong with me. You know, people call me stupid and lazy. And you know, my sister, she would just come home and start doing our homework. And it seemed so easy for her. And I couldn’t understand why. No matter how hard I tried to force myself, I just couldn’t do it. And so as a chef, I was passionate about it. And I loved it. I never went to culinary school, but I just learned on the job and I absorbed all this information so fast. And I spent about a decade as a chef. I most of it was international. So I was fortunate enough to work around the world. I worked in a Michelin three star restaurant in France. And then in my late 20s I was an Executive Sous Chef on board a cruise ship. And my job evolved. So at that point, it was rare that I cooked. I was managing a staff of about 50 people I was doing supply chain and scheduling and budgeting. And I started to burn out I was working 100 hours a week, six months straight, no days off. And then like it had advantages. So I would get three month vacations where I could go and travel. But the quality of life when I was on the ship was not what I wanted. I started looking around for other industries, other jobs, careers that I could do. And a lot of people didn’t take me serious, like, no education, very limited, like I was very successful as a chef. But it’s hard to convince somebody that there’s transferable skills to an office job. So I decided on getting an MBA, which was a pretty crazy goal. And I interviewed with a school in the UK. And they agreed based off of my unique background, that they would admit me directly into an MBA program, even though I didn’t have a college degree. There one condition was I had to score in the 80th percentile or above on the GMAT. So you know, I had this goal, it was crazy goal, but I went out, I got a GMAT study guide, and I started studying. And it felt like I was back in high school, it was the same thing where, you know, I would read a page five times, internalize information, tried to force myself to sit still through those practice tests. And, you know, I wasn’t making any progress. I heard about nootropics on study for him. This is more than 10 years ago now. So I immediately went out and bought every single thing that I could find I was ordering ingredients from Russia, from Mexico, things off of Amazon, I went into CVS and I created the system where I would methodically try different ingredients and measure my performance and study. Most of the ingredients did nothing. But a couple of them worked, and why figured out how to combine them into a winning formula. The results were life changing. So when I went in to take the GMAT, I ended up scoring in the 99th percentile, which, yeah, it surprised the hell out of me, I was blown away when I saw that score on on the screen at the end of the test. And it enabled me to do my MBA at INSEAD. And so I never had an adult educational experience. And my first one is I’m in classes with people from Goldman Sachs and McKinsey, and even know what McKinsey was. And it was very difficult adjustment period. But I just got into this, you know, this cycle that was so beneficial, where it was nootropics, healthy habits, compounding my learnings. And I really started to excel. And I started to enjoy it and have that same passion I had for cooking. And then I was offered a partial scholarship after completing my MBA to do another master’s degree at Yale. And that’s when I really, you know, neuroscience was also something I was passionate about, just because nootropics had been so transformational. I started doing this deep dive into cognitive science, public health, going to different lectures. And I became a nootropics evangelist. You know, at that time, it was something that was the cornerstone of how I transformed my life. So I was the crazy guy at dinner parties that wouldn’t shut up about nootropics, I was giving them to my mom to my friends. And the first realization I had was the ingredients that worked for me, didn’t work for everyone. So I created our first products. And you know, it’s right here. I knew nothing about branding. And it was, the concept was, it was based off the same iterative approach that I used to find my formula, except instead of taking 1000s of dollars in six months, customer could figure out what works for them in less than a month for less than $100. I started selling it out of my apartment to friends, and then friends of friends. And before I knew it, I was, you know, dropping boxes off all around New York. And like, this was a very difficult time because I was still in a lot of student debt. I still am in a lot of student debt. It wasn’t ever meant to be a business, but I just saw this opportunity. And I saw how beneficial it was for people. And I remembered, you know, how painful and how difficult it was for me when I tried to succeed and I just No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t do it. And so I made the decision to incorporate and to started as a business. And we ended up you know, nootropics as a category was very new. Investors didn’t want to invest. There was a lot of skepticism. So we bootstrapped and we, you know, I maxed out all of my credit cards, I did side jobs just to pay my rent, downsize my apartment, anything that I could do to keep it running. And somehow we ended up bootstrapping to a million a month in revenue. And at that point that, you know, the industry of nootropics was starting to mature, we started getting investor interest from, you know, institutional funds. And we raised our seed round about 18 months ago, and it was a $5 million dollar round, brought on some incredible investors. And since then, it’s just been a crazy growth story, scaling up everything breaking, figuring things out.

Kara Goldin 10:47
That’s incredible. So, so great. So let’s back up a little bit. So how would you define new Tropix? I mean, like, where did this come from? I mean, how, like, how are people defining it today, as compared to other ingredients in and maybe the pharmaceutical or the vitamin industry.

Dan Freed 11:07
So I’ll give you my definition, which is somewhat broad, but nootropics are any ingredient that has a direct impact on the levels of neurotransmitters in the 100 trillion synapses of the human brain. So everything you think and feel, is controlled by these things. And you know, people know, dopamine, norepinephrine, GABA, serotonin, it’s how neurons communicate with each other. For me, my dopamine and norepinephrine system could use a boost. And what nootropics do, and you know, the way I kind of frame it is, I’m just as intelligent now, as I was when I dropped out of high school, when I was failing everything. What changed is the availability of neurotransmitters. So and that’s a good thing. Most people’s limitations aren’t their intelligence, it’s the ability to focus, their energy levels, their mood. And that’s a much easier problem to solve. It’s almost impossible to increase intelligence in a meaningful way, especially as an adult. But these nootropics have, you know, an immediate and long term impact on those systems. So once I was unblocked, and it was, you know, I’m somebody I’m a super responder to nootropics. So the benefits I get are incredible. It was, it just, I could sit down and study without having to force it, I would read the page one time, and I just understood it, it was an incredible unblock for me. And the transformation wasn’t nootropics alone, I strongly believe that, you know, you need more than a pill to really get these types of results. But what it did was it gave me momentum tasks where I felt I was hopeless, and I just couldn’t do it. It allowed me to have a bunch of these smaller wins, and start developing healthy habits like going to the gym and meditating and having good study habits. And that momentum just continued and the impact of those healthy habits compounded over time for transformational change.

Kara Goldin 13:20
Very, very cool. So what was the ingredient? I’m just curious, when you first figured out that nootropics was out there. What was the ingredient the two ingredients that were great for you?

Dan Freed 13:33
So I’ve gone through so many ingredients. I I experiment on everything. So I’m really big in the longevity space, the hormone space nootropics psychedelics, I’m constantly experimenting and learning. And it’s evolved significantly over time. In the early days, and this tells you kind of like how underdeveloped the industry was, I used to go, you know, into a coffee shop to study and I had a milligram scale. And I would pull out all these little jars of powder and weigh out everything and then take my nootropics people are looking at me very strange. What I take now typically, I switch between three core Thesis formulations. Energy, which I took this morning because I was sleep deprived confidence which I took right before this call. And that gives me it helps with verbal fluency. It helps it’s targeted to serotonin and GABA, so it makes me more pro social and relieve some stress and, you know, performance anxiety. And then I take clarity on days when I really need to get into the zone and just get into a flow state to do a lot of deep work.

Kara Goldin 14:42
Very, very cool. So how does Thesis differentiate from other nootropics in the market and supplements that are out there? I mean, you mentioned like GABA, and some of the others that are out there but are you actually you’re taking higher quality ingredients first of all, and then combining what you believe is needed, for example for focus.

Dan Freed 15:04
Yeah, so there’s, there’s a lot to go into there’s, you know, quality testing, manufacturing, but the core of what we do that’s very unique. So the question you just asked me is like, which nootropics work for you? A lot of people, they ask, like, you know, what, do nootropics work? That’s their main thing, like their skepticism, and I was a skeptic myself, the question they should be asking is which nootropics work for me. And that’s the problem that we solve. We’ve tested more than 100 Different ingredients, I can tell you what works for me, but it might be something different that works for you. And that’s the core problem that we’re solving. So take, for example, caffeine, caffeine is a nootropic. It’s also a stimulant. What happens to you when you drink a cup of coffee? If I gave you a cup of coffee now and asked you a half an hour later, how you feel? What would your response be?

Kara Goldin 15:56
You know, it’s funny, I don’t really react to I’m a weird one, I don’t really react to caffeine. And it’s probably because I’ve had too much over the years. And I don’t know, like, I just it’s interesting, I can go to sleep at night. I can have a, you know, I don’t drink espresso, but I can have a latte. And I can go to sleep in an hour. Like it’s, it’s crazy.

Dan Freed 16:21
So that’s exactly my response, all to have a double espresso after dinner, I enjoy the taste of coffee, it does almost nothing to me. except in very high doses. You know, my girlfriend will drink half a cup of coffee, and she’ll be jittery and shaky. Some people drink coffee and they get energy. That’s the normal response, the majority of people respond that way. So that’s essentially the problem we’re solving think of caffeine and just coffee as one of many ingredients that you could try. How do we figure out the difference between somebody like you and my girlfriend? There’s no blood test. There’s no genetic test that’s accurate enough to predict how somebody’s going to respond. There is like a genetics caffeine metabolism test. But essentially, what we do is we give you a cup of coffee and ask you, how do you feel with a lot of different ingredients and a cost effective way? Where we’re leveraging our dataset to narrow down? Where should you start? How should you try it? How do you get feedback and guiding you through that process, and we have coaches on staff, anytime that you can reach out to schedule a call, and help you really find the formula that’s going to be right for you for your genetics and your goals.

Kara Goldin 17:36
That’s very, very cool. So I was gonna say, when you first sign up for the program, you also you give people a questionnaire and allow people to, you know, start there with the questions. But it’s really incredible, because I think that you’re personalizing this information, and obviously, really trying to help people, which is incredible. And I feel like you’ve also got an entire team there, too, that is really focused on individualized attention versus, you know, the guy behind the counter at the vitamin store who probably doesn’t even take vitamins, and is trying to advise you on on what something is. So it’s, it’s really a new way of thinking about things. And obviously, lots of data as well. Would you say that? What’s the number one thing that people are trying to change and why they find you.

Dan Freed 18:35
I mean, it’s all over the map. It’s really interesting. So when we first started, it was all about early adopters. And they had tried nootropics, before they understood our value proposition. Now, the majority of people that purchase our products have never heard of nootropics. And so, you know, what makes me sad about kind of like how the industry is. And we do have competitors that do good from a formulation standpoint and do have clean supply chains. There aren’t many, but there are other ones that do a great job. But what makes me sad is usually when people are willing to take a bet on nootropics. They try one. It’s like, okay, I’m skeptical. Let me try one. And it’s a binary results when you only try one formula. If it doesn’t work, it’s like, okay, this is bullshit. That’s it, and they never tried again. With us, we walk them through the process, we have, you know, this guided process. And for the most part, most people who purchase our product at four unique formulas to try in the first month. And so, you know, people will come to us and it’s like, I want to optimize my energy level. So usually it gets down to an even more narrow problem set. So it’s like, hey, you know, we have a newborn baby. I’m sleep deprived. I’m not functioning how I was before. How do I solve this and we can narrow in on what’s worked for similar People with similar problems like that, and narrow it down to where they should start and get that optimization period to, you know, short process. Whereas if they’re just like, hey, I’m sleep deprived, there’s 50 million products, you don’t know where to start, you don’t know your dosages. And that’s essentially what we do. For some people that’s getting into deep work for some people, as you know, energy motivation, developing healthy habits, some people, it’s stress and performance anxiety, how can we steer them to the right products?

Kara Goldin 20:31
So you’re based out of New York, you’re an online retailer, that is that is selling? nootropics? How do you get the word out? It seems like you’re generating tons of attention, I actually mentioned to a friend of mine, that I was going to be speaking to you. And she was like, oh, yeah, I’ve totally heard about is really, and I’m like, Where have I been? I hadn’t heard about it before. You and I connected, but I think it’s how you’re getting the word out, I think is is amazing. Whatever you’re doing. So I’m so curious how you got how you’re getting attention today.

Dan Freed 21:17
So this is still just the beginning, we have some incredible partners that we work with, that are just huge fans of ours. And I think that that’s one of the most powerful things that we have. Because we were bootstrapped, and we didn’t have a lot of capital, a lot of these people just came in organically. So you know, from big podcasters. And now we’re about to do our first celebrity partnership, our first major celebrity partnership, and that was somebody who started as a customer. And then they were a customer for a while. And somehow when they found out we were raising money, they reached out to us and said, Hey, I love your product. I’ve seen you guys for a long time and take my money. And then we started developing a relationship. And now we’re starting to talk about, okay, how can we you love our products, it’s a great fit, and starting to move into spaces like that. So most of like you say, it’s great that we’re out there, I think this is just the beginning. I think as a category, we’re just at the beginning, so many people could benefit from this, and they just don’t know that it exists. So yeah, I mean, the number one thing is word of mouth, which has been incredible.

Kara Goldin 22:32
That’s awesome. So it’s one thing to decide to believe in nootropics. It’s another thing to start a company. And what has been kind of the hardest thing since starting this company that you felt like maybe you didn’t expect. So I always go back to Steve Jobs, his famous video where he talks about, you know, it’s not just about launching a product or launching a company, it’s like, you know, when you’re the founder, you got to make sure that the coffeemaker works or that there’s the beans, right? Maybe that’s a bad example, for your for your product. You know what I mean? Like, it’s like, it’s like all the crazy stuff that goes on, that you don’t wake up thinking that this is going to be what you’re going to be dealing with today? What has been kind of the most challenging part about building it so far?

Dan Freed 23:26
That’s a really difficult question. Because there’s so many challenging parts. I think the most surprising thing to me was how important ethics are. And some of the hardest decisions that I have, and the things that keep me up at night are all around ethics. How do you treat somebody who’s not performing? Well? You know, when there’s bad behavior out in the market, how do you? How do you respond to that? And I don’t know if that’s particular to startups, that was something that it was unexpected, I think it’s also highly correlated with success. So the more success we’ve gotten, the more complex the ethical challenges we face. There’s a couple tools that I use. So one is just surrounding myself with a lot of smart people who I respect, especially like on ethics, who will guide me through things and to, you know, will tell me if they feel strongly about something and being sure that I get that feedback. When you look at you know, I read all the books on there, and oh, so we work and Uber, and I can see how things like that can happen slowly over time where it’s just like a lot of little decisions, and then before you know it, things are skewing in one direction and it just gets way way out of control. And so how do you prevent that from happening? And the first thing is just surrounding myself with incredible people. Another one is My friends, my family takes the products. We don’t compromise on quality, ever. Everything’s third party lab tested, we implemented something that we call the Mom Test. And it’s literally what I give this to my mom. And so because of that we don’t have any products that are addictive, except caffeine, all of our formulations are available with or without caffeine. But people understand caffeine is addictive. So they can, you know, make an informed decision on whether or not they want to take it. We don’t use, like, every single product is third party lab tested. So we know what we’re putting in there. We also know what we’re not putting in there. So heavy metals, microbes, things like that. It’s only like the top 1% of supplement companies that do our level of testing. That was really important to me early on.

Kara Goldin 25:50
So interesting. So your business is entirely direct today, you and I were talking you’ll probably eventually branch out beyond that. When is the time to do that? I mean, how do you make decisions about expansion and not only like how you go to market and how you reach consumers, but also that you need new products to to, like, serve different consumers? How do you make those decisions amongst the million other decisions that you’re trying to make as you scale your company.

Dan Freed 26:27
So I don’t have a lot of experience in retail, it is a huge opportunity, the brands that are winning in retail, I go, I look at the ingredients, I look at the branding, I know that our product is better. And I know that we should be there so that we can serve more customers like my goal is to get our product in the hands of as many people as possible so that they can get the benefits. The difficult part to that is one retail is very capital intensive. It also takes it needs to be properly resourced to be successful. I’ve seen some companies do incredibly well in that shift. I’ve also seen it break companies. And I felt strongly that we weren’t ready. I also think that our product needs some adjustments. So I’ve seen companies with this very unique DTC experience, especially when you get into customization that launch into retail and they strip out the most like the key differentiators, what makes the product special, and they ended up on the shelf looking like everything else. I really wanted to be sure that we were thoughtful about how we do that, and that we could still show up on the shelf in a way that is a superior product.

Kara Goldin 27:42
So you recently raised a series a funding congratulations. Very, very exciting. What was the hardest thing about raising money, maybe even raising money in today’s environment.

Dan Freed 27:56
So I am not good at raising money. I think that there’s something about the category that was more difficult, but the reason why it took us so long to fundraise was because I’m just not good at it. And there’s very, there’s some things that you know, especially with a company our size, I just can’t delegate. So I had to, and I read a ton of books, I have friends that have raised a lot more capital than I have that sat down with me and like helped to refine my pitch and just get better at it. What I didn’t realize so this is a little bit on a tangent, but not being able to raise money turned us into a very unique business where we were profitable early on, and we had sustainable growth. And so when we had to raise our Series A, we were EBIT a positive, we were made to cashflow breakeven to cashflow positive. And that was because I was bad at raising money. And then as the environment shifted, it’s like, wow, subscription, DTC EBIT a positive business and this environment, you’re like the best of the best. And that just opened up. We didn’t even we weren’t going to raise money because we didn’t need to. And we started getting inbound interest, we saw the overall environment and we saw the opportunity that while other companies are struggling, we can really invest and grow and bring on some, you know, top tier talent. So we started engaging in investors with investors, we ended up with multiple term sheets. And I’m so happy with the outcome. We optimized for getting people that believes in the mission, having a board that like is very supportive and that I want to work with. And so that’s what we ended up with.

Kara Goldin 29:46
That’s awesome. I wouldn’t go as far as saying, you know, it’s hard to judge whether or not you’re, you’re not good at raising money. I think what’s really challenging what I learned and in raising money Over the years is that it people invest in what they know. And they don’t know. Most of them don’t know about nootropics. But they also won’t tell you. Right? And so they get a little gun shy about it. I remember in the early days of starting hint, I would, you know, walk in and say, you know, I was a diet coke addict. And I was, you know, I wanted to create a product that was an unsweetened flavored water, and I’m starting new category in this a big problem. And, you know, people were like, wait, you can be addicted to Diet Coke. I don’t understand. I should ask my wife about that. Like, she drinks a lot of it. And what I realized is that, yeah, I mean, you have to figure out who your audience is really quickly. And if they have never invested in something like what you’re doing, because nobody is doing it yet. It’s that much harder. So I wouldn’t judge yourself so quickly. It’ll be interesting to see in round two, when you do it when the category catches on, because it seems like you’ve got the right partners, which is huge, right? Like a lot of people just take money, however, and they’re, like, bummed out about, you know, who they’ve got the valuation all of these things. And I don’t hear that on a few.

Dan Freed 31:32
Yeah, I have, you know, so we didn’t have a board until now, which is also unique. Like, it was just we raised only on safes. And in talking with a lot of my friends, they would be like, Shit, I have a board meeting, I really don’t like this investor, there’s all these different politics, and I didn’t want that, yeah, more than anything like I, I love that I can come into work. And I enjoy the people that I’m around, I’m working on a challenge that I’m deeply passionate about. And I didn’t want to introduce that. And I was really, you know, clear on that, in the, we didn’t need money. So I think it would be different, a lot of startups are in this kind of like cycle where you know, they have a runway, and if they don’t raise, and then it forces a lot of difficult decisions. But I wasn’t going to raise money if it made it so that I hated coming into work, or introduced all of these difficulties into the company. And that’s what I optimize for. And you know, maybe we could have gotten a better valuation or something like that. It just wasn’t important to me at this stage. And really taking kind of like a long term perspective of who’s going to believe in us, like, we’re just getting started, we’re at the very beginning. And there’s going to be good times and bad times that I really wanted the right people around the table for that.

Kara Goldin 33:00
No, really, really smart. And don’t worry about the valuation. So it’ll sort itself out later years, so early. And I mean, the number of people that I’ve met along the way and who have raised and have been the unicorns early on, and then they have to go back and do a down round. It’s like, a mess. So it’s, I think any experienced entrepreneur who has raised would say, don’t worry about it. It’s very, it’s like a big ego boost when you get those big numbers. But in the end, if you’re really here to build a company that’s going to last and that you’re going to get a tremendous value out of, it’s much more important to make sure that those early investors are coming in at a number that is doable, right, especially for that next round. So I think you absolutely had the right mindset. We didn’t get to talk about Stasis and what you’re doing there and the difference between that because you’re building two brands, so can you share a little bit more about that?

Dan Freed 34:08
Yeah. So Stasis was an opportunity that came up through our data. We saw that nootropics weren’t working for a cohort of customers. And we started doing deep dive interviews, understanding, you know why? And we discovered it was because they were taking stimulants. So stimulants can be anything from you know, massive amounts of coffee, pre workouts, things like that, all the way to prescription medication. And when somebody takes a stimulant, they’re primarily raising their levels of dopamine and norepinephrine. And our products are targeted to some of the same neurotransmitter systems. And that’s why we had like a confounding factor there. So, the first question is, if you’re under the care of a doctor, and you’re taking medication, why do you bind nootropics. And they talked about unmet needs. And some of the negative effects that come along with stimulants, things like jitters crash, trouble sleeping. And so we saw this narrow use case. And it wasn’t really what Thesis was meant to do. Thesis is about finding the goal. It’s more through personalization that we get people to better outcomes. This was a narrow problem that when somebody’s taking a stimulant, they very predictably altered their brain chemistry. And we felt that we were uniquely qualified to create a formulation just for that. I’m a formulator. I love it, I fall asleep a couple times a week reading PubMed. It’s just I have this endless fascination is something that I’m very passionate about. So I started to get to work on the problem. And initial testing, it did so incredibly well. So we launched it, our investors, most of them were against it. So this is kind of like getting down. I surround myself with smart people, we have incentives aligned, what happens when you have a disagreement. And a lot of them said, you know, you’re younger brand, you have something that’s working, why would you start another brand for something that you don’t know if it’s going to work, it’s going to take focus resources, from what you know, is working. And I felt so strongly that it would take a lot of pain out of the world, that I wanted to try it. So the way that I structured it to mitigate risk, and to take into account what investors and advisors were saying, was, we launched it as an MVP. And I wouldn’t hesitate to kill it, if it didn’t hit its metrics. It was like, you know, we’re gonna launch this, this is the resources we’re allocating, we did not leverage the Thesis team, for the most part, we hired somebody new, we said, this is your goal, this is your resources, I’m going to help out a little bit. But for the most part, we’re just going to test and see if it works. And if it didn’t work, we’re just going to kill it. And that’s it, you know, minimize any risks to the broader company. The good news was it worked. And now we’re in the situation have we never really planned what happens if it works? Yeah, like, we have two brands? How should they interact with each other? How do we structure the team? Should it be one marketing department that works across both? There’s a lot of complex challenges that came up with running two brands that we’re still working out, though.

Kara Goldin 37:50
Yeah, no, that’s, that’s an honest answer. So it’s, it’s definitely, it has its challenges. But it’s exciting to watch and see exactly what will happen.

Dan Freed 38:01
Yeah, I mean, the core thing about what I believe in, and, you know, there needs to be more options for people on the market. And there needs to be transparency around those options. And, you know, I look at Thesis as an over the counter first line of defense for attention, focus, and other cognitive goals. And then Stasis for people who choose to take stimulants, it allows them to still have a great quality of life. It allows them to think about long term brain health and be proactive, with whatever they choose, we stay out of the decision process, that’s something between them their doctor, or you know, just them. But we give them options so that they can better take care of themselves.

Kara Goldin 38:45
Best advice that you’ve ever received, in growing this business, you’ve accomplished a lot. I mean, congratulations, Dan. Like, I mean, you’ve just like, you’ve come a long way. And sometimes founders don’t like, you know, stop and think about that, because it’s a grind, it’s lonely. It’s like all these things, but you’ve just done a lot. And you’re, you’re doing a great job, and you’re doing it for all the right reasons and helping people and obviously, you want to build an incredible business. But along the way, you must have received some advice about building a business and building your life that has kind of something maybe that you go back to that has stayed with you.

Dan Freed 39:29
So this was before Ivy, even thought of building a business. Back when I was considering getting an MBA, and I had a mentor at the time. So for somebody that didn’t graduate high school, the goal of getting an MBA and going straight into our program was crazy. My girlfriend at the time she I remember the conversation she was like Dan, I love you but This is crazy, I don’t think you’re smart enough to do something like this and like, and again, that was a sensible piece of advice, she cared about me and wanting to prevent me from going through pain. My parents were very against it, they also thought I was crazy I had, as a successful chef had a great job. And it’s like, why are you going to give that up for something where you have, like, no chance of doing it. And my mentor at the time, said, You know, I don’t know, if you’re gonna get in, I don’t know, like, what’s gonna happen on this path, but I can tell you, you’re gonna grow. And it’s, you know, a path towards personal and professional growth, and you’re going to come out of it better. And when I think about kind of like what I’m doing, there’s so much ambiguity and risk and, and difficulties and challenges that come up every day. But I truly believe that it’s making me into a better person. And reframing it like that. And you know, the stuff that comes up in business, there’s like, lawsuits, and people quitting and culture problems and suppliers changing. And it’s like, instead of taking these things, where it’s like, Why do I have to deal with this and getting better, it’s just like, Okay, here’s another challenge. coming out the other side, I’m gonna learn something, and grow. And that type of mindset, as I approach these big challenges, it’s incredible. And it kind of like, it takes away that the need to succeed, like, of course, I want to succeed at these but some challenges, you just fail. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as I learn and grow, and I’m more prepared for the next time it comes up. And setting those types of expectations and goals. And that’s really how I measure myself. That’s one of the ways that I measure myself is like, our team, when somebody joins, you know, at year one, are they? Are they better? Are they growing into who they want to be? When somebody leaves, which is, you know, sometimes we let people go, sometimes people quit, which is very sad and unfortunate, it’s just part of life. And I sit down and I’m like, you know, I remember when we hired this person, where are they now in their life? Did we move them forward? And overwhelmingly, like, that’s kind of like the core of our culture and my personal beliefs. It’s that you can grow, you can learn. And people have transformational change. By working at the company. Customers are constantly writing us testimonials on how this has changed their lives. And that’s really a huge driving factor for me.

Kara Goldin 42:42
I love it. Well, Dan, thank you so much for coming on. Everybody needs to go on to your site. And we’ll have all the info in the show notes. But Dan freed founder and CEO of Thesis and Stasis. And thank you again for coming on and sharing your journey. Good luck with everything and very, very excited to see all of the stuff you’re doing to scale the business.

Dan Freed 43:07
Thank you so much. I really enjoyed the conversation.

Kara Goldin 43:09
Thanks again for listening to the Kara Goldin show. If you would, please give us a review. And feel free to share this podcast with others who would benefit and of course, feel free to subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode of our podcast. Just a reminder that I can be found on all platforms at Kara Goldin. And if you want to hear more about my journey, I hope you will have a listen or pick up a copy of my book undaunted, which I share my journey, including founding and building hint. We are here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And thanks everyone for listening. Have a great rest of the week, and 2023 and goodbye for now. Before we sign off, I want to talk to you about fear. People like to talk about fearless leaders. But achieving big goals isn’t about fearlessness. Successful leaders recognize their fears and decide to deal with them head on in order to move forward. This is where my new book undaunted comes in. This book is designed for anyone who wants to succeed in the face of fear, overcome doubts and live a little undaunted. Order your copy today at undaunted, the book.com and learn how to look your doubts and doubters in the eye and achieve your dreams. For a limited time. You’ll also receive a free case of hint water. Do you have a question for me or want to nominate an innovator to spotlight send me a tweet at Kara Goldin and let me know. And if you like what you heard, please leave me a review on Apple podcasts. You can also follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn at Kara Goldin. Thanks for listening