As part of my series about prominent entrepreneurs and executives that overcame adversity to achieve great success, I had the pleasure of interviewing…
Brandon Fishman is the Founder and CEO of VitaCup. Brandon grew up in Philadelphia, went to Emory University for undergrad and University of San Diego for Grad School. Brandon also previously founded Internet Marketing Inc, a successful digital marketing agency and a few other start ups in his past.
Jason Crowley: Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?
Brandon Fishman: I started a digital marketing agency 10 years ago and have worked with many Fortune 500 brands. I saw the impact I was making on these other companies and I always wanted to have my own brand. I wanted to launch an innovative product in the health space that would disrupt the industry. Everyone forgets to take their vitamins, but no one forgets their coffee. So, I thought to myself, “why not combine them?”.
Crowley: Can you share your story of when you were on the brink of failure? First, take us back to what it was like during the darkest days.
Fishman: I had to raise multiple rounds of funding to start the business. We grew way faster than I expected and we needed cash quickly to grow. We ran out of cash at least 6 times in the first year. There was one day where every single credit card I had was maxed out and we had $0 in the bank. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I stayed up for two days straight over a weekend and sent out almost 1000 emails and had 50 calls to raise additional funds. I had money wired in by that Monday morning to keep us going.
Crowley: What was your mindset during such a challenging time? Where did you get the drive to keep going when things were so hard?
Fishman: My mindset was that failure was not an option. My wife, Sydney, is extremely supportive and told me to just keep going and I would get it done. I remember one trip to New York to raise money where she told me not to come home until I finished the raise. This motivated me to get it done no matter what; I was not going to fail.
Crowley: Tell us how you were able to overcome such adversity and achieve massive success? What did the next chapter look like?
Fishman: I was able to overcome adversity because the product is amazing. When you have a product that everyone wants and keeps re-ordering, you will find a way to win. We grew from $0 to $1M a month inside six months from launch. While we burned cash to get there, I knew we would be successful because everyone wanted our product. Once the re-orders started to kick in, the business metrics changed and we headed in the right direction. The growth of our Amazon business helped a ton as well. In 2019 we are focused on growing our retail and food service business.
Crowley: Based on your experience, can you share a 3 actionable pieces of advice about how to develop the mindset needed to persevere through adversity? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Failure is not an option — I received 100 no’s for every yes. Let the “no” answers fuel you, instead of bringing you down. I knew I was right and they were wrong and I wanted to be successful so that I could look back at everyone that said no and prove them wrong. I remember our first big convention after raising funds and we had the best booth there and won an award for the best new product. Multiple investors that had said no during our “Series A” funding came to visit the booth and the look of disbelief on their faces was the perfect validation. That look where they knew they made a mistake by not believing in me. That made all the adversity worth it.
- Build the right team — You are only as good as your team. VitaCup would not be where it is today without the team we have.
- The Customer is always right — Listen to what your customers want and make the customer happy. Everything else will fall into place.
Crowley: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Fishman: My parents worked together their whole lives. My dad is a dentist and my mom runs the office. Growing up and seeing their work ethic helped instill the mindset that I have today about working hard and pushing through hard times. As a serial entrepreneur, I have been down and out multiple times, but I know my parents have been too and they always found a way out. This gave me the mindset to always believe in myself enough to know that I will, too.
Crowley: Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Fishman: We have some amazing new products we are introducing this year that will further disrupt the functional beverage industry. As a team, we are also having the entire staff helping with non-profit and charity events every month to help our community.
Crowley: You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Fishman: I want to inspire more people to lead the healthiest lifestyle they can. I think you should get tax credits for taking 10,000 steps a day, every day and use a fitness tracker to track them. If our whole country actually got a credit for working out, imagine the change that could bring! I think this is important for everything from heart health to mood and it’s a true passion of mine to inspire healthy living.
Crowley: Any parting words of wisdom that you would like to share?
Fishman: If you truly believe in your vision, then never accept “no” as an answer. Surround yourself with those who inspire and uplift you and keep pushing until you achieve your goal.
Crowley: How can our readers follow you on social media?
Fishman: @Brandonfishman on Twitter
Crowley: Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.