Natural Heath Products: Ingredients for Success

#8 Erik Bywater - Founder @ Knosis | eSports + Dragon's Den + Founder Advice

October 29, 2020 Stratum Nutrition Episode 8
Natural Heath Products: Ingredients for Success
#8 Erik Bywater - Founder @ Knosis | eSports + Dragon's Den + Founder Advice
Natural Heath Products: Ingredients for Success
#8 Erik Bywater - Founder @ Knosis | eSports + Dragon's Den + Founder Advice
Oct 29, 2020 Episode 8
Stratum Nutrition

In this episode we interview Erik Bywater the founder of Knosis, an eSports natural supplement brand gettin' their game on. We learn about Knosis and discuss the eSports category, his experience on the Canadian show "Dragon's Den" (As much as we could anyway;) and get some great advice he has for entrepreneurs and new brand leaders in the natural products space.

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode we interview Erik Bywater the founder of Knosis, an eSports natural supplement brand gettin' their game on. We learn about Knosis and discuss the eSports category, his experience on the Canadian show "Dragon's Den" (As much as we could anyway;) and get some great advice he has for entrepreneurs and new brand leaders in the natural products space.

You are listening to the ingredients for success podcast, where you can consume dietary supplement industry, best practices, trends, recent news, and other insights provided through interviews and discussions with members of the stratum team and seasoned industry. Yes.

Hello, I'm Andrew Rice and I'm Jackie resale. And this is the ingredients for success podcast from Stratham nutrition. Today, we have Eric Bywater, the founder and president of Knosis. Eric. Welcome. Hey Jacqueline. Thanks for having me on. I'm happy to be here. Yeah. Great. You could a great, you can make it super happy and stoked.

You're. You're on with us today. Um, how about, well, first off you came through, uh, we met actually through a campaign that we had done here at stratum. It was the, yeah. Was the buck wild campaign, which was a little bit crazy. But you had emailed, I think me about that. And so we kind of chatted a bit and then.

Found out that you're going to be going out to expo. Uh, this was last year, wasn't it? Yeah, it was last year. Yeah. The, uh, the lab will probably one of the last expos, the round maybe before COVID they had just last year. Yeah. Right. So then we met out there. We're able to go catch a fight. That was kind of cool.

Like, we didn't get into a fight. We just like watched a fight. But, uh, that was, uh, that was a lot of fun. Yeah, no, that was a great time. I remember the campaign and working at the marketing agency, sitting there with a copywriter and we just saw this crazy creative and copywriting comment through. And we were like, who are these guys?

And like, what do they sell? And it was super intriguing. Caught us off guard. We ended up clicking around on your entire website, um, having noses in the back of my head and kind of where we were going. I remember I reached out to you. And the next thing I knew we were in Vegas at the expo catching the fight together.

And that was all good. Yeah. It was a good time man, as a good time. So you went out there to, um, kind of explore what options were available, kind of other brands, ingredient companies. You're really trying to find the whole deal out at expo. Cause you were just in the midst of, of launching gnosis. So can you tell us a little bit about how.

Uh, you know, well, just tell us a little bit about gnosis, um, and maybe that first product and we'll get into some of the other stuff later on. Yeah. So from a high level gnosis is an e-sports nutrition company. So we make, uh, nutritional supplements, specially formulated for e-sports athletes. Our flagship product is an energy and nootropic supplement.

So it focuses on providing clean, sustained energy over a long period of time. Um, because we find gamers are spending, I mean, four, six, eight hours a day in front of a monitor and we, so we've had the energy and then we also have the blue light protection and that ingredient as well, because as I mentioned for six, eight hours a day for these digital devices can produce a lot of blue light, which can ultimately affect sleep headaches, dry eyes.

Um, so we really wasn't to create a product that was specially formulated. For those e-sports athletes. And that was the array of ingredients we found to work for that. Do you have a couple of questions you want to, you want to start with Jackie? Yeah. So I would like to know a little bit about how gnosis started, where you were and just kind of how it came about.

Yeah, absolutely. So this was about a year ago now. Um, I was working at a marketing agency as a digital strategist. And during my time there, um, I'm a casual gamer, not competitive or professional by any means. Uh, anybody listening, my KD isn't that high, but I do enjoy, I enjoy gaming. Um, and I was working at the marketing agency.

I have a lot of experience in the supplement industry being a previous IFDB pro in men's physique. So I'm well versed in nutrition, supplementation, and branding and digital marketing. And what happened during my time at the agency was. Essentially, I was looking at the gaming industry and how competitive prize pools continue to grow exponentially year over year, the casual gamer and the gaming enthusiast market continued to grow year over year.

And whenever there's competitive prize pools that are actually like literally worth tens of millions of dollars, large sponsorships on the line, um, athletes are willing to do whatever it takes to win. And we recognize all of these things to the point that some e-sports leads, drug test athletes for the use of banned substances in competition was substances could be Adderall Ritalin as far as substances, such as like recreational more, uh, drugs like that.

So watching these leagues drug test athletes, we knew there was. That we knew that athletes were trying to get an advantage in one shape or another. Some are buying the newest monitor with a higher refresh rate. Others are buying wired controllers instead of wireless. So there's that split-second no lag between the connection.

Um, so watching gamers and from the amateur to professional level, do pretty much anything to get an edge to the competition. We thought it was a great space to create a consumable product that can actually improve them from the inside out. Because at some point you can't always be investing in the latest hardware.

We create a product that you can instead invest in yourself by drinking a product that can improve your mental and cognitive function. I didn't ever really, I guess if you're not, I mean, it's pretty cool that you kind of came and came up to that and drew drew up that conclusion. Uh, I, Katie I believe is, is killed, kill death ratio.

Is that what we're talking about? Like call of duty. So mine would probably be the worst it can be. Cause I get beat all the time by 11 year olds. Um, which is, there's nothing more maddening, but it is what it is. I wouldn't have ever, I don't know. I never, it never dawned on me, uh, supplements in that, but yeah, like you've said, like, I think how large, uh, we had some numbers about the e-sports market, not too long ago, we were looking at, but it's just like.

It's it's just blown up from sponsorship levels to the, the, the, the pro gamer. You call them gamer athletes, or can you call it e-sports athletes, sports athletes. Yeah. Um, yeah, it's just, it's exploding. And then like, you know, 17 year old, 18 year old kids, you know, like my son all think they're going to be e-sports ass athletes and then not really even have to finish school if they don't want to.

So. Well, Andrew, if you want to put some numbers to it, for example, um, the East sports enthusiast is the type of market that we're specifically after. And we would call an E sports enthusiast, somebody who watches professional gameplay content and plays at least once a month. And in North America, that audience is about 14 million people.

Hmm. So 14 million people play video games and watch video game, professional video game content of some sort online. Eric, I love what you said earlier when you mentioned about your product is one that allows for ease for athletes to invest in themselves. Can you tell us a little bit about the ingredients that you have in your product and how they benefit the e-sports athlete?

Yeah. Jasmine, of course. That's a great question. So yeah. What we did with our product was we broke the ingredient formulation out into three key pillars. Um, the three key pillars are blue light vision, so protection against blue light, smart cognition and processing speed. And the third pillar would be clean energy and motivation.

So the blue light vision pillar is made up of three unique ingredients, uh, asses Anton being the main one and then lutein. And zeaxanthin following up. And we used as the asses then to protect the eyes from blue light to protect the, essentially the macula of the eye from blue light, penetrating it. And in combination with asses Anthony lutein and zeaxanthin, we kind of provide a full spectrum UV protection, and what's really cool.

A lot of people know about blue light and UV, but in the natural kind of environment. These ingredients are used to protect the plants and animals from excessive UV damage. And we're pretty much taking that, putting it into a supplement because you could get these ingredients naturally through your diet.

If you have an extremely high intake of kale, spinach, broccoli, salmon krill, which not a lot of us have. So we don't ever reach the daily requirements that could actually help with protects from blue light. But if you're supplementing with notices, Then we have the full array in the proper doses to protect against the blue light.

Cool. Yeah, no, thanks for sharing, man. That's uh, now, uh, asked as Anthony is something that I think we've been talking or working with you on. So I'm really happy to see, see our relationship move on and, and you become part of a part of a stratum by way of being a brand partner. So. When did you realize that you actually, so you've thought about gnosis you drew it out on napkins or we're talking to buddies or, you know, when you came up with the idea, like, when did you realize, okay, like I'm doing this?

Like, was it, was it just, you were, you were work one day and you know, w what was that? I think for all of us, we have kind of these. These different moments that we remember like, yeah, that's right. You're just like, Nope. Okay. So now I'm, it's put up or shut up, I'm going to do this and like what, where were you at?

Like what, what, uh, and what did you think in that moment? Yeah. Uh, it's a great question. So how it, how it all kind of unfolded was? I do, uh, I've had two previous businesses in the past. I've always had that entrepreneurial. Uh, tendency and entrepreneurial mindset. So even during the two years that I spent at the digital agency, my whole time there to, and from work, I'm listening to guy Roz his podcast on how I built this, unless you had a business and entrepreneurship podcasts.

And, uh, I was never in a rush to get into my own business. I was just aware on the lookout. And knew that if I just stayed attentive to the market, then the right opportunity would present itself. And it'd be an opportunity that, that matched my skillset and my passions. So essentially, yeah, I was working at the, at the agency.

We saw the gaming space. We saw the nootropic market and. I don't know what there was an exact moment where it was like, all right, I'm going in. And actually, you know what, there was, there was a moment where I decided that I was going all in and it was what I booked my ticket to Vegas to go to the expo, to meet everybody.

It was like, all right, if I'm going to do this, then we're going all in. And as soon as I told my boss that I was going to Vegas, cause this was a, this wasn't long and planned out. I'll be honest with you. It happened all really fast. It was about a week. I only had a week before I booked my flight and then the trip to bag.

So I wasn't going into my box and saying, Hey, I'm looking at books and vacations. It's like, Hey, I'm going to Vegas. Cause I just started, I'm going to start my own company. And um, that, you know, that kind of, as I kind of went over a little interesting, essentially I was gone within two weeks to come back, but it was, it was in that moment that I decided I wanted to go all in on it and we never looked back from that moment, moving, uh, as we move forward.

And I don't have any regrets in doing it that way either, because I find some people, when they have an idea, they can be afraid to jump and they can be afraid to go at it because they can be in a position. I had a great job as a digital strategist. I was nice. I was comfortable, but I knew that, uh, there was more out there and that I wanted to take a risk on myself.

And I found the opportunity that I believe was a perfect fit for me. And I just went all in on it. Yeah. Yeah. That's, uh, sometimes getting forced into a situation of making that happen. You know, it, it works out and sometimes people need that. Like you said, sometimes people need that. Um, there's a lot of people out there that can just get going and stick to it and work on it and build it and, you know, kind of naturally organically grow something.

And then there's others that just kind of need that shock factor in there. Uh, every once in a while just to prompt them and push them. So, um, no, thanks for sharing that, man. I find it interesting that you went all in, went to Vegas and then a couple of months later COVID hit. Can you share with any of the startups that may be listening right now, who are trying to launch a product during the pandemic?

What has been your biggest unexpected challenge that your brand has faced along the way? And how have you overcome that? Yeah, launching it. You're right. Launching a business, a new startup during COVID was not the easiest thing. I think the easiest thing to do in that time is to get down on yourself. Um, it's really easy to throw a pity party during those times because there's just so much unknown in the air everywhere across the globe.

It was definitely a crazy time. I think the biggest roadblock that we hit was our contract manufacturer literally shut down. So we were just about to go into production. We had a launch date set launch strategy was already started to kick off. And then all of a sudden our, uh, manufacturer shuts down without a reopening date.

So the unknown, there was very difficult, not knowing when the product is ever going to actually be completed. So trying to pay for it from there, trying to alter our strategy of how can we. We've already started to speak about the product. How can we kind of drag this out a little bit, keep some hype going without kind of letting everything flop and restarting.

Luckily, um, our contract manufacturer only shut down for about four weeks. So we were very fortunate for that because we actually planned for it to be anywhere from eight to 12 weeks. So we were blessed in the sense that I only was only shut down for four weeks, so that. Didn't impact us terribly. Of course, our launch and everything was pushed out another four weeks.

Um, what we did during that time was we kind of used it as an opportunity to do a little bit more outreach to influencers because influencer marketing is a key marketing channel for us. So we kind of just used that time where we knew things were going to be slow to try and develop some relationships with some influencers online and hopefully kind of let them know who we are, what we have coming down the pipeline, speak to our mission and vision of why gnosis exists and let them know that once we are up and running, we'd love to get some product in their hands.

And that actually panned out pretty well for us so that when the manufacturer opened up again in four weeks, we had a couple of people, uh, And influencers ready to take our product and start talking about it, which was part of our launch strategy moving forward. So yeah, using, uh, being able to use that time to, to further some of the other areas of growth that you need to inside the company.

Um, yeah. Um, so if you were. Looking back and, you know, you're in the midst of launch and we're going to talk about something that happened that I think is pretty awesome. Um, I know you're, you're, you're jazz and, and excited that you were able to have the opportunity. Um, so we'll get. To talking about, uh, a couple of really cool other things that have happened recently with you.

Um, but before we do, what's like one piece, one little golden nugget, one piece of advice you would give to a startup founder, a startup CEO, um, throughout this journey to where you're at right now. What is one piece of advice that you would provide? I don't want to get too philosophical or anything here, but honestly, just with, um, I talked to a lot of people and I just feel like, um, it's easy to get into a rut.

It's easy to get into that negative head space. It's easy to see things not working out around you. Did you just hear about other businesses closing? Um, and it's easy to kind of pull back and retreat and go on the defense. And sometimes for us, for example, if you're a startup, like we are, what other companies are going on the defense as an opportunity for you to go on on the offense.

So we companies pulling back ad spend on Facebook and Instagram. So we were able to do a little at some small brand awareness campaigns that we didn't think we'd actually be able to afford, but because so many companies were going on the defense. We had an opportunity to get some cheap CPMs on those platforms and go on the offense.

So I think my one tidbit of, uh, of advice, the advice would be just to keep pushing forward and that, uh, I, you got to kind of look at some of these opportunities as a blessing. We could easily look at the fact that we were shut down for four weeks. We had to push our launch. Which threw some curve balls, but we also saw the blessings and that itself, that we were able to market cheaper to get in front of some other people.

And, uh, like I said, not to fail solid, but don't give up, you got to push through these times and just try and find the positive in any situation that you can. So, Eric, we were chatting the other day as we do a little bit, you know, every once in a while I check in or you check in and you had some pretty cool news.

So I'd love for you to share a little bit about what we talked about. Yeah, absolutely. Yes. Uh, some really exciting things happen around here. So in the U S you guys would call this show shark tank eight Canada, right? It's the same thing, but it's called Dragon's den. So, um, we were lucky enough to be on that, um, last month.

So we were doing the recording for it. And our episode for that to show will be airing in November of this year. So I'm really excited for that opportunity. Um, obviously I can't say too much about what happened on the show, but I could, I can say that we had a certain goal going in there and the goal and we accomplished that goal.

So you can take that for what it is. And, um, yeah, we're very excited about the future moving forward. That's awesome, man. Looking forward to watching the episode, as soon as it airs, um, I think that'd be pretty cool to see on there and see what happens. So we're excited about that. Um, so I guess, you know, almost wrapping up here, is there anything else that you would like to share about gnosis any developments or anything else going on?

Yeah, we have, uh, some exciting new products coming down the pipeline where an R and D on two different ones right now, the first one we can expect to be released in Q1, uh, 2021. And I can't say too much about it right now, but if you want to stay too, and you could definitely check us out on [email protected], we'll we posting about it on there, leading up to the launch.

We'll be doing some giveaways, a great way to get your hands on some. And if not through there, you can check out our website, Okay. All right, man. Well, it's always great chatting with you. I was good seeing you. Anything else, Jackie, any other, yeah. It's been very exciting having you on for sure.

And it seems like you have a lot of things coming down the pipeline, so we will definitely be excited to watch you, like he said, on Dragon's den and then watching your website and Instagram to see what exactly this new product is that you're going to be launching. Um, Andrew and I have tried at gnosis and it is.

Fantastic. I can't tell you how much work I got done that day. I was so focused. The is really good. The flavor was really good. It was the cherry Limeade. Yeah. Cherry Limeade flavor. That was, it was really good flavor. And I'm going to tell you, Jackie got a ton done that day. I did. I did. It was better than an afternoon coffee, so much, so much better and healthier to you.

So I appreciate that. And thank you so much for talking with us today. Yeah, it's been great, man. Andrew Jacqueline. Thank you so much for having me on. It's always a blast chatting with you guys. And I look forward to doing this at sometime again, down the road. All right, man. See ya. Bye Eric. .