By Yitzi Weiner and Casmin Wisner
“…bringing a better quality product that people can trust into the market is important. …at the end of the day, our goal is for our customers to be able to live a happier, healthier life.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Daniel Powers. Daniel is the co-founder of Utzy Naturals, a startup supplement brand with a focus on creating super premium products. While Utzy has a variety of different formulas, they are quickly growing a following for their award-winning natural sleep aid products.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your backstory?
Growing up, my dad was always very entrepreneurial and ran (and still runs!) multiple businesses. I think some of that entrepreneurial spirit seeped into me, even as a kid. I always knew that my life would include business. As a teenager, I had a knack for figuring things out. This ability to problem solve has helped me immensely as an entrepreneur, whether it has to do with coding a website, figuring out SEO (search engine optimization), or teaching myself email marketing.
In 2012 I studied Business Management at Liberty University. I didn’t want to waste time, so I fast-tracked my way through college and finished in two and a half years. I finished in 2014 (right before my 21st birthday). I spent my first year out of college working in sales for a supplement manufacturer. That year taught me a lot, as it was one of the hardest years of my life. When you are fresh out of college, I think you tend to look at the world (and business) as being all sunshine and roses. You are told to “go out and build your empire.” Then you enter the real business world and you get punched in the face. People won’t automatically care about your idea or your product. This is all something that you have to overcome, you have to fight for momentum. The goal of an entrepreneur is to be and do good and ultimately make people care. You have to be resilient.
During that year in sales I continued to work and hone my skills, all while dreaming of starting a new company (Utzy Naturals). In March of 2016 my dream was born and we launched Utzy. Like all new entrepreneurs, I hit the “Live” button on our website and waited for sales to start rolling in. Unfortunately it wasn’t that easy. It was a month or so before we made our first sale online (to a non-family member). I still have that invoice on my desk (from our first customer), and sometimes I look at it when Utzy is going through a new struggle. It’s a good reminder of how far we’ve come.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?
One of the funniest stories was when I was running a booth at a fitness event. We were handing out samples of a fizzy magnesium drink that we offer. Our drink mix has to be made with hot water. While I was at the booth, my assistant grabbed a little electric hot water heater and went to find an electrical outlet to plug it in and mix a fresh batch of samples. A few minutes later, the music and lights in the whole building shut off. This was a loud, lively event. This shut down the entire event for a few minutes. It got very awkward and silent while the people running the event scrambled to get the power back on. Eventually, the lights and music came back on. I chuckled to myself about it and didn’t think much of it. A few minutes later, my assistant came up and said that the reason the power was turned off was because our electric heater blew the fuse! It was pretty hilarious.
What does your company do?
We manufacture and sell supplements. Our focus is on creating SuperPremium grade products. Our line consists of everyday basics like a multi-vitamin and fish oil, and a few speciality formulas like natural sleep aids.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We saw an opportunity for creating a truly premium product. Most supplements available at various stores (or online) are sketchy. It’s hard to know who to trust. That’s why we created Utzy. Our products are made with premium ingredients, backed by science, and third party tested. It’s really simple: we make the best.
In addition, we also have a company herbal farm where we are starting the process of raising our own botanical ingredients. This will eventually allow us to be vertically integrated as a company. We are excited about this because this will allow us to control every aspect of the manufacturing process, meaning a better, safer product for the end consumer.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped you get to where you are?
Definitely. That would be my dad. He has helped me through the entire process. He gives me advice on what helped him through his entrepreneurial journey when he started out 30 years ago. The funny thing is that the trials he faced are the same ones that I face today. Dealing with rejection from potential clients, trying new marketing tactics, and much more. I think business is pretty timeless in that it is all about focusing on continual personal growth. Once you grow as a person, it primes your business to grow.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I think bringing a better quality product that people can trust into the market is important. There is a lot of uncertainty right now with supplements. We are the brand that consumers can trust. Through our meticulous processes and dedication to excellence, we have proven to consumers that they can trust us. It eliminates worry and fear and allows consumers to focus on living a healthier life. And at the end of the day, our goal is for our customers to be able to live a happier, healthier life.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I launched my startup,” and why?
- Just keep going at it. Nothing is ever going to be perfect. Make a decision and keep moving forward. I recently used this advice when selecting a new piece of software for Utzy. There were a ton of different softwares available, but no single piece of software had all of the features that we wanted. Instead of being paralyzed with the decision, I made the decision that I thought was best and moved forward. Sometimes it takes imperfect action to get started.
- Don’t forget that there are other things in life, many of which are more important that your business. Make sure to live. I find myself thinking about business and how to expand it 24/7. I am literally always thinking about ways to improve things, it’s always in the back of my head. But I have done my best to set aside times to be with my wife, or with friends, and just chill. And you know what? I actually get my best ideas during those times! So give yourself some space between your work projects and the rest of your life. I find that a little bit of distance between work and life helps to give me a better overall perspective.
- Recognize the season of life that you are in. When launching a business, know that you are going to be in a season of hard work and late nights. It won’t always be like this. But go all in during that season so that you can reach that point of being established in the future.
- Break your big goals down into small goals. Big goals are intimidating. That being said, you are able to accomplish them if you make steady progress towards them. I love the Japanese principle of “Kaizen” which states that every step forward, no matter how microscopic, is improvement. You don’t have to make massive jumps, just get 1% better each day. One more sales call. One more email. 1% better each day.
- Create a learning and growth mindset. Look at everything as an opportunity. If you did something poorly, look at it as an opportunity to grow. If something scares you, take the pressure off yourself and look for ways to actively get better. From my experience the entrepreneurial life is full of very high “highs” and very low “lows”. Try and stay in the middle and look at errors as a chance to grow. I heard an inspirational speaker once say that “failure is an event, not a person”. I think that’s a great way to look at life.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
I’d love to grab a coffee with Blake Mycoskie (found of TOMS shoes). I remember reading his book as a teenager, I loved how he meshed entrepreneurship with a social mission. It has inspired me think of ways of not only creating a company, but also how I can impact people’s lives.