Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lucas Kraft, Co-Founder of Wonderbelly, located in Austin, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I launched my business, Wonderbelly, with my brother Noah in 2022. We're a digestive health company committed to providing effective, tasty, clean-ingredient digestive health medicine without compromise. Our debut product, Wonderbelly Antacid, is an FDA-regulated, over-the-counter medicine offering instant and effective relief from heartburn, acid indigestion, and sour stomach. Wonderbelly Antacid uses the same active ingredient – Calcium Carbonate – as the leading brands and is NON-GMO Project Verified, Clean Label Project Certified, Vegan Certified, and free of talc, dyes, gluten, dairy, synthetic sweeteners, and parabens. Our products are now available on Amazon, in Target, and on Target.com, as well as several other smaller retailers. Our customers are people who suffer from heartburn and acid indigestion. One thing about heartburn and acid indigestion is that it does not discriminate, so really, our customers come from all ages and walks of life. However, some of our more avid consumers are typically people diagnosed with GERD (which afflicts 1 in 5 US adults, astonishingly) and pregnant women.
Tell us about yourself
I suffered from an eating disorder for many years, from my teens to my mid-twenties, that wreaked lifelong damage to my digestive system. I have been reliant on antacids and other digestive health medicine daily to treat symptoms such as chronic heartburn and acid indigestion. Then in 2020, the Zantac recall really opened my eyes to the fact that I, and I'm sure other people, had never really looked closely at the ingredients in my medications. That was the impetus for Wonderbelly. In a way, it was a selfish pursuit because, ultimately, I wanted to make a product that I was going to –and would want to– use regularly. So my brother Noah and I came together and had an idea to combine the efficacy of pharmaceuticals with the values of many organic products to create clean-ingredient formulas that effectively address symptoms without containing a lot of the additives we don't need. While we did that, we also wanted to change a few other things. We wanted to really focus on flavor and make sure it was something that was enjoyable and exciting– something you looked forward to. Additionally, it was also important to us to reimagine common OTC packaging to ensure Wonderbelly's packaging was sustainable, recyclable, and environmentally friendly – hence our recyclable aluminum containers that allow our eco-conscious customers to reduce their usage of single-use plastic. All of these aspects combined truly spoke to my values and led to us creating a product that I, myself, would be drawn to use.
It's hard to point to just one thing that motivates me. On a high level, it's fully and sincerely believing in what we're doing. If this was something that I was pursuing just out of the interest of creating a viable business, it would be hard for me to spring out of bed every morning excited to get to work or spend those late nights catching up on emails. This is something that truly comes from my and my brother's hearts and that we believe in, so it makes it much easier to find that motivation.
Beyond the value we're offering in our products, as a company, we also believe in sparking conversations that bring people together in their digestive health journey and aim to destigmatize conversations around digestive health that have somehow become taboo. We hope to educate and empower people to take control of their digestive health, provide relief, and share some belly laughs along the way. This has been a huge motivator for me personally, and I can't tell you how many incredible conversations I've had, through our Spill Your Guts campaign or with strangers in Target aisles, that have reinforced the importance and meaning of the work we're doing.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
As a business owner, partnering with a leading retailer like Target has been a mind-blowing accomplishment. Aside from that, the biggest accomplishment, for me personally, has to be the community we've built. Digestive health is a normal part of life, and we all experience ups, downs, and everything in between. There should not be shame or embarrassment associated with talking about our health and everyday digestive experiences. The messages I've received and the gratitude I've witnessed from people who are finally speaking up about their digestive health has been beyond rewarding.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Being a business owner is a rollercoaster ride filled with both successes and challenges. One of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner is navigating through the inevitable highs and lows. The path to success is rarely linear, and as a business owner, you're always fluctuating through extremes – there are moments of great triumph and achievement followed by challenging lows. And those fluctuations can be separated by just a day and, in some cases, can fluctuate in a matter of hours!
With that said, this is the nature of business, and one must commit to resilience, flexibility, and entrepreneurial spirit throughout the ride – understanding that setbacks are often valuable learning experiences and celebrating successes, both big and small, day by day.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
First, don't hide from your own ideas but understand that starting, running, and growing a business is a journey – and it's not one that happens overnight. Do the work, put time into research and development, and stay true to your values. For instance, you may have noticed most pharma products come in plastic, so our commitment to creating packaging that met the rigorous standards of the pharmaceutical industry but was sustainable and made with recyclable metal took time.
Second, I firmly believe that authenticity is crucial in business. Your passion for what you're building has to come from inside, as it's very difficult to fake caring – especially in the long term. Inherently waking up caring about whatever you're building and not just about making money will drive the long-term growth of your business and help you navigate the highs and lows along the way.
Lastly, be a super user of your own product, or have someone on your team who is. For me, someone who relies on digestive health medicine in my daily life, it was crucial that Wonderbelly create digestive health medicines that I personally would want to take – this meant clean-ingredient formulas, tasty flavors, and effective results, all in sustainable packaging. I spend a significant amount of time thinking about what it is that I want from Wonderbelly products. In the end, I am our customer, so it lends well to understanding the needs, wants, and experiences of our target market.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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