SPRINGER: I’ve practiced so many times and it never works. Our guest today doesn’t even have to do any of that because it comes to him quite naturally. Our guest is John Shegerian, founder of Som Sleep. Look, this is a sleep drink taking the retail market by storm. Should I say “by sleep?” But that wouldn’t really work. In fact you, Jocelyn, have been having issues with this very thing. I mean you have got a lot of issues but sleep deprivation is one of them.
PARKS: You know it’s just – yeah it’s like I just get totally off. Sometimes I’m ready to go to sleep by 10:00 and sometimes at 1:00 I’m like “let’s run, let’s fix all of our problems, let’s think about what would happen if a fire happened right now.”
SPRINGER: That’s exactly right.
PARKS: It’s probably crippling anxiety but we can talk about it later.
SPRINGER: That’s a whole other issue. You are going to love our guest today. John, welcome to Lessons From 100 Brands.
JOHN SHEGERIAN: Well it’s an honor to be here and thank you both for having me on today.
SPRINGER: I love it. If you think this is an honor you have no idea how bad this show is but I like the enthusiasm. The enthusiasm is awesome. Hey we were talking about embracing your inner entrepreneur right.
SPRINGER: And from our experience that seems to start with people like you who really do see voids in the market. What did you see out there in the marketplace that suggested the world needed a sleep drink?
SHEGERIAN: Well I saw two huge trends colliding. I saw the energy trend (Starbucks, 5 Hour Energy, RedBull, Monster, Rockstar) colliding with the technology revolution where you have all the blue rays that are coming off our iPads, our cell phones, and everything else electronic that we all enjoy and use that are messing up our circadian rhythms. So when you take the technological revolution colliding with the energy revolution it has totally messes up peoples sleep. And from 18 years olds to 85 year olds everyone is having a problem sleeping now and the numbers are staggering.
SPRINGER: Every night I tend to take 20 minutes and look at my phone in bed as I’m dozing off. Is that a catastrophically dumb move?
SHEGERIAN: That is something that is not really smart to do anymore. But I’m going to tell you something, Al. I still take my iPad to bed and I’m Mr. Sleep. So it’s something we’re all doing it.
SPRINGER: We’re programmed now to just have information all the time. Like I don’t know what to do if I’m not on boarding information.
SHEGERIAN: That’s right.
SPRINGER: Yeah. So how big of an impact does lack of sleep have on both health and just performance of your body in general?
SHEGERIAN: It’s tremendous. The science – the body of science is in on this. It’s been already proven that when you miss sleep – I mean sleep is nonnegotiable. Let’s just start there. Whereas if you are eating a certain way like just say vegan or paleo and you want to break your eating habits for a day and have a cheat day, a lot of people love to have a cheat day. Or a lot of people workout, go running or Soul Cycle or do CrossFit or to the gym, and they want to take a day or two off. You can do that and have a perfectly healthy life in terms of your diet and your nutritional habits and also on your workout habits. You can’t do that with sleep. It’s nonnegotiable. You can’t start saying “hey I’m just going to have 3-4 nights in a row where I just do 2 or 3 or 4 hours” and still think you’re going to be your best the next day and it’s not going to also not have long term consequences as well. The long term consequences are massive amounts of accidents that you’re in in an industry where you need to be present such as truck drivers or train drivers or even pilots. All the accidents that are happening in those kinds of industries their statistics are showing that a huge proportion of them are happening because the people have lack of sleep. The other thing is Alzheimer’s, diabetes, obesity, Parkinson’s, and early onset dementia, are all now tied to lack of sleep and people cheating themselves in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s, and then they’re developing these diseases early and they’re tying it back to sleep. The science is very clear.
SPRINGER: And talking about the science how much research – I mean you’ve obviously dove into this stuff. how much research did you guys do before launching the brand? What did that look like?
SHEGERIAN: Well the research was twofold. Both science and also numerical. In terms of numerical when you look at the sale of sleep aids in America in 2015 we’re talking about 40 billion dollars just in the US and 75 billion worldwide of the typical sleep aids that are sold over the counter, the stuff that’s not necessarily good for you that can hurt your liver, kidneys, and pancreas. So if that’s a 40+ billion dollar market in America in 2015 and 75 billion worldwide and it’s expected to be over 100 billion worldwide by 2020 people are suffering from lack of sleep and they’re taking a lot of medicine for it. That’s the first part of the research. The second was the energy revolution was 38 billion in sales back in 2015. All the drinks I mentioned at the top of the show 38 billion. So if people are spending that much to go up we figured they spend a little bit at least to have a function to go to sleep as well.
SPRINGER: So you guys launched Som Sleep. And I have some here. If I drank it now would I be asleep before the interview is over.
SHEGERIAN: Well we had four investors I was meeting with at a hotel in New York, potential investors. One of the gentlemen was very skeptical and he asked me that same exact question. so the other three who were friends with him said “hey listen, this stuff really works.” The fourth gentleman was skeptical. It was about 2:00 in the afternoon. He said “well I’m going to drink it now and I believe it will have no effect on me” and he drank it and literally it wasn’t 20 or 25 minutes later that he literally in this restaurant setting in a hotel in New York–.
SPRINGER: He laid down on the buffet table.
SHEGERIAN: He laid down underneath our table and he took a nap.
SPRINGER: No! No, that’s fantastic.
SHEGERIAN: True story.
SPRINGER: So how is a sleep drink different than – I see relaxation drinks out on the market and on the shelf. How is that different and why does it look like Som Sleep is selling and can perform so much better than relaxation drinks?
SHEGERIAN: Well because it’s true function. It’s black and white. A lot of the buyers that we’ve been visiting with have told us they see the trend going from two energy drinks in the morning and a Som at night. The middle ground stuff – and those are black and white functions. The middle ground relaxation segment is very gray and a lot of buyers in retail now and even online feel that that market is going to be absorbed by the CBD market and that this what we’ve developed is really functional, very clear in its approach, and that’s why we’ve had so much success in terms of our sales.
SPRINGER: And you’re so right. The relaxation is sort of lost in the middle there in terms of you either want to turn that volume knob up for energy or maybe down to sleep. It’s a little bit – I could see where CBD oils start to take that space. So the question then is what do retailers really need? They need a sleep drink out there to kind of offset then the energy side of the business.
SHEGERIAN: Right. Right. Exactly.
SPRINGER: I love it.
PARKS: So returning back to embracing your inner entrepreneur it’s our first lesson in our brand series. We’re talking a great deal about needing to be evangelical about a great product like Som Sleep. So can you talk to us about your brand ambassadors? Who is using Som Sleep and how do they use it?
SHEGERIAN: Well sleep is basically at the marketized issues we all need to do it and it’s nonnegotiable (as I said earlier). So we went out to a bunch of high performing people who really need to sleep to be the best at what they’re at. We all do but we went to people that were iconic in their space such as a gentleman like Nick Swisher who is ex-New York Yankee, a great personality, very high energy, but who is having trouble sleeping. We asked him to try it and he tried it and loved the brand and then became an ambassador for us. The same thing with NHL Hall of Famer Jeremy Roenick. Again a tremendous career. Hall of Famer. And again sleep – none of us are immune to it. he went out and tried the brand and has become an ambassador for us as well. So we’ve gone to different sports, different industries, and we’ve asked people to help us from doctors to physical therapists to nutritionists and dieticians across all types of high performance industries and they’ve embraced the drink and also taken it to their client based. When I say “drink” the real title for it on the label it’s “dietary supplement” but of course you drink it so that’s why I mention it as a drink but it’s really legally a dietary supplement.
SPRINGER: You mentioned Jeremy Roenick. I used to live in Scottsdale and he would be around at events and stuff. what a great personality. Perfect for a brand ambassador.
SHEGERIAN: He is not only a great personality he is just a great person.
PARKS: As a marketer how are you getting in contact with these athletes and how important is it to build this network of performers and influencers?
SHEGERIAN: Well for us it was important because we wanted to make a big splash right out of the gate and so one of my partner’s good friends had a lot of experience in the industry. He’s an ex-manager in Hollywood, an agent, and also has worked with athletes and entertainers most of his adult life. We interviewed him and brought him on as our CMO. So he had a lot of these relationships. I had some of them. My partner, Abdul Khan, had some of them. And so we all went to our (I’m going to date myself now) Rolodexes and just started asking them if we could kindly send them some samples and get their feedback. The response was overwhelming and that’s what led to our whole ambassador network.
SPRINGER: Hey for our listeners who either want to sleep well tonight or absolutely a retail distributor, somebody in our industry who wants to know more and how to get a hold of you guys, where do they go? What’s the website? How do they find out more?
SPRINGER: I love it. I imagine when they’re Googling that if they put the wrong couple of letters in who knows where they go but I like it.
SHEGERIAN: Who knows.
SPRINGER: Yes. They could be in a whole other adventure. But this has been so great. you’re a wonderful guest. I love the product and I am sure that the folks who are listening will want to check that out and to look at that website and learn more. John, thank you so much for being on Lessons From 100 Brands.
SHEGERIAN: It’s an honor.
SPRINGER: Alright man, thank you.
SHEGERIAN: Thank you.
PARKS: That’s our show for this week. thank you so much to our guest, John Shegerian from Som Sleep, and his wonderful conversation. He was really peppy for someone who produces a product all about sleep.
SPRINGER: That was pretty impressive. Pretty impressive.
PARKS: We hope everyone embraces their inner entrepreneur this week. Let that inner freak flag wave. And if you want more information, if you want to contact us, please reach out at Info@TheTouchAgency.com. Thank you so much and we will catch you next week.SPRINGER: See you next week.