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Balancing Creativity and Entrepreneurship With Kent Yoshimura of Neuro

Joshua Chin 3:04

And super high quality and the portions are great too. I almost couldn’t finish mine. But it’s so delicious. I can’t resist

Kent. So you started in Neuro co founder Neuro in 2015 Talk to me about what happened. What were you doing before then you have a an incredible journey that you took that’s really unique. And I think you’re living the dreams of many many creatives and and entrepreneurs in the world. What happened?

Kent Yoshimura 3:38

Yeah, I mean, incredibly lucky, I guess more than anything. But you know, I was training credibly seriously for in martial arts. You know, every year I was traveling in Thailand fighting out there. I’ve been doing martial arts since I was five. So I was fighting in Thailand and more Thai training out there at sigil tone. Every summer. I was training with the Japanese olympic judo team, the Japanese imperial guards in judo, I was hoping to get to the Olympics. And during that time, I was realizing that the supplements available in the marketplace were limited to caffeine pills, Adderall, Redbull monster, and nothing that supported my physical and mental wellness and fitness. So looking into my own research, I started neuroscience but you know, looking into my own research looking to what I was studying. I fell into this world of nootropics and started mixing supplements in my own room to see what was more effective using myself as a guinea pig. And my co founder Ryan, who’s also an incredible athlete, captain of his cross country and track team in high school took them to state and nationals. He got injured his sophomore year in a snowboarding accident and then ended up becoming paraplegic. And I was giving him the supplements that I was mixing in my room while he was getting back into school getting back into shape, and he eventually ended up training with a Paralympic team as well. So when we were going and getting scuba certified, both of us for taking these pills, I was mixing and realized like, oh my god, we’re getting like the weirdest looks. It does not look to take good. It’s not a good look. To take pills in public, we need to have something that’s a way more approachable. But we don’t want to be you know, we’re stuck on like a three hour boat ride or whatever to go scuba diving, like, we don’t want to be taking coffee or energy drinks, because then you have to use the restroom, and so on and so forth. So it immediately dawned on us that like, why don’t we were chewing gum because it was helping with the nausea. And we’re like, why don’t we put it into gum? Why don’t we put into mints. These are things that people share and eat and depression is your breath and everything. And it just made sense. And we started doing r&d. Put, you know, our initial v zero of what we’re mixing into a government form, it tasted like garbage. And we continue to reiterate, it reiterated really until it was like ready. And we launched on a crowdfunding platform reached our goal in three days. It became a huge hit Time Magazine wrote about us, Dr. Oz reached out to us and we did a segment on his show. Now we’re in, you know, like almost 10,000 stores nationwide, we’re about to be in about 13,000 stores in about three months. With a new partner, and we’re continuing to grow thanks to, you know, partnerships, like with people like you. So it’s been a while. Yeah,

Joshua Chin 6:50

that that is a while that is crazy. You also live a really unique life, a separate life, you probably wouldn’t consider that it’s it’s all one for you, I presume. But you’re also creative and you paint murals all around the world, you painted the largest mural in in Shanghai airport, as well as one in Abbot Kinney down in LA. What? What are some of the parallels that you draw between your creative life and your onto your entrepreneurship journey? And in my mind, at least, it it’s seemingly different. And in different parallels. When, as an entrepreneur, you’re raising funds, you’re building a business, it’s about numbers and data as creative. It’s it’s different. It’s a softer side, it’s less structured, it’s and it takes a different part of your brain and your soul. How do you bridge the differences? Or is there a difference in the first place?

Kent Yoshimura 8:01

I think an entrepreneur, any entrepreneur, for the most part has to be creative, to be able to navigate the world of business. And if you’ve ever started a business, you know that because nothing is as you expect. So you have to find creative solutions to very difficult problems. So I think creativity is per like pervasive and everything that I do. But in terms of murals, you know, building experiences. These because I also draw and sketch and paint and bytes at a smaller scale. But ultimately, like the larger things, managing teams, right, you can’t paint a mural by yourself. So the one I painted in Shanghai was the inside of a five storey staircase, floor to ceiling including the ceiling, doing five people putting my trust in them to do parts that I laid out the process for being able to navigate those waters of how pieces move, is operation is supposed to be your finances, your team, putting your trust in each of those departments to make something a lot bigger than yourself. You know, everything has to extend beyond yourself. And I guess Yeah, from a traditional perspective, although I am I consider myself an artist, I consider myself more of like, I create art, but I am not a solo artist. Like everything that I do on the art form side requires so many moving parts and people that I I enjoy that more.

Joshua Chin 9:36

I think people don’t realize that when they when they hear artist, they think oh, you’re your Creator, your solo creator, but people think about a team that comes behind making something that that incredible what

Kent Yoshimura 9:53

an EEG artists have egos, you know, and I think one of the biggest issues that I talked about with You know, my my art partners, it’s like, we all write our names down. When we paint murals, we all put our names, like, there’s never any situation where even if it’s Kanye West, or whoever it is, you’re not working by yourself, it is a full team of people to bring something to life. And maybe your face is associated with it. But yeah, it’s same as business. You know, it makes sense. It takes a village

Joshua Chin 10:22

a lot of sense. What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made? Or, or your favorite mistakes that you’ve learned the most from? Does anything come to mind?

Kent Yoshimura 10:35

I mean, there are so many, there’s so many. I feel like there’s Miss, I make less mistakes now. And I think our team makes less mistakes now. But early on, you know, the customer service email was me, the customer service phone number was my phone number. But like, I, I didn’t know how to delegate, I think properly. And I didn’t know how to think beyond like, we have to do everything by ourselves. The shipment center was my house, like my apartment, we had two pallets in there. And I was going to the post office every single day Ryan was coming over during the weekends and packing boxes. And if I were to look back at that time, where I had way more energy, obviously, because I was in my 20s. I wouldn’t, I don’t consider those moments as mistakes by any means. But I will definitely not do it the same way. I will say that I appreciate doing all those things. I appreciate doing the customer support myself, because I get to understand what I had to fix within the company based on customer response early on, but like it’s not worth sacrificing your health over. Very,

Joshua Chin 11:47

you know what? You it’s in the grand scheme of things. I think it’s it’s either you make progress, or you learn, and sometimes both. With your experience at Shark Tank, talk to me about the story of how you got onto Shark Tank. And was it a good decision?

Kent Yoshimura 12:12

So Shark Tank reached out to us? Right, where we started our business. And we did the whole application we shot this video went through the whole process. But for some reason, they never responded back to us after they reached out to us. And we’re like, Alright, whatever. Like, it’s not a big deal. We got a call, like about three or four years ago, we received a call from one of their casting directors asking if we want to be on and to be on we had to go to a casting call all the way in Arizona. So Ryan and I were like, alright, let’s pack up our bags. We flew to Arizona, like literally three days later did the casting call. And the casting director was like, Alright, thank you. Next, like it was this super Stoik response. And we’re like, oh, we never we didn’t get it. Like, I hate these people, whatever. You know, like, we need to just move past this. A month later, we get a call, we move on to the next stage. Three months after that we are in front of the Sharks as the first company in the new season to be shot. And you know, we get a million dollar offer from Robert. And we for those who have seen that. So we turned it down because our valuation that they were giving us was too low. But it was one of the biggest offers that Robert has ever given a company in Shark Tank history. So it’s wild when things move they move. And it was a surreal experience. Yeah,

Joshua Chin 13:46

that’s crazy. Do you still did you? Were you directly in touch with with the sharks? Post? Shark Tank?

Kent Yoshimura 13:55

So actually, you know, I don’t know if I’m even allowed to talk about this. But you know, when you become a bigger company, people come after you. It’s just kind of a natural process of growing as a company. And yeah, unfortunately we put ourselves into, like someone saw the show, we got ourselves into a lawsuit situation. And Daniel Lubezki ended up you know, helping us a tremendous amount. And he’s just such an inch in us one of our sharks, he’s the founder of kind bar. He was such incredible person. He’s still so supportive of us. His team reached out to me three weeks ago asking for updates so he could share with the other sharks. And you know, like if anything that experience interacting with the sharks at like during the show and after the show have made me realize how they could be portrayed as these these like intense people, but they’re not malicious. Yeah. And as entrepreneurs, I think business people and other entrepreneurs share this ideology of, we’re all in this struggle together. And we all have the same goals to reach success. So why not help? You know, for those willing to get help willing to ask for help.

Joshua Chin 15:17

I love that. I love that story. And, and Daniel, he’s so rarely rescue, he’s, he’s probably one of the most successful sharks to ever be on the show, right? He’s, he’s, he’s worth like, a couple of billion dollars, let’s say, what kind of advice would you give to like knowing what you know now? Right? What kind of what would you say? What kind of advice would you give to a younger self? Back in 2015, when you first started out, and with Neuro?

Kent Yoshimura 15:52

I feel like, after college, I had this, you know, because I decided not to pursue martial arts and fighting, and I still had that same mentality, this hyper competitive, I’m going to do it myself, let’s, you know, drive forth and take on the world. And I feel like our generation falls into this trap of hustle culture that’s associated with that. Yeah. My dad tells me this advice. And it’s almost funny, because as you get older, you start being a mirror image of your dad, but he always tells me because, cuz, you know, like, I’ll be stressed out, I’m so intense, trying to do all these businesses and trying to find independence. And he’s like, just take it easy. You know, and if I saw my younger, self stressed out, isolating, and perhaps sometimes, like, breaking relationships with people, not in a negative voice, but you know, just isolating myself from people, because I’m so in pursuit of a goal. It In retrospect, I feel like I had blinders on. If I were to talk to my younger self, it would be to just take it easy. You know, breathe, learn the process, absorb, be a sponge, learn everything. Take a step back and apply it. Listen to people, like when you’re so on the go, and you’re so in this hustle culture and like, I’m going to make it I’m this III mentality, you start losing track of what the bigger picture is. And I feel for most, most most situations, it’s impossible to find success in that.

Joshua Chin 17:41

I love that. I love that. Kind of going back to what you’ve just mentioned, knowing when to ask for help. I think that there’s there’s value and humility and knowing when to say, hey, I need help. And I gotta look for I gotta look for someone to who’s better at what, what I’m trying to accomplish here than I am. In, in what situations, would you would you persist? And not seek help? And go on your own way? Because I’m sure there are instances where that’s the case where that’s appropriate.

Kent Yoshimura 18:25

Yeah, I think. I mean, there’s, you know, we’re a startup. So like, we have, like 20 Something people, but we’re still a startup. And in that mentality, there are times where everyone is so strapped, that that you have to just step in, and do like, if you have the ability to do it going in and just doing it is sometimes better, and then presenting it to the tape. But then there’s also other situations where if you’re not staying in your lane, it’s more disruptive. Yep. To the overall flow. And I think, the veteran or an entrepreneur, that’s because I’ve been at this for almost a decade now. It takes time to learn, when it’s important for you too overstepped your boundaries to make sure something happens, especially as a CEO or an executive and know to trust the process and the team to make sure it does get done and give them enough guidance where it it does get done.

Joshua Chin 19:29

How do you make the call?

Kent Yoshimura 19:32

I mean, the call starts with the hiring process. You know, the call starts with bringing in someone they have that trust to begin with, then something’s wrong with who you’re right. But once you hire that person, you know you could trust them and it goes into the onboarding and everything and they learn and you know that they’re perfect for that fit. Then, you know, I think it ultimately just comes down to It’s situational. But it ultimately just comes down to how much you depend on that person, and how much you can trust and rely on that person to reach the goal. Not to say you put all your, like, dependence on that person, or whoever it is, or team and you need to guide them and you know, you offer a hand but

Joshua Chin 20:25

you know, what something I’ve just observed, in kind of a realization is that Kent in every pursuit that, that you embarked on your strive for some level of excellence. And in everything that you do, you have achieved some level of excellence. What what, what drives you to get, get into so many things, and pursue these interests were as most people treat as hobbies, to the degree of excellence and achievement that you have.

Kent Yoshimura 21:04

I mean, it’s really you know, whenever I do something, I just a lot of the time, I’m fine with something being being content up to a certain level like spearfishing is one of my big, big hobbies that I’ve been diving into, and I’m just content, like, being in the water and like, just going and fishing, you know, I, there’s no desire for you to be a competitive spear Fisher. But there’s this other side of me that’s like, as I get better at it, what’s like, I want to go hunt for tuna or something. Next, I want to learn more. And in that process of learning more and more and more, I think the natural progression is that these opportunities start coming about for murals, like, you know, I was originally illustrating I illustrated the and built out the children’s branding for the coffee and tea leaf. But starting from there, it was like, Okay, I’m illustrating, but I want to work bigger, I want to paint a mural, I want to do public art. And in that process, so we’re just like, people were like, hey, like, Can I pay you, you know, five figures, to paint this, can I pay you six figures to paint, you know, a massive, like side of a building. And at that point, you have this, the beauty of capitalism, and the beauty of business is that now that capital can be used to expand your craft, to build out resources, and create something, again, bigger than yourself. And I don’t know if it’s a thinking process, but I think I’ve just been very fortunate, where 10 have just this desire to, like, keep building bigger, and keep building beyond myself translates into business or success, or, you know, trading, creating big things by doing more

Joshua Chin 23:10

work. So where does this drive come from? Do you think if you kind of look back at your, you know, when the as you were growing up? has always been the case? Or is there an external influence on you that, that that compels you to, to go beyond what one would typically imagine this? That’s good enough. Like you don’t settle for good enough. You know, that’s what I that’s what I’ve seen. I mean,

Kent Yoshimura 23:43

I, I, I guess I do what I do. I don’t even like, think about limits. I think most I don’t know, I think most people don’t also think about limits, but then because I’m not an intense person. Most if when people meet me, like, I’m definitely not intense person. Yeah, easygoing. Like, we hung out, you know, like, and I think just, I love I don’t, I also don’t go into anything I don’t feel passionate about. So for me, like, I mean, I love the whole idea of supplementing my body and achieving a better mental state or better physical state, you know, hitting, like my own KPIs. Like yeah, and that’s why I love Neuro because Neuro is all about that. I love art, obviously, because it’s being able to flex my creative energy and I just have such a fun time being on the wall painting, talking with people that are coming up like my partner Paul who paints with me is like one of my best friends like I love just being out there. You know, and painting with them. Building toy stores like the excitement of seeing children walking in, like all those like these are all just spearfishing to me. It’s like Meditation and the sport that I’ve done, where you’re forced to be in the zone, and spearfishing, you’re forced to be in the zone. And that’s why I love it so much. Like, yeah, I don’t know that like, these are all just sensations, and I chase the sensations. And thank God I, you know, don’t don’t dive too deep into drugs a drug addict instead? And you know

Joshua Chin 25:27

do you do you make your bed in the morning, for the record, I don’t man, it’s like make your bed, that’s the first thing you got to do. But I think the lesson there is, at least what I’m taking away from, from this conversation and reflecting is, there isn’t a single path to, to, to achievement, whatever achievement means to, to to us. You might need to make your bed you might need to have a strict morning routine to get to the outcome that you want to. But but sometimes it’s just that compelling drive to create an achieve that that’s enough. And sometimes we were blessed with with having that. On the flip side Kent has that ever come into a source of problems for you.

Kent Yoshimura 26:32

Really excited about some things and you know, dive too deep into it. I have a you know, one of the things that I definitely have a problem with is like once so much energy into something that I’m just like, I can’t you know, like, step away from it. When in reality, I should just feel like, I’m not passionate about this anymore. And I’m not going to be putting in the energy that this deserves. I should find. Yeah, I would say that’s probably the the bad side of a personality like that. Yeah.

Joshua Chin 27:07

What are what are some of the traits that that you have that complement your co founder, Ryan? And vice?

Kent Yoshimura 27:17

I mean, Ryan is, Ryan is one of the nicest people and most supportive people that you will ever meet in your life. He’s an incredible human being I, you know, like, Yeah, like that. There’s moments where, like, we never get into fights. We have like, conversations about Neuro that might be tense, but we never really get into fights, stay in our lanes, we know what we’re doing. I trust him, you know, on what he’s doing. And like, it’s, I feel like, if I started Neuro with a different partner, it would, that was probably had the same intensity. Maybe as I do, when it comes to like certain things of getting things just done. We would have clashed a lot of time, we end up just trying to have so much control over that because of it the pressure amplifier, we amplify. Versus with Ryan, it’s like just, it feels just like growing. It feels just like we’re, we’re naturally growing. And sometimes it might not be as fast as we want to. But we’re still like taking our steps forward. And to me, it’s like I love that journey, more than anything. Brian is CFO. So he does a lot more like general admin meets the accounting finances, working with our accounting team, and working with supply chain to make sure there’s like our inventories factored alongside our CFO, I do day to day management and I also handle a lot more of the marketing side of things. So dealing with the management KPIs that our team has to hit, looking at agendas, looking at necessary processes to help grow the company going through higher Yeah, more of the management side.

Joshua Chin 29:26

I love that. And how do you split your functional role? So Ryan’s you Oh okay.

Kent Yoshimura 29:38

No, I feel like everything happened at the right time. I made all the right mistakes. I did. Like I don’t know. I got yeah, there’s stuff that sucks. You know, to be blunt, but I still enjoy every moment of even the sucky parts. But in retrospect, so No, probably not

Joshua Chin 30:02

make sense. Make sense?

Kent Yoshimura 30:06

I’m pretty happy. I think I would say I’m a pretty happy person for the most part. I mean, I get stressed out. But I think I’m happy

Joshua Chin 30:12

if you have to start all over again. Is there anything you’d do differently? That’s a loaded question. I looked earlier,

Kent Yoshimura 30:20

I look at my day to day, see what I have around me. And although I know I have shortcomings and things that I desire, more of the fact that those desires don’t infiltrate my life in a negative way, like it did before, makes me realize that I am happy. Or at least more happy than I am. Oh, that’s so cool. I have a triangle that I operate on that with jobs that I talked about, kind of often, but it’s money, time and quality of life. And there has to be a balance between those in some teeter totter way. So if it’s a lot of money, and it improves my quality of life, or it’s a lot of money, and doesn’t take that much time, but you know, sacrifices, my quality of life, then it’s something worth doing, if it’s great for quality of life, but it’s not that much pay, and it takes a lot of time. Also pursue it like, you know, there’s like a balance that just needs to be made between those three for me to pursue opportunities. And, yeah, and quality of life is super important. And a lot of people just think time and money. And it’s not linear like that, I think it’s a lot more complex. And it comes into their subjective quality of life. Third point, I think,

Joshua Chin 31:53

but I think some, some books I finish and the ones that I do finish. Often, I think that it’s also situational, and time and relevance. Because you can revisit a really good book at different times in your life and get different insights and draw different conclusions from from the same material. And there are a couple of books that I go to go back again, and one of them one of them being Principles by Ray Dalio. Really good book, a lot of our core values and core principles that the company’s shaped by his ideas and kind of influenced mine. And yeah, that’s one that’s really top of top of mine. One debt, as a counterexample, Scaling Up by Vern Harnish, mazing book mazing framework for scaling companies for scale ups, as he calls it. But not not not the greatest book for me, especially at the time when I read it, which was at the start of service business, which is really difficult to implement when you have no team members, no, no employees. And pretty much you’re in survival mode at that time. And you know, you don’t think about setting a long term vision and a long term goal when you have, you know, you don’t know if tomorrow is gonna come. So it’s contextual. And that’s just an extreme example. Kent, for people listening, interested to connect and learn more about what you do. Where should you go to?

Kent Yoshimura 33:39

Come find us at getneuro.com That’s getneuro.com. To learn more about our product, learn more about our founders story. And if you want to find me on Instagram, where I post somewhat frequently, not too often, but so frequently, you can find me @Kentaro, which is just my full name Kentaro.

Joshua Chin 34:05

And it’s been a pleasure. This has been one of my favorite conversations I’ve had on the show. Thank you for coming on, man.

Kent Yoshimura 34:13

Thanks so much, Josh. That was a blast.

Outro 34:20

Thanks for listening to the eCommerce Profits Podcast. We’ll see you again next time and be sure to click Subscribe to get notified of future episodes.

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