103: Growing a Unicorn Company with Tom Bilyeu of Quest Nutrition

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The term “unicorn company” describes a startup valued at over $1 billion that managed to get there in a relatively short period of time. Usually when we talk about unicorn companies, we’re dealing with Silicon Valley and the cutting edge of the tech scene. Companies that are disruptive in the sense that they’ve created something totally new.

Rarely, however, do we find a unicorn company that started out in an overcrowded and declining market. Yet somehow, despite the odds, Tom Bilyeu, co-founder of Quest Nutrition, turned a fledgling startup into a powerhouse in just six years.

When Quest Nutrition first hit the scene with their protein bars, they were told by almost every expert in the space that it was insane and that it was guaranteed to fail. Yet Bilyeu and his co-founders persevered and tackled the problem in a way that no one else had thought of before.

First they focused on their customers, to empower them and actually help them make healthy and positive changes in their lives. In short, they treated their customers differently than their competitors.

The result was explosive, growing by 57,000% in their first three years and cracking the $1 billion mark three years later.

We were lucky to sit down with Bilyeu and have him give us the breakdown and strategy behind Quest Nutrition and how they became the unicorn company they are today.

In this interview you will learn:

  • The challenges of managing a hyper-growth company and how to overcome them
  • How to navigate the classic entrepreneurial debate of profit vs. growth
  • Why you need to evangelize to your customer whenever you can
  • How to build brand loyalty and have your audience believe in your vision
  • How to crack the notoriously difficult and crowded health and nutrition market
  • & much more!
  • Kathy Meis

    What I like about this company, Quest Nutrition, is that they are making food healthier. Use of stevia, and NO soy, etc…is revolutionary. A huge number of Americans suffers from food sensitivities to ingredients like soy and high sucrose corn syrup and this company gets that! It’s a huge differentiator. Kudos!

    • Thanks Kathy! Amazing company, amazing vision, and brilliant team behind what they are up to! Hope you got a ton of GOLD from this one!

  • Great interview. That is some growth for a bootstrapped manufacturing business. That had everything against them. Great story. Looking up that Tim/Noah podcast now. Good work Nathan.

    • Thanks Peter! Amazing growth for a bootstrapped start up hey!! Who ever thought you could build a business that fast bootstrapped?

      • …and a manufacturing business at that. Was talking to him there on twitter, super nice guy.

  • Great podcast. You ask very good questions I really appreciated listening to you. Tom is amazing and he’s right we are going to get real progress in cancer research by following the nutrition path. However it is a mind body thing as well as modulating stress levels and at least any reputable nutritionist will overview all these considerations.

    • Thank you so much Debbie! Glad you enjoyed it! Tom is an absolute superstar entrepreneur. Quest are doing truly game changing work. I aspire to build a company with the level of credibility, respect and care for our industry as Tom has done with Quest.

  • You’re welcome Lizzie, so glad to hear this interview challenged your business model! That’s what I can call a big breakthrough 🙂


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