Headquarters: Plano, Texas
Top Executive: Keith Halls, President, Garrett McGrath, CIO
Products: Nutritional Supplements and Functional Beverages
You can’t buy happiness. But can you drink it?
For every Elepreneurs distributor, there are ten customers—and it shows. “There are tons of customers who have no idea this is a direct selling company,” says Elepreneurs Chief Experience Officer Sylvia McGrath. “It’s not your typical network marketing culture.”
It’s not that Elepreneurs is operating incognito within the industry, but rather that its unique company culture has set it apart in palpable ways. Instead of eschewing network marketing, the Elepreneurs executive team, which is led by a C-suite packed with seasoned network marketers, sought to enhance it. To do that, they turned typical sales strategies upside down and refused to rely on the event-based structure that has been industry standard for decades. Instead, they focused on something that is impossible to quantify: happiness.
Happiness in a Cup
In today’s instant gratification world, people don’t want to wait 90 days (or even 90 minutes) to feel the impact of a product. Elepreneurs says, just ask the hundreds of thousands of “Happy Coffee” customers. “Within a few sips, many people say they just feel better, happy, energize and focused,” says Sylvia. “While others say, it’s like their brain just comes to life. When new customers start feeling this good about an affordable product, oftentimes they feel compelled to tell other people about it.” That’s why Elepreneurs (whose products reside under the Elevacity product name umbrella) is growing so fast adds Sylvia, “It’s an instant-impact product that oftentimes turns into an instant-impact business.”
The relatively new science of nootropics behind their customers’ favorite happy beverages is the foundation of the company’s category-creating “feel-good” products. Still, Elepreneurs Chief Impact Officer Garrett McGrath doesn’t encourage distributors to explain the science behind it. “People feel the need to get into ‘the science’ only if they cannot feel the product working,” Garrett says. “Here, we start with each person’s own experience. You simply share a sample—you don’t have to be some kind of nutrition expert—and that’s refreshing to people. We’re just giving you this gift, and you get to make up your own mind about it.”
“There are tons of customers who have no idea this is a direct selling company…and that’s a good thing.” – Sylvia McGrath, Elepreneurs Chief Experience Officer
Happiness On the Job
When happiness is the end goal, work styles drastically shift. For the Elepreneurs team, that means fewer meetings, no pushy sales trainings and a ten-to-one customer to distributor ratio. And income? It’s important, but not something the company leads with.
“In traditional direct sales, you go to a meeting, and probably the thing that’s emphasized most is how to make money,” says Elepreneurs President Keith Halls. “I’ve been to a lot of our meetings, and most leaders say, ‘Don’t worry about the compensation plan. It’s OK. You’ll make money when you start to share or sell the product.’ The atmosphere of the meetings is different.”
That more laid-back approach had led to some pleasant surprises in the mailboxes of distributors who didn’t realize they had been selling when they were sharing. “I’ve received a few emails from people saying, ‘I’m not sure why I got a check. I’m very grateful, but it’s not mine,’” Keith says. “We realized they didn’t even know. That was comforting to me.”
While most network marketing companies rush to build elaborate training portals full of scripts and tips for closing the deal, Elepreneurs relies on a high-impact, affordable product that naturally turns customers into distributors without much fanfare. That simplistic approach means sharing a cup of coffee (or sample) with a friend, and if they decide to buy, distributors tell them how they can get it for free. “We like to say—simple, simple, simple…sample, sample, sample,” Garrett says. “If you have to teach it, you have complicated it.”
Happiness at Home
Being family-focused means actually spending time with the people you care about. To reinforce that culture, the leadership doesn’t encourage situations that separate people from their families. Weekends are considered family time, so typically no team-building sessions happen during those hours. Most meetings are done over Zoom, where it’s common to see a toddler bouncing on the lap of a co-worker or kids playing in the background. There are almost no home parties, weekly meetings or monthly gatherings. Events happen once or twice a year, and distributors are encouraged to bring their kids. Registration goody bags for the kids at an Elepreneurs event include coloring books because no one on the team wants to exclude the single parents who can’t find childcare. Not surprisingly, the company is heavily populated with young moms.
“Women love this business,” Sylvia says. “They represent well over 80 percent of the company, and our Facebook page is about90 percent female. When you come to our happiness conventions, you’ll see the majority is happy women.”
“If you have to teach it, you have complicated it.” – Garrett McGrath, Elepreneurs Chief Impact Officer
Happiness by the Numbers
Elepreneurs launched in December 2017, and by October 31, 2019, the company’s customer enrollment reached 410,000, while distributor ranks stayed in the 42,000 range—a staggering difference in an industry that is constantly striving to keep more customers than distributors engaged. At the same time, sales reached $15 million per month. Of the company’s sales, 75 percent is directly from customers; 50 percent is customer subscriptions to the company’s SmartShip, and the other 25 percent is customers paying the full retail price on a distributor’s website. The remaining 25 percent of sales is distributor consumption, implying that the percentage of sales derived from customer purchases is even higher, given the fact that many distributors buy with the intent to use their purchase as inventory to share with their customers.
With $125 million in sales during the 12 months from November 1, 2018, to October 31, 2019, alone, the future looks profitable. “We also see expansion into foreign markets. That’s one of the goals we have—to reach as many people and affect as many lives for the better as we possibly can.”
Rapid growth and an easygoing culture don’t often lead to the same end, so the leadership admits that they are playing catch-up with their infrastructure. “Traditionally, if you look at companies that have gone on to do a billion dollars per year in sales, there is a very important inflection point when they hit between $100-125 million a year,” Garrett says. “We’ve just brought on some serious corporate firepower to get ahead of the growth curve. It is exciting to see that we’re keeping our inclusive, loving, family culture while investing in putting new systems in place for our next 10x run.”
Keith Halls, as well as Garrett and Sylvia McGrath, are part of that equation, whose combined careers offer decades of network marketing experience at the highest levels. They are joined by other important names, like Elepreneurs Chief Marketing Officer Clare Holbrook, and VP of Digital Strategy David Litt, as well as the new Chief Operations Officer, Tony Chaplin who has 30 years of global experience, as they finalize the team going forward. Building the right internal system and physical assets to support them will be a challenging but important part of the company’s future success, and the company is plowing much of its money back into getting the infrastructure right.
“It’s energizing, fun and exciting,” Keith says. “Are there hard days? Yes, but the good days far exceed the hard days. It’s about more than just sharing a cup of happy coffee. It’s about helping others lead happier lives.”