President, Buzzagogo & Maker of Cold Bee Gone
Joyce Dales is the President of Buzzagogo and the maker of Cold Bee Gone, a homeopathic, Manuka Honey based remedy that you swab in your nose to fight cold, flu, allergies and to protect the nasal biome. Joyce is a mom to two beautiful girls through the gift of international adoption. She and her husband Jeffrey run their company while homeschooling, as they travel the country in their 1972 Airstream. Cold Bee Gone is now sold nationwide and will be launching in CVS April of 2019
How did you get into the industry?
Originally I was a high school teacher. I never imagined that at 40 years old I would pivot so completely into a career within the natural health industry or that I would invent a product! They say necessity is the mother of invention and this mom decided that the common cold was a problem that needed to be solved. Several major life events occurred within a short span that turned me into an inventor and mad scientist determined to gain control over seasonal illness. I was going to tackle the allegedly unstoppable, ever mutating, common cold. After much trial, error and years of research, I created Cold Bee Gone, which is a homeopathic, Manuka Honey based remedy that you swab in your nose to fight cold, flu and allergy symptoms. I named my company Buzzagogo and within five years I went from selling in just a couple of local stores to being carried nationwide. Suddenly, I was the Queen Bee of how to stay well during cold and flu season, giving wellness talks and fighting the sniffles one nose at a time. I guess I’m still a teacher but now I talk about boogers and honey. It’s not so glamorous, but when I hear from people about how my product has helped them I feel pretty darn sparkly.
Any emerging industry trends?
In the five years since I began selling Cold Bee Gone, I have noticed a shift in mainstream stores, that they are increasingly willing to stock natural products amongst the traditional options. I used to sell exclusively to small independent health food retailers, but now every company is willing to seriously consider placement of alternative products. This is a wonderful shift and I’m grateful that the large corporations are embracing the shift in consumer demand. On the one hand, coming from a family that owns mom and pop stores, I want to support the small independents who have long since been the only source of unique natural products like my own. However, the reach a mainstream store can offer a small brand such as mine is so appealing. More convenience and wellness options for all consumers is a desirable outcome for community health and the growth of my company.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
As natural goes mainstream, the challenge will be differentiating your product from not just natural products, but all the traditional products as well. In smaller, natural retailers the employers are very invested and informed. They take the time to train the employees to be knowledgable about each product and it’s such a valuable resource for a brand. Placement in large retailers makes getting the message out more challenging. It’s also an amazing opportunity to reach demographics that otherwise may have never encountered Cold Bee Gone.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
There were four pivotal life events that set me on this path of natural wellness and turned me into a “bio-hacker” of the booger biome. First, my father had a five year battle with lung cancer relating to his exposure to asbestos in the Navy. It was during this phase that I first heard the dreaded word “immunocompromised.”
Second, my then fiancé shared with me his recent, life-threatening battle with hospital acquired MRSA infections after an operation.
Third, I landed in the ER after taking an ordinary cold medicine that triggered a dangerous tachycardia. I had an arrhythmia that made ordinary cold medicine off limits and pregnancy high risk.
Finally, our newly adopted daughter required emergency open heart surgery in Vietnam as a legacy effect of Agent Orange. When we brought her home the word “immunocompromised” was part of our lives again.
Each story on its own is too long to tell but I’ll sum the journey up by stating, never tell a wife, daughter or mother that a problem can’t be solved. I quickly learned that once you go down the rabbit hole of bio-hacking….you don’t come back out. It’s not a dark hole, but rather filled with light, possibilities, healing and empowerment.
What’s next for the Business in the near future?
Right now our primary focus is on supporting a new launch with CVS in April of 2019 as Cold Bee Gone expands into an additional 3000 stores nationwide. Being in the cold and flu category has given us a wonderful opportunity to cross over into mainstream stores because almost every consumer catches cold. It’s a universal issue and one that does not have enough natural options outside of the usual zinc, saline or vitamin C based products. We also have several new items currently in development and my goal is launch the top three before the close of 2019. Being a mom, I know what matters to other moms. If there is a problem that has kept me awake at night then I know it’s keeping other moms up as well. I intend to offer a truly natural solution for every cough, upset tummy, sore throat, scrape, burn, bump and boo boo for adults and kids alike.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
In additional to our product development we have some exciting partnerships building within professional sports. A few dozen MLB Players have been using Cold Bee Gone regularly for three years now, and professional athletes tend to be very loyal to anything they feel enhances their ability to stay well during critical parts of the season. We have requests for product from three other teams within baseball and hockey. This was an unexpected path for building brand awareness but I am so proud to say Cold Bee Gone is now an official sponsor of the Boston Red Sox and the response has been nothing shy of tremendous. We have begun to assemble a small, talented team of rogue experts in marketing, Amazon optimization and sales. I’m a control freak by nature and when I finally handed off some responsibility to others, I suddenly felt free to turn my talent and passion back to the things I am best at. Passion is the company’s foundation and choosing the right team has been pivotal to our growth.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
One of the biggest challenges we faced during our initial development happened when we first hired our manufacturers to test our formula and begin packaging it. Honey viscosity was perpetually a challenge during our early test runs. You reach a point in your business where you are so overwhelmed and so financially burdened that you might consider taking the path of least resistance just to get to market. This was unthinkable to me. I could not imagine telling people to try my remedy if it contained preservatives that I wouldn’t want to give to my own children. Most other cold medicine or honey based products include alcohol, chemicals or excessive saline. If my product couldn’t be truly all natural then what was the point? This logistics issue was a six month nightmare and thankfully our manufacturer understood our goals and worked hard at a solution that involved packaging adjustments and re-tooling the filling equipment. Cold Bee Gone could continue on as it was originally created. Yes, it’s honey. Yes, it’s thick. But those are the reasons it works so very well!
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
My favorite customer review was from a gentleman who reported that he had shared Cold Bee Gone with other climbers while attempting to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. Apparently climbing altitudes dry out the nasal passages causing many climbers to suffer repeat bouts of illness. Since honey is antimicrobial, a probiotic, a prebiotic and helps retain moisture, the climbers found it to be hugely beneficial to maintaining wellness during a time when optimal health is critical for performance. Things have come a long way from the days when I kept my remedy in mason jars in the fridge and had to persuade people to stick honey up their noses. Now, just a few years down the road, when I explain the complexities and the critical nature of the nasal biome, people really seem to understand. Cold Bee Gone is fast becoming a staple in the medicine cabinets of customers, from millennials to baby boomers. If you try Cold Bee Gone, you can expect the sweet experience of less severe symptoms, shorter duration of illness and a happy nose.
How do you motivate others?
In the last two years, I’ve been invited to speak to various corporations, schools, women’s groups and with families about how to avoid germs and stay well. I’m using my vast wealth of strange cold fighting tips and tricks to take the fear and helplessness out of sick season. When I approach a company, clinic or individual about trying my product, or I speak on nasal immune function, I find that people are eager to hear about new tools for their wellness arsenal. I don’t want to just say, “Here. Try my product. It’s awesome.” I want to educate, empower and share every little thing I spent years researching to help families like mine. Being open, genuine and generous with knowledge is what I believe the natural industry should be all about. I would like to believe that my “mom entrepreneur” story might inspire other people who are sitting on a great home remedy, recipe, invention or idea to make it a reality. It’s not just an American Dream. It’s a human dream that, even if you just did it in your spare time, it’s such a wonderful feeling to see it come to life and help others
Career advice to those in your industry?
Get to your local Small Business Development Center as soon as possible. Whether your product is just a concept written on a sticky note, or a jar full of Grandma’s joint ointment, it’s never too soon to establish a relationship with your local SBDC. When the company began to grow I reached out to my SBDC in New Hampshire. They assigned me a mentor by the name of Hollis McGuire and over the years she has become one of my most valued team members. She has served the role of bolstering me when I felt like quitting to giving me a strong reality check when too many episodes of Shark Tank had gone to my head. Her guidance, connections and enthusiasm have helped drive Buzzagogo forward through many rough patches. Small entrepreneurs have no idea the sheer volume of expertise available! Hollis McGuire and the New Hampshire SBDC have taken me from a seedling to being in major retailers across the country. The SBDC is the sherpa every small entrepreneur needs to get to the summit and it’s free. Imagine that. Free! Once you begin to grow then build your team carefully with the same care you would use in choosing a babysitter, pet sitter or doctor. Then my last piece of advice is to create with love. Demonstrate love through your brand, your product, your mission and you. People will respond in kind.