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Interview with a Successful Startup Founder

+$20M/mo Selling Health Products to Help People Feel Better

David Schmidt
David Schmidt
August 24, 2021
Category of startup
Health
Country of startup
United States
Revenue of startups
+$500k/mo
Interview with a Failed Startup Founder

+$20M/mo Selling Health Products to Help People Feel Better

David Schmidt
David Schmidt
August 24, 2021
Category of startup
Health
Country of startup
United States
Cause of failure of the startup

David launched LifeWave, a fast-growing health technology company, in 2002. Today it sells products in 80 countries and has been included in Inc. Magazine's fastest-growing companies multiple times while generating $20M/mo in revenue.

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Hi David! Who are you and what are you currently working on?

I am an inventor first and a business Founder / CEO second. I launched LifeWave, a fast-growing health technology company, in San Diego in 2002. The company began selling products in 2004, and today it sells products in about 80 countries. With offices in Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, and with Indonesia, Mexico, and South Korea on our radar for 2022/2023, we also ship our products from 13 warehouses located throughout the world. I continue to act as the CEO of LifeWave nearly 20 years after its initial launch.

LifeWave has always used an independent distributor business model to sell its products.  Our wearable technology is best served by individuals being able to share their personal experiences, their stories, with others. The company’s mission is to help people feel better, look younger, and lead more joyful lives. We do this through wellness products that tap into the body’s natural energy and resiliency, and through business opportunities that inspire personal and professional fulfillment. We’ve enjoyed rapid growth, which has captured the attention of Inc. Magazine, leading to the naming LifeWave to its list of fastest-growing companies multiple times, including the upcoming 2021 issue.

Our most popular line of products, led by X39, are our wafer-thin, virtually weightless phototherapy patches that healthcare consumers place on various areas of their bodies to deliver positive changes within their bodies I researched the technology for many years before I introduced my first LifeWave product, Energy Enhancer. Although the original audience for its first version was military personnel, the complete line of phototherapy patches has gone on to be available to anyone.

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I have known I wanted to be an inventor since I was eight years old. That is the year that my parents took me to visit Thomas Edison’s original laboratory in New Jersey. A laboratory assistant who worked with Edison directly chose me to demonstrate how a piece of equipment on display operated.

I had my heart set on being an inventor from that point forward, but my dad told me that inventor jobs no longer existed. Undeterred, I developed more than 100 patents over the next 50 years. My dad later apologized, and we get a good laugh out of it to this day. However, I hope this serves as a lesson to anyone who does not initially feel supported in pursuing their dreams.

People often ask me how I came up with the idea for LifeWave. I worked at a company called AAG in 1999 as part of a team that developed survival equipment for the United States Navy. The naval crew in charge of a mini-submarine had to remain awake for 30 consecutive hours, and I wanted to find a solution that did not involve using stimulants, drugs, or caffeine.

I did research for three years before I launched LifeWave. It was a big moment for me because I believed so strongly in the ability to naturally stimulate the body’s metabolism without resorting to artificial means.


How did you go from idea to product?

The development of every new product starts with prayer. I feel that prayer helps to relieve any anxiety I feel about the process and motivates me to create something that improves health across the world. Our team then conducts an online patent search to make sure we are not accidentally repeating someone else’s work.

Each new product, once a consumer need and demand is confirmed, goes through multiple phases from concept to completion, including conducting years of research in our San Diego laboratory. We put our products through rigorous studies with independent doctors and scientists to ensure the consumer receives accurate and expected results.  Then we start marketing and selling it.

I once worked for a company where I had to memorize a sales pitch about why a three-inch roll of tape was better than a two-inch roll of tape. I knew it was silly, but it was my job at the time. Once I left that job, I vowed to never use a sales pitch again. Selling a product like ours should involve natural conversations that seek to solve health problems for our customers.

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Which were your marketing strategies to grow your business?

We have used an independent distributor business model from the start, and that has worked out well for us. I could share dozens of success stories of people from all walks of life who held a wide variety of jobs before becoming independent distributors for LifeWave. Some have made it a part-time job within the gig economy, while others have achieved tremendous success making LifeWave their only business.

Marketing has always come easily for our company because we release cutting-edge health products like no other.  Our first product launch was Energy Enhancer in 2004, which earned the company $17 million in gross revenue during the first year of its release. Sales exceeded our expectations and gave us the confidence that people are indeed looking for alternatives to improve their health. We advertised Energy Enhancer mostly by word-of-mouth.

After we launched Energy Enhancer, we went on to introduce several patch products that addressed pain, sleep, stress, and anti-aging. Ice Wave as our pain product has been a consistent success and Aeon, which promotes relaxation and reduced stress, has always been a top seller.   I went on stage with the actress Suzanne Somers, one of our Ambassadors who worked with us for 10 years, to launch Aeon. A recording technician from our company captured the initial launch celebration and sent it to our team of independent distributors around the world, who used it to promote Aeon in their local markets.

In January of 2019, we released our most successful patch ever, X39. This innovative, patented product elevates a copper peptide, known through previously published studies to activate stem cells. We spent 10 years developing X39 and the minute we launched it, it was an instant hit among distributors worldwide, driving our sales to record levels for the year. The word of mouth on X39 performance was and continues to be breath-taking and perfect validation for the value of using the independent distributor business model.

LifeWave Landing Page


How are you doing today and what are your goals for the future?

LifeWave experienced its share of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, but we are still in a good position. Our growth rate never slowed down, and looking back, our sales for 2021 are projected to be about 10 times what they were in 2018. As we look out upon the landscape of health, wellness, and the future of technology to serve humanity in the coming years, all of us at LifeWave are excited.  The innovation within our very busy labs is expected to create opportunities for us that will sustain our growth and momentum for years to come. Add in the expansion strategies we will be executing and we believe our future looks very promising.

Since starting LifeWave, what have been your main lessons?

I have learned to be resilient above all else. Life as an entrepreneur means people will experience good times and challenging times. They should not rest on their success for too long nor dwell on their failures because neither approach is helpful. Entrepreneurs who want to quit at the first sign of challenges will have difficulty living up to their full potential.

I also like to tell young entrepreneurs to believe in themselves and their chosen path. They need to keep moving forward no matter what, even if everyone else around them tells them that reaching their goals is impossible. If I had listened to the negativity flowing toward me when I first started LifeWave, I would have stopped before I started.  I also suggest employees at any company, including mine, should always take the time to hone their skills around the fundamentals. No one should assume they have mastered the basics of any business and they should never stop trying to improve themselves.  


What were the biggest obstacles you overcame? What were your worst mistakes?

I think my biggest mistake in business has been trusting the wrong people in my earlier years. However, I learned from my experiences and am much more discerning now about who I let into our company’s inner circle. Every business professional will face some type of betrayal in their career because of human nature’s desire to get ahead, sometimes at all costs.  There is no question that trust is a major factor in any organization’s culture of success and we certainly work to make sure we build it across all departments, among all employees.

As far as obstacles, there have been a few. Call them speedbumps, call them roadblocks, we have had our share.  But we’ve been able to successfully weather them and come through those challenging times stronger and more determined than ever.


What tools & resources do you recommend?

I do not know how I would be able to have productive days without the ability to meet virtually with key people within my company at all hours of the day.  As a global company doing business in all time zones, Zoom and Skype have been indispensable…pandemic or not.   

As for favorite books, I think Power vs. Force by David Hawkins is the best book I have ever read. I highly recommend it to all entrepreneurs because it will give them a perspective on life they may never have considered.

I also spend time reflecting on my favorite quote each day. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “What lies behind you, and what lies before you, pales to insignificance as compared to what lies within you.”  This is a great quote.  Where people come from ultimately does not matter if they have the conviction and resilience to pursue their dreams, no matter what the obstacles or costs. And when you humbly seek God regularly for wisdom, support, and answers, the peace of mind and energy that flows through you and within you can add a confident self-assurance that underpins all that you set out to do each day.

Where can we go to learn more?

The first place I recommend people go to learn more about LifeWave is our business website. Our content is available in multiple languages, and website visitors can change the default to the language of their own country. We produced a four-minute video about LifeWave located under the About section that also gives a lot of background information. People can learn about our products and find a distributor from our main website as well.

Here are the links to the social media sites we are active in that anyone is welcome to follow: 

I also encourage anyone who is considering purchasing our products for the first time to read what other customers have to say about them on our review page.

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