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Meet Alexander Bird of Kiss My Keto in West Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alexander Bird.

Alexander, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up as a native of London, England and graduated with a bachelors degree in Management and Information Technology from Manchester Business School. When I finished my undergrad I moved to New York and worked for CW Communications, a publishing & advertising company selling advertising space in a coupon book for pregnant mothers. My sister got me the job and I stayed with her in Long Island commuting into the city in the snow which took about 1hr30 each way. It taught me persistence, resilience, and how important it is to smile through the telephone!

The experience really pushed me outside my comfort zone and I really had no friends in New York so I came back to further my education. My sister suggested I get into more face to face sales so I returned to England to study for a Masters Degree in Real Estate & Law at Cass Business School in London. I wrote my thesis on the impact of the internet on real estate and got a position at Newmark Knight Frank on their trainee scheme. I eventually ended up specializing in office investments in the City of London and became a Member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. My first deal was supporting senior partner in the largest building acquisition in London, the ₤600M purchase of 30 St Mary Axe. It was a steep learning curve but I had an expense account, got to eat out a lot and entertain!

The people at the company were really great to me but in 2008 I saw the recession coming and I realized that I really wasn’t that passionate about brokering real estate deals. So I left and moved back to New York with no job and enough savings to survive for six months. By my fifth month, I was still unemployed but working random laboring and construction jobs, cleaning floors and trying to figure a way through. One evening I got a call asking if I would be interested in a job in LA. Five days later I was sleeping on my friend’s sofa in Beverly Hills and ready to begin work at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. I knew nothing about coffee and tea but they had me working in the stores for the first few weeks and talking to customers, making ice blended and I loved it.

I ended up working in the corporate office for 2 years specializing in store development and franchising. It was an amazing experience and the company went from 700 to 1,000+ locations in under two years while I was there, eventually selling to private equity. When I felt it was time to leave I switched gears again joining a music start-up, focusing on business development in background music & licensing to hospitality clients. I learned so much about music which I fell in love with when I moved to LA and the festival experience. During my time there we grew the company revenue 3x in 20 months.

After working for so many other people I decided it was time to go out on my own and since 2012 I’ve been entrepreneuring. I was fortunate to be introduced to one of my current partners and became involved in the development of over 250,000 sq ft of creative office & multifamily projects located primarily in Culver City & Hollywood as a principal of HQ Development, an LA-based real estate company. I met many tech founders that we leased properties to and decided that there was a gap in the hotel market that needed to be filled.

The project took 3 years but in May 2018 we opened Mayumi, a 35 room boutique hotel in Culver City. It has been a childhood dream of mine to own a hotel so its something I’m extremely proud of. During the hotel construction, I went to Burning Man with my best friend Michael and we decided it was time to start something together. We were going to sell paintballs on Amazon but we found out about the ketogenic diet and the rest is history. We started in a garage but we grew quicker than we anticipated and now we are a 7 figure business with 4 employees and growing.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I wouldn’t say anything about the journey has been smooth! We have always had urgency and speed to market as one of our goals. We formed the company on January 17, 2017, and 5 weeks later we had products up for sale on Amazon.com. It was quick and we made a lot of mistakes along the way. When we started we had to find all the suppliers and vet them all. Once we had approved all the samples we couldn’t find a co-packer to do the small runs we wanted to prove out the business before we went to scale so we ended up doing it all ourselves. It was so time-consuming (and messy!) but we learned a huge amount along the way that is still valuable to how we do things now.

With every growth stage, more challenges come; a mentor of mine once told me there’s fast, cheap and good – you can only pick two out of the three so decide which one you are prepared to compromise on and move forward. I bring that lesson to everything I do. At the initial stages, we picked a manufacturing partner based on pricing and we had some terrible results, so now, as we grow we are adjusting our model to incorporate high-quality partners that are reliable and meet the brand standards.

Please tell us about Kiss My Keto.
My partner Michael and I started Kiss My Keto because we couldn’t find a brand that made the keto lifestyle easy and we felt we could trust, so we decided to create one!

Our first year we specialized in supplements like MCT Oil in liquid, capsule and powder forms and as we have grown we are expanding into more functional foods that provide the enjoyment of what we are used to eating on a more carbohydrate based diet but with macronutrient ratios that fit within a keto lifestyle… i.e. low carbs and sugar free.

Our goal is transparency, vulnerability and accountability in everything we do – we know we aren’t going to be perfect but we want to shake up the supplement and food spaces so that people start questioning why some of the diseases and illnesses in our society exist.

I think the difference with Michael & I is that we are two normal guys, we aren’t doctors or scientists. We see a problem and our goal is to contribute what we can to solve it.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I’m a believer that all the mistakes we make lead us to the path we are on & I’m grateful for those learnings. If we knew more about the industry before we started we may not have made the innovations that we currently benefit from.

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