Rob Neuner Troublemaker at Boost Oxygen
Rob Neuner, CEO and Co-Founder of Boost Oxygen knows a good idea when he sees one. After years importing beer from Europe, he sold that business to find something new. In the Czech Republic, he found companies selling bottled, compressed oxygen. There was nothing like this in the U.S. at the time so, after doing his research, he began to put together Boost Oxygen.
From their website, “Founded in 2007, Boost Oxygen has been the entrepreneurial pioneer for developing a brand-new retail category: 95% Pure Supplemental Oxygen in lightweight, portable and affordable canisters for health, recovery, natural energy and athletic performance.”
The many challenges of selling something entirely new
Boost Oxygen got started in 2007. Before they could get very far, The Department of Transportation paid them a visit and told them they couldn’t ship oxygen in canisters. You may think this would be a major problem, but Rob and partners changed the design and went to lightweight aluminum canisters. The result was a superior container.
Many people are surprised to learn only 21% of the air we breathe is oxygen; less when you hike up above 9,000 feet in places like Colorado. As Rob points out, consumers have bottled sports drinks and water for when they get thirsty, but few people are aware what they could do when they get winded, have a hangover, or have mask fatigue in these months of COVID-19.
One of the biggest issues facing Boost Oxygen was educating the retail buyers and consumers about the wide array of benefits of supplemental oxygen. For instance, Rob goes into depth on a major concern they overcame – if you’re a consumer, where do you find a completely new product category? If consumers are aware, then they have their own ideas where to look for it – Sporting goods stores, pharmacies, hiking outfitters, hockey stores, ski and snowboard outfitters. They expect it to be where they decide to look for it. The challenge of getting retail shelf space in such a wide swath of retailers is enormous.
Early on, Colorado became their best market, partly because of the elevation, but mostly thanks to a successful salesperson in the state. However, it still took a long time. People who live at 9,000 feet above sea level are acclimatized and don’t need supplemental oxygen, so they assume no one else does either. This was true of retail buyers and store owners in Colorado.
Mr. Wonderful, A.K.A. Kevin O’Leary of Shark Tank made a deal with Boost Oxygen recently. I was impressed to learn how much thought Rob and his team put into preparing for the opportunity. As you’ll hear in the podcast, Rob is extremely methodical and well-planned. They don’t miss out on opportunities.
The concept of “Face Mask Fatigue” was brought to them by frontline COVID-19 medical staff who were using Boost Oxygen. Working entire days wearing a mask increases the amount of CO2 they breathe. So, Rob and his partners quickly put up a banner on their website offering Boost Oxygen as a way to help.
“You don’t have to convince yourself.
You have to convince everyone else around you.
That’s 95% of the battle.”
All along, Rob has been in the right place at the right time. For instance, his partner in Prague had seen an article about South Korean doctors explaining their use of oxygen to help mitigate the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. Once that news reached the U.S., Rob nearly sold out of all finished product. His relationships with suppliers helped them turn on a dime to increase production of new inventory.
The mind of a Troublemaker
With a slew podcasts on our website and more being edited, I’m beginning to see certain consistencies in the mentality of troublemakers. For instance, stubbornness.
Rob doesn’t use the phrase “stubborn” as he casually mentions the Department of Transportation shutting them down for a period. They didn’t give up, solved the problem for the DOT, and turned that major roadblock into an even more highly-improved product design.
Any entrepreneur will tell you they receive lots of negativity from family and friends. I’ve been there. It can be very demoralizing. But “keeping your nose down” and sticking to it are what get you to success.
“You don’t have to convince yourself. You have to convince everyone else around you. That’s 95% of the battle.”
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