Caleb Marshall from Tropeaka: Chronic Fatigue to Commerce Founder | #290

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Caleb shares his journey to wellness in body and brand

Caleb Marshall from Tropeaka

Caleb Marshall is the CEO and co-founder of Tropeaka. Launched in 2016 Tropeaka has seen exponential growth, becoming one of the fastest growing businesses in the health and wellness industry. Today, Tropeaka has an 8-figure yearly eCommerce turnover alongside domestic and international retail distributors and has global sales in more than 70 countries around the world. Caleb was recognised in Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2021 and also co-runs the Tropeaka Foundation, which was set up in 2020 and has raised over $100,000 so far to support initiatives that create positive humanitarian and environmental change.

In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Caleb Marshall CEO and co-founder of Tropeaka

Tropeaka is a health food and nutrition company making and selling premium ingredient products such as protein powders, superfoods and, wait for it, beauty custard.  After being diagnosed with Chronic fatigue in 2016, Caleb spent alot of time in specialist shops building his health from within, an experience which led him to create an online health food brand that would appeal to a younger demographic.  Today, Tropeaka ships to over 70 countries around the world with products garnering thousands of five star reviews.

“We’re playing a long term game here, and no hack is going to outhack that”

Caleb Marshall

Making health food cool

“Between 2011 and 2014, I was chronically sick every single day. It was the most horrible period of my life. Doctors had no idea what was wrong with me. They diagnosed me with chronic fatigue syndrome, which is a doctor’s polite way of saying, I’ve got no idea what’s wrong with you. And they didn’t know when I’d be healthy again. And like that destroys your hope. My life was rock bottom to say the least, absolute rock bottom. 

And at the end of 2013, I went on a discovery mission, across an area of medicine called functional medicine. And they were saying radical things at the time, which is, if you cut out the crap from your diet, anything that could be causing inflammation. And so I cut out out all the crap from my diet. And I ate healthy foods or replace it with healthy whole foods. And I did lifestyle changes. good sleep, learned how to reduce stress. And so I went from never knowing when I’d be healthy again to my life completely changing around in just a matter of weeks. And naturally, that eating healthy led us down to the health food store, the local health food store. 

And as we walked in in 2014, my housemate, who became my co-founder, he realized the only people going into a health food store at the time were old people and hippies. And it was brown paper bags everywhere. And we were like, someone’s got to make this cool to the younger generation. This is not a cool industry. So we’re like, let’s get into health foods.”

Distinction between team and family

“I think it was Toby Pierce, from Sweat who said this and it was such great wisdom – business isn’t a family, business is a team. In family, there’s unconditional love, whereas a team has expectation. I treated people too much like family. And I held too much value. And then, Tropeaka wasn’t the right place for them anymore. And that hit hard. 

Whereas, I didn’t realize, this is business. It doesn’t mean you’re breaking up with someone. You’re not a family. There’s not unconditional love if you don’t perform. We’re a team. As an employer, I come to the table, provide a good work environment. and pay you. You expect me to pay you every two weeks. It’s a two-way deal. I expect you to work and perform and have KPIs and meet expectations, just as I should meet your expectation of providing a good work environment and not micromanaging and paying you every two weeks on time. I made that mistake.”

Playing the long game

“We have a reason why we do things, which is we’re on a mission to positively impact millions of people and their health. Now, we could play the short-term brand play and save a shitload of money and produce a crappy product. 

But we wouldn’t have 20,000 five-star reviews and our social proof wouldn’t be so amazing and our conversion rate wouldn’t be so amazing unless we did that. We could buy cheap flavours, but we buy expensive flavours and our products are expensive, but we’re playing a long-term brand game here. 

We’re in it for 10 years of seeing returns on decisions that we make, and no hack is going to out-hack that.”

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