WPAOG Podcast

EP66 Fueling Success with Kyle Maggard ’12, CEO and Founder of Over Easy Foods

Episode Summary

This episode features an interview with Kyle Maggard ‘12, CEO and Founder at Over Easy Foods, a healthy snack food company with the mission to help Americans live healthier and happier lives. In this episode, Kyle talks about his dream of always serving the country, the trials and tribulations of creating his own startup, and the importance of eating a truly healthy breakfast.

Episode Notes

This episode features an interview with Kyle Maggard, West Point grad, class of 2012, CEO and Founder at Over Easy Foods, a healthy snack food company with the mission to help Americans live healthier and happier lives.

Kyle served five years as an Army Engineer before enrolling at Harvard Business School to launch his career goal of becoming an entrepreneur. Now, his products are distributed nationally with grocery stores such as Whole Foods, Wegman's, Sprouts, and can be found on college campuses, hotels, airports, and professional locker rooms across the country.

In this episode, Kyle talks about his dream of always serving the country, the trials and tribulations of creating his own startup, and the importance of eating a truly healthy breakfast.


Key Quote

“If you think you're going to do anything alone, if you think you're going to come up with the next great idea alone, or just do things without guidance, you're just missing the point. And, I think, the benefit of West Point is that you have all of those people there ready to help you. The sad reality is when you get to the business world, that's not the case. You know, you can get investors, and I've been fortunate enough to get like a great network of investors and advisors, but you have to work to make those relationships. At West Point, you just look around and, like, everybody is there like, ‘yeah, I'll give you some help’. So, I think getting in a habit of utilizing the resources around you, building relationships, and asking for help when you need help is a great set of principles people who are already independent minded, who are already driven, right, who are willing to do things alone if they had to, but we don't have to. We can utilize help. And so, that's the thing that I think people, especially cadets at West Point, might not take full advantage of, but when you leave you will realize that there's no other place like it.” - Kyle Maggard


Episode Timestamps

(02:39) Kyle’s background and experience West Point

(07:28) The origin behind Over Easy

(17:00) Creating the perfect product

(24:01) Successes and failures in entrepreneurship

(33:03) The single most impactful moment in his journey

(35:36) Key takeaways and advice



Kyle Maggard LinkedIn

Over Easy Foods Website

Joseph Kopser’s LinkedIn

West Point Association of Graduates

Episode Transcription

Narrator: Hello, and welcome to the WPAOG Podcast. This episode features an interview with Kyle Maggard, West Point grad, class of 2012, CEO and Founder at Over Easy Foods, a healthy snack food company with the mission to help Americans live healthier and happier lives. 

Kyle served five years as an Army engineer before enrolling at Harvard Business School to launch his career goal of becoming an entrepreneur. Now his products are distributed nationally with grocery stores such as Whole Foods, Wegmans Sprouts, and can be found on college campuses, hotels, airports, and professional locker rooms across the country. 

In this episode, Kyle talks about his dream of always serving the country, the trials and tribulations of creating his own startup, and the importance of eating a truly healthy breakfast.

Now, Please enjoy this interview between Kyle Maggard, West Point class of 2012, and your host, Joseph Kopser, West Point class of 1993.

[00:01:13] Joseph Kopser: Welcome back, everybody, to the WPAOG Podcast. My name is Joseph Kopser, class of ‘93, and I'm joined on this episode with Kyle Maggard, class of ‘12, and most importantly, the CEO of Over Easy. Kyle, welcome to the program. How are you? 

[00:01:30] Kyle Maggard: Thank you, Joseph. I'm doing great.

[00:01:31] Joseph Kopser: Thanks for having me. Yeah, and for most people that are listening in to this, as we were talking in the green room, the audience that is downloading this podcast is quite eclectic, if you will.

It's quite a wide audience. So we not only have cadets that are listening into this, we also have young grads that are out in the army. We also have some kind of older, mid older grads who might still be serving or they might even be getting out of the military themselves, uh, or we got some old grads that are just wondering what life is like for young grads like yourself these days.

Well, with all of that as the background, you kind of fit nicely into all those pockets. So I'm looking forward to this conversation. And the last thing I'll say before we get into you, people that are listening can't see our video. Maybe a few of 'em can, but you've. Perfect product placement of your over easy products right over your shoulder, and I wanna give you an A plus for that.

Because as we learn in entrepreneurship, always be branding. And for those who can't see, I'm wearing my soc baseball cap from West Point and a really fancy Hawaiian, uh, west Point shirt. So with that as the background, tell us how you got to, now you could start at birth. You could start in the middle. Uh, we're gonna go into this conversation, but how did you get to now?

How did, let's start first with easy softball. How'd you get to West Point? What'd that journey look like for you and your family? I'll 

[00:02:48] Kyle Maggard: say thanks for the tips on the background, Joseph, and you look great. I love, I love that shirt. So how did I get to West Point? Well, as most West Point grads and most current cadets, like I, I've always been a patriot since I was a kid.

Just like always was very proud to be an American. I grew up in Niagara Falls, New York. You know, a mile away from the Canadian border. Played Icea as a kid, was always going to Toronto. And so like, we just felt like we were representing our country when we were going into Canada. And so my grandfather was in the Air Force, you know, he was certainly a, uh, proud to be a veteran and I just kind of grew up with that patriotic, uh, Sense of sense.

Yeah. That sense of patriotism that a lot of people have. Did 

[00:03:31] Joseph Kopser: either of your parents serve in the military or did it skip that generation? They did not. No. You know, neither did mine. I think that's important too, for listeners, especially as they're sharing with friends, there is some concern that. Too many of our military today are sons and daughters of current military.

So I'm glad to see that you're an example of those who are inspired by service, but not necessarily a son or daughter. 'cause we need more of, we need more of the American people. But anyway, so I cut you off. You're Niagara Falls. You got the sense of patriotism. You're looking at West Point when you had lots of other schools to choose from.

'cause you were a hell of an athlete in high school. I 

[00:04:07] Kyle Maggard: worked really hard. Um, I'll say I was a nice hockey player my whole life. I kind of realized when I was 16 that I wasn't going to make it to the N H L. But I knew I could play college hockey and really had my eyes on West Point as, uh, what I thought would be a great bridge from a career playing hockey to ultimately a career in the military.

Worked really hard, was able to get recruited to West Point. Played a couple years of junior hockey after high school. I. So I started West Point when I was 20, but really fell in love on my visit. Fell in love with the campus. Of course, they show you on your official visit. They show you the, uh, the glamorized version of West Point.

You fall around an officer and they show you the hockey rink and the weight room, and, you know, all the amazing parts about West Point. Not so much the duties that go around with it, but, uh, I knew what I was signing up for, was excited about it and was thrilled when they offered me, uh, the opportunity to join.

[00:05:00] Joseph Kopser: That's how you get to West Point. So let's dive into this a little bit. We'll get to your business in a second. But in terms of your opportunities at West Point, what did you see were the biggest challenges in those first couple of years? What'd you have to overcome? I. Well, I had been 

[00:05:15] Kyle Maggard: outta school for two years, so getting back into the academics was certainly tough.

And then being a student athlete was quite difficult, especially early on. Like there certainly are perks of being an athlete. You get an escape from some of the duties going on. Uh, down below, just mentally you get an escape 'cause you're playing a game for, you know, a couple hours a day, whether through practice or an actual game.

Get to go on road trips. So there's certainly perks of being an athlete, but it is also very grueling. It's time consuming, certainly demanding. You know, especially in the first couple years, I wouldn't get back from the ice rink until it was seven o'clock, so I didn't start homework really until 8:00 PM every night.

And of course, everyone knows how much academic work we all had at West Point, so just time management. 

[00:05:57] Joseph Kopser: Can I interrupt you there? I have a confession to make and I make it to every grad that served as an athlete, especially those core squad athletes throughout their four years. And this is my confession, and I wanna give you an apology, which is I always thought you all were getting over because you didn't have to do some of those duties upon reflection later, especially when I was teaching, when I was teaching for those three years, and I saw how hard the student athletes were working at West Point.

Every chance I had, I just had to say, I apologize. I used to think you were getting over, but my goodness, you had literally two cadet careers mixed in during your four years. So that's my blanket apology. I don't know how many other, I was a company squad athlete in intermurals, not Core Squad, so that's my apology.

[00:06:43] Kyle Maggard: I. Well received, Joseph and I always look back, now I look back on some hard days that I have now as an entrepreneur, certainly as a parent as well. And I think back, especially some of the late nights I pulled now where I'm like, well, at least it wasn't, it's not like it was at West Point 'cause I was consistently, I don't think I went to bed before 2:00 AM ever for those four years because I just had so much work to do.

And took my academics quite seriously as well, 

[00:07:10] Joseph Kopser: so, oh yeah. Well you have to, to even stay at West Point. So let's put a pin real quick in the journey. What I wanna do now is skip ahead to your today, and then for all the listeners, then we're gonna spend the next 30, 40 minutes building that bridge of where you started at West Point to how you got to where you are now.

So tell us about the company. Kind of give us your pitch, give us the big picture, and then we're gonna go lace back in the origin story of how you did that. 

[00:07:36] Kyle Maggard: Sure. So over easy. We are a healthy snack company. Our goal is to build a breakfast company of the 21st century. Our first product is like a bowl of oatmeal in a bar made from organic goats cage, egg whites, natural milk butter, like everything that you would want in a healthy high protein bowl oatmeal.

But in a nutrition bar, started the company in 2018. Today we're in 3000 grocery stores across the country. We're in Whole Foods, we're in Wegmans, we're in Albertson, Safeway locations, uh, ShopRite and a number of other stores across the. I love it. 

[00:08:09] Joseph Kopser: So the reason why I want you to tell about the success of your company is in our earlier conversations and what I've read online, you had to work hard, essentially.

Remember, two cadet careers going on once, one as a student, one as an athlete, but you had to do. Two careers at once simultaneously after you got out of the army, you're in graduate school and you've got the genesis for this idea. Go back to that part of how hard you were working to do two things at once and then feel free 'cause this is West Point Podcast.

Sprinkle in pun intended, sprinkle in any of those lessons learned from West Point and how that helped you balance those two challenges and ultimately what you decided to do. Sure. 

[00:08:53] Kyle Maggard: I'll start with the lesson learned from West Point and how it. Just kind of has permeated through everything that I've done today and like my mindset today is just like nothing worth doing is ever easy.

And you learn that, right? You learn that in Beast where it's just like, if you want the privilege of being a West Point cadet, you have to go through Beast. If you want the privilege of being a West Point graduate and of leading soldiers, you have to go through the four year experience. You're gonna have tough days.

That's part of like the pride that comes after having accomplished something. And I think about that now. As an entrepreneur where it's like, there are certainly a lot of tough days that I. About those tough days. It's like I'm earning my stripes the same way that, uh, I had to at West Point at at Beast, certainly as an athlete.

So that is like a big lesson learned. Of course, there's others that I'll share, but overarching umbrella lesson, like anything worth doing is never easy. 

[00:09:49] Joseph Kopser: Oh. But, but Kyle, for those cynics that are out there that think entrepreneurship is for people who only wanna be their own boss or wanna be those overnight sensations, just making a lot of money.

You are trying to tell me that there's actually a crap ton of work involved in entrepreneurship. Is that really what you're 

[00:10:08] Kyle Maggard: saying? Oh, it's, it is very difficult. It's, it's much more difficult than I thought it would be. I'll just say that. Yeah, and 

[00:10:16] Joseph Kopser: the crazy part is there's a lot of listeners who haven't yet gotten out into the business world yet who think that the easiest part is just going into business yourself.

Oh. You know, it'd be hard working for a big company again, like I did in the Army, but starting my own company, that would be easy. You're gonna get into some of those stories, so I won't interrupt you until you get to the overnight baking, but keep going please. 

[00:10:36] Kyle Maggard: Sure. So, I left the military in 2018 and in April, 2018 was excited to break into the business world.

Loved my time in the military, but really, uh, I wanted to become an entrepreneur, and I wanted to become an entrepreneur because I feel entrepreneurs solve problems. And I was an engineer in the army. I did engineering management for my, my undergrad at West Point. Um, I just love solving problems and, you know, I think entrepreneurs, what they do is they solve, Massive problems or they can solve massive problems.

And so I didn't really know what problem I wanted to solve, but I knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur so that I could, you know, find a problem and, and find a solution for it. So I left the army, started at Harvard Business School in the fall of 2018. My oldest son, who is now five, was born seven weeks before my first day of business school.

So I just moved to Boston the day we moved to Boston. He's born, uh, it was like a hectic time in my life. How bet your 

[00:11:32] Joseph Kopser: wife really appreciated that clock in calendar management. So she knew 

[00:11:36] Kyle Maggard: that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I obviously we were, you know, I was very open about that and, and she knew that's why I was gonna business school.

What followed, and when I started over easy, only two months into business school was really unplanned. So I thought business school for me was, it was a bridge to figure out what I wanted to do, like what problem I wanted to solve as an entrepreneur. And I just started thinking every day, like throughout that summer, you know, through the first.

Weeks of business school, I'm just like analyzing problems that our country faces, like still having this sense of like, my mission in life is to improve the country that I love so much, uh, and to help solve some of its problems. And I really became fixated on our food industry and our broken food industry.

I love food. I think food is such a source of happiness for people. A source of nourishment. It provides energy. It is a source of community. It brings people together over food. But also like on the flip side of that, our broken food system is the reason that we have diabetes and obesity and heart diseases is number one killer of Americans.

And so I just started diving into the food industry as like, why is something that is supposed to be fueling us? Actually killing us. And I specifically was focused on the breakfast category. 'cause breakfast is the hardest time to eat healthy. And the reason is breakfast, unlike lunch or dinner, is controlled by companies controlled by Kellogg's Post General Mills and Quaker.

It has been for a hundred years, and those companies have really lost the ability to innovate, which is why we have Pop-Tarts and Toaster Strudels and Lucky 

[00:13:11] Joseph Kopser: Charms. Are you trying to say that the Frosted Flakes that I grew up with as a kid was not doing me any good? The sugary milk at the bottom of the bowl that I just like tipped backwards, that wasn't good for 

[00:13:23] Kyle Maggard: me.

Oh, I did the same thing too. I did the same thing too, and we survived. But don't worry, my 

[00:13:30] Joseph Kopser: mother also smoked the whole time and I somehow survived that too. Doesn't mean that it was right. It just means I was lucky enough to survive. 

[00:13:37] Kyle Maggard: Exactly. So through this like analysis of the food industry, I realized that if in order to, to give Americans a fighting chance of being healthier, of living a healthier life, we gotta get 'em off to a healthier start every day.

And it's really difficult to live a healthy life if every morning you're starting it with a muffin or a donut with 54 grams of sugar. Nobody is eating muffins in a morning, uh, for breakfast, and then eating a salad. And some baked chicken for dinner, right? Like it's just how you start. And this is a big lesson for the military.

Like we start early because how you start your day setss the tone for the rest of your day. That idea has really led to me focusing on breakfast that like if we're gonna get people off to a healthier start, I need to create a competitor to Kellogg's Post General Mill, Quaker. 'cause they're not gonna innovate from the inside.

So you've 

[00:14:27] Joseph Kopser: established that this is the opportunity. You see this. Chance for you to make a difference, and then you have to actually figure out what the product is going to be. Tell that story of finding that first product. What's that look like? 

[00:14:40] Kyle Maggard: A lot of market research, a lot of talking to consumers, like looking at data sources.

I mean, now that I'm almost five years in, I would do it probably a different way than when I was first starting off, right? Because I didn't know really what I was 

[00:14:54] Joseph Kopser: doing. Are you just walking around Starbucks asking people why they're eating that or stopping them at Dunking Donuts asking why they're eating that.

So I would 

[00:15:02] Kyle Maggard: do that and I would go to, uh, coffee shops and I would go to grocery stores. I would get some weird looks from people 'cause I would just like watch them shop. Right. But then I always, always have like a conversation with them afterwards. Part of like my desire to get into food, the food industry and to help solve this problem is because I grew up eating the same things you did, like Pop Tarts and Toaster and those Frosted flakes.

Right. As far as like settling on the first product, like for me it had to meet three criteria. One, whatever I was gonna make is gonna be healthy because that's the whole purpose of the company. It's going to be delicious too, because if it's not as good as a donut, people are still gonna be eating donuts and muffins.

The third principle is that it had to be convenient because breakfast. In the morning time is this, it's a transition period for everybody. You wake up and then you have to be somewhere or you be, you know, start working even if you're working from home, but you have to be doing something. So you know, it is a very busy, stressful, hectic time of the day.

You're trying to get the work on time. You're trying to get ready. If you have kids, you're trying to get your kids ready for school or daycare, like people just don't have the time. Most people don't have the time. Make something from scratch for breakfast like they would for dinner. So that's why it has to be convenient.

So I knew that I had to make something that was healthy, delicious, and convenient. I was eating bars when I was in the Army, like a Quest bar was my go-to breakfast every single morning because it had protein, I had fiber. I hated eating them, but I would wash it down with a cup of coffee. 'cause again, it was better than a muffin or a donut, like the alternatives.

So I really settled on like, well, what if I made a bar? That would taste like a delicious bowl of oatmeal that would give you the same benefits of a bowl of oatmeal, sustained energy, the protein you can put from nut butter or from eggs in there in your bowl of oatmeal. And I just made it into a bar so people could have that on the go.

So that was the, the how I landed on the 

[00:17:00] Joseph Kopser: first product. But that making the bar though, I understand from previous conversations that making that first bar. Was hard and you experimented. Tell that story. 

[00:17:11] Kyle Maggard: That was so, I, like I said, I love to cook, but I did not have like any formal training in cooking.

Right. Or any food science background. But being an engineer and having a level of confidence, right, that I could, hey, I could figure anything out, I decided I was gonna make these recipes myself. And so the first thing I did, I went on Pinterest and food blogs and just looked for inspiration for high protein, healthy oatmeal bars, and found all these homemade recipes that people had, you know, posted online and found what I liked about certain ones, what I didn't like about others.

Uh, and I went to the Whole Foods down the street at, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Went to the Whole Foods down the street, and I would get bulk ingredients or ingredients from the bulk section at Whole Foods. And then I would cook every single day just to give you my, my agenda for the day. I would go to class until about three o'clock, come home, hang out with my son, hang out with my wife.

We'd put our son to bed, and then every night at 7:00 PM I would cook until I was too tired to cook anymore, and at least once a week I wouldn't stop cooking until it was 7:00 AM. And I had to get in the shower to go back to class, uh, the next day. And so it was a grueling 12 months. I went through 254 different recipes for our bars and at least five or six iterations of each of those recipes besting with the temperature, uh, the mixing process, settling time.

The different ingredients, of course. So it was a grueling, grueling 12 months. 

[00:18:44] Joseph Kopser: I'm so glad you recounted that story. That is the essence. And I pulled three things out of what you just said. First of all, you had the confidence to know that you could do it, and I would posit that that came from your army experiences.

And your West Point experience is to go through those grueling tasks and make it whether here's your training, staying up till 2:00 AM studying and knowing you had to be up early again to hit the next day as a cadet in the Army. And then again as an entrepreneur. That's number one. Number two, you did the research, you went out there, whether it be talking to customers, going through Whole Foods.

Finding all the different ingredients and you did the research and the possible commutations and permutations like you put in the work, and that is what the Army teaches us. That's what West Point teaches us. And you probably picked a lot of that up. And then lo and behold, you finally get to a point though, and I think this is important to your story, where you're doing this, you're burning the candle at both ends, trying to be a student and an entrepreneur.

And so what'd you decide? 

[00:19:42] Kyle Maggard: It's crazy saying this, uh, and especially wouldn't have thought I would've done this before starting school, but I dropped out of Harvard Business School after my first year you 

[00:19:49] Joseph Kopser: dropped out of Harvard Business School to follow your dreams and your passions. Because, because 

[00:19:54] Kyle Maggard: I knew that if I didn't drop out, I would fail at least one of four critical tasks in my life.

Most importantly, being a, a great husband and father, Being a, being a student, and then being an entrepreneur. And I thought like, what am I, what am I willing to sacrifice here? And of course the only thing on the table was was being a student. And so I felt that I went to Harvard. To figure out what I wanted to do, what problem I wanted to solve, and I just found that a lot earlier than I was anticipating, and I got everything that I was hoping to get from business school.

Really the confidence to start a business. 

[00:20:29] Joseph Kopser: I just hope every listener can take away the point, what you just said. See, we have this myth, especially in American. Society that, you know, military or whatever it is, and we're try to do everything. We're wonderful at everything and per, you know, we're gonna fight through it till we get it.

That's absolutely not the real case. The real case is buried in that last part of your story that hope listeners pull out, which is you ultimately had to make a decision and you chose. Family, first and foremost in this business and this dream of the Harvard Business School, which you achieved, you got there, you just didn't finish because other priorities got like you can't do it all.

You had to establish priorities. And my goodness, I wish that for everybody in life like you figured out. So you're a role model to others whether you realize it or not, that you figured that out. So now here you are. You're going all in on over easy. What's the journey 

[00:21:17] Kyle Maggard: look like from there? So the first thing I had to do is find a manufacturer.

For bars, right, because I could only make so many in my kitchen. So was able to find a commercial kitchen in Boston. Uh, that I would go to after class and I could make a few hundred at a time at that commercial kitchen. And then, uh, after like several, maybe three or four months of trying to find a manufacturer, just Googling manufacturers, uh, bar manufacturers, finally found one in Decatur, Illinois who is willing to take a chance on a small business.

And, uh, I flew out there. We had one shot to make it work. I didn't really have any money to buy more ingredients. Uh, they were only gonna give us one chance, and we had like three shots that day. So the first two failed, and finally, and the third one, we made a small change. And, uh, and it worked. And so we were able to move on from making a few hundred bars per day to about 5,000 bars per day at that first 


[00:22:14] Joseph Kopser: So let's put the listeners back in your shoes. You get all the way out to Decatur, you got all this hope and promise. You run your first run and it fails. How do you react? Well, 

[00:22:26] Kyle Maggard: at that point this was still pretty fresh, right? Like it had been a grueling, like 18 months at that point. But I wasn't used to failure the way that I am now.

Like now it's like, oh, well it's just another Wednesday. Right? 

[00:22:37] Joseph Kopser: Think about how many successful people, they're the best in their high schools. They're absolutely the creme de la creme, and they best in the army, and they get to West Point and they're used to being number one. Failure doesn't really happen a whole lot, but it happened to you in that first run.

How do you react? 

[00:22:53] Kyle Maggard: Well, my heart was in my stomach at first, and then I took a step back and realized, okay, I have to make a change. If I do it this way again, we're gonna fail again. And so we made a change and the second time failed. And then it was the same process of like, okay, I have one more shot and have to make another change.

And finally, at the very end of the day, made, you know, another tweak and it worked. And like we over easy would. I'll say this, I would've figured it out from there. I'm confident that I would've found a way to figure it out. We would've just had a different path than what we had after that point. 

[00:23:26] Joseph Kopser: Is that perseverance?

Oh my. You are just sprinkling this conversation for our listeners. All the elements of what real entrepreneurship is now, what they see in the movies of these overnight successes. 'cause yours is, Years in the making before you're nationwide. Okay, so now you got this product going. I don't wanna go too much into that 'cause I want to go back a little bit to the West Point story, to your army time, your decision to kind of go into graduate school.

So what did that journey looked like? Because it's all leading towards what eventually became o easy, but there were a lot of little things that happened along the way. What are some of your favorite memories? And by the way, They can be obstacles, they can be failures that help form that ethos that you have today.

[00:24:10] Kyle Maggard: The big lesson from West Point really like boils down to that time management, like finding a way to have a very full plate and be successful in multiple things and also make sacrifices when you have to make sacrifices. And for me, a lot of the time that was sleep. But what I realized from West Point is I am a more successful person when I have a full plate.

When I am busy and that one of my personal, uh, mantras or principles is, uh, there's no light switch in different aspects of my life. Like either I am, I am being successful as a husband, as a father, as an entrepreneur, you know, I'm taking care of myself, I'm eating well, I'm exercising, and it's, whenever one of those slips, they all slip, they're all connected, right?

And so, That was a big learning from West Point where I would get the best grades when we were in season, when I was the busiest, when I had the least amount of time, is when I was the most productive and I just felt like I was feeling successful. I was successful in the classroom, I'd be successful on the ice of these, you know, successful in personal relationships.

And then when I felt that I had more time to like. Slack off, or I felt myself slipping in anywhere in my life, I would slip across the board. And so that's a big principle of mine now is like, okay, the concept that I'm gonna slack off one area in my life, like it will bleed into other areas in my life.

And I'm sure that's the case for other people as well. 

[00:25:34] Joseph Kopser: And I wanna highlight that, especially for our younger listeners that are seeking out mentors, seeking out people to help them, which is, and this phrase is pretty simple. If you want something done. Ask a busy person. 'cause those are the people that get stuff done.

What you just described is exactly your best grades happened to end season. You were busy, you were on, and you were going at it. Now, the reason why I bring that up is for especially our younger listeners that are reaching out to old bosses or mentors, they may go a few days without getting a response.

They may go a few days without a return phone call. It's hopefully because the people you're asking for advice are out there getting at it in the real world. And so I just want to caution listeners that, oh my gosh, my old boss didn't respond to my email. Well give her, give him a few days, maybe even a week or two to get there.

Okay, so that's one of your biggest takeaways, which is Golden. What else? What are the other things that kind of seared you into who you are today as an entrepreneur? 

[00:26:33] Kyle Maggard: I was fortunate enough to receive a Rotary scholarship to the University of Cambridge, uh, which I started my master's like right after I graduated from West Point.

That following fall, went to the University of Cambridge. I did a master's in engineering for sustainable development. And so this is really when I, I joined the military because I wanted to serve my country. I went to West Point because I wanted, While at West Point, I had the opportunity to just learn about some of the big problems that our country and our world is facing, and I realized that I am an engineer.

I'm about to go into the largest consumer of resources in the world, the Department of Defense. It would be great if I knew a few things. Sustainability because, you know, like we obviously need to address sustainability in order to be effective as a fighting force. And of course, with climate change, you know, becoming a, uh, ever increasing, uh, concern.

I was really intrigued in sustainability and sustainable development. So was fortunate enough to go to England for a year to do my master's at, uh, at Cambridge, and then went to Fort Leonard Wood, like every other new engineer officer went through Bullock at Leonard 

[00:27:43] Joseph Kopser: Wood and it's just like Cambridge, isn't it?

Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:27:49] Kyle Maggard: Yeah, I'll say the change from West Point to Cambridge where, you know, I obviously studied really hard and uh, had a wonderful experience and, uh, but was able to travel and was able to, I had a few, my roommate from West Point also uh, received the same scholarship and he was in London and so we just had a great time.

So the change from Cambridge and London to, uh, Fort Leonard Wood, uh, was pretty stark, but I fell in love with Fort Leonard Wood and, and we came back, come back to Missouri for Bullock in 2013. Then was, uh, stationed at Fort Carson. I was at Fort Carson for like two and a half years, and 2013 was deployed to Liberia for the Ebola breakout.

So I was a construction engineer part of the 52nd engineers, and then it became the fourth engineer battalion and we were deployed to Liberia to help assist with combating Ebola. 

[00:28:41] Joseph Kopser: Yeah, yeah. I would love to know what you were doing there. Building hospitals, building facilities. So we started 

[00:28:46] Kyle Maggard: with building roads, building different roads and supply lines.

There's a like six month rainy season in West Africa and just washes out all the roads, which, you know, the infrastructure is, is not, uh, it's not built for. Uh, handling, uh, 18 wheelers, carrying a bunch of medical supplies and ambulances and, you know, everything that you could imagine Liberia and Sierra, Leon Leone being like when Ebola's there and, you know, have people from across the world going to help out.

We started with building roads and supply lines. Some of the units we're building, uh, hospitals and a bullet treatment units, and then there was just different, you know, various support efforts going on in Liberia. And so, Yeah, that was a, I'll say a grim opportunity. It was an opportunity to help people.

It was an opportunity to use what I had, you know, trained for as an engineer, especially as a construction engineer, like actually put it in use. But of course, like, you know, you see people living in 10 huts and realize how good you have it, and you realize how. The seriousness of some of the, the problems the world faces.

You know, we have our own problems in, in this country, but certainly, like there are a number of problems that the world faces and, you know, those, those like memories I just will never, uh, they'll never lead me. And I think that is like, has fueled my desires and entrepreneurs like, okay, there's a lot of work to be done.

There's a lot of lives that that need to be improved. And while I'm starting in food, there's just like an endless need for people eager to solve problems. 

[00:30:24] Joseph Kopser: And that's something to really highlight because again, I'm trying to demystify this myth that society, Hollywood, or the barracks lawyer, I'm not quite sure who is propagating this, that for some reason that the business world or life after the army is simple.

It's no less simple than the complexities of the army or the complexities of West Point, but there is a theme in your life story and it is always service to others. And I'm going to predict now, well in advance that that experience of what you experienced then in West Africa and what you saw will never leave your psyche.

And it is probably in many parts. Directly connected to why you created a food product to help people with basic nutrition, with a health or quality lifestyle. And not per se. And I'm not gonna make fun of any other company, any other entrepreneur. It's why you're not in necessarily in an other business.

But it's one that is mission driven. And entrepreneurs that find that mission-driven purpose earlier than later are happier, more successful. Fill in the blank. 'cause they're doing it for a purpose, not for a paycheck. So going back to your company, how long before it actually started to work, how long did you have to persevere pushing through with that passion?

[00:31:42] Kyle Maggard: I still feel like I'm, I'm still doing that today. You know, I, I mean, relative to our company's certainly grown significantly, but I have to force myself to look back on where we were a year ago to be like, okay, we're headed in the right direction, and, and things are, are looking up. The first two years are extremely difficult because, uh, I launched a company during Covid.

Like when we finally had a product, it was, uh, March of 2020. So, you know, launching during Covid was extremely difficult, but you're doing so much work and there's no one to share it with. Like you, you know, I had my, obviously my wife has been an unbelievable partner and very supportive. You know, friends and family had been very supportive, but there's no customer buying a product initially, at least in my case.

Right. It's every business is different endlessly, every single. It's not like school where you're getting a report where it's like, oh, you got an A, you know, great job. Or like you're playing a sport where it's like, hey, The coach is giving you some affirmation, like one of the toughest things about entrepreneurship is there's no one to 

[00:32:43] Joseph Kopser: tell you what to do.

And it could be weeks or months, sometimes even years before you get that real 

[00:32:48] Kyle Maggard: feedback. Exactly. So it was about two years, took me about two years to become over easy to become an established business, and the moment in which I felt we were an established business is when we launched into Whole Foods in January of 2021.

[00:33:04] Joseph Kopser: What did it feel like when you a. Either saw your product on the shelf or be when the first stranger, non-family or friends picked it up or recommended it or enjoyed it that didn't know it was connected to you. Do you remember of either one of those two moments? 

[00:33:22] Kyle Maggard: The highlight of my coming up on five years, like when I first went to Whole Foods and got the bulk ingredients to make the first bar for a Silver Easy bar is in October, 2018.

So I'm coming up on five years. The single most rewarding moment of my journey this far is I was on a plane from Seattle to San Francisco and for over easy for two, two sales meetings, and, uh, The woman next to me asked me what I did for work and I told her and, and I told her about Over Easy. And she opened up her bag and she pulled out one of our bars and she's like, I love these bars.

My husband loves these bars. My kids love these bars, I love these bars. And that was just like, I can't tell you like the, just the validation, uh, which is, you know, sometimes hard to find, right? At certain times when you're working so hard and yet you're still a small business. But like that one interaction where someone's like, Hey, what she was telling to me is like, I love this product.

I feel so good giving it to my kids. And that was just like, okay, this is all worth it. And so that is single by far, the single most impactful moment that I've had as an entrepreneur. And I'll say that the exciting thing is that those moments are starting to come a little bit more frequently, um, where people are starting to hear about over easy, more organically.

And are excited to tell me or tell our team how much they love our products. So, but that was the first, the first big interaction with the stranger telling me how much they love their product. 

[00:34:57] Joseph Kopser: I love it. So before we get to the last question, which is, what did I not ask you about that I should have? I just wanna remind listeners again, it was a very long journey in his story before he got to that, but that feeling, that validation is worth.

All the effort. It's worth all the, uh, hard work put into it. And I'm just so glad, uh, that you got that. And again, For the listeners. I was not crying. I just have allergies in this room and I, so my eyes got a little teared up. It was only because of the allergies. One of the things I keep hearing over and over again in this journey are the people or the mentors or the friends.

So what does that mean to you? How does that network, whether it be Army, west Point, Harvard Business School, Whatever angle and however you define the network or your world, how have those people helped? Are there stories or people in particular or is it just in general? 

[00:35:55] Kyle Maggard: There are certainly, um, people who have helped me immensely along the way.

I. Right from early mentors in high school. Obviously my parents, uh, I remember when I was eight my mom was going to college and, you know, was studying to get her bachelor's and I'm doing my homework And just like seeing that drive that she had my parents really showed me what it was like to work hard and what it was like to work towards the American dream in high school coaches and guidance.

And, and teachers certainly have helped me get to a place like West Point. People should take advantage of the level of support at West Point. That's one advice I'd give to cadets. It's like it is overwhelming and there is no other place in the world in which, at least in my experience, that you can get.

The level of support, the willing support that professors, techs, coaches, families, fellow cadets, teammates are willing to offer 

[00:36:54] Joseph Kopser: you. But don't you think though, that too many people don't take advantage of it and they try to do it themselves? And how does that impact what you later do in business when you're building your own team?

[00:37:04] Kyle Maggard: Oh, absolutely. Well, you realize in business real fast, especially when there's no one telling you what to do, that you cannot do anything by yourself. Right, right. Like it's, it's easy to get in. I can see how people can get in the mindset of, oh, I can do this all by myself. Well, when you're in a system where you know the next rank, you know what you're wearing to work every day, you know, you know what the job has to be done, the people in your unit.

Are assigned to you. You didn't have to hire any of them. It's easy, I think, to get into that trap, especially when you're younger too, of thinking like, Hey, I've done this all myself, or I can do this all myself. What you quickly realize is when you reflect back, you're like, no, I didn't and I certainly didn't feel that way.

I had so much help. At West Point for mentors and sponsors and my coach and teammates and professors, and then certainly in business, I've been successful because I've learned, and at times I've learned this the hard way. It's like you cannot do everything. Yeah. You have weaknesses. You have to acknowledge those weaknesses and find people who can help you with those weaknesses.

Play to your strengths, play to what you're good at. But like if you think you're gonna do anything alone, if you think you're gonna come up with the next great idea alone, or just do things without guidance, like you're just missing the point. And I think the benefit of West Point is that you have all of those people there ready to help you.

And the sad reality is when you get to the business world, That's not the case. You have a lot, you know, you can get investors and I've been fortunate enough to get like a great network of investors and advisors, but you have to work to make those relationships. At West Point, you just look around and like everybody is there and be like, yeah, I'll give you some help.

And so I think getting in a habit of utilizing the resources around you, building relationships and asking for help when you need help is a. A great set of principles for people who are already independent minded, who are already driven, right, who are willing to do things alone if they had to, but we don't have to.

We can utilize help. And so that's the thing that I think people, especially cadets at West Point, might not take full advantage of, but when you leave, you will realize. That like there's no other place like it. 

[00:39:11] Joseph Kopser: I couldn't imagine a better description of our favorite phrase, grip hands, because that is what you just described.

Absolutely. So, okay. What did I not ask you that you want the listeners to take away of whether they're cadets now, thinking of going to West Point? Maybe these are West Point parents, maybe there are parents who heard about this podcast that said, Hey, I want my kid to listen to it. Or old grads. What did I not ask you that you wanna share with anyone in that audience?

[00:39:39] Kyle Maggard: Enjoy the moment. And I would say that like, I look back even now, like on where I am in my career and I've always been very focused on the next step, Hey, how am I gonna get to the next level? I think that comes at a cost sometimes where we're so focused on the future, uh, that you forget at times to enjoy the present.

And when I look back, I'm like, when I've been the most successful in my life, it's because I was having a great time doing what I was doing in that moment. And I always worked hard no matter what it was. I worked hard, whether I was, you know, on the hockey rank, in the weight room, in the classroom, certainly in in uniform as an army officer, you know, playing basketball when, you know, with, uh, with friends.

And so I just think like that is, you know, at West Point you're preparing for your career in the military. And it's, it's very future focused of like, okay, when you're an ar, when you're an officer, when you're an officer. And then just the structure of the military is very much like, well, you are working to get a promotion at every level.

You're working in your promotion to get to the next level, so you're very future focused. I think that the advice that may not be so common is like very much focused on enjoying the current moment. Like, enjoy where you are, work hard where you are, things will work out. And the second point I would say is the thing that has carried me is like there is just, there's not a problem that I don't think that I can figure out a solution to.

And that level of confidence comes from experience at West Point experience in the Army. And I think like that is the key to being a successful entrepreneur. The business leaders, um, the public figures that I admire, like they are. Constantly talking about how important perseverance is and knowing that like with entrepreneurship, like you said before, Joseph, you are going to fail.

There are gonna be times of failure that like just not used to in the military and just not used to as a student because you know you're constantly being successful in order to get into West Point in order to graduate from West Point in order to have a success. Army career. Maybe get to grad school or get into a, a job after the military.

The thing about entrepreneurship is like, it comes with failure. And so one thing I talked, we talked about before is like just learning to ride the rollercoaster. There's gonna be ups and downs, and as soon as you have an up, there's gonna be a down. So just learn to kind of roll with the punches, learn to accept the highs and the lows, but just don't get off.

And so those are like the big lessons that I would share with, you know, west Point Cadets, current army, uh, officers. Whether they're staying in the military, whether they're excited about a career in business, uh, or any, any, uh, old grad that's, that's in business. Those are my, my life lessons that I've learned.

[00:42:15] Joseph Kopser: Yeah, those three points you made are a great way to end. I wanna highlight the first one because without knowing it, you almost literally gave the tagline to why West Point and the Association of Graduates is working so hard to reconnect graduates because you're right. There are a lot of people who, when they are plowing through West Point, sometimes are more focused on solely graduating than they are to step back, live in the moment, appreciate the rich history of the location, but most importantly to realize the caliber of people that they're surrounded by in this community.

And the good news is you find that community again. Upon graduation, you find them in your assignments, you find them down range, you find them in the least likely places like the PX and Baghdad when you're in need of someone who can associate with and understand what you're going through. And then most of all pertaining to your story is you find them later in life after the military, you find them in business and we lean on each other to help out.

So Kyle, thank you for being on this podcast today, sharing your story. Uh, Sharon, even the story that almost made me cry, which didn't because it was allergies, uh, upon the success of your company, but, uh, it's been a real treat to spend the time with you. Yeah. Thank you, Joseph. 

[00:43:35] Kyle Maggard: I really appreciate the time and thank you so much for, for the honor of, of being able to join.

[00:43:39] Joseph Kopser: Absolutely. And then depending for our listeners, depending on when you're listening to this, make sure to go to the West Point AOG website to see the next and upcoming podcast. We also have webinars. We also have conferences. In fact, if you're listening to this, in the summer of 2023 in October in San Francisco is the next West Point Entrepreneur Conference.

And we also have upcoming road shows where we're taking this concept of bringing grads together, uh, in business and entrepreneurship. We've already been to San Nashville, Seattle. We're next in August in San Diego. We're in Boston. You can find out all this information more at the West Point AOG website. And Kyle, thanks again for being with us today. Take care. 

[00:44:22] Narrator: This has been a production of the WPAOG Broadcast Network. Please take a moment to rate and review the show and join us each week for a new episode. Thank you for listening.