Twelve years ago, Joel Runyon was laid off from UPS, living in his parents’ basement and contemplating life. Athlete and ultra-marathoner, Runyon was drawn to training and performance products. The Internet also interested him.
He thought, “I love the internet. I like marketing. Maybe I can do something.
Fast forward to 2022, and Runyon’s something called “Impossible,” an Austin, Texas-based fitness and performance company launched in 2010. It sells digital workout programs, apparel, and now nutritional supplements. “Sleep” is the last. It is a powdered drink mix for deep sleep.
He and I recently chatted about his background. Our entire audio conversation is embedded below. The transcript is edited for length and clarity.
Eric Bandholz: Give us an overview of your business.
Joel Runyon: It’s called “Impossible”. It is a mental performance and fitness company. It started as a blog to challenge me to do new things, then over the years morphed into digital training programs, a training app, and now apparel. We recently launched our performance nutritional products.
Our goal at Impossible is to inspire people to push their limits, train them to do so, and motivate them when they go out and do impossible things. Then we capture that on social media to inspire others.
Bandholz: You have built a substantial mailing list, several hundred thousand subscribers.
Meeting: I didn’t know anything about marketing when I started. I was working in my parents’ basement, unemployed after being laid off at UPS, trying to figure out life. At the time, I thought, “I love the internet. I like marketing. Maybe I can do something.
I interned at a marketing firm in Indiana and started reading everything. I learned from Perry Marshall, an old school pay-per-click guy. I went to a few Perry events and learned a lot. I built my chops on pay per click and search engine optimization and then started building relationships with people with websites and audiences and getting into the influencer space. I’ve partnered with podcasters and YouTubers.
Contact with people is my strength. Coming out of SEO and building organic traffic channels, I figured out how to leverage partnerships with people who have audiences or guest blogs.
Bandholz: What is the SEO strategy now?
Meeting: The problem now is that a lot of people are copying the content. I built a site in the paleo diet space when it was exploding. We were one of the first pieces of content and everyone referenced ours. We have seen a lot of growth. The health and fitness space is more challenging now as it becomes more medical. You will see WebMD appear for many results. Google tries to reduce the risk of what it ranks.
From a nuts and bolts perspective, content is overkill but still king. If you can take a basic SEO content layer and then apply a brand filter to it, build links and authority, that’s great. Good content attracts backlinks.
You can use link juice from one page to promote another. Distribute this traffic on your site as you wish. Merge SEO basics with potentially viral content, then use partnerships and friendships in the space to amplify specific things you want to put the effort on.
Bandholz: You launch nutritional products.
Meeting: We’ve been working on a nutritional sleep formula for two years that went live in April 2022. It’s called Impossible Sleep, a powdered drink mix. We want to help people perform at their best, and one of the ways to do that is to optimize recovery time. I have always been an ambitious person. I used to shorten my sleep to do extra work. It was debilitating in the long run. I have tried different sleep supplements without much success. I wanted to create something for people struggling with the same problem.
Our target market is high performing artists, athletes and entrepreneurs. If you’re a go-getter but don’t sleep well, we can help. A good night’s sleep is one of the best ways to recover and rejuvenate. We sell through subscriptions and one-time orders.
Most sleep supplements contain a lot of stuff that knocks you out. Some are good for you; some are not. Many supplements act as sedatives, but these never let you wake up feeling great.
Impossible Sleep contains L-theanine, which puts you in a calm state when you take 150 to 200 milligrams. It’s not necessarily going to kick you out. It’s more of a habit signal, signaling to your body that it’s time to relax. I find it helpful to take 20-30 minutes before bed.
I monitored with my Whoop tracker. My recovery scores are through the roof. I woke up the next day feeling refreshed.
I’m excited to get the product into people’s hands. It goes well at first. People are excited about it. We had a bunch of pre-orders. A few dozen people shared positive experiences. So I have high hopes on this and look forward to further comments.
Bandholz: What are you doing to thrive?
Meeting: We use ShipMonk, the third party fulfillment company. Recharge, the software platform, manages subscriptions.
I also started using the Shopify Rebuy app. It’s an upsell tool that will automatically get someone to buy our subscription. We have seen good results with this. It’s not a super complicated setup. Shopify does a lot of useful stuff outside of the box, and then with subscriptions, we haven’t run into any limitations yet. It was cool to learn more about warehousing and execution.
Bandholz: Where can people buy Impossible Sleep?
Meeting: All our products are on Impossible.co. Our sleep formula is on the front page. Everything behind the brand, all the adventures, challenges and mindset, can be found at ImpossibleHQ.com. We have workouts and fitness programs on ImpossibleFitness.com.
I am on LinkedIn, Twitterand Instagram.