Meet Joshua and Seamus the brothers and co-founders behind Project Better and as a duo they are absolute dynamite! If you’re looking to be inspired to go and do the thing you lie awake thinking about at night then read the guys Project Better journey! Project Better launched last summer and are a natural nootropics supplement- making you work that extra 10% every day. The guys are helping young creators to tap into the depths of their mental resources and to go after their vision with everything that they have got. What we love more than anything though is the advice they have shared with us today! Down to earth, real and utterly motivating, as the guys say ‘With good vision, the right strategy and a lot of energy – anything is achievable’…
Joshua O’Callaghan and Seamus O’Callaghan
Joshua: 12/08/91 and Seamus: 30/05/90
Profession: Entrepreneurs, marketers, administrators, box packers. Whatever needs doing really!
Company Name: Project Better
If you went to university was it a clear-cut path what you were going to do?
Seamus: I studied marketing and advertising in Leeds. It wasn’t really to follow a path as much as to escape the one I was on working as an engineer for Virgin Media. Interestingly a lot of the guys I worked with are now in amazing jobs high up in Virgin, so maybe I should have waited it out!
Joshua: I never went to university. I struggled with formal education and wanted to distance myself from it as soon as possible. I recently met someone who knows one of my old teachers. When asked about me his comment was ‘talented but idle’. Looking back that was definitely accurate but my mind set has always been to try and understand why. I didn’t know it at the time but if I don’t know why I’m doing something I can’t do it. There was never a clear cut path for me but in hindsight some of the personality traits that held me back as a teenager are becoming strengths as my life unfolds.
What is Project Better and when did you launch?
Seamus: At its core Project Better is a movement. We’re all about empowering, inspiring, and enabling young creators who are trying to make changes in their life and their world. What’s the biggest hurdle on the path to change? It’s fucking hard. That’s why Nootropics are our tool of choice. We’re helping young creators to tap into the depths of their mental resources, to go after their vision with everything they’ve got. Project Better launched in August 2017, but to be honest it’s really the culmination of our thoughts, ideas and efforts of the last few years. And Project Better wasn’t our first attempt to launch this business, we tried at least once before and didn’t get it off the ground.
Joshua: Seamus has nailed it. We believe people have endless potential and what it all ultimately comes down to is how strongly do you believe in something and how much effort are you willing throw at it? With good vision, the right strategy and a lot of energy – anything is achievable. Project Better is about spreading that idea and then bringing it into action.
How did the idea for Project Better come about?
Seamus: We were addressing our own pain. Josh particularly was working like crazy, basically burned out, and just looking for a way to get through the days without being totally drained. He began experimenting with nootropics and pretty quickly our kitchen was looking like a meth lab. It’s not rocket science, but it can be a bit of a nightmare finding the right balance of supplements. So we decided to just offer a single, all in one stack for the brain. Take all the bullshit out of it for people who are too busy or too focussed to go through all the trial and error that we did.
Joshua: I fell in love with nootropics through experimentation and trying to feel on top form all the time. As Seamus mentioned, we first attempted to launch the business under the name of Infi Neuro and it was the same product and same business model but without the core message that Project Better holds. It was only when we started to really question what the point of peak mental performance was and why we cared about it that we arrived at a conclusion that inspired Project Better. Trying to be the best that we can be through constant and never ending improvement and have as big an impact on the world as we can in our lifetimes. We knew we wouldn’t be the only ones and Infi Neuro became Project Better.
Have you left full time employment to pursue Project Better full time and if not how do you juggle the two?
Seamus: We haven’t. Josh owns and runs his own men’s grooming business. And I head up sales for a tech start-up in Nottingham. It’s pretty full on, and juggling everything is a major challenge, even with the nootropics. I’ve found it takes two things to get it right. The first is to schedule time for Project Better and to stick to that schedule relentlessly. The second is ruthless prioritisation. With limited time you just have to get what you can done in the time you have. And accept that you won’t be able to do everything. There’s always more work than time.
Joshua: Time management is definitely the biggest challenge. My other business is also in its infancy stages and requires me working in it and on it full time. Luckily, I have a business partner and we can share the workload. When it comes to juggling the two I’ve learned to avoid doing things until we’ve laid out a plan. It’s very easy to just try and do something for the sake of doing it just because you’re busy and you want the pressure of a job lifted. But the standard inevitably drops. So as Seamus said it’s about deciding which jobs should be done when and getting to work.
What were the initial challenges in getting the ball rolling for Project Better?
Seamus: We weren’t good enough at literally anything we needed to do. Everything was a challenge. How do you build a website? How do you market that website? We probably need a manufacturer, how do you find one of those? How do you get good product photos or create good content? Where does the money come from? Eventually you realise the challenges are the point. Whatever you’re dealing with now, in 6 months that’ll be long gone and you’ll be dealing with something else. That’s just how growth works.
Joshua: I think any entrepreneur getting started quickly realises they’ve signed up to never switch off, never feel comfortable, never know what’s next and that’s all part of the fun. I’ve certainly learned that as well as developing the ability to acquire new and often completely unrelated skills as fast as possible – you have to be in it for the sake of being in it. In the beginning I was always thinking, if we just get the website done we can relax. If we just get this content finished we can relax. If we just reach out to this many people we can relax. And that’s the point like Seamus said the challenges become your job. You can’t play with the expectation you will win: you have to play just to stay in the game. Accepting the work never ends was my biggest challenge.
Is there anything people should know about when setting up a supplement business?
Seamus: Know your product. You’re going to get a lot of questions before somebody puts something you’ve created into their body. If you’re starting a supplement business you should know what your product does and why. And use a reputable supplier, because if something goes wrong, even if it’s their fuck up, it’s still your brand that suffers. You’re going to take the hit if something goes wrong.
Joshua: Expect a lot of questions!
How do you go about finding a manufacturer? Any tips you can offer…
Seamus: Lots of Googling, emailing, and calling potential manufacturers. One mistake we made was looking for a supplier who could manufacture, store, and distribute for us from day one. A nice idea, but the best manufacturer for your products might not be a one-stop-shop kind of place. Try not to rule out any good manufacturers for pointless reasons.
Have you raised investment or was this something you both self-invested in?
Seamus: We’re self-invested. And anything Project Better earns goes straight back in to grow the business.
What advice would you give to others looking to get their feet off the ground financially?
Seamus: I took a loan out for a previous business that failed. And with it I lost all my money as well. Just because you can convince somebody to give you money doesn’t mean you have a good idea. A solid business plan doesn’t always mean a solid business, so don’t lose sight of reality. If you have to spend months or years living in your business plan and sales projections to get the money then do it, just don’t fall for your own hype. Stay grounded in the real world.
Joshua: I carried all of Seamus’ lessons from his previous failure into my first business and still nearly fell into the same trap. I was trying to create magic on paper to impress investors but with no real experience to back it up. In the end, we scaled everything down and we raised the finance ourselves without investment. Those lessons have been invaluable for Project Better. My advice to anyone seeking investment would be that we don’t rise to the level of our ambitions we fall to the level of our practice. Only seek funding if you absolutely can’t get there without it.
Have you got a mentor?
Seamus: Do books count?
Joshua: Anyone I spend time with that’s better than me at anything I will start to model. I’m always looking for what I can learn from people.
Who do you seek out for support and advice (if not a mentor)?
Seamus: I talk to Josh.
Joshua: Seamus gives me my council every time.
Do you ever doubt yourselves?
Seamus: Depends what day you ask. Better to feel doubt about the challenges we’re facing than to sit unfulfilled watching the TV.
Joshua: I’m very critical of myself but I couldn’t say I register it as self doubt. I’m always looking for ways to improve things but I know given the time and effort things can always be improved so I accept that i’m rarely satisfied but that’s what drives you forward so it’s a blessing and a curse.
How are you marketing Project Better?
Seamus: We do a lot on social media and with reviews and influencers. If there’s a magic bullet we haven’t found it yet. It just takes time and hard work.
Joshua: Just talking to people is the best form of marketing we’ve come across yet. You would be amazed how much you can achieve when you just start reaching out to people and are willing to give first.
How do you think Project Better differs from the competition out there?
Seamus: We care less about nootropics than we do about being effective and creating change. No one else in the nootropics world has a purpose other than just selling supplements. We want people to get better and live better, however that looks to them. Our purpose is why we’re different.
Joshua: We’re why guys. We want people to discover their purpose and commit to pursuing it. We sell a nootropic because that extra 10% you get from yourself when taking them is so valuable when your days are consumed by doing something you’re deeply passionate about. That’s how we evolved from Infi Neuro to Project Better because we were constantly asking ourselves why nootropics are important to us and why they would be important to anyone else. Infi Neuro, the original brand was about optimising your brain – the same way other nootropic brands operate. Project Better is about helping people give it their all.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently along the way?
Seamus: Not really, we’ve made it this far which kind of validates everything we did to get here. Even the mistakes.
Joshua: I agree.
Anything you would tell yourself then, that you know now?
Seamus: I’d tell myself to schedule time for Project Better and stick to it. Then I’d say learn how to prioritise before you drown in tasks. Develop a goal focussed mindset. And to chill the fuck out, go with the flow a bit more.
Joshua: I’d tell myself to relax. I’m forever in my own head thinking of ideas and then wanting to implement them straight away. A good idea will still be a good idea in 6 months or even a year so I’d tell myself to accept that not everything can be done in a day and just because it hasn’t been done yet doesn’t mean it’s not going to be done.
What’s a typical day for you working on Project Better?
Seamus: Lots of marketing. Lots of research. Who might want to hear about us? Who is feeling the pain of not being good enough? How do we reach them? These are the kind of questions we’re always working on.
Joshua: Marketing, planning and research consume pretty much all of our time. The occasional strategy rant over a couple of beers too.
Were you cautious about going into business with your brother?
Seamus: Not even a little bit. I can’t see any way it wouldn’t have happened like this for us.
Joshua: We work together on everything so it’s inevitable we would be in business together.
Any personality traits you have discovered about yourself along the way?
Seamus: Discovered lots of bad ones and developed the occasional good one. More than anything I appreciate Josh’s ability to put up with my bullshit.
Joshua: Haha, I’m a control freak and I’ll forever be learning to let go and accept that I can’t do everything.
Any fuck ups along the way?
Seamus: To an extent everything we’ve done so far started out as a fuck up that we managed to fix.
Joshua: My biggest fuck up has to be on having unrealistic expectations for how fast we could get work done and how quickly we can grow. As I mentioned before accepting that you’re playing just to stay in the game – not to win, so to speak, was my first hard hitting lesson and that came from my expectations being badly calculated.
What has been your best moment so far as a result of setting up Project Better?
Seamus: Every time an order comes through, or we get an e-book download. But mostly when we see those repeat customers ordering again and again.
Joshua: Seeing people connect with the brand and understand the message we’re trying to promote is amazing. I have to say strengthening my patience and my resilience to uncertainty has been by far the most rewarding thing for me. Seeing your business grow is an incredible feeling but it’s your personal growth that is the real prize because the growth your business has will rarely surpass the level of your personal development.
What advice would you give other twenty-something’s who are thinking of pursuing a career in the same industry as you?
Seamus: Don’t try to boil the ocean from day one. Start simple. Learn as you go. And just don’t quit. The only thing that matters is that nothing keeps you out of the game for long.
Joshua: Go for it, start right away! That goes for anyone anywhere wanting to do anything. The only difference between those who achieve and those who don’t is consistent action. Do your homework, get started and be persistent despite the struggle.
What do you think is next for Project Better in the next year?
Seamus: New products. New partnerships. New relationships. We just want to reach more people and support them in more ways. We’ll figure it out as we go.
What’s the dream?
Seamus: The movement we’re driving with Project Better growing into a global community of effective young creators working together to tackle big problems in the world.
Joshua: Seamus nailed it, that’s the dream. A community of committed people working hard to better themselves and in doing so better the world.
Just for fun…
In your twenties the three things I tend to think about are…
Seamus: Money, health, and growth.
Joshua: Freedom, creativity and growth
When I look at my bank statement after a night out I usually…
Seamus: Try to avoid it, at least until the hangover clears.
Joshua: Haha I can’t even look at my phone after a night out never mind my bank statement
The Twenty Mile Club is….
Joshua: The future.
Learn more about Project Better and Nootropics here