Last updated on September 10, 2022 - My Free Marketing newsletter 👀
Tom Bilyeu co-founded Quest Nutrition, which he and his partners sold for $1 billion dollars. Now, Tom Bilyeu’s net worth is around $400 million dollars.
You might think of Tom as just the founder of Quest Nutrition—but he’s a lot more than that.
The man knows how to sell. And he knows how to turn his dreams into reality.
In this post, we’re going to dive into the revenue sources that built up Tom Bilyeu’s net worth, and discuss the key takeaways I think other entrepreneurs can learn from him and his business journey.
Let’s get started.
First, let’s dive into where it all started…
After working his way up as Chief Marketing Officer at a tech company, Tom quit his job to pursue a business idea he was more passionate about—in the health and fitness industry.
Tom, his wife, and some former co-workers from the tech company, turned his wife’s protein bar recipe into the first product for Quest Nutrition.
Like most bootstrapped entrepreneurs, they started by making the protein bars from scratch in their own kitchen.
But then they hit a roadblock.
They wanted to expand to a commercial kitchen to grow and scale the business, but all the manufacturers they reached out to rejected them. No manufacturer would make their product how they wanted it to be made (without sugar).
Tom and his co-founders didn’t let that hold them back.
They purchased all the equipment they needed to manufacture the bars themselves, and kept on expanding.
What's crazy to me is NONE of the people on Tom’s team had food industry experience.
They all had backgrounds in tech, sales, marketing, etc. so they figured out the rest along the way.
Goes to show that you don’t need to be an expert in an industry to dominate it. Tom saw a gap in the market and figured out how to fill it—and it paid off.
What really put Quest Nutrition on the map was social media marketing.
When they launched protein bars, Tom sent THOUSANDS of hand-written letters to fitness influencers, with Quest bars included. That is exclusively what built buzz around the company in the early days.
They also sent Jenna Marbles custom sweaters for her two dogs (along with some Quest bars for her) and she loved them so much she started promoting the brand to her massive following.
Keep in mind that this was happening in 2010. The influencer industry was nothing like what it is today. YouTube only launched in 2005 and Instagram was founded in 2010 too, so the kind of content being posted on social media was nothing like it is today.
But I love that Tom recognized the potential in it and chose to pursue it over traditional marketing methods. He could have done marketing channels that were already successful—TV ads, radio ads, etc.—but the hard part with those is that other companies are also doing them.
Quest stood out because they marketed in a way that other companies weren’t—which meant there was way less competition with other advertisers.
This is the big payoff early adopters get for believing in something that’s not yet proven to work.
Okay, now let’s talk about Quest’s timeline:
That’s some MAJOR growth in a short span of time.
After all that growth, Tom and his co-founders sold Quest to Simply Good Foods Co. for $1 billion.
Damn. That’s bookoo bucks.
I love that Tom and his co-founders knew when to get out of the game.
They accomplished a lot in a short amount of time, but stepped away when the company was still super successful which gave them a lucrative return on investment and allowed the team to move on to other projects.
Which leads us to Tom’s next venture…
Even though Tom was super passionate about Quest and helping people reach their health and fitness goals through high-quality food, he had other passions…
Filmmaking and storytelling.
Tom studied film at university way before he started Quest, and it was still a huge passion of his.
So after Quest sold, Tom started building Impact Theory Studios—a production company aimed at creating motivational content.
Their bread and butter is their 5 popular podcasts, but they also have a course, events, comics, NFTs, and a merch store.
I love that Impact Theory thinks outside the box. Lots of brands do courses and merch—but how many mainstream brands offer comics and NFTs? Some, yes. But usually, if they do sell those products, they only sell those products and nothing else.
This shows Tom’s forward-thinking nature. He doesn’t do what everyone else is doing. He adopts things early to stand out—and in the past, that’s worked out.
In a Crypto Conversation podcast episode, Tom said this:
“I first got into business because I was trying to get into film and I had written a screenplay. It got turned into a feature length film, but I was very unhappy with how it came out. I met two successful entrepreneurs. And they said, ‘If you want to control the art, you have to control the resources. We're going to start a company. Why don't you come with us?’ I thought, let's do that.”
I think there’s a lot to take away from this: “If you want to control the art, you have to control the resources.”
Because of his success with Quest Nutrition, he’s now able to control the resources that bring his dream production studio to life. I love that he didn’t just stop pursuing the things he was passionate about after Quest sold. He keeps putting his net worth towards building his main dream, and since he controls the resources, he can do it however he wants.
That kind of resource control is essential for innovative businesses that impact future generations.
Usually when I put these net worth roundups together, the person has a ton of different revenue streams. I love that Tom keeps it simple.
He focuses on what he’s 100% passionate about and gives it his full attention. A lot of us can probably learn from that.
Here are my key takeaways from Tom and his journey building Quest and Impact Theory: