Baking For Health: Changemaker Interview with Zach Schleien

By the age of 21, Zach had already experimented with countless diets. He felt bloated after meals, fluctuated in weight, and had constant low energy. Zach knew he had to make a change.

His brother introduced him to the Paleo Diet. He learned that it was more than just a diet but rather a lifestyle that would soon transform his life, removing processed foods, grains and introducing high-quality foods into his diet. He began weight training and meditating. His mom even introduced him to yoga. Soon after, Zach became a certified health coach and dedicated his life to teaching others health and nutrition. 

Zach is a longtime member of Under 30 Changemakers, and offered to share his story with our community. If you have ever needed inspiration to start your own food business on the internet, Zach's mother-son story is one that you must read! You can check out more information on the LIFT Protein Muffin website. 

Q. Why does LIFT Muffins Protein personally matter to you?

A. My mom and I started LIFT Protein Muffins to share our love of health and nutrition. We wanted to fill a need for people who are into eating healthy but also want the convenience of the on-the-go meal. We want LIFT Protein Muffins to make people’s lives easier, so they have more time to do what they need to be successful.

Q. What has been your best mistake since you started LIFT Muffins?

Our best mistake was starting with chocolate bars. Our initial goal was to produce paleo chocolate bars, but it failed miserably. They were absolutely awful. Once we realized no one would eat them we transitioned to LIFT. So without failing on our chocolate experiment, LIFT would have never been born.

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Q. What is it like working with your mom as co-founder of LIFT? What has she provided you in experience, support, and insight?

It has been an incredible experience working with my mom. We are extremely close and it has just made us closer. This company would not have been possible without her support. She developed the recipes and has been an incredible business partner. I’m in the unique situation where my mom understands my strengths and weakness and vice versa. We also have incredible communication, so we are willing to communicate what’s working and not working. However, we do so in a respectful manner; not putting the other down, while taking responsibility of any failures that may occur.

Q. You ran a successful fundraiser in 2015 that raised 2x your funding goal to rent a commercial kitchen and buy supplies. What advice would you give to Changemakers who are trying to raise funds?

  Zach Baking Muffins

Zach Baking Muffins

A. My advice would be to have patience, come up with a strategy, and focus on sales. Creating a fundraiser takes time. For LIFT, I researched nearly 100 companies in the health food space to understand why companies surpassed or even fell short of their fundraising goals. Once our Kickstarter launched, I reached out to everyone I knew asking them if they would like to contribute. The saying “build it and they will come” is not true in the startup business. You have to hustle.

Q. Could you describe a moment or interaction where you realized what impact you had made with LIFT Protein Muffins?

A. That moment came last week. One of our customers brought a LIFT Protein Muffin into work because he didn’t have time to eat breakfast at home. He was so excited that he could take a healthy meal to go!

A. Who are two people you draw inspiration and strength from and why?

Aside from my mom, I draw inspiration and strength from dad and brother. My dad is insanely focused and is a huge support. My brother always believed in me and challenged me ever since we were kids.

Q. What advice would you give to a Changemaker who is looking to start their own food business?

A. It’s a huge commitment. There is a ton of regulation in the industry and it’s not easy! But if you have the willpower and motivation, you can start a food business too!

Find a niche and go for it! Don’t try to make a product or service for everyone.

Thanks for reading! Have you ever considered starting a healthy food business? Let us know in the comments below!