Lisa Odenweller, Live Beaming, Woman Entrepreneur

imgresI was out in LA and got an email from Lisa Odenweller.  She basically started her email with don’t leave LA until we meet in the subject line. Her latest storefront at the time was in Santa Monica.  A super food store that couldn’t be better timed. I happened to be in her neighborhood in the next few days so we made a plan to meet.  Her story is powerful and her drive is contagious.  There has been some bumps along the way of her latest venture Live Beaming but after meeting with Lisa I am quite confident that she will overcome anything that keeps her from the success she wants for Live Beaming.

Lisa grew up in Colorado Springs.  Both of her parents were in the Air Force Academy although they divorced when she was one.  She stayed in Colorado living with her Mom and step-Dad  until she entered high school and then they up and moved to Arizona with her father.  Her step-Dad is a real estate broker and her Mom does interior designers.  Her father was an entrepreneur, real estate developer.  When he was moving to Arizona Lisa figured it would be a great way to get to know him better so she went with him.

She spent the next few years listening to her father on the phone doing deals.  She learned through listening.  In high school she did it all; homecoming queen, dancer, cheerleader, etc.  After graduating high school she went to SMU.  SMU was not for her and she decided to go on a semester at sea the second semester of her sophomore year.  100 days at sea with 400 kids going around the world.  It was an incredible experience.  When she returned she transferred to Boulder with her mind set on what to do when she graduated.

After graduating Boulder she landed a job with Nestle.  There were 2400 recruits across the country and she was the number one pick.  She was able to make a choice on where she wanted to go.  Lisa chose the bay area.  They gave her a car, insurance and a gas card.  She thought she was on top of the world until she saw her Plymouth Acclaim with a velour interior.  Her job was to serve and sell products to hotels, schools and prisons.  She was peddling the worst food products that they had such as corned beef hash in a can, cheese sauce and gravy.  She had never even seen these products because she grew up in a healthy house.

What kept Lisa going the year she stayed was the Asian products that Nestle carried.  Nobody knew what to do with them.  Lisa would stay up at night creating dishes for the sauces.  When she had a stack of recipes to pair with the products she presented it to the soup plantations division.  They loved it.  Lisa felt she had done her job and decided to leave.

It was 1994 and the tech world was just starting to percolate.  Lisa landed a job at Oracle.  She began in sales support and then moved to marketing and then to strategic alliances.  She worked with the big six agencies who would tell their clients about Oracle products.  She had fantastic accounts and was really killing it.  Price Waterhouse was her largest client.

In 1999 Lisa decided to leave.  She had a bunch of ideas rattling around her head such as an online registry for weddings.  She was about to get married herself.  Instead of launching her own company she went to work for Broadvision.  It was during the heyday.  Her stock options were going up daily.  What she learned is what goes up must come down.  In 2003 she moved on.

She was married with a kid and they were trying to have more.  Her pace was so crazy that they both decided it would be smart to move somewhere else where the pace of life was calmer.  The idea was to simplify so they moved to San Diego.  Here is the thing with simplifying you can’t change who you are.  People that are built like Lisa do not stop just because they take a new road.  I know because I attempted the same thing.

When they got to San Diego the area was in the midst of a housing boom.  Lisa decided she could cash in on that.  She took a design course and started a new business.  Her business was around window coverings for all the new homes and the other end of the business was about lawn design.  She started to win awards around her window coverings.  She also had two more kids.

After 8 years of this business Lisa decided it was time to close it down.  She wasn’t sure what her next venture should be.  She always was into health, exercise, etc.  She let go of the design business and spent the next year focusing on introspection and working with a life coach.  It was scary but she knew she needed it.  She was also going through a divorce.

She happened to be in NYC and saw Maria Forlio speak at an annual entrepreneurial event.  Kris Carr took the stage and talked about food being medicine.  It was a very powerful day and it made an impact on Lisa.  She looked at Kris and turned to her girlfriend and said “my god that woman is beaming”.  Whatever she had Lisa wanted.  It was that speech that got her started.

She went home, read the book and did the 21 day challenge.  She was going through her own hormonal challenges.  Her daughter had ADD and was on meds.  She realized she had been healthy most of her life and wanted others to feel that way.  She started to make changes in her daughters diet with the food she was preparing and the change in her was significant.  She got off the meds and made the honor role.  Lisa thought I could help others with the food I am making.

Lisa wanted to make healthy, convenient food for the entire family.  She started spending more time in NYC where the movement around this was taking place.  She began to buy raw food and make smoothies, take notes and then try again.  Not everyone wants a green juice and Lisa thought there has to be a gap between green juice and every day food.  She also wanted to make sure the kids wanted to eat this food.  Even today their smoothies have hearts on them and that heart means kids approved because it tastes good.

About 3 plus years ago everyone started to do cleansing.  Lisa thought it was ridiculous.  Cleansing does not teach you a healthy life style.  She had read Adina Niemerow and cold called her.  Lisa described her business idea and asked Adina to do it with her and she said sure.  After spending months in the kitchen she launched a beta test in San Diego.  People signed up for a 5 day $495 beta cleanse that included three meals a day.  She figured 20 people would sign up and instead 92 people signed up.  She really did not have the infrastructure for this demand.  She was making the food in a cupcake kitchen.  Many people had certain dietary restrictions too.  She got friends and kids to pack the food and label the bottles.  Somehow they pulled it off.  Here is the thing, after they were done with the 5 day beta test nobody wanted to get off the program.  They loved the food and they loved how they felt.

Lisa ended up doing six more of these programs.  After 7 cleanses with over 150 people they had made $225,000.  The following was strong and so she opened her first Live Beaming store in Del Mar in December 2013.  There was a line from the day she opened.  The first year Lisa did almost $3m out of a 930 square space.  Lots of learning along the way.  Lisa realized that she could raise capital and grow this concept into something bigger than one store.

Now there is now one in Brentwood, one in Santa Monica, one in West Hollywood and when we spoke there was a store in La Jolla opening soon too.  There is a central kitchen in San Diego.  They ship nationwide, they own trucks, they have people making food that is gluten and dairy free.

Lisa is working on building a national brand and writing a book.  Her kids are now 17, 10 and 11.  Her passion is education.  It has been quite a crazy few years.  Obviously moving to SD did not slow Lisa down.  Everything that is at Live Beaming has been developed by Lisa even down to the protein powder.

Lisa has serious energy.  I tasted a bunch of the products when we met and the smoothies and the food was really good.  Lisa is the next generation’s Martha Stewart.  While we sat there and talked at her store a few families came in with their babies and young kids.  Those families want to make healthy choices for their kids.  Lisa is providing that.  I am looking forward to seeing a Live Beaming open in NYC…or perhaps Brooklyn.