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Ed and Ann-Marie Stephens are the founders and owners of TypeFreeDiabetes.com and the ebrandz team caught up with them for an exclusive interview about their success and business.

Tell us about yourself and about how the success story begins.

This is a family run business and privately held. My husband and I, Ed and Ann-Marie Stephens are the founders and owners of the business. We started this because of the prevalence of diabetes among our family members. We quickly realized that many of the issues and challenges that we were trying to help them with, were the same issues that many more people in America and around the world were facing and decided to startTypeFreeDaibetes.com to provide a one stop solution for them all. We both hold undergraduate degrees in Chemical Engineering and have worked at world renowned companies such as Procter & Gamble, Avon, and the like. I further went on to Graduate School at the University of Pennsylvania, where I earned my MBA in Entrepreneurial Business at the Wharton School. I have since help senior executive positions at Frito-Lay, Circuit City and have more recently been doing Business Consulting.

So in summary, we have scientific backgrounds that serve as the foundation of talk about the science of diabetes and its complications. Our business backgrounds and retail experience give us the confidence to build a retail operation. We are on the steepest learning curve yet with online retail. But with the help of the eBrandz team, have great partners to take us to the top.

  • How does it feel to finally see your dream materialize?

As noted above, however starting my own company was a life-long dream and I am happy to be finally working on making the dream a reality. I will say that it has been harder than I ever imagined!

  • If you had to give out three business tips to the youth, what would they be?
    1. Go get your hands dirty by volunteering in a small business start-up
    2. Try to work in some area that is close to what you might be interested in starting – it will accelerate your ability to jump start your own business
    3. You cannot quit too soon. There is a tenacity and stubbornness that is required to survive the rocks and valleys that come your way as a entrepreneur. This is not for the faint of heart.
  • What would be the one aspect that you would have changed in your career?
    1. I would begin the entrepreneurial journey much sooner than I did. While I have certainly had a very successful corporate career, I now feel like I am rushing against time. I would start earlier so that I could have more time to experiment more and to do more.
  • Name the top three traits required to be a successful entrepreneur.
    1. Being able to stay focused on the vision, the end game; not getting bogged down by the day to day
    2. Being able to manage multiple tasks, multiple issues at the same time without going insane
    3. Tenacity
  • How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?

This is the million dollar question! Being tenacious and stubborn can be both good and bad in the world of an entrepreneur. I keep thinking that you don’t stop until you know you have exhausted all possible solutions that you and your mentors/advisors have thought about and implemented. I would say that if you have to quit, it should never be with the sense of “I wish we had tried”. Quit with the sense of you have put everything into it and the concept did not work. Of course, sometimes finances do not allow us to have this luxury. But if it is at all feasible, quit when you know that you have given it your all, you have put it all on the line.

  • How many hours do you spend on your work?

I work for an average of 12 to 14 hours a day

  • Have your business change your family and personal life?

Due to the hours that I work, I find that I have to be extraordinarily disciplined to stop myself from getting completely buried. As a result, I don’t generally have enough time for spontaneity. This is something I miss, because it is fun to have the time to do unexpected, unplanned activities. Not generally something I can accommodate in my life right now. Our kids are grown, so that helps a lot with enabling us to spend so much time on the business. Finally, I would say that it is difficult to keep our lives separate from the business. We don’t have the clearly defined lines that you are able to have when you work as an employee. Instead, it seems to be always what you are thinking about and muddies the lines between work and family lives.

  • What is your source of inspiration?

Winning! This business is structured to create a win for people with diabetes; it should save them time and educate them on why they need the stuff we carry. What they need to do differently to course correct the impact the disease could have on their lives. The business of winning financially is of great importance as well. Without financial success, we will not have the wherewithal to support our mission to the people with diabetes.

  • What is one of the keys to your success?

We put ourselves in our customer’s shoes and anticipate what their needs might be about different problems they might be experiencing. Our job is to create possible alternatives for them. We would only know if we got it right by getting feedback from them; this is an area of opportunity for us.

  • How do you overcome your fears, if any?

My greatest fear is not making this work. I am so used to being successful in everything that I have done in the past, that this not working is a scary notion. I try to manage that fear by being open about it. Trying to problem solve the things that are not working and being patient. Going through the elements step by step. This is one of the skills you learn as an engineer. Peeling back the layers, step by step.