Richard Miller is a serial entrepreneur who has been at the forefront of health and wellness trends for 40 years. He had the most successful businesses selling indoor fitness equipment, outdoor exercise machines, designing fitness facilities, and then headed up a real estate investment company.
He has recently shifted his focus from fitness to helping people live healthier through breathing cleaner air–with the development of the world’s only probiotic surface and air purifier Betterair. “It does not matter how fit you are if your body is being bombarded with pollutants that cause allergies that can damage your immune system,” says Miller–something that has become more important than ever. Richard considers Betterair to be a labor of love and 100% of its profits go to charity.
Was it a lightbulb moment or gradual moment to start Betterair?
Being a well-known authority in fitness for 40 years, an Israeli company named Betterair approached me for advice and assistance in creating a demand for their revolutionary air, surface, and object purification system in the gym and health club world. The product seemed benign at first - a clear liquid, no noticeable presence or odor, all-natural and not the usual immediately “kill on contact” format. Their data, documentation, and scientific research were formidable. I found it intriguing so I tried it for myself. Having no serious allergies, asthma, respiratory or health issues, after 2 weeks I thought it did nothing.
A few weeks later I was in my apartment in Florida, where the HVAC system has never been up to par, and I realized that since I wake up every night at 2 am with a sore throat that this would be a direct test of the efficacy of their claims. I put one in my bedroom, went back to NY, and returned a week later.
The first night I spent back in that apartment, for the first time in years, I slept through the night–no wake-ups, no issues, no sore throat, no discomfort of any kind. I then placed it in my NYC apartment as well. Three months later, having just exited a winter rampant with Flu cases, I noticed that I had not been sick at all – not a cold, sore throat, Flu, scratchy eyes, uneasy sleep, headache, et al- not once throughout the Flu season.
Only one variable changed in my life during that time and it was Betterair. Others tried it and found the same results. Friends with asthma stopped getting attacks and threw away their inhalers. Others that had sleep issues, malaise, sore throats, and a host of common modern-day irritations found similar improvements to mine. The list goes on. This was the quickest, simplest, easiest way to improve people's lives.
Totally safe and virtually impossible to have any negative effects whatsoever on humans, infants, or animals. There were no downsides. I knew I had to help bring this to the world.
How did you get your first three customers?
Although the company had extensive testing results through clinical trials, case studies and numerous certified lab tests, no one had ever heard of name let alone the idea of an environmental probiotic. Just communicating the concept was difficult to do, and by the time I explained how it actually works their eyes would roll and they were mentally somewhere else.
Here I thought I had found the greatest indoor invention since the window and I couldn’t get anyone’s attention. I decided rather than start with the product itself I’d concentrate my pitch on what it accomplishes and cures. Initially, my personal passion was more of a convincing factor than the scientific proof I tried to present. One on one the product was easy to sell, but in a mass-market/social media environment, the attention span makes it a challenge.
How did you validate the idea?
At first, I was my own test. However, the more units we sold the more testimonials we’d receive. The acclaims and documented results were far beyond even my own experience and the breadth of maladies it was improving or curing were extensive- from asthma and odor free air to depression, sore throats and sleep apnea. I came to realize this was more than just an air purifier, it was a game changer, and millions upon millions of lives could significantly be improved through its usage.
Did you have any experience/expertise in the area?
I had years of business acumen through zero experience in bio-tech, but I have spent most of my life dedicated to improving the lives of others. I founded and ran the largest fitness equipment distributor in the US for 40 years, devoting my energies at its helm to new exercise modalities and biomechanically innovative equipment to make it easier and more interesting to improve people’s health through exercise.
Have you raised any money? How much?
Only 20% of the funds were raised through investors, the balance being self-funded by me. I knew this would take a lot of work and time and didn’t want to be pressured to move in a direction we might not be ready for so I was very selective who my investors were.
We are presenting an entirely new concept for air and surface purification, one that is contrary to existing thought and scientific intention. The common premise has been to obliterate what we don’t understand and what might hurt us. Unlike everything else; nature not against it.
What regulatory approvals did you have to go through?
We actually don’t need any governmental authorization to sell a totally safe and benign product like Betterair, few air purification systems have any authorizations from anyone at all. In addition to the various certifications we presently have listed on our site, we are currently in the last phase of our EPA certification. We have completed all EPA testing protocols and are waiting for their final assessment processes.
Who is your target demographic?
Anyone living indoors, but those with health issues like asthma, allergies, uneasy sleep, sore throats, malaise, etc., will benefit the fastest.
How did you fund the idea initially?
I fully funded the idea on my own as this was something I truly believed in. I’ve always considered this to be a labor of love.
Where did you meet your co-founder/founding team? Any tips for finding first employees?
My co-founder was actually the COO at my last company. It’s hard to find people who are as passionate as you are but fate and those with logic and open minds helped me connect with the right ones.
Did you run any companies prior?
Yes, I was the Founder and former CEO of Gym Source, which when I sold it was the largest exercise equipment distributor in the US. We provided fitness equipment for the government, pro teams, colleges, top athletes, many of the most famous celebrities in the world including 4 US Presidents; everyone from Equinox to the Oval office.
What were your family and friends first thoughts on your company?
My friends and family thought I was nuts to start a new company and should retire.
What motivates you when things go wrong? What is the end goal?
Belief in what I’m doing, without that why even start. I know how much it can help and change people’s lives for the better, but when the going gets really tough a letter of thanks or testimonial pops up telling us how much Betterair has helped and changed their life.
What has driven the most sales and What is stopping you being 3x the size you are now?
Facebook and our own networking. The opposition and suspicion of new technology and discrediting existing fallacies are crushing.
How do you protect yourself from competition?
Other people may copy our environmental probiotic idea but they have a long easy to go to create a proven formula like ours.
Do you have any trademarks/IP/patents?
We have numerous patents and patents pending but additionally to test and isolate the proper strains and their combinations and formulas take years to get it right.
What are your favourite books?
Notes From Underground/Dostoevsky , The Tragic Sense of Life/de Unamuno, and The Dancing Wu Li Masters/quantum physics.
What are the next products you’re working on?
We are currently working on developing portable units.
Where do you see the company in 5 years?
I can honestly see this becoming a billion-dollar company within the next 5 years. We just need the right exposure and people to get behind the concept.
What is current revenue? If you don’t mind sharing.
I am unable to comment on the revenue at this time but pending orders are exponential. Will provide an update by end of year.
Would you ever sell?
I don't think about selling, I only think about succeeding.