42- Keeley Tillotson and Erika Welsh – On dropping out of college, appearing on Shark Tank, and building a 7 million dollar business

In today’s episode I interview Wild Friends cofounders Keeley Tillotson and Erika Welsh. Keeley and Erika’s nut butter company was born one afternoon, in their University of Oregon dorm room. As life-long athletes, Keeley and Erika shared an affinity for peanut butter’s convenient, healthy, and delicious profile. One day, they decided to concoct their own peanut butter with the addition of unique flavors like coconut, cinnamon and raisins. Keeley and Erika shared this creation with their hungry athlete friends and they devoured it. They rode this hype,  tried out selling their product at the Eugene farmers market, and then moved onto local stores. After an appearance on the television show Shark Tank, the decided to drop out of college and focus all their efforts on their business. Six years later,  Wild Friends is now one of the fastest growing nut butters in the nation, raking in 7 million dollars in sales. In 2017, they were featured on Forbes 30 under 30 for food and drink.

In our conversation we talk about

-how being athletes has greatly influenced their business decisions

-why they chose to drop-out of college

-the advantage of having absolutely no idea what you are doing

-what it’s really like to be on Shark Tank

-their vow to fulfill my dream of swimming in a pool of nut butter (yup, I’m weird)

-Portland’s November Project, a free fitness movement led by Keeley (if you’re in the Portland I highly recommend checking

And more.

Wild Friends’ nut butters, are legit my fave nut butter (particularly the peanut butter cashew superbutter) This isn’t an ad. I just love them. The nut butters. And Keeley and Erika. But mostly the nut butters (jk).

Enjoy my conversation with the badass nut butter bosses Keeley and Erika.



:46           Who are Erika and Keely?

5:29             What are the new products…Super Butters?

11:19            Portland’s November Project movement

15:37            What sports did Keely and Erika participate in during their childhood?

19:45            Forbes 30 under 30 award

20:55           How did being an athlete help in running a business?

24:54           How did the two choose to make nut butters?

28:54            When and how did they take the passion for nut butter and make it a business?

31:30             Crazy food processor stories and the neighborhood squirrels

33:45             How did they come up with the brand name Wild Friends?

34:16             How did the two expand their business?

37:07            What training or background did Erika and Keely have in becoming an entrepreneur?

38:11             Did they just follow their gut or did they formulate a business plan?

40:19             Their philosophy of “it doesn’t hurt to ask”

41:45              “If you want advice, ask for money.   If you want money, ask for advice”  and the art of being


47:08             The Shark Tank experience

54:25              How did the business grow after being on the Shark Tank?

55:20              Their method of trusting their gut and being able to accept their mistakes

57:20               The plane ride home and the decision to drop out of school

1:01:17             What is their ultimate goal for Wild Friends?

1:03:27             Erika’s morning routine

1:04:32             Keely’s crazy belief

1:01:05:56        Biggest misconception that people have about Erika

1:06:38              Keely’s favorite failure

1:07:55               One simple tip to help female athletes

1:09.28               Where can you buy Wild Friends products and learn more about the biz?

Share the love

Follow Wild Friends, Keely, and Erika:

On Twitter:  @2wildfriends , @KeelyTillotson 

On Instagram: @wildfriends,  @keely_t , @erikawelsh12

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