Episode 36: Bonnie Coberly

Co-Founder Betrayal Leads to Success

Imagine being diagnosed with a crippling digestive disorder in your early 20s, and as a result, identifying a gap in the market: healthy food made and delivered to busy professionals years before the food-delivery craze caught on. Bonnie Coberly created a recipe for success in the D.C. area out of her desire to help herself and others.

Fast forward three years, and Coberly was stunned to discover that her co-founder embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars, leaving her in debt and in an even worse mental state. She met the challenge, repaid the debt, and eventually sold the business, allowing her to start anew as a coach for entrepreneurs who struggle with burnout, self-care, exhaustion, and a myriad of other issues. 

On this episode of SheVentures, listen as Coberly discusses her story, her pivot, and the stark reality of depression in entrepreneurship with actionable tips on how to start healing.

Key Moments

  • 05:31 — Bonnie Coberly describes how she was motivated to her to start her business, Healthy Bites, after suffering for years with a digestive disorder.
  • 9:50 — Coberly admits that she was an accidental entrepreneur. In hindsight, she realizes that in trying to help her clients eat better, she unintentionally created valuable market research, and a pilot that made all the difference is getting her startup off the ground. Spoiler: It involved a lot of kitchen door-to-door-ing! 
  • 14:49 — Just how many meals per person did Coberly produce when the business took off? And how much did she charge for her meal service?
  • 17:25 — Think the business is all about the food? Think again. Learn how Healthy Bites became as much about logistics and delivery as food (especially in 2008).
  • 22:05 — When you go into business with someone, there is a high level of trust. But what happens when your partner breaks that trust and leaves you with several hundred thousand dollars of debt? Coberly talks openly about the betrayal.
  • 26:47 — It could happen to anyone: Find out how Coberly dealt with this massive debt that landed in her lap. 
  • 30:36 — She shares what she should have done in hindsight to potentially mitigate her losses.
  • 35:53 — Coberly talks openly about the depression and despair she felt in running her business. Learn how she coped even at her darkest times, when it almost killed her — literally.
  • 39:30 — Do founders engage in martyrdom? Coberly and SheVentures host Doria Lavagnino discuss. 
  • 41:02 — Coberly gives you her top tips to get out of a slump. (You can start them today!)
  • 46:08 — Now a consultant and holistic coach, Coberly gives us an insight into how her she helps entrepreneurs today.