Four years ago, Aušra Gaudiešienė was successfully climbing the career ladder in Klaipėda, in Lithuania. Until quite unexpectedly, her son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and her life turned upside down.
“Diabetes is an incurable, chronic disease. You have to control every step: how much medicine to inject, what you can eat, how much exercise you can do, etc. It’s hard, especially for children. They can no longer eat anything spontaneously. So, if my son wants an apple, I have to calculate how much sugar it has and how much insulin is needed, then inject the insulin and wait till it starts working. I was determined to make my son’s life happier,” Aušra recalls.
Even though her family received all the necessary medical care, Aušra noticed a lack of specialized food and beverages for people with diabetes.
“Diet plays a major role in managing diabetes. You have to control your blood sugar levels so not all foods are suitable. That’s why I started to look for diabetic-friendly foods: things that are low-carb and with no added sugar. And I started researching more specialized products, like continuous glucose monitoring patches and insulin cooler bags, which enable you to remain active while tending to your health requirements on the move. It makes living with diabetes less burdensome and restrictive,” Aušra notes.
Soon she was sharing her best finds with others and found that people had an incredible appetite for more information. While on maternity leave with her second child, she created DIASIDE.COM, an e-commerce site dedicated to diabetes care. Its range of specialized products was an innovation in Lithuania, and a very welcome one.
“The feedback from the diabetes community was great. It gave me huge inspiration to continue looking for new ways to make life easier for our son and others.”
Recalling the old saying, ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade’, Aušra looked for opportunities to grow amid the challenges of the pandemic. She spent lockdown improving her online store, relaunching it for an even broader audience – her latest website IFOOD.LT offers low-carb foods and beverages for people with various conditions that limit what they can eat, including allergies, intolerances, those who follow specific diets or those who simply want to eat more healthily.
As Aušra did not have any prior business experience, she started researching e-commerce online, to teach herself the fundamentals of digital marketing. Participating in the Grow with Google training program was, therefore, key in helping her business grow, she says. The programme provided her with new insights into effective digital marketing through workshops and personal consultations with local marketing experts.
Previously, running a big advertising campaign to help her reach a wider audience always seemed out of reach for the small marketing budget she allowed herself to work with as a small business. But the training and mentoring she received via the Grow with Google program taught her there are smart, cost-effective ways for even very small businesses to get results.
Aušra learned how to make her e-shops more visually appealing, more user-friendly, and more discoverable online. She learned about how Google's search engine works, the importance of SEO (search engine optimization), and started using Google's keyword planner to research keywords users naturally relate to her products, so that she could plan resonant website descriptions and marketing campaigns.
“Marketing results are difficult to measure, so training on Google Analytics was particularly useful. My coach from Grow with Google, Igoris, gave me a huge amount of help. I learned to study Google Analytics data to build up a picture of how customers were discovering my online shops and work out how to facilitate more of that,” says Aušra.
“Nowadays it's challenging to reach customers and maintain an ongoing relationship with them. Thanks to the Grow with Google programme, I know which tools to use to keep my business growing and have ensured my business growth is stable,” says Aušra.
Today, she is reaching more people than ever in her drive to improve the quality of life for people with diabetes, as well as many others with health-related issues. “I’m humbled to see how all these activities, which started from a need to help my son, grew into a meaningful business. I feel a huge responsibility to the community. But with it comes a great sense of freedom which motivates me to try even harder.”