Black Historical past Month is a devoted time to recollect, mirror and honor African-American historical past and achievements. At BigCommerce, we’re honored to have fun Black entrepreneurship and dive deeper into a few of our prospects’ tales year-round, however particularly this month.
With this 12 months’s Black Historical past Month theme of Black Well being and Wellness, BigCommerce Senior Model Supervisor Leah Spector sat down with Marc Washington, founder and CEO of Muniq, to debate the distinctive challenges and victories of being an African-American entrepreneur.
Have a look look into their dialog and the impactful story behind the Muniq model:
BigCommerce Q&A with Muniq Founder and CEO Marc Washington
Marc Washington is the founder and CEO of Muniq, an organization that produces a proprietary mix of meticulously sourced prebiotic fibers which were validated by tons of of scientific research to enhance blood sugar, weight reduction, intestine well being, ldl cholesterol and extra.
Washington is a first-time entrepreneur, however has made his profession as an govt within the area of well being, wellness and all issues better-for-you. Washington was President and Chief Working Officer of Seashore Physique earlier than he threw his hat within the ring and began Muniq in 2020. He says well being empowerment is his private ardour and a profession path he’s been lucky to chart.
Leah Spector: What impressed you to launch this enterprise? Did you could have a sure mission or imaginative and prescient?
Marc Washington: “The best way I describe it’s actually a head-meets-heart second. I’ve at all times been within the area of serving to individuals stay more healthy, however I knew there was a greater means. Regardless of all of the developments in expertise and the meals and well being care techniques, the basic problems with human well being and underlying circumstances are getting worse yearly. I knew there needed to be a greater means, a extra evidence-based, science-based means to assist individuals rework their well being, particularly those that want it probably the most.
“However that is additionally a private story tying again to my sister Monica. Monica was an unbelievably colourful persona, vigorous, vivacious, hilarious. Sadly, she struggled along with her well being, similar to so many others. She struggled along with her weight, and she or he lived with diabetes, hypertension and various continual circumstances. She tried a lot of various things over time to get higher management of her well being, however nothing ever caught. She tragically handed away six years in the past throughout problems from a high-risk being pregnant, ensnared in all of the totally different well being circumstances that she was coping with.
“It struck me to my core, and it’s a type of issues that simply by no means went away. It actually lit a hearth in me to do one thing. I believed, if not me, then whom? And if not now, then when will we truly do one thing to assist individuals?
“We wanted extra options about empowerment and hope — the sort of options I want Monica had. She’s actually an inspiration for me deciding to start out this enterprise, and she or he’s the inspiration for our model. The model identify Muniq is definitely Monica plus distinctive. Her legacy is all about serving to others chart a path in the direction of hope, empowerment and higher well being.”
LS: That’s actually lovely. You and your sister’s tales, and the impression you’re having, are so highly effective.
What objectives and aspirations do you could have for Muniq in 2022 and past?
MW: “One thing I’m very captivated with is that meals is medication, however it’s troublesome on this society to truly make wholesome selections. Our entire mission is to offer true meals as medication and reintroduce it in a sustainable, accessible, even satisfying means.
“This 12 months, it’s all about increasing on this mission. We’ve seen unbelievable success reaching various people and impacting their lives in huge methods. This 12 months is about scaling so we are able to make a major impression on a lot of individuals, transferring us nearer in the direction of our mission of creating a essentially optimistic impression on public well being.
“The aspiration is to actually create a motion of parents who resolve to offer this a strive, after which hopefully share with others and assist construct this motion of individuals which can be feeling empowered and supported, with Muniq as a useful associate.”
LS: Massive, noble, value pursuing. I’m listening to loads about training and engagement. How are you activating this type of advertising and marketing and buyer outreach?
MW: “It’s by no means simply been in regards to the merchandise for us — it’s about an expertise. That’s an enormous a part of our enterprise mannequin and why we determined to go direct-to-consumer — not simply to promote but additionally to attach with individuals.
“Once we launched Muniq we concurrently launched our group, the Muniq Lifers. When somebody decides to offer Muniq a strive, we invite them into our personal on-line group the place they see they’re not by themselves on this journey. There’s loads of peer help in our Muniq Lifers group, and I’m personally there each day, cheering individuals on, offering help, offering training and content material. Engagement, group and content material — these are all vital features of the general Muniq Life expertise, as we prefer to name it.”
LS: Switching gears a bit bit. We’re celebrating Black Historical past Month, and we’re actually grateful to listen to from profitable enterprise house owners such as you. What does Black Historical past Month imply to you, particularly as a Black entrepreneur?
MW: “It takes on particular that means for me as a Black founder attempting to advance the great of the group. This 12 months’s Black Historical past Month theme is close to and pricey to my coronary heart: Black well being and wellness. That theme is woven into who I’m as an individual, and it’s who we’re as a model.
“One of many advantages of beginning your personal enterprise, and one which brings me loads of pleasure as an entrepreneur, is constructing a model that has that means, that has soul, and that aligns with your personal private values.
“Our aspiration is to play a task in closing among the vital well being disparity gaps that exist predominantly for Black and brown communities. Whenever you take a look at nearly each continual underlying well being situation, sadly they nearly all considerably disproportionately impression Black and brown communities: diabetes, weight problems, hypertension, and so forth.
“There are a number of various the reason why that’s. As an alternative of simply speaking about it, let’s do one thing about it. I actually consider that if we’re profitable in our mission, we are able to have a optimistic impression on growing well being fairness and shut a few of these well being disparity gaps, specifically for the Black group.
“Black Historical past Month is a particular time of 12 months for me to acknowledge every thing that has come earlier than us, all of the trailblazing throughout the African American group, and everybody right this moment that continues to uplift and construct the Black group. I’m impressed to do our half specifically round this subject of well being fairness. The time is now to start out turning the nook and shutting a few of these well being disparity gaps, and I hope Muniqthe media can play a task in that course of.”
LS: Effectively, I do know Muniq is making a distinction, and that was superbly mentioned. Thanks for sharing.
Has the Black Lives Matter motion impacted your online business in any respect?
MW: “It has solely brought about me to double down on our dedication, and it has given us an even bigger platform in some methods. This was already woven into the essence of our enterprise and our model, however the renaissance of the Black Lives Matter motion over the past couple of years has supplied extra of a platform for a Black-owned model like ours to have a megaphone to shine a lightweight on the totally different features of inequality. It begins from the standpoint of police brutality and civil rights, and I do consider that well being care and well being fairness is among the largest civil rights problems with our instances. Black Lives Matter has helped elevate a few of these conversations to be a bit extra entrance web page than they’ve been all through historical past.
“These well being points aren’t new, and Covid has undoubtedly accelerated a few of them. You’ll be able to think about somebody like me launching a model new startup enterprise, like, right here we’re all within the workplace, attempting to get this factor off the bottom, and all of the sudden we’ve received Covid, we’ve received Black Lives Matter, and other people have been asking me, ought to we pause? Once I stepped again and thought of it, I noticed there had by no means been a higher want for what we’re doing than proper right here, proper now. Black Lives Matter has solely bolstered our motivation.”
LS: Do you could have any recommendation for different Black entrepreneurs trying to begin or develop their companies?
MW: “The very first thing I counsel to any entrepreneur — the chance concerned in beginning a enterprise isn’t for the faint of coronary heart. Take a deep breath and ensure it is a pool you wish to dive into. In case you have an concept or an idea, be considerate that you’re fixing an actual downside that impacts various individuals. It’s important to create some good or do one thing totally different than every thing else.
“For Black entrepreneurs, be ready to be in an surroundings the place you would possibly really feel like the one one. Black professionals are sometimes underrepresented all through company America, and we’re much more of a minority in relation to entrepreneurship. The founders and buyers who’re on this sport of entrepreneurship sometimes don’t seem like us, and as a Black founder, you need to be ready for that. You’re in all probability not going to seem like 99 % of the opposite founders that they’ve determined to write down checks to.
“It may be a problem, particularly in an early stage like enterprise capital, the place loads of it is dependent upon buyers who’re used to issues that look a sure means and investing in a sure kind of founder. You’re going to have to interrupt that mildew. For Black entrepreneurs, it’s good to anticipate that upfront so it’s not a shock to enter that surroundings and never see individuals who seem like you and never have buyers which have invested in different Black entrepreneurs.”
Are you a Black founder on the lookout for help? Take a look at DivInc, a corporation on a mission to take away friction and obstacles to allow individuals of shade and girls entrepreneurs to construct profitable excessive progress companies. For extra info on DivInc, go to www.divinc.org.
LS: What are among the challenges you could have confronted or, alternatively, among the largest wins?
MW: “I’ll begin on the win facet — I are usually an optimist and might’t assist myself in that regard. I get probably the most inspiration after we’re empowering actual well being transformations, even on a tiny scale, like with even one particular person. Many people have felt powerless on this curler coaster of fad diets and medicines, and seeing them interact with our product, with our group, utilizing it frequently, it’s like a lightweight goes off. I name it shine. Once we assist a person unlock this very private second of well being empowerment, that shine is the most effective feeling on the earth. I’m lucky that on this enterprise, we see that actually every day. We have now direct, shut relationships with our customers whose well being transformations we get to see firsthand.
“Even on a troublesome day, I’ll get up realizing we’ve loads of issues to determine, after which I’ll go into our Fb group and see a few posts from a Muniq Lifer who has simply reached this private second of shine, and all of the sudden I’m able to assault the day. This simply reinforces our purpose of bringing this second of shine to the plenty, in order that we are able to obtain a magnitude of impression at scale.
“On the flip facet, it’s a startup, so we’ve challenges. Regardless that we have been capable of launch within the midst of all of the Covid craziness, we had actual points truly getting our product produced with provide chain and labor shortages. There was a major time period the place we have been on this progress path, proper, I had simply raised a Collection A financing spherical and we have been rising. Then unexpectedly, we didn’t have any product to promote. We sort of needed to cease attracting new prospects simply to guard our core prospects, as a result of actually we couldn’t produce sufficient product.
“There have additionally been some modifications with Fb and Instagram, that are main methods we elevate consciousness about Muniq and join with customers, and that has simply essentially modified over the previous variety of months. Typically these exterior components can have an effect on your online business a lot, which isn’t enjoyable. However it has been forcing mechanism to be progressive and inventive and diversify how we join with customers. You get among the good and among the unhealthy — it’s all in a day of being a startup.”
LS: Just like your greatest a part of your days whenever you discover the way you’re making somebody’s life higher, that’s my favourite a part of working at BigCommerce — seeing how we are able to actually assist empower our retailers and their companies. Thanks a lot for trusting us with your online business, and thanks for sharing your story.