On today’s episode, our guest shares a unique perspective on how the daily 9-5 grind, despite its hurdles, can be the perfect launchpad for entrepreneurial success.
Mark Washington is the Founder and CEO of Supergut, a company that makes great-tasting products with gut-balancing nutrition for better digestive health. Since launching, they have sold over three million products. During the episode, Marc clarifies the short-term benefits of Supergut, such as appetite suppression and improved digestion, and discusses the long-term advantages that come from consistent use. He also opens up about the personal motivation that led him to launch Supergut, as he honors his late sister's memory by helping others take control of their health.
Before Supergut, Washington worked as an executive at McKinsey & Company, Beachbody, Pom Wonderful, and Fiji Water, helping his former clients and employers grow their businesses to greater heights. Today, he reveals how that experience has been valuable to his entrepreneurial journey - and also shares lessons from his business that have led to faster growth and success. Don't miss this captivating episode as Marc Washington imparts his wisdom and experience, providing valuable strategies and inspiration for growing your business and running it efficiently.
In today’s episode of the Harvest Growth Podcast, we’ll cover:
How working in traditional jobs can prepare you for entrepreneurship.
Why product authenticity is crucial to business growth and success.
Why entrepreneurs need a good team at all stages of business growth.
The value of content marketing in selling technically advanced products to consumers.
And many more!
You can listen to the full interview on your desktop or wherever you choose to listen to your podcasts.
Or, click to watch the full video interview here!
Visit www.supergut.com now to learn more about their great-tasting shakes, fiber mix, and bars products and see how they improve wellness, weight loss, digestive health, and reduce blood sugar.
To be a guest on our next Harvest Growth Podcast, contact us today!
Do you have a brand that you’d like to launch or grow? Do you want help from a partner that has successfully launched hundreds of brands that now total over $2 billion in revenues? Set up a free consultation with us today!
Prefer reading instead of listening? Read the full transcript here!
Jon LaClare [00:00:00]:
Not everyone has a chance to study at Harvard and Princeton and then go on to learn from a career at McKinsey Company, Beachbody Fitness, Palm Wonderful, and Fiji Water before launching their own product. But today's guest did exactly that and he shares learnings from every step along his career that you can implement in your business to grow faster and to run your business in a more efficient way.
Are you looking looking for new ways to make your sales grow? You've tried other podcasts, but they don't seem to know harvest the growth potential of your product or service as we share stories and strategies that'll make your competitors nervous. Now, here's the host of the Harvest Growth podcast, john LeClaire.
Jon LaClare [00:00:44]:
Welcome back to the show today. I'm really excited to have on the show with us Mark Washington. He's got an impressive track record of a lot of successes over the years, and we'll dive into some of those as we go through this interview. But I want to start off by focusing on his most recent success and really cool line of products called Supergut. I'm going to let him really describe it and talk more about it, but it's an amazing product or line of products, and again, we'll get into more of his history as well. But first of all, Mark, I want to welcome you to the show.
Marc Washington [00:01:17]:
Thanks so much. Appreciate you having me, John. I look forward to it.
Jon LaClare [00:01:20]:
So what is super gut? How does it work?
Marc Washington [00:01:23]:
Yeah, so at the highest level, we are all about gut health, nutrition that we say changes your gut, but for more than just digestion, actually for better overall health, healthier appetite control and weight management, better blood sugar. It's really affecting that foundation for health, which we know now really is your gut. And we focus on prebiotic superfoods for gut health. Right? And that's something I always explain to folks because a lot of people have been hearing more about gut health here. It's important, but most people's mind goes towards probiotics, right? When you think about gut health, they've been around for a long time, and probiotics are supposed to be like adding additional good bugs to your gut. We focus on the other side. Actually, the part that you need a lot more of and more important for gut health are prebiotics, which is the food for a healthy gut, like what your microbes need to proliferate to be healthy. Frankly, probiotics need prebiotics, right, to be healthy and to do their job.
Marc Washington [00:02:24]:
And that's what we focus on, is creating superfoods that are really highly functional prebiotic superfoods, but that it's also really enjoyable foods as well.
Jon LaClare [00:02:35]:
And I know there's a lot of long term benefits with prebiotics. Do you do experience or your customers experience short term as well? Do you feel different when you're taking serum?
Marc Washington [00:02:44]:
Yeah, very good question. We actually try to be pretty explicit about what you should expect over time right? And the kind of things that you can feel right away. It's really a couple of things. One is like this appetite suppression, like this very natural way of feeling fuller longer, and it's this prebiotic effect. One is like prebiotics largely come from high fiber plant foods and they're very slowly digested by you. So slowing down the digestion actually makes you feel fuller longer. But the prebiotics actually tap into we call it like the second meal because they are actually feeding the good bugs in your gut. And those good bugs tap into mechanisms in your body that include insulin sensitivity and appetite control called GLP.
Marc Washington [00:03:27]:
One like the same thing that some of these breakthrough drugs are like Ozipic, et cetera. We're actually tapping into that same appetite control mechanism but doing it naturally, right? And so that's like the first thing that you feel is that you just feel satisfied, like you don't have the same cravings. The hunger noises in your head are a lot quieter when you have our products. So that's the first thing. And then the second thing is this is gut health and the first way you typically experience it is digestion, right? It actually does regulate your digestive system, which is a really good thing, right, just to keep you regular and going. If you're not going enough, you're constipated gets you more regular. If you're going too often, you're dealing diarrhea and bloating. It actually calms those down as well.
Marc Washington [00:04:04]:
So those are the kind of things that you can feel pretty much right away when you get started. And then there's other benefits that accrue over time when you consistent habit with super gut in our products and you've.
Jon LaClare [00:04:17]:
Been in the health and wellness space for a long time. Again, we'll get into your background a little bit later, but how did you originally come up with this idea? What made you have this passion to launch the super gut line of products?
Marc Washington [00:04:28]:
Yeah, really good question. So like you mentioned, I've been in this space forever. It's what I love is helping people live healthier lives. But I felt there was another level that we could get to. Although I love this overarching space of better for you like health and wellness and food and beverage and supplements. I was like at the end of the day, if you look at our public health, it's getting worse. And so we're not really solving it despite advancements in food and technology and science and medicine. So I was like, I think there's a better way and I think we can do it.
Marc Washington [00:04:55]:
The more science based approach and what really inspired me to start this company, it actually goes back to a personal story. Imagine you talk to a lot of entrepreneurs a lot of times there is a personal aspect and know no different in that regard. And for me it was my sister Monica who struggled with her health. So she was clinically obese and lived with diabetes and some other health issues throughout her adult life. And she tragically passed away far too young due to complications with her health and a high risk pregnancy. And that really shook me to my core that this could happen in this day and age to my own sister. And that lit a fire in me over time. And it came to really acknowledge, I think my know why I'm here is to fundamentally help people be in better control of their health, but doing it in a very accessible way with products that you actually enjoy, things that I believe Monica would have really enjoyed and appreciated and could have potentially changed her trajectory.
Marc Washington [00:05:51]:
And I do literally as an homage to her legacy, created Supergut to help others sort of regain better control of their health know with this functional foods that happen to be based on this really leading edge science of the gut microbiome.
Jon LaClare [00:06:06]:
Well, sorry to hear about the loss of your sister, of course. But what a great way to honor her though, and her legacy of helping others in health and wellness spaces, right. Improve their lives and really, like you said, live on her legacy for thank you. Many years to come.
Marc Washington [00:06:22]:
Jon LaClare [00:06:22]:
Marc Washington [00:06:23]:
Thank you for that. It's a way to bring some light into such a dark situation. It definitely is an uplifting turn to honor her legacy that way.
Jon LaClare [00:06:32]:
Absolutely. So I want to dive into your background a little bit before Supergut. So if we rewind just a little bit. You've been with some amazing businesses over the years from Palm and Fiji and Beachbody and several others. What do you find is a big difference of running those businesses for somebody else and still being in charge of it, right. How is it different today, now, running your own brand completely.
Marc Washington [00:06:59]:
Yeah. It's really interesting because as you mentioned, I spent most of my career as an executive in the space, but typically as the right hand to the entrepreneur. So I've been in entrepreneurial environments, but always as the right hand. Right. And then typically at larger scale. And so I had kind of front row seats as to how this works, how to build a successful entrepreneurial business, very successful folks over time. It felt like I had a pretty good read right, of what it was like being an entrepreneur. So while I was in the environment, like, starting a company and building this thing from scratch and actually being in the seat is fundamentally different.
Jon LaClare [00:07:34]:
Marc Washington [00:07:34]:
It is an entirely different level that you can get some of it through observation, but actually being in the arena, being in that seat, feeling sometimes the weight of the world on you as the entrepreneur, it is quite different. And that's after a career of working in entrepreneurial environments. And it still hit me. I was like, whoa, this is different. This is another level of commitment. This is another level, not just of working long hours. I'd say the emotional aspect of it, both the highs and the lows, all hit different. As the entrepreneur, the one that you feel like you're responsible for holding this together and making this business something, you've got investors that you feel accountable for.
Marc Washington [00:08:13]:
We've got a team of folks that have jumped into this early high risk venture with me that you feel responsible for. So it's a heavy weight. Right. And the highs feel higher than I'd say, any high that I've ever felt throughout my career. It just feels so personal. It's like your baby. But the lows also hurt more than any lows that you've ever experienced. So I always tell people like, this is an amazing path and trajectory, entrepreneurship is, but it's not for the faint of heart.
Marc Washington [00:08:42]:
So really be thoughtful before just diving headfirst into the entrepreneurial game because it's not for everybody. I am inspired, and there's nothing that I've enjoyed more throughout my professional career, but it is definitely not an easy path. Being in the seat as the entrepreneur.
Jon LaClare [00:08:58]:
I love how you described it as the emotional connection to the business. And I would say something similar as I looked at our backgrounds, we're fairly similar trajectories going from MBA onto working with owners of other businesses. I worked at OxiClean right. During the kind of heyday of OxiClean back in the Billy Mays days, as my audience knows. Right. And learning from them, man, it was a great experience and what an inspiring place to be. But it is very different. And I think you put your finger on it, really.
Jon LaClare [00:09:26]:
It's the emotional connection where it's the higher highs, the lower lows. Yeah.
Marc Washington [00:09:31]:
Great way to say that that's where you feel it.
Jon LaClare [00:09:33]:
How would you say that it helped prepare you? So emotions aside, I guess, but those great launching pads right. Or learning opportunities, how did those experiences help you to now successfully run this business on your own?
Marc Washington [00:09:46]:
Yeah, there were a couple of different aspects that I really carried along with me. I would say one, just in general, being in an entrepreneurial environment was very beneficial, especially in the space of health and wellness. So I saw a lot of business tools, a lot of judgment, decision making with risk that entrepreneurs made on a day in, day out basis. And I observed them and how they take in information to make decisions and to make decisions fast. Right. Another thing that I saw is how, especially in the space of health and wellness, it's not just creating a product, but is actually if you're going to be successful, you have to actually motivate people to try the product and to create habits. Right. And habit change can be one of the hardest things to do.
Marc Washington [00:10:23]:
So it's all just effective ways to connect with consumers, to get them to try your product and to use it and create a community and a habit around it. Those are some really foundational aspects and element that I've built into my company as well. I'd say a couple of other things that I noted in an entrepreneurship environment is the speed at which you make decisions is incredibly important and many times more important than the accuracy of the decisions that you have to make, right? I mean, it really is important to make decisions and to iterate and to move on, right. This bias towards action. And I saw it and I thought like, oh, okay, I can move pretty fast. But being in this seat, it's actually taken it to another level. Like really having to make decisions in a situation where I traditionally would be very thoughtful about, like, let's look at some consumer research and let's kind of look at this from three different angles and so on and so forth. As an entrepreneur, you really have to be prepared to make decisions under uncertainty.
Marc Washington [00:11:19]:
I saw that some of the environment, but being in the seat, I see it much more so than then. And then finally, I would say kind of understanding from those experiences before the fact that as much as I feel like I bring to the table, understanding inherently the value of team. Right. And surrounding yourselves with really high caliber, talented individuals who kind of share your motivation, that build a culture, build this aspiration to do better in the world and having that aligned incentives. I saw that right. In those environments. And so that was sort of fundamentally built in me. So it wasn't like a first time entrepreneur where I'm just going to have a great product and go against it.
Marc Washington [00:11:57]:
Maybe some people will join me. I was like, no, let's be really thoughtful. I really need to surround myself with some very talented folks that share in this vision if we're going to conquer this very ambitious mission that we have. So we've got some real experts, like PhDs, food scientists, doctors, some real brand experts, some operation experts, folks that have actually had some really relevant experience in their functional areas together in a startup at a level which you typically don't necessarily see in a brand new early stage startup. But just having that inherent understanding of the value of team and experience was sort of something that I've learned over the years.
Jon LaClare [00:12:37]:
Yeah, well said. So our audience, I know, can really tell your intellectual horsepower just by the way you're describing and helping us understand how to be successful in our businesses as well. I want to take that a little bit further. Let's rewind a little further in your background to your MBA from Harvard, which it's a pretty good school, I must say. It's not a bad MBA program to get. But also after know going to work at McKinsey Company, and that's a name where everyone recognizes the value of a Harvard MBA. McKinsey Company, it depends what circles you run in, I guess. If you've heard of it, they're behind the successes of most big businesses across the country, maybe the world.
Jon LaClare [00:13:17]:
Certainly it's a very prestigious consulting firm to go to after any of the top ten MBA programs. So many of my went to Chicago and many of my colleagues went there as well. And it was, yeah, for sure dream for many. It's a great place to learn if you could go back. And it's probably hard to do in a short interview, but for those who maybe don't have the advantage or can't rewind their own careers back to that time early in your career from Harvard and McKinsey, are there some learnings that started in that environment, either of those that really helped to propel you forward?
Marc Washington [00:13:50]:
Yeah, no, I would say so. For me, it was the absolute perfect career choice at the perfect stage in my life and in my professional career. Coming from more of an engineering operations background, I knew I loved to solve problems, but I didn't know what direction, how I wanted to apply that. So for me, the consulting environment was a perfect environment for me to apply sort of that skill set that I had, hone it right in problem solving, but to try it out in different contexts, in different environments, different industries, different types of problems. And so it was really, really perfect for me, early stage in my career. And so it really did hone in on problem solving. It also honed in on an impact orientation. It's actually one of the areas I thought we did a good job at McKinsey, but something that I knew I wasn't a career consultant because I just had this orientation towards I don't just want know, create a great right, but I'm really, really interested in impact.
Marc Washington [00:14:44]:
And so it started wiring my mindset towards how can we deliver this in a way that's going to show up at the end of the day. Right? And so I got to hone and practice that a little bit in consulting. But it was always like a barrier because at the end of the day, for better or for worse, as a consultant, you hand that off, whatever good work that you do to the client for actual implementation. And so that's actually something I learned about myself, was like, listen, I love the problem solving, but I have such an impact orientation that I want to carry this ball through, right. I want to help score the touchdown. I don't just want to draw up the play. Right. And so it actually prepared me towards moving beyond consulting and into general management.
Marc Washington [00:15:22]:
Right. I just knew that it was just inherent in me that I wanted to be in the arena operating, rolling up the sleeves and doing some big problem solving and thinking, but actually executing and delivering as well. So it kind of learned that about myself, that that was something that I knew I was going to aspire towards.
Jon LaClare [00:15:42]:
That's a great way to describe that. Now let's fast forward back to today to kind of bring this full circle and talk about the success of your current business. What would you say worked best in the early days of your business as you're just getting this off the ground from a marketing perspective to really help you grow?
Marc Washington [00:15:59]:
Yeah. So the very first thing, it actually starts with the foundation of this company and how we differentiate ourselves. Like, we didn't just want to do a better for you brand and just make a couple of claims, but we really built this business on a really strong foundation in science, right, in efficacy and in what I call functional foods that actually serve a purpose beyond just filling you up or nourishing your body. It actually is changing outcomes in your health. And so that's what we've seen from the very outset and we still see it today, is like this emphasis around actual function, right? So this isn't just about making a claim. This is about how you're going to show up and feel differently and feel better. And we put ourselves to the test. We're like, you can and should expect to feel better.
Marc Washington [00:16:42]:
And so these are the kind of things with a consistent habit with this product which you can see and feel show up in your life. And we put ourselves out there because we know that the science is really profound. We know that our products really work. And so that's one thing that has really worked for us and it resonates is and we see it all the time in customer feedback is I see claims sort of all the time. This is one of the first sort of wellness products that actually delivers on what you guys promised up front. I was like, that's the way for us. That's kind of how we're going to hopefully continue to stand out from the fray is by being clear about what this product can and will do for you and then following up and actually delivering on that. I'd say that's the piece of it that just holds true is like, we stand very firmly behind what our products can and will do for you and your health.
Marc Washington [00:17:31]:
And we've obviously got kind of the science and clinical studies and stuff behind it. And so we're taking that approach to connect with consumers.
Jon LaClare [00:17:39]:
And how do you share that story effectively with consumers? Have you found methodologies that work best for them to hear and trust that information?
Marc Washington [00:17:48]:
Yeah, it's a good question. It actually varies depending on the consumer. I'd say one of the things that we've actually learned and we've actually adjusted over time is how to do that, how to most effectively communicate that. I'd say in the early stages, we're a bit too in love with the science, I should say. And so we're like, doesn't everybody love science as much as we? And so we're kind of leading with it. And what we found is as we try to engage and impact so many more people, the average person cares about the science, but they care more about just themselves, right, how they're going to feel. And so we've actually iterated to a much more approachable way to communicate our story and even the science behind what we're doing and try to be engaging, entertaining, value added, and kind of earn the right to then, okay, could we share a little bit about this prebiotic stuff? Right. As opposed to leading with you got to get prebiotic resistant starch in your diet for your gut microbiome, right? We kind of get there, but we got to earn the right to get there.
Marc Washington [00:18:44]:
And so we do that largely through content, right? And so we spend a lot of time and focus around creating engaging content that is just people are going to want to see and not every single thing we do is going to be deeply educational. A lot of it is just kind of entertaining just to keep you around, but a fair amount of it is edutainment, I say, right, it'd be so engaging content, but that does have maybe a bit of science behind it so that you can learn a little something while you're being engaged. And we do that across our social platforms. So obviously Instagram and TikTok and, you know, some on Facebook, some on Twitter, we're also pretty active on Know. What we found is that when you have more of a long form chance to tell your story and break it down, it can be a very effective know more so when you have a bit longer attention span relative to the couple of seconds that somebody might have when they see a social post or an ad or frankly, even on your website. So those have been some of the main ways that we've done. We still are there, though, for anybody that does want to go deeper. Like if you come to our site, you can double click and pretty quickly get into some science and we could talk about the clinical study that we've done or we can talk about kind of the gut microbiome and kind of fermentation and GLP.
Marc Washington [00:19:56]:
One, we go deep, but we don't make you have to go deep in order to kind of access and engage with us as a brand. But we're there for anybody that does want to get into the science, that's good.
Jon LaClare [00:20:08]:
So basically meet the customer where they are. Those that need the extra information, great, you've got it. And those that don't, start with fun interactions at the beginning that educate just enough to get them excited and interesting. I love that. That's a great way to describe that.
Marc Washington [00:20:20]:
Jon LaClare [00:20:21]:
Is there anything, Mark, I didn't ask you that you think would be helpful for our audience?
Marc Washington [00:20:25]:
Yeah, I would say one thing that I'm really passionate about is just the way to use. You start to hear this term of food as medicine, right? And that there's real substance behind that. I like to describe that I'm not anti medicine, I'm just very pro nutrition. I'm very pro the fact that you have this amazing tool called the human body that could do amazing things if fed the right things. And I spent a lot of my time and attention focused on how can we create this functional foods that can actually do some of the same things that a lot of people will turn to medicine for, right? And so one of those examples is like this, the Ozempic drug, which you see a lot out there, which is what? These breakthrough drugs that are really effective at appetite control and weight loss, right? And there's breakthrough for a reason, there's a big reason for them. However, they do have some side effects. They are expensive. And again, your body is naturally inclined to do the kind of things that these drugs create.
Marc Washington [00:21:27]:
And for that one specifically, it literally is around prebiotics to get into your diet, can help you naturally create some of those same hormones that can help suppress your appetite, like GLP, one, et cetera. So this is like an example and there's others out there even beyond what we're doing, but that are more natural nutrition based ways that can help you stay in better control of your health. So that hopefully reduce your need to depend on medicine and healthcare system to keep yourself in a healthy state. So it's just a general thing that I'm enthusiastic about. Obviously, it specifically relates to what we're doing at Supergut, but I think just broadly speaking, the more ways that you can find to stay in control of your health, I think it's like an empowering thing that I'm a big proponent of.
Jon LaClare [00:22:14]:
Well said. Well, Mark, thanks again for the interview. This has been a lot of fun for our audience. Please go visit Supergut.com to learn more about Mark and his amazing line of products. It's as always in the show notes. If you're driving, check out the Show Notes later on Supergut.com. Thanks again, Mark.
Marc Washington [00:22:31]:
Cool. Thanks so much for having me, John.
Jon LaClare [00:22:33]:
Also, be sure to check out Harvestgrowth.com to see other episodes we've recorded. And if you'd like to take a shortcut and learn the process that we've used to profitably launch and grow hundreds of products since 2007, download our secret sauce product marketing campaign, Cheat Sheet@harvestgrowthsecretsauce.com. Or you can set up an appointment right from our website to speak directly with a member of the Harvest Growth team in a free one on one consultation.