Dr. Marien Zanyk is the CEO and Founder of Zaneez, a company that produces unique health and fitness products such as AnkleSTONE®. While her products are a remarkable invention, Dr. Zanyk spent her early days as an entrepreneur doing all her marketing alone, self-funding her business, and seeking free business resources. Today, she has progressed to securing a deal with the NBA and other professional sports leagues for her products. Join us now to hear her unique story!
In today’s episode of the Harvest Growth Podcast, we’ll cover:
Why it’s important for entrepreneurs to be resourceful.
How to get mentorship from successful entrepreneurs through free resources.
Qualities that you need to succeed as an entrepreneur.
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 anklestone.com to order this unique therapeutic product for keeping your feet and ankles pain-free while enhancing flexibility.
Follow and connect with Marien Zanyk on LinkedIn.
To be a guest on The Harvest Growth Podcast, contact us today!
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Jon LaClare: If you or a family member has ever had foot issues or really any joint issues, then you'll love hearing about the product created by today's guest. You'll learn a lot from her story of transitioning, from doing her own free DIY marketing to eventually getting a deal with the NBA.
Speaker 1: Are you 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 HarvestGrowth podcast Jon LaClare.
Jon: Welcome back to the show. Today I'm really excited to have Dr. Marien Zanyk. She's the inventor founder and CEO of a product called AnkleSTONE, as well as other products under the Zaneez branding. She's going to talk much more in detail about it. I've been a user of her AnkleSTONE product for a long time, for years, and really love it, and I'm excited to share the product, but also the story behind it and introduce Marien to you, our audience as well. You're going to love her story and learning about how she developed it and how she's learned and grown her business over the years. Marien, welcome to the show. Marien: Hi, Jon. Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here
Jon: Can you start us off by explaining, talk a bit about your business with Zaneez? You've got a few products and then we're going to dive a bit deeper, specifically on the AnkleSTONE. I'd love to hear about your story. How'd you start this business?
Marien: I'd love to tell you about this. At Zaneez, we basically believe in empowering you to move the way you were meant to. I have a commitment and have grown this business toward the unmet needs of body conditioning and injury recovery, which can enhance the lives of millions of individuals worldwide. So many people are affected. We have meticulously crafted four orthopedic exercise innovations, AnkleSTONE for feet and ankles, BedROK for the full body, baseROC, an amplified elevated mat, and WillowWORX for upright exercise. That's where you and I first met each other, I think along the lines, through the business with WillowWORX, which proved itself to be successful.
Then the other products developed as well. Now we're designing products to basically revolutionize this $78 billion fitness device industry. Because the products are crafted to complement your anatomy, they are designed to provide solutions for better body mechanics, tools for targeted precision, for comfort, and better range of motion for all of your joints. Starting with AnkleSTONE, it has grips and enhanced grooves and leverage, and supportive ramps to be able to enhance the conditioning of the foot and ankle from an anatomical point of view.
Here it is, and we are heading into production in Connecticut as being prepared for large-scale production. It's turning into an incredibly versatile tool that allows more than just the promise of excellent joints. It's a transformative improvement for improving your sports performance to the livelihood on a daily basis.
Jon: For the benefit of our listeners, I'd love you to describe the AnkleSTONE a little bit as well. I do want to reiterate, the one I have that I've had for years, it's slightly different. This is a new improved design that is in production right now and coming out. If you check out the website, you can learn more about it, the old one, as well as this brand new design of it called AnkleSTONE.com. Again, we'll have that in the show notes, but Marien, if you could explain what is this product? How does it work?
Marien: Imagine a large shoe or a shoebox, something that size, except this is contoured and shaped to fit the foot in an Achilles tendon stretch. It has also a ford plank for a plantar fasciitis stretch, and on either side, two wings, that support for toe extension, right foot, and left foot. As well because it's ramped up in contoured, it cradles the foot for sprain recovery. Then it has a roll bar that isn't conducive to deep tissue massage.
Then there's advanced moves that you can do with this. It's lightweight, but it's durable. You can flip it around, turn it around, you do the planter surface of the foot, the dorsal surface. It just continues to be something that will accelerate, amplify the stretch in from the Achilles up to the knee, even up to the hips and low back. Heading into the market of pro sports as well as medical rehab, we are heading into a nice market.
Jon: To give my own testimonial on this, I've had a lot of foot problems over the years. I don't want to say my age, but I'm getting older every year somehow, but I've done my past marathons, Ironmans, and long bike rides, et cetera. Along with that, as I get older, I've had some foot issues, foot problems, plantar fasciitis as you mentioned, and some other problems along the way. For me, this has been a game changer. In part, I love about it, it allows you to stretch in certain ways that really would be difficult or impossible without this product. For me, it's become more of a maintenance thing now. It's helped me to overcome some of those injuries or just nagging problems, but also to be used as a maintenance. I use it with my standup desk. Even with shoes on, I keep stretching my ankles and my feet in different directions. It's so much better, of course, with your shoes off. Even over the course of a regular day, for me personally, it's helped maintain better foot health. If I forget to do it for a while and run a lot, then my injuries come back, or whatever it might be, it helps me overcome those. It's been a great product for me.
Marien: What's so exciting about this, 1.7 billion people across 160 countries experience musculoskeletal issues, but they really lack the proper solutions. For foot and ankle, you're referred to a collapsible water bottle or a tennis ball, or perhaps a ramp or the wall. The beauty of this is it is conducive to the plasticity of soft tissues. Your tissues will stretch if you give them the tools around which the movement can occur. It shapes, holds, and cradles the foot as it should so that you can target all those four layers of the feet on the bottom or through the ankle, the intrinsic musculature at the site of attachment on the bone. That's the beauty of the strengthening and flexibility benefits of AnkleSTONE.
Jon: It's funny you talk about the simple products that even doctors will recommend sometimes where, like you said, use a water bottle or a tennis ball or even the-- a lot of the products that are out there are very similar to that. They've got almost balls and side socks, that sort of thing where they keep it so simple. Then if you don't have foot health and you end up having to see one of these doctors for a problem, it's so expensive. I love this it's that interim step.
It's still really inexpensive, but it helps you avoid hopefully that trip to the doctor for much more major significant things later in life or potentially especially as we train or stand or walk a lot or whatever issues, it's a way between those two. Stop using the really cheap stuff that may or may not work at all. This is very specifically designed for almost any problem you could have with a foot. What are some of the common, I guess, uses or benefits? As you talk to your audience, people that have bought this product from you in the past? What are they most commonly or what's maybe the most common reason that they're using it?
Marien: Of course, plantar fascitis, 8 out of 10 adults suffer from, and Achilles tendon and ankle sprains, or they may have had a bunionectomy and they have restriction in the great toe movement. If you don't have that liftoff, you don't have the strength. Then there is the athletes who need the precision strengthening within parts, components they haven't even recognized yet that are conducive to the power of the launch. It may be in the rotation of the pitcher on the mound or the swimmer on a starting block and the power that is so necessary coming from the feet and ankles.
Then it also accelerates into our other products, the BedRoc, which is basically the size of four AnkleSTONEs in a way. It's larger and it follows the same concept, allowing you to use your body weight with positions to strengthen and target as you should in the conditioning and have the independence to do it anytime, anywhere, so there's this global application of our products.
Jon: You mentioned this specific training of muscles, tissues, et cetera, and it reminds me, I bike a lot, I run less these days, but as I've had friends that have transitioned or I've done in my past from one to the next, you could be in great shape in one sport, it seems so similar, going from running to biking, and then you hop on a bike, let's say, and the muscles are completely different. You're still using your legs, but the musculature, the usage of them is so different, it really takes an adjustment. I know the foot is very similar and all of us use our feet. Whether we're standing, walking, whatever it might be, or doing sports, it can be very specific on how we use our feet. Strengthening those tendons, tissues, muscles, et cetera, in specific ways for our bodies is I think a great benefit of this product as well.
Marien: We're coming into a very underserved market on this product as well as revolutionizing the way that you approach instead of heavy metal weights or time consuming trips to the gym, just grab your BedRoc or your BaseRoc, your WillowWORX, all of these tools that are so easily used and give you the benefit for longevity generations coming forward. If there's a real transition going on. That's the beauty of these products that's under the Zaneez's umbrella.
Jon: I could talk about this product for a long time because I'm such a big fan and use it personally and have for a long time. I'd like to shift gears a little bit and talk about the business side of this now. If you look back, what's maybe the biggest challenge that you feel you've been able to overcome as a business so far?
Marien: I have been persevering nobody else really. I've just been very focused. It's a nice vision to have and that's allowed me to establish some placement of our products with the NBA and with Yukon basketball and various pro sports, et cetera. The traction has been fantastic, the validation and endorsement. You really have to have the courage to go out and do that to test yourself, the product, the idea into the world. I have been doing that. I've been fortunate to live within the Connecticut base of course. It is on fire, the manufacturing, the networking strength through FORGE and CONNSTEP, and CTNext having all of these, strengths behind the companies now has been incredibly important.
I would suggest to people always reach out to their state support to find where they belong. It might be at the lower level of SCORE. SCORE and my partners, we ended up going to Beijing to have one of the first products made and then I've escalated, now I'm on the advisory of FORGE. So I'm coming in as client and consultant learning and strengthening all the time. Having the state support is critical. I always have people pursue that.
Jon: Yes, SCORE is a great recommendation really for businesses at almost any stage from startup to we've had clients of ours that have gotten great value out of SCORE even when they're already in millions of dollars in revenue, but they need help with a certain strategic issue. There's likely somebody within SCORE that's gone through something similar and can give you good advice on the way and overcome challenges.
Marien: Just having the guts to throw it out there and you find the help all right. It's there and you keep escalating.
Jon: For sure. Over the years, what marketing have you found has worked the best for your business?
Marien: Oh, I've tackled it all. From making YouTube videos myself with my own soundtrack and my own piano playing and using my children as my assets. That's a very important piece. Using what assets you have and then tapping into social media. We've got some recent hits through Pinterest, heading out through to the endorsement to say, here's my idea, my product to the pro sports and have them validate it, and then that turns into sales. Really just getting it out there, there's always this pivot to an acceptance that will lead to it.
Other than the standards, having the funds as well to prepare your platform if you want to head into Amazon, which we will be doing, but in preparation for all of these steps, taking them one at a time. It's a bit of everything. Absolutely. As CEO founder, you are doing a lot of everything. I have the magic now of team members from my marketing director who's nationally claimed to the guys who are helping to get production ready and doing the CADs, again, national accounts to state support. It's a whole different ball game since coming in with FORGE and having the state support as well.
CONNSTEP brought me to my manufacturers and everything is just solidifying so well. That is a critical piece. You have to be ready for that though. You have to have run the gauntlet. You don't just come in cold. As you and I know, we met seven years ago or so, my initial. It's that perseverance of the long haul but it will pay off. It's just one step at a time.
Jon: Absolutely. On your journey, have there been any resources that you've found to be really helpful for you?
Marien: Yes, I've recently been awarded some grant money, but that could be hard to come by. I have used my own credit, my own standing. Very good. I have just advanced myself that way and bridged myself that way. I have made some smart investments as well and tapped into my own distributions because I feel that my business is worth my investment. Then I've also had the luxury of the connection with FORGE who is getting me in front of. Here we're about to go for some big funding round, first good founding round.
We've got about four or five players waiting for this amazing deck and whole program so I'll be better to talk to you in another month. [chuckles] I have been self-funding. That, they say is the best way to go. If you can bridge it small pieces at a time. It's amazing how the money will flow where it's needed and it truly does. You can piece it together with small amounts. Don't be afraid that it's an ominous financial task. You bridge it with monies here and there and you go at the pace that you can afford to but you get it done.
I think that I've been, just the attribute of having been 100% ownership and self-funded all the way. Now we're at a scaling point where I can't do that anymore. Now we're going for the bigger picture of course because [crosstalk]
Jon: It comes down to timing on a lot of that. Every business, in the beginning, they've got to generate the ability to get funding, whether that's through revenues or investors or personal funds as you mentioned, it's part of the journey. We've got to get to that point as our business where eventually it's self-funding or eventually we bring in a third party investor or other resource that can really help us scale to the next level. It comes down to timing.
It's preparing for your business to get ready for that scaling and that growth when you've got the ability to do it. That can be a month, it could be a year or it can be more. It depends on the structure of the business experience and maybe the readiness of the market as well. Every business is a little bit different. Marien, is there anything I didn't ask you that you think would be helpful for our audience?
Marien: Oh no, this was great to talk to you and to share the products. This thing is blasting forward. There's a real good purpose to it and a good solution throughout the world as we're going. So a pleasure. It'll be fun to circle back with you in a year and say, "We've done this now."
Jon: No, we'd love to have you back on the show and share your journey. It's been successful so far. Let's see what happens at the next level and we could talk more about what helped you get there. I do for our audience, encourage you to go visit anklestone.com if you're driving. Again, it's in the show notes as always. Check out one of the products that Marien has developed. Again, I've been using it for a long time. Great product, but maybe just learn more at least about the product itself, what she's developed, and watch for this next version to come out very soon as well. Marien, thanks again for being on the show today.
Marien: Thank you, Jon, a pleasure.
Jon: For the listeners, be sure to check out anklestone.com to learn more, and be sure to check out harvestgrowth.com to see other episodes we've recorded. If you'd like to take a shortcut and learn the process that we've used to launch and grow hundreds of businesses since 2007, download our secret sauce product marketing campaign cheat sheet at harvestgrowthsecretsauce.com. Or you can set up an appointment right from our website to speak directly with a member of the HarvestGrowth team in a free one-on-one strategy consultation.
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