Exclusive Interview with Founder and CEO of Ignite Mind and Body Supplements, Jake Bernstein
I recently had the pleasure to interview the Founder and CEO ofIgnite Mind and Body Supplements, University of Massachusetts Amherst college senior (yes, you read that right), Jake Bernstein, who hails from Long Island, NY.
Ignite Power Packs are tasty chocolate powder supplements that provide a constant flow of steady energy, aid with focus and memory, improve our mood, and give long-lasting, all-day stamina for whatever it is we need to tackle.
His entrepreneurial spirit, determination to create a unique product, and overall business savvy make this young man one to watch. Here we discuss his personal journey, the inspiration behind Ignite, and what's next for this soon-to-be-graduate. What were you doing at 22-years-old?
Jake teaching college students his own age about business.
Q: When did you first want to be an entrepreneur and what was your first endeavor?
A: I've always been my most productive and motivated when working towards my own goals and on my own schedule. I started to realize this in high school while running a freelance development business where I built websites and web applications for clients. It was really rewarding to see the results that a little hard work and discipline could get me. From there, it seemed like a natural path to do more of that until it eventually took over all my free time.
Q: How did the idea for Ignite Power Packs come about?
A: The idea for Ignite Power Packs came to me early last summer (2016). I would wake up at 5:00am every other day to work out before going to work. By the time I got to work, I was exhausted, and no amount of coffee I chugged would help me focus on the software I had to program. Not to mention, my workout would be worthless if I didn't eat enough food to give my body the nutrition it needed. After enough frustration, the idea finally came to me. Why not combine things that solve my problems separately into a delicious and convenient solution? Our Power Packs are just that. A tasty chocolate drink mix that combines the energy of caffeine and B vitamins, the nutrition of a protein shake, and the focus and clarity that are derived from commonly used plants known as nootropics.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge with the product/company thus far?
A: Our biggest challenge so far has been deciding which areas are the best to spend our capital most effectively. A big part of running our startup is bootstrapping and being smart with the funding that we do have. If we can keep doing this, it'll be a lot easier to make sure Ignite stays around and that we can keep growing and providing people with products that help them get more done and get more enjoyment out of their day.
Q: What has been the most rewarding experience throughout the process of bringing Ignite Power Packs to the market?
A: The most rewarding experience is hearing positive reviews from happy customers. The supplement industry is one that isn't the most regulated, and because of that, can be seen as shady. At Ignite Mind and Body, we aim to be on the opposite side of the spectrum, and be fully transparent with our customers. It's nice to hear from them and know that we're giving them the results they want and maintain the trust and honesty the customers deserve.
Q: What is different about Ignite Power Packs compared to other products in its category?
A: For us, the health of our customers is important - not just the effects they feel. Because of this, we only use nootropics that are completely plant-based. We want our customers to stay healthy and be able to use our Power Packs whenever they need to without having to worry about what's inside. Not to mention, our formula doesn't just give you a mental edge, it also helps you out physically, which many of our competitors' products don't do.
Q: Where can people purchase Ignite Power Packs?
A: People can get Ignite Power Packs right on our website, https://subscription.ignitemindandbody.com. We want you to experience the results for yourself, so there's even an option to get 3 FREE Power Packs on us. If you've ever felt like there's not enough time in the day or that you know you can get more done but just can't seem to reach your full potential, take us up on our free power packs and feel the difference we can bring.
Q: Where do you see the brand going in the future?
A: At the end of the day, Ignite Mind and Body is more than just a supplement company. We want to work together with our customers to help them become the best versions of themselves that they know they can be. Ignite Mind and Body is about reaching your full potential, and that means we'll be providing you with the right content, the right products, and the right community to help you do just that. 10 years down the road, we hope for Ignite Mind and Body to be a household name that's associated with growth, success, and honesty.
Q: What advice would you give a budding entrepreneur seeking to launch a new product or service?
A: Start today. No matter how small a step you take, any step will help you build momentum and get you on the right path. A lot of us have this inner fear that our work won't be good enough - myself included. But the truth is, you have to start sucking at something today if you want to be awesome at it a few years from now. Force yourself to start today. You won't regret it.
Q: How many people work for the company at this time?
A: Currently just two people work for Ignite. Staying small until it's necessary to grow helps us move fast, be efficient with our capital, and make decisions more easily. More people will join the team down the road, but we're holding off until we find it's the right time.
Q: Sum up Ignite Mind and Body in 3 words:
A: Productivity boosting supplements.
Q: What about your personality makes you a successful entrepreneur?
A: I wouldn't same I'm a successful entrepreneur just yet when there's people like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk out there changing the world. But I think one thing that helps me succeed is the willingness to fail and look foolish. If you want to get things done quickly, you're going to fail along the way. The important thing is to be OK with this and to focus on learning from your mistakes instead of wasting time worrying about what other people think.
Q: How were you able to finance the development and launch of the brand?
A: There's a lot of great resources out there if people just take the time to look for them. We've found a lot of local entrepreneurship and pitch competitions that are literally handing out money for people who put in enough effort. We've also found mentorship programs and accelerators that you can apply to which provide funding if you're accepted. We've actually just been accepted to one and we're excited to see it help us grow. We also invest the money from our day jobs and savings into the business. It's nice to have a side stream of income to help us grow, and this helps take out some of the risk and worry about where our money will come from. On top of this, there's been a lot of bootstrapping and being smart with our money. Luckily, we have a very straightforward business model. We trade useful products for money. So unlike some software companies that might have to rely strictly on funding and can't profit right away, we're able to make money up front and reinvest it in the business.
Q: Anything else you'd like to share?
A: If you're even just the slightest bit curious about starting a business, you should go for it. You can only read so much about a topic. Actually going for it will teach you ten times more. Between the wealth of information online and being able to crowdfund your projects through sites like Kickstarter, there's really no reason you can't start your business today.
Give Ignite a try. It may just give you the boost you need to launch your own business!
Looking for a job? In addition to encountering those annoying never-ending job interviews you may find yourself face-to-face with an artificial intelligence bot.
Companies worldwide increasingly use artificial intelligence tools and analytics in employment decision-making – from parsing through resumes and screening candidates to automated assessments and digital interviews. But recent studies claim that AI does more harm than good.
While AI screening tools were developed to save companies time and money, they’ve been criticized for placing women and people of color at a disadvantage. The problem is that many companies lack appreciable diversity in their data set, making it impossible for an algorithm to know how people from underrepresented groups have performed in the past. As a result, the algorithm will be biased toward the data available and compare future candidates to that archetype.
The City’s Automated Employment Decision Tools (AEDT) law is designed to offset the potential misuse of AI and protect job candidates against discrimination. It was enforced on July 5th, 2023 in New York City - with other cities and states expected to gradually follow suit. Employers must now inform applicants when and how they encounter AI. Furthermore, companies have to commission a third-party audit of the AI software used, and publish a summary of the results to prove that their systems aren’t racist or sexist. Job applicants are able to request information regarding what data is collected and analyzed by the AI. Violations of the law can result in fines of up to $1,500.
Replacing Human Hiring Decisions
However, should a job applicant want to opt-out of such impersonal judgement by a bot, the new law's scope is quite limited.
While the law specifies that instructions for requesting an alternative selection process must be included in the AI screening disclosure, companies aren't actually required to use other screening methods. Not to mention that the law only applies to AI in hiring and not any other employment decisions. It also wouldn't apply if the AI, for example, flags candidates with relevant experience, but a human then reviews all applications, making the ultimate hiring decision.
Some civil rights advocates and public interest groups argue that the law isn’t extensive enough and that it’s even unenforceable. On the other hand, businesses say that it’s impractical, costly, and burdensome, and that independent audits aren’t feasible.
Responsible use of AI in hiring
Although this law may be a good first attempt to assign more regulatory guardrails around AI, it remains to be seen if it ensures the responsible use of AI in hiring processes. At the end of the day, perhaps recruiting talent should remain a human-made decision.
The good news is that AI can help companies without harming potential job candidates in many ways – such as connecting new employees with internal organizational information and company benefits during onboarding. Or helping employees to do their jobs more effectively rather than replacing them.
The world of travel is not the same as it was two years ago. From the surge in "revenge travel" to the TikTok-inspired itineraries that make the most random destinations suddenly the most popular, there's so much about traveling that's out of your control.
What you can control — to some extent — is how much you pay for it.
According to CNBC, “Between dining out and taking trips, Americans are now spending an average of $765 more a month compared with last year when much of the country was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the MassMutual Consumer Spending & Saving Index … Young adults, in particular, are determined to make up for lost time. Millennials and Gen Z, who reported feeling the financial impact from the rise in reopenings and social gatherings, said they are shelling out $1,016 more a month, on average, than they did during the summer of 2020. MassMutual polled 1,000 U.S. adults from July 21 to 28.”
While some are okay with making up for lost time by gleefully spending all their money, not everyone has the desire to blow up their budgets on trips. Yet, the allure of travel still calls. Thus, the appeal of travel hacking.
Travel hacking has been around as long as credit card rewards have. But during the pandemic, travel hacking gurus found unprecedented fame on TikTok and Instagram. With time to learn about the points and miles community, suddenly people were planning for future travel using tips and tricks gleaned from experts sharing their knowledge on social media.
Though it might sound complex, anyone with a fair credit score can enter the travel hacking game. Here’s how:
What Is Travel Hacking?
Travel hacking is using reward points and miles from airlines, hotels, and credit cards towards free or heavily discounted travel. This ranges from opening a number of credit cards for the reward bonuses, optimizing your normal spending in order to max out your points per shopping category, and leveraging loyalty and status for awesome perks.
To a lot of people, the term “travel hacking” can sound shady. The “hacking” scares people off. Is it illegal? Is it a scam? Can you get punished for opening too many cards? Will you ruin your credit score? The answer to all of these concerns is no.
There’s no hidden trick to travel hacking. It’s not a game of risk or cheating, it’s a game of research and planning.
Travel Hacking 101
Most commonly, travel hacking hinges on the points you can get from certain travel credit cards. Credit cards aren’t merely a way to manage cash flow. Many offer rewards programs that give you points for each purpose. These points can then be repurposed to pay for part or all of a trip.
Different networks have different systems, but most can be transferred to a range of partners. Top credit cards are with Chase, Amex, Citi, and Capital One. Simply accumulate points on your credit card, then you have the option to transfer those points to airlines, hotels, and more — for free.
When learning travel hacking, The best tip is to go backward. Don’t just open popular cards with high bonuses. Identify where you want to go, then find out what actions to take. Which airlines travel there? Which cards’ points can be transferred to that airline? Where do you want to stay? Which hotels can you book with points? Once you’ve planned out your dream vacation, see how many points you need. Then strategize for the best way to nab them.
Choose which cards are right for you, then start stockpiling those points towards free travel.
One way to quickly amass points is to take advantage of sign-up bonuses. Many credit cards use sign-up bonuses to entice users. And if you play smart, just one or two sign-up bonuses can account for one entire flight cost. However, there’s one catch: you must meet a minimum spend requirement to qualify for the bonus.
The best way to approach this is to funnel all of your regular expenses through those credit cards to chip away at the minimum spending. Pro tip: open your card right before you need to make a lot of purchases. The holidays are a good time to open a card so the cost of festivities ends up working for you.
And remember: it’s key to always pay off your monthly credit card balance before the due date! The benefits of those points are useless if you go into debt to accrue them.
And here’s a hack for you newbie travel hackers out there — be sure to manage your money and keep track of how much you’re spending for that bonus with the MeetCleo app.
MeetCleo is the personal finance tool that’s actually fun to use. Taking control of your money while “earning” free travel using your credit cards? Finances have never been more fun.
There’s all this talk about solo travel. And for good reason — no wasting precious time waiting for others to get their act together, take the plans out of the group chat and actually buy the tickets. Going solo, you can be spontaneous. You can plan your trips according to your precise tastes. You can hop on any flight and fly awayyyyyy.
But what if each time you flew you’d get a free ticket? That’s what you get with the Southwest Companion Pass.
Award status, upgrades, lounge access — there are many perks in the frequent flier game. But one of the coveted holy grails is the Southwest Companion Pass.
What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
The Companion Pass is part of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program. You get to choose one person to be your “companion,” and they fly with you for free (plus some taxes and fees) on every flight. That’s right. Two for the price of one. That’s half off each ticket if you split it! Whether you’re flying with a partner, family member, friend, or anyone else, they can tag along for free.
And it gets better: once you earn the pass, you can reap the rewards for that full calendar year … AND the next. That’s why people go mad trying to earn a companion pass during the early months of the year. The sooner you qualify, the longer you can use it.
There are also no blackout dates. There are no limits. And if you didn’t purchase the ticket (think: work travel, your companion, or a generous benefactor), there are no restrictions! As long as you’re the one on the plane, your companion can also … be on the plane.
You can also switch out your designated companion 3x a year. So, no need to stay in a relationship simply to get the most out of your companion pass! Ghost and fly away — with a whole new companion!
If this sounds too good to be true — it’s not. But there is one small catch. It’s kinda tough to earn this mega reward.
How to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass?
You can qualify for the pass in one of two ways:
- Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights
- Earn 135,000 qualifying points in a calendar year.
Clearly, this is no small feat — especially if you’re trying to qualify ASAP.
So how do you actually earn the Southwest Companion Pass?
Don’t worry, there’s a path to earning this amazing reward without climbing on 100 flights or spending an exorbitant amount of money.
Earning 135K reward points may seem completely impossible, but it’s easier than it sounds. Simply sign up for a Southwest Credit Card and turn those spending habits into a rapid rewards account. Through the Rewards Priority Credit Card, earn points when using local transit and commuting, plus score major points and miles whenever you spend.
Stay with me here. This is not some scheme to get you into credit card debt. Many airline cards come with potential savings, giantic rewards, awarding you points, and cashback with every purchase you make that can be redeemed for travel. And often they can come with passive sign-up bonuses. If you spend a specific amount of money within a certain timeframe of opening the card, you can be in for a windfall of points.
Now that’s where the companion pass comes in:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Priority Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
- Southwest Performance Business Credit Card
Southwest has three personal cards and a business card. Each of these cards offers rewards between 30K-80K points. In the past, people could open two cards and get a bonus that granted enough points to almost meet the minimum. However, with new restrictions on personal cards, you can only get one bonus every 24 months. Boo!
However, this doesn’t apply to business cards. If you’re eligible, have good credit, and not likely to spiral into insane credit card debt, you can open a business card and a personal card, and accrue 100K+ points. The Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card will get you points after you spend money in no time.
Now to earn the rest of them.
The secret to gaining these credit card points is to plan your card sign-ups around big purchases. Just before a recent move, I opened a card . . . and the rewards came rolling in — a small balm to ease the pain of how exorbitant moving can be.
Put everyday spend — especially big purchases or bulk items — on your Southwest credit card and watch your award points quickly add up. Typically, you earn 1 point per $1 spent on your Southwest card and 2 points per $1 on actual Southwest purchases.
But there are other ways to earn points, including:
- Flying Southwest: Booking travel on Southwest earns more points. The cost of this travel will be worth it with your companion pass
- Shopping from Rapid Rewards Partners: Purchases with Southwest’s “Home & Lifestyle” and “Shop and Dine” Partners also earn Companion Pass qualifying points. While you shouldn’t make gratuitous purchases, browse Southwest’s partners to see if you could earn extra points for items you'd be purchasing anyway. All this, simply from enrolling in their Dining Program and shopping with their partners.
So there you have it! And since it’s almost Spring, get to earning and soon you’ll be flying two for the price of one!