I recently had the pleasure to interview the Founder and CEO of Ignite 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!
Over the past month, both Haiti and Afghanistan have been pummeled by tragic disasters that left devastation in their wake.
In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake erupted, leading over to 2,189 deaths and counting. A few hours later, in Afghanistan, Kabul fell to the Taliban just after U.S. troops had pulled out after 20 years of war.
In many ways, these disasters are both chillingly connected to US interference. The United States invaded Haiti in 1915, ostensibly promising to restore order after a presidential assassination but really intending to preserve the route to the Panama Canal and to defend US creditors, among other reasons.
But the US forces soon realized that they were not able to control the country alone, and so formed an army of Haitian enlistees, powered by US air power and intended to quell Haitian insurrection against US controls. Then, in 1934, the US pulled out on its own, disappointed with how slow progress was going. Haiti's institutions were never really able to rebuild themselves, leaving them immensely vulnerable to natural disasters.
Something similar happened in Afghanistan, where the US sent troops and supported an insurgent Afghan army – only to pull out, abandoning the country they left in ruins, with many Afghans supporting the Taliban.
In both cases, defense contractors benefited by far the most from the conflict, making billions in profits while civilians faced fallout and devastation. While the conflicts and circumstances are extremely different and while the US is obviously not solely to blame for either crisis, it's hard not to see the US-based roots of these disasters.
Today, in Haiti and Afghanistan, civilians are facing unimaginable tragedy.
Here are charities offering support in Afghanistan:
1. The International Rescue Committee is looking to raise $10 million to deliver aid directly to Afghanistan
2. CARE is matching donations for an Afghanistan relief fund. They are providing food, shelter, and water to families in need; a donation of $89.50 covers 1 family's emergency needs for a month.
3. Women for Women International is matching donations up to 500,000 for Afghan women, who will be facing unimaginable horrors under Taliban control.
4. AfghanAid offers support for people living in remote regions of Afghanistan.
5. VitalVoices supports female leaders and changemakers and survivors of gender-based violence around the world.
Here are charities offering support in Haiti:
1. Partners in Health has been working with Haiti for a long time, and they work with the Department of Health rather than around them, which is extremely important in a charity.
2. Health Equity International helps run Saint Boniface Hospital, a hospital in Haiti close to the earthquake's epicenter.
3. SOIL is an organization based Haiti, "a local organization with a track record of supporting after natural disasters." They are distributing hygiene kits and provisions on the ground to hospitals and to victims of the earthquake.
4. Hope for Haiti has been working in emergency response in Haiti for three decades, and their team is comprised of people who live and work in Haiti. They focus on supporting children and people in need across Haiti.
When the new Tiffany's campaign was unveiled, reactions were mixed.
Tiffany's, the iconic jewelry brand which does not (despite what some might be misled to believe) in fact serve breakfast, featured Jay Z, Beyoncé, and a rare Basquiat painting in their recent campaign.
The aesthetics were undeniably luxe and historic. The campaign showcased the rarely-seen Basquiat painting Equals Pi (1982), which the brand acquired for the background's proximity to its distinctive Tiffany blue. Also notably historic is that Beyoncé was the first Black woman to wear the 128.54 carat Tiffany Diamond.
Before Beyoncé, the only other stars to wear the yellow diamond were Mary Whitehouse, wife of American diplomat Edwin Sheldon Whitehouse, Hollywood icon Audrey Hepburn, and singer Lady Gaga.
"Beyoncé and Jay-Z are the epitome of the modern love story …. Love is the diamond that the jewelry and art decorate," said the press release accompanying the campaign.
The campaign, titled "About Love," is stunning and has both classic and contemporary references. The image of the couple posing in front of high art recalled the iconic stills from their "APESHIT" music video, for which they famously rented out the Louvre and posed in front of the Mona Lisa.
THE CARTERS - APESHIT (Official Video) www.youtube.com
Their "APESHIT" photo made a giant cultural impact for its juxtaposition of Western beauty and Blackness. Tiffany's campaign seemed to have similar goals — showcasing Beyoncé and Jay Z as the peak of luxury, this time juxtaposing the Basquiat and the Tiffany diamond.
As a Black couple, their appearance in such a luxury campaign was a big move for representation, but in a post 2020 landscape, there was an outcry of criticism.
Despite the aesthetic beauty of the image, the high capitalist undertones didn't sit right with some on the internet — largely younger demographics. Though this campaign was an effort by Tiffany's to appeal to younger audiences and make the brand feel more relevant, Twitter's verdict was clear: a blood diamond wasn't the way to go.
The diamond, which was mined in South Africa in 1877, comes from origins laden in the implications of colonialism. The practice of mining in South Africa at the time was exploitative and destructive, eschewing the livelihoods and safety of African miners and their communities for... what? Money? So Tiffany could try to sell us some dream of affluence using Black celebrities as to "Blackwash" the history behind their treasured piece?
The Washington Post also had some choice words, saying: "Its campaign does not celebrate Black liberation — it elevates a painful symbol of colonialism. It presents an ostentatious display of wealth as a sign of progress in an age when Black Americans possess just 4 percent of the United States's total household wealth. If Black success is defined by being paid to wear White people's large colonial diamonds, then we are truly still in the sunken place."
Alongside the campaign, Tiffany & Co have promised to donate $2 million to HBCUs to fund scholarships and internships. But this measly amount (considering the multi-billion dollar net worth behind LVMH) is not enough to cover up that, despite their performative efforts to promote "diversity," Tiffany's is entrenched in a colonial history that neither beauty nor Beyonce can make us ignore.
While Black representation has been increasing over the past few years, the question of how we are represented is starting to be considered with more nuance. And as we examine the structures of wealth and hierarchical values, many people are starting to ask whether these should be the standards we aspire to anymore.
Jay Z and Beyoncé have come under fire before for their promotion of Black Capitalist values — which the kids don't seem to want. Jay Z especially seems invested in the trappings of traditional (read: white) success and wealth. His cannabis line recently unveiled a campaign based on the work Slim Aarons — which was famously focused on "attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places" — and its unashamed opulence raised some eyebrows.
Images like this aren't as revolutionary as they once might have been since they reinforce the status quo and tell marginalized people to reach for the same luxuries and lifestyles deemed aspirational by the people who have oppressed them.
Anti-capitalist theory has been around as long as capitalism has, but younger generations are more likely to question the status quo — even when it comes packed with Basquiat and Beyoncé.
The conversation about the Tiffany campaign is indicative of how Gen Z thinks differently about money and what it means to them. They are less likely to be seduced by the luster of the aspirational, and more receptive to relatability.
No more does financial literacy seem restricted to the pretentious or the elite — we get it, finance bros; you love capitalism. With Cleo, understanding your money is something that can align users with their values.
And those values don't look like blood diamonds or corporate pandering.
- Sorry, Beyoncé, but Tiffany's blood diamonds aren't a girl's best friend - Washington Post
- The Black-white wealth gap left Black households more vulnerable — Brookings
- The Unashamed Opulence of Jay Z's Luxury Cannabis-Themed Slim Aarons Photoshoot — Popdust
- ATTRACTIVE PEOPLE DOING ATTRACTIVE THINGS IN ATTRACTIVE PLACES WITH SLIM AARONS — Elle Decor
Road trips can be a lot of fun — but they can also drain your wallet quickly if you aren't careful.
From high gas costs and park admission fares to lodging and the price of eating out every night, the expenses can add up quickly. But at the same time, it's very possible to do road trips cheaply and efficiently. Without the headache of worrying about how much money you're leaking, you can enjoy the open road a whole lot more. Here's how to save money on a road trip.
1. Prepare Your Budget, Route, and Packing List in Advance
If you want to save money on a road trip, be sure you're ready to go. Try to count up all your expenses before you hit the road and create a budget. It's also a good idea to plan your route in advance so you don't end up taking unnecessary, gas-guzzling detours. And finally, be sure to pack in advance so you don't find yourself having to buy tons of things you forgot along the way.
2. Book Cheap Accommodations — Or Try Camping
All those motel rooms can add up surprisingly quick, but camping is often cheap or free, and it's a great way to get intimate with the place you're visiting. You can check the Bureau of Land Management's website for free campsites. Freecampsite.com also provides great information on If you don't have a tent or don't want to camp every night, try booking cheap Airbnbs or booking hotels in advance, making sure to compare prices.
camping road tripConde Nast Traveler
If you're planning on sleeping in your car, a few tips: WalMart allows all-night parking, as do many 24-hour gyms. (Buying a membership to Planet Fitness or something like it also gives you a great place to stop, shower, and recharge while on the road).
3. Bring Food From Home
Don't go on a road trip expecting to subsist on fast food alone. You'll wind up feeling like shit, and it'll drain your pocketbook stunningly quickly. Instead, be sure to bring food from home. Consider buying a gas stove and a coffee pot for easy on-the-go meals, and make sure you bring substantial snacks to satiate midday or late night cravings so you can avoid getting those late night Mickey D's expeditions.
Try bringing your own cooler, filling it with easy stuff for breakfast and lunch — some bread and peanut butter and jelly will go a long way. Bring your own utensils, plates, and napkins, and avoid buying bottled water by packing some big water jugs and a reusable water bottle. Alternatively, try staying at hotels or Airbnbs with kitchens so you can cook there.
4. Avoid Tolls
Apps like Google Maps and Waze point out toll locations, so be sure to avoid those to save those pennies. (If it takes you too far off route, you might have to bite the bullet and drive across that expensive bridge).
You can also save on parking fees by using sites like Parkopedia.
Road TripThe Orange Backpack
5. Save on Gas
Gas can get pricy incredibly fast, so be sure that you're stopping at cheap gas stations. Free apps like GasBuddy help you find the most affordable gas prices in the area. Also, try going the speed limit on the highways — anything faster will burn through your tank. Be sure that you don't wait till you arrive at touristy locations or big cities to fill up.
6. Get a National Park Pass
All those parks can get really expensive really fast. If you're planning on visiting three or more parks, it's a great idea to get an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. For $80 you can get into every National Park for one year.