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!
Let’s face it: this sucks.
After a massive vaccine campaign, a pretty successful hot-vax summer, and a pre-holiday season which made us believe things would finally-finally be getting back to normal, we were introduced to the Omicron variant.
As booster shots slowly rolled out, none of us were prepared for how hard and how fast this surge would hit. Unlike other variants, Omicron is more resistant to the vaccine and is infecting even those with booster shots and antibodies.
And it’s really effing scary.
Places like New York are teetering on the edge of another lockdown as restaurants close, offices shut down, and events get canceled. In short: it feels like March 2020 again.
In the words of the perpetually relatable Olivia Rodrigo: “do you get deja vu?” Yes, Olivia, we do.
There are some differences to this surge. Luckily most people — especially the vaccinated among us — are experiencing mild symptoms. While numbers are up, hospitals are not as overwhelmed as they were when the virus first slammed us.
However, this time, many of us are experiencing pandemic burn out — mentally and financially.
When the pandemic first began, no one could have imagined how long it would last. Many people who were furloughed or working from home saw it as taking a few weeks off to relax and unwind. Obviously, this was not the case. Rates of unemployment skyrocketed and some were forced to move out of their homes to save money or take other dramatic, unexpected measures.
What did this look like? Burning through savings accounts, plunging into credit card debt, and adopting the precarious paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. According to CNBC “42% of U.S. adults with credit card debt have increased those balances since the Covid-19 pandemic began in March 2020.”
And while employment rates are up in 2021 and the Great Resignation has seen people seeking and finding better opportunities, the Omicron surge proves it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
In a recent money confessional on Slate’s “Pay Dirt” column, one reader expressed their frustration at the financial setbacks they experienced during the pandemic. While they were not totaled by the changes, they had to drastically adjust their life plans.
The columnist responded: “A lot of people had their dreams shattered in 2020 … Just because your situation isn’t the same as your more-hard-hit co-workers’ doesn’t mean that you aren’t grieving the loss of your income,” giving us all permission to feel the negative feelings. They continued: “Toxic positivity is very real in the United States and inspires a lot of people to say that no matter what their life is like, they should be happy … But you can be happy and grateful, yet still, acknowledge the suck in a situation.”
This perspective reflects a necessary shift that we all need to make. Especially as we approach yet another perilous year in the land of Covidia. It’s soooo hard to continue — and continue and continue — being grateful and not be, quite frankly, fed up. So what can we do about it?
As everything is spiraling out of control, there are small things you can do to feel less overwhelmed. And maybe, less bitter, sad, or resentful — provide room to process and accept this unfortunate reality as best you can.
Feel Your Feelings
Toxic positivity festers when we assume we should feel a certain way and don’t pause to let ourselves feel our negative feelings. Emotion comes from the Latin emovere - to "move out, remove, agitate." If we really break it down we get ex "out" + movere "to move." What does that mean to us living in America in the early days of 2022? Get those negative emotions outta here. Feel them and move ‘em out.
Then take a deep look, free from judgment, at how you’re actually doing in your day-to-day life. Try daily journaling, or delve into meditation.
Take Stock of your Life
Often, without realizing it, we fall into habits that become patterns and routines that eventually become our whole lives. So, when these habits are disrupted …. by, I don’t know, a global pandemic … we’re shaken out of our comfort zone and into reality. Take a glance at your life. What are you actually, truly, grateful for? What is mere distraction?
Make a Plan
Our spending habits are the first thing to spiral out of control and the most difficult to course-correct. If you’re worried about your financial health during this time — or you want to be more vigilant just in case — try the Cleo app. This holistic service manages your money for you and helps you gain control and improve your situation. Managing your money no longer feels like a chore, and it’s actually fun!
All in all, Meet Cleo makes you feel like you have a handle on your finances. And in these uncertain times, just being aware of your standing can offer a world of comfort. With Meet Cleo as your side, you no longer have to cave to toxic positivity. This app keeps it real and chats with you like your honest, most blunt friend. And for that, we thank her.
Find out more about Cleo here and put yourself on the path to financial control.
When you think of personal finance, what springs to mind?
Kevin O'Leary of Shark Tank fame? Dave Ramsay yelling into a podcast mic? Finance bros tracking their bitcoin? Unfortunately, these are the images we're constantly bombarded by. So they're the archetypes overwhelmingly represented in personal finance.
But it's not all Chads in down vests and dad-types shaming you about your financial faux paus, the personal finance world has grown increasingly more dynamic and diverse.
With the rise of social media, the importance of financial literacy has entered the mainstream, as essential information is no longer confined to impenetrable, official documents. Instead, educators have changed their approach and are making the intimidating world of managing your money far less scary.
Through graphics, memes — and other whimsical mediums — online financial advice that's geared to younger generations is more and more common.
Now, with the help of TikTok — an app unique for wildly popularizing previously niche subjects — personal finance talk has become ubiquitous.
Who's Doing the Talking
The beauty of social media is its power to democratize. Though TikTok has been criticized for promoting those its algorithm chooses — and has even resulted in strikes from Black Creators demanding to be given more credit — it's also granted platforms to people with different experiences and backgrounds.
When it comes to financial advice, TikTok makes it super relatable. No longer is advice restricted to "skip your morning latte" and "quit that avocado toast" or other millennial-shaming behavior. These days, young people directly advise their peers by sharing sympathetic experiences.
From debt repayment to financial freedom journeys, people are engaging with the obscure realm of finances in a charismatic way.
Financial Feminists … But Don't Call Them Girlbosses
One huge TikTok sub-movement that's emerged is the Financial Feminist movement, which urges women specifically to take charge of their finances.
However, this isn't a repeat of the early 2010s Girlboss Feminism or even Corporate Feminism which encourages women to rise up within an established system. This is a whole new ball game.
By empowering women to speak to each other, personal finance is no longer a shame-game. Instead of scrolling through Reddit threads that mock people who support the trappings of the patriarchy like makeup or highly-feminine clothing — which are often deemed necessary for society to take one seriously, if not by Reddit bloggers — women learn from other women about how to manage their lives.
There's also information about unlearning feminized behaviors, helping women break out of socially coded patterns which hold them back from asking for help, asking for more or asserting — and believing! — their true value.
Financial Feminism takes into account the wage gap, talking about gendered norms and systems that prevent us from living financial lives equal to male counterparts.
Even more radical, however, are accounts which incorporate intersectional politics and social commentary. Instead of merely assessing the numbers, they examine the social structures and hierarchies that cause people to treat their money differently and radically affects how they live their lives.
These little communities have become hubs for financial empowerment for marginalized genders with the mission of helping them know themselves better, do better — and have fun while doing it!
Despite its addictive charm, you can't live your life on TikTok alone.
So while Personal Finance TikTok is an okay place to start, taking effective action means getting off TikTok… and onto a better app. Cleo is a budgeting app that's as engaging as TikTok, but actually helps you do the things you're learning.
According to their website, Cleo integrates all your accounts and — like a financially savvy and brutally honest friend — reveals what's truly going on in your wallet.
Cleo is like the coolest finance major you'll ever meet. Simply text her all your questions about your spending, your habits, and your current balances, and she'll give it to you straight.
She'll also tell you when you're running low — like when you really should skip that Starbucks stop so you'll have money left for the subway home — and keeps you on track of your goals.
Ah yes, 'tis finally the giving season!
As someone whose love-language is gift giving, I relish most opportunities to spoil my friends with sweet tokens of appreciation. I am the queen of spontaneous gifts. When I'm puttering around the city, doing my silly little tasks, I always perk up when I find some small trinket that I can give my friends.
Nothing says "I love you" more than saying, "hey, this reminded me of you." And then handing them a nod to a past conversation, or a memory we share. So, sorry to my friends for cluttering your houses with sentimental junk, but I'm even more apologetic for my fatal flaw: when it comes to the holidays … I always draw a blank!
To me, organic gifting is much more genuine than holiday gifting. Yet, if I were to use that as an excuse for turning up empty-handed to every single holiday party this season. I fear I'd start the new year off with fewer friends. And, as someone who loves to receive gifts just as much, I don't want to chance burning bridges that might hold presents on the other side.
So, when the holiday season arrives, I spend far too much of my precious time strategizing my gifts for my friends.
Often, when I draw a blank, I end up splurging on expensive gifts — a luxury candle, a decadent face oil, a classy bottle of perfume. Sure, these opulent gifts are a cop out, but they're guaranteed successes. Upon opening a package containing their favorite, overpriced indulgence who wouldn't smile?
Due to my holiday default, I'm forced to do some serious budget planning to accommodate my lavish spending. Or, more often, I go spectacularly over-budget.
However, this year, I must make a change. After my summer of post-vax hedonism that granted justification to spend more money than I'd ever dare, my holiday budget's looking pretty lean.
After sitting myself down and giving myself a strict talking to about prioritizing my savings, I've come up with some tips on how to save money around the holidays:
Review your budget
The amount of money we think we spend and the money we actually spend are two very different numbers. Grab a drink, pull out your bank statements, it's time to get to the bottom of your spending.
Take a look at two or three months and categorize your purchases. Which ones were intentional? Which ones were emotional? And how many times did you go to the coffee shop just to feel something and leave with a $10 latte and pastry? Once the truth is laid out in front of you, it's easy to see where you're bleeding money.
For me, it's coffee shops and boutique clothing stores I discover during jaunts around trendy neighborhoods. Whatever your vices are, do your best to become aware of them.
Budgeting apps like Cleo have helped me curb my impulse spending a ton! Cleo talks to me like a friend would — a friend who is not afraid to tell me no and call me out on my overspending. We all need a friend like Cleo, so download the app and watch your budget change overnight.
via Cleo App
Cut out what you don't need
It's all well and good to glance at your spending, but the next step is brutal: get honest with yourself about the purchases you could have gone without. But this isn't about deprivation, it's prioritization. What can you relinquish now to ensure you have a great holiday season later?
Cringing at past impulse buys I've made, I vowed to avoid my typical temptations, since I couldn't resist them. I know I'm easily lured into charming little storefronts downtown. So I took new routes home, avoiding the streets where all the cool clothes lie, waiting for me to cave.
I'm sure, in good time, I'll be back. But that's a problem for 2022-me. Until then, we just have to hold out for less than two months, get the gifts our friends deserve, and then it's back to regularly scheduled planning.
Make a spending plan
Saving without a plan usually leads to spending. As you narrow down what you can afford, figure out what you want to buy. I like to split it into categories: larger expenses vs. affordable picks.
Here's the fun part: shopping around. Sometimes I only have a general idea of what I want to buy, and sometimes I have specifics in mind. Either way, I love to shop around for a deal.
When it comes to saving money, research is paramount. Various vendors might have different prices, promotional codes, or sales. A quick Google search can often save you 10% or more, so don't take the first price you see as gospel.
via Cleo App
After finding the best price, I can budget for what I'm going to buy and when. Which takes me to ….
Take advantage of sales … strategically
The holiday season brings with it the promise of big, blowout sales. But, if you're not careful, you can end up spending more money during a sale — which is precisely the stores' intention.
Don't fall victim to the allure of those big, red "SALE" stickers. Instead, plot out how to take advantage of a number of sales for different products. Adding those sale prices to your spending plan will keep you focused and on track, instead of buying frivolous items no one will ever use just because the prices are slashed.
Saving money over the holidays doesn't mean you have to make a Scrooge of yourself. You can still gift and gift well, just more intelligently. Spending with intention is key to savings, while investing thoughtfully into your relationships.
Apps like Cleo can help you keep your finances on track without feeling overwhelming. With one download, you could be on your way to mega-savings.