Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mark Gill, Founder of Swing Strong, located in Concord, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My name is Mark Gill, and I am the Founder of Swing Strong and a self-professed golf addict. Our mission is simple. To make amazing functional drinks that help you play and feel your best on the course so that you can Swing Strong through 18 holes. What does it mean to Swing Strong? Swinging Strong is about hitting every shot the best you possibly can. To do that, we believe in being well hydrated, having your muscles firing on all cylinders, and having adequate energy and focus.
Here's the thing: Golf is hard. Like, really hard. The reality is we're not always going to feel 100% when out on the course. Dehydration happens, fatigue happens, and loss of focus happens. I often found myself hitting a wall mid-round and not playing to my full potential...Considering a recent study has shown that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated, that is very the likely culprit for feeling less than ideal... I was always scrambling for bulky sports or energy drinks before or during my rounds when I needed a little boost of hydration and energy. But that was inconvenient and expensive.
So I thought, hey, it'd be nice to have something I could pack in my bag and have ready to mix with water when I'm on the course. We pack tees, balls, gloves, clothes, and all that…why not have convenient fuel ready to go? I discovered hydration stick packs, but most were loaded with sugar, and all lacked the ingredients needed to support the demands and needs of golfers. I wanted something that could provide hydration but also help support strength, endurance, energy, and focus.
So, I decided to fix the problem and change the way golfers fuel their rounds. That's when the idea for Swing Strong was born. I started working with a team of nutrition experts and a top-rated NSF GMP Registered manufacturer to bring our flagship product Swing Strong HYDRATE+ to life.
Tell us about yourself
I'm a San Francisco Bay Area native and former skateboarder turned advertising salesperson and entrepreneur. My entrepreneurship and e-commerce journey started in 2018 when I started selling private label products on Amazon. It was a great introduction to the world of e-commerce. In the summer of 2020, I was playing a lot of golf and kept having the same problems. I was inconvenienced by having to stop before and during my golf rounds to get sports and/or energy drinks for fuel.
On top of that, I was spending a lot of money on these sugar-loaded drinks that weren't made to meet golfers' specific demands and needs. That's what got the ball rolling on Swing Strong. I decided to transition my time to focus on a golf-specific brand, something I truly care about, and away from the Amazon private label business. I'm motivated every day by the idea and thought of Swing Strong becoming a household name in the game of golf. I have aspirations for it to be offered at big box golf retailers and have pro golfers who are sponsored by Swing Strong. How cool would that be?
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Just getting started. I have thought about being an e-commerce business owner since I was in college, and finally taking the plunge (10 years later) and just getting started has been the hardest part. Once you get going, you realize how much you're actually capable of.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Acquiring customers. You can't just set up a Shopify store, run some ads, and expect the customers to start rolling in. You need to live and breathe your product and market it everywhere you go. You have to create content, write blogs, do copywrite, web design, graphic/packaging design, learn email marketing, learn paid ads and retargeting, learn about taxes, budget, keeping good books, sponsor events, tackle wholesale, sell on Amazon, sell on WallMart, sell on Target. Simply having the time as a solopreneur to do all this and acquire customers is very challenging.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Just get started.
- Solve a problem that a lot of people have and have little to no solutions.
- Do as much as you can yourself, but don't be afraid to ask for help.