GoodSport® Founder & CEO, Michelle McBride shares her journey from practicing law to leading a non-profit, and ultimately creating a first-of-its-kind sports drink that’s disrupting the category. She also explains what it took to launch GoodSport® in more than 1,000 Walmart stores, and offers advice for other entrepreneurs who are launching or scaling their own purpose driven brands.
GoodSport®’s Why: “When I decided to leave my career… to try to make an all-natural sports drink… I thought, ‘If I’m going to do something this crazy, then I need to do it in a way that will make an impact, and I need to create a brand that we can use as a platform for doing good.'”
The Significance of the Decline in Youth Sports Participation: “We’ve had this sharp decline [in youth participation in sports], and the implications are huge, because sports help kids not just have a good time, but teaches them important life skills to help them succeed in the future – teamwork, hard work, grit, perseverance, leadership skills. 90% of women in the C-suite played competitive sports at some point. And so, when you are talking about having this huge decline in sports participation, that’s more exaggerated when we’re talking about female athletes, by the way, it really impacts a person’s potential later in life.”
Supporting Local Youth Sports Teams and Coaches: “The benefit of participating in sports is there regardless of what level you play. You don’t have to play at an elite level, you don’t have to be on an elite travel team to get all of those benefits where you’re learning about leadership, and teamwork and collaboration and perseverance and how to work through tough times. All of that kind of stuff, you can do that in your parks and rec league, house league level, with your school team. But because of funding issues, a lot of schools are losing their sports teams. Parks and recreation facilities are closing, and COVID worsened the problem greatly. And so, we need to be investing in those types of programs, and we also need to be training coaches.”
Making the Decision to Work with Walmart: “When you take on any customer, but certainly one as large and as valuable as Walmart, you want to make sure you’re ready for it. I’ve had other entrepreneurs in the food and beverage space reach out to me since, asking, ‘What has you experience been like? We’re trying to decide if we should apply to go into Walmart or not. We don’t know if we’re ready or not.’ My decision really came down to the team that I have, who have all worked extensively with Walmart. If I did not have that team, who understood the ins and outs and really what a big undertaking it would be to work with Walmart, we definitely wouldn’t have done it.”
Learn To Say No to What Is Not a Fit, and Yes to What Is: “Everybody wants their business to grow, grow, grow. But to make it grow successfully, you have to be willing to say the word “No” every once in a while. You really need to understand the retailers… Before saying yes to any retailer, really understand who the retailer is, who their shoppers are, what the geography is, what the population is around it. For us, is it an active population? That’s definitely one of the lessons, is understanding your product-market fit, and looking at it retailer by retailer.”
Advice for Other Purpose-Driven Brands: “Have a focused purpose. Don’t just say, ‘We’re purposeful. We want to do good. We want to help.” You can’t just talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. So what is it you’re going to do? What organizations are you going to support? What is that thing or two that you’re going to do? You can’t do them all. There’s a million great organizations, opportunities, causes. Pick your lane, pick what you are personally passionate about, and pick something that resonates with your brand.”
Commit Fully To Your Brand’s Stated Mission: “Be absolutely committed to your mission. Don’t waver. If you are about X, you are always about X and that is going to permeate every decision you make, from your supply chain, to the partners you work with, to the sponsorships you do, to the people you hire, everything. It’s going to permeate your whole business and it’s going to create the purposeful culture that you want, but you must commit to it.”