- May 22, 2020
- Posted by: Jamie Shindler
- Category: Blog, Interviews, Lifestyle
It is with great pleasure that I get to introduce to you Connie Wan, founder and CEO of Seattle Gummies. Connie’s journey has not been without its twists and turns. Combining degrees in chemistry with a vision for healthier humans, she created her company.
We’re so proud of Connie’s contribution to our Power Pack Box – a box (for purchase) that combines local partners and immune-boosting items to keep our members healthy!
Get to know her by checking out “8 Questions with CEO Connie Wan”:
Jamie Shindler (Q #1): Tell us a little bit about how you ended up starting Seattle Gummies.
Connie Wan: The company started with a simple notion – just so kid can take medications. Like all other moms, I tried so many medication feeding devices with my kid – syringes, measuring spoons, measuring cups – you name it, I have it. It is an understatement when I tell you that gooey sticky yucky syrup and a screaming kid in discomfort don’t go well together. What a struggle every single time!
Then, in 2007, I saw the first gummy vitamin in COSTCO. This is it! – I remember telling myself. Being a scientist, I immediately recognized gummy as a technically better way to deliver medications — through transmucosal absorption rather than traditional gastric route, which provides much faster absorption and improved efficiency. Seeing the gummy vitamins, I figured that gummy drug must be just around corner if not already on the market. 10 years passed by – no gummy Benadryl, no gummy Tylenol — no gummy drugs. So, in 2016, I talked to a few investor friends and pulled the funding together. I also pulled a few trusted friends in as the core team — thank god they all said yes to me when I asked them to quit their job and join me with a slide deck presentation of a mom’s dream! We got the company up and running in 2017.
JS (Q #2): What’s one of your favorite products?
CW: Mocca Shots Mint! I am a high energy person living on caffeine. Coffee and tea lead to too many bathroom runs – yeah, no one likes to mention that, but it’s just biology. Caffeine is a diuretic – meaning it will send you to the bathroom if you consume it with lots of water. On top of that, caffeine products on the market are often loaded with junk ingredients just to cover up the bitterness of caffeine. To develop perfectly palatable gummy drugs, we have to deal with drugs tasted much bitter/worse than caffeine – so we have the technology. We adapted our pharma technology to caffeine to create Mocca Shots, which is the most concentrated caffeine product on the market. Understanding how caffeine works on cardiovascular system causing “jittery,” we used herbal actives to counteract caffeine’s cardiovascular effect. The result is this great tasting caffeine gummy with caffeine’s energizing effect kicking in within minutes but without caffeine’s jittery side effect. This is truly how problem solving works in science.
JS (Q#3): What sort of pivots or challenges have you had during Covid times?
CW: One of our core values as a company is – we are nimble and flexible. COVID time is a test to every company. Retail channel dropped to zero almost overnight. We quickly pivoted our on-the-ground sales model to the inside sales model while shifting more resource to the ecommerce channel.
JS (Q #4): What do you do to unwind when you are not literally running a bada$$ company?
CW: Read science journals. I love reading the most recently scientific breakthroughs in astronomy, physics, biology, medicine, chemistry, and psychology (well, no, it’s not a mistake, mathematics is left out by choice). It comforts me to know how nature works, why things happen and why people behave certain way. Every day, scientists publish new researches making sense of the world and cosmos we live in just a little more – it’s a comforting and hopeful experience for me.
JS (Q #5): What are your 5-10-20 year goals? And, yeah, “take over the world” is totally an option.
CW: I have the same goal in 5, 10 or 20 years – make gummy drugs a standard medication. Other than kids, do you know almost 1/3 of the people over 50 have problem swallowing? The condition (called dysphagia) is one of the most common problems in adult population. In 5 years, you will see our gummy drugs in your medicine cabinet; in 20 years, we will be the biggest specialty pharma company focusing on gummy formulations. And, yes, Mocca Shots will take over the world.
JS (Q #6): What are some of the other, less Covid centered, lessons have you learned.
CW: I do personally believe that COVID did not change the society, it simply accelerated the inevitable changes that are already in the works. Lesson learned? Other than being nimble and flexible, being resourceful is essential for survival, and always trying to see the half full part of the glass in critical for moral.
JS (Q #7): Who is someone you lean on for advice when things get tough?
CW: A good friend who can always help me to sort through the priority quickly. I was struggling with a personnel issue in the company last year. I’ve decided to talk it through with this friend, who asked me three questions – has this employee made any fundamental mistake? (the answer is no) What is the top quality I am looking for in a teammate? (the answer is loyalty) What is the top quality of this employee? (loyalty). That was a quick and efficient process and you can guess the decision. Every entrepreneur should have a friend like that at his/her corner.
JS (Q #8): We just have to know, do you have a pet? A furry friend that gets you outside, inspired or just laughing?
CW: I grew up with cats (yes, many) and one dog. Unfortunately, my kid who “forced” me to find a better way to feed medication suffered from many allergies due to autoimmune problems. So, no pets at this moment. As to my furry friends, they get me inspired (and sometimes, made me feel guilty too). The stories I could tell you about my cats and dog – next time for sure.