On this episode of the Driven & Co. podcast, host Justin Gray welcomes David Johnson, Cofounder and CEO of Genexa, to the show. They discuss David’s fascinating career pivots before becoming an entrepreneur, and what health trend sparked the idea for Genexa. Plus, David shares the advice that made the biggest impact on him as a CEO.
What is Genexa?
Genexa was founded to make medicine healthier. We look for products that are both on shelf or not on shelf yet, and look to remove the parabens, dyes, food colorings, and everything that’s not the medicinal purpose of the product. Our mission is to not only create healthier products, but if we can make them organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, that’s what we’ll do.
What does an average day look like for you at Genexa?
As a product company, the first thing we review early in the morning is usually sales and inventory. After that we hold team meetings, either with sales, marketing, or the whole team. Different days call for different meetings. Then, my partner and I focus on the growth aspects, such as research and development, market research, outreach to current investors and new investors.
What you wanted to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a pilot. Growing up, we had a close friend that was the owner of Amerijet. I was drawn to the freedom of being up in the sky and looking down and just enjoying the peacefulness of being up there. I eventually did some private flying, but definitely didn’t go in that direction. I got a degree in food chemistry, and then from there went and studied business. From there, I joined the Israeli Defense Forces for three years and I was a paratrooper. When I got back, I studied accounting and more finance.
What led to the founding of Genexa?
There’s such a large percentage of America being allergic to gluten, lactose, and things like that. We saw that on the shelf; there was nothing taking all those issues into account. That led us to realize that you have the organic and the non-GMO trend coming from food to beverage to makeup to shampoos, but there was nothing being done in this $49 billion industry to really make products on shelf healthier.
There’s just a lot of different things that consumers are taking and it’s not the purpose of why they’re taking it. Like Tylenol—you’re taking it for the acetaminophen. You’re not taking it for the red dye and the blue dye and the byproducts. So that was really something that started to drive our passion not only from a business standpoint, but just from pure passion.
What does the process of selling and marketing these products look like?
A lot of it is guerrilla type marketing where you’re trying to create awareness. It’s a lot of outreach, PR, and talking about the products. Our consumer is the younger generation that’s focused on being healthier and wanting to make a difference. They’re the ones going to Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme markets, and GNCs. They are really looking for a healthier option for themselves and their kids, so we focus on that crowd.
What do you consider to be the most impactful advice that you received along the way?
You just can’t consider yourself an expert in everything because you’re not. You’re going to turn so many different corners and get smacked in the face and really not know what’s around the corner, so learn to listen to other people’s advice. It’s just as important to be careful about whose advice you’re taking.
Another thing I strive to put across to my team, is about failing quick and failing fast. I don’t want to fail overtime, because it’s costly and it’s not worth it, so I stress to the team to fail fast and get back up and pivot. Pivot quick.
Unfortunately, I lost my father this year, so something that I’ve always worked off of is you’ve got to remember to live. Being in business and being an entrepreneur is wonderful, and growing your own company is amazing. When it starts to produce and you start to make a difference, it’s great. But at the end of the day, we all need to remember to live. I think that’s something that I try to repeat to myself on a daily basis because sometimes you don’t live being an entrepreneur.
To find out more about David Johnson and his journey to becoming an entrepreneur, including lessons he’s learned along the way, listen to the entire episode. Plus visit GenexaHealth.com and find David on LinkedIn or email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet Justin Gray
Justin is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and founder of LeadMD, the world’s largest revenue operations agency having implemented over half of the Marketo user base. Justin has made a career of launching successful companies and scaling them, with successful exits of over 200MM+ in the last decade. Justin’s latest endeavor launched in 2016 when he co-founded Six Bricks an online learning startup designed to combat employee and customer churn through experience-based education. Over the past 10 years, Justin has emerged as a strong voice for entrepreneurship, marketing and culture. As a recognized speaker, Justin has been published over 350 times in industry publications and holds his own column, Tribal Knowledge in Inc., while writing for Entrepreneur, Tech Crunch and others. Justin and his wife Jennifer met over marketing and three years later welcomed their son, Grayson, into the world in April of 2017.