Asian Hustle Network was founded on the principle that community always comes first. With that in mind, we wanted to create a marketplace that highlights Asian-owned businesses because we know that there’s a gap between consumers (like yourself!) wanting to support Asian-owned businesses, but not knowing where or how to find them. Not only is the discovery of these businesses hard, we know how important it is to truly highlight the faces and stories behind the products.
Meet Kent Yoshimura and Ryan Chen, Co-Founders of Neuro
So we present to you one of our first marketplace partners, Kent Yoshimura and Ryan Chen, Co-Founder and CEO and Co-Founder and CFO respectively, of Neuro! Neuro has been featured on a variety of large news outlets (like Time Magazine and Buzzfeed just to name a few) and was backed by over 500 people on his Indiegogo campaign in just 3 days. Let’s read on to learn more about their entrepreneurial journey.
Kent and Ryan, tell us about Neuro.
At Neuro, we get the mental game and how it’s played. That’s why we create products to help shift your mindset with ease and flow. Our gum and mints help you support an ideal state of mind, delivering just the right amount of what you need to energize, calm, and focus yourself in the moment.
Founded in 2015 in Los Angeles, CA, Neuro is a health and wellness company that creates approachable and effective consumable products that you can take anywhere, anytime to refresh your state of mind and do more. With its unique delivery systems of gum and mints, all vegan, gluten-free, aspartame-free, and sugar-free, and containing natural green tea caffeine, L-theanine, B and D vitamins, and GABA, Neuro products deliver just the right amount of what you need to energize, calm, and better your mind quickly. The original Neuro Gum product was successfully backed by more than 500 people on Indiegogo in less than three days, and has since been featured in publications such as TIME magazine, Dr. Oz, Forbes, FOX News, Food And Wine, The New Yorker, Buzzfeed, and Fast Company, among many others.
The original Neuro Gum product was successfully backed (with a goal of $30k) by more than 500 people on Indiegogo in less than three days.
Congrats on your success! Can you walk us through your story of how you got Neuro started?
Kent: When Ryan and I met in college back in 2007, we had a lot on our plates. I was training with the Japanese Olympic Judo team, I was painting as a muralist for the city of Los Angeles, and I competed internationally in Muay Thai. Meanwhile, Ryan was training with the U.S. Paralympic team while holding a 2nd degree black belt in Kendo. With degrees in neuroscience and chemistry and economics, we enjoyed challenging both our minds as well as our bodies. We set out to live life to the fullest.
But we were in a constant search for a product that would keep us going. Eventually we realized that there wasn’t anything on the market that would help us accomplish more in a healthy and effective way. We didn’t want to take mysterious supplements, pills, or energy drinks when studying, training, or going out. Instead of something sugary and ineffective, we wanted to be healthy in a clean, balanced way… something that could be taken anywhere, anytime.
Ryan: Our first product NeuroGum was launched in 2015 via Indiegogo and we hit our goal of $30k in 3 days. Since then, we’ve worked tirelessly to improve the formulation and the taste; and as a result, we are now leaders in this small but growing space. We are currently in around 5000 retail doors (mostly through CVS pharmacy) where we are the #2-3 top selling memory and focus product. We also just got greenlit for Whole Foods nationwide of 500 stores starting January of 2021.
This year was a difficult year for everyone during COVID-19 but through the adversity we found our way to be on Shark Tank in April 2020 and many organic mentions, like from Joe Rogan who has the largest podcast in the world.
Kent: Now, with over 12 million pieces chewed, we’re on a mission to constantly innovate, use the best ingredients, and always give back.
We’ve always believed that the best version of ourselves starts with the mind. That’s why we’ve dedicated the past 5 years to help get people there. Let’s all do more together.
What specific obstacles or challenges have you both faced while on your journey? What were they and how have you overcome them?
Kent: As first-time entrepreneurs, naively navigating the waters of business was one of our biggest hurdles. Both Ryan and I still had our full time jobs while working on Neuro in between work. We handled every aspect of the business, and our unexpected media mentions early on put us on the map much faster than expected. VC’s, incubators, and investors wanted to take advantage of us in the worst ways, but we luckily also had great people on the other side who helped us avoid many mistakes.
For our product, most people were unaware that supplements can even be in a form factor like ours. Educating our consumers became extremely important…and we continue to learn ourselves every day!
Kent Yoshimura: As first-time entrepreneurs, naively navigating the waters of business was one of our biggest hurdles… but we luckily also had great people on the other side who helped us avoid many mistakes.
Ryan: After coming up with the idea, we thought everything would be smooth sailing after. However, as every entrepreneur knows, there are so many challenges along the way.
I think the biggest challenge so far was finding the right manufacturer that could create a functional chewing gum with the correct formulation that allowed the user to experience the effects quickly while also maintaining good taste. We literally called, emailed, and contacted a bunch of manufacturers in the United States, Mexico, Canada, several countries in Asia, until finally, we fell in love with our current manufacturer who was willing to take on a new challenge and work with young entrepreneurs with big dreams.
Now that you’re a bit further along in your entrepreneurial journey, what personal traits do you both value the most and why?
Kent: I always value my creativity and perseverance.
Ryan and I are both athletes and science majors – those two backgrounds provide a perfect balance of competitiveness and logic, which helps us get through the ups and downs we face frequently as entrepreneurs.
Ryan: For me it’s also perseverance.
The biggest hurdle was creating a product that had never been on the market before. It was about finding the right formulation balance that not only offered the correct effects, but also tasted great–without sacrificing anything to achieve both. With natural active ingredients like caffeine, L-theanine and B vitamins (which are naturally bitter or have a bad taste) we had to figure out a way to make this functional wellness product enjoyable, and that proved to be a challenge.
But because we focus on the fine details (for example, we use natural food coloring for our gums like radish flakes in our cinnamon flavor and blue spirulina algae for our mint flavor) we’re able to make the best products.
Finally, how has Asian Hustle Network helped you in your journey with Neuro?
Kent: To be connected to like-minded, Asian entrepreneurs is more supportive than one can know. In a world where Asians are still underrepresented, being around a community that lifts our culture up keeps us going.
Ryan: AHN has been a great network of curious people wanting to do and learn more. I am all about the curiosity, and I hope to meet many more of you soon!
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