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Building a company is an infinite game

MUD\WTR coffee alternative has only 1/7th the caffeine blend of masala chai, chaga, reishi, provide energy, focus, immune support

Please introduce yourself and the Startup MUD\WTR to our readers!

I’m Shane Heath and I’m the founder and CEO of MUD\WTR. MUD\WTR is a coffee alternative company. We’ve created a product that has 1/7th the caffeine of coffee but uses a blend of cacao, masala chai, turmeric, cinnamon, lion’s mane, chaga, reishi, cordyceps, and sea salt to provide energy, focus, and immune support without the jitters and crash. More than a product though, our company is about empowering people to think differently, to think for themselves.

Outside of MUD\WTR, I’m also a fine artist creating large scale paintings using a variety of mediums including acrylics, spray paint, charcoal, and pastels. My work mostly focuses on form and figure with compositions discussing consciousness, fame, and storytelling. 

Why did you decide to start a business?

I grew up in Santa Cruz, a creative surf town. My dad was a builder, so I was always around tools, architectural plans, and plenty of things with which to create. From an early age I knew I wanted to be an artist (I have a “when I grow up I want to be…” paper from 3rd grade.) I also loved business; I started a car detail business when I was 12 and started creating a clothing line at 16. This all led me to going to school for both art and design. 

After graduating college and working in Silicon Valley as a designer in the tech world, I took 6 months off work to accept an artist’s residency in Goa, India. It was here that I discovered masala chai, an ingredient I eventually incorporated into mud. After returning from India, I moved to LA and began to explore meditation, breathwork, and plant medicine. I also began looking at my morning ritual as a way to improve my performance and so I began researching and adding in compounds that had a benefit profile that matched my lifestyle. Lion’s mane for focus, chaga and reishi for immune support, cordyceps for physical performance, turmeric for anti-inflammation, cinnamon to help with glucose response, and some cacao for mood, energy and to round out the flavor profile.

With no business intentions, I would add all these powders to my mug every morning and go about my day. I felt amazing. Focused but not anxious.

Energetic but not jittery. I felt more endurance and less sore and was sleeping again. I’d take this drink with me to music festivals, the office, the gym and people would ask me “what the fuck are you drinking?” I’d tell them, “It’s mud.”

It became obvious to me that despite 90% of the population drinking caffeine daily, most people wanted to drink less, give up the afternoon cup, or quit all together. In May of 2018, after a night out enhanced by a small amount of psilocybin I woke up with this overwhelming vision and energy to share this drink with the world. I grabbed my laptop, designed a brand, packaging, and put up a website. It felt fluid because I was tapping into everything I’d learned thus far in life. As though my interests in health and wellness, my pursuits in art and design, and my experience starting two other companies all were preparing me for this one. I posted a few stock photos to Instagram saying ‘I wasn’t mad at coffee, just disappointed. So, I made something better.’ There, MUD\WTR was born. 

What is the vision behind MUD\WTR?

We’re coming out with some new products this year to expand beyond our masala chai mud and coconut-based creamer. We also recently launched a media arm called Trends with Benefits that explores the topics of wellness, psychedelics, and adventure. Our vision is to challenge our community to think differently, starting with their morning ritual and expanding into all areas of their lives. 

From the idea to the start what have been the biggest challenges so far and how did you finance yourself?

I started MUD\WTR when I still had a full-time job. As orders started coming in, I began figuring out how to make the product at scale in my own kitchen and art studio. Three months later, the business was growing so rapidly that I had friends coming over to fulfill orders while I went to work. This cycle continued until six months from launch I was selling over six figures in monthly revenue, had amazing testimonials, and growth that was nearly impossible to keep up with.

One day I called Paul DeJoe, a former CEO and co-founder with whom I worked, and I was nearly in tears. I knew I was at a crossroads. Either I had to quit my job and go all in with this to meet the demand, or kiss mud goodbye. Right then and there, Paul wrote his first angel check telling me to ‘quit my job tomorrow.’ I did just that and brought Paul on as co-founder and COO. Together we’ve been building this company ever since.

Who is the target group of MUD\WTR?

MUD\WTR is targeted towards anyone who wants to challenge societal norms. This can start with your morning cup, then expand into other areas of your daily life. Over the two and a half years we’ve been in business, we’ve learned this speaks to all different age groups and resonates with people all over the globe. Our customer base includes professional surfers and musicians, college students, moms, and retired veterans. 

How does MUD\WTR work? What are the advantages? What makes you different from other providers? 

Mud gives you energy without jitters, anxiety, or crash and provides health benefits from four types of adaptogenic mushrooms and several Ayurvedic herbs. Unlike most other brands on the market, we grow all our mushrooms in California, not overseas. While other mushroom beverage companies are choosing to sweeten their products to appeal to a Starbucks crowd’s taste buds, we purposely chose to make mud contain 0g sugar and no artificial sweeteners so that it can serve as a base that you can customize to meet your personal taste preferences and dietary needs. Each serving of mud contains 2.25g of our mushroom blend as well as masala chai, cacao, turmeric, cinnamon, and Himalayan sea salt. 

MUD\WTR, where does the road go? Where do you see yourself in five years?

My purpose is to empower people to live from a place of purpose and intuition. In five years I will be a thought leader on building conscious company cultures. I will continue to learn from great leaders and thinkers on how to lead others towards a vision while developing wisdom and the capacity to facilitate experiences like breathwork and visualization. We do things at mud to cultivate a relationship with self which I feel improves performance but also makes life more enjoyable, so I have an amazing platform already to grow my capacity here and live from a place of purpose. My future self will advise and invest in other entrepreneurs who seek to leave the world a better place. 

Outside of that, I will be continuing to pursue waves, snow, beaches, dance parties, amazing food and drinks, sweat, love, community, family and belly laughs.

Which 3 tips would you give to future founders?

First, be 100% 70% of the time. Building a company is an infinite game. All too often we get caught up in arbitrary deadlines which causes people to think small and burn out on small relentless tasks. Being rested is when the ideas that change the business can be cultivated. We strive to empower our employees to have the capacity to see those ideas that may 10x the business by tracking sleep through oura rings, tracking stress levels through 15five, giving every other Friday off, and enforcing no meeting Wednesdays.

Secondly, focus on the physical. All too often people in the startup world forget the body and end up pale and out of shape. When your body is rested, fit, and healthy, your mind will be, too. 

Lastly, build the company that allows you to live the life you want— not the other way around. Too many founders get caught up in postponing life for after a big exit or inflection point. They sacrifice their youth, their vitality, and the potential life-changing experiences for office life. Experiences like travel can expand you and challenge your beliefs, thus shifting you into a better thinker and leader. 

Thank you  Shane Heath for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

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