Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Michael Oteka, Founder of it’s good 1:31, located in Atlanta, GA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I have been working with youth for over 15 years. In 2019, we co-founded a private school in the inner city of Atlanta, where we also provided student housing for up to 15 youth at a time. These youth had families who were struggling with housing stability, making it increasingly difficult for the kids to stay steady in school.

As we began to live our daily lives with the youth we housed, we came to realize that the majority of the kids in our community already had major health issues. They lacked the proper nutrients their bodies needed to grow, develop properly, and mentally be able to focus on school. In the first few months of housing students, there were numerous 911 calls regarding health scares for kids who were too young and too loved for that. After doing further research, we found that the life expectancy in the neighborhood we were working in was, on average, 14 years less than in the surrounding middle-class neighborhoods. To the lack of our surprise, the primary cause was poor health conditions.

Our community was a food desert and the title 1 public school district, which is where most of the kids were getting their primary meals for the day, served the same food as they did in prisons. Fresh fruits and vegetables were rare to find in a school lunch meal. Our community was surrounded by the cheapest fast food places, liquor stores, and dialysis centers. There was no healthy grocery store in sight. So we created mineral-based beverages such as Seamoss, CBD Tea, and loose leaf tea formulas to supplement the mineral deficiency in the community. Our beverages are for the health and mission conscious.

Tell us about yourself

During this time of gaining new understanding and knowledge about what our community truly needed. I was already on a health journey of my own. I decided to include our student family by teaching the kids about health and nutrition and began implementing fresh and healthy meals in the student housing.

Plowing along on my big health journey, I discovered one of the most nutritious foods available on planet earth: a mineral-packed seaweed known as Chondrus Crispus Sea Moss. This potent sea moss has up to 92 of the 102 vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to both survive and thrive. The majority of people's bodies don't take in a fourth of the vitamins and minerals they need daily, so I found this miracle Seawood to potentially be an excellent way to boost nutrition quickly. This became a convenient and affordable solution to make the bioavailability of nutrients and minerals available to the youth! So, at the student's house, we began to experiment with different drink recipes where we could incorporate sea moss and other nutrient-packed ingredients.

We wanted it to taste good so that the kids would love it while also preserving the sole purpose of providing the much-needed nutrients for them to start living a healthy lifestyle. The recipes were such a hit that the kids would beg for the drinks every day after school. They also got to be a part of creating the recipes, which made them excited to learn more about health.

Eventually, our sea moss beverages and fresh fruits and vegetables were replacing hot Cheetos and ramen noodles without any complaints! The kids were starting to see and feel the benefits of eating healthier and being active in their own health journeys. They didn't feel like they were missing out because some of the beverages tasted sweet like a dessert but were healthy and packed with nutrition.

This led us to think about how we could help solve the nutrition deficit in and around our community as well as provide entrepreneurship opportunities to the youth, helping to solve the generational poverty issue while providing an excellent and life-giving product to the world around us. The kids and I started selling small batches of our drinks to the local barbershops and surrounding businesses and even selling batches door to door in the community. To our surprise, everyone loved the product with us, and we sold out every time!

We came up with the concept of mobile health bars where youth have the opportunity to become franchise business owners after they have gone through leadership, service, and business training program. The mobile health bars can easily be moved to different locations and events and have much lower start-up costs and greater flexibility than a brick-and-mortar store.

We learned quickly that the kids we were working with were highly intelligent and natural-born entrepreneurs. They have learned how to survive and hustle to make it through extremely challenging circumstances in life. We believe that if we give them a vision with a system and the opportunity to break the cycle, they will stay off of the streets, out of trouble, and become who they were created to be, changing their communities and the world and it's just the beginning!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

There are some big things in the works. The biggest accomplishment so far is being able to partner with an Entrepreneur that I look up to, who owns a brewery called Monday Night Brewery, to produce A CBD beverage that will serve the community.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Training other team members to share the same passion and values that create great customer shopping experiences.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. You have to lose so you can win. Starting a business is not for the faint of heart; you have to take on more risk than usual in order to provide a valuable service that will serve society.
  2. You have to be consistent. No matter the turbulence, you have to put in the effort to see the results, you don't really know when things will go your way, but they will eventually if you never give up. "If the farmer considers the weather, he would never sow any seeds."
  3. You have to get out of yourself. It's not about you. Entrepreneurship is about serving people at the highest level. In order to do that, you have to be a servant leader, and that means seeking to enrich and add value to others.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

The tide is shifting, and this generation is looking for new leaders. You don't have to have all the right information or resources to start. You just have to be brave enough to get in the boat and sail; if you stay on the path, the wind will take you there!

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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