As a former student-athlete a part of Georgia State’s Track and Field and Cross Country teams, Maiya Newton felt like she needed more things to help supplement her workouts so DuffleBox was born.
Connect with Maiya on LinkedIn.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Balancing her 9-to-5 as an Entrepreneur
- What being a former athlete has taught her about entrepreneurship
- What does the future of the business look like
- Other things she is doing to stay in a healthy mental state
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio. Brought to you by on pay. Atlanta’s New standard in payroll. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:24] Lee Kantor here, another special edition of Atlanta Business Radio. This is the GSU radio show where we spotlight all the good work that’s happening at GSU and especially the folks that are involved with the Main Street Entrepreneurship Seed Fund. And we have another person right now that is going through that program. It’s Maiya Newton and she’s with Duffle Box. Welcome.
Maiya Newton: [00:00:50] Oh, thank you so much. I really appreciate.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:51] It. Well, I am so excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us about Duffle Box.
Maiya Newton: [00:00:56] So duffle box is a subscription box for athletes. It has about five different items, 5 to 7 items ranging from nutrition to supplements to clothing. Everything that an athlete needs to really enhance their performance. So that’s a little bit about it. And I really I started it back in 2019. I had the idea because I actually ran track and cross country here at Georgia State. And one day after practice, I went up into my room and I realized that I needed a lot more things to help supplement my workouts. And so that’s how I came up with the idea.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:29] So was the idea like you maybe were familiar with other box subscriptions and you’re like, Hey, how come there isn’t one for athletes?
Maiya Newton: [00:01:38] Well, it was more like at the time subscription boxes were really popular. At the time, I didn’t really do much research on other subscription boxes for athletes, but I didn’t know about like Fab Fit Fun and, you know, the subscription model in general. So.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:55] So when you have the idea, then what do you do with that idea at that point?
Maiya Newton: [00:02:01] Well, so I started I formed the LLC, and then for a good little minute I had analysis paralysis where I was just kind of like working by myself and I didn’t know, like the next steps. So I really didn’t start until 2021 with like getting my sales and everything like that. But from 2019 to 2021, I kind of joined like other incubators. I did like a grant program where I was I was able to get some funding, a little bit of funding, and then that’s pretty much what happened. So yeah.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:30] So when you have the idea, did you like as the person that founded the company, you are kind of the curator of the box, right? You have you get to decide what goes in the box.
Maiya Newton: [00:02:42] Yes, correct.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:43] So how did you is that where did you begin with. Okay, let me curate a great box and then let me try to sell it. Or did you try to see if anybody would buy it first and then curate what goes in it?
Maiya Newton: [00:02:57] Um, that’s a great question. I think the first thing that I did was I put a group of people in like a group me and then it was supposed to be like a tester box, which was really ugly. When I first put it out, it was really small. And I just put this these basic items in there. But then once I sent it out to people, I called them back and I asked them like, what did they like about this? Or what? What would they change about it? But it was still going out to customers. And then the next box was my February box. And that was more of a a better trial run type of box.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:30] So yeah. Now at what point did you start getting some traction where people were like, you were thinking, Oh, people will pay for this if I put the right stuff in there.
Maiya Newton: [00:03:43] So I actually started selling on Amazon. And then I also did this partnership with Fit Bod, which is a personal fitness app, and we were able to give our subscribers like a year free with that membership. So that really started generating sales. It still wasn’t a lot of sales, but that’s really where I was like, okay, I can, you know, actually improve my sales and really be a business.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:05] And something like that’s a digital product. So like, were you putting a card in there with like a code that gives them a membership?
Maiya Newton: [00:04:13] Yeah. So I had a code and it said like maybe duffle box 20, 21, and then they were able to get their the Fitbit app for free. So yeah.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:22] And then, so then was it difficult to go and kind of curate other products like because you had to keep your costs low so you have some margin for the marketing and the production and the shipping of the the box. Right. Mhm. So was that was it difficult to find stuff to go in the box that was affordable and had high value?
Maiya Newton: [00:04:47] Yes, definitely. And that’s still something that I’m trying to work out now. So I’m glad that I’m in this program to kind of help me figure that out.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:55] So, like, how do you even go about deciding or finding the next thing that goes in next month’s box?
Maiya Newton: [00:05:03] So basically you’re supposed to kind of plan per month. Well, technically, we have like a monthly box and a quarterly box. Um, but I’m just still trying to figure that part out. Like how, how I want to go about planning certain boxes. And I think in the future, the boxes are supposed to be separated by sport. Um, so really trying not to kind of put the same products that was in the last box in this box. It’s been a challenge, so I’m still trying to figure that out. I haven’t had like a concrete plan just yet.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:38] Now, are you are you kind of communicating with your customers to see what they would like or they’re asking for? Or is it something that you are kind of trying to guide and lead your customers?
Maiya Newton: [00:05:52] Um, yeah. So we’re actually doing customer discovery right now in the program. So I’ve been like setting up tables at Unity Plaza and trying to go to gyms and just different events and try to talk to my customers and just kind of. Saying like, Hey, what do you think about this? But really not trying to give them too much about the the actual product since that’s the way they were leading us. So I’m just trying to figure out like what their current behaviors and patterns are and then we’ll go from there.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:19] Now, is your customer the collegiate athlete or like kind of a semi-serious or almost professional athlete, or is it a regular person that just aspires to be into fitness?
Maiya Newton: [00:06:31] So right now we have three different target segments, which I’m trying to, you know, get it down to about one. So the first customer segment is coaches and ads or coaches and trainers. And then we have athletes that are more professional between the well, sorry, college athletes and teams that are more professional athletes. And then we have your regular like gym goers or athletes between the ages of 18 and 34. So.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:00] So. So it’s geared towards serious athlete. It isn’t for you know, the person that just is that wannabe fitness person.
Maiya Newton: [00:07:09] Well we do have a lot of customers that are, um, they’re just a regular gym goer, um, regular everyday kind of athlete. And then we also do have teams that we’re trying to market to too, but we’re trying to get the, the target segment down. So it’s for.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:26] Both. Now has, has kind of being an athlete and having that discipline and the mental toughness helped you, you know, with your entrepreneurship is that some are those traits kind of transferable to entrepreneurship?
Maiya Newton: [00:07:40] Yes, definitely. So I feel like the main trait that being an athlete has taught me is resilience, just to kind of continue to keep going because entrepreneurship is really hard and it’s not fun, especially it’s kind of lonely at times. So, um, yeah, it’s definitely taught me how to continue to keep going and, you know, don’t quit when it gets hard.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:01] Now what was kind of the first hurdle that, that you overcame like that, You know, you were at a point where things were going and then all of a sudden something happened and then you’re like, oh, do I really want to be doing this? Yes.
Maiya Newton: [00:08:13] So I was living in Memphis. I actually moved from Atlanta to Memphis once I graduated college and I started working at Fedex. So kind of balancing a full time job with entrepreneurship is one thing. But I was in Memphis. I had my little office at the house and I started getting a little bit of traction. But then Covid happened and I wanted to move back from Memphis to Atlanta, and I didn’t know how to, like, keep a business going while you’re like moving. So that’s really another reason why I kind of stopped the business for a year. So that was something major that I’m still now trying to like implement. Like if I move, how, how our operations going to keep going.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:53] So yeah. So when you were struck with that kind of dilemma, how did you overcome some it was it did you have other people you talked to? Do you have any mentors? Did you have anybody that can give you advice or did you just kind of power through?
Maiya Newton: [00:09:09] At the time, I didn’t really have anyone to talk to. I just kind of stopped, stopped at all. And then I moved back home and then I just kind of tried to keep it going. But then I ran into Miss Erika Bracy here at Georgia State, and she was like, Oh, we’re going to have another, um, another program. So then I applied to the program and I got in. So they’ve definitely given me mentors now where I can say, okay, like what? What happens if this happens? Then how can I keep the business going? And now I have more people to like talk to and bounce ideas off from.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:44] Now having that kind of support, is that been kind of a game changer for you in terms of now you feel like, okay, now this is manageable? I have some structure now. I have kind of a team around me that can help me kind of make this as big as I want it to to be.
Maiya Newton: [00:10:00] Yes, definitely. Now I have three mentors, so there’s two that are they’ve either like worked in sports or like currently working in sports or they’ve won grant programs. So that’s super helpful because when you’re an entrepreneur, like I said, it can get really lonely and like you can be at home crying because you don’t know like what’s next or what to do. Um, so yeah, it’s definitely been a lot helpful.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:25] Now, do you have anybody else in the business with you or is it just, you.
Maiya Newton: [00:10:30] Know, it’s just me? So me at home making the boxes, trying to plan boxes, um, shipping them out. But it really helps because I can learn like every aspect of the business. I can learn like shipping and how much things are supposed to cost and, and marketing. So that really makes me well-rounded and I really like that.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:50] So your business is an online business. Do you have a technologist that helps with the website or the marketing, online marketing, digital marketing or that you also.
Maiya Newton: [00:11:01] So that’s me majority I did use I think it’s fiber.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:05] Fiber, fiber, yeah.
Maiya Newton: [00:11:07] Yeah. Fiber to um, to create like the logo and do the website and stuff like that. I’m actually in the process of rebranding as well, so I’m going to need that again. Um, and then I did do, I hired a marketer at one point where they like posted, you know, a couple of photos and were maybe able to increase my followers on Instagram. But that was like a one time thing and it wasn’t the most helpful. Um, so I’m majority doing that as well and trying to improve marketing as well.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:36] Now, being a former student athlete, were you, were you around during that the period of the nil, you know, licensing deals or.
Maiya Newton: [00:11:47] I wasn’t, unfortunately.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:49] So you missed out on that? Yeah. Is that is that an area you’re going to pursue for the current crop of athletes that are out there that. Where they can be partners with you or ambassadors?
Maiya Newton: [00:12:03] Yes. So that is one of the strategies that I’m going to do or focus on, especially when it comes to like TikTok and Instagram. Actually, one of my mentors told me about one of these websites. I forget the name of it, but we’re going to use that to really reach out to the athletes and they can, you know, do an Instagram post or TikTok post or possibly be like a partner. So, yeah.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:27] Yeah. So you’re so you weren’t able to take part in it, but you’re going to be able to leverage it for your company. Yes. So what how do you see this going? What’s your dream of dreams on how this story ends?
Maiya Newton: [00:12:43] So I’m still coming up with goals and everything like that. But one thing I do have in my mind is that I want to have, like, a warehouse. Um, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Saltbox, but I definitely want to get my business in there and just really generating revenue and just making it something that’s operational, something that I don’t have to necessarily touch and just really have a huge influence on athletes and then also giving back to the community. So that’s my my goal for now. And then, you know, as I progress, then I’ll be able to get more goals.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:14] Now is part of the dream for serving the athlete community? Is it to help them? Like, are they going to be able to kind of make money off this too? If they are an ambassador, they can earn or maybe an affiliate that they can make some extra money by promoting it so that it becomes a win win win all the way around.
Maiya Newton: [00:13:31] Yeah, definitely. That’s something I would want to have in the works, especially if you’re an affiliate. You definitely would get a portion of the profits or whatever like that. Um, so yeah, that’s definitely in the works.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:42] Now, in the Box, you mentioned that there was a digital app membership and there was, there’s stuff in the, in the like stuff an athlete could use obviously in the box as well. Is there anything in the box that maybe touches onto mental health or maybe other other needs of an athlete that isn’t maybe obvious?
Maiya Newton: [00:14:07] We actually don’t have anything in the box right now for mental health. But it’s interesting that you just said that because I was talking with one of my coaches and he was saying that mental, mental health, health is a huge thing that he wants to touch on. So I definitely want to figure out ways to kind of implement that in the box, whether that’s maybe like a free therapy, like how we did the fit Bod, maybe free therapy or like a journal or something like that.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:33] Yeah, because you want to touch the athlete, the whole athlete, right? Not just their physical skills.
Maiya Newton: [00:14:39] Yes, definitely.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:41] So what’s been your favorite part of going through the Main Street program?
Maiya Newton: [00:14:45] My favorite part. Um, the people are really helpful. So like my team members, the people in the cohort, they’ve been super helpful. We’ve like actually gone out outside of the program and like been able to help each other. So that’s really fun just to know that you’re not alone in, like, entrepreneurship. Um, we started doing customer discovery, so that’s really, it’s challenging. So it’s interesting to know, like to start talking to people on the street or customers potential customers. That’s really scary. So that’s not really fun, but it’s just fun to learn more things.
Lee Kantor: [00:15:24] Now when you’re having those conversations with potential customers, have you learned anything that you’re like, Oh wow, I hadn’t thought about that. That was surprising. Yes.
Maiya Newton: [00:15:34] I’m learning a lot and I’m trying to, you know, get all the data correct. But basically I’m trying to present to them a hypothesis. And our hypothesis is like. Athletes are not willing to change their current routines and purchase products that help improve their performance. And so a lot of people are having a lot of different things to say about it. Some people are saying it depends. Some people are saying yes, some people are saying no. So that’s one thing that’s really interesting is trying to figure out. If they agree with that or if they don’t. So and it’s also Well, yeah, one of the biggest things that I’ve learned is talking to the coaches and the ads is about like how they get their money and how they can spend their money. And if they would want a product like this or they’re telling me that the trainers really influenced their decision. So that’s a huge thing that I’ve learned, right?
Lee Kantor: [00:16:28] Because for athletes at that level, you know, just an incremental improvement of 1% is a big deal.
Maiya Newton: [00:16:37] Yes, very. Yeah. So they’re just saying that like if a trainer recommends like a supplement or this product, then they’re more likely to use it. Um, so yeah, yeah.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:49] I mean, it’s just really interesting when you’re dealing with athletes at that level, they just want an edge, you know? Yeah, every, every little bit matters because that all adds up. And that could be the difference between winning and losing.
Maiya Newton: [00:17:03] Yeah, definitely.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:05] So what do you need more of at this point? How can we help you?
Maiya Newton: [00:17:09] Um, this is definitely helpful. Just someone to talk to and get bounce ideas off of. That’s definitely helpful. Um, so, yeah.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:19] And if somebody wants to learn more about duffle box, is there a website or is their online presence?
Maiya Newton: [00:17:25] Yes. So you can go on to w-w-w dot boxscore right now if you log on to it, there might not be a screen. I don’t know why I’m trying to figure that out, but we’re actually rebranding right now, so everything should be up and running by November. Um, so yeah, that’s where you can reach us at. And also duffle box on Instagram, Twitter, all of the platforms.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:49] And then if somebody wants to subscribe, they can subscribe. Or are you taking subscribers at this point?
Maiya Newton: [00:17:55] Um, not at this point. They can actually. I’m going to create a landing page.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:59] It’s like a waitlist.
Maiya Newton: [00:18:01] Yes, a waitlist. So you can do that on our website. And then also we are going to be launching back on Amazon in November as well. So, yes, I’ll go ahead and create the landing page so you guys can go ahead and subscribe.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:14] Well, congratulations on all the momentum. What you’re doing is really hard and it takes a lot of resilience, as you’ve learned, and a lot of dedication and a lot of hard work. So congratulations on that. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Maiya Newton: [00:18:29] Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:30] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see y’all next time on GSU indie radio.
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