Welcome to our Featured Founder series, where you’ll meet startup founders from Tampa-St. Petersburg who are building and scaling their ventures to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. We interviewed Chris Jones, CEO of RB Technologies, which establishes transparency and trust in the dietary supplement and food industries through proprietary blockchain technology.
What were you doing previously and what inspired you to launch your company?
Previously, I was working at a biomedical company as a Quality Assurance Specialist and completing a Master of Science in Management with the plan of going into hospital administration as a career. My co-founder, Justin, was taking a gap year in between his second and third years of medical school and was in the same Masters program. Since we both had backgrounds in the medical field, clinical research, and had an interest in technology, we regularly discussed the problems we faced in the medical industry and how that affected the health and wellbeing of the average person. We knew utilizing emerging tech would be a key factor in solving a lot of these issues and decided to take a chance at bringing one of our ideas to life.
What pain point is your company solving? What gets you excited to go to work every day?
What most people don’t know is that dietary supplements are not verified by the FDA. It’s been found that up to 80% can be contaminated or do not even contain what is claimed on their labels. Because every single brand advertises itself as “quality”, there is no way for consumers to distinguish the good brands from the bad. In addition to this, 60% of supplement manufacturers are still using paper and pen to document all of their processes, making the whole supply chain paper-based. This antiquated documentation practice and disconnect within the supply chain is one of the leading problems within the industry that results in harm to consumers. RB Technologies is working to solve this problem and ensure safe health products enter the market.
Name the biggest challenge you faced in the process of launching the company. How did you overcome it?
Access to resources was the biggest problem we faced. Justin and I had the ideas, but neither of us had any sort of technical knowledge or capital to dedicate to the project. Since we were both students and had a relatively flexible schedule, we spent our free time getting feedback on our idea and finding potential future customers. As we slowly started gaining more interest, small bits of funding and tech talent started to line up as well.
Where do you see your company headed next?
We just finished our MVP and are looking to grow. We’re focused on bringing on more industry partners for the remainder of the year and fully launching our product in early 2021.
Give us a tactical piece of advice that you’d share with another founder just starting out.
Get out there and talk to potential customers. It doesn’t matter if you and your friends think you have a great idea. Until you actually get firm commitments and interest from companies/people you will sell your service or product to, don’t start building it. Talk to potential customers, get feedback, listen to their pain points, and adapt and build your idea around that. Too many founders make the mistake of building a product only to find out that it actually doesn’t benefit the companies/individuals they are targeting, and no one will buy it. Don’t make that mistake. Prove your concept through conversations first before dedicating large amounts of time and resources towards it.