We had the good fortune of connecting with Maynard Okereke and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Maynard, what do you attribute your success to?
The most important factor behind my success, and that I think rings true for any aspiring entrepreneur, is consistency. Consistency in all areas of your life plays a huge role in the ultimate opportunities that will come your way. Along my journey I have faced many setbacks, pitfalls, and failures. Many of these would’ve been easy to accept and move on a different direction. Many of these have caused incredible stress, disappointment, and doubt as well.
Staying consistent means being diligent in the pursuit of your goals. That mindset will leave you fully prepared when the timing is right for you to take advantage. In my both of businesses, I have made sure to set weekly and monthly goals that keep me on my feet and working towards something. Even if any of those plans never take off or gain momentum, that consistency has kept me creative, and given me the ability to reassess and attack with a different approach. It’s also given me the work ethic to be able to handle the load when the opportunity I’ve been awaiting finally arrives.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Being an entrepreneur has always been a goal of mine. The ability to create something from scratch and mold & shape into something great is such an amazing feeling. I currently run two businesses in complete contrast from one another. I’m COO of JADA Brands, a healthy food company that offers a line of Vegan seasonings and Plant Based Chick’n. We recently aired on Shark Tank, and have been growing our business for the past 4 years. I’m also the founder of Hip Hop Science – an educational platform that uses music, entertainment, and comedy to help educate on various scientific subjects. I’m a huge advocate for STEM, especially for minority and underrepresented youth. I believe the STEM fields are the future, and all students should know about the amazing opportunities within them.
I’m most proud in both of my businesses for the grassroots efforts that it’s taken for them to grow. JADA Brands started out in my business partner’s home kitchen and eventually lead to us doing monthly vegan festivals and traveling across the country promoting our product. Our creative minds kept us innovating and thinking out the box when it came to ways to stand out from our competition. With my science platform, what started out as a fun sketch idea, snowballed into something educational, entertaining, and life changing for many various groups. I have worked with everyone from youth to college students, and organizations and companies. Seeing a need for more representation in the sciences, and being able to use my background and unique voice to uplift others has been so rewarding.
The road has certainly not been easy, and both ventures have taken considerable time to develop. Along the way, I’ve faced financial setbacks, had to multi-task into other work areas to make ends meet, and have failed multiple times. I overcame these obstacles by staying committed to my goals, utilizing my network, and remaining consistent in all areas. I learned that the saying that “good things take time” really rings true. You may see others around you succeeding, but when the timing is right for you then that’s moment you have to seize it. The road to success is shaped with obstacles, pitfalls, the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows, but if you are able to stay true to what you do and have a well shaped vision, you can achieve anything.
I hope that the world sees this initiative, passion, and drive in all aspects of my work; and feels inspired to create something great themselves.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m an outdoors guy and love being in LA for the easy access to nature and beaches. If I had a friend visiting for a week, outdoor getaways would be high on the list.
Hiking anywhere in the Angeles Forest is a great adventure. So many beautiful landscapes and environments to see. A day hiking trip would be one item.
Leo Carillo Beach in Malibu and Manhattan Beach are two of my favorite beaches. You could easily spend a day at either, enjoying the waves and relaxing. For someone’s first time in LA, a nice bike ride from Santa Monica to Venice Beach is always a fun day activity. You get to enjoy great ocean views, and it’s probably the best people watching event as you stroll through the mostly touristy beach areas.
Food trucks are always the way to go. NoHo area has some incredible spots, especially the daily burrito truck in the Circus Liquor parking lot. For a night time outing and a good view of the city, I love taking newbies to Perch downtown. It’s a fantastic view and ambience, with good food and drinks.
Echopark Lake is always a relaxing stroll, just people watching, grabbing some quick bites. The lake is a little nice oasis in the middle of the city, with easy access to most bars and restaurants in the area. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Special shoutout to my STEM Success Summit team! This group of peers that are themselves science communicators, entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists, and more have played a valuable role in my success. Finding your tribe is one of the most important aspects to growth, and this tribe has not only inspired me to keep reaching my goals, but has been supportive as well in my successes.
Shark Tank (ABC)