Robin Gentry McGee of Functional Formularies
How did you start your business?
My most recent project, Functional Formularies, is an organic, whole foods enteral (feeding tube) formula that I developed for my father after he suffered a very sudden and very severe traumatic brain injury. I could find nothing on the market that was not full of corn syrup, sugars, MSG, synthetic vitamins and loads of chemicals.
My father’s physical healing was so profound and so rapid after we began to give him the whole-foods formula that it set me on a whole new career path. I went back to school to study whole foods nutrition and started working as a health coach and health and wellness consultant. I also developed another line of both retail and “nutraceautical” organic whole foods based on a food-as-medicine model.
How did you come up the idea for your business?
My current business is nothing that I really ever sat down and thought, “Gee, I think I would like to do this as a business,” about. The idea was first born when the product that I needed wasn’t available in the marketplace, and then reinforced by vast number of people who consistently contact me looking for this kind of enteral formula for their loved ones. This business is purely a labor of love.
What resources here did you take advantage of and how did they help?
I was accepted into Bad Girl Ventures’ second class, and was chosen as the winner, receiving the $25,000 interest-free loan, which has been a great help in launching the product lines. I also received a line of credit from Fifth Third Bank and a small loan from Sam Adams Brew the American Dream program. Most recently, I was one of four winners in the Innov8 for Health project and received a $5,000 prize, which will help in the test market trials of the enteral formula.
What inspires you?
My clients inspire me. One of my most favorites is former NFL linebacker Steve Smith. Steve was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) nine years ago. He has lost all central nervous function and has been on a feeding tube for about five years.
Steve’s wife, Chie, came to me a few months ago looking for our formula. Sadly, Steve had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after he had been on the commercial formula for years. He was also suffering a lot of digestive issues, which we see quite frequently with those formulas. Chie started giving him our formula and within a few months time, his docs declared him free of diabetes.
Steve, and others like him, who have all the odds stacked against them, have an incredible will to live and super-human strength to keep fighting. Those are the people who inspire me daily and give me the courage to continue on this uncharted path.
What’s next for you and your company?
I have been working diligently to bring my whole-foods feeding tube formula to mass market production due to the many requests that I get from people looking for exactly the same thing I went searching for.
My goal is, first and foremost, to get the enteral formula on shelves and to the people who want and need it. Then, we plan to expand the line of functional foods as well as add more formulas to the enteral line of products.
Interview by Robin Donovan