From a college dorm to the world’s largest retailer, Hylux founder Lamar Letts is making major moves for his brand.
Back in 2016, Letts pivoted from participating in sports to pursuing entrepreneurship as a college student who launched his own vitamin-enhanced water brand. After introducing his brand onto Amazon earlier this year, the millennial founder’s products have now made their way onto Walmart.com — making Letts one of the youngest founders to have products sold nationwide via the world’s largest retailer.
After his heart injury — known as myocarditis — put an end to his track career, Letts found a way to recover and persevere as a student entrepreneur at Northeastern University. Through Hylux, he was able to fill a void in the food and beverage space for sports drinks and give athletes a drink they can depend on.
According to him, growing up with a family with roots in the food industry is what influenced him to want to create something revolutionary at the intersection of sports and nutrition.
“I would always go to a convenience store, like CVS or Duane Reade, and I would be looking for a sports drink that would really speak to me from a nutrition standpoint,” he tells AfroTech. “And I just was never able to really find something. I was always having to water down [those drinks] because [they had] too much sugar, so I never really found something that spoke to me.”
Letts’ health scare was his own personal wake-up call, but he wanted to have an impact on the health of athletes around the world as well. So he created a sports drink to give others the nutritional hydration they need as a better alternative to sugary sports beverages.
The student athlete-turned-entrepreneur managed to soft launch Hylux right from his college dorm room as what he describes as a “side project,” but ran into his fair share of obstacles balancing schoolwork and his newfound business venture.
For other aspiring entrepreneurs or students looking to start their own businesses, Letts urges them to take things one step at a time to get the hang of what day-to-day operations look like.
“My biggest piece of advice would be to take the smallest first step that you can. Looking at the entire business can get pretty daunting so I always say take [that] step first because that’s really how you get the ball rolling,” he says. “The entire journey is just going to be a series of small steps, and it might not always be in a straight line, but hearing feedback as you start that journey shows that you’re serious about your idea and signals to people around you that this is something that you really [want to do].”
In spite of his own challenges, the founder says Hylux has managed to grow organically across the country since then, leading to its expansion onto Amazon and now Walmart.com due to increased online shopping from consumers during the pandemic.
While 2020 challenged a lot of Black-owned businesses across the country, especially those not yet privy to the e-commerce space, Letts confirms that Hylux was among the group of brands that was able to thrive in what they considered to be their best year in business.
“A lot of partnerships were able to be formed [and] a lot of interest in the brand bubbled up,” he shares. “We were able to really hit our stride when it came to getting the name out there and getting people to try the product. What we’ve seen is that when people try [Hylux] they like it, so that’s kind of our secret weapon [to know that] people really get excited [about the brand].”
Expanding onto to Walmart.com only furthers Hylux’s mission to give more consumers access to healthier alternatives, especially in the Black community where diet is a concern for both acute and chronic health conditions. At a time where more people are opting to purchase their products online, Hylux benefits from being on a larger platform to help people make smarter lifestyle choices.
Looking ahead, Hylux hopes to expand into other retailers like Target.com and throughout the U.S. because according to Letts, “we see ourselves as providing a great nutritional platform that’s not really being offered by any other nutritional drinks.”
Hylux is now available for purchase on Amazon and Walmart’s websites.
For more information about Hylux, visit its website.