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Internationals POWERSLIM is offering a solution to the high involvement weight
loss supplement industry where 60% of all Americans are overweight
Hoodia Products International, Inc.
7429 Rolling Hills Circle
Dublin, CA 94568
Jacob V.O. Mullins
Co-Chairman and CEO
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
March 9, 2006
Jacob V.O. Mullins
CEO, Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors
Mr. Mullins graduated from Yale University with a degree in International Relations in
Political Science. He has held positions at companies including Financial Network
Investment Corporation and NetObjects, Inc, a high-tech web design company in the Silicon
Valley. He is a Gates Millennium Scholar. Jacob has faced failure yet lives to see his
Hoodia Products International, Inc. (OTC: HDIA) is in the business of manufacturing,
marketing and distributing weight loss dietary supplements made from the all-natural
Hoodia gordonii plant of southern Africa. Hoodia Products International, Inc. is committed
to the quality of its products and promotes high standards within the Hoodia industry. Its
flagship product Hoodia Products POWERSLIM is being sold via direct marketing and
the company has recently embarked on a national infomercial and media campaign.
CEOCFO: Mr. Mullins, what was your vision when you started
the company and where are you today?
Mr. Mullins: Hoodia is a weight loss supplement from Africa
that curbs your appetite. My business partner and president of Hoodia Products
International, Kedric Van de Carr and I got into the business about 4 years ago when his
father needed to lose weight. His father began to eat Hoodia, the raw plant, and started
to see significant weight loss and he began to eat less. At that point, myself and Kedric
Van de Carr, decided that if this plant works and there appears to be no known side
effects, then we should try to market Hoodia to a broader audience and get it out there so
that people can understand the benefits of it. Of course in doing this, we could also
create a successful company. At this point, weve come a long way from that; we
started small with 54 cactii in the back yard and now we have substantial operations in
South Africa and a massive distribution channel through direct marketing and our
infomercial, which is going to launch today. We are extremely confident that we will be
able to get our product, POWERSLIM out to the market, so that people can be educated
about the Hoodia market and purchase a quality Hoodia product, which is rare.
CEOCFO: Why does your Hoodia come from South Africa?
Mr. Mullins: It is an extremely fickle plant to grow;
we tried growing it here in the United States, in California, Mexico as well as Israel,
but for one reason or another, it just wont take anywhere. One of the reasons may be
that it needs very little water and extreme high heat, which is found in the South African
desert; it is growing naturally in the Karoo and the Kalahari deserts. Therefore, we went
over to South Africa and started working with farmers and people who have had some
expertise with the plant. In that way we could bring it straight from South Africa and we
dont have to set-up our own operations here, which would allow us to get the best
ROI, because we are confident that it is growing in its native environment.
CEOCFO: How do you maintain quality control of a product that
is grown so far away in a foreign country?
Mr. Mullins: That is the most important part of our
company. In the dietary supplement industry there are a lot of shams and many bad
companies. The industry is very loosely regulated by the FDA. There are also very
low barriers to entry and there are high margins in this industry, so you are going to get
a lot of people who are interested in making a quick buck. The industry is ripe for
corruption and so that is the one thing that we decided at the very beginning; we needed
to be a quality product and emphasize our quality control. Therefore, that is one of the
reasons that weve gone to South Africa; we see the plant go from the seed into the
bottle that we sell to the customer.
Every shipment of Hoodia, that comes from our South African suppliers, gets tested
by 3 particular tests and these tests act as a chemical fingerprint. They are called a
High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC); there is a Thin Layer Chromatography and a
Microscopy. These three tests are done by an independent lab, because we want an
independent source doing it and we use a company called, Alchemist Pharmaceuticals. They
are based in Costa Mesa, California; they are very reputable, you can look them up as they
work with a busload of people and they tell us whether we have real Hoodia.
Only after we have positive test results which tell us that we have pure Hoodia, do we
manufacture our products. At that point, we put a quality control sticker on every single
one of our POWERSLIM bottles. This sticker is marked with a quality control batch
number that refers to the specific shipment from Africa that it was in. If you go down to
your store, or order it off of the internet or from an infomercial on Television; you
would get quality control number 1003 or 1004, for example. At that point you would go to
our website, click on the quality control page and all of the batch numbers will be there.
If you clicked on yours, you would get the exact test results from you batch of Hoodia and
that is a way of guaranteeing our customers that they are getting real Hoodia in every
bottle of POWERSLIM and nothing else. And that is what we founded our company on.
CEOCFO: Would you care to tell us about some of the concerns
that people have with the Hoodia industry right now?
Mr. Mullins: There are a lot of concerns in the Hoodia
industry right now and mostly it is tied to the large demand for Hoodia, because everybody
wants to get hold of Hoodia, but there is a very small supply of it. In addition, Hoodia
is expensive, because there is a small supply and so people have come into this market,
basically wanting to reap the benefits of selling Hoodia. They want to make the money that
the buzz is generating, but they are just taking shortcuts. Many of our competitors are
diluting their Hoodia with bulk filers such as rice powder of cellulose, which is
essentially saw dust, or they are not putting any Hoodia into their products what-so-ever.
There have been independent studies done that show that 75% of the Hoodia products on the
market, have zero Hoodia. Therefore, that is extremely worrisome for the consumer, so what
we do on our website and in our marketing is we want to educate the consumer about these
problems. We let them know that if they are going to buy a Hoodia product, they should
make sure that they have real Hoodia. They dont have to buy our product, but in
order for this industry to sustain itself, we need to make sure that real Hoodia is on the
market, being sold. This is because if it is not, it will not work for people and it will
end up doing harm. However, we believe that we are at the very beginning of the industry,
so we can come in and educate the consumer about it and offer a fantastic solution with
our product, POWERSLIM.
CEOCFO: How is POWERSLIM taken?
Mr. Mullins: It is in capsule form; basically, we take
the Hoodia plant, dry it and grind it up and put it in the veggie-capsules. Every bottle
has 60 capsules of 400 milligrams of Hoodia and compared to other manufacturers, that is a
lot of Hoodia. As I mentioned, other manufactures put other fillers in and if you dumb
down the amount of Hoodia in each capsule that doesnt help at all. What we do is
give 400 milligrams, straight-up of Hoodia.
CEOCFO: Very often products seem to be safe at first; how can
we be sure that 5 or 10 years down the line we are not going to find problems?
Mr. Mullins: That is definitely a concern for everyone.
If you look at the history of the industry and of Hoodia; first of the industry where you
have Fen-Phen 10 years ago and Ephedra 3 years ago, those are tremendous appetite
suppressing products that have come out on the market and were ineffective and hurt people
and in some cases have killed people. That is extremely scary and something everyone
should be aware of. Hoodia, however, is drastically different from every single one of
these products, because it is a natural plant. It has been in use by the San Bushmen for
centuries and Kedric and myself have actually traveled to South Africa and met with these
people. On our infomercial there is footage of us talking to them and learning about the
Hoodia plant; they are really dependant on this plant. The traditional history behind it
is strong, but additionally, PhytoPharm, a British company has licensed the rights to
their proprietary Hoodia extract, which doesnt bother any of us that bottle the
normal plant. They have done tests on it and Pfizer Inc. was in if for 2 years and now
Unilever is in on it and they are doing lots of testing and putting a lot of money into
it; so far it has shown no side effects. It has been positive and it has been showing a
30% reduction of daily caloric intake, while being safe. There is not an easy answer to
that question, in that nobody knows what is going to happen 10 years down the line, but
right now everything looks like it is good to go. It has been safe in traditional uses and
safe in larger tests.
CEOCFO: And the Bushmen have been around a long time!
Mr. Mullins: Yes, the Bushmen have been there for a
very long time.
CEOCFO: You did have a change in strategy to go to the
infomercial; tell us the thinking there?
Mr. Mullins: We basically wanted a way to get our name,
brand identity and products out to the customer, while retaining the companys
margins. Many times you go into a large retail store, which actually the smaller supply of
Hoodia would not allow at this time, but if you were to go into a retail store, because we
didnt have a huge brand identity, people wouldnt necessarily know what they
are looking for. It would just get pushed off on a shelf and the retailer would want a lot
more. Right now Kedric Van de Carr and myself are able to market it ourselves and be the
face of the product and our company is selling our product to the consumer directly.
Therefore, it builds our own companys recognition and strength, while retaining our
CEOCFO: Why did you start with the Dish Network rather than
cable or broadcast television?
Mr. Mullins: It happened to be a good market
opportunity at the right time. However, we are definitely expanding and the media company
that we are working with is sending me schedules weekly of where we will be airing and we
post the airing schedule on our website. The Dish Network was the right network at the
CEOCFO: What differentiates your infomercial from some many
others in the weight loss arena, many with a somewhat too good to be true quality
Mr. Mullins: Basically, it goes back to the core
identity of who we are as a company. We are in this business because it personally
affected us. The infomercial is an interview of Kedric Van de Carr and myself and it shows
footage of us in Africa and we are telling our story. Therefore, I believe that is the
part that is going to be effective. Its our telling our story of how we got involved
with Hoodia, what we do to make sure that only get the best Hoodia for our customers and
educate people about the problems in the industry. It is a very upfront, frank and
professional infomercial, but at the same time it doesnt have a lot of the
stereotypical infomercial vibes, when you think of Bowflex® (Nautilus, Inc. NYSE:
NLS) or TRIMSPA® (TRIMSPA Inc.). It is more of an informational piece.
CEOCFO: Can you touch on the market for Hoodia products?
Mr. Mullins: The market for Hoodia products is massive;
the weight loss segment of the dietary supplement is $6 billion a year. Ephedra, which was
here 2 or 3 years ago, but thats off the market and right now theres really
nothing to replace it for an appetite suppressant. Hoodia is different from other products
because it is not a fat burner; it doesnt get your thermogenic processes going, it
doesnt speed you up and you dont feel jittery. It is more of a brain chemical
thing and because of that it is really in its own market. If people are looking for a
successful weight loss product, I dont think that this is a silver bullet, because I
dont think that there is a silver bullet. This is going to give people that extra
edge to eat less and let their bodies and burning fat more naturally and then they can
train themselves to eat smaller portions; to exercise more daily.
CEOCFO: How are you funding all of your growth?
Mr. Mullins: One of the reasons that we went to the
Pink Sheets, was because of the ability to be funded. It is better for the shareholders as
well as for our company. We are looking strong, we have a number of different financing
options, we are also listening and watching the market. We are in such a unique position
right now, we just went public in June, but so much was done 3 years before that when we
were a private company. We had a lot of research and development and investment in the
company already to enable us to go public and move towards this infomercial campaign.
CEOCFO: In closing, address potential investors; why should
they be interested and what should they know about Hoodia Products International that
doesnt jump off the page?
Mr. Mullins: I think the biggest part about the company
is that it is in the right industry; the weight loss supplement industry is a high impact
area. There is always people wanting the products; 60% of America is overweight and
everybody is looking for something, even if it is just a little bit. Hoodia is a product
that works; it has been traditionally used and it looks like there are no known side
effects and if it could help people that is fantastic. The thing about our company is the
quality control, but I think the bravado behind the company, the inside of it and what
makes it special and doesnt jump off the page is the executive team, myself and
Kedric Van de Carr and Matthew Talvacchia. We are relatively young guys and we started the
company because we saw the success that it had and we are in it for the sustainability of
this market and to make a successful company. We are aggressive and extremely innovative;
we travel to South Africa to talk with our supplier to make sure that everything is
running smoothly. We are constantly on the phone with investors and our marketing
partners; we are constantly on the innovating edge of this industry and I think that this
is where investors will start to see our value through our infomercials and the local
campaigns that we do.
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