We sat down with SoHookd’s fearless leader, CEO B.J. Wiley Williams, to ask her questions to spotlight her background and vision for SoHookd in celebration of National Entrepreneur’s Day. Three cheers for all innovators and entrepreneurs thinking differently, taking risks and building amazing products and companies while inspiring others, just like B.J. has at SoHookd.
What’s your 30-second elevator pitch for SoHookd?
SoHookd is a loyalty platform filled with luxe experiences from national and local wellness brands. We make it simple and fun to reward or gift the people you care about with healthy experiences that are good for the mind, body and soul -- from fresh food delivery service and athletic apparel to fitness or spa experiences.
If you had more than 10 seconds to pitch SoHookd, how would you describe it?
What I love about our product is that we help motivate and inspire our community to be mentally & physically fit and indulge in quality and guilt free wellness experiences. Our community is comprised of 3 main stakeholders:
Consumers (either customers/employees) – We help them easily connect with desirable wellness communities so that they can be their best self by being mentally & physically fit.
Enterprises – Given health is the wealth, we provide enterprises the ability to attract & retain customers and talent by making it easy, in a turn-key fashion, to reward or gift their customers/employees with experiences they crave and enhance their wellbeing·
Wellness brands (Marketplace vendors) – We provide them access to a broader community so more people can tap into these amazing experiences they offer both on the hyper-local and national level.
We do this through our technology and we have three products for different occasions:
Gift Card Experience:
Do you have an awesome friend? A family member you love? An outstanding customer? A stellar employee or a contest winner? Gift and reward them with a SoHookd Gift Card!
Recipients shop online or on our app in SoHookd Marketplace filled with luxe experiences from national and hyper-local wellness brands. Instead of giving a Starbucks or Amazon gift card, gift something that people crave.
Turn-Key Wellness Program:
For enterprises looking for a wellness-program that’s affordable and requires little effort, we have a great turn-key solution. Our dedicated enterprise app allows employees to track their healthy activity (moving, hydrating & restoring) to earn credit. They can track directly through our app or by syncing with widely used wearables (Fitbit, Apple Health, and Google Fit). Employees can use their credit to shop for their favorite experience in SoHookd Marketplace.
Powered by SoHookd:
For enterprises looking to enhance & modernize their engagement or loyalty platform, they can easily partner & integrate with SoHookd.
Looking back at life before SoHookd’s launch, what experiences were most influential to you which drove you to become an entrepreneur and to start and run SoHookd?
As I reflect, there are so many experiences that provided me the courage and strength to become an entrepreneur and inspired me to found SoHookd. However, below are a few of the highlights:
Role models: Both of my parents were entrepreneurs and built impactful companies & organizations. They used passion as their compass to create meaningful impact. My dad and his Partners started and built the largest black-owned law firm in New England. My mom started a well-known toy store on Martha’s Vineyard focused on high quality and educational toys. After she closed the store, she focused her efforts towards another one of her passions and led and built a sustainable social enterprise that significantly enhanced the Boston’s business community. I was lucky I was exposed to entrepreneurship at an early age and had positive role models that I can lean on.
Athlete: As a health-nerd and fitness fanatic, wellness has always been my anchor. Growing up, I was an avid athlete and always looked to sports to provide structure to my day, the space to clear my head and the medium to test my will. Today, I still look to physical activity to play that role. However, instead of playing sports I’ve moved it to the gym and boutique fitness studios.
Personal wellness obstacles: At 16 I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, so it forced me to become super curious about my health and learn about integrated medicine. It’s taught me how to listen to my body, advocate for my health, and look to both Western & Eastern medicine to enhance my quality of life.
Built a Career Toolkit: Knowing that I could draw upon previous career experiences, skills & knowledge gave me confidence to start my own business. I have 15+ years of experience working in entrepreneurial and corporate environments with deep industry experience in athletic apparel (lululemon), private equity, financial services (Citigroup Private Bank) and hospitality (Starwood, HEI Hotels & Resorts).
Opportunity: I can see the the opportunity so clearly in my head. The wellness industry is expected to be the next trillion dollar industry. However, similar to the travel industry it’s extremely fragmented. There’s a need for companies, like SoHookd, to help others navigate the space.
What is the best advice you received when starting SoHookd?
It takes a village, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
What is your advice for other entrepreneurs?
Be curious, be patient, and be strong.