Coss Marte was sent to jail as the ringleader of a multi-million dollar marijuana operation. He was also grossly overweight and warned by his physician that his current lifestyle, if left unchecked, would likely kill him.
Faced with this grim prognosis, Coss started to get in shape using the tools he had — his prison cell and his own body weight. Within six months he lost 70 pounds and replicated his successful formula of body weight exercises with 20 other inmates. Then he launched CONBODY a prison style bootcamp that has gained over 50,000+ clients and hires formerly incarcerated individuals to teach fitness classes. Since the launch of his company he’s been featured in over 200 major media outlets such as NBC, CNN, The New York Times, TED Talks, and Men’s Fitness. He’s also won major pitch competitions such as Defy Ventures, Pitch for Good by TOM’s shoes, the YPO shark tank competition and attended the SnapChat incubator, which combined raised $1,000,000
John Shegerian: This edition of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by ERI. ERI has a mission to protect people, the planet, and your privacy, and is the largest fully integrated IT and electronics asset disposition provider and cybersecurity-focused hardware destruction company in the United States and maybe even the world. For more information on how ERI can help your business properly dispose of outdated electronic hardware devices, please visit eridirect.com.
John: Welcome to another edition of the Impact Podcast. It’s a very special edition because I’ve got a good friend of mine back from my hometown in New York City with us today. Coss Marte is with us today. He is the founder of ConBody. Welcome to the Impact Podcast, Coss.
Coss Marte: Thank you, John. I appreciate that you’re having me on the podcast, man. Thank you.
John: Of course. You’re the CEO of ConBody. For our listeners and viewers that want to find you at ConBody, they can go to www.conbody.com. I’m in Fresno today, you are literally in the town where my dad grew up on the Lower East Side of New York City. So, it’s always great to talk to one of my fellow homeboys from New York City. It’s great to see you today. Technology allows us to be together even though we’re not physically together today.
Coss: Absolutely. Absolutely, and thank you. You got to come back [crosstalk].
John: Of course. Of course. It’s like family getting back together. You know, Coss, you have one of the most fascinating– When I think about you and what you’ve done already as a young, young man and what you’ve overcome already, you are the Rocky Balboa of your generation and I say that only with love, and kindness, and respect, and grace because what you’re doing is just fascinating. But what you’ve overcome is even more important. Can you talk a little bit about your genesis story? Where you grew up, what you faced growing up, and how you made it through those challenges, and how you got here today?
Coss: Absolutely. Yeah, so I was born and raised in the Lower East Side of New York City. In the ’80s and ’90s, it was not a pretty neighborhood as you see now. It was a pretty tough, very drug-infested, neighborhood. Crack, heroin, was a huge epidemic over here. Growing up, I would literally see people lining up to buy heroin coming out of my building and that’s what I had to weave myself out of my building to go to school and see. So, seeing that and seeing the guys that were selling drugs, and I have family members that were involved in there and selling, that made me believe that that was success. As a kid, my mom emigrated from the Dominican Republic pregnant with me, so I was born here and we basically lived on a couch together. As a kid, even though we lived in a very poor community, but also seeing everybody else with something like a Game Boy at the time, or an Atari, was something that I wanted and I couldn’t get it, you know?
Coss: Because my mom always said “I can’t afford it”, and that was a number one excuse which was reality. It used to frustrate me. It used to frustrate me enough that I had to get money on my own. As a kid, I remember going from door to door knocking on neighbor’s doors and asking them for their bottles, and beer cans, and exchanging them for nickels in the bodega, and stealing baseball cards out of the Economy Candy store down here, which is funny. I went and gave them a couple of hundred bucks when I got out of prison. I was like, “I’m paying you back.”
John: Making amends to everybody and making amends–[crosstalk]
Coss: [inaudible] making amends with the hood.
John: I love it.
Coss: But yeah, as a kid, growing up and seeing what I thought success was, it was making money and being successful on the street. I wanted to follow that path. When people would ask me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I said, “I wanted to be rich” and I made a lot of money. At 19, I was making over two million dollars a year. I [inaudible] [crosstalk]
John: When did you start hustling? When did you start hustling in that world?
Coss: At 13 years old.
John: 13. 13. Wow. Did you stay in school or dropped out?
Coss: I studied in school. I dropped out. I graduated high school. I got accepted to college [inaudible] [crosstalk]
John: Okay, that’s great. But you made it through high school, most don’t.
John: And you were just hustling. You start just building up your network from 13 to 19.
John: Wow. Okay, keep going. What happened then? So then, how big was your network when you were 19?
Coss: Yeah, at 19 I was making over two million dollars a year. I was profiting from that and we were bringing in about five million dollars in revenue. We’re selling a kilo a week, averaging 90 to 100,000 a week in revenue, and it was just a crazy time. It was a crazy time.
Coss: We doubled. We were on top of the world and so everything ended. At 23 years old, I was sentenced to seven years in prison. Well, I was back and forth into the system since I was young. I was on probation 13,15. I did a year. So, I was always in and out and I felt like this was my life, you know? I was going be [inaudible] [crosstalk]
John: You were stuck in that cycle, [inaudible]?
Coss: Cycle. Probation, parole, prison. At that last prison stint, I just said, “I needed to change my mindset.” But it was not until the doctors in prison told me that my cholesterol levels were through the roof that I started thinking and reflecting about my health and they said if I don’t start eating or exercising daily correctly, that I probably would die of a heart attack within five years. Being sentenced to seven years and knowing that I was probably going to die in five years, I was like, “No, I’m not dying in prison. I need to work out” and so I worked out obsessively and lost 70 pounds in 6 months and just kept working out.
John: Okay. Did you look as good as you look today? Your insides were polluted from just the food you ate, and the stress that you’re under, or were you overweight, and also then had dietary issues as well?
Coss: Both. I was overweight, I had dietary issues, they placed me on medication.
Coss: Yeah, I was not doing too well. In the streets, when you’re running around, you’re not getting checked out by a doctor.
Coss: I was smoking, I was drinking, I was partying. I was smoking [inaudible] cigarettes a day and just eating street food. So, just out there. It was shocking for me to hear that.
John: Coss, we don’t get many opportunities in this world to hear the voice of someone like you who was on top of the world financially, went to prison, and now, who’s back out and working your way back up to the top of the world, and go to make a big success on the other side. We all get to see prison from the Hollywood versions that are on television, or Netflix, or Amazon Prime, or on the networks, what is it really like? Is the bad as bad as it seems? Are there parts of it that actually work in terms of rehabilitation, or is it a broken system?
Coss: All of the above. I mean,–[crosstalk]
Coss: Yeah, in different cell blocks, different units. I was in Rikers Island for a year and a half of my life and that system is terrible. The showers, everything. The facility is just torn apart and people are side-by-side sleeping next to each other in a packed room. There’s no privacy.[crosstalk]
John: It’s inhuman.
Coss: It’s inhumane.
John: It’s inhuman.
Coss: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely, and then you go upstate. You go into a state prison and the facilities’ a little bit cleaner, you get more fresh air. Obviously, you’re out of the city. But the programs, now they’re bringing up more programs in the state prisons, but back then, it was nothing. You had to an ASAP program. There was a staff member from the street that was coming in to teach like a drug rehabilitation program. Even if you never use drugs, you have to take it and most of the time they didn’t care about it. It was just a paycheck. They came in, they had a certification, they tell you to do this, do that, and [crosstalk] they’re out of there.
Coss: They don’t care, you don’t care. You keep loving your lifestyle and I think the only person that could change oneself is oneself. I had to really like reflect on myself to know that what I was doing was damaging our community, and damaging my family members, damaging most importantly, myself. My life was on the line so I needed to wake up and I needed to tell myself I need to stop. I need to figure something out.
John: So, that’s [inaudible] transformation was the first year you were in prison?
Coss: The first year I was in prison, I was in Rikers Island. When you go to jail, you don’t see a doctor, they don’t really check you up like that. But once you’re state property, you’re property of the state. So, you go on a state, the first thing they do the first day, they line you up, they take a whole bunch of blood work, you don’t even know what the hell they taking or testing you for. They line you up, they put you in the shower, they make you take a shower naked in front of all these men, and you have to pour this special shampoo to kill supposedly lice, and if you have lice or whatever you have in your system, they really strip search you, and they treat you like a cattle. You just line up, keep moving, get shot, get clean, get in the cage, and get moving, and that’s basically it.
John: So, that’s where you lost 70 pounds?
Coss: Yep, after six months.
John: Now, you were there and you got healthy, and you started seeing it in the mirror, and feeling it. What did you do with it from there? What was then the next step for you?
Coss: Yeah, so what happened next, I was in the prison yard and I remember running around the prison yard and other inmates used to call me fat Forrest Gump, [crosstalk] [inaudible], honey bun jokes.
Coss: I literally stuck my middle finger up and just kept running and I was just focused. I remember this guy named Bus. He was 320 pounds at the time, and he came up to me and he was like, “Yo, I want to start running with you” and I was like, “All right. Let’s start doing it.” I was like, “All right, I didn’t really care. I didn’t think anything of it.” and then two of his other friends started running with me, and then we eventually started forming a circle around me and we started performing exercises calisthenic stuff that I was doing in my prison cell alone. It became a camaraderie builder. We were just holding each other accountable, screaming from cell to cell, saying, “Yo, you going out to the yard?” “All right, see you there.” Bop, bop, and then we’ll go out there and work out. I didn’t think it was going to be a business until the end of my incarceration when I ended up in solitary confinement.
John: How did those 20 guys do? Did they all lose weight?
Coss: Yeah. Combined, they lost over a thousand pounds.
John: Okay, so now, when you had them exercising, you had them motivated, at the same time, were you also working on their dietary habits as well?
Coss: Nah. No, really. When I tell people, a lot of people, “Oh, what should I be eating?” I’m like, “Yeah, put the French fries down and pick up a salad” you know?
John: Right, right.
Coss: You know what to eat like big better choices. Stop picking up the chips, pick up an apple. I think a lot of the dietary stuff is– could be common sense is not easy. It’s not easy but you got to be dedicated. When you see a bowl of ice cream in your face and like “Damn, that should taste good. It looks good.” You wanted to smack your face with it but [crosstalk] it’s discipline.
Coss: If you want it, if you want to reset, go. You got to make some sacrifices.
John: Were you able to make better dietary choices with the choices that you were given in prison or is that really the hard part there? You did the hard part of exercising, you got other people motivated, but was making decent dietary choices even possible in prison or no?
Coss: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, people won’t believe it but I became pretty much a pescatarian. I was eating a lot of tuna, a lot of salmon, a lot of Jack Mack.
Coss: It was like fish in a can. I stopped eating complex carbs. Bread, pasta, and limit myself with rice. I literally have a scoop of rice once a week, you know?
Coss: That became my diet. Then I have fruits and vegetables that I was getting through packages. In upstate New York, you could get 35-pound packages a month from home so you could get family members to come out and bring food.
John: Now, you help these people lose over a thousand pounds combined. You were already an entrepreneur. Let’s be honest. When you’re running a business that’s making two million dollars a year, you’re a businessman. It’s just now taking that from the other side and those transferable skills, and bring it to the legitimate side of business. So, you already were a businessman. Tou had the skills. When did you think of then using this platform to apply your business skills to create ConBody? For our listeners and viewers who just joined us, we’ve got Coss Marte with us. He’s the CEO and founder of ConBody. You can find Coss and all great colleagues at www.conbody.com. Coss, when did you decided to make it a business? You’re already a businessman. You had the skills. When did you decide this aha, this is the platform to apply those business skills, to now go to the next level?
Coss: Yes. Towards the end of my incarceration, I had about two months left towards my release. I remember being called by the officer that was at the desk in the cellblock and he said, “Hey, you got to report to the medical unit.” I had two months left. I actually was on the waiting list to see a dentist for three years and so I’m thinking I’m going to dental because medical over there sucks in prison.
Coss: Some people wait years so I’m like, “I’m going to see a dentist. I’m going to [inaudible] bathroom, I’m brushing my teeth.” I’m really hype. I’m going to get teeth cleanse and chopped out, whatever. So, I run down to the medical unit and there was this officer there and he stops me and he says, “This is actually a drug test” and I’m like, “All right. I haven’t used drugs in a while.” He was like, “Get on the wall. I got to search you” and so he searches me. He’s searching me very aggressively and as he gets through between my legs or like twitch my waist a little bit because he was roughening me up.
Coss: He punched me behind my head and literally, I have my arms low to the wall. So, I drop down to the ground. I saw black and blue. I saw stars for a second. I got up and I remember turning around on the officer and as soon as I turned around, I was just trying to avoid another hit and he pressed the button in his walkie-talkie and so once that button is pressed, they call it a pen. It’s the alarm that sets the alarm for the whole prison off. So, anybody in that scene, it’s a hit the ground, face down, get ready for impact. About half a dozen officers come to the scene, they kick the shit out of me. They beat me up, they shackle me up. The officer said I was attempting to assault him and they [inaudible] sticking me in solitary. And so, I was devastated. I was facing three more years in prison behind the situation. I had no one to speak to. All I could do in my cells is just walk back and forth. As I’m thinking there, I hear an officer coming down on the tier and they open up my slot and they’re passing me a paper, pen, and an envelope. The slot is where they feed the food trays from.
Coss: [inaudible] paper, pen, and the envelope. I quickly grabbed that. I started thinking I got to write my family. I need a lawyer. I need to write to the Inspector General to fight this case. I wrote out a huge letter to my family, explain to them what they got to do, what happened to the situation, I need a lawyer, I need to get out of here and I remember once I closed that letter, I was like, “Shit, how the hell am I going to send this letter out with no stamp?” And so, I’m even more devastated. I felt hopeless. I literally sat on my bed and I started banging my head on the wall. I remember like two, three, days passed by and I’m in there 24-hour lockdown date. No rack, nothing, by myself. My sister writes me a letter and she finds out I’m in solitary because I was constantly calling home and my sister’s like super religious. I call her Mother Teresa’s child. She writes me a lot and tells me “I want you to read Psalm 91 from the Bible” and I was like, “Bible. I don’t want to read no Bible. I need a lawyer. I don’t need God” and that’s what’s going in my head and a couple of days went by out of boredom, all I had in my cell was the Bible. That’s the only thing that they can’t take away from you is, whatever. Your Torah, Bible, or Quran, whatever religious item you have.
Coss: [inaudible] it follows you around through your whole incarceration even in solitary. And so, out of boredom, I decided to pick up the Bible. The Bible that she gave me early on in my incarceration. I picked it up and I started searching for Psalm 91. I read it and it stated “He who dwells in the shelter of the most high will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my shelter, my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” and as soon as I read those words, a stamp fell out of my Bible and it was a stamp that I needed to send this message out to my family.
John: Come on.
Coss: It gave me chills and it was crazy.
John: Oh, man.
Coss: The most inexpensive thing today really gave me a different perspective because I felt like I didn’t believe in God. I was like, “There’s nobody above me” and I’m not a super religious person. I’m not promoting any religion but this is what happened to me and I felt humbled at that moment. I felt like there has to be something bigger than myself and so I read the Bible front to back. I really realized what I was doing was wrong. Not only affecting my son, my family at the time, but the thousands of people I sold drugs to and I said, “I want to give back in some sort of way.” I started reflecting on what I was doing and I was already helping the inmates in the yard get fit and work out and I was like, “This is what I love doing. This is what I want to do” and I started imagining myself in that prison cell-like training people outside in the yard. I was training in the prison but I was like imagining, and practicing, and all the stuff.
Coss: I wrote a whole mini business plan in that cell and I was actually released a year later behind that situation. I ended up doing an extra year but I came home and I did what I wrote. I basically went home with an idea and made it a reality.
John: So, you got out and now, you’re about 30 years old when you got out?
John: So, you’re 30. How do you take, again, a business plan, which, there’s a lot of smart people who write business plans, and make it a reality?
Coss: I just started doing that in the park. I literally went back to nothing. I lost everything. I had 500 pairs of Jordan sneakers from my drug-dealing days and [crosstalk] that was my start-up money.
Coss: I sold all the sneakers. I started just hustling on the street and not illegally. I was just doing anything but we work and then I started going out to people in the street telling them I’m doing this fitness workout in the park and I just kept doing it. It was consistent that I was like– Plus, I was also trying to find a job and that was one of the most difficult things ever because nobody wanted to hire me because of my record. But I didn’t let that deteriorate my goal.
John: What was the business plan? If you were to send it to me right now, what would the business plan say? What was the original business plan?
Coss: Yeah, that I was going to teach a fitness boot camp class in the park. On the business plan, I structured every day of the week for like 90 days. I did every workout. I made a whole spreadsheet in prison in solitary confinement. I had time to do it.
Coss: And so, I scheduled exactly what I wanted to do when I first came home. Like I’ll just roll out a whole bunch of stuff. I would just wake up and just write to occupy my time and then read, and then work out, and then take birdbaths because you only get two showers a week. So, you’re sweaty in120 degrees prison cell, you take your showers in a little sink. There’s juggling water so that’s what I had to do. But when I came home I had the idea of doing this by myself and then I saw people that I was locked up with, people that I knew that was incarcerated coming up with the same struggle of trying to find a job, trying to readapt, being on welfare, not being productive to society and I know guys that were working out and so I got together with the guys that I knew and that were fit, that were locked up before, and I was like, “This is going to be my mission.” What I want to do is hire as many people coming out of the prison system to teach fitness classes.
John: You didn’t spend the last year in solitary, you spent a little bit of time after that incident, and then went back to the general population, is that how it worked?
John: Now you’re out, you’ve got the business plan, you’re in the park, how many years ago was that?
Coss: Seven years ago now.
John: Seven years ago. So, take us through now. Every business evolves, iterates, and what’s was originally written typically, isn’t what it becomes.
John: Walk us through how you evolved it, how you continually improved it, and where you are today.
Coss: Yeah. I mean, in the beginning, it was a one-man show like me in the park and then eventually, I started hiring people and my idea was to get– So, I started renting out these ballet studio rooms. I was packing them out doing these fitness classes there. I hired my first person, I hired my second person, and then as time went by, we started trying to expand and scale the business. But we thought about doing it virtually and so we’re like, “All right. Let’s start doing vert videos. And so, we did a couple of videos here and there. Didn’t really pay attention to it. I was really focused on the gym at the time and then the pandemic hit. We already had a couple of library of videos and people were like, “Hey, can I do your work out?” So, people started signing up for our platform but the videos that I shot like on an iPhone 6 or iPhone 5 before, I was like, “All right, I need to start working on better contents.” So I started doing more videos and then I started doing live stream stuff. I remember one of my CFO, who’s also an investor, he was like, “Hey, you got to close down the gym. Cuomo just announced like oh, gyms have to close.” I was like, “F that. I’m not closing. I’m going to make this thing happen.” So I was like in the studio, we had a class that was going to come in two hours, I started calling everybody. I was like, “Hey, you can’t come in the gym but I’m going to send you a Google Hangouts link” and then we revamped to Zoom, and now we have our own platform, and the rest is history. I mean, in 2020, we made more money than in 2019.
John: So, you do the virtual classes now. Now that we all made it through this COVID tragic period, and science is winning, and people are getting vaccinated, are you doing in-person and virtual now?
Coss: Yeah, so we have the fortune to do it simultaneously. So, we install 4K cameras in the studio. While people are taking classes, people could do this anywhere.
Coss: Yeah, that’s what we’re doing. So, John [inaudible] [crosstalk]
John: How’s that working?
Coss: It’s amazing. I feel like we have one of the most successful and best products on our platform because before COVID, they were using treadmills, they were using bikes. All these fitness studios had kettlebells so they had to revamp and be like, “Hey, we got to do bodyweight stuff.” We were just doing bodyweight stuff. We were all about just use your own, whatever God gave you. Your body. And so, for us to pivot was like all you need is more constrained space to get that prison body you always desired so we kept doing that and it was an easy pivot for us.
John: How many ex-convicts, I hate to say that that way, formerly incarcerated folks work for you now?
Coss: Yeah, since I’ve been home I’ve hired 51 formerly incarcerated individuals. I have 12 on staff right now. Yeah. I mean, anybody that’s worked with me has been with me for at least three to four years, and then new people that are coming in, and anybody that’s leaving, they’re doing amazing stuff now. I have guys that have private contracts with [crosstalk] [inaudible]. One of my guys is a schoolteacher now teaching gym. He always wanted to work with kids. So, it’s been a platform where we have the credibility to give somebody and put that in the resume and a recommendation that they have proven and transformed their lives to do something better.
John: It’s the bridge back to legitimate work. Whereas like you said, when you come out and you’re a convicted felon, it’s almost impossible to get real employment.
Coss: Yes, and some of these guys are making– one of my trainers last year told me he made $200,000.
John: That’s huge. Out of that pool of 51, those that came to work with you, and you have 12 that are there with you now, I assume the recidivism rate is a lot less than the 65% general recidivism rate that’s in the United States. I assume out of 51 people, 65% have not come back to prison.
Coss: Yeah, nobody has gone back.
John: So, your recidivism rate out of your 51 is 0%.
Coss: It’s zero. and– [crosstalk]
John: For jobs do matter. A place of employment matters.
Coss: Absolutely. There’s already stats that say that once somebody starts working, it drops down to 30%. If somebody has a college education, it drops down to less than 5%. So, it just takes education and job placements to stop taking money from your taxes to pay to incarcerate individuals like human beings.
John: So, I guess when Father Greg Boyle, who was my friend back in the early ’90s, we came up with Homeboy Tortillas and Homeboy Industries together. His tag line was nothing stops a bullet faster than a job. I guess that still stands to be true, huh?
John: Yeah. Coss, so now you got this great business, and I’m on your website now. For our listeners, viewers, readers, that are just tuning in, we’ve got Coss Marte with us, the CEO founder of www.conbody.com. It’s a wonderful, beautiful, website. Tons of information. So, if I want to sign up for a live– I listen to this podcast today, I read about you online, and I want to sign up for one of your live classes, I could just go to the website and sign up, and log in today, and participate?
Coss: Simple as that. Just to conbody.com like you mentioned, ConBody. Go to buy now, right on the top right corner and you’ll see all the price options. You can live stream from wherever you’re at and do the time with us.
John: I see you even have free on-demand videos for people to test it out as well.
Coss: Yeah, you got a free weekly trial. So, it’s $14 a month. It’s our pre-recorded videos, super easy to follow. There’s the difficult if you want to test yourself out to the next level, but we also have stuff for starters. So, don’t be intimidated if anybody else wants to try it.
John: Coss, you faced major mountains. There are not many people. I don’t care how wide your contacts are. Even for a guy like me, that was involved with the Homeboys when we first started it. You don’t meet a lot of people that have had your success, face your kind of challenges, and have come out so wise and so successful on the other side. What are some of the biggest challenges on the other side when you got out of prison when you’re trying to get traction for this very great business concept that you had, and you were trying to climb that new mountain? What are some of the biggest challenges you faced there, and how did you overcome them as an entrepreneur now on the other side?
Coss: I mean, there was a lot of time I’m just, first of all, once I had the money, once I made the money to open up my facility, I was being judged by every landlord. I couldn’t find space even when I had cash in the bank, and I had [inaudible], and I had revenue and everything. From doing that outside in the parks to renting one-off studios here and there. Nobody wanted to give me that chance because I had a criminal record. Another thing was business insurance. We actually worked on this policy. We’ve gone to Cuomo’s office and we changed this. But before I was starting the business, I was being quoted $30,000 a month for business insurance because of my criminal record. I mean, there’s so much like the parole issues, everything.
John: Let’s talk about now. Okay, so now you’re– [crosstalk]
Coss: We have a documentary coming out about it that’s being filmed.
John: When is that coming out? When does that documentary come out?
Coss: It’s going in Q1 next year.
John: Beautiful. Who’s doing the documentary?
Coss: It was a fourth-time Academy Award director. Her name is Debra Granik.
John: Wonderful. So now, some exciting things are happening. You have some very fascinating and high-profile investors. Can you share some of the people who, unlike the entrepreneurs and insurance companies, said, “No, no, no. I love what you’re doing. I love what you represent and I’m all-in with you” and they show their respect by writing a check. Can you explain who some of those folks are?
Coss: Yeah. I mean, it was extremely hard to get money in the bank. That was another thing. I couldn’t go to no institutional– I’m being shut down by any venture or angel and it took me a while. I literally raised money last year from angels and George Roberts was an incredible person that believed in me. He’s the co-founder KKR, huge– [crosstalk] [inaudible]
John: Huge. That’s huge.
Coss: I don’t know. He’s [inaudible] [crosstalk]
John: Doesn’t get bigger than KKR, honestly.
John: Is he a client of yours and then he wrote a check or how did that happen?
Coss: No, I actually joined his program. It’s called REDF out in the bay. But yeah, they started doing like socio- impacting investments and stuff like that. But he personally wrote a check. I joined the accelerator program recently till now. Dan Rose, he brought his network and he was like, “Hey, you guys, you got to hear this guy” and so he put a whole board room together and they were like, “Yeah, I’ll put money in here.” “I’ll put money in here.” So, from there it just started escalating and I was like, “Damn, I’ve been pitching the last six, seven, years, six years, and– [crosstalk]
John: And all come together.
Coss: And it comes together [inaudible] [crosstalk]
Coss: With just one guy snapping his fingers, you know what I mean? So, he believed in me and then other people that, family, friends, we also did like a family-friends round alongside with them. We did like a whole crowdfunding type of [inaudible].
John: Are you still raising capital or you closed out that round?
Coss: That round is closed. That was last year to just really revamp the online platform, getting videos out there. And so now, I’m taking it to the next level and raising more capital at a 12 month pre-money valuation.
Coss: But yeah, we’re in the works of that. We have, hopefully, like half a million dollars left to closed the round out and we should be closed pretty soon. John, [inaudible] get on board, let me know.
John: Okay, and those who are watching this podcast or listening to it, remember, Coss is right on them. You can find Coss on the website at www.conbody.com. Where’s your studio in New York City, by the way?
Coss: We’re actually in the Lower East Side.
John: Lower East Side.
Coss: Five blocks away. I’m at home right now but we’re five blocks away from here.
John: Got it.
John: Good. So, people could actually go into the studio, take a class at the studio, or they could be traveling anywhere on business or living in a different city, and still take your live classes direct from your studio.
John: That’s awesome. So, you raised in this next round, you mentioned something to me before we went on air. Are we allowed to talk about your upcoming trip to LA or that’s not allowed to [inaudible]?
Coss: Yeah. I had to sign NDA.
John: Okay, we’re not talking about that then. We’ll talk about that after you come back and after that airs and stuff like that. Talk a little bit. What’s your dream after this round gets closed, Coss? What are you going to do with the money, and where does your business now go to the next level?
Coss: What we’re doing right now is offering a B2B offering. So, we’re going up to big corporations and having them subsidize the employee’s health and work out.
John: How does that work? Explain. I’m an employer, how does it work? Pretend you’re pitching me today. How does that work?
Coss: So, if you have 100 employees, we’ll sell you a package for $10 to $14 per month. You also get on-demand and then on top of that, you’ll get the live stream. S, any of the employees could work out on our time zone, five days a week, five times a day I mean, and so you have unlimited access to all that stuff and then [inaudible] [crosstalk]
John: So it’s a discounted version because you’re buying in a package as opposed to me just signing up which is the B to C version. I sign my company up, I say, I have 200 employees, they get a discounted version on a package deal. But now, they could go on their laptop or desktop, or iPad, or something of that nature, tablet, and they could tune in to any of your on-demand classes or live classes on their own schedule, and get healthy.
Coss: And then also be involved. I feel like a lot of companies that are trying to figure out how to be socially responsible give back [crosstalk] through the criminal justice system.
Coss: We’re actually battling with giving people an opportunity to give back to society in a certain way. So, not only are you helping somebody coming out of the prison system, but you’re also helping yourself so it’s a win-win situation.
John: Well, you’re right. I mean, one of the biggest three-letter acronyms that have become massive and they’re going to continue to grow and during the course of your business life, and even now, as I’m on the other side, ESG is where it’s all at. Environmental, social, and governance. And on the governance level, that means diversity, and inclusivity, and making the world a better place. Not just taking from the world and I think, because now we’re all living C-suites and board of directors, and publicly traded companies are very concerned with their ESG values, and their diversity, and inclusivity values, I think you’re kind of program is a brilliant way to again, prove, not just talk, but prove that the leadership really cares about their employees and their health and wellness. And as you said, doing something good, because you’re also helping people have a 0% recidivism rate, which by the way, that’s a hell of a success rate. That’s a hell of a success rate, Coss.
Coss: Thank you. Thank you.
John: Good for you man. What else? What else am I missing here? What else do you want to share that sets you apart from everybody else? This documentary is going to come out. When people watch this documentary, what do you want them to take away? The documentary’s over, the lights go up, and now, what’s the first thought after I watched a documentary? What do you want me to come away with after I’ve watched your life story up on a screen?
Coss: Not only be inspired to work out with us, but also be an advocate and get involved with the criminal justice space. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done in changing these policies. There’s over. 40,000 regulations against people that have been incarcerated. For somebody that got involved in the criminal justice space and got locked up at 13 years old, when the judge told me, “Oh, you just need a cop-out to probation” didn’t tell me that I was going to face– I couldn’t vote at the time. I couldn’t get a job at the time. Now, I’m regulated to do certain things. Now, I have to do this and that. And so, there are all 40,000 regulations. Let’s tackle those one at a time and let’s figure out how to really integrate individuals coming back into the system have a fair playing field, you know?
John: I agree and we draw at least, not only a fair playing field but at least, create an equal starting line. Everyone’s got to have a chance.
John: Now, the finish line is different because everyone’s going to put in a different amount of effort. But the starting line’s got to be fair for everybody and it’s not today. I want to ask you another question though, very personal about your solitary confinement. I had a guest on the show. She’s a famous Hollywood producer. One of her movies was The Defiant Ones with Dr. Dre. and Jimmy Iovine. Great, great series on HBO, and I’m sure you’ve seen it or at least heard of it. But she fell in love with advocating for change in the criminal justice system after going to a prison and seeing some of the, as you said, some of the wrongs that needed to be righted. One of the things that she took up was the issue of solitary confinement and how truly it’s inhuman and the negative impact that it has. Is that your experience as well, Coss? Is it really something that needs to be advocated and changed greatly within the criminal justice system and incarceration?
Coss: Absolutely. I mean, it messed up my psyche at the time. Took some therapy and all that stuff to help me get through the situations. A total, I’ve spent eight months in solitary [crosstalk] with my life.
Coss: It’s not easy to be in that situation trap. You can’t speak to anybody. You’re being fed through a little slot and it’s just inhuman to not communicate. We were born and we were raised to be social human beings, to be together in a family, and so, segregate somebody and detach some from the population is just– you’re being treated like, not even an animal should be treated that way, you know what I mean? It’s crazy.
John: How old are you now, Coss?
Coss: I’ll be 37 this year.
John: So, young, young guy and for entrepreneurs, that’s considered super young. Some entrepreneurs don’t start businesses till they’re 40, 45, and they become billionaires. 50. Ray Kroc was 55 when he started McDonald’s. So, take me through. You have so much blue sky and runway in front of you. How big can this grow? What’s your dream look like here, and where am I going to see you in five years from now, in terms of growing ConBody?
Coss: I definitely want to be competing with Peloton. I want an IPO. I want to be like you, John. Yeah.
Coss: Yeah, I want to be at that level and I also want to disrupt fitness and change the way how we see things. I don’t want to be that typical vanity type of feeling. Every company that you see out there and says that they promise you, you’re going to lose 30 pounds in 30 days and it’s all about looking good. But I think the most important, you got to be feeling good and you got to dedicate time to yourself.
John: So tell me, I have all those fitness machines at my house, I love fitness, I’m a true believer in eating right, working out every day, 58 years old, I still feel like I’m 30. I’m on an elevator with you, we’re in Manhattan, we get on the elevator together, and I look at you and say, “Hey, I think I saw you on television. Tell me what your business is.” We’re going to the 30th floor. What’s the business pitch? We know there’s Peloton out there. We know there’s Mirror. We know there’s Hydrow. Since you’re in that on-demand live class in business, how do you now, pitch yourself among those other machine-oriented businesses? How do you pitch yourself when we’re on an elevator together?
Coss: First of all, we’re cheaper than all those other products and they’re more [crosstalk] [inaudible].
Coss: You see more productivity by yourself.
Coss: ConBody is a prison-style boot camp where we hire people coming out of the prison system to teach fitness classes. So, if you really want to get that ConBody you desire, all you need is a small constrained space, your body weight, and workout with your favorite formerly incarcerated individuals to get that prison body you desire and dedicate that time.
John: And is it only classes or is it one on one too if I want it
Coss: If you want personal training, we can set you up with one of our trainers.
John: Either one. So, our listeners, our viewers, who want to support, who want to get involved, they could either get their business get involved, or their organization, or they could sign up for one-on-one classes as well.
John: Or sign up for the group classes as well.
Coss: Yeah, yep.
John: Coss, you’re going to be the next big superstar. There’s just no way this doesn’t become super big and I can’t wait to follow the journey and keep having you back on the Impact Podcast. I’m going to come to New York City. I’m going to come to New York I think, in July. I think I’m going to sign up. I’m going to come to one of your classes. That’s what I’m going to do.
Coss: Well, we’ll see if you could keep up, John. Let’s see.
John: No, I think I’ll– Yeah, I will have to learn to keep up and I want to come and really get the firsthand. I want to get the real [crosstalk] [inaudible] person.
Coss: That’s good. That’s good. Yeah, we built the studio to look like a prison. So, [crosstalk] [inaudible]
John: That’s okay.
Coss: Yeah. You go in there, you got your mug shot, and you open that prison gate, you get in the door who do the top.
John: What’s the class look like? When I go in there’s, is it going to be people my age? Younger? Older? Tell me what to expect. I want my listeners to understand. My viewers to know– [crosstalk]
Coss: Mostly like 20 to 40 years old. So, you’re on that older spectrum but my mom is 67. She was doing this pre-pandemic four times a week and [crosstalk] she’s knocking out burpees like it was nothing.
Coss: But she’s been doing a video on demand stuff in her apartment. She’s trying to get her back at COVID and getting it back [crosstalk] [inaudible]
Coss: It’s made for everybody and all shapes. I’ve currently one guy who lost 40 pounds in 2 months with me right now.
Coss: Yeah, we’ve been going hard. He started at 322 and now he’s 280 like around, 280ish.
John: I’m serious. I’m going to come and I want to really get the first hand because then, I could be a better evangelist and better ambassador. How many people per class are in the classroom?
Coss: Right now we’re just hosting 16 people in a class.
Coss: We’re looking to expand that after people get a little bit more comfortable with coming in. But if you don’t feel comfortable coming in, you could just watch from home. We got the camera there. We’ll be screaming at you just like this and seeing you in a two-way experience as well.
John: That’s great. For our listeners and viewers, again, to sign up or to get your business involved, or for you to get your family members involved, or give a gift certificate and get someone or a loved one signed up, go to www.conbody.com. He’s Coss Marte. He’s changing the world. He’s making the world a better place. Coss, I am so grateful for your time today. I’m so grateful for the message that you share with our listeners and your journey. Your journey is fascinating. You are the Rocky Balboa of your generation. We’re going to be following your story and I’m betting big on you to hit it big in the entrepreneur world. Thank you for being on the Impact Podcast. Thank you for making the world a better place.
Coss: Thank you, John. I really appreciate you.
John: This edition of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by Engage. Engage is a digital booking platform revolutionizing the talent booking industry. With thousands of athletes, celebrities, entrepreneurs, and business leaders, Engage is the go-to spot for booking talent for speeches, custom experiences, live streams, and much more. For more information on Engage or to book talent today, visit letsengage.com.