Today in Entrepreneurial History: May 21

On this day in in 2000, Mark Hughes, the founder and CEO of Herbalife died. Herbalife is a global nutrition, weight management and skin-care company who’s products are marketed through a network of 2.1 million independent distributors.

In February 1980, Mark Hughes began selling the original Herbalife weight management product from the trunk of his car. Hughes often stated that the genesis of his product and program stemmed from the weight loss concerns of his mother Joanne, whose premature death he attributed to an eating disorder and an unhealthy approach to weight loss. His goal was to change the nutritional habits of the world.

His first product was a protein shake designed to help people manage their weight. He structured his company using a direct-selling, multi-level marketing model which attracted thousands of distributors (Herbalife Independent Distributors) who sold its products door-to-door or through word-of-mouth, without relying on commercial distribution in retail stores.

The company’s slogan, “Lose Weight Now, Ask Me How”, became a marketing theme for distributors, featuring heavily on badges, flyers and posters. Early methods to recruit distributors included seminars, which would feature distributors giving health and weight loss testimonials on the Herbalife products and a keynote address by Hughes. By 1982 Herbalife had reached USD 2 million in sales and had expanded into Canada.

Mark Hughes died at age 44 of an accidental overdose.

via Wikipedia.

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