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CEO-Talk: From Hell to Heaven

How Coss Marte used his prison-time to build up a world-class-business

Surely, Coss Marte, 31 has an inspirational personality. And no doubt! He is a talented business-man. Having dealt in drugs, he ended up in prison, where he was told he was overweight. There his new passion was born: Coss started working out like a machine and lost 70 pounds within only six months. After being released from prison in 2013 he started his business from scratch.

Photo©Coss Marte

Photo©Coss Marte

Heading out at 5:30 am for his morning workout-routines, he continuously approaches people to offer his training services. His ex-con-story is unique. People are just interested. His business became alive: ConBody – a trendy „prison-style-bootcamp” starts dominating the fitness-szene, as it is kick-ass-crazy and hard.

Kat€ talked to the CEO and ConBody-founder Coss Marte about his unbreakable mind, the roots for his will-power and his obstacles on his way to success as an entrepreneur.

 Prison is not a beautiful place. I don’t recommend anybody going in some prison to find their calling.

FD: Within less than 4 years as an ex-con you became a world famous business-owner: Your „prison-bootcamp“ ConBody revolutionized the fitness-world. So what did it take to make your business big?

CM: The primary steps that I took was being consistent and just working a lot. It’s been a lot of word of mouth. Every single day I stopped 20 people on the street and told them about ConBody. I don’t stop promoting and pushing it and making sure that the product is a great product. That is gonna keep bringing people back.

FD: How many people do you employ?

CM: We have 17 people on the team. Right now we have 13, who have been in the system out of the 17. Four people help with administration.

FD: How do you explain people’s fascination with ConBody? Are people  bored with old-school-workout-classes? Or does it help that the workout has some evil elements?

CM: Yes, it does help that it is a very tough workout. We push you to the next level. We motivate you and tell people that we did this inside our prison cells. You have no excuse to not do it in a nice matted room with a shower and towel. We had nothing and we had no excuse.

Photo©Coss Marte

Photo©Coss Marte

FD: Do you think ConBody has something in common with the Insanity-workout?

CM: I call ConBody „Prisonsanity“. A lot of people that have done ConBody, have done Insanity before. They say that our workout is way harder. They say, Insanity is easy.

Photo©Coss Marte

Photo©Coss Marte

FD: Take us behind the prison-scenes: It must have been frustrating having to sit around in prison doing nothing. Did you use your time setting up your business?

CM: When I was in prison, I came up with ConBody while I was sitting in solitary confinement, where you are locked in 24 hours a day. I got in some trouble and ended up in the cell. And that is where I came up with the idea, because I was already helping the guys in the yard getting fit and I lost a lot of weight. And that is when I began writing every thing down. I wrote out every single workout – I wrote out exactly what I wanted to do. It was like a small baby business plan. And when I came home from prison, I joined a business program called „Defy Ventures“: They beliefe, that people who’ve been in prison, who sold drugs and run illegal companies, can run a legal company. So I took a course with them – it was a college course that was taught by Stanford and Harvard MBA professors.

It’s always good to be away from the world running a million miles per hour.

FD: Has the time you spend in prison actually worked for you or did it come with many obstacles regarding your business?

CM: I feel like everything happens for a reason. God made me go through this crazy journey. I found my mission in my calling. It’s been a struggle going through prison and dealing with the system and society. When I came home nobody wanted to hire me. Once you have a record in America, you have to explain that you have a record for anybody who is trying to hire you. And people get neglected. They deny a lot pf people.

FD: Is prison a good place for developing the self, making goals, gaining new skills and making future plans?

CM: It’s always good to be away from the world running a million miles per hour. Even if you are forced to be somewhere else, you’re forced to think. You’re forced to create. Prison is not a beautiful place. I don’t recommend anybody going in some prison to find their calling…

Photo©Coss Marte

Photo©Coss Marte

FD: Did prison turn you into a better person?

CM: My experiences that I had, that I went through helped me – I had a spiritual awakening when I was in that prison cell. I never really learned anything except for trying to become a better criminal when I want it. But now it is a different purpose, different life…

FD: Setting up a business isn’t easy: How did you manage obstacles, as convincing banks to lend you money?

CM: I never got a backbone. Everything is been through me, family, friends and that’s it. I am still working on trying to get more money  from a big investor. But it does take time. We actually finished on Kickstarter couple of days ago. We raised almost 30.000 Dollars.

Photo©Coss Marte

Photo©Coss Marte

FD: Do celebrities use your program?

CM: Just to name a few: Stephen Lang, Larry David and a couple of models.

FD: You are recruiting ex-cons for training coaches. Is this your way of showing the world that everybody deserves a second chance? Or is it that you wanna be a positive role model?

CM: It’s basically trying to break down the stereotypes of how people view people, that have been in prison. I just want to change people’s views and perspectives. At the end of the day we are just all humans. We’re all regular people – we’re not perfect.

Photo©Coss Marte

Photo©Coss Marte

FD: Are ex-cons the better employees in terms of being enthusiastic and loyal?

CM: 4 years now running the company and I haven’t had anybody leaving the company yet. Everybody‘ is hungry for more – everybody wants to be a part of this.

FD: Is it because you are a great boss?

CM: I try to be. I make mistakes as well, but I am learning. I am good with managing people. I am good with being likeable. Most of the time people look at their bosses and they hate them. This is more of a family than employment.

Photo©Coss Marte

Photo©Coss Marte

FD: All your effort has clearly paid off: What’s next? Do you plan on bringing ConBody to Europe soon?

CM: I am working on getting it to London. What’s next? France, Germany, Italy, South America. I don’t have the money, yet. But I will do it.

Finanzdiva would like to thank Coss Marte for the interview.

Das Interview findest du hier auch auf deutsch.

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