When Lakeland, Florida native Justin Forsett was a globalization and consumer behavior major at Cal-Berkeley, he was wisely setting himself up for his post-NFL future, even though it wasn’t certain he would land on an NFL team.
On the brink of remaining undrafted, Forsett was selected in the final round of the 2008 NFL Draft. There are few success stories that come from being a seventh-rounder, but Forsett’s is one of them.
It didn’t come easily, however. Forsett battled through adversity with endless hours of preparation and hard work. His never-quit attitude and relentless effort aided him in an “amazing ride” of a pro career.
Drafted by the Seattle Seahawks, the team released him just five months later – one game into the regular season. The Indianapolis Colts snagged him off waivers; however, less than 30 days later, he was back with the Seahawks. They re-signed him to the practice squad and called him up as a return specialist.
An astounding 685 return yards later, Forsett earned himself a spot in the crowded Seahawks backfield. Midway through the 2009 season, he was promoted to second on the depth chart. The dual-threat running back amassed 765 combined rushing and receiving yards in the remaining nine games.
Forsett ended his four-year stay in Seattle in 2011 with 1,287 yards rushing, 730 yards receiving, and eight touchdowns.
Though small in stature at 5’8, he was very strong, quick, and had good vision. These attributes attracted five more teams throughout his career; the Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions.
Following a disappointing season for the Jaguars in 2013, Forsett was getting ready to call it a career.
Then the Ravens came calling, and things started to look up for the running back.
“It was an answer to a lot of prayers,” said Forsett. It was huge for me and my family.”
“The year before, I was with Jacksonville, and I had just been fired. I was getting ready to transition out of football.”
“Then, Baltimore called me, and gave me a shot which thrust me into the biggest season in my career,” he said.
Forsett had a breakout season in 2014 and finished with career highs in carries (235), rushing yards (1,266) and touchdowns (8). He led the league with 5.4 yards per carry and made several top 10 league categories: Rushing attempts, total rushing yards, yards per game and from scrimmage, touchdowns, and touches. He was also a twice-named conference offensive player of the week and was selected to the Pro Bowl.
After two seasons with the Ravens, he played briefly for the Lions and the Broncos before three final games back in Baltimore.
In his 2017 retirement speech, Forsett eloquently summed up his career from start to finish. “Against all odds, critics, and naysayers, I accomplished something great. Scouts measured my height and said I was too short. They measured my 40-yard dash and said I was too slow. They looked at my build and said I wouldn’t last. But they couldn’t measure my heart, my faith, and my perseverance.”
Life After Football
It was trying being selected so late in the draft when he expected to go earlier. It was trying bouncing around from team to team throughout his career. But this uncertainty provided him the mindset to always be prepared for life after football.
“I had the fortune or unfortunate times in my life where, during my career, I was fired six times,” Forsett said. “Being let go that many times, not knowing what the future was going to hold; you had to think of what comes next.”
“What is it that I want to do? Who do I need to get connected to?” he continued. “I need to start doing some internships. I need to start investing in myself and not rely on football. I saw statistics about guys going broke or bankrupt, three years after retiring football. I did not want to be in that number.”
Forsett greatly admired athletes who set a precedent for others after they retired from their respective sports. “I looked up to guys like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Roger Staubach, who transitioned very well and became business moguls.”
The shoe is now on the other foot. Forsett learned some valuable lessons while in the league that he’s likely sharing with athletes who look up to him. “While you have that shield and you have whatever that logo is on your helmet, people want to work with you,” said Forsett. “People want to help you out. People want to do whatever they can to be with you. Use that to your advantage while you have the platform and that leverage.”
“You don’t have to have all the answers before you retire, but at least start investing in life after football,” he said. “The transition actually begins while you are playing.”
Forsett admits that while he had a deep passion for the game, it wasn’t his whole identity. “Football was never who I was; it was what I did. I tried to keep it in that place. At some point, it was going to come to an end.”
He immersed himself in multiple pastimes when he had the opportunity. “I knew I had much more to give than carrying a pigskin around on Sundays. I started traveling, started speaking, started my company.”
Forsett not only has great advice for pro athletes, but also for promising entrepreneurs. “You want to be successful, surround yourself with great mentors,” Forsett recently posted on Twitter.
In the tweet, he gave a shoutout to his advisor, mentor, and friend Eric Ryan, who is also in the consumer-packaged goods space. Ryan is co-founder of Olly (tasty vitamin gummies) and Method (planet-friendly cleaning products). “[He] has helped me grow tremendously as a businessman. People have talked the talk, but he’s actually walked the walk.”
“I love to encourage people and share,” said Forsett. “I started that process early, so when that transition came, I really hit the ground running. My issue with transitioning was doing maybe too much, not saying no to enough things, because I have a family.”
Not only has Forsett been running and growing his business, but he’s also a real estate investor and motivational speaker. “I am going to these conferences and retreats, to try to inspire sales teams or organizations as a whole.”
“That is pretty cool and pretty fun as well, along with being a husband and a father.”
Forsett resides in Dallas with his wife and children. He just celebrated the birth of his fourth child in September.
“To my wife, retirement meant maybe going to the golf course every once in a while. But as an entrepreneur, it is my time,” said Forsett. “I am busier now than I ever was playing.”
The Gatorade of Hygiene
While at Cal-Berkeley, Forsett, and two Golden Bears teammates – defensive back Wale Forrester and linebacker Wendell Hunter – were constantly pressed for time. Aside from their course workload, they devoted full-time hours to multiple workouts, practices, and games, and had little to no time in between.
The guys and their teammates were breaking a sweat more often than not, and a full-on shower wasn’t always a realistic option. “You are constantly on the move because you have this dynamic schedule, whether it is meetings, workouts, physical therapy, Pilates and yoga sessions,” Forsett explained.
It was during that time that Forsett realized there wasn’t an on-the-go solution when a shower was optimal, but not possible.
“We had this ongoing joke in the locker room that a teammate who skips a shower is taking a shower pill,” said Forsett. “We had pills for everything else – nutrition, muscles, recovery – but nothing for hygiene.”
“We would say, ‘Take a shower pill, bro, no judgments,’” he said. “We knew it was funny, but it was not really a laughing matter because of the consequences of not practicing good hygiene.
Improper hygiene can manifest serious health implications, like ringworm, staph infections, and MRSA. It really hit home when Forrester contracted a near-fatal case of bacterial meningitis at UC Berkeley.
These experiences led the trio to many conversations about devising a hygienic solution that was strong enough for athletes.
In the years that followed, they would work toward developing a personal care product.
Fast-forward to when Forsett was playing for the Seahawks; the ShowerPill was officially born.
With a similar feel to a washcloth, the body wipe is dual-textured and four times thicker than a baby wipe. It’s a safe alternative that’ll get you by between showers. They are free of harmful chemicals and substances and made with a special FDA-approved formula that is geared toward killing germs while removing dirt, sweat, and odor. Each wipe is individually wrapped for on-the-go use and dry-out prevention.
It took six months to create the first prototype, which involved collaborating with manufacturers, chemists, scientists, team doctors, athletic trainers, and pro athletes.
It’s no surprise that the test market was pro football players, and what better place to start than with Forsett’s teammates. He had talked to many of them about the concept over the years, and it had come to fruition – it had finally been developed into something they could touch and use.
It took the Seahawks locker room by storm.
“I had our first prototype, and the guys were excited. It was pretty cool to hear people saying, ‘You guys can go far with this.’”
“[My teammates] were coming up with all these uses for the product. Marshawn Lynch (Forsett backed up Lynch in his first three seasons at Cal), Richard Sherman, Harold Thomas, Michael Robinson – all these guys were the first ones to give me some consumer insight when we were getting started.”
“Back in the day, there was even a ShowerPill Dance Off in the locker room that was [posted] on YouTube. It was Richard Sherman versus one of our defense guys, Anthony Hargrove. That was our first bit of content before social media really blew up.”
You can find the ShowerPill Dance Off, circa 2015, at 4:22 here.
Forsett and his partners – former teammates Forrester and Hunter – commercially launched the ShowerPill with the ultimate goal to become the “Gatorade of hygiene”.
His globalization and consumer behavior studies have been put to good use as an entrepreneur. “Understanding my customers, their behavior, and how they purchase has definitely been helpful,” he said.
“We are constantly moving in this active care category, building it out,” said Forsett.
ShowerPill customers wanted a face wipe, so the company’s first build-out was just that – a face wipe – which hit the market this past fall. Its dual-texture has one side for scrubbing and cleaning and the other side for soothing and rehydrating. The moisturizing cucumber extract will leave you smelling great after a hard workout.
“It has been a journey, and probably the toughest thing that I have had to do, but the most rewarding, for sure,” revealed Forsett. “I wake up every day with a purpose and excitement to help grow this baby.”
A Different Kind of Sunday Matchup
Forsett was used to suiting up on Sundays for some gridiron action. This particular Sunday was different; he was getting ready to face one of his biggest entrepreneurial opponents: The Shark Tank team in the ABC division.
Forsett said it even felt like the pre-game of a big football game.
Unfortunately, ShowerPill took a loss from the Sharks. Though the judges liked the concept, confusion over numbers and figures left Forsett and his partners without the investment they had hoped for. While disappointed that ShowerPill didn’t get a deal done with the sharks, Forsett looks back on it as a great experience that provided his product with massive exposure.
While he already knew the outcome, Forsett took to Twitter to live-tweet during the January 2018 broadcast. He had a funny and positive sense of humor about it.
“They [the sharks] talked great about the product,” said Forsett. “We were still fairly young during that time, but I got so much out of it, listening to the sharks. We made sure to learn and grow from that.”
“There is not a day that I wake up, and I don’t think about that time, and what I see is an opportunity missed,” he said. “But it was an experience that needed to happen in order for us to get to where we are today. It made us stronger within.”
“I get more people now, while I am out at trade shows, camps, or clinics, sharing our product at our booth, and it’s like, ‘Hey, you are the guy from Shark Tank!”
One of ShowerPill’s mission is to always be giving back.
Forsett and ShowerPill have helped several communities in dire need of personal care products. They brought 20,000 body wipes to the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas. They were also on the ground in Flint, Michigan, where residents were without access to clean bathing water.
They make sure to assemble care packages that not only include their body and face wipes. “We are not going to send just our stuff there,” said Forsett. “We never do. We make sure to send what is needed.”
- FOLLOW JUSTIN FORSETT ON FACEBOOK (@JUSTINFORSETT), INSTAGRAM & TWITTER @JFORSETT
- FOLLOW SHOWERPILL ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER & INSTAGRAM @SHOWERPILL
From the perspective of the former players, Athletes to Entrepreneurs is a recurring series that delves into life after professional sports. Brought to you by Brick Media.
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