My name is Seth Sundberg and I'm the CEO and Founder of Prison Bars.
From playing professional basketball in Europe and in the NBA with the LA Lakers, then working as a branch manager for a mortgage company and founder of an investment firm, my journey to Prison Bars has been an interesting one.
In 2009 I was engaged, had a beautiful daughter, and was living in California. Then I made some terrible personal decisions. In the blink of an eye, I found myself incarcerated for tax fraud and my world was turned completely upside down.
While incarcerated, I faced incredible feelings of worthlessness. The prison system is designed to make you feel like you screwed up. It can be tremendously difficult to hold on to anything positive you can offer other people. This message of worthlessness even carried through to the food that we ate.
I spent several years working in the kitchen while incarcerated – I remember handling a box of chicken marked ‘not for human consumption’, and this sparked a realization for me: even our food was telling us that we had lost our basic human dignity.
It was this humbling, horrific realization that led me to realize that I had to take control of what I could and create some positive change.
Nutrition has always been my passion and a big part of my life. When you're making a living as a professional athlete in the NBA, the food you eat and how you treat your body are pretty important. I’m also ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association) Certified.
After deciding to make a positive change through food, I got some guys together and we purchased the healthiest items we could from the commissary. These items were the ingredients for the earliest version of Prison Bars. At that point, I found my first market for my snack bars – behind the very bars that were housing me. I started selling bars to inmates as a healthier alternative to the usual gruel available to them in the food line.
Once released, I was reunited with my family and my daughter. I began digesting the process that I had just lived through, and started rebuilding life. I enrolled in school full time studying economics, took a job at a laundromat, and started looking for ways to give back.
Knowing that there was a market for Prison Bars inside - and seeing the huge market for healthy, nutritious snack bars across the country - I decided to bring my Prison Bars to the outside world. I signed up for a program called Defy Ventures through a Craigslist Ad. Shortly thereafter, I found myself competing as an Entrepreneur In Training.
I’m very grateful - I’ve had tremendous support from Defy, other partners, mentors, and investors during this process. I'm confident that together we are building something truly special.
I want Prison Bars to be a company that demonstrates redemption, second chances, hard work, good choices, and giving back. I want this to be a company that embraces basic human dignity.
And I want all of these values inside each of our wholesome and criminally delicious snack bars. I'm committed to making our bars without hydrogenated oils and with whole, gluten-free, non-GMO ingredients.
I'm committed to making our bars in the USA with pride, hope, and determination to create pathways for second chances and redemption.
As we grow Prison Bars, our goal is to hire the best and the brightest into our workforce, regardless of their criminal record. Because those who make good on second chances can give back, too.
Thank you for joining us in this journey. I hope you enjoy Prison Bars, and am so grateful to have you with us.