You didn’t know what you were missing in the gym.
It turns out that protein powder and protein drink sales have a market right next to your work out station. Or at least that’s the thinking behind Campus Protein, a start up founded at Indiana University by a trio of students who claim they were tired of “overpaying at GNC.” We chat with CEO Russell Saks on the latest at this hot start up that’s taking over university gyms.
1. What early feedback did you get from the school community?
The early school feedback that we received was super positive. Schools loved the idea that we were promoting entrepreneurship with our CampusRep Program. Since each rep has their own book of customers, it’s like they’re building their own small business. Coupled with the types of health and nutrition products we sell, that was a bonus. Promoting a healthy lifestyle is in line with what schools typically want to promote to their students.
The most difficult part about growing Campus Protein has been being really careful where we invest our money. We built this company with only $100,000 in funding through a Shark Tank-style business competition that we won at Indiana University. This forced us to have extreme focus and bet big in just a few areas that we thought would yield us exponential growth.
Tarun, Mike, and I complement each other really well. We know each other’s strengths and respect each other’s expertise. Tarun is the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) and handles anything marketing related, from content, branding and positioning to design for our private line. Mike is the CSO (Chief Sales Officer) and oversees our National Sales Manager who manages our CampusRep Program. Additionally, Mike manages our third party brands, including doing diligence for new brands and nurturing relationships for brands we already carry. I am the CEO and handle investor relations as well as our overall growth strategy. Ensuring the company is aligned in both our long- and short-term strategy is a large focal point for me.
The toughest part of hiring is knowing which position to hire for next. When you’re growing at a rapid pace, you tend to want to hire for a bunch of positions to keep up the momentum. One of our greatest strengths is that we only started with $100,000. This disciplined us to watch every penny and make sure we’re deriving the greatest possible value in everything we do, and that same thinking applies to hiring employees. Focus is key.
We raised this last round because we are at a true inflection point. We have thousands of campus reps applying monthly. We also have incredible new private line products that look and taste great, and really speak to our core customer demographic of college students. Additionally, we have been building out technology that allows us to stay ahead of the supplement industry. The data points we are capturing give us a competitive advantage. We are able to see trends in the market before anyone else does. With all of these strategies in motion, our new funding will help ensure we have the infrastructure in place to manage the growth.
You can visit CampusProtein.com to see all of the products we carry as well as our private line. For college athletes, we have also curated a collection of athlete-approved supplements.