So here we are, after months and months of work, we finally have produced products and they are on shelves, and in a lot of places. Man, what a surreal feeling. My mind is still blown realizing that our journey is now a real thing, and more than just “in motion”. So how did all this happen? I thought I would share how all of this came together.
About May of last year a friend of mine was visiting me as I was on the road competing in that grueling 5 show in 6 week span I put myself through. As we were catching up he mentioned he had been getting an upset stomach from my Intra-MD. Now this guy is no dummy, he knows how to use the proper amount of water in an intra etc., so it caught me off guard. Knowing how gentle Cluster Dextrin is on the gastric system, it really stunned me. Still it was only 1 person, so hey, duly noted, but hopefully not a big deal. The following week I heard from a few more people, and then the reports kept coming. At this point I knew something was wrong, and I suspected Prime had begun replacing my carb source with cheap dextrose. That would explain all the upset stomachs and wild blood sugar fluctuations people were getting.
I began to investigate how to get my products tested and unfortunately there was no way to detect actual cluster dextrin. It felt a little hopeless and then I got a tip from a friend in the industry that Glanbia and Compound Solutions were not getting orders from Prime, so they questioned whether Hydromax and Teacrine were really even in my products that had them on the label. I found one of the top testing labs in the nation and had it tested. Well you all know what happened here so I won’t bore you with rehashing the results. You know what happened. Primes products failed miserably, I exposed this by presenting only facts, and safe to say Prime does little business now and Blackstone was hit as well as they were using the same shady manufacturer despite their claims it was only a small part of their product portfolio.
At some point during all this I was so beyond frustrated, I just said to hell with this, I am going to do it myself. I mean if all these shysters can do this, surely, I can, right? Luckily being in the industry for over 30 years I have some good contacts. I began to look at a few things first. What kind of formulas do I want to bring to market and who should manufacture it? This is step 1. I worked with my genius formulator and we put together some no compromise formulas. I’ll be honest, in an industry full of low dosing and low cost, I felt pretty scared that people would not buy these products because they want cheap. Luckily, I was also being mentored by some heavy hitter supplement chain owners, and another brand owner who repeatedly told me, do it right, don’t compromise. We need this in our industry. So, I carried on, with the thought of creating something unique and different.
We began to build these formulas and try them. We knew we would have massive issues with flavor since one of my headliner ingredients, Teacrine, is so bitter (in addition to the large doses of other bitter items). I didn’t care. I determined out of the gate I would not pull back on Teacrine dose as I believe this to be something really special. We ended up going to a flavor house to get these formulas to taste good. It took us a little over 2 MONTHS, but we did it! We nailed the flavors. Very light and crisp. I still read companies saying it can’t be done, you can’t use this much teacrine with our other items and for it to taste good and not cost a fortune, but you know what, we did it. It wasn’t easy and took work.
I could tell you a lot of stories about our formulas and flavoring and trying to do this masterfully, as it really is an art, weighing efficacy, taste, and cost. I did want to give you a sense of what went on behind the scenes here though, and the diligence we used.
So, you have a formula, now what? You need someone to make it. Given what I went through prior, I made sure interviewed in detail 5 manufacturers. This meant ensuring they had clean histories, GMP certs, etc., and just seemed trustworthy. We selected a manufacturer in California and gave them our formulas to produce.
So, you have a product being built, what about labels? Oh no, don’t for one second say to yourself that’s not hard and not a big deal!! You would be amazed at what you can say, well more of what you can’t say. Its ok I get it, there are a lot of ridiculous claims. I wanted to call my Recovery Factor X, Healing Factor X…..NO GO ON THAT! It implies healing, a medical claim, and likely to get in us in trouble so we had to can that title. There are also a million things like the font size, asterisks, the way you label the herbs in the facts panel, and more. All of this goes through guess what? Yes, a lawyer. So, we brought an attorney on board.
The actual label design itself must be fun, right? Well yes and no. We had some trouble with graphic artists being on their own time table and basically disappearing for weeks on end with no notice, which caused quite a few panic attacks, but luckily, we found a great company in California to help with the graphics and also print our labels. They were a life saver.
So, you get pretty labels, a good product, but you have to ship it all to its destination right? This hasn’t been too hard, but we launched in New York, and went to the wire with label production so had to actually fly the product to NY. That was NOT cheap. Anyways so on the flight the air pressure caused some of the seals to break open a little. Not a cool thing to open your first shipment and see this on a few items..again another mini stroke, but our partners at NaturalBody Inc were awesome and their employees snagged these units up!
Speaking of NaturalBody Inc., that is where we did our launch and it was just AWESOME to walk in and see the products on the shelves, eye level mind you, prime real estate! I am so happy we did our launch with those guys. Their staff was awesome to work with.
We have now launched in close to 200 stores (sometime soon we will get our store locator updated), and man it is crazy. My business partners and I generally work a minimum of 12 hours a day just trying to do everything right and build a solid foundation.
We are in this for the long haul, and I look forward to sharing more about what we are doing with you all. I don’t think I have ever really seen a blog or behind the scenes on what is going on with a supplement company, so expect some pretty cool updates here and there in addition to blog entries from our athletes and coaches!
THANK YOU ALL, for your tremendous support, and for wanting a better product and demanding more!