Ben Esgro is an American entrepreneur. Ben started De Novo Nutrition in 2013 and is based in Archbald, Pennsylvania. (source)
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De Novo Nutrition
Ben started De Novo Nutrition in 2013. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: (source)
Q: How did you get started on De Novo Nutrition?
De Novo was born when I was in graduate school studying sports nutrition. I was fascinated by the pharmacology of dietary supplements and, as an avid consumer of products, the diversity of effects from brand to brand and product to product. Over time, I became increasingly curious of the entire process of product development and ever more frustrated with the "smoke and mirrors" most companies were promoting.
The more I learned, the more I realized how much deception was in the industry. There were, however, some brands which seemed to reliably provide innovative and effective products. These brands and formulators in many ways became my motivation and inspiration.
At the time, I was still living home with my parents to save money through grad school. With my brother moving out, there was an open room in the house where I was able to set up a small batch operation.
I came up with the name De Novo because I had read about de novo processes in physiology and I loved both they way it sounded and what it stood for (the phrase de novo is latin and means from the beginning or from anew). I thought it was a perfect representation of the company and what I was attempting to do: Literally start something new from the absolute bottom.
I was working a community nutrition job (WIC) at the time, so I would use my free time between clients to research sourcing of raw materials and I’d use the money I made to fund purchasing raw materials and equipment like blenders, mixers, sealers, scoopers, etc. I began by just making products for myself and a small group of friends to test. When I would find something (like creating a new flavor of whey) I thought worked great, I would have my parents try it, then "pilot" it with my group of friends to determine trends in opinion/approval. For other products like capsules, I would get baseline blood work on the markers I was attempting to improve, use a formula I created, then get follow up labs to determine if my perceived effects (if any) were quantifiable or were just placebo. Throughout this period, I learned a whole lot about mixing, formulating, and physiology.
The breaking point of actually becoming a business and not a side project happened when a well known group of fitness coaches called 3DMJ shared what I was doing on facebook. Protein became the most demanded product I offered, so De Novo officially started sales as a protein-only company. I came to find out over time and experience that protein is the hardest product to start a supplement line with as the raw materials cost the most, it is intensely competitive, and it has the worst margins.
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