This is a follow up story for VADE Nutrition. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 2 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
VADE Nutrition is a supplement company that has revolutionized the powdered beverage industry with our Dissolvable Scoop Technology (patent pending). We created the first and only pre-measured, single servings of protein, wrapped entirely in a dissolvable, edible, food-grade film.
As seen on ABC's Shark Tank, VADE Nutrition is the leader in portability and convenience in the nutritional supplement industry. VADE was founded by myself, and my wife Megan Johnson, when we invented the most convenient way to take powdered supplements, with our innovative Dissolvable Protein Scoops. Full servings of protein powder wrapped in a dissolvable, food-grade film that dissolves instantly in liquid-eliminating the mess and hassle of taking powdered supplements on-the-go.
I’ve been an entrepreneur and athlete my whole life. I was the captain of the Michigan State University wrestling team, while I got my degree in finance. I then landed a job as a wealth management financial advisor, to start after graduation. However, I turned down this job and committed to serving full time as a missionary in college athletics with Megan instead. Megan was a cheerleader from the University of Arizona, where she got her degree in psychology. She moved to Michigan and we got married after my junior year of college. As my graduation was approaching, Megan was just 29 weeks pregnant with our first son when her water broke unexpectedly so she was put in the hospital on bed rest for a month, until he was born. This happened a week before my finals week.
I had been working on some business ideas in the fitness and nutrition market, and while we were in the hospital talking about how messy my car was with powder and tubs everywhere we thought of this innovative solution. We immediately knew this was what we needed to do with our life. We turned down our original plan to work in campus athletic ministry, and I started working on this full time while sitting beside Megan’s hospital bed. This unprecedented event is what set the stage for us to know that we were going to be able to make it through any trials we faced.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
We have been working full time on this business since I graduated from college 4 years ago, and we have seen exponential growth in the last few years. In only a few months, we developed partnerships with the largest and most influential companies in the industry. Our products are currently being sold on GNC.com and Amazon Prime and our website. We launched nationwide into GNC and The Vitamin Shoppe and are also currently working on getting VADE into major grocery stores. Upcoming product launches are currently in the works, including the relaunch of our pre-workout, new flavors of our well-loved Whey Isolate, a NEW Plant-Based Meal Replacement Protein and more!
Keep working, stay passionate, and to push yourself and your team, and your business will grow and expand in the ways that you didn’t plan for or expect.
We’ve also partnered with Olympic and professional athletes in the NFL, NBA, Bodybuilding, Track & Field, etc to promote our brand and build our following on social media. In connection with this, we have sent samples of our product to over 50,000 health and fitness enthusiasts as a way to spread the buzz about our products. We set up booths at fitness expos, gyms, and other locations in order to build additional brand awareness. Our efforts have been successful, as we are starting to gain a lot of traction and our sales are increasing dramatically month over month.
We have increased PR through our Affiliate Program and our Social Media. Athletes, including NFL players and verified fitness influencers, are working with VADE to promote VADE nutrition on social platforms. In addition, we plan to increase our media relations efforts through increasing coverage of our company. These marketing efforts have increased brand awareness and driven sales.
Additionally, we have increased our marketing efforts through new initiatives that have evolved over the past few years including:
Sample Boxes - partnering and collaborating with sample box companies where VADE is included.
Paid Advertising - Expanding our paid marketing efforts.
Retail Partnerships - Marketing partnerships with our retail partners such as GNC or Bodybuilding.com.
Sponsored athlete program - Having a team of VADE athletes that represent our brand.
Arnold Classic Expo - Attending the Arnold Classic Expo in Ohio is a highlight every year and such a fund weekend introducing our product to so many customers.
Strategic Organic Social - Utilizing our organic social channels to our advantage and broaden our customers.
Marketing promotional video - Investing in the one-time marketing video to have that showcases our product, brand, and benefits.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Our biggest lesson this year would be the ability to adapt and change at any moment. With the circumstances surrounding Covid-19 that took place in 2020, we learned that it is so important both financially and economically worldwide, to be able to adapt and change during difficult times.
We didn't expect to see COVID-19 hit in 2020 and for it to have the impact it had on the world, but our team was able to understand, adapt, change and grow from it, both as a team unit and as a business. We were able to exponentially grow our eCommerce business and expand our team, and have seen great results from our determination and hard work during such an unprecedented time.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
VADE will be expanding in all areas of the business. We are excited to see our team grow, product lines grow, wholesale expand, and are looking forward to getting VADE on the shelves of retail & grocery, so you can find VADE at any store that's convenient for you.
We are excited to continue to grow in the supplement industry and continue to bring our convenient formulas to the market to ensure portability and ease for everyone who wants a simpler way to take supplements.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
One of my favorite books I've suggested to my team and read multiple times myself is the Start With Why. I'm a big fan of audiobooks and you can bet this once has been listened to a few times!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
It's not going to be easy but it will be worth it. It's a long haul but there is nothing like seeing your idea, business, and team come to life and grow in more ways than you can imagine.
My advice is to keep working, stay passionate, and to push yourself and your team, and your business will grow and expand in the ways that you didn’t plan for or expect. We have realized that every trial and struggle we have faced, has all been worth it. Whether it was a teaching moment or a need to redirect or change things in order to grow, we wouldn’t be where we are today without every single difficult trial we faced. So don’t give up!
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
At this time VADE Nutrition isn't hiring although we do see our team growing in the foreseeable future.
Where can we go to learn more?
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