By Gregory Daurer | Jul 08, 2017
Protein and superfood powders
Industry: Food & Beverage
Products: Protein and superfood powders
Rouse calls Healthy Skoop a "science-based company" with a product line that "can really literally help your physiology do what it's intending to do" -- just add water and drink.
For example, Breakfast Protein packs protein from peas, brown rice and hemp. It also contains probiotics to assist digestive absorption, and vitamins and minerals delivered via ingredients like spinach, broccoli, strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, and blueberry. Described as an "all-in-one nutritional shake," it's recommended for, among others, people who would otherwise skip breakfast.
And there's also Sleep Protein, in "Tirami-Snooze" flavor (rather than tiramisu), which delivers L-Tryptophan, partially from tart cherry extract, as well minerals like calcium and magnesium. "I use it every night -- and it really does work," says Rouse.
Rouse says his "passion for nutrition" led to him attending the National University of Natural Medicine, the country's first fully accredited naturopathic medical program, located in Portland, Oregon (where he also co-owned a vegan restaurant). In deciding whether to pursue a traditional allopathic approach or a naturopathic practice, Rouse says he weighed the training involved: four hours of training in nutrition in allopathic medicine versus 400 hours in naturopathic medicine. "That really spoke volumes to me," says Rouse. "I'm a very preventive-minded person -- and I love food."
When Rouse practiced medicine in Colorado, he prescribed many of the plant-based supplements which are currently found as ingredients in Healthy Skoop products. Rouse says he "saw the blood work, saw the [positive] changes" that occurred when people incorporated the items into their diets. "I think that gives us a unique edge in this space," says Rouse, who built upon his medical experience with thousands of patients when devising Healthy Skoop's formulations.
Rouse founded the company in 2013 with a team of investors and initially marketed the products online via social media. Rouse says, "There definitely was a love for what we were doing. We had a very, very successful start." In 2016, the products began appearing in King Soopers and Whole Foods stores in the Rocky Mountain region.
Before joining Healthy Skoop in October 2016, Bennett started out with Procter & Gamble, then moved to The Clorox Company. When Clorox acquired Burt's Bees, he helped expand the brand's global marketing reach. He then worked as the chief marketing officer for a natural pet food brand.
After an investor invited him to investigate Healthy Skoop, he jumped at the opportunity to become part of the team. Bennett says, "I was looking to join a company like Healthy Skoop that was in a natural space, had a strong mission-, purpose-driven foundation, believed what they were doing, and had products that backed it up."
In late 2016, Healthy Skoop products could be found in 460 locations. Through expanding its distribution in the Midwest, and now out to the West Coast, Bennett says the company will be in more than 1,000 stores by the end of this year.
But before ever arriving in stores, the vegetables within the products are harvested and dried. "We use a combination of drum drying and freeze drying depending on the ingredient," says Bennett. "Often times, the drying process takes place closer to the field where the ingredient is harvested to reduce shipping costs, and occasionally we will re-mill the ingredient at the manufacturer. We blend all of the ingredients together to build our formulas and then package the formulas into tubs and sachets." Healthy Skoop uses co-packers in Broomfield, Colorado, and La Crosse, Wisconsin, to process those ingredients into its line of powders.
Bennett adds, "Most of the ingredients in our products are organic, and we really have to rely on a global sourcing strategy to prevent crop degradation and to track down some of the unique ingredients required to make such powerful formulas. Of note, our tart cherry ingredient in our Sleep Protein comes from northern Michigan along the shores of the Great Lakes."
And there will be new ingredients for new products in the pipeline. One upcoming product, a detox formulation, contains turmeric, known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Rouse calls it a "great ingredient," but adds, "How do we do it better?" His answer: organic, fermented turmeric. Rouse says the fermentation "assists with better bioavailability." The product also incorporates fermented ginger, as well. Like all its other products, it's soy-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and non-GMO.
Given its positioning as a healthy lifestyle brand, it's not surprising the company showcases athletes who use its products on its website. However, Rouse and Bennett say the products are a perfect lifestyle fit for anyone looking to boost their energy -- or sleep restfully -- while accessing better nutrition.
Customer feedback informs the company. "We constantly remind ourselves to be a student of our community," says Rouse. "Don't assume that what you know is the truth. Your customer, your tribe, your community will tell you whether or not you have what you believe you have."
Rouse -- a motivational speaker as well as entrepreneurial businessman -- notes a favorite tale from his childhood, as he discusses his vision for Healthy Skoop's trajectory: "I really believe this is the plant-based, food-company version of The Little Engine That Could."
Challenges: "As with any new company and brand, the top challenges are building out distribution, while at the same time building awareness and trial of our products," says Bennett. "The expanded distribution resulting from our strong performance at retail to date will help with that, of course, and we are using smart, targeted digital media as well as in-store promotion and education to drive awareness."
Opportunities: New products and new markets. "Where we've secured retail distribution, we've had really good success," says Bennett. "When we secure new retail distribution, we need to make sure we deliver in that same vein."
Needs: Bennett says, "We are a small company that's really scaling rapidly. We have really strong support from our current investor base, but as we grow and have a bit larger footprint and the marketing dollars needed to support that growth, we will look to partner with others to bring in that additional funding. And then as we scale, we'll need some more folks to help us get it done right."