Less than a year ago, Andy Sauer and Eric Togerson left their job to launch a product they felt was missing from the sports nutrition world.
“We launched with the idea that this category is very large, but dominated by powders, and it could use a bit of a revamp. We started toying around with different options and found there was a lot of segments within sports nutrition that could be delivered effectively within a gummy. We started looking around and saw gummies doing very well in vitamins and assumed the same logic would likely apply in sports nutrition,” said Sauer, Hilo co-founder and CEO.
Sauer told NutraIngredients-USA that he really wanted to change the dynamic of sports nutrition in the broader market. “We’ve seen what gummies have done for vitamins and we have the ability to do the same thing for sports nutrition. I think we can make the category easier to understand and more approachable. There’s a lot of people who have needs from this category that have been a little intimidated to enter this space because most brands cater to the lifting community. Our goal is to open the doors and help people who need a little more energy to get to their workout.”
Sauer said the Hilo team’s goal is simple: streamline the path to optimal performance by delivering the most effective supplements in a convenient and customizable form.
To bring more attention to their products, Sauer and Togerson decided they wanted to partner with a world-class athlete with a big personality. They commissioned tight end Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs to be Hilo’s part owner and chief of performance.
“Travis is great. So what’s been really cool with him is I ask him pretty candid questions about what he wants and what he’s feeling during games and during practice, and he’s pretty honest and gives really good feedback. He’s active in the process on the business side, so it’s been really great, I think he is such a smart guy with a lot of really solid instincts for business. Combo that with his interest in perfecting performance, it becomes a really interesting dynamic,” said Sauer.
No protein, no problem
Together, the Hilo team looks to revamp the entire performance nutrition category with what they coined as the first-to-market gummy form. Sauer told NutraIngredients-USA that he wanted to help those with pill fatigue and shake fatigue “ditch the shaker.”
“Once we identified that we wanted to attack sports nutrition in a gummy form, we knew we wanted to stay away from protein. So protein is 40% of the market, what we’re addressing is the other 60%. We started looking at what people are interested in, what the benefits consumers hope to get from their sports nutrition products. We designed a portfolio that we felt addressed all of those benefit platforms.”
The line started with a pre-workout supplement, and now includes Muscle Builder, Nitro Pump (for oxygen delivery to muscles), GameTime (for next level energy, focus & mental performance) and Sleep Recovery (with Melatonin & Tart Cherry for muscle recovery).
Sauer told NutraIngredients-USA his go-to gummy is the Strawberry Peach Ring Muscle Builder for reducing soreness.
So far, Sauer said the feedback has been, “Overwhelmingly positive. The vast response is ‘I can’t believe this hasn’t been done before’ ‘Why do I need a shaker?’ ‘I hate powders, I’m dry scooping this stuff into my mouth and I don’t like that,’ so the concept has resonated really well. It’s on us to hear that feedback and make sure we’re continually evolving.”
The company is looking to add additional convenience by offering individual gummy packs. “We’re going to deliver these in single packs so people can just grab a pack and throw it in their bag for when they need it.”
Hilo products are nationally distributed through Vitamin Shoppe. Sauer said he is looking forward to expanding distribution going into 2020. “We have some great partners already lined up, so we’re excited to launch with them.”
“We use fully disclosed ingredient labels, our dosing is very clear, so that will never change.” Sauer added, “So that’s an evolution you’ll see from us in 2020, opening the doors of how we make these things and why we put in what we put in, so that everyone understands exactly what the goals of our brand is.”
Influencers, the microbiome, protein, formulation challenges and opportunities, and female athletic consumers are just some of the topics that will take center stage at the NutraIngredients-USA Sports Nutrition Summit in San Diego, Feb 3-5, 2020.
For more information and to register, please click HERE.