How did the two of you meet?
We met on our first day of grad school at Babson College, right outside of Boston. It was very much a “fast friends” scenario. We were studying entrepreneurship so we had quite a few chances to problem solve with each other and it all felt very natural, we’re like-minded individuals with enough differences to know how to challenge each other positively. We really came into our own during class discussions. We knew how to push each other’s buttons. When you can argue across the room in class and walk out as friends, you know it’s a good fit.
We spent a lot of time with each other outside of school as well. A lot of nights we’d stay up hashing out ideas. It was one of those nights that we realized we wanted to start a company together. We’ve been friends and business partners ever since.
Can you tell us how working together as friends has impacted your business?
A lot of people will say going into business with friends is a bad idea. I can’t say for sure whether they’re right or wrong, but in our case, it works. we’re still friends, which we definitely consider a win.
But a lot has changed. In the beginning, we did everything together; we made every decision, sales pitch, project side by side. We both agree that it was important for us to do that in order to figure out who we were as a brand and as individuals in the business. We never shy away from each other’s feedback, which helped us define our roles and realize our strengths. I think the trust we had as friends allowed us to take our feedback constructively and confidently work independently later on.
Of course, there are always arguments. I’d say three out of five are usually us misinterpreting each other and soon realizing we’re on the same page. The other two can get a little heated, but never last more than a few minutes. We really know how to meet in the middle. We always leave the office as the same friends we were when we started.
Since you’ve been in the business, have you run into any surprising discoveries about the industry?
I think one of the first big discoveries was just how easy it is to start a supplement company. As with any industry, there’s a lot of private/white labeling, although I’d argue it plays a larger role in the supplement industry than most. With a relatively small amount of money, you can slap a pretty label on a stock product and have a supplement company. With a lot of capital, the sky’s the limit. A big budget for influencer marketing means you can have the next big brand with a run of the mill product.
We were super fortunate to have found a manufacturing partner who does small production runs for us. It allows us to develop, test and adjust custom formulas relatively quickly. On the influencer marketing front, we decided early on that it wasn’t our game. Anyone promoting our products is someone we’ve personally connected with. They’ve either helped create a product or are someone we grab coffee with a few times a month. It might not be the fastest way to grow, but it feels the most genuine to us.
VitalFit creates excellent supplements for pre and post workout. Can you share what your usual workout routine looks like and what supplement regime best supports you?
Saying I’m unathletic would be an understatement. With that said, I definitely rely on my workout to decompress from the day. I usually squeeze in a 30-minute boot camp/HIIT style workout followed by a light lift. Lately, I've started running outside, which has been a great change of pace. RedRoot and Tart Cherry is my go-to supplement routine. RedRoot about 30 minutes before working out for a lift in energy boost and endurance. Tart Cherry in the morning and night to counter soreness and jumpstart recovery.
Alfred is more of the athlete. He’s a little more unstructured with his routine but gets out to play basketball and soccer a few times a week. He opts for mixing Source into his coffee before a game for a sustainable energy boost and Planted (our plant protein) to replenish and recover. Tart cherry is also a daily essential.
We absolutely love the Tart Cherry supplement. Can you tell us about the benefits of Raw Montmorency Tart Cherries?
You bet we can. Tart cherries are a natural anti-inflammatory that help alleviate everyday aches, pains and soreness (workout and non-workout related). Montmorency tart cherries, in particular, have the highest anti-inflammatory profile of any whole food and even help block the same anti-inflammatory enzymes (COX-1 and Cox-2) as over the counter pain relievers without harming your stomach. One of its best attributes is how fast it works. Unlike turmeric, which requires consistent use and other ingredients for absorption, in most cases tart cherry starts to work in 1-3 hours, regardless of consistency.
One thing unique to our tart cherry is the powder itself. We use just the skins, which are the most nutrient dense part of the fruit. Whole fruit extracts or tart cherry juice tend to have a lot of sugar and calories per serving. By using the skins, we're able to maximize the benefit and sidestep the sugar and calories.
VitalFit has a focus on recovery and natural pain relief. What led you to this specific interest?
The focus on recovery and natural relief goes back to our design process. Early on, we spent most of our “in the field” stage at fitness studios throughout Boston. We became especially friendly with the instructors and owners of a cycling studio called B/Spoke downtown. We sat down with every instructor and a bunch of the members and kept getting the same feedback that recovery or something to help with sore and burnt out muscles was the priority.
Around the same time Alfred and I were out playing basketball (mind you my un-athleticism) and I somehow managed to herniate a disc. At the time, I was throwing back ibuprofen like they were skittles to help with the pain. It wasn’t long before my stomach started to feel the effects. This is what prompted us to look for a natural alternative. One of our doctors actually tipped us off to tart cherry juice. When we realized how well it worked, a lightbulb went off. That’s when we realized tart cherry could really fit the recovery need.