For those who don’t know me, my name is Scott and I’m the founder of Elevated Gains. I’ve told some of my story on TikTok and in past emails, but here is a more thorough version of the story of how Elevated Gains came to be.
After finishing school, I moved to Colorado for my first job. I had always wanted to start a company and thought it would be cool to be in either the sports (all I’ve known) or cannabis (massive growth potential) industries. I was getting back into working out and had ridiculous amounts of soreness and trouble recovering. You could say DOMS was dominating me. Because of this, I became more interested in learning what foods/supplements I could take to give my body the fuel it needed to perform and repair itself. I went through a lot of trial and error while testing. When I tried CBD I couldn’t believe the difference it made for my soreness. I can see the day so vividly: I was in the shower the morning after a leg day and realized my typical agonizing soreness was not there. That was the moment I knew a product needed to be created that utilized CBD for workout recovery. Brainstorming at the gym the next day, putting CBD in a protein bar came to mind and I was off to the races.
2018 – The Work Begins
Idea inception, Began making my own bars, Learned a lot about consistency, ingredient taste and nutritional value
I bought all the popular bars on the market and started recording the nutrition info and ingredients. This survey of ~25 of the top bars on the market gave me a good idea what the most common ingredients were and the roles they played in the taste and texture of the bar. I ordered a bunch of the ingredients on Amazon and started making bars in my kitchen. I had a lot to learn about how to make the product consistently like using weights, mixing order, etc. There were many ingredients I tried that didn’t make the cut. Most notable was hemp protein. I thought it would be awesome to have hemp protein in our bar along with the CBD. But after many, MANY tries it became evident the taste just wasn’t going to fly and the protein content wasn’t high enough. Using hemp protein, the bars would have needed to be HUGE to get to our 20g protein benchmark.
2019 – Working on the Recipe
Bars started tasting better, Recipe and macros got closer, Large scale tests were difficult to complete on the manufacturing side
By 2019, we switched over to 100% whey/milk proteins and the taste improved dramatically. Our bars were getting closer and tasting good, but now we had an issue with our nut butters. If you’ve ever bought natural peanut or almond butter you know the fat and oil separate after a period of time. This was happening with our bars: After a few weeks, they were getting this oil seeping out that made them very unappealing. So our next big ingredient change was moving to powdered/flour versions of peanuts and almonds. This presented some other challenges but our oil problem was solved.
Eventually, we got to a bar we liked and needed to find a real facility to test larger batches and produce large scale runs. Being so small and having CBD were two strikes against me. Lots of companies wouldn’t work with us due to the CBD and most of the ones that were willing to work with us had minimum requirements for runs that were just way too high for us to start. After a long search, we found a producer who would get us in with a 5,000 bar minimum and was okay with CBD, so that was that. We started testing scaled batches and learned a lot about how the product produces at scale. The bars were too dense and had difficulty cutting on the line.
2020 – Elevated Gains is Launched! (But not for long)
Finalized our recipe, First production, Shelf life issues, Went back to the drawing board
The trials weren’t cheap but we had to test at scale to prevent a larger loss on a run (more on this later). Production went surprisingly smoothly and our tests all came back great. So with that, we launched!
However, about a month and a half after launch we were noticing shelf life issues with the bars and had to completely stop sales. This was one of the most difficult times of the business. I was still working at my 9-5 job so the monetary loss didn’t hurt as much as knowing the last 2.5 years of work had all led to this massive failure. But I didn’t quit and we went back to the drawing board. I learned so much about what I need to consider with ingredients and what tests I can perform beforehand to have confidence in our final product. It was the most painful part but also the first spike of huge personal growth so I’ve grown to become thankful for that mistake.
2021 – Prepping for a re-launch
Built capital, Re-finalized recipe with food scientist, Quit my day job, Started marketing
Clearly, I had a lot to learn about how to make a bar that checks all the boxes, so I brought in some big guns to help me out. We contracted a food scientist to help us rework our recipe so it would be more shelf stable, produce better at scale, and even taste better too! Over the next 6 months we went back and forth testing and sending samples, adding and removing ingredients from the bar, and finding new vendors to source from. We got our final recipes locked in part way through the year, and as we prepared to launch I left my day job in October ’21.
While sourcing our ingredients, I also started to learn about marketing (maybe a little late???) which I had no previous experience in. We updated our website and socials and started getting the word out for a launch early in 2022.
2022 – Successful Launch and the Second Phase of Elevated Gains
With our updated branding and new recipes we officially launched on February 15th 2022 to a larger audience. These few months since launch have been a whirlwind, and have involved demos at gyms, fitness events, lots of new social content, and sales through our online store. Our bars are currently being sold at 10+ gyms around Denver and across the country.
So where does Elevated Gains go from here? Now that we are building traction in gyms locally the next steps are to learn customer behavior and see how we can move more volume. In tandem with that, I will be again working with a food scientist to tweak the recipes. These changes will be small but we’ll be working to make the bars even better based on some great feedback we have gotten. I remember when I was first getting close to a product and thinking “I finally have it, no more making bars in my kitchen”…well, now I know that will probably never end (may move from my kitchen to our own facility). But being involved in R&D and making sure our customers are heard is of the utmost importance to me.
That’s where we’re at now, and I’m excited to see all the future holds for the rest of 2022 and beyond!