Key Stats: Elevate Nutrition on StartEngine
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Animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gas emissions than every car, truck, bus, ship, and airplane in the world, and the Paris climate objectives are out of reach without significant reduction in meat farming. Beyond the sinister environmental impacts of meat consumption, some studies have signaled that meat proteins, such as dairy, contribute to medical conditions as serious as cancer. Vegans have long extolled the health benefits of a plant-based diet.
As the environmental and health impacts of meat consumption become increasingly clear, Americans are showing interest in plant-based nutrition. Plant-based food product introductions grew by 69 percent in the last five years, and plant-based beverage launches have grown by 38 percent. 69% of Americans say that they’re trying to consume more plant protein, and 52% of consumers say they’ve made dietary changes to rely on plants. Compellingly, 57% feel that they’re making a permanent change toward a plant-based diets.
Plant-based nutrition and veganism are also gaining steam in popular culture, as evidenced by the recent success of a key documentary. Acclaimed director James Cameron recently partnered with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, and other leading creatives to produce The Game Changers, a documentary film that investigates how plant-based diets impact fitness and strength. The film demonstrates that a plant-based diet is “optimal for human performance,” and became the best-selling documentary on iTunes less than a week after release.
Moreover, companies developing meat alternatives are performing well in the private and public markets. Impossible Foods debuted the Impossible Burger in partnership with Burger King, increasing Burger King’s sales by five percent in the last quarter and leading the fast food giant to test additional meatless menu items and offer them in more restaurants. Stock in Beyond Meat, another plant-based meat alternative company, has performed well since its IPO in May 2019.
Capitalizing on the consumer popularity of the plant-based movement, Elevate Nutrition is a plant-based nutritional supplement company producing gluten-free, certified vegan protein powder, amino acid supplement, and pre-workout energy mix derived from hemp, yellow peas, and monk fruit. Elevate’s products are designed to taste good, enhance athletic performance, and promote overall wellness by eliminating animal products, artificial sweeteners, and other toxic additives.
Elevate Nutrition sells products via its website, elevatenutrition.com, and through the Fulfilment by Amazon program. Elevate’s partnership with Amazon allows their manufacturer to ship directly to Amazon, who handles storage and shipping logistics; this arrangement saves Elevate money on shipping labor and warehouse space, and allows customers to receive free two-day shipping via Amazon Prime. Elevate reports having received over 7,000 orders on Amazon to 2,500+ customers.
Since launch in 2017, Elevate has sold $400,000 of plant-based nutritional supplements driven primarily by organic word-of-mouth; the company has received more orders in 2019 than their previous one and a half years’ sales combined. 85% of customers have rated Elevate products with five stars.
Elevate Nutrition was founded by husband-and-wife duo Paul and Jillian Salomone, who personally transitioned to a plant-based diet and have impressive fitness results to show for it. Both Paul and Jillian are competitive bodybuilders, and credit a plant-based diet and their own Elevate Nutrition products for their fitness transformations. Outside of Elevate, Jillian owns a fitness coaching business, and Paul runs an adtech and content consulting agency. Jillian and Paul boast over 13,000 Instagram followers between them, and have built a loyal following in health and wellness.
Moving forward, Elevate looks to expand their SKUs to include additional flavors of protein powder (Mint Chocolate Chip, Frosted Cinnamon Bun, and more), pre-workout formulas (Rainbow Candy, Cherry Ice Pop, and more); these products are slated for launch in 2020. In the longer-term, Elevate is eyeing expansion into additional nutritional supplement product lines like protein bars, mass gainers, probiotics, vitamins, etc.
Elevate has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise capital for two purposes: to resolve supply-chain issues by placing larger product orders from manufacturers, and to build out a marketing budget to boost sales and revenue. In addition, Paul and Jillian currently work part-time on Elevate, and success from these investments could lead them to focus on the venture full-time.
Why We Like it
- Founders’ Influencer Status: Elevate Nutrition hasn’t spent significant marketing dollars to achieve traction, largely due to Paul and Jillian’s built-in social following. With over 13,000 followers on Instagram, the pair can market their products to a loyal audience of fitness enthusiasts, a low-cost alternative to outbound influencer marketing and other advertising campaigns.
- Clear Trend Toward Plant-Based Nutrition: The benefits of a plant-based diet are making popular headlines, and more than half of Americans are interested in or already have made dietary changes to favor plants over meat. For the consumer segment interested in supplements to power fitness performance, Elevate Nutrition offers an ideal blend of athletic optimization and plant ingredients.
- Organic Traction: Elevate Nutrition has shown solid sales results with little marketing spend, having sold over $400,000 of product since launch in 2017. Amazon reviews are positive, and Elevate has clearly built a loyal community of plant-based eaters and athletes who will eagerly purchase new products and spread the word in their networks.
The Rating: Deal To Watch
Elevate Nutrition has established itself as a reliable plant-based nutritional supplements company with an organic following driven by its founders’ influencer status; the business shows signals of strong growth given investment to professionalize its supply chain and boost marketing spend.
Elevate benefits from an undeniable tailwind in the direction of plant-based diets, and could be a solid acquisition candidate for a larger CPG or nutrition brand looking to expand into high-quality vegan products. While the broader plant-based protein space is adjacent to Elevate’s niche of nutritional supplements, movement in the industry is a positive sign for Elevate; there have been 19 plant-based protein acquisitions since 2009, half occurring in the last two years.
While unlikely to grow to a billion-dollar business given the niche of plant-based fitness, Elevate is strongly positioned to grow as a leading plant-based nutritional supplement provider. The company’s prospects are assisted by the compelling narrative of its founders’ fitness transformations, and their influencer status and ability to build a strong brand following. Thanks to the space’s overall traction and these assets, Elevate Nutrition is a Deal to Watch.
About: Olivia strobl
Olivia is a graduate of Wellesley College with a Bachelor's in Neuroscience and English. She has spent time as an investment intern at Glasswing Ventures, an AI-focused VC fund in Boston where she helped develop machine learning algorithms for identifying early signal success factors of startups.