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Gainful

Everyone is Unique. Why Shouldn’t Your Protein Powder Be Too?

 The Rise of Personalization


For everyone who hasn’t been into a GNC lately, here is a quick refresher. The shelves are stocked with exotics jugs and bottles labeled things like “Shattered Ripped” and “Pump Fuel” promising increased energy and faster muscle growth. If there wasn’t a sign over the entrance, you might have thought you stumbled into a local body building competition. This marketing strategy showing muscle toned men and women has been a staple of GNC, and the nutrition industry as a whole, every since its conception.


However in today’s world millennials are much more concerned with improving their unique self rather than striving for a stereotypical image of success. Personalization has become a core focus of companies looking to tap into the up and coming millenial market. A quick glance of Silicon Valley startups and one can come across everything from personalized microbiome analysis to personal stylists. This new focus on personalization is exactly the market trend Gainful, a personalized protein powder company and recent graduate of YCW18, is trying to utilize.

 Gainful’s Story


Like many succesful startups, Gainful was founded out of the discomfort the founders ran into in their daily lives. Co-Founders Eric Wu and Jahaan Ansari found themselves unsatisfied and disconnected from the offerings at their local GNCs. Eric felt as if every time he walked into the store all he would see were “crazy jugs for body builders and meatheads” which is far from the average consumer. Both founders are active and health focused individuals; however, they felt completely at a loss with the current offerings in the market. After diving deep into the problem, Jahaan and Eric believed this gap in the fitness market was big enough to start a company, leading to the founding of Gainful.


Once the company launched they quickly began to expand and wanted to find a way to continue their growth. This led Gainful to enter into the summer 2017 cohort of The Brandery, a Cincinnati based startup accelerator that focuses on building consumer brands. Their summer was spent on refining the business and building a unique brand around their product. Gainful updated everything from their website to their packaging. As seen with companies like Tom’s, Brandless, and Nadaam, today’s consumer buys into beautifully packaged goods and meaningful stories. Millenials want to be proud to be associated with the brands they are buying, making everything from logo to mission a factor in their purchasing decisions.


After finishing their summer in Cincinnati, the founding team looked to secure pre-seed funding. They found their funding from two of the elite student focused funds in the nation, Dorm Room Fund and Rough Draft Ventures. This funding allowed the team to go at Gainful full-time and become hyper-focused on user growth. This focus on growth eventually led the team to be accepted to the W18 Batch of Y-Combinator. This decision proved fruitful as Gainful grew 21% week over week during the program, as well as booking over 50k in revenue in the last month alone.

The Basics


When a customer signs up on the Gainful website, all it takes to get started on your journey is a simple five minute survey regarding your personal health and fitness goals. After the survey is complete, Gainful creates a personalized blend of protein that is ready for use. The product is then shipped to the customers home on a monthly basis. Each delivery comes with thirty servings of the product, making it a daily part of each customer’s diet.

Where They are Headed

Gainful is a personalized nutrition company, with it’s first product being protein powder that is designed specifically for an individuals body type and fitness goals. While the initial focus is protein powder, Gainful has their sights set on building something much bigger. By collecting users personal data around fitness and health, the company believes that they can better understand the needs of their users and provide a suite of fitness and wellness products. Creating a personalized health and fitness company not only excites investors and users, but also dramatically increases the potential size of the business. For example GNC had revenue north of $2.5B in 2016, while the newcomer on the street Soylent has raised over $72M from top investors such as GV and A16Z. Gainful wants to ride on the back of this personalized wave of nutrition and food to become the one stop shop for the next generation of fitness and wellness products.


The StartU family is looking forward to watching and supporting Gainful as continues to revolutionize the nutrition market!

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