New Orleans has long been known for the oil and gas, tourism, port and aerospace manufacturing industries. New Orleans is also known for its food culture, but is rarely ever celebrated as a health-conscious city. In recent years, the city has seen an entrepreneurial boom prompting new industries, ventures and talent to emerge.
BQuick Nutrition is a high-growth company focused on becoming the first independently owned National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) Certified for Sport, all natural and non-GMO (genetically modified organism) product line on the market, all while keeping its New Orleans roots. Combined with a whole food diet, their products promote a healthy lifestyle for athletes and those who want an increased quality of life in this city and beyond.
Longtime friends and New Orleans natives Brandt Quick and now partner Charles Allen have been working on their sports nutrition energy, endurance and recovery product formulas for years.
In 2009, Allen asked Brandt if he would consider ditching the business of reselling other brands’ products and supplements and do it himself. After probably not much convincing, BQuick was born.
Since the beginning, the duo had national plans for the local brand.
After considerable research to see the viability of the product, Allen and Quick formed the company in 2011 and got into the certification of dietary supplements with a sport-related focus.
BQuick interviewed around 20 contract manufacturers and narrowed it down to two. They wanted to make sure the manufacturer would not bring in an ingredient that could be hazardous to BQuick consumers or the integrity of the prouct. Both current manufacturers are NSF for sport approved facilities.
75% of the products were launched in the first year and BQuick launched the protein power in 2012. One manufacturer makes the capsules and one makes the powder products.
The four current products fall under the health, wellness, fitness and performance umbrella. Current products include: BQuick Fuel, a performance protein blend; BQuick Energy, a cellular energy complex; BQuick Lean, a weight management formulation with Clarinol® CLA (conjugated linoleic acid); and BQuick Burn, Clarinol® CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) powder.
The company has seen 35% growth per year. BQuick is turning its popular product over in six to eight months (each product has a two-year shelf life) and is continuing to expand to new retailer locations. BQuick can be found at Smoothie King, Robert Fresh Market, Rouses Supermarkets and online at bquicknutrition.com.
Allen says BQuick wants to have a local presence and build from the ground up in their own backyard. The products will be in 32 Rouses, a Louisiana and Mississippi-based supermarket chain, by the end of the year.
The logical next step is to be the only NSF Certified for Sport products on the market that also co-brands with recognized ingredient manufacturers.
“Aligning ourselves with a branded ingredient supplier and recognizable names helps establish some trust and credibility real fast,” said Allen.
Allen wants to make sure BQuick is distinguished from the masses moving forward, which can be done in part through the certification and the shifted focused to CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) powder. Thousands make CLA soft gels, but those companies either bought the product from one of the two companies in the world that is allowed to manufacture it, according to Allen.
The CLA product is BQuick’s signature. And people have taken notice. If they are able to get their CLA product NSF Certified for Spot, they would be the only company in the world that has done so.
“That would be immediate recognition,” said Allen. It would also be recognition for New Orleans and the city’s health-conscious, high-growth companies.
Out to Lunch
Allen was recently asked to be a guest on local web radio show Out to Lunch, along with Barq’s Root Beer investor John Koerner, to discuss the business of food and drink, both old and new.
“Many small companies dream about taking a popular local product and turning it into a major national brand,” said show host Peter Ricchiuti. He then introduced BQuick as a company that, since inception, has been poised to be a national brand.
According Koerner, a company’s distribution push and marketing pull need to work together to be successful.
“You have to bet on people, not just ideas. For every success there must be a thousand failures… but you can do well with a product like Charles’ that has high value and low volume,” said Koerner.
BQuick is all about the science, certification and co-branded ingredient and name recognition.
The company has three to four products in development, including an anti-inflammatory capsule, which Allen said is one of the key products, and will have over $500,000 worth of inventory by the end of the year.
A number of healthy lifestyle and supplement companies have popped up around New Orleans in the past few years. Although the companies are all in the same industry and operate in the same channel, they tackle different customer bases and sometimes share resources to connect rather than compete.
“Making it work in New Orleans is unique. We feel like we have a hidden gem going on,” said Allen. “Next year could be incredible.”
BQuick is in the process of raising major funding. Allen said the goal is to get a major investor to fund strictly an expansion project. The company is aiming for an approximately $2 million comittment, $1.2 million capital for product expansion and $800,000 for new personnel, operations and marketing.