A blog series by Sara Harper for publishing on UpField Group’s blog, UpField Social Media and LinkedIn Pulse.
Successful entrepreneurs find a gap in the market and provide an innovative way to meet the need. Curiosity, patience and a flexibility are all key traits needed to achieve this goal — and the more competitive the market, the more difficult it is to break through — but that is just what Body Art Protein has done by focusing on meeting the needs of a different subset of consumer. Founder Thomas Inkrott shares the story of how his company helps aging athletes recover faster.
Tell me about your company — what is your origin story?
As the Director of Strength and Conditioning at Minnesota State University, one of the most common questions I would receive is, “What kind of protein should I take?” Even after providing my best advice, my athletes would often come back with products that had a number of problems. Some had poor ingredient quality, some were overpriced and some products simply did not do a good job at what they were branded to do.
Clearly, there was confusion and questionable quality in the protein supplement market — so it inspired me to explore what a really good product would look like.
One of my former athletes did an internship performing a pilot study on the benefits of whey protein. I remembered him discussing it, so I gave him a call and brainstormed with him about the benefits and possibilities of creating a high quality protein product that featured whey as the primary ingredient. We talked it over and it seemed feasible. I brought the idea to my brother, Mark Inkrott, a former professional athlete and co-founder of UpField Group and he loved it; but, we decided to get further feedback.
I found myself on a Minnesota State hockey tournament trip, catching up on life with the Assistant Athletic Director. I shared my idea with him and he told me he thought it was a great idea; furthermore he connected me with the president of All American Foods, a food manufacturer in Mankato, MN. We set up a meeting and I received a tour of the facility and went into the product development lab.
After sharing my specifications for what the product needed to achieve with the manufacturer, I was presented with three different blends to try. I picked my favorite by taste and the rest is history. I like to say, BodyArt is family owned and family doing through high drive and passion, all while being 100% Minnesota local.
What are your products and why did you decide to launch a company?
Our product is a chocolate-flavored protein supplement powder that can be combined with any beverage to help muscles recover quickly and consistently as people age. It contains 24g of 100% pure whey protein and 5g of the amino acid leucine. Our formula is designed to help prevent age-related muscle loss.
One of the important qualities to me is taste. Protein has a lot of good attributes, but as a supplement, it also has a bad reputation around taste — and I knew that if people don’t like the way something tastes they won’t stick with it.
I want to provide transparency for my consumers.
Ingredient selection seems to be very important to this category. How did you decide on the ingredients themselves and where to source them?
I wanted to have something different then many of the protein supplements at the time. I found that not a lot of products provided added leucine, which stimulates protein synthesis. When you add extra leucine to whey protein (leucine is found in whey), the recovery process is stimulated to an exponential level beyond that of whey protein alone.
This forumulation gives our protein supplement a special ability to not only help current athletes meet their muscle recovery and strength needs, but it also really helps active people as they age — and has been one of the most exciting parts about the product as it can help a much broader group of people to maintain a higher quality of life than just current athletes.
Tell me about how your company interacts with the community?
As a company, we engage with social and community-fundraisers on a regular basis. We donate our product for silent auctions to youth hockey and other fundraisers as well as contributing to various scholarship opportunities for young people in our area.