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EPISODE
54
Published on
July 6, 2020

054 | One Foot in Front of the Other with Vic Davanzo of RSP Nutrition

Summary

Vic Davanzo is the Founder and CEO of RSP Nutrition, a leading manufacturer of clean, innovative nutritional products for active people, busy professionals, and fitness enthusiasts. RSP products are distributed in over 5000 U.S. retail locations in more than 80 countries, including GNC, Whole Foods, and The Vitamin Shoppe. Vic sits down with Chris to share how being raised by a single mom taught him discipline at an early age and how professional setbacks set the stage for entrepreneurial success.

Highlights

  • How being raises by a single mom in medical school helped Vic learn discipline at an early age
  • Lessons learned from entering the commerical banking industry ahead of the 2008 market crash
  • How the detours we make along the way help us build the future we want
  • How Vic's Ivy League sports background inspired him to challenge the status quo and start RSP Nutrition
  • How RSP Nutrtition focuses on clinically-backed, food-derived ingredients for their supplements
  • How the Clean Label Movement is impacting health and diet trends
  • Bootstrapping the entire RSP Nutrition business and building a brand from scratch
  • Looking for opportunities for disruption and innovation

Mentioned Resources

Episode Sponsors

This episode is sponsored by Juhll. They are a full service digital marketing consultancy that has over 20 years of experience helping your business grow sales online. They've helped most of their clients grow more than 50% year over year by helping them meet their digital marketing goals.

Juhll Digital Agency works with companies who are doing $50 million in top line revenue that have a marketing budget of $2 million. They build your company from the ground up and they also help you in creating a strategy that will work best for your team.

You can email Chris Snyder, President of Juhll Digital Agency, at chris@juhll.com, or contact their team today and find out which of their services will work best for your success story.

Tweetable Quotes

Vic Davanzo

Founder & CEO, RSP Nutrition

Vic Davanzo is the Founder and CEO of RSP Nutrition, a leading manufacturer of clean, innovative nutritional products for active people, busy professionals, and fitness enthusiasts. RSP products are distributed in over 5000 U.S. retail locations in more than 80 countries.

Episode Transcript

Chris Snyder [00:00:43] Hello, everyone, Chris Snyder here, host of the Snyder Showdown, president at Juhll Agency, and founder of FinTech Startup Banks.com. On this show, we take a no B.S. approach to business success and failure told through the stories of the top executives who have lived them. Join us today as we get the unfiltered backstories behind successful brands. Just a quick message from our sponsor. Juhll is a full-service digital consultancy, and we focus on helping executives solve their toughest digital growth problems while working as an extension of the executive team. To learn more, you can go to Juhll.com. Or you can email me directly. It's Chris@juhll.com. All right, without further ado, today, my guest is Vic Davanzo. He is the founder and CEO of RSP Nutrition, a leading manufacturer of clean, innovative nutritional products for active people, busy professionals, and fitness enthusiasts. RSP products are distributed in over 5000 U.S. retail locations in more than 80 countries, including GNC, Whole Foods, and The Vitamin Shoppe. RSP is shattering the sleepy whey protein and popular college and protein supplement markets with its all-natural protein bars and powders. Vic is here today to share the story behind RSP Nutrition and the role that physical wellness has played during the COVID-19 outbreak. Welcome, Vic.


Vic Davanzo [00:02:17] How you doing? Thanks for having me.


Chris Snyder [00:02:19] Absolutely. It's so great to have a fellow football player, an ex-football player on the show. They just make football players differently than everybody else. So I appreciate you being on this show. So before we get going here, tell us a little bit about your upbringing, where you grew up and how you got to where you are today.


Vic Davanzo [00:02:40] All right. So I am born and raised in South Florida.  I would say I was raised by a single mom and say that academics were very important in my household. That was not optional. Regardless of my interests and proclivities. And I think I gravitated towards just an active lifestyle is always playing sports. And I kind of always had the entrepreneurial bug as an inquisitive kid. And those asking questions. So, yeah, I think. That's basically how it came up. I got to see her - interesting fact about my mother, she was from the Midwest, kind of raised at a time. Her dream of the child is to be a doctor. She wasn't necessarily accepted widely at the time for women to be physicians. And I think she had enough of not pursuing her dream. So as a single mother, when I was in fourth grade, she went back to premed.


Chris Snyder [00:03:48] Oh, my god. That's amazing.


Vic Davanzo [00:03:52] Yeah. So it was so her. She finished her residency in my senior year of high school. So from fourth grade to my senior year of high school, she was in essentially medical school. And her first year of practice, my freshman year of college.


Chris Snyder [00:04:08] Wow. Well, you got to be proud of your mom. Man.


Vic Davanzo [00:04:11] Super proud. Yeah.


Chris Snyder [00:04:13] So how did she pull that off? That's a hard thing to do. Single mom with a rambunctious kid. Dropping off at football practice or baseball practice and then went on to school. Is that what happened?


Vic Davanzo [00:04:30] Yes. She actually during those practices, she's still known by a lot of my childhood friends, like the woman who was studying in the car, the whole practice.


Chris Snyder [00:04:37] Oh, interesting? Yeah.


Vic Davanzo [00:04:41] So I'd like to think I took a lot, you know, in terms of values like discipline and great from what I saw from her. I also joke with her to this day, I realized I was not built to be a physician, it was not my path or calling. It definitely has to be a calling from what I saw. But it was yeah. I think that was an interesting tidbit.


Chris Snyder [00:05:06] Yeah. No, I think that's you know, how people grow up is super important to kind of how they wind up later on in life. You know, you've mentioned grit. You mentioned discipline. And to be a successful entrepreneur. I think you have to have both those things and a lot of other things. So you graduated high school, go to college. Did you know what you wanted to do when you went to college? Did you have an athletic scholarship or were you focused on academics? You said academics were important.


Vic Davanzo [00:05:35] Yeah. So I played football. I played sports in high school and I played football in college at the University of Pennsylvania in the Ivy League. They do not give scholarships. So that was not the path there. I think it helped in terms of like the admission process, just what the total package as an applicant. Yeah. But I was definitely a student-athlete and student first, so it was my choice to go there. I really was looking for the best combination of educational opportunities and athletics that I could find. And what I was being offered at the time, I think looking at some smaller Division One schools, the military academies, and the Ivies, and I thought Penn provided the best opportunity. And when I went on the visit there, kind of fell in love with it, you know, very different than where I'm from. But Philadelphia, super-cool city, discreet history, tradition, good sports, town culture, the passion of people, and obviously a great institution.


Chris Snyder [00:06:41] Yeah, that's great. So you a math guy. Science guy. Literature guy.


Vic Davanzo [00:06:49] I don't know if that's fairly blocked myself in anywhere there.


Chris Snyder [00:06:53] Oh, you're a Renaissance man?


Vic Davanzo [00:06:57] I don't know if I had the justification to claim that one, but I think maybe still a little bit more in the Massai. But I'd like to think I'd bring a creative approach to it. I was kind of, again, always like entrepreneurial-minded. Think funny childhood story when I was in elementary school. I used to make these cinnamon sticks and sell them to all my classmates actually did pretty well. But like legitimately, it's as simple as buying toothpicks, soaking them in cinnamon oil. And then for like an extended period of time, putting them in the freezer for a little bit. And then I would package them in like bundles of twenty and seven to five dollars or whatever was timelike.


Chris Snyder [00:07:45] That's genius.


Vic Davanzo [00:07:46] So that was my - in hindsight, the first exposure to like the manufacturing and distribution process and I remember a teacher asking these kids that use sticks in their mouth. My fourth grader. What's going on here? I also got my first experience with compliance and regulatory as well.


Chris Snyder [00:08:10] Yeah, I bet. So you figured out how to leapfrog lemonade stand because you can't carry lemonade around with you. But you certainly can carry thousands of toothpicks around bundled up in little packs. That's a great idea. I'm going to turn my kids onto that. Thanks for that.


Vic Davanzo [00:08:26] Oh, it's definitely a forefront of the on-the-go movement.


Chris Snyder [00:08:30] Yeah. So tell us, you know. So tell us a little bit about the college experience. You know, you played it a you know, an Ivy League school. You got a great education. You also had the opportunity to play athletics. Do you think that having that combination of experiences with athletics while you're going to school? I don't know if you were working at the same time as well or doing any other entrepreneurial endeavors. Boy, you tell us a little bit about that experience.


Vic Davanzo [00:08:57] It was amazing. I think. Just inadvertently because I think the qualifications I was looking for in a college again, that the blend of top tier academic institution, but also very serious on the athletic side as well. Division one sports. I think it created a unique environment where we had really driven. You know, passionate kids and well balanced. It wasn't like, you know, I think to them on both ends of the spectrum, like kids who went to. In a day, club sports, that top tier academic institutions or programs that we're a bit smaller. That kind of just there for school on the sports side. It was a little more, you know, intramural or hobby if you will. And then, I mean, you know, guys who played high school within the top 25 programs that, you know, the school wasn't taking it seriously. So I think a cool combination of both worlds being blended and have some great friends to this day.


Chris Snyder [00:10:12] Yeah. And, you know, that's interesting. I think back. You know, I played a little ball in college and I think back to things really stuck with me. Those relationships you build with your teammates is for a lifetime. It is without a doubt for a lifetime because you're basically going to war with these guys, you know, spring ball. Fall ball. Right. It's a lot. And to stick with that for four years is to stick together for four years and all graduate. That's a testament. But I don't know if you remember this weird, you know, weird question. But, you know, I remember vividly, you know, walking into a football weight room for the first time when I came to campus. I don't know if you remember that experience, but I was kind of scared shitless about Jeff.


Vic Davanzo [00:11:02] When I was a bit of a late bloomer, bit undersized, and I think coming from South Florida, more known for speed and going to the northeast or there been more known for strength, that was. It was an eye-opener, to say the least. So, yeah, I can relate to what you're saying there.


Chris Snyder [00:11:20] Yeah. So you had to you know, it's interesting being an entrepreneur like you are now. You really, really have to figure out how to deal with adversity. You have to be fearless. You have to believe in yourself. And if you can I mean, I got to tell you, it doesn't matter if it's a top 25 football program or not if you can make it through four years of college football, I kind of believe you can make it through anything.


Vic Davanzo [00:11:43] Absolutely. I actually think my experience at Penn was, I joke about it now to some of the guys internally, but I think are the best preparation could possibly head for the entrepreneurial path because the expectations on both on the academic side and the athletic side were top tier dumps and Ivy League schools. So some of the best professors in the country and some of the best students in the country into the world. And on the athletic side, be coaching. There's still division one. So a lot of pressure. If you're not winning games, their jobs are on the line. So, you know, it's we'd like to jump in was the worst of both worlds because our coaches are treating this like we're, you know, Ohio State and our death do not care at all. So it's like just demanding and any amount of pressure on both sides. And like it was in the most glamorous experience at the time. It's, you know, reflective a lot of the entrepreneurial path and especially the early years. And I think it helped shape that.


Chris Snyder [00:12:52] No, I can hear the the the reflection in your voice and the tone. You know, when you say those things, these are times and, you know, we have kids and I know it's tough for them to understand. And we were all a kid once. But, you know, making us do things that are hard today is going to prepare us for the future. And, you know, a couple shows now, this pain, this pain in progress kind of coefficient keeps coming up. If if you have pain, you're not going to have any progress in a lot of the guests we have on this show. You guys have all done great entrepreneurial things, your executives in your own right. But you've all been through some pain.


Vic Davanzo [00:13:34] Oh, yeah.


Chris Snyder [00:13:36] So let's talk a little bit about you're in college, you're getting ready to graduate. We've all been through the shuffle. What was your first job out of college?


Vic Davanzo [00:13:48] So my first job out of college is actually interesting. This will set the foreground. I was still pursuing athletics. I did like a Marine, a ball for a little bit, and I was working at some training facilities. So I was very much like a grassroots entrepreneurial approach to building a business. Like very small training facilities. Now was kind of like working there. Just they keep a paycheck in my pocket and also to be able to train to kind of continue to pursue athletics while being there. I just kind of where I really honed in the idea for, we'll get to it later, for RSP. So I think that was really cool. And then once I found that I was probably like a year and a half spent met World and realizing that. You know, the next level of athletics may not be my calling. I went into commercial banking when I was a credit underwriter. And that lasted, it was funny - that was in 07, which is a great time to go on.


Chris Snyder [00:15:01] Yeah, that sounds perfect.


Vic Davanzo [00:15:04] Yeah, exactly. That that that lasted about a year. And that I think experience is invaluable as well because I got to see two different very sides of the professional coin and I got to learn a lot quickly about what I was good at. What I liked. What I didn't like. What my skill sets were, what cultural values kind of I was meant for. So it was a formative period.


Chris Snyder [00:15:33] Was it your dream to play pro football?


Vic Davanzo [00:15:36] Yeah. The kid, for sure. Yeah, definitely. And then. Yes, just one of those things. The short window. So it's like you had the opportunity and there's some people had a couple might work out. And he's pursued that path. But, you know, same time as you do, it's meant for you at the end of the day.


Chris Snyder [00:15:58] Yeah, you have to. So you're playing arena ball. You're working in a small gym or training facility. Are you helping out the athletes there? You running the facility? How did that how did that work?


Vic Davanzo [00:16:15] Yes, I was actually doing like membership's sales, so that was the least glamorous thing could possibly think of.


Chris Snyder [00:16:23] But you know what? That is exactly what you needed to prepare. You know, this is yeah, this is great. So you're selling memberships, sales at a gym, basically, right?


Vic Davanzo [00:16:34] Yep. And I was like, here I am at an Ivy League degree now selling gym sales. All right. Try to make the jump in sports if this works. It was an outside shot going into it, but something I needed to do personally. And I wouldn't change that experience or anything. A lot of. None at all. Yeah. Cool experience. But yeah, I was.


Chris Snyder [00:17:01] But what did your mom have to say about all this? She's like, OK, Vic, you're a smart, good looking man and you are like, what does she have to say about all this?


Vic Davanzo [00:17:14] She was always been supportive of whatever I wanted to pursue as long as it was, you know. I was passionate about it and I was doing something constructive and positive, and she was behind me. Now, like I mentioned with her past, you know, she's definitely in the camp of challenging the status quo, which I think was another mother value I saw growing up. But ultimately, I knew, you know, I was young and was going to be short-lived regardless and cool experience to do something, do something. It's an experience of mine. So, yeah, kind of. And I knew that ultimately, no matter what. I don't care. You know, I became a professional star, entrepreneurial. That was my past. I think that was the one passion. And they've been bigger in sports. That was deep down. And then I had to realize.


Chris Snyder [00:18:08] Yeah, well, it is. I can tell you firsthand, it's competition still. And I know you face this every day. And the other interesting part about that, so, you know, even though I never imagined myself sitting behind a desk all day, which I do now, but I never imagined that it could be as relatable to sports, as competitive and as rewarding because you still win, right? You still get a chance to win. You still get a chance to just like the old days. Now, you don't get to knock the shit at anybody anymore. That's sad. That's really sad.


Vic Davanzo [00:18:41] That happens to me now.


Chris Snyder [00:18:43] Yeah. So you're playing football at a high level and you're putting stuff in your body, no doubt. Right. So there is some awareness there. Your mom's a doctor, right? You worked at a gym. You know, you see this everywhere. So, you know, you tried your hand in banking and credit, which unfortunately, well actually fortunately, 2008 happened because if it didn't, we might not have the Vic Davanzo we have today. But how did this happen? How did RSP happen? By the way, what is RSP stand for and how did it happen?


Vic Davanzo [00:19:32] So RSP stands for revolutionary sports performance. And that happens because, again, I know in my heart of hearts, I was an entrepreneur and I knew that a passion of mine was a healthy act of living. It always had been. And then. I think. I started to like the wheels were really turning. I thought about this faith in college, just the nutritional supplement package, nutrition space, in general, is just like a growth place. And I thought about it because there weren't a lot of brands that spoke to me. And I thought that, you know, the kind of more scholastic athletes were a bigger tangent to the. Can a mass market of fitness and active lifestyle participate then more like hardcourt bodybuilders or who most of sports nutrition was going out there at the time? So it was like there's not like. And I was there like the time hardcourt bodybuilding supplements or hardcore endurance athlete supplements. And those are both kind of like cult followings. I was like, where's the Nike, if you will, of, you know, nutritional supplementation? And I think that, like, it scares some people off because they're like, well, you know, there were some stigmas at the time with like certain ingredients. There's a lot going on in professional baseball at the time. A lot of guys getting busted for PEDs. And like just a lot of like the kind of negative stigmas and just taboos around the industry. When I knew from personal use like ninety-five, ninety-nine percent of this stuff was like food-derived ingredients with clinical backing that was healthy and exactly what it was described as a supplement to healthy diet and exercise routine, which without that, we're going to really get the results from supplementation. So I saw an opportunity, along with a number of additional pain points in the marketplace at the time that I thought. We can solve for them. And I think that's when things really started to take shape.


Chris Snyder [00:21:46] Yeah. So how did you what qualified you to. I don't know if it's funded or not, but you've got to go start a business, got incorporated business. You got to figure out the package. You got to figure out the product. You probably got to talk to scientists. How the hell do you figure this out?


Vic Davanzo [00:22:05] So it was really caused after I went into credit underwriting at a commercial bank. I spent a year of just like assessing risk and looking at financials in a multitude of businesses. So is at a very interesting time. From an economic standpoint. So I thought that was great experience in my kind of refining and just calibrating risk management and risk mitigation, which I think everybody likes to say, and entrepreneurs are like risk-takers. I think one of the biggest things you have to do in order to be a successful entrepreneur is to mitigate risk because you live in risk every day, every second. Especially early on. So I think that kind of gave me the confidence I needed that even that year at the bank gave me confidence that I needed to be able to manage risk in a volatile environment, that I had the confidence to start this business and do it successfully. And then I got to see how a lot of businesses operated legitimately from the inside out so that that visibility helped as well. And ultimately, I knew what my strengths were like. Building any team you have to try to get teammates and partners in, you know, that complement your skill sets and our strong areas. You might be weak or experience an area that you might lack experience. So I was not a biochemist. I was a supplement user, an avid reader on supplementation in publications like that. Well, it was a hobby of mine. So it was easy to dove into that world. Like to be my myself, the reasonably intelligent person. So, you know, definitely did a lot of due diligence on the space. And most importantly, I think it started on the formulation side. I started to attend trade shows and I would meet at various suppliers and contract manufacturers that would have independent formulators and biochemists. And I would ask about their experience and learning. Just ask questions. And I would say couple years of that, I've made some really cool connections and met some people who've, you know, were formulators with some of the top-selling product at the time, legitimately, just from going on the trade show floor and knocking on doors.


Chris Snyder [00:24:35] Selling memberships, baby!


Vic Davanzo [00:24:36] That's what it was! Seriously, I had to sell myself. Who is this guy? And my. No, no. And so it was. Yeah, I don't regret any part of those experiences at all. And I think another thing I learned, especially from those early days, is it's a humbling experience, just like selling gym memberships when you get especially coming with a good degree. And a lot of my colleagues are like, you know, taking off on Wall Street. Awesome. There's a lot of social pressure you have to deal with, too. So it's a humbling experience. So that's a lot of personal growth and I think it made me stronger in the long term.


Chris Snyder [00:25:21] Yeah, well, I think, you know, the way you were raised and also a combination of that and athletics, you know, you can whether I think a lot of those social pressures because you always know you'll be fine. Right. You know. You know, it'll be OK. Right. You know, so. So what was the real it sounds like the real problem you're trying to solve is this gap between massive meat head bodybuilders? Those are my words, not yours. By the way, I used to watch all of Arnold stuff in all the world's strong. Like, I love that stuff. So, yes, we can call them meatheads, I guess. But then this endurance like the athlete that runs for fifteen hours and does the Molokai with 100 miles of biking and swimming and training. And you're just like Jesus, do they make anything...? So what is it about what you have that filled this middle market? Because I think there's some you know, there's some commentary also about what's even in this stuff, like do you need to crack open a chemistry book to read what's on the label? Is this space regulated at all? Like are they allowed to even put this shit in there without people knowing what it is? So what's that gap right in the middle that you filled? And how does this product add RSP? Fill that?


Vic Davanzo [00:26:41] Yes. So I think the touching on the gap, right, or to view it as whitespace at the time, fitness was evolving fitness and food on the food side, it was like the inception of unsafe called the Clean Label Movement. People wanted to, like, know where their food was sourced. They want a natural, more organic, and wanted more food source ingredients. And on the fitness side, things were migrating from, again, you either lifting weights harder, you did cardio. And now they have boot camps and MetCon and Crossfade. And, you know, HIIT training and just group fitness in general spins all of these even stuff at home. The P90Xs of the world. So there's like this functional athletic training that was like more geared towards a healthy, active lifestyle. So it was the convergence of those worlds was where we really saw the opportunity. All right. We know who these people are, are they? They're not trying to increase their bench. And they're not trying to gain 50 pounds and know that they want to have lean, athletic, healthy physique. They want to be healthy. You want to be active and have a great quality of life. And they also want natural ingredients that they can understand and don't want double-blinded to see blows marketed and 400 percent increases from somebody they've never heard of in a non-published journal. Like, they want clinical, you know, clinically backed ingredients that they can understand and make sense. So, like, all right. Well, let's do that. Seems like a no brainer. And surprisingly enough, there weren't a lot of people doing it at the time.


Chris Snyder [00:28:27] That's actually so obvious. Jesus Christ. It's like that "duh" moment - why didn't I think of that? Well, people are hanging out in groups. They don't want to be enormous and they don't want to be endurance athletes. And there's this whole I mean, I don't know if paleo and all this other stuff started to happen right at the same time.


Vic Davanzo [00:28:48] Yeah, yeah. Part of it, the Clean Label Movement, which we talk about all the time, is like the Venn diagram between, you know, paleo and, you know. Adkins, the multiple like diet trends begin and we try to, like, sit in the middle of it and don't try to, you know, Keto, don't try to just identify with one specific diet. Carnivore diet.


Chris Snyder [00:29:16] So your job really maybe as you see it, is to go out there and figure out what's going on in this space, formulate products, you know, based on research. So your customers don't have to worry about making those choices or doing this research on their own. Like Vic has done this work, created products that he believes supports that mission right here.


Vic Davanzo [00:29:42] And that was on the formulation side. And we thought that it really is important that it needs to carry through on the packaging and brand side. I get the time to walk into a GNC or Vitamin Shoppe, there's thousands of SKUs on the shelves with names that are not representative of what the products function is, or does that are borderline scary to the layperson. And a lot of like, explosions and bomb references and just change the name. Terminology is like this is not we're missing the boat here, but I think the modern consumer wants and where this industry is going. So let's clean it up. Well, from a packaging and messaging standpoint and from an ingredient standpoint, there's a huge opportunity clam sauce situation.


Chris Snyder [00:30:25] Yeah. So this seems like now that we've talked about it from the beginning, we're about in the middle, this seems like a of an aggressive and daunting capital intensive task. Clearly, you made it happen. But in hindsight, there's there had to of been some some dark times in between here before getting. You mean you've been up this late 10 or 12 years, whatever it's been. Tell us about some of the challenges as you had to figure this out.


Vic Davanzo [00:30:56] So this. This was entirely bootstrap, which is especially in today's day and age with the explosion of the natural consumer products world. You see so much EBC activity. And another conversation to see where that goes in the next few years. But I think we're fortunate to have been able to make it. You know, I think probably most entrepreneurs will say this, but I don't know if I could do it again right now. To start all over in today's climate. Let's take a different path. But definitely I think the way I think in the early years know this isn't like a service business. If Maliki can hang a shingle and, you know, get business. There's a lot of interdependent parts. There's, you know, I think like online direct consumer was still in its infancy and didn't have the addressable market that it does today. So that was not the same immediate opportunity, although we've I think we've come leaps and bounds there. But also just selling the traditional brick and mortar or other specialty or, you know, grocery or big box, I mean. This is not like you just pick up the phone and you're in they planogram reset. It happens sometimes once a year. Sometimes they'll skip on set and not looking for anything. They're happy with their assortment. And that is a. A game of persistence, unfortunately, not a lot of certainty. And if you don't really, really believe in your mission and what you're doing, that can cause a crippling doubt.


Chris Snyder [00:32:37] Yeah. How do you so how do you get in? You formulated this stuff. You met at tradeshows you figured all this out, but what do you do? Use like grab some bottles of stuff and walk into it, walk in at GNC with him and say, hey, could you guys put these in here and see if that zero works like hot? Tell me about how you got a chance because you're in thousands of retailers, right? I mean, yeah.


Vic Davanzo [00:33:02] So it's like just cracking distribution and how that process works. You know, honestly, what it took was. Started with one SKU. There was an energy space at the time, thought that was the right opportunity because I think it was the biggest opportunity for disruption. And I think customers and therefore retailers were looking for innovation and willing to take chances. Whereas like the kind of larger, more solidified categories, like traditional categories like protein, were like really dominated by the incumbents. So I think that, you know, really selling them that we were our formulation was more in line with the kind of diet and fitness trend that I described to you and that and that getting those meetings was no easy task. I legitimately, Jim, sales again. Soren's trade shows networking. Who do you know? Anybody from? My friends. Family, college network. And chasing people down with shirts on trade shows that we know our customers and introducing ourselves and shoving a card in their face. It was not a. There's no magic tricks pulled. No rabbit out of the hat.


Chris Snyder [00:34:27] There is no finesse. It was just run hard, right?


Vic Davanzo [00:34:34] So not in the pitch. Not in the "getting opportunities" pitch.


Chris Snyder [00:34:37] Yeah. Did you have anyone helping you at the time or is this all on your own?


Vic Davanzo [00:34:42] So I did. I had two early partners. So, friends and family as well. From my personal network. And there was kind of a three just running around trade shows. So when you what about like, oh, go ahead. Maybe midway into like my first years when I'm kind of like had to too early partners get in. Come on. Help me get going.


Vic Davanzo [00:35:15] Got it. So when did this big - when did this business become something that you could really depend on from like an economic standpoint? You knew like were you two years in three years and four years in six months in and you knew you're like, I'm going to make this shit work. This is good. It's gonna be good.


Vic Davanzo [00:35:34] I would say two years in and it was funny when I left the bank and I had a healthy salary. I mean, I wasn't set for retirement by any means, but I live comfortably over that. I know. Nice condo in Miami Beach in those two. It was always gonna be challenging to believe that that's a. I made it go in my head was like, all right. I have to get back here. Like, if I can get back to here and do something that I'm just passionate about and love. And then I know that, you know, there's not essentially a ceiling on or I can have really influenced the growth, then I can be comfortable with that and I can pay my bills doing something I love every day. So that was the immediate goal. It wasn't like. I think that's one of the beauties and being able to bootstrap that. So we have investor pressure. You need to hit these targets by this date or, you know, loan covenants or anything like that. So there's basically a two-year window to answer your question, to get to a point where it was like a with savings and definitely roommates at the time. And, you know, these two years of tight living.


Chris Snyder [00:36:55] Yeah. Yeah. Ramen, hot dogs, all that.


Vic Davanzo [00:37:00] Yeah. But it was the right time. The mid-20s through early to mid-20s. I was built for that then.


Chris Snyder [00:37:10] Well, I agree. I don't think any of us could go back on that. Now, we got mortgages and families and cars and trucks and all that other stuff. Yeah. Difficult is difficult. So you've got a business. It's a big business. I see her in Amazon talk to us a little bit about because it feels like you've seen the evolution of direct to consumer online. Tell us a little bit about how you've seen that. That evolve or mature for your business, because I'm assuming you started, as you described as Trader Joe's and just trying to get into the retailers whenever you can. And now you're an Amazon, Whole Foods, Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, Bodybuilding.com. You got all this. So tell us about that evolution and what that means for the business being in all these, you know, digital. You know, Amazon's a huge digital platform, obviously.


Vic Davanzo [00:38:04] Yes. No, I think it's awesome. Ultimately, the cook, at the end of the day, what you want to do is a brand and the most important thing for us. So for me outside of our employees, they don't think anything kicks. Our customers, because we can get to the customer, make sure our messaging is as designed, being communicated as designed, making sure we're getting, you know, she'd back. Most importantly, we're getting better. We're responding to needs. We're keeping a pulse on market changes. I think the closer you can get to the customer, the better you can be as a brand, a better service and value you can provide your customers. So I think online allows you to do that. I think it's a great thing. I think it's coincidence about how fast everything's growing. And obviously what's going on in the world right now is definitely - expediting occurs.


Chris Snyder [00:38:58] Do you guys I mean, I see that you're on Amazon and some of these other places, do you feel like that enhances your brand more? It provides a lot of competition with, you know, competitive brands that might say they do the same thing as you, but they don't. But there might be a little bit cheaper.


Vic Davanzo [00:39:21] Sorry, will you repeat that one more time? Make sure I got that right.


Chris Snyder [00:39:23] Yeah, the competition in these marketplaces like Amazon and Amazon, especially the supplement business on Amazon is is massive. Right. Yeah. So obviously, you're going to get your share. But you believe that being on a platform like Amazon is ultimately better for you in the long run and your brand regarding like loyalty, feedback, getting close to the customer as you describe, or is it a little counterproductive?


Vic Davanzo [00:39:58] No, I would say definitely. I think Amazon is a great platform. Whenever you're not directly control of every aspect of the transaction, you know, there's some challenges involved. But in terms of you have those same challenges and oftentimes greater in the brick and mortar world. So I think, you know, think Amazon at this point has like upwards of 50 percent surge for consumer goods. So just the sheer level of traffic and opportunity there is huge. And at the end of the day, I think it's a pretty a. A pretty efficient user experience and customer each day and a trusted site, you know, every, every. And the marketplace has pros and cons, but ultimately, I think it's a great thing for our brand.


Chris Snyder [00:40:57] So let's talk about consumer trends given the outbreak. Do you see anything that you can educate us on or instruct us on as relates to dietary wellness, health, fitness? Your business, I'm assuming, is doing better during this. It seems like it would be, but maybe you can comment on consumer trends in how your business is doing during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Vic Davanzo [00:41:22] Yeah, well, I can talk both operational away from the hours to end and then I can give you my things, representative, our take on the consumer landscape. Yeah. So I think operationally, definitely some challenges. I think a lot of cool things are the result of those challenges. Think look, we've seen some of the biggest and best businesses in the world announce work remote moving forward. It's been really cool. I mean, whereas, you know, think about our little company and some of these guys thing. And we've had great results. And that expedited that we were a. You know, 90 percent of us were in the office and the result of this, 90 percent of us are no longer in the office. And it's been seamless and great. And I think ultimately one of our corporate values is that we look to manage performance, not activity. And I think that this environment fosters that. So that's been a positive. And one of the interesting, interesting things that happened is we had a new hire start on April 1st. And she didn't meet anyone outside of the people she interviewed with. So we're having these meetings and we're introducing a new hire, the DL, which would never happen. So, you know, there's a lot of questions going into anything that's new and never happened before. So it was cool. I mean, she's doing great. So it's been cool and a testament, I think, to our team just how seamless. And I've been pleasantly surprised. Personally, I was not as bullish. I'm talking now going into this. So it's been close variance operationally.


Chris Snyder [00:43:12] So that's good in the business. You feel like is I mean, operationally, obviously there's some challenges with people and where they sit now they go and how they communicate. Seems like you've solved that problem. The business overall, especially being an e-commerce business, I'm assuming it's just it's good, right? People actually have the time now. They're not spending in their car to think about health and diet, right?


Vic Davanzo [00:43:38] Yeah, well, it was interesting. And again, I can only speak from our land. I think the e-commerce world for sure. We've seen a surge in demand. It was pretty cool to see some category volatility. I think when everything was like. First announced in the shutdowns are starting to happen mid-March. And there's kind of the pantry panic pantry loading panic out of the. Mary, replacement's proteins are bars, all of those kind of like more like packaged food, the meal replacement supplements really surged like to levels we've never seen before. But at the same time, some of our more traditional fitness products. Dropped very substantially. They were still toiling over what the real reason to use. I imagine gym closure's had to do it. And I think we're just adapting to the new world then. Mike, let me make sure I had food before worrying about, like, how I'm working out my fitness regimen. And then I would say two to three weeks, I'd say really a month like the beginning of April, mid-April. Things started to like level out. It seemed like people were getting into their routine of and life and the. We noticed the social media and just consumer feedback and, you know, our community that just the increase in fitness at home training. You know, I think it's been great to see. Obviously, I love and am very supportive of our fitness centers and hope they are able to open soon. But it's been awesome to see what people have done independently on their own, just being creative with workout at home, exercising, getting outside while still maintaining, say, social business practices.


Chris Snyder [00:45:30] Yeah, I agree wholeheartedly. I think you've got some bars on your Web site, so that's damn good. You do. Yeah. You've got a nice little ecommerce business, which I think some people got caught off guard if they sold everything to the channel and now the channel down. So to have to learn how to get on Amazon, set up an e-commerce site, run your own analytics like that's a lot. That's it's probably a year's worth of learning that someone would have to do if they're not ready for this. It could potentially put him out of business. Right.


Vic Davanzo [00:46:05] Yes, for sure. I will not even pretend to say that we're not. Extremely fortunate to be in the position we were in, going. Going into everything that happened, both from, you know, not just an industry at large, but just from a channel exposure standpoint and product exposure standpoint. I think, you know, I like to think it has a tie into, like, why the brand was starting, like, really focusing on clean products with nutritional value that helps you with your general health and wellness overall. Not like magic pills or anything of that sort. That was cool to see. But I think ultimately with everything going on in the crazy for me to say that we were not extremely fortunate. All things considered.


Chris Snyder [00:46:57] Yeah, you have a young child. Do you think about the kinds of supplements and kids, things that she's taking? Or do you see a future in that for children, for some products on your site?


Vic Davanzo [00:47:15] Absolutely. You know, I don't think it's in the immediate product development pipeline, but I think that's an awesome and huge market and growing and very important nutrition and proper nutrition for kids is especially in light of everything that's going on, is here to say I think people are getting more educated, more comfortable. I mean, you see some of the larger brands, like the honest company beginning to like really pave the way for just somebody more fragile than babies and children. And they can benefit so much from having, you know, proper nutritional value and products and access to good quality ingredients. So I think that's an amazing opportunity and the degree to be able to help people in that capacity at some point.


Chris Snyder [00:48:13] Yeah. But then we spent a lot of money on snacks. I got to tell you. And without, you know, think my son eats about three Clif bars at one sitting. But maybe he shouldn't but talk. Let's talk about governance a little bit and how these products are regulated, because at the beginning of this call, we talked about crazy stuff like ingredients. You can't - nobody knows what they are, stuff on the wrapper that says the ship might explode. Like if it's the flick, what is how is it okay that these ingredients can be put into things that we eat? Do you have any comments about that or how this how the FDA. I'm assuming it's the FDA. I don't know. I'm not an expert. How does this work?


Vic Davanzo [00:49:01] So just a little bit of visibility into like what's going on, the regulatory process to manufacture and distribute products in the marketplace.


Chris Snyder [00:49:10] Yeah.


Vic Davanzo [00:49:13] So. I think they...the FDA - there's like an arm under the FDA, cGMP certified good manufacturing practices that it is essentially responsible for auditing annually at the supplier and manufacturer level. So all of the suppliers you work with have to meet and test the GNP audits. Now, in order to sell at retail to have these certifications provided by your manufacturer and that the retailer is going to sign off on verify, you have to carry a certain level of insurance, which also they inquire and underwrite that process as well. So it is, in fact, governed. Now, I'm not saying that like anything else, there can be, you know, people trying to work around and whether through things, but. Since my time in this space, the level of regulatory compliance and governance has increased substantially. I think, you know, they ultimately it's great for the safety of the consumer. You know, as a bleeding heart entrepreneur, I am not always in the camp with increased regulation and compliance. I think it's really creating more barriers to entry. But at the end of the day, it's an ingestible. And I think, you know, it is definitely a place for regulation compliance.


Chris Snyder [00:50:55] What do you think about kind of, this is completely off topic, you know, the hemp, weed, you know, cannabis, that whole movement. I don't know if you get into that at all, but there's products being created, creams being created, stuff being created in that space. Do you have an opinion on that or do you guys intend on doing anything like that?


Vic Davanzo [00:51:19] I don't think it's necessarily in the RSP wheelhouse in the immediate future. I think we have a pretty clear path is where we're headed. And the Greens we have. I think I know there's a ton of science out there. I think there's so many you know, a lot of this stuff is so new and in its infancy in terms of especially like the new kind of delivery mechanisms, whether it be a topical or, you know, soft gel or foods, things that it's not in our area of expertize. So I'm not necessarily qualified to comment on the science behind it. I know at the end of the day, the actives are like clinically proven ingredients to some degree and huge market there. And I think that it is here to stay. And I to some degree, I just you know, there's no immediate product launch planned for RSP, but I'll never say never to anything.


Chris Snyder [00:52:24] Yeah, yeah. Especially now - it seems like a huge market. I've had a couple of these guys on the show and they are killing it. Yes. So what's next for you guys? I mean, do you I mean, the way I think about a business like this not being in a business like this. I don't own or operate any businesses like that. But I just feel like you just SKU expansion and product expansion stayed in your wheelhouse, maybe, as you describe it. What's next for RSP?


Vic Davanzo [00:52:56] Yes. I think the evolution of the retail landscape is what we're seeing. And I think the COVID and the and the pandemic is expediting this as well, like going into this. Forget the e-commerce disruption and big-box continued growth in mass and club as well as grocery and our space. A lot of pressure and headwinds on specialty retail. I think a lot of this the major specialty retailers have been struggling for a few years now. So I think, you know, for us, it's you know, when I was first starting out that the path was to establish solidified and top trends and specialty. And then, you know, some of those brands that make the jump into mass, some would just stay in specialty. But I think in today's day and age, to not be able to have your product offering in grocery and mass. To some degree, in addition to online, is that that's a disservice to your customers. And that's ultimately where it's going because it's not selling to discounters anymore, cheapening your product. You can maintain the same quality standards and, you know, beware the foot traffic is there.


Chris Snyder [00:54:22] I couldn't agree more. When you say specialty, is that more along the lines of a GNC, or what would you consider a specialty retailer?


Vic Davanzo [00:54:29] Yeah, we consider GNC, Vitamin Shoppe specialty brick and mortar retailers.


Chris Snyder [00:54:34] Yeah, I can't imagine those guys are going to be around in 10 years. I can't imagine.


Vic Davanzo [00:54:41] I mean, I know they're navigating some challenging times, to say the least, so I know we have a ton of great relationships and we also wish everybody the best in any tough economic climate. But, you know, it's been a lot a lesson in the world a lot for sure.


Chris Snyder [00:55:02] Yeah. It's you know, I can't imagine commercial real estate is going to be the same. Right. I can't imagine, you know, the comment about Twitter and, you know, Airbnb going remote like a lot of these guys. Facebook, I think, intends to have their entire or at least 50 percent of the workforce work from home in the next two or three years. Whatever the number is, there is going to be a lot of changes. And I think as entrepreneurs, we need to pay attention so we can try to see around a corner or two because the odds are not great anyway. Right. So you got to get smart. So one of the things I'd like to leave us with as we wrap up here is just giving your words of advice to founders, entrepreneurs, executives, you know, based on your, you know, years of experience running a multimillion-dollar business in challenging times. What words of advice can you give to our listeners?


Vic Davanzo [00:56:03] Yes, I think I should have something better prepared for this, and we're going to do something, it's not cliche and some can actually leave here and be able to apply. One of the most important thing for me was setting, like short term goals. Because when you hit those short term goals, even if they don't happen on the exact timeline you lay out, especially in those early dark times, they kind of give you life for a second wind. And it's easy to get discouraged in the beginning. And they could be as simple as like: I need to get X number of meetings or I want to have this product launch by this time and then tying that back to a loose financial model that you can, like, make sure you're able to survive and have some resilience and wherewithal. Because ultimately, depending on the business you're in, you can't control everything in particular, particularly today's climate. I mean, this is an unprecedented time. So I would, you know, look at their incremental growth in those steps. And I can see people now just getting lost in kind of social media, fantasy stories and media about overnight successes. And it's not. I think those are few and far between. And the vast majority of what's happening is just continuing to get better every day and hit short term kind of incremental growth goals.


Chris Snyder [00:57:33] Yeah, well, you know, one percent every single day. You know, I don't know if you look at James Clear's stuff. You know, I follow him. But, you know, he's a big believer in one percent. You know, we just hit base hits every single day. Let's come in and do what we're supposed to do and the rest will work itself out. Right.


Vic Davanzo [00:57:52] So kind of always had that motto internally, one foot in front of the other. There's a lot of uncertainty. But the one thing we can throw is one foot in front of the other. And you will see the Amazon calls it the flywheel. That is the power of compounding Israel. So absolutely. Very real and evident. It sneaky because you don't see it happen. Ready right in front of you.


Chris Snyder [00:58:15] Yeah. Well, and if you're not passionate about it, you don't see it happening right away, then you're gonna quit. Right. You know, you if you are not if you're doing something that you're not passionate about, just get ready to quit. He must quit now, cause in today's environment, competitive, challenging distribution, decentralization of resources and supply chains. And, you know, if you're not doing something you love, just get out. Because if you're not going to come in and put one foot in front the other and just like hammer it for 10 years, you just knock. You're not going to win. I don't think.


Vic Davanzo [00:58:49] Yeah, the odd are definitely against you. So the odds are against you to begin with, though, if you don't have that and there are definitely stacked against you.


Chris Snyder [00:59:04] Yeah. Well, everyone, Vic Davanzo - founder and CEO of RSP Nutrition, a leading manufacturer of clean, innovative nutritional products for active people, busy professionals and fitness enthusiasts. Vic, I really appreciate having you on the show today. You have a great day.


Vic Davanzo [00:59:27] Thanks a lot - appreciate your time.


Chris Snyder [00:59:31] All right, take care.

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