Infusing authenticity into a compound of faith and fearlessness helped a KC trio formulate the one-of-a-kind recipe for Kansas City startup SERV Nutrition. Now they’re positioning the soon-to-launch company to shake up the supplement space, said Austin Wilcox.
“I was doing some laundry and threw a Tide Pod in after my workout, then ran upstairs to make a protein shake and I spilled my protein all over the counter,” said Wilcox, co-founder of SERV Nutrition, explaining the inspiration for ProDrop.
The pre-measured pod of protein powder is encased in an edible, food-grade film that can be dropped whole into other substances for quick dissolution. It’s the first product to launch under the SERV Nutrition brand.
About 19 months after the initial idea, Wilcox and his co-founders — longtime friend Wondabeka Ashenafi and entrepreneur Isaac Collins — are seeing gains, set to open their 1420 West 13th Terrace retail and warehouse location in the West Bottoms. It’s a journey that wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for their shared faith and perfect timing, he said.
“[Ashenafi and I] met [Collins] at church. We were initially pitching a different idea to him, to kind of see what his thoughts were and get some advice,” Wilcox said. “He was watching us over the course of a couple months to see if we were good people, good businessmen, those kinds of things, and we developed a good relationship and decided to go down this route together.”
With no turning back, the trio committed their full attention to SERV Nutrition — a company that needed to hold a purpose in the world, beyond its ability to make money, Collins explained.
“The way we talk about [it] every single day is — ‘How do we implement giving back and helping people, but also giving people health in the process?’” he said. “It’s pretty easy because our company is built off of who we are as people. We don’t have to try to fake it, or try to pivot, or look a certain way because our company is us.”
Infusing their personal mission with that of their business, the entrepreneurs have positioned SERV Nutrition as a social enterprise, where each purchase feeds a child overseas. It’s an important infusion of selfless service through business, Collins said of the way the company has merged its founders’ shared passions — health and humanitarian work.
“Being three guys of faith, we want [SERV] to always stick to those things,” he added.
Additionally, SERV is a company that’s found itself at the forefront of food tech in developing its edible film, Wilcox said. The company had to collaborate with several outside consultants to formulate its first product — a process that took months of food safety tasting (all of which ProDrop passed, he added).
“We know all of the ingredients inside of it and have scientific data,” Wilcox said, giving insight into the safety of ProDrop. “The protein formula itself took so long to develop just because there’s things that can and cannot be inside the film.”
Minimal, clean ingredients are part of the company’s top priorities, he added.
SERV Nutrition will launch its website to consumers Dec. 14 alongside the soft-opening of its brick-and-mortar headquarters.
Click here to register for the launch party.
In preparation of the company’s next chapter, Wilcox and his partners are focused on product testing — an added bonus of having a physical space in which to experiment — in anticipation of expanding their offerings, which could include spin-off companies and collaborations with other brands that use their edible film, he envisioned.
“There are so many different food categories that use pre-measured things that are super inconvenient, like cooking spices for commercial kitchens,” he said.
With abundant possibilities, the SERV Nutrition team plans to spend 2019 focused on in-house product development, increasing its speed to market as the brand establishes itself as an innovative trendsetter in the often-crowded supplement space, Collins said.
“We’re noticing that we don’t want to wait on other people to do stuff. It takes too long. It’s too expensive,” he said. “[We want to] control that lead time, save money, and if we mess up — it’s on us, not on someone else.”