Entrepreneurial Athletes: Smart and Speedy Product Development

Summers Nelson and Anthony Hayes were endurance athletes who weren’t satisfied with existing products designed to keep athletes fueled with the right balance of nutrients and convenience — they also wanted a product with unprocessed food and no added sugars.

Gauging demand in their network, they learned they weren’t alone. Many athletes they consulted had similar needs, as well as similar preferences — added sugars were a no-no, and synthetic aftertaste was another big con.

The partners started with a focus on nutrition and real, unprocessed food, making a product similar to convenient energy gels. They shared samples with their athletic network and solicited feedback on each version. As they worked on balancing caloric density, flavor and using “real food,” they incorporated convenient packaging options. Through a process of thoroughly understanding the objective of each version of the product and evaluating feedback, they created a concoction that fulfilled all their needs: RealFuel.

Read more about how Nelson and Hayes stayed focused on a specific consumer group and used rapid experimentation and purposeful iteration to create RealFuel, in Professor Jeremy Hutchison-Krupat’s article “Case in Point: A Desire for Real Food Drove a Nutrition Solution,” in the Darden School of Business/Washington Post “Case in Point” series.

About the Faculty

Jeremy Hutchison-Krupat

Hutchison-Krupat is dialed in on innovation. He is an authority on incentives for new product development — an important issue as product life cycles become ever shorter. Hutchison-Krupat is an expert on making innovation strategy work and on collaborative innovations — the processes through which organizations achieve their innovation goals.

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