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The Startup Life

Personalizing the Post-Workout Shake

Two years ago Harry Valner was a gym enthusiast and an undergrad with an idea to make workout shakes better. Now, the 22-year-old senior has his own wellness company that is on target to become a fast-growing startup in Los Angeles.

The USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy senior is the co-creator behind the wellness brand Kyoku, a new company that specializes in producing post-workout shakes. But you don't have to be a bodybuilder or someone seeking to put on excess muscle to take these.

Each Kyoku shake is personalized with ingredients tailored to your unique weight and fitness goals. So, if you're just looking to tone up but not bulk up, then there is a shake for you.

For those in the fitness community, what you consume in the hours after a workout can play a major part in achieving your fitness goals. [1] This is why supplements, protein powder and protein shakes are popular options for regular gym goers or for those with an intense workout regimen. For example, protein supplements can help the body recover after a workout by reducing muscle damage and improve muscle performance, according to a study reported by Medical News Today. [1]

It's something that Valner and co-founder Ryan Roddy know very well. In 2017 Valner met Roddy and the two bonded over their passion for exercise and trips to Equinox. After working out at the gym and realizing that they had to sift through multiple powders to create the right blend of supplements for their post-workout shake, the idea for Kyoku was born.

Valner and Roddy saw there weren’t many appropriate supplements available for people to take who didn't subscribe to the #swole lifestyle.

"We realized that there was nothing made for the demographics of everyone else out there. All fitness supplements were tailored to putting on a mass amount of weight, and we felt like we could do something," Valner said.

Moreover, the rules on what supplements to take and how much to take is elusive. Nor does the supplement industry appear to tailor their portions to suit different body types, which is where Valner and Roddy want to be of service.

"What we realized is that the [supplement] industry--and it still is--is one size fits all. It doesn't matter if you're a 210-pound male or a 115-pound female, when you get a jar of protein powder, you’re both supposed to take two scoops. So we sat down and we were like, 'Why don't we create personalized supplements so it doesn't matter who you are, we'll create a blend that's made for you,'"Valner said.

That personalized blend is filled with all natural and plant-based ingredients that the company sources from organic farms around the world. [1 - under what kind of testing do you do?]

But how does Kyoku know what superfoods to put in your shake?

In order to prepare the right concoction, Kyoku asks customers to take a three- to four-minute quiz via their website and submit their answers online. This helps the Kyoku team to generate an online profile of what kind of person you are, your type of workout activity and health goals. Once submitted, you receive your recommended shake recipe to purchase.

As far as price, Valner says that's another area where he feels his company has the upper hand. Each shake costs $7, and each order comes with 14 shakes. A similar drink called the Million-Dollar Smoothie costs $16.35 at SunLife Organics. [1] In addition to the personalization, "the biggest thing you're getting is savings," Valner said.

There's also a free-trial period that includes a 10-day supply of shakes. However, once that period ends, you'll automatically be enrolled into a monthly subscription.

For Valner and Roddy, getting Kyoku off the ground has been relatively quick. It was just an idea two years ago and by July 2019, Kyoku had officially launched online. And now, the company has a team of five full-time employees and three facilities in Southern California, including one in East Los Angeles.

Recently, Kyoku partnered with the LA-based investment firm Science Inc. and secured $1.2 million in seed money. Valner and Roddy are currently raising a seed extension in the same amount and are in communication to work with five undisclosed professional athletes across the sports world.