Entrepreneurial Spotlight

Brüst’s Amar Gupta and Josh Barr on Helping Active Canadians Get the Protein They Need

Photo: Elaine Fancy

In this series, we profile entrepreneurs approaching the top of their game, and ask them how they got there. This week, the co-founders of brüst spill the beans on their new caffeinated protein drink.

As former athletes, Amar Gupta and Josh Barr know the hunt for a good protein drink is tough. Either chalky in taste or full of empty calories, the marketplace was missing a bottle that delivered something close to what the duo knew they could create. With 20 grams of protein in addition to a full cup of coffee steeped in triple filtered cold water in every bottle, brüst is unique in the marketplace.

Here, Gupta and Barr give Bay Street Bull a glimpse into their business ethos and their daily entrepreneurial lives.

Q & A

What do you enjoy most about the industry you’re in?

JB: I love helping on-the-go athletes live healthier lives. There are many products out there that help active Canadians get the protein they need, but these beverages can taste thick and chalky, have too many calories, and complex ingredient lists.

Best advice you have ever been given?

AG: Never dismiss anything your customers are saying – listen closely!

What is one trait you have, that you find has attributed to your success?

JB: Tenacity. Trying to break into a crowded industry is tough, but the combination of a great product and a tenacious attitude goes a very long way.

AG: Being competitive and having the will to win. Maybe it was growing up playing sports that attributed to this trait, but I’m a strong believer that having a healthy amount of competitiveness is key when running a business.

What is the lesson you took the longest to learn?

JB: Well, we’re learning lessons every day. As entrepreneurs, it’s all about problem solving. The goal is to never make the same mistakes twice.

AG: Surround yourself with people who compliment your skillset, not those who emulate it.

What makes it all worth it?

AG: Hearing customers say how much they love brüst and how happy they are that we made this product!

What long term goals do you have?

JB: Our long-term goals are to create clean and great tasting products for active Canadians. We want to make sure that each product we bring to market tastes amazing and is cleaner and healthier than what is currently available.

How do you balance your work and personal lives?

AG: In today’s world, it seems like it’s sometimes impossible to shut things off completely! The good news is most of the work we do is fun and isn’t what we’d traditionally refer to as “ work”.

JB: I am now working to set up mandatory personal time to spend time with family and friends.

Photo: Apart Inc.

DAILY GLIMPSE

8AM- 10AM: JB: When I wake up I always check the top national and global news stories, followed by what is happening in the sports world. I usually answer a few quick emails before I really start to get going for the day. I would like to start my day with yoga or stretching. I’ve heard it’s a great way to prepare your body for the day.

AG: I would love to start my day by not looking at my phone immediately. I usually get up around 7am and have brüst for breakfast, obviously. Three times a week I workout in the morning, followed by my shower and checking a few emails. I then read the news while eating a second breakfast, usually overnight oats, before I get on with my day.

10AM-5PM: JB: As an entrepreneur at an early stage start-up, my days are rarely consistent, but I always have my hands in all areas of the business. Some days I am focused on making sure our product is in stock across our retailer partners; other days, I am putting together marketing partnership deals to promote our brand.  I am generally on-the-go, so I tend to gravitate towards quick solutions during the day. Whether it’s a prepared salad or a quick sandwich.

AG: Every few hours I’ll normally take 15 minutes or so to just get away from my laptop and phone. I’m pretty addicted to our product, so if I need a midday pick-me-up, I’ll also drink a brüst for the caffeine kick. For lunch I’ll usually have a kale salad with salmon. I’ll then snack throughout the afternoon with mixed nuts and sometimes a protein bar.

6PM-8PM: JB: I usually prefer a home-cooked meal to going out. There’s something special about spending time with friends and family cooking a meal together. For dinner, I always try to have a properly prepared meal. My only consistency in my diet is my daily brüst.

AG: I love trying out new restaurants in the city. I’ve recently started cooking again, but there have been so many great restaurants popping up in the city, I always end up hitting a new spot. [If cooking] I end the day with a (usually healthy) dinner, something like – chicken with vegetables. Weekends are a whole different story!

8PM-12AM: JB: My favourite way to unwind is having a great workout. Whether it’s a challenging bike ride or lifting weights, working out allows me to check out from the everyday stresses of running a business and gives me time to focus on myself. I try to end my day by turning off my electronics at least 30 minutes before I go to sleep, it helps me slow down and get mentally prepared to have a good night’s sleep.

AG: For days I didn’t get my morning workout in, I love hitting the gym after work. I love turning up the music, staying away from my phone, and focusing on the workout – it completely re-energizes me. A glass of wine on the patio never hurts either, especially this time of year.  I usually read at night, even if it’s only for 20-30 minutes. No electronics!

I'D RECOMMEND

Podcast

JB: We can be on the road a lot, so I enjoy listening to podcasts. Two of my favourites are How I Built This and Planet Money. How I Built This is all about how successful entrepreneurs started their companies and I find it very inspiring. I really enjoyed the episode with Kim Jordan from New Belgium Brewing, it was inspiring to hear how much she cared about the quality of the product and her employees. 

 

Podcast

JB: Planet Money is an economics podcast, and I find it interesting and informative.

Book

AG: Right now, I’m reading a book called Originals – How Non-Conformists Move The World. Originals is a book with counter-intuitive insights and perspectives. Adam Grant uses surprising studies and connections to prove points that wouldn’t otherwise be obvious. An example that stood out to me was that Seinfeld was saved by a TV executive that didn’t even work in comedy. Sometimes an alternative perspective is what’s necessary to drive forward. As for Billions, I follow the stock market pretty closely and it’s an interesting dramatization of the hedge fund world. 

APP

JB: My Google calendar helps me keep track of my time, but really it is my old-school hand-written list that keeps me in order. Some methods of organization will never change -- I’ve been using a calendar and lists since the beginning and you know what they say, don’t fix what’s not broken.

AG: Not sure where I’d be without Google Calendar. I’m also sort of old-school and love to write things down in my notebook. It’s easy to forget important details from past conversations without that notebook! Now that I’m taking notes, that’s far less likely to happen.