“Why not now?”
It’s a question Cameron Fischer MS’16 and Alfred Schofield MS’16 asked themselves while they were pursuing their Master of Science in Management in Entrepreneurial Leadership degree. With a background in family entrepreneurship and passion for fitness and supplements, the two friends were stirred to contemplate starting a business where they had identified a void.
Years ago in a graduate course to this month’s acquisition by TB12 Sports, Babson College has been a key factor behind their success.
“When you’re in that environment where anything is possible, and you’re getting the tools to do it, it gave us that mindset,” Schofield said.
A Modern Product for the Contemporary Athlete
While working toward his MSEL degree, Fischer pitched an idea based around the supplement industry and lack of regulation. With Schofield, the two would work with nutrition students and food trucks on a network of college campuses, offering supplement packs based on customer goals.
Looking back, Fischer admits the initial idea wasn’t scalable. The friends continued to fine tune their concept into its current venture: a supplement company that offers the modern fitness community plant-based products with home-remedy ingredients.
“Before we were business partners, we were classmates. To get out the other side, have something that is a success, and to stay friends along the way, that’s what we’re most proud of.”
VitalFit Nutrition co-founder Alfred Schofield MS'16
“We saw a real issue,” Fischer said. “The people making supplements in the fitness space weren’t the same people actually taking them. … They weren’t getting to the heart of what a modern fitness user was looking for, something to amplify their workout in a way that’s not doctored with wild ingredients.”
Why plant-based? Because it’s the healthier way, Schofield said.
“What resonates with people is that it comes from the earth, our body is an ecosystem,” he said. “Supplements should be for everybody, by having some ingredients that inhibit people from taking them, are we accomplishing the mission we set out for ourselves?”
Taking a LEAP
Fischer and Schofield both enrolled at Babson College with the intention of starting a company.
Their entrepreneurial background goes back further than that, however. Both of their families are business owners, and at Babson, they combined that experience with their goals and passion.
Through the yearlong experiential learning course, Leading Entrepreneurial Action Project (LEAP), Senior Lecturer Richard Goulding helped the two form their company supply chain, while Professor Andrew Zacharakis assisted in strategy and brand building. The team credits Senior Lecturer Caroline Daniels with providing first-rate advice along the way, too.
“You can always tell when a student is really motivated by how often they seek you outside of the classroom,” Zacharakis said. “Cam and Alfred were in my office regularly … (they) were very enthusiastic.”
Founded in 2016, VitalFit Nutrition launched its first product in 2017. Today, the company offers training, recovery, and wellness products, free of artificial ingredients, preservatives, and additives.
VitalFit has experienced significant year-over-year growth online and forged partnerships with notable brands such as Equinox, Free People, and FabFitFun, among many others.
An Acquisition Powered by an Alumni Network
In August 2018, investor John Burns MBA’05 was named CEO of TB12 Sports. As new founders with interest in collaborating, Schofield reached out to Burns. The three alumni soon became acquaintances.
“We utilized the whole Babson network and all the tools at our disposal,” Schofield said. “Babson was always the home we could go back to if we wanted to get honest feedback from people who knew and understood us.”
Discussions of an acquisition were in the works for “a long time,” Schofield said. The deal was officially announced earlier this month.
Since the acquisition, VitalFit’s most popular products have launched on TB12Sports.com. In the near future, Fischer and Schofield will continue to work on product formations and company branding in order to bring their products to a wider audience.
Schofield said having Tom Brady taking the company’s supplements “lends even more credibility to the VitalFit brand.”
“As a brand, there’s what we are all able to accomplish together. We’re trying to unlock that value through collaboration,” Schofield said. “We take a lot of those ideals from Babson, whether it’s ideation, brainstorming, challenging each other’s perspectives, and collectively putting our heads together.”
Two friends, who decided, yes, the time to start a business was now.
“Before we were business partners, we were classmates,” Schofield said. “To get out the other side, have something that is a success, and to stay friends along the way, that’s what we’re most proud of.”
Posted in Entrepreneurship of All Kinds