Wow! It is difficult to believe that it’s already the end of 2019, the founding year of OnUp Protein Water. As we approach the end of the year, we thought it would be appropriate to take the time to step back from the busyness of entrepreneurial life to reflect on the past and look ahead.
Last year at this time we had an idea and brand name. We had a vision, but we didn’t have much else. We didn’t have consumer research. We didn’t have a product formula, flavors, suppliers, or a manufacturer. We didn’t have a brand logo or a package. We didn’t have costs or pricing. We didn’t have a website, a bank account, a credit card, a registered LLC, an Instagram or Facebook account, UPC codes, marketing materials, or an event tent. Erin didn’t even own a cooler.
We’ve come a long way in a year!
2019 was filled with high and lows, challenges and big wins, frustrations and laughter. But, in the end, it will go down in the books as the year that we leaned into the unknown, made the plunge to follow our dreams, and embarked on an incredible journey. Some of our 2019 memories include:
- Product: That feeling when you first taste what you know is the exact taste and flavor profile that you were targeting. The back and forths on various versions were totally worth it!
- Manufacturing: Watching the first production run and holding that first real bottle of OnUp in our hands! The dream becoming a reality! And then needing to completely revamp our manufacturing process to get our unique product exactly right.
- Delivery: Waiting (not so) patiently for our product that was stuck in a warehouse just north of the Twin Cities to arrive at the OnUp warehouse (aka Ilene’s garage). We’re sure it’s the only time the delivery truck had to navigate the alleys of South Minneapolis.
- Transportation: How many bottles of protein water do you think can fit in a VW Passat without it bottoming out?
- Events: Our first race event that we attended together. We stood there in the rain for a couple hours before it was canceled. Things could only get better from there.
- Hurdles: That 5:00am morning rush out the door to get to a race set-up and finding a broken elevator. Carrying two large coolers full of protein water down six tall flights of stairs was quite the workout. Erin was sore for days.
- Consumer Feedback: Early feedback from athletes confirming that we nailed it and created something that they liked and wanted to buy. It was summarized best when one runner said “Wow, you’ve really just solved a problem I have.”
- Distribution: Personally delivering product to people’s homes around the Twin Cities. It’s a good way to see the neighborhoods, but certainly not sustainable long-term.
- Product Quality: What to do with all that product in the garage with the upcoming freezing temperatures? Obviously lure friends over for brunch and then nicely ask them to haul 7 TONS of protein water into the basement. Maybe next time we’ll launch a lighter-weight product.
- Pitch Night: Being selected to participate in the Founders Live Pitch night during Twin Cities Startup week and successfully fitting your pitch into 99 seconds.
- Networking: We met so many helpful people this summer at events who were willing to provide advice and pass along connections.
- On Shelf: After the a couple “no” responses from gyms and retailers, it was so encouraging to go into Linden Hills Co-op and see our product for sale on the shelf. What a great first retailer and partner for local brands! And, we are so thrilled with our other gym partners in the Twin Cities.
- Friends: Our friends joined us at many events and helped us in multiple other ways through the summer. Everyone looks great in their OnUp gear and we love their enthusiasm.
Thank you to everyone who has been a part of our 2019 story. You know who you are. We wouldn’t be where we are without you and we are very grateful. We have a long way to go yet, but we are so encouraged by our progress. We can’t wait for 2020 and are especially looking forward to being available at more retailers and gyms and continuing to connect with athletes in the Twin Cities.
Cheers! Happy New Years from the OnUp team!