For three University of Oregon students, the journey began with a shared passion and a simple question: How do we make protein more portable?
Justin Davies, a business major with a focus in sports business, and his two friends, Jonathan Palmer and Matthew Warren, both journalism majors with a focus in advertising, realized there was an opportunity for improvements in the protein industry.
The culmination of their efforts came in late February of 2017, with the launch of their company Progressive Protein and its first product, the P Pack, a portable liquid protein.
Just a year before in January 2016, the three students sat in their Eugene home discussing how they could make a protein product as user-friendly as possible.
The main issue the three of them found with protein companies’ offerings was the lack of portability. “It was about: How do we create a product that fits into real people’s lives and how does this actually go with you day-to-day?” said Jonathan.
After lots of reimagining and reworking, the concept for the P Pack was born. The collagen-based liquid can easily be poured into any kind of drink from small, portable plastic packs.
The trio began working toward starting their company, each student bringing their own unique skills and experiences to the table.
“Oftentimes one of us would come back to the team with a piece of information or guidance from a class that we were in that day and it would always be super helpful,” said Matthew.
The brand for Progressive Protein began to take shape as the team established its target audience.
“We looked around and there wasn’t a single product that had the brand image that connected with all of us,” said Justin.
“We definitely put more of an emphasis on the lifestyle and the other interests of people our age, people that are active,” said Jonathan.
As the three progressed in their majors and classes went more in depth, they were able to apply the new skills gained.
“As I went through the business school, I realized how many more elements there were in terms of things like operations, management, and marketing,” said Justin.
“All my business school classes completely started coming to life in front of my eyes.”
For Matthew, his advertising classes readied him for the branding side of Progressive Protein.
“What we would learn in class we could directly apply,” he said. “In other cases what I was learning on my own would be reinforced in class.”
For Jonathan, gratification came through seeing his work produce real world results.
“One of the biggest parts of this for me was being able to see how the efforts we put in and the work we made actually translates into getting sales because that’s something you can’t always experience in the classroom,” he said.
With the launch of Progressive Protein and the P Pack, currently available in pomegranate, mixed berry, and grape flavors, Justin, Matthew, and Jonathan are looking to the future but staying confident in the execution of their current business plan.
“Jonathan and Matthew are such creative people and we’re always coming up with new ideas. That’s one of the hardest parts,” said Justin. “We have to be patient and really trust our current strategy.”
As the team works to expand and market their new company, while soaking up as much theory and knowledge as possible in their UO classes, they hope to improve their current product and add additional portable, easy-to-use products in the near future.
Said Matthew, “We had no idea where exactly the company would go when we started it, but we believe that with the right attitude and work ethic we are going to be able to provide the value to our customers that we ourselves want to see from our brand.”
—Edward Burnette, Journalism Student