Battlefield experience in Afghanistan gave Marine Corps Maj. Robert Dyer a good idea of what he wanted in a supplement. And surving the stress of being a forward air controller in the combat zone helped him weather the stress of launching a new supplement brand.
One thing Dyer was looking for in his new energy shot was convenience. Supplements abounded on the front lines, but it was a catch-as-catch-can kind of experience, with some soldiers, Dyer among them, taking up to 20 capsules or tablets a day. Dyer thought rationalizing that experience, putting as much nutrition as possible in one serving, was the way to go. Ruck Pack, the energy shot supplement he launched with the help of investors, was born of that push.
“We were taking all of these supplements in the field anyway,” Dyer told NutraIngredients-USA. “Ruck Pack was a buildup of all of those supplements.”
“We sent e-mails to the companies supplying the supplements suggesting this, and when we got back we decided why not just do it on our own?” he said.
Dyer tested his ideas with the help of Marine Corps Special Operations troops in Afghanistan. Upon returning stateside, he launched his company, called Noots! Nutrition LLC, and put together his first formuations in 2008. Now, after a period of trial and error on the formulation, the company has achieved nationwide distribution in more than 7,000 Walgreens stores. And Dyer has achieved this while still on active duty; he is currently an instructor at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.
Shark Tank appearance
Dyer’s battlefield experience was helpful in preparing for a another high risk/high reward part of the company’s history. A little more than a year ago he appeared on the ABC television show Shark Tank, in which budding entrepreneurs tell their story before a critical audience of business celebrities in an effort to win funding from individial investors.
“As far as the pressure scenario of being on the show is concerned, you are either prepared or not,” Dyer said. “I thought, nobody’s going to be shooting at me. We ended up getting two investors. It was a 10-minute infomercial for the company on national television."
Dyer’s product, Ruck Pack, is a nutrient-dense shot that features a number of energy and cognitive support ingredients but contains no caffeine. From the start he said he wanted to create a nutrient-dense shot that would offer something different that the established brands in the cateory including 5-hour Energy.
“I don’t really see myself being in competition with 5-hour Energy,” Dyer said. “We are offering something different. We wanted something for joints because in the field we are carrying heavy loads. We wanted something for energy, but it had to be smooth energy, clean energy.”
Megadoses of vitamins
Ruck Pack is built around mega-dose servings of vitamins, includiing 8,000-plus % of the daily value of vitamin B12, 500% of vitamin D3 and more than 400% of vitamin C. The supplement also includes CoQ10, MSM and Alpha-GPC. But even with all of the high doses of the various ingredients, the shot is still priced on the shelf at the same level as competing products at $2.99 a bottle.
“I wanted to put as much nutrition as I could into a two fluid ounce shot. There was no shot out there for someone who wanted zero caffeine and I wanted to bring in people who weren’t taking a shot in the first place,” he said.
“I’ll run a different business model and pay more per shot to have a higher quality product on the shelves,” Dyer said.