Bootstrapping to Success

Bootstrapping to Success

Social Studies | Posted by - February 3, 2014 at 12:00 am

An exclusive excerpt from the newly released book Business Truths by Robert Gold and Andrew Brown. The chapter below features a profile of Alex Savva, co-founder of supplement firm PharmaFreak.

The Gap in the Market

Supplements form an important part of bodybuilding regimes. But, for PharmaFreak’s Co-founders Alex Savva and Don Gauvreau, available supplements were over-hyped and under-performing. So Savva, an avid bodybuilder and fitness industry advocate, and Gauvreau set out to make the strongest possible supplements that delivered on the promise of increasing strength. Their strategy to achieve this ambitious goal: bootstrap to success.

Bootstrapping by Leveraging First-hand Product Knowledge

To create an effective line of supplements meant working for two years with experts in the pharmaceutical and supplement industries. Fortunately, Gauvreau was, and is, one of the top formulators in the supplements industry. He knew what the industry studies were showing, what the best ingredients were, and what the most effective dosages would be.

However, before taking the product to market, the co-founders took a bold, yet measured step: they tested the product on themselves. “We made Ripped Freak for ourselves,” says Savva, “because we weren’t satisfied with other fat burners on the market.”

Their strategy is to produce the best supplements for the North American market and let international partners come to them.

Bootstrapping by Leveraging the Target Market

PharmaFreak had an additional powerful advantage beyond deep product knowledge. They had very close ties with the target market. So, they offered their initial product to their own athlete friends who are vitally interested in supplements and serve as a ready-made focus group. Then, using this first-hand and immediate market feedback, the co-founders decided to package and promote the supplement.

Using this same approach to product development, PharmaFreak produced their second product, Test Freak, a natural testosterone booster. As Savva says, “When the first batch is ready, we are the ones that are waiting for it. And because we are the target market, we know that if we are excited about a product that’s coming out, our customers will be too.”

Bootstrapping the Financing and Promotion

According to Savva and Gauvreau, PharmaFreak was built on passion — the co-founders love fitness and bodybuilding. They began with no money except their own personal credit. Because they didn’t have the big advertising budgets of their competitors, they took a grassroots approach. “We hit every bodybuilding and fitness event we could,” says Savva. “We were physically there, meeting and greeting people, spreading the word about our brand, and why our products are different and better than everything else.”

Business Truths About Bootstrapping To Success
  • Choose an industry you know well because it gives you the perspectives, values, networks and jargon that are required to run a profitable business – and which are unique to each industry.
  • While you build your business around something you are passionate about, direct time and responsibilities over the profitability of your business to a colleague and/or a trusted business advisor.
  • Focus on short-term profitable successes in addition to long-term grand goals.

Bootstrapping the Global Marketplace

Contrary to conventional thinking, Savva and Gauvreau do not actively seek out international partners – because it takes time, resources and energies away from current operations. Rather, their strategy is to produce the best supplements for the North American market and let international partners come to them. This approach for bootstrapping the global market place – by not focusing on it – has worked, and PharmaFreak is now a true Canadian export success story.

The company currently has fifteen products in its line, which is sold in over forty countries. The company’s top markets are North America, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Europe and Indonesia. With attention to each territory, distributor and retailer, PharmaFreak monitors the success of its products in various markets.

To purchase “Business Truths” please click here:

Original BusinessCast Episode: (11.55 minutes)

Copyright, Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada

Tags: andrew brown, business cast, business truths, pharmafreak, robert gold, relationships

Robert Gold
Robert Gold MBA, FCPA, FCA is the Managing Partner of Bennett Gold LLP  a Toronto-area firm of Chartered Accountants. Since 2007 he has been the producer and co-host of the PROFIT BusinessCast, a weekly business podcast featuring interviews with business and thought leaders. Robert is the co-author of 'Business Truths.
Andrew Brown
Andrew Z. Brown helps entrepreneurs take the world by storm! For over 20 years, he has rolled out programs that harness the power of internal communications to keep team members committed to a shared vision and focused on what's really important to grow great companies.
UNISON Spa Therapy
February 10, 2014 at 8:29 am
Excellent points Alex Saava! It's difficult to measure marketing an entrepreneur,.I truly believe a Passion for your product/ business is the #1 advertising tool. It resonates when networking with potential customers.
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