Editor's Spotlight: Startup Focus

Inspired by cabbage pies: Finnish fathers get their fitness fix with sports nutrition start-up

By Nikki Cutler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Puls Nutrition whey powder
Puls Nutrition whey powder
Three Finnish fathers have created an approachable protein snacks brand after being inspired by the lack of convenient nutrition in Russia.

Tuomas Uusi-Hakala and Matti Myllymaki met while studying Russian at university and they met their future business co-founder Jonne Pöyhtäri, a former engineer, while working in Russia.

It was there, in 2013, that the men became inspired to build their own sports nutrition business after realising the huge opportunity in that country.

“The category in Russia was so undeveloped, and we were struggling to find our protein powders and bars from local stores, that we decided to do something about it," ​explains Uusi-Hakala.

jonne and Tuomas 2
Jonne and Tuomas

“To be more precise, the first idea we got was when we were sitting in a metro in St. Petersburg with Jonne, going from work to gym, tired after long working day and eating cabbage pies because we couldn´t find anything more nutritious.

“We discussed about the healthy food category in Russia and Scandinavia, and the totally different development phase between them. And at that moment we decided to do something for the category in Russia.

“So it all started from Russia, but soon we understood that similar situation is in many markets. So we widened our scope from Russia and Finland to global view.” 

In the beginning, the venture was made possible thanks to Uusi-Hakala’s mother who provided initial investment to create the first batch of protein bars, which were brought to market in January 2015.

They started with 'easy to understand' products – protein bars - before branching out with more innovative ideas such as soft cookies and wafers.

“We wanted to focus on retail and target the normal health conscious people. The strategy with the product line was a bit simple in the beginning, because we worked in markets with very undeveloped sport nutrition category.

“That´s why our first products were very basic, easy to understand for consumers, like protein bars, whey protein powders and energy bars.

“After that we launched more innovative products, and we´re innovating all the time with new launches."

Bite bars

Approachable products

The entrepreneurs, who are also all fathers-of-two, say they aim to be pioneers in the category with products that are ‘fresh, playful, delicious and easily approachable’, and therefore more tailored towards women and the everyday consumer.

The range now includes a whole host of protein rich on-the-go food and drink including: soft cookies, pre-workout shots, energy gels, porridge pots, ‘Bite’ low sugar bars, ‘Kex’ gluten-free wafers, gluten-free ‘Energy’ bars with high fibre, and much more.

Last month, they launched their organic protein shakes and this month they’ve launched a vegan protein shake.

Finland, Baltic states and Russia have the best availability at the moment but the products are currently sold in 12 countries around the globe. By the end of the year, the founders hope their products will be available in 20 countries.

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