We sat down with Gainful’s Co-Founder and COO, Eric Wu, to ask him about his journey to starting Gainful, where he sees this company going, and what health means to him.
Q: Why did you start Gainful?
My co-founder, Jahaan, and I grew up playing soccer together. While we’ve always been athletes, we never took our nutrition very seriously, and certainly never considered using supplements.
Toward the end of college, I had stopped playing soccer competitively and decided to get my own fitness and nutrition on track. When I stopped by the local supplement store to try and find a protein powder, I was completely overwhelmed. The store was stocked floor to ceiling with giant tubs with crazy labels and unpronounceable ingredient lists. Worst of all, every single brand looked like it was made for jocks and meatheads.
That day, I went back to my college apartment and began buying up ingredients online to try and make my own protein powder – something with clean ingredients that I knew would be right for me. A supplement that I could trust and understand.
Eventually, I was able to create a blend that was just right for my goals, my fitness routine, and my dietary restrictions. The rest is history.
Q: Were you always interested in sports nutrition?
Never. If you had told me 5 years ago that I’d be working full-time as the founder of a personalized nutrition company (and loving it!), I probably would have laughed at you.
And that’s really the beauty of Gainful. I’m the furthest thing from a biohacker or a nutrition nerd, but I’ve surrounded myself with brilliant team members – experts who counsel the world’s most elite athletes as well as Registered Dietitians who know exactly what the everyday athlete needs to reach their goals – in order to help people just like me. We’re making personalized nutrition accessible for every body.
Q: What is your goal for Gainful’s future?
For virtually every one of our customers, Gainful is their first experience with personalized nutrition. That is unbelievably exciting for me.
Our brand has the ability to introduce people to personalized nutrition, which is something that I know will revolutionize and define health and wellness forever. We’ve barely scratched the surface with Personalized Protein Powder, Hydration, and Pre-Workout. There are so many other products and use cases in sports nutrition that desperately need personalization.
Most importantly, sports nutrition is often where our customers start their nutrition journeys, but it’s almost never where it ends. There’s an entire world of nutrition outside of sports performance that we have yet to explore – that is why I wake up every morning so excited about what we’re doing here.
Q: What was your most rewarding moment as a co-founder?
Raising money, landing partnerships, and hitting revenue milestones is always gratifying. I would be lying if I said those things aren’t fun in the moment.
That said, easily the most rewarding moments I’ve had as a founder have come from interactions with my team. There is nothing as fulfilling as bringing insanely talented, smart, and driven people on the journey of a lifetime. As a founder, Gainful means everything to me. Being able to share even a sliver of that passion and motivation with the incredible folks on our team is beyond humbling.
Q: What does health mean to you?
I think everyone saw this answer coming...health is personal. No two people are the same, and the only way to live a demonstrably happier, healthier life is to take your wellness personally. Personalization doesn’t have to be intense or stressful – it can be as simple as listening to your body and talking to someone you trust. You don’t have to worry about your health 24/7, but it’s very important to carve out time in your day to be thoughtful about the brands you support, the products you’re putting in/on your body, and how you are treating yourself. And, of course, health is both a physical and mental game!
Q: What sets Gainful apart from other companies in the sports nutrition industry?
In a word: personalization. For us, personalization goes beyond simply tailoring micronutrients and macronutrients for each of our customers. At Gainful, we aim to provide deep personalization in every aspect of every customer’s experience with the brand. That means we send you relevant content, support you with free, 1-on-1 advice from your very own Registered Dietitians, and help you reach your goals through personalized fitness advice. With over 2 million people having taken our quiz at Gainful.com, we’re able to create what I genuinely believe is the most personalized experience that sports nutrition has ever seen.
Q: Tell us a fun fact that no one knows about you.
I’ve often told investors that Jahaan and I were “co-captains of our high school soccer team”. This makes for an easy story, but in reality Jahaan was the captain of our varsity team – I was only captain of our freshman team. Guess I started out strong and got worse while Jahaan improved
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