While it is a challenge to succeed in just one industry, 40-year-old Brad Pyatt is a powerhouse in two. For the millions of aspiring football players, there is a 1% chance to make it to the NFL. According to startups.com, the chances of building a business to over $100 million are about the same. And he’s accomplished both! The same focus and resilience he exhibited as a wide receiver for the Indianapolis Colts has efficiently been carried over into his role as a successful serial entrepreneur. In fact, the self-taught senior executive has a proven talent for starting from scratch and growing small startups into multimillion-dollar companies. Never content with the status quo, Brad is always looking to reinvent himself, to try new things, and to create award-winning brands—which he has done continually throughout his 15-year career in the sports, food and beverage, and health and wellness industries. With brands such as MusclePharm, TRUWOMEN, PlantFuel, Tasty Idea, and a variety of other brands that totaling over $1 billion in sales, Brad has been listed among the Top 100 Influential Leaders in the Food Industry and the Top 50 Successful Athlete Entrepreneurs of All Time. He has also been nominated for over 20 industry awards, including Vegan Protein Bar of Year 2020, GNC’s Rising Star Award and numerous Bodybuilding.com awards:. We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Brad to learn more about his broad areas of expertise, the innovative brands he has created, and his secrets to success.
Since many of our readers recognize you from the NFL, let’s begin with those years. How did your athletic career help you to succeed in the business world?
Those years taught me the 1% rule—that if I can make it into the NFL, I can do anything. I learned how to weather storms and to thrive in chaos. Since then, I’ve continued to be mission-focused and to drive toward daily goals. I also enjoy problem solving, and I work well under pressure, which is particularly useful in crisis management—a common element of all start-ups. Another important take away from my days with the Colts is the importance of treating everyone with the same level of respect—from the janitor to the CEO—because we all start at the bottom at some point. That’s why I say hello when walking down the hallway at work, and it’s why I take time to ask people how they’re doing. This is the culture I’ve set at my company and the ethos behind our success. You have to be about people to truly build a special company and drive culture that wins in sports and business.
What sequence of events inspired you to start your first company?
While I was still in the NFL, I struggled to find anything within the health and wellness industry that would help with athletic performance. So, in 2010, I started MusclePharm—a public nutrition company—based upon my own needs. Before playing for the NFL, I studied kinesiology and exercise science at the University of Kentucky and at Northern Colorado University. I also learned a lot from the NFL doctors, and I knew the market, so it was an easy pivot for me to enter the entrepreneurial space. My wife helped me to start MusclePharm in our garage, and in less than five years, we grew to 300 employees and $200 million in sales. As CEO and executive director/chairman of the board, I had a vision to become a global sports nutrition brand, so I leveraged my relationships to get endorsements from major athletes like Tiger Woods, Connor McGregor, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. At one point, we had a market cap of over $350 million, and the company simply became too big for me to maintain the tight-knit culture I enjoy. So, I brought in a CEO to take over and moved on to other projects. MusclePharm is still public and is in Costco as well as many other stores.
After leaving MusclePharm, did you move straight into creating another brand?
No, I decided to take some time off because I had young kids and wanted time with my family. I also wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next. I just knew that I wanted to do something with my wife because she’s my greatest ally in everything. At the time, there were few options for women, so we decided to join forces and create a business plan to address this gap. In 2016, we started TRUWOMEN under my parent company called TRU Brands. I served as CEO, and from day one, our goal was to encourage a new wave of diversity. We had a phenomenal team of women to act as president, VP of marketing, etc. They built a diverse culture, focused on women first, and got Megan Fox and Halle Berry involved in endorsing. Once again, we took a startup from nothing and turned it into a multimillion-dollar business in less than two years. Sold at both Target and Costco, TRUWOMEN won Vegan Protein Bar of the Year as well as an International Nourish Award for being among the healthiest foods in Europe. That company sold for multimillions of dollars.
Didn’t TRUWOMEN have a sister company as well?
Yes, when I sold TRUWOMEN, I extracted PlantFuel from the parent company. As president and CEO, I trademarked the name back in 2016 It was an exciting project because PlantFuel is an eco-friendly, nutrition-based brand with plant-based ingredients. Also, everything from the scoopers and shakers to the packaging and clothing line is biodegradable. Before we had time to make a single sale, the company sold for millions to a Canadian Public Company ticker FUEL, so I know Plant Fuel will be a massive hit with retailers. We recently just announced a partnership with GNC and Amazon. We also have an investor pool of celebrities and athletes, Morgan Fox, Lil Yachty, Terrell Owens. I also recently just took over as the chairman and CEO of the company and am excited to drive this forward.
That’s amazing! So, what project are you working on now?
I wanted to consult with companies and help them to scale up their brands, so in 2019, I started a brand accelerator called Tasty Idea. Two of the brands that I am especially proud of are Peels and Banana Wave. I am founding shareholder and interim COO of Peels, which started in March 2020. It’s the first citrus-derived CBD and is 100% THC free! Not only do we have phenomenal ingredients and quality. Then there’s Banana Wave—a type of oat milk derived from bananas. I helped another serial entrepreneur find capital for the brand, and we completed a definitive agreement, which we’ll be announcing soon. Banana Wave just sold to a Canadian company, a private equity group that invests in plant-based companies.
With all the brands under Tasty Idea, do you still have time for sports?
Fortunately, I’m an expert in time management, so I’m still very involved in sports. I have a foundation called Cats Claw, which has raised thousands of dollars for youth and high school sports. I’m also a head coach for two football teams: one for a local high school and the other for my son’s little league team. I am also the head track coach for the high school as well.
So, tell us, what is your secret to success?
I’ve been around some of the sharpest minds and leaders in business and sports, and I work toward progress—not perfection. I believe that the only way to learn and grow is to sacrifice and to push through your comfort zone. Innovation is also important to me because I strive to be unique and to identify trends before they start. My products are distinguished, and I always have a product that aligns with the consumer. That’s how to win in a commoditized business.
Founder and CEO
Tasty Ideas, LLC
LinkedIn: Brad Pyatt