When it comes to answering the “sponsorship” question, let me first start with simply saying that I “get” it - really. Endurance athletes, especially fast ones, love to get stuff for free - and love to wear logos from “sponsors” - and love even more to get PAID to use free logo’d stuff from sponsors. As a sponsored athlete “back in the day” in cycling, triathlon, and rowing (by the US Olympic Committee, Texaco, Trek, Exceed, Powerbar, and others) I completely and totally understand that sponsorship is what drives a large portion of the endurance sports category. If someone wants to pay you to eat Powerbars instead of Clif bars - or pay you to ride Trek bicycles instead of Specialized, then you should do it! I’m not at all “against” sponsorship, but it’s just not how we operate at Wicked Fast.
At Wicked Fast, we take the approach that by avoiding the high-costs associated with sponsorships (and advertising), we can offer a more premium, higher potency, more effective formula - and offer it at a very reasonable price to our customers.
Most of our “competitors” (so-called) have sponsorship programs where they PAY athletes to use their products and wear their shirts and hats. Good for them - and if you can get one of these deals, then you should take it! In effect, you’re getting free stuff that is being subsidized by actual paying customers who see you representing “Company X” and figure they’ll buy those products for their own use. The problem with this approach is that the paying customer gets screwed because the product that they are buying is either over-priced (to pay for advertising and sponsorship) or the formula is cheap (to leave enough room for adequate “markup” to an acceptable retail price).
When we started Wicked Fast back in 2004, we wanted to make the best, most-effective, ultra-premium formulas - AND sell them for a reasonable price to endurance athletes JUST LIKE US who were paying for their own products and wanted to supercharge their own performance. In the world of nutrition products, the ideas of “premium formula” and “reasonable cost” tend to be opposite objectives (trust me, I have formulated some of the top-selling nutrition products across retail, infomercial, MLM, and other channels).
We recently had a very accomplished ultra-runner email us and say, “Hey Guys, Company X’s sponsorship program is spreading like wildfire and even though I like your products much better, I might have to jump on that bandwagon.” My response was - “Go for it!” - and I sincerely hope that this runner can get some financial support from Company X.
Another example is a very-accomplished Xterra (off-road) triathlete that is PAID by another nutrition company to wear their logo and “represent” their products - but who also buys and resells Wicked Fast products to the athletes that they coach (because they want their athletes to achieve their best performances).
Yet another example is the Ironman triathlete who recently finished on the Kona podium and had to stop recommending Wicked Fast products the following year when offered a sponsorship from another nutrition company.
Let me say again, that I wish every one of these athletes the absolute BEST and I have encouraged many more athletes to “Go for it!” if they’re ever offered a sponsorship because I was in their very same shoes when I was young and fast.
Having been on the sponsorship “receiving end” (as an athlete) as well as on the “sponsoring end” (as an executive at several nutrition companies prior to starting Wicked Fast), I know the finances and logistics of how sponsorships work. As I said above, when we started Wicked Fast, we wanted both premium formulas and reasonable prices - and the only way you can achieve both of those goals is to sell “direct” to consumers. We do this in two ways:
Direct Internet Sales - where individual endurance athletes buy a bottle or a combo-pak of Energ-Ease, Recover-Ease, or Intense Defense and have it shipped right to their door. The customer pays a fair price and gets an amazing product that helps them go harder, recover faster, and feel better.
Coaches Program - where endurance coaches buy any combination of 10 Wicked Fast products at wholesale prices (40%-50% discount) that they resell to their clients. The coach is able to create a nice nutrition “side business” to supplement their coaching business - and their athletes are assured of having premium products to help them achieve their personal best.
Neither of these programs suffer from the inflated markups demanded by heavy sponsorship or advertising programs - which enables us to “spend” additional costs on premium ingredients without excessive markups on the final products.
If you’re a “sponsored” athlete, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for you to pay $40-$50 for a premium Wicked Fast product, when you can get PAID to represent an “OK” product from Company X. However, if you’re like 99% of the endurance crowd (like we are now), you’re probably doing the “endurance thing” for fitness and health and personal challenge and FUN (not so much as a “career” like the top athletes) - so it makes more sense to spend money on premium products that help you do what you do - better.
Because our focus on selling Direct and via Coaches, we’re able to keep our overhead very low without high-cost advertising and sponsorships. This enables our formulas to include ultra-pure and potent ingredients such as the high-altitude Cordyceps and Rhodiola and the patented Eurycoma found in our Energ-Ease; the proprietary “3:1:1” BCAA blend found in Recover-Ease; and the Wicked Burn and Wicked Mend blends found in Intense Defense.
Even though we don’t really “do” advertising or sponsorships at Wicked Fast, we still support a heck of a lot of events with product and swag that we send to running events, trail challenges, and triathlons all over the country. We do this because it is one of the ways that we can support the events that we DO (and maybe give us a good excuse to visit a new event - for “business” reasons, of course - ha ha).
Wicked Fast has always just been myself and Julie - I formulate the products and she runs the logistics. We have always wanted to keep it small and intimate and with the right “vibe” to keep it fun. We started Wicked Fast to develop products that nobody else would/could develop. We keep the prices low so “real” athletes can afford them and benefit from them. We have “passed” on different offers to sell the company - partly because we didn’t want to move away from the Utah trails or the Massachusetts shore - and partly because it’s just not the vibe we started Wicked Fast for in the first place.
Our Wicked Fast tagline is, “Get up... Get going... Keep going...” (and enjoy yourself while doing it) - this is what we’re all about and this is what our customers are all about - and this is what we’ll continue doing. We invite you to join us...
Hope you found some of that interesting - Thanks for reading!
Shawn M. Talbott, Ph.D.
C.E.O. (Chief Endurance Officer)
Wicked Fast Sports Nutrition
648 E Rocky Knoll
Draper, UT 84020
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