On June 14, 2022, NuSkool announced they were welcoming former NFL quarterback and ESPN broadcaster, Tim Tebow as investor and Chief Mission Officer of the business. We sat down with founder and CEO, Joe Christensen to learn about how it all came together, what went into this decision and its impact on the business moving forward.
A New NuSkool. In October of 2021, Joe and his team were in the process of a large redesign of their previous brand that would reintroduce their company as “NuSkool” to the world. Anyone who has been part of brand redesigns can attest to the additional stress associated with the workload that is mounted on top of operating the normal day to day of business activities. As the rebrand neared completion that Fall, Joe and his team received an unexpected call that would completely accelerate and alter the trajectory of the business.
It was Tim Tebow’s agent.
He informed Joe that his team had received a gift box containing various emerging brands including NuSkool’s signature low-sugar, plant-based protein bar. He tried it and immediately became obsessed with the product. Tim’s agent set an introductory call to learn more about the business operations and, most importantly, what the company stood for.
How Did We Get Here? Let’s rewind back 10 years. Joe was working as a personal trainer and nutritional specialist at Anytime Fitness. Largely his clients struggled with weight management (inclusive of weight loss and weight gaining) and would rely on Joe to be a source of knowledge and expertise on what diet would best suit them.
What Joe quickly came to realize is his client’s weight management goals would often be derailed during long work hours or vacations where healthier snacking options were not so prevalent, leading to poor meal choices.
Joe explains, “If you really think about the state of nutritional snacking 10 years ago, there really was no such thing as a healthy snack shelf. We started NuSkool because there was room for clean up across the nutrition bar category. I would even say of the 700-800 nutritional bars out there today, there are realistically only 4-5 others that truly compete with us as a functional, low-sugar, high protein nutrition bar – we even add MCT oil and prebiotic fiber for added function and gut health.”
Let’s fast forward a bit. Before taking that phone call with Tim Tebow’s agent, NuSkool was just in its early beginning, proving strong retail traction and building a loyal customer base, but introducing a celebrity partner seemed too early.
As Joe noted, “I think back to that point in our company’s life and we were not in a place where we were actively entertaining a talent partnership, but when an individual like [Tim Tebow] is truly a fan of your product, you have a different outlook on what it could mean for your business. That’s what made it so exciting.”
Sketching A Future. After chatting with his agent, Tim had agreed to also meet Joe about what a potential partnership could look like. While originally scheduled for 30 minutes, Tim and Joe riffed back and forth on ideas for 2 hours where they talked out about the brand, where they can take this and most important, core health philosophies around what they believed in. They both knew leaving the call, they were going to be working together very soon after.
About the Partnership. Last month, they both announced their formal partnership. Joe defines the partnership as “a natural marriage.” When we asked Joe to further explain the thought process behind the decision, he offered this framework, “Ask yourself what is their moral compass, what is their risk, what is their threat, what do they believe in, what is their history with legal issues, have they made any off colored comments, what does their social agenda look like?”
This is a two way street as it’s likely Tebow was considering the same set of questions on his end. What’s important to hear is the alignment of values, morals and ethics between both parties that brought them together.
As Joe explains “Having a quality product is table stakes in this marketplace. You have to stand for something bigger. You have to bring something more impactful to the consumer to make it relatable or strike a personal chord. At some point you have to figure out what your brand stands for and is fiercely devoted to.”
For NuSkool, Joe saw the prospect of a Tim Tebow partnership as an amplification around a core set of values and beliefs they already held.
Chief Mission Officer. Tim Tebow is joining as NuSkool’s Chief Mission Officer. His role will be centered around ideation execution in both quarterly and annual creative campaigns that elevate the overall mission of the company.
Joe added, “Knowing the platform and megaphone he has for the specific passions he believes in, the title of Chief Mission Officer was a no brainer. For us it was less about earning an extra few million impressions than it was about partnering with somebody that can accelerate advocacy the company’s mission.”
What’s Next. Joe predicts his team is positioned to have a breakout year in 2023. With an ever growing, loyal customer base NuSkool is betting on continuous momentum of the conscious consumer and the growth of the better-for-you category. With Tebow on board, the company is entering the phase of its growth targeting retail and online distribution expansion. You can find NuSkool products on shelf at various retailers across the country such as Sprouts and HEB or simply find their products online at nuskoolsnacks.com.