Bare Performance Nutrition Founder and YouTube Star Nick Bare Talks New CEO and Slogan to Kick off 2023
“I’m going to make a million dollars this first year,” Nick Bare, founder of Bare Performance Nutrition (BPN) told his father back in 2012. “And he said, ‘Nick, if it was that easy, everyone would do it.’ And those words still ring very true, because that first year in revenue, we did $20,000…we missed the mark significantly — I was humbled very early on.”
Bare started BPN out of his college apartment in Pennsylvania using a handful of core ingredients: a pinch of a military loan, a scoop of trial and error, a dash of free help from friends and a sprinkle of not having any idea of what he was doing.
“(It was) ignorance of what it was actually going to take to build a company of the size that I wanted to build and also ignorant of how hard it was going to be,” Bare recalls.
The nutrition student would buy raw ingredients in bulk, measure them on a food scale that only weighed in one-gram increments, scoop the mixtures into baggies and sell them out of his dorm room for $5 a pop (obviously not alarming). As the blends caught on, Bare enlisted a friend to build their website for free, another to design the labels, and he himself dieted down to take marketing photos.
Following stagnant growth of sales from 2012-2016, Bare decided to make the leap, get out of the US Army and go all in on his entrepreneurial venture in 2017, which turned out to pay off — literally.
“We did seven figures in revenue. But, it was the hardest year of my entire life because it was three of us: me, my brother, and our friend Joe, who’s still in the business — he’s our Director of Operations. And we were getting our ass kicked because we didn’t know how to manage inventory. We didn’t know how to manage cash flow. We had no line of credit, we had no loans. We had nothing,” Bare said. “There were many, many nights where we had very little money left in the bank account and rent was due the following week. So it was a great year. It was a pivotal year for the brand, but it was one of the most stressful years of my life.”
However, as anyone who’s built something great knows, there’s a particular magic in those challenging growing-pain seasons.
“The only way to describe it is every single day waking up felt like Christmas when you’re ten years old, because you’re so excited for that day and what you’re going to experience, and there’s no blueprint for what you’re about to do — you’re just figuring it out as you go. It was so exciting.”
Company culture and keeping that Christmas-morning-like spirit is a crucial part to BPN’s success thus far, which is a very intentional part of their ethos.
“I will not hire someone to join the team if they don’t believe in BPN and our mission. We have this scale out of ten that we use for values at BPN based off of our hiring, and if you’re not a twelve out of ten in your belief in our organization and our mission and what we’re doing, you just won’t fit here. If you don’t have that bootstrapped-feel and that just hungry, humble attitude, it doesn’t matter how smart you are or what experience you bring, you still won’t fit,” Bare explained.
“We include (potential candidates) in some of our meetings, our cadences, and if they don’t have this look on their face of like ‘Wow, what you guys are doing here is awesome’, — if you don’t have that from the beginning, you’re probably never going to have it. I’m not saying what we have here is this castle, it’s not by any means, but you can feel the energy when you’re talking to everyone. You can feel how passionate they are about their job and how powerful going more is in the mission that we’re pursuing…and if someone doesn’t visually experience that doesn’t click, I don’t think it ever will.”
Bare went on to share that hiring folks who are smarter than he is is important, and having an ego that prevents you from doing so can hold the organization back.
“And, what I have found is when I’ve hired people who have different experiences than me, who bring a new perspective to the table, who might have done larger, greater, more difficult things than me, they help elevate all of us in this business.”
Fast-forward to 2023, and BPN is an esteemed nutrition brand for hybrid athletes, with products available on their website and emerging into the retail space, first in the company’s home-state of Texas in HEB stores and Vitamin Shoppe. Historically known for the slogan “Go One More”, the supplement line is pivoting to a new message for the new year, alongside Bare stepping down as CEO.
Earlier this month, BPN made the announcement that Kat Thomas would take on the role of Chief Operating Officer, following intentional efforts to separate Bare from being the sole identity of the line.
“I think the brand is at a point now where it definitely could survive in scale and thrive without me. A few years ago, it probably wasn’t that. This year, we’ve done some these past two years, we’ve made some key steps and initiatives to really start separating me from the brand. Not to remove me, but I wanted to make it so BPN could stand on its own.”
Bare has moved to a position focused on marketing and content, where he feels he can add the most value for the upward trajectory of the company. Over time, he’s become less tied to the ‘CEO’ title, and more appreciative of his role as ‘founder’, “because you can’t take that founder title away, especially when it’s a bootstrapped business.”
Historically known for the “Go One More” slogan, tattoo’d by hundreds, if not thousands, of fans around the world, the company is launching a sub-campaign “Prove Yourself Right” this year, expecting a similar strong resonance. “Go One More,” trademarked in 2018, applies much more vastly than in sport.
“It could be your fitness, it could be your work, the business you’re building, being a parent or a spouse” when you want to stop, when you want to quit, when it gets really hard and obstacles show up because they will, it’s not stopping when that obstacle is there. It’s pushing past and giving a little bit more effort. And that small amount of effort you put in compounds over time, because consistency compounds,” Bare said.
“Prove Yourself Right” is inspired by the notion that doubting yourself is dangerous, and committing to goals from a more positive perspective can be ultimately most powerful.
After training for his first sub-three-hour marathon in 2020, documenting the journey online and receiving a lot of public criticism, the founder wrote “You f****ing can’t” on his arm to help motivate him.
“I missed that marathon by 24 minutes, which in marathon time is not a small miss — that is a huge miss. And then the year after that, I put in the work required to run a sub-three (race) and actually do a proper training block. I did it, but I believed myself through that whole process,” he said. “There is power in the belief in yourself as long as you put in the work. I can’t just toe the line of a marathon and say, ‘I’m going to run a sub-two-hour marathon because I believe in myself; you have to pair the work with the belief. Optimism or trying to prove others wrong or right, like that only can take you so far if you haven’t put in the work to get there.”
For more about the company’s inception, plans for the future and more, check out the full interview with Nick Bare as a part of our Coffee Break Conversations series here. These weekly interviews with industry experts are only available to our RX subscribers, and you can join here for just $1 if you aren’t already subscribed.