We started with a problem, which inspired an idea, that became our first product: Clean Fuel.
Here’s how that process played out.
I was looking for a natural energy snack to fuel my bike rides. One that tasted great, with nothing artificial, that would fit in the pocket of my cycling jersey.
When I couldn’t find an energy snack that met those specs in any store, I figured out how to make my own; in our home kitchen, with ingredients from the supermarket.
I’d start with whole-food carb sources like oats, rice, potato and sweet potato. Then I’d cook and puree them with a few simple ingredients to add flavor.
Once cooled, I’d put the mix in a ziplock bag and cut the corner off to take on rides. It was kind of like an oversized energy gel.
Over time there were 3-4 recipes I kept coming back to. I’d make big batches, portion them out, freeze them, then defrost ahead of a ride.
This worked really well.
I guess you could call this an early prototype. Sometimes I’d take them straight from the freezer and let them thaw in my pocket during the ride. Worked great for summer. Winter…not so much.
It wasn’t even a product idea until my wife (and co-founder) suggested that other cyclists might be interested in what I was making.
Neither of us had developed a food product before. Where to start?
The first thing we did was make a list of 4 criteria our product had to meet before we’d release it. I guess you could call them quality standards.
1. Natural. Clean ingredients only. Nothing artificial.
2. Performance. It had to give athletes the energy they’d need.
3. Delicious. Most energy snacks taste like candy. We wanted to offer an alternative.
4. No refrigeration needed. My homemade snacks had to be discarded after 2 hours at room temperature. Our product needed to survive rides lasting a whole day, or even longer.
Making - Recipes were printed out and scribbled on while being made and tasted in the kitchen. Notes and changes were updated in the file, which was printed out and scribbled on…and so on.
As we got into the process, we realized what we’d committed to. Each quality standard wasn’t hard to achieve on its own. But trying to achieve two at the same time was really difficult. Going for four, as we were, was ridiculous.
It was a process of create, test, iterate, repeat.
We tried 257 recipes before making one that met all of our quality standards.
It took 2 years to develop our first flavor (massive thanks to all of you who have tried it!).
We promise we’ll be quicker with the next one.
Plenty of time in the kitchen. Plenty of repetition; making the same recipe over and over, with tiny iterations each time, until we got the result we were aiming for.