The ‘Five minutes with’ series presents a company with five short, sharp and to-the-point questions about who they are and what they do. This week, we’re joined by Marc Giusti, founder of Veloforte
Can you tell us the history of the company?
Veloforte was founded out of my own frustrations with the lack of available high quality premium, real food nutrition products. After an appendix operation in 2014 I wanted to get back on my bike. I had a new awareness of what I was eating and it was suddenly very obvious that high quality, know-what-you-are putting-in-your-tummy, delicious foods for performance just weren’t available.
I started making my own bars with the help of my wife Lara. Lara is a well-respected cardiorespiratory specialist and, coincidentally, also a nine-times gold award winning artisan baker. From a Nutrition point of view, she was able to break it down to a very detailed level, so we put some recipes together.
We quickly realised that the answer to my dreams of a nutritious and delicious bar had been in my larder since my childhood…panforte. Panforte is a delicacy from Siena, Italy. It has very humble beginnings as it was originally used as a fortifying marching food by the Roman Legion with its highly nutritious, natural and well-balanced ingredients. It’s full of energy and it keeps well and tastes delicious – everything I wanted a bar to be when I was cycling.
So, inspired by this, we began a detailed and painstaking process of developing recipes that measured up to the three things we believe are the most important pillars of sports-nutrition and that no other products had hither-to been able to provide… performance, taste and natural ingredients. Strangely, every product we looked at in the market seemed to fail on at least one, if not two of these. After many months of development, we took our prototypes to Mallorca and were overwhelmed by the response; riders were literally throwing away their synthetic gels and taking our bars. Soon after, Virgin got in touch and we fueled their Strive event from the Matterhorn to Mount Etna, fueling 350 riders for 28 days. The success we saw was incredible, and so we set about building the world’s first premium quality sports nutrition products & brand.
What are you ultimately trying to achieve?
Our whole premise is to help people to fuel better. We want that to be the beginning and the end. Great food and active lifestyle have become too divorced; we want to bring them together. People put a huge amount of passion, time and money into their love of cycling but the one thing they feel the least confident about is probably the one thing that would make the biggest difference to their day (and lives), their nutrition. We want to connect people’s passion & performance like never before, after all, it’s what we put inside our bodies!
What gives you an edge over other brands in the industry?
We have a depth of passion and engagement in the subject matter that large sports nutrition companies don’t, we are artisan food makers, we are changing the status quo. We want to demonstrate to people that how they fuel can change how they feel. We want to help people enjoy their passion even more.
We don’t want to just sell a product; we want to give our customers better understanding and better experiences. We add value. We aren’t following a traditional distributor model, we sell direct, allowing us to spend more on the product and connect with our customers better. We work closely with our trusted retailers to make sure they share our knowledge and passion. Our business is not dictated to by common market forces; it is about craft, passion and understanding the needs of our customers.
What innovations in the industry are exciting you at the moment?
The innovations that are exciting us aren’t from sports nutrition companies but from broader food trends and the move toward a more natural way of eating. Veloforte may be from the nutrition sector but we are not of the nutrition sector. There are movements of people all around the world changing the way they eat. Large companies, even multi-national processed food chains, are having to completely redevelop their menus and produce real food that people will actually enjoy and benefit from eating.
Food is such a giant industry, often driven by legacy and finance, we are the little people trying to build a completely different story. Food is an innately human need and has a strong connection with our emotions and our capabilities. We are evolutionarily and intrinsically connected to it. That demands more respect of our bodies and therefore greater innovation than we have all seen for decades.
What does the future hold for the company?
We have a whole line up of new products due to be released in the next 6-12 months and exciting collaborations with interesting brands to announce. We are working with brands that will add to an active person’s experience and some will be surprising, they are brands that are not obviously part of an active lifestyle or cycling world but that share our ethos and values. There will be much more joining of hands in the future.
It is important to us that we keep up a dialogue with our consumers and retailers and keep providing advice and support for people’s unique sporting and active challenges. Understanding our customer’s needs is where we started and I believe that is going to present us with opportunities in the future, to help a broader audience to fuel better. It is incumbent on us to communicate directly with our customers to ensure that our products continue to meet their active lifestyle needs.
All businesses want to grow but we must and will remain authentic and true to our roots. As the owner, this is what I need to look back on in many years’ time and be proud of.