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The Founders of Scott's Protein Balls Share How a Health Crisis Turned Into a Business Opportunity Lori and Scott Levine created their company when they couldn't find the product they were looking for on the market.

By Robert Tuchman Edited by Jessica Thomas

Key Takeaways

  • Struggles lead to opportunities.
  • Creating a product comes with trial and error.
  • Slow and steady wins the race when navigating retail opportunities.

This week, I spoke with Lori and Scott Levine, founders of Scott's Protein Balls, to delve into their journey in the health food industry. Their protein ball company has rapidly gained popularity, and I wanted to uncover the story behind its success.

You can listen to our full conversation above, and below I highlighted three key takeaways. I hope you find their insights as motivating as I did.

1. Struggles lead to opportunities

"Out of nowhere, in 2017, I was diagnosed with breast cancer," Lori says. "I had no family history and no reason to believe this would happen; it just did. It was a terrible time in our lives — I had to go through surgery and treatment. I live on Long Island, and the hospital I chose to do the surgery was NYU. I had to be in the city for 8 weeks, five times a week, getting radiation. I have amazing friends and family who would drive me both ways, but I would eat on the go. I ate protein bars, lots of them. The parking garage was right next to Insomnia Cookies, and I made the decision that every time I had radiation, I was entitled to a cookie.

"When the treatments were over, and I got on the scale and looked in the mirror, I said, 'I gotta do something here.' I didn't have a clean, healthy treat to get me through it, but I decided I was going to get in the best shape of my life. I went to a nutritionist, and I never felt better at 52, but she said, 'No more protein bars.' They sit on the shelf. They have preservatives. They have soy and sugar and who knows what. No one ever reads the back. We just think they are healthy because they are called protein bars. I would come home and complain to Scott, who was a CPA/CFO, and say, 'I need something. I have a hole.' He told me that I had been through so much, and he felt horribly he wasn't really able to help or make it stop. 'I'm going to create something for you,' said Scott. And that's what he did. He created this little peanut butter cacao protein ball, and the rest is history."

Timestamp — 2:49-4:42

Related: A Skin Cancer Scare Led Lois Robbins on an Entrepreneurial Journey. Here Are Her 3 Best Success Tips.

2. Creating a product comes with trial and error

"Creating Scott's was all trial and error, to be honest," Scott says. "We needed a solution to Lori's issue, and I said, 'You know what, I'm going to figure it out.' In reality, this meant I was going to test everything possible to figure out what her body needed, as I knew nothing at the beginning. After a lot of experimenting with mixing this much or that much, finding the taste that we liked, and figuring out the calories and the protein count, we eventually settled on a recipe that worked. It was 80 calories; it was the right size, it had just enough of a dessert-like taste, and it worked for her. Fortunately, a lot of it really came down to math, which I am good at. It was literally just me in the kitchen at night with a mixing bowl and a bunch of ingredients on a table. I would get frustrated from time to time when it was awful, but eventually, I managed to make something pretty outstanding."

Timestamp — 7:43-9:08

Related: The Founder of Match.com Is Now in the Baby Business — and Her Best Success Tips Are Relevant to All Entrepreneurs

3. Slow and steady wins the race when navigating retail opportunities

"We have had many opportunities to talk to retailers where we actually turned
them down," Lori says. "We decided that you only get one shot, and we could not make enough to go into 400 stores. We've been fortunate to be picked up by some big names in the business, but these decisions have been made strategically and slowly. Every time an opportunity comes, it is a tough decision, but recently, we have been taking a slower approach, and now our supply chain is strong. We have been self-funded all along, and we now have a co-packer. We are doing our first kosher run next week, with the formal certification and so much more in the works."

Timestamp — 21:58-23:00

Related: The Former Owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers Has a New Passion Project. Here's Why He's Fighting to Create a Safer Internet.

Robert Tuchman

Entrepreneur Staff

Host of How Success Happens

Robert Tuchman is the host of Entrepreneur's How Success Happens podcast and founder of Amaze Media Labs the largest business creating podcasts for companies and brands. He built and sold two Inc. 500 companies: TSE Sports and Entertainment and Goviva acquired by Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

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