As a two-sport collegiate athlete, Jack Schrupp was always looking for a recovery protein powder. After being unable to find one with the natural ingredients he was looking for, Schrupp took to the kitchen and made his own. After some trial and error, he launched Drink Wholesome, a company that makes protein powder with all-natural ingredients, and no preservatives at all.
“[It’s] fundamentally different from most protein powders out there, really in that it’s made from real, whole food ingredients,” says Schrupp. “We’re simply out here to offer a better tasting, better for you alternative.”
Now a language teacher and high school coach at the Lawrenceville School, Schrupp is balancing teaching and entrepreneurship after launching his company right before the pandemic. We caught up with Schrupp to discuss his new business, his goals to give back, and what exactly goes into his new better-for-you protein powders.
Table Hopping: Tell me about yourself and how you got into this new journey starting your own business.
Jack Schrupp: [In college] I spent much of the year training. I graduated a little over two years ago now. I was a ski racer and a rower in college and at that time, I was looking for a recovery product with real food ingredients. I couldn’t find one, or at least one that tasted good. So I set out to make my own. For the longest time, this was something that I did in the privacy of my own kitchen.
TH: So from the beginning it was just you experimenting. How did that lead into your production now?
JS: It started with blenders and buying ingredients that I could get at a local health food store, and ordering products online. I don’t use any of the ingredients I started with because the ingredients we ultimately use now are not something you can buy in a store. At this point, everything’s pretty proprietary. I’m not a food scientist and I was creating this for myself so the first few products were pretty much a reflection of my tastes.
TH: Where are your products made now?
JS: We manufacture a couple hours away in Cape Cod at a small, local, family-owned granola facility. Everything we do is pretty manual, which is very different from how most protein powders are made. It’s a lot of drying and blending and mixing ingredients using the equipment you’d use to make granola, really. We package it up and are primarily an online business.
TH: What ingredients are in your current products?
JS: Our vanilla protein powder, for example, is a blend of egg whites and chickpeas with coconut meat, sea salt and vanilla beans. We add a little bit of monk fruit sweetener, which is a natural sweetener made from monk, a melon like fruit that comes from Southeast Asia. We’re brutally transparent about our ingredients. We have big, bold font right on the front of the package. What you see is what you get, really nothing to hide here.
TH: Other than vanilla, what other flavored protein powders do you have?
JS: We have a matcha flavor, which is a green tea like a latte you might get at Starbucks. Then there’s mocha, peanut butter, coconut and a peanut butter chocolate flavor. We’re hoping to launch another vegan flavor soon and we are currently putting together a batch of chocolate flavor. Our first products were pretty much the reflection of my tastes and fortunately other people shared my tastes, too.
TH: How has Drink Wholesome been doing being that you’re primarily selling online?
JS: Businesses in our space generally build and grow a community by doing in person trials and demos—attending events, sharing their product, giving out samples and soliciting feedback. [During the pandemic,] we really had to rethink how we were going to connect with people and grow the community. Creating a sample program was huge for us and it was really successful. It’s a great way for us to get the product in people’s hands.
TH: What was it like launching a brand new business at the start of a pandemic?
JS: It’s definitely been a lesson in grit and resilience. It was really daunting to be building this business when small businesses in particular were failing or really struggling. It’s really hard to build a business with few resources at one’s disposal and when you can’t leave your house. I was sort of tied to a keyboard or a phone to figure out how to get the final product in front of people.
TH: How has it been balancing teaching and running your own business?
JS: Challenging at times. Much of what I learned in my first two years of teaching is not relevant in a virtual setting, so I have to be creative and adapt. I feel like I am flying by the seat of my pants when it comes to both teaching and Drink Wholesome!
TH: You have future plans to donate some of your earnings to the preservation of green spaces. Why is that important to you?
JS: I decided from the start that I wanted to be somewhat of a mission-driven business. I wanted a mission that was going to guide what we do. We have plans to be an organic company by 2022. That ties into our goal of well-being in a very broad term of the sense. Also personal well-being when it comes to health and wellness. Well-being for the community in which we live and the natural community. I think a lot of the community members we’ve built share those goals or values.
TH: What are your visions for the future?
JS: One of my plans as a former athlete and endurance athlete is to support aspiring athletes in sports that are traditionally underfunded or marginalized. Sports like rowing or biathlon, skiing and shooting are sports that are not organized in a way that basketball or football are in the United States. We do have ambitions to partner with local businesses in the area like natural grocery stores, but for the time being it’s an online-only business and that’s just a reflection of the world in which we live right now.
The real goal is just to become a sort of a local brand that people know and trust. The community value or the community aspect of what I do is what makes it so rewarding. I love sharing a product with people that makes them happy and they want to share it with others. I think that’s a beautiful thing.
Drink Wholesome was started by New Jersey resident and teacher Jack Schrupp to create a protein powder made from real foods. The powders are made without artificial sweeteners and preservatives, and are dairy, gluten and soy free. Find the product online, where you can get two samples for $5.00.Click here to leave a comment