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Entrepreneur Profile: Nathan Carey, founder & president of ProYo High Protein Frozen Yogurt

Nathan Carey ProYo
Protein-packed products are in high demand and Nathan Carey, founder of ProYo Frozen Yogurt, is delivering what consumers want. Here's a quick look at how he's taking the frozen aisle by storm with his "anytime frozen treats." 

What was the inspiration for your business? What inspires you daily?

A trip to the gym was what inspired me to invent ProYo. One day, I was lifting weights when my right arm snapped in three places. During my recovery, I wanted to add protein to my diet, but I did not have the use of my dominant hand to cut meat. I tried protein shakes and protein bars and hated all of them. They just weren't appetizing. At the time, I owned a frozen yogurt and coffee stand, so I hired a nutritionist and created my own high-protein yogurt. I packed it into a squeeze tube so I could eat the frozen yogurt with one hand. That's how ProYo was born.

A healthy lifestyle inspires me daily. I have the good fortune of living in sunny Santa Barbara, California, and lead an outdoor, active lifestyle that includes running, surfing, beach volleyball, as well as keeping fit at the gym.

What’s been your road to success and critical success factors along the way?

I am still on my journey to success, and like all journeys, I have encountered unexpected twists and turns along the way.

From the early stages of my business, I was fortunate to surround myself with an exceptional team of advisers with deep experience in the food industry, the business world, professional sports and fitness, the healthcare industry, and even the scientific community.

We have focused on creating quality products that appeal to the active consumer’s lifestyle. It’s fun to see how people interact with our product – the positive feedback helps me remain focused and motivated, even on my hardest days. I loved hearing from the oncologist who told me ProYo helped a girl he was treating regain her appetite during treatment. Serious athletes tell me our "anytime frozen treats" are their go-to post-workout protein treat. Parents are grateful to have a satisfying after-school snack for their kids, and many adults have delighted in the squeeze-up tubes that make them feel like a kid again.

Describe a mistake you made with your business. How did you fix it?

In the early stages of ProYo production, I pushed the manufacturing team too fast before all of the processes and pieces were in place. The result was that we blew up some equipment and covered the plant in ProYo. I’m happy to report we were quickly able to isolate the problem and have perfected the manufacturing process. 

What’s your best piece of advice for fellow entrepreneurs? 

Surround yourself with good people in and outside of the industry. Know what you don’t know and hire those who posess the knowledge and skills you lack.

Where are you going? What is the vision for your business in 2 years? 5 years? 10 years? 

The ProYo team is going to create an entirely new category in the frozen space. My vision is to take the brand nationwide within the next two years. In five years, we would like to be on the shelves in other countries. In 10 years, we would like to be internationally accepted and identified as the "anytime frozen treat." 

What was the first retail account you landed?

Whole Foods Northern California.

Has anything surprised you about working with independent retailers?

The frozen space is the hardest and most competitive shelf space in stores because it is limited and costly to maintain. Your product either sells or it's out, so there is little room for error. Working with independent retailers has been great because they have given us important feedback to help us improve. 

How do you position your products in mass, natural and online?

We call ProYo "the anytime frozen treat" across all channels. We want people to appreciate that our product is healthy for them and can be enjoyed throughout the day as a breakfast-on–the-go, blended into a smoothie, as a healthy snack, an afterschool treat, a pre or post-workout protein treat or even a late night healthy indulgence. 

How do you develop relationships with retailers and educate them about your company’s story?

I make a point to meet with as many retailers as possible and personally educate them on our story. I think my passion and vision for creating this truly unique category-changing product has opened many accounts.

What most helped market your product in the beginning?

With 20 grams of protein, ProYo has the highest concentration of protein per ounce on the market. When we introduced ProYo to the marketplace, demand for protein products was on the rise. Since our launch, protein products have continued to surge and consumers have continued to demand higher protein items for their dietary needs. After three years, we remain the leader in protein concentration, and we haven’t sacrificed flavor or texture. 

What’s a guilty pleasure of yours?

Surfing an old-school, single fin surfboard on a day when a high-performance short board would be preferable. 

What's the inside scoop on yourself?

I am dyslexic, and have struggled with reading and writing, but I have never let this get in the way of pursuing my goals.

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