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January/February 2011

Feature Stories

This Student-Owned Business is Shakin’ It Up!

Take these ingredients:

Add milk or soy milk and protein powder, a variety of fruity flavors—perhaps a dash of peanut butter or açai—and a blast of youthful energy. Blend well.

Voila: Your Shake Smart is ready!

photo: Shakesmart beverage standGrand opening

On your next trip to the Aztec Recreation Center (ARC), you’ll notice something new. No, it’s not another coffee kiosk offering a caffeine fix and chocolate croissants. It’s Shake Smart, a new business—in fact, the first student-owned business—on campus. The grand opening coincides with the start of classes this semester.

Shake Smart offers 15 flavors of high-protein, high-nutrient, low-calorie blended drinks. This new venture is the brainchild of Kevin Gelfand, a business major. For years now, he’s learned about the importance of accompanying exercise with a healthy serving of protein.

Nutrition 101

“Nutrition 101, that I took back when I was a freshman, and even coaches back in high school talked about this, that protein shakes are the most important thing you can take, both before and after a workout,” says Kevin. “I’ve been going to the ARC for 4 years. I’m a senior now and not living on campus. I can’t really go back home to get a protein shake before going to the gym…. so I’d bring a packet of protein powder and try to blend it with lukewarm water.”

He laughs. “It didn’t taste good.”

And then Kevin had an idea. Why not start an on-campus business, selling protein shakes outside the ARC? Kevin’s friend and business partner is Martin Reiman, another business major and fitness enthusiast.

“For both of us,” says Martin, “it’s part of our life, working out, being active and doing sports. Good nutrition is part of that, and Kevin realized this just makes sense, that we could fill this gap and make this happen. It’s good for us and also a huge benefit to the SDSU community.”

Business Plan

The two have spent six months planning and getting approvals from campus officials, and Kevin says it wouldn’t have been possible without the initial support of RD Williams of Aztec Shops, who thought it was a great idea. And once the early hoops had been successfully jumped through, there was the issue of funding.

“Especially with this economy,” says Martin, “it seemed like it would be really difficult for people our age. We don’t own homes, cars, or anything anyone would accept as collateral. But once we got approved to be on campus, then that helped us get more attention from investors and people who could help us get funding for the company. You have to get a business plan and get on paper exactly what you’re going to do and make a good case as to why you think you can be successful.”

Kevin adds, “I know we’re not the first ones to try to get a student business on campus; we’re just the first ones to be successful at it.”

Shake your shape

So what do the shakes taste like?

“Amazing,” says Kevin.

Flavors range from one that tastes like a Wendy’s chocolate frosty to “Vanilla Thrilla,” “Chocolate-Covered Strawberry,” “Pineapple Express,” and “Grammy’s Goods,” a cookies & cream blend with a peanut butter boost.

Kevin calls the 250-350-calorie protein shakes “a great meal replacement – better than a burrito that has a thousand calories,” and Martin adds that “this is healthy and has all the nutrients, so you’ll feel full. But not full of empty calories.” (Their business “tag line” is “Shake your Shape.”)

All shakes are low in sugar and carbs and high in protein, vitamins and flavor. Each is fresh and blended to order (choose milk or soy milk) on the spot at $3.95 for a 16-ounce or $4.95 for a 24-ounce shake.

“We’ll give out lots of free samples initially, so people can taste it,” says Kevin. “Finally having something that tastes good and is actually good for you is the best of both worlds.”

Because many people go to the gym sans wallet or cash, Shake Smart will offer a “prepay online” option at the company’s website. The site designer, who also set up the online prepay option, is Griffin Thall, a former SDSU business student. Several employees, all SDSU students who are knowledgeable about nutrition and fitness, will operate the blenders and answer customer questions.

Neither Kevin nor Martin comes from a “business” family. Both are involved, full-time students, and both have other jobs in addition to their newly launched business.

“We’ve only known each other three and a half years,” says Martin, “and ever since we met, we’ve just constantly been challenging ourselves to do bigger and better things. We have a lot of momentum in life—and we have a lot of ideas.”

About the owners

Kevin Gelfand, 21, has been an active member in several on-campus organizations during his 4 years at SDSU. He was awarded semester Valedictorian in Spring, 2009. During the past year he has participated the Lavin Entrepreneur Program to develop his business skills and find opportunities in the market. His desire for healthy protein shakes on campus was the inspiration, and his business training—along with mentoring from his Aunt—helped make the idea a reality.

Martin Reiman, 21, grew up in New Jersey and moved to California to attend SDSU.  He has have been involved with the Greek System and Associated Students, he won 2009-2010 IFC Chapter President of the Year, and he currently serves as Judicial Director for Student Life and Leadership. Martin is also Kevin’s Shake Smart business partner.

For more information, visit the Shake Smart website: http://www.shakesmart.com.


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