Alex Karsos – CEO
Chris Karsos – President
Alex and Chris Karsos are the founders of GI Nutrition and are dedicated to providing athletes, coaches, health enthusiasts, and parents with safe, reliable, and high quality products. Alex got his BS in Business Management, Entrepreneurship & Strategic Management at Babson and then went on to intern at Merrill Lynch before founding GI Nutrition with his brother, Chris. Alex and Chris both attended Babson College and both graduated in ’09 (they are twins), and started developing the company their senior year launching it a few months after graduation.
Grecian Ideal Nutrition (GI Nutrition) is a health and nutrition company that develops and markets NSF Certified for Sport nutritional supplements that used by professional and non-professional athletes for the purposed of athletic training and improved conditioning.
MO: What inspired you to start GI Nutrition and how have your backgrounds and experience helped with developing your own company?
Alex: When we were in college, the professional sports world was under national spotlight with scandals and controversies involving performance-enhancing drugs. At the same time a very controversial documentary was released, Bigger, Stronger, Faster. The documentary opened our eyes to the dishonest and corrupt world of nutritional supplements and the companies that created them. We both were taken back by the lack of honesty and accountability in this industry. This sparked so many questions and ideas into our heads.
Chris: At Babson we were taught from day one to think outside of the box and to always approach situations with an entrepreneurial mindset. We learned to answer problems with opportunities not solutions. So the first thing that came to our minds was, “How can we fix this? How can we bring trust back to the consumer?” Within a week we had every open wall space in my dorm room covered with ideas and our possible solutions. This was the initial stage of us putting together our company. We then started meeting with alumni, professors, and industry professionals to help us build our ideas into actual concepts.
MO: Why are there growing concerns of the safety and integrity of nutritional supplements and how can you help alleviate the apprehension that your customers may have?
Alex: In 1994, Congress passed DSHEA (Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act), which made dietary supplement manufacturers responsible for ensuring that a dietary supplement or ingredient is safe before it is marketed. The FDA is responsible for taking action against any unsafe or adulterated products commercially available in the market. So basically any company or person can make a product, sell it, and may not see any repercussions for months after it hits the market! This has allowed for dishonest practices to thrive in the industry. With no regulation, companies have put profits before the safety of the consumer. And over the past few years this has been the center of attention for weight loss and sports nutrition products. There have been countless recalls on products that are adulterated with steroid-like ingredients, contaminations, and even heavy metal counts.
Chris: We saw this as an opportunity for us. We wanted to build a company that is based on honesty, transparency, and safety. We check on each other on how we run the business, making sure we do things right. So much so that before any decision is made, we ask ourselves, “Would Mom approve of this?” As corny as it may sound, this has led us to create safe and tested products and great customer service at the forefront of everything we do.
The entire GI Nutrition product line is 100% free of any banned substances and NSF-certified for sport that can be used by professional and non-professional athletes for the purposes of athletic training and improved conditioning.
MO: What kind of collaboration has been required in order to create the most optimal products?
Chris: Aside from taking advantage of the professional network we’ve established while at Babson, we’ve been able to build a balanced yet strong partnership with suppliers, knowledgeable experts and personalities to our advisory team. We have partnered with a few but the most reputable manufacturers in the country to produce our products. They are at the forefront of technology and their teams of doctors and chemists have years of experience formulating products. We also continue to surround ourselves with nutrition advisors who are active and leaders in the health and fitness industries.
MO: Can you explain to our readers what NSF is for Sport Certification and why you felt it was so important to attain?
Alex: NSF International is a very prominent and respected non-profit organization that develops standards and regulations for everything from water, food, to household appliances. A few years ago they created a dietary supplement-testing platform called, NSF for Sport. Their program certifies that products and companies are safe for not just the elite professional athlete, but also the everyday health conscious consumer. Every lot that we produce is tested to be free of banned substances and contaminants. They also do yearly label verification and marketing review as well as multiple audits throughout the year on our manufacturing facilities. Their certification is recognized by every leading sports organization including the MLB, NFL, NCAA, and the Olympics. It was a no brainer to put our products through their certification. It allows us to truly provide safe, tested products that our customers can trust.
MO: How have you managed to get your products in the locker rooms of professional teams and taken by some of the best athletes in the world?
Alex: There are a few major factors contributing to our success with professional teams and athletes. Athletes are multi-million dollar investments for teams. With so many scandals over the past few years, strength coaches won’t even look at a product unless it is NSF Certified for Sport, it is just not worth the risk. But the certification will just get you a conversation with them. For them to actually take your product it has to both work and taste good (Yes, the majority of athletes are just like the general consumer. Unless it tastes good they probably won’t take it). We have also been very lucky due to the help we have received from some of our advisors as they work with prominent professional athletes on a daily basis. The athletes trust our products more knowing that their nutritionist or trainer played a vital role in the development of our products.
MO: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for GI Nutrition?
Chris: Right now we are in talks with some major retail and online distributors to make our products more readily available to both e-commerce and brick and mortar health and nutrition stores. It has been very surreal for us to know that some of the best pro teams and players are taking our products and now the next step for us is to see our products on the shelves of health stores and natural food retailers. Professional players such as Miami Marlins pitcher Tom Koehler, Team USA lacrosse midfielder Max Siebald, San Diego Padres pitcher Casey Kelley, and weightlifting champion Vince Urbank to name a few – all confident with and trusting GI Nutrition products as part of their sports training regimen. With the growth we are looking to bring on new strategic advisors, industry experienced employees, and new investors.