Blend Protein is shaking up the supplement world
Startup offers vegan smoothies packed with all-natural, high-protein ingredients.
When Luke Lana and Alex Cole first became acquainted with one another at the University of Wisconsin–Platteville student gym a few years ago, they never anticipated the friendship would blossom into a business venture. The self-proclaimed gym rats were studying engineering at the time, but shared complaints over the chalky consistency and horrifying ingredient lists that come with protein supplements spurred a different career choice for the young men.
“The gears were always turning, we were always thinking, ‘How can we do do our own thing, invent something and become our own boss?’” Lana says. His then-girlfriend (now his wife) despised chugging chunky protein out of a blender bottle and preferred mixing up concoctions back at home with fresh fruit and vegan milks. This gave Lana an idea.
“We realized that nobody is really creating a protein supplement that’s healthy, all natural, and quick and easy,” he says. “We thought this would be really cool to bring a product to market, develop it ourselves, create the flavors and the packaging … and it took us about a year’s time to do that.”
Working speedy-fast, Lana and Cole set up their e-commerce shop on April 15 — right smack dab in the thick of COVID-19. Regardless, the new company hit the ground running with six unique flavors of pre-packaged Blend Protein smoothies. Folks could order a package of six to 12 smoothies for delivery, and the company has since filled the aisles of Madison’s HyVees and Fresh Market.
Just as thriving companies like Uber were developed during the 2008 recession, Lana hopes that their unique mission of making at-home healthy living a bit easier will help Blend stand out among lower-protein, higher-price products.
“It was a very scary time, but we were ready to go … we didn’t want to sit back,” he says. “We had inventory and we knew that people were starting to lose their ability to go to a gym, so this was the perfect time to introduce a product that can be taken with your blender right at your house.”
Blend isn’t just for marathon runners or deadlift competitors, though. (And it definitely is not your typical smoothie packet.)
These supplements are made to be incorporated into your daily life, and each flavor packs at least 12 grams of protein even without adding milk. Since whey protein has a tendency to cause bloating or sluggishness — not to mention the fact that many protein powders are allergen nightmares — all of Blend’s products use pea protein alongside quality fruits and veggies.
Lana suggests folks try the peanut butter peel flavor with an almond or oat milk first — because what’s not to love about banana, blueberries and cacao nibs? — but getting experimental with your liquid and packet combinations is definitely part of the fun.
While many veggie-lovers advocate for a Mighty Greens and coconut water combo, Lana says normal milk is pretty dang good too. His secret favorite? Hazelnut Buzz — with banana, coconut and rolled oats — mixed with coffee as the base. A bright new favorite, raspberry mousse, is also expected to be released in the next month, tallying up to seven yummy pea protein mixes to pick from.