By John Lynds
When East Boston resident James Testa launched his energy-drink company last winter as part of a entrepreneurship class he was taking as a senior at Suffolk University, he didn’t know what to expect.
Testa, who graduated from Suffolk in the spring, said the positive response he received after launching his product during his senior year gave him the little extra push he needed to start his own company.
“It started last winter during my class at Suffolk when we were giving the task of starting a company through Kickstarter (an online funding platform where people can invest in new products),” said Testa. “I was able to raise $8,600, which was $600 over my goal, and my product raised the most money in the class.”
The product called WarmUp is a protein coffee drink that Testa dreamed up after a bike accident.
“I was recovering, and I needed to make sure to keep my protein up as I was healing,” said Testa. “I saw there was really no energy drink on the market that was a combination of the two. I thought it would be a great way for people to get a good dose of protein while enjoying a coffee.”
Since graduating in May, Testa has formed a legal entity, WarmUp LLC., and has intellectual property and trademark rights over the product and its logos.
“It’s been going really well since I launched the product,” said Testa. “I spent months going to gyms, sponsoring events at places like Crossfit and launched a Web site at www.warmupproteincoffee.com.”
All of Testa’s hard work paid off in recent months and places like LA Fitness in Saugus began stocking the product.
“Throughout the whole process, I met a lot of great people like the staff at LA Fitness–people I would have never met if not for my product,” he said. “The thing that really kept me going was the response. At first, it was friends and family, but then, once others started trying the product and I was getting positive feed-back, that’s when I really started pushing.”
Testa said he’s working on towards mass marketing and distribution through online stores like Amazon.
“Right now I make the product in a commercial kitchen I rent,” he said. “Eventually I hope to turn the ready to mix powder into ready to drink cans that can be sold all over. I’m hoping to start mass production, and have the product in places like Whole Foods within a year.”
Testa said WarmUp’s final recipe was the result of a lot of trial and error.
“I went through several different variations of the recipe before settling on the final product,” he said. “It was a lot of handing out free samples when I was at Suffolk, getting feedback from people on campus and tweaking the product to what it is today. I didn’t really start marketing it until I felt I had a good product”
The final product, said Testa, is a mix of 15 grams of protein, coffee and soy lecithin.
“It’s all natural, gluten and sugar free,” said Testa. “The drink is only 60 calories and has no artificial sweeteners or additives. If people want to mix it like an coffee they can add sugar and dairy if they want.”
Testa said once the company grows and expands he’d like to add more options like French vanilla flavor.
“It’s a good way to add a little extra protein while on the go,” said Testa. “It also adds a little extra pick up with the caffeine from the coffee so it’s a good in-between meals snack that you can carry with you.”