- Feb 21, 2018
Before entering Ivey’s MBA Program, Amar Gupta and Josh Barr, MBA ’17, were competitive athletes – Gupta playing competitive squash and Barr racing in Ironman Triathlons. With hectic daily schedules of classes, assignments, social commitments, and extracurriculars, they often relied on grab-and-go protein drinks for nourishment, but they found the drinks chalky, sugar-filled, or just too expensive.
The market didn’t have what Gupta and Barr were looking for – a caffeinated protein drink that tasted good, but was still healthy and affordable.
So they decided to make it themselves.
After six months of research, product development, and testing, followed by a four-month stint with the Western Accelerator program, brüst was born: an all natural and low-calorie drink with 20 grams of protein infused in a cold brew coffee.
Taking the leap into entrepreneurship
The MBA Program put Gupta and Barr on the right track to entrepreneurship. Thanks to Ivey’s courses, cases, guest speakers, and alumni network, Gupta and Barr were surrounded by inspiration, motivation, and support.
“It was really interesting to hear the stories of what other entrepreneurs have been through,” Gupta said. “Having exposure to different cases and seeing the ups and downs these companies faced was really exciting and helpful.”
Barr credits Ivey’s New Venture Project for laying the groundwork for their later success. The New Venture Project gives students the opportunity to walk through a business venture, but without the risk. They developed and refined a business idea, researched the opportunity, wrote a business plan, and pitched it to investors.
“When we started brüst, we were able to use the learnings we took from the New Venture Project,” Barr said.
Outside the classroom, the entrepreneurs found inspiration from the Western and Ivey networks.
“Through the Accelerator program, we were able to meet so many entrepreneurs that went through the process themselves,” Gupta said. “They had successful businesses and unsuccessful businesses, so they were able to share their knowledge with us. Having that connection was incredibly helpful.”
“It’s beyond entrepreneurship – having the strong Ivey community is so important, too,” Barr said. “If you’re able to lend a hand, or even have a conversation, you might end up really helping someone else. We definitely attribute some of our success to the Ivey community.”
Long days, late nights, happy lives
Along with the immense support and guidance they received from the Western and Ivey networks, Gupta and Barr credit their success to their strong partnership and their love of the product.
The two agree they bring different skills, traits, and ideas to the table, and their differences help them achieve balance.
“Jumping into a business with the wrong partner or with no partner is challenging,” Gupta said. “If I were doing this alone without Josh, it would be 10 times harder. Having that right partner is one of the most important parts.”
Above all else, the entrepreneurs say the long hours and stressful days are made worthwhile because they are genuinely excited about their product.
“It doesn’t feel like work to me,” Barr said. “People say you need to find something that doesn’t feel like work. That’s how I feel.”
“Make sure if you’re jumping into something, it’s something you personally like. It pretty much becomes your life,” Gupta continued. “Taking the leap into entrepreneurship was very risky, but I’m so happy we did it. I could’ve gone to another corporate job, but taking the journey and going through it ourselves gives you learnings you can’t get anywhere else.”