The multisport market has been growing significantly over the past few years, specifically the triathlon segment at
Olympic and Ironman distances. The separate market research documents found in Doc Sharing titled USA
Triathlon Market Research.pdf and USA Triathlon Membership.pdf provides an excellent analysis of this market.
One of the most critical areas for an athlete to get right on longer races (Olympic and above) is the aspect of
nutrition. Across the three different disciplines of swim, bike, and run, different muscle groups are all taxed and
must be done at a continuous high intensity across 3+ hours, and the body needs proper hydration and nutrition to
keep performing at peak levels. It would be very difficult to achieve peak performance, let alone finish an endurance
distance event with an inadequate or improper nutritional strategy. This strategy involves much more than a few gel
packs or some water or a bar of some sort.
Athletes must balance flavor, proper energy, electrolytes, proper carbohydrate mix, and sufficient quantities of
calories and protein to achieve their goals, whether it is to finish or win their age group.
Having completed several Olympic and Ironman 70.3 events, Ben Smith believes there has to be a better way to
keep himself optimally hydrated and fueled. In race after race, he has suffered a combination of problems including
bad taste; GI distress, the inability to consume the quantity of calories and electrolytes in race conditions, and
simply the inability to carry and easily prepare and consume calories and nutrition throughout the bike and run that
are critical for any athlete to achieve their goals. Ben Smith wants a better solution than to juggle a cumbersome
and expensive array of suboptimal products (gels, chews, preformulated high-sugar drinks, pills, etc.) and has set
out to develop a new venture to address this underserved need.
Proper carbohydrate components provide the short and long chain energy, electrolytes contribute to muscle
function, and protein provides power, but all this has to not only be correctly formulated but also needs to be in a
form that is easily and willingly consumed and that is easily and quickly accessed by the body so it can be put to
After talking with hundreds of fellow athletes and scanning the market, Ben finds that despite the existence of
several high-profile products, there is no product with the completely correct formulation that is effective, easy on
the stomach, and delivers performance goals by actually being absorbed and used by the body.
Each athlete has a different size, weight, sweat rate, race goals, caloric requirements, electrolyte needs, and flavor
preferences, so any product would ideally need to be customized to their own individual requirements and
preferences. Moreover, the product must be stable and maintain taste and performance across the many hours of a
race, including in hot conditions where the nutrition would likely rise to ambient temperatures or hotter. Lastly, a
product that leaves an athlete bonked out before the finish, or one that works but cannot be consumed because of
taste or GI and/or bloat issues, is of limited value.
Based on his experience, conversations, and competitive research, Ben is convinced there is a good opportunity in
the nutrition space for a new customized drink product and he is setting out to work.
The first thing he needs to do is to conduct a bit of market research into the triathlon market (as his initial market,
before expanding to others) to evaluate the opportunity using structured criteria and to know where the strengths
and weaknesses lay. This includes evaluating and selecting the right product, designing a research program to get
the needed voice of the customer, and digging into the market to segment, target, and position his new product
while gaining an accurate perspective on the competition.