Two friends, who were also students at San Diego State University, realized back in 2011 that there was a huge lack of convenient and healthy food options on campus. Being broke and having limited cooking facilities meant buying and prepping food wasn’t realistic. That’s when Kevin Gelfand and Martin Reiman decided to start Shake Smart. It was a kiosk on campus that offered 15 varieties of protein and meal replacement shakes that would be affordable, healthy and convenient.
Their first Shake Smart kiosk opened for business in January of 2011. By the second semester, Shake Smart’s sales nearly tripled. That’s when the guys knew it was time to expand. From 2012 to 2013, they opened five more stores including in downtown, at Camp Pendleton, the Westfield UTC shopping mall and at gyms in Oceanside and San Francisco. But they didn’t just add locations. They also added new healthy food options to the menu including acai bowls, whole-wheat wraps and salads. This year, the entrepreneurs will focus on widening Shake Smart’s presence into California State University, Northridge and California Polytechnic State University, and open more kiosks at out-of-state universities as well.
Q: Biggest misconceptions that people have about “healthy” snacks?
Kevin: All calories and fat are bad fats. It is much more important to know what ingredients are going into the products you are eating rather than just looking at the numbers.
Martin: With the overload of healthy claims and endless diets, exercise programs and fads constantly being marketed, it’s really difficult for people to know what’s actually healthy. I think what people overlook is that what and how you eat needs to fit your lifestyle and routine to work because if it doesn’t, its much more likely to fail and you shouldn’t have to sacrifice enjoying what you eat to be healthier.
Q: Best part about doing business in San Diego?
Kevin: San Diego has an amazing entrepreneurial community. We have met many people who want to help entrepreneurs connect and grow and who do it all without needing “something in return”. Also, you can run errands throughout the day without hitting bumper to bumper traffic of course.
Martin: Lots of very active, health and fitness focused people. Its great having a large community of people that identify with our mission as a company. I think that has generated a lot of word of mouth exposure and loyalty in our customer base.
Q: Hobbies you love to do in San Diego?
Kevin: I love to play basketball, exercise, go in the ocean...pretty much any activity where competition is involved. I am a competitor...have a scoreboard and I’m in.
Martin: I get to the beach almost every chance I get, even if only for 30 minutes. Also love the hiking here, plenty of great scenic areas within an hour of home.
Q: If you could be a superhero who would it be and why?
Kevin: Superman of course. He can do business in the front and save the world in the back. And flying at the snap of a finger would be awesome.
Martin: I think I’d have to go with Iron Man, but actually because he isn’t a typical superhero. Just a guy that was smart and crafty enough to build something that allowed him to act super heroically.
Q: What would be the soundtrack to your life and why?
Kevin: Eye of the Tiger by Survivor. Epic song about never quitting and giving it 110 percent at all times. I’m all about challenges and overcoming obstacles and getting stronger and smarter. I live my life by setting audacious goals and working until I achieve them. Definitely Eye of the Tiger.
Martin: You remember the opening scene of Last of the Mohicans where they’re hunting an elk in the forest set to that really intense instrumental? That one has always inspired me, since I was a little kid.
Q: Your favorite shake or snack that you provide customers?
Kevin: Depends on my mood. A Perfect 10 is our most popular shake and the one that started it all. If it is hot out, nothing is better than a breakfast to go. My favorite snack is our savory greek yogurt (if I want something more salty), and definitely our shakes if I want something sweet.
Martin: I still get the PB Squared with Vanilla protein instead of chocolate after almost every workout. I’m also a huge fan of acai bowls, so I’ll grab one of those pretty often as well.
Q: Company you admire and why?
Kevin: Costco. I think they perfected efficiency, they just drop pallets right on the floor and don’t deal with any stocking. Even more so I admire their employee benefits and how well they treat their staff. It all starts with systemizing their business the way they did and the efficiency that makes the staff benefits possible. Also the founder is a true stand-up guy who started at SDSU as well.
Martin: I’ve been a big fan of a relatively new company called “Bulletproof,” that makes coffee and nutritional supplements, that’s pioneering new standards of nutrition and helping gain a better understanding of how nutrition can limit or unlock performance potential in everything from athletics to work to general well-being.
Q: Quote or motto you try to live by?
Kevin: Luck is when preparation and opportunity collide. I constantly hear the word “lucky” when talking about Shake Smart or other successful businesses, and I truly believe great things only happen if you put in the time and effort and stay patient until you get your chance.
Martin: “Stay Focused” has been my unofficial mantra since even before starting Shake Smart. San Diego can be a very distracting place to live and building a company requires constant attention to detail and a lots of sacrifice. I try to keep those words posted somewhere I’ll see it everyday.