On a campus with three gyms, tight budgets and a foreboding fear of the freshman 15, two students have found a way to combat these problems — and have turned it into what they hope will be a profitable business venture.
Last week, LSA senior Eugene Han and Engineering senior Brandon Myers officially launched 23HourNutrition.com, an online business providing energy supplements, vitamins and weight loss aids to a workout-hungry student population.
“We started 23 Hour Nutrition based on the fact that me and Brandon are gym rats and took supplements to help our workouts,” Han said. “We were frequent customers of GNC but at the same time realized they were overcharging us by 25- to 50-percent margins.”
Han and Myers said they realized they could provide the same product they could get from any health store, at a greatly reduced rate, as long as the company was based only online.
“We realized that by starting an online business without having a storefront retail location, we would be able to mark down the prices,” Han said. “We felt that it was our obligation to lower the prices and serve students at U of M and around Ann Arbor a lower price.”
And after a week of business, they reported more than $750 in sales.
23 Hour Nutrition is unique as it provides delivery of most products within 23 Hours of online purchase. The products that are delivered within this timeframe are those that Myers and Han stock in their three locations in the Ann Arbor area. Other products take three to five days for delivery.
But Myers and Han did their research regarding what products to market and which to keep stocked. With over 1,300 products on their website, the inventory is composed of products recommended by students, friends and frequent gym-goers through surveys conducted in the fall.
“Because we go to the gym a lot, we know what is popular and what works for us. We look at different people and their goals,” Myers said. “We carry products based on their goals and different products for different goals.”
Based on the orders they have already received, Myers and Han project that the protein and Creatine supplements they sell will be their most popular products. But as the business becomes more popular and the number of orders increases, they plan to stockpile more popular items, which will also help to lower their costs.
They are currently marketing toward athletic groups, clubs, Intramural sports and Greek life. Ultimately, they said they plan to expand to professors, graduate student instructors and then other locations.
At present the two seniors have a promotion plan with students in the Greek community, offering a $5 coupon on their website.
“We are running a rewards program for the Greek system,” Myers said. “If someone from a fraternity or sorority purchases products, they can put in their fraternity or sorority’s rewards code. We are running this up until spring break, and after spring break we will give them a check based on the amount they have spent.”
To keep their prices lower than any other major retailer, Myers and Han get their products from five different distributors.
The pair also employs some drivers to ensure deliveries are made on time. As they expand, they said delivering within their guaranteed timeframe will be impossible without additional drivers taking their products to their varied destinations.
Once 23 Hour Nutrition starts profiting from its sales, Myers and Han said they plan to expand the distance to which they market their products and influence the nutrition supplement industry.
“We are looking to expand to EMU and MSU,” Han said. “We feel like this is the future of vitamin shops across the country. We do everything as efficiently as possible and hope our name will be out there in the future.”