Small Business Spotlight: Powerful Yogurt, @PowerfulYogurt

Who: Carlos Ramirez, Founder and CEO

What: An all-natural, nonfat, protein-packed Greek yogurt for buff and regular dudes alike looking to build muscle, burn fat and “find [their] inner abs.” (Company disclaimer: It’s totally safe for women to eat as well.)

When: 2011 (an idea was born), 2012 (soft launch), 2013 (official launch)

Where: Miami, by way of New York

How: Carlos Ramirez, founder and CEO of Powerful Yogurt, says he wants guys to eat yogurt. More specifically, he wants them to snack on his brand of Greek yogurt (aptly dubbed “brogurt” by Grub Street) for its nutritional value (each 8 oz. cup has 25 grams of protein) and fitness benefits.

A former general manager in the U.S. for Colombian dairy giant Alpina, Ramirez was already well-versed in the yogurt industry before launching his own brand. He says he first had the idea for a yogurt for men in 2011, and then pitched it around, but it fell flat because bigger companies were skeptical over the theory that a product aimed at men would sell. So Ramirez talked to friends and family about it, got them to invest, and launched solo.

“Even if it’s 70% of women buying yogurt, 45% of men still eat it,” Ramirez says. “One of the things I noticed was that the branding and packaging is pink and plain, but if you market it as saying ‘here’s something that is really good for your guy,’ it will sell.”

Ramirez put together a research team to test flavors and branding, and with the help of a firm in New York came up with the “Find Your Inner Abs” tagline.

“The idea is that if you’re already ripped, you’re there, good for you, this will sustain you; but if you’re not there, then this can help you find your inner six-pack,” says Ramirez.

Since the official launch in March 2013, the company is bulking up fast. Today Powerful Yogurt can be found in 150 retailers (1,000 stores) nationwide. Ramirez’s goal is for the yogurt to be sold in 2,500 stores by the end of 2014.

“This is not intended for Rocky Balboa only,” Ramirez explains. “It’s also for regular guys who are active and like to work out – and like their beer and chicken wings on the weekend.”

Biggest challenge: “For us, it’s all about growing the footprint. In the U.S. we’re in an emerging market, which is rare to find in the U.S., but it’s also a beautiful thing,” Ramirez says. “If you think about it, the fridge at the supermarket doesn’t grow, so it becomes a piece of real estate you have to pay to get into. We don’t have the kind of money to buy our way in, so we have to put all of our energy and funding into making the brand appealing to buyers.”

One moment in time: “I got a call about getting Powerful Yogurt featured on the Today Show and from there started getting more media attention,” Ramirez says. “When your product is in an emerging market, getting so much exposure early on puts you at a great advantage because the big guys will look at you and take interest.”

Best business advice: “I hear friends who have great ideas say all the time how they’re afraid to start up,” Ramirez says. “But I would say just trust yourself, validate the idea with key guys in that area of business, raise as much capital as you can and jump in.”

Follow Natalia Angulo on Twitter @natisangulorico.