The Believers

Robert Kunz: New-Wave Nutritionist

    Photo: Mark Wiens

MISSION // LAST LONGER

AFTER A DECADE in the endurance-supplement industry, Charlottes-ville, Virginia–based nutritionist Robert Kunz, 36, was fed up with taking directions from boards made up of doughy scientists and following a market-based approach to development, which begins with a price point and ends with a mediocre powder or pill. So in 2002 he launched First Endurance with a revolutionary mandate: Create supplements conjured exclusively by endurance athletes—and ignore the cost. An amateur triathlete, Kunz staffed the company—from the lab geeks to the legal counsel—with fitness junkies, then asked for their biggest ideas. The subsequent brainstorms have produced supplements that deliver on their promise, thanks to clinically proven dosages of endurance-boosting ingredients. Their inaugural Optygen, composed of herbs and fungi that speed recovery, costs $50 for a month's supply—$10 more than competitors—yet boasts a 99 percent repeat-customer rate. "We know athletes," says Kunz. "We had a good idea this would work."

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