The Clean Supplement Revolution Led by Brian Littlefield of JOCKO FUEL

The Clean Supplement Revolution Led by Brian Littlefield of JOCKO FUEL

Episode Overview

Episode Topic:

In this episode of NutraPreneur, uncover the forefront of nutraceutical innovation with Brian Littlefield, visionary co-founder of Jocko Fuel, as he shares the journey behind the brand’s success. From personal transformation to entrepreneurial attempt, discover how Brian’s commitment to clean, effective nutrition led to the inception of Jocko Fuel and its pioneering position in health supplement innovation.

Lessons You’ll Learn:

Follow the evolution of Jocko Fuel from its inception in a small brick-and-mortar store to its current status as a trailblazer in the nutraceutical industry. Gain insights into the challenges faced and triumphs achieved in delivering transparent, high-quality products to meet customer demands. Learn about the rigorous testing and meticulous formulation process that underpins Jocko Fuel’s commitment to excellence.

About Our Guest:

Brian Littlefield, co-founder and chief product officer of Jocko Fuel, brings a wealth of entrepreneurial experience and a passion for clean, effective nutrition to the table. With a background in competitive sports and a dedication to health and wellness, Brian is driving innovation and setting new standards in the nutraceutical landscape.

Topics Covered:

Join Brian as he shares the personal journey that inspired the creation of Jocko Fuel and the principles that guide its success. Explore the brand’s commitment to transparency and quality, and learn how it distinguishes itself in a competitive market through data-driven formulations and clean ingredient sourcing. Gain insights into the challenges of maintaining purity and efficacy amidst global supply chain disruptions, and discover the strategies employed by Jocko Fuel to overcome obstacles and deliver on its promise of superior nutrition.

Our Guest:
Brian Littlefield – Co-founder and Driving Force behind Jocko Fuel

 Meet Brian Littlefield, a visionary entrepreneur and the driving force behind Jocko Fuel’s remarkable journey to success. Brian’s passion for clean, effective nutrition and his entrepreneurial spirit have been instrumental in shaping Jocko Fuel into a pioneering leader in health supplement innovation. Brian’s personal transformation journey served as the catalyst for the inception of Jocko Fuel. Growing up in a competitive sports household, Brian found himself struggling with weight and health issues during his college years. Determined to reclaim his health and vitality, he delved deep into the world of nutrition and supplements, driven by a relentless pursuit of knowledge and self-improvement.

Driven by a desire to make a meaningful impact in the health and wellness space, Brian co-founded Jocko Fuel with a clear vision: to provide athletes and health enthusiasts with clean, effective nutritional products that deliver real results. From its humble beginnings in a home garage, Jocko Fuel has grown into a trusted name in the industry, thanks to Brian’s unwavering commitment to quality and innovation. With a focus on rigorous testing and advanced manufacturing processes, Jocko Fuel ensures that every product meets the highest standards of purity and efficacy. Brian’s relentless pursuit of excellence has earned Jocko Fuel the trust and loyalty of customers worldwide, setting a new benchmark for quality and innovation in the nutraceutical industry.

 Beyond his role as co-founder of Jocko Fuel, Brian is a visionary leader who continues to push the boundaries of health supplement innovation. His passion for clean, effective nutrition and his commitment to making a positive impact on people’s lives serve as inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs and health enthusiasts alike. In a world where health and wellness are paramount, Brian Littlefield and Jocko Fuel stand at the forefront of nutraceutical innovation, leading the way towards a healthier, happier future for all.

The Clean Supplement Revolution Led by Brian Littlefield of JOCKO FUEL

The Clean Supplement Revolution Led by Brian Littlefield of JOCKO FUEL

Episode Transcript: 

Bethany Jolley: Welcome back to nutra Preneur, the premier platform for diving into the forefront of the nutraceutical industry. I’m your host, Bethany. Today we’re honored to have Brian Littlefield. He is the visionary co-founder and chief product officer at Jocko Fuel. With a rich background in entrepreneurship and a passion for clean, effective nutritional products. Brian has been instrumental in steering Jocko Fuel fuel to the pinnacle of health supplement innovation. Today we explore the drive, dedication and innovation behind Jocko Fuels success. Welcome, Brian. It’s so great to have you today.

Brian Littlefield: Hi. Thank you for having me on, Bethany. I’m looking forward to the conversation.

Bethany Jolley: Yeah. So first, I think it’d be great if you could share with us the journey that led to the inception of Jocko Fuel and what role your expertise played in its foundation.

Brian Littlefield: It’s an interesting journey for sure. I’ll try and summarize it, but, basically I had a personal journey that aligned with my educational one as well. I grew up in, like, a very competitive sports household, but at the same time, I was a baby. I was the last of many brothers who played lots of sports. I did so myself, but stopped like, early on in high school. In doing that, I didn’t get the genetic gift that my brothers did. I put on a bunch of weight and got very, I would say unhealthy and went off to college, continuing down that path. And somewhere in the, the, the middle of you know, college getting my education, I had an epiphany and decided to, to find my path of health and to try and kind of re reclaim myself and. I am one of those people that finds myself going down. Like when I lock on to something. I’m just there and like I am until it happens. Like I’m not done and. That’s what it was. So not only did I decide to literally just take control of my health, I also am a big person that I really like. I’ve always been attracted to this thing of leverage, which is why I think I was also attracted to martial arts and jiu jitsu.

Brian Littlefield: I love the idea of leverage. when I realized that you could leverage, you know, these ingredients and nutraceuticals for health benefits, whether that be for, you know, weight loss or muscle gain and recovery. I found that extremely appealing. I found myself liking getting done with my classes, completing my coursework, staying up all night, reading clinical literature, you know. Herbs and amino acids and electrolytes and everything else that you can think of and just totally went down this rabbit hole. Fast forward, I graduated school and I had a job lined up in the financial sector,  I got the rug pulled. I was actually one of the first in my class. I actually got the rug pulled last minute. I found myself like. Back, you know, back at square one. I had been training jiu jitsu for many years at this time, I had become that person that people just came to for nutritional advice and supplemental advice. I went to my jiu jitsu instructor at the time, who had this location in a little mini mall, and I said, hey, we have more space here. Would you be interested? Because everybody comes to me, including him. I said, would you be interested in opening up like a small brick and mortar supplement store? I’ve got some cash. Do you want to go in on this and I’ll run it.

Brian Littlefield:  I did that and I ran this small, independent nutritional store. I pulled in products from all kinds of different brands. when you’re in that space, every brand imaginable sends you samples and literature and, uh, their sales people will stop by. It was like this three years, 3 to 4 years, just gathering an insane amount of knowledge about the actual space and what the customer wanted. I had this ability to engage one on one with the customer face to face and really kind of understand, like what they’re looking for in a product and what this type of customer is looking for in a product. An invaluable amount of time that I was able to take and then go into the e-com world. So at that time I had met Pete Roberts, the founder of origin. And, a whole other field, of or of business. But it was in the manufacturing of, basically martial arts equipment, the geese for Brazilian jiu jitsu. I ended up. Closing out my shop, dissolving my business, and moving back to Maine. I was in Ohio at the time, moving back to Maine and partnering with Pete, and we launched a nutritional division of this DTC business that was manufacturing clothing and focused on that subculture of Brazilian jiu jitsu. We operated that for about a year, and that’s when we got introduced to Jocko.

Brian Littlefield: When Jocko came on, he originally came interested in the American manufacturing of, you know, everything that we were doing at the time. Then we talked about the nutritional side of things, and he didn’t have a good taste in his mouth from some previous experiences he had in the nutritional world, like where he was, you know, the consumer report came out about protein and heavy metals, and he was, you know, him and all of his kids, which if you know anything about Jocko, you can imagine what his kids are like. They are also specimens. They were in sports. They were active, getting ready to go off to the military. his son was. They he took their health and wellness very seriously. When that consumer report came out. It didn’t leave a good taste in his mouth. Rightfully, when we talked, you know, he was like, can we do this the right way? And, you know, that’s what we decided to do was just put, you know, people before the profits, be very meticulous with our formulations and our manufacturing partners and our testing protocols and just do it right. And that’s what we decided to do. So we launched that and the very end of 2017 with one product. And from there. We are where we’re at today. You know, eight years later, basically.

Bethany Jolley: That’s incredible how your personal experience and connection to martial arts and the people within that community allowed you to be a part of such an amazing brand. And this is a competitive market. So how does Jocko Fuel distinguish itself, especially regarding its commitment to clean superior fuel for body and mind?

Brian Littlefield: One of the first things we were known for was keeping formulas. Data driven but also transparent. We didn’t have a bunch of fluff ingredients in there. But the other reason why we didn’t was because we didn’t use proprietary formulas. There were no proprietary blends, it was very straightforward. Everything was transparent. Then we sweetened everything early on exclusively with Monk Fruit. Now we’ve added the ability to do so with RGB, from fermented sugar cane and allulose and other things that have come along since. But we decided we weren’t going to use any artificial flavors or sweeteners at that time, and we kind of held that line. Which was hard early on, you know, because the flavor technology wasn’t flavor technology. And sweetener technology since even 2017 has come so far. Naturally, I should say. So we became, you know, known as the brand. That’s like, okay, you’re going to get transparent formulas so you know exactly what you’re getting and how much. And if you want natural flavors and sweeteners, we kind of came to that brand.

Bethany Jolley:  No. That’s great. This concept of clean fuel is really central to your brand, I would say. And so how do you ensure the purity and efficacy of your ingredients, and what challenges have you faced in maintaining this standard?

Brian Littlefield: We have faced challenges a lot, actually. And so as far as maintaining quality and efficacy, everything we do is third party tested. We also probably go a step beyond, I think, what most brands would do, which is that we have our own internal retain program, which most brands just rely solely on the manufacturer. We actually do both. We do what we would normally be standard by the FDA. We also learned early on, and we did this for transparency reasons and also the ability to be nimble. We like the idea of being like speed is on our side, we’re bigger. Brands move slowly. We have found the advantage of being able to move really quickly. We embrace jocko’s origins, which are the Seal teams and the ability for a small team to work in, in harmony, but very quickly and. One thing we realized early on was like, okay, well, if we have a customer that calls in and says, hey, my chocolate protein doesn’t taste the same this month, and then we have to go, okay, do we still have that lot number in the warehouse? No. Okay. So we need to contact the manufacturer. We need to have them send us a sample because they have the retain. Now, what we decide to do is we built our own retain program.

Brian Littlefield: Literally in our warehouse, caged up, and dated and tracked to a like we can go there and literally sample it and get back to the customer in 30 minutes. The ability to do that and say, hey, no, we think it’s right or yeah, you’re on to something. We will dig into it and we’ll get back to you with a more in detail response. That helped us out a lot. I think we take our quality and our commitment to the customer a little bit more seriously than average. And then as far as some of the challenges, I mean, we’ve had, you know. Ingredient suppliers go totally under the radar, go bankrupt, you know, and then you have to pivot. You know, When you have a commitment to like clean or niche ingredients, You have more risk. You just have more risk because if you have an issue, you don’t have as many options to pivot to. Right. We’ve had to go. We’ve had those hurdles where we’ve had a manufacturer literally go bankrupt. Then we had to pivot on, on a raw material.

 Bethany Jolley: Yeah, absolutely. Especially just, you know, the last several years, I feel like supply chain has been a huge challenge for a lot of people in this industry.

 Brian Littlefield: Covid really threw a wrench in things. You know, when Covid actually hit and there was an aluminum shortage, you know, there were a lot of our, we actually had to pivot off seats for our printed cans for aluminum because we were using an American manufacturing. But what happened was. Between staffing shortages with them and the concerns from larger players, they were able to buy up the supply and it just pushed us, you know, overseas. Then you don’t have a line of sight. These containers are going to go from $3000 to $30,000 a shipping container. You don’t factor that into the equation because you just don’t know. it’s that’s business though. I mean it’s just you know, you pivot, you try and make the most data driven, education based response. You’re just like, I got to use some intuition and I got to use data. And you try to make the best decision at the time and you just work with it.

Bethany Jolley: This episode is brought to you by Nutra If your business needs credit card processing, that fully integrates with most major neutral software platforms, offers the lowest industry prices, and has built in features like recurring billing, $0 trials, and chargeback prevention. Then visit us at nutra. for a free online quote. Innovation is also a big piece in the dietary supplement world, and Jayco Fuel is known for its innovative products like brain power and combat tested 2.0. So can you talk with us a little bit about your product development process and the science behind it?

Brian Littlefield: That’s a really good question. the way we like to look at products, we have different kinds of hierarchies of when we’re looking at entering a new category, how do we break down how we’re going to enter. One of the ways is, like on anything that we’re going to do, we try and check all the boxes for the consumer. What I mean by that is some, some brands will like, they’ll do the we know you don’t want these ingredients. That’s what we’re going to be about. We know you do want these ingredients. That’s what we’re going to be about. We try to be about both. So we try to give the consumer everything they want and none of the things they don’t want. When you really look at a category, most brands will get likes and not to like, you know, throw shade at anybody. But like most brands or like most products will get like 80% of the way there. For a lot of consumers, that’s enough. Like they’re cool. I’m willing to start like, a great example is maybe they’re, you know, a lot of brands are starting to use proprietary blends. They’ll use a transparent formula. They’ll use natural flavors.  maybe they’re not even using preservatives, but they’re still using, like, sucralose. I’m not here to demonize sucralose, but. You’re kind of like, okay, I’m trying to make a healthy, clean product.

Brian Littlefield: But you stopped right at the end, you know, for what that consumer is looking for. Why not go all the way? That’s what we decide to do at a high level is like, okay, cool. We’re going to give them everything they want. None of the things they don’t. If we can’t do that, we won’t do it. Then going down below that, I also really try and get into the mindset of. What? The consumer. Desires from an efficacy standpoint. So a really good example is like with the brain power is a perfect example. That’s the one I’ll use. There’s classically known nootropic ingredients or products that have been on the market for a long time. Where? Yet there are great products and with constant consumption over time, you’re definitely going to find a benefit. That said, sometimes people want to. To feel the benefits now. And so what we did with brain power is like, okay, there’s going to be those ingredients in there, cholinergic ingredients, um, you know, um, adaptogenic ingredients that are shown like they’re going to give you some benefit now, but they’re really going to also help you over the long terme for your cognition. But then we’re going to add in like, okay, what can help you right now. So if you go to grab this product and you’re because of those other ingredients, those other products, like if you’re not taking them for a long period of time, you’re not going to find a net benefit of consuming it before a big meeting.

Brian Littlefield: I didn’t prepare for this board meeting. I need to go in here, and I need to be a little bit more on point. What can I do? Like taking that product is going to do nothing for you. But we’re something like brain power is. Yes, there’s ingredients that are benefiting you over time, but there’s also an ingredient formula in there that’s going to help you immediately. So that’s where we have kind of our tri stage caffeine, tea green and dynamine where they all have different half lives, where it’s like, okay, I’m going to go get an instant, dopaminergic and stimulatory effect where I’m going to go in there and I’m going to be. Not only on point, but I’m going to be feeling good at the same time, which there’s nothing better than being in a pressure situation and actually feeling good. You know, dopamine is a good thing. We like that. It feels good. I try to look at things differently than just like what can give someone a cognitive benefit over time? It’s like, okay, how can we meet that criteria? It’s like we want to give them a benefit that’s going to grow over time, but people also want that and need that benefit now. So that’s one way that we look at things I think a little bit differently.

Bethany Jolley: It sounds like you’re very intentional with your formulations. You’re not just picking a few popular ingredients and throwing them together and hoping that it works. you’re actually taking it a bit further and looking into how this product is actually going to work and how quickly it is going to work. That’s really neat. I think, you know, you kind of talked about this already, but quality and sourcing are a paramount part of your operation. How do you navigate the complexities of global sourcing and also maintain rigorous quality control?

Brian Littlefield:  I mean, you’re right. We kind of touched on that a little bit. You know, we have a great, quality and sourcing team, really high level individuals we’ve pulled in from. We’re very fortunate. We have built a team. You know, one thing we learned early on is it’s important to know what you don’t know and to surround yourself with those people that know what you don’t know. We brought in some really high level people, to our board and our advisor group, basically. They were able to help us pull in just absolute savages from other industries. They were able to come in and help with things like locking down the supply chain, procurement quality. We have a phenomenal team. I really believe that’s the core to why we have the success that we have is because of our team. It’s not because of any one thing or idea or individual. It’s literally the team. I have to emphasize that. Then as far as maintaining supply with all the complexity that’s going on right now, I’d say we have an emphasis on relationships where I think a lot of people get lost in the chaos of business, and it becomes very transactional. There’s nothing that can move mountains more than having a one on one relationship with someone where you can call in and be like, and you actually have. Equity with them. Like you actually have social equity with them, where they’re actually going to say, you know what they are. Well, I am going to prioritize you, and I’m going to find a way to get this done for you. If you don’t build those relationships genuinely, you’re not going to have that equity. And time is money. When you can call in those favors because you’ve spent the time developing the relationship. It’s invaluable. It has been absolutely invaluable for us. We’ve been able to overcome a lot of deadlines and hurdles that I think under normal circumstances we would not be able to.

Bethany Jolley: Absolutely. Relationships are so important, especially in this industry. And, you know, this market often I think is known for its quick fixes. So how does Jocko Fuel’s philosophy of no shortcuts influence your product development and company ethos? 

Brian Littlefield: I have been here since day one, you know, me, so myself, my partner, Pete Roberts and Jocko having, you know, founded the company. We had a commitment to each other and most importantly, Pete and I went to Jocko. Neither one of us. We relay this to anyone who comes on the team or tries to. Nobody wants to ruin the legacy of one of the most respected individuals. In what I would consider like modern American history, it’s like he was between being a Navy Seal for 20 years and a commanding officer and a bestselling author and featured in, you know, all forms of media and just a highly respected individual that he is. Like nobody wants to ruin that by making shortcuts. We kind of don’t make it an option. It’s kind of like there’s just no shortcuts. It’s, you know, part of his ethos as well, right? I mean, that’s literally what he says, right? You got to do the work. There’s no shortcuts. But. We have a legacy to protect. Like, I take that very seriously. there’s a legacy to protect, and that comes way before. You know. But the interests of investors or partners or anything else like that. Legacy is number one. and you have to protect the man and you have to protect the brand.

Brian Littlefield: You do learn quickly. We call those tuition payments, like, you make those tuition payments when you make hasty or quick decisions or quick fixes, and they might save you in the moment. But like you said, they come, they typically come back to bite you. Yeah.

Bethany Jolley: Given your focus on clean and effective supplements, how do you see Jocco evolving in the future with trends in the nutraceutical industry dietary supplement industry? What do you see for the future?

Brian Littlefield: Yeah So? I would say it’s just a number one. It depends on a lot of regulation. With everything coming through right now on the regulatory side, there’s a lot of, you know, interested parties and agencies that would like to have a lot more scrutiny. A lot more control over the industry. For better or worse. Not here to debate that, but I think that could potentially flip the industry on its head. Trying to take a realistic approach. But outside of that, I would say. I think that. I think that the push for clean products and transparent products. Its efficacy is going to go even further. I hope to see a lot more money spent by not just ingredient companies on clinical data and research. But also brands like I’d like to see a lot more brands doing clinical research on their products and formulas. We’ve done some we plan to do more and. I think it’s really important and I think to continue to build trust and maintain trust with consumers. I think it’s important that you do that, especially with the wave of the, you know, the Andrew Huberman and the Rhonda Patricks and the doctor ads like these, these very, educated and well-spoken individuals that are able to unpack the data and talk to the general person on, you know, a basic level, I think it’s important that we provide that to them that they’re not reliant solely on. You know, data from. Pharma or you know, like the three letter agencies. You know, I think it’s important that we provide legit, self-funded data. That’s one of the pushes that I’m going to be leaning into.

 Bethany Jolley: I think consumers are definitely becoming more educated.They want to see that data and want to understand more about what they’re putting into their bodies.

Brian Littlefield: Yeah. Absolutely. People. Through Covid for a lot of reasons. Just don’t.

Brian Littlefield: They question things more, you know, they just say. Okay. Yeah. No, I understand what you’re saying, but I want to understand a little bit more. I’m not just going to go with the flow. That’s really what I mean is just getting in front of it, like let’s get in front of it with transparency and build trust with consumers and give them what they’re asking for. People the way that people have eaten up these, science related podcasts and media channels just goes to show, like people want a higher level of understanding and like if you don’t give it to them. You may get left behind.

Bethany Jolley: Yeah, absolutely.

Bethany Jolley: You know, looking ahead even further, are there any exciting projects or products that are coming along for Jocco that consumers can anticipate?

 Brian Littlefield: Our biggest launch of the year this year is our hydration ready to drink product. That’s something that we’re very excited about. I’m personally excited because. Having developed the formula. It’s. What? In my opinion, people should get a hydration product. it’s a balance of. More closely related to what you actually lose when you sweat, right? You know, predominantly, chloride and sodium followed by potassium and magnesium. But we also have a little bump in potassium and magnesium because those are typically seen as deficiencies in the Western diet. 

Brian Littlefield: It’s pretty. What’s specific to us, right? That’s our ratio. I don’t like using the word proprietary because it has that negative connotation, but it is proprietary to us. A lot of the hydration. In my opinion, the hydration market has actually gone backwards. You had the originals like Gatorade, which, you know, really were. A little bit watered down from an electrolyte perspective of what you actually lose in like a really intense workout. But directionally they were correct. Then you had products come along and it’s like ten milligrams of sodium and 800mg of potassium. That’s not fixing an electrolyte imbalance. That’s I mean, that’s a potassium supplement. What we’ve done is we’ve taken the approach of replacing what you actually lose and then helping make up for some deficiency. And nobody’s done that yet. We’re excited. We’re launching in June. It’ll be out for the summer of 24. We think it’s going to be big and of course naturally flavored and sweetened. The great thing about this product is. Because like our energy drink has a lot of active ingredients in it, it’s harder to flavor naturally to the level at which like sucralose or you know, ace-k or something does. However, because it’s mainly just electrolytes and water, we’re not put at so much of a disadvantage to be able to sweeten. it’s, you know, one of those products where, taste wise, I’ll put it up against the rest of the category because we don’t have a bunch of activities to mask. I’m really happy. The way it turned out. We kept it clear just we just thought it’s more. With what people are looking for right now. I don’t know. We’re very excited to launch that and bring it to the marketplace.

Bethany Jolley: Yeah, that’s really exciting.

Bethany Jolley: I know hydration is on the mind of a lot of people right now. It sounds like you’re doing it right. Really exciting. Thank you. Well, once again, thank you so much, Brian, for joining us today. As we conclude today’s insightful conversation with Brian Littlefield of JCO fuel, we’re reminded of the power of unwavering dedication to health, quality and innovation. To our listeners, we encourage you to explore the remarkable range of products offered by Jocko Fuel designed to empower your health journey. For those eager to learn more about Jocko Fuel and its commitment to superior nutrition, check out the links provided in the episode description. Don’t forget to subscribe, share your thoughts, and follow us on social media for the latest and nutritional advancements. Until next time, stay informed and inspired as we continue to explore the dynamic world of nutraceuticals.