Nutrition specialist Vooluu finding right formula
by Brad Carlson, photography by Mark Dyrud
Boise-based Vooluu sees steady demand for its all-natural nutrition products, including a couple of organic chocolate bars and the new green protein shake, after more than six years of restarts and fine tuning. In running and repositioning Vooluu, owners Troy and Jennifer St. Pierre tap change-management skills they learned working for some of Boise’s major corporations.
The husband-and-wife team abandoned an early effort to resell organic products made by others, instead deciding to “jump in with both feet” and make their own, Troy recalled. They had strong early success with an organic dark chocolate bar that continues to sell well. But if the first chocolate bar was a sprint, the new shake was a marathon.
“We spent eight months just on taste,” he said.
By the time Vooluu began marketing the shake in October 2015, the St. Pierres had spent two years developing it. Much of the time was devoted to making the nutrient-dense offering taste good even though its many ingredients—like certain greens and super-food vegetables—can be bitter, bland, or otherwise odd on their own.
All-around athletes, outdoor enthusiasts, and the holistically health-conscious were quick to discover Vooluu’s newish Complete Shake, but its tastiness made CEO and co-founder Troy St. Pierre as happy as its strong early sales.
In the organic-only production facility Vooluu contracted in California, Troy and specialists kept reformulating the shake to make it more palatable. Back in Idaho, Jennifer—experienced in quality testing—rejected several promising new samples. Ultimately they found a winner in a particular green-apple flavor, and the shake made its debut at Vooluu.com.
“I was very pleasantly surprised at the feedback we were getting,” Troy said.
“It took off,” Jennifer said. “To see it come to fruition was very exciting.”
Their original, resale-centered concept stalled partly because many client businesses weren’t set up to add store-based retailing to their own online and farmers market sales. Now, as the St. Pierres sell their own products directly and at selected retail outlets, they target controlled and manageable growth. Jennifer—president and cofounder—said that helps Vooluu ensure strong quality control for new and planned products such as a vegan protein bar to debut in early 2016. Troy said being careful with growth helps the business target the best-suited outlets as it expands its retail channel, which now about 20 percent of revenue.
They have five children, whose haul of chocolate candy on Halloween a few years ago sparked an idea for a healthier alternative. Troy and Jennifer studied and experimented with making dark chocolate. A local food scientist, and then a chocolateer, lent their expertise to what would become the enterprise’s first product of its own.
Troy, 46, came to Idaho from Maine in the late 1990’s. His experience includes operations, technology, and online marketing. He works at Kount Inc. Jennifer, 44, grew up in Boise. She has worked on investment and various board-level decisions as well as on some research and development projects. She works at the Albertsons corporate office.
Vooluu allows Troy and Jennifer to help individuals and the community, they said. The business employs four and, as of late 2015, has an additional 20 who promote the brand and are paid a commission. The name “Vooluu” was inspired by combining and expanding upon “revolution” and “evolution”—two ideas central to the business and its products.
“The fun thing about this is my wife and I working full time and raising five children, living our own passion,” Troy said.
“It’s that freedom and passion … I love it,” Jennifer said.