Warren entrepreneur builds off transplant experience
When Steve Reeves underwent a kidney transplant five years ago after suffering for years with a genetic kidney condition, the Warren resident had no idea that the life-altering event would pay dividends years down the road — but it has.
Mr. Reeves, a well-known body builder and weightlifter who has competed locally and nationally and was named Mr. Rhode Island in 1988, has spent the last five years developing a nutritional supplement containing the elements, vitamins and minerals that he believes helped give him a healthier lifestyle after he lost one of his kidneys to focal segmental glomerulosclerosis in 2007.
His product, Hot Beverage Nutrition, is a powdered supplement designed to tastelessly dissolve in hot coffee or other liquids. After years of development it is just now beginning to be marketed and is getting a good reception from health food stores, markets and fitness suppliers in Rhode Island and beyond. The next step is national marketing.
The supplement was developed over five years with the help of a pharmaceutical company, and is similar in form to over-the-counter supplements like Emergen-C. However, it contains more and better nutrients, and is flavorless. It's designed to give all a healthier body, Mr. Reeves said, and is designed to be easily incorporated into coffee, tea and hot meals.
"I really believe in this," Mr. Reeves, 48, said one recent Friday before heading out to the gym to work out.
"I'm not trying to compare it to (other products that have been available for some time) but really, it's nothing like anything that's out there. It's a good quality product, and it's designed to fill the gaps that you don't get in your foods."
Borne out of necessity
Mr. Reeves never set out to develop a nutritional product good for the masses when he started taking collagen, B vitamins, probiotics, Vitamin C and other minerals and vitamins following his surgery in 2007. He was just trying to make himself feel better.
After the surgery in which he received a kidney from his cousin, "I needed to change my lifestyle to one that supported overall well-being, health and a long life."
The drugs he was taking to prevent rejection of his donated kidney were causing him severe joint pain, stomach and skin problems, were sapping his energy and weakening his immune system.
"I needed a supplement to make me feel better," he said. "I didn't want to buy a multivitamin, a container of collagen and protein, then have to buy B vitamins; I didn't want to do all that. I said,' There's got to be a better and easier way, and this is what I came up with."
Though he'd always dabbled in over the counter vitamin supplements, protein drinks and other supplements during his weight lifting days, he started to seriously look at supplements cherry-picked to give him more energy and work well with each other. Over time, he developed a regimen that made him feel better, gave him more stamina and energy, and cut through the heavy feeling that the immunosuppressant drugs he was forced to take, and will have to take for the rest of his life. '"I thought, 'Anyone can benefit from this,'" he said.
Though the idea to market a new product had been percolating for some time, real inspiration came one morning while waiting for a flight at TF Green airport. He was sitting near a Dunkin Donuts kiosk and spent about an hour watching person after person go up to the counter and grab a cup of coffee and a muffin or donut.
"Everyone's going up and grabbing a cup of coffee with no nutritional support to start their morning," he said. "So I said, 'If I could put something in the coffee to give them good solid nutrition, that would be ideal."
From there, the next several years were spent working with Medallion Pharmaceuticals to develop a product that had no flavor, dissolved well, and contained a good range of nutrients that work well together.
Through it all, Mr. Reeves said the emphasis has been on sourcing high quality ingredients that are absorbable by the body. It's a more expensive route than that taken by other supplement makers, but he said he decided from the beginning that the ingredients that go into his product should be high quality, even if the price is higher. As it stands, Hot Beverage Nutrition, sold in a box containing individual single serving packs, don't cost significantly more than more established products now on the market.
"It's very high quality," he said. "The ingredients we're using are all natural and effective."
Between working with his supplier and a national marketing and product placement company to get the word out, Mr. Reeves is as busy as he's been in years, and he takes two packets of his supplement per day. He feels great and still works out every day; he's also heard from others who have used the product, and it makes him feel good.
"I heard from a person in Florida who has cancer and is taking this," he said. "He feels good and it's helped, so that's great to hear. This is all about trying to help people live healthier lives."
Hot Beverage Nutrition contains collagen, taurine, Vitamin C, probiotics, Niacinamide, Calcium, Riboflavin, thiamine, biotin, organic pomegranate and acai powder, and other ingredients. It is all natural, with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.