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KOS

A plant-based nutrition brand offering protein and supplements made with natural ingredients.

  • Clean Ingredients
  • Sustainable Practices
  • Giving Back
FOUNDER Allan Stevens & Tony Stahl
HEADQUARTERS Goleta, CA
KOS

Behind the Brand

KOS was founded by Allan Stevens and Tony Stahl, longtime business partners who previously ran an electronic accessories business on Amazon. While managing their e-commerce business, Allan and Tony hired their first employee who was later diagnosed with stage-four pancreatic cancer and passed away after just months on the job. The death was an eye-opener for the co-founders, prompting Allan to adopt a plant-based diet that ultimately helped him lose 65 pounds. Around the same time, Allan and Tony — having spent a significant amount of time analyzing products on Amazon — began to realize there was a gap in the market for a tasty protein powder that was also vegan and keto-friendly. With their growing interest in plant-based nutrition, they decided to dip their toes into the category.

Allan and Tony launched KOS as a side hustle, developing two plant-based protein powder products to begin with. They envisioned plant protein to be a mainstream meal replacement, rather than a niche product, and designed their friendly and welcoming packaging to appeal to the masses. The brand saw almost instant success both online and in retail stores, eventually becoming one of the fastest-growing plant protein brands in the country. Today, KOS is a leader and pioneer in the plant-based nutrition category, infusing consumers with vibrant, sustainable, organic health and well-being through their suite of top-quality superfoods.

Meet the Maker

What has been your most unforgettable moment (good or bad) while building your company? - +

ALLAN: In 2019, we participated in a tradeshow called ECRM, which pre-covid was basically speed dating with retail buyers in hotel rooms converted to meeting rooms. Although we had a good size online business at the time, we hadn’t sold a single unit in retail yet were pitching to companies like CVS, Costco and Kroger. In hindsight, I can’t imagine how lacking our presentation was but you have to start somewhere. A month before we had exhibited at Expo West and part of our booth was a 10x10 foot dual sided backlit sign. We found out it would fit in the hotel room so had it shipped out and set it up. At the end of the first day, we forgot to unplug the sign and upon walking down to the street, found a giant illuminated KOS logo that was highly visible from the main entrance of the hotel. Whole Foods, who we didn’t have a scheduled meeting with, saw this and thought we had done this on purpose as a guerilla marketing tactic. They scheduled an impromptu meeting the next morning and were excited to meet the brand that had come up with this attention getting strategy. The meeting went well and two weeks later we were invited to come to Austin to present in person. We did a taste test with all the top selling plant proteins and smoked everyone. Shortly after they let us know they were going to give us a ‘global launch’ in almost 400 stores with 2 SKUs. This was a turning point for KOS in retail and ultimately happened because we accidentally left the sign plugged in.

What is an essential part of your daily routine? - +

ALLAN: At this stage of life, with two daughters under the age of ten and a growing business, I’m not very good at ‘free time.’ It’s hard work building a brand so I personally spend the little downtime I have recharging, listening to podcasts, reading and hanging with other entrepreneurs. Rest is spent with the family, working in our garden, playing at the beach and occasionally exploring on short trips. Besides making a delicious KOS protein shake daily, weather permitting, I walk every morning.

What is your biggest pet peeve? - +

ALLAN: Instead of giving attention to things I dislike about people, I try to look for the interesting things they have to offer. It keeps my emotional state more relaxed and allows me to remain curious which I prefer. For those who repeatedly do annoying things, it's pretty easy to navigate away from them.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you? - +

ALLAN: In 2006, I cofounded a social network called runwild.com which was built around nightlife but sort of morphed into somewhat of a hookup site long before Tinder etc. We had some great traction and two super fans even got tattoos of our logo but went bust in 2009 when the economy tanked. Tony was an investor and that was the first of many companies we worked together on before starting KOS.

What do you want to be remembered for? - +

ALLAN: Being a great dad, husband and friend to those that I connect with throughout my life.

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