- GoodSport founder Michelle McBride told CNBC the company, launched in February, will seek up to $15 million in its funding round.
- GoodSport is a Chicago-based company that makes a sports hydration drink made from milk elements. Former Major League Baseball player Ken Griffey Jr. and former San Francisco 49ers icon Ronnie Lott are investors in the company.
It started as a secret between Michelle McBride, her son, Beau, and the business idea derived from drinking milk.
McBride, 48, is the founder of GoodSport, a sports hydration drink made from milk elements. The beverage company launched in February, and after a solid start, GoodSport will seek up to $15 million in its funding round.
In an interview with CNBC, McBride said her product is a "truly effective hydration" sports beverage made from cow's milk. Early investors of the company include Major League Baseball legend Ken Griffey Jr. and former San Francisco 49ers icon Ronnie Lott.
"I wasn't trying to do something cool with milk," McBride said. "I made it from milk because it's the vehicle that allows us to provide superior hydration because it's packed with electrolytes, vitamins, and carbohydrates. There's not anything else like it."
The chocolate milk theory
McBride, a former attorney, said she searched for sports drinks that didn't include artificial ingredients. Her son Beau is a young athlete who's concerned about his hydration while playing baseball in high temperatures. McBride wanted to be cautious. After failing to find a sports drink they both liked, McBride researched and found chocolate milk helps hydration in athletes. So she started giving it to Beau after baseball practice.
"When I did some research, I learned that it was packed with electrolytes," McBride said. "I didn't know, and not a lot of people do know, because that's not what people focus on when it comes to milk."
While chocolate milk may be a good choice, it still didn't meet other expectations.
The protein in milk isn't good while playing sports. It sits in an athlete's stomach and can cause discomfort during exercise. And it's not very refreshing to drink milk after sports, even if it helps with hydration.
Returning from Beau's basketball practice, McBride pitched the idea of creating a sports drink –a more refreshing version of milk. Beau approved, and the two agreed to keep it a secret.
"I said, 'Don't tell anyone,'" McBride recalled, adding that even her husband, Jim, wasn't initially in on the secret for months. "We called it, 'Sports Milk.'"
Eventually, that name became GoodSport.
McBride quit her job at a non-profit organization and started research and development on the drink. GoodSport ultrafilters elements from milk, removing remaining proteins after farmers' initial filtering. Essentially, it's the part of milk that farmers don't need. McBride labels it the "goodness of milk."
"What you're left with is a clear part of the milk that is packed with electrolytes, vitamins, and the right balance of carbohydrates that we can use to make a sports drink," she said. "I didn't start in the dairy industry," McBride added. "I was a true consumer in need and wanted a natural sports drink that provided truly effective hydration. It just so happened that milk made that possible."
The secret's out
McBride collaborated with the former director of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, Dr. Bob Murray, and the Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin to develop GoodSport. The company is now based in Chicago and wants to expand.
GoodSports has six employees, is distributed locally, and launched on Amazon.com in March. There are currently four flavors available, and a 12-pack of GoodSport, at 16.9 ounces, is priced at $34.99 on the website. McBride didn't provide financials around the company but said sales are "great so far" and that "the feedback from consumers has been overwhelmingly positive."
McBride said retail stores expressed "enthusiasm" about GoodSport, adding "they love the idea and the taste."
She sent CNBC samples of the product. A noticeable difference: GoodSport tastes less salty compared to other top sports beverages. And it doesn't feel like you're drinking milk. It's refreshing and lactose-free.
GoodSport wants to expand to Midwest states and use the new capital to launch additional flavors and fund "upfront costs such as production, distribution, and marketing."
McBride said Griffey Jr. and Lott are good partners, noting the former athletes "understand the product, the size of the market and our fit within it. But they align with and embrace the ethos of the brand."
Learning from the past
The sports beverage market is projected to reach $36 billion by 2028, according to global research firm Fortune Business Insights.
The U.S. market is dominated by Pepsi-owned Gatorade and Coca-Cola products. But, athletes, including National Basketball Association star Giannis Antetokounmpo and NFL star Aaron Donald (Ready Nutrition), have joined the space, too. So, McBride knows the field is competitive. She's using her experience from practicing law to navigate the sector.
"A legal background gives you a way of looking at things and having the perspective to identify issues that need to be resolved and then coming up with plans to resolve them," McBride said.
"I'm keenly aware of the fact that there aren't many female sports drink founders," she added. "It's a tough category, but the whole process itself – turning milk into a sports drink – was tough. That's not going to deter me."
At the moment, GoodSport has no plans to attempt a vegan line with popular oat milk products. McBride isn't looking to compete with the top brands, either. Launching nationally and carving out her place in the sports beverage industry will suffice.
"Even if we have a small slice of it (market share), we'll have a very successful business," McBride said. "We'll hit our numbers. We'll be a great investment opportunity."