Published: June 6, 2024 By

What drives a 20-year-old student-athlete to pivot from a basketball scholarship to launching multiple startups? For Landon Nattrass, it's a blend of personal experience, relentless ambition, and a knack for identifying market gaps. 

As an honor student at the Leeds School of Business, Landon is making waves in the entrepreneurial world while studying finance and entrepreneurship. Landon's journey began withLandon Nattrass a basketball scholarship at Eastern Wyoming College, but after the coach left, he transferred to CU Boulder, a decision he calls the “best of his life”.

Landon has always been entrepreneurial, having started 7 companies since middle school, spanning industries from 2 esports teams, subscription t-shirts, digital marketing agency. To most recently, mental health platform, stool monitoring technology, and energy shots. His ventures are diverse, including one of his latest ventures, Oomf, which is a healthy and convenient energy shot designed to meet the needs of busy individuals.

Personal Struggles to Entrepreneurial Vision: The Birth of Oomf

The inspiration for this product came from Landon’s own experiences as a student-athlete and the daily routines of his mother, an avid yogi and busy mom. While playing basketball at Eastern Wyoming, Landon frequently called his mother to catch up. She was constantly on the go, balancing the demands of motherhood, household chores, and her own health, often feeling tired but too busy to grab a cup of coffee. Similarly, Landon’s schedule was packed with classes and workouts, leaving him exhausted by the end of the day.

Both Landon and his mother needed a convenient energy boost but found existing options lacking. The energy shot market was dominated by brands like 5-hour Energy, Stacker, and EXtreme, which were filled with synthetic and harmful ingredients. Landon wanted a healthy alternative that offered the same convenience. During a winter break conversation with his mom, the idea for a healthy energy shot began to take shape. Initially focused on a career in investment banking and consulting, Landon felt a strong pull towards entrepreneurship, influenced by his parents, who were both entrepreneurs. With his mother’s help, they brainstormed the name, colors, and brand positioning needed to create a lane in the market. Landon began contacting developers and industry professionals to learn more about the market.

Landon was prepared to invest $15,000 into the venture, partnering with a food lab in California called Power Brands for development. He tested the concept by discussing it with about 15 of his mother's friends, who loved the idea and concept. This positive feedback encouraged him to present the idea in his New Venture Creation class, further refining his approach and solidifying his commitment to making Oomf a reality.

Innovation and Collaboration through New Venture Creation 

The New Venture Creation class (NVC) is a standout experience for many students, including Landon. In the class, each student pitches a one-minute idea, and the class votes on their top three favorites. The top eight ideas then advance, and students choose which team they want to join, resulting in teams of four to five members.

Landon found himself with a strong team from the start, composed of individuals who were passionate about his idea. Connie Shen, Julie Kirsch, Liam Cleary, and Ryan Venturi, all had enthusiasm and commitment that was crucial to Oomf's creation. One of the unique aspects of NVC was the "week of free agency," which allowed students to switch teams if things weren't working out or if they were drawn to another idea. Although Landon’s team didn’t need to take advantage of this, he appreciated the flexibility it offered.

Throughout the semester, Landon’s team worked harmoniously and excelled. He credits Brad, the course instructor, for providing guidance while allowingThe Oomf Team With Their Prototype students the freedom to make their own decisions. This approach not only facilitated learning but also fostered a collaborative and supportive environment.

The NVC class was also a significant networking opportunity for Landon. He met several individuals who became key collaborators in his current ventures. Two classmates, Rihannon Martin and Evan Blamphin now work with him at PricingService.Ai. Additionally, Brad Werner, faculty director, willingness to assist, such as when Landon needed a product designer, proved invaluable. Brad's quick action resulted in multiple responses, one of whom, Ryan Venturi, became both a collaborator, friend, and co-founder of Oomf and Pleiades.

The New Venture Creation class also included a rigorous customer discovery phase. Throughout the course, Landon and his team conducted extensive research, including around 150 customer interviews and over 100 professional interviews.

Customer interviews involved engaging with potential customers at places like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, where they could connect with health-conscious individuals. These interactions helped Landon’s team refine their product flavors and gather constructive feedback on pricing and marketing strategies. Initially, they considered creating a coffee shot, but feedback indicated a preference for tea shots instead, which led to a significant pivot in their product development.

Professional interviews encompassed conversations with industry experts, including mentors, advisors, other consumer packaged goods (CPG) founders, company owners, manufacturers, co-manufacturers, and food labs. These discussions provided valuable insights into the energy shot and energy drink market, as well as the overall product development process.

Armed with this newfound knowledge, Landon and his team felt confident in their direction. They used the insights gained to start making product samples, ensuring their concept was well-aligned with market needs and preferences. This thorough and adaptive approach stands as a commitment to creating a product that not only meets consumer demands but also stands out in a competitive market.

Pioneering Young Success 

At just 20 years old, Landon Nattrass has already established his name in the entrepreneurial world. His journey from a basketball scholarship at Eastern Wyoming College to launching multiple startups is driven by both talent and passion.

Landon’s age has been both an advantage and a challenge. As a student, he leveraged his status to gain invaluable insights and advice from family offices and venture funds, opening doors that might have remained closed otherwise. However, securing substantial investment funds proved challenging, as many potential investors hesitate to trust a young entrepreneur with large sums of money.Landon With His Dog

Undeterred, Landon spoke with around 50 investors, including angel investors, investment firms, and family offices. While many expressed interest, they were cautious, preferring to see specific milestones achieved before committing funds. This common hurdle of securing the first check is one that many entrepreneurs, regardless of age, face.

Landon has showcased resilience and resourcefulness, in true entrepreneurial spirit. His ability to adapt, learn, and seize opportunities has laid a strong foundation for his ventures. From creating a healthy energy shot inspired by his and his mother's hectic schedules to navigating the complex world of investment, Landon's story is composed of youthful ingenuity and unwavering determination.

Oomf Nourishing Energy is raising a $50k pre-seed. If you are interested in this venture and would like to get involved, or would like to see investor information, please contact Landon at LandonBNattrass@gmail.com

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