Gainful is a brand that personalizes sports nutrition. Curious how founders stumbled upon this mind-boggling idea? We reveal the story in this article.

If you’re a regular at the gym, you’ve probably tried protein powder at least once. You get a ton of options to choose from. But when you read the protein product’s nutrition profile, you see a list of names you can’t pronounce.

Gainful aims to simplify and personalize nutrition so you always know what goes inside your body. In this article, we walk you through this brand's origin and growth.

Plus, learn how we can coach you to get started growing your own 7-figure business for FREE!

Company Name:Gainful
Year Founded:2017
Founder:Eric WuJahaan Ansari
Industry: Sports Nutrition

What is Gainful?

It is a personalized sports nutrition brand based in San Francisco.

Their mission is to personalize protein powder for customers based on their unique physiology, dietary restrictions, and fitness goals.

The company has in-house registered dietitians to personalize the product for every customer.

Who Founded Gainful?

Eric Ji Sun Wu and Jahaan Ansari founded Gainful in 2017.

Their goal? To personalize every type of nutrition product an average consumer consumes.

Gainful is 100% free from artificial sweeteners, flavorings, and colors.

But what sparked this creative idea, leading Eric and Jahaan to build their massively successful company?

What is Gainful’s Origin Story?

Eric shares the brand's origin story in an interview with Authority Magazine.

Eric and Jahaan were both athletes. They were co-captains of their high school soccer team. But they never imagined their friendship would evolve into a business partnership.

Like all athletes, Eric and Jahaan wanted to stay fit and healthy. The problem? They found the supplements space to be crowded.

Generic products were sold as though they were fit for everyone. So Eric and Jahaan were always reluctant to try them.

Eric stopped playing soccer competitively in his senior year at Georgetown. That’s when he decided to finally try supplements.

He found himself overwhelmed walking into a store full of products with crazy names and massive tubs. Trying to read the ingredients at the back only made matters worse.

That day, Eric researched and bought some raw materials after returning to his apartment. He made some protein powder formulas and tested them on himself and his roommates.

After some experimentation, he found a formula he liked.

The best part: he knew the ingredients, why they were in the formula, and that they were right for him.

He called Jahaan, then a chemical engineering and computer science student, to see what he thought about the idea of a personalized protein powder.

Jahaan was confident that personalized nutrition could turn into an excellent business.

Soon, Eric and Jahaan partnered up. They participated in YCombinator, a startup accelerator, to get their initial capital.

How Was Gainful Funded?

Gainful’s raised $120,000 in a seed funding round at Y Combinator on January 4, 2018.

According to Crunchbase, the company raised capital through multiple seed and venture rounds over the next two years.

In 2021, Gainful raised $7.5 million in Series A funding led by BrandProject and Courtside Ventures.

What Made Gainful Grow?

Gainful had little competition and it solved a real problem.

Consumers could go to Gainful for protein powders with higher protein or personalized pre-workout and other supplements.

But Gainful isn’t your average D2C brand. It’s a subscription service. Once you order a product from Gainful, you’ll be automatically signed up for recurring purchases.

You get advice from a registered dietitian on nutrition and supplements as part of your Gainful subscription.

As you can imagine, Gainful had a major competitive advantage — personalization.

In a space loaded with subpar and generic products, Gainful offers value through tailor-made products.

That’s why Gainful grew quickly in an otherwise saturated market.

What Lessons Can Entrepreneurs Learn from Gainful’s Story?

The two things worth learning from Eric and Jahaan are originality and playing to your strengths.

Gainful was born out of a real problem — a lack of personalization in sports nutrition.

Eric probably had a ton of doubts about whether he’ll be able to find a solution.

Even once he had those formulas, he might’ve had apprehensions about scalability, given the products are personalized.

But he put in the time and effort in experimenting with formulas. He could do this because his focus at Georgetown was Food Sustainability & Alternative Protein according to his LinkedIn. And Jahaan studied computer science, so he was just the right person to put on the CTA hat.


Is Gainful a real company?

Yes, Gainful is a real company that sells sports nutrition products personalized to your specific needs.

Who owns Gainful?

Eric Wu and Jahaan Ansari are co-founders of Gainful.

Where is Gainful located?

Gainful is located at 6 West 18th St, $10F, New York, NY 10011 according to the website.

How much is Gainful per month?

Gainful subscriptions start at $45 per month. You get 14 servings for the price, costing an average of $3.21 per serving.


U.S. consumers want more personalized retail experiences. Eric and Jahaan identified the need for personalization in sports nutrition, a space plagued with generic formulas.

Smart, right?

That’s what helped them build a successful company.

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