“The Chia Pet is the greatest waste of health food that has ever occurred,” said Shane Emmett, CEO of Health Warrior, a company that packages and sells chia seeds imported from South America for athletes that want a nutritional advantage.
The idea to brand chia seeds as a health food came from Emmett’s business partners and co-founders of the company: Nick Morris and Dan Gluck read about its nutritional use in a book about super-marathon runners. Both former college athletes, the two began consuming the seeds before workouts and marathons and became convinced that they could market it as a health food.
Emmett was a lawyer for Tim Kaine during his term as governor and is the founder of another local startup called the United States of Food. Emmett was Gluck’s college roommate at Colgate University. The business recruited him to help with the legal work setting up the company. That job morphed into the position of CEO.
Emmett said that there are a few other companies selling chia seeds but that the Health Warrior brand capitalizes on the seed’s history as a “warrior food” of the Aztec Empire.
“No one has told the story really well about one of the healthiest foods in the world,” Emmett said.
Emmet said chia seeds boost energy and help you lose weight. He also said they are packed with antioxidants and Omega-3, among myriad other minerals and vitamins.
The company has a fourth partner, Jesse Itzler, who is co-founder of the multimillion-dollar aviation company MarquisJet. Itzler is also an investor in Zico coconut water, of which Coca-Cola owns a minority stake. That company has a 30 percent share of the $200 million coconut water market in the United States. The beverage has become a popular alternative to sugary sports drinks over the past couple of years.
Although his partners reside in New York, Emmett is running the operation from Richmond and plans to do most of the distribution from here as well. The product is available for sale on the Health Warrior website and on Amazon.com. It will soon be available at Ellwood Thompson’s grocery store in Carytown.
A 16-ounce bag sells for $14.99, and the company is making 100-calorie energy bars that retail for $10.99 a box.