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Alee Pingol

When people hear the Gronkowski name, their brain automatically goes to football. Brothers Rob and Chris Gronkowski are some of the most notable players in the NFL, playing for several distinguishable teams like the Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But this isn’t a sport’s lesson. What many avid NFL fans might not know is the Gronkowski’s entrepreneurial spirit, or more specifically, Chris Gronkowski’s recent business venture. In 2016, Chris Gronkowski made his entrepreneurial debut by founding his stainless-steel protein shaker brand, Ice Shaker.

Having previously played on numerous professional football teams, Gronkowski understands many of the issues he and other athletes often ran into with protein shakers. “I looked everywhere but couldn’t find what I was looking for,” said Gronkowski. He set out to create an even better product that was “both vacuum sealed and featured a convenient pop-top lid.”

After appearing on Shark Tank in 2017, Ice Shaker boomed. Since then, Gronkowski has gathered over $3 million in sales. However, switching industries wasn’t easy for Gronkowski, and neither was running a business. He ran into some bumps along the way, but he didn’t let that stop him.

The Beginning of Ice Shaker

Gronkowski’s journey began when he tried to find a protein shaker that would keep his drinks cool with the convenient easy-open pop-top lid. He also wanted to make sure he could use the shaker all day and not just at the gym — seemed simple enough, right?

Unfortunately, the task wasn’t that easy …

After searching everything for a protein shaker that met his requirements, Gronkowski decided to take matters into his own hands: “I decided at that point that I was going to make the best shaker bottle that I possibly could.”

Today, with the help of his five brothers, Chris Gronkowski focuses all of his attention on running his business and updating the product line. His end goal is to improve the experience of protein shakers for everyone — whether you’re an NFL star or not.

Shaking Up the Market

Over the past couple of years, Ice Shaker was experienced steady growth. In an interview with Starter Story, Gronkowski mentioned how things looked a little uncertain when COVID-19 first hit. But it ultimately didn’t change the company’s progress. The demand for protein shakers was increasing. Now, people needed a quality water bottle for work, school, and recreational activities.

As the company grew, so did the need to create a marketing plan. Gronkowski went on to explain how social media and email marketing has helped the brand massively. “You can have the best product in the world, but if no one knows about it then they will never purchase it.”

Gronkowski hired multiple employees and brought on an expert sales team. The biggest area of marketing where the company has taken off is email marketing, which is no surprise considering that 87 percent of marketers use email marketing to distribute content.

Towards the end of 2020, Ice Shaker started using SMS, which sends text messages to subscribers on company events, sales, and deals. Gronkowski was pleasantly shocked by the results. Over 16,000 members signed up for the SMS list and Gronkowski said the company saw “30X returns on our SMS blasts.”

SMS alerts have helped more than just Ice Shaker. Many experts predict that in a few years, the large majority of purchases will be made via smartphone. During the 2018 holiday season, nearly 40 percent of all eCommerce purchases were made on smartphones. In the past six months, almost 80 percent of smartphone users have made at least one purchase on their mobile device.

Learning Lessons and Moving Forward

In 2020, one of the biggest lessons Gronkowski learned was the importance of teamwork. Each member of the team has specific jobs and duties to fulfill and doing so helps the company runs smoother and ultimately gain more sales.

Gronkowski continued on the subject, “It’s funny because coming from a sports background, you would think that building a team would be easy and the first thing that I did … I didn’t at all. I had such a competitive mindset and had way too much on my plate because, in my mind, no one could do as good of a job as I could.”

Gronkowski recognized that by taking on all the responsibility, he was holding his team back. On top of that, Gronkowski has a family of three, and his wife runs her own business. For any business to run efficiently, responsibility must be delegated to certain parts of the team. Everyone must do their part. Once Gronkowski saw that the company began to see more growth.

The Future of Ice Shaker

For Gronkowski, Ice Shaker originally started as a company for himself. He simply wanted one bottle that he could use all day, every day. But once Gronkowski saw that more and more people were looking for the same products — including his NFL buddies — he knew he could create a successful product.

Six months after launching Ice Shaker, Gronkowski went on Shark Tank, pitched his product, and received offers from all five sharks. Since then, the business has exploded, going from part-time side hustle to a full-time business seemingly overnight.

In 2020 alone, Ice Shaker saw exponential growth, surprisingly due to the COVID outbreak. Today, instead of continuing to build would new product lines, Gronkowski is looking to improve the current models.

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