Carson Kurtz ’22

Quevos and LifeStacks Supplements, Chicago, IL

The summer following my freshman year was spent working with two start-ups: Quevos and LifeStacks Supplements. Each company was founded by Zach Schreier ’21, a current Williams student. Both companies provided a unique perspective to early, high growth companies that intend to disrupt the current norm in their respective spaces. Quevos is focused on finding a healthy alternative to typical snacks by providing a tasty egg white chip that eliminates the compromise between satisfaction and health. At Quevos, I predominantly spent my time making calls to expand retail locations, fulfilling Kickstarter orders, and building investor relations. It was particularly exciting to know that I was making a real impact on increasing the company’s revenues by not only expanding into the greater Chicago area, but throughout the United States. After working with some investors, I’m proud to say that Quevos will be receiving a substantial investment along with more promising advisory opportunities in the near future.

LifeStacks Supplements in turn was predominantly focused making a product that merges the benefits of two high growth industries: the CBD and nootropic markets. Zack allocated most of my time here, as they had not officially launched. Before I even arrived in Chicago, I was assigned to begin researching the ingredients of the product formulations for the future website. This task mainly consisted of utilizing the database of studies on the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s website (NCBI). During this time, I learned a tremendous amount about the effects each ingredient had on the brain. For example, I learned about the significance of acetylcholine, the efficacy of adaptogens, and the keys to mitochondrial 
efficiency. Once I physically arrived in Chicago, I finished 
up my research and focused on preparing for the official launch. As a computer science major, I helped develop some of the website through Shopify, and prepped social media platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram to attract a followers interested in the products. Once we launched, the team and I got to work reaching out to retailers interested in carrying our CBD-based brain health supplements across the country. Through this experience, I learned that our customer acquisition rate was unsurprisingly higher when offering consignment contracts instead of retail agreements and conducting pitches in store rather than over the phone. Zack also gave me the responsibility to experiment with multiple iterations of product formulations to optimize the intended experience of each stack. Through these tests, I was able to continue to buttress my understanding of the underlying ingredients preparing me to give accurate and detailed descriptions to potential investors.

Nick Gannon ’20 and me decked out with our Quevos gear and merchandise after making a big sale.

Zack was tremendously influential and was responsible for making my time at Quevos and LifeStacks as fruitful as they were. Because of his eagerness to get me involved, I was able to make a real impact: a feat few first-years seldom achieve. For example, I frequently accompanied him into the city to meet with our strategic advisory team, Aptitude 8. These experienced group of ex-entrepreneurs held an equity stake in LifeStacks and acted as consultants helping us create an instantly appealing website for potential customers and plan our strategy to reach broader markets. In addition, I helped brainstorm to rebrand the products while contacting product designers for idea creation. My fondest experience was when Zack entrusted my colleague, Nick, and I with closing a deal with local distributors. At the end of the day, after a bit of negotiation and a brief tour of the distribution facility, we closed a deal selling 200 bottles generating our largest single chunk of revenue for the company.

As an exceptionally health conscious individual and self-proclaimed nutritionist, I am happy to say that I helped promote a holistic approach to mind-body health through my work at both Quevos and LifeStacks. By recognizing that American’s lives continue to be busier and more stressful, I have helped develop quick, yet wholesome alternative to the typical fat and sodium rich snack, while providing supplements capable of sustainably augmenting productivity. These feats work together to increase short-term gains, without compromising on long-term progress.

I was extended the invitation to work for the company back at school serving as their social media and retail manager, while maintaining and improving the website. Although I am excited to continue this adventure throughout the upcoming year, I have learned that starting a business is not as glamorous as people make it out to be. I am still excited to study economics and computer science—both challengingly quantitative courses. I have also now considered the feasibility of an MBA focusing on entrepreneurship a few years after graduation. I look forward to researching small businesses to intern for next summer as I have learned that extra responsibility given to employees at small companies often leads to enhanced learning within the intimate and collaborative environments created. Surprisingly, this summer served as an impetus to find the confluence of both computer science and economics in occupation that would prove both challenging and fulfilling.

Overall, I am exceptionally grateful for being afforded the opportunity to be immersed in the fast-paced start-up atmosphere at Quevos and LifeStacks Supplements. I can honestly say that I learned more about the operations of an early stage business more than any first-year could have imagined. I am especially thankful for Mr. McCalpin’s generosity and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration who made these connections possible.